Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-11-2020, 06:47 AM   #1
ajardoor
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Default [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

Let's assume we're using the standard Alchemy system for now.

A freshly killed adult human being - assume no exotic, cinematic or supernatural traits (not even Magery) - is harvested by a terribly practical alchemist for elixir ingredients.

How much does he get (in terms of GURPS$?)? What skill does he roll? Discuss the effects on the setting, if you're in a world-build-y mood.

Thanks in advance.
__________________
My blog: http://tabletoprpg333.home.blog
ajardoor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2020, 07:00 AM   #2
Turhan's Bey Company
Aluminated
 
Turhan's Bey Company's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: East of the moon, west of the stars, close to buses and shopping
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

DF2 (p. 13) has guidelines on taking apart monster corpses for valuable parts, and DF8 (also p. 13) has guidelines on how much those parts sell for, with use by alchemists being one possibility. Based on that, human parts would typically go for $0.5/lb.

I imagine this sort of thing would just be par for the course for magical worlds. And societies have dealt with grave robbers before. See the "resurrection men" of 18th and 19th century England for an illustration of how that might go.
__________________
I've been making pointlessly shiny things, and I've got some gaming-related stuff as well as 3d printing designs.

Buy my Warehouse 23 stuff, dammit!
Turhan's Bey Company is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2020, 01:25 PM   #3
ericthered
Hero of Democracy
 
ericthered's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far from the ocean
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

The DF rolls seem a little low for humans. Which might indicate the market is flooded.

If you just look at the cost of surgically removing the parts (30 minutes of what is at least a comfortable job to remove two lbs), it's hard to justify charging less than two dollars a pound, even working the harvester all 30 days and having 8 hours of harvesting everyday without fail. And that doesn't include paying for the body, transporting it, or preserving it.

This also doesn't tell us how much of the body is alchemically useful. I suspect one or two organs will dominate demand, such as the brain, heart, eyes, or tounge.

I'm not sure how expensive it is to pickle/brine a heart or brain, but that will be expensive: its a lot of either vinegar or salt. The size of the dominant organ will effect this. DF 8 gives $15 for an ounce of salt, which feels really high to me and gives us a minimum of $60 for a half pound heart preserved in brine.
__________________
Be helpful, not pedantic

Worlds Beyond Earth -- my blog

Check out the PbP forum! If you don't see a game you'd like, ask me about making one!
ericthered is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-11-2020, 04:23 PM   #4
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Turhan's Bey Company View Post
DF2 (p. 13) has guidelines on taking apart monster corpses for valuable parts, and DF8 (also p. 13) has guidelines on how much those parts sell for, with use by alchemists being one possibility. Based on that, human parts would typically go for $0.5/lb.

I imagine this sort of thing would just be par for the course for magical worlds. And societies have dealt with grave robbers before. See the "resurrection men" of 18th and 19th century England for an illustration of how that might go.
If going by those guidelines, you're better off using beef hearts than human hearts for your elixirs. Cow parts are worth $1.5 per pound ($2 for 2d+1 for their strongest attack, +$1 for Four Legs, halved for mundane) but you get twice as much per carcass, and you don't have to deal with any pesky legal issues. Looking at the domestic animals listed in LTC3, horses are probably your best bet, being worth $3/lb ($2 for damage, +$1 for each of Enhanced Move, Four Legs, Hooves, and Peripheral Vision, halved for mundane) and getting twice as much per carcass as for a human, although you can probably sell the carcass of a cow to a butcher for more than you can get out of a horse. Of course, butchers are probably going to make more money than those harvesting organs for elixirs. In a month (25 workdays of 8 hours each, for 200 workhours), a Surgery-12 organ-harvester can process 400 cows, getting on average $2500 (assuming it was killed in a manner that didn't damage the harvestable organs at all), which is somewhere between Comfortable and Wealthy at DF's ~ TL3, but doesn't account for the cost of purchasing those 400 cow carcasses. A Butcher-12, well, butcher can only process between 20 and 25 cows in that time (depending on weight), but will harvest a little shy of 8000 lbs of meat, enough to feed around 88 people for the month. If the meat were only $1/lb, he'd still be grossing over 3x as much as the organ harvester. Now, if organ-harvesting leaves behind a carcass that can readily be processed by a butcher, organ-harvesting can be a more profitable profession (the butcher needs to pay for those 20-25 cow carcasses to turn into edible meat to sell; the organ-harvester pays for a carcass, gets what he needs, then turns around and sells it for only a touch less to the butcher), although you'd need 16 to 20 butchers for every organ harvester.

So, long story short, the DF guidelines don't work if you want human corpses to be viable alchemical ingredients, because there's no real profit in it and you get better results with beef anyway. Or pork, mutton, etc (the only LTC3 animal that would be worth less than human is, humorously, the chicken; its organs are actually worth more - $1/lb - but you only get 1/8th as many lbs from each carcass).
__________________
GURPS Overhaul
Varyon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2020, 01:00 AM   #5
ajardoor
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

Let's assume we're not in a DF setting. Maybe we're in a TL 8 modern day Earth setting?

You do think we can assume a baseline value for a given human organ?

(And of course, injuries and cause of death probably affects what you can harvest from a specific corpse - Moe Green's eyes ain't worth a penny to an alchemist.)
__________________
My blog: http://tabletoprpg333.home.blog
ajardoor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2020, 07:26 AM   #6
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajardoor View Post
Let's assume we're not in a DF setting. Maybe we're in a TL 8 modern day Earth setting?

You do think we can assume a baseline value for a given human organ?
The baseline would be mecical and not alchemical. There is actually very little said about specific ingredients required in the Alchemy rules.
__________________
Fred Brackin
Fred Brackin is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2020, 08:55 AM   #7
ericthered
Hero of Democracy
 
ericthered's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: far from the ocean
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
The baseline would be mecical and not alchemical. There is actually very little said about specific ingredients required in the Alchemy rules.
Those are live organs, not dead ones. It requires a bit more know how and resources to keep an organ ready for transplant than to simply remove it intact.
__________________
Be helpful, not pedantic

Worlds Beyond Earth -- my blog

Check out the PbP forum! If you don't see a game you'd like, ask me about making one!
ericthered is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2020, 09:10 AM   #8
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajardoor View Post
Let's assume we're not in a DF setting. Maybe we're in a TL 8 modern day Earth setting?

You do think we can assume a baseline value for a given human organ?

(And of course, injuries and cause of death probably affects what you can harvest from a specific corpse - Moe Green's eyes ain't worth a penny to an alchemist.)
There was a thread a while back about how much human blood (specifically royal blood, but it diverged into discussion of any blood) might be worth as an alchemical ingredient, wherein I made this post, giving some pricing schemes for blood (assuming you charge $1/pint for Status -2 blood). I'd say blood (all ~10 pints of it) accounts for roughly 1/5th of the worth of a human body for purposes of alchemy, so all the other relevant organs combined would be worth 4x as much.

For the division, I'd say all the eyes and brain are worth about as much as the blood (50% eyes, 50% brain), the heart and lungs are worth the same (50% heart, 50% lungs), the remaining individual internal organs are worth the same (divide as you see fit amongst spleen, pancreas, gallbladder, etc), and everything else - bones, muscles, skin, and hair - are worth the same (optionally, 25% each). For a Status -2 person, that's $10 for blood, $5 for eyes ($2.50 each), $5 for brain, $5 for heart, $5 for lungs ($2.50 each, although it wouldn't be improper to skew this based on organ size), $10 for the other internal organs, $2.50 for the bones, $2.50 for the muscles, $2.50 for the skin, and $2.50 for the hair, for a grand total of $50. A Status 0 person is instead worth $500. Adjust as you see fit.

You may also want to define how harvesting works. I'd probably take a cue from LTC3's rules for butchering. In that, success yields 40% of the carcass' weight in meat, +5% per point of MoS, to a maximum of 70% (with MoS 6+), and it takes 1 hour per 100 pounds of carcass weight. Here, I'd say the relevant skill is Surgery, although I'd allow for an Optional Specialization of Organ Harvesting. Success yields 50% of the corpse's remaining worth (draining the blood is a given; indeed, assume the corpse is already drained by the time it reaches the harvester) in alchemical ingredients, +10% per point of MoS, to a maximum of 100% (with MoS 5+), and it takes 1 hour per 50 pounds of corpse weight (organ harvesting is more precise work than butchering, I think). Failure ruins the corpse You may attempt to harvest some specific organs only; so long as you roll well enough to cover their worth, you are successful (if you get a Success but don't roll well enough, there's damage that reduces the values of the harvested organs), but a Failure only ruins those organs (Critical Failure still ruins the corpse for purposes of future harvesting).

Personally, I feel that an Average skill (like Surgery (Organ Harvesting)) at 12 is appropriate for an Average job, with every +1 to skill being +1 SSR to income, every -1 to skill being -1 SSR to income; this meshes decently well with the professions in LTC3. Let's say that a person who typically harvests from Status -2 corpses has an Average job (which supports Status 0). At around 3 hours per corpse, he could manage around 65 per month (with 200 work hours in a month), but we'll go with 50 instead (2 per day, giving him an extra 2 hours per day for setting up deliveries, cleaning up, maintaining tools, etc). With skill 12 and the above rules, we'd expect 25.92% of the corpses to be ruined (roll of 13+), 11.57% to yield 50% of their maximum worth, 12.5% to yield 60%, 12.5% to yield 70%, 11.57% to yield 80%, 9.72% to yield 90%, and 16.2% to yield 100% (roll of 7-). That means on average he'll harvest 56.239% of the worth of each corpse. At TL 8's income of $2600 for harvesting 50 corpses per month, that means he's making $52 off of each corpse. If we assume he typically doubles the worth of a corpse with his work, that implies the corpses themselves cost $52 each, and what he successfully harvests is sold for $104. As this is only 56.239% of the worth of a perfectly-harvested corpse, that indicates a bloodless Status -2 corpse, when perfectly harvested, would yield around $185 worth of ingredients; we'll round this up to $200, and round corpses down to $50 each (as the harvester now grosses an average $112.478 per corpse processed, this puts his net income at around $3100/month, around 1.2x Average, which is acceptable). This means, for a Status -2 corpse and using the splits I stated above, you'd be looking at $5 per pint of blood, $25 for the brain, $12.50 for each eye, $25 for the heart, $12.50 for each lung (or perhaps something like $15/$10), $50 for the other internal organs, $12.50 for the bones, $12.50 for the muscles, $12.50 for the skin, and $12.50 for the hair. You could probably get away with using the progression from the linked thread for higher Status corpses - while this would cause those with higher skill to increase their wages more rapidly than they "should" (they'd be working on higher Status corpses, and having a higher success rate), I'd interpret this as meaning they simply dissect fewer corpses per month.

Note if you think this is too high or too low for Status -2 (perfect harvesting would make their body be worth around half of what they'd make in a month, provided they have a Poor job), it can be adjusted freely. If you want something real-world to base it off of, apparently one can make up to G$200/month (current-day $300/month) selling donating one's plasma. While plasma is possibly the most medically useful part of the blood, I'd say its alchemical worth is based on how quickly it recovers compared to whole blood. Whole blood takes around 2 months to recover per pint. Now, selling plasma for $200/month is unlikely to be as sustainable as donating 1 pint of whole blood every two months, so let's drop that value to $125/month. That implies whole blood would be worth around $250/pint (it takes 2 months to recover), which multiplies all of the above values by 50, and means a person could be stripped for parts worth up to around 2 years' worth of their wages.
__________________
GURPS Overhaul
Varyon is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2020, 11:29 AM   #9
Fred Brackin
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: [Alchemy] Human Corpses as Ingredients?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ericthered View Post
Those are live organs, not dead ones. It requires a bit more know how and resources to keep an organ ready for transplant than to simply remove it intact.
No, there is a significant market in tissues that aren't in "organ transplant" condition. Corneas, bones, skin and other structural tissue. Hair for wigs (not technically medical I know) and of course blood and other fluids.

There also still very few notes in the ingredients for any officially published elixers.

A GM is of course free to rule that some elixer requires the gallbladder of a plumber but that's his House Rule and he's the one who needs to determine a value.
__________________
Fred Brackin
Fred Brackin is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
alchemy

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:48 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2022, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.