Sunday 1 March 2020

RPG blog carnival - march 2020 - Alchemy

Hello dear Carnival community, my name is killerklown and i'll be your host this month !

What is the Carnival of Blogs?

The carnival has been running for several years and you can find the full listing of locations and topic in the RPG Blog Carnival Archive
Blogger carnivals are a way for a group of bloggers to all simultaneously write about the same topic. They are a great way to build community and dialogue across many different blogs at once.
This benefits fans and readers of those blogs because they have the opportunity to explore lots of different viewpoints in a short period of time.
It also benefits the bloggers because they get new readers to stop by. It also helps with SEO. Everyone wins.

Last month

Last month was on the topic of Legends & Lore, and hosted by Enderra

How to Participate

Have a blog? Want to write for the RPG Bloggers Carnival? Easy – just write a post on the current month’s topic and in your post link to the Host’s blog post that announced the topic (see below). You can also drop by their blog and leave a comment on the announcement post.
That’s it. At the end of the month, I will write a round-up and include a link back to your article.

Why Alchemy ?

  • For what you might have seen on this blog, alchemy plays a big part in my DREAD setting.
  • The whole idea for the setting is based on a really silly yet great idea from Sheep and sorcery: Using monster parts as alchemical ingredients
  • Later on, I discovered a table listing what could be looted from creatures, on
  • But my favorite find is an article written by Zedeck Siew (originally on Zak S.'s blog) where he describes a way to develop rituals. Sexually transmitted centipedes made an article about this and created rituals for fantasy that are great. I'm sure this framework can be used to create alchemical recipies... (I'm not linking to Zak's blog on purpose. Zedeck Siew told me he will repost on his own blog his piece of writing, but until then, I'll only link to Sexually transmitted centipedes, where I discovered the method)

What my plan for the future is:

I want an alchemy subsystem :

  • based on monster parts and quest  ingredients (very MMO, i know) like aplles from the Tree of Idunn
  • that permits to create low quality potions and high quality potions from the same "recipe", using a potency scale depending on the ingredients used
  • a kind of addiction to potions, related to their potency
  • some side effects for drinking different potions during the same day

What I expect from you

Well, the subject of this carnival is "Alchemy", not "create me my subsystem", so write whatever you feel like to...


Sill, allow me to present you a few ideas that could trigger your imagination:

  • Rules to recognize a potion whithout "identifying" them
  • side effect tables
  • crazy ingredients for crazy potions
  • influence of cheap potions increasing an attribute on society
  • What happens when you roll a nat20 during brewing? and a nat1?
  • Is perfume a low potency "potion of seduction"?
  • How is someone supposed to drink a potion while unconscious?
  • What are alternative to potions? (ointment, intraveinous solution, sniffing pulver, chewing mass, ... others?) How does it change the paradigm or consuming them?
  • Battlefield laboratory - what could that be like?
  • Is hunting humanoids for alchemical components ethical? (like hunting innocent goblins for their liver or something)
  • What should be more expensive? A "cure Syphilis" potion or a "cure Hangover" potion?
  • Shouldn't brewing potions require a kind of licence ( like distilling alcohol)?
  • what happens if you bind the spirit of a shortly deceased creature into a potion?
  • How much "historical" alchemy is ok in rpg?

More inspiration?

It is not the first time that someone will write on alchemy. The DM's guild is full of half destilled alchemist classes and unsavory crafting systems.
It's even not the first time the Carnival adopts this theme. Last batch of alchemical articals was 2016 and there were great entries ! Go check them out !
Searching for my alchemical Magnus Opus, I came around a few great posts that i'd like to share with you:

I really hope this topic will set your imagination ablaze and surprise me with loads of creative approaches I never could have imagined...

On your destillers, ready, Write !


  1. Well it's an old entry... I've been obsessing about how to balance alchemists as a class for a while, and I never found a solution that was both reasonably balanced and suited my "vision" of how alchemy should be. I'm close, but I can't managed the last bit:

    Anyway, I think I know what I will write for this carnival - more translated grimoire formulaes :)

    1. It might not be recent, but it's very decent (maybe i should refrain from bad puns in the comments...).
      I really like it and limiting the amount of avaible ingredients for alchemy is a great way to have the game stay stable...

    2. thank you - but how to balance it? That's where I am stuck! I mean, how much should the alchemist PC be able to get his hands on?

    3. I think ingredients, reagents, potions, and recipes should be awarded like spells: As a reward at the end of an Adventure... You don't have to tell your players that the stock of ingredients in the alchemy shop is a reward for them (if you did, they wouldn't buy it :-) )

    4. well yes... but how much? 2 doses? 10? 50? That's where I'm stuck. If I had a clear idea of what that should be, I could build a proper system :)

    5. Why not randomizing it?
      Very rare -> 1D4
      Rare -> 1D8
      Uncommon -> 1D10
      Common -> 1D10+2
      The rarer the ingredients, the more potent and expensive they are...

    6. But is that vaguely balanced? It can't be much better (or much worse) than a wizard's daily spell slots...

  2. Here's my contribution to the alchemical carnival:

    It's a weird, baroque system...

  3. I really liked it. The experimenting part of Alchemy is often forgotten, but it's actually a good "downtime activity". But your approach is more active and that's really nice !
    And a lot of stuff can become sludge, and that's the price of alchemy (if you're lucky)...

    1. Of you are lucky, you can even get green sludge!!

  4. Tired of d100 tables, but still want to build a world full of alchemically active resources? Try Bad Alchemy!

  5. My latest post is about "Magic Points" (MP); not quite the same subject, but I've added a point about "mana potions" with a link to this post.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Nice post !
      The real question now is: "does a mana potion smell of peppermint or smurf-blood"?

    3. Thanks! I think that deserves a table of its own! "Potion smells like..."

  6. Here's how I use Alchmists in game.

  7. Here is my contribution:

  8. I'm glad that old post of mine inspired all of this! Here is my entry

  9. Unlike regular alchemists, Master Mixers concoct spectacular effects with their spellbombs.

    Are you curious? Find everything about them here:

  10. What if you could use Anything from creatures you slay to make Alchemy?


    I decided that for the post to just do a whole smattering of things, mostly how I integrated traditional magikal practices into my game, as well as some basics for alchemy in the campaigns and stats for the legendary Philosopher;s Stone!

  12. Glad I found this! Thanks for being the host this month. Interestingly, I had just written about some Alchemist stuff for both B/X-Old School Essentials and Lamentations of the Flame Princess style gaming back in January, but I just wrote a new post just for the RPG Blog Carnival.

    You can find it on my blog Daddy Rolled a 1, here.


  13. I made it! This took more work than expected (and I probably should tweak it tomorrow), but here it is!

  14. Posted my sub-system here