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View Full Version : [Metaphysics] Distilling Residuum



Mark Hall
2011-03-29, 10:21 AM
This is a metaphysics post. It mostly ignores game rules and game balance in favor of just talking about how the world works. Just FYI.

So, can you simply distill residuum out of the air? I know you can tap into a magic item and pull out a chunk of it (about 1/5th it's value in GP worth of residuum), and you can enchant magic items, but can you simply create a mass of residuum via ritual magic?

(and I have a horrible feeling I'm forgetting something core-book basic about it).

Kurald Galain
2011-03-29, 10:23 AM
This feels like the plot of The Magic Goes Away (fittingly enough, by Larry Niven). Unfortunately 4E doesn't have Niven Disks...

Mark Hall
2011-03-29, 10:31 AM
Not necessarily; I actually somewhat borrowed it from Ars Magica, where you can, indeed, distill vis from the air of magically charged places (i.e. places with an aura). Once you've distilled the vis, you can use it for other things... improving spells, making magic items, living forever, etc.

kieza
2011-03-29, 10:32 AM
Well, there aren't any official rules for it...but fluff-wise, that's why the high elves in my campaign setting have lots and lots of magic but nobody else does. They, and only they, have massive, magical "distilleries" that produce a moderate, steady output of residuum.

evirus
2011-03-29, 11:12 AM
So, can you simply distill residuum out of the air? I know you can tap into a magic item and pull out a chunk of it (about 1/5th it's value in GP worth of residuum), and you can enchant magic items, but can you simply create a mass of residuum via ritual magic?

(and I have a horrible feeling I'm forgetting something core-book basic about it).

The only way I can recall to create some is by creating a magic item and then disenchanting it.

I know the the entry for rust monster states that you shouldn't let that monster become a tool for disenchanting items and bypassing the 1/5th return.

I guess you could custom a ritual to "create" residium, but it would have a return of 1/5th the component cost at least (and you save the cost of enchant item and disenchant item respectivly).

Renchard
2011-03-29, 12:30 PM
Sure, why not?

Of course, your methods are disturbing to the primal spirits, leading them to periodically strike back against your magic factory. Plus, some other wizardly types are VERY interested in seeing your handiwork, to the point of hiring some black-pajama types to ambush your working area. Interestingly, these miscreants drop no loot, although their encounter level is such that they would have given a treasure parcel equivalent to the amount of residuum you're generating! Funny how those things work out. :smalltongue:

Oracle_Hunter
2011-03-29, 03:41 PM
AFAIK there are no canon sources that describe what it takes to create any of the Reagents. I do recall a sample Eladrin city where Residuum would actually be deposited on buildings by the wind and the city used it to fuel their magical defenses.

Personally, I treat Reagents as valuable resources in my game which means they must be scarce. So either they are difficult to find or they take great skill/effort to produce. Residuum is the "highest" form of Reagent so it should be the rarest - or nobody would bother to use any other form of Reagent.

To that end I make Residuum a "naturally occurring" product of the Feywild but one that requires vast teams of scavengers to produce even 100 GP of it. This is also why Disenchanting magic items is a popular method of acquiring Residuum.

Other Reagents:
Nature Reagents are by far the most common, requiring no more than gathering rare herbs. However, the herbs themselves are most common in deep wildernesses which are inherently dangerous places to be. As a result, trade with "native" species or Druid Circles is the method with which urbanites gain access to these Reagents.

Arcane Reagents cannot simply be found like Nature Reagents but require treatment to be produced. Urbanites who have access to technology are the best producers of Arcane Reagents but gathering the raw materials still require travel into dangerous spaces.

Religious Reagents are frequently made out of common goods but require a lot of labor to produce. They are typically made by members of religious communities for domestic consumption but stockpiles can be sold when a church needs the gold.

Healing Reagents require herbs as rare as Nature Reagents and the skilled hands of a healer or herbalist to be made. As they are always in demand in adventurer-heavy areas they are the most common trade Reagent around, with everyone from Druids to Clerics producing them.

absolmorph
2011-03-29, 04:42 PM
Am I the only person who saw this and hoped that it was a thread about making magical alcohol?

Excession
2011-03-29, 05:33 PM
I'm not sure about distillation, but I do know a good way to recycle residuum. Farming rust monsters.

You see, when a rust monster eats a magic item and then you kill the rust monster, you don't get just a fifth of the value back as residuum, you get the full value. This leads me to wondering about what sort of fences and gates you use to contain rust monsters, who's doing to farming, and whether there are useful by-products like meat or hide.

kc0bbq
2011-03-29, 05:54 PM
I'm not sure about distillation, but I do know a good way to recycle residuum. Farming rust monsters.And the entry for the monster says, explicitly, that if the rust monsters are used for this the one doing it should only get the normal amount of residuum. The only reason they give back all of the residuum is so that you're not making PCs useless long-term.

Talyn
2011-03-31, 09:16 AM
In my campaign, I use ley-lines as conduits of magical energy, and created a "Tap Ley Line" ritual specifically to use ley-line nexuses (nexi?) to empower large magic items and to create residuum.

Of course, those were also the places where the borders between the material world and the Feywild/Shadowfell were weakest, so it was never a good idea to stay in those places for too long...

Tiki Snakes
2011-03-31, 10:10 AM
I'd say that magical risiduum distiliation is a pretty logical leap, personally. As long as the player wasn't trying to get around the cash-to-residuum ratio of disenchanting magic items, I'd be more than willing to allow the research of an appropriate ritual or ritually constructed aperatus.

And I'd certainly be willing to encorporate such a thing within my own worldbuilding.

Erom
2011-03-31, 12:53 PM
Residuum presumably comes from somewhere! I think they haven't even specified because the source of raw residuum is a pretty major point in a campaign - wherever it comes from, you can bet that that entity or group is a major player in the campaigns power structure!

In my world, it's pulled out of sunlight (Using giant solar furnaces and lenses) rather than the air, but that's really the same idea. You could imagine a campaign setting where its a mined resource, for example, or extracted from a plant so it can be farmed. Or one where there isn't really a source, and the supply is slowly dwindling (would fit in Dark Sun...)

evirus
2011-03-31, 01:09 PM
Residuum presumably comes from somewhere!

It's the magic it took to enchant an item, but in physical form. Are you asking where magic comes from?

Doug Lampert
2011-03-31, 03:22 PM
Residuum presumably comes from somewhere!

Why do you say that? IIRC the rules SPECIFICALLY STATE that you can't buy it. And they then GIVE a source.

Why should it be anything more than a very rare side effect of destroying magic items? There's NOTHING you can do with Residuum that you can't do with ordinary components.

NOTHING.

So why does the game NEED a source for large amounts of it?

Every once in awhile someone disenchants an item rather than selling it (even though sales is more lucrative), either because they're desperate, or they don't like the item, or for some other reason. Every so often a rust monster eats items and is then killed and the Residuum harvested.

So there's some arround. But why this fascination with INSISTING that you need the stuff? It doesn't doesn't do anything that other components don't.

Rockphed
2011-04-01, 12:17 AM
So there's some arround. But why this fascination with INSISTING that you need the stuff? It doesn't doesn't do anything that other components don't.

Well, it can be used for any of the rituals, whereas other components are restricted in what they can do. Were I allowing players to buy residuum, unless they were simply going to enchant it into an item right away, I would charge them a 10% mark up.

As for whether Residuum can be distilled from the air, I see no reason not to allow it, provided the method is slow enough to be boring to players.

erikun
2011-04-01, 12:49 AM
Well, rituals have components with a set gold cost. These components can be substituted with residuum. You can also (indirectly) turn components into residuum, at least with the enchant item-disenchant item rituals. At least I suspect so; I don't have the books with the specific rituals in them. This gives us a set cost, at least: you can produce residuum at 1/5 the price to acquire the components. Creating a direct "Component to Residuum" ritual certainly wouldn't be too far out of line.

From there, it isn't too hard to pull residuum "out of the air", so to speak. The trick would be to figure out where it is and how it gets into the components. This tends to get into more campaign-specific areas, as one campaign that has components as plants growing along ley-lines would be very different than one where components are jewels mined from underground. All can use the 1/5 price conversion to directly get residuum from the components, but how quickly the components are replinished depends on how quickly you can naturally produce it. If a valley can produce, say, 5000 GP of ritual components at maximum potential, then an automatic residuum-filtering device in the valley should be able to harvest 1000 GP worth of residuum a year, at least. (And any components would be inert because of it.) On the other hand, if residuum is only mined from the fossilized bones of dead dragons, then you won't have a convienent way of collecting it outside dragon hunting.

Erom
2011-04-01, 08:31 AM
Are you asking where magic comes from?
Not really. Just positing that magic comes from somewhere. WHERE magic comes from sounds like a campaign specific detail, doesn't it?

Doug Lampert
2011-04-01, 10:26 AM
Well, rituals have components with a set gold cost. These components can be substituted with residuum. You can also (indirectly) turn components into residuum, at least with the enchant item-disenchant item rituals. At least I suspect so; I don't have the books with the specific rituals in them. This gives us a set cost, at least: you can produce residuum at 1/5 the price to acquire the components. Creating a direct "Component to Residuum" ritual certainly wouldn't be too far out of line.

From there, it isn't too hard to pull residuum "out of the air", so to speak. The trick would be to figure out where it is and how it gets into the components. This tends to get into more campaign-specific areas, as one campaign that has components as plants growing along ley-lines would be very different than one where components are jewels mined from underground. All can use the 1/5 price conversion to directly get residuum from the components, but how quickly the components are replinished depends on how quickly you can naturally produce it. If a valley can produce, say, 5000 GP of ritual components at maximum potential, then an automatic residuum-filtering device in the valley should be able to harvest 1000 GP worth of residuum a year, at least. (And any components would be inert because of it.) On the other hand, if residuum is only mined from the fossilized bones of dead dragons, then you won't have a convienent way of collecting it outside dragon hunting.

So? Let's say I can make residuum at 1/5th cost rather than slightly worse than 1/5th cost (disenchant costs components, so you actually get slightly less).

So I can do one of the following:
(1) Invent or copy a ritual (at some cost in money and time) which lets me buy 5000 GP in arcane components to convert to 1000 GP in Residuum.

After which I can cast any ritual or rituals I know costing no more than 1000 GP in components and not needing a focus.

or
(2) Walk into town, learn an actually USEFUL ritual instead, and with my 5,000 GP, buy 1000 GP in arcane components, 1000 GP in religion components, 1000 GP in nature components, and 1000 GP in healing components. Spend the remaining 1000 GP on wine, women, and song:

After which I can cast any ritual or rituals I know costing no more than 1000 GP in components and not needing a focus. And I'll still have 3,000 GP in some mix of components when I'm done while guy (1) missed a hell of a party, a useful ritual, and is out of all components.

Is there a point to this? One of these options is BLATANTLY and VASTLY superior, which explains why you con't buy residuum (who would make it when they don't need it RIGHT NOW); and why there's no such ritual in the rules, because even WITH such a ritual it's an utter desperation move to use Residuum which makes sense only if you are out of some component and REALLY REALLY need to cast that ritual, or you really want to destroy an item because you've decided it's "evil" (someone who doesn't like a vampiric weapon for instance), or you just fought a rust monster and need to re-equip.

If you can PLAN to face a situation where you may need a component you carry the components you might need. If I have the components for a "distill Residuum" ritual, then why didn't I BUY a useful mix of components in the first place?

evirus
2011-04-01, 10:50 AM
If you can PLAN to face a situation where you may need a component you carry the components you might need. If I have the components for a "distill Residuum" ritual, then why didn't I BUY a useful mix of components in the first place?

You are right, but I think the thread was based on the possibility of creating it from scratch not its usability, worth or merit. In which case I think the rules both you and I proposed would work (5gp mats = 1gp residium).

Also, I think (but I may be mistaken) that residum's weight is negligible but components actually have a weight that you need to count for the purposes of encumbrance. This way you can carry 50k gp worth of residium in a belt pouch as opposed to having to trek a few ponies to carry all your components.

The New Bruceski
2011-04-01, 11:38 PM
A few methods occur to me. The first one is based off of The Way of Kings, a creature who somehow collects residuum from its diet and stores it. Perhaps a burrowing creature if the ground is inundated. These creatures can then be harvested for their stores, with older/tougher ones having more. It would probably be in some manner that's fatal to the creature, but that depends on the kind of story you want to involve them in. In Way of Kings it was massive armored crustaceans with a magical gem as their heart, armies in the middle of a war would race their foes and each other to these creatures, using the magic inside to feed and comfort their troops.

The other one is a residuum distillery, I figure if it pulled the magic out of the air it would create a dead zone, diminishing returns and not something an enterprising wizard would want to keep next to where he works. It would probably flourish in windy areas, where the deadened air would be replenished regularly. Even then a particularly large one could cause effects downwind, in a similar way to power plants that discharge warm water wreaking havoc with downstream ecosystems.