View Full Version : Adventures in Alchemy [working title for a retro-clone system]

2013-03-03, 11:00 PM
So, I've been working on a new system based on Advanced D&D, OSRIC, and other retro-clones and similar systems. My basic idea for the system is that alchemy has taken the place of magic. What would normally call for magic in other systems would call for alchemy here. I haven't thought up all the mechanics, and I would like to receive feedback and criticism on the various aspects of my system as I work through it. So, here are the basics.

Setting Details
An unspecified number of years ago (depends on the campaign), the Dwarves unlocked the mysteries of magic and created Alchemy, a science that could produce many of the fantastic things magic could, but could be performed by anyone who bothered to memorize a formula and acquire the correct reagents. As Alchemy began to become more popular than magic, magic and its practitioners began to become few and far between, the Elves dying out with them. Depending on how far from the "Revolution" (the day when Alchemy was created) the campaign takes place, the number of Elves present in the world decreases, but there should never be less than 100 Elves in the world at any given time. But even though the presence of magic has diminished to the point where it's very practice is considered an offense by the State (the main ruling government, but this can be changed to something more monarchic), it is still present in the world. It is said that the Elves still practice it in the Wild, and, because of this, some children are born with magical mutations of sorts. These mutations will be covered more in the mechanics section, but the punishment for having one is either death, or a life sentence in the College of Magic, a prison where the inmates are isolated from the entire world for the rest of their lives. Little is known about the exact goings-on of the college, though. As you can probably guess, all is not well in this world.
This is represented greatly by the existence of the Drell, a race of lizard-like beings that came into existence as results of several failed attempts at Alchemy on sentient organisms, mostly humans. In addition, in order to "fix" some of the problems made by early Alchemical failures, such as burning buildings, cave-ins, and the like, early Alchemists decided to build reinforced suits of armor to go into these situations without harming themselves. As the mistakes got bigger and the damages got worse, those Alchemists decided that it was too dangerous to enter those situations, even in the armor, so they decided to animate the armor. Similar to the golems created by the Mages of Old (also called the Practitioners of the Old Ways [the Old Ways being magic]), the Alchemists created a new formula that could animate otherwise inanimate objects.
These new automatons were originally thought little of, but as Alchemy continued to be developed, and as the formulae used became more complex, the formula used for animating the armor became complex enough to give the automatons artificial intelligence. The intelligence eventually became so great that the automatons eventually began to form families like their creators, and could even use the formulae used to create them to create their own children. Thus was the Automata race born.
The last detail that ought be mentioned about the setting is that as the years went on, the Gnomes and the Halflings had to interbreed in order to save their races, as their respective populations were dwindling almost as quickly as the Elven population. Once they crossbred, however, the new breed was able to sustain itself. There is no official name for this race, and, depending on whom who'll ask, you'll get different answers. If asking a member of the race who's lineage is mostly Halfling, he or she would call the race the Halflings. Similarly, one of mostly Gnome lineage would consider himself or herself a Gnome. Someone who is not of that race would either refer to the race by a derogatory term or the politically correct term, the Wee Folk.

Mechanics Part 1: Races
There are five main races in this system: the Humans, the Dwarves, the Wee Folk, the Drell, and the Automata. Their origins were briefly discussed in the previous section, and their relationships will be discussed here, as well as the nitty-gritty important part.

As mentioned before, they were the ones who initially created Alchemy. They did not hate the Old Ways, but they believed that it was too hard to use it, and those who used it were too powerful. Alchemy was their solution to that problem. They care little for the Wee Folk, but tolerate them. They feel no responsibility for the state of the Drell; mistakes must be made for progress. They also feel that the Automata should have stayed as mindless suits of armor.
They receive a +1 bonus to Constitution and Wisdom, and a -1 penalty to Charisma. they are hardy and resourceful, but battle, experimentation, and drinking have made them less suave and attractive. Due to their small statures, they only move 20 feet in a round, but are not hindered by armor or heavy loads. They can see in the dark for 60 feet as if it were normal light. They receive a +1 bonus to Intelligence tests when trying to identify alchemical formulae and a +2 bonus to Constitution tests to resist poisoning, and automatically pass all tests for identifying details about stonework.

Friends to Dwarves and Wee Folk alike, Humans are remarkable in their lack of remarkableness. They are wholly versatile enough to advance in any profession as far as they wish to. They receive a +1 bonus to any one stat, and can advance indefinitely in any class.

Wee Folk
Small, sneaky, and kind-hearted, the Wee Folk can simultaneously be best friends and worst enemies with whomever they choose. The Drell care little for them, and some resent the Wee Folk for the resemblance they bear to the humans who are in part due to their condition.
Wee Folk receive a +1 bonus to Dexterity and Charisma, but receive a -1 penalty to Strength. They are quick and personable, but lack the brute strength of larger people.
Wee Folk can move 20 feet, treat objects as if they were one Size Step larger (one handed medium-sized weapons become two-handed weapons), get a +1 bonus to attack rolls after a critical hit, and get a +1 bonus to Dexterity tests when performing acrobatic maneuvers.

They resent both the Humans and the Dwarves for creating the alchemy that created them. They feel little for the Wee Folk and Automata, but some empathize with them, knowing how it feels to exist because of the darker side of Alchemy.
They receive a +1 bonus to Dexterity and Intelligence, but receive a -1 penalty to Charisma. The experiments disfigured their bodies to resemble lizards, and, to compensate, they have trained their bodies and their minds to be quick. They are also unable to take levels in the Alchemist class. They can see 40 feet in the dark, as if it were normal light, and can see 80 feet in dim light as if it were normal light. As a result, they are somewhat resistant to instantaneous changes in brightness. They can move 30 feet normally, but are hindered by loads and certain armors. They also have natural armor due to their mutated bodies, giving them 3 points of damage resistance.

Created by Humans and Dwarves initially to go into dangerous areas to perform rescues, they have since evolved to become artificially intelligent and develop families. Not having yet developed emotions, they do not care for anyone. That is not to say that they dislike or hate other races; they do not care because they are incapable of doing so.
They receive a +1 bonus to Strength and Constitution, but receive a -1 penalty to Dexterity. They were built to be strong and hardy, but, because of that, their agility was sacrificed.
They do not need to eat, sleep, drink, or breath, and can move 25 feet. They cannot wear armor, regardless of what class they are, and are treated as if wearing heavy armor proficiently. They can see for 60 feet in all kinds of light, and can use their own bodies for various alchemical formulae (discussed later).

In addition, all races (except Automata) must roll to see if they have some kind of magical mutation. Humans, Dwarves, and Wee Folk have a 2% chance of having one. Drell, due to their inherent connection to the Old Ways, have a 5% chance.

This is all I have for now except a note about the classes. It's only a note, so I haven't given it a real section yet, but here it is: I only intend on having three classes, the Alchemist, the Soldier, and the Citizen. The Alchemist is basically a Wizard, but more scientific, the Soldier is basically the Fighter, and the Citizen is basically a Rogue without the moral ambiguity.