View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Fralex's Expanded Alchemy: Ingredient-foraging rules, extra items, and more

2015-05-29, 07:46 PM
I was inspired a while ago by this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?385701-Foraging-Potion-Ingredients-Alchemy-Mini-Game-Idea) to create an alchemy/herbalism crafting/foraging system. It was a lot of work, but it's finally ready for testing! Tell me what you think!

The Basics

These are the seven primary essences that can be extracted from any herb, fungus, or animal organ that has a use as an alchemy ingredient. The four on the top row are the four elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, respectively. They are arranged in order of increasing energy, from the least active (Earth) to most active (Fire). In between each adjacent pair of elements we have the alchemical symbols for salt, mercury, and sulphur. They represent the essential trinity of Body (the physicality in all things), Spirit (the vital life force that suffuses all living creatures, giving them energy), and Soul (which for the sake of clarity we will be referring to here as the Mind; it directs the flow of Spirit through the vessel of the Body to control it, giving it a will of its own). Every alchemical formula calls for some combination of these seven essences, and success depends on efficient combining of ingredients as much as it does skill.

The first thing an alchemist must do is gather ingredients. This is best done in the wilderness. Although some herbalists' shops might sell a couple basic ingredients along with their completed potions, the ingredients will almost always be priced such that it would cost less to just buy the completed potion than it would to make it yourself. Thus, a good alchemist is a good forager. The next page has a table listing the various ingredients each biome is likely to have, but your DM is free to create their own table for specific areas, or declare that the remains of an exotic monster can be harvested as a source of alchemy. It's pretty simple to customize.


To forage for alchemical ingredients:

Make a Wisdom (Survival) check against the area's foraging DC, as if you were searching for food.
If you pass, roll 1d6 and check the following table to determine what ingredient(s) you find based on the biome you're in.
If you beat the DC by 3 or more, roll on the table twice. If you beat it by 6 or more, roll on the table thrice. If you beat it by 10 or more, choose any of the 6 results on the table to get, then roll on it twice more.


All a DM needs to do to make a new foraging table for a particular area is take one for an existing biome and replace the found ingredients with other ingredients of the same rarity. It needs five common (single-symbol) ingredients, three uncommon (double-symbol) ingredients, and one rare (triple-symbol) ingredient. Feel free to give them more interesting names; perhaps the Air-Water essence is extracted from the petals of the delicate frostflower, which blooms in the dead of winter. Use your imagination!


To brew a potion or other alchemy-related item:

[*=left]To make any of these items you must both be a spellcaster and have proficiency in alchemist's supplies. There are a few exceptions, however. A few of the simpler potions, like potions of healing, can also be made with an herbalism kit. You don't need to be a spellcaster to use an herbalism kit, even if you're crafting something magical. You also don't need to be a spellcaster to make certain mundane alchemical items, such as acid or alchemist's fire. These can only be made with alchemist's supplies. As always, you cannot make magic items of a rarity beyond what your level will allow.
[*=left]You must provide all the listed ingredients for an item to make it. Certain rarer ingredients, represented on the previous page by the interlocking symbols, count as two or three ingredients for the purposes of providing all necessary components.
[*=left]To concoct the item, make an Intelligence check. Add your proficiency bonus if you're using tools you're proficient in (and honestly, since you can't make this stuff without proficiency in the tools you're using, the only time you won't add your proficiency bonus is when you're using makeshift or improvised tools).
[*=left]The DC for the Intelligence check is equal to:
8 + [Item's Rarity] + 2 × [Number of Ingredients Used]
[*=left]The rarity for an item is a number based on whether it's Common, Uncommon, Rare, etc. You can determine it by subtracting 1 from the number of symbols in its recipe. The addition of the number of ingredients used means that the Intelligence check will be easier if you use rarer ingredients, since those can take the place of several other ingredients.
[*=left]Even though you're not actually spending gold on resources, you still make progress in increments of 25 gp per day. If your check was successful, by the end of that time your item will be complete. If you failed the check, you ruin all the ingredients you were using in the recipe and will have wasted half the time crafting the item was going to take.

Putting it All Together

Let's say you want to make a potion of acid resistance. According to the recipe, that's an Uncommon item that requires one Water essence and two Body essences. You decide to search the nearby forest and coast to gather ingredients.
The forest is a pretty healthy and vibrant place, so the foraging DC is just 10. You make the Wisdom (Survival) check and get a 17. Since you beat it by at least 6, you get to roll on the table three times and collect ingredients each time. You roll a 1, a 5, and a 3, and after some coin-flipping get two Body essences, one Water essence, two double-Body essences, and one Spirit-Body essence. Next you search the coast, this time only just passing the foraging DC but getting lucky and scoring a rare Body-Water-Body essence, along with a Fire essence. In total, your inventory looks like this:


You take the ingredients back to your home and begin sorting them. You have several options for which ingredients you could use. You could just mix the three single-essence ingredients you need. The DC for a concoction of that quality would be 8 + 2 + 2 × 3 = 16. Not terrible, but you can do better. If you use a double-Body essence in place of the two single Bodies, the DC drops to 14, and if you replace all three with the Body-Water-Body essence, the DC is only 12! It's important to you not to mess this up, so you go with the last option. You make the Intelligence check and pass handily. You're going to be able to make it!
The DMG states that an Uncommon magic item like a potion of acid resistance costs 500 gp to make. But since a potion is a consumable item (like every other item you can make with alchemist's supplies), you cut that number in half first. With 25 gp worth of progress being made every day, you complete the potion 10 days later.

2015-05-29, 07:47 PM
Basic Potions

These potions require proficiency in alchemist's supplies or an herbalism kit to brew. You don't need to be a spellcaster if you're using an herbalism kit.


Advanced Potions

These potions require proficiency in alchemist's supplies to brew.


Wondrous Compounds and Alchemical Items

These items require proficiency in alchemist's supplies to craft. You don't need to be a spellcaster to make the items in the right column.


2015-05-29, 07:48 PM
New Items

A couple of the craftable items listed are not found in the PHB. Here is the information for them.

Alchemist's Fire (revised). This sticky, adhesive fluid ignites when exposed to air. As an action, you can throw this flask up to 20 feet, shattering it on impact. Make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the alchemist’s fire as an improvised weapon. On a hit, the target takes 1d8 fire damage, or half that damage on a miss due to splash (creatures with Evasion or a similar ability take no splash damage). If you hit the creature, it takes an ongoing 1d6 fire damage at the start of each of its turns. A creature can end this damage by using its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity check to extinguish the flames. (50 gp)
According to the DMG, a 50-gp single-use item should have an effect roughly on-par with a first-level spell. This version of alchemist's fire has been adjusted with that in mind.
Alchemist's Spark. The flickering, volatile chemicals in this flask release crackling arcs of energy when agitated, shocking groups of creatures that are standing together. As an action, you can throw it up to 20 feet, shattering it on impact. Make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the alchemist’s spark as an improvised weapon. On a hit, the target takes 3d4 lightning damage, or half that damage on a miss due to splash (creatures with Evasion or a similar ability take no splash damage). Also on a hit, all other creatures within 5 feet of the target take the same amount of damage, or half as much on a successful DC 10 Dexterity saving throw. Creatures wearing armor made of metal, or wielding heavy weapons made of metal, have disadvantage on the save. (50 gp)

Alchemist's Frost. This glittering, misty fluid flash-freezes when exposed to air. As an action, you can throw this flask up to 20 feet, shattering it on impact. Make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the alchemist’s frost as an improvised weapon. On a hit, the takes 4d4 cold damage, or half that damage on a miss due to splash (creatures with Evasion or a similar ability take no splash damage). For the next minute following a hit, all of the target's speeds are reduced by 15 feet and any bonuses to speed are suppressed. It may end the effect early by using its action to successfully make a DC 10 Strength check. (50 gp)

Thunderstone. This fist-sized rock has been alchemically treated to explode with a resounding bang on impact. Can be thrown at a point within 60 feet as an action, where it smashes. When smashed, all creatures within 10 feet of it take 1d8 thunder damage, or half that damage on a successful DC 10 Constitution saving throw. Any creature that fails the save is also deafened for 1 minute, or until they receive any magical healing. (50 gp)

Aura Bomb. A flask of luminous swamp gas and ground foxfire. As an action, throw it at a point within 60 feet to outline everything within 10 feet in harmless ghostly flames. All objects in the area, as well as creatures in the area that fail a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw, are affected as if by the faerie fire spell, but the effect is not magical and only lasts until the end of your next turn. (40 gp)

Fortifying Tincture. This is a simple herbal tonic designed to improve one aspect of your physical capabilities for 10 minutes after drinking. A fortifying tincture can be brewed to boost either Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution. While under its effects, whenever you make a saving throw or ability check with the designated ability, you roll a d4 and add it to the d20 roll. Drinking another tincture while still under the effects of a previous one will cause the previous one's effects to end early. This concoction can be brewed with either alchemist's supplies or an herbalism kit. (30 gp)

Smokestick. As an action, you can snap the end off this short, wooden rod to spark an alchemical reaction. When broken or burned, thick, gray smoke billows steadily out of it, heavily obscuring the area within a 10-foot radius in a matter of seconds. The smoke doesn't rise or sink, but it disperses on its own after 1 minute. Moderately fast wind (at least 10 mph) disperses the cloud early. The stick is too light to be thrown farther than 20 feet on its own. (20 gp)

Fine Ink. Ink of a very high quality, suitable for paying the material cost of magical procedures such as the scribing of scrolls. Can be made in any color, including gold and silver. Can also be made invisible, in which case the writing can be revealed through heat exposure or something acidic like citrus. (50 gp)

Potion of Lightning Glare. Works exactly like a potion of fire breath, only you loose bolts of lightning from your third eye (forehead) instead of breathing fire from your mouth. The damage is lightning damage, and the range is 20 feet. (250 gp)

Potion of Frost Breath. Functions just like a potion of fire breath, but deals cold damage to targets within 25 feet and the saving throw to resist the damage is Constitution-based. (250 gp)

Potion of Thunderous Shout. Works the same way as a potion of fire breath, but you attack by magnifying your voice rather than breathing fire. The damage is thunder damage, the range is 15 feet, and the saving throw to resist the damage is Constitution-based. (250 gp)

Optional Alchemy Rules

A few additional rules you can add to make alchemy a bit more interesting.

Common magic items can be crafted by characters of any level.
Like all improvised weapons, alchemical weapons requiring attack rolls can also be thrown as far away as 60 feet, but aiming at anything further away than 20 feet imposes disadvantage on the attack roll.
Increase the DCs of saving throws and ability checks called for by alchemical items by the Intelligence modifier of the creator. +2 or +3 is a typical amount for alchemists selling their wares.
When crafting an alchemical item, a character makes progress in increments of 25 gp per day, as if it were a magic item. It still only costs half the base price in raw materials (irrelevent if you're making it with the crafting rules here, since you aren't just paying a blanket "buying raw ingredients" cost).
A character proficient with alchemist's supplies can attempt to empower any alchemical item by very carefully fusing the essences of two identical items into a single compound. Doing so requires an hour of work and a successful DC 16 Intelligence check. On a failure, both items are ruined. On a success, the item's potency increases twofold. All attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks still occur as normal, but any effects it will have on its target (damage, stat boosts, etc.) are applied twice, and their durations are doubled. In addition, the DC for any saving throw or ability check the new item calls for is equal to the higher of the two combined items' DCs, plus two (for example, combining a DC 11 item and a DC 13 item will create a DC 15 item). An already-empowered alchemical item cannot be empowered again.

New Feat: Alchemist Savant

Prerequisite: Proficiency with alchemist's supplies or an herbalism kit

You are a natural at mixing herbs and chemicals, and have even developed some new techniques. You gain the following benefits:

You are proficient with improvised weapons made through alchemy.
With one hour of uninterrupted work using an herbalism kit or alchemist's supplies, you can quickly throw together any amount of magical and/or mundane items those tools are capable of crafting, as long as the total value of all items does not exceed 50 gp. Expend necessary materials as usual. Items created in this way are unstable, and become inert and useless 8 hours after being made.
Choose two cantrips from the druid or wizard spell list. You can now produce the effects of either cantrip by turning it into a magical potion called a spellvial, using either alchemist's supplies or an herbalism kit. Making a spellvial costs 25 gp in raw materials (if making one from foraged ingredients, its recipe would be one Mind essence or another single ingredient, at DM's discretion). A creature holding the vial can use it (you choose the required method of activation; it could be by drinking it, pouring its contents on an object, or throwing it at an enemy, for example) to cast the spell, using your Intelligence for the spell's magic ability modifier. If the cantrip would have additional effect depending on the level of the caster, this is determined by the level you were at when you made it. After being used once, a spellvial's magic is expended.

Optional, at DM's discretion: You can take this feat multiple times, up to a maximum of three. Each time you do, you learn how to make spellvials of two additional druid or wizard cantrips, and the limit for the total gp cost on temporary alchemical items you can craft in an hour increases by 100 gp.

2015-05-30, 03:01 AM
Not going to clutter your thread, but PM en route with some interesting, related material for crafting and foraging.

2015-05-30, 12:59 PM
This is super cool. Definitely makes an alchemist a playable character archetype, which I'm a fan of.

2015-05-30, 11:07 PM
This is super cool. Definitely makes an alchemist a playable character archetype, which I'm a fan of.

Thanks! That was the goal. I decided to add a feat that lets you specialize in alchemical items to help mitigate some of the more inconvenient aspects of a crafting-focused character and give them some opportunity for uniqueness.

2015-06-13, 10:28 AM
I think something is missing. How do you become proficient with "alchemist supplies", and what are they? I don't see any feat for it. Is it a simple tool that you pick up as part of your background or with training time? I realize that it's fairly common sense (alchemist supplies allow you to use this alchemy system, I assume, and are just a normal tool, also assuming). However, since they are core to the concept, it should really be mentioned in the post. My apologies if it was and I missed it.

Aside from that, however, I think this is pretty awesome! Definitely bookmarking this one, and I may use it as a basis for the core magic item creation rules of my world. Great work!

Edit: I just realized I am an idiot. Alchemy supplies are on the list of phb tools, though I'm surprised that I don't remember reading a more in depth description of them then just a name on the chart. Anyways, ignore the town moron, and carry on.

Additional Edit: (I'm on a roll!) Wanted to link up these two articles with each other. I could see them both being used by someone who has an interest in alchemy. That, and it's fun to make people go on wiki-walks. It's a comprehensive and extremely well done alchemist class by xyrianth.