Thursday, October 20, 2016

RPG Blog Carnival: Potions and Patent Medicine

The stoppered glass bottle is synonymous with alchemy and its base unit: the potion.  The majority of adventure games relegate it to resource refresh, restoring lost health and mana.  A universal consumable that taxes the characters economically, and only extends their survival.  That's boring.

The historical practice of alchemy, like sympathetic magic, is an untapped vein of weirdness in tabletop games.  Whether mystic protochemistry or an occult recipe for gnosis this system of protoscientific philosophy is full of possibility. I'll focus on mystical protochemistry, since pursuing the Magnum Opus is more structural than material in games.  Often consumable magic is already present, or can be added with little effort, in the form of drugs, pharmaceuticals, and quack medicine.  Magical cocktails like those served in SwitchFlipped or the sorcerous shine sold in speakeasies in A Criminal Magic are two examples of the potion as drug.

In Wicked West you are occult prospectors who exploit the Otherworlds and introduce them to the power of gun.  Your greed and opportunistic actions poison the Tree of Life, and worst of all -you aren't alone.

In the Wicked West, potions are patent medicine by another name and just a few of the varied products you can get from the Medicine Show.  Alchemical concoctions serve a variety of functions with a range of quality from Poor (-1) to Good (+3), roll when you deploy it to determine how effective the admixture goes.  Quacks don't practice the most rigorous QC on their admixtures

Epoxies - An adhesive resin composed of two separate chemicals separated in the bottle by a thin wall, you can throw the container or pour out the contents. Creates the Aspect "Glued in Place" that can be compelled once for free to prevent the target from moving.  If you succeed with style "Glued in Place" can be compelled twice.

Infusions - Various plants and animals contain chemical and sympathetic qualities that can be leeched from them via submersion in alcohol, oil, or water.  When consumed they create a minion skill in FAE at the infusion's quality, example: drinking an Average Unicorn Horn Infusion gives the character Resist Toxins +0.

Solvents - Industrial solvents and acids can be used to eat through most obstacles, rolling the concoction's quality determines the amount of time it takes to work through the process.  If you apply heat, you can also use a solvent as a gas attack.

Unguents - Greasy ointments, most are refined from animal fats and used to coat the body.  Demand for these are high, especially among prospectors heading into known Spheres with dangerous environments.  For example, an unguent made from Uktena grease allows you to breathe underwater and grants 1 point of ablative armor.

 RPG Blog Carnival
This month's RPG Blog Carnival theme is potions.