LotFP skills: Alchemy

A Specialist can purchase this skill as any other using skill points, but might require the study of a treatise (it’s a referee’s choice to make it easy or hard for their players).

A Magic-User acquires his first alchemy point when he reads a treatise on alchemy.

Treatises on alchemy

Treatises on alchemy are ancient, moldy volumes filled with lost knowledge. Each treatise covers a field of study (a type of formula) and takes one week to read.

  • At levels 1 to 3, an alchemist can produce one formula per week
  • At levels 4 to 6, two fórmulas
  • At levels 7 to 9, three formulas
  • At level 10 and higher, 4 formulas

Skill points on alchemy determine the chances of success in six; this roll isn’t modified by abilities.

Fields of study (formulas)

Healing

An alchemist can prepare tinctures. By drinking a tincture, an adventurer recovers hp equal to the result of a roll of one die the size of his HD; thus, a Magic-User recovers 1d4 hp, a Fighter recovers 1d8 hp, and so on.

Two tinctures can be combined to create a restorative potion. An adventurer who drinks a potion, recovers hp equal to the result of a roll of three dice the size of her HD; a Magic-User recovers 3d4 hp, a Fighter recovers 3d8 hp, and so on.

Two restorative potions can be combined to create a panacea; an adventurer who eats this paste recovers hp equal to the result of a dice roll of half his HD. A level 8 Magic-User recovers 4d4 hp, while a level 9 Specialist recovers 4d6 + 1d3 hp (four and a half dice).

Poison

An alchemist can prepare a dose of liquid poison to be ingested or a poisonous paste to be used in a weapon. The victim must make a saving throw vs. the poison or suffer 1d6 damage.

Two or three doses of poison can be combined to increase its potency, causing 2d6 or 3d6 damage.

Four doses cause a poison so potent that the victim must make a saving throw vs. death to survive; if he survives, he will still suffer 4d6 damage, which can also kill him.

Bombs

An alchemist can produce an explosive that can damage multiple targets in a circular area with a diameter of 3 meters. Each victim suffers 1d6 damage.

Two explosives can be combined to create a bomb, in a diameter of 5 meters that causes 1d6 damage to each victim.

Two bombs can be combined to create a flask of Greek fire, which produces an explosion with a diameter of 6 meters, causing 1d8 damage to each victim. All victims must make a saving throw vs. breath weapons or catch fire, suffering an additional 1d4 damage each round. These flames can be extinguished by throwing oneself to the ground and spinning like an idiot, but no other actions can be taken during that round.

Other fields

A referee might want to include further fields of study, and if that’s the case, please share!

Compunds

Oh, please! An alchemist always has the ingredients for their concoctions.

Compatibility

For games closer to B/X and percentile Thief skills, each skill point equals approximately 16%.

“I eat the monster!” Now see what happens

Eating monsters? Why, yes! Monster meat (and flesh) have special properties that vary a lot depending on the creature’s diet and habits when before you killed it. When you eat a monster (or a portion), roll d20 on the next table.

Note that stats are written for Into the Odd. WIL (Willpower) roughly equals WIS (Wisdom). Armour 1 means an armour denies one point of damage. A Full Rest is a week, or the time you need to recover all your hp. Impaired means all your attacks cause d4 Damage, in other games it can be Disadvantage or ignore all to-hit bonuses. Saves are what most games call roll under your ability as well as Saving Throws.

1 STR and hp are restored
2 WIL is increased in 1 permanently
3 If you find a monster like the one you just ate, you can control it
4 On full moon, you transform in a monster like it
5 Lose all hp. After a Full Rest, your awake with an Armour 1 layer of nutshell hard skin
6 A week later, your claws grow and cause d4 damage; a year later, they cause d6 damage
7 You can’t recover after a Full Rest if you don’t eat or drink human or ape flesh or blood
8 Overnight, you grow a monkey-like tail
9 You’re blind! No, wait. Not blind. After a night’s sleep you can see ghosts and dead people
10 Your head changes into a dog’s head, d6 Bite. To talk, make a WIL save or start barking
11 Poisonous! Suffer d20 Damage
12 Same effect as being drunk. You are Impaired for the next 24 hours starting now
13 What’s that itching? Allergy? You scratch (choose where), now you have skeletal a part
14 Your legs become a bird’s legs. Your DEX saves related to movement and speed are +2
15 You wake up the next day covered in thick hirsute black hair
16 Your skin becomes blue, people think you’re cute
17 From now on, you must eat the flesh of monsters once a week or suffer d20 Damage
18 You can’t drink water again, it deals d10 Damage (and Impaired.) Blood, on the other hand
19 You can’t stand cooked meat, it must be raw. Eat and STR save or be Impaired for d4 days
20 Each morning WIL save or a parasite (and maybe the Referee) controls you for the day

What else? Well, if you want, I mean if you really need to know what happens when an idiot adventurer smokes a magic scroll (and of course you need to!), Tamás Kisbali has put together this very useful table.

 

Consequences of using magic

Last time I wrote about how to make spell acquisition more interesting for a Lamentations of the Flame Princess game, and also about the consequences there are when playing with the black arts.

Over on Reddit, Alistair49 mentioned other cosequences to using magic. I compiled his ideas and added several more on this table. Some I came up with and others were stolen.

Whenever a magic-user casts a spell (successfully or not), he rolls 1d100, and in a 1, he reduces his Charisma by one point, representing the gradual loss of his ability to connect to other people.

When magic-users lose a point of Charisma they also suffer a change, and expression of magic’s chaotic nature. The referee rolls 1d3, or chooses one category. 1 = Physical, 2 = Behavior, 3 = Metaphysical. Then rolls 1d10 to know the actual change.

1d10 Physical Behavior Metaphysical
1 warts bad temper casts bestial shadow
2 skin color change alcoholic or addicted shadow moves oddly
3 rash of sores careless crows follow you
4 odd smell bad language, can’t control it an imp suckles you in public
5 magic healing won’t work berserk (save vs magic or attack evident lawfuls) dogs bark at you all the time
6 vestigial fingers sprout from knuckles can’t talk without screaming roll CHA tests twice, choose the worse result
7 hirsute hair on the back of the neck fear of the dark shiny red eyes watch you from dark corners
8 insectile eyes you hate dogs, really hate them wandering monsters appear in 2 in 6*
9 miniature ears all over the body, partial ecolocation develops an antisocial or disturbing obssession faith symbols harm you
10 face scarred with symbols you think everyone are stupid and don’t hide it ¡the voices! ¡the voices!

* If wandering monsters appear in a 1 in 6 chance, now they appear in a 2 in 6 chance; adjust this accordingly.

If you have another takes on how chaos manifests on their servants, give us a comment and I’ll gladly include them in a future entry.

Making spell acquisition weird again! (updated)

Magic-users in Lamentations of the Flame Princess get new spells pretty much the same way as in any basic/expert set and OSR.

  • Transcribing it from a scroll, making the scroll useless.
  • Transcribing it from another spell-book, the source remains magical.
  • Research.

Of the three, research is the most demanding but also the most rewarding, the other two are not particularly interesting, much less dark, and I like my LotFP dark, even darker.

So I’ve been toying around with different takes to make the acquisition of spells weird again, and here’s the idea I like the most.

Spell Transcription

Copying a spell from any source—scroll, spell-book, ritual tattoo, scrawls on an asylum wall, magic wand, IOUN stones, or anything—to their own spell-books, deletes the spell from the original source. This simple modification changes the game, because no magic-user is willing to part from their arcane property, although some of them might be interested in exchanging.

To get new spells, a magic-user needs to capture spell-books (or other sources of spells). He can then transcribe the text and mystical scribbles into his book, or he can tear off the page and sew it to it (which is faster but dangerous). Under these guidelines, a magic-user can remove the tattoo from its wearer (including the skin, of course) and add it to his spell-book.

Spells contained in unwritten sources, like magic wands or other magic items, can also be “transcribed”.

For simplicity, the mechanical procedure is the same as regular transcription, following the procedure described in Rules & Magic (pp. 80 and 82). The in-game procedure, though, is different. The magic-user needs to remove the spell from the source (written or otherwise) and “paste it” into his own spell-book. If he has special inks, paper and other materials, the procedure is faster (as described on pp. 82 and 83.)

Casting non-transcribed spells is dangerous

If a magic-user casts a spell from a scroll, or from (a page torn from) another spell-book, or by reading the scribbles on a wall, it is considered risky casting (see the Weird Magic System from Vaginas Are Magic or Eldritch Cock). If you are using regular spells (from Rules & Magic), use the common miscast table, unless you want to create a specific miscast table for each spell your players acquire.

Casting spells from magic wands and similar items, is not considered risky casting; the downside is that the magic-user cannot attach wands to his spell-book.

Other consequences of using magic

Concerning sorcery, James Maliszewski said that “the wages of sin are far worse than mere death (…) the loss of one’s humanity, the ability to connect to other men, is terrible curse.”

All magic-users are of chaotic alignment, meaning their loss of humanity. Also, when a magic-user casts a spell (successfully or not), he rolls 1d100, and in a 1, he reduces his Charisma by one point, representing the gradual loss of his ability to connect to other people.

See this random table of simple corruption effects.

What other diabolists think (update)

Some wizards and devil worshippers have their own ideas, and I will share them with you:

“I’ll add one (idea) from personal experience playing LoTFP as a Magic-User earlier this year. My guy was a bit deranged. He worshiped an evil frog god and liked to gut animals and people in the hopes he could discern spell formulae from their entrails. This almost always did nothing except for a few notable cases where he accidentally unleashed horrible, disfiguring curses upon himself. He was quite mad so he persisted in this suicidal endeavor until the inevitable premature end to his adventuring career occurred.” -CrippleHook, on Reddit

This pushes my notion that spells are kindasorta living things… caged into pages or wands or whatever. Not to be duplicated by mere scribbling.
It also encourages casters to hide/disguise their grimoires. IIRC Earthdawn wizards had grimoires in all sorts of peculiar guises… like a teapot where you brew tea and read the leaves to learn spells stored in the pot.

What about if the original spell is in the form of a baroque sculpture or in the architecture of a room… would the transcription require a three dimensional aspect as well? -Ernesto Plasmo, LotFP group on Facebook

To Ernesto’s question I replied that in my opinion, the spell is intangible, like a spirit or energy; the sculpture is not the spell, it’s its home, but your spell-book can be its new home if you convince it to move (that would be the “transcription”). The idea of making a 3D repository is cool, though. The magic-user needs to choose carefully which spells to bring with him, he cannot pack all of them.”

You have any ideas you want to share?