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Colonial Gothic: Secrets — Alchemy

February 25, 2008

Things have been quite.

Let’s make some noise.

Final touches are being done to Colonial Gothic: Secrets. It then goes into layout, and will be in stores in May. The book fills in a lot of the gaps found in the rulebook. You have creatures, you have history, you have secret societies, you have new Rituals and you have Alchemy.

When creating the Alchemy rules there are a number of ways I could have handled things. I decided to go with the more historical route and I tied it into the development of chemistry and the like. Like a lot of the things found in Colonial Gothic, I used history as not only my inspiration, but as my guide. Though I kept my eye toward history, I still wanted to make sure alchemy was playable, and more importantly, fun.

The rules where playtested for close to a year, and the refinements to them reflect the development of the game. I wanted to make sure that they stood out, not because I want a lot of Alchemists, but because I want those who work magic within the world of Colonial Gothic to be distinct. Heroes and Villains who work Rituals are different, and their approach to their magic is different still. They can be shamans, or they can be self taught esoteric dabbles into the Occult.

Alchemists, on the other hand, do not view what they do as magic. It is a process. By distilling items, the Alchemist hopes to derive from them a set product that is usable by all.

Anyway, here is a brief excerpt from the book which introduces the basics of Colonial Gothic Alchemy. I hope you enjoy it.

Current Alchemy

Today, many feel that Alchemy is nothing more than superstition. Though Isaac Newton was an Alchemist, his public disavowing of the Art did much to set it back. However, some feel that Benjamin Franklin, despite statements to the contrary, studied the art for years, and used this knowledge in the creation of his scientific works.

The practice of Alchemy requires a lab which must include not only a furnace, but also the necessary tools to produce their work. Alchemists need billows, tongs, and numerous glass beakers, vessels made from copper, tin and iron which are used for distillation. To outfit a full lab the cost is £25. Besides the needed gear, Alchemists also need ingredients to perform their work, which incurs more costs. Though some Alchemists use portable labs (a horse drawn wagon), Alchemy’s true work requires a full lab. Alchemists doing their work away from the lab, suffer a -4 penalty to their Alchemy Test.

Alchemy centers on the following Arts: Acid and Alkalis Creation, Elixir Creation, Soap Creation, Dye and Ink Creation, Poison Creation, Explosive Making, Pesticides and Purifier Creation, Metal Creation, and Transmutation. Alchemy is an art that is linked to Reason. In addition, some of these Arts are able to produce creations at various strength levels. To brew a stronger creation, the Alchemy Test is modified per the number found in the tables below.

For example, your Hero has Alchemy-Acid and Alkalis at Rank 12. To produce a Rank 1 Acid, you make an Alchemy Test, with your Target being your Ranks in the Skill. In this case, your Target is 12. If you wanted to create a Rank 5 Acid, your Target would be lowered by 4 Ranks, making the Alchemy Test harder and the Target you need to roll under an 8.

Alchemy is something that I really like and it has ties throughout the book. Two societies have ties to this art, and there is historical ties to it as well. Like Rituals, Alchemy has a lot of potential. Some Arts, might not look to be that useful, but in play players have used Pesticides and Purifier Creation to great effect.

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