Friday, September 18, 2009

Alchemists in RPGs

There are few fantasy RPGs that have a really interesting way of playing an alchemist. Most of them require a tremendous amount of forethought and bean-counting as you buy and construct your alchemical creations ahead of time. D&D is among the most egregious of these.

I like the idea of playing an alchemist, but that's not the way I want to play it.

Here's the sort of alchemist I want to play:


6 comments:

kaeosdad... said...

epic idea.

Helmsman said...

Exalted does this the best that I know of. They abstract the resources so you're not bean counting, but have good versatile rules for creating just about anything. If offers pretty cool cosmological reasons why it will work and has a power scale as such that no alchemical wonder will ever break the game.

Technically all you'd need to do alchemy is the core book, but it wouldn't offer you much. I'd recommend having
•Exalted (core rules)
•Oadenol's Codex
•Scroll of Heroes
as the must haves to do alchemy.

Other good ones that aren't totally necessary would be:
•Wonders of the Lost Age
•Scroll of Kings
•Roll of Glorious Divinity Vol:1 Gods and Elementals
•Roll of Glorious Divinity Vol:2 Ghosts and Demons

Doing an alchemist in that game would actually be pretty rewarding because it allows you as a normal mortal to do some pretty cool stuff that can let you keep pace with the Exalts, and it's nice to play the competent underdog sometimes.

Nick Novitski said...

Damn. I can't help but hear this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8szE-xCrFNs

"He's a secret agent / in the face of death he laughs / cuz he solves every problem / with the use of arts and crafts!"

Alexis said...

I like the idea, but an alchemist shouldn't be able to solve "anything". Are you saying, Helmsman, that the only limits on the class are your imagination? That seems impractical for playability, since it is in your limitations that you find character.

Helmsman said...

Um... until Scroll of Heroes came out very recently there was no actual Alchemist "class". It was just a normal mortal dude with an Occult skill who had purchased Alchemical formulas to do stuff.

You have to understand that Exalted isn't really like most fantasy games. The "normal" Player Character is generally going to be a super-being on-par with what you would see in Monty Ohm's Dead Fantasy. They can and do beat up gods, construct and destroy kingdoms, and play croquet with earth smashing hammers. Sorcery in exalted STARTS with the "I kill it instantly." spells and goes up from there. I know that sounds stupid and overpowered, but for the game it works.

Alchemy is mortal stuff. Exalts can do it, and they do, but it's piddly compared to the earth shaking shit they can learn by virtue of what they are. However it's versatile and quite utilitarian, and for a patient sort the payoffs are excellent. The setting defines so much and there are tons of ways to exploit alchemy to the point where the potential to do a lot of stuff really exists.

The freeform nature of it can be a bit overwhelming to those who don't understand the game and the setting, but for me it's one of the most fun things to do... explore the world find neat components and mix them up and make something cool.

szilard said...

If I recall correctly, the cost of Alchemical formulas is prohibitively high for Exalts.

I don't think I'd want to play a heroic mortal in Exalted. The system seems far too deadly/gritty for it without the use of defenses that only Exalts can reliably get.