© 1994 by Scott Gray and Sharon Tripp. These pages may not be reproduced for profit. They may be copied, provided they are not altered and the authors' names remain attached.Previous section | Next section | Contents
In order to manufacture elixirs, or use certain magical formulas, certain mundane "components" are necessary. Some components may be bought through logistics; others must be found ingame (cards left in a place appropriate for the component to be growing, etc.).
Cards found ingame in the "natural setting" that the component would be found in are colored coded, so that only those with the appropriate ability will know what it is and whether it is worth picking up (botany letting the character know that the plant is flax, etc.). Cards representing mineral components will be printed on blue paper, and only a person with geology ability may pick up such cards. Cards representing vegetable matter will be printed on green paper, and only a person with botany ability may pick up such cards. Cards representing animal matter will be printed on red paper, and only a person with zoology ability may pick up such cards. Note that some of these will be distributed on LCs or by other mechanisms and may require other skills or abilities, such as chirurgery, to extract/find/take the component (for instance, to remove poison glands from a pufferfish).
Yellow cards are used to represent items which may be animal, vegetable or mineral. These components are "distinctive" such that any person (without zoology, botany or geology) can tell "that's neat" (this would include, but not be limited to, certain man-made things left in the wild). Such cards will always have a brief description of what they appear to be ("big sparkly gem", "insect-eating plant", "cute li'l bunny, dead"); usually there will be a more detailed description for those with the appropriate skill (botany, geology or zoology). Normal game items such as swords, locks or other manufactured goods also use yellow tags.
Any immediate effects of a component (after touching it with bare skin, eating it, etc.) will be written on the tag. If there are any non-immediate effects, there will be a note to see the GM.
Many components, particularly vegetable and animal matter, will spoil after a certain length of time, or simply lose their potency for use in some magical or alchemical formulae (or, in some cases, gain potency for certain formulae). The expiration date of a component will be written on the tag. There is an alchemical mixture, preservative, which can be used to lengthen the lifespan of some components. Some components, upon reaching their expiration date, might become useful for other things. For example, a chicken liver, useful in calling a particular demon, once spoilt might be useful in the necromantic ritual waste.
There may be other means of preserving particular components as well -- tanning an animal hide, drying herbs, pickling small creatures and vegetables, etc.; though some spells or elixirs will require fresh (unpreserved) ingredients.
Any component can be described as fresh, preserved, ruined, spoilt or unaging. Fresh components have never had preservative used on them, and have an expiration date that hasn't been reached. Preserved components have been treated with a preservative before the expiration date of the component was reached, and haven't yet reached the expiration date (if any) of the preservative. Ruined components are components that have been treated with preservative, but are past the expiration date of the preservative. Spoilt components have never been treated with preservative, and are past their natural expiration date. Unaging components are those which have never had an expiration date.
Note that poison, disease, or other continuous effects are "on hold" between events; no more damage is taken until the next event, so that the character does not simply die between events without the player being able to do anything about it. If the player is unable to attend an event but wishes to keep from having his/her character take damage from continuous effects, (s)he should bring it up with the GM. However, only in instances where there are extenuating circumstances keeping a player from playing the character should the character not continue to be effected -- this is important, else no one would ever die from slow poison.
Each particular formula will list the means by which the elixir may be administered. Under no circumstance should a tag for an alchemical mixture be shown before it begins to take effect; this goes for medicinals and other beneficial elixirs as well as poisons.
Ingested poisons may be placed in food or drink. This is represented by slipping a vial of water into any food or drink. The quantity of water may be minute; as long as the physical action of pouring it (without spilling any) takes place. One dose is required to poison a person this way. The poison begins to take effect one minute after the second sip or bite taken, unless the entire quantity was consumed all at once (in which case it takes effect one minute after that). A poison with a distinctive smell or aftertaste (as marked on particular poison tags) can be detected after the first sip or bite.
Example: Martin and Jake are in the local tavern. Martin sips his drink.
"This tastes kind of funny."
"Oh, be a man," Jake replies, downing his own drink in one gulp.
Martin shrugs, and takes a second sip of his drink.
Both are affected by the level 10 quick poison.
Insinuative poisons are administered by entering the blood stream. All of the tags for poison doses put on a weapon must be taped to the blade (so they may be seen). All doses will be expended the first time the weapon hits a target (and is not dodged or parried). Note that the target of the attack is only affected by one dose; the extra doses are wasted (considered lost to the victim's clothes or armor).
In order to use an insinuative poison with a weapon, the weapon must have a blade or point. In order to use an insinuative poison, two doses must be used on daggers, darts, arrows or any weapon with a striking surface under 18". Three doses must be used on blades between 18" and 36". Four doses must be used on blades greater than 36". The blow is called as "[damage] [body and/or other applicable effects] [material] poison". If (and only if) the victim receives health damage from the blow will (s)he be affected by the poison. The poison will begin to take effect one minute after the end of the combat.
Some mixtures may have other means by which they are administered; ointments which are applied to the area to be affected, or explosives which must be ignited. Poisons and other alchemical mixtures will have the rules for their administration recorded on the poison formula or card.
What follows is a list of some of the effects which various elixirs and alchemical mixtures may have. Only in some instances (such as explosive) will one effect be isolated from other effects. These are not meant to be used as formulas for any particular elixir, but to describe effects which particular elixirs call upon.
The level of an alchemical effect refers to the total amount of impact the substance will have.
Addictive. An addictive is a drug which fosters a need or desire for more of the same. Addictions usually cause a detrimental side effect.
When an addictive is taken, the GM should be informed. This will generally require that the player whose character took the drug turn in the card at logistics. The GM will keep track of the addictive process.
An addictive can be easily tailored by the alchemist so that the poison's recipe can't be duplicated simply. Tailoring takes one skill point. For another alchemist to discover the active ingredient takes twice the normal skill points for research on the addictive.
Note that if more than one dose of the same addictive is given within two hours the effects are not additive, but only one dose of the same addictive will be considered to take effect. If two addictives of different types are combined, they are considered as one dose with the higher force and higher level.
Once an addiction is fostered, there is a bad side effect, even if the substance was normally beneficial. Each addiction will have particular game effects as determined by the poison formula.
Example: Jake becomes addicted to a level 3 adrenalate. The GM reduces Jake's normal fatigue by three points until the addiction is broken. Taking the adrenalate will effectively only bring Jake up to his normal level of fatigue.
If an addicted character is forced to do without the addictive for an extended period of time -- failing to consume at least one dose each week -- (s)he will begin to suffer additional side effects. The effects will vary from addiction to addiction, and may even be fatal. However, if a character manages to go for a considerable time (this depends on the poison formula, but is often 5*[force] weeks) without taking a dose of the addictive, the addiction will be considered broken.
It is difficult to break an addiction. Different addictives will have different effects on those going through withdrawal, as explained on the poison formula.
Adrenalate. Adrenalates add one fatigue point per minute, until [level] points have been gained. This effect lasts one hour. Until the hour is up, these points will regenerate as normal fatigue do. The maximum level of an adrenalate is 5; adrenalates may temporarily boost fatigue beyond the normal human maximum of 15. If more than one adrenalate is taken at the same time, the total number of fatigue points gained will not exceed the level of the highest adrenalate.
Depressive. Minus one fatigue point per minute, until [level] points have been lost. This effect lasts one hour. When the character's fatigue points are brought to zero, or when the total number of "depressive" points equals the normal fatigue points of the character, the character will go unconscious for the remainder of the hour. If more than one depressive is ingested, the levels are additive, but no more than one point will be lost per minute.
Note that though adrenalates and depressives may be combined, if any character is under the effect of more levels of depressives than his or her normal fatigue level (s)he will fall unconscious, regardless of the amount of adrenalates in his/her system.
Even though a character losing fatigue due to depressives remains at the same effective fatigue if simultaneously gaining fatigue due to adrenalates (at least until one overtakes the other or the depressive exceeds the character's fatigue), the character will feel the effects of both after the first minute. A person secretly slipped depressives mixed with adrenalates would not be oblivious to the effects of the drugs -- the result would resemble a combination of Nyquil and Jolt.
Intoxicant. If the total level of all intoxicants imbibed is equal to or greater than the character's total (not current) fatigue, the character will be "intoxicated" for one hour. The effect takes hold one minute after the intoxicant is imbibed.
The character will be unable to detect the subtle aftertaste left by certain poisons. The character will be somewhat slower witted and his/her conversation will suffer. Personality traits of the character will be magnified when intoxicated.
The character may not use any defensive maneuvers or any dexterity, perception or intellect abilities while intoxicated. Note that the character does retain skills when intoxicated, but may not use skills based upon abilities which are lost while intoxicated.
Players are encouraged to roleplay the descent into drunkenness, but are only required to act drunk and have the above limitations once the level of intoxicant is equal to their fatigue.
Sense affecting. If the total level of all sense-affecting drugs imbibed is equal to or greater than the character's fatigue, the character will be under the drug's effect for one hour. The effect takes hold one minute after the drug is imbibed. The exact effects will depend upon the specific formula. Generally, the drug will render the character useless, as (s)he will perceive things that are not there, and not notice things which are. This includes hallucinogens, drugs which cause blindness, deafness, a loss of magical senses, etc.
Antidote. This will counter the effect of one named poison. Each antidote will follow separate rules, but most take some time to take effect. Generally, an antidote will serve only to halt further ill effects from the poison, but will not reverse the already sustained damage.
Expectorant. Expectorant may only be taken orally. It empties the imbiber's stomach by inducing vomiting. If taken within ten minutes of an ingested alchemical substance, it will halt the effect of the substance (preventing continued affects from accruing). It will not reverse already sustained effects. This causes the recipient to actively retch for two minutes, during which time (s)he is effectively at severe wounds with regards to abilities. For one hour afterwards, the character will still be under the effects of moderate wounds. Expectorant, prepared medicinally, has a noticeable bad taste and is obvious in a drink or in food; but it is possible to make/prepare tasteless forms of it.
Halt disease. Each separate medicinal formula will halt a separate disease. This prevents the disease from progressing, but does not cure or repair damage already sustained from the disease. A true cure for a disease will combine the effects of halt and treat.
Pain reliever. A pain reliever is not described in numerical levels, but according to the level of the "ignore wounds" ability that it emulates. For example, a light pain reliever allows the recipient to ignore light wounds for the duration, as though (s)he possessed the ignore light wound ability. One minute from when imbibed, the recipient gains the benefits of the corresponding "ignore wounds" ability. This effect lasts for one hour.
For every three additional doses taken, pain reliever effect becomes one level greater (light pain reliever soothing moderate pain, etc.). This effect is cumulative. When four doses of a light pain reliever are taken, it will act as a moderate pain reliever. If seven doses are taken, it will work as a heavy pain reliever. Ten doses will ease even severe pain. Pain relievers will not prevent unconsciousness or allow the recipient to ignore fatal wounds, however.
Example: Hector is moderately wounded. Zaveh is out, so Hector rummages through her medical supplies for something to dull the pain. He finds a bottle labelled medicinal and takes a swig of the contents. The bottle contains alcohol, which is a light pain reliever. Hector is moderately wounded, so gains no effect from it. Three bottles later, the effect has increased to that of a moderate pain reliever, and Hector is able to temporarily function unimpeded by his injuries. However, the intoxicating and depressive effects of the alcohol increased even more quickly. Hector is still conscious (having had four level one depressives, but having five fatigue points), but he has had twelve points worth of intoxicant, and is thoroughly wasted.
Strong pain relievers often have addictive, hallucinogenic or depressive side-effects.
Quicken healing. This effect is usually in the form of a balm or ointment. It is available in levels 1-3. Level 1 will halve the healing time for chirurgery, and if used as part of overnight healing will halve the probability of infection setting in (round up). Levels 2 and 3 will also increase the recipient's overnight healing by one health point. Some medical treatments (e.g. physical therapy) may be more effective or take less time if the physician uses level 3 quicken healing.
Quicken healing effects are not additive. Using two doses of quicken healing will not quarter the healing time for chirurgery, nor will two doses of level two healing grant two additional health points in overnight healing.
Treat disease. Each separate medicinal formula will treat a separate disease. It takes several days to completely recover, in any instance. This will repair damage already done by a disease, but does not necessarily rid the character of the disease -- damage may continue to accumulate.
Fatigue affecting. This type of poison reduces the character's permanent fatigue by one point per day until a total of [level] points have been taken. When the character is at 0 fatigue, (s)he will be comatose, and will die the next (ingame) day. Note that some extensive medical therapies may exist to help recover losses from slow poisons.
Feign death. This prevents a character without medical training (first aid or chirurgery) from finding signs of life. Note that the empathy benefit or healing abilities do not impart any medical knowledge. Even those who are medically trained must spend [level] minutes inspecting the person to detect signs of life. Poisons of this type take effect ten minutes from when ingested, and last for [level] times 15 minutes. This effect does not necessarily preclude movement on the part of the person who has ingested the poison, but most poisons which have this effect will also have paralysis effects.
Health affecting. This type of poison reduces the character's permanent health by one point per day until a total of [level] points have been taken. Note that some extensive medical therapies may exist to help recover losses from slow poisons.
Paralysis. This poison will freeze up the character's muscles, making him/her unable to move or speak for [level] times 10 minutes. This poison takes one minute to take effect.
Quick poison. This type of poison does 1 health point damage to its victim per minute, until the victim has taken a total of [level] points of damage. Ingested quick poison delivers an intrinsic killing blow with each point delivered, if the victim is at zero or negative health.
Quick poison, unlike most other alchemical mixtures, cannot have its scent masked. After the first taste or bite, any person is able to tell that a drink or other substance contains the poison; however, (s)he cannot if not fully cognizant (intoxicated, hallucinating). See the rules for ingested poisons.
Insinuative quick poison may be treated by first aid at any point before the victim reaches -1 health. The victim is left at whatever wound level (s)he was brought to, but no further damage is inflicted (the first aid representing sucking the poison from the wound, etc.). Once an insinuative quick poison brings its victim to -1, it delivers an intrinsic killing blow.
Healing. These may bring someone back to full health, bring the dead back to life... There are all sorts of legends; who knows which are true? Some believe these to be created by martyrs who gave their lifeblood that others may live, others that they're the vile product of fleshshapers. Don't hold your breath expecting to find one. The effect of healing potions is reputedly instantaneous.
Magical. Magical potions should require alchemy and either empathy or magery to make, and often other abilities as well (such as levels of healing, fleshshaping, magical skills, etc.). The effects include love potions, potions which allow communication with animals, blood to acid, and so forth. As with healing potions, many of these magical potions have an instantaneous effect.
Explosive. When used, an explosive will do [level] damage, in a [force] foot radius. A second dose will add 1/2 force to the total radius. A third will add an additional 1/4 force, etc. If combined explosives are of varying force levels are used, the highest force is added first, the second highest force is divided by two and added, the third highest force is divided by four and added, etc.
If explosives of varying levels of damage are combined to increase the blast radius, multiply the level of each dose by its force, total all together, and divide by total force of all doses; the resulting number is the effective level of the combined explosive. Round fractions to the nearest whole number.
Example: Hector (demolitions expert for Squad 13) sets up a trap which triggers an explosive. He puts a level 10, force 5 explosive in the trap. The trap, if triggered, will do 10 points of damage (first to fatigue, then to health, as per normal combat damage) in a five foot radius. He sets the trap, but the possum escapes it, just barely getting out of the blast radius in time. Cursing, Hector places a level 10 force 5 explosive and a level 8 force 7 explosive in another trap. The effective damage of the trap becomes 9 ((10x5 + 8x7)/12) and blast radius will be increased to nine and a half feet (7+(5/2)). Hector plans on possum pie, but is disappointed when he fails to find any meat left where the possum set off the trap; the possum had only 1 health and 1 fatigue, so the trap did an intrinsic killing blow (and, according to the referee, destroyed Hector's dinner).
In order to trigger an explosive, it usually must be set on fire. Since its effect is immediate upon being set aflame, it is common to use a trap mechanism to trigger explosives, though other means might be used (such as setting an arrow on fire and firing it at a barrel filled with explosives, or lighting a long fuse).
An explosive which does more than two times as much damage as the character's total hit points delivers a scar. The body then continues to smolder for as long as it remains at negative health (up until death) -- making the corpse completely unrecognizable.
An explosive which delivers more than four times its victims total hit points in damage delivers an intrinsic killing blow, and renders the corpse unrecognizable.
Preservative. Adds a longer "lifespan" to organic components. Preservative may not be applied a second time. Some alchemical mixtures or magical spells will require the component in "untainted" (i.e. unpreserved) form.
Timed release. When mixed with an alchemical solution (different versions of this formula may only work with certain mixtures) the period of time before any effects of the poison are noticeable will be delayed. Only the effects are so delayed, the taste is not; an imbibed quick poison with a timed release will still have the telltale aftertaste after the first sip -- only the time that the poison effect begins is delayed. Different recipes will vary the timing.
There are certain alchemical effects that might appear ingame which are not listed above. Some effects are unlisted because they would be seen only rarely. In some cases the use of such an elixir would not produce a standard effect, and so GM intervention is required. Although there are no standard rules for these other effects, the particular rules will be written in the description of the poison or component, and appear on its card. Many of the components will list other potential uses, without listing the rules by which they would be used; leaving that to GM discretion.
Example: Aloe is listed as helping heal burns. Due to the difficulty of representing fire in a live action game, it is relatively rare that a character has burn wounds. However, Hector (demolitions expert at large) manages to get a rather nasty burn wound from an explosive. The explosive was level 12, but Hector's fatigue soaked 5 points of the damage; Hector has suffered 7 points of health damage. Zaveh, a local who knows something about chirurgery and the use of herbs gives Hector a bit of aloe she harvested that morning (Steve gets a green card which describes aloe on it). Steve goes to Alexandra, the GM, and shows her the card for aloe, and explains the source of Hector's wound. Alexandra decides that using the aloe will serve as a level 2 quicken healing effect, but only for burn wounds; and adds one extra health point onto Hector's overnight healing.
There are several effects that are purely roleplaying in nature. This means that the effect is described, and it is incumbent upon the player to play the effect fairly -- no health, fatigue or other numbers are modified; but a definite behavioral difference is called for. For instance, an example of a roleplaying-only effect would be an aphrodisiac. It is not magical, so does not make a character do anything against his/her wishes. However, the character should be played as feeling more passionate than usual, whether or not (s)he decides to do anything about it.