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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sandbox Saturday 07/26/14

Franklin Booth Art
Welcome back to Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight and my post for Sandbox Saturday.  A little detective work will reveal I am playing a bit of catch-up ball this week but this happens to us all in our busy work + kids + family time lives and mine is no different.

Today I am going to expand on some signature issues in my campaign setting, wandering monster tables, monster lists and so forth and the reasoning behind them.  Let's get started.

Trees and Brush

So why include trees and brush in a wandering monster table.  Who the crap cares about this?  Well.  I do.  I do because I love the approach the game Skyrim took to herbalism and alchemy and I want to emulate that in my table top game.  Not only are some of the plants listed useful food sources or helpful for weaving, making bows or other sorts of gear they are also part of my table for gathering and combining ingredients using the alchemy skill to make all manner of minor potions.  In this region of my campaign there is little left in the way of fantasy infrastructure.  There are few places even in dungeons where characters are going to be able to come up with healing potions, cure poison, potions of spider climbing or feather fall or invisibility and all the rest.  That leaves it up to the players to get involved in brewing their own.  I am working up a simple system of plant name x yields 1 or 2 or 3 bundles of ingredient depending upon an herbalism skill roll.  Herbalism is used for collecting, drying and preparing bundles of ingredients and alchemy is used for experimentation to discover what these ingredients can be used for and making the actual potions.  Just like in Skyrim I wanted at least a two tier list of possible things a particular ingredient can do.  Let's say the party finds a stand of Blue Ash trees.  I roll a result of 4 trees.  A character with herbalism decides to gather ingredients from the trees which are bundles of Blue Ash bark.  They set about this task and then later spend an hour of their time preparing the bundles for use as an alchemy reagent.  A prepared bundle of Blue Ash is worth about 1 gold piece to an Alchemist.  If the party encounters an alchemist either dwelling as a hermit up in the hills somewhere or in a group of survivors they can simply prepare bundles of ingredient and then sell them for the gold.  Otherwise a player character can pick up the Alchemy skill.  They must have a collection of tools and some sort of alchemical lab to do this work in which begs the question of where the party is going to hole up and build some kind of base of operations.  It also requires the party to go out and find these various things, trade for them and possibly slaughter some poor alchemist to seize theirs.  Four hours of work in the lab allows a skill roll.  If the skill roll is successful the alchemist learns the first type of potion the ingredient can be used to make.  In this case Blue Ash bark works as a reagent for a potion of slow disease.  The alchemist must find at least one more reagent useful for a slow disease potion to have a chance of brewing up a single dose of slow disease.  Each additional reagent the alchemist can add that is listed as slow disease adds a bonus to the chance of success and effectively triples the output.  Three reagents combined together to make a cure disease potion will brew a potion with three doses rather than the usual single dose created by combining two reagents.

Chestnut trees, Apple trees have obvious immediate benefits in a campaign where there is no home base village to return to for resupply, at least not immediately.  A bundle of apples might make a good trade in this setting for information from someone the characters encounter or it might stave off starvation for another day.  That same apple tree might have bundles of leaves which can be dried and prepared as bundles of reagent for an alchemist who may discover that apple leaves are actually useful in the preparation of xyz potion.

Trees and brush are not the only items useful as reagents in alchemy.  Part of the fun is having the party alchemist trade information with an NPC alchemist in this or that village where they might learn that the horn of a particular food animal can be used as a reagent or that the poison of a particular type of huge spider might have beneficial effects if prepared in the right fashion.

I know it doesn't make a ton of sense but I've wrapped all of this alchemical reagent preparation into the herbalism skill for now and that includes things like the preparation of animal horns, ears, snouts, blood and whatever other item can be turned into a bundle useful for the alchemist.

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