Back to index

The copyright situation for this article is unclear. It does not belong to the author of this site. Please see the copyright notice. If you have information about the copyright contact me!

Alchemy Alternatives

by Ilya

Alchemy For Fun and Profit!

Alchemy is rarely done ORPGs (online roleplaying games, aka MUDs). The few games with alchemy systems are nearly always limited. Let's spice things up! How? My recipe follows.

I'd like to tell you how any alchemical system can fit into the game world. Then I'll explain how the system will work.

How Alchemy Usually Gets Fit into ORPGs

Alchemy usually seems to get dumped into one tiny box: brew. Some class, perhaps clerics or mages or druids, gets a spell which allows them to create potions. That's it. Use the brew skill, and get a magical potion.

This is a travesty. It's a single-shot shorthand used in place of a system with such potential beauty and detail!

Better Places, and Ways, to Place Alchemy

Ilya's Alchemy. It's so much more than simply making things out of other things.

An Alchemist

An Alchemist

  It is about making gold from lead, cures from weird body parts, and items of power from who knows what. Watch as our hero scours the realms far and wide for the perfect reagent! Gasp as he rocks the world with torrential energies from arcane experiments gone awry, nearly killing himself in the process! Cry out with disbelief as he masters the elemental forces of the known universe! Shudder in contemplation of the mind-bending horrors our hero can unleash, controlling huge groups -- see pre-teen girls convinced that pink is not the ultimate color! See teen-age boys truly believing that feminine perfection is not embodied in the twisted, gene-spliced body of Lara Croft!

To succeed as a new game system, alchemy must be interesting, dangerous, rewarding, and unique. Especially unique. It must have results or powers or advantages available in no other way.

I can't stress this uniqueness enough! How many cleric types are made nearly useless because of a superabundance of healing/sanctuary/curedisease potions? Their powers are hardly unique when you can carry around a backpack full of dozens of their most powerful spells. How many magic-using types are equally irrelevant because of the duplication of their magical powers in potions of invisibility, scrolls of enchantments, and magical winged shoes of flight? Do not allow it to be this way with alchemy! If you are going to add a new system like this, make sure it does some things better than other systems, and has unique services, results, powers, or features. Perhaps stone skin (or whatever similar effect you have in your game) should only be available through alchemical means. Maybe the most powerful enchantments on items can only be accomplished via alchemical processes. Whatever the details, be sure that your alchemists can do some things that nobody else can. (End of rant)

Alchemy should be interesting, dangerous, and rewarding.