Rolemaster
The Art of Potion Brewing

by Thomas A. Stobie, SFO

This document addresses and builds upon the creation and use of potions in the Rolemaster Standard System/Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying.


Table of Contents


Introduction

This document discusses the creation of potions in the Rolemaster System. It discussed how herbs and other substances can be useful in magical potions, introduces the potion brewing skill, goes into spell mastery techniques for potion brewing, and gives recommendations about potions.


Herbs and Magical Potions

Certain Herbs have properties which product effects on living creatures. It is possible if correct prepared that they can produce effects normal produced by magic or extending periods of time (such as healing).

By incorporating herbs that have properties associated with the spell effect desired by a magical potion, it is much easier to craft magical potions.

Certain minerals, non-herbal plants, and animal parts (particularly magical animals) can have similar effects.

How the organism was raised/cultivated can make a difference on its potency and effects.

Likewise how the substance is prepared and mixed with other substances can also make a difference.


Potion Brewing Skill

Potion Brewing is a new skill in the Crafts Category focused on brewing potions, magical and non-magical. It entails understanding how to select substances as components for the potion based on their properties and the desired effect of the potion, how to mix the components to best gain the desired effect, how to incorporate alchemist magics into the process to incorporate certain spells into the potion, and how to make multiple doses simultaneously.

For non-magical potions, this builds upon successful herb preparation (and possibly alchemy) to properly create a potion from the substances. A successful potion brewing roll indicates a good mix of ingredients to achieve the desired effect. Better rolls indicate a greater potency in the potion, generally resulting in more doses. Non-magical potion brewing takes between twenty minutes and a number of hours depending on the effects desired.

For magical potions, this expands the alchemist potion creation process to allow for the effects of the ingredients, potentially resulting in multiple doses and decreased time to create the potion. In addition, when considering potency for ingredients, an ingredients that makes it easier to imbed and enchant is a valid potency consideration.

Tomes of Formulae for Magical Potions can be very useful in the process to provide specific directions and component lists, and may list alternative components that can be used if the desired component is not available and the effects of such substitutions.

In using the skill, it is necessary to consider the quantity & potency of each ingredient and how multiple components interact (GM decision) and the resultant potency of all ingredients. I have provided a Substance Applicability Potency Modifer Table to apply to substance to allow for different applicability of certain components to the overall effect and resultant potency which is applied to the Benefits of Potency of Ingredients Table to determine the benefits to the potion making process. For most ingredients and potions, 2-3 ounces of raw material (per ingredient) can be considered a standard quantity of 1. Multiply quantity by potency to get ingredient potency and add all ingredient potencies adjusting for ingredient interaction as provided by the GM to get total substance potency.

The standard Talent, Herbalist, gives a special +20 bonus to the Potion Brewing skill.

Skill Modifiers:


Applicable Secondary Skills/Spells to the Potion Brewing Process
Secondary Skills/SpellsUseEffects
Alchemy skill Helps in the preparation and mixes of substances to achieve particular results. Can also serve as a lore skill about non-organic substances and their properties. Can improve substance preparation and the potion brewing process.
Fauna, Flora, & Herb Lore skills Should help understand the properties of animal, plant, and herbal components and how they can be varied under different development conditions and preparation methods. Can improve substance preparation and the potion brewing process.
Herb Mastery spells May help herbs grow and potentially increase the potency of herbs. Can increase the potency of crops.
Horticulture skill Growing plants effectively (and in some cases, specially to achieve certain properties) May be necessary to achieve certain special properties. Can increase potency of crops.
Prepare Herbs skill May improve the applicability and potency of herbs. Can improve substance preparation and the potion brewing process.
Spell Mastery skill Can be used to shorten the time involved to create magical potions. see Additional Spell Mastery Uses in Potion Making.
Substance Applicability
Potency Modifier Table

Substance
Applicability
Potency
Modifier
Excellentx1
Goodx0.7 - x0.9
Fairx0.3 - x0.6
Poorx0.05 - x0.25
Neutralx0
Nonex0 or negative

Neutral Substances can be used to
improve the flavor,
change the color,
change the texture, etc.
but tend not to influence the results.

Magical enhancement of an ingredient
can improve the potency modifier
(GM determination).
Benefits of Potency of Ingredients Table
Total PotencyOptions
> 0.5Multiply potency by 4* (round down) to get Brewing options.

Brewing options can be used as follows:
  • Brewing time reduction for magical potions - Divide standard brewing time by (1 + [# options spent to reduce time]/2) to get actual time required.


  • Extra dose - an extra dose for each option used on extra dose.
* GM's can lower this factor from 4 (to 3 or even 2) to make mass potion brewing more difficult.
0.2 - 0.5Brewing time reduction of 25% for magical potions
0.1 - 0.2Brewing time reduction of 10% for magical potions
< 0.1no special benefits
Potion Brewing Static Manuever Table
Result Non-Magical Potions Magical Potions
-26 down
Spectacular
Failure:
You have failed miserably in potion brewing. However, you are so oblivious not even noticing the horrible scent and self-absorbed that you are convinced that you have suceeded admirably. Your bumbled efforts generate results similiar to Absolute Failure, below, but you will defend yourself until irrefutable evidence is presented that you have failed. You have failed miserably in potion brewing. However, you are so oblivious not even noticing the horrible scent and self-absorbed that you are convinced that you have suceeded admirably. Your bumbled efforts generate results similiar to Absolute Failure, below, but you will defend yourself until irrefutable evidence is presented that you have failed.
-25 - 04
Absolute
Failure:
Your inept attempts at potion brewing have resulted in a poisonous substance and have damaged much of your equipment used in the process, requiring them to be repaired or replaced prior to further potion brewings. Your inept attempts at potion brewing have resulted in a poisonous substance and have damaged much of your equipment used in the process, requiring them to be repaired or replaced prior to further potion brewings. You spent 90% of the full time on the process before realizing your failure.
05 - 75
Failure:
You know something went wrong and that all your time and ingredients have been wasted. About a half the way through, you know something went wrong and that all your time and ingredients have been wasted.
UM 66
Unusual Event:
In the middle of the process, you notice something strange happening and realize that one or more of the components has additional properties that you did not allow for that have ruined the potion. It may have been poor preparation or just an variation in the component itself. After about a quarter of the process, you notice something strange happening and realize that one or more of the components has additional properties that you did not allow for that have ruined the potion. It may have been poor preparation or just an variation in the component itself.
76 - 90
Partial
Success:
You are not achieving what you wanted, but can salvage the materials and continue (try again) after some rest (at least a full day). You are not achieving the mesh of process and magic you desired, so you postpone the work for two days to consider the how to better interwork the process and the magic.
UM 100
Unusual
Success:
During the successful Brewing Process you observe certain happenings in the brew that permit you to make a improvement in the formula that you were using. This results in a better proven formula for further use. During the successful Brewing Process you observe certain happenings in the brew that permit you to make a improvement in the formula that you were using. This results in a better proven formula for further use.
91 - 110
Near
Success:
It takes a couple hours longer than expected as you failed to allow for certain ingredient interactions delaying the overall time. Maybe next time, you will prepare and mix the ingredients better. Apparently the ingredients were not as potent as you thought. It takes an additional 20% brewing time to complete the magic potion.
111 - 175
Success:
Process went like clockwork. No problems at all. Process and Magic mesh nicely. All desired effects achieved.
176 up
Absolute
Success:
Wonderful, the process went perfectly and the resultant potions should last a very long time. When imbibed, the potions even taste good. Your fame continues to grow. You find that not only did everything go well, but the magic seemed to be absorbed faster due to the excellent process, resulting in a additional 40% reduction in the brewing time.

Additional Spell Mastery Uses in Potion Making

Spell Mastery on a spell can be used to reduce the apparent level (down to half of the original level) of the spell, making it easier for other spells to interact with it. In the context of potion making, this means needing a lesser Imbed and Potion spells may be required to imbed certain spells.

Spell Mastery on an alchemist enchanting spell can increase its potency letting one day equal multiple days. The same potency modifier should be applied to all alchemist spells cast.

Note: These uses of spell mastery can be applied to non-potion item creations by alchemists as well. Reduce Effect Spell Level can be useful when working with other spells that affect spells as well.

Additional Spell Mastery Modifiers
Reduce Effective Spell Level
This is modifying the spell to make it respond like an lesser level spell. Maximum reduction is 50% of the original level.

# Levels & Spell Mastery Modifier
Increase Alchemical Potency
This is modifying alchemist spells to increase the potency of them to speed up the construction of magic items. The spells still have a 24 hour duration, but the total time is reduced based on the potency selected.

Increased Potency & Spell Mastery Modifier
-1-10 -4-100 -7-280
-2-30 -5-150 -8-360
-3-60 -6-210 -9-450
x1.5-20 x3.0-95 x4.5-215
x2.0-40 x3.5-130 x5.0-265
x2.5-65 x4.0-170 x5.5-320


Expanded Alchemist Potion Spells

Given knowledge of the spell list, casters should be able to cast intermediate spells between lists to better balance magic item creation cost and time.

Expanded Alchemist Potion Spells Table
Spell Spell
List(s)
Applicable X Range Formula to
Determine
Level
Max Lvl.
Spell
Affected
Lower X Higher X
Potion X Liquid/Gas
Skills
&
Divine
Potions
15 Level = 3*XX
610 Level = 2*X+5X
1130 Level = 2.5*X (round up)X
3149 Level = 1.25*X+37 (round up)X
50unl. Level = X+50X

Different Forms of Potions

Potions are normally liquids but can be prepared in other forms as well.


Potion Recommendations

  1. To permit lots of healing potions, herbs associated with specific healing should be available to those who brew healing potions (both magical and non-magical).


  2. I would recommend herbs with non-healing properties be much rarer than ones with healing properties, making them and non-healing potions rarer.


  3. Also remember that most herbs require or prefer specific growing environments and will be much rarer away from their natural environment. Many gaming worlds provide a list of normal herbs, what environs they may be found in, and how rare they are.


  4. Remember that if the brewer is attempting multiple doses, that they need to use more ingredients to increase the potency. By limiting the availabilty of ingredients you limit the amount of doses that can be produced.


  5. Finding a Tome of Potion Formulae can make an entire adventure worth the effort.


  6. Likewise, finding a Tome of Alchemy that lists the properties associated with various substances can be a good find as well.


  7. If a character wants a specific potion made, part of the cost of getting it done, can be acquiring the special components needed to make it work.



Sample Potion Brewing

  1. Hilda the Animist is brewing a batch of her "Stop Bleeding" (non-magical) potion. She is using potency-enhanced herbs of Fek and Harfy, as well as other ingredients. She has sized her batch with enough ingredients to get a potency of 9.75 which allows her to produce 40 doses (1+9.75*4). She has cultivated and prepared the herbs well (+50), is using a proven formula of normal quality (+20), is using fair equipment (+0) in her clean workshop. Her skill bonus is +65 and her static manuever roll was 37. She succeeds (172), a bit disappointed that it doesn't smell a little bit better. She now has 40 doses of her "Stop Bleeding" potion which takes 1 round to take effect, but permits the patient to move after the bleeding stops.


  2. Ludwig the Healer (with some Alchemist spell lists) is brewing a Major Fracture Repair True Potion. This is a 9th level spell on the Bone Ways List. He is using a proven formula (normal quality) that uses a number of different herbs that affect bone healing as well as a potion base designed for rapid absorption of healing spells by the drinker. He has a good spell mastery ability, and will spellmaster the Major Fracture Repair True spell to act as a 5th level spell, permitting him to use a Potion V and an Imbed V spells with it which he will spellmaster to increase alchemical potency to 3.5 times normal. The ingredients used give him a potency of 4, giving him 16 options. He uses 8 options on time reduction, and 8 options on additional doses.

    His expected time is (15 (Potion V) +11 (Imbed V) + 9 (Major Fracture Repair True) = 35/4 weeks (per Treasure Companion). This is divided by 3.5 for alchemical potency, and divided by 5 for the potion potency options spent on time reduction, giving 3.5 days expected to brew and magically enchant the potion.

    He spends his 3.5 days working magically on the potion and succeeds in his potion brewing. He now has 9 doses of a Major Fracture Repair True potion.

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This builds upon the creation and use of magical potions as defined in the Rolemaster Standard System [RMSS] and Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing [RMFRP]. Copyright 1995-2000 Iron Crown Enterprises, Inc., Charlottesville, Virginia USA. Rolemaster is a trademark properties of Iron Crown Enterprises, Inc. (ICE). All rights reserved.



2003-2004 Thomas A. Stobie, SFO - Permission to use and copy for personal use is granted.

The majority of the contents were published in the June 2004 issue of the online magazine, the Guild Companion.

Last revised 11 June 2004.