Alchemist skill problems

I have some problems concerning the Alchemist skill.

In the Create Elixirs and Salves Factors subsection (p.136), what does the Duration (one test free) really means? And why should it be an additional factor to counts as a recovery? How can it not be one already?

Can it be possible with the Alchemist skill to create the potions on pages 147-148?

Also, one of my players is quite frustrated that he can’t know exactly the factors that he is dealing with when making an Alchemist test. He is quite upset by the fact that his character should know the difficulty of what he want to accomplish but he, the player, knows nothing about it and can’t look in the Ability and Skill Factors (p.132-143) part of the book (as the rules recommand, I believe). How do you manage that?

Thanks in advance.

The “one test Duration” means that it gets rid of the condition for one test, then the condition comes back. It’s not recovery, it just suppresses the condition. It’s useful for getting rid of a condition during a conflict, for instance. If you want the elixir to actually allow you to recover from the condition, you need to add the Duration factor.

Yes, you can use it to create potions. For instance, Soldier’s Friend, is Ob 1 to create (Remove Condition afraid + 1 test). A Potion of Healing is a bit more complicated. The Alchemist has to create a potion base for a 3rd Circle prayer (Contingence of the Lords of Creation…find it here: That’s an Ob 6 Alchemist test using the Create Potion Base factors. Then a cleric needs to invoke the Contingence of the Lords of Creation prayer into the base.

As for knowing the factors, I will point out that it’s not a special injunction against Alchemist. It’s there for all skills and abilities. The GM doesn’t tell you the obstacle until you describe what your character is doing. Part of that is about keeping the action moving forward, part of that is about providing players with incentive to get creative with their descriptions and problem solving so the GM invokes the Good Idea rule rather than making them roll. If they ask, the GM could say “That’s pretty simple!” or “that might be pretty tough.” I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

He could run a session or two! It’s not against the rules for a GM to look in that section! Or he could keep a log. Note down the obstacles for things as he attempts them and the GM tells him the obstacle. I think that’s my favorite. I think it’s more fun if players learn through the process of discovery, which is a big reason for the rule. But it’s also kind of tongue-in-cheek. Even if I think it’s more fun if they don’t read the GM portions of the book, I don’t really expect people who buy the game to not read the whole thing. Though if they do, I would still advocate players not looking up the factors in play. In the end, your group’s table, your group’s rules.

Thanks for the rule clarification and for the tips to manage the desparation of my player…

In fact, we had an argument about this yesterday night. I told him exactly what you suggested as a compromise: let him know the approximate difficulty before throwing the dice without telling him a precise obstacle. His eyes slipped, looking at me with bitterness, he took a puff of smoke and reluctantly agreed. Having the game designer corroborate my opinion should calm him down a little bit. He is one tough pigheaded bastard. But that makes two of us…

In respect for game designers, I don’t like house rules. If we play TB, then, we play it right. Same thing with Burning Wheel. Those systems are just so well done, there is just no need to twist them. It’s exaclty why I have an admiration for TB and BW as opposed to the FATE system where you always have to question your judgment on everything. I really enjoy those clear rules where the players and GM knows exactly what are the boundaries of the system.

Thanks again for your quick and clear answers. And « bravo! » for creating such a wonderful game.

A related question: If I make a potion to allow a character to recover from a condition, is that potion usable during the Adventure phase? Or is it only usable during the town or camp phases? Also, does it cost a turn or check to use a potion? We think it doesn’t take a turn/check to use a potion, but the recover test that it grants takes a turn/check. Is that correct?

Usable any time. Doesn’t cost a turn or check to use. Note that these potions don’t grant a test to recover. They just get rid of the condition.

Sorry, just trying to be clear so I can pass this on to my GM.

For example, it is Ob 1 to create an elixir to ignore the Afraid condition for one turn and an Ob 2 to create a potion that removes it all together. (Obs 2/3 for Angry and Obs 3/4 for Exhausted). And, it takes a turn or check to create the potion, but it doesn’t take one to use the potion to relieve the condition. Am I understanding it right?

Lastly, I’m running an assassin. Do you have any recomendations on creating poisons that inflict the Sick or Dead conditions? (Sick seems pretty obvious. Dead would likely be much more difficult.)

Check “Impose Condition” in list of Alchemist factors in the basic rules. I wouldn’t allow a “dead” poison. If you do create one and use it to kill an enemy, be prepared for the GM to use it on you as well! Also, don’t fail that Alchemist test!

To create a poison to coat an edged weapon or arrow/bolt, use the “Create Inflammables” factors. Start at ob 2 (as tools/supplies) and add ob 1-3 for the weapon effect.


I have a character with the instinct “Always brew elixirs in camp” that lets me create one without a check every time we camp.

Jared has you covered on the poisons. There are no instant death potions, but you can get that effect if your target is already sick or injured.

Interesting stuff, guys. Thanks for the info. And sorry. I knew you could impose the sick and injured conditions with poison. I got my question backwards. What I meant to ask is can you relieve these conditions with elixirs?

Check the basic rules.

Alchemists can’t but healers can create poultices to assist in alleviation of those conditions. And there’s always prayers and special level benefits.

Good enough. Thanks.

With poisons that kill, could a GM invoke the spirit of the “killing is my business” rule from the conflict section and state that a failed alchemy test kills the character brewing the potion?

Personally, I would only allow poisons to kill if the target is already injured or sick. If a character making poison is injured or sick, I would definitely consider death to be on the line.