Herbalism FoRKs

I’ve always taken the “Apothecary or Alchemy for creating potions” as meaning one or the other (Apothecary for medicinal, Alchemy for magical) but the rest of the entry, “Surgery or Field Dressing for tending wounds” suggest to me that both medical skills could FoRK into treatment.
I have to be missing something here, is it meant to be either Apothecary or Alchemy, and therefore, either Field Dressing or Surgery (as I have always thought before) or is it meant to be both Apothecary and Alchemy for potions, and therefore, both Field Dressing and Surgery for treatments?
Or do we treat potions as Apothecary for medicinal, Alchemy for magical while allowing both Field Dressing and Surgery FoRKs for tending wounds?

I have always interpreted it as different means to the same ends. The apothecary’s way of managing a potion would be much more academic and based in science of the day. Where as an alchemist would come at from the arcane formulae direction. They would also be more organic about it as they tended to know a significant amount of chemistry but were more self taught.

Context matters. What is the player trying to do, how, and with what? That usually makes it clear when their knowledge of FoRKs is relevant. In general, “or” in Gold is not exclusive, but pay attention to the fiction.

This particular noble wizard character (born noble, arcane devotee, >city sorcerer, >rogue wizard) has bloodletting, field dressing, herbalism, apothecary, alchemy, enchanting, astrology, sorcery, symbology, research, read, write, calligraphy, ugly truth, graveyard wise, apocalypse wise, and inconspicuous. (FoRK much?)

I’m just trying to get ahead of things before they come up in game. (Note: field dressing, herbalism, and apothecary were opened with general skill points specifically to work together)

So, if this wizard wants to use his B3 Herbalism to create potions and medications prior to his expedition, should he be able to use his B3 Alchemy and his B2 Apothecary to FoRK into his Herbalism for a B5 total, or do we limit the FoRKs to one or the other?

If it makes sense, and the player describes using both skills, sure they can FoRK both.

I agree that allowing both FoRK’s wouldn’t bother me if the player made a good explanation for how they were used. Based on the intent you gave though, “create potions and medications”, I’d probably call for Alchemy or Apothecary checks and allow for Herbalism FoRK or a linked test to find ingredients. But that is a judgement call for which skill is the “right” one for the task at hand.

Apothecary derives from the storehouse of one of the roman emperors, I forget which, who had his wise-men stockpile various rare simples (herbs etc) in case of a health emergency. Apothecary, literally means"storehouse" in Greek. To physicians of the ancient world alchemy literally was the “use of herbs roots minerals and animalia to cure and prevent common and chronic ailments”. One took a bunch of simples (toad brains, cinnabar, crushed dogs tooth) to make into a compound sometimes with incantations. Alchemy, of course, also dealt with chemistry, as we would call it, of turning lead to gold or transmutation of other substances.

Looking at BWG it seems that it has split the dual uses of alchemy–healing, known as physici and chemistry known as transmutation, into separate skills called apothecary and alchemy and I see no reason why they shouldn’t be FoRKed.

Lastly, there is Herbalism. Given that it is near identical to apothecary in its description in BWG, I would be tempted to change it. The new definition would be the knowledge of how best to find and cultivate efficacious “simples” herbs and the like. Ancient history of the Romans and Europeans (not just the Druids of England) call for very specific occultish means of gathering plants. Some with the left hand only during a full moon, some cut with a silver sword that has never shed blood, some with your back turned, or when reciting a specific imprecation, to how one should remove a rabbits foot for it to maintain its magic (you have to release the still living rabbit afterwords with some Mumbo-jumbo phrases) to name but a few. These were rules not just for sorcerers, but rules followed by Roger Bacon, Galen, even Hippocrates himself, I would then move the example healing obstacles over to apothecary and give the poisons to alchemy or to the poison skill.

Herbalism is then the proper cultivation and dosing.
Apothecary is healing simples and compounds
Poison, perhaps stays as it is
Alchemy is mixing and transmutation of compounds and more explicitly sorcerous concoctions (like a potion of invisibility per se).

Herbalism, demonology, and astrology, could fork into all.
Alchemy, poison and apothecary could fork into each other.
Outdoor skills like hunting, cartography and astrology would fork into herbalism.

The use of powdered gems was also used in alchemy and healing. I would be inclined to include lapidary, mining and of course, with alchemy, munitions.

P.S. Almanac, anatomy, animal husbandry, appraisal, bird husbandry (especially for the Weyneck/jinx bird made popular by Persian Magi), blood letting, butcher, cooking, enchanting, etching, foraging, foreign languages, history, insect husbandry, philosophy, potter, read, research, history, ritual, scavaging, sorcery, summoning, surgery, taxidermy, trapper, white smith, wises and write–as linked tests or potential forks.

So it is apparently going to be determined by intent, task, and explanation (?).
When it comes down to it, FoRKs are a way to add dice to a roll, and if the player can justify, and no one objects, they’re good to go.
As long as we don’t end up breaking anything game wise, the fiction rules all.

Perhaps linked tests are more in the spirit of the game if a particular skill is not listed as a FoRK? Say a player wants mining and lapidary to somehow factor into making an alchemical potion to cure the plague that threatens to kill the king. While a FoRK would require only the player explaining how he traveled to a mine, found a gem and carved the requisite occultish symbols before crushing it into his potion. A linked test would require the character, or appropriately, another PC with those skills, to successfully find a gem and then successfully engrave it before the +1D could be added to the alchemy test. Linked tests seem to have more adventure opportunities, and less hand waving, associated with them.

Depending on what’s involved or at risk, sure. And linked test are always more interesting than helping dice whe it comes to a long journey or a really involved test like you described.
However, if there isn’t anything really major on the table like stopping a plague or saving the kings life, say we are just going to prep for an adventure or a quest, if the players are trying to cut down on their resource tests by crafting certain items themselves then I’m going to let them try, perhaps as a graduated test per potion to check quality vs. quantity.
Magical potions have to be crafted by using the Enchanting rules in the Magic Burner, Alchemy (or Taxidermy) is used to collect and distill the antecedents to be used in the Enchanting process, whether that process creates an item or a potion.
The FoRKs that are listed with a skill are the usual ones, but certainly not the only ones.

However, if there isn’t anything really major on the table like stopping a plague or saving the kings life, say we are just going to prep for an adventure or a quest

Does the book recommend rolling dice at all if nothing is at stake? Wouldn’t it be better just to have an instinct that said “I always prepare for excursions with a potion or two?”

the players are trying to cut down on their resource tests by crafting certain items themselves then I’m going to let them try, perhaps as a graduated test per potion to check quality vs. quantity.

I don’t have the magic burner, so forgive me if I’m misinterpreting something, but rolling dice to “check for quality vs. quantity” doesn’t even seem to have a failure condition. It seems like you are leaning toward a “say yes” in regards to making low power potions rather than an actual skill test. Finally, I gather from my reading that the dice rolls are the adventure, to paraphrase a cliche aphorism, “adventures are what happens while you’re preparing for an adventure.” So, alchemy and resource tests aren’t something you do to “prepare” for adventures where you’ll use your real skills of sorcery and sword fighting, or rather if that is your intent, a better way to incorporate them as such is via instincts rather than tests with nothing at stake.

To use an analogy, haggling with a blacksmith over a sword isn’t something you do before an adventure, it is part of the adventure and that haggling skill helps define your character just as much as his sword skill he uses to stab orcs with and is just as exciting and dangerous, in its own way. D&D has this concept of skills being kind of secondary to the class abilities (which are primarily combat related), but BW makes no such distinction.

The dice rolls are not the adventure, but rather a turning point in the adventure. If your trying to craft items in winter for your upcoming trip in spring there are several things that can go wrong, and all of them are using some amount of time and resources that you cannot recover this season. Extra successes in your preperations translates into advantage dice for your journey, while failures result in complications.
Yes, we could just handle things in the narrative, but if the players want to test their skills and actually have their characters do something rather than just take shelter from the winter storms, why not?
If a character is burned to take full advantage of FoRKing dice for his skills, great as long as they do not break any rules (op question in regards to FoRKing both Alchemy and Apothecary into Herbalism at the same time).
During these "down time"activities, things can happen that add to the storyline, or create arcs towards the next adventure!
(Reading Luke’s notes about how his “Storm King” came into being was inspirational).
Unlike a writer, gm’s never know how a story will turn out, and sometimes even the smallest action can have far reaching consequences.
It’s never about the dice, but the dice determine the random factors the players cannot to set the stage with new challenges to navigate and overcome, taking the storyline to new heights. And it’s always about the story.

Perhaps we’re talking about different things, as I don’t disagree with much of what you said. I’ll try a different analogy. The sorcerer’s apprentice never rolls a die the hundreds of times he cleans his master’s laboratory, the GM only has him roll when the player wants to get it done without any effort and the agreed upon failure condition is that all of the brooms animate under their own power. If an outcome isn’t interesting, why roll dice at all? But I think I’m pretty far off topic and I am probably the last person to take advice from concerning rules adjudication. ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

I think that animating the mops and brooms to do his work for him was the intent of the spell while sorcery was the task. Loosing control of his animations would have been the complication from the failure (must’ve been using Art Magic) :wink:

Regardless, had the apprentice stuck to his normal routine there wouldn’t have been a need for a roll to begin with.

In Fantasia the conflict comes about when Micky’s curiosity gets the better of him, so he tries to use the wizards hat with disastrous results.

In The Sorcerers Apprentice the conflict comes from Dave’s desire to get both himself and his place cleaned up and presentable before Becky gets there, without Belbazar knowing.