Alchemists are found in many fantasy settings. If used properly, alchemists can add unique flavor to your game. But what is the story of that powerful person standing behind the counter? Why do they sell magic? I have thirty different answers to that question.
These entries are based on a 'sandbox style' roleplaying setting with each entry being a 'toy'. The PCs can make each 'toy' as much a part of the story as they want.
1. The Puppet Master – This small alchemist shop has a bizarre sign which has roots in heraldry. However, most familiar with heraldry won't instantly pickup on it's meanings. A boy with a broom is often seen inside and out sweeping the steps/floors and at other times washing it with a bucket of water and a scrub brush. The proprietor is a standard looking wizard type, who constantly is reading a magical tome. No wares are in sight and a closed door leads to a back area. The proprietor, Oltimir, will produce a catalog of magical items that he sells, going into the back for anything the PCs might require. PCs who attempt to haggle or sell something, will be told, “Let me think about it, why don't you come back tomorrow”.
Oltimir is actually a failed wizard apprentice. The tome he is studying is basic wizardry stuff. He is actually the servant of an imp wizard by the name of Xirt. Xirt left his hell dimension a long time ago and seeks power and riches with no desire to return home. Xirt never shows his face as he knows the prejudice against his kind would ruin any business dealings. While not being the nicest creature to deal with, Xirt is an exact business man and cheats no one. This strange partnership could be discovered if the PCs attempted to rob the shop, came at a strange hour, researched the heraldry symbol (which reveals a partnership between light and dark), began to haggle extremely aggressively, or have a good devil sensing ability. If discovered, Xirt might offer 10% off all future purchases to keep the secret (depending on circumstances). If all else fails he is prepared to bail out and leave Oltimir to be lynched as a witch.
Options – You could replace the imp with any other magic wielding creature that is feared as a monster, such as a lich, a dragon, a mind flayer, etc.
2. The Witch Doctor – This alchemist is located in an 'out-of-the way' area where the natives are inbred and somewhat hostile and suspicious of strangers. This run-down shop is built from wood that no self-respecting carpenter would ever use. The shop is lined with shelves, each shelf containing multiple glass jars. The alchemist, a man by the name of Bowbo, here has crooked teeth and a countenance much like the other locals. He sits on a crooked three legged stool tending his glass bottles filled with living bugs. His goods are mostly potions and are advertised as being made entirely from local vegetation and bugs.
Bowbo's potions are tainted but they still function more or less as promised. At the very least a small temporary side effect is noticed (tongue turns yellow, 'pins and needles' sensation in hands and feet, frequent gas with a pungent odour, etc.) You might want to consult Flawed Potions.
Options – I used this as a political requirement. If the PCs were to deal favourably with the natives they had to do some trading. Failing to do so would result in a complete failure of diplomacy.
3. The Techno-Alchemist – This tidy shop has a number of hanging plants, nice artwork, and comfortable chairs both for host and guests. An open archway leads to a back area. A single locked cabinet contains most of this alchemists wares. The alchemist is a middle aged handsome man by the name of Winston. Winston is extremely polite and has no interest in confrontation of any kind, which also includes haggling. More often then not he will serve tea to his potential customers/guests. Strangely instead of potions, more often then not, he produces pills. He carries a wide variety of 'magical' solutions to his customer's problems.
This man is actually an inter-dimensional being. He comes from a sci-fi world of high technology (perhaps like Star Trek). Winston is trapped on this world as the result of some temporal anomaly. Being a doctor/scientist of his home dimension, he found alchemy his most suited profession and way of blending in with the natives. Therefore instead of using magic to create potions and other magical trinkets, he uses technology from his home dimension. Many of the plants in his shop are the sources of his highly potent drugs. If threatened with violence or theft, Winston would use an energy weapon (pistol) to deal with the problem. The lock on the cabinet is beyond any thieves picking abilities as it's of alien design.
Options – 1. Winston wasn't the only one from his dimension brought here. 2. Winston has heard of inter-dimensional travel using magic instead of science and is currently searching for a way home.
4. The Botanist – A greenhouse loaded with exotic plants doubles as a shop for this female alchemist. The alchemist's greenhouse is cramped to the point of being dangerous to the PCs (see #30 Cramped Shop Con in 30 Street Crimes and Cons). Several carnivorous plants serve as obvious guards to the establishment. The alchemist introduces herself as Rhowna and is usually in the process of watering the plants on the PCs arrival. She deals primarily in potions and is likely to have any potion or poison. It is unlikely for her to have any other magic items. She is likely to offer the PCs a very good exchange on any exotic plants or seeds they might have.
Rhowna has a history in dealing with druids and various nature religions. The outcome of these dealings was not good. She is hated and hunted by a certain order of druids for being on the 'dark side' of nature. This problem has gotten big enough that bounty hunters and assassins (possibly the PCs as well) are looking for her. In her defence, she has the ability to animate many of her plants as well as direct the attacks of numerous carnivorous plants located in her shop. As a last resort she has some potions on her person at all times to make a hasty getaway.
Options – if the PCs are the bounty hunters you might want to provide proof of her guilt to help the PCs not feel bad about their choice. For example you could have her be secretly working on pod people (like Invasion of the Body-Snatchers)
5. The Prodigal Son – This shop has seen better days, as Jarrek, the alchemist's young clerk, will attest to. A broken window, flooring coming up in places, and an ant problem are the most obvious of the store's problems. The young man behind the counter seems unfamiliar with his own merchandise and hesitates to sell anything he doesn't know about inside and out. Unable to answer many questions about his wares, he becomes easily frustrated and will answer such questions with, "I'm not sure about that, maybe you should wait for the alchemist to come back", "if I knock 10% off will you just take it?", or "that's not for sale".
The alchemist's clerk is actually his wayward son, although he doesn't want to advertise this. The real alchemist is stricken with a magical plague/curse from an item he purchased years ago and the shop has been shut down since. The prodigal has reopened and is attempting to run his father's shop to earn enough money for his father's cure, if such a cure can be found. While Jarrek is not completely gullible and naive, he is new to the business and running a business altogether. His weaknesses would make this a great place for thieving/conning types to really score.
Options – the alchemist is actually dead and the son is just trying to liquidate the shop, he is torn between greed combined with dislike of running a business and respecting his father's wishes/memory/life.
6. The Sword Collector – “On the rich side of town, past the bank, you'll see an old manor. It's rooftop is guarded by gargoyles and it has the red banner with the symbol of the sword impaling the griffin. Yea, that's the one. Ask to see Lord Ashkut, he'll probably have what you're looking for... but if you want to keep that sword... I wouldn't bring it.” Upon arrival at the manor the PCs will be welcomed in by the butler. The Lord of the manor does not keep customers waiting long. The shop is well stocked and is likely to have any consumable the PCs are interested in. If the PCs have a magic sword amongst them (or a finely crafted one), Lord Ashkut will want a closer look. Complementing the PC(s) on their wonderful find, he will attempt to buy the sword from the PC(s) offering a generous price. If the PC(s) are resistant, Lord Ashkut will begin to haggle and begin to use whatever pressure is handy to obtain the sword. If the PCs are still resistant they will find that the displeasure of the Lord has just increased all prices by about 50% above market value, their integrity being questioned about where they got their money or items, and a return appointment very unlikely. If the PCs insist on some sort of an exchange for the sword, they might be introduced to Lord Ashkut's huge magic/fancy sword collection. If they go for a sword with a less appealing look or are willing to 'pad' the transaction with some extra gold (or another fine sword), they might walk away with a better sword than they brought in the first place. However, on a return visit, Lord Ashkut will most likely want to buy his old sword back.
If you haven't figured it out, Lord Ashkut is a fanatic about swords. He likes 'eye candy' swords best and if you combine that with superior craftsmanship and balancing, you've got a sword he's just got to own. His weakness in trading is that he is willing to give up an ugly sword with a strong enchantment and/or superior craftsmanship if the new is sword is flashier, prettier, or more his style. Lord Ashkut is no alchemist but a trader. He buys most of his wares from another alchemist, wholesale.
Options – such is the obsession of Lord Ashkut, that if the PCs walk away with a sword 'he's just gotta have', he might hire the local thieves guild to get it from them.
7. The Ancient Nymphomaniac – This tidy little shop smells like old people. It also looks like an old school homemaker has a little too much time on their hands. Complete with doilies, dried hung herbs, and a cross stitch with the inscription “Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide”. The proprietor is an ancient hunchbacked woman with no teeth who goes by Minue. Long white hairs sprout from the large crop of moles on her face and arms. Her putrid breath is enough to give her wide berth where ever she goes. Upon arrival, she will begin flirting with the most attractive male member of the party (probably the elf if there is one). Stalling any transaction, she will attempt to get to know the chosen male better, hang on his every word, and bashing any other potential mate that PC has in the party. Depending on how this is going she might tell the PCs that they will have to return tomorrow as she isn't quite finished making the desired purchase. She will invite the favoured male to stay with her during that time and she will offer to make him a very comfortable stay. If the chosen one rejects her, she will promptly get the items the party is looking for and sell it to them at 20% above market. If the party ever returns she will ignore the previous offender and latch on to a new victim.
The purpose of this encounter is to turn the stomachs of the PCs and perhaps make them not want to visit the alchemist for everything under the sun. Alternatively, if you need an ally 'in high places' for the PCs, this could be it. If the PCs are polite to her upon introduction, she might tone down the vamp persona and offer them free and often invaluable advice as well as a decent discount on items.
Options – if you swing that way and your party likes that kind of thing, she might carry a potion that can knock 40-60 years off of her for a few hours, making any potential romance possible (remember Krull's character, the Widow of the Web, this could be in that ball park).
8. The Professor – The phrase 'factory outlet' comes to mind when speaking about this alchemist's 'shop'. This city holds a school/university which studies alchemy. This shop is attached to the school and run by one of the professors after school hours. Professor Flyndibarkolis looks down his nose at the PCs as they enter his shop and then he does his best to ignore their presence. The signs in the shop have scores of fine print which will inevitably will answer any questions the PCs might have. If the PCs ask the professor any questions he will glare at them and ask them if they know how to read. If the PCs are bold enough to say no, he will tell them that the products sold here are too sophisticated for them to use and they'd best wander back to the hole they crawled out of. The PCs will find any consumable here for about 20% below market value with the disclaimer that the products are not guaranteed to function exactly as promised. The reason for this disclaimer is that most of the items were created by students and have not been fully verified.
The professor has zero people skills and will wander between treating them like his students and treating them like total morons. About one out of every six potions functions with a slightly decreased effect (whether it's duration, effect, area effect, and so on) about one out of every hundred is a total dud (you might want to consult Flawed Potions yet again)
Options – The professor is evil and holding his students captive. His little sweatshop is cranking out the products whilst he loads his pockets. If his dirty little secret got out he would react violently to escape justice or revenge.
9. The Veteran – This shop is built right into a large corner office of the city hall. The proprietor is a councilman for the city and apparently a part time judge as well. He has earned the respect of everyone who works in town hall. He is popular enough to be mayor if he wanted. Upon entering his office/shop, one notices scores of bookshelves and a apothecary table. Everything is a mess, but not disgusting. The alchemist is tall and has a ludicrously long beard and hair. His face is grizzled and scarred. He introduces himself as Zylock. Appearing to be an ordinary alchemist, he will ask probing questions, from time to time, about what the item to be purchased will be used for. The more he likes the party the higher his prices are and the less he likes the party the lower his prices are (but his selection diminishes). If he really likes the party and they've opened up to him about their plans, he will attempt to talk them out of it. He is very protective of females, particularly if they are approachable and show open mindedness.
Ages ago, Zylock was the wizard in an adventuring party. The party included his sister among others. The party's goal was fame, fortune, and power. On the party's final quest, they attempted to slow a tyrannical army, through guerrilla warfare, and all were slain except Zylock. Zylock escaped with his life and little else. By the time he joined another group and returned to the spot where his friends had died, none of his previous party were salvageable, resurrection notwithstanding. He feels a great loathing of needlessly risking one's life for anything other than saving the world (and then he'll figure there's gotta be someone else out there better for the job than you).
Options – I gave him a real gruff, 'no nonsense', dwarven feel to his personality insulting the PCs as often as I could get a jab in. Returning the behaviour with some wit will soften him a bit and make him like you.
10. The Assassin – This simple/tiny shop opened recently. Almost no advertising was done and very few people know of it's existence. Finding it is difficult as it is wedged between two larger buildings in the market place. The two neighbours have huge multicoloured awnings and product displays that infringe on the alchemist's front door. Upon entering the alchemist's shop one will see a simple desk with a sign in front. The sign contains a list of high end potions at anywhere from 100-200% above market value. The proprietor is an annoyed looking woman (somewhat attractive in her early thirties) who introduces herself as Villya. If the PCs want to purchase anything other than a simple healing potion, she will tell them that they have to come back in a week or two.
Villya is no alchemist but an assassin, studying a target from this shop. She wants no business of the alchemist variety but is willing to rip you off if you insist. If the PCs get aggressive she will either snuff them right there (if she thinks she could take them) or call for city guards. If they manage to tick her off bad enough she might stalk them (or one of them) after her current job is done. If the PCs say they are willing to wait the two weeks, the shop will be vacant and closed when they return.
Options – One of the PCs is her target. She offers the PCs a better deal than advertised if they can return a little later in the day. She prepares a nice surprise on their return.
11. The Shapechanger -This alchemist's shop contains a third story balcony where one can go out and watch the streaming populous below. Located in the very epicentre of commerce in this massive fantasy city, this shop has an old school rustic feel to it. Upon entering, a bell rings, and the PCs are greeted by the proprietor a man in an apron by the name of Scriffquill. Scriffquill has a good selection of potions, scrolls, incense, wands, and enchanted jewelry. Scriffquill is very chatty and is interested in any information about national, religious, and social movements among the people. PCs who indulge Scriffquill will receive a discount on their purchases.
Scriffquill is actually a changeling (or a doppelganger if that's a better fit) who was sent by a rival nation/territory. Scriffquill is slowly creating a report on this nation's weaknesses. An invasion is planned by this rival nation and will occur sometime in the near future. Given the word the changeling, will begin a 'fire sale' with tainted product. The tainted potions cause a vulnerability in the imbiber. Scrolls include a hypnotic suggestion that will send the user off on a strange midnight quest. Incense will cloud the spirit of one who inhales, causing greater separation from one's deity. The wands and jewelry are explosive, technically time bombs, they are set to go off around the time of the invasion. If Scriffquill is discovered he will use his shapechanging abilities to hide among the population.
Options – several things might put the PCs on the changeling's trail. First is rumors of the mysterious disappearance of the old alchemist and his strange replacement. Investigation of this will lead the PCs on a wild goose chase, leading them to believe that there has been a cover up. Second, the PCs might come across a correspondence between the rival nation and the changeling. The correspondence would probably be in code, and even translated would not spill all the beans, but enough that the PCs now know the alchemist is not as he appears and is dangerous. Thirdly, the changeling sells the PCs tainted merchandise, and the PCs discover the problem, either by accident, premonition, or another authoritative source. Finally, the 'fire sale' should rouse the PCs suspicions... for example, who in their right mind sells something as valuable as a ring of regeneration for 50 gold?
12. The Sexy Lady – It is commonly known, in this city, that the alchemist is an exotic babe. What also is commonly known is that she is unapproachable on any kind of a personal level. Some who have tried and failed with her refer to her as 'that cold hard b*tch' although allegedly her name is Aierie. The alchemist's shop is just outside of the marketplace. It's a good sized building made of stone, with the door being half a flight of stairs up. Inside the PCs see a counter almost completely blocking off the 'customer area'. Behind the counter are a number of tables, desks, counters, & shelves all containing clutter representing multiple half finished projects. One wall contains a strange yin & yang type expressionist mural. The alchemist is seated at one of the tables and rises as the PCs enter. She is everything the grapevine claims. She is very attractive and wearing revealing, form fitting clothing, that shows off her assets quite nicely. She dismisses the flabbergasted telling them that she's quite busy and doesn't have all day. The PCs will find prices about 30% above market value. The more they gawk, the more prices seem to be 50% above market value. She will haggle but typically doesn't go below 10% above market value. She isn't above using her 'assets' to get her way, but rarely goes that way. There is one member of the party (explained below) that she seems particularly vigilant of. That party member is entitled to a special deal if they are one of the purchasers. She won't exchange pleasantries or ask the party their names until they've had three of four successful business dealings.
Aierie is a half breed (most likely, if not go for something rare and maybe oppressed). Some examples of what she might be is a halfdrow (or quarter drow), halfdryad, halfsuccubus, or satyr. She has a secret hatred of one race in particular (should be uncommon in the city she dwells) due to serious past injustices. The party should have at least one of that race in it. The party member of the hated race is the one above who receives special attentions mentioned above. To that member she will sell a 'poison pill' type of a magic item at a discount. This cursed magic item cannot be discarded but this wouldn't be apparent as the PC is unlikely to discard an item they just bought. The magic item should function as expected but collects 'charges' after each use or after each day. Upon getting two charges the bearer gets small penalties to all skilled activities, including combat (this should be imperceivable to the PCs). After four charges, the bearer must make an extra saving throw against the item before any other saving throw can be made (likewise this should be difficult for the PCs to notice). After six charges are accumulated, the bearer must save every time the item gains a charge or pick up a random curse. Around this time the PCs would be well aware of the defective item. Should the item ever collect 10 charges... the bearer will be consumed by the item (like a mirror of life trapping only the only way out is to destroy the item in the correct way) Should the PCs return, Aierie will be anticipating a fight.
Options – 1. This city has a small and diminishing population of Aierie's hated race. Individuals of the chosen race are simply vanishing, one by one. Before the PC meet Aierie, they are hired to investigate the disappearances. 2. Aierie has an intelligent magic item, capable of speech, whose purpose is to destroy the hated race. This item fuels her hatred and/or controls her. If the item were taken/destroyed, Aierie might be 'saved', if you would like a merciful end to this. Further, this magic item might be the 'poison pill' item she sells to the PCs.
13. The Golem Master – A stone wall protects the grounds around the alchemist's shop, complete with iron spikes and crushed glass all around the top. Upon entering the gate the PCs will notice the iron golem standing next to the front door. Above the golem a wooded sign reads “Beware of Golem”. If the PCs do anything suspicious, say anything quite different from walking down the path and ringing the bell on the other side of the door. The golem will begin to move to intercept the PCs and a combat will ensue. If the PCs flee outside the wall, the golem will not follow them and resume it's post. Should the PCs battle the golem for any reason, future dealings with the alchemist will be impossible. Once the bell is rung, the PCs will be invited into the shop. The main parlour is meticulously clean, with some seating for the PCs to use if they are required to wait. An armed & armoured wood golem stands guard, who will behave similarly to iron golem if the PCs try anything strange. The alchemist is a ageless & timeless attractive female elf. She introduces herself as Marinda. She has a very good selection of items and the PCs are likely to find everything they need. Marinda is also likely to have really oddball items like a potion of fire breathing or a Blood Cloak. Her prices are 10% above market value and she will not haggle. If the PCs do not like the prices she will offer them discounts if they do some oddball quests for her such as going to a specific elvish village nearby and buy her a specific elvish wine. Any requests to buy a golem from her will be denied without explanation.
Marinda has a twin brother who creates the golems. This evil twin has a golem forge not far away and has imprisoned his sister here for opposing his nefarious schemes. She has chosen this semi-imprisonment over other less appealing options and most of her income goes to supporting his plans. If she were to try to leave, which she wouldn't unless the situation was dire, the golems would attack her. The golem guards will only obey some of her requests, for example, if the request is to stop attacking an unarmed visitor. She does have one small wood golem that will obey any command she gives it. Her brother does have one or two methods to keep an eye on her. Marinda is extremely lonely and would love to chat it up with any elves among the party, being less interested in any others no matter how appealing they might be.
Options – If the evil twin is close to completing his evil plan, Marinda might get desperate to stop him and attempt an escape with the PCs help.
14. The Heir of Wishes – A beautiful manor acts as this alchemist's shop. The visitors will be stunned and stunned again by the marvels that lie in wait in each room. The alchemist is a man by the name of Nalladi. Nalladi is a young man with notable hand print tattoos on the palms of each hand. Each tattoo is constantly changing at an almost imperceivable rate. Nalladi is a soft spoken depressed person. He talks as though he were carrying a great weight. He has the most beautiful wife in all the lands (or so they say). His shop is extremely well stocked.
Nalladi was once a peddler who sold junk jewelry at a premium, claiming that they were enchanted luck charms. One day upon finding an efreet bottle he was granted three wishes. He wished for riches, a beautiful wife, and the power to create magic items. The efreet cheated him. The riches were stolen from a local noble, the beautiful wife was a lesser fire elemental transformed into human form (huge mental issues, a pyromaniac among others), and the power to create magic items was given in exchange for his soul (each time he uses this power part of his soul is drained away).
Options – 1. the wife could be a mermaid transformed into a human instead. Depressed and suicidal, she attempts to drown herself every so often. 2. another option for the wife could be a faerie transformed into a human. ADD and OCD supreme, this hyperactive wife gives her husband very little peace. Constantly doing good deeds (like polishing the shoes on his feet while he's trying to work) and falling apart with any criticism (faerie style)
15. The Vampire Lord – This all brick, no windows, bunker style alchemist's shop is the town's biggest mystery. The proprietor has supposedly never been seen in daylight. It is said that anyone to visit him and wastes his time never see the light of day again. Many believe that their alchemist is actually a vampire. When the PCs approach the bunker/shop and knock on the door, a sliding panel in the door moves and the PCs are asked if they have an appointment. At this point, if the PCs want to keep it friendly, the only thing they can do is make an appointment. The PCs are then warned not to waste the master's time and they should be willing to spend at least a certain amount (I used 2,000 gold). When the time of the appointment comes the door opens and the PCs are admitted into an 'air-lock' style antechamber. The guardian/gate keeper closes and bolts down the outside door and then unbolts the door leading within. Once the PCs exit the antechamber and enter the inner sanctum the inside door is likewise closed and bolted from within preventing the PCs from escaping. The alchemist is pale and matches the vampire stereotype. The alchemist will insist on the group sitting comfortably while the PCs tell him exactly what they need and why they need it. If the conversation goes well, the PCs will be permitted to buy the things that they need at approximately 10-30% more than standard market prices. If the PCs mention 'cashing in' at some sort of a treasure horde, the vampire/alchemist will push the PCs for a promise to visit him for any 'item identification' and a promise to sell him any magic items the party has no immediate need for. If the party agrees to this request, the party will be permitted to leave with their purchases. If the PCs are hostile, refuse to spend the minimum money, haggle, try to rob, or are just plain rude, the alchemist will give them a single warning. If the warning is ignored a fight to the death will ensue.
The alchemist is a vampire. Power hungry to the extreme he refuses to kill anyone he can use. People who bring him power in the form of gold and other magic are more useful returning with more magic and gold than drunk dry. The vampire deals fairly with his patrons provided they give him his fair dues. He deals with treachery with a slow painful death. If someone should prove to be a strong ally, he might offer them immortality as a reward.
Options – 1. the vampire might follow the parties actions using a crystal ball. If the party were successful at retrieving a large treasure and then not return as promised, he would chase them down in the dead of night and seek revenge. 2. the alchemist isn't a vampire, but an eccentric kind of like Shelandra Batwing.
16. The Con Artists – A rumour to hit the PCs ears not long after arriving in town is that the local alchemist is closing shop and is looking to dump his wares. True to what was heard, these two alchemists are closing shop. As the PCs arrive they see many people leaving the shop, purchases in hand, looking pleased at the deal they just got. The alchemists introduce themselves as Brind and Thane, brothers. Strangely they look nothing alike. Brind, the more charismatic of the two, does most of the negotiating. Brind explains to the PCs that they are losing too much money to stay in business. The cost of magical ingredients and supplies is just too great. They've sold off practically everything but still have two chests of wares they want to dispose of. They insist that this is the last minute to be making purchases and if the PCs do not buy now, they will not get another chance. One chest is loaded with potions and the other is full of parchment, scrolls, and books. Both quite heavy. Selection isn't the greatest but if they have it, it's at 50% below market value. If the PCs reveal that they have plenty of money, Brind will offer the PCs both chests for one low price. Brind will assure and reassure the PCs that they are getting the deal of a lifetime. The final price is at 75% below market value (or all of the PCs money). Whatever the PCs buy, they will be unlikely to see Brind or Thane ever again, except on wanted posters.
This encounter works best if the PCs have just cashed in and you want to relieve them of some of their gold. Thane was the local alchemist for just under two years. He was never the most talented alchemist, bought most of his wares from other alchemists, and only knew how to craft a handful of items. Business was bad. When his half-brother Brind arrived in town, he was all ears to a get rich scheme. Brind promised to do the talking as Thane had too much conscience and was likely to show guilt. Mixing a number of fake potions that had an identical look to the real potions. Brind marked the real potions and began selling the fakes, using the real ones to demonstrate, if needed. If the PCs only buy a few potions, they are likely to all be fakes, however the more they buy the more likely it is they got a few good ones in the mix. Of course, if they use a few duds, they might consider them all bad and toss the good with the bad. Thane & Brind leave town rather quickly afterwards. FYI - the scrolls are a similar story, there are a few real spell scrolls in the mix but mostly they are failed attempts at making a spell scroll or something else that's largely useless. The books, although they might look like a spell book, would be a wizard's 'easy reading' on what the world would be like if a certain magic principle were slightly different.
Options – if the PCs buy it all, the brothers might accidentally sell the PCs something really useful. This may be because, Thane isn't used to this recent gig, keeps all his valuables in one spot, and had no idea that Brind was going to sell it all in one shot. If you go this route, Brind might return in the dead of night to steal it back giving the PCs a potential shot at revenge and/or getting their money back.
17. The Gimp -The proprietor of this big city alchemist's shop is an older man who appears to be in his late 40s or early 50s. Most notably he is missing an eye, an ear, a hand, and a leg. He has prosthetics to aid him in his day to day survival (See 20 Fantasy Prosthetics for some options). With his face locked in a permanent scowl, he asks the PCs what they want. The PCs can purchase most items here at regular market prices. If the PCs seem to be having trouble choosing what to purchase he will ask them what the job is and maybe he could help them pick out a few things. As he listens to the PC's mission/quest details he will mutter things like, "what do you hope to get from that?", "why that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.", "don't expect that to work out the way you want it", "you're going to need a lot more money and a few extra brains too.", and "don't count on them to thank you for that." At this point, if the PCs haven't clammed up and ask something like 'Well what would you do if you were in our position?' at this point he will offer some good advice, that you (the GM) have been looking for a way to drop on the PCs. He might offer a unique item, or two, that aren't on the regular list, such as a magical one-shot skeleton key, a potion of adhesion, a potion of shrinking, a flying chair, or magical shackles that reduce the strength of the wearer (or something else you've been wanting to try out). If the PCs attempt to prolong the discussion, Arkanik the alchemist, will tire of the salesmanship and tells the PCs, "well you sound like you know what you're doing, why don't you just get to it." If the PCs visit Arkanik multiple times his reaction to them will steadily get cooler the more successful/popular/famous the PCs are.
Arkanik is actually very, very old and is an unsung hero of ages past. Hundreds of years ago, the world was in serious trouble and he and his group faced a powerful evil. As members of the group perished, it appeared like the final confrontation would be fatal for them all. After exhausting all other options, Arkanik got desperate. He had a way of communicating with a demon lord unassociated with the present threat. He secretly made a deal for his soul and part of his flesh (the missing eye, hand, etc.) in exchange for help saving the world. When his party confronted the great evil of the time, they were able to defeat it quite easily, the party's warrior striking the death blow. Arkanik did receive the promised power for the moment. The other survivors of the group received most the praise and fame at the time. Arkanik has conflicting emotions about how it went. He is angry that he possibly miscalculated the odds but he's glad he was a part of saving the world. He had hoped his sacrifice would have been necessary and that he would strike the final blow. Since that day, he's avoided paying the rest of his debt through longevity magic. Every so often the demon lord, that he originally dealt with, sends some minions to kill him so they can finally collect his soul. Over the years, the original epic tale is still told by bards, and most only mention the brave warrior hero who slew the great evil with no mention of Arkanik or the others. This is something he is quite bitter about but is unwilling to set the record straight.
Options – have a moment of collection come where the city has some interesting visitors intent on killing the local alchemist.
18. The Foreigner – In this sprawling metropolis, this alchemist has a bad reputation (there might be more than one alchemist). His offenses include not speaking the language well, selling bad product, lying, and being weird (meaning different culture/customs, worshipping an unknown deity, and having no friends). When the PCs arrive at his shop, they find him working very hard a some project, a noticeable scowl on his face. Upon entering, the scowl vanishes and the game face comes on. He is over the top with politeness and speaks with broken sentences and an accent. The alchemist asks the PCs what he might do to assist them. His products are from 20-30% below market value. If the PCs buy 5 or more items, the foreign alchemist will offer a small gift with wishes of good luck and prosperity.
The foreigner comes from a far off kingdom which is either allied to the current nation or at least neutral enough to allow traders to pass between nations from time to time. The foreigner came here to escape some problem in his home land. This problem could be something like he (or his parents) committed an unforgivable breach in custom (possibly making him a criminal), a war, a plague, or economic hardship. He is a decent guy but is having trouble adapting to the new nation. Even with magic to help in translation, his culture is making some issues, and is the source of his unhappy customers. The local mage guild or merchant's guild is causing most of the rumours and bad business for this alchemist. He isn't fully aware of the displeasure of the locals, he is aware that he does have some unhappy customers. The PCs might be affected by these misunderstandings. Basically, using his merchandise requires extra rules that will not be apparent. For example, in the alchemist's mind – everyone knows you don't eat beef after using a healing potion. If the PCs eat some jerky after consuming one of his healing potions and they get a serious fever with vertigo. Another example might be, the stone to flesh potion must be heated to boiling before being dumped on the statue. In his mind, it makes total sense that boiling softens things. The alchemist doesn't try to keep these 'rules' secret but culturally he can't mention them unless he's asked.
19. The Priest/Gambler – This alchemist's shop lies between the city's marketplace and this city's rich residential. Upon entering the shop the PCs will notice a large beautiful shrine dedicated to a god of luck (possibly Tyche, Nadirech, Avandra, Olidammara or Mabdig to name a few options). The proprietor introduces himself as Gengg a priest of the afore mentioned luck deity. He will go straight to business or not, if the PCs want to chat. His wares are about 20% above market value. If the PCs do not like the prices (which he hopes) and they attempt to haggle, complain about the prices, or just leave without buying, he will offer the PCs a nice discount if they can beat him at a game of chance. If the PCs choose to gamble see below, otherwise they can leave with their purchases or not.
Gengg is hooked on gambling. I would get creative on how to do the gambling, dice make the most sense as they are in most gaming sessions. If the PCs lose the game, Gengg will offer another opportunity to get their discount if they put some money into the game. If he loses, he'll ask for double or nothing. He will attempt to keep the gambling going, offering more and more to his pot to keep the PCs interested. If he starts losing badly he will start to cheat. He's pretty good at sleight of hand and has a home field advantage or two up his sleeve. He's not blatantly ridiculous about gambling and can be down when the games end for the night. If he ends up giving free product, he will want a rematch in the near future and is likely to bait the PCs with a unique/high end item or two putting the odds in the PCs favour. If caught cheating, he will pass the pot to the PCs and ask them to leave his store after using any discounts they might have won. He might even throw in a comment or two of how they took advantage of him.
20. The Freak -"Why yes, we do have an alchemist. But there's got to be a better way... Are you sure? I mean really sure? I wouldn't go there if I had another choice. Okay, go down Graveyard Street, past the Broken Donkey, you'll see the apothecary shop down the second alley to your right, if you hit the brothel you've gone to far. May the gods go with you." The reputation of the alchemist reaches deep into the heart of the residents of this city. The populous insist that dealing with him is a lot like dealing with a devil. The PCs arrive at the black stone building hiding at the end of a narrow alley. A simple knock and the door opens in an instant, the alchemist standing behind the door, telling the PCs he's been expecting them. Upon entering the PCs notice that the walls are covered with horrific artwork showing brutal acts of self mutilation and torture usually with a dark spirit watching. The host is a 'human' (?) male who is bald and uglier than sin with a number of growths on his bald head and face. The room contains a simple desk with a chair behind and a chair in front. The alchemist introduces himself as Jerm, and offers, whichever PC will, a seat in front of the desk. He sits and asks the PCs what brings them to his humble shop. He will listen intently to the PCs needs. He has what the PCs are after (within reason). He will only sell low end, simple consumables for gold alone. Those are sold at 20% above market value. Any higher end item and he requires additional payment. If you can think of a depraved thing to ask of the PCs to do that robs them of dignity and probably alignment (unless running an evil campaign), it would probably suit Jerm nicely. The PCs can decline Jerm and walk away provided they are polite. If at any time the PCs become hostile or blatantly rude, Jerm will give a single warning that he does not tolerate that behaviour from guests and they'd better consider what they are getting themselves into. He will attack without hesitation if the disrespect/aggression is continued.
This encounter works best in a city with a dark side. Jerm has a corrupting artifact or two which have twisted him into what the PCs encounter. Quite powerful, he should be more than a match for the PCs. This encounter could be a way for the GM to give the PCs the illusion of having options.
Options – Jerm might be a Asuramancer (see Cannibal Magic) who has consumed a few people previously and is using a unique potion of his own designs to reduce his cravings for flesh. If one of the PCs reveals themselves to be superior in some way, he might want them to be his next victim. He would probably hunt them after they leave his shop.
21. The Snitch – This alchemist operates on the dark side of town. He has a reputation of cooperating with the local thieves guild and being a very shrewd trader. The alchemists shop is found near the docks across from a seedy tavern. The alchemist who goes by the name of Winsley, has the appearance of having a rats for relatives. Winsley will offer the PCs his services. His nature is oily it would appear that every piece of merchandise he has must have been stolen. Despite, this Winsley maintains the airs of someone of much higher rank (He's like the handsome highway man who smiles and impresses the ladies as he steals their jewelry, but Winsley doesn't have the attractiveness or the charisma to pull that off successfully). Right away Winsley offers the PCs a good deal on contraband goods including poison, invisibility potions, drugs, and so on. If the PCs ask about other alchemist goods he will sell those as well. If the PCs just buy one or two contraband goods they will get a 30% discount. Otherwise it will be about 10% discount on the contraband goods and about 10% above market for non-contraband goods.
This works best if the PCs are new to town and basically go straight for the alchemist's shop. Winsley is a double agent. He works for both the thieves guild and the local law enforcement but his loyalty lies with the guild, if it lies anywhere. As Winsley doesn't know the PCs and does not care for them he is looking for someone to screw over and thereby take some pressure off the guild. If the PCs buy his contraband goods, he will race off to turn them in, adding that he suspects that they are in league with the local thieves guild. The PCs will be tailed for about a day. If they do anything remotely like lawbreaking they will find themselves on the business end of a brute force, attempting to arrest them. If they attempt to leave town they will also be arrested. This forces the PCs to become outlaws or prisoners. Either way they will need to find a way to clear their name or they'll have to clear out. If the PCs do not buy contraband goods from Winsley, it could go over a couple of other ways, first Winsley could accuse them anyways, but this would be more difficult and probably involve him or another thief planting something contraband on one of the PCs. Second he could offer them a position with the guild, keeping it's nature secret. Once he gets them marked and perhaps given some bad intelligence, he has them arrested as was his original plan. If the PCs return to the shop after discovering they were set up, the will find it vacant.
Options – 1. Winsley is a wererat. 2. Give the PCs a warning and time to prepare, for example: The PCs enter Winsley's shop after another person leaves. Soon afterwards, the PCs see wanted posters for that person who just left Winsley's shop. A little investigating reveals that he is only wanted because of Winsley's report. Soon afterwards the PCs get tailed.
22. The Match Maker – This town has an alchemist's shop. The alchemist is a matronly woman who happens to be the mayor's wife. Upon meeting the PCs, Gabby will take a liking to the most attractive one. She will delay all purchases with chit chat and inform the PCs that she is the resident match maker. She will address most of her conversation to her favourite PC unless he/she becomes cold or unresponsive. Given enough conversation, she will say that she knows the perfect person for her favourite PC. She will move the discussion to a dance (a barn dance, hoe down, or a ball probably whichever flavour you like) that's coming up and recommend that the PCs attend while they are in town. If the PCs indulge her, she will eventually let them purchase, her selection is limited but the quality of product is good. If the PCs deny her, she will eventually excuse herself and say that there is a pressing matter which must be dealt with and she will close shop. The longer the PCs stay in town, and the more business they want with Gabby, the more they will have to indulge her whims about who each of them should be with. Attending the dance and dancing with whomever she directs them to is close to the minimum. The more they indulge her the better her selection gets.
Gabby is a xenophobic busybody, who believes it is her right to pry into the PCs business (as well as anyone else for that matter). Until she gets her way, she is most uncooperative. She is upset that a war has drawn many young people from the town to serve in the military and is eager to see more youth around. She will use whatever influence she has on the PCs to stay in town, buy some land, and marry a local girl/boy. If the PCs reveal themselves to be scoundrels, she will do everything in her power to make their lives miserable, including but not limited to, calling local law enforcement, calling draft office and informing them there's some draft dodgers here, refusing business, using her alchemy to steal from the PCs or harass them, place a bounty on their heads, convince everyone in town to shun the PCs, and cursing them (through a scroll or a bad item that she gets to them one way or another).
23. The Necromancer -This alchemist's shop lies in a huge city with a slum on the outskirts of town. Not many people know about this alchemist and those who know of her, know very little about her other than where she is and that she's an alchemist. Upon arrival, the PCs will notice a pretty bad stink coming from the shop. Upon entering the shop, the PCs are greeted by a pleasant young woman by the name of Ice. The stink lessens considerably in this room as there are a number of incense sticks being burned. If asked about the stink, Ice will apologize coolly and say that alchemy is know to stink. Ice will politely welcome the PCs and offer her services. Ice has most lower end items and offers them at market value. When asked about higher end items, she will get a little sad and say that she lacks the ingredients to make that item. If the PCs offer to assist with the ingredients, she will send them on a mini quest to get the items. If the PCs succeed she will produce the item in question for them and sell it to them at 30% below market value, for their help, minus any additional expenses it took to get the ingredients.
This situation works best if the PCs are going to be in the area for a time and are likely to need the alchemist more than a few times. As the PCs are able to get what they want from Ice and enjoy the extra quests (with bonus xp possibly). They return for another item. The alchemist again says she lacks ingredients and she offers the same discount as before. The PCs are interested to see that on the list of ingredients is a humanoid bone with another ingredient being monster flesh. If asked about is she will respond with something like:
“Actually elf bone has a lot of latent magical potential. Elf bones are a necessary ingredient for things like longevity potions and charms against ageing magic. The bone acts as a catalyst, in making this for you. The more you can bring the better.” or:
“Half-Orc bone has a residual magic that contains their orcish strength and fury but tempered by the human. I only need a little bit for this, but more would help me with more items in the future.”
Once the PCs are on board, the deal will go down the same as last time only she will provide the PCs with a useful gratuity. The next time the PCs come and need something, there's a couple of ways it could go. If the PCs were upset by the last quest, she will probably arrange a basically a repeat of the last quest maybe escalating the moral dilemma a tiny bit. If the PCs didn't bat an eye, then she will request as many freshly killed human bodies as possible. If asked for an explanation she will say something like:
“One out of every ten humans has a growth on their liver which is magical in nature. Why they occur is a great mystery, many alchemists and other scholars believe it has to do with their date of birth and the alignment of the stars on that date. It has to do with destiny and prophecy. I need some of this matter for the items you want. To be sure I get some, I need you to bring me as many bodies as you can. The fresher the better, as the growth decays quickly. Why don't you just head down to the slum and wipe out one of those nasty gangs? You'd be serving the community as well as furthering your own plans.”
If the PCs don't believe her she will tell them that there is a book on it in the city library and go read for themselves. If the PCs leave to check the library, she will be ready for their return. If the PCs agree to the request and return with the bodies... sadly none had the growth. She will provide a gift for trying and send them out again, saying that she will take care of the bodies. The next time the PCs return, the growth is 'found', and the PCs are provided with the item they requested.
As long as the PCs are willing, this series of events could repeat indefinitely. If the PCs don't get wise at some point, the necromancer/alchemist Ice will reveal her true nature to them and give them a 'join me or die' ultimatum. The 'die' part being backed by an undead army they supplied to her. The undead would probably be augmented and more powerful than garden variety undead and more than a match for the PCs.
Options – Ice has a couple of wights or wraiths that serve her. Never seen by the PCs unless they become hostile, the undead under her control harvest a person or two from the slums every night. Rumors surrounding the kidnappings might reach the PCs if they spend any time in the slum.
24. The Saint – The PCs are surprised to hear that the local alchemist's shop is located in the back of a local temple. When the PCs visit the temple, they are directed to a room in the back. The alchemist is an older woman who goes by the name of Jebbie. Jebbie will greet the PCs warmly and ask the PCs if they've made a donation to the church. She will push that agenda until a satisfactory donation has been made. If the PCs are searching for an evil item or poison she will promptly expel them from the building and tell them to examine their souls and try to get right with her patron deity or any good deity for that matter. Otherwise she will indicate that she does not have the item the PCs are looking for in her stock (she maintains no stock). Jebbie will offer to make the items the PCs request (lower end items only) if they will perform some specific good deeds in town (usually not dangerous but taking about a week). If questioned about the price, Jebbie will tell the PCs that her deity looks out for those with a good heart, and insists they can afford it.
Jebbie is good on her word. The good deeds, if done properly will bring her the feedback she wants. Jebbie will sell the item to the PCs at cost (or 30-60% lower than market value) or if the PCs are broke and desperate she will give it to them for free.
Options – Jebbie might put the PCs onto another side quest you have handy provided it is a good deed.
25. The Leech – There has been a recent curse in the area around town. Plants are spontaneously dying and shrivelling into a useless husk within a few days. The alchemist's shop is dead quiet, with the door slightly ajar and almost a death like smell wafting downwind from it. Upon entering the PCs face a solemn man, skinny and pale. The man stands behind an enormous stone table wearing a robes of black and brown. The table is laden with dead plants and animals, all local in appearance. The man is staring at the carnage on the table and then looks up. He introduces himself as Nemis and welcomes the PCs to his shop. He asks what they want. If questioned about the table he will tell the PCs that he is attempting to cure the local plague. He will sell the PCs any consumable at fair market value. His potions function at 30% more efficient than similar potions for a similar price. He also has a good chance of having high end products as well.
If someone were to view the damage from the sky they would see that the center point of the damage is the local alchemist's shop. Nemis is an illusion as well as the table before him. If the PCs could see through the illusion they would see an alien slug (about the size of four humans) with scores of eyes and one large hungry mouth, open and 'sucking' on the earth through a large hole in floor. It is this slug that is causing the plague. The products created by the 'slug' are real and created through telekinesis in such a way as to allow the Nemis illusion to handle them and sell them. Unlike other potions, the slug makes them all with it's own bodily secretions. If allowed to continue uninterrupted the circle of destruction will grow at a slow and steady pace. In the back room the PCs would find the real Nemis's body, decayed along with a broken magical storage device (perhaps a mirror of life trapping)
Options – 1. the region where the city and alchemist's shop is already a desert region and the effects of the 'plague' can only be seen by a change in the color of the ground. 2. Geomancy has decreased efficiency in the area of blight 3. The slug was detected by an Earthwyrm. The Earthwyrm attempted to surface to destroy the slug but through the slug's corrupting power it entered a berserk rage and began attacking everyone and everything. More Earthwyrms might come if the slug isn't stopped soon.
26. The Rebel – This shop is quite large and contains seating for at least a dozen. The alchemist is a man by the name of Threjj. When the PCs arrive it appears that Threjj is entertaining a number of people from all walks of life. The audience seems fascinated by their host's speech. Curiously, none of the guests seem interested in buying anything. Threjj immediately stops his soliloquy and turns to the PCs. The room goes from almost boisterous to dead silent in seconds. Threjj introduces himself and offers his services to the PCs. Threjj has a decent supply of almost anything the PCs require. High end items or rare items cannot be found here. While Threjj puts the PCs order together, it wouldn't take a psychic to tell that many in the room are really put out by their presence. Once the order is put together the PCs will be excused. If the PCs stay long enough, Threjj continues his speech. The speech mostly contains ideas of how to make their city a better place at times making references to mild changes to the nation as well. If the PCs take serious note of the discussion they will constantly hear almost apologies to the king, such as "...with His Majesty's blessing, of course", "...just so long as it's with His Majesty's decrees", "...begging all forgiveness of Our Majesty" The energy level of the room never reaches what it was before the PCs arrived.
Threjj is actually a rebel ring leader. Almost nothing from this first speech should give the PCs solid proof of that he is anything other than a concerned citizen with some ideas of his own and a small peaceful following. If the PCs are able to discern his nature, it could go one of two ways. First, they could turn him in for a reward. If they aren't actively a part of the arresting force, Threjj is well prepared enough to get out without too much trouble. Second, they could sympathize with Threjj and join the cause, so to speak. If they swear allegiance to the rebellion and provide proof that they are no friend to the king, they would be granted a nice discount on alchemy wares as well as access to higher end items. This could go as far or as short as you need it to. The rebellion could take years to get their act together or they could be ready to mobilize in a week.
Options – if the PCs join the rebellion, Threjj might send them to rob certain castles or strongholds for alchemy ingredients that recently became illegal to own. If successful, Threjj could better arm the PCs.
27. The Supplier & R&D – Outside of town, where only a rugged trail passes, on the side of a hill hidden from the casual glance, is a tall vine covered wall. If one circles the stone wall to see what lies beyond, one will find that where the wall stops, an unattended hedge of stinging prickles taller than a stone giant. If one continues following the hedge, they will find where the wall begins. Tapping on the wall will reveal the hollow sound of a wooden door perfectly concealed by vines. There's no knob on the outside and pushing is futile. A knock will bring a man to the door. He will inform the PCs that they've found his shop and if they are interested in purchasing his wares they are welcome to enter otherwise he suggests moving on. If the PCs enter, they will find a quaint wooden room with baskets or shelves full of various alchemy ingredients including plants, fungi, and animal parts (some pickled, some dried/drying, some powdered, and so on). A simple desk has a stand which contains numerous potions. The alchemist introduces himself as Galvern (he doesn't take kindly to being called Vern) and offers the PCs a good variety of potions for fair market values. His selection is great but he is unlikely to have more than one of any given item. He refers to the potions as samples. If the PCs are interested in buying one of the containers of an alchemy ingredient, Galvern will sell at a discount and reveal that he is more in the market of supplying other alchemists than crafting himself.
Galvern is the cautious sort and will not trust the PCs until gold is in hand, they've left, and his inventory is rechecked, and the gold recounted and is confirmed as real. If the first transaction runs smoothly, he will likely lower his guard a tiny bit for the next visit. In theory, if the PCs have had about a dozen successful dealing with him and somehow prove themselves honest good people. He will lower his guard completely. If the PCs are broke and desperate he might offer them a job as guinea pigs, testing out new potions. If the PCs agree, after multiple warnings, they will be taken through the back door. Beyond the back is a door is a clearing. Within are different lots, each containing either a magical plant (with an alchemy use, obviously) or a pen with magical beasts kept for similar purposes. Also a small cave can be found filled with various fungi. In the far end of the clearing, surrounded by wall and hedge, is a small cabin. Here Galvern's brother, Kingrall is constantly experimenting with various components to either improve an existing formula or create something total new and original. Each PC can try an experimental potion, if they do, they can have 'a tried and true potion' from Galvern. (Note: on one hand I think the PCs would have to be nuts to do this, but if your PCs are like mine, they are willing to try anything) The potions effects are varying, you could use Flawed Potions (yet again) and use one of their results, alternatively if a PC is interested in having a unique look for his character, this could be the way to go. Having a PC's skin color turn deep blue, demon red, golden yellow, or change like a chameleon could be a way to go. The PCs could get cat eyes, gills, or extra fingers. On the negative side, you could have something nasty happen to a PC, whether they lose a sense for awhile or gain a fire vulnerability, maybe if you are cruel enough, a gender change (which would probably result in the PCs losing interest in the game). The brothers have trained guard beasts that patrol their enclosure keeping their valuables safe.
28. The Prodigy – This city is near the disturbance of you campaign world. The PCs find themselves short on cash and needing some assistance. Rumours come to them that there is a new alchemist in town. This alchemist apparently sells her wares cheap. The biggest part of the buzz is that the alchemist is also a child. The PCs make their way towards the newly created shop in hopes of getting some help. When they approach the converted home, they come to a long lineup of people who want to see the alchemist. The PCs become irritated as they discover that many of the would-be customers are only there to browse or just see the alchemist perhaps craft something before their eyes, like it was some sort of entertainment. After waiting in line they meet the alchemist's father, a middle aged man by the name of Zurn. Zurn is likewise irritated with the numerous visitors and promptly informs the PCs that if they are just there to say hi, he appreciates the notion, but to please move on. When he finds out they are real customers he brings out the wares, the prices are 25-40% below market value. The PCs are more or less guaranteed to meet the alchemist if they make 2 or more purchases. She is a sweet girl of no more than 14, who goes by the name of Jerrisa. Jerrisa immediately takes a liking to the PCs and gives them a bonus potion or two with instructions. Her father does not approve of this special treatment but does not prevent it. If the PCs ask about the price, the father tells them that as she is so young she needs to prove herself before she is taken seriously as an alchemist and that the prices won't always be this low. If the PCs return the shop is closed and they get word that Jerrisa is missing.
I've left this one open ended as it is to be seriously adjusted to your campaign world. The purpose of this encounter is to do up to four things. First, get the PCs needed supplies despite money issues, second, give the villain a victim which should outrage the PCs, thirdly, creates a side quest (the search for Jerrisa), and finally, going along with the most recent point a delay for the PCs.
29. The Musician – Popularity surrounds even the mention of this alchemist, although it isn't alchemy for which he is famous. Most know him as a fine musician and an even better performer. Anyone in town can point the PCs in the right direction. Outside of town, at the base of a hill, in almost an amphitheatre is the alchemist's shop. Music can be heard from warbling it's way out of the shop. When the PCs enter they meet the proprietor, a everyman by the name of Dunstang greets the party. He has a large number of musical instruments hanging on the walls. Other enchanted instruments are hovering in the background playing a wonderful melody. Dunstang suggests that they get to business right away as he doesn't have much time for a social call. If asked about his interest in music he will mention that a mentor of his discovered the effect of music on certain plants with magical properties (an observant PC will note no plants anywhere). His great love of music has officially been married to his job and he couldn't be happier. He claims to have made major advances in the field of alchemy, thanks to his experiments. PCs will find some of his potions superior in quality and last a little longer than others. He sells his wares at standard market prices. Nothing would make Dunstang happier than to be able to jam with the party's bard or other musically gifted member. On most nights, weather permitting, he plays a little concert just outside his shop to the wilds and to anyone who wants to come and listen, which usually is the most of the locals..
Dunstang is actually a witch (or warlock) who traded his soul for a magical flute. This Pied Piper has the entire city under his control, charmed by the flute. Anyone of the population is willing to fight the death to protect him. Dunstang has also charmed a few monstrous guardians as well (something like displacer beasts would work fine). If the PCs are just passing through, they might never catch wind of the problem here. Dunstang usually won't interfere with travellers, provided they don't stick around too long. Being paranoid, that his dream life might end, he will attempt to charm the PCs on one of his night's performances. He will test the charm by asking the PCs to do something slightly repugnant (like go clean his outhouse) that most people would probably refuse to do. If he fails to charm the PCs, he will feel threatened and start prodding the locals to put pressure on the PCs to move on. If that fails, he will attempt to subdue them, via a surprise attack with locals aid and finally monsters aid if need be. He will attempt to glean any and all information the PCs own and then dispose of them by sacrifice to his demon lord. When or if the flute is destroyed or Dunstang dies, the populace will be most relieved to be free and report many vile things Dunstang forced them to do under the charm.
30. The Recruiter – This simple & tidy alchemist's shop is located in the same city as a ruling duke lives. The alchemist, a very attractive mature woman by the name of Jezza, runs this quaint stop. Jezza is very talkative and in her charming, flirtatious way she tries to draw the PCs out. If the PCs are tight lipped, they will be allowed to make their purchases and be on their way without much difficulty. Jezza offers a free gift when one purchases a certain amount in her shop. The gift is most often a basic healing potion, but could be a simple protection charm (offering a small bonus against hostile magic, the item is fragile and probably won't last a week), a spell scroll with a low level utility spell, or a card which gives the bearer 20% off their next single item purchase at her shop (not including rare or high end items).
This encounter is best used as preparation for a future quest/mission/campaign but also could function as a complicating element to an existing problem. Jezza is a 'hero' or 'special forces' recruiter for the local duke. She's been hired to check out her patrons for talented individuals who live a higher risk lifestyle (or adventurers, if you will) and keep tabs on them. If the PCs are open to Jezza about a current or past jobs, she will evaluate their usefulness. Depending on need, you could have her interest in the PCs develop over time or a single encounter. After the PCs leave her shop, Jezza has her bird familiar tail them. Soon afterwards, the PCs pick up a thief type (or two) who watches from a distance but does his best to remain hidden. If the PCs are generally honourable and are as capable as they've told Jezza, the thief will give a good report to Jezza and consequently the duke and contact will eventually be made, offering them a job. If the PCs obviously lied to Jezza, the report will be bad and future visits to Jezza's shop will be a lot cooler than the first one(s).
Options 1. Jezza might give the PCs a test mission, to further test their worthiness. 2. Jezza might not want the duke to succeed at his goals. She might recommend the PCs believing they are not up to the task for one reason or another. She might go so far as to sabotage them herself.
31. The Monster Breeder – The city in which this alchemist's shop lies holds a large gladiatorial arena. The shop is built into the very walls of the arena and occupies an area of at least a third the size of the arena. The shop is mostly closed off and has it's own moat and perimeter wall with spikes poking out the top in all directions. When the PCs enter the shop they can't help but notice the smell of dung and hear the loud animal sounds coming from the back. The PCs will also notice that the alchemist employees a large group of men-at-arms equipped with pole arms. They are introduced to the alchemist, a man by the name of Urgott. Urgott has numerous scars and a look that makes Grizzly Adams look like a teddy bear but seems pleasant enough in conversation. Urgott will sell the PCs any potion or scroll at market price, but is not likely to have other items for sale and if he does they are likely to be 30% above market price. Urgott might suggest the purchase of one of his unique animals if the party has a ranger/druid type in the midst (or if you the GM want them to have it). Urgott would be very interested in buying any animal eggs the PCs are carrying or any magic they are wanting to dispose of.
Urgott has come close to mastering the art of breeding monsters. He has experimented with soaking both normal & monster eggs in a type of potion which greatly alters the creature that hatches. It appears to be tricky and Urgott often has trouble duplicating results. He has a few 'tried and true' formulas, but often he gets a surprise by what emerges from the egg. The bigger or the more aggressive creations will be usually be placed in the arena next door for battle with gladiators or other 'monsters'. Useless and stillborn creatures serve as food for other creations. Tame and somewhat docile creations can be sold to anyone as a pet or in some instances as a guard animal. Here's some examples of monsters bred by Urgott:
Gralassh – made from a common toad egg - The Gralassh is a 7 to 11 foot long toad covered with hard colored warts. The warts make it durable to most attacks but if attacked vigorously can also leap 4x it's length straight up or 8x it's length horizontally in a flash. The Gralassh can attack it's foes in three ways. It's long sticky/spike covered tongue can reach 6x the length of it's body and effectively is a missile weapon. Once someone is impaled by the tongue, this toad is fairly strong at recoiling the tongue, victim attached (Scorpion style MC fans). The Gralassh also has a very strong bite and has been know to leap upon enemies using it's own weight as a missile weapon. The Gralassh is fair hearty and heals fairly quickly after a battle and will regenerate it's tongue if it becomes severed in a few days.
Steelbill – made from a song bird's egg - The Steelbill is a 10 to 14 foot tall bird that's wings have 'mutated' into forelegs. These forelegs are still feathered but have clawed feet on the ends. Obviously, incapable of flight, the Steelbill has a long awkward gait, but can move faster than expected when enraged or frightened. The Steelbill has two main attack modes. First a slicing or piercing attack with it's beak and also it uses it's fore claws to pin an opponent where the beak can get 'free hits' on an trapped foe. Second, it's shriek painful & deafening from up close.
Fire Beast – made from a Fire Fly egg - The Fire Beast is a 4 to 6 foot long Fire Fly. The Fire Beast has outgrown it's own wings so flight isn't possible. Unable to move quickly and taught to fear humanoids, it uses it's flame burst to defend it self with remarkable success. The Fire Beast is a favorite in the arena.
Lizard Thing – made from a Grassbiter egg - This two headed, 8 to 17 foot long lizard, is quick with a really nasty bite.
8 Legged Freaks – A 'batch' of spiderlings gets out of control and threatens to take over the town. Target of a Radical Nature Group – A group of nature lovers don't like what the alchemist has been doing. They are trying to mess him up either through a hired assassin or an insider who is secretly freeing the mutations. Side Quest - Urgott hires the PCs to go find eggs of a specific variety. If the PCs succeed they might be entitled to a discount, straight gold, or a free critter if they obtain enough eggs. Gladiatorial Games – the PCs might want to (be forced to) fight in an arena, if so, as the GM you have your background as to where the creatures came from. The more successful the PCs are at defeating the monsters the more pressure is on Urgott to produce something more deadly than ever before.
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? Responses (22)-22
This looks very cool, I would pack all thirty into one submission and look at responses. I can not tell you if its too much if I do not see them all together. However, in my opinion, as long as a sub is good, it is not too large. My two cents.
I take it that no one of these entries was too long for you and contained enough information to be useful. Okay, I'll take that for one vote to post as is. Thanks.
Wouldn't be a 30 without 30. Better reference with them all together too I think! A little formatting magic will make it a breeze to read and it is currently set up well. (I reduced the font to the page default so it didn't look so big)
Okay, two votes to post as is. I'll carry on and update the submission to a regular submission as soon as the rest is ready. I'll keep an eye open for anymore advice before then. Thanks.
Three votes to post as it, I like the three alchemists youve created, they are far from the reflex guy in a wooden slat market shop herb sellers
Give us all 30, I say.
If you are concerned about the sheer amount of text, to make it more browse-able, you could provide a teaser (a few words) telling what each is about.
And a fifth vote. Seriously, you really can't give us TOO much information; I doubt too many people come here who aren't interested in packing more stuff in.
These are awesome! Give us all 30, says I!
Update: Okay, all thirty entries are up. Thanks for your patience as I was busy getting over myself. I've also made a few small changes to the original three. Enjoy.
Very good and worth an HOH as well.
Ye gods! Quite the work here Sir!
Lots of good content, linkage to other subs, not just your own, interesting characters. Top notch!
Serious ass-kicking detail. I second Cheka Man with an HOH tout, as soon as it's eligible.
Good content, this one. Some of them stand out as excellent, like the Heir of Wishes. Some are adorable - the Prodigy. A few of them could use improvement, like 7 or 23.
I can see myself using this.
This may be one of my favorite submissions in a long, long time. Thanks for posting all 30!
Useful and great!
One of the most thorough of the 30s, for sure. I love the detail.
One of the best of the 30s lists I have seen. Makes me wish I had space for that many alchemists in our campaign.
Great one, Redgre! I was bored at work today and started skimming this submission again, and lost myself in the details for an hour.
A nice resource for Alchemist NPC's in a hurry, and a good many of them are good plot seeds in and of themselves.
Yeah, Redgre's Alchemical Grimoire ebook right here!
I'm adding a few of these to my campaign immediately. Well done.