Bell Digest vol01p02.txt

Subject: RQ Mailing list,  Volume 1, Number 2

From: (Elliot Wilen)

Subject: Potions for RuneQuest

They ain't perfect, I'm sure, but everybody would change them anyway.
--Elliot Wilen

Here they are:

These rules are intended to re-introduce man-made poisons
and potions to the RQ III system. For the most part, they
amount to an update and extension of the RQ II rules. I'll be
the first to admit that they aren't, strictly speaking,
'realistic'. Real poisons do not improve in potency according
to the skill of their maker--they are simply manufactured
according to recipe, and they have a more-or-less constant
effect. But I'm presenting these rules anyway since they do
integrate well with the overall RuneQuest system, and people
may find some or all of them useful.

Disclaimer: these rules have not been playtested. They may
be sketchy in places. Suggestions for improvement, especially
after playtest, are welcome.

Throughout the text, I've indicated notes by using a
number inside of square brackets [ ] .

Alchemical Skills

Poison, as described in the Player's Book, usually causes
damage to total hit points. However, other types of drugs,
breathed, injected, ingested, poured into an ear, or
contacted by the skin, do exist. Some alternatives to simple
damage-causing poison are: acid, drugs which cause sleep,
drugs which cause paralysis, and mind-altering drugs which
cause hallucinations, changes in behavior, or loss of
willpower. Healing potions and salves may also exist. There
are also antidotes to the various kinds of poisons. Finally,
certain types of magic spells may be stored in a potion. (At
GM discretion, not all 'potions' need necessarily be in liquid
form: cakes, pills, and powders are okay, too.)

Making Potions

Each type of potion, poison, drug, or acid requires a different
skill to manufacture. We can classify all of these skills under
the general rubric of Alchemical skills, just as Play
Instrument and Craft are also sets of skills. Alchemy skills
are Knowledge skills with base chance of 00% and no
experience check box. This means that they cannot be
learned or increased through experience, only through
training and research, though they may be
trained/researched up to 100%.[1]

Use of Alchemy is somewhat different from the usual
application of a skill percentage.[2] The maximum potency of
a specific item which a character is capable of making is 1/5
of the character's skill, rounded up. Thus the highest possible
potency is 20.[3] Success is guaranteed unless the player
fumbles. If this happens, roll again against the skill
percentage. A normal success on this roll indicates that the
character realized his mistake; otherwise the faulty product
will not be detected until it is used. A fumble on this roll
would mean something especially bad happened: not only is
the potion weakened/useless/having unintended effect, but the
alchemist accidentally imbibed/ingested/inhaled (etc.) some of
it! (In this case, it may take normal effect the important
point is that something happened to the poor guy.)

Cost of Manufacture and Prices

The cost of manufacturing a potion depends on its type and
POT. Since people will inevitably set their own prices, I've
made no effort to set precise costs. Instead, I've extrapolated
prices from RQ II and multiplied them by a semi-arbitrary
factor of 10 to convert from Lunars to pennies. The cost of
purchase would be roughly ten times the cost of
manufacture. These prices should be considered to apply for a
small city. Adjust as appropriate for other locations of

One dose is approx. 100 ml. = 1 U.S. gill = 4 fluid oz. = 1/2

General Type	Cost of Ingredients per Dose (per point of

Acid	50p
Poison	40p (should be increased considerably for
	special poisons, such as slow-acting or
Drug	200p minimum; cost varies highly depending
	on effect
Antidote	As Cost of Countered Agent
Healing	200p (if used)
Magic	400p (POT=maximum MP which may go
	into it)

Effect of Potions

Acid--A full dose causes its POT in damage to whatever it
contacts. Adjust damage for contact with less than a full
dose. (Keep in mind that if acid is splattered on someone,
he's likely not to be hit by all of it.) Effects on objects will
vary according to construction, POT, and length of contact.
Armor and weapons will be damaged or even rendered
completely useless by powerful acids--one way to handle this
would be to roll on the resistance table for each round of
contact, having the POT of the acid attack the armor points
of the weapon or armor. Each success results in the loss of
one armor point.

Poison--This works exactly as described in the Player's Book,
page 83. Note that the 'typical' man-made poison is ingested
and takes effect very quickly. Blade venoms (for application
to weapons), contact poison, slow-acting poison, poison gas,
and other special types will cost more to manufacture--twice
as much or higher.

Drugs--Most drugs will need to overcome the CON of their
target to take effect. If they do not successfully overcome
the CON, partial effects may still apply. Typical effects of
drugs include sleep, paralysis while retaining consciousness,
hallucinations, and loss of willpower. Partial effects might
include temporary loss of STR, DEX, INT, or maximum
fatigue points. The effects of a drug typically last 2*POT

Antidote--According to GM discretion (and possibly only after
research by characters), each drug or poison may be
counteracted by an antidote. Antidotes may be taken in
advance of contact with a harmful agent, in which case the
substance has its POT reduced by the POT of the antidote
before being applied. Antidotes last for 1/2 hour after being
taken. Alternatively, an antidote may be administered after
the harmful substance has been introduced into the system
of its victim. Poison antidotes will counter an amount of
poison damage already received equal to 1/2 POT. The POT of
a drug antidote must attack the POT of the drug on the
resistance table; success indicates that the drug has been
successfully counteracted. Note that multiple doses of an
antidote of a given POT will *not* have a greater effect than
a single dose, but a greater POT antidote will supersede a
previously-administered antidote of lower POT. (Note also
that the GM should devise prices for the antidotes of natural
poisons such as snake venom, since they have no price of
their own.)

Healing--If it is desired to include non-magical healing
potions and healing salves in your campaign, you may allow
them to heal their POT in hit points of damage. Since these
rules would make it possible to create potions which heal 20
or more points of damage, you might want to increase the
ratio of skill percentage:POT for healing potions (say, 1:10).
On the other hand, such potions really don't make a whole
lot of sense, and non-magical healing is already handled by
the First Aid skill.

Magic Potions

Only Sorcery and Spirit Magic spells may be put into

The effect of a magic potion is exactly as if the spell had
been cast on the person who drank the potion; it does not
give the person the ability to cast the spell. Thus a potion of
disruption disrupts the drinker, a befuddle potion befuddles
him, and a heal potion heals him. On the other hand, an
extinguish potion is meaningless, as is a wish potion, because
extinguish cast on a human has no effect, and a wish is not
cast on anyone at all.

In general, making a magic potion involves storing a spell
and magic points in liquid form. Of course, special (costly)
substances are needed to brew the liquid which stores the
magic. Since a potion is good for only one use, the magician
does not lose permanent power. Instead, he expends the
normal MP cost of the spell. The spell may be manipulated
by sorcery skills and/or boosted, as long as the cost is paid
and the potion has the requisite POT.

Manufacture of the magic potion is treated exactly as for
other potions: roll versus Alchemy skill and assume success
unless a fumble occurs, etc. However, if the spell is being
manipulated, use the lowest skill involved (out of Alchemy
and the relevent Sorcery skills). When the potion is drunk,
it automatically takes effect unless it is resisted.


1]Or higher, given the standard rules on training. However,
since the highest skill level attainable (for a Knowledge skill)
through research is 111%, then if one assumes that teachers
cannot teach people of higher skill than they, and that all
knowledge of Alchemy was originally gained through
research, then the highest possible POT is 23. Alternatively,
the maximum could simply be set at 100%.

2]Though it may be appropriate to apply a similar system to
Craft and some other skills.

3]Usually. See note 1.

4]The main reason I said this is because I had a hard time
fitting in Divine Magic. In general, I'm much less certain
about these magic potion rules than about the others.


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