Elder Scrolls Style Alchemy (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Introduction[edit]

Being a big fan of the Elder Scrolls games by Bethesda Softworks, I wanted to bring a bit of Tamriel into my game world. This is an attempt to convert the Alchemy system used in the Elder Scrolls games to fit the D&D 3.5 rules. It has not been thoroughly tested, so it may be somewhat unbalanced. Of course, the availability of any items with the effects needed to craft these potions is up to the DM.

Enjoy!


Basics[edit]

Brewing potions requires the gathering of various ingredients found around the world. Ingredients range from plants to animal parts to precious stones and minerals. Each item has natural properties that, when brewed correctly, can be extracted and strengthened. A skilled potion maker can combine multiple ingredients together to get the desired effects.

Ingredients can have helpful and/or harmful effects. Combining two or more ingredients with the same helpful effect allows the potion maker to extract that effect to be used as a potion. Harmful effects are always prevalent, even when they are not matched. A skilled potion maker can combine opposite effects in order to reduce or remove the harmful effects of ingredients.

Likewise, one who knows how to craft poisons can combine harmful effects together to brew deadly poisons that they can coat their weapons with or poison the food of their victim. Helpful effects are prevalent as well unless the brewer is skilled enough to match opposite effects to remove any beneficial effects of the ingredients.


Gathering Herbs[edit]

In order to make potions, one must first gather ingredients with magical properties. The most common ingredients are plants, whether from the plant itself or from the fruits of the plan.

One must first know the properties of the plant before he knows how to use it in a potion. For this reason, identifying a plant requires a Knowledge (Nature) check to be made. Each plant has an associated Knowledge DC, which represents how easy it is to identify. This DC is based upon rarity, environment, and common knowledge. If the check succeeds, the character is able to identify the first effect of the plant (the most commonly known effect). For every two points the check is above the required DC, the character successfully identifies the next effect in the list. If the check fails, the character fails to identify the plant. He cannot make the check again until he has either raised his Knowledge (Nature) skill by at least 1 point or until he spends a minimum of three days researching local vegetation (assuming such research is available). After that time, he can attempt to identify the plant itself or some of its other properties.

Example: Ranus stumbles upon a plant he has never seen before. It has a Knowledge DC of 14 with three effects. He rolls a 17 for his check, successfully identifying the first effect. Because his roll is 3 higher than the required DC of 14, he identifies the second effect as well. If his roll had been one higher (18), he would have identified all three effects.

Once one knows what the plant is, he must then attempt to gather it efficiently. Plants are harvested different ways, and some are much easier than others. For this reason, each plant has a Gather DC associated with it. This DC takes into account the frailty of the plant, hazards such as thorns or thistles, the thickness of the part being cut, and even magical properties like heat and paralysis. When attempting to gather the plant, the character must make a Profession (Herbalist) check against the plant’s Gather DC. If he succeeds, he successfully gathers one sample of the plant. If he succeeds by 5 or more, he gathers an additional sample. If he fails, he gains no samples and has destroyed the plant. In addition, if the plant has any consequences to a failed gather, the character is affected by them.

Example: Ranus tries to gather some of this plant he has identified. It has a gather DC of 12. Ranus rolls a 17, gathering a sample. Since the roll is at least 5 points above the required roll, he gains an additional sample. Example: Ranus finds another plant growing in the area. He attempts to gather from it as well, but he only rolls a 9. The plant is destroyed, and Ranus does not get any samples. In addition, the plant is poisonous, and Ranus now has to face the poison.


Mechanics[edit]

HELPFUL EFFECTS When two ingredients with a matching helpful effect are combined, the resulting potion will have these effects attached to it. If the effect has a Power Level associated with it, the resulting potion will have a Power Level equal to the average Power Level of all ingredients with the matching effect, rounded down. Thus, it is often better to combine ingredients of similar Power Levels so as not to waste valuable ingredients. A potion can have up to three helpful effects attached to it.

Example: An ingredient (A) has the helpful effect Resist Fire (4). To take advantage of this effect, the potion maker adds an ingredient (B) with the effect Resist Fire (3). The total Power Level of these two ingredients is 7 (4 + 3). Since there are two ingredients, we divide this total by two to get 3.5, rounding down to 3. Thus, our resulting potion will have the effect Resist Fire (3).


HARMFUL EFFECTS Any harmful effects in the ingredients are automatically attached to the potion. Harmful effects do not have to be matched to appear in the final potion, so be wary. To counter harmful effects, a skilled potion maker will add ingredients with opposing helpful effects. For example, an ingredient with a Cure Wounds effect will negate or reduce the effects of an ingredient that has the Cause Wounds effect. To determine the new Power Level of the harmful effect, subtract the Power Level of the helpful effect from the current Power Level of the harmful effect. If the resulting Power Level is 0 or less, the effect is completely removed from the final potion.

Example: An ingredient (A) has the harmful effect Weakness to Fire (3). To counter this effect, the potion maker adds an ingredient (B) that has the helpful effect Resist Fire(2). The final potion will have the harmful effect Weakness to Fire (1). Now, if the potion maker were to change ingredient B to an ingredient that had Resist Fire (5), then the harmful effects would be negated.

The Power Level of harmful effects stack rather than average out, up to the maximum Power Level for the effect.

Example: An ingredient (A) has the harmful effect Cause Wounds (light). Another ingredient (B) has the harmful effect Cause Wounds (moderate). The resulting potion will have the effect Cause Wounds (serious). If ingredient A were replaced with an ingredient which had Cause Wounds (serious), the resulting potion would cap out at Cause Wounds (critical).

In order for a potion to contain a helpful effect when the opposing harmful effect is also attached to it, there must be at least two ingredients with the helpful effect, and the total helpful effect’s Power Level must be higher than the harmful effect’s Power Level. To find the new Power Level of the effect, add up all the helpful Power Levels and subtract all the harmful Power Level’s from the total. Then, divide the difference by the total number of ingredients with the helpful effect (rounded down to a minimum of 1). That is the new Power Level.

Example: An ingredient (A) has the harmful effect Weakness to Fire (1). The potion maker adds an ingredient (B) with the effect Resist Fire (5) to counter the effect. Currently, the Resist Fire (4) – achieved by subtracting the Weakness to Fire (1) from the Resist Fire (5) - is going to waste. The potion maker then adds a third ingredient (C) with Resist Fire (3). The total positive Power Level is 8 while the negative Power Level is 1. Subtracting the negative Power Level from the positive Power Level, we get 7. We then divide that value by 2 (there are two ingredients with the helpful effect Resist Fire), which gives us 3.5. Rounding down to 3, the final effect attached to this potion is Resist Fire (3).


POISON Creating a poison works similar to brewing a potion. The main exception is that both harmful effects and helpful effects are treated the same way as helpful effects. (i.e. the way they stack/cancel each other out).


THE CHECK Once all the desired ingredients have been mixed, a Craft (Potion Making) check must be made (or Craft (Poison) in the case of poisons). The Difficulty Class of the potion starts at 10 + the number of ingredients used + the total numeric Power Level divided by 4 or (10 + Ingredients + (Power Level / 4)). A numeric Power Level is one where the value in parentheses is a number and not a word. (i.e. Resist Fire(5) is numeric, while Cure Wounds (light) is not). It is then modified as shown on the table below.


Potion ModificationDC Increase
Cancel out a harmful effect+2 per cancellation
Use of an effect without a Power Level+1 per effect
Use of an effect with a text Power Level+1 per effective Power Level (i.e. light=+1, moderate=+2, etc.).

If the roll succeeds, the desired potion is created. If it succeeds by more than 10, one of the otherwise suppressed Helpful Effects gets added to the potion effects or one Harmful Effect has its Power Level reduced by one (player’s choice). This bonus is applied even if the maximum of three effects is already reached. If no other Helpful Effect existed on the ingredients, then one of the effects (chosen at random) is increase by one Power Level.

If the roll fails by 5 or less, the potion still gets created, but a new negative effect is generated from the table below and added to the list of effects. The Potion Maker must roll an addition check (DC12) to identify the new effect.


Negative EffectPower Level
Drain Attack1d4
Drain Defense1d4
Poison1d4 (1=weak, 2=moderate, 3=strong, 4=deadly)

If the roll fails by more than 5, the potion fails and all ingredients are lost.


Effect Types[edit]

Different effects last for different amounts of time. Some are instant, applying an effect only once, while others provide a continuous effect. Below are the different effect types with an explanation of each.


DURATION Duration type effects continue for several minutes. Unless otherwise specified, the duration of the effect is 1 hour. Once the time has passed, the effects expire. Multiple Duration effects do not stack; only the most potent effect is used. If the duration of the weaker effect lasts longer than the stronger effect, then the weaker effect will persist once the stronger effect wears off.

Example: Drinking a potion with a Resist Fire(3) effect and another with a Resist Fire(5) effect will not produce Resist Fire(8). Instead, the Resist Fire(5) effect will be used. If the Resist Fire(3) effect still has 2 hours left when the Resist Fire(5) potion (which lasts 1 hour) is consumed, then after the hour when the Resist Fire(5) effect ends, the Resist Fire(3) effect would persist for another hour.


INSTANT An effect with the effect type of Instant will happen immediately and only once. Once this effect has been applied, it is used up even if it is part of the same potion that has Duration effect types.


Helpful Effects[edit]

CURE DISEASE

Effect Type: Instant

Cure Disease instantly removes the harmful effects of a disease. The strength of the disease that can be removed is equal to the strength of this effect’s Power Level. A stronger cure can also be used to remove a more common disease (i.e. a Cure Disease(rare) can be used to remove a common, uncommon, or rare disease).

To determine the Power Level of a poison, add the maximum damage the poison can cause using both Initial and Secondary Damage. The number in the (Max Damage) field on the table below will correlate to this sum.

Counter Effect: Disease


Power LevelEffect
commonCure any disease with an Infection DC of 12 or less.
uncommonCure any disease with an Infection DC of 14 or less.
rareCure any disease with an Infection DC of 17 or less.
terminalCure any disease.


CURE POISON

Effect Type: Instant

Cure Poison instantly removes the harmful effects of poison. The strength of the poison that can be removed is equal to the strength of this effect’s Power Level. A stronger cure can also be used to remove a weaker poison (i.e. a Cure Poison(strong) can be used to remove a weak, moderate, or strong poison).

To determine the Power Level of a poison, add the maximum damage the poison can cause using both Initial and Secondary Damage. The number in the (Max Damage) field on the table below will correlate to this sum.

Counter Effect: Poison


Power LevelMax DamageEffect
weak0-4Remove any poison that does a maximum of 4 damage.
moderate5-8Remove any poison that does a maximum of 8 damage.
strong7-12Remove any poison that does a maximum of 12 damage.
deadly12+Remove any poison.


CURE WOUNDS

Effect Type: Instant

Cure Wounds restores lost hit points to the imbiber. Consult the table below for each Power Level and how many hit points each cures.

Counter Effect: Cause Wounds


Power LevelEffect
lightRestores 1d8 hit points to the imbiber.
moderateRestores 2d8+3 hit points to the imbiber.
seriousRestores 3d8+5 hit points to the imbiber.
criticalRestores 4d8+7 hit points to the imbiber.


DAMAGE REDUCTION

Effect Type: Duration

The Damage Reduction effect reduces the damage the imbiber takes from all sources except the one mentioned in the effect name. The name will show as “Damage Reduction (5/Fire)” or “Damage Reduction (10/Lawful Good)”. The number in the name is the Power Level, while the word(s) after the slash is the Element. For the duration of the effect, the imbiber reduces all damage done to him by any source other than any source of a type equal to the Element. The Element can be a standard element (Fire, Frost, etc.), a creature type (Undead, Outsider), or an alignment.

The duration of every Damage Reduction effect is 10 minutes.

Example: Consuming a potion with a Damage Reduction (2/Fire) would reduce all damage from any source except for a fire source, such as a fireball or burning hands spell.

Counter Effect: None.


FORTIFY ATTACK

Effect Type: Duration

The Fortify Attack effect allows the imbiber to add the effect’s Power Level to all attack and damage rolls for the duration of the effect. The effect lasts 1d10+10 minutes.

Counter Effect: Drain Attack


FORTIFY ATTRIBUTE

Effect Type: Duration

Fortify Attribute will temporarily increase the imbiber’s strength, dexterity, intelligence, constitution, wisdom or charisma by a number equal to the effect’s Power Level.

Example: A potion with the effect Fortify Strength (1) attached to it will increase the imbiber’s strength by 1 for the duration of the effect.

Counter Effect: Drain Attribute (Must be the same attribute as the Fortify effect.)


FORTIFY DEFENSE

Effect Type: Duration

The Fortify Defense effect allows the imbiber to add the effect’s Power Level to her armor class for the duration of the effect. The effect lasts 1d10+10 minutes.

Counter Effect: Drain Defense


FORTIFY SKILL

Effect Type: Duration

Fortify Skill will temporarily increase one’s effectiveness with the given skill. The effect name will be “Fortify Appraise” or “Fortify Handle Animal” rather than “Fortify Skill”. For the duration of the effect, the imbiber can add a number of points equal to the Power Level of the effect to each check made with the given skill.

Example: A rogue drinks a potion with the effect Fortify Disable Device (2). For the duration of the effect, the rogue gets to add +2 to every check made with the Disable Device skill.

Counter Effect: Drain Skill (Must be the same skill as the Fortify effect.)


FLY

Effect Type: Duration

When a potion with the Fly effect is consumed, the imbiber is treated as though a fly spell was cast on him.

Counter Effect: None.


LEVITATE

Effect Type: Duration

When a potion with the Levitate effect is consumed, the imbiber is treated as though a levitate spell was cast on her. The effects last for 10 minutes and can be ended at will.

Counter Effect: None.


PROTECTION FROM ALIGNMENT

Effect Type: Duration

Protection from Alignment wards the imbiber from attacks by creatures of the respective alignment. The name of the effect will be “Protection from Evil” or “Protection from Lawful Good” rather than “Protection from Alignment”. For the duration of the effect, the imbiber will be treated as though a protection from evil spell were cast on him, except that the deflection and resistance bonuses apply to attacks from creatures of the respective alignment, and summoned creatures of that alignment cannot touch the imbiber.

Example: Consuming a potion with a Protection from Neutral effect attached to it will ward the imbiber as though a protection from evil spell were cast on him, save that the bonuses would be applied against neutral creatures.

Counter Effect: Weakness to Alignment (Must be same alignment as the Protection effect.)


PROTECTION FROM CREATURE TYPE

Effect Type: Duration

Protection from Creature Type wards the imbiber from attacks by creatures of the given type. The name of the effect will be “Protection from Magical Beasts” or “Protection from Outsiders” rather than “Protection from Creature Type”. For the duration of the effect, the imbiber will be treated as though a protection from evil spell were cast on him, except that the deflection and resistance bonuses apply to attacks from creatures of the given type, and summoned creatures of that type cannot touch the imbiber.

Example: Consuming a potion with a Protection from Magical Beasts effect attached to it will ward the imbiber as though a protection from evil spell were cast on him, except that the bonuses would be applied against magical beasts.

Counter Effect: Weakness to Creature Type (Must be same creature type as the Protection effect.)


REMOVE PARALYSIS

Effect Type: Instant

The Resist Paralysis effect instantly removes all movement-inhibiting effects on the imbiber.

Counter Effect: Paralysis


RESIST ELEMENT

Effect Type: Duration

Resist Element reduces damage taken from a given element. The actual effect name will vary from ingredient to ingredient, appearing as “Resist Fire” or “Resist Frost” instead of “Resist Element”. For the duration of the potion, each time the imbiber would take damage of the respective element, that damage is reduced by the Power Level of the effect.

Example: A mage casts a fireball at a warrior who has imbibed a potion with the effect Resist Fire (3). The fireball would do 12 damage (after all applicable saves have been rolled). However, because of the effects of this potion, the damage is reduced by the Power Level of the effect – 3. Thus, the warrior takes 9 damage instead of 12.

Counter Effect: Weakness to Element (Must be same element as the Resist effect.)


RESIST FEAR

Effect Type: Duration

The Resist Fear effect allows the imbiber to add the effect’s Power Level to all saving throws made against fear effects, such as Dragon Fear and the cause fear spell.

Counter Effect: Weakness to Fear


RESIST PARALYSIS

Effect Type: Duration

The Resist Paralysis effect allows the imbiber to add the effect’s Power Level to all saving throws made against any immobilizing effects, including the flesh to stone and entangle spells.

Counter Effect: Weakness to Paralysis


SHIELD

Effect Type: Duration

The Shield effect acts just like the wizard spell of the same name, with the imbiber being treated as the caster. The duration of the effect depends upon the Power Level and is shown below.

Counter Effect: None.


Power LevelEffect
weakEffect lasts for 1 minute.
moderateEffect lasts for 15 minutes.
strongEffect lasts for 1 hour.


SPELL RESISTANCE

Effect Type: Duration

Spell Resistance helps the imbiber to resist the effects of magical spells. For the duration of the potion, the imbiber’s Spell Resistance is increased by the Power Level of the effect.

Counter Effect: Vulnerability to Spells


WATER BREATHING

Effect Type: Duration

Water Breathing allows the imbiber to breathe underwater as though he were breathing air for the duration of the effect. The effect lasts 1d8 hours.

Counter Effect: None.


WATER WALKING

Effect Type: Duration

Water Walking allows the imbiber to walk across the surface of the water for the duration of the effect. As a standard action, he can choose to descend into the water. Once his feet rise above the surface of the water, he will continue to walk on top of it. The effect lasts for 1d8 hours.

Counter Effect: None.

Harmful Effects[edit]

CAUSE DISEASE

Effect Type: Instant

Drinking a potion with this effect will cause to imbiber to become diseased. The type of disease he catches is the disease in parentheses. The disease is permanent and must be cured either by natural means or by a spell or magical effect that cures diseases.

Counter Effect: Cure Disease


CAUSE WOUNDS

Effect Type: Instant

Cause Wounds causes immediate damage to the imbiber. Consult the table below for each Power Level and how much damage it does.

Counter Effect: Cure Wounds


LevelEffect
lightCauses 1d8+1 damage to the imbiber.
moderateCauses 2d8+3 damage to the imbiber.
seriousCauses 3d8+5 damage to the imbiber.
criticalCauses 4d8+7 damage to the imbiber.


DRAIN ATTACK

Effect Type: Duration

This harmful effect reduces the Attack Bonus of the imbiber by an amount equal to the effect’s Power Level. The imbiber’s Attack Bonus can drop below 0. The effects remain for the effect’s duration.

Counter Effect: Fortify Attack


DRAIN ATTRIBUTE

Effect Type: Duration

This effect drains one of the six primary stats as noted by the full effect name. “Drain Strength” would cause temporary damage to the imbiber’s strength, while “Drain Wisdom” would reduce the imbiber’s wisdom for the effect’s duration. The amount reduced is equal to the Power Level of the effect.

Counter Effect: Fortify Attribute (must be the same attribute as the Drain Attribute effect)


DRAIN DEFENSE

Effect Type: Duration

This effect reduces the imbiber’s armor class by an amount equal to the effect’s Power Level. The imbiber’s armor class cannot drop below 10. The effects remain for the effect’s duration.

Counter Effect: Fortify Defense


PARALYSIS

Effect Type: Duration

This effect causes paralysis for 1d10 minutes.

Counter Effect: Remove Paralysis


Power LevelEffect
weakParalyzes for 2d10 minutes.
moderateParalyzes for 6d10 minutes.
strongParalyzes for 1d4+1 hours.
deadlyParalyzes for 3d8 hours.


POISON

Effect Type: Instant

The poison attached to a potion can have a wide range of effects. Each ingredient with the Poison harmful effect will describe the effects of the poison.

Counter Effect: Cure Poison


WEAKNESS TO ALIGNMENT

Effect Type: Duration

Weakness to Alignment makes the imbiber susceptible to attacks by creatures of the respective alignment. The name of the effect will be “Weakness to Evil” or “Weakness to Lawful Good” rather than “Weakness to Alignment”. For the duration of the effect, the imbiber receives a -2 penalty to AC and a -2 penalty on all saves. Both penalties only apply to attacks from creatures of the respective alignment. In addition, the imbiber receives an additional -2 to save against any attempts by one of this alignment to possess him.

Example: Consuming a potion with a Weakness to Neutral effect attached to it will give the imbiber a -2 deflection penalty to AC and a -2 penalty to all saves when defending or saving against attacks or abilities of neutral creatures.

Counter Effect: Protection from Alignment (Must be same alignment as the Weakness effect.)


WEAKNESS TO CREATURE TYPE

Effect Type: Duration

Weakness to Creature Type wards the imbiber from attacks by creatures of the given type. The name of the effect will be “Weakness to Magical Beasts” or “Weakness to Outsiders” rather than “Weakness to Creature Type”. For the duration of the effect, the imbiber receives a -2 penalty to AC and a -2 penalty on all saves. Both penalties only apply to attacks from creatures of the respective type. In addition, the imbiber receives an additional -2 to save against any attempts by one of this type to possess him.

Example: Consuming a potion with a Weakness to Giants effect attached to it will give the imbiber a -2 deflection penalty to AC and a -2 penalty to all saves when defending or saving against attacks or abilities of any creatures with the Giant type.

Counter Effect: Weakness to Creature Type (Must be same creature type as the Protection effect.)



WEAKNESS TO ELEMENT

Effect Type: Duration

The Weakness to Element ability causes the imbiber to take extra damage from sources of the given element. It will be named “Weakness to Fire” or “Weakness to Frost” rather than “Weakness to Element”. For the duration of the effect, each time the imbiber would take damage from a source of the given element, that damage is increased by a number of points equal to effect’s Power Level.

Counter Effect: Resist Element (Must be the same element as the Weakness effect.)


WEAKNESS TO FEAR

Effect Type: Duration

The Weakness to Fear effect causes the imbiber to subtract the effect’s Power Level from all saving throws made against fear effects, such as Dragon Fear and the cause fear spell.

Counter Effect: Resist Fear


WEAKNESS TO PARALYSIS

Effect Type: Duration

The Weakness to Paralysis effect causes the imbiber to subtract the effect’s Power Level from all saving throws made against any immobilizing effects, including the flesh to stone and entangle spells.

Counter Effect: Resist Paralysis


VULNERABILITY TO SPELLS

Effect Type: Duration

Vulnerability to Spells causes the imbiber to become vulnerable to magical spells. For the duration of the effect, the imbiber’s Spell Resistance is decreased by the Power Level of the effect. If decreased below 0, the imbiber reduces all saving throws made against magical spells by the negative value.

Counter Effect: Spell Resistance


--Lord Zayaa (talk) 14:21, 11 March 2015 (MDT)


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