Guns o' War: Gunpowder, Renaissance

I doubt anyone will find this as cute as I did, but:

Going through the latest Guns of War draft, I’d passed through the various gunpowder entries in the equipment section.

I imagined a gleeful, soot-covered alchemist cackling as he filled a barrel up.

But, wait!

Alchemists, via the Alchemy proficiency, don’t actually produce things over time! They’re non-caster helpers for potion manufacture; false academics playing at forces they don’t fully understand.

Producing gunpowder is the realm of someone with the Craft proficiency (Chemist, perhaps?)- someone who can repeatedly produce an item over a period of time, utilizing characteristics of natural materials and verified methods rather than strange arcana and ritual.

So, right there in the ACKS rules, the fall of pseudoscience and the rise of verifiable repeatable methods as the game shifts to a view of the 14th-16th centuries, into the Renaissance.

or you can play in eberron where the two are one in the same and your “locksmith” is just a very low level mage who only knows Knock and Wizard Lock :slight_smile:

Alchemists, via the Alchemy proficiency, don't actually produce things over time! They're non-caster helpers for potion manufacture

Is that a change in GoW? Because, in core, “[Alchemists] may work as assistants to mages to help them create potions. They may also research new potions as if they were 5th level mages, but at twice the base time and cost.” (ACKS 52, emphasis mine)

Ha. Oh, Eberron. Brushed up so close against just giving up and being a steampunk setting outright, rather than trying to hide it under a veneer of DND. I’ve played briefly in the setting and never could get the hang of it (though to be fair, the setting had been house-ruled even more complicatedly)

ACKS is actually very, very close to being able to handle steampunk - between Guns of War and the Dwarven Machinist, you’ve got all you need.

A ruling on what giving a proficiency or thief skill to an automaton would cost and I think you’re pretty much there on having a mechanical thief-in-a-box, or some sort of really complicated gauntlet you can slap on and press against a lock.

But, then you’d be playing steampunk. Icky.

No, read that out of ACKS core. I’d been laboring under the impression that researching potions was different from actually making them - as in you’d have a team of alchemists doing research on something new for potions while you were out adventuring…

That may be unclear wording or bad understanding on my part…OK, looking at pg 119 of ACKS Core, under “Assistants” at the top, it does seem that once the alchemist is qualified to be an “Assistant”, he or she can, for potions only, create a magical item.

Either which way; the alchemist is still working under a set of assumptions grounded in the fantastic, rather than anything approaching a scientific method, and requires a real spellcaster to supervise them, so I think my point still stands.

So long as we’re dealing with gunpowder, yes, it seems it would be a Craft rather than Alchemy. Now if it was a magical or quasi-magical powder (such as TSR’s smokepowder or the binary powder from Iron Kingdoms), then an alchemist would be more useful.

Continuing to drift off-topic for the thread…

it does seem that once the alchemist is qualified to be an "Assistant", he or she can, for potions only, create a magical item.

p.119 does indeed say that someone with two ranks in Alchemy is qualified to function as an assistant and create potions under a real mage’s supervision, but with three ranks, “he is an alchemist himself, as described under Hiring Specialists.” (ACKS 58) and the text from Hiring Specialists, which I cited earlier, states that they can research potions “as if they were 5th level mages”, who are able to create potions on their own, without requiring supervision.

Granted, phrasing it as being able to “research new potions” is a bit unclear, but I interpret that to mean “create potions” because:

  1. The ability is “as if they were 5th level mages” and 5th level mages can create potions.

  2. When you attempt to create a potion (or other magical item), your success or failure is determined by a “magic research throw”, so it’s at least plausible that “create new potions” and “research new potions” could be synonymous.

  3. You don’t normally have to research potions (or other items) anyhow. You just either learn the spell or find a sample, and then you make it. Unless you need to create a custom spell first (and alchemists clearly can’t research spells), there is no separate design phase, so allowing them to only conduct the non-existent design phase makes no sense.

Ah, I’d mixed up my ranks & definitions scrolling betwixt pages.

Point 3) does seem to seal the deal, yes, if “research new potions” is meant to mean “creating new potions”.

That being said; a regular mage is making items (for the first time) from a spell that he or she knows or a formula/sample- are alchemists treated as having a 5th level mage’s repertoire for purposes of potions?

Or must they solely operate off of an existing formula?

Is researching the formula what’s meant by “research new potions”?

If that’s the case, then is the “at twice the base time and cost” irrespective of working off of a formula, or is that just for researching something they do not have a formula for, and once a formula exists they create them at the “has a formula/sample” discount (so at the same rate as a mage without a formula/sample?)

I’ve probably talked myself into a circle and have overlooked the key part of this somewhere.

The way I’d rule it, at least, is that alchemists must work from a sample or formula (no repertoire) and the base cost/time is doubled (for being a non-caster) and then the sample/formula reduces the cost and time by half, so the net effect is that they can only create potions they have a sample or formula for and doing so takes the same cost and time as a mage creating a similar potion without a sample/formula.