[Noodling] Alchemists

I'm working on some stuff to expand what Alchemist can do in-game and I just wanted to throw some stuff out there.  As per Core (p. 52) alchemists can be hired at a rate of 250 gold coins per month.  However, the Alchemy proficiency is structured in the same way as standard "craft" proficiencies where each additional purchase (up to 3) increases the character's ability in the given task.  If we use the Craft Proficiency as an example, therefore, a character with one rank in Alchemist would be an Apprentice, one with two ranks is a Journeyman and one with three Ranks is a Master.  However! The pay structure for such individuals is 10, 20 and 40 gp/month, so it's obvious we can't use the Craft (or similar Proficiency) pay scale.

So! This thread states that Alchemists with three ranks (Masters) can work as 5th level mages, but at twice the base cost and time.  If we take a standard potion -- let's say Healing -- we know that it has a base cost of 500 gp and takes one week to produce, so a Master Alchemist can produce a healing potion at a cost of 1000 gp and two weeks.  It has also been established that Master Alchemist with a *formula* can cut this time in half, which is the rate I want to use as a benchmark.  So, as a baseline a Master Alchemist can produce 500 gp worth of work per week, or 2000 gp per month (assuming she is *successful* with the potion making), eight times the salary given on p. 52 of Core.

As another reference point, the entry for Annalist Hometri Socolo on p. 30 of the Sinister Stone of Sakara states that the Annalist will charge 40 gp to identify magical items -- Alchemists can identify potions on a roll of 11+ -- but I don't have any idea how long it actually takes to ID items (whether using Alchemy or Magical Engineering, actually).

What I need to do is as follows, to start:

1. Reconcile the disparity in costs, above.

2. Determine the values of production for the three tiers of Alchemists, and how they work together.

3. Determine the values of production for the other things that Alchemists can do, outside of potion making.

I'm just guessing here but... is it possible the disparity between wage of the alchemist and the value he producses is precisely because there is a chance of failure in creating the potion?

1. The base cost of a potion is 500gp. The base cost with formula is 250gp. The base cost with formula for a master alchemist is 500gp.

2. Therefore the alchemist must spends 500gp to create the potion. He will also need 250gp on special components. The total is therefore 750gp.

3. His base magic research throw is 12+. Assume he has an INT 18 (+3) and is working in a high-value workshop (+3). His throw is therefore 6+. 

4. A potion can be sold for 2 x base cost, or 1,000gp.

5. A throw of 6+ means that he has a 75% chance of success. 75% x 1,000gp = 750gp.

So under best case case scenario, the alchemist is breaking even on his alchemical work.




Well, at best they’re employed and making potions for someone, right, so they’re still clearing 250 gp per month? At least I’m assuming that wage is what it takes to out the alchemist on retaimer, and doesn’t count towards the cost of a potion.

So, I looked at your doc as posted in the Let's Read on RPG.net. I dig it.

I'd been puttering around with the same thing, sort of. I've got a 'substance creation' cost metric based on some percentage of the Player's Companion spell creation costs, given the inherit limitations of applying/throwing/ingesting a physical substance. No idea if it's balanced at the moment.

I'd ended up doing the wages a bit differently, based on the following:

If one follows the example established by the Armorer (75/gp/mo), the production breakdown looks like:

Master 75
Journeymen (2) 40
Apprentices (4) 40
Wages Input: 155

Production is:

Master 40
Journeymen (2) 60
Apprentices (4) 60
Production Out: 160

Total Production Output: 160 gp

Alternatively put, the hirer of the armorer who expects that armorer to run a full shop pays in 155 gp to get 160gp back; and that armorer is pocketing 35gp in "profit" taking advantage of the labor of his subordinates. If that same math is applied to the alchemists in your doc:

Production is:

Master 250
Journeymen (2) 360
Apprentices (4) 360
Production Out: 970
Master (-25%) 187.5
Journeymen (2) 360
Apprentices (4) 360
Production Out: 907.5

both including and not including the -25% for the master due to supervision you'd placed in. The wages are:

Master 490 459.6
Journeymen (2) 240 240
Apprentices (4) 240 240
Wages Input: 970 939.68
Master (-25%) 427 399
Journeymen (2) 240 240
Apprentices (4) 240 240
Wages Input: 907 879

Two columns including either a straight conversion, or the ~4% bonus one gets from hiring a team, a'la the Armorer, indicating a Master Alchemist working a team would charge (490/460 gp) or (427/400 gp) as their own wages for the privilege of supervising a shop.

I'd done, instead:

Alchemy 1 - dabbler apprentice, bottle washer, no wages
Alchemy 2 - assistant, 90gp/mo, 45 production/mo (half wages go to raw materials)
Alchemy 3 - alchemist, 250 wages/mo, 125 production/mo 
Alchemy 4 - master alchemist, 500 wages/mo, 250 production/mo

Assuming an Alchemist can supervise 2 assistants, the shop asks 430gp in wages for 260gp of production, a 60% loss (as opposed to the single alchemist's 50% loss). A master alchemist, supervising 2 alchemists over 4 assistants, asks ~1350gp for ~900gp, 65% loss.

I mean to go through the process of figuring out what the actual expected cost is of substance creation to see how average failure rates are going to relate to assumed production rates; and to figure out where/how investment etc. in higher success rates turns into profit for the shop owner.






Yeah, I went back and forth on how to structure the costs for the alchemist and I'm still not totally satisfied with how my version turned out.  I still have to grok potion creation, and would like there to be some reason for a dude to hire an alchemist to craft a potion instead of a mage.  There's also the failure rate to consider, and the fact that under my system a failure can result in literal destruction of buildings and/or death.  I'd totally be interested in PMing you over Hangouts or something at some point.

Righto. Will aim a PM your way.