[Blue Room GURPS: The Craig Roth Collection]Elixirs of Utility:

Fantasy Alchemists Do More than Potions

By S. John Ross

The repertoire of the alchemist as defined by GURPS Magic is varied and useful, but a few important things are missing. The elixirs therein are limited to those creations which affect living things directly, but traditional fantasy alchemists could produce far more. Three of these ``utilitarian'' alchemical products are detailed here.


Foul, bubbling concoctions that dissolve steel or flesh; these are powerful and useful items. They are always liquid; ignore the rules for elixir forms. One ``dose'' of alchemical acid (about an ounce) will do 3d+15 damage to the object or creature it is poured upon, if it care is taken to apply it in a single location (you can't just throw it on). Application takes 5 seconds per ounce. Taking less time causes acid to splash away wastefully, which can also be dangerous! Tossing an ounce of acid on a living thing will do only 1d+2 damage if successful. DR applies for both living things and inanimate objects (see p.B125 for the attributes of various inanimate objects). Thus, it would take an average of 2 doses to get through an inch of steel cable. One dose will ruin the average lock. Glassware is generally immune to alchemical acids, so it can be stored safely! Exposure to air will give a -1 per dose damage penalty per hour. $70 in materials; 2 weeks. Cost: $400/$700.

Magic Glue

This strange adhesive is common in fantasy novels and games, more often for humor than utility, but it can be useful. It is difficult to make and expensive, and must be kept tightly sealed. A ``dose'' of Glue is an amount sufficient to coat about 100 square inches (this process takes 1 second per 5 square inches. The cost of the Glue includes a 1'' wide brush which must be thrown away after a single use). 2d+30 seconds after being exposed to air, the Glue will dry, bonding permanently any objects joined by it, even if they are exceptionally porous. Note that the bond is often stronger than the things being bonded! You could Glue a hobgoblin to the ceiling by his hair, but the hobgoblin would still fall (ouch). The bond can only be dissolved by an anti-elixir, which is as difficult and costly to make as the Glue, but quicker (only a week). $900 in materials; 2 weeks; -1 to skill. Cost: $1,250/$4,400.

Smoke Bombs

A liquid that, when exposed to air, forms a dark, oily cloud that obscures vision. Commonly sold to traveling magicians for impressing the naive, these have an obvious use to adventurers! They are sold in the forms of small bottles, which may either be opened for effect or thrown, grenade-style, to be broken on the ground. Either method produces the same effect: the cloud immediately fills the hex it is opened in, and grows larger each round by 1 hex (see p.B150 for an illustration of this). It grows until it has attained a 5-hex diameter (the ``3'' in the illustration). Smaller clouds can often be specified when purchasing from the alchemist, at the same cost. The cloud is about 3 yards tall, and totally obscures vision in it and through it (treat as total darkness, a -10 penalty to attacks). The cloud will last 15 seconds in still air before thinning out (the cloud rises when it thins, it does not spread outward). If it is important, assume the cloud loses one penalty level per 5 seconds after 15 (thus, it takes 65 seconds to completely dissapear). The cloud can be moved with air spells or steady breezes; the effects of this are left to the GM. $30 in materials; 2 days; +3 to skill. Cost: $80/$530.

Lesser Elixirs

Another good way to broaden the capabilities of the Alchemist is to permit the creation of lesser versions of existing elixirs. Simply reduce the time to make the elixir relative to the reduced effectiveness. Thus, a death elixir doing 1d instead of 4d would take 4 days instead of two weeks. Material costs do not change. Always round to the worst for the alchemist or customer in time or effectiveness. No skill modifiers.

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