30 Alchemical Gadgets
By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Rite Publishing is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
By now, you probably are aware about some of the idiosyncrasies of my preferences. I’m conservative on the power-scale, need a VERY good reason and excellent fluff to get excited about new races. I’m also pro-psionics and prefer rare magic gaming on the lower end of magic-item frequency. I’m also all for weird fantasy/sci-fi/gunpowder/steam-punkish in my games and thus, it should come as no surprise that I really like alchemical gadgets.
Alchemical gadgets with their semblance of being items that could exist in our own world for me create a deeper immersion and serve another important function: They prevent the dilution of magic – after all, anything that is common loses its sense of wonder, something that should be inherent in magic. This does mean, though, that at low levels players will require to use their wits and use items like alchemical gadgets improve their odds. With that out of the way, can this pdf stand up to my lofty demands to the item-class?
The pdf kicks off with an aptly-written IC-prose and then goes on to describe on how to create these gadgets herein: Essentially, the items herein require both Craft (alchemy) and Craft (Engineering) and use the respective lower skill when rolling. (Adherents of the Midgard campaign setting may wish to substitute Craft (clockworks) for engineering….) Simple, but what can one craft? Well, the first item in here is the alchemist fire projector: Essentially a low-tech flame-thrower. YEAH! Now that’s what I’m talking about – while taking up multiple slots makes this item not too useful, it has a capacity of 10 shots and the image of a unit of expansionist dwarves torching elven woods with these is awesome, isn’t it? The Arcane Atomizer in my game, will replace all those effin’ annoying detect spells – spray it in the air – when contact with magic auras is made, the aura glows silver, thus not indicating which type the magic was. Again, awesome! We also get beast horns attuned to certain animals (essentially dog whistles) and a cylinder you can throw to destroy underbush and damage plant creatures.
Want a device that helps reloading crossbows? It’s in here, as is a box that dazzles its onlookers with its flashing lights when activated. For more brainy characters, you might like to know that we now also get forensic lenses to analyze evidence. Frog Gloves are also interesting, developing a membrane when put in contact with water, enhancing your swimming-checks. On the spy’s toolkit’s side, you also get glass with gel that temporary makes woods grainy and translucent from your side, allowing you to look through doors. We also get boots to move through slimy surfaces, spikes that ground electricity damage, a globe that can emit lights that make ethereal creatures visible but is unstable.
If you’re a bit of a simulationalist or sometimes spring smuggling encounters on players, there’s also a device that turns gold into a liquid state and makes it movable and lighter, while lodemarkers and lodefinders should help versus getting lost in the depths of mazes. Speaking of lodes – magnetic glove to disarm? Bingo, there! The manytool rod is the big brother of a Swiss pocket knife, which is awesome, as is the overcaulker that has 4 different substances with different properties. Neat!
Pneumatic Vests are probably more for the clockwork/steampunk-aficionados, offering you an option to catapult stored potions directly into your hands. We also get an anti-nausea nose-clamp, a cloak that helps when falling, but makes you easier to blow away, a sonic lockpick and a sonic spike (nice nod!). One of the coolest items herein and one that will probably surface in many, many campaigns is the spell popper – an alchemical compound that makes it hard for those hit by it to concentrate on casting spells, but deals no damage. Very cool!
We also get Spring Batons and Springloaded Shields, a buckler that can catch weapons via tarry padding, alchemical snow shoes a winch rope and finally, a mask that protects from smoke inhalation. Each of the items herein comes with an aptly-written description of how it looks/came to be and price, weight and crafting DC.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RiP’s 2-column standard and the pdf comes with fitting stock-art. The pdf is fully bookmarked and can be considered printer-friendly.
All right, so did these items deliver? HELL YEAH! This humble pdf is a treasure-trove of stellar ideas, cool gadgets that teem with usable, balanced options and cool ingenuity, making this one of the best item-books I’ve read in quite a while – author Wendall Roy’s first time contribution to the #30-series can be considered a total success and a must buy for fans of alchemists, alchemy, weird fantasy and steampunk aficionados – final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval! Congratulations!
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