This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Alchemical items, much to my chagrin, are relegated in usefulness mostly to low levels – at least in PF1. This is one aspect I very much prefer in Pathfinder Playtest, but that’s another can of worms. The pdf remarks that an item that would be fair for 5th level might very much be utterly OP at 1st – as such, the pdf handles the issue by introducing proficiency. This value denotes the minimum number of skill ranks needed to use the item reliably, and which skills these ranks must be invested in. Basically, it makes skills also act as a kind of unlock mechanism for items. Not having the proper skill ranks nets a 75% chance of misuse, +5% for every rank that you fall short. This may seem brutal, but ultimately, it makes using stuff beyond your ken what it should be: An act of desperation.
This basic system provided, we are introduced to full-sized and portable masterwork alchemist labs. These labs can refine two uses of an alchemical item into 1 use of a refined one, which increases save DCs and damage as well as bonuses, if any. Basically, this is a one-item scaling engine, externalized to an item. I love it. Considering the focus of the pdf, it should not come as a surprise that the items herein tend to clock in at the higher power-levels: Spectral drops net you the ability to see the invisible and ethereal, and automatically alerts you of scrying sensors and bestows darkvision. Minor complaint: A Bonus to noticing sensors would have been more elegant here. On the offense side, we get the ability to create aqua regia at 9th level, a deadly acid that nets 12d6 damage, 4d6 splash in a 20 ft. radius, and targets directly hit begin to corrode – an acid-based variant of catching fire. I love it. Endothermic spikes are throwable cold-based weapons that come in two variants, combining damage with difficult terrain. Once more, neat!
Also available in two variants, death remedy is a potent draught that heals significant amounts, and that may actually revive the recently deceased in a breath of life-y way. Multi-consciousness tea is genius, in that it allows you to remain aware while sleeping. Spirit of exaltation lets you grant a target short-term flight and a variant of fire shield. Universal cerator is one for creative PCs, allowing you to reduce hardness and compromise object and creatures.
The pdf also contains a variety of different alchemical discoveries: Alchemical salvage lets you scavenge items from large quantities of the items (e.g. an antitoxin’s vial, the residue of an alchemist’s fire’s impact site) and recreate items. Extract injection lets you infuse extracts into melee or ranged weapons – and yes, save structure etc. are noted. Material transmutation represents one of the key concepts of real world alchemy, and allows you to transmute one type of nonmagical material into another. This only creates raw materials, but in the hands of the right player, this can be a phenomenal asset, particularly if your game’s like mine and you enjoy Achilles’ heel designs for bosses, research etc. Greater transmutation and true transmutation build on this one, allowing alchemists to finally cover a core concept we commonly associate with alchemy.
Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules language level. Layout adheres to the latest 2-column full-color standard with a white background that the series uses, and the artwork is really neat. The pdf has no bookmark, but needs none at this length.
David N. Ross’ superior alchemical items are a godsend as far as I’m concerned. Transmutation as a concept should have been part of the core alchemy array, and the use of masterwork labs to make alchemical items scale is genius – in fact, with better healing and AoE damage, I can actually picture running a game with a primary focus on alchemy to represent the majority of supernatural abilities. If you’ve been following my reviews, you’ll know that this is something I absolutely adore. My only complaint here would be that, frankly, I’d have wanted a massive expansion booklet of alchemy rules like this. This pdf takes the lump of iron that alchemical items become after the first few levels and turns them into gold, and unlike real world alchemy, no manure of any kind is involved/included in this pdf. 5 stars + seal of approval.
You can get this inspired little pdf here on OBS!