FrankenFourth: Non-Magical Potions

One of the design tenets for FrankenFourth (and our other game, Dungeons & Delvers) is that magic items are not assumed. Actually, even magic in general isn't an assumed part of the game, which means that you don't need a cleric to keep people propped up, not that clerics have built in healing anyway.

There is a magical healing potion, but unlike most games where they only heal a bit of damage and are generally widely available, in FrankenFourth (and, again, Dungeons & Delvers) a healing potion fixes everything: you regain all of your Wounds, and are cured of all diseases, broken bones, poisons, and so on.

You might find one while looting a wizard, witch, or some other spellcaster's lair, or be given one as a reward for helping priests that worship, say, a god of healing, but as with every other magic item that's entirely up to the GM.

One of the players in our FrankenFourth playtests, I think Adam or Chris, suggested adding non-magical, potion-like items to the game. Coincidentally I'd finally gotten around to playing Witcher 3 (some six months after purchasing it), which also has non-magical potions (you just brew them wherever from various materials like alcohol, herbs, and monster parts).

Early on there's a quest involving you hunting a griffin, during which you find out that a woman was mortally wounded by it. She's being treated by an herbalist, whose medicine is unfortunately insufficient to save her. As a witcher you have access to potions capable of fully healing her but, as Geralt warns her, "Witchers' potions aren't for humans".

(Spoiler: if you give the victim a healing potion her wounds are healed, but it melts her mind in the process.)

I like the idea of non-magical potions that can be produced by more or less mundane means. I also like the idea of giving them drawbacks, though not almost certainly fatal/character crippling ones. It's because of this that we've added an Alchemy skill to the game, which is used to make potions (among other things). Here's a few examples I, ahem, "cooked up":

For the next 1d6 rounds, you deal +1d4 damage. Until the potion wears off, at the start of each round you suffer 1 Wound and must attack, charge, or move towards the nearest enemy you can see. If you can't see an enemy, you instead attack the nearest creature.

(Note: Characters have a pool of Wound and Vitality points. The short of it is that Vitality points represent endurance, luck, morale, minor injuries, etc. They recover much more quickly than Wound points, which are more representative of "meat" points.)

An ectoplasmic oil you wipe on a weapon. For the next hour, you can harm ghosts and ghost-like creatures normally, and against corporeal creatures you gain armor piercing 3 (since the weapon can mostly pass through armor). Until the effect wears off, if you roll a natural 1 the weapon breaks. Missile weapons always break after use.

(The reason for the break chance is that the weapon is more fragile due to it being psuedo-ghostly.)

Roll 1d8. You regain that many Wounds at a rate of one per round. For the next hour, your Constitution is reduced by 1.

(I could also see increasing the healing rate to 1 per minute, making it something you'd wanna use outside of combat. Since Wounds are based on Constitution, it means that you'll lose some of your maximum Wounds. Ideally you use this when the trade off is worth it, or expected to be worth it.)

Ogre's Blood
For the next hour your Strength is increased by 1, but your Dexterity is reduced by 2.

(This is based on a potion I designed for 10+ Treasures. There's actually a bunch of potions and oils scattered throughout the books that I'm going to convert.)

Potion or oil. For the next hour your Armor increases by 2, but your Dexterity is reduced by 1.

Regain 2d6 Vitality and suffer 1d4 Wounds.

You suffer 1d4 Wounds, and after an agonizing number of minutes equal to the number of Wounds suffered, you vomit forth a 50-foot length of silk rope.

(Could increase the amount of rope, or maybe base it on Wounds suffered. Could also see you pooping it out.)

A Sundered World is out! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Gunner is locked and loaded.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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