Monday, February 23, 2015

Artisan Toolkits: Alchemist

Weight: 20 pounds (9.07 Kilograms)
Cost: 50 gold

Alchemist’s Book
Mortar and Pestle
Adjustable Stands
Show Globe

The Alchemist’s toolkit can go one of two way: it can either be a fragile, highly precise setup that is not intended for travel; or it can be a functional, inaccurate, and sturdy traveling kit designed to compensate for the roughness of life in the wilds. Since the former does not apply to our adventurous players I will put it aside and instead focus on the traveling kit. The kit will include eight items: Alchemist’s Book, Crucible, Mortar and Pestle, Retort, Stands, Show Globe, and a Case. These items represent the bare necessitates required for performing the trade but do not represent all that may be required in order to successfully create some alchemical processes.

For the Alchemist a book filled with all the needful knowledge of the profession is just as necessary as a Wizard’s spell book. Inside it will contain the procedures for distilling certain chemicals, elements (such as are known in your gaming worlds), the manufacturing of chemical medicines, the correct way to set up an alchemist’s laboratory, and how to manufacture things such as a cupellation furnace for the refining of certain metals. Without the book an alchemist can become lost when dealing with processes that aren’t common in their day-to-day working life, which can result in disastrous consequences that range from blowing up the lab to accidentally poisoning someone when you’re trying to prepare a medicine for them. For an adventurer this can present a substantial problem as there are no regular routines to reinforce the ways of alchemy in their minds so the book is incredibly important.

Medieval Book

In my campaigns I intend to treat the book as being about the size of a hardback dictionary. This means that the book will be roughly 2 1/2” thick, 12” long, and 9” wide. The paper inside will be hand pressed which means that it will be thicker than modern paper and slightly heavier as a result. The ink on the pages should be fairly weather resistant so long as it isn’t left out in the rain or set on fire. Weight wise the book should be between five and six pounds depending on if you have a metal lock on it and how much decorative junk you’d like on the outside of it. If you’d like a title for the book I suggest calling Llull’s Transactione vel Alchimisticam (Latin for alchemical treatise). It’s got a nice ring to it and is loosely connected with Ramon Llull who actually wrote about such things.

The Retort is essentially a one piece pot still that is designed for boiling off liquids. Typically in laboratory settings you see them as glass vessels; but for a traveling alchemist who is more than likely to go hunting monsters at some point than sitting comfortably in a lab the very idea of taking glass anything along for the trip is madness. Instead it will need to be metal, and copper is the best choice. It conducts heat well, is relatively lightweight, and can be reasonably repaired without too much trouble. To be useful for the travelling kit it needs to be about the size of a medium sized Mason Jar. Which means that it should take up about a 4” square of space in the kit and weigh between a half pound and whole pound depending on if you want to make it larger.

copper retort

A crucible is nothing more than a container that can withstand high temperatures without losing its shape, and for alchemists trying to combine chemicals it’s perfect. Traditionally crucibles were made from clay and though that makes them fragile the case should be able to keep them relatively safe if they’re packaged correctly so on this piece we’ll make do with their fragile nature. For the size it needs to be no bigger than a coffee cup. That will keep its weight under half a pound which is perfect for us.

The Mortar and Pestle are used by alchemists to grind up ingredients into a fine powder or paste. Their importance for the alchemist (and for other toolkits) is hard to overstate. At the typical time period of most quasi-Medieval Dungeons & Dragons it would be relatively easy to find them made of marble, stone, wood, iron, steel, and brass. Other than wood, which should be used as a last resort since it is highly absorbent, most of these should be of similar weights due to the time and should take up the same volume of area that the crucible took up. For my purposes I will be using the stone crucible and will be setting the weight at 2 1/2 pounds.

Adjustable Stands are necessary for keeping the Retort at a set height and they can be simple things that collapse or are able to be taken apart and stored in a smaller area. Their weight is so small for each one that it’s easy to include a half dozen of them and not have to worry about raising the weight more than a half pound.

Alchemist Show Globe

The Show Globe is a symbol of the profession. Like the huge red dots on the side of liquor stores in South Carolina the Show Globes are designed for the illiterate to find you and know what you’re offering them. These globes are made of glass and can be of any color that fits your setting (though I’ve only ever seen them with a red color). They will be bound in chains so that they can hang from a staff or pole to show people that you’re open for business. The globe needs to be about the size of a soft ball and open on the top so that you can drop a candle into it to light it up. Due to its size and accouterments I’m placing the weight of this at a 2 pounds.

The case is a velvet lined, wooden box with small doors and straps to keep everything bound in place. Its edges are given extra support with steel fittings and the lock will be of a good quality. It will have similar styled handles with loops to help bind it to backpacks and pack animals. It is designed to be durable and as long as everything is placed properly it should be more than capable of protecting everything and keeping anything from breaking. I’m setting its weight at five pounds and worth every ounce of it for the protection it will provide everything.

Artisan Toolkit Series

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