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Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Neanderthal Apothacaries (A work-in-progress class for WP&WS)

Here's a thing I'm working on. It's about Neanderthals and what they do instead of Magic.

Magic is not an easy skill to learn. Like the more abstract areas of advanced mathematics, modern physics or linguistics, it relies on concepts not commonly encountered in day-to-day life, and which the mortal mind is not adapted to deal with. Many of the thought-structures required for the practice of magic can only be approached by means of metaphor and analogy, grasped at but never fully understood.
It is an unfortunate fact that the Neanderthal mind is poorly adapted to this way of thinking. This isn’t to say that Neanderthals are unintelligent. Far from it, the Neanderthal mind excels at intuitive, practical tasks, and most of this race display an understanding of their material surroundings that put any human’s expertise to shame.
However, the side-effect of this is that the Neanderthal mind struggles with abstract or symbolic thinking. There are few Neanderthal artists, and fewer still could ever show any skill in modern fields like programming and mathematics. As such, no Neanderthal is capable of the thought-structures required to record, memorise and cast spells, or of the ecstatic states of mind to contact a mystic’s patron.
Instead, Neanderthals practice magic in a much more practical, patient form. They study the effects of plants, minerals and other substances, learning how to combine them to produce remarkable effects. This alchemy comes naturally to the more intelligent Neanderthals, where their stolid mindset proves an asset.
Is this magic? It's hard to say. A Neanderthal would say not, claiming that they are simply unlocking the natural properties of the ingredients they use. The practice has none of the sense of ritual and majesty that Human or Morlock magic does. However, an apothecary will often struggle to put into words exactly how their preparations work, and non-Neanderthals cannot reproduce the effects. It seems likely that the laborious process of combining ingredients unlocks something distinctly supernatural.

Here's how it works.

Apothecaries use the same XP chart and saves as a standard Neanderthal. Flesh and Grit are just like for a normal Neanderthal, but roll a d8 rather than a d10.
An Apothecary can't use combat options without penalty, unlike a normal Neanderthal.  
Rather than the skills a Neanderthal has, Apothecaries start off with a basic Medicine, Foraging and Crafts skill chance of 3 in 6, which slowly improves as they gain levels. These skills progress at the same rate as a standard Neanderthal's skills.

An apothecary can make herbal preparations like any other character, but has the additional option to make potions when they do.
A potion is a preparation that mimics a spell’s effect. When drunk (or eaten, or inhaled, or however the potion is prepared), the spell is immediately cast on the drinker.
A potion requires an Active Agent and a Medium, just like a drug does.
When an apothecary rolls to determine what effect an Active Agent has, they can select one of the options for Basic Active Agents. This determines what spell the potion mimics when consumed.
When an apothecary rolls to determine what effect a medium has, they can also select one of the options for potions (as given on Table A). The medium may modify the effects of the spell, for example by delaying its casting.
When putting a potion together, the apothecary can add a Magical Reagent (determined by rolling on table 23). If they do, the spell mimicked by the potion will be taken from the Enhanced Active Agent column.

In addition, it may be possible to find specific unique ingredients that can be used to make potions mimicking other spells (or even effects that are not spells). For example, the bile from a wyvern’s pyroclastic glands might be used to make a potion that allows the drinker to breath fire (as if they had just cast Fireball).

Spells such as Dispel Magic and Antimagic Shell have no effect on an apothecary's potions; they do not count as magical. An apothecary's potions cannot be recognised with Art rolls, however, a successful Medicine roll will reveal what the potion does.

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