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The Sorcery Stop: On the Care and Feeding of an Alchemical Laboratory

The Sorcery Stop: On the Care and Feeding of an Alchemical Laboratory

Magic is the lifeblood of fantasy. Arguably the dividing line between fantasy and other types of fiction, magic can be strange, mysterious, frightening, comical, or anything in between. And if you’re looking to explore the applications of magic in a fantasy roleplaying campaign, you want to visit the Sorcery Stop!

A staple of fantasy fiction is the mysterious alchemical laboratory, a workshop where wizards, cultists, and mad scientists concoct strange brews and ferment bizarre potions. Official publications include alchemist supplies but assume a “travel version”—nothing more than a couple of beakers, a metal frame, and a stirring rod. This article expands upon those rules, assuming a set of equipment that includes beakers, bottles, mixing and measuring containers, and a variety of esoteric chemicals and substances.

The cost of setting up a basic alchemical lab is at least 500 gp—note that this cost does not include the price of a building or lair in which to house the laboratory. Maintaining the stock and perishable ingredients in the laboratory requires maintaining at least a Comfortable lifestyle (expenditure of at least 2 gp per day). Falling below this level renders the laboratory unusable until the appropriate expense level has been resumed.

The laboratory can be used as a base to conduct arcane research and to craft alchemical items. While inside a fully stocked laboratory, a character proficient in using alchemist’s supplies has advantage on Intelligence checks made to identify poisons or other alchemical substances.

Crafting an item requires following a formula specific to each individual item. It also requires an expenditure in gold pieces; this expense represents the testing and use of various herbs, chemicals, and substances consumed in the creation of the item. The crafting takes time as well, represented by 8-hour workdays. Any distraction on a workday invalidates the day’s research and crafting; the day is lost and does not count toward the time required for the crafting. At the end of the last day, the crafter must make an Intelligence (Arcana) check against a DC that varies by the item created. A success means that the item was successfully created; a failure means that the item does not work.

As a rule, crafting an item requires an expense equal to half its purchase price and requires 8 hours of work (as described above) per 25 gp of cost. You can adjust these values up and down as you see fit. A character cannot create magical items with this laboratory alone, though the laboratory might be necessary to create some magical items

A laboratory contains at least the formulae and equipment necessary to craft the following items:

Item Crafting Cost Crafting Time Check DC
Acid (2 flasks) 25 1 day 13
Alchemist’s Fire (flask) 25 1 day 13
Antitoxin (vial) 25 1 day 13
Smokestick (each) 25 1 day 13
Tanglefoot Bag (each) 50 2 days 15
Thunderstone (each) 50 2 days 15

Item: The name of the alchemical item

Crafting Cost: The cost, in gold pieces, to craft the item. The cost is paid at the end of the crafting time.

Crafting Time: The time, in days, necessary to craft the item.

Check DC: Difficulty class of the Intelligence (Arcana) check made to create the item


Acid. As an action, you can splash the contents of this vial onto a creature within 5 feet of you or throw the vial up to 20 feet, shattering it on impact. In either case, make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the acid as an improvised weapon. On a hit, the target takes 2d6 acid damage.

Alchemist’s Fire. This sticky, adhesive fluid ignites when exposed to air. As an action, you can throw this flask up to 20 feet, shattering it on impact. Make a ranged attack against a creature or object, treating the alchemist’s tire as an improvised weapon. On a hit, the target takes 1d4 fire damage at the start of each of its turns. A creature can end this damage by using its action to make a DC 10 Dexterity check to extinguish the flames.

Antitoxin. A creature that drinks this vial of liquid gains advantage on saving throws against poison for 1 hour. Antitoxin confers no benefit to undead or constructs.

Smokestick: This alchemically treated wooden stick instantly creates thick, opaque smoke when ignited. The smoke fills a 10-foot cube (treat the effect as a fog cloud spell). The stick is consumed at the end of your next turn, and the smoke dissipates naturally.

Tanglefoot Bag: This round leather bag is full of alchemical goo. As an action, you can throw the bag up to 10 feet as a ranged attack. Treat the tanglefoot bag as an improvised weapon. On a success, the bag comes apart and the goo bursts out, entangling the target and then becoming tough and resilient upon exposure to air. An entangled creature is grappled and has disadvantage on attack rolls.

A flying creature is not stuck to the floor, but it must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or be unable to fly and fall to the ground, landing prone.

On each of its turns, a creature may make a DC 10 Strength saving throw; a success means it has broken free of the entanglement. A tanglefoot bag does not function underwater.

Thunderstone: You can throw this stone up to 20 feet as a ranged melee attack. When the stone strikes a hard surface (or is struck hard), it creates a deafening bang and each creature within a 10-foot radius must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or be deafened for 1 hour.

Since you don’t need to hit a specific target, you can simply aim at a particular 5-foot area. Treat the target area as AC 5; if you miss, the stone lands in a random spot 5 feet from the intended target.


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