A N A L Y S I S  -  A L C H E M Y

Alchemy Without Tears

By Linda A. Grant, aka The Elf Herself

In this analysis I shall cover potion-making, from the simplest to the most complicated concoctions.  Since the Potion pages in the Reference Section contain recipes for the individual potions I shall not repeat them here.

Terms that have a specific meaning within the game are capitalized, like Simple Potion and Complex Potion.  The Power of a potion is also referred to as its strength.

The reader is encouraged to experiment with various reagents.  The old dictum still applies: Save early; save often.  It is all too easy to misread a recipe and blow the entire party to Kingdom Come.  A few simple rules can help you to avoid a lot of mishaps.

A N A L Y S I S  -  A L C H E M Y

Reagents & Potions

The degree of difficulty in mixing the different types of potions is related to the number of reagents needed to make them.

1.  Simple Potions are made with one reagent.

2.  Complex Potions are made with two different reagents.

3.  Compound (Layered) Potions contain either three or four reagents.  The terms “Compound” and “Layered” may be used interchangeably.

4.  White Potions contain 5 or 6 reagents.

5.  Black Potions contain 7, 8, or 9 reagents.

A N A L Y S I S  -  A L C H E M Y

Art of Alchemy

Simple and Complex Potions may be likened to the colors in a child’s paintbox.  The primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) correspond to the three reagent colors.  (We shall ignore gray catalysts for now.) Just as red paint mixed with blue produces the secondary color purple, a red potion mixed with a blue potion produces a purple potion.  In art and alchemy, red and yellow make orange, red and blue make purple, and blue and yellow make green.  It doesn’t matter whether you add the blue to the yellow or the yellow to the blue, you still end up with green.

The analogy breaks down with Compound Potions, however.  In art, red added to orange produces a bright red-orange hue.  In alchemy, red added to orange produces a Layered Potion: in this case, a sort of an orange potion with irregular red stripes.

A N A L Y S I S  -  A L C H E M Y


Hereafter I shall use the following symbols/abbreviations:

R = red
B = blue
Y = yellow
C = catalyst
G = green
O = orange
P = purple

Since it is easy (even for Grand Master Alchemists) to misread a formula, I shall use D, E, and F to represent the reagents and/or their potions in a formula.  The “B” in A, B, C can be misinterpreted as “blue” too easily, and the “Y” in X, Y, Z mistaken for “yellow”.

For those without a math background, [(D + E) + E] means: make a potion using two different reagents.  Now add another of one of the reagents to form a Layered potion.  Similarly, [(D + E) + E] + [(D + F) + D] means: make two separate Layered potions, one containing reagents D and E, with another E added; the other containing reagents D and F, with another D added.  Now mix the two Layered potions together.  (I haven’t checked to see whether the above is a valid potion recipe or not.  It’s just meant as an example.)

In all cases where I use the D, E, F notation, D can be any of the three reagents, while E and F represent the other two.  If a recipe requires specific reagents, I shall use the R, B, & Y abbreviations.  To avoid too many parentheses, brackets, and long-drawn-out formulas, I shall use O, P, & G for the complicated potion formulas that require specific Complex potions in their make-up.

A N A L Y S I S  -  A L C H E M Y

Potion Power

Potion Power goes strictly by the numbers.  (Strength of reagent) + (Numerical skill level of Alchemist) = Potion Power.  A non-Alchemist has 0 skill, so the strength of his Simple Potion would exactly equal the reagent strength.  Surprisingly, Alchemy training (as opposed to numerical skill) has no bearing on Potion Power.  Using Phirna Root (strength 1), a level 10 Grand Master would create a strength 11 blue potion.  A level 20 Master would create a strength 21 blue potion.

The strength of potions created by mixing potions of different strengths also goes by the numbers.  The resulting strength is the average of the two potions rounded down.  In mathematical terms, we have (L + M) / 2, where L is the strength of one potion and M the strength of the other.  If L were a potion of strength 1, and M were a potion of strength 10, the result would be (1 + 10) / 2 = 11 / 2 = 5˝.  But since we must round down, we only end up with a strength 5 potion.  If a Layered, White, or Black Potion is being created, we still take it in steps, two potions at a time.  In the foregoing example, we could then create a Layered Potion using another strength 10 reagent.  We would have (5 + 10) / 2 = 15 / 2 = 7˝ = strength 7 potion.

In real life, we could mix more than two potions at once, with a little help from our friends.  Three of us could each hold a different potion, and on cue could all dump our potions in a bucket at the same time.  In Might and Magic, we can only act for one character at a time.  Since none of the characters have more than two hands or two sets of claws on forelimbs, they can only mix potions two at a time.  If MM9 comes out with Alchemist Nagas, or Dragons with prehensile tails, all bets are off.
You might think that mixing two of the same potions together would be the same as adding their Potion Powers together, but this is not the case.  The game does not allow us to mix two potions of the exact same formula.  They must be different.  No mixing two reds, two Hastes, two Slaying Potions, whatever.

Catalysts modify Potion Power.  If you have a potion of strength 2, adding a strength 14 Catalyst will produce a strength 14 potion.  If you mix two Catalysts, you will end up with one Catalyst of the higher strength.  (This might be helpful if you have several very weak Catalysts, some stronger reagents, and a shortage of bottles.  Otherwise you just waste Catalysts.)

Potion Power only matters where the strength affects the outcome.  Cure Wounds, for example, will restore 10 + (Potion Power) Hit Points.  Thus a strength 1 Cure Wounds potion will restore 11 Hit Points, while a strength 20 potion will restore 30.  Any potion restoring Hit Points or Spell Points, or which confer temporary boosts to Attributes or Resistances are best made as strong as possible.  If a potion confers a permanent benefit (e. g. Pure Might, Recharge Item) or totally removes a bad condition (e. g. Cure Weakness, Divine Restoration), strength makes no difference.

If you want the strongest possible potion, notice whether you have any Catalysts of higher strength than the reagents you have.  If so, add the Catalyst last.  If your Catalysts are relatively weak, don’t use them at all, unless you wish to modify one potion that is even weaker.

For example, if you mixed a strength 2 Cure Wounds potion with a strength 16 Cure Disease potion you would get a strength 9 Haste potion.  Adding a strength 10 Catalyst to the Haste potion would raise your finished product to a strength of 10, but adding the same Catalyst to the Cure Wounds potion first would result in a Haste potion of strength 13.

A N A L Y S I S  -  A L C H E M Y

Recipe Scrolls

Jadame abounds with apothecaries eager to sell recipes for various potions.  Strangely, they do not sell recipes for anything other than White and Black Potions.  It's easy enough to determine the ingredients of the lesser potions by their color or colors, but how are we to know when we've seen all the colored possibilities?  Perhaps NWC wishes the gamer to experiment with the lesser potions, since mixing Layered Potions carries no danger of explosions or worse.

The Recipe Scrolls are merely hints at best, since they (with only one exception) invariably list all red reagents first, then blue, and then yellow.  A scroll reading,

A Black Potion of Rejuvenation can be valuable in correcting the effects of aging.  To mix such a potion you need to find the correct combination of three of each of the base ingredients.
doesn’t give a clue as to the correct method of mixing.  It is very, very easy to cause an explosion with this recipe.  (The exception to NWC’s usual scroll recipe order of red reagents first, then blue, then yellow is the scroll for Pure Accuracy.  Its scroll lists yellow, then red, then blue.)

© 2001 The Erathian Liberation Party