Designer’s Notes: It’s Pure Chemistry!


My first published article…man, that brings back memories (good and bad). I’d originally pitched an article to Steven for Epic Magic, but a bunch of life issues happened and made that impossible. It was in that crucible that some of my writing habits were formed (write it on my own time being the chief among those) and my “authorial voice” finally stabilized. Still, I made a lot of mistakes in that article (and it’s follow-up – which STILL haven’t been fixed). You can quite literally see how my writing style evolved in leaps in bounds by starting with “It’s Pure Chemistry!” and the first few articles. In fact, I stopped writing an entire year to get my act together. It’s no secret I have a love of alchemy – and not just in RPGs either. I have a genuinely fond interest of the subject and have made a bit of a amateur study of alchemy through the ages. One day maybe I’ll write “GURPS Alchemy.”

So when I decided to write an article about alchemy I knew exactly what I wanted to do. One thing I wanted to try and do was create a flexible system where the GM could design his own potions and by and large have an universal means to create new elixirs. That failed utterly and I had to discard the system I’d written entirely. Instead I decided that if I couldn’t make new potions from scratch I’d do the next best thing and make it so the existing ones could be “hacked.” I think I more or less succeeded there.

Total writing time was a whopping 174 hours, total editing time was 302 hours, and total revision time was a mere 40 hours. A lot of that time was spent hand-wringing and rewriting, something I’ve since learned NOT to do – at least if I want something that can be submitted. This article was also the one where I learned that maybe I should keep excised parts…but only after it had been submitted. A lot of the ideas I had for crafting new elixirs eventually made there way into my article “Bottled Magic.”

Some things that I didn’t cover, but wanted to:

  • A potion crafting system that would allow new GMs to create elixirs for their campaign.
  • Rules for “internalist alchemists” – characters who could absorb elixirs to use till later.
  • A template for “magicologists” – characters who are essentially mage-chemists.
  • New spells: “essential elixir” and “duplicate elixir” among them.
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