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Even More Damage Through Alchemistry $5.00
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Even More Damage Through Alchemistry
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Even More Damage Through Alchemistry
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/13/2009 10:30:15

Today's chemists get a bit twitchy if reminded that their science developed out of mediaeval alchemy... but what if, in your fantasy world, the alchemists knew a little more about what they were doing? This work opens with a short bit of fiction describing the effects on a pack of zombies of dropping a piece of caesium metal into water (something any modern chemist will warn you do do very carefully and from behind a safety screen - the reaction is explosive in its vigour!).

This is followed by a discussion of the possible role of alchemy and its practitioners in your game. With most adventurers prefering to study magic than work in a laboratory, alchemists are often relegated to NPC shopkeepers who provide the odd exotic weapon or device. But they can be much more than that - perhaps one will hire the party to find specialist ingredients or the long-lost notebooks of a legendary alchemist, or need protection from the clerics of a religion that feels threatened by the accumulation of knowledge about the workings of the world acquired in the lab rather than by contemplation of the divine! There's also an extension to the Craft (Alchemy) skill so that characters to have it can identify substances found as well as know how to make common alchemical devices.

Now on to some actual alchemy, starting with a discussion of acids. Mixing game rules with actual science, it looks at other ways to deal damage with acid than merely hurling it at the opposition. Then things get more exotic, with some different types of extremely dangerous acids and their likely uses by adventurers. Next, bases get much the same treatment.

Although acids and bases are a mainstay of alchemistry, there are plenty of other substances around; and next comes a selection of alchemical liquids, gases and metals, and their offensive uses. There's some quite intriguing effects here, and astute chemists may recognise some substances hidden within the terminology that a fantasy alchemist, rather than a modern chemist, might use. I rather like the hyena gas which from its description is nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas!

This is an interesting collection of substances with their offensive uses well-described (albeit a bit mechanically, how about some purple prose descriptions?) and with the apposite rules provided. Many also have an associated symbol which could be used to label containers or decorate the alchemist's robe... or on handouts and other items set for the players to find. Lots of useful stuff here, although it might be nice to discover some peaceful uses for alchemy one day!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Even More Damage Through Alchemistry
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2008 16:15:59

Alchemy is something of a forgotten art in the d20 System. Or perhaps “forgotten” isn’t the right word; “gimped” better describes its role in the game at large. Still, this isn’t really something that can be helped – after all, is transmuting lead into gold really as helpful in a fight as being able to throw out lightning bolts and summon demons? Sure, we all use flasks of acid, and the occasional tindertwig, but that’s about it. It’s products like this one, however, that help put the kibosh on that attitude, introducing new alchemical items to deal out the damage.

Even More Damage Through Alchemistry is Tangent Games’s sequel to their previous release, Better Damage Through Alchemistry. Despite that, the aforementioned book isn’t necessary to use this one. In fact, other than referencing how that book laid out some of the more basic alchemical items (such as weak, average, and strong acids, etc.) this book is completely independent of its predecessor. For those who have that book, this one will seem familiar, as it sticks to the same formula (pun intended).

From a technical standpoint, the book is fairly slick in its presentation. The table of contents is hyperlinked, and there are full bookmarks, which is a plus. There’s no printer-friendly version, but except for some ads up front, there’s really no illustrations here anyway, save for the symbols given to each new item and the light grey runs that act as page borders. In fact, while it’s not often that I complain about a product being too barren, this book could have used a tiny bit of visual flare to break up the plain black text on white pages.

The book opens with a bit of fiction regarding a party being saved by alchemy, and then discusses the role of alchemists in the campaign. This latter section struck me as a bit odd, because the d20 rules seem pretty clear (albeit a tad unfair in this regard) that only spellcasters can really use Craft (alchemy) to make anything. That alone largely seems to make all alchemists into spellcasters already, marginalizing the practice of alchemy as a full-time career.

Beyond that, the book presents thirty new alchemical substances, all designed to deal damage. The substances are broken up into five basic types: acids, bases, alchemical liquids, gases, and alchemical metals. Each type has several specific substances, each of which is discussed for its basic properties before being analyzed in several ways. Specifically, each goes over what happens when touched, when it gets in your eyes, when ingested, and when inhaled. Almost as an afterthought, each also has their Craft DC to create, cost to create, and market price. At the end of the book, tables summarize the effects of all the new substances by category.

Overall, the book does a good job in presenting new alchemical items that are meant to be directly damage-dealing, rather than odd utility devices. There’s a healthy diversity of what kind of damage is caused, and how, giving PCs some options so that their alchemical weapons really do feel different from each other. At the same time, the book itself becomes almost rote in places, noting the same caveats – such as a creature without eyes are immune to the blinding effects of being hit in the eyes with these substances – over and over and over again. Between that and the visual monotony, the product can be a little boring at times, though the actual written material never is. At the end of the day, Even More Damage Through Alchemistry is a good book that delivers on what it promises, but could stand to mix its design and layout principles up just a little more.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Even More Damage Through Alchemistry
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/29/2008 10:09:18

I hope that Role Playing gaming is continuing in the directions such as the one that Tangent Games have taken their gem and alchemy products.

Even More Damage through Alchemistry is the sequel to their first book, More Damage through Alchemistry, and further empowers the gamer who put ranks into his Knowledge Alchemy skill. Just as the first, the book seems geared toward OGL, but can be used with any system that has an alchemy type skill.

It is hard to call a book original the second time around, but Even More Damage introduces enough new items, chemicals and concoctions that it has managed to make the skill as potent as ever and still stay within the realms of balance. All of the items can be created by any character with the alchemy skill. It makes the skill so useful, its no wonder why other companies have not come out with supplements to add balanced uses for skills, particularly knowledge skills.

The 30 page PDF begins by explaining alchemy to the reader then moves into the four types of alchemy products that can be produced. If you have grown accustom to the 1d6 acid introduced in other books, you have realized its somewhat limited and basic use. The superacids. As do the bases, gases and alchemical metals, have different results depending on if it was splashed to the ground, inhaled, ingested or thrown in the eyes. Bases are the answer to creatures with acid immunity. They are slightly more difficult to make and a little less potent, but provide extra arsenal and usefulness. Gases are quite deadly but most deadly. A PC used one of the gases in a session a couple weeks ago, and it blew up half a city block and a PC. Finally, there is Alchemical Metals, powdered forms of combustible of elements that are cheap, yet dangerous to make.

For the Player The great thing about skills is that they can usually be learned by anyone who puts ranks in them. Sure this book works great with the typical wizard alchemist, but if you are a player who dares to be different, try adding knowledge alchemy ranks to a barbarian or fighter and use items from this book. Acids and Gases work the best for this type of character. Especially use gases if you are going for the medieval demolitionist.

For the Dungeon Master Gamers expect magic in Dungeons and Dragons, they do not expect barrels of nothing but inert gas underneath a sewer. So if you have those nosy types of players placing a few mislabeled acids hear and a few containers of what looks to be nothing there will really surprise your PCs. The cool thing about Even More Damage is that the pain is not just relegated to damage. Because the acids, bases, gases and inert material all have different effects depending on how they are used, it will be difficult for parties to anticipate. Hyena Gas lulls players to sleep and is colorless and odorless. Priest Gas only has a slight odor and causes blisters and sickness.

The Iron Word My biggest fear is that one day, players will play RPGs and wonder why they need Knowledge Alchemy when they have “super tornado flip on your mama attack”. I hope that day is far, far, far away. Even More Damage Through Alchemistry introduces a couple of new types of alchemistry that add to the chaotic and unexpected nature that alchemy should bring. Even if your character or NPCs are not going all out alchemistry, a few of anything in this book in their pouch will be a fun little surprise.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Even More Damage Through Alchemistry
Publisher: Tangent Games
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 11/11/2008 09:25:08

The core OGL rules provide less than a dozen or so of alchemical items, but despite their minimal numbers, almost every adventuring party has somebody equipped with some form of alchemical item, be it the ever useful tanglefoot bag, thunderstone or alchemist's fire. These items are considered excellent utility items, and on many occasions a well-placed tanglefoot bag can make the difference between victory and survival. Tangent Games' latest offering, Even More Damage Through Alchemistry, is a follow-up product from Better Damage Through Alchemistry and presents 30 new and useful alchemical items for both damage purposes and more utility uses.

Even More Damage Through Alchemistry is a 30 page pdf product for the OGL rules written by Geoff Habinger. The product is well presented, containing an informative and eye-catching cover, a useful brief overview and introduction to alchemy, and a neatly presented layout with good writing and editing. The product contains complete bookmarks to allow you to easily find a particular item, and several tables towards the end of the product summarize the various alchemical items in this product neatly. The style of the cover and indeed the presentation is very similar to all Tangent Games' product, a kind of no-frills/minimalist approach to presentation which generally works.

This product is all about alchemy and alchemical items. As such it starts with a brief overview of alchemy, followed by a presentation and detailed overview of the OGL rules covering the crafting and use of alchemical skills. This product uses the same new rules for alchemy that were introduced in Better Damage Through Alchemy, and these are reprinted and detailed here, covering such topics as ingestion, inhalation and eye contact with various alchemical substances. The mechanics of these rules is generally solid, although can easily be cast away for those interested in using these items without the additional attention to detail.

The product presents a variety of different alchemical items with different functions and purposes, and it was an entertaining read to see some of the uses to which chemistry and alchemy can be put. It combines a realistic with fantastical approach to alchemy and chemistry well to create some useful items that will allow the alchemist a chance to shine in the game, and increase the use of the Craft (alchemy) skill beyond the first few levels of a character's life. Alchemical items include a variety of acids, bases, gases, alchemical metals and other liquid concoctions that not only damage, but can also provide utility purpose.

In general this product provides some useful and balanced material that can easily be brought into any game. Some items are considerably more powerful for their price, and while that may be realistic from a world-view point of view, from a game balance perspective they probably need some tweaking. Pyridine, for example, forces a DC 20 inhalation Fortitude save to prevent unconsciousness, all for only 25 gp. A substance like that is capable of incapacitating even high CR monsters quite easily. As another example, Caesium does 3d6 points of damage to all creatures in a 10 ft. radius for only 50 gp. It's like a mini-fireball in a bottle and certainly a whole lot cheaper. I think on the whole the items have been studiously crafted, but game balance-wise there are one or two anomalies.

Through this product and its predecessor, Better Damage Through Alchemistry, Tangent Games have opened up a whole field of new alchemical items that many characters, particularly quintessential alchemical item users such as halfling rogues and other utility characters, will benefit from immensely. This product is very useful in this regard, and provides a good balance between chemistry and magic to create generally balanced and well-crafted alchemical items. Overall, I enjoyed this product, and can definitely see the use of the substances in game.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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