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.
[4 of 5 Stars!]