Exploring an alchemical laboratory provides adventurers with a glimpse into the minds and arsenals of the great crafters. The alchemist masters the world by learning its fundamental workings through experimentation, concoction and dissection. Over smoking fires in rooms lined with cluttered shelves, they hone their art.
Although alchemical laboratories share many features with typical dungeons, designing a realistic yet mystical laboratory presents a unique challenge for the modern GM. The following section uses a combination of mysterious atmosphere and real world chemistry to provide the GM with guidelines for transforming a simple alchemist’s workroom into an unforgettable gaming experience.
Extract: Laboratory Dressing
Use the table below, to generate features of interest in an alchemist’s laboratory.
- Bundles of incense burn in each corner of the room, barely masking the stench of rotting flesh.
- An oily spill covers the ground, and anyone who steps in it leaves behind greasy, pungent footprints (-5 to Survival DC to track).
- A shelf contains small phials of dark liquid labelled with names of local villagers or creatures (these function as body parts for scrying spells).
- Jars contain twitching and writhing organs, muscles and appendages.
- Chemical burns stain most surfaces, as if the furniture was cleaned with acid.
- Herbs, glassware and tools hang from beams along the ceiling (+2 bonus on Heal checks).
- A large heap of broken glass is swept into one corner (functions as caltrops).
- A shelf contains shrivelled body parts tattooed with cryptic symbols.
- A pristine dissection kit rests atop a bloodstained steel counter.
- Small cages soiled with feathers, scales and fur dangle from chains attached to the ceiling.
- An overgrown shrub, bearing shrivelled fruit, dominates one corner of the room.
- Insidious buzzing emanates from a glass chamber filled with insect hives.
- A life-size diagram of the human body looms over a cabinet filled with salves and unguents.
- Food-stained dishes are mixed with tarnished glassware in a water basin.
- A secret panel in the wall unfolds to reveal a pallet bed.
- A sealed room contains dozens of frozen samples surrounding human-sized tanks billowing ice-cold mist (functions as extreme cold conditions).
- Small vats of molten metal bubble over a furnace.
- A burned, stained and partially dissolved wooden dummy rests in the corner.
- A hanging garden of fungi covers a damp wall, each species labelled with a stone placard describing its medicinal or poisonous qualities.
- A massive bucket of water hangs in a stall above a grate in the floor. A dangling, heavy ripcord is designed to empty its contents on anyone below (puts out all nonmagical fires within the stall).
Important Note: This product does not deal with the alchemist class.
Praise for Alternate Dungeons: Alchemist’s Laboratory
“Nicholas Wasko delivers perhaps the very best Alternate Dungeon so far: With ample of creative hazards and challenges, unique afflictions and downright inspired dressing, this is, to me, the best installment of the series so far: It oozes style, sports a ton of awesome scavenging potential (particularly for the brevity and low price!) and made me immediately come up with multiple modules – which is the sign of a great resource…”
Endzeitgeist (five stars + seal of approval)
A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible GM’s Resource by Nicholas Wasko
Released 10 September 2015; Pages 12
Download a Free Sample Alchemist’s Laboratory: An Alternate Dungeon