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Wizards who combine traditional spellcasting with advanced alchemical practices and concoctions are called alkemancers. They are a mysterious breed sometimes confused with transmuters, with whom they share a complicated rivalry.

Even more than this, though, alkemancy embodies a unique philosophy of life and nature. Alkemancers don’t concoct useful potions and philters as an end in itself.

Ultimately, they seek to expand their minds past mortal limits, or even to achieve true immortality, and alkemancy is simply the path they follow in pursuit of that goal.

Transmuters and alkemancers belong to similar schools of thought. But where transmuters have little use for alchemy and its secrets, preferring to rely on brute magical force to achieve their aims—at least, that’s the opinion held by traditional alchemists—alkemancers combine extensive knowledge of alchemy with the many ways that the six fundamental essences can be applied to arcane magic.

Too many arcane spellcasters and scholars view alchemy as magic’s poor second cousin—an academic pursuit with practical applications, but still nothing that wizards with real talent would devote serious time or effort to. While alchemy can achieve astounding, even nearly miraculous feats, it’s always been overshadowed by the power and versatility of arcane magic. Because alchemy requires extensive preparation and forethought, adventurers tend to prefer the flexibility and immediacy of spellcasting.

In some areas, a branch of alchemy is practiced that surpasses the simple alchemy familiar to the rest of the world. Known as magical chemistry, or simply alkemancy, this discipline delves into the properties of common alchemical substances, such as brimstone and salt, and the means by which they can be used to achieve physical and metaphysical transformation in objects and creatures on levels unseen in most lands. Alkemancy practitioners combine their understanding of alchemical reagents and elixirs with their knowledge of spellcraft to create new and formidable magical effects.

Magic in All Things

The power of alkemancy resides within the six fundamental essences: brimstone, lead, quicksilver, quintessence, salt, and void salt. These essences parallel the four standard elements, as well as the two more esoteric elements of metal and void, but are unique to alchemy.

  • Brimstone. The yellow of brimstone (otherwise known as sulfur) represents activity, energy, and masculinity, and it’s related to the sun, volcanoes, and elemental fire. Brimstone is a destructive essence present in small amounts in explosives, various acids, and in substances such as alchemist’s fire.
  • Lead. Also erroneously referred to as antimony (a different metal that lead is sometimes combined with), lead represents coldness and heaviness, transformation, and the removal of impurities in objects and creatures. It is associated with broader elemental metals and is often called the oldest or first metal. Lead is reactive and can be toxic in various forms over long periods of exposure— useful qualities in lingering poisons and slow-acting corrosives. It’s used as a component in many alchemical creations and supplies.
  • Quicksilver. Also known as mercury, this silvery metal represents passivity, femininity, and malleability. It’s associated with elemental water and the moon. Quicksilver is seen as a creative essence despite its passive nature. It’s also a lethal poison, much faster-acting than lead, for example. A fluid dram of refined quicksilver is occasionally used in vials of both alchemical poisons and antitoxins.
  • Quintessence. One of the rarest and most mysterious of the six fundamental essences, quintessence represents thought, life, and spirit. It is distantly related to elemental air; in its commonest form, it appears as a vaporous, silvery liquid. Quintessence is never used in common alchemical items, largely because it’s one of the most difficult of the essences to obtain and it dissipates as soon as it’s exposed to air. Alkemancers are always keen to find viable substitutes for quintessence in their concoctions.
  • Salt. The most common of the six fundamental essences is salt, which represents matter, physicality, and the human body. It is closely related to elemental earth. Purified salt is used in many common alchemical items, and solutions of salt are used widely in mundane and supernatural formulas and rituals.
  • Void Salt. Dull black crystals distilled from the blood of slain creatures of the Void, the substance known as Void salt takes its name from its granular appearance. Void salt is associated with dissolution, entropy, and madness. It is a dangerous substance to work with, because merely touching it with bare skin deals 1 necrotic damage. Anyone intending to work with Void salt should wear gloves of metal or thick leather, and even those substances corrode soon after coming in contact with Void salt unless they’re protected with an anti-necrotic energy coating. The use of Void salt is reserved for rare alchemical concoctions, mainly acids, poisons, and explosives.

Unlike many transmuters, who focus on the physical transformation of objects and creatures, alkemancers are concerned with the search for human perfection and immortality, and they use alchemy as a means in this pursuit. Still, there is much crossover between the two specialties. Alkemancers and transmuters can be found working toward the same goals, as both allies and rivals.

Alkemancy spells typically blend conjuration, necromancy, and transmutation effects. Few alkemancy spells belong to the schools of evocation or illusion, since spells of these schools summon energy out of nothingness or create things that are not real; both concepts are at odds with the precepts of alkemancy, which seeks to reduce energy and matter to its constituent parts and refine them to a more purified (or useful) state of existence.

Except as noted below, alkemancers function as wizards and use the wizard spell list.

Alchemical Savant

Beginning when you select this specialty at 2nd level, the gold and time you must spend to copy an alkemancy spell into your spellbook are halved.

When you gain a level, one of the two spells you learn for gaining a level can be an alkemancy spell even if you’ve never encountered the spell before. Similarly, when you learn a new cantrip, it can be an alkemancy cantrip even if you’ve never previously encountered it.

Skilled Alchemist

Beginning at 2nd level, you gain proficiency with alchemical supplies if you did not already have it and your proficiency bonus with alchemical supplies is doubled. You also halve the cost of alchemical items you create, enabling you to fashion most basic items in a single day. Finally, you gain proficiency with alchemical weapons, and you add your proficiency bonus to their damage rolls when you use them as weapons.

Essence Mastery

Beginning at 6th level, you can add one of the six fundamental essences to your spells as an additional material component at the cost of 1 gp per spell level. This addition doesn’t increase the casting time of the spell or any of its other effects, except as follows.

  • Adding brimstone to a spell that deals fire damage gives the flames a bluish hue and releases irritating vapors. A creature damaged by the spell must make a successful Constitution saving throw or become poisoned for a number of rounds equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1).
  • Adding lead to a spell that improves your Armor Class, such as mage armor or shield, increases the spell’s AC bonus by 2. If the spell has a duration longer than 1 round, the duration increases by a number of rounds equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1). Any visible spell effect modified with the addition of lead takes on a dull gray sheen.
  • Adding quicksilver to a spell that changes the form of a creature or an object, such as alter self or polymorph, increases the spell’s duration by a number of minutes equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1 minute). For any such spell that has a duration of less than 10 minutes, such as alchemical form, the increase is measured in rounds instead of minutes. Any change in form modified with quicksilver is accompanied by lustrous wisps or motes of silvery energy.
  • Adding quintessence to a necromancy spell that grants temporary hit points, such as false life or life hack, increases the temporary hit points gained by a number equal to twice your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 2). Adding quintessence to a spell doesn’t change the spell’s visible aspects.
  • Adding salt to a spell that deals acid damage gives the acid a pale, crystalline hue and causes it to become extremely painful. Any creature damaged by the spell must also make a successful Constitution saving throw or lose 1d4 points from its Strength and Dexterity scores (rolled separately). These lost ability score points return automatically after a number of rounds equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1).
  • Adding void salt to a spell that deals necrotic damage causes the spell to shed palpable strands of darkness.

Any creature damaged by the spell is also surrounded by a veil of cloying shadows and must make a successful Constitution saving throw or be restrained for a number of rounds equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of 1).

Craft Minor Elixir

Beginning at 10th level, you automatically learn the formulas for a number of elixirs, oils, philters, or potions of your choice equal to 1 + your Intelligence modifier (minimum of one). You do not need to spend time or gold researching these formulas.

When you brew an elixir, oil, philter, or potion based on one of the formulas you obtained, you can add exotic alchemical reagents to the mixture at the cost of additional gold equal to half the potion’s standard cost. If you do so, the resulting mixture is more powerful than normal: if the potion’s effect is instantaneous (such as a potion of healing), it automatically has its maximum effect; if the potion has a duration (such as a potion of giant strength), it lasts for twice its normal duration.

Path of the Golden Glower

Beginning at 14th level, you learn the secret formulas for brewing the fabled Six Elixirs, magical draughts of incredible potency and rarity. Each elixir takes a full year or more to create from exceedingly rare ingredients, but once finished and consumed or otherwise applied, it grants its user a permanent bonus of some sort. The six elixirs are described in the next section.

Additionally, once you reach 14th level, you become so adept at working with dangerous chemicals and reagents that you gain resistance to acid damage and poison damage and immunity to the poisoned condition.

The Six Elixirs

Alkemancers are responsible for the creation of many astonishing alchemical items, but the pinnacle of their craftsmanship is known collectively as the Six Elixirs, magical liquids of such incredible power and rarity that they feature in many tales and legends. Vast resources and even many lives have been expended in the pursuit of these fabled elixirs. A single elixir could be the focus of an entire campaign arc for an alkemancer character or group of adventurers.

Brewing any one of the Six Elixirs takes one year of work with rare, mysterious, and sometimes dangerous ingredients. The ingredients needed to create each elixir are given in its description. The GM can modify ingredients to meet the needs of the campaign.

Black Elixir

Potion, legendary

This greasy black liquid acts as a poison when drunk or rubbed on flesh. Its unfortunate or foolish user takes 12d6 poison damage, or half as much damage with a successful DC 20 Constitution saving throw.

Its true power is revealed, however, when black elixir is smeared on a doorway or other portal; the magical oil acts as a forbiddance spell with a duration of one year. Unlike the spell, black elixir doesn’t incorporate a password and only affects celestials and fiends. Typically, the creator of the elixir determines when the elixir is created whether the forbiddance effect deals radiant or necrotic damage.

Ingredients. The heart of a marut, the powdered horn of a ki-rin, and a vial of black mud taken from the bottom of a lake that at least one celestial or fiend has bathed in.

Golden Elixir

Potion, legendary

The most famous of the six elixirs is this thick, golden, syrupy liquid that grants its imbiber eternal life. The potion completely stops the aging process and renders the imbiber immune to all natural and magical diseases and poisons. The drinker can still be harmed or killed through other methods such as violence, but the march of time no longer holds any threat over him or her.

Ingredients. A thimble of distilled sunlight, the breath of a solar, and the hair of a venerable sage who is at least 100 years old.

Iron Elixir

Potion, legendary

This dark, grainy liquid tastes positively awful. Anyone imbibing the elixir gains permanent resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage and gains a damage threshold of 5, but their speed is reduced by 10 feet and they always make Dexterity saving throws and Dexterity ability checks with disadvantage that can’t be overcome or canceled out by any means.

Ingredients. The core of an iron golem, a shard of purest adamantine, and the powdered teeth of a mountain giant.

Jade Elixir

Potion, legendary

This bright green, effervescent elixir grants its consumer incredible Charisma when dealing with celestials, elementals, fey, and fiends. The drinker always has advantage on Charisma checks when dealing with extraplanar creatures, and when one of the selected creatures is called or conjured, it arrives with maximum hit points.

Ingredients. The tears of an invisible stalker, the claw of a pit fiend, and the tongue of a bard of at least 10th level.

Pearl Elixir

Potion, legendary

This silvery-white elixir has a variety of effects depending on whether it is drunk, rubbed on a creature’s feet, or smeared on the hull of a boat. If drunk, the elixir confers the ability to breathe both air and water with equal ease. If rubbed on the feet, the elixir provides a creature with the ability to walk on water as if wearing a ring of water walking.

If placed on the hull of a boat or similar vessel, the vessel gains a damage threshold of 20 against all environmental effects, and anyone piloting the vessel has advantage on ability checks associated with it. All of these effects are permanent.

Ingredients. The scale of a merfolk princess, a vial of pure elemental water, and the eye of a kraken.

Ruby Elixir

Potion, legendary

This vermilion-hued elixir neutralizes all magical and nonmagical diseases and poisons, all curses of 8th level or lower, and all exhaustion effects, as well as restoring hit points as a superior healing potion. If this elixir is poured over a corpse that has been dead for no more than a year, it restores the creature to life (as the resurrection spell) even if the corpse could normally not be resurrected.

Ingredients. A mixture of purest cinnabar, the blood of a slain dragon of at least adult age, and the hearts of six celestial tigers willingly donated to the alkemancer.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Deep Magic for 5th Edition © 2020 Open Design LLC; Authors: Dan Dillon, Chris Harris, and Jeff Lee.