Solve et Coagula is a certified DM's Guild Masterpiece by the Going Last Tabletop Gaming Podcast!
Alchemy has always held a troubling position within D&D as intrigued players suddenly start searching for reagents in the world, while underprepared DMs start to panic. Or was that just me? It might have just been me. I mean, how was I to know which kind of insects should give out the really good poisons? Was this the blue beetle with green wings or the green beetle with blue wings? These are the questions that matter, right?
Turns out, author Joseph Carriker has created a guide expertly designed to allow anyone to play an alchemist with little to no fuss at all.
To begin, Carriker introduces the tools and processes of an alchemist, developing them in a way that has heft and consequences, but don't take an absurd amount of time or rigour to complete. Given any recently deceased monster type, an alchemist rolls a single d20 on the Harvesting Table to to determine if they can find any worthwhile reagents. If the roll is successful, the alchemist takes the base GP value of the creature type and multiplies it by the CR of the creature. The end.
- "I rolled a 16 on my Harvesting check."
- "Great, it's a CR 6 Monstrosity."
- "10gp times CR 6 is 60 GP of alchemical ingredients. Moving on!"
Once an alchemist has their generic "alchemical ingredients" and a bit of spare time, they can start making alchemical recipes. And here is where this book truly shines. Carriker has SEVENTEEN pages of recipes, ranging from inks and household goods, to drugs and elixirs, to those legendary recipes that can only be created by the greatest alchemists. This list includes many things from the PHB, but also has many new ideas that show a wide range of usefulness and creativity.
Finally, the Guide ends with three archetypes of the alchemical persuasion. The College of the Great Work allows a bard to search for Truth while throwing fireballs and using their songs to enhance their potions. Those shifty Montebank rogues gain the ability to deal sneak attack damage with alchemical items, as well as run cons using potions! Adding a twist to Guide, the Azoth-Infused sorcerers gain a Homunculus familiar as they become part of the alchemy swirling within their very hearts.
Solve et Coagula is an incredible guide to the ideas of alchemy. From start to finish, there are tons of ideas here for anyone interested in adding alchemy to their character, or in my case, my own campaign. I can't recommend it enough!
You can hear more of my thoughts about Solve et Coagula on Episode 184 of Going Last!