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Economy of healing potions in Runequest Glorantha


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Notwithstanding the "Cost of healing potions in New Pavis' thread from 1999, I am curious whether anyone has a formula or model for the cost and price of potions in Runequeest Glorantha.

That previous thread was, as the OP requested, centered on RQ2.  And as mentioned there, the cost of potions in the RQ2 rules was both ambiguous and inflated by the magical rewards in RQ2.

But RQG  announces deflation.  And does not (subject to whatever is in to the forthcoming gods book or the GM book) have any formula for price of potions or alchemy.

Now, this past week when I GM'd a transaction in Alone - where there is an Apothecaries' guild - I sort of punted the answer after re- reading the RQ2 section (Chap. VI as i recall).  But I would like a better and more methodical approach if you have one to suggest.

It's not sufficient to quote the RQ2 answer of a multiplier on the cost of ingredients - because what is the cost of ingredients?  I can chase my tail on   that forever, or take the 50L per POT 'temple' cost:  p.175 under Knowledge Skills, says :the temples" have ingredients at a cost of 50L per point of potency.

To me the most likely source of ingredients is someone with Plant Lore finding the appropriate seeds, stems, etc. (in accord with the Chalana Arroy section in Cults of Prax)  and then applying both skills and magic to refine and stabilize them.  That done, what you have is a "potion", even if it is a pill or salve or a biscuit.

What;s the productivity of the Plant Lore skill?

What's the productivity of the apothecary skill, presumably Alchemy?  Alchemy is given a 160L standard of living on p.70 under "scribe") and on p.139 it is gives a "skill or ability time: of "1 hour to many days".  [That's a wide range ... how long is a piece of rope?]

  An alchemical skill roll allows production - subject to specials and fumbles. 

OK, so let's say our party includes someone with high Plant lore skill and someone with high Alchemy skill. 

  • How many units of healing plants will the first person find per day?   I think i might extract that from the Red Book of Magic p.72, though it depends on terrain and season.  I can do an average .... but let's assume that all cool herbalists hunt the forests and get 5 opportunities a day.  With a pro skill level that mean about 4 successes.  Now how many POT units is that?  I can average the results of the Seasonal Potency table - and i get an average of 3.06, counting the "-" results as zeroes.  So, about 12 POT units per day for a pro herbalist.
  • Now how many hours or days of work does the alchemist have to do to convert 5 POT of healing plant seeds into a 5 POT potion? If I have a rationale for that then i may be able to estimate the selling price of such a potion.  Does it matter if the potion is 1 POT or 12 POT?  Do five 1-POT units of raw herbs work the same as one 5-POT unit? 
  • How about the cost of spellcasting to do the stablization of the raw herbs?   Preserve herbs,  good for "one day’s find of healing plants for one person."   a 1-point spirit magic spell just as it was in RQ2.  It would seem from the last line of the p.72 text that if you want the potion to last more than a week you have to have Preserved herbs.     Refine Medicine is in the Red book of magic as a 1 point rune spell.  As in RQs, it allows modifying and enhancing the herbs; but doesn't seem absolutely necessary to production.

What's your rationale for assigning productivity to the alchemist, or for a price or value to the potion traded for in Alone?  Or the result  if your adventurers decide to go into the business and earn their 160L standard of living?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
clarity, grammer, puctuation
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1 hour ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

But RQG  announces deflation.  And does not (subject whatever is in to the forthcoming gods book or the GM book) have any formula for price of potions or alchemy.

But it does give a formula for the deflation: just halve the prices. So why not take the Alchemy pricing table in RQ2 p48 and halve the prices?

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5 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Notwithstanding the "Cost of healing potions in New Pavis' thread from 1999, I am curious whether anyone has a formula or model for the cost and price of potions in Runequeest Glorantha.

Have a look at the Silver Medal winning Book of Doom, which has a section on Alchemy, including how to work out the prices.

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An alchemist is effectively a Merchant, just with specialist goods. Don't forget that the incomes for adventurers is setup with a deficit, so they need another income (adventuring), see Adventurer Income in the Q&A, so an NPC alchemist would have an income of roughly 175L per year. As it's a selling business, we have the Issaries model to follow of 10% of goods = income (Merchant Income, page 425), So to achieve that income, they'd need 1750L of stock, and as per the box, any stored goods are replenished. They're NPCs so no income roll is needed (otherwise it's going to get complicated). If you want a richer alchemist, just increase their income. Guilds are based around cults, so most will be Lhankor Mhy cultists working out of a temple.

As the cost of making potions is effectively zero for raw materials, some for mortars, pestles, amphorae, etc, and assuming it's them and their family collecting materials, and the occasional hunter / local / adventurer selling them stuff (weasel toe, musk glands, weird striped flowers). The real cost is time. Let's assume that most selling is on market days and there's one a week. That leaves six days a week finding and making stuff. For NPCs it's not important to know how long everything takes.

They just need to make on average 4.5L per market day, unless of course a bunch of rich adventurers comes along...

So what is for sale and what are the costs of goods?

Cosmetics: see The Market in RQG

Dyes and Mordants: see The Market in RQG

Non-magical potions: 1L per POT. I use an availability of POT D12-1, the next one is D10-1, D8-1, D6-1, D4-1, with the first zero stopping the progress. The players always get excited about the roll as I get them to do it. For antidotes 2D10-2. These things never keep for more than a season.

healing items that just increase the weekly healing rate 5C per point per week (so a +2 healing rate increase would be 1L)

I rarely limit what the players are after for MGF, unless I need the alchemist to get them to do a dangerous job for an ingredient. Likewise I think 1750L of stock should cover most common stuff.

 

Edited by David Scott
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13 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

What's your rationale for assigning productivity to the alchemist, or for a price or value to the potion traded for in Alone?  Or the result  if your adventurers decide to go into the business and earn their 160L standard of living?

For the most part, just divide the old prices by 10 (effectively treating clacks as lunars).

I would also point out that making healing potions is not where the money is.  Glorantha is a place where even a village idiot knows a point of healing magic, and healing potions can't realistically compete with that except perhaps in the West, where people have reduced access to spirit magic.

The notable exception is if you can produce a healing biscuit that can re-attach a limb like a healing 6 spell.   Those will sell. 

An alchemically proficient healer won't bother much with healing potions and biscuits, but will instead sell plenty of disease remedies and poison antidotes.   They will also likely work on the formula for Regrow Limb potions, and Ressurection balm (never make a curative that a corpse has to swallow), as these are the Gloranthan equivalent of the Philosophers' Stone I would suggest.

Edited by Darius West
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12 hours ago, Darius West said:

...... I would also point out that making healing potions is not where the money is.  Glorantha is a place where even a village idiot knows a point of healing magic, and healing potions can't realistically compete with that .....

The notable exception is if you can produce a healing biscuit that can re-attach a limb like a healing 6 spell.   Those will sell. 

An alchemically proficient healer won't bother much with healing potions and biscuits, but will instead sell plenty of disease remedies and poison antidotes.......  

Yes, i should have expanded the question to include cure - disease potions too.

However the healing potion is still a nice thing in a magic fight, where you may want to spend your personal MPs on offensive and defensive spells and a potion may be more available than a MP storage crystal.  Not every GM gives crystals out like Cracker Jack prizes.

Soltkass's reminder about the Book of Doom is a good one.  The textual discussion is long and involved, but the tables give easy answers on a per- POT basis. 

I will say my personal take on it in accord with the RBOM table on finding healing herbs, as well as some of  the Book of Doom dicussion, is that the per-POT cost should go up as POT increases, rather than being a straight line relationship.  I do also recognize that a lot of people don't want to GM with exponential functions, so maybe there is not a single one size fits all campaigns answer.

I think I priced the potions too high -though the POT was not specified and adjusting that would bring my prices in line.

 

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7 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

However the healing potion is still a nice thing in a magic fight, where you may want to spend your personal MPs on offensive and defensive spells and a potion may be more available than a MP storage crystal.  Not every GM gives crystals out like Cracker Jack prizes.

I agree.  The problem is that most items are hard to consume in combat.  I think more helmets need to be fitted with feed bags 😁

7 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Soltkass's reminder about the Book of Doom is a good one.  The textual discussion is long and involved, but the tables give easy answers on a per- POT basis. 

I completely agree.  That is a valuable game resource.

7 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

I think I priced the potions too high -though the POT was not specified and adjusting that would bring my prices in line.

Let's face facts.  In RQ2, alchemy was a late rules addition, more or less tacked on and not really a good fit with the tech level.  In the real world we don't get Alchemy until the late Roman Empire and the coming of Zosimus of Panopolis, and that is well past the Bronze Age, and really at the end of what has been called the Classical Era.  Nevertheless, Glorantha is not Earth, and it would be strange for the God Learners not to have uncovered the secrets of alchemy, given the Dwarves already knew them.  As a result, we should expect the knowledge to be out there, but not too common.  The real issue is therefore about how common Alchemy should be in Glorantha imo.

I personally like to consider alchemy as being very much like sorcery in Glorantha.  It is the purview of a few very educated people.  You will find herbalists among Hsunchen like in Balazaar for example, but not alchemists.  Among the barbarians, there will be your educated folk like Lhankor Mhys and Chalana Arroys who might dabble in alchemy, but really the people who need alchemy the most are the Westerners.  Why Westerners?  Well, in a society where very few people perform their primary magic of sorcery, and which frowns on spirit magic, suddenly a biscuit that can heal you becomes an immense boon, if not a cultural necessity.  Given that they have even more powerful magic than usual and easy access to spirit magic healing, I can't see the Lunars being more than casually interested in medicinal alchemy.   On the other hand, those healing 6/reattach limb biscuits seem like a great investment when you have had your leg hacked off.  Sadly, while we know that the Ezokites teach alchemy out of the School of Wizards in the city of Leplain, there isn't much more context.

Consequently I would like to see the West as a a place where Alchemical healing is a lot more commonplace, and there the notion of adventurers sinking their funds into healing potions is a common trope, because Mend Flesh simply isn't as reliable as the 1:1 healing ratio of Spirit Magic, nor is it even remotely as common or available.  That being said, I still don't see much of a market for healing consumables in Theist lands, as why would you spend your hard won money on  healing pots when you could spend it on training and spells, or any number of other expenses?  It isn't like you can just consume a potion in the middle of combat.  Think about it... SR5+Dex to take potion off your hip, then forego all actions to drink it, plus make a Dex x3 roll to finish the potion successfully if you (inevitably) get hit while trying to drink it.

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14 hours ago, David Scott said:

Not sure where this comes from. Alchemy exists in RQ1.

Sorry, for the misunderstanding, yes, it did come out in RQ1.  Emphasis on the tacked on and not a good fit for the tech level, not the RQ edition.  Greg never liked the Alchemy rules.  He though it was too power-gamey and not a good fit for Glorantha.  He especially disliked blade venom which he correctly assessed as being utterly unrealistic.

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On 6/8/2021 at 5:24 PM, Darius West said:

I agree.  The problem is that most items are hard to consume in combat.  I think more helmets need to be fitted with feed bags 😁

I completely agree.  That is a valuable game resource.

Let's face facts.  In RQ2, alchemy was a late rules addition, more or less tacked on and not really a good fit with the tech level.  In the real world we don't get Alchemy until the late Roman Empire and the coming of Zosimus of Panopolis, and that is well past the Bronze Age, and really at the end of what has been called the Classical Era.  Nevertheless, Glorantha is not Earth, and it would be strange for the God Learners not to have uncovered the secrets of alchemy, given the Dwarves already knew them.  As a result, we should expect the knowledge to be out there, but not too common.  The real issue is therefore about how common Alchemy should be in Glorantha imo.

I personally like to consider alchemy as being very much like sorcery in Glorantha.  It is the purview of a few very educated people.  You will find herbalists among Hsunchen like in Balazaar for example, but not alchemists.  Among the barbarians, there will be your educated folk like Lhankor Mhys and Chalana Arroys who might dabble in alchemy, but really the people who need alchemy the most are the Westerners.  Why Westerners?  Well, in a society where very few people perform their primary magic of sorcery, and which frowns on spirit magic, suddenly a biscuit that can heal you becomes an immense boon, if not a cultural necessity.  Given that they have even more powerful magic than usual and easy access to spirit magic healing, I can't see the Lunars being more than casually interested in medicinal alchemy.   On the other hand, those healing 6/reattach limb biscuits seem like a great investment when you have had your leg hacked off.  Sadly, while we know that the Ezokites teach alchemy out of the School of Wizards in the city of Leplain, there isn't much more context.

Consequently I would like to see the West as a a place where Alchemical healing is a lot more commonplace, and there the notion of adventurers sinking their funds into healing potions is a common trope, because Mend Flesh simply isn't as reliable as the 1:1 healing ratio of Spirit Magic, nor is it even remotely as common or available.  That being said, I still don't see much of a market for healing consumables in Theist lands, as why would you spend your hard won money on  healing pots when you could spend it on training and spells, or any number of other expenses?  It isn't like you can just consume a potion in the middle of combat.  Think about it... SR5+Dex to take potion off your hip, then forego all actions to drink it, plus make a Dex x3 roll to finish the potion successfully if you (inevitably) get hit while trying to drink it.

It's not the Healing pots that most go for. It's the antidotes.

Healing spells are everywhere, but anti-poison is quite rare. Same with disease.

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19 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

It's not the Healing pots that most go for. It's the antidotes.

Healing spells are everywhere, but anti-poison is quite rare. Same with disease.

BUMP

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On 6/10/2021 at 5:26 PM, Darius West said:

BUMP

It seems to me that the costs of production of the various types of potions are equal - no difference between Healing and Cure Soul Waste - , because:

If you follow the process in Red Book of Magic (same as in Cults of Prax) what any plant found, and a resulting potion,  does is random.  So the same amount of work produces any type of potion, though extra work and magic may make them more potent.  30% of the results are for wounds,  20% for poisons, 50% for various diseases.  Subject to a shift through the Rune spell Refine medicine, but it seems to me that rune spells are expensive enough that such shifting is for emergencies rather than for an industrial process.

So i will believe healing potions selling for less for the reasons others have cited above, as well as their common-ness.  But the productivity question always has the same answer.  Whatever the answer is.

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22 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

It seems to me that the costs of production of the various types of potions are equal - no difference between Healing and Cure Soul Waste

Unless it is possible to cultivate the herbs maybe?  Most Chalana Arroy temples will have herb gardens, with only a few rare herbs that won't grow in normal conditions being outliers.  This could serve to collapse the foraging time.

26 minutes ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

So i will believe healing potions selling for less for the reasons others have cited above, as well as their common-ness.  But the productivity question always has the same answer.  Whatever the answer is.

Agreed.  So the real question is what do various medicines and curatives sell for?  I suggest that we work backwards from the 160L income that an alchemist receives to achieve a price.  160/294=5.44 clacks per day income.

So there are 9 diseases listed on p154 of RQG, which doesn't include Plague.  That means of the 50% of herbs being devoted to healing diseases, we can crudely approximate a little over 5% of the herbs being for each disease if they are divided equally.  There is an option to skew that result for disease by region, making some diseases more prevalent in some regions, and perhaps some herbs for treating those illnesses more prevalent in some regions, thus creating a demand, and therefore a supply.  Of course this is up to the GM at present.

I understand that the GM's Guide to RQ:G is coming out eventually, perhaps it will contain some price list examples?

We could retro-fit the previous RQ2 price lists of course. They were the following:

Acid 50L per point of potency.  Antidote: as per countered agent.  Blade Venom: 100L per point of potency.  Systemic Poison: 40L per point of potency.  Battle Magic: 200L per point of spell.  Healing: 200L per hit point healed. Power restoring: Maker only.

I take huge exception to the price of Healing, and would likely not pay 100L for a healing 6 potion, let alone 1200L (I would sell that to anyone willing to pay, and bid that sucker a good day, knowing it wasn't as good as mine). I would personally pay far more for disease curatives, as diseases are a huge nuisance, especially if your CON is ordinary.

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On 6/12/2021 at 11:15 PM, Darius West said:

So there are 9 diseases listed on p154 of RQG, which doesn't include Plague.  That means of the 50% of herbs being devoted to healing diseases

Taking @soltakss's fine JC Book of Doom, I strongly agree with him that such healing potions aren't where Alchemists make their income, but from mundane creations - soaps, perfumes, candles, etc. Far more logical in most settings... Especially in big cities where alchemists can likely have a lab (with an exception for Pavis).

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On 6/12/2021 at 6:15 PM, Darius West said:

Unless it is possible to cultivate the herbs maybe?  Most Chalana Arroy temples will have herb gardens, with only a few rare herbs that won't grow in normal conditions being outliers.  This could serve to collapse the foraging time.

Agreed.  So the real question is what do various medicines and curatives sell for?  I suggest that we work backwards from the 160L income that an alchemist receives to achieve a price.  160/294=5.44 clacks per day income.

So there are 9 diseases listed on p154 of RQG, which doesn't include Plague.  That means of the 50% of herbs being devoted to healing diseases, we can crudely approximate a little over 5% of the herbs being for each disease if they are divided equally.  There is an option to skew that result for disease by region, making some diseases more prevalent in some regions, and perhaps some herbs for treating those illnesses more prevalent in some regions, thus creating a demand, and therefore a supply.  Of course this is up to the GM at present.

I understand that the GM's Guide to RQ:G is coming out eventually, perhaps it will contain some price list examples?

We could retro-fit the previous RQ2 price lists of course. They were the following:

Acid 50L per point of potency.  Antidote: as per countered agent.  Blade Venom: 100L per point of potency.  Systemic Poison: 40L per point of potency.  Battle Magic: 200L per point of spell.  Healing: 200L per hit point healed. Power restoring: Maker only.

I take huge exception to the price of Healing, and would likely not pay 100L for a healing 6 potion, let alone 1200L (I would sell that to anyone willing to pay, and bid that sucker a good day, knowing it wasn't as good as mine). I would personally pay far more for disease curatives, as diseases are a huge nuisance, especially if your CON is ordinary.

Perhaps if you divided the prices by 10 they could be of use in special cases. Like I houseruled the ability training prices to cost only 1/10 of the book prices. Some gym coach or potion maker shouldn't rival the Red Emperor in wealth.

Edited by Brootse
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On 6/14/2021 at 2:10 PM, Shiningbrow said:

Taking @soltakss's fine JC Book of Doom, I strongly agree with him that such healing potions aren't where Alchemists make their income, but from mundane creations - soaps, perfumes, candles, etc. Far more logical in most settings... Especially in big cities where alchemists can likely have a lab (with an exception for Pavis).

Yes, I would agree with that.  I would highlight that dyes and mordants are typically the areas where alchemists do their most profitable work with industry.  On the other hand, an alchemist will adapt their craft to the needs of the local economy, out of sheer necessity.  If they are in an area where there is an established fabrics industry then they will make dyes and mordants.  They are also good for making potash, which is used as a fertilizer, and in soap making and brewing, as well as other chemical processes.  Alchemists are also generally very good metallurgists, and are responsible for many alloys, but one that doesn't see enough press in RQ for my liking is Phosphor bronze which is comparable in strength to a middle grade steel, and better than most medieval steels.  In a city such as New Pavis which have dedicated professional "adventurers" however (or any town close to "dungeons" (to call a spade a spade)), I would expect that alchemists who sell curatives, blade venoms and healing items would do good trade.

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57 minutes ago, David Scott said:

That chocolate is mentioned in the sambe breath as the genbenezeer, a "last of its kind" creature, in sauce. So where would this "food of the gods" (Greek: Theobroma) come from?
At a guess, from Godtime. Or perhaps from plantations on the moon - we don't know anything about the climate on the moon. (It might even have red snow, or red clouds.)

Cocoa trees are tropical and subtropical evergreens, which puts them into the care of Yellow Elves. That makes Teshnos or possibly Teleos or the East Isles the closest source in the surface world.

But going back into the early Golden Age, Yellow Elf forest was found all around the lower slopes of the Spike and its foothills.

Could Mernita or northern Peloria have been a place where cocoa was cultivated? The cold northwestern corner of the lozenge opposed to the hot southeastern corner appears to have been in place already in the early period of single mountains, with Mt. Enmal being cloaked in fire, and the Nargan Sea of Blue Flame.

Could cocoa have been cultivated on Veldara's Blue Moon, and then in Artmali territory? In that case, cocoa beans could be a heroquest reward. Forget the Kalikos quest, the annual cocoa quest is where true magical influence lies!

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