This is my rough first playtest document, some rules will change by the final version but this feels pretty much how I want Apothecaria to play. Playing on a physical journal you'll probably include drawings, side notes, and other things unique to you which I can't do in a purely rich text format.
I’ve barely been here long enough to even start unpacking when one of the villagers, a watchman by the name of Fergus, came blundering up to my door. Damn fool had managed to shoot himself in the leg and needed help. I’ve sat him down, got the bolt out, and sewn the wound shut best I can for now but he needs to be healed properly if he’s to get back to work. Apparently it’s a witches duty to make potions according to the old witch’s journal so… guess I’m doing that now.
The patient is Wounded which according to the journal is [WOUND] and [PAIN]. Straight forward enough.
Designers Notes: To determine what problem a patient has, you draw a card and refer to the Ailments list. At the start you're a novice witch and have access to fairly easy Ailments. As you progress you'll face harder (and stranger) ailments.
[WOUND] and [PAIN] are the aspects that we will have to find reagents to cure.
The Watchman Fergus was made up based on the Wounded Ailment. I just thought "who is most likely to have been wounded at night" and voila!
Reagents that help are:
Hermit Snail Slime - Pretty common in Hero’s Hollow, shouldn’t be too hard actually.
Hero’s Hollow is just past the loch, it’s entrance is a huge monstrous skull the size of a cliff face. All the little sounds of nature that we take for granted fade away as you make your way down those moss slick stairs. Exploring the labyrinthine hallways and frightening rooms I found myself in a tomb that didn’t feel right. I tried to be quiet but with all the bones scattered around I must’ve stood on one because next thing I knew the dead were rising and they were Grumpy!
They chastised me for being so loud and kept going on about “the living of today”. I apologised for waking them and offered to give them some hard candies next time I was down as recompense. They seemed quite excited by the idea and stopped their complaining… for now.
I asked if they knew where I could find Hermit Snails and, as luck would have it, one of them had a few sizeable snails living in his skull. With some of the most traumatising sounds I’ve ever heard, he pulled them out of his eye socket and I was able to extract some slime, making sure not to hurt “poor Regina-Reginald” in the process.
Each reagent has a number of [TAGS] that it can be used to cure and a Foraging value that determines what locale they can be found in and how difficult they are to find. Because Hermit Snails were quite common in Hero's Hollow, I chose to search there.
To find reagents, you draw a card, check the locale's table and see what happened. In this case, I met some undead who are one of the many character events.
As the card I drew on the locale table was higher than the Foraging Value of the Hermit Snails, I decided that the skeletons had some but this could have as easily been a separate entry about exploring the damp tunnels or checking under a ruined altar.
Simple Healing Salve
Hermit Snail Slime
Step one) Take some springwater as a base liquid and set it to BOIL in a cauldron
Step two) Remove any impurities from the Hermit Snail Slime until it is smooth in texture
Step three) Add the slime to the BOILING water and allow the mixture to thicken
Once the mixture has taken on a paste like consistency, apply it liberally to the wound. The antiseptic qualities of the slime will clean out the wound while its regenerative qualities will cause the wound to knit back together in no time.
Each reagent says whether it needs to be Crushed, Boiled, Distilled to properly prepare it for use in the potion. Most of this is just made up based on the idea that the slime needs to be Boiled and what it will be used to cure.
Private Fergus was astonished by the speed and was grateful I didn’t make him drink it. Which in hindsight might have been a good teaching moment for him. As thanks he offered to show me around the town of High Rannoc, introduce me to the good folk who would be my neighbours and patients as well as make sure I got my key for the Lunar Tower.
I think I’m going to like it here.
The town is a nice place. Cosy while still having enough amenities to not feel like you’re detached from the world. The tavern, The Copper Fox, apparently has travelling bards in most weekends while the market square is always abustle with some sort of merchants. A group of religious types by the looks of them today, all white robes and burning incense, selling hand-woven prayer mats for a pittance.
Fergus showed me the Ritual Circle. Apparently the old witch who lived here, Mistress Niln, used it as a Conversion Site. Changing some reagents into others as needed. The standing stones were something to behold, three times my height and carved with flowing intricate runes. I don’t know if it was my imagination but just standing near it I felt like I could feel it.
After each potion you have some Downtime. During this you can explore locales to find reagents, spend time with characters of your choice, or do things that feel important to your character (like how I spend some time fixing up an old bicycle in the next downtime.
Below is a longer potion from initial draw to resolution and Downtime.
The baker, a woman by the name of Maude McKaulen came by with her hands bound in wet towels. Apparently there’s a wedding on tomorrow and in her panic she grabbed the baking tray without oven gloves. Not willing to let the hard work go to waste, she held onto it until she could place it down safely. Less than a minute but it looks awfully painful.
Her apprentice is minding the bakery and the maniac has said she needs me to be done before sundown or she’ll push on regardless.
So… Reagents. Looking for [BURN] and [PAIN]
Shadow Shark Ink for [BURN] - 8
Shock Fish for [PAIN] - 7
Both my reagents could be found in Meltwater Loch and with Hades wrapped round my arm, I’d be sure to find what I’m looking for. Frustratingly as good a hunter as he is, the little bugger can’t spot a half ruined bicycle poking out of the sand. He was pulling me along, hissing enthusiastically when I got my foot caught in the spoke and tripped over. But, as my mentor used to say, can’t spell misfortune without fortune so I’ve pulled it out of the sand, I’ll come get it later and see if it can be fixed up.
Once we got into one of the rowboats that’d been left tied up next to the jetty, Hades caught the scent pretty quickly. Though, to be fair to myself, so did I. Shock Fish has a distinct burning urea smell that’s hard to ignore. Taking care not to get zapped, I scooped some of the vile stuff into a vial and we went looking for the shadow shark.
We rowed around the loch, Hades tasting the air just above the water when SUDDENLY this tremendous sea beast came shooting up from below. The thing was larger than a galleon with claws that’d put a dragon’s jaws to shame. It roared and do you know what I thought? “That tooth looks awfy wobbly”
Those were nearly my final thoughts.
Thankfully a passing airship saw the beast and fired a few shots at it. Not enough to even wound it but enough to encourage it to go back under the water. I high-tailed it out of the water and am going elsewhere for the BURN reagent. Maude’s hands be damned.
Surgeon Sap for [BURN] - 9
Glimmerwood Grove is as magical as they said. A verdant forest filled with colourful trees, giant mushrooms, singing fairies, and giant spiders. Giant spiders that they handily didn’t mention in the brochure. While looking for the sap I wandered into what was apparently known as Weaver’s Wood. I could hear them whispering about how to eat me so I tried the old fairytale trick of giving them other options and ideas until I could safely back out of their territory.
Me flambe, Me-ringue, Me-lon balled, Me-dium rare, Me-aty stew.
On my way out of Weaver’s Wood I bumped into a druid. A kindly old gnome who wore a cape of leaves and a pair of mismatched antlers. He greeted me warmly and made nettles grow to block the spiders in, just in case. We talked for a bit while walking and he told me of his home at the base of the Glitter Tree. A beautiful willow that flowers once every fifty years with the most amazing crystal flowers. He protects it, tends to it, and is waiting to see it bloom.
When we parted ways he offered me a gift, a bag of Poda mycelia. Foot Fungus. From a giant. According to the book it is very useful. I thanked him and have tried to plug my nose.
I got to be a hero. After collecting a vial of Surgeon Sap I was naught but a dozen steps when I found an injured sprite. A little woodland spirit that had stood on some discarded metal waste and cut its foot. It took some time to gain its trust but eventually it smelled the surgeon sap and let me administer it. It took effect slowly but the little sprite seemed to make a quick recovery and even took my finger in its paws. I get the feeling that won’t be the last I’ll be seeing of it.
As I made my way out of the grove, the sprite caught up to me and dropped a rather large and juicy looking Coffee Cap into my basket. Here’s hoping there’s more where that came from!
Set a cauldron full of meltwater to Boil
Gently heat the sap and whisk until it is light and frothy
Pour the shock fluid into the boiling water
Introduce the frothy sap a spoonful at a time. 2 spoons should do.
Allow the mixture to cool at room temperature or use a cooling spell
While cooling, add some plain flour to thicken it out into an ointment
Apply the ointment in thick layers to the affected area to numb and soothe. The pain should subside immediately and within an hour the skin will have healed up nicely.
Maude thanked me and with everything that’s happened I… I shook her hand. Thankfully it was numbed so she didn’t get hurt or really take notice but once she left I noticed that I couldn’t feel my hand either. Yay! First mistake and we’re only two patients in!
I’m going to see if I can fix up that bicycle.
It took ages to drag the bicycle out of the loch but finally I got it home in… mostly one piece. All things considered its actually not in too bad a condition. A hooper to fix the wheels. A bit of smithing to get the chassis back in shape.
I went down into High Rannoc to get more of a feel for the town, soak up local culture kind of thing. There was a bard outside The Copper Fox. He was good in that sort of locally good kind of way. One of his lyrics “she had legs like a Rannoc bothy” amused me a great deal more than it should so I dropped a silver in his case. Thankfully not the first as the lad had already amassed quite a bit.
Guess folk songs never get old.
After spending the day in the village exploring, window shopping, I came back to find one of the village children hopping my fence and running away. Looks like she trampled an old garden plot that’d become overgrown with weeds. If I’d been growing anything, I’d be furious but seeing as I didn’t even know about it, this almost feels serendipitous.
Dragging some rotting wood over to the plot and clearing it of weeds, I set the Coffee Cap to grow in the damp soil.
Hope you enjoyed and hope it clears up how Apothecaria plays for you :)