The Crystal Retort
This alchemy shop has two faces - its above ground establishment which serves the general public with the typical love potions, cure-alls and whatnote, and a Â‘secret' below-ground operation which is where the real action is...
Surface Establishment - The Crystal Retort
The Upper Crystal Retort is housed in a sturdy two-story stone building. The ground floor has few windows, and those present are small and barred. Thick, translucent glass is set back from the bars.
The second floor has larger windows and numerous bronze chimneys of various sizes protrude through a grey slate roof. Keeping the chimneys company are a few strange weather vanes and other odd devices with no obvious function. On the street in front of the shop, a wooden sign hangs displaying a faceted Retort.
The interior of the upper shop is well appointed and what one would expect of such an establishment. Many pigeon holes line the back walls behind a long counter. All manner of oddities overflow from these compartments as well as hanging from the ceiling in boxes, cylinders, cages and various other containers. The smell can be inadequately described as ‘exotic'.
In addition to a wide range of legal alchemical wares, one can purchase supplies and raw materials, though at what one would consider somewhat high prices.
A notice is placed prominently advertising coin for the remains of magical creatures, as well as a price list for the remains of other rare creatures.
None except Het and Manzred know Hachnar exists, much less his name.
Eldrid Longshanks - Health/Enhancement specialty alchemist
A tall,thin, balding neurotic individual. He is always moving or fidgeting and will talk a mile a minute to any customers. He never wants to actually see, or Gods forbid, touch any health issue. He requests a simple description, nothing more and then suggests an appropriate remedy. Eldrid has a secret passion for elves.
Terick Corun - Pyrotechnics specialty alchemist
Where Eldrid is a flurry of motion, Terick is simply glacial in his actions. He never rushes and does all things, including speaking, very slowly and carefully. He is generally unremarkable in appearance, dark haired and slightly portly. He does, however, appear have several fingers replaced by articulated wooden replacements. Either by careful craftsmanship, or strong magic, they appear to have all the dexterity of the original. He will not speak of them, nor how he ended up needing them -though given his vocation it may be obvious.
Vlense Richmon - Poison specialty alchemist
Strangely enough for one of his specialty, Vlense is a people person. He will be the first to greet new customers and show them around the establishment. He is short, medium build with short-cropped red hair and beard. Even if poisons are legal, he will approach the topic obliquely. He will use euphemisms constantly, or be overly technical - perhaps even anachronistically so. In truth, Vlense hates people and enjoys selling poisons.
Manzred Othmuz - Ex-Soldier guard
This dour figure generally stands about dispassionately watching everything that happens in the above-ground establishment. Of all the surface employees, he knows the most of what is going on and is a loaned enforcer from the underworld. He will not engage in conversation and the staff will try and redirect visitors from him.
Het(Hetamar) (Homunculus of Hachnar)
This strange creature appears as a gnome-light figure with oversized features (even for a gnome!). He wears a red, iridescent robe. He acts as the manager of the above-ground facility, being literally the eyes and ears of Hachnar. He is capable of minor magics and Hachnar can channel spells through him. He leaves dealing with customers to the other alchemists, only becoming involved if they cannot handle it, or if Hachnar becomes interested.
Most normal potions and alchemical substances appropriate to the world. Poisons are available as well, but carefully presented and subject to local laws.
The above-ground store is physically well built and protected. Building materials are laced with powdered silver and cold iron. All of staff have weapons and alchemical devices readily at hand to defend the establishment if needed.
Subsurface Establishment (The Imps Apothecary)
The underground operation is known through the underworld as The Imps Apothecary (in reference to Eth the Homonculus).
The lower establishment been sealed off from the upper establishment - the shaft that once linked them has been closed off by stone melded by magic. It is accessed through specially concealed secret doors within the sewer system of the town.
Magic and non-magic defences
Much of Hachnar's initial investment of time and gold was devoted to making the location as detection and intrusion proof as possible. To that end, the walls are shielded by thin layers of lead and silver, and cold-iron nails are imbedded into the outer walls at 6' intervals. More active magics are also used to conceal the location of Hachnar himself.
Hachnar has either constructed or purchased a large number of automatons of all description, including a scrap-iron golem which guards the main laboratory. Unless activated, it is scattered through the lab as simple debris (treat as an Iron Spike Golem). Other types include small dog-sized bipedal constructs with glass spheres filled with alchemical substances for heads. Hachnar makes no use of undead or demons in his defences.
Hachnar T' Velstrad- See the full submission.
Eth (Ethamar)(Homunculus of Hachnar)
Eth is identical to Het in most aspects, apart from knowledge and social contacts. Eth does all of the interaction between underworld contacts and Hachnar, and even these are often through ‘cut outs'. Eth is distinguished by a huge ring of keys used to open the various storage compartments in the Parlor.
Melric Styr - Assistance Alchemist
Melric is a heavily scarred and somewhat crippled young man. He rarely talks and often breaks into coughing fits, the results of inhaling too many vapors. He has been involved in many lab accidents, and is alive only through strange luck. Currently he only assists in less volatile and dangerous work.
Gronus Thakwire - Assistant Alchemist
Gronus is the current workhorse of the lab. A prematurely bald, beardless dwarf, his exceptional toughness has proved a boon in his current line of work. Gronus is also exceptionally cruel, and in truth engineered many of the ' accidents' which have crippled Melric. Gronus eventually wants to kill Melric, for nothing more then heartless amusement. In truth he is the most evil being in Hachnar's business, Hachnar included.
Ledrick Ostimer - Lab assistant and craftsman
Ledrick is a very capable jack-of-all trades who does much of the fabrication of normal items, glasswork and other manual labor in the lab. Being a very large and strong person, Gronus has not harassed him. He tends to hyperfocus and would be unlikely to notice intruders when working.
These establishments can serve multiple roles in a campaign, possibly more then one at the same time.
Depending on their contacts and world view they could be employees of either establishment or supplying exotic monster parts.
The most likely scenario is the PCs seeking goods from either establishment - again, depending on their contacts.
Some heinous act has been perpetuated by one of Hachnar customers and this may lead them to investigate the business.
Its not easy being green...
The enchanted outgassing portal has directed waste into a sensitive area (Elves village, Druid Grove, etc). The injured parties contact the PC's to investigate and stop the emissions.
The PC's may attempt to rob the joint, but may find it a more difficult nut to crack then they thought..
Noteworthy Locations - Imps Apothacary
This room is where business is done and is the easiest to access from the outside world. Well appointed with good furniture, including a fine, gold-inlaid table, Eth will bring out various wares from numerous locked compartments which line the back wall. Each of these compartments is double locked, trapped and magically held.
In case of trouble, the room can be quickly flooded with toxic gas at a word from Eth. The same word will also cause the main door to the room to slam shut and lock itself. Depending on the situation, the gas can cause either sleep or death at Eth's descretion. (Eth is resistant to both, but not immune, and so he is not likely to use this defence lightly). Triggering the gas will set a magical alarm off through the entire complex.
In addition to the gas, the room is watched through peepholes by hired goons. If Eth is incapacitated or otherwise attacked, the goons can trigger the gas or burst into the room at their descretion.
This facility is where most of the work of shop occurs. It is fitted with a powerful forge (magical - heat is generated via pure elemental fire, outgassing is vented magically to a location in distant countryside - see Plot Ideas for implications..)
Another feature, though long unused, is a high-quality silver-inlaid summoning circle. It was used earlier on for summoning demons before he concocted his Blade Venoms and let others get demons for him.
Generally a creature created by Alchemy, Hachnar's Homunculii are greatly unusual. They are much larger, 3' in height and are generally thought by those who see them to be some form of gnome or mutant dwarf.
They were derived from materials provided by Hachnar as well as several different animals. They have a fraction of his magical ability and share a telepathic link with Hachnar. Hachnar can see and hear through them them by concentration, limited to about 20 miles radius. Hachnar can also channel spells through them if necessary.
If slain, a powerful magical backlash will occur, moderately injuring Hachnar.
Unlike the surface establishement, The Imps Apothacary deals in all items of magic - generally those appreciated by those treading darker paths, and is not limited to alchemicial substances.
Kagerith's Chainmail - Booby-trapped armor
Hachnar's Demon Blood - Imparts demonic strength
Hachnars Blade Venoms - Produce special effects on slain creatures
Ghoulskin Gloves - Imparts undead touch abilities to the wearer
Garage Sale from Hell - Many items in this sub would be suitable.
A Poisoner's Almanac - Many interesting poisons.
Sleep related Toxins - A few poisons of my own creation.
Lifeforms • Constructed • Any
Kazarad the lich watched his minons strip the slain adventurers of their gear, and he being the meticulous type, the gear was sorted into piles. One of larger piles was a heap of iron spikes. 'Why do they all carry those damn things? What am _I_ supposed to with all of those? '
Then a moment of inspiration stuck him.....
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? Responses (16)-15
Submitted for your Approval...
the Wanderer Feb 7, 2007 05:09 XP: + - ( 0 )
Now this is great, grand even! Here is a complex and intricate location, NPCs, items, and plot lines galore all rolled into one neat and simple Codex!
Subs like this are the reason I joined the Citadel! My hat is off to you...
Murometz replied: yeah, thats great, except your comment is a scroll...hehe.
Murometz replied: oh wait, I'm an admin. I should help you, not laugh at you. :)
You mean help him AS you laugh at him, don't you?
Not only is this a sample of val's fine work (like a glass cutout of an ant farm in action) but the Iron Spike golem is here. How can you go wrong!
I like the way you neatly packaged tangential and related ideas in this scrodex (did you coin that term yet?). Good stuff, val!
Wont let me vote for some reason, but it will let me HoH!
The man loves his alchemy!
What he said. :)
But I can vote on this solid submission, so here you go. Oh, and I have this feeling that there should be some connection between the two parts... something minor and hard to use, but still... somehow the complete separation doesn't feel right to me. (And psst: check the links to other subs, particularly to the wares.)
Great submission, just the right amount of detail on the characters and the happenings here. I like it.
Drat - the links worked before! :)
They are fixed now!
Alright, I was tired when I hit the button last time. Now I'll vote (hopefully)
I was very impressed by this shop and its nasty staff! It's very well detailed and could serve as the focus for several different types of adventures. I would like to use it in the background, a place that the player characters visit suspiciously, but can't actually tie to anything wrong or illegal...
I'm not overly fond of the hoary 'secret tunnel in the sewers' schtick, for several reasons. The hidden basement chambers and workshop would need to have good ventilation, or they would become quite nasty. Since he wants to ensure that his hidden chambers are unmolested, he would hide their accessway carefully, but having to slosh through filth to reach the workshop: What a pain! Getting supplies in and out would also be conspicuous and irritating.
Access to the sewers would also require substantial safeguards in to ensure that his shop didn't get flooded out. If I were him, I would have the sewer exit only as an emergency exit and hide my entrance in another structure nearby. If a group of people consistently head into the sewers every day, that's conspicuous. If the same group heads to the private offices of 'Hekmer and Blandeel, Ltd.', some (defunct) merchant company, nobody would bat an eye.
If I were Hachnar, I would place a small hidden shaft (too narrow for someone to fit down it) from the main shop to allow items to be surreptitiously moved between the shops and improve ventilation. It could be disquised as some sort of drain or waste disposal chute.
I had touched a little bit on the outgassing in the Main Lab section - the ventalation is the most Magic heavy aspect of the location. Since having toxic gas clouds appear in the middle of a city can bring undue attention to one's facilitity, magic can be used to send the clouds elsewhere.
A secret dumbwaiter between the two buildings is a good idea - and another above-ground front to sell the illegal wares is also good. I was focusing on secrecy above all, but I'll adjust the sub with your ideas in mind. The underground lab will stay, but a secondary location (containing the Parlor) will be added.
I wasn't thinking of the alchemical fumes, which you had already addressed. I was thinking that with a sewer as the main entrance to the place, the atmosphere would be quite... pungent. In theory, the same magical apparatus that serves as a 'fume hood' could handle that as well.
Few fantasy villains have air conditioning for their lairs...
Wow, you planned everything out perfectly, it can fit into almost any campaign, and you describe it very well. My take on the the sewer area was that the smell would be simply repressed by a low level spell (or even an alchemical substance?).
Yes! Alchemical Substance! Thats the ticket :)Pure Elemental Carbon would do nicely.... Maybe hanging down in every doorway like 1960's bead curtains!
Hey, I can vote now! And shall. Rereading this, I find that I love all the deliciousness. Imp's Apothecary, Homunculus, all the NPCs. Terrific.
Thanks for the HOH Ted!
Update: Changed up the formatting..