The Price of the Lotus

Posted: 25 May 2012 in Settings
Tags: ,

Lotus concoctions are going to be a staple consumable for the party in Shadows of Keron, especially Healing potions. Cracking open Beasts & Barbarians, I see that with a Streetwise-2 roll one can find a potion, which costs $200 per rank. Lotusmasters only recover power points when the potion is drunk, and I assume they are wealthy enough to live well – this is because they must initially have had the status and time available to study, and now require expensive components.

How often the potions are drunk – i.e., how quickly the Lotusmaster gets his power points back – is a stronger constraint on manufacture than how long it takes to make a potion (a few hours).

Let’s say he needs to make $1,000 per month ($780 personal living expenses, based on the top end costs for food and lodgings in the Fantasy Gear Toolkit, plus whatever they need for savings/hobbies/family). That’s five Novice rank potions, which at an average of 2-3 power points per potion is about as many as a Novice (Lotusapprentice?) can make without recovering power points. Therefore, he must assume potions will be drunk within a month of sale; I can see fine print on the potion bottle saying "Best Before Month End".

Things follow from these assumptions.

  • Since the Lotusmaster’s income is driven by his power points, non-adventuring ones take the Power Points Edge as often as they can, starting with 15 points and gaining 5 more per rank.
  • Income is badly hurt by keeping back potions for personal use such as home defence. Lotusmasters need powerful friends, and/or bodyguards, and probably band together for mutual support. Outside of Gis, where presumably being in charge gives some protection, they are likely to hide, which explains why you need a Streetwise roll to find one.
  • Likewise, potions are mostly made to order, as having a concoction lying around in case someone buys it risks a 20% loss of revenue for the month.
  • Some sort of guild structure is likely. The Lotusapprentice lives in relative poverty and churns out Healing potions to fund his master’s more grandiose projects, but knows once he learns better powers he can command high wages.
  • Lotusmasters will try to sell potions that give them the most income (highest rank) for the least power point expenditure. These are Confusion or Succor for Novice rank powers, or Slow for Seasoned powers, so those are likely to be the most common concoctions.
  • The least common potions are likely to be high-powered versions of Blast or Blind at Novice, and Invisibility at Seasoned, because they have the worst income to power point ratios.
  • Most potions will be the minimum power point versions of a power (I can get $1,200 for three two-point Blast potions, or $400 for one six-point Blast potion).
  • The only Veteran powers a Lotusmaster has access to are Puppet and Zombie. It’s hard to think of a legal use for those. Puppet for keeping those uppity Lotusapprentices in line, perhaps.

An alternative pricing system would be $100/power point rather than $200/rank. That would keep prices roughly the same for most powers.

This makes me realise that using the No Power Points option for NPC Lotusmasters as well as PCs would remove the major constraint on how many potions there are in the campaign, and how powerful they are. I should think carefully about that before allowing it, but it would address the players’ concern about running out of healing potions.

  1. Umberto Pignatelli says:

    There is a factor you must consider. Lotus potions are Rare Items. Heroes in B&B can try to find only ONE rare item between games, this representing and exceptionality of the finding.
    Remember, in Swords and Sorcery magic is rare and powerful.
    Lotusmasters probably don’t live day-to-day selling standard Power-imbued potions (which represents the most secret and costy side of their art) but rather using minor uses of their knowledge (covered by the Lotusmastery skill): things like refining Khav or other drugs, creating minor healing concotions (sore throat syrups?) and other chemical uses of Lotus (tinctures and soaps, for example).
    They usually keep the potions for themselves. When they sell, probably they most prized Powers are poison and healing.
    Given that, yes, pricing potions 100/Power Point is a good idea too, but remind that legality and or particularity of the concoction makes the price (how much does it cost the poison ministered to the Queen of Kyros to prevent her conceiving a child… oops possible plot revealed :)).

    About the “consume early potions”, the mechanic of not recharging PP before using the potion, I am not shy to reveal it, is mainly for balance (to avoid PC create countless potions). Probably NPC Lotusmaster (stantial and with a laboratory) use Refined Lotus when creating potions they sold. The Power Points of a Lotusmaster must be considered a cross between raw components he manages to find in few time (or waste less of them) and the mental stress of the magical formula used on them.

    Said so, all the discussion above it seems to derivate from the necessity to have your players spend their money (come on, try the Savings rules, they don’t bite 🙂 and let your player draw a card for the After the Adventure Events :))

    • andyslack says:

      Thanks Umberto! I had missed the fact they can only buy one in between adventures. So, the situation I was trying to avoid (“I’ll have 20 of your finest Healing potions, my good man.”) wouldn’t actually arise.

      Also, I hadn’t considered the NPC alchemists using Refined Lotus. I do like the idea of alchemists refining khav, that fits in very nicely with a little surprise I have for my players when they reach Gis… bwah hah hah…

      Meanwhile, back to the drawing board. =]

    • andyslack says:

      I tried to convert the group to the savings rules this week. I must’ve failed my Persuasion roll.

      They resisted the idea more strongly than I expected. Perhaps this is because some of them are used to measuring success in terms of loot, perhaps it’s because the PCs were dragged over to the Dread Sea Dominions from Irongrave.

      Whatever the reason, they’re not up for it, so I’ll leave things as they are. Maybe I’ll try again later…

      • Umberto Pignatelli says:

        If I can suggest, try to reward them with something different from simple loot (magical items and gold). Some examples: a ship, a castle, a title, a horse, an adhoring slave…

      • andyslack says:

        Yep, and that works for 7 out of 9 of ’em; and one of the others is actually saving up to buy a tower in whatever city they settle in, so all in all not too bad. =]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s