10 Things to See in an Alchemist's Laboratory
by Creighton Broadhurst
December 02, 2019
Sought after by rulers, yet often shunned by the populace for their creative madness, alchemists are on a journey of exploration and science. Strange liquids and apparatus, unheard of substances and terrifying results are the bread and butter of the often crazed men and women who call this occupation their own.
Use the list below, to add flavour and detail to your characters' next visit to an alchemist's laboratory:
- Large glass vats contain thick yellow liquid pregnant with large golden bubbles. The raising bubbles pop so noisily conversation is difficult near them.
- Heating plates made from thick metal slabs fixed onto a stone kiln heat some strange-smelling substances in copper bowls and pans.
- Racks on the walls and tables hold hundreds of glass and clay test tubes filled with a plethora of multicoloured powders. The vials, all made of thick glass, are weighted to prevent tipping yet one has fallen and released a golden powder onto the alchemist’s desk.
- Crystal bowls with copper framing heat over crackling fires. Thick white gasses swirling over sandy chemicals, struggle up glass tubes to be collected in sealed glass jars.
- A mortar and pestle of thick black-streaked granite hold the powdered residue of incinerated plants. The powdery white ash has clumped together from the moisture of a nearby water flask.
- A many-tiered athanor (a furnace) made of heavy clay bricks has hundreds of conical flasks on its shelves. The metal door at its base has been left slightly open by an inattentive apprentice and the glowing ashes are starting to spill out.
- Polished crystal stirring rods change colour depending on the temperature of the solution they are stirring. Of varying lengths and thicknesses they are used in different substances, and sometimes cause explosions if used incorrectly.
- Jars of odd ingredients are hidden at the back of high shelves. Amongst them lie the skin from a ghoul’s hand and the brain of a serial murderer stored in glass jars filled with vinegar. Many of the ingredients are illegal and should the authorities find them the alchemist will be in serious trouble.
- On a stone shelf overlooking the alchemist’s desk sits a jar holding a pickled monkey head. The head is a failed experiment to create a homunculus, and still holds a semblance of life. Perceptive characters notice the eyes twitch occasionally and its tiny badly-formed hands grasp at things beyond its glassy prison.
- A troll’s hand rests in a jar of weak acid to suppress its regeneration abilities. The hand’s green, warty skin is now pitch black and covered with smooth scales, giving it a slightly demonic appearance.
This article is the second extract from 20 Things #45: Alchemist's Laboratory which is available for download here at the Raging Swan Press store.