One of my players made a companion who dabbles in alchemy (and by dabbles, I mean he stole an early draft of the Huolongjing from a Chinese dragon and hopes to invent gunpowder early). For now, though, his goals are more humble: he wants to invent a formula for a reagent (AaA page p75) to quickly ferment honey to make producing quality mead quicker.
This, however, seems to be unreasonably difficult. Correct me if I'm wrong, but right now the level seems to work out to 20 (Substantial alteration of the secondary qualities of complex matter, creating 500 cubic inches). This is as difficult as alchemical steel or lapis minor.
Can someone more familiar with the system please provide some advice for how to make this possible?
Is it a substantial alteration? I would argue it might be minor.
As it is, trying to make a super-fermenter (to change the alcoholic properties of honey) is difficult. A mead improver (to change rubbish mead into a beautifully clear mead with a fine taste) might be a level or two easier.
...You might have a point. I have no clue why we haven't thought to just make the mead normally then purify it.
Aw man this is actually a pretty good example for how designing reagents would go, I've been having my own issues with figuring out the alchemy system and this helps me wrap my head around things quite a bit! Thanks for that
So this player Companion has, shall we say:
A need for Mead!
"Need for Mead"
Thanks for the session title!
Now, another question: we have moved on from the alchemy component to using magic to rapidly age the mead and therefore improve the taste. Would this fall under Perdo Animal with an Aquam requisite?
Or, could yeast be counted as worms (AaA p30)?
I hate to be that guy, but I would have it as Pe(Cr) An, as you are improving it as well as aging.
If you are aging it so it will be improved, i.e. matured, you would need Creo rather than Perdo. Perdo is never used to make something better.
It would be Re since it is a process done by craftsmen.
The fact that it is mostly watching it as it ages does not change this point, nor is it the only case it applies to.
Since honey is an animal product, ReAn.
Multiple ways to the same goal is and should be the norm.
Not in all cases. Creating a fireball is always CrIg.
Sure, but the fireball is just the means. The ends is the damage, which can be achieved in so many different ways.
So obviously part of the recipe would involve Goose and some ice?
I could see a case for varies Arts depending upon how you went about achieving the effect.
Perdo is inappropriate for improving anything, except in very limited circumstances. (If you are wondering, that would be where the destruction of some sub-element improves the quality of the overall. However the improvement is a side effect. An example is destroying salt in salt water to make it drinkable.)
If you are trying to improve/speed up the aging process than both Creo and Rego could be used. Creo would be a higher level and function much the same as maturing plants/animals to adulthood in a short time. The results of the aging would be mostly undefined and up to the SG. Rego could do it as a Craft Magic effect, giving precise control over the process and final result.
If you are trying for Darkwing's "mead improver (to change rubbish mead into a beautifully clear mead with a fine taste", Muto is the most obvious Form. Using Rego would involve some process rather than a direct change. Creo could do it (improving) but would be higher level.
As an aside, there are lots of magical effects which can greatly improve the quantity and quality of any brewing operation. Enchanted vat stirrers, warming stones to keep the wort at proper temp, pipes that cause a controlled current, filtering effects to remove the solids and yeast, magic taps, enchanted stills, cold rooms for storage and ending the fermentation, freezing effects to do cold distillation (ice wine/heart of wine was a Roman thing), varies effects for the storage warehouse, etc.
I am more partial to effects that require the craftsman to still do the work while making it easier/more efficient (the Craftsman makes a roll using their skill, with a bonus), compared to effects which do the work completely by magic (making it Craft Magic and requiring Finesse).
Perdo is out of place, here.
Creo can help mature an animal or make a better animal, but the current guidelines do not allow to assist maturing an animal product (probably because that's covered under Rego with the process animal product guidelines) nor do they allow improvement of existing animal products (possibly because it's a flaw in hermetic theory, possibly because it's already very simple to create a perfect animal product with existing guidelines, and both would be rituals, so what's the point of improving it?)
So yeah, it looks like whatever you want to do falls under Rego Animal, with the guidelines found under the Covenant book.
Incidentally, mead is also covered by Aquam but there are no guidelines that are really useful, except perhaps under Muto but I doubt the player wants to alter mead that way.
Muto is temporary, Rego is permanent.
I could see using Muto to create a catalyst and ease the process. But that'd be about 5 centuries early.
Apparently at the time people were unsure if yeast was an algae of fungus, (it is a fungus) but either way it would be considered herbem, so CrHe could be used to make temporary yeast that could ferment the mead but not need to be removed when fermentation was complete.
CrHe could also be used to accelerate the maturation of the yeast. This would require a level 30+ spell however and yeast already matures extremely fast so just creating a batch of yeast might be a simpler effect.
The CrHe guideline to ensure a plant grows well for the duration might be the best here. It would ensure the yeast grows without issue and would generally result in the ability to get a higher alcohol content. The alcohol produced eventually becomes toxic to the yeast and different strains have different resistances. Magic ensuring it grows well would allow it to grow as one of the strains that is more resistant to alcohol.
Hummmm, an effect that makes the yeast immune to alcohol (MuHe Base 3) would allow it to keep producing until there was no sugar left.
That is not completely true. There are many Muto effects which cause permanent changes and there are many Rego effects which are only temporary.
Yast grows quickly but mead ferments slowly. aside from ReAn I'm not certain how this would be accelerated...
I would expect you could use CrHe to increase the output of alcohol, but that might not affect the consumption of sugar... this is essentially equivalent to getting your cow to consume more grass and produce more milk.
Though obviously the entire exercise can be skipped with a CrAn ritual...