The general consensus seems to be that Vulgar Alchemy is one of the most, if not the most, "broken" Virtues of TMRE. Most complaints seem to fall into the following:
a. It's a ridiculous amount of work for very little benefit.
b. The possibility of getting a bonus depends far more on the ability of the experimenter than on the appropriateness of the bonus.
c. Having a fixed set of S&M bonuses limits player creativity, and makes every new S&M bonus published effectively a retcon of current canon.
d. The current system forbids having an item with more than +13 total bonuses. A number of materials already violate this. For example Gold and Silver have a total bonus respectively of +8 and +10 from the corebook, and of +10 and +8 from the section on Vulgar alchemy which presents new shape and material bonuses gained through the use of Vulgar Alchemy. Thus the Vulgar Alchemy rules are not even self-consistent.
Can we "fix" Vulgar Alchemy? With "fixing" I mean, in order of importance:
- Make it a Minor Virtue that is neither overpowered nor underpowered.
- Make it interestingly related to "Alchemy".
- Change as little as possible from the current system.
- Make it simple.