Apothecary?

Hello everyone!

I’m a new player who started looking at empire recently, and I was thinking of playing a field medic/physician. This would mean I would be taking both Chirurgeon and Physick, as well as Magician for character reasons (I want to be wearing armour, so no battlefield spells). I also want to take Apothecary, for both mechanical and fluff reasons, but I’ve heard that it’s fairly redundant as there’s an oversaturation and additional apothecaries don’t really help (combined with the fact that it would eat up herbs that I would also need for the Physick skill). Although I want it, I don’t want to spend two skill points (or more if I take additional recipes) on a skill that I may never use.

Should I take the skill? Should I save the points? If I don’t buy the skill, what would be a better investment?

Thank you

p.s. I am definitely taking the herb garden resource.

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I play a battlefield healer and I have lots of herbs. Some herbs get used up much faster than others, so expect to have no Cerulean Mazzarine (ever) and either too much or too little True Vervain. As such, I think trading for herbs is much better for a pure healer, so a business or a farm or even a fleet is a better investment. Fleets are double-plus good, since you can decide to trade for herbs as part of your downtime action.

As for apothecary… Potions are great and they get used up. Yes, other people will also have those potions, but it’s also fun to go and find customers who will keep coming back. If your IC group (carta / house / chapter / whatever) includes people who go to battle, you can make sure they have potions and also guilt them into letting you be their only supplier. Maybe you will have to specialise - find a coven who specialise in one realm and learn the recipes for the potions which boost that realm.

I have to say that apothecaries do benefit from the herb garden because they use them in a far more balanced way than pure healers. All your herbs will be useful somewhere.

The one thing I would say as a healer is that pure medicine leaves you looking for a second direction to take your experience spending in. Apothecary is good, magic is good, both together will mean not going too deep into either tree because they both include lots of ways to spend exp.

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Play the character you want to play. Don’t metagame, or try to ‘optimise your build’. I’ve taken skills in the past because they are relevant to my character, as opposed to bring efficient or effective.

Potions will always get used, and there is game in being an apothecary. It’s down to how you play the character.

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As Thresher says, just play who you want to play and enjoy it.

Every one of my skill choices was down to me saying ‘I want to do the thing’ and taking the skill to match. I don’t even know my closest companions’ actual skills, but I can talk for hours about what they did with them. I play a Bravo (a League archetype) and you know what impressed me most in play? It was the mage who taught me how to play Hammer in the Peacock Tail, the merchant who taught me the words to Cock Ring at a social event, the generals who turned a small tent into a war council when I was a proxy for a merchant prince.

The game is in the people you interact with, not your skills or your resources. When you run out of herbs on the battlefield and can’t get someone back into the fray, that can be good game. When you follow the armies from muster, trying to undercut your rival apothecaries by a few rings and ending up in a bidding war, that can be good game. When you try to cleave an orc and then notice the plate armour they are wearing, that can be good game.

When you walk into GOD to report your character’s untimely death and can proudly say ‘I did the thing and it was awesome’ then you know you won the game…

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As well as the excellent advice above, I will also point out that you don’t need to spend the points now…

Starting with Magician, Physick and Chirugeon will give you some time to get the herbs-and-bandages healing down pat before you add potions or even healing spells (which can also be good for roleplay).

You can say that you’re learning the skills of the Apothecary, and then spend the character points between games. Talk to people, see how it works, talk about Apothecary and Potions to people, and see if it’s a part of the game which looks fun.

I’ve played an apothecary, and a mage-healer, and a physick. And probably the magehealer skillset is the most fun, but that’s mainly 'cos I like pronouncing long rhyming spells of ominous succour… :slight_smile:

If you don’t buy that skill, you may be interested in Hero Points +, for instance, Stay With Me. The “slap them around till they get up” method of healing…

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Apothecary can be solid but its a pretty XP intensive skill as youll usually want at least one other potion pick on top of the basics. It can work with Physik but i think honestly if you are focusing on being a battlefield healer its going to be more redundant than useful. Id save the points for now and see if you miss making potions yourself as opposed to getting someone else to do it for you, anything you cant do is more game :smiley:

It also means more points for something else, like spells, or shield use or even heroic stuff which really can be handy in a pinch!

But yeah Apothecary does have some thematic crossover with Physik but its a very different game on the field.

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Regards resource, Mana site is usually the best for outright cash if you dont mind trading and may end up with more herbs in total, fleet has the flexibility to end up with all sorts as does military unit but Herb garden is a solid choice if you just want to reliably have herbs you can use right away no messing around.

Your nation and territory can also have a huuuuge impact on resources though based on voting, great works or other plot things.

So part of my game is to boost the presence and prestige of Apothecaries in the field. Come and talk to the Apothecaries’ Guild IC if you’d like (I’m the Clerk at the moment, we normally have our own tent that we share with the Artisans at the end of Trader’s Row) to find out more about what we do - there’s a fair amount of game to be had at the moment, and if you’d like to jump into the meta of it, the FB group is here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1248991665154796/

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Thanks to everyone who replied to this thread!

I think that I’ll be taking the apothecary skill at chargen. What I was worried about was that I wouldn’t get to use the skill, but with the presence of the apothecaries guild it seems as though theres enough game in the skill to have a good time.

Thanks for all the recommendations relating to resources, but I think I’ll stick with herb garden for IC reasons.

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It suddenly occurs to me that I should mention the Anvil Hospital. The hospital itself is the massive tent right next to the Sentinel Gate (the big portal we use to get to battle) and healers who don’t go out to battle often like to go and volunteer for the big post-battle surgery event. Lots of fun.

If you happen to join the Imperial School of Medicine, the people who run that hospital, you pay a small fee and they let you trade herbs among other member benefits like lectures apparently. I am not 100% sure what the benefits are though because my character has IC reasons (which he explains in pamphlets) for objecting on ‘moral’ (read: League Exceptionalist) reasons.

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I’d warn that Chirugeon, Physick, Apothecary and Magician is all your points, but doesn’t give you much stuff to do for all that. Strong character design isn’t about optimising for the most hits or Mana or whatever, it’s about giving yourself lots of ways to solve or create problems in the bit of game you care about.

You want to play a field medic, but half your skills are unusable in the field. You say you want to take Magician for “character reasons” but what reasons are they? “Because of backstory” is the number one reason players end up taking things that don’t give them time in the spotlight, and that’s really sad as it makes it harder to get involved. I learned the hard way that it’s easier to change a backstory than to wring fun out of something you feel you “need” on a PC but aren’t enthused about.

You can get game out of just Magician but you have to really chase it. I suggest reading up on all the uses of Open Portal, Create Bond and Detect Magic, especially the non-obvious ones like “Trace passage” and “Divination”. And thinking about what ritual lore you’re going to take. Because just Rank 1 in some lores opens up lots of cool things to do.

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Maybe… But I think having too many options is an awful idea for a new character.

What you have is someone who can mundane-heal really well, make potions, and cast basic spells. There is room to learn new spells (like the healing spells Heal, Purify and Restore Limb) or rituals or potions (Master Medicinal) later, but the basics are there and they can proudly say they are a healer, a mage and a maker of potions.

I agree! I think buying into a lot of skills like that gives you lots of options but not lots of depth. So you have less to do because there’s always someone who can offer the same. Especially for Apothecary, because:

  • If someone needs an Elixir Vitae right this instant, they can just beg, borrow or buy one off the nearest fighty PC’s stash. Whereas if they need a Wisdom of the Balanced Blade and I’m a nearby Winter Ritualist, my guy has to physically show up and do blood magic all over the vict… customer for 2 minutes.
  • You can’t make potions better or faster or more entertainingly* than anyone else, so all you can compete on is price and “speed at which you can show up with the lammies”. *(OK you can make shiny physreps, but it’s not as much of a selling point as “really awesome dramaturgy” etc)

I doubt I’ll ever take Apothecary on a PC unless I come up with an interesting business model first, like the guys who trade Crystal Mana for Mageblood in vast quantities. Otherwise I’d feel like I’d spent 2XP on a skill I could replace with “Buy some potions, it’s not like they expire”. If I wanted to roleplay being a herbalist, I’d just specialise in non-mechanical potions as my appropriate Physick RP and claim I never got around to learning combat potions as I was too busy stuffing herbs into injured soldiers.

My first PC was Physick/Magician/Spring 1/Summer 1 at start because the farm rituals are wierd and you need 3 lores to cast all of them. What that meant was I was getting pulled all over the place and never got deep into one game. I was pretty good at cat-herding ritualists, spotting problems, and legging it across battlefields in Heavy though, so I made it work out. I wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t wanted to be able to cast all the farm buffs on fellow Marchers. I also had Hands of Sacred Life, but never used it in 2 years and swapped it for something else. (I may have a slight grudge against Spring Lore 1 :stuck_out_tongue: )

My current PC began with Winter 3 and learned the things he became interested in play (Some priest skills for blowing up malign auras, Battlemage for self defence on quests). I’ve found his skills much more fun as he has a tight focus on “supernatural investigation”. He keeps buying in to the game I enjoy, rather than being spread thin.

I agree if you want to be a battlefield healer making potions won;t help very much. I dont go on the battlefield so make potions to help those I cannot get to during a battle.