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Potions Master advice


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I'd like to ask for feedback regarding the potential options for a potions master character build, preferably designed as a scientist who strongly dislikes Astrology and Religion (partly RP'd this way to help avoid certain cheese options, partly because the idea of refusing to rely on chance or destiny appeals to me) and would rather get into research than focus on the more obvious healing potions angle. 
Disclaimer: I have never gotten into the crafting in this game, and this build would go heavily into it, which is most of why I'm posting here, to try and learn something. 
Finally, please note that even though I'm posting now, I have no particular deadline and am playing other characters so there is no pressure for immediate data, please contribute at your own pace. As I couldn't find any other threads on the subject of potion master focused options, if the thread gets so old that thread necromancy is a concern, please PM me and I'll edit the feedback into a post for posterity once I see it. 
So, allow me to review my own thoughts on the matter, both for my particular build and for potions masters in general. 
First, let us discuss Courses: 

1: I have seen in-game Events that suggest potions making occurs in Negation, so that is a must. 

2: Enchant is the class of the campus potion's expert, and the Enchant subskills Magical Appraisal and Materials Knowledge could logically synergize with Analyze, so this leads me to believe that Enchant is a good idea. 

3-4: It makes sense that one would benefit from knowing how to acquire and handle their own potions ingredients, so Botany and Zoology make sense. 

5: There is an in-game lore that points out that some basic degree of Arithmetic is required for potions and such, which makes perfect sense to me for measurement conversion and scaling calculations if nothing else, so I'll sign up for that as well.  

The question is what to take for my final class: 

  • Dialectic could be argued to be helpful for developing proper experimental procedures and deriving logical conclusions. This is the one that feels the best to me, but I'm still open to other ideas. 
  • Calligraphy could make papers or essays prettier, but more to the point combines Orthography with Enchant for (at least per fluff) synergy when making other forms of magical artifice later on (albeit that isn't intended to be a focus...). 
  • Geometry can combine with Enchantment for advanced Palette functions (at least per fluff, I'm not sure how much synergy this combo has in year 1 if any), even if those functions might not be as beneficial as you would only have reliable and strong Negation and Enchant without spending excessive amounts of non-classroom time on other branches of magic (and given that you're already doing this for potions, I don't think this would be worth it), not to mention that I doubt I'll be doing a lot of Duelling. 
  • Athletics or Music could easily be passed off as a personal interest, and Grammar or History could be argued as a general education component, albeit all of those feel weak in relative potential. I'm not sure how Rhetoric could fit better than any other skill, and I personally prefer to combine Rhetoric with both Dialetic and Grammar myself so yeah I'm writing that off as a loss. Incantation could provide general utility and help if one wanted to pursue duelling (again, we're already splitting our attention), while Glamour could be useful if one has significant interpersonal ambitions in addition to it granting some nice Finesse buff spells and the only Brew buff spell I could find in the wikia, but I'd rather avoid excessive "silly wand waving" (yes a certain greasy-haired head of house inspired this idea, so sue me). 
  • One noteworthy wild card option for this last class in my opinion is Revision. I already confirmed in another thread that it is theoretically possible to modify or create potions ingredients (and so can Incantation with matter creation, and Gates with summoning things for harvest), but it is highly impractical and potentially dangerous, leading me to think that such attempts would be best avoided. You can't even use Revision, at least in year 1, to gain significant boosts to Finesse or any boosts to Brew skills specifically (not sure about universal bonuses or Glory bonuses, didn't dig into those) via buff spells. Otherwise, I'd again rather avoid focusing on healing, which as I understand it is one potential draw for Revision study as far as I can tell; my guy wants to be a scientist, not a pharmicist, dammit! 

As for Colleges, I won't make Aranaz, Avila, Godina, or Hedi, limiting the options to Durand (taking Dialectic), Morvidus (taking Revision), or Vernin (any final elective). Out of these, Vernin is fluffed as the college of artificers anyways, so yeah that might make them the best option unless there's some big, exclusive, brew-centric quest hiding in one of the others. 


From here, it is easy to check the abilities and confirm that aside from Finesse (as the governing attribute of Brew itself, plus Cooking which is related), I can benefit from Vitality (for Negation), Insight (for Enchant), and Intelligence (for the other three "required" electives). Unless I go with Glamour as my final elective, I should have two dump stats in Charm and Luck. 

I will definitely want to be taking Brew and Artisan outside of class, and as I can't see how there could possibly never be a crossover option I'll want Cooking, and for the love of the Weasley Twins I can't completely ignore the possibility of a few ranks in Practical Jokes lol. A wide variety may be considered appropriate in a fluffier way, but I'm not going to list them here, other than to say that I'm not interested at the moment in trying to give him a Legilimency equivalent via Mental Bridging at this time lol.


Now to the most immediate question, aside from one's starting courses: What does one want to take for backgrounds? Focusing on what jumps out at me. 
Page 1*: Omen: Islandquake gives Insight and Theory of Negation, and Omen: Three Suns gives Finesse, and naturally there are the lucky, cheesy options of the Comet and Shattered Mirrors.

Page 2: Family: Graverobbers is very thematic; I almost can't bring myself to consider skipping it. History: Artisans of Skill also seems to fit pretty well, if not quite as perfectly. Black Sheep just feels delicious for this build, and Station: Up From Destitution both give a nice flavor IMO while boosting both Greengrocery and some of the focus skills. 

Page 3: Aptitude: Cooking is absolutely perfect. Aptitude: Figures and/or Prodigy: Mathematical Genius could be used as a weaker option for if you really wanted to free up your Arithmetic course slot for some reason (opening up a different College, for instance). Aptitude: Trickery gives Artisan and Practical Jokes a boost. I like Prodigy: Negation for certain. If I were to take the class, Prodigy: Incantation is also good. As for Prodigy: Life of Avarice, I like the Finesse boost and can see the unpleasant disposition fitting in well, but if you also want Prodigy: Vegetarian (for Cooking) the combo seems a bit... mismatched to me. Deed: Tricks of the Wizards seems a weak option for a Glamour build, especially compared to Page 7. 

Page 4: Academy: Baltagio and Apprenticeship: Local Wizard looks good for an Incantation build, while Academy: Blackheath is better for a Glamour build, and Academy: Chameil School is preferred for a Revision build. Academy: Purple Academy of Thei is out due to Astrology. Apprenticeship: Bookbinder's Guild would be good for one who wants to take Calligraphy. Apprenticeship: Spy gives more directly desirable bonuses, especially the Finesse boost. Apprenticeship: The Pie Kitchen is almost as good as Aptitude: Cooking, above. 

Page 5: Any Familiar, assuming one cares and doesn't take the pet rock, can work here. Bonus points for bats. 

Page 6: Inheritance: Alchemist's Cousin is almost required for this build, as it is one of the only background components that directly boosts Brew skills. 

Page 7: Familiar Training: Genius of Glamour is by far the biggest Glamour boost here with that constant chance of success on top of boosting the familiar's skills which can benefit your rolls. Familiar Training: Masterful Mind gives the only boost specific to Chemistry I've seen, and training your familiar to help you could give you better raw skills than you could get otherwise, albeit it will require even more split attention then already planned to really benefit. Exploits: The City of Mineta has potential as well, albeit I'm not sure what the best potential locations could be. 

*:I have to admit I'm tempted to just skip the first page entirely, as I kind of want to make the character determined to suceed with skill, not luck or destiny; on the other hand, it wouldn't be too hard to perceive these bonuses as being a part of his natural talents instead of being some sort of predetermination, and other background components basically are luck regarding his family or such, so yeah that doesn't have a lot of steam.


Oh, and I'm I'm thinking a clique might be worth it, and here's a few thoughts I had about possible friends: 
Cante Caviti (Vernin) as he's the most potions-focused NPC currently. 
Cordelia Troublepot (Vernin) for someone who shares my guy's appreciation for working with his hands and might be able to help invent better alchemical equipment or something even more imaginative.
Vuillaume Eparvier (Godina) could inject some insanity and accidental discovery; who knows what might happen if he teamed up with Cordelia, given his goals?
Asmita Tidar (Vernin) is the school's chef extraordinaire. 
Of course, going the opposite direction and hiring on allies with completely different skills might be a practical option, but I'm unsure who would be the best for such and pure practicality can get boring fast. I'll probably even befriend at least one other with no association whatsoever to his skillset based on events, even if I have to wait till next year due to the whole can't be in multiple cliques and can't switch without breaking it up completely first glitch.


So, any thoughts?

Also, what quests would be best (especially if they aren't medically-themed, albeit something is better than nothing)?

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Just some things:

- Brew is supposed to be a class skill of Vernin in year 2

- Crafting is mostly uninteresting in year 1 because of the very limited stock in the shops and to know the recipe you already need to own the item in question before.

- There is the adventure The Upset Stomach that unlock a library that train Negation, Brew and Natural Philosophy at the same time and so if you want to focus on brew taking Negation as class might be a bad idea.

- Brew as crafting skill is even more uninteresting because each use of a potion, food and so on need a full time slot in year 1

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Of course, going the opposite direction and hiring on allies with completely different skills might be a practical option, but I'm unsure who would be the best for such and pure practicality can get boring fast.

Personally I think you ought to consider doing that. Morvidus gives you access to The Shop and Pelia's Influence (permanent +1 Revision, Alchemical Tools, Analyze and Brew), which admittedly isn't what I'd call a "big, exclusive, brew-centric quest", but I think it'd be more interesting than just going with the obvious choice of Vernin. Sad to say a recently destitute kid of graverobbers wouldn't fit well in Vernin anyway, as it's the stereotypical aristocrat's/rich kid's college. As for class load you'd have Revision/Zoology locked in, a scientist definitely needs Dialectic, and a brewer definitely needs Arithmetic/Botany/Enchant, so...that's a full class load right there.

As for Clique mates in that situation? The practical "birds of a feather" options I think are Girars (giant boost to the Cooking skillset, if at the cost of putting up with him), Hector (boost to your Familiar, dislikes Religion), Vettor (boost Practical Jokes) and Uliva (if you take the Spy background, Serpentine Tactics would be quite fitting). Oddball options are Eliana (could be helpful RE: Botany, but has hints of Religion affinity as well) or Joana (could get +2 relationship from Negated if you want to go that angle with going "less silly wand waving", and grabbing Joana/Philippe as Clique mates is one way to say "don't ever bother me").

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Okay, so now Morvidus and making Negation a side-study via that library is looking like a strong option... What do we know about Year 2 added classes? Are they College specific, Year 1 course specific, elective? Because if Brew becomes a class but only to Vernin, that would make Morvidus look like a sweet-tasting poison IMO, especially if they stick to the same rule from Year 1 that you can't gain the study bonuses for classes you aren't actually in.

How did I miss that Joana was one of the boosts for Negated? I might just have to pursue that. scratches chin would definitely make for some interesting skill options as I understand the quest rules to work where you can benefit from you clique mate's skills.

I'm thinking if I befriend Girars, I might as well take the Vegetarian background myself; still unsure what I'll do there. I definitely like Hector though. Vettor is something of a wildcard; if I go all male friends, sure no problem, if I have girls in the clique I'm hesitant because I could see him causing problems (good thing he'll have time to grow up before a later year introduces dating and makes those penalties mean something lol). Uliva and Eliana seem to focus in the wrong direction IMO. 

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IIRC, they're elective. If you've got the skill to pass an entrance exam, maybe have a good relationship with a relevant professor/regent in some cases, you can take elective classes outside your College focus.

During adventures, if one of your Clique mates has a better chance at succeeding at a roll than you do, you'll use their attribute/skill levels instead of your own. Pro tip: As a Morvidus student you'd naturally take Revision. And From Novice to Master is a buff spell that you can cast on someone else. With Joana and From Novice to Master, all Strength-based subskill checks during adventures are doable, just a question of one or two, worst case three turns spend buffing. Considering that Strength is more than likely going to end up being a dumpstat on a professor/brewer type PC that's a pretty big degree of flexibility.

Incidentally, since you'd be in Dialectic, you could even (ab)use Oleapia’s Shrine to get the full value out of Teach (Intelligence/Dialectic v.25 for the full +1 SS×3, but donating 10 Pims at the shrine is worth +8 to the Dialectic parent skill for 5 days) and literally teach your Clique mates the skills you need them to give you a hand with during adventures. Probably not worth it from a time standpoint, but it's a funny idea.

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