Craft Extraordinary Item vs Craft Mundane Item

On the surface, this seems like an obvious distinction - but I’m a little confused about which one of these is more applicable to Alchemy.

I have an NPC who is currently working with the party and comes with them on most of their adventures, as such I’m making her some concrete stats, boons, banes and feats rather than rather than improvising them like I do with lesser NPCs.

Anyway - this character is a spy, she’s trained in subterfuge and infiltration and while she has the necessary combat prowess to defend herself she is definitely not a fighter. Most of her combat is defensive hand to hand or when in a tight spot she calls forth stored potions using Absorb Object and attacks with things like Ghostfire or escapes with smoke bombs.

Since I’m making her an actual (simplified) character sheet, I’m wondering which would be best for her crafting potions, Mundane gives Alchemy as an example, but in the same sentence it also says ‘non-magical tinctures’.

I have no idea how to define this - is Ghostfire magical? If so then is any potion that causes some kind of damage, boon or bane magical? Is it entirely based on the context of my world - whether the potion of Forced Move 4 was created with herbs or with magic despite it doing the exact same thing regardless? Or are items that invoke boons and banes inherently ‘extraordinary’?

I know this isn’t a big deal, especially for an NPC - but my players have taken a particular shine to this character so if they ask how exactly she’s put together, I want to be able to give concrete answers.

Extraordinary does not mean magical, which may be why this seems confusing to you. In general, Craft Mundane items should not be able to invoke Banes or Boons. Here’s a helpful thread where this was discussed before:
Poison as a Mundane Item?

In general, Craft Mundane items should not be able to invoke Banes or Boons.

I disagree with that statement, but most of these points have been made in the other thread. Check it out and if you are still confused or uncertain after reading it, than hit us up again!

I also think that Craft Mundane should be able to create potions that invoke banes and boons since ultimately - most special effects, whether they are magical or not take the form of banes and boons in OL. I don’t see the point in taking Craft Mundane - Alchemy if you can’t even make a simple healing potion or a poison that invokes persistent damage.

I suppose my confusion is just on where you draw the line since it really isn’t explained. I’m leaning towards anyone who takes C. Mundane - Alchemy can create anything they want as long as they can flavour it as being made with physical, non-magical ingredients. Using herbs or venoms and the like you could potentially craft dangerous toxins, smokes that make people sick or obscure as well as healing poultices - but it wouldn’t perhaps be believable to create something that when shattered invokes Darkness or Light.

Something I saw come up in the old thread was the idea that Mundane would equate to narrative poisons that are slow acting and if you wanted combat-ready poisons you could throw you would need Craft Extraordinary. I think I disagree with this simply because the speed and deadliness of a poison depends on its ingredients, it’s perfectly feasible in my mind that an alchemist could procure a type of venom that is incredibly deadly and turn it into a throwable weapon with no extraordinary aides required - a seemingly harmless glass vial that actually holds a deadly gaseous poison for example.

I suppose what I’ve taken from this is that like most things in OL, the limitations of where Mundane ends and Extraordinary begins are entirely up to the GM. So I’ve decided to run it as above - if you can flavour your poison/potion as being made with physical, non-magical ingredients then it falls under the umbrella of ‘mundane’.

In the instance of this NPC - I think I’m gonna have to go with Extraordinary though.

Keep in mind that Extraordinary very much doesn’t need to mean magical.

A snake’s Poison is often best described with an Entropy Attack, two of the example Extraordinary Items are very much non-magical and even real-life poisons.

What an Alchemist does is usually very Extraordinary, even without magic involved.

If in a modern setting a chemist would want to create a display of colour changing fluids or Attack with a thrown together admixture, that would still be Alteration or Energy in my eyes. Managing a Power Grid could be as much Logic as it could be Energy. Smooth talking an officer to reveal discreet information can be done with Influence, using a deep understanding of the human body language and psyche.

One way to look at it is (although this is still not a catch-all) is to think of Extraordinary Attributes/Items as things very few people have access to and the more mundane ones as merely more powerful versions of “normal” abilities. A generally athletic person might have a higher Agility score than the average, but an olympic athlete can use Movement and invoke Haste as a result of their rigorous training in both body and mind.

This is not to say Extraordinary Attributes/Items must be more powerful by any means, they’re just different. An athlete can still be clumsy off the track after all.

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Exactly this. Extraordinary is anything that isn’t just a ramped up version of something anybody can do. Alchemy is absolutely Extraordinary whether it’s magical or not. Mundane Alchemy would be something like a village herbalist, who can do some powerful things with mushed up plants, but not really anything that makes you go “How on earth did he do that?”

You’re completely right, it does depend on the ingredients; you’d need some pretty Extraordinary (not necessarily magical) ingredients in order to produce something that acts quick enough to work in combat.

You’re entirely correct, of course, but don’t get too hung up on this dividing line between magical and non-magical. It’s been said a lot in both threads, but it’s a very important part of OL that you should make sure you understand. The Extraordinary attributes haven’t been entirely magic since way back when they used to be called the Supernatural Attributes. Magic can’t normally be represented by mundane, but just because something isn’t mundane doesn’t mean that it’s magic. Remember also that Craft Extraordinary can be accessed through Logic or Learning without the character requiring any Extraordinary attribute at all.

This is the most important point to me from a game-balance perspective. You’re more than welcome to allow whatever kind of items you like for Craft Mundane, but do try and stay clear of mechanical effects similar to the kinds described in Chapter 9. If you allow too much under mundane then Craft Extraordinary stops being a good investment of feat points; note that Craft Extraordinary costs more per tier, has more tiers, and has a harsher restriction on wealth levels, as it is supposed to be significantly more powerful. This is why I said that in general you should not allow Banes or Boons.

I know that extraordinary doesn’t mean magical - though I can see why what I said would imply I was overlooking that. I’m simply looking for an easy-to-remember division between mundane and extraordinary as it relates to crafting.

The way I see it, mundane can use things found in nature to create potions, poisons etc - however extraordinary crafting comes in when you want to do something like bottling darkness - whether the process was actually magical in nature or not the end result would definitely appear magical to someone who didn’t see how it was made.

Definitely, which makes me question - should it be reserved solely for the Craft Extraordinary feat? This would be another way to handle the situation where you don’t have to divide alchemy into two camps.

The ingredients themselves may be extraordinary but that doesn’t mean the process by which they’re turned into toxins is.

I can agree with that, I just don’t see what purpose mundane alchemy would have if it couldn’t even invoke something as basic as the heal boon for example, so saying it can’t use any boons or banes seems a little extreme to me and makes taking it somewhat pointless.

I’ve essentially come down to a decision I need to make for my game, either:

  • Craft Mundane allows for potions and poisons that have a physical effect - heal, persistent damage, stunned, immobile, sickened, incapacitated etc (I can see different venoms causing all of these banes without any extraordinary influence being needed)
  • Craft Extraordinary allows for everything else beyond this, bottling darkness for example, I see no way this could be done using only natural ingredients


  • Craft Mundane does not allow you to use alchemy. It’s a bit of a nerf to the Craft Mundane feat but it completely eliminates the grey area.

Honestly I’m leaning towards the second option now as it seems the simplest answer and cleans everything up nicely.

I would say the 2nd is probably better overall, simply b/c if you are creating an item via the chapter 9 build an item properties, that should be craft extraordinary.

Craft mundane is more for making base items, and the cost differences are important to consider. It really matters the type of game you are running in the end. For example, I’m in a game right now where having the various craft mundanes of Blacksmithing, Carpentry, and Masonry are very helpful, if not critical to the game we are playing.

This is where stuff breaks down for me. If you are allowing things like healing, potions, and access to most of the banes, why in the world wouldn’t you have darkness or light? Darkness is just a smoke bomb, light is just a flash bang. You were saying you can’t bottle darkness, yet you can. It was just the perspective you were looking at it with.

The other thing to consider is this. You can have an Alchemist without taking any craft feat at all. I think this is what @Vrenshrrg and @SamWilby were attempting to say.

An alchemist could have the Alteration attribute and/or Entropy attribute. They can flavor their Damaging & Bane Attacks as them mixing ingredients together and then launching them into battle or flavor it as “handing a potion” to an ally to drink for a boon. In reality, they are just invoking the boon,b ut the flavor/fluff is via Alchemy and mixing of potions and ingredients.

Whether you do this or not is entirely dependant on the world/setting and if it makes sense.

If you were to declare certain things to be able to be made via Mundane, you would have to figure out a way to define it clearly, for sure.

There are a few things like grenades that are in Chapter 6: Wealth & Equipement chapter. Anything that is already there, and the various things you can build in it are things I would seeing fitting under Craft Mundane very easily. Some of those things are expendable and are able to do banes for sure.

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This is what I initially assumed until I saw that Craft Mundane actually lists Alchemy as an example.

I see your point but it was just a bad example on my part, I was referring to a supernatural ‘bottled darkness’ concept that invokes the darkness boon as it is described: “You create an area of illusory darkness or entropic energy that snuffs out all light” - not a reflavouring that includes smoke bombs.

This is also something I had considered for the NPC in question (especially since she doesn’t use weapons), but I’d still like her to be able to ‘craft’ these things (even if she only does so off-camera so to speak) just to give an answer to the question “Where is she getting all of these potions from?” - which I’m sure the PCs will inevitably ask. Since this is our first campaign using OL I like to use my NPCs as a chance to show the PCs other build ideas and character concepts - so I like to make sure they work in theory and could be played by anyone.

The only problem I foresee with the above is if the alchemist in question starts asking to give out his potions outside of combat, effectively giving other characters access to his boons and banes. Logically it would make sense to do so but mechanically it would be fairly unbalanced - though I’m sure most players would agree simply not to do this in exchange for getting to play their character concept.

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I think your solution is probably the best fit for your purposes, but I’d like to make sure you’re clear on a few things.

You can use Craft Mundane for Alchemy, it’s just a bit less powerful (because it costs less). Craft Mundane would let you put together a strong glue, an oil slick, a foul smelling gas or any number of things; generally more narrative aids than combat potions though.

Flavour is malleable in Open Legend, which is why we were trying to steer you away from the magic/non-magic divide. That description is the default but far from the only way to describe the same mechanical effect. The only thing that matters is that the flavour matches up with the rules, the description is only there to make sure the intent can be understood.

This is why there is a time limit on Craft Extraordinary items. It takes 8 hours to produce something expendable, much longer if you want something that lasts, and the character must be able to access enough materials. There’s plenty of opportunity with this feat for the GM to put the brakes on, so don’t worry too much about balance. Let your players run wild! That’s the spirit of Open Legend.

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Just to clarify something, I was talking about @Great_Moustache’s idea of:

That being said, I think I am going to use my second solution and only have craft extraordinary for alchemy - it tidies everything up nicely rather than drawing arbitrary divides between the extraordinary and mundane feats.

Thanks to everyone for chipping in : )

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