Moulder


Prime Requisite: WIS (9+), also INT 13+.

Moulders are a highly specialised form of Alchemist, who are only concerned with the creation of alchemical manikins; they are sometimes referred to as Manikin Specialists, or (by Technologists) as Manikin Technicians. Moulders have few of the abilities of Alchemists, and their Identify Potion ability for example only applies to Manikin Creation potions, and other things directly related to manikins. Their main ability is to grow and maintain alchemical manikins, as an Alchemist of two levels greater, though they are incapable of making Manikin Creation potions themselves. Another ability that they have is Preservation (but not the making of items using this), used to collect the essences used to provide manikins with their special abilities. Note that Moulders are not generally allowed to use "Exceeding Preparation Limits"; their training just does not work like that.

No magical talent is required to become a Moulder, but a certain precise focus on details, the ability to carefully follow (written) instructions, and maybe a certain creative flair, is needed. Moulders require a minimum of 9 WIS, and 13 INT. Most alchemists will not train Moulders who are any alignment other than Neutral (Moulders do not seem to be able to successfully train other Moulders in their art), and most alchemists are unlikely to train a Moulder who is too different in morality from them, i.e. if Good will rarely train those Evil, and visa versa. Moulders are normally human (or may occasionally be manikins), though DMs may allow other races. Most people who see a Moulder working in an alchemical workshop tend to assume they are some sort of junior or assistant alchemist - alchemists rarely disabuse people of this.

One problem Moulders may have is how to occupy themselves while not making manikins, or healing, which in a lot of cases is unlikely to be a full-time activity. Some spend their time hunting for exotic essences, which might be used to produce the more unusual manikin special abilities. Others may work on the design of manikins, either on an academic basis, by studying grimoires and bestiaries, or even in the field, by observing, or even arranging the slaying, followed by the dissection, and sampling, of various monstrous beings. A few Moulders become more general healers, or even vets, via skills like Lay Healer, and NWP like Healing and Herbalism; some are even midwives. However, this may lead to them being more involved in the community than they would prefer, and might even interfere with their manikin creation activities.

All Moulders are automatically literate in their native language, if it has any written form, as well as in the general Alchemical Script, and in a secret Alchemical Script, often the one of the alchemist they were trained by, all at no cost in NWP. They do not gain the Alchemist abilities to Read Language, or Read Magic. They may be assumed to automatically be capable of Appraising, at least as far as alchemical matters to do with manikin creation, again at no NWP cost. All are assumed to have at least basic medical skills, as far as manikins are concerned.

Moulders have the combat abilities and weapon limits of magic-users, and the hit dice, saving throws and NWP of thieves, except 9th is Name level, and they gain +1 hit point per level after this. They use the same experience tables as thieves, and definitely gain experience for making and healing manikins, with bonuses if they are exotic in some way. Having WIS 13 and INT 15 gives +10% experience.

The hire fee for the full-time work of a moulder is typically 75gp/level/month, cumulative, assuming a month to be four weeks or 28 days. For example, a 5th level Moulder would cost 75+75x2+75x3+75x4+75x5, or 75x15, or 1125gp/month. One reason that they charge this much, is that there may well be long periods between manikin creation work, and they may have few skills which can otherwise make them money. Hiring a Moulder rather than an Alchemist is typically cheaper, as you would need a higher level alchemist, and you can be reasonably sure that a moulder is only doing the work you hired them for, using the Manikin Creation potion(s) you provided them with, whereas with alchemists...

It is quite possible to create a manikin which is skilled as a Moulder, and in fact quite easy using at least a Manikin Creation III+ potion, and a little blood from someone skilled in manikin creation (such as a moulder or alchemist). The INT 15 and WIS 9 is sufficient, and the specials Normal Mind, 'Manual Skill: Moulder', and 'Clerk Skill: Moulder' will produce a 7th level Moulder, capable of becoming more skilful as experience is gained. An example is given below.

Abilities

Create Manikin                         1st
Preservation                           1st
Identify Potion                        1st
Healing Manikins                       1st

Establish a Manikin Workshop           5th

Explanation of Abilities

Create Manikin

This is the main ability of Moulders, gained at first level, and involves using a Manikin Creation potion (made by an Alchemist) to construct an alchemical homonculus or manikin (the later are free willed). As a base only Manikin Creation I potion, 4th level, as made by a 9th+ level alchemist, may be used, which mainly allows construction of the classical magician's homonculus (see "Homonculous", in the "Monster Manual", etc.), but every two levels gained allows use of +1 Mark of potion; required level for a given Mark is 2x -1, e.g. Mark V+ is 5.5, (5.5 * 2) - 1 = 10.

Level  Mark
  1      I
  2      I+
  3     II
  4     II+
  5    III
  6    III+
  7     IV
  8     IV+
  9      V
 10      V+
 11     VI
 12     VI+
 13    VII
 14    VII+
 15   VIII
 16   VIII+ 

Making a manikin requires the full-time effort of a Moulder, though at higher level multiple may be made in parallel, as if an Alchemists of +2 levels, using the equivalent of a potion-making capability equal to the Mark of manikin. Making a manikin requires the potion, 1D4 weeks per potion Mark, and at least one pint of blood per ten manikin Hit Points (minimum one pint). The work must be done in a alchemical workshop, though a specialist (half set-up cost) Manikin Workshop can be used. Essences, for various special abilities the manikin has, are fractionated from this blood. Alchemy can preserve living flesh, particularly blood, indefinitely, and means to do this may be provided to adventurers, who may be paid well for interesting 'samples'; see Preservation.

Note that with this variety of homonculus, made by a Moulder or an Alchemist, rather than the Alchemist NPC expert hireling, all the magic-user needs to provide is the blood, to be there when the homonculus is completed, and to pay for the Manikin Creation potion and the moulder or alchemist's time, though much more flexibility in exactly what the homonculus (or free-willed manikin) is capable of is acquired. It is recommended that Moulders use the full "Manikin Creation" rules (a separate specification), rather than the manikin creation rules in the Manikin Creation potion explanation, or the short-form rules.

This ability is also used when a Manikin Improvement potion is used to improve the capabilities of an existing manikin. Sufficient skill is required to be able to create a manikin of the Mark to which the manikin is being improved, and the various essences are required for any new specials. The details of the improvement process are in the full "Manikin Creation" specification.

On occasion manikin creation may need to be interrupted, by an emergency. For simplicity assume that an interruption of at most two days is safe every 10% of the way through the creation process, otherwise the manikin cannot be safely left unattended for more than eight hours at a time, and during critical periods for not more than four hours. Protecting their privacy and hence their work is one reason alchemists keep golems around, but Moulders may not have this resource, and having an assistant, who may be a manikin, to deal with callers, is one approach. Ruined manikins are typically never awoken, which can be a very expensive business, but if it is ruled they only gain their spirits once finally complete and awoken, is not a moral issue. Again, for simplicity, assume manikins are either created successfully, or quite obviously ruined and useless (something as good as a Limited Wish would be needed to fix this).

Note that during manikin creation the manikins need to be fed (and also need water and air), but it is assumed for simplicity that the cost of this compared with the other costs is trivial, and so it can be ignored.

Typical prices (to a Moulder) for Manikin Creation potions are Manikin Creation I 3500gp, I+ 4000gp, II 4500gp, II+ 7500gp, III 11,000gp, III+ 12,000gp, IV 12,500gp, IV+ 19,000gp, V 25,000gp, V+ 26,500gp, VI 28,000gp, VI+ 37,000; these all assume the alchemist gives them roughly a 10% discount. Note that obtaining above Manikin Creation V+ potions can be very difficult, as these need a very senior Alchemist to make them, and there may be very few of these around; the prices given assuming a good working relationship has been made with a very senior alchemist, which is likely a campaign objective for many moulders. Obtaining above Manikin Creation VI+ potions is in most campaign worlds almost unknown, and they have changed hands for hundreds of thousands of gold pieces; a moulder who has obtained one may be regarded as very lucky. If DMs regard these prices as too low, particularly at the higher levels, then something like 50% of the price of Technological Devices could be used (i.e. I 4.5k, II 13k, III 22k, IV 45k, V 135k, VI 225k, VII 450k, VIII 1350k, IX 2250k; 10% discount has been applied). Manikin Improvement potions are the same price as the Manikin Creation potion of the same level, e.g. Manikin Improvement I and Manikin Creation III are both 6th level potions, so 11,000gp.

Typical prices for moulder-produced manikins start at 4000gp, 5000gp is not unknown for a Manikin I, though very few buyers may want a Manikin I, if they can afford anything better:

 Mark  Price (1000gp)
   I      4
   I+     5
  II      7
  II+    11
 III     15
 III+    20
  IV     25
  IV+    34
   V     43
   V+    48
  VI     54
  VI+    67

This all assumes the moulder supplies the Manikin Creation potion (of equal Mark to the Mark of manikin required) as part of the price, and there are no really exotic essences required. Prices for more than Mark IV+ may be far greater than shown in the table, in particular if the Manikin Creation potions are difficult to obtain. DMs may wish to base prices on the increased potion prices suggested above (i.e. I 6k, II 17k, III 30k, IV 63k, V 182k, VI 304k, VII 600k, VIII 1744k, IX 2893k). If a moulder is interested in the particular manikin design, or this is a good customer, then the starting price is far more likely, if not then the price can be +50%, if they dislike the customer, and are maybe dubious about the morality of the project (e.g. they suspect a free-willed manikin will effectively be a slave under unpleasant circumstances), the price may be +100%. Some Moulders wont make manikins for anyone where they don't receive firm, reliable, assurance that the manikin will be well treated (some are of much more dubious morality). Note that some DMs have allowed manikins, generally in the range Mark III to Mark V, to be played as PCs.

Preservation

Is a secondary ability of Moulders, gained at first level, and allows living tissue, particularly blood, to be kept indefinitely. This costs 50gp and can be done in minutes, but requires access to at least a manikin creation, if not a full alchemical, workshop. The actual process involves use of one of a number of powerful, unpleasant smelling, and even worse tasting, fluids, which are frequently quite poisonous, or on occasion salty or sickly sweet.

Preserved material, which can include things like clone samples, any parts of creatures whether plant, animal, fungus or otherwise, is not actually alive, but for alchemical (and most magical) purposes, it will remain 'fresh', or as fresh as it was when initially preserved. This material will not decay, 'go off', and almost any animal will not even consider it as food, though it will still dry out, unless protected, for example with a varnish.

A very careful process costing 50gp, taking hours, and involving lots of purified water, secret alchemical substances (for example, based on urea), in an alchemical (or manikin creation) workshop, makes preserved material ready to use, or a 2nd level potion, Neutralise Preservation (price to Moulders, 900gp), can be used; alternatively, Neutralise Poison effects also neutralise Preservation. Preservation Fluid (1st, price to Moulders, 450gp) is often kept readily available by moulders, and Preserver (2nd, 900gp), and Neutralise Preserver (3rd, 1350gp), are also often used.

Moulders cannot make the various preservation items, as a Alchemist can using this ability, but will often have such items available. Alchemists typically give moulders about a 10% discount on the purchase price of preservation items, so Preservation Flasks would normally cost them 350gp each, Reusable Preservation Flasks 1100gp, and Body Bags 5500gp.

Identify Potion

Is similar to a specialist form of the Alchemist ability, and is gained at first level. It provides a 5% chance per level to allow the near-instant correct identification of alchemical substances related to manikin creation. These include Manikin Creation, Manikin Improvement, and specialist healing potions (for manikins that normal healing does not work for), the various Preservation potions and items, and essences suitable to provide manikins with their special abilities. It does not provide any ability to identify magic items, even if they are to do with manikins, or manikin creation. Moulders doing this kind of identification work usually keep a Neutralise Poison potion (price 2000gp, i.e. they don't get a discount on these) to hand.

DMs may allow the identification of materials from living creatures, as to whether the creature is a manikin or homonculus. There is a -10% if the creature has the special Normal Health, which is -20% for Perfect Health, and is a cumulative -15% if the creature is a manikin which has progressed at least two levels in its most expensive character class (and hence stabilised/matured). A +25% is gained if the creature is a classical homonculus (see "Monster Manual", etc.), which is +15% if the creature lacks the special Normal Healing, or is +5% if the creature just lacks Normal Appearance. DMs may give further modifiers for particular common designs, if the design is one from a manikin creator that the moulder is familiar with, or is a particularly obscure design. Note that recognising something is material from a manikin or homonculus tends to be one of the few areas of alchemy in which Moulders are more skilful than Alchemists (DMs may impose a basic -10% on all bar the most manikin-specialised Alchemists; specialisation might be indicated by having a suitable NWP).

Moulders will usually charge 200gp, or 10% of the standard price of what is identified, whichever is greater, for identification work, though they may only charge 100gp if they fail to identify. Not all moulders are willing to do identification work, in particular if they do not know the customer, as they know they are far less resistant to the effects of strange alchemical substances than Alchemists.

Healing Manikins

Is a secondary ability of Moulders, gained at first level, and allows the healing of manikins on which normal healing does not work, at a cost of 100gp and 1 day per hit point, using the equivalent of a 'slot' otherwise usable to make a manikin of -1 Mark. If a moulder is not capable of making a manikin of -1 Mark on the one healed, then the healing takes their full time.

This requirement for special healing is due to the manikin having been created without the special Normal Healing. Moulders can usually tell that a manikin lacks this special, if not by recognising the design (such as a standard homonculus), or strong indicators such as lacking the specials Normal Health or Normal Appearance, then by a quick test using a field kit or a workshop. There are standard charges made for this work by Moulders and Alchemists:

 Mark  gp/HP
   I     145
   I+    160
  II     175
  II+    195
 III     220
 III+    245

The calculation is 100gp, 1 day at 75gp per level cumulative per month, 25% profit, rounded to the nearest 5gp, e.g. to heal a Manikin II+ requires at least a 6th level Alchemist, so 75+75x2+75x3+75x4+75x5+75x6 = 75x21 = 1575gp/month, assuming a 4 week/28 day month, (100+1575/28)x1.25 = 195gp.

As this is a lengthy process, moulders may instead use potions like Manikin Balm (1st, price 900gp for ten), Manikin Healing (2nd, price 900gp), Manikin Extra-Healing (3rd, price 1300gp), Manikin Super-Healing (4th, 3600gp), or even Manikin Total Healing (5th, 4500gp); the prices given assume the alchemist providing the potion is giving a 10% discount to the moulder.

If the manikin is really badly injured, with no realistic prospect of healing, a Moulder may even attempt to create a replacement body for them, transferring their memories using the Copied Mind special, and move their spirit across - in general they are more skilful at doing this than anything but the most specialist manikin-creating Alchemists. Note that homonculi do not have spirits (they share their master's), so the only real consideration in replacing one of these tends to be providing one with at least as good special abilities - adding Normal Healing (and Normal Health if it is missing) specials might be a good idea.

Establish a Manikin Workshop

Is a secondary ability of Moulders, gained at fifth level, and allows setting up a (specialist) workshop in an area where alchemy is established, at a minimum cost (local campaign) of 500gp to outfit it, and taking 4-8 weeks (3+1D5) of full-time work. The value of a workshop should be at least 500gp times the highest Mark of manikin to be created in it, e.g. to prepare Mark IV manikins 2000gp. They are named after the maximum manikin Mark that may be made in them, so a Manikin Workshop III allows up to Mark III (or possibly Mark III+) manikins. For simplicity assume a Moulder capable of creating a manikin of a given Mark, can set up a workshop of at most that Mark +1; at fifth level a Manikin Workshop IV may be set up (only the poorest moulders tend to set up less than this, for themselves). DMs will not normally allow less than fifth level Moulders to set up a workshop (they are just not skilful enough), and many spend their entire working lives in other people's workshops.

A manikin creation workshop has more limited equipment than a standard alchemical workshop, e.g. only growth vats, feeding systems, and blood fractionation equipment. Note that whatever a manikin creation workshop can be used for, a full alchemical workshop can be used equally as well.

Moulders may buy completely equipped workshops, from other Moulders or Alchemists. Typically no more than a Manikin Workshop V is sold - Manikin Workshop I has a typical price of 2000gp, II 3000gp, III 4000gp, IV 5000gp, and V 6000gp. While compact workshops built suitable to go into the back of a large wagon could in theory be used, in particular for small manikins (add 1000gp/Mark to the workshop price), most Moulders do not trust these, and will only use fixed installations. Note that workshop maintenance is assumed to be part of the price of manikin creation.

DMs may allow the creation of a field kit, for use by the few Moulders who might go adventuring, if the Moulder is at least third level. This requires access to a workshop, a cost of 100gp, and takes a week, using the equivalent of a 'slot' otherwise usable to make a Mark I manikin. These are sometimes sold for 250gp, and allow someone with at least some skill in alchemy to do a number of simple tests in the field, on manikins, and on potential essences (such as whether they are 'fresh' enough).

Example Moulder Manikin

Max - manikin
 Mark=III+, 1st=4+2=6, 2nd=2, 3rd=1
 INT 15, WIS 9, Other 9 (12)
 (STR  9, INT 15, WIS   9,
  CON  9, DEX  9, CHAR 12)
 HP 30, AC 9, 12" Move
 HProb 7th Level Magic-user
 Shape: Human Male
 Development: Adult

 Speech (1)
 Eat Normal Food (1)
 Normal Emotions (-)
 Development Potential (-)
 Misc Reduction: -4 AC (2x-1)
 Normal Sex (1)
 Normal Appearance (-)
 Normal Health (1)
 Normal Healing (1)
 Manual Skill: Moulder (1)

 Normal Mind (2)
 Clerk Skill: Moulder 7th (2)

 Sleepless (3)

(-) indicates gained from a higher Mark special

Note: pushed provides Mark IV Mental Stats.

Max is a manikin created to act as a Moulder, and has the shape of an adult male human. In most respects Max is indistinguishable from a normal human, though he does not have the memories and experiences of having grown up naturally; not needing to sleep might cause some people to be suspicious (though he can sleep if he wishes to, and will need sleep if put under a great deal of stress). His hit points, while a bit high for a 7th level Moulder without a CON bonus, are still credible (note that his class-based hit points, 7D6, should be generated, as it is likely they will exceed his base manikin body hit points at higher level). As all manikins, he is infertile.

Max's design might be considered a bit crude, with the reduced AC providing the extra two Basic specials required, and a design which was less concerned about his humanity might leave out 'Eat Normal Food' and 'Normal Sex', so as to keep the better skin armour class. Using 'Talented Mind', rather than Sleepless, would give him a wider range of ways to develop in future, or 'Healing Skill I' rather than Sleepless would mean he was a (1st level) Lay Healer as well (Manikin Balm (1st) and Manikin Healing (2nd) might be good choices for the blood healing capability). 'Perfect Health' rather than 'Normal Health' might be a good idea, and the simplest way to get the extra Mark II special required would be to drop Sleepless, and use the Mark III special as a Mark II. A master manikin creator (at least 12th level Moulder) might know the secrets of improving manikin character class levels, and know that using a Mark III special for the 'Clerk Skill: Moulder', allows the manikin to start as a 10th level, rather than a 7th level, Moulder. Attractive extra Basic or Mark I specials might be things like 'Feign Death', for long periods when he is not working, or Empathy, to help with understanding manikin health problems (though his low WIS may make using this risky).

As far as essences are concerned, three pints of (human male) blood are required, for the 30 hit points. A blood sample from someone at least 15 INT, blood of at least a 7th level Moulder (or 9th level Alchemist), and blood of a creature that need not sleep (generally some sort of magical guardian creature), deal with the various 'specials'. Some DMs may not wish to go into this level of detail, and just assume a moulder or alchemist with reasonable connections can obtain all but the most exotic essences without too much trouble. Note that details like height, build, skin colour, hair colour and eye colour (and even sex and physical beauty) are considered trivial design issues.

Making Max so that he is loyal to someone requires some essence as a source for that loyalty - some alchemists are fond of keeping loyal pet animals, for this reason. If a noble wanted a loyal Moulder servant, then their having something like a loyal dog would be very helpful. Using a Charm spell or a Human Control potion on a manikin during creation typically produces one with major psychological problems, if they are sane at all.

Creating Max requires a Manikin Creation III+ potion (level 6th+), typical cost if purchased from a alchemist by a moulder, 12,000gp, 3D4 weeks of work by at least a 6th level Moulder (on average about 3000gp pay, assuming full-time), and access to at least a Manikin Creation Workshop III (or an Alchemical Workshop IV), typical price about 4000gp. If Max was sold, which might well count as slavery, it would likely be for between 20,000 and 40,000gp (47k to 94kgp at the higher prices).


(c) Rory O. McLean, 1980 - Aug. 2005
    Permission granted to use for non-profit making purposes