Back at PAX East and it feels GOOD!
Wandering the massive floor, my eyes caught an intriguing booth: a large display showed a mysterious figure wearing a flowing red cloak, facing out into a harbor full of ships.
Approaching the booth I was greeted by Chris Eddie, Co-founder of Alchemy RPG. Introducing it as an online platform that is built around high multi-sensory immersion, Chris explained that while current platforms re-imagine the tabletop, Alchemy RPG’s focus is on re-imagining how players connect to the game in a virtual setting:
“This is done by having players connected via voice chat, with motion graphics and all of the mechanics of the game built directly into the platform. It’s similar to platforms like Foundry’s Virtual Tabletop, Discord, Spotify and D&D Beyond – except all rolled up into one thing.”
While I had my suspicions on where the inspiration for this platform came from *coughQUARANTINEcough*, I was curious to hear Chris’ take. “My friends and I started playing online just before the pandemic actually. We enjoyed looking at a single image…listening to music, we weren’t really maps and tokens people.” He confessed with a laugh. “We really got into this idea of the theater of the mind and decided to pursue building a platform around that, since we didn’t see something like that in the market today.”
Now, as a former Drama kid myself, I have no shortage of love for theater of the mind approaches to tabletop play. That being said, D&D, particularly 5th edition, can require some more detailed engagement – particularly when it comes to combat. Sometimes you need to know exactly how far away you are from an enemy. Concerned some of those elements might be missing, I asked Chris if there is a system in place for that.
Thankfully, there is!
“We just actually implemented Tactical Mode, as we call it. We know 5e is a combat game and sometimes you need to know if Thunderwave is going to knock over your friends, or if you’re going to kill everybody with Fireball…” He then used the demo platform to show me that the Tactical mode overlays a map on the central screen, and from there icons can be dropped onto the map and provide the much-needed structure in key moments of combat.
You can also drop your own battle maps into Alchemy, applying the tactical mode grid onto it.
One of the elements that really drew my eye was the dynamic image that was centrally placed within the scene. So I asked Chris how those can be switched out. “You can upload any images that you want – you can upload a static image, you can select from some of our dynamic images, you can make it rain or snow…and we also have a marketplace built into the platform. So you can buy something like Humblewood from Hit Point Press and have another set of default scenes.”
Another element that really impressed me in reviewing the Alchemy platform was its focus on Streaming. While not every show can reach Critical Role acclaim, there can still be a lot of obstacles to setting up a visually engaging tabletop stream. Alchemy strives to make it easier on the streamer, as well as more engaging for the viewer:
When it comes to pricing, Chris expects that the paid tier will be $8/month, but there will also be a free tier with limited slots for stories/characters.
At PAX you see games and products at all different levels of readiness. Some are barely in alpha, maybe 3 or 4 years off…others are ready to go, with a launch date barely a week or two off. Of course, I was curious what Chris’ plans were for Alchemy in the short term. “We just launched early access today – so it’s a big day for us!” He also shared some exciting partnerships with Paizo to bring Pathfinder to the platform, and they are constantly looking for new opportunities to connect with relevant vendors and creators to help expand Alchemy’s visibility and presence.
Part of that campaign includes the “Founder Box” – a bundle that incentivizes interested DM’s and players alike with numerous modules and resources, half off subscription fees, and a limited edition pin.
That’s right, I’m a believer!
Seriously though, Alchemy RPG is an exciting product to engage with right now. Aesthetically it’s beautiful, and the ability to integrate things like digital handouts/maps in an easy and effective manner makes me want to fire up a new campaign like, now.
In short, if you’re a DM looking to step up your virtual tabletop sessions, or a player looking for more immersive experiences when playing online, Alchemy RPG is a beautifully designed, thoughtfully made platform that appeals to the adventurer in all of us.
You can find more info here.