So unless I am reading the rules incorrectly, it looks like the default skill to brew/craft concoctions & potions is ‘survival’, which really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. For the purpose of finding herbs/roots/plants, it certainly does. But for the actual act of manufacturing doses, wouldn’t ‘alchemy’ be a better fit?
Alchemy according to the core rules:
Common Uses: Understanding alchemical treatises, recognizing alchemical philosophies, gathering or analyzing evidence, research of alchemical subjects, creating and employing alchemical compounds.
Herbalism, from The Book of Skelos, is an exception. It is one of the numerous problematic additions The Book of Skelos presents.
I don’t really see it as an exception. The way I read it is that it represents stuff an herbalist could do, even one who doesn’t storywise have the more demanding training of an alchemist, like backwoods healers, hedge-witches and similar people. Think of the difference between an folk-trained herbalist and an academic chemist. While the chemist might know which kinds of ingredients might be derived from the herbs, if he is also good at biology (in this case, survival), he lacks the knowledge to actually use the stuff without preparing it his way, i.e. extracting the chemicals instead of using the plants themselves.
It doesn’t mean that an alchemist couldn’t find a way to do the same using alchemy. That could be a nice way to do research for an alchmist PC. Just use the herbalism as an inspiration for an alchemist formula. Or invent a talent that lets you use Alchemy instead of survival, that might branch off either the existing Alchemy talents or the Herbalist talent or actually require both as a prereq.
Possibilities are endless and I would enjoy having my character research that.
Thanks all. Comments and observations greatly appreciated. My GM was generous enough and allowed me to substitute (where/when appropriate), based on the following reading of the rules:
As noted above, there is a rich tradition of herbalism that has little to do with sorcery, and thus the herbalist will find other skills as necessary as they are of interest. While Healing and Sorcery are the most obvious skills used in conjunction with herbalism, the following list provides other skills which might benefit from its application.
. Alchemy: Many alchemical formula require the use of exotic plants, whether in their raw form or prepared by the herbalist’s arts: dried, powdered, or distilled. With a successful Survival test based on a Difficulty determined on the rarity of the ingredients required (if the gamemaster does not have an immediate idea, this should be equal to the Difficulty of the alchemical preparation), an herbalist can transform one Concoction into an Ingredient. Such attempts require a single load of herbal concoctions, which is lost in the process.
Source: page 89 (Book of Skelos)