Wonders of AlchemyHome » Magic & Alchemy » Wonders of Alchemy
Alchemy is concerned with the purification, transmutation, and distillation of metals, minerals, and elements. It is a process by which the magical essence inherent in all things is tapped to release energy or to mix and transmute the base elements of substances, recombining them into new substances. Alchemy has become the cornerstone of the modern world, giving rise to such wondrous substances as whitepowder, ichor fuel, lifting gases, extraordinary alloys, and miraculous medicines.
History of Alchemy
During the Age of Marada, alchemy was in its golden age. Marada was an empire driven by alchemy, magic, and over-science technology; its towering cities of brass and crystal were shadowed only by majestic floating castles and vast fleets of ships in the skies above. The great war between Golla and Marada ended in the destruction of both civilizations, but the legends of the great alchemical miracles, enchanted devices, and remarkable transmutations of the Maradian alchemists drove men of later centuries to delve into the mysteries of magic and alchemy. With nearly all the knowledge of the legendary age lost to the oblivion of time, the alchemists of our modern age have to start anew.
Through the 11th and 12th centuries, vitriolic batteries, electric and aetheric condensers, alchemical steals, and great advances in apothecary alchemy were made. The alchemical formula for whitepowder was rediscovered, leading to cannons, matchlocks, and springlocks, and eventually snaplocks, as well. The lighter-than-air “lifting gases” were also rediscovered, allowing for the development of airships. Vitriolic batteries, electric and aetheric condensers, alchemical steels, and great advances in apothecary alchemy were also made.
In the years 1322 to 1328 CA, the Triclopes stormed across both Tarrona and Celaphania, bringing most of the world under their control. With great courage and sacrifice, the surviving armies of Glaven, Celania, and Relmar, halted their invasion. None today doubt that the war could not have been won were it not for the new weapons and new war machines brought to bear against the Triclopes forces, many of them alchemical in nature.
The century that followed the War of Tyranny has been hailed as the Age of Progress, which has seen great strides in the advancement of science and alchemy. It was during this time that alchemists discovered the formula for creating ichor, a potent new alchemical fuel many times more efficient than even the best forms of coal and oils. Alchemists in Tilsha, Armillia, and Glaven unlocked new methods for elemental transformation, discovered crystalline-lattice metallurgy, developed potential medicinal, therapeutic, and both mental and physical enhancement elixirs. In Corradon, as well as in Kalkhemed, vast alchemical factories and refiners were constructed to produce elixirs, alchemical reagents, and other alchemical products on an industrial scale.
Today, alchemy is more important than ever and is both a necessary and vital part of modern civilization. Without alchemy, there would be no electricity, no whitepowder, no ichor fuel, no healing balms, no rejuvenating elixirs, and no great advances in materials and metallurgy. Alchemy transformed the world we have today, and it is alchemy that will formulate the world of tomorrow.
The following is a list of some of the more common or important alchemical substances and compounds.
Acids are a class of alchemical solutions that burn, corrode, or dissolve other substances. Diluted forms have a sour taste, similar to vinegar, which is itself a mild acid. Examples of acids include aqua vitriol, aqua fortis, and muriatic acid. Alkahest is technically an acid as well, but, being the universal solvent, is generally considered apart from (and superior to) acids in general.
Alkahest is the universal solvent, capable of dissolving all other substances (save for specially treated crystal infused containers or vessels). The formula for creating alkahest is a closely kept secret, but several different formulas do in fact exist, and alkahest comes in different degrees of potency. The main reagents used in creating alkahest is believed to involve aqua vitriol, antimony, ammonia, and phlogiston, among other components. Alkahest is typically crystalized into small, stable granules, which are safe to transport and store until used. Small amounts of crystalized alkahest serve as a primary catalyst in many alchemical reactions.
Alkalis are a class of alchemical salts, considered to be opposite of acids such as aqua vitriol, aqua fortis, and muriatic acid. Examples of alkalis include potash, quicklime, and soda. Alkalis are as often used in alchemical reactions as acids, and can be used in reactions to neutralizes acids. High concentrations of alkali are often referred to as caustic alkali, such as caustic soda.
Alchemists can create this lifting gas by combining salt, quartz crystals, ammonia, and some secret components. It is flammable, though not nearly as much as cavenic gas, and only has eighty percent the lifting capacity of cavenic gas. It costs close to the same as cavenic gas and is a common alternative. Most modern airships use a mix of cavenic and ammonic gas.
Antimony is a soft, silvery metal, easily made into a powder or dissolved in acid. Whether powdered or dissolved into a solution, antimony is an indispensable component in the alchemical process, and called for in many different recipes.
Aqua vitriol is a common acid used to dissolve substances or used in combination with other alchemicals. It is a key component of whitepowder, and by itself is highly corrosive. Aqua vitriol is somewhat expensive, but can be found in alchemical shops in most cities.
Like aqua vitriol, aqua fortis is a volatile acid most often used to create other alchemical compounds and is also a key component of whitepowder. Aqua fortis is also known as Azotic acid.
Not to be confused with azotic gas or azotic acid, azoth is an alchemical distillate of elemental aether. The secret of its creating is held secret by master alchemists, but involves the use of quicksilver, orichalcum, and phosphorous, as well as complex distillation and sublimation processes. The resulting rarified precipitant is a liquid concentrate of elemental aether, which can be crystalized to create aethergy crystals. Azoth can also be used as a catalyst in other alchemical processes.
Azotic gas is a primary component of common air, together with phlogiston and perhaps a few other gases. Isolated, azotic gas (not to be confused with azoth, which is entirely different) smothers flame and causes suffocation. It is thus, a-zotic, meaning without life. Azotic gas is also released from some reactions of aqua fortis, for which reason aqua fortis is also known as azotic acid.
Caustic soda is a common and potent alkali. Also known as lye, caustic soda is corrosive and dangerous in its concentrated form, and is general used in various degrees of dilution. Caustic soda is a key component of many different alchemical reactions.
Cavenic gas is a lighter-than-air gas extracted by dissolving metal in aqua vitriol or, more recently, by passing electrical current through water. It is named for its discoverer, Hemell Caveno, who in 658 CA found that gas could be extracted by reacting aqua vitriol with metal. It was previously known to the Maradians, who called it hydreous gas.
Charphen oil is produced in the fibrous veins of the charphen tree (sometimes called the oil tree), and is commonly used as fuel in place of whale oil. It may also be refined into ichor fuel.
Cinnabar is a bright red mineral ore from which quicksilver is extracted. Quicksilver is produced from cinnabar through a process of grinding, heating, smelting, and separating. Cinnabar is also found in small quantities in dragon’s blood, and dragons appear to eat cinnabar rocks. It is not known what advantage cinnabar, or quicksilver, has for dragons, but it may enhance some of their magical abilities.
Fire crystals have been known and used by mages and alchemists for hundreds of years to great and spectacular effect. All one must do is throw the crystal at a foe; if the resulting explosion does not kill or wound him, he will certainly be shaken, if not terrified. Today, it is most often found in impact detonators for larger explosive devices. Fire crystals are created by mixing quicksilver with aqua fortis and alcohol.
Ichor is an explosive, volatile fuel that has been alchemically refined from charphen oil. The basic formula calls for refined charphen oil to be mixed with aqua fortis and several other alchemical reagents, including spirit of ether. The mixture is then heated under high pressure and is combined with aqua phlogista. The result of this refining process is a clear green liquid that is highly volatile. As a liquid, it burns extremely hot. As a gas, it is highly explosive. Fully refined Ichor has a distinct aqua-green color and is both slippery and oily to the touch. Today it is used in modern ichor engines, typically found in aeronefs and vehicles.
Phlogiston is a flammable gas found in common air, but which can also be obtained from water by electrolysis. It can also be obtained by heating chlorate of potash. In its pure, isolated form it is extremely explosive and flammable, but is often called for in highly reactive alchemical processes. It can be infused within an aqueous solution, called aqua phlogiston, which is a concentrated liquid form used for storage, handling, and processing. However, aqua phlogiston is highly volatile.
Quicklime is a common alkali powder, and although it is often used simply to neutralize acids, it is especially noted for its tendency to rapidly heat when mixed with water. Quicklime is created by calcinating limestone, and is widely available, and inexpensive. As a result, quicklime is called for in most alchemical recipes, whether for neutralizing acid, heating solutions, or providing its own alkali material to the mixture.
Quicksilver is one the chief alchemical metals, and because its remarkable property to be both a metal and a liquid at room temperature, is prized by alchemists. Quicksilver is combined with other reagents, such as quicklime, sulfur, ammonia, various acids, and other reagents, to create a wide variety of alchemical compounds, including fire crystals (when mixed with aqua fortis and alcohol).
Also known as green vitriol or brimstone, sulfur is a common alchemical reagent which is called for in a host of recipes and reactions. Sulfur can be burned, creating a noxious gas, and can also be combined with charcoal and saltpeter to make a crude explosive powder (although whitepowder is far more effective). Burning and combining with water, it will create the powerful acid aqua vitriol, which is an invaluable reagent for countless alchemical processes. Sulfur is also used as a component of processing various alchemical metals and powders.
Volatilis ammoniac is also called “dragon’s fire” because of its similarity to the volatile acids found in the belly of dragons. Volitilis ammoniac will only explode when ignited by a larger explosive—usually whitepowder or fire crystals. It is most commonly used in aerial bombs or as a stationary explosive.
Whitepowder changed the face of warfare and has been in cannons and firearms since the end of the dark age following the War of Golla and Marada. The formula for whitepowder is fairly straightforward, but the process requires aqua vitriol and aqua fortis, both of which are expensive and dangerous. The other component is simply cotton, sawdust, ground-up cornhusks, or other granular plant matter. Although whitepowder is used to make bombs and other explosives, it is most commonly found in powdered form for flintlock and newer caplock firearms.