Alchemy is the art of combining alchemically active substances to make potions, oils and other consumables.
Alchemists quickly realized that they could refine a single ingredient into a preparation with interesting, but quite weak, properties, and alchemically active substances are still initially discovered by doing this. Things got interesting when an enterprising alchemist managed to combine two ingredients, one of Chaos and one of Order to get a much more potent effect of Creation. After some head scratching the alchemist concluded that they somehow managed to access a higher rank effect that didn’t express at the lowest level, and began experimenting, eventually refining the Alchemical Principles.
Anyone can use most alchemicals with 5 seconds of appropriate roleplay. Some higher rank alchemicals may have no effect when used by someone who isn't an Advanced Alchemist or its creator. Any character with Sense Magic can detect an alchemical substance on sight, including any food or drink that’s been alchemically treated, but not identify the exact substance.
The Tricks of the Trade and Alchemy skills give the ability to recognize commonly known alchemicals based on their external characteristics. The Alchemy skill also allows a character to identify unknown alchemicals with appropriate investigative roleplay, destroying the alchemical.
Forms of Alchemical
Alchemicals come in a few forms that can be applied to different targets. The form of an alchemical is clear from inspection, unless it's a disguised poison.
|Potion||A container of liquid that's usually drunk. Can only be used on yourself.
Potions can be embedded in to food or drink with consultation with a ref. Any food or drink that is treated will be lammied, and it will be immediately apparent to anyone with Sense Magic that it has had an alchemical applied to it.
|Infusion||A container of gas, or liquid that rapidly vapourises when opened. They are usually breathed in but can also be drunk or embedded in to food or drink like a potion. Can be used on yourself, or on another unresisting character.|
|Weapon Oil||Oil applied to a weapon you're holding. The effect is called on the next strike with the weapon. A weapon oil loses its efficacy if the weapon is sheathed or leaves your possession or at the end of the encounter.|
|Poison||Poisons can take the form of an infusion or potion, and can be embedded in to food or drink like them, or can remain an overt poison (which is used like an infusion).
If you get someone to use a poison and you are aware of its nature but they are not, the side effects of the poison apply to you, not them.
To prepare an alchemical the alchemist decides their ingredients and which ingredient they want to manifest, then puts them together with at least one minute of appropriate roleplay. This will then produce an alchemical according to the alchemical principles. Basic ingredients can be bought from the task force stores for 2 ingredients per Ducatto, but any advanced ingredients need to be provided specially. If the effect that would manifest is outside of their skill range, they learn the rank of the effect that would have manifested but the alchemical is too unstable and fizzles away. If the chosen ingredient can’t manifest an effect with that recipe an inert alchemical will be produced.
If an alchemist is making an alchemical they know, and it’s entirely within their skill level, they can make a batch of alchemicals at the same time and they do not require a ref if the alchemicals are used immediately.
While only one alchemist is in charge of making the alchemical, others can participate. While they will make no difference to the alchemical made, when creating a new recipe having extra participants may give some extra insight into the ingredients used. How much information depends on how ambitious the recipe is, and how much is already known about the ingredients. Close observation of fallout is especially likely to yield insight; the alchemist can choose to deliberately introduce instability and cause fallout if they wish to take advantage of this.
Any number of ingredients used beyond the alchemist’s skill level will cause fallout. Only as much fallout can be caused as the alchemist can safely use ingredients, or the alchemy is cancelled.
Alchemists can experiment with recipes they’ve never tried before a limited number of times per interactive. When an alchemist makes something for the first time and learns its effect and side effect, they should write down the ingredients, manifested ingredient, effect and side effect (and check with the ref they’ve got it down right) so they can show this if they want to make it again. An alchemist can teach another by letting them copy the recipe.
In downtime you can make recipes you’ve made before and are entirely within your skill level. In uptime alchemy requires an appropriate venue (such as the interactive) and will very rarely be available on linears.
Principle of Partial Composition
Alchemical ingredients contain elements isolated as partials. Each partial has a rank and element. For a partial to have an effect on the the alchemical it must be activated by combining a sufficient number of the same element at the same rank. It seems that first rank partials can be activated with a single ingredient while at least two different ingredients of the same element are necessary to activate a second rank partial.
Principle of Negation
An active partial will negate expression of any amount of same rank partials of the opposite element.
Principle of Least Expression
The lowest rank active partials that are not negated will express in a preparation. If there are multiple active un-negated partials in that rank, they all express.
Principle of Singular Manifestation
Only one of the expressed ingredients can manifest in to an effect. The alchemist must choose which ingredient they want to manifest. If the alchemist chooses an ingredient that isn't expressed, an inert alchemical is created.
It’s known that souls can be consumed by an alchemical process, but most who have done so haven’t been very forthcoming with their research due to back lash from religious organisations. Rumour has it that a soul’s sentient nature means it is an extremely flexible ingredient that can create almost any alchemical behaviour possible.
A willing possessor of a soul must be present for the alchemist to draw upon. An alchemist can consume their own soul. Using multiple souls in the creation of a single alchemical appears to suffer diminishing returns on effectiveness. Consuming someone’s soul kills them instantly. Using a soul in an alchemical while manifesting a different ingredient produces an alchemical normally; specifying the soul as the manifested ingredient will produce unpredictable results and will always require a ref.
Alchemy almost always has side effects. The side effects seem to apply to the administrator of the alchemical, not who it is used on; it seems the act of imposing an effect on the world through alchemy is what causes side effects, rather than any physiological process.
Alchemical preparations work via elemental manipulation that stresses the body. Using more than one alchemical per encounter will cause overdose. If you use more alchemicals in an encounter than your limit, see a ref to resolve your overdose.
Frequent overuse of alchemicals will result in more severe overdose effects than usual. Frequent overuse of the same type of alchemical can result in addiction, and eventually a lasting personality change in line with the alchemical’s side effects.
Charlie the Alchemist decides that the Igneous Oil recipe is inefficient and wants to improve upon it. Guarana Root and Taste of Success are the only ingredients they know that combine to make a second rank Destruction effect, so starts with them, aiming to manifest the Taste of Success to try to make a TRIPLE weapon oil.
There are two matching second rank partials, so by the Principle of Partial Composition they activate and could express at the culmination of the preparation to make a second rank Destruction effect. So far so good. However, the Guarana Root and Taste of Success also have first rank partials. Since a first rank partial only needs one ingredient, they both activate as well. The preparation now has three active partials: first rank Chaos, first rank Creation and second rank Destruction. Unfortunately, by the Principle of Least Expression, only the lowest rank active, un-negated partials express. Taste of Success manifests but only at first rank, so they end up with an infusion that causes the user to feel restlessness. Not the desired outcome.
Charlie needs to eliminate the undesired first rank partials for the second rank partial to express. For this they apply the Principle of Negation to try to eliminate the Creation and Chaos partials in the first rank. Only Halite has a first rank partial of Order, so they try adding that. In this recipe the second rank Destruction, and three first rank partials activate and the second rank Creation does not, because it is second rank and the recipe doesn’t have two ingredients with that partial. The Order and Chaos first rank partials negate each other, leaving only the Creation first rank partial and Destruction second rank partial. The first rank partial expresses. This recipe could manifest the Guarana Root to create a (remarkably inefficient) infusion that causes the user to feel Vitality, except that Charlie wants to manifest Taste of Success, which isn't expressed, meaning an inert alchemical is created.
Charlie needs to negate the final first rank partial, which is Creation. They know of only one ingredient that has a first rank Destruction partial - Red Phosphorus. They resignedly put in Red Phosphorus, exactly recreating the Igneous Oil recipe. It seems they will need to find more ingredients with different properties if they want to make Igneous Oil more efficiently.
Eve has managed to obtain some of a new unknown alchemical ingredient and wants to make something out of it. She begins by preparing it by itself, creating an alchemical that causes the imbiber to feel Truthful, indicating that the first rank partial is Order. She then gets some assistants to participate, and tries to find the second rank partial by mixing the ingredient with Halite and Taste of Success, hoping that it has a second rank partial of either Creation or Destruction, and that this will cause it to express. Eve deliberately uses unsafe procedures in the hope that more instability might yield insight to her assistants, and chooses to cause three fallout. The attending ref draws the fallout, calling MASS MAGIC TRIPLE, WIDE EFFECT: Anger and WOUND on an assistant. The first rank partials of Chaos, Order, Order all cancel out, but nothing expresses at the second rank, resulting in an inert alchemical. Unfortunate, but they’ve at least learned by elimination that the second rank partial, assuming it exists, is either Order or Chaos. The ref whispers to an assistant that while getting a face full of magic damage they observed a flash of what appeared to be a second rank Chaos effect, but not enough to express. Eve knows of no other ingredients with second rank Chaos at this time, so she notes this down for later experimentation, then turns to face some (now very angry...) fellow agents who were caught in the fallout...