Alchemy

Alchemy

Alchemy is not science. Science is pragmatic, knowing only what can be proven experimentally by anyone with the skills and the tools.  Alchemy is a way of being, a way of thinking, an inner philosophy seeking to understand the powers that Be, and the influence of those powers within the alchemist. Rather than cutting through the ten-thousand year old pile of allegory, obfuscation, and complexity, alchemy embraces it, applies it.

About Alchemical Formulas

An alchemical formula is just that, a formula for an alchemical process. They're the accumulated wisdom, if you can call it that, of thousands of alchemists over centuries, experimenting, tinkering, learning the hard way what the powers of the world are, and how they can be tapped. These formulas are kept in tomes, and libraries of tomes, which are exchanged, studied, stolen, and otherwise swapped like trading cards. Most beginning alchemists focus on learning to read the tomes and to practice the craft safely, leaving the creation of new formulas to the masters. Discovering lost tomes, getting access to alchemical libraries, or stealing formulas are all opportunities for alchemical roleplay, and that's before the alchemist even tries to use a formula.

Most beginning alchemists (Novices) focus on learning to read the tomes and to practice the craft safely, leaving the creation of new formulas to the masters. Discovering lost tomes, getting access to alchemical libraries, or stealing formulas are all opportunities for alchemical roleplay, and that's before the alchemist even tries to use a formula.

Using an Alchemical Formula.

Every alchemical formula has a difficulty associated with it. For a simple formula with no alchemical components, the alchemist must roll at least one success against this difficulty to use the formula.  A given formula may have quite a few alchemical components. The formulas for these must also be gathered and rolled against the alchemist's skill. Alchemy is a harsh mistress, and failure always has a cost. On any failure, the alchemical substance won't work properly, and whether or not this is discovered at the time depends on our hero's testing of her results. If she doesn't, the failure is inflicted on the end user of the alchemical substance at use time.  On an embarrassing failure, the mixture explodes, fills the room with noxious smoke, or otherwise does harm to the alchemist, the building, and anyone foolish enough to watch. Many alchemists die blowing themselves up.

Materials

Many of the materials for a given alchemical formula are, themselves, the result of alchemy. If the alchemist is making these from scratch, then the materials will need rolls as well. Some materials occur in nature, such as sulfur, saltpeter, and carbon, and need not be rolled for. Also, L&F takes place in a near-modern time. A great many chemicals and elements once in the domain of alchemy are now manufactured and can be purchased from your druggist, chemistry supply house, swimming pool supply shop, and so forth. The alchemist must realize this is the case, however. If desired, the alchemist can roll against her alchemy skill (a straight roll, no added difficulty) to recognize the things they need in this modern scientific world.

Researching Formulas

There's a reason most alchemists trade ancient formulas in hard-to-read notations. Creating new alchemical formulas is difficult, time consuming, and potentially very dangerous.  Many alchemists died blowing themselves up in the process of discovering metallic fulminates, such as fulminate of mercury (later used as primers for firearms) and gold. Alchemical research involves dealing with energies magical and physical that may be poorly understood or badly misunderstood without any scientific framework to suss out the rules.

System

Creating a formula takes at least a week. More complicated (higher level) spells could require years or decades. Unlike using formulas, creating formulas requires an alchemical skill level at least equal to the difficulty of formula the alchemist is attempting to create. Use your judgment here. A new formula for philosopher's stone is the kind of thing whole civilizations seek out over hundreds of years. Doing it in a week with an Alchemy skill of 1 isn't really plausible unless you've got a demon helping…which…is dangerous.

An alchemist doing research should roll against her alchemy skill once per week of of the research. Additionally, if her materials are themselves the result of other alchemical processes, roll those out as normal. As with using an alchemical formula, some materials may be available in the hardware store. Those same rules apply here.

Invoking Higher (or Lower) Powers

Sometimes you just need a little help from your friends. If the alchemist is in a hurry, is young and impatient, old and running out of life, or has a patron who really will have her beheaded if she doesn't deliver that elixir of life soon, they may be tempted to call upon a higher or lower power. This is magic, specifically summoning, and is covered in the Magic section. Assuming the power is summoned successfully and does what the alchemist wants, either using the formula or creating the formula is can be rolled against the higher power's alchemy skill instead of the alchemist's.  Do note that otherwise good alchemists can be atrociously sloppy witches, and many alchemists die…actually many alchemists suffer fates far worse than death summoning beings they can't control or incurring debts they can't pay in exchange for forbidden knowledge.


Alchemy formulas in Lost and Found fall into two major families.

Alchemical Elemental Transmutation

The age old quest to turn lead into gold, and any number of other true transmutation effects. This, too, has become the subject of scientific inquiry, but as yet, no real successes have been achieved, so it is still the domain of the alchemist. A great many of the formulas in this family do not accomplish true transmutation but are nevertheless useful, and it's this line of research that led directly to our modern science of chemistry.

Alchemical Life Force Manipulation

If you've read Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly, or Hawthorne's The Birthmark and Add to dictionary Daughter or Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau or Stevenson's The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you should know this: none of those stories are entirely fictional. They all describe events that really occurred, and are the result of Alchemical Life Force manipulation.


Listed below are formulas so you can make your own and have some idea of the flavor and how to assign difficulty, prep time, and materials. Please contact staff about creating your own alchemical formulas or having access to others, and they will give you further guidelines.

Novice

Black Powder

Power Level: Novice Known to Science: Yes
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: 1 day

Transmute powder into a rapidly expanding cloud of gas.

Normal materials: Brimstone (sulfur),  saltpeter (potassium nitrate), and black lead (graphite, or any other form of carbon), urine or wine, fine mesh.
Alchemical materials: none.

Disintegration Powder

Power Level: Novice Known to Science: No
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: 1 day

This is actually two different powders that are kept in a special dual container. It is vital that the powders be kept separate until use or they will dissolve anything they touch. When the flask is broken, and then tossed at its target the target will begin to dissolve. The powder is only volatile for up to a minute, after that it stops working.

Normal Materials Sodium Borate, Sulfuric Acid (Powdered) (4 Total)
Alchemical Materials Basilisk or Demon Blood

Professional

Golden Lion

Power Level: Professional Known to Science: Yes
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: A Week

The golden lion is a curious form of gold that explodes violently when struck.
Normal materials: aqua regia (nitric and sulfuric acid), gold, potash (potassium chloride), starch (to stabilize). The golden lion is not to be trifled with. Any failure will result in an explosion.

Gold Water of Life

This formula extracts the vitality of bread through putrefaction to produce a golden elixir which, when added to the blood of the living via injection, purifies it of many noisome diseases.  On failure, the elixir will fail.

Power Level: Professional Known to Science: Barely
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: A Week

Alchemical materials: none.

Normal materials, moldy bread (penicillium rubens or  chrysogenum.)

Ageless Balm

Power Level: Professional Known to Science: No
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: A Week

A balm that when rubbed on the skin will erase any signs of aging, making the user look decades younger.

Normal materials: Balm or Lotion, witch hazel

Alchemical materials: Vampire dust, vampire blood (3 total)

Veteran

Transmutation of the flesh

Power Level: Veteran Known to Science: No
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: Weeks

This formula allows the living to be transmuted back into the primal life force and elements from which they were made, then re-formed in a new, permanent form. This formula can either retain the original soul of the creature so dissolved, or one will be assigned (often a demon, who will be bound to this form until it dies).  Likewise memories may or may not be retained. If they are, the usual result is insanity. On any failure, the resulting creature cannot be controlled and will attack the alchemist in some fashion until one of them is dead.

Alchemical materials: various. (6 total)

Master

Philosopher's Stone

Power Level: Master Known to Science: No
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: Months to Years

The universal catalyst, by which the basic properties of a given thing may be re-arranged, transmuting it into another thing. This is not one formula but a class of formulas.

Alchemical materials: various, including philosophic mercury and the tree of life. (7 total)

Elixir of Life

Life, in a bottle, this class of formulas restores youth and vigor to the living and is said to raise the dead. In the hands of a truly evil alchemist, it could be used to keep a person living during otherwise fatal torture, allowing their suffering to go on indefinitely.

Power Level: Master Known to Science: No
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: Months to Years

Alchemical materials: various (7 total)

On failures of any kind the elixir is usually poisonous. Failure usually isn't discovered until use.

The Tree of Life

Power Level: Master Known to Science: No
Roll: Alchemy Prep Time: Weeks to Months

On the path to the philosopher's stone and elixir of life, the tree of life allows the creation of new life where there was none before.

Alchemical materials: various. (4 total)

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