The Grand Arts of AlchemyAccording to Alchemists, all that is can be divided eventually down into 8 Dominions, through which all matter can be categorised and translated, eventually, through secret and perilous arts. The path of Alchemy is much the same as our modern understanding of science, only mixed in with perhaps equal parts magic, philosophy, and luck. The most dedicated Alchemists end up changes and warped by their secret knowledges, and those that seek the Magnum Opera, are the most twisted of all.
The Dominions of AlchemyMetal - Base
The name of all base things that are inorganic. Characterised by heaviness, denseness, darkness. The Alchemist with the Knowledge of the Metal domain practices in many ways the most famous of Alchemical practices, the translation of base metals into gold, silver, and other precious metals. Unknown to most, these practices are common, even basic, procedures. The trick is to make it economical. The more immediately useful aspects of the Metallic Alchemist's arts, are the imbibing of properties into metals, such as conductivity to magic, or resistance to the same for example.
Crystal - High
The name of all grand things that bear not the stains of life or the indignities of formlessness. Characterised by beauty, delicateness, lightness. Crystal has many esoteric and unintuitive properties to the uninitiated. Conduction of energies beyond the mortal mind, the focusing and refining of magic, the restructuring of other materials; all these are the realm of the Crystalline Alchemist who knows when to grind, or grow, when to nurture large matrices, or rush small ones.
Liquid - Base
The beginnings of formlessness, labile boundaries and permeable to many manners of things. The most common uses of Liquid Alchemy are the most widely practised; the creation of healing drafts, and other such potions of varying effects. They can range from simple dyes, to deathly concoctions that reek of chemicals. Putties and oils also fall within the Liquid Alchemist's remit.
Aetheric - High
The ending of formlessness; so far removed from being that anything can pass through it. Yet even so it bears many effects on the realms of what is, and is necessary for life (as far as is known), and must in some small way unknown to Natural Philosophy be made up of infinitesimal matter. The Aetherically gifted Alchemist can whip up storms in bottles, or create potent vapours, or remove them entirely from an area.
Flora - Base
The unthinking mode of living flesh and organic compounds. The Alchemist who practices the lore of Floral Alchemy can grow and thus create living things with properties and uses of their desire. Remedies, poisons, drugs, pigments, food-stuffs, all these and more are among the remit of the Floral Alchemist. The most knowledgable Floral Alchemist can even reach past the limits of plants and delve into the secrets of other organic matrices, the powers of soils, certain stones, fabrics even.
Fauna - High
The thinking mode of what lives, which might even give rise eventually to the self, a much sought after goal of Alchemy. The Alchemist versed in Faunal methods can reshape flesh to suit and serve; they can change its material, adapt its purposes, enhance or dull its senses. They can even create small servants to perform small tasks.
Energetic - Heresy
The heresy of the Energetic Alchemist is that they do not deal in matter and being and modes of refinement. The Energetic Alchemist deals in the realm beyond matter to touch on the realms of energy, the base actions of thought, the movement behind the moving. Their currency is lightning, their creations brass and metals in intricate patterns to achieve the impossible.
[In this case, properties refer to special and unusual properties of materials, even those that are not common to their dominion. For example, the healing effects of a potion are a property, the poisonousness of a venom is a property, and the reflectiveness of a metal to name a few.]
Archetypes of AlchemistsBasic
Dealing with lower level materials grants the Basic Alchemist a wide range of knowledge and applicable methods. Note however, that basic does not refer to the techniques and capabilities of the Alchemist, merely the states of matter with which they work. They manoeuvre the modes of matter with expert precision, and restructure, refine, and combine with ease. They seek the Universal Panacea, with which all impurity and ill-humour can be destroyed.
Specialist Dominions: Metal, Flora, Liquid
Magnum Opus: The Universal Panacea
Suggested Recipes: Healing drafts, alchemist's fire, oil of slipperiness, glue bombs.
First Negation: Skin-deep blemishes remove themselves from you. You skin is perfect and smooth.
Second Negation: All features on you become perfectly arranged, mathematically so. Its somewhat unnerving.
With a focus one the modes of matter that live, Biological Alchemists can sometimes come across as playing at god, rearranging the stuff of life in the means that suit them. They rearrange flesh as easily as speaking, they nurture and cultivate life at a whim. Life is but another tool in their arsenal, and all manner of servants follow them, fulfilling maddeningly specific purposes.
Specialist Dominions: Flora, Fauna
Magnum Opus: True Homunculus
Suggested Recipes: Temporary animal aspect potions, draft of water-breathing, tangle-weed bombs.
First Negation: Your blood changes colour, and your flesh changes texture. The changes are random, and change every few days.
Second Negation: Plant-like materials sprout from odd places on your skin, and your flesh is slightly spongey to the touch.
The Aethereal Alchemists
Specialist Dominions: Liquid, Aetheric
Magnum Opus: Breath of Life
Suggested Recipes: Smoke grenades, vapours of vigour, sleeping drafts, potent acids.
First Negation: You are always buffeted by a unseen, unfelt wind which only affects you.
Second Negation: You hover slightly above the ground. If you breath hard, it can be heard like wind in a canyon.
Specialist Dominions: Metal, Crystal
Magnum Opus: Perfect Translation [The Fundament Forge]
Suggested Recipes: Specially treated metals, artificial arcanite crystal, conduction rods.
First Negation: Your eyes become glassy, your hair becomes metallic and rigid, your nails are iron.
Second Negation: Your bones become hard and crystalline within you, in some places they jut awkwardly (though painlessly) from your body.
Quite what it really is that the Abstract Alchemists really do is up for much debate.
Specialist Dominions: Crystal, Fauna, Aetheric
Magnum Opus: The Philosopher's Stone
Suggested Recipes: Drafts of Elemental Immunity, Draft of Mind Erasure, Living Crystals
First Negation: Solid matter in your body becomes subtly gem-like, your blood runs thin.
Second Negation: Your blood is totally gaseous now, bleeding is more like letting air from a balloon. You breath reeks of ozone.
Dangerous and deviant, Energetic Alchemists must keep their heresies down in the darkness away from prying eyes.
Specialist Dominions: None
Magnum Opus: The Machine Mind
Suggested Recipes: Lightning in a Bottle, Stun Mines, Trip-Wire Bombs, Kinetic Absorbers.
First Negation: Small jolts of light dash along your veins, your teeth spark sometimes when they touch.
Second Negation: Your joints lose some of their plasticity, your muscles curl like plastic tubing beneath your skin.
Conductions: Instead of Specialised Dominions, Conductions allow you to generate energy from Dominions with an Alchemy Roll. Energy is key to following and powering Energetic recipes. You may not Conduct energy from areas you do not have a Conduction for, though when you choose Conductions, you can choose any Dominion for it.
The Alchemical Path - The Easier WayIf you want a simpler way to progress this skill, then just follow the instructions below.
A character gains the following benefits at the following ranks of Alchemy.
1 rank: The character can perform Alchemy Rolls, and chooses their Archetype.
2 ranks: The character chooses one of the Dominions in their Archetype's areas to become a Specialised Dominion. They show the signs of their First Negation. They gain their Archtype's trait.
Basic Trait: +1 to Translation Rolls
Biological Trait: +1 to Infusion Rolls
Aethereal Trait: +1 to Combination Rolls
Empirical Trait: +1 to Rolls to generate Money
Abstract Trait: +1 to Ascension Rolls
Heretical/Energetic Trait: Conductions rather than Specialisations
4 Ranks: The character chooses another Dominion in their Archetype's areas to become another Specialised Dominion. They show the signs of their Second Negation.
Maximum Ranks: The character can now begin work on their Archetype's Magnum Opus. Should they ever complete it, they show the signs of their Final Negation.
The Alchemical Sephirot - The Harder Way
Once the maximum number of ranks have been attained, new spaces on the Sephirot can be gained by expenditure of time and resources equal to those needed to have attained the maximum rank, and by achieving something within the field of Alchemy that has never been achieved before.
[This will probably require some amount of DM discretion. In general, the projects to acquire further spaces on the Sephirot should be grand in scope, and novel in some regard at least. Err on the side of generosity as long as they aren't phoning it in.]
The Magnum OperaThe process of creating the Magnum Opera has never been documented in history, though the results of them have popped up here and there in history, presumably created by non-human hands through their mysterious magics and powers. The ultimate dream of every Alchemist is the creation of their Magnum Opus. Some have come close. By the grace of gods, perhaps you will be the first.
Once either the maximum ranks in Alchemy has been gained (if using the easier way) or the Crown has been achieved (is using the harder way), the final project can be put into motion. In no particular order, the Alchemist must succeed on at least 3 Alchemy rolls on a d10 to determine the process of creation. They must obtain the Key Reagent for the creation of the Magnum Opus (which is specific to each Opera) which probably is a great quest in and of itself. Optionally, the Alchemist can also gather up a Catalyst for the reaction, which is not necessary, but makes the final process easier. To create the Magnum Opus consumes the Key Reagent, and requires the Alchemist pass an Alchemy roll on a d12, which can be rolled twice and the better result taken if a sufficient Catalyst is present and consumed. If the roll is passed, the Alchemist must make the Sacrifice, they show the signs of their Final Negation, and their, glistening, gleaming, is the Magnum Opus. Nothing will ever be the same.
Effect: You are immune to all the deleterious effects caused by your environment. Inasmuch as they will not kill you, at least. Discomfort and pain are yet your travelling companions.
Key Reagent: An Angel's (or other such space-faring creature's) Lungs
Catalyst: Corpses of Creatures with Elemental Immunities
The Sacrifice: Loss of Homeostasis [you become terribly vulnerable to environmental dangers]
Final Negation: You are always cold, your breath comes out in harsh gasps, dew forms on you at all hours.
The True Homunculus
Effect: If your body is brought back to your Homunculus within a day of your death, you can return from death in a new body.
Key Reagent: Clay of the Garden of Childhood (or wherever mankind was born)
Catalyst: Doppelganger Corpses
The Sacrifice: You automatically fail saving throws against System Shock
Final Negation: Your flesh is sickly and pallid, barely holding itself together. Your mind, however, is sharp as razors, and easily (and harmlessly) removed from your ailing body.
Perfect Translation - The Fundament Forge
Effect: You can create whatever you want, no rolls necessary, gram for gram.
Key Reagent: A Tongue of the Immortal Flame
Catalyst: Vast, VAST amounts of Gold
The Sacrifice: You have the Midas Touch
Final Negation: Your skin is gold; your eyes, gemstones; your blood, a flow of rubies.
The Philosopher's Stone
Effect: You will never die of age, or age related concerns. You maximum hit points cannot be decreased.
Key Reagent: A Heart of an Immortal
Catalyst: The Blood of Many Races
The Sacrifice: Addiction to the Elixir of Life (instant, no save possible)
Final Negation: Your breath is a hurricane within you, your flesh studded with gleaming crystal, your remaining meat a wild kaleidoscope of colours.
The Machine Mind
Effect: Oh shit, its a sentient AI. Fuck. What have you done?
Key Reagent: The Recursive Connection Theory (said to be held by the Djinn Technocrats)
Catalyst: Copious amounts of Lightning
The Sacrifice: You automatically fail saving throws against Devices
Final Negation: Your veins are wires; your meat tubes, metal pipes; your flesh nets, gauze.
[Final Designer Notes]
This is designed for a system like LotFP, where skills are ranked from 0 to 6.