Harken's Stone or, more commonly, Harkenstone is a volcanic mineral produced under very specific circumstances of heat, pressure and cooling that has been referred to as "Frozen Fire" by the Dwarves and "Dean'diel" (Steel Bane) by Elves in the previous millennia.
The mineral, itself, is dark, glassy and fractures in a way similar to obsidian. Its color tends toward a deep purple (as opposed to the smoky blackness of obsidian) and for all intents and purposes is an inert glass-like substance of little to no importance.
Harkenstone activates when it comes in contact with raw iron ore which results in an explosive release of energy in the form of heat, static and gas as the iron ore robs the Harkenstone of electrons which destabilizes the structure of the glass in the same way that a single crack in tempered glass destroys the entire structure catastrophically.
This reaction emits from the point of contact; allowing the reaction to be channeled or "steered" to harness the energy for creating steam and energizing protective equipment and tools.
Harkenstone has also been fashioned into weapons in the past but the volitility of the reaction makes personal use practically as dangerous as being the target of aggression. As such, the reaction is primarily used as a tool although research is rumored to continue.
Geology & Geography
Currently, the material is found at a depth of not less than 30 yards in a geologic area where shale meets granite and has large seams of coal and was once actively volcanic.
Originally discovered and mined by Alexander Harken (after several accidents with steel-wielding miners) in the Southern end of the continent, the stone has, since, been discovered in deposits throughout the land including an exceptionally large deposit beneath the town of Dranesh.
Crafting With Harkenstone
Engineers can invent and craft devices utilizing Harkenstone in a variety of ways.
Harnessing the explosive properties of Harkenstone when forcefully combined with raw iron ore, an Engineer can create catastrophically explosive effects.
The energy released in a Harkenstone explosion can be precisely calibrated and channeled by a skillful Engineer in combination with the construction material(s) used to construct the casing and mechanisms of the device.
The smaller the device, the finer the controls needed to regulate the reaction, the harder a task it is for the Engineer to complete.
The Motive forces released by a controlled Harkenstone reaction are secondary effects of the three major reactions. The Energy Discharge (for example) is used to power steam compressors. The compressors can be attached to pistons and drive mechanisms used to power horseless carriages, steam engines, etc.
The gas discharge can be used to provide momentum to lighter-than-air craft or submersible vehicles and drones.
Channeling a reaction to harness the motivational forces released is based on a difficulty that takes into account a number of factors including:
Size of the reaction compared to mass to be moved
The motive forces being utilized (Push, Pull, Expand, Contract)
When forced together, Iron Ore strips electrons from Harkenstone atoms producing a reaction that manifests as a release of heat energy in the form of plasma (if this plasma reaction is "overloaded" the plasma does not have time to be released and converts to an explosive reaction instead).
This plasma can be channeled into protective barriers, weapons, tools, etc.
Channeling the energy discharge requires the use of several resistant alloys in the device (preventing it from becoming a slab of smelted metals) in addition to optics which are used to focus and "steer" the reaction.
As with the Explosive reaction, the difficult for the Engineer rises as the devices become smaller.
In addition to plasma, Harkenstone releases the remaining atoms in the form of super-heated gas which is expelled from the contact point at super-fast speeds.
Generally speaking, Engineers will use aspects of this particular reaction for its tangential effects (the heat of the gas for example) but there have been examples of devices constructed to capture and pressurize vessels of the gas and those vessels being employed as fire-extinguishing devices or methods of propulsion for small water craft.
The difficulty to the Engineer is strictly based on the effect being sought.
Harkenstone can be used to create extremely powerful effects in the world. As such, it is very difficult to work with depending on the skill level of the Engineer making the attempt.
An Engineer at Basic level (or Intermediate level for a dual-profession character or Elite level for dual or triple-profession characters) have the most difficult time.
Journeymen Engineers (who specialize in Harkenstone) can work with the mineral more reliably and the effect that true Master-level Engineers are whispered about in design circles with Master-Level engineers typically accepting high level positions in the Kingdoms and working directly for or in control of their own guilds and organizations.