alchemy Technology / Science in Scarterra | World Anvil

alchemy

by Eron12 with Hero Forge
-Bevan, Swynfaredian alchemist
"Turning lead into gold is not something alchemists can actually do, nor is it our true end goal. Turning lead into gold is a metaphor: making the basest and dullest metal into the most beautiful and perfect metal.   Thus we alchemists are always striving to transform substances, even ourselves into something better than it used to be, one process at a time."
    Alchemy is the leading science in Scarterra. The core principle of alchemy is turning something into something else.   The ultimate goal is to to turn lead into gold. This has not been achieved. Most consider this a metaphor for turning something dark and base into something beautiful and valuable.   For adventurers the main use for alchemy is transforming rarified materials into reagents, especially durable reagents.   Because reagents are valued by all spell casters, many alchemists are also Wizards, sorcerers, theurgists or favored souls, but a majority of alchemists are not spell-casters though most alchemists work with spell-casters on a regular basis.

Utility

Alchemists can manufacture reagents, adhesives, water proof metals, incendiaries, poisons and antidotes.   Specialized alchemy products are used in medicine, war, and construction. Some alchemists have even turned their talents towards making stage props
by Eron12 with Midjourney

Manufacturing

Usually, alchemy requires various components to be combined in very specific quantities and ways at specific temperatures in sanitary conditions.

Social Impact

by Eron 12 with Hero Forge
  Since only rich people can afford alchemist training, most alchemists are in the employ of nobles and other wealthy people thus giving the upper classes another advantage.
Access & Availability
Many alchemists jealously guard their lore but most of the commonly used alchemical applications are widely disseminated.   Alchemy requires expensive equipment and years of hard training to unlock even the basics of the science. This means alchemy is almost by default limited to wealthy people.   Most alchemists are sponsored by a noble household. Some are sponsored by a temple. A few are sponsored by guilds. To be an alchemist, you need lots of time and money and these are usually things wealthy people and institutions have.
Discovery
Alchemy dates all the way back to the First Age. During the First Unmaking, many alchemists tried to secure their lore in guarded vaults so the knowledge would not be lost. While they were partially successfully in safeguarding their wisdom, much of their lore was lost and had to be rediscovered in the Second Age. During the Second Unmaking even more lore was lost, but over thousands of years of hard work, much of the lost knowledge has been regained in the Third Age. Some modern alchemists make the boastful claim that they have made breakthroughs not seen in earlier ages.
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Cover image: Celum philosophorum 1527 by Public domain medieval illustration

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