Aethercite Cameras Item in Vreathe | World Anvil
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Aethercite Cameras

Article Contents


In the year 2863 I.A., a man named Johnathon Williams was in the Elf-Kingdom of Lyonne at a conference of chemists. He brought with him an experiment that allowed him to imprint an image of anything onto a copper plate. He demonstrated this by covering the plate with silver chloride and then putting the plate in front of a camera obscura, a little pinhole in a dark room. After the exposure was set to an appreciable amount of time, he then treated the plate with a bit of mercury, and then showed the result to his colleagues.

Humans and Elves both were amazed at what they witnessed. The photo was blurry and grainy, and the colors were nonexistent, but it was still an amazing development. They could just barely tell that it was the city of Delphia they were looking at. Johnation continued his presentation by theorizing how a color photograph might be possible in the future, but that could be decades and decades away.

Johnathon Williams photo.jpg

Portrait of Johnathon Williams, taken just a few days before his death in the year 2864 I.A.
Johnathon was unfortunately found murdered a few months later. It wasn't difficult for the authorities to determine why. All his research was also missing, and in the deceased man's chest was a black geometric knife. This has been seen numerous times over the centuries. Johnathon Williams was assassinated by Orcs, specifically, the Orcs of Veracrul.

Ever since the Silver Age Cataclysm nearly wiped out all life on Vreathe in a previous age, the Orcs determined that they would watch over the world's technological progress. This gatekeeping almost always involved just killing the scientists that was on the verge of a new breakthrough, no matter what that breakthrough was, then taking all that scientist's research. This is usually enough to discourage any other scientist from continuing the work of the deceased, but lately in the last few centuries, Humans and Elves have been getting more bold and have been defying the Orcs more and more.

After Johnathon's death, one of his elven colleagues, Lumi Silvershade, restarted his work. She kept her work secret for many years so she wouldn't tip off anyone of what she was doing. At first she tried to use many similar techniques that Johnathon was known to be researching.

Silver chloride darkens in the presence of light, but she didn't have a way to remove the undarkened material, so the image would eventually darken completely. It also made black and white photos only. Her colleague was onto something but the knowledge died with him. Lumi tried dozens of different materials to try to preserve the photo, but didn't know how to continue Johnathon's work, so it was abandoned.

Many Humans and Elves know the concept of a Camera Obscura, a darkened room with a hole on one side that an image is projected through. Depending on how the image is projected, it might be upside down. Elves especially know that just about any piece of Aethercite crystal when charged with mana will display an amplified version of the image. With a powerful enough piece of aethercite, the image can be displayed in the proper orientation and even in broad daylight. The Elves of Lyonne are famous for using this to decorate the interior's of their buildings with the ever changing forest scenery outside.

A few years later, Lumi was in Lyonne at a conference of chemists. She noticed all the aethercite crystals on ceilings and walls that would reflect an outside image, even in bright daylight. She found out that after long periods of time, the images would even be burned into some materials like concrete, while most others were unaffected. This is when she started to pursue a magical means to capturing images instead.

The final process she came up with involved a quicklime paste applied to a sheet of paper that was then laminated. Lumi went with this material because when calcium oxide absorbs mana, it will change color based on the visible light in its surroundings. A large amount of mana should be able to burn a perfect image onto it.

An example of a wall in Dryadalis reflecting the city outside. The Elves here call them living paintings. It's easy to get disoriented if you stare at it for too long.

Lumi's Emperiments.png

Lumi's original experiment.
In Lumi's experiment, a piece of Amethyst aethercite was suspended over it. When the amethyst was charged with mana, it casted a focused color image over the quicklime paper and quickly burned an image into it. It was an image of the sky and it was still a little blurry. With a large enough amount of mana, the process was almost instant. Lumi then place the aethercite crystal in an enclosed, darkened area with nothing but a pinhole of light touching it. After charging the crystal, it casted a nearly perfect in focus color image on the paper.

Knowing she was onto something, Lumi quickly drew up designs for a camera. To make sure Orcs didn't discover her, she had different parts made by different craftsmen, then she assembled the cameras herself. She then took the cameras with her back to Lyonne during the next chemist conference and showed off her work.

The devices were impressive, so much so that the Orcs of Veracrul were alerted to the presence of this new technology. Usually they assasinate a single scientist working on new technology, but Lumi gave every one of the hundreds of chemists at the conference a camera, with the designs. She also mailed the designs to several scientists that were not attending the conference.

The orcs were annoyed that another piece of technology came to fruition and slipped past them, but they didn't have the ability to go after every scientist on Vreathe. They had to let the technology go.

A Selection of Aethercite Cameras

Elven Amethyst Camera (E.L.A. Camera)

Cost: 2300 Beryls

  • Silkwood (Frame)
  • Goshenite (Lens)
  • Glass (Viewfinder)
  • Silver Mirror
  • Brass (Fittings, Gears)
  • Gold (Fittings, Gears)
  • Silk (Bellows)
  • Amethyst

  • Length: 18 cm
    Height: 12 cm
    Depth: 5 cm
    Lens size: 50 mm
    Weight: 100 g
    Maximum Zoom: x4

    Paper Size: 6 cm x 9 cm

    Amethyst Camera.png

    The original Aethercite camera, invented by Lumi Silvershade. the camera is small enough to fit in a pocket and light enough that most won't even notice that it's there. Despite being the original aethercite camera invented in Ledo around 50 years ago, it is still used by many photographers across the elven kingdom.

    Being one of the first cameras, the photos taken are rather small at 6x9 cm, which can be enlarged with an Aether Press with almost all details intact. Later versions of the camera have larger paper sizes, up to 12x18 cm.

    Using an amethyst crystal gives excellent sharpness and color quality. an issue with early ELA cameras was the violet glow in nearly all photographs. This glow is actually small concentrations of mana in the air that get amplified by the amethyst crystal. While the goshenite lens allows for very sharp photos, it doesn't negate the presence of mana.

    Later versions of this camera dropped the goshenite for plain glass that does block mana from interfering with the device, though the images aren't as sharp. The optimal material to use would be a diamond lens, but such a lens would also be absurdly expensive.

    As more refined versions of the device were produced, more and more features were added to it. the camera features a zoom fuction. It has manual focus, but also has a small piece of Eye Stone that can be used to autofocus the image. Later versions even feature a range finder.

    Lumi's portrait, one of the first ELA photos taken.

    Alexander Ruby Aethercite Camera (A.R.A. Camera)

    Cost: 500 Beryls

  • Cherrywood (Frame)
  • Glass (Lens)
  • Glass (Viewfinder)
  • Silver Mirror
  • Brass (Fittings, Gears)
  • Steel (Fittings, Gears)
  • Canvas (Bellows)
  • Ruby

  • Length: 24 cm
    Height: 21 cm
    Depth: 14 cm
    Lens size: 30 mm
    Weight: 200 g
    Maximum Zoom: x8

    Paper Size: 8 cm x 12 cm

    Ruby Camera.png

    Invented by a man named Immatius Alexander in the year 2991 IA. His initial idea for improving on the elven technology was to use three separate lenses, each burning the paper with either a ruby, sapphire, or emerald. The idea was that the colors would combine into a full color photo. This device proved to be complicated and expensive to build.

    Instead Immatius experimented with just a single lens and a ruby. At first, the photos were far too red, but he noticed the slightest hints of blues and greens. He later experimented with a clearer ruby and found richer colors in the photo. He started to use pink rubies, which gave the greatest color quality.

    While color retention ended up being excellent there is a little graininess, and the largest photo he could make with a ruby camera was around 8x12 cm. Like other photos, the use of an aetherpress is needed to enlarge it, though the blurriness and grain will become quite apparrent at larger sizes. A skilled painter can easily fix the imperfections though.

    Chryssa and Saya.jpg

    An example photo taken by an ARA camera.


    Author's Notes

  • I love mixing fake science with real science. It somehow paradoxically makes magical worlds make more sense!
  • This article is an entry into Magic March unofficial challenge by sunnybirdboi:
  • Magic March
    Generic article | Apr 7, 2024

    Welcome to March, which is Unofficial Challenge Month!

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    Mar 22, 2024 19:30 by Solitaire Quill

    Fantastic article, thoroughly enjoyed reading it and the artwork is superb. Love the cameras as well as the diagram explaining how the whole process works.

    Mar 25, 2024 19:24


    Mar 23, 2024 17:52

    Absolutely beautiful layout and a fascinating read!

    Mar 25, 2024 19:25

    Thank you!

    Mar 25, 2024 03:08 by Ephraïm Boateng

    What a cool article! i love how scientific and grounded the camera feels despite the fact that it works with magic. Big fan of the little infographic and the evolution of the original discovery into the A.R.A camera.

    Mar 25, 2024 19:31

    Thanks for reading and leaving this comment! I appreciate it!

    Apr 7, 2024 22:23 by Icarus Crow

    Congratulations on your participation in the Magic March challenge, and thank you so much for your entry! Here's your shiny badge!

    by sunnybirdboi via Canva
    [ img : 5379806 ]

    Check out my unofficial challenge for UOMarch, Magic March! ~ Icarus