Sorcerers manipulate the Runes, giving form to the energy of the world. When they act upon the physical world, they do it by manipulating the energy which fills the world to cause a desired effect.
Alchemy on the other hand, manipulates the matter from which Glorantha was given form. By uniting the natural materials, they enhance the natural magic stored within, to create magical effects.
While the majority of Alchemists exist amongst the dwarves, they are found in other cultures. The cult of Lanbril has picked up many alchemical secrets over the years, which they use with illicit intent. The Orlanthi practice it in small secretive subcults, such as Jera and Arroin the Herbalists, or Torvald the Alchemist. In Kralorela, Alchemists are as common as sorcerers or shamans, and treated with great respect.
Science or Magic?
In the real world, the parts of alchemy which worked became the foundations of chemistry and and other related sciences. And a lot of alchemical creations will have recipes that will look to our minds as if they function via scientific principles rather than magic. Does that mean they are natural and not magical?
But what is nature? Glorantha is a cube of earth floating in an endless sea. It is a world where things fall because a goddess pulls things downwards. It is a world where everything has a spark of magic inside it. Even those things that may seem perfectly natural to us, are mystical secrets to Gloranthans. Including the magic of Alchemy.
|A typical Alchemic Creation: A Kralori Abacus|
A Creation is something you use. Each one is a combination of magical metals, crystals, and other substances, turned into an object which can be manipulated to work magic. The specific requirements of each Creation are so important that each Creation has a single result. As with spells, a Game Master should take a literal approach to Creation usage, and if it seems like a stretch, it is not possible to use the Creation in that way. Also like spells, Creations can always be used directly.
Creations can be learned and improved like any other ability. They may be abilities on their own, or as part of a collection called a Panoply.
A Panoply is a collection of Creations joined together by function, often associated with a cult or organization. One Panoply may be devoted to weapons of war, another may be comprised of healing potions. While sometimes a Panoply is associated with a specific Rune, others may be associated with many or even none.
Each Panoply may be taken as either a stand-alone ability, or as a breakout from an associated occupational Keyword. For example A stonemason may take a Panoply associated with masonry as a breakout from their Stonemason Keyword. A Panoply should receive a brief description on your character sheet for guidance on what Creations may fall under it.
If you start the game with a Panoply, you may choose or create five Creations which fall within its remit.
These are some of the sample devices and substances that can be created and used through Alchemy. Not all cultures will know of them, and many will know others; but these are some of the more common ones found in Glorantha.
- Flare. These Creations are made from rare minerals, including rune metals, ground up into powder, and stored within a ceramic jar. When ignited, the powder creates a bright light. The runic metal used in the Flare determines its colour. Gold Produces a bright yellow, silver is used for pure white light, etc.
- Abacus. Also known as a Counting-tray, this Creation is made out of rune metals, with rune carved stones or crystals strung across wires, or in slots cut into the metal. By the manipulation of the stones, the user can perform magical calculations far beyond the reach of mortals.
- Vitriol. When the gods warred before time, they lost much blood across the world, which formed into crystals. The alchemist can reverse the process of crystallization, returning the ichor to liquid form. Unfortunately, the resultant liquid is vile, having born the pain of the gods, and burns through most other forms of matter, making it a useful weapon, or tool to dissolve objects.
- Healing Potion. Despite many healers wishing for a cure-all, this Creation is actually a range of different ones. Each one is devoted to healing a particular illness or wound. They are created through a range of natural substances; such as rare earths and minerals, plant parts, or animal organs, all processed together.
- Buserian's Frame. This Creation was developed from Dara Happan celestology in the first age, and was adopted by many others. It consists of a tin map of the sky world, divided up by the celestial houses. Atop it rests a frame of silver, marked with the runes of stars. When rotated in accordance with the calendar, this device mirrors the movements of the stars in the heavens. It is most useful for marking certain heavenly events, such as the procession of Orlanth's Ring, for the purpose of magical rituals.
- Putrified Copper. Also known as Dark Copper, Ge-Metal, and other names, this alchemical metal is produced by transmuting regular copper together with Esrolian Rubies within a crucible. The result is a stronger form of Copper, tainted with the blood of the Earth goddesses, infusing it with a lust for death.
- Smoke Bomb. The Smoke Bomb is the Flare's antithesis, and produced in much the same way. However the runic metal used is Lead, and instead of producing light, it instead it gives off a dark cloud of smoke. It is especially prized by darkness cults, for they can use the darkness to summon shades, even in daylight.
- Glue. This Creation merges the adhesive properties of many materials such as tree sap, or tar, to create a more powerful glue, which can join any two objects together. Many different recipes exist for these substances, and will often vary in duration; some being so weak as to last a few hours, others being discovered which are as strong now as a thousand years before.
- Compass. This Creation typically involves an aluminium fish floating in a bowl of mercury. The fish's mouth always points towards the Homeward Ocean and Magasta's pool. This Creation allows its user to "Determine their Heading".
- Tanien's Water. Originally called Dwarven Fire, this tar-like substance was renamed after the folly of the God Learners. Formed from a specific mixture of Earthblood, powdered limestone, and ashes, the resulting ooze can be ignited to create a fire which cannot be extinguished through nonmagical means.
Occupational Keyword: Alchemist
Alchemists unite magical materials, combining them in mystical ways so that they can perform magical acts. They are literate, and have a knowledge of codes to conceal their secrets from the uninitiated. In barbarian lands, Alchemists are commonly seen as dangerous sorcerers, and viewed with caution, if not hatred. In civilized cities, they are given respect for their powers.
Alchemists begin with a Panoply with five Creations. You do not have to select them all at start of play.
Standard of Living: Common
Patron Deity: None