In modern times, alchemy has become significantly more conservative, with many describing it as simply chemistry with magic applied.
Alchemists in the 11th century, especially Europe, desired to create elixirs to cure disease, produce wealth and to gain glory and everlasting life, and many of their pursuits were carried with out these goals in mind. Most notably ancient wizards sought to transform metals into gold and silver, but struggled in doing so. It would not be until atoms and elements were properly understood in the age of science that gold was eventually produced as early as the 19th century.
The fabled Philosopher's Stone was said to be a powerful magical object capable of producing an elixir to sustain everlasting life, and to turn metal into gold, and was said to be a hard, blood-red stone. Many magihistorians believe this to be possibly Areum, though it being in its crystaline solid state and entirely exposed is a mystery. The quests by alchemists to find a universal solvent led to the study and first uses of acids, while the search for aqua vitae ("water of life") contributed to the study of ethanol and brewing of liquors.
Ironically, the pursuit of the fantastic and mystical yielded great breakthroughs and contributions to everyday life and the mundane. Alchemy led to advances and great additions to ore testing and refining, metaworking, paints, inks, comsetics, extracts, liquor-making, manufacture of glass and ceramics, and eventually gunpowder.
Alchemists differed from other wizards in several ways, such as being the earliest wizards to emphasize a focus on science and experimentation. The Alchemist's Orb was a channeling device typically favored by Alchemists instead of wands.
Modern Day Edit
During the Age of Enlightenment and scientific revolution, alchemy's more fantastical goals became discredited and were often roundly mocked by non-wizards, rationalists and wizards alike. This resulted in a transformation of the practice into its modern form, which is closely linked with science and chemistry and is extremely conservative by comparison, for example applying the scientific method and turning into a serious study of elements, the periodic table, and the effect of magic on atoms and molecular structures.
Thanks to the aid of alchemy, humanity has achieved practical nuclear fusion power generation by the late 1990s. Radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel is converted by alchemists into inert, useful materials, an example of a successful magical industry in the modern world.
Alchemy is taught in schools with magic courses. For example, Advanced Alchemy is a 300-level magic class taught by James Hendelsworth at San Francisco State University. Charlie Lang was particularly skilled in it, turning lithium into beryllium with an almost 100% success rate and leaving no discernible traces of the original element behind.
Alchemy in the modern age is an extremely precise and sometimes dangerous brand of magic, as it involves manipulation of elements and chemicals. Some practicing alchemists are conservative and only attempt procedures that have been tried and true, while others are highly experimental and constantly look for new methods and new arrangements of molecules. Some attempts have been made to synthesize Red Matter both with alchemy and traditional non-magical means, though this has had very limited success.
- Transmutation is the process of converting one substance or material to another. This process requires magic.
- The wizard must be able to comprehend and understand the object that they are manipulating. They must be familiar with its atomic structure and how bonds are formed, how electrons are exchanged and how energy will be transferred when the atom is converted.
- The wizard must be able to deconstruct the material into its base components and reconstruct it, being able to successfully and safely initiate a chemical reaction and exchange of energy and components. Magical energy is used at this point to assist in reshaping and re-configuring the matrices of materials into new forms. These new forms must be stable and sustainable according to the laws of science, otherwise a catastrophic magical explosion may occur if the material collapses back into reality once magical energy ceases to be applied.
- Alchemy requires a firm grasp or full understanding of chemistry. It is extremely dangerous to attempt transmutation without it. A barrage of chemistry classes are required by law at all educational institutions before students are allowed to Alchemy classes in most countries, and these classes are considered advanced upper-division courses.
- Law of Conservation of Mass states that matter cannot be destroyed. It can be disassembled but the residual component parts will always equal the original mass of the object before transformation. Mass can be converted into energy, however, but not without its limitations and this is incredibly difficult to do and can be disastrous if not performed correctly.
- Law of Conservation of Energy states that energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only converted and transferred.
- Law of Equal Exchange states simply that it is impossible to make something out of nothing, and the material to process the materialization or materialization of an object must always come from somewhere, be it existing components present or magical energy from subspace. This law is always true and cannot be bypassed. In order to create or destroy, an equal amount of material must be created or destroyed elsewhere to maintain equilibrium. Failure to observe this law will result in reality asserting itself and forcing equal exchange, which can have explosive and fatal results.
Like all magic, alchemy cannot be performed without the use of a channeling device or beyond the Red Line. Alchemists however generally do not use full-sized wands to conduct their work, preferring instead to use Alchemist Sticks.