Alchemy is a semi-spiritual, scientific approach to understanding the universe – and manipulating it. This skill represents training in, and skill at using alchemy. Alchemy is worked through Transmutation Circles, which are described fully further below. It can substitute for Lore on matters of science and alchemy.
Alchemical reactions abide by various natural laws, the greatest of which is Equivalent Exchange. Energy and matter can’t be created or destroyed. When there is an imbalance it is corrected upon the alchemist – a process called Backlash. As a science, it isn’t fully understood, and there are many hypotheses to the underlying forces.
Overcome: Alchemy is used to draw, defuse, and modify transmutation circles.
Create Advantage: You can use Alchemy to create (or reveal) aspects representing features and flaws in alchemical processes, as well as professional habits of alchemists.
Attack: Alchemy isn’t used to direct attack. It is rolled when using a Transmutation Circle.
Defend: Not used to defend.
Alchemists use Transmutation Circles to direct alchemical energies to their ends. Rearranging the components of the world against their natural processes is a difficult task. Anything more than crude remoulding of a pure substance requires more concentration than a human can hold at one time.
There are two broad stages in regards to Transmutation Circles – preparation and execution. Preparation consists of gathering resources, knowledge, and developing an alchemical reaction circle. Execution involves charging the circle with your will and hoping for the best. As the less involved step, execution will be described first.
Alchemists tend to have specialities, and often have one circle that they understand deeply. To represent this, we’ll use the Gadgets and Gear rules (TK. 154). Each circle has a Function and Flaw – two aspects that describe it (these do not take from your characters’).
In addition to this, the circle has a rating, inferring a bonus to Alchemy rolls using it. This rating represents both the complexity of circle and the alchemist’s understanding of it. It is difficult to use another alchemist’s Circles for this reason. A high rating circle is either complicated and uses specialised knowledge, or simple and rely on an alchemist.
A Circle has a refresh cost like a stunt. This is equal to one plus one for each stunt/purpose the circle has, minus one for each flaw.
Using a Circle
- Declare aim of transmutation. The GM will determine the complexity required, a set a relevant threshold. (Same guidelines as Bending below, or otherwise equivalent to the threshold for using another appropriate skill)
- Roll Alchemy plus a bonus equal to the Circle’s rating, against the target complexity. This can be drawn out over several turns. Choose an amount of power and roll Alchemy to control it. Repeat until spell is charged. Take mental stress if Alchemy roll fails to meet the power, or let energy free and lose all collected.
- Use Fight, Will (or relevant other skill) to direct the effect if need be. Fight for using created weaponry, Will for directing a reaction beyond the Circle (eg. Mustang’s flames). This roll is opposed by the target to dodge or endure.
Creating/Modifying a Circle
Drawing a circle is easy – if you already know it. Whipping one up on the fly is very difficult. Even copying someone else’s is wrought with danger.