Sunday, December 30, 2012

M is for Magical Materials

Magical materials may be manufactured, summoned out of nothingness, or mined and found in the manner of other minerals. None of them are particularly common, although only a handful of them could be considered truly rare, either. What follows is not a comprehensive list, but covers some of the more commonly known - and available (for varying levels of availability) materials - 

  • Adamant - Largely regarded as the hardest metal known to those-who-would-be-men. This is, perhaps, not strictly true, but it is correct enough for most purposes. Adamant 
  • Alkahest - The universal solvent, capable of dissolving almost any substance. Only a handful of substances can withstand its effects (mithril and diamonds among them), and those only with magical reinforcement.
  • Carmot - A blood-red stone, resembling garnet in color, but only slightly translucent. Carmot is fundamental in many advanced alchemical processes, and although naturally brittle, can be cast into a steel alloy that has its natural color, and depending on enchantment, any of several different effects - most commonly, carmot-steel blades are preternaturally sharp and hard, but also stiff, and so are normally forged into daggers, arrow-heads, and the like.
  • Cinnabryl - known more commonly as Red Steel, but this is a misnomer. Cinnabryl is the precursor to Red Steel, and is used in various alchemical and magical procedures (mostly of a defensive nature), during which its magical potency is slowly drained away, leaving Red Steel behind. Cinnabryl is known to be efficacious in warding off various magical radiations and curses, and is generally inimical to magical effects. As a result, many adventurers carry a small bit of it in a warded box or case. Red Steel is lighter than steel, and retains some small amount of its precursor's anti-magical powers, rendering it useful in weapons forged against those from Beyond, the Fair Folk, elementals, and various other conjured and magical beings. 
  • Cold Iron - one of few materials on this list whose magic - such as it is - is dependent solely on the way it is worked, and not on its makeup. Cold Iron is naturally-occurring iron that has been worked solely by impact, without the assistance of flame or heat. It therefore retains the innate anti-magical properties that iron has, and is inimical to the Fair Folk (and even elves and gnomes, though long removed from the Fae, do not like its touch overly much), and to many beings of the Outer Darkness as well. Because of the amount of work needed to create weapons of cold iron, and their lack of utility when compared to other weapons, they are rare, and armor made of cold iron is nearly non-existent. 
  • Cyrixogen - isolated and purified in alchemical vats, Cyrixogen is the crystalline essence of Water. In its native form, it is nearly impossible to work with, being so frigid that only frost elementals - or those blessed by their touch - can work with it. But when properly blended it can be used for a number of alchemical effects requiring the application of sudden amounts of cold. Cyrixogen crystals can also be alloyed, by suitably skilled (and frostbitten...) smith-mages into a metal known as Froststeel, which when properly enchanted carries the chill of its elemental heritage (and when not, can still temporarily be induced to simulate those frosty temperatures through the use of ice magics). 
  • Galvorn - the fabled dark-elven steel, flexible and lightweight as mithril, yet as hard and strong as the finest dwarven alloys. Few examples exist in the sun-lit lands - some legends say that the strange radiations of the enormous caverns where the Drow and the shadow-elves make their home somehow reinforce or purify Galvorn, and without periodic exposure to those strange rays - or enchantments to render it immune to time - it decays into powder. 
  • Mithril - the elven true-silver. Lightweight, flexible, yet surpassingly tough, mithril-alloy (sometimes called feathersteel) maile shirts and byrnies are renowned for their protection, and rapiers and long swords made of mithril or mithril-steel are highly sought after by those who prefer skill and a precise cut to raw power.
  • Oricalchum - called alternately "dwarven brass", "mountain brass", true-gold, or golden steel, Orichalcum is an alchemical alloy of gold, steel, and a secret mix of esoteric metals found in the depths of various Dwarven mining strongholds. Strong and flexible, but heavier than common steel, Orichalcum takes enchantment readily, and dwarven smiths prefer it to mithril. 
  • Phlogiston - the elemental essence of Fire - purified and rarefied in alchemical furnaces into an extremely unstable crystalline form. Normally, this crystal is then mixed with other materials to reduce its natural instability, and used in various pyrotechnic and explosive applications. Skilled smith-mages can alloy it with steel to produce Firesteel, a magical alloy that channels heat in one direction only, a trick dwarven smiths use to make forge-safe tools, and dragon-safe armor and weapons.
  • Stygian Bronze - the weapons of those who did not agree are as varied and esoteric as their own being - and in many cases are as much a part of them as their own hands. But many of those known as Demons in the common parlance wield weapons of this strange metal. Stygian Bronze is itself as inimical to the life of All-That-Is as those who wield it are - its very touch can sicken those-who-would-be-Man, and wounds dealt by them often fester and rot, and are hard to heal with mortal methods, or even divine magics. 
  • Elysian Brass - The actual provenance of Elysian Brass is debatable. It was unknown in the Old Countries, and there are differing stories of how the implements made of it - and the rare stores of unworked ingots - came to be. The most common, if least plausible, story found in deciphered and translated manuscripts is that the beings known as the Grand Titans forged their implements of Elysian Brass in the Beginnings of Time, and all of the currently existing examples of it date from their actions. Whether this is true or not is unknown. What is known is that Elysian Brass is surpassingly durable, takes a keen edge, and - despite the reputation of the Grand Titans as monstrous beings of ineffable design - naturally puissant against those who did not agree
  • Yxium - also called Etherium crystals. Yxium crystals are naturally occurring, but exceedingly rare. They have the unusual property that gravity's effect on them is reversed - instead of falling down towards Creation (as most other things naturally do, absent the action of wings, magic, or certain alchemical effects), Yxium crystals fall away from it. This obviously causes no small measure of difficulty in mining, storing, and refining it, but the substance sees some use in objects that need to be made less weighty, and in the (rare, but not unknown) skyships, particularly those of the dwarven nation of Simlatin.