Thursday, May 30, 2019

Six Facts About Metal

1. There are many types of metal.

Rillerick Ingerwald is famous for categorizing the metals into groups based on their nobility.  He found that these groups repeated according to a periodic structure, which he used to map out all possible metals.  He discovered that there are an infinite number of metals, including some that are liquid, gas, and even (theoretical) plasma.

Although there are an infinite number of metals, they can still be ranked by luster, conductivity, nobility (incorruptibility), sanctity (impermeability to demons), and theoretical monetary value.

Ingerwald was especially interested in the last category.  Although he never managed to transmute any of the natural metals into gold, he did manage to transmute them into some of his newly discovered metals, and was greatly disappointed when few agreed with his calculated values of worth, although some of them should have been worth nearly as much as gold.

Some of these metals include:

Gordican, which can only exist in spherical shapes and was nearly useless except as a method of manufacturing spheres.

Cratium, which increases in mass as its velocity increases.  Very desirable for projectiles, but too soft to make effective arrowheads.

Zantium, which has a "grain", similar to wood.  This allows it to flex in one plane while remaining rigid in another.

Borboridon, a theorized metal which increases in both density and softness with time, as it captures radiation.

Gandium, a theorized metal which impacts all other solid and liquid materials as if they were crystalline.

Praxium, a theorized metal of near-infinite sharpness.  It turns to lead if it ever stops moving.

2. The best metal is gold.

It is known as the most noble of all materials, because it cannot be stained, corroded, or debased.

Gold is what gives the world worth.  This is not a human opinion, but instead a universal law.  In fact, it is possible to calculate the gold required for an almost any physical process or reaction.  The universe can be described in milligrams of gold easier than it can be described in joules or electron-volts.

We value it because the universe values it.

3. The hardest metal is adamantium.

Adamantium isn't just hard the way that steel is "hard", it is hard the way that the Pythagorean theorem is true.  Once a piece of adamantium has cooled, its atoms are (nearly) immovable with respect to each other.

Most items made of adamantium are thinner than you might think, since a small piece is just as strong as a large piece.  The size of adamantine items has more to do with the difficulty of forging them.

Let's get this out of the way: 'Adamantine' is an adjective.  'Adamantite' is an ore.  'Adamantium' is the finished product.

Adamantite ore is found only in starfalls.  Once it has been forged, the metal is beyond strength.  Many speculate that the metal becomes lost to time, impervious to any change at all.  An adamantium object will survive the heat death of the universe.  When the solar system collapses into a black hole, it will be covered with adamantine swords.

Speaking of adamantine swords: the best adamantine swords are mostly made from steel.  Only the merest sliver near the cutting edge is made from adamantium, since an adamantium toothpick is as strong as adamantium girder.  The steel is only there to give it weight, since a featherweight sword is still a poor cutting instrument.

Modern forging techniques has yet to replicate those swords, however.  The best that modern smiths have achieved are some (admittedly impressive) axes.

The cutting ability of an adamantium weapon is decent, at best.  Since the blade can never be sharpened, the edge can only be honed prior to quenching.  No one is certain how the ancient blacksmiths sharpened their adamantium blades to such a fine point, but that information would be worth a fortune if it were rediscovered in some ancient dungeon.

Adamantium makes for better armor than weapons, although it is defeated by its cost.  Any king who can afford a suit of adamantine armor can also afford an army--and that king is much better served by the army.

Because of this, newly claimed adamantite is usually destined for architecture or furniture.

There are a few different ways to forge adamantium. 

Everyone knows that adamantium is forged in the fires of hell.  All of the greatest swords in Centerra were hell-forged.  Strip away the swordgrip of Saint Handrayda and you will find a hell-sword, bound, purified, and annointed.

A less-commonly known way to forge Adamantine is through the blasphemy-forges of the dwarves, who build blasphemy-wheels to light their furnaces.  (Just as prayer-wheels submit a prayer whenever they revolve, so does a blasphemy-wheel provoke divine wrath.)  Once the blasphemy-wheels are spun up to an appropriate velocity, they use divine lightning to create an arc furnace of incomprehensible power.

All of the builders and blacksmiths go to Hell, of course, but dwarves don't believe in Hell.  And the great blasphemy furnaces have a limited lifespan.  They hang from the roofs of great caverns by adamantine chains, but even those chains and the systems of counterweights are eventually shaken loose by the furious earthquakes that assault the region.

It is also a perfect insulator, but few people care about the insulating properties of adamantium, since it isn't very relevant to swords.  Still, the thermal sensation of adamantium is closer to styrofoam than steel.

It is commonly believed that adamantite meteors are actually fragments of the original sun, which displeased the Authority with its blasphemy.

An advanced stage of the disease.

4. There are four adamantine superstructures in Centerra.

The Forbiddance is an enormous wall between Clavenhorn and Mondaloa.  It is about a mile thick and twice as high.  It is not known how deep it descends into the ground.  The inside is a labyrinth of passages which convene on the Forbidden Highway, a cylindrical tunnel 500 feet wide that eventually terminates above the Sea of Kaskala when the Highway abruptly terminates in the sky.

It is largely abandoned, its magnetic treasures long since stripped away.

The Bastion of Medurak is the dam that holds back the Saltsea.  It is difficult to reach the original structure beneath the salt deposits, but patient excavation will yield it.  The crystalline desposits grow in strange, repetitive patterns.  Many claim that they spell out words.

Near the Bastion is the Cloud Factory, by far the smallest structure on this list.  It captures the moisture that would form over the deserts of Fangol.  The resultant clouds are sent to the west, beyond the knowledge of our maps.  Their final destination is unknown.

Lastly, there is the Golden Road, named not for its material but for the toll to cross it.  It doesn't seem to have been constructed as a bridge, but that's what we use it for.  (It actually seems to be the rim of a ring-shaped object, now mostly buried.  Frustratingly, it seems to have doors on it, and yet lifetimes have been spent trying to pry up the least fragment.)

The Golden Road is large enough that entire families have been born, grown up, and died in its shadow.  Houses cling the side of it like barnacles.  Some are solid brick.  Some wicker shacks dangle like the nests of bowerbirds.  And two hundred feet below, the familial dhows pull up fat tuna from beside ramshackle quays.

At the south end is the city of Bospero, the greatest conurbation in the world.  The Glorious God of Golden Fish is usually moored somewhere in the middle.  And at the north end is the cursed city of Nibulum.

5. Immortality can be derived from metal.

Many people know of the Transmetallic Alchemists.  Very few know what they do.

They are a semi-secret society.  Their above-ground activities include alchemy franchises and an annual fair in Bospero that features fireworks, automatons (especially cuckoo clocks), and fantastic jewelry.  They also buy interesting objects from sketchy grave-robbers, no questions asked.

Their secret goals usually boil down to the accumulation of mundane power (usually through boring infiltration of established institutions) and the pursuit of immortality.

Just as necromancy frequently culminates in lichdom, so does a Transmetallic Alchemist's career frequently culminate in the transmutation of their own body into liquid adamantium (which they refer to as the magician's metal).

While the Transmetallicum claim that the feat is possible (and was achieved in olden times), no recent examples of flawless success exist.  Most neophytes struggle to overcome the first step in the process, which is the consumption of large quantities of liquid mercury.

This is not to say that there Transmetallicum are not without their successes.  In their ranks, you will find alchemists with steel bones, plates of flexible armor beneath their skin, and monstrous powers of magnetism.  They know the secrets of azoth, aqua regia, and the alchemical oblate.  It is just that they have so far failed to capture their holy grail: to secret of transforming objects and creatures into adamantium.

6. Metal can get sick.

Like all other materials, metal can be poisoned, fall ill, and be possessed by demons (a cursed weapon).

The most common affliction of metal is rust, which is a disease that only metal can get.  It is commonly transmitted by water, which is why iron must avoid water, and why rust seems to spread from a single infection, much like a fungus.

Another metal-vector disease is soft rot, which eventually causes bones to become soft.  First like rubber, then like jelly.  Death can come early (from damage to the brain or heart) or late (from respiratory failure).  Soft bones flex painlessly, but the early stages of the disease are accompanied by shooting pains in the limbs.

Although the disease can infect humans, its real target is metal.  Afflicted iron becomes pale, loses its luster, and eventually becomes crumbly.  Small, spiral worms hatch from the quickening metal, each one small enough to fit under your fingernail.  They disperse by flying away in flocks, where they are usually eaten by insects.


  1. *Nice*. Can adamantite be allowed with other metals?

    1. Don't know. I'll decide once I figure out an interesting reason why or why not.

  2. This is a very interesting article! I actually commented about alchemy and transmutation of metals in another blog post recently:

    And would be curious about your thoughts on the philosophical or metaphysical implications of an alchemy centered on silver (or some other metal) rather than gold.

    Also, I'm very interested in the "newly discovered metals" you discuss at the beginning of the article. I've played with the idea of new elements and metals as well, but I'm thinking I might need to revisit this. This may speak to my ignorance, but where did those names for the metals come from? I'd definitely like to read more about them if you follow up on this post!

    1. Fun post! I like the idea of carried jewelry doing something useful. I thought the people who eat silver were just going to develop argyria for a second.

      I'm afraid I don't have any good silver ideas at the moment. I've played around with silver being (a) depleted gold, (b) impermeable to ghosts since it is undead itself, (c) created in the earth beneath the sites of huge tragedies, since it is formed from the earth's tears. You could also do something with silver:gold::moon:sun if you want, or play around with the more exotic uses of silver (cloud seeding, photography, or vark).

      The metal names are purely invented. Some of the seed words in the back of my brain were Gordian Knot, pankration, Zant from Twilight Princess, and borborygmus, because those are just fun words (in both concept and euphony).

    2. Ooooh! I like! And I got gold covered:

      gonna definitely incorporate both your posts, as well as the old one about modron metal...

      I guess copper oughta be tackled, too...

    3. I'm worried there is a misunderstanding, that blog post I linked is not my blog! I just wrote a comment there that I thought was relevant to this post here! My blog is:

      The hmmmarquis blog is excellent though!

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