Note: I am slowly converting Nephilim, an old Chaosium game, over to Dresden Files FATE. I am just flopping all the posts on my blog because I can tag and collect them all later. This stuff is in no particular order. You can buy Nephilim in PDF from DriveThruRPG for ~$17. You should also buy Dresden Files RPG.
Where Sorcery is the Nephilim bread and butter and Summoning is the Nephilim big stick, Alchemy is the particle physics of the Nephilim universe.
Alchemy is quantum weirdness and super string theory and math applied to the mystical realms. It allows Nephilim to dig around in the superstructure of the universe beneath the ley lines of Ka and mess with the fundamentals. In the right hands – or, more to the point, the wrong hands – Alchemy is powerful.
The roots of Alchemy starts, much like Summoning, in the Jewish communities of the Levant in the 1st century AD after the Coming of the Fool. It slowly spread down into Alexandria and into the Arabian Peninsula. Mostly developed in the burgeoning explosion of science in the new Muslim Caliphate centered in Iraq, the core research was laid down first by Geber the Arab (721-815) and later the Persian Avicenna (980-1036). Alchemy spread back into Western Europe through Moorish Spain where it was pushed and pulled and manipulated into its current form. Albert Magnus (1193-1280) codified it in his book Liber Mineralia. Once Western European Nephilim laid hands on the core foundations of Alchemy, many disappeared into their laboratories convinced it was the key to unlocking the power of the Universe without needing to ascend to Agartha. Infinite Godlike power in the here and now.
Where Summoning is about angels and demons and Enochian language and spirits and religious trappings, Alchemy is cold, clinical and mathematical. Alchemists consider themselves the true scientists of the Nephilim underworld using tools and experiments and hypothesis to slowly build the science of Alchemy. They have an alchemical liturgy not unlike higher mathematics to describe their work and turn alchemy into repeatable, reusable formulae. Alchemists believe if they come up with the right mathematical formulae describing magic, power and substance, they can manipulate a universal spirit underlying all things – the Spiritus Mundi.
The center of the Alchemist’s world is the Athanor, a mystical oven used to burn down powders and forge substances used in Alchemical formulae. The Athanor is a small, brick domed square tower, about five feet tall. Inside the Athanor is a small egg-shaped glass vessel in a sandbath over a fire. Whenever a Nephilim Alchemist reincarnates, he first finds a good place to work with decent ventilation, and then he builds a new Athanor.
In practice, Alchemical spells are pre-prepared powders the Nephilim carries around in vials in a pocket of a jacket or a bag. Instead of needing to murmur the words of a Focus, as in Sorcery, or drawing a Pentagram to Summon a creature at the time of casting, the Alchemist uses “Just in Time” casting with powders to evoke prepared change.
Next… some basic rules for Alchemy and how Alchemy in FATE is radically simplified from Alchemy in BRP.