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- Other Names
- Alchemy as a practice involves the study and manufacture of various mundane and magical substances from a variety of plant, animal or mineral sources.
- Alchemical preparations can be divided into general categories based on function. Drugs or other psychoactive substances may belong in one or more categories depending on its common uses or purpose.
- Individual alchemists will have a collection of recipes, either learned from their teachers, and peers, or developed through study and experiments. These are closely guarded trade secrets, and highly unique to the individual practitioner. Any two alchemists could use similar ingredients in different portions to produce comparable substances, but the appearance, process of manufacture, potency, and application will vary widely.
- Brewed or distilled alcohols, culinary herbs and spices, and other substances intended for consumption. More practically addressed by cooks or brewers, alchemists can and do produce a number of products which require more specialized knowledge or complex processes.
- Medicinal substances are typically cures for specific ailments, or general tonics which aid in the recovery from injury or disease. This category includes many common or widely known herbal preparations.
- Medicines intended to combat the symptoms and causes of specific ailments. Antidotes which counter the effects of specific toxins are considered specialized curatives.
- Medicines intended to help boost health and ward off potential ailments. Most tonics fall under this category.
- Medicines which are intended to aid patients in recovery from illness or injury. Pain relievers are a common class of restorative medicines.
- Practical substances include dyes, lubricants, sealants, or other functional substances used in industry, or crafts.
- Poisons, or other toxic substances cause harm to individuals which are exposed to them through contact, ingestion or other application. The effects and lethality of toxins cover a wide range of possibilities.
- The deadliest toxins affect the nervous or cardiovascular systems, causing cardiac arrest or paralysis of the requisite muscles for breathing. Fluid build up in lungs or swelling to constrict airways are other effects with relatively quick results. Some blister agents cause massive tissue damage and formation of fluid filled blisters, which can cause suffocation if in the airway of the victim.
- Slower acting toxins may cause long term organ damage, or neurological effects through toxic accumulation. These are less likely to be dramatic, or detected given the limits of medical knowledge.
- Poisons (toxic when metabolized or absorbed)
- Poisons can be animal sourced; secreted from skin glands, or built up toxins in their tissues. More often they are plant sourced and most effective when ingested or absorbed through skin contact. Some require a secondary substance which works as a catalyst to turn them poisonous. There are chemical poisons as well which generally require accumulation in a victim to reach toxic levels; poisonous gases or heavy metals for example.
- Venoms (injectible poison from living source)
- Commonly from snakes, lizards and insects or other arthropods, although rare examples include venomous fish, mammals, molluscs and birds.
- While all alchemy is viewed as magic to a certain degree, magical preparations are purported to grant effects outside the purview of the other categories.