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Dec 02, 2022 12:32 AM
allegra is transported to the bronze orchard
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Conradia isn't particularly Wise, but she does have good Sense Motive. You kind of have to have it if you want to survive in Cheliax for any significant amount of time.

She looks up and clicks her tongue.

"I'll ask Rendon whether he'll approve me taking some diamond dust and powdered opal from the warehouse to cast Symbol of Scrying. It will notify us if someone moves too close to the bowls and will let us observe them, but only once. It's very expensive, though, so I don't think he'll like it.

In any case, I'll get the materials you asked for earlier to detect mana flows."


"That sounds like a lot of trouble..." she has said before her brain catches up with her mouth. "Uh, I mean, thank you?

What do we need to do next. Crafter. Sketching. Sorry, I can just about contribute when there's something obvious I should be doing, but, the headache."


"You're welcome. That's fine, I understand. I think we can push off the expedition for a day or two: it seems that we'll have to prepare more for it anyway. Besides, I'll have to go have a talk with Rendon to handle the expedition. I'm the only seventh-circle wizard here, and my spell slots are very valuable. If I'm leaving, the other wizards have to pick up the slack in ensuring we have a good selection of spells on hand. We don't want to rely on our stored scrolls or wands unless it's an emergency or an urgent task."

She says pleasantries to everyone else in the room, and they disperse. She takes Allegra back to the magic workshops to see Claro. She explains the situation to him.

"I'll be back in about half an hour. I just want to check on the project I'm working on."


Claro looks up and takes off his loupe. He's currently sitting on a workbench. He stands up and moves to a different empty bench, and then lays out chairs for the two of them to sit down at. There are various writing materials and drafting implements on the table.

"So, bowls." He claps his hands.


"Okay. So. The fundamental principle here is, a surface that increases crystallisation sites. Do you have a working understanding of crystallisation of, uh, ordinary crystals out of saturated solutions, or do I need to start a little further back?"


"Oh dear, alchemy. Not experienced with that. I know that crystallization works by concentrating a solution more and more until crystals precipitate, but I don't know what the surface has to do with it."

He's ready to start taking notes with his dip pen.


"Okay. This isn't my specialist subject, but essentially, there are a few things that help crystals start precipitating - mostly, surface area, the potential for trapped air, things that are rough, ideally porous. But not too porous, or the crystal will get 'stuck' in the pore and not form properly.

Also we're looking at leaving these bowls in a quickly made shelter outside in the Scar, so they've got to be pretty durable and not fall over easily and all of that.

A traditional design is essentially a 'hammered' texture - so you have a lot of individual dents, and you roughen some of the points between the dents, and the crystal starts to form on the rough spot and then falls into the dip once it gets to be a certain size. Those work best when you can actually calibrate to the solution, and I don't think we know the characteristics of any of the solutions we're using, though.

Another way of doing it is to lay strings of a rougher material in a bowl that is just a bowl, or that has attachment points so that you can lay down a web of threads - this tends to get you much smaller, more uneven crystals, often you then transfer those to a hammered bowl and have little sockets at the points for the seed crystals, but that sounds like we'd have to make more visits to tend the site.

I'm sorry, is any of this making sense? I'm just kind of rambling on the topic."


Claro writes quickly, making bullet points of what Allegra is saying, subvocalizing portions of what she's said.

"You're making sense. I think tomorrow I'll prepare Silent Image so that you can tell me whether the shape is correct I'm thinking of making, and also so that Conradia has an easier time Fabricating it. Usually she can just visualize the three-dimensional image from blueprints, but if it's difficult she'll ask us to make a Silent Image for her to fit her Fabrication to.

What material is best for the bowl? Clay, stone, ceramic, bronze, steel, or something else? What properties does it need to have?

We can try both options. Only the first bowl needs to be custom-made. We have regular large bowls already available here."


"Especially if you're using the hammered bowl approach, the other surfaces need to be smooth and non-porous, that's usually easiest in bronze - especially as we also need weather resistance, although I don't know if the pools are acidic, that might also be a consideration?

You can also do it with ceramics, which makes it easier to leave the rough surfaces in after glazing the rest, but I don't know how that interacts with Fabricate - if you can shape the material how you like, but it's easier to use a single material, bronze is probably the best bet. Clay tends not to hold the porous surfaces as well as other ceramics.

Sometimes the hammered-bowl method uses little chunks of pumice as the point material, if we can make very arbitrary shapes out of multiple materials that might work quite well, usually it's awkward to get the pumice seated securely enough.

With just a normal bowl, one useful approach can be seeding it with tiny bits of pumice, which provide crystallisation sites without having to be directly attached to anything, that might be worth trying too; I'm really not sure which one will be best in the circumstances we've got."


"True. The waters are likely to be acidic. I could see if we have enchanted bronze or any enchanted metal around, which will not corrode, but that's expensive. I could see if the alchemical labs have them, though.

Fabricate can only transform one thing of a single material into another thing of the same material. We'd need several castings if you want multiple materials. We could totally just make a regular ceramic bowl with Fabricate or via mundane methods and then glaze and fire it. After Fabricate is cast, the end-product is indistinguishable from one made by mundane methods, provided both the caster and the artisan are competent."



"If we can specify it very precisely, then I think we can use bronze for the whole thing - we could even try different pore structures in different places to see which one does the best. I really don't know what acid will do to it though, I just vaguely remember it's not good for metals. Maybe we should run this all past an alchemist as well, if your kind of alchemist does crystallisation? Ours are mostly to do with combinations of magical herbs into potions, which doesn't really involve the same kind of - inorganic stuff?"


"I see. I think it would be best if you can sketch the pore structures. It depends on the sort of acid, but bronze usually corrodes and turns green. I'll ask the alchemists for their opinion too. Our alchemists tend with both? They use both organic and inorganic substances in their extracts and potions.

I'm not sure if they do much work with crystallization, though. Our alchemists tend to not really work with mundane alchemy, but instead infuse magic into it to recreate arcane or divine magic. By mundane alchemy, I mean anything that doesn't react to Detect Magic."


"I can give it a go, but I'll basically be guessing; all I actually know is, pumice is good, rough twine is good for lots of little seed crystals, luffa or sea sponge is a bit too much."


"We can try two with a pumice-like structure and a regular bowl with hooks for rough twine. Let me fetch one of our alchemists. They work in an adjacent room."

He leaves and enters said adjacent room. The door seems to imply that it's a smaller room. He comes back after several minutes with a woman named Sera. She has goggles on.

"We have iron containers in the laboratories that are specially enchanted to be chemically inert. No need to work with bronze. Claro – no, you're only fourth-circle, right?" he nods, "– some other wizard can Fabricate the enchanted iron containers into what you need. Once they're done, then they can Fabricate it back into the same containers. The enchantment isn't dependent on shape, so it will remain stable even after the reshaping."

Claro makes a clicking sound with his tongue and smiles. Sera sticks around.

"Well, there we go. Problem solved. Did Conradia mean for you to work with us on any other things, or is that the last of it? It...looks like you could use a break. I'll draft the plans and get a stronger wizard to craft the bowls for you. "


"I'm not sure having a break will actually help, it's good to have things to keep my mind off it," replies Allegra. "She's going to be back in - half an hour, minus however long we've been at it? - anyway, so I should probably stick around here, if I'm not in the way.

Is it going to be okay to be using those enchanted bowls for a while? It's likely to be a couple of weeks before we get any results I can be sure of, and three months before we're done with the first batch."


"It's fine. We have extra. The bowls are very expensive for bowls, but they also don't degrade. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a huge cost. Try not to lose them, though," Sera says.

"Yes, enchanted items have a large upfront cost, but usually pay for themselves in longevity. The bowls will last long after I die," Claro says, laughing. "That's fine, you're free to stay. I bet lots of the people are just dying to ask you about how magic items work in your world, but have been holding themselves back to avoid overwhelming you. If you don't feel like talking – I'm sure Conradia will thoroughly question you about magic anyway – you're free to watch us work. I'm currently working on a ring: a Ring of Spell Knowledge IV." 

He gestures to his workstation.


"I'm happy to try to answer questions - I'm not an artisan, but I've got a general idea of how it works. Mostly that's with magical materials that I'm not sure you have here, though - like tempest jade, iridescent gloaming, ambergelt?"

She heads over at the workstation to have a look. Every artisan's workstation is different, so she's not sure exactly what she's expecting or looking at.


The workstation looks like a jeweler's bench, with fine metalworking tools. There's a slip of paper on the table.

Client: Solana Silveras
Class: Bard, 4th-circle
Order: Ring of Spell Knowledge IV (25k gp)
Remarks: Client additionally wants engraving of name on ring.

On the table is a gold ring with four rubies set on a raised square platform. There's some engravings on it, but it's clearly unfinished.

"Yeah, we don't have those, sadly. We mostly work with spellsilver. Do you have that where you are?" He unlocks a chest in a cabinet and takes out a vial of oil, in which a lump of soft-looking silvery-gray metal is floating.


"Looks a bit like weltsilver, but we don't keep that in oil," she replies. "I think what we do is very different, though; it's quite distinct from magic, I suppose it is a little bit like rune-work, but the effects are very different. Although the item I know best is the circlet of falling snow, the weapons and so on might be quite different."


"That makes sense. For us, spellsilver is necessary for any enchanting work. Any magical effect can be created with a sufficient quantity of spellsilver. The mark of a skilled crafter is knowing how to use as little of it as possible. Over the years, people have developed schematics for crafting things in such a way that minimizes the costs to something that's actually affordable and doesn't require pounds upon pounds of it.

In this case, I'm using the rubies as a focus for the ring. This is a ring of spell knowledge. It allows spontaneous arcane casters to know one more spell, in this case, up to the fourth-circle. The four rubies stabilize the spell along the four 'holes', i.e. the 'circles' of the spell. Doing it that way makes them cheaper to make.

What's a circlet of falling snow? Is it like a headband of vast intelligence? I notice you're wearing one now. I am too. He taps his own. It's clear that his also came from the armory, although his has more gems than Allegra's, but fewer than Conradia's."


"Oh no, it's nothing like this - we don't have anything like the headbands," replies Allegra. "It's called a circlet, but actually I mostly see them made as bracelets - as long as it's the same kind of form, like jewellery or a sword or a banner, it doesn't matter what the exact form is. It lets you put a little bit of your personal mana in, and use it to resist mental influences."


"A banner?" His face lights up. "That is really very interesting! A banner would be a slotless item. Right, magic slots. Um, we have these things called 'slots' for our magic items. You can only wear so many on one part of your body before the magic starts destructively interfering. This is why people can only ever wear two rings at a time. Wearing more than one ring on one hand will cause the two to interfere and not work.

It's possible to create an item that has the same effect that occupies a different slot, for example, a ring of spell knowledge turned into a necklace of spell knowledge, but that would require a different enchantment spellform and different materials, which would mean that all of the efficiency improvements wrought by centuries of wizard crafters wouldn't apply. It would be terribly expensive. Probably hundreds of thousands of gold coins' worth of spellsilver, for a ring of spell knowledge IV."



"Sure, we have the same kind of thing - you have a weapon slot, an armour slot, and a talisman slot - then you can bond to some items as a group, like a banner, or a coven stone - there are three kinds of those, banner items, coven items and sect items. Very rare things are slotless, but generally they have limited uses and get used up - and I definitely don't know how to make anything like that, they're usually Eternal boons I think?

It sounds like you get more personal slots than us, though, and you don't have to bind the item to the person to have it work?"



"Usually no, you can just wear them. There are items which are bonded, though, or those that require a period of attunement. For example, you'd need to wear a ring of sustenance for a full week for it to attune to you before it starts working. That ring permits you to no longer need to eat and drink, and vastly reduces the amount of sleep you need."


Conradia walks silently to the group.

"Hello, I'm back. I just stabilized the half-finished enchantment I was working on so it wouldn't unravel. It seems that you finished early."

Claro explains that the alchemists have enchanted iron bowls.

"Yes, that would indeed work." She turns now to Allegra. "Do you think you're up for teaching each other magic today, or do you want to defer that to tomorrow or later? It will take a day or two for us to prepare the bowls and talk to Rendon before setting out, in any case."

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