On the Methods and Practices for Constituting and Shaping Orichalcum

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By: Captain Oliver Greyson, Metallurgist R.G.A., Charlotte Leonard, B.A.A. R.C., Fellow R.G.M.S.A


Orichalcum (Auricalcum per Maros Tillus Cicero, Oreikhalkos in Classical Krecian), is a historical substance documented most famously by Platis in his accounts of Atlantashar (or Atlantichere according to Hypomantis of Alexandria) in Critias. A red gold in color, Orichalcum is said to have composed the entire outer wall of the Citadel of Atlantashar, the armor and sword of Timeus, adorned divine statues and temple ornamentation to the gods, and composed the most valuable coins and jewelry of antiquity. Other texts write of its utility as an incorruptible vessel for use in the alchemical arts , and as both a conductor and a disruptor when artificing artificial beasts and men .

The exact nature of Orichalcum has not previously been subject to scrutiny given the complete scarcity of Orichalcum in contemporary times. However, the exploits of the populace of Fortnight, Drackenvelt have uncovered historical artifacts of Orichalcum construction dating to the period of classical occupation of the region by the Thracian Empire. Of particular note, the historian and explorer Art of Fortnight, along with Mayor Geku or Fortnight, Roselin of the Guilded Thorn Band, Ryllian Flynn of Fortnight, Vargos of Fortnight, and this primary author uncovered an ancient but functional sanctuary outside of the Crossroads of Deysons’ Road with a large working of Orichalcum and contextual clues about its origin and composition.

Through the study of this sample and ample experimentation, the Authors have been able to rediscover the techniques of forming and working with Orichalcum. What follows is a manual for other metallurgists to replicate the work of the authors and produce contemporary workings of Orichalcum. This treaties is intended to enable the exploration of Orichalcum by others, and is well short of an exhaustive work on the subject.

Preparation and Materials

The successful creation of Orichalcum requires precise ratios of the purest materials, with particular attention paid to the providence of the materials. It is possible that other providences may yield similar results, however the authors have thus far only been able to replicate the feat using materials of the providence detailed subsequently.

Orichalcum is made from constituent parts Aurum (Gold), Argent (Silver), Curum (Copper), and Stannum (Tin), in the ratio following the Golden Sequence, 3 parts, 2 parts, 1 part, and 1 part respectively, by post inclusion weight. Components appear to requiring sourcing from veins dating to or before the World Breaking, though it is hypothesized that infusions of large levels of arcane forces to more recent sources may replicate the properties. However, as a reasonably safe source of appropriate ancient providence is available via the Barrier Mountain mines of Warwick it is not necessary to recreate the properties through untested means.

The primary author had the most success combining the elements to form Orichalcum using Foundry and Forge exclusively fueled with Dragonspire Mountain Cinderstone. While of greater cost, the three Dwarven kingdoms have made such fuel sources accessible. The primary author found positive benefit using water exclusively from Wastefed Lake, Ripple Lake, and Barrier Lake. It is supposed that other Waste-sourced waters would have similar properties have not been tried, however water sourced from less exotic origins has produced Orichalcum of lesser hardness, durability, and elasticity, and has been more likely to crack or separate the substance while under work, often times rapidly and explosively. Regardless of source, all water should be kept in sealed and secured vessels to prevent the introduction of contaminates, and working containers (quenching barrel, etc.) should be completely emptied and refilled at very regularly intervals during the alloying process to ensure the absence of foreign material.

All work areas should be cleaned prior to alloying attempts to remove foreign material, and the constituent metals should be washed just prior to use for similar reason. Similarly, tools, smith leathers, foundry, and forge should be freshly cleaned immediately prior to use (no more than a day prior), and it suggested that the Waste-Sourced water be put to this purpose as well as for quenching later in the process. Crucible and tools used exclusively for Orichalcum yield greater success.

Finally, the metallurgist must prepare themselves. The process requires focused observation and exacting execution throughout. External concerns, interruptions, and distracted thoughts will end the alloying and working in failure. The metallurgist must be singularly dedicated to the work for the duration.


Once the metallurgist has properly prepared they should allot the entirety of a day to the process of Alloying, from before the rise of the sun to long after it sets. Depending on the amount of Orichalcum desired the process will take between Ten and Eighteen hours, and all Orichalcum necessary must be made in a single instance. Once produced, Orichalcum may only be worked to refinement, it may not be combined to form greater material. Excess Orichalcum has value for smaller projects, or formed to coinage or discs, given its inherent rarity and desirability. It may also be used to adorn or decorate other objects. Given that additional Orichalcum cannot be added in the event that the metallurgist finds they have an insufficient amount and given the value even of the excess it is recommended that metallurgists err on the side of oversufficiency.

To begin, the cinderstone should be added to the bare and clean furnace in the minimum sufficient quantity to maintain the fire, and throughout the process there must be sufficient ventilation to exhaust smoke and floating cinder from the work area. The dedicated crucible should them be added with the 3 parts Aurum. Cinderstone should be gradually added so that a slow heat is generated to rend the Aurum to a malleable liquescence, but it is absolutely necessary to prevent the heat from increasing such that some Aurum is separated as vapor. Long, sustained, appropriate heat should be used to rend the entire quantity of Aurum into liquescence. The Metallurgist must not stir or manually intervene to facilitate the breaking up of Aurum solid, as doing so will remove Aurum via whatever tool is used. The liquescent process will likely take no few hours and minding the heat at the correct temperature is consuming and tedious, but any excessive variance will lead to failure. Once fully liquescent, the sample should be slowly heated just slightly more, until a very faint red-gold heatglow from the Aurum is visible absent candle or sun.

Once this stage is reached, the Argent should be added to also slowly liquesce. As with Aurum this is a slow and steady process. If added in small levels at a time it will liquesce more rapidly, and diffuse through the Aurum evenly. Again, no agitation or external effort should be used to expedite the process. When fully liquescent, allow the resulting combination to sit at that heat for two hours so that the Argent and Aurum may fully and uniformly comingle. Then, add additional cinderstone in measured levels until the heatglow has just the slightest silvery-blue halo to the red-gold light.

As soon as the silver-blue halo is observed the Cuprum should be slowly added in small amounts. As the Cuprum liquesces the amalgam will cool just slightly and it is necessary to pause periodically to allow it to re-exhibit the indicative halo. Once all of the Cuprum has joined the amalgam it is necessary to allow an hour at present temperature to facilitate an even diffusion. The heat must not fluctuate during this stage – if it increases slightly to the point that the silver-blue after halo appears to alter the quality of the red-gold heatglow then some Aurum will be lost to vapor and the desired ratio will be lost. If it cools to the point that the halo is lost the Cuprum will start to re-solidify before being properly diffuse. Once an hour has expired after the last solid piece of Cuprum appeared to liquesce, all cinderstone should be extinguished or removed. It is important to remove the heat from around the crucible rather than to remove the crucible from the heat as the amalgam must be kept in an un-agitated suspension. Immediately following the removal of the heat, before the amalgam has cooled, the Stannum must be added. Stannum liquesces with significantly less heat, but also quickly diffuses into the amalgam so should not be lost to vapor. It is very simple to determine full diffusion of the Stannum – a remarkable transformation of the amalgam will take place the instantum of full diffusion, as it transmutes from the sum of the constituent metals into Orichalcum. The Orichalcum will be a malleable solid instead of liquescent, at a much higher temperature than the constituent metals would otherwise be. The heatglow will cease in a similarly fractional moment of time, and the full color of the Orichalcum will be apparent.

It is vitally important that as soon as the transmutation happens a new fire be started with cinderstone and the Orichalcum be immersed in an intense heat to prevent it from setting. Too much heat is not possible, conventional forges and furnaces do not to produce enough heat to cause liquescence. Too little heat is catastrophic – Orichalcum begins to lose malleability at a temperature little lower than the temperature necessary to begin liquescing Aurum. Once Orichalcum ceases to be malleable it has thus far proven impossible to reintroduce it to such a workable state again. When heated from a solid the heat diffuses into the material very unevenly in a seemingly random and unpredictable fashion , and the regions that heat to malleability first will separate from the unmalleable main material. Further, while malleable Orichalcum will readily remain coherent with itself, efforts to combine it with other pieces of malleable Orichalcum produce effects similar to those experienced when attempting to force two or more loden stone into contact with each other. A repelling force that does not readily have explanation manifests. Attempts to generate sufficient heat to liquesce Orichalcum have so far proven unreachable, so it is unknown if liquescent Orichalcum similarly repels from other Orichalcum. Cooled and solid Orichalcum does not exhibit this repulsing force from other solid Orichalcum, but of course cannot be combined together in this form.

If, after introducing the Stannum such a transmutation from amalgam to Orichalcum does not happen, if the amalgam simply slowly un-liquesces and the heatglow recedes slowly with time, the process has failed. There could be multiple factors, the most likley – the ratios of constituent metals may have been off due to errors in measurement or substance lost to vapor, foreign material may have been introduced in any number of ways, or the metallurgist may have misjudged when the liquesced metals were fully diffuse in the amalgam.

Working with Orichalcum

As afore mentioned, once Orichalcum ceases to become malleable it is infeasible to return it to such a state, and the point in which it begins to lose malleability is at a very high temperature. Thus it can only be removed from the furnace to be worked for comparatively very short periods of time relative to other metallurgical materials. Additionally, much like Argent, Orichalcum is incredibly brittle very near the point where it will begin losing malleability, creating additional risk to the work. It must be frequently reintroduced to heat and allowed to maintain high malleability, and it is recommended that the furnace be maintained at a much higher than normal temperature. Orichalcum is very forgiving of high temperature, but absolutely unforgiving of low temperature. This may explain the Krecian kenning for it as Dracos fire Gold, though that may also be an allusion to the particular quality of its color.

Orichalcum exhibits many interesting qualities while being worked, in some ways similar to both Mithril and Adamentine in that it is an utterly distinct experience from all other metals. At differing levels of malleability it is only amiable to shaping along a particular axis, and utterly resistant to shaping along any other dimension. If the metallurgist finds the Orichalcum static when trying to expand or shape along a particular axis they should either heat the Orichalcum more, or allow it to cool ever so slightly. However, once they do so, if they then wish to shape along a different axis they will need to repeat the process. The deforming malleability of Orichalcum seems to only ever express along a single axis at a time, along other axes it feels malleable while contradictorily remaining static and resistant to modification. The metallurgist’s intuition for metals must be recalibrated while working Orichalcum.

The one aspect of Orichalcum that eases some of the challenge it presents is that it can be kept within heat far more safely and for a far longer duration than other metals, allowing a metallurgist to work upon it across the span of a number of days provided that the furnace remains stoked while the metallurgist rests.

The most interesting aspect of turning amalgam to Orichalcum will be apparent as soon as the metallurgist lifts the crucible to work the Orichalcum for the first time. The Orichalcum, despite filling the same volume as the amalgam and despite being the combination of the constituent materials, is significantly lighter than just the Aurum base the process started with– seemingly only a bit heavier than a similar volume of Cuprum. There is no ready explanation for the loss of weight. Orichalcum is not just much lighter than Aurum, but also significantly stronger when cooled. This lends itself well to both exceptionally fine detail, and larger than otherwise practical ornamental works (hilts, jewelry, and so forth). The biggest limiting factor is that it MUST be hand shaped. As the liquescing temperature seems inaccessible by a furnace Orichalcum cannot be used in conjunction with molds, so all fine shaping must be done by hand. Generally the most effective method is subtraction shaping, however great care must be taken to not remove too much material, as it may not be re-added. Used as a singular substance Orichalcum is not ideal for weapons, armor, or shields, as it does weigh more than even crudely refined iron, and significantly more than proper thrice worked warriors steel or Mithril. While Adamantine weighs more for comparable volume, its significantly greater strength relative to rival metals allows much less volume to be used in the same application. Orichalcum is not unusable in these applications by itself – the weight is not cripplingly greater and its significant durability is an advantage – however there is a way to gain its benefit without incurring as much weight.

Orichalcum can jacket certain other materials quite effectively if properly applied. Mithril seems to prove the best material to jacket in this application, as its liquescent temperature is typically greater than the malleable temperatures that the Orichalcum will be worked. Other metals may start to liquesce when the Orichalcum is applied as a jacket, rendering the effort unsuccessful. The entire project must be kept at a high temperature while jacketing. Once fully jacketed, rather than quenching the entire work, run a quenching rag just along outside of the item . For blades, this will be along the fore and back blade. For bludgeoning weapons and armor, this will be quickly along the full outside but not lingering long enough to cool the interior. Then, leave the rest of the work to simply cool with time. This will produce an effect very similar to glasswork – the difference in cooling will cause the interior to pull heavily on the exterior constricting it into place. This will create an outer jacket that is incredibly resistant to cracking, chipping, or separating.

Weapons made entirely of Orichalcum, or jacketed in it, will hold a much finer and more resilient edge than warrior’s steel or other commonly accessible contemporary materials, and while not a pressing need for most, appear superior at disrupting artificed constructs and other animated matereum. Armor will be more resilient to attack, and provide increased protection comparable to armor of equally rare Mithril or Adamantine. Orichalcum weapons and armament will also signify status, and will likely be prized adornments during events of contest among the nobility and wealthy. As ornamentation, works that would be impractical in Aurum or even Argent can be achieved with Orichalcum. Given the degree of skill necessary to create Orichalcum, and the far more ambitious level of ornamentation possible by using it, a working of Orichalcum could easily provide evidence of mastery by an aspiring metallurgist.

Further Inquiry

As afore noted, as a treaties on the nature, use, and creation of Orichalcum this paper is far from complete. Rather than monopolize the available information on the subject, it is the hope of the authors that this paper serve as a catalyst for the exploration of the substance by a much larger community so that shared effort may increase the available well of understanding. To that end, peers in the fields of metallurgy and alchemical philosophy are encouraged to investigate and describe their experiences expanding on the information herein. Suggestions for inquiry that would enhance the communal wealth of knowledge on the subject:

  • Other potential provenances of constituent metals and fuels, why the provenance matters, whether different properties are attainable using constituent metals of different but similarly interesting provenances, and if artificial or manufactured provenance is possible
  • How to achieve Liquescence of Orichalcum for molding, and whether separate pieces of Orichalcum may be combined to form a larger piece once liquescence is achieved
  • Other means of combining smaller pieces of Orichalcum should liquescence be unattainable, and potentially if alchemical reagents are capable of counteracting the repulsive force of malleable Orichalcum
  • General alchemical utility, as well as alchemical properties of Orichalcum
  • Further refinement of guidance when working Orichalcum
  • Orichalcum appears to exhibit a similar phobia to arcane energies as Mithril and Adamantine, particularly to prolonged arcane effects. There is ample opportunity to explore the cause of this phobia and means to overcome it

The authors are both open to providing any clarification necessary as well as establishing correspondence of collaboration with any peers interested in exploring Orichalcum to a further level. Inquiries and Correspondence concerning the process as well as discussion of new findings may reach the authors via post to the Steading of Beacon within the Barony of Drackenvelt.

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