Homunculus

Alchemical Lifeforms

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Homunculus

Postby Tio Silver » Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:05 pm

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Alchemy is a powerful tool; in the hands of a skilled practitioner one can achieve almost anything with enough time, resources and study. With it, magicians have pushed the boundaries of humanity's power closer to the domain of the Immortal's day by day, achieving feats once thought impossible without the help of the divine, and in recent arcs certain alchemists have begun to turn their attention towards trying their hand at something only the Immortal's have been able to do so far: creating an entirely new form of life.

A Homunculus is a term for a life form, sentient or otherwise, that has been created through alchemical means. Due to the difficultly involved in making them, the lack of research and the moral issues surrounding them Homunculi are incredibly rare, probably numbering at just over a dozen in the entire world, and are usually kept so secret by their creators that the vast majority of people will never see or even hear about one in their entire lives. Research on them is heavily restricted, if not outright banned, by scientific institutions, and considered a tool too powerful for humans to wield or an insult to their authority by the Immortals, and so most alchemists attempting to create one do with a level of security and privacy boarding on paranoia in order to ensure their attempts to create life do not end with the destruction of their own. In order to even begin understanding the basic concepts of Homunculus creation an alchemist needs the grandmaster skill 'Homunculus Creation', and would need to spend years researching the theories behind them before attempting to create their own.

As a Homunculus is a classification of monster rather than a species and could potentially be created in a number of different ways there is no way to say for sure what they might look like or what abilities they might have; they could be the size of a pencil or a house, humanoid in appearance or completely unlike any creature ever seen before. However as research on them is difficult and extremely rare the Homunculi around in this age are almost certainly weak, fragile, short lived and with animal to childlike intelligence's, completely unsuitable for performing beyond the easiest of tasks, and are said to be particularly vulnerable to magic or even high concentrations of ether. They also normally do not possess a soul, making them unable to produce ether by themselves and giving them behavior noticeably similar to necromancy thralls.

Among alchemist circles there is talk of a scholar in Viden who was able to create a "True Homunculus", a sentient creature with the ability to understand language and learn just like a human. However three days after its creation the alchemist destroyed it along with lab and every scrap of research he'd made on the subject, then went into hiding and has never touched a piece of alchemy equipment since.

Creating a Homunculus

As the subject of creating homunculi is still large unexplored, and the sharing of research almost never happens, there has yet to be any definitive list on what reagents are necessary to create one. Researchers consider the following to be a good starting point, but during their experiments will almost certainly add, remove or change reagents as they go in order to find more effective combinations. Players are encouraged to add their own unique twist to the recipe should they attempt to make a homunculus for themselves.

Body
  • Bone - The bones of some manner of study creature, or a suitable substitute.
  • Flesh - The flesh of some manner of study creature, or a suitable substitute.
  • Hair - The hair of some manner of study creature, or a suitable substitute.
  • Becomer’s Blood - Necessary to mold the bone, flesh and hair mentioned above into a working body.
  • Murderer’s Heart - Though homunculi can be made to possess the shadow of something like a soul, it is but a pale imitation of those found in living creatures. In order to make the body receptive to such a soul, the heart of someone who, knowingly and willingly, killed someone they loved for selfish reasons is needed to house it.
  • Eye of Newt - Though it may sound like the hocus-pocus used by fairytale witches, newt eyes are important for bestowing the homunculus with a body that can naturally heal itself at even a normal rate. Otherwise the creation may completely bleed out from just a little cut.

Mind
  • Brain - A fresh, undamaged brain from a creature of human-like intelligence or higher. If the homunculus is capable of limit feats of intelligence, it may display slighter better talents in areas the previous owner excelled at.
  • Servant’s Skull - The skull of a pet, slave, lifelong servant or some other creature whose life was spent in the service to another. Used to impart the instincts to serve a master upon the creature.
  • Yvitha’s Ether - A sample of ether tied to Yvitha’s domains, usually found in an artifact of her making or the body of someone bearing her blessing or curse. Used to connect the mind to the body.
  • Temple Monkey Head - Used to impart on the homunculus the ability to perceive and understand the world around them to some level.
  • Philosopher’s Cerebral Cortex - The cerebral cortex of a person practiced and passionate in philosophy. Used to impart the ability to make judgements in the creation.

Soul
  • Blood - Needed to create a shadow of a soul to fuel the homunculus. This step is considered blasphemous by a number of Immortals, chiefly Famula, and so using this as a reagent will likely earn you their ire.
  • Corpseflower - Needed to bind the false soul to the body.
  • Large Quantity of Ether - To provide a charge to power the creation process. A powerful well may suffice.
  • Possessed Flesh - The flesh of a creature that died while being possessed by a spirit. Needed to bind the false soul to the mind and body.
  • Empathy Threads - A tricky reagent to procure without the spark of Empathy, emotional threads recently plucked from a sentient being must be directed into the mixture of reagents in order for the homunculus to vaguely feel true emotion.
  • Moseke Tree Bark - In an ultimate act of self-sacrifice, a champion of Moseke can give their own life by transforming into a tree in order to heal everyone else around them. A few strips of bark from such a tree can provide the first spark necessary to bring a homunculus to life, but will probably earn Moseke’s disfavour if discovered.
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Homunculus

Postby Maltruism » Fri Oct 20, 2017 10:24 pm

I am highly intrigued by this.

I would figure this avenue of development to be something only a Grandmaster of Alchemy could even begin researching.
But that is not to say I am opposed to it being done.
Offhand, I have no idea what combination of processes and reagents would be attempted and expended in this pursuit.
But I give my blessing to any that come up with a worthy series of steps that could possibly enable such an astounding achievement.
By this, I mean, no cutting the heart out of a magic creature, shoving it in a piece of clay, and *POOF* - Homunculus!

There will have to be many steps in this process; probably involving divine-sourced reagents.
But nothing is canon on the subject at this point
I would like to be kept up to date on any work any PCs do toward this end.
I may even have suggestions of my own. 8-)
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Homunculus

Postby Tio Silver » Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:03 pm

Okay I've thought through and added a list of 18 reagents to use in Homunculus creation. Since it's a subject that hasn't been explored very well I thought I should mention that customizing the reagents list to try and create a better homunculus is encouraged.

Let me know if there's anything you think I should add, change or get rid of.
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Homunculus

Postby Maltruism » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:15 pm



Yes, I expect creating a homunculus would anger several of them.
Is this something you hope to delve into yourself at GM level?

I was thinking more of something using already-living plant tissue, and infusing massive capability increases into it.
But I guess that's not really a homunculus, as the life force is already there.
What I'm thinking is probably closer to how Ymiden created the Tunawa. :roll:

I'm also thinking Frankenstein. Do you consider that creature to be a homunculus?
I'm actually thinking not, as the body is constructed to have the capability of being RE-ACTIVATED from an outside shock.
Whereas, I think you are talking more of the very factor of the life-force generation and maintenance being solely internal.

I will say that I think using a well is sort of an "outside source", even if it is implanted in the body.
But as long as it is sentient, and not just a "thrall", that should not be an issue.

However, with my "plant" scenario, I can imagine the Viden alchemist having come home to find his little pet sending root runners into the adjoining soil and germinating hundreds of these things. Thus, the "scorched earth" policy regarding his research and material. :lol:

Let's definitely keep this discussion going.
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Homunculus

Postby Tio Silver » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:23 am

Glad you like it :)
It's something I'd like to have my character explore and try for himself at some point, but probably not much more than that. I don't think I'd make good GM material.

It could well be possible for someone to create a plant-type homunculus by replacing the bone, flesh and hair reagents with plant tissue. I didn't want to confine a homunculus to one type of living creature however, I thought it might be best if players could go about making one in a variety of different ways for different results. They could be made of flesh, plant tissue, insect carapace, clay or whatever else the alchemist is able to come up with.

Yeah I'm not sure frakenstein would really be a homunculus. That sounds more like something a necromancer with skill in surgery would create. The image I had in mind was of all the reagents being boiled down in a jar and zapped with ether until it molds together and forms a small creature. As a living entity it would need to eat and could be conditioned to obey orders, but would be capable of self-sufficiency under the right circumstances.

I didn't mean for a well to be used as an outside source powering the body, like you would find in necromancy, but more as a source of raw power to fuel the creation process. Indeed I was thinking that as most homunculi would not possess a 'true' soul but more of a mockery of one a feature that they'd all share would be an inability to produce ether on their own. Perhaps a good plot point for threads involving them could be that since they can't produce ether on their own they need to flay a living creature? Maybe the Viden Alchemist could have seen his creation flay his research assistant and use their ether to multiply itself like a plant, and then burned his lab down to the ground to stop them spreading out into the wider world?

Anyway to clarify this I've changed the well in the reagent list to a large amount of ether.
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Homunculus

Postby Plague » Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:51 pm

I will say this,

Creating a soul is a power that is actually a bit beyond the scope of abilities we have now. Not even the Immortals created their own race (They mostly just modified Humans). Open to approaching it, but currently there isn't any ability on the books that comes close.

So the soul part I'm much more leery of, the rest falls in line with some of the false life attributions of Graft, Necromancy, etc, which is exploitable with Alchemy.
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Homunculus

Postby Tio Silver » Wed Feb 14, 2018 11:31 am

Fair point, I can understand why outright creating souls is something that needs to be considered quite carefully.

What I was hoping to get across is that while homunculi creators strive to create a real soul, the things they actually end up with are vastly inferior mockeries, mere shadows of a true soul. They can not use an ether themselves as they have no proper connection to Emea, they only have a limited capacity for intelligence and emotion, and when they die they simply cease to exist instead of passing on to another place. It may not make that much of a difference from a real soul in term of in-game abilities, but I think there's a lot of potential to build some really good plots around those facts.
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Homunculus

Postby Plague » Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:05 pm

In that, there could be something, aye.

Real souls can be inducted into magic, dream, ultimately pass on, turn into ghosts, or can be marked.

I don't think those elements should be on the table at present, if that makes sense.
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