Autochthon's Exalted 2.0, the Alchemical Exalted are the exalted created within Autochthonia in order to protect and preserve Autochthonian society. Unlike the Exalted of Creation, the Alchemicals are made in special vats, and are not subject to the Great Curse, instead subject to increased communion with Autochthon himself.
History And Role
When Autochthon fled Creation, he took with him several tens of thousands of followers who colonized cavities within his massive interior and built cities. Akin to Malfeas, Autochthon is a world unto himself, one alien to the people of Creation. He has his own 'animals' and 'spirits', but these are mechanical creatures and not entirely compatible with the biological life made by Gaia and the other Primordials. Autochthon knew that his interior would be hostile, and made plans to protect his followers even as he sank into suspended animation in Elsewhere to prolong his self-exile.
The Alchemical Exalted were created to serve somewhere between ambassador, administrator and priest for the Autochthonian people. Unlike the Exalted of Creation, the Alchemicals were explicitly created to fulfill a role of assistance; the Alchemicals do not rule the Autochthonians, and were never intended to. Instead they serve as the foundation of Autochthonian society - as heroes, bureaucrats, administrators, inspirational guides and, eventually, cities. The Alchemicals help to intercede between the often-hostile mechanical lifeforms of Autochthonia and the humans living within - Alchemicals are recognized as part of Authochthonia, and as such they are granted further access to the deeps of the Machine God than mortals.
Alchemicals follow a distinctive life-cycle tied with the Autochthonian soulgem; all Alchemicals have a special diamond soulgem, which contains the soul of an Autochthonian hero (often an Alchemical, although ordinary souls are sometimes promoted). This soulgem is implanted into a body created in an alchemical Vat Complex; unlike other Exalted, Alchemicals are manufactured from the Five Magical Materials and other mystic secrets through the collaboration of the Sodalities. Once the soulgem is implanted, the Alchemical breathes and the previous mannikin becomes a living, breathing and apparently human creature.
As the Alchemical grows in power, the difference between them and the rest of Autochthonia is apparent. Alchemicals do not age, but they grow. Initially, an Alchemical may resemble a steampunk cyborg: their charms are devices of brass, magical metal and essence implanted directly in their bodies. The more charms an Alchemical has available, the more inhuman they will appear. More notably, as Alchemical Essence increases, the Exalt grows larger. The largest Alchemicals are the size of cities, and they form various complexes within Autochthonia, helping to monitor the processes of the Machine God and shelter the humans within them.
The Alchemical caste system replicates the Exalted of Creation in microcosm. Each caste is aligned with a particular Magical Material, and gives them a corresponding role and outlook. These castes are:
- Orichalcum: Like the Solar Exalted, the Orichalcum caste alchemicals are the leaders and high-level functionaries of the Alchemicals. They are created primarily to coordinate and advise at the highest levels.
- Moonsilver: The Moonsilver caste of Alchemicals are spies and assassins, exploiting the protean nature of their patron material to hide, sneak and strike.
- Starmetal: Generally the rarest of the Alchemical Exalted due to the paucity of Starmetal, this caste are noted as explorers, engineers, innovators and other forms of intellectual.
- Jade: The Jade caste are the castes most directly involved with Autochthonia's burgeoning populat. They are directly associated with inspiring, managing and leading the masses of Autochthonia in production.
- Soulsteel: The Soulsteel Alchemicals are the dreaded internal police, torturers and enforcers of Autochthon. Grim watchmen, they are feared by everyone in Autochthonia, including themselves.
Alchemical Exalted differ from other Exalted in their charms and the impact the Great Curse doesn't have on them.
Alchemical charms are effectively cybernetic/magical implants; each charm is a physical item which is implanted in a vat complex. As a result, Alchemicals are likely to have considerably more charms available than they are currently using. Alchemical play will often involve refits over extended periods of time, meaning that an Alchemical's capacities are severely constrained without access to a Vat complex. Alchemicals are more place-bound than other Exalted by virtue of their need for the Vats - they also use Vats to upgrade their Essence scores and Attributes and need Vat access to add new charms, period. This can be mitigated somewhat with a Man-Machine Protocol that allows them to replace Charms without visiting the Vats; however, there is no way to upgrade Essence or Attributes other than at the Vats.
Alchemicals are not subject to the Great Curse; instead, they have an attribute called Clarity, which represents how deeply in communion with Autochthon they are. Alchemicals with high Clarity are cold-blooded and highly logical, incapable of interacting socially except to threaten or order. Alchemicals with lower clarity are visibly human. A high-Clarity Alchemical is not a monster, but is very efficient - they are not sadistic unless necessary (sadism is inefficient, and Clarity is about efficiency). Every Alchemical has a permanent Clarity score (a function of certain charms installed in the Alchemical) and a temporary score which fluctuates higher than the permanent score in response to events.