The Order of Secrets
- Cast Iron
- Wrought Iron
History alludes to a number of special metals. One of the most useful, mentioned as far back as Pliny the Elder, is azzalum also called Indian iron. It was hard enough that tools made of azzalum could be used to cut other pieces of iron. Armor made from azzalum gets +1 AR. Cutting and impaling
weapons made from azzalum get +1 to damage and -1 to their chance of breaking if parrying a heavier weapon. These effects are cumulative with the item’s quality where applicable.
There are several differing historical accounts of ametal called orichalcum. One interpretation is a strong but attractive alloy of copper, tin, and gold. It has the strength of bronze, but the color and shine of gold. Treat orichalcum versions of bronze items as decorated equipment. They may also be considered as being made from gold if golden items have any particular supernatural effects.
Scholars were aware of a mineral (called by a variety of names including the lapis phosphorus or bononian stone) that glowed in the dark after exposure to light. This led some scholars to conclude that light was a substance that the stone soaked up like a sponge to emit later. The main controversy about the stone was whether it was natural or could be manufactured. A thumb-sized stone will glow with the brightness of a candle flame for 10 minutes if exposed to bright light for an hour or more. It fades thereafter, with the glow disappearing after an hour. It can be used as a heatless, flameless, and even concealable source of light, but only briefly. Naturally occurring bononian stones are TL0^. If they can be created alchemically, synthetic stones are TL3^.
Transparent aluminum, one of the more famous fake inventions of the far future, comes with a surprising historical pedigree. Through history, craftsmen have claimed to invent flexible, or at least malleable, glass. The earliest account is of a inventor who approached king Tiberius with vessels made from what appeared to be glass. When struck, however, the material dented instead of shattering, and the inventor pounded it back into shape. The king was duly impressed. However, he had the inventor put to death because his invention could potentially render precious metals worthless and put any number of other craftsmen out of work, causing unrest and economic disaster. Such stories are sufficiently widespread that they may reflect a real substance, though its properties may be exaggerated. There is speculation that a difficult-to-produce compound containing silver might be vitrified but remain somewhat flexible. In practical terms, this would give the ancients something resembling plastic millennia before plastics were actually invented. Malleable glass vessels and windows would be as transparent and, potentially, as colorful as regular glass but not be Fragile.
Certain sources attest to an “incombustible oil.” This does not mean that the oil didn’t burn. Rather, the oil flamed but was not consumed. Once lit, it burned indefinitely. One example cited by a scholar had stayed lit for over 1,500 years in a tomb and after the tomb was opened in his own day, was only put out with great difficulty. The fire will continue burning until completely smothered by a layer of earth or other solid material; it will not go out after 10d seconds, nor can it be extinguished with water or by beating it out by hand. If used in a lamp, it will provide light until put out by completely smothering it with earth, sand, or other solid material.