Follow TV Tropes

Following

Alchemy Is Magic

Go To

Alchemy is often portrayed as magical or fantastical in some way. In fictionland, you can use alchemy to produce powerful potions, create weapons, or even turn an object into something else completely.

This is a case of Science Marches On. Alchemy, after all, used to be an acceptable means of study. However, alchemy always had something occult-like to it, as evidenced by goals such as the panacea (cure-all) and the "Elixir of Life" (which grants immortality). It's somewhat justified, because when alchemy still was a legit way of study, belief in magic also was widespread, so both were equally "real". For more notes on this, visit our Useful Notes on Alchemy. Alchemy would thus be better described as a proto version of Chemistry than just an older word for chemistry.

Advertisement:

This is a subtrope of Functional Magic. When alchemy is present, you can also expect to find variants of Equivalent Exchange.

Compare Chemistry Can Do Anything.


This trope appears in the following works:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Many of the bindings and invocations concerning Alucard in Hellsing are alchemical ("The Bird of Hermes Is My Name, Eating My Wings To Make Me Tame" is from the Ripley Scroll) in origin; however, it tends to focus on the "magic" and symbolic part and less the chemistry.
  • The 1711 immortals of Baccano! were originally alchemists. At one point, a couple of them are seen reciting from the Emerald Tablet. They used alchemy to summon a demon to achieve the Elixir of Life.
  • Fate/Zero, and by extension Fate/stay night, reveals that the Einzbern family specializes in alchemy, which is how they were able to produce homunculi and the Holy Grail's body itself.
  • In Fate/Prototype: Fragments of Sky Silver, the Caster of the story turns out to be Paracelsus, the father of modern alchemy. Berserker, on the other hand, is Dr. Jekyll, who created his exixir with alchemy that allows him to turn into Mr. Hyde.
  • Buso Renkin: The series mentions that the Real Life version of alchemy is simply how history records the subject with the more fantastical elements being kept from the general public. While the transmutation of lead into gold and creation of the Philosopher's Stone are explicitly mentioned as having failed, the setting's alchemy did lead to the creation of the man-eating and near-immortal monsters known as homunculi and the kakugane, bulky hexagonal disks that give those that hold one a minor Healing Factor, and can transform into a powerful magical weapon or tool based on the wielder's personality and will to survive.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist. In this universe, turning rocks into gold is a simple alchemic procedure, (albeit an illegal one, due to the risk of shattering the economy from inflation,) but the Philosopher's Stone, and immortality along with it, is still being sought. In this world, it's firmly established as a science, with specific references to the periodic table. However it's still based on channeling energy through magic circles, and the classical elements are briefly mentioned as a valid option. There are several alchemical practices in use:
    • The alchemy of Amestris uses the movement of the tectonic plates and geothermal energy to power the transmutations. Although in the 2003 anime, alchemy is powered by the lives of those who died on the other side of the Gate, which is our world.
    • The alkahestry of Xing uses the chi of the Earth as it travels along ley lines originating from mountains and focuses more on medical application.
    • The ancient city of Xerxes, had its own form of alchemy that was the precursor to Amestrian alchemy and Xingese alkahestry. However, its application and power source is never fully explained.
    • An Ishvalan scholar invented a method of alchemy that was a combination of Amestrian and Xingese practices. However, as Scar, the lone practitioner, primarily focused on its deconstruction power, we don't see its full application in a way that shows how it is unique.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! has some references to alchemy—at the end of Volume 21, Ken Akamatsu shows his work with a quite detailed depiction of the history of alchemy and its relationship with the 1,000,000 drachma 'ixir'.
  • Downplayed in Naruto with Hidan. Part of his ritual involves drawing the famous "squaring the circle" rune on the ground, but it just serves as the base for his Blood Magic.
  • Defied in Spice and Wolf: when Lawrence goes to a district for a town's alchemist, his guide tells him they just do experiments with acids and metal. This ends up holding true even after we find out they have a god in human form like Holo living there.
  • A Certain Magical Index has Aureolus Izzard, one of Touma's early foes. Stiyl's explanations of alchemy mention many real-world alchemical pursuits, but the anime only shows one alchemical spell used: Izzard manages to set up Ars Magna, which causes anything he thinks to become reality, effectively making him a Reality Warper within its field of effect.
    • The Light Novel shows a bit more (which was cut from the anime due to not really adding anything to the story): Izzard created a homunculus double of himself which used the spell Limen Magna, which uses a needle and chain to instantly transform anything it touches into molten gold.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, the feats that Daitokuji-sensei (called Dr. Lyman Banner in the dub) performed as his villainous alter-ego Amnael certainly seemed like magic. He created a homunculus duplicate of himself (much like a clone) to replace his dying body, and after defeating both Asuka and Manjyome in Shadow Duels, he was able to hold them captive in an extra-dimensional prison inside the Emerald Tablet he carried (a book with the Eye of Wdjat on it). His true goal was to obtain immortality, as he was dying from some curse. Interesting enough, the cards his deck used referenced terms used in historic alchemy, using monsters called "Alchemy Beasts" (which were based off common base metals and animals used in alchemy to transmute and refine gold), and Spell Cards named after the four most vital steps of magnum opus, the path towards the creation of the Philosopher's Stone.
  • Caro La Rushe of Lyrical Nanoha has a spell called Alchemic Chain that summons iron chains. Since it's actually made of metal instead of being a magical construct, it's unaffected by anti-magilink fields.
  • Wolf's Rain has a form of magic called alchemy that does a whole lot of strange things: The titular wolves use it to project human illusions for disguise, Cheza was created from mixing flower and human DNA, and the nobility use a form of Hermetic Magic that draws on transmutation circles.
  • Shouta's father is apparently an alchemist in Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, though it's only mentioned as the reason why Lucoa can't offer endless riches to crash at their house.
  • Senki Zesshou Symphogear brings in magical alchemy in GX, aka the third season, with the appearance of Carol Malus Dienheim who is an ancient alchemist who threatens the world. The way she uses alchemy takes the form mainly as elemental attacks and even the things she builds/creates leans towards magic. It later is revealed and discussed how Magic Music, Relics, and Alchemy all stem from the same source.
  • EDENS ZERO: "The Dark Alchemist" Drakken Joe uses the Alchemist Ether Gear, which allows him to manipulate Ether in order to transmute anything into different materials or forms of matter, including his own body. It's also the source of his longevity, as he uses alchemy to transmute the life energy of others into his own.

    Comics 
  • During Grant Morrison's run on Doom Patrol, the Negative Man merged with his (female) therapist and became Rebis, the alchemical marriage of man and female. It then found immortality in a tree on the moon. This is Grant Morrison we're talking about, people.
  • Old Maggoty in ElfQuest has a talent for potions and brews and is apparently the World of Two Moons inventor of wine.
  • Used but eventually subverted in Hack/Slash. The Big Bad is a thousands-of-years-old villain with dark alchemical abilities, but in the end, his Zombie Apocalypse-creating potion turns out to have an antidote created by a modern chemist. In effect, alchemy sometimes includes magic, but the two are not the same.
  • Being an alchemist allows Diablo from Ultimate Fantastic Four to use physical elements and magic in a way that makes him seem more like a sorcerer.
  • The Sand Masters of White Sand can turn sand into water with their Mastery.
  • In Johan and Peewit, magic potions are alchemy.
Advertisement:

    Fan Works 
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic His Recipe For Love, one big advantage the Cupcake Bakers have over their bandit victims is that they are alchemists, and arm themselves in advance with a variety of bombs and alchemical potions.
  • In the The Familiar of Zero fanfiction,The Steep Path Ahead, Alchemy is responsible for a swarm of giant rats, a variety of giant plants, a Giant Spider colony, and possibly the first Orcs in the setting. At this point, Saito hates being involved with Alchemists because he's had to put down so many of their creations in his time as an Adventurer.
  • Near the end of When a Pony Calls, we learn that alchemy exists in Equestria as a form of magic all ponies can learn, as opposed to just the unicorns (and Princess Luna apparently specializes in it) and the human now pegasus pony Soren/ Silver Script swears to learn it and save Pound Cake, who was Taken for Granite after an unfortunate run into a cockatrice, leading into the stories sequel The Alchemists Heart.
  • Child of the Storm has both the Harry Potter and Dresden Files variants, though the latter is only really alluded to in passing. The former is described as being essentially the pinnacle of transfiguration and overlapping considerably with high-end science. While transfiguration is mainly manipulation of molecules, which is quite formidable enough, and transformations that don't stick, transmutation (permanent transformation of elements, etc) is far more difficult, and far more dangerous. Given how dangerous transfiguration is to begin with, this is saying something. Among other things attributed to it are:
    • The Super Soldier Serum, and its various derivatives, including the Infinity Formula. The original serum is explicitly described as essentially alchemy, or at least alchemically derived, perhaps accounting for why the other versions don't work so well.
    • Magically transmuting something straight out is described as being potentially very dangerous, as like with nuclear transmutation in Real Life, alpha particles are emitted, which can be very dangerous under the right circumstances. Consequently, a lot of effort goes into making sure they're either not emitted or neutralised. This is something that Wanda mentions in the first book, and Hermione is reprimanded for when she starts dabbling with using her newly developed Chaos Magic to transmute things - while she's taught immediately to protect herself, she's not learned to protect others and is ignorant of the risks, causing Harry (who has dabbled with dangerous powers and suffered the consequences) to over-react.
    • The Philosopher's Stone is described in the sequel as making transmutation quick and easy, avoiding the excess radiation problem. In the sequel, Doctor Strange nips back in time and steals and using it to transmute an entire mountain (specifically, a volcano created to wipe out Hogwarts, Scotland, and then the entire planet, in roughly that order) into a mixture of vibranium and mithril ore. The immediate reason is that they have a much higher thermal load than ordinary rock, though everyone else suspects (correctly) that he's got more planned.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • In Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle, the practice of alchemy is a major plot thread. Daniel considers it hogwash, Isaac studies it intensely and considers it just as valid as science, and a good many nobles dabble in it just because it's the cool thing to do. Enoch the Red is a famous alchemist with a scientific bent, and then Enoch whips out some Elixir Vitae and brings Daniel and Isaac Back from the Dead.
  • There are alchemists in the Belgariad, although Belgarath, the world's eldest sorcerer, is rather dismissive of it. As he puts it, "If you want gold so bad, why don't you dig it up?" Also, there's the small matter of sorcerers being able to conjure up gold if they really need to. However, Senji, an alchemist who discovered sorcery by accident (making him immortal), actually discovered how to turn lead to gold, but the process costs more than the resultant gold... and is quite dangerous. What's far more valuable is a process that someone else discovered, which was to essentially give glass the same properties as steel - which, as noted, would be worth far more, and considering that glass is just melted sand, cost far less.
    Stunned alchemist: (recovering from an explosion) Too much sulfur. That's it. I put in too much sulfur...
  • Szamanka od Umarlaków: Implied, where it's mentioned as one of the divisions of magic. It takes a backseat to plot's demon-hunting adventures, though.
  • Albeit not too popular, alchemy is also practised on the Disc. Most of the time, though, Ankh-Morpork's alchemists merely blow up their guild house instead of achieving anything.
    • They have achieved all kinds of things when they've managed to put their goal of making gold aside for a few moments, such as film suitable for movie cameras. Cheery Littlebottom, the City Watch forensics officer, is a trained alchemist but left the guild. Through the roof. Like others before them, the Disc alchemists have discovered you can turn lead into gold, but only at the expense of a lot more gold than you're going to end up with. They also tend to believe that pretty much anything contains the secret to eternal life: "An alchemist would cut his own head off if he thought it would help him live longer".
    • However, Discworld alchemists are always very clear that alchemy is not magic, and they definitely aren't intruding on Unseen University's field of study. In Moving Pictures, the reason the alchemists leave Ankh-Morpork for Holy Wood is that even though they're quite clear that what they're doing isn't magic, they're pretty sure the wizards will complain about it encroaching on their turf somehow. (Mostly Discworld alchemists are just chemists who've skipped a couple of steps in their pursuit of something impossible; their rare successes being more or less rooted in mundane chemistry. In this book, however, they've [accidentally] tapped into the powers of the Things From the Dungeon Dimensions, and are also using imps, which they insist isn't magic, as such.)
  • Master Mandragora in The Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids has all the trappings of a wizard, and is able to use alchemy to achieve such things as to bring half-dead monsters back to life, although his alchemy still seems fundamentally rooted in real-life alchemy, specifically in the associations of various concepts with specific metals. (Being a robot, he ought to know.)
  • The Gentleman Bastard series has alchemy as a low-magic practice that's seen like a science, setting it as a contrast to the more flashy high magic of the Bondsmagi of Karthain. Alchemical stoves that use water as a fuel source are commonplace, as are alchemical blends of fruit, liquor, and animals (such as a hawk with scorpion stingers for talons and an accompanying venom sac).
  • Harry Potter
    • In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, the title stone belongs to Nicholas Flamel and has been used by him and his wife to keep them alive these many centuries. Neither of them appears in the book, but they are friends of Dumbledore. At the end of the book, they are mentioned as putting their affairs in order now that the stone is no more.
    • Potions are also frequently used in the series. Strangely, alchemy is a magical discipline in the HP world, represented across several media (you can even study it at Hogwarts in the final years, according to Pottermore) but how exactly it relates to Potions and Transfiguration is not discussed.
  • The The Iron Teeth, Magic in this story is done by mages who use crystals they create through chemistry or alchemy. A lot of education and knowledge is required to get the formulas right and bad things happen when you fail.
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: Starring Nicholas Flamel himself. In that world, some alchemists have indeed found immortality; Flamel and the Comte De Saint Germain among them. Flamel himself has found the way to create the Stone and the Elixir, though it requires a special formula from a certain magical book. The formula is in fact different every month the book reveals it; trying to use the same formula again is dangerous. The book itself contains many other secrets, some which are far too dangerous, should they fall into the hands of the Dark Elders, for Flamel to let the book out of his sight.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire has its own Alchemists' Guild (sometimes called the pyromancers), who claimed a magical pedigree back in the day but are basically viewed as charlatans and doddering old men in contemporary Westeros. They are feared and respected for one thing, however — they know how to make wildfire (or "alchemist's piss," as it's more colloquially known), which is basically what happens when napalm and Greek Fire have an unholy spawning. It's also hinted that they might not be lying about the magical pedigree; one alchemist says to Tyrion that it's become much easier to produce wildfire for some reason, that reason, unbeknownst to him, likely being the reemergence of dragons.
  • The Pendragon Legend features the dark riders as major antagonists who seek to complete the great work through black magic. That's not the focus of the novel however, but rather, the young scientist researching their history, and the history of the Pendragon family as well as their connection to the Rosicrucian order and the Freemasons.
  • Harry uses alchemy occasionally in The Dresden Files, usually when his regular magic isn't enough (which happens more and more rarely as the series progresses). Making a potion involves eight ingredients; a base, and something to stand in for each of the five senses, mind and spirit. Then he performs a spell which makes the mess a potion.
  • In Sacre Bleu the Colorman uses the title pigment to extend his life for millennia.
  • In Tom Holt's Flying Dutch, the alchemist Montalban developed the immortality potion that blighted the lives of Vanderdecker and his crew, and also routinely turns lead into gold—a technique he actually taught Vanderdecker to help make up for the immortality/horrible stench thing.
  • The Red Lion is about this.
  • This plays a major role in the later books of Lynn Flewelling's Nightrunner series. Because Healing Magic Is the Hardest in the setting, the Overlord of Plenimar engages a powerful alchemist to do some truly messed up Blood Magic in the hopes of obtaining a cure for his ailing son.
  • Alchemy is the most common form of magic in the universe of Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora due to sorcery being monopolized by a single guild of very expensive sorcerers.
  • The Man Who Made Gold, a novel written by Hilaire Belloc and illustrated by his friend G. K. Chesterton, depicts a round of panic and deceit after a young professor learns how to transmute metals from his dying, drug-addicted pupil. Notably Belloc uses atomic theory as a Phlebotinum du Jour: the transmutation is presented as a matter of knocking three electrons off the lead atom.
  • In The Secret of Platform 13, the protagonists convince Raymond to come with them to the Island when Cornelius turns base metal into gold, promising him as much as he wants. He neglects to mention that, since any wizard worth his salt can do the same trick, on the Island, gold is basically worthless.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Soulcasters (both the device that performs the actual magic and the people who use the device) can transform anything into anything else, so long as they have a gemstone filled with Stormlight. While this is an absolutely miraculous ability that allows armies to march with virtually no supply lines as well as literally create buildings out of thin air, it does have its limits. Soulcast food is filling, but bland and tasteless, while Soulcast buildings are dull and unimaginative since details are extremely difficult. Not to mention the implication that the devices do something to their wielders if used for too long... Long-term Soulcasters are described as living statues, with skin like marble and eyes like stone.
  • The Kingkiller Chronicle actually has both alchemy and chemistry coexist in the same setting, even taught in the same University. The difference being that alchemy is magical, while chemistry is a hard science (although magic is rather analyzed in the setting, too), and scholars of neither are happy about being confused for the others.
    • This is lampshaded in The Wise Man's Fear when discussing a fireproofing ointment. When the protagonist Kvothe expresses his doubts as to what alchemy can do (specifically, that nothing becomes flammable when mixed with water), his alchemist friend Simmon responds by throwing some water into the substance, which promptly explodes, leaving the usually know-it-all Kvothe to admit: "I know nothing about alchemy".
  • In The Salamanders alchemy is a common part of life in the five cities and relied upon to make things like healing potions for hospitals and adventurers, or 'fire potions', a flammable liquid that is used for stoves and lamps (including street lamps). The main character, Micah, is also an alchemist.
  • Uprooted: Potion-brewing requires magical talent, expensive components, and lots of time, but is invaluable for creating powerful magical effects in a storable, accessible form. Agnieszka's first brush with alchemy is a bottle of mist that leaves her Taken for Granite; the infamous Fire Heart potion takes a master wizard ten years to brew but is a Fantastic Nuke in a bottle.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1960's Batman series. Cassandra Spellcraft was an alchemist who created magical substances to use in her criminal pursuits.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Long Live Walter Jameson", the title character became immortal after submitting to the experiments of an alchemist 2,000 years earlier.
  • Grimm: Most magic in the setting is simply about brewing up potions from Wesen body parts and/or fluids. The rest is psychic talent, biological mutation, or spirit-related.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "The Little People of Killany Woods", it is Magic by Any Other Name. The Little Green Men give Liam O'Shaughnessy triangular gold pieces to buy supplies with which they can repair their damaged ship. He tells O'Dell that the gold will not last in the hands of a sinner, which he passes along to Mike Mulvaney. The gold piece that Mulvaney later forces Liam to give him turns to lead soon afterwards.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Some settings of Magic: The Gathering sometimes include alchemy as a school of magic, such as with Lorwyn and Shadowmoor kithkin and the Innistrad skaaberen.
  • Pathfinder features alchemists as a base class in both editions.
    • In 1e, the flavor text tends to treat them as a combination of Mad Scientist, Mad Bomber, and Professor Guinea Pig and, indeed, most of their class features involve making magical bombs, using poisons, permanently modifying their own bodies to add things like extra limbs or tentacles, and drinking Psycho Serum. At 20th level, the class culminates in the alchemist making a "grand discovery," among which are the secrets of eternal youth (making alchemists one of only two classes able to become The Ageless without becoming undead — and the other one requires being a specific race) or the process by which one makes the Philosopher's Stone (which transforms large amounts of iron and lead into silver and gold and can be used to restore the dead to life). Notable is the fact that, although the rules text emphasizes that alchemist infusions are not spells, they otherwise are treated to the same rules as magic, including being subject to magic resistance. Mixing extracts is outright described as utilizing latent, untapped magical potential of the Alchemist, and thus are subject to the same rules as arcane magic.
    • The 2nd edition, however, completely separates alchemy from magic. Even if the effects of alchemical items can seem magical to us, in the 2nd edition it's achieved through natural effects that happen on Golarion. The rule makes point of making alchemical items not having magical aura, nor they can be dispelled or dismissed. This makes 2nd edition Alchemy closer to Chemistry Can Do Anything, including, with right high-level talent, the ability to brew magical potions as nonmagical elixirs.
  • Promethean: The Created takes a whole lot from alchemy, turning the story of Frankenstein's Monster into an attempt to create the perfect human that instead created a half-finished human powered by the fire of the universe. Prometheans have humors based on the classical elements, pursue Refinements based on the seven metals (as well as cobalt, bronze, and phosphorus), and can create Athanors to further refine the fire that powers them.
    • Second edition includes mortal alchemists as Promethean antagonists, seeking the fire that empowers Prometheans in order to pursue their alchemical workings and transform themselves into something more than human.
    • Second Sight gives us alchemy as a prospective science for thaumaturgists (read: humans who know magic but haven't Awakened). It comes in external and internal flavors and is primarily useful for extending one's lifespan.
    • Mage: The Awakening also makes use of alchemy as a sub-branch of Awakened magic. Any mage with a good knowledge of Matter can roll a spell into a salve/ointment for later use, and it's possible to perfect any one of the seven planetary metals.
    • Mage: The Ascension includes alchemy as a method of doing magic, with its most notable practitioners being the Solificati/Children of Knowledge Craft.
  • Shadowrun. Alchemy is a branch of magic. In early editions, it was a specific type of Enchanting used to refine raw materials into alchemical radicals (which have uses in creating other magic items).
  • Dungeons & Dragons. In early editions, alchemy was used to create magical potions and other one-use items. Permanent magic items were made by wizards and priests using different techniques.
    • The 3.5 version of the D&D rules made the Craft (Alchemy) skill exclusive to spell-casting classes. Some of the substances created with this Craft skill are plausible products of mundane chemistry, but others are definitely fantastical in nature.
    • Some settings, such as Eberron or Ravenloft, greatly expand on what alchemy is capable of, both in realistic and occult/supernatural forms.
    • Averted in the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. The Alchemist theme does not have the Arcane power source.
    • 5th Edition did their best to simplify the game, so there is no dedicated Alchemist class. The online Artificer class (which also has the Alchemist subclass) can use a list of spells but is flavored so that it does it using either technology or potions to replicate the effect (a Cure Wounds spell might be flavored as a healing potion, or, if the subject is unconscious, defibrillators).
  • There's an alchemist PC class in the Talislanta game, and several nations in that setting hold the secrets of specific magical formulas of that craft.
  • The standard use of alchemy in Talisman is to turn objects into gold by casting an alchemy spell, using the alchemist follower, or visiting the alchemist in the City board space. The Alchemist player character expands on this with the ability to turn gold into potions, which can then be used to heal, gain fate tokens, or draw spell cards. (While nothing prevents the Alchemist PC from casting the alchemy spell and using the alchemist follower all while visiting the alchemist in the City, there is no added benefit for doing so outside of player amusement.)
  • In The Dark Eye this is true in a way, while one does not necessarily need to possess magical abilities to create a potion, having access to them allows the creation of more powerful varieties of regular potions and enables the alchemist to create certain potions one needs to cast a spell on.
  • GURPS is generic enough to let you treat alchemy however you like, but that often means "magical". Settings such as that of GURPS Thaumatology: Alchemical Baroque and GURPS Thaumatology: Age of Gold make the point explicit.
  • Subverted in Ironclaw: The Book of Horn and Ivory, Malachism does not count alchemy as magic, allowing the Malachist Anatolian Empire to advance significantly in artillery and explosives while other factions use wizards for the same purpose. However, the 1st edition Jadeclaw module "Loot the Burning House" featured the discovery of ancient Zhonggese alchemy used to produce steam power with what amounted to magical nuclear piles.
Advertisement:

    Video Games 
  • Baron Alexander in Amnesia: The Dark Descent practices an extremely disturbing form of alchemy, subjecting people to horrible tortures to extract mystical vitae from their bodies, to extend his life and fuel a process to open a portal between the worlds.
  • This trope is a staple of the Atelier game franchise.
    • Though interestingly, it's treated more like a scientific pursuit in the "original series" of five games, as there are schools and structured study of alchemy throughout, and a significant part of Atelier Elie's alchemy system is experimenting to make entirely new items.
    • In Atelier Totori: The Adventurer of Arland, both Mimi and Marc suggest that alchemy is like magic, but Totori insists that it isn't.
    • An actual magician later appears in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk and points out that alchemists are mere copycats, or otherwise similar in some ways, but it's not actual magic.
    • In an optional scene in Atelier Lydie & Suelle: The Alchemists and the Mysterious Paintings, Liane from Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey starts asking the twins Lydie and Suelle if they've ever created certain things, such as a device to melt entire snowfields, or components for a ship/airship, all of which were things that Firis created during her journey in that game. Lydie and Suelle are very confused and come away with the idea that Liane has a very strange concept of alchemy, that it's some sort of magic.
  • One of the later buildings available for purchase in Cookie Clicker are alchemy labs, where you can transmute all those Worthless Yellow Rocks into more cookies!
  • Cataclysm introduced this in an official mod, added to the experimental builds. In it are several craftable magic items, and the easiest ones to make are potions referencing the Opus Magnum.
  • In Darklands, there are no magical spells in the game not counting demons, or the Black Magic spells that High Witches can use, but characters can buy and trade alchemical recipes, obtain ingredients, and brew many, many potions. Alchemical potions can have many effects, from buffing allies to creating explosions, so an alchemist character is essentially a stand-in for the "wizard" archetype.
  • Dwarf Fortress has an Alchemy skill that was originally used for producing soap. There also used to be unintentional alchemy - turning everything from platinum to adamantine into iron goblets - but that is what we call a "bug".
  • In The Elder Scrolls, Alchemy is a magically classed skill portrayed as a type of scientific magic; when you brew potions, you're distilling the ingredients (using a mortar and pestle, retort, etc). However you appear to be extracting the "magic" from them rather than more mundane chemical compounds (some of the in-universe literature even uses this to justify the Health Food trope; chewing certain foods releases their basic properties, but not as well as properly mixing them would).
  • Gems of War: The city of Adana is home to a lot of alchemists, some of whom fight you; their special ability, appropriately, transmutes one colour of puzzle gem into another and generates gold.
  • Golden Sun, where Alchemy is the force responsible for people possessing Elemental Powers, and which the world requires in order to not wither away into nothing.
  • In the Soul Series, Ivy Valentine practices alchemy, and this shows up in some of her most powerful moves (like her Critical Finish in IV) in ways that resemble outright sorcery, conjuring up fiery portals to incinerate her enemies.
  • Haunting Ground gives us alchemists in search of Azoth which should grant them immortality. Golems and homunculus also exist around the castle.
  • In Lost Pig, the mysterious place underground turns out to be the former home of a famous gnome alchemist. Some of his potions and other inventions are still lying around and are necessary to finish the game.
  • In Melty Blood, Sion is a "mental" alchemist. While she does comment on how traditional alchemy is derived from seeking higher and higher levels of the physical (lead into gold, the body into the body eternal), her branch of alchemy seeks higher and higher brain capacity.
  • Odin Sphere uses it for potion brewing, with effects ranging from healing draughts to napalm.
  • Secret of Evermore builds on standard RPG-magic by requiring certain ingredients before the player can cast certain spells. Ingredients are obtained through purchase, finding as treasure, or examining certain areas of the world map (sidekick dog points these out frequently). The required ingredients usually make sense for the spell, such as Brimstone and Ash for a Fire spell, or Limestone and Wax for a Crushing spell. Others make less sense, such as Oil and Water for a Healing spell.
  • Shadow of Destiny's plot involves quite a bit of Alchemy in it. More specifically, the use of the Philosopher's Stone in the creation of the Elixir of Youth and a Homunculus.
  • Alchemy in Three the Hard Way works like a special branch of magic. Alchemical products are referred as "spells", and it functions just like standard offensive spells when used in battle.
  • Team Fortress 2 gives us the material known as Australium, which has similar effects. At first glance, it looks like an average gold bar (and indeed is speculated to be the material the Golden Wrench is made out of, which turns people to gold), but prolonged exposure to it instead gradually turns the wielder Australian, eventually growing a mustache, finding a taste for beer, growing gradually more muscular, and growing geographically-shaped chest hair.
    • It's a bit more complex than that. Aside from making people more like stereotypical Australians, it simultaneously boosted their intelligence to Gadgeteer Genius levels, leading to Australia (home to the largest deposit of Australium, directly beneath their feet) becoming some sort of Crystal Spires and Togas/Raygun Gothic/Steampunk land of technological wonders in the 1800s alone. Its state in the 1960s, when the game actually takes place, is unknown, but the country was responsible for most of the anachronistic aspects of the TF2 universe like the Engineer's buildings. In fact, the BLU Engineeer's grandfather used some of the metal to build two life-extension machines (possibly three, but the location of the third remains a mystery or at least it did until recently) bringing the whole thing full circle to immortality. It's largely a moot point, anyway - the entire worldwide supply of the metal has been exhausted.
  • Alchemy is also a profession in World of Warcraft, although its primary use is in producing drugs — I mean, restorative and buff potions. At higher levels, you can transmute gems into more valuable gems and metals into more valuable metals — including, yes, iron into gold. Most of these transmutations may only be performed daily, and, yes, they demand an (also alchemist-made) Philosopher's Stone to perform.
    • Considering the limited applications, iron is generally more valuable than gold anyway. And if sold to an NPC, a bar of gold is only worth 10 silver coins.
  • Xenosaga references the four stages of the Magnum Opus with the characters Nigredo, Albedo, Citrine (Citrinitas), and Rubedo.
  • Zigzagged in MapleStory, where alchemy is a profession that a character (not just a magic-using character) uses to make buff and healing potions, but also growth potions and transformation potions, which certainly seem magical. The quest line in the town of Magatia suggests it's related to magic at least; a logbook left by the alchemist claims he could not prolong his lifespan (his stated goal) using alchemy alone, and the reason the famed Alcaster could was because he was a wizard and an alchemist.
  • In the Wizardry series of games, Alchemy is one of four schools of magic along with Wizardry, Divinity, and Psionics.
  • In Zork Nemesis, you encounter the disembodied spirits of four alchemists. They ask for your help to defeat their killer, Nemesis, who also murdered Alexandria, the daughter of one of the alchemists. The alchemists killed Alexandria. She had been conceived and raised to be the key to eternal life. Nemesis was her boyfriend, who stopped the alchemists in the middle of the ritual. He kept their souls alive and tortured them to find out how to resurrect Alexandria.
  • Alchemy in Might and Magic can be used to create a variety of magical potions (including giving specific permanent magical enchantments to nonmagical items of high enough quality). This, presumably, is why the Might Hero for the Tower faction in Heroes III was the Alchemist.
  • In Kamidori Alchemy Meister, "alchemy" seems to be a catch-all term for local technology. Most of the known results qualify as magical items.
  • Final Fantasy V: The Chemist job class can learn the "Mix" ability that gives spell-like abilities to combinations of certain components.
  • Final Fantasy X: Rikku can use various natural components stolen from fiends to cast equivalent spells (e.g. using an Antarctic Wind is the equivalent of Blizzara), and her Mix overdrive is an even bigger example. Basically, Component + Component = Big Spell (effects vary depending on the Components).
  • Ragnarok Online has Alchemists who can create health and mana potions, make themselves a homunculus, plants in a bottle, and throw Molotov cocktails or acid (or both) at people. Ever more when upgraded to Geneticist.
  • In the Wild ARMs series, alchemy is a powerful and little-understood branch of Magitek, used to create magical nanomachines, and, using them, "living metal" creations such as golems, Artificial Humans, and the eponymous ARMs. Its distinction from mere "industrial sorcery" is never made clear, but seems to relate to creating self-sustaining systems.
  • In Etrian Odyssey, Alchemists are the game's Black Mages.
  • In The Longest Journey, the abilities of alchemists in Arcadia are magical in nature, but are of lower class than that of mages. However, mages are born while any human can become an alchemist through learning. The alchemist April meets and combats in the game, Roper Klacks, threatens Marcuria by rerouting the winds, thus preventing ships from coming and going. The army sent to stop him was wiped out by one of his spells. He lives in an Ominous Floating Castle anchored with a huge chain. April manages to defeat him with a math contest (she cheats by using a calculator which, for some reason, still works in Arcadia). When the angry alchemist tries to attack April with a spell, he is sucked into the calculator. In the sequel, April meets Klacks ten years later. He explains that he was trapped in the calculator for several years until he managed to escape by first learning advanced calculus. He had an epiphany and decided to change his ways, becoming a salesman of magical items, especially after the Azadi Empire outlaws all magic.
  • In The Sims 3 Supernatural, the Alchemy skill is basically a potion-making skill, used to brew elixirs from plants, gem powders, and other such things. Also, there exists a Philosopher's Stone which can be used to transmute small items into gold bars.
  • Avencast: Rise of the Mage has alchemy classes at the Wizarding School as well as a fetch quest to compose an alchemical potion.
  • Warcraft III's Goblin Alchemist is something of a misnomer: yes, he is a goblin who makes alchemical potions... riding around on an ogre, on of his potions being a combat drug. His other spells are a Hollywood Acid bomb, an area healing spell, and insta-killing an enemy by turning it into a gold statue of itself, getting you money for it.
  • In Kritika, the only reason most people are able to use magic to begin with is that an alchemist invented an item called the Mana Cell that allows Muggles to utilize magic.
  • The very point of Potion Maker is creating magical potions, though the effects of most of them are pretty vague.
  • Potions in Nexus Clash are made through an alchemy minigame that can be played and replayed to make your character more effective and efficient at it. Potions are phenomenally useful and having a good alchemist is essential to many a well-run faction.
  • We Know the Devil features radios that are attuned to prayers and God (and that can also be used to channel elemental powers), charms that serve as house locks, and alchemical/planetary symbols for each of the main characters.
  • Opus Magnum, a game about Alchemical Engineering, defies this in gameplay, with many of the items you're tasked with making fitting in line with the goals of real-life alchemists. It's also discussed in a piece of bonus dialog found in the settings menu.
    Concordia: "I always thought alchemists liked to work in dark caves, illuminated by torchlight, or high atop a lone tower in some isolated place..."
    Anataeus: "Hold on, are you thinking of wizards? Please tell me you're joking. Alchemy is a science. Wizards aren't even real! How could you compare them at all?"
  • The Alchemystic class of Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark is described as “blending science and mysticism” on the class change screen, and they use Soul Magic to give their allies various status buffs.

    Webcomics 
  • In Gifts of Wandering Ice all tech of forgotten human civilization is marked by alchemical symbol of eternal life.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court is heavy on the alchemical symbolism - the symbols for antimony, bismuth, and lead, among others, make appearances.
  • Ava's Demon: The potion that Wrathia made certainly seems to imply this considering what it does. It binds their soul to the next being that is born in the universe upon the death of the drinker.
  • Alchemy in True Villains can produce potent supernatural effects, ranging from a Fantastic Nuke distilled from a rare flower to a potion that turns the drinker into mist. It also cooks up some memorable recreational drugs.
  • Sealeen of TwoKinds has a form of alchemy. Since she has little magic skill, she can bottle spells as potions that the throws during battle to activate, so that spells that would otherwise take her hours to gather enough energy for can be used at a moment's notice.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Pinky utilizes "weapon alchemy", a Metals elemental skill, to create a "Rose Whip" weapon for Mao using a king centipede's fangs. Pinky and his apprentice Inky are shown doing this in a wallpaper.

    Web Original 
  • In Impractical Magic each court at the Magic School has its own magic system. The Summer court includes potion-making. In the Chapter Cal 3 one of the student's asks a professor about the partially filled glass bottle they didn't teach about in her lesson and gets this response:
    • “What, this?” Professor Mach lifted the bottle. “It’s perhaps my favorite potion, known for both causing and relieving headaches.” She uncorked it and took a swig. “It is commonly known as brandy, child.” She set the bottle down. “Dismissed."
  • The game Sburb that appears in Homestuck has... punch-card based alchemy. Granted, it's an immersive video game in a world where computer programming can affect the real world, and it doesn't really involve either gold or lead - but the way this works is, each object is assigned a 48-bit code and doing bitwise operations on these codes (and using the weird machines to manufacture the result) will create an object that has the characteristics of both original codes. Of course, it costs "build grist" and other types of "grist" to make these things, too, and some objects have codes only readable by a special machine and some code combinations produce inappropriate objects, but it has been put to use for making better weapons for the kids.
  • Trinton Chronicles has some references to alchemy by Dan, an in-training alchemist who helps run an Alchemy shop.
  • A Running Gag in Nullmetal Alchemist is between Ed and Al fighting over whether they do alchemy or magic. Ed refers to himself as a magician whereas Al explains (in detail) why they do alchemy, Ed dismisses his arguments as "bollocks". It makes sense later when Ed's mother's dying words was telling him that referring to it as alchemy makes him sound pretentious, so ever since then, he's called it magic.
  • We Are Our Avatars: Marcia Shyneet is an alchemist and some of her potions have magical effects. In fact, She invented a potion that shrinks people after seeing Alice Lidell shrink during a fight. Also, her world places Alchemists under the Spellcaster caste.
  • Averted in Suburban Knights. Alchemy is treated as a stand-in precursor for science and is opposed to magic. The one example of alchemy Ma-Ti's "Heart" ring acts as an Anti-Magic weapon and otherwise seems to have no other powers.
  • Downplayed in Void Domain, where alchemical potions can produce a broad variety of effects, but function by reacting with their users' innate magic; for Muggles, they're ineffective at best and toxic at worst.

    Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has the Planispheric Disk, created by alchemy, with all sorts of magical properties, especially useful for cursed treasure finding.
  • In the Peanuts special It's Magic, Charlie Brown, the book of magic that Snoopy finds (at the public library, no less) has a chapter on alchemy, and he wears a wizard's outfit while studying it. (But only manages to blow up his lab doing so.)
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic there is the legendary figure Mage Meadowbrook. Meadowbrook is an Earth Pony, so she doesn't have any of the direct magical abilities that Unicorns do. However, her expansive knowledge of healing and potions gives her enough ability to be considered a sorceress or mage, Unicorn or no.
  • Tangled: The Series introduces the character Varian, originally described as 'some kind of wizard.' When asked about magic, he asserts that he works with alchemy, not magic, and proceeds to highlight this distinction for the rest of the episode.
  • Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, the monkey team's creator , Skeleton King's original human identity was known as the Alchemist, an adept scientist and sorcerer. Using his knowledge, he converted his pet monkeys into cyborg warriors to combat the monster he was turning into.

Alternative Title(s): Alchemical Magic

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report