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Just one of orichalcum's many forms
Orichalcum is a legendary precious metal that was mentioned by Plato as used in Atlantis. Orichalcum appears in many other places in classical Greek and Roman writings (for example, the Homeric Hymns assign gold and orichalcum ornaments to Aphrodite) but it's the Atlantis reference that it's remembered for.
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It has since been commonly used in fantasy literature and games as a type of Unobtainium. The term is Greek for "golden stone" and originally meant "mountain copper" or "mountain metal", though nobody is sure exactly what it was supposed to be. Possibilities range from an alloy of normal metals to a completely fantastic material, though the most common perception is that it is brass.note  Supported by, among other things, the discovery of a 6th century BC Greek ship carrying ingots of brass.

Due to pronunciation changes, this word sometimes gets reborrowed as "orihalcon", particularly with works of Japanese origin. If you're curious why, in Ancient Greek the word was pronounced something like "ore-eh-kal-kos", which is reasonaly similar to how it's pronounced in modern English, but in modern day Greece it's pronounced more like "oriy-khal-kos", with the "kh" in the middle being a cross between a K sound and a H sound. If you speak Scottish or German, it's the "ch" sound in loch or acht. Japanese borrowed the word based on this modern Greek pronunciation, but it further became muddled into オリハルコン orihalkon, which unfortunately is different enough translators often fail to recognize it as orichalcum. (If Japanese borrowed the word based on English instead, it'd probably be spelled オリカルカム orikalkam.)

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Compare Mithril, Adamantium, Hihi'irokane and Thunderbolt Iron. Subtrope of Fantasy Metals and/or Green Rocks.


Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Cat: The Chronos Guardians use weapons made of orichalcum.
  • Hyper Police: Natuski has an orihalcon dagger.
  • The Mysterious Cities of Gold: In the second season, it's revealed that all of the Mu artifacts we've seen (including the city) aren't actually made of gold, but Orichalcum. This does solve the problem of why an advanced race would make an aircraft out of an extremely heavy and brittle metal with a low melting point.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water Nadia's pendant is eventually revealed to be made of orichalcum (and associated with Atlantis).
  • In Orichalcum Reycal, orichalcum is a type of clay that can be used to create orichalcums - sentient dolls with supernatural powers linked to their master's will. The protagonist's orichalcum, Reycal, is initially weak due to being sculpted from a 40-60 mix of orichalcum with mundane clay.
  • Peter Grill and the Philosopher's Time: Weapons made of orichalcum are the only weapons powerful enough to harm monsters called semimoles. Since semimoles haven't been seen in a 100 years, everyone started relaxing and forgot how to forge orichalcum, except for the studious Mithlim. A semimole shows up and Peter is able to kill it with an orichalcum weapon provided by Mithlim. Peter then lectures everyone on relaxing and tells them to shape up and relearn how to forge orichalcum.
  • In Saint Seiya, Poseidon's Mariners wear orichalcum armor, while Athena's Saints wear armor made of an alloy including the metal.
  • Slayers: It's spelled "orihalcon", and its schtick is magic resistance — it can block any spells.
  • Spriggan: The weapons and body armor used by Yu Ominae, the US Army's Machineer's Platoon and the Trident Corporation, are made of "orihalcon" or "omihalcon".
  • Transformers Armada has the Mini-Cons from a sunken city called the Orichalcum (translated as "Olihalicons").
  • The White Whale Of Mu: "Orihalcon" is sought by the Atlanteans.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Used in association with Atlantis, as "the Orichalcos". It's a mysterious glowing, torquoise, rock-like substance that fell from the sky 10,000 years ago; the ancient Atlanteans used it to create a Magitek Utopia, but it was also The Corruption and turned nearly everyone into monsters and The Good King, Dartz, into an Immortal Brainwashed and Crazy Evil Sorcerer and Omnicidal Maniac, and pressed him into unleashing an Eldritch Abomination to destroy the world and create Paradise from the ruins. It was ultimately the reason Atlantis sunk beneath the waves.
    • The members of DOMA all had rings with bits of Orichalcum in them and used the Spell Card "Seal of Orichalcos", which lets you have double the maximum number of monsters on the field, grants each of them 500 ATK... and creates an unbreakable forcefield aound the duelists based on the Seal, and if you lose a duel inside the Seal, your soul gets eaten by the Leviathan. Dartz himself has two more versions of the card that grant additional effects, as well as an entire deck of Monster Cards and Trap Cards themed on the Orichalcos. The only way to break the Seal is is to use a piece of Orichalcum, hence the rings they use, although it seems like they can only be broken from the outside so they are only good for ending someone else's Duel.
    • Well, hitting it really hard with a Millennium Item works too... for a given definition of "works".
    • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX has an unrelated character, Jim Crocodile Cook, with an "Eye of Orichalcum" embedded in his face. This granted him certain powers.

    Comics 
  • Iron Man: Orichalcum is retrieved from Atlantis in the opening scene of Iron Man Noir, in which it's a MacGuffin power source.
  • Mickey Mouse: In a story where Mickey and Goofy are working with an archeologist to rediscover Atlantis, orichalcum is a nigh-indestructible conductor metal. It's only indestructible as long as it's conducting. If not, it's very brittle.

    Fan Works 
  • The Princess and the Dragon: Orichalcum enhances a sorcerer's control over magic and can even give magic to someone who didn't originally possess any, but it also corrupts its wielder's soul.
  • In Tales from the Dark Side of the Mirror, Orichalcum is mentioned and used by Mirror Twilight in her Mana Collector due to its durability and magic resistance. As a result, she has a major Oh, Crap! when it shatters due to overload, since the amount of magic required to do that is tremendous. She also also makes chains of it to hold Trixie, but Maud breaks them, pointing out that since they were just magical copies of a sample she got rather than forged, they're far weaker than it otherwise would've been.
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    Literature 
  • Biggles: Biggles discovers the substance and then loses it again in a landslide in a short story from "Biggles, Charter Pilot".
  • Ciaphas Cain:
    • Subtly name-dropped in Caves of Ice, where the company is deployed to an ice planet called Simia Orichalcae... yep, "Brass Monkey".
    • The metal itself shows up in a few of the novels. In Cain's Last Stand, the main hangar doors of Orelius' ship are described as "vast slabs of orichalcum chased with gold filigree".
  • Decipher: Orichalcum is used used in association with Atlantis.
  • Dinotopia: Orichalcum appears as a substance used in a piece of a key, first thought to be bronze.
  • The Golden Oecumene: In The Golden Transcedence, a projected future includes more Oecumenes about other star systems. One is the Orichalcum Oecumene.
  • The Heroes of Olympus: The Greek gods and demigods use a metal known as celestial bronze, a metal mined from Mt. Olympus, while their Roman counterparts use a metal known as imperial gold, made by enchanting regular gold. As noted above, Orichalcum means "mountain copper" and the Romans transliterated it as Aurichalcum meaning "gold copper", so those two metals are symbolically this trope. They're supernatural metals capable of harming monsters, gods and their descendants; however, they can't harm mortals — they're simply not metaphysically important enough for the meals to register their presence.
  • Pendragon Cycle: Orichalcum is is a substance used in Atlantis.
  • The Story Of The Amulet: Orichalcum is used by the Atlanteans.

    Live Action TV 
  • GoGo Sentai Boukenger: One treasure from Atlantis is first thought to be made of orichalcum. This treasure turns out to be the Vril, an artifact that gathers information from nearby objects to duplicate them in order to eventually replace the human race.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Arduin: The spell "Gandolyn's Gates" traps a person in a tower of orichalcum.
  • Conspiracy X: Atlantis exists, as does their mythical alloy "Orichalcum". It turns out that the Atlanteans are so advanced that their orichalcum is a product of nanotechnology in the days of Classical Greece.
  • D 20 Sytem: In Advanced Gamemaster's Guide, orichalcum is a material used to make weapons and armor.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: In Points of Light, mention is made of a magical metal called "orium" that has a "red-gold" appearance and was used by ancient empires, but which has since been lost and has yet to be rediscovered — in no small part due to the fact that the byproducts of fashioning it are lethally poisonous. The metallic dragon associated with orium is a serpentine figure with an affinity for ancient ruins and lost secrets, which it defends with its toxic Breath Weapon.
  • Earthdawn has the five True Elements: earth, air, fire, water, and wood. You get the golden metal orichalcum by combining all five.
  • In Exalted, Orichalcum is a magical metal associated with the Solar Exalted. The manufacturing process involves smelting gold in the heart of a volcano while using an elaborate array of mirrors to shine distilled sunlight on the metal (why? Because it's Exalted).
  • GURPS: Orichalcum looks just like bronze but it much stronger and automatically makes blades forged from it extremely sharp.
    • It's also a room-temperature superconductor, should anyone come along who knows how to use that sort of thing, as noted in the Infinite Worlds sourcebook.
    • In the Atlantis sourcebook it's also an "etheric resonator" if local physics allows such a thing, enabling a Steampunk campaign to keep the "advanced power source" concept without moving too far from the paradigm. In either case, it also has "additional secondary useful properties" allowing its use as "an all-purpose technobabble keyword".
  • Appears in the Immortals Handbook — EPIC BESTIARY: Volume One by Eternity Publishing as a red metal found in the heart of dead stars. The metal is so insanely dense and heavy that it has to be diluted with adamantine in order for even regular deities to be able to carry weapons made from it.
  • Mage: The Awakening: Orichalcum is produced by magically passing gold between the material world and Twilight until most of its substance is gone. It has no overtly magical properties of its own, but can be combined into alloys that can then hold powerful enchantments. The only one given is thaumium, which absorbs magic.
  • Mutants & Masterminds has it as a golden metal from Atlantis, whose secret is lost.
  • Nephilim has "orichalka" as a material from Saturn, used in the fight against the Nephilim in Atlantis.
  • Pathfinder: "Horacalcum" is a fantastically expensive coppery metal obtained from meteorites and alien planets that distorts time around it, allowing wearers of horacalcum armor to perceive threats more quickly. The centrepiece of Adrati Kalm's Golden Ossuary, itself a monument to Conspicuous Consumption, is a horacalcum vault of incredible value which has the side-effect of preserving his remains in a bubble of slowed time for easy resurrection.
  • Shadowrun has had Orichalcum available since not long after the Awakening. It's a very rare metal material known for its potency in reacting with and conducting magic, and can only be synthesized with magic. It has set the standard for the potency of magic reagents, and while it's not necessary for it, orichalcum is used to create the most powerful magic foci.

    Video Games 
  • Age of Mythology: "Orichalkos" is all over the Atlantean civilization of the expansion pack "The Titans". It's used to explain some of their more advanced technology (like the Fire Siphon), a common mentioned material of advanced upgrades and the strongest material the Atlanteans can make their walls. The metal is also mentioned to magically become very lightweight after being quenched in seawater.
  • Arcana Heart: Orichalkos is the arcana of metal (and a huge frickin' dragon).
  • Shows up in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey as a currency accepted by only one merchant who sells rare goods. All other merchants accept drachmae.
  • Blob Wars has a quest to collect 25 boxes of orichalcum beads.
  • Castlevania: Curse of Darkness: Available by Video Game Stealing as an ore used to forge powerful items.
  • City of Heroes and City of Villains have it as salvage.
  • Dept. Heaven: The Grim Angels use weapons made of this material.
  • Dragon Age II: Orichalcum appears as a crafting material.
  • The Elder Scrolls has a tower made of "orichalc", which was on a sunken continent named Yokuda.
    • As of Skyrim, orichalcum is a blackish-green metal used to make Orcish armor and weapons, which in previous installments was just high quality steel equipment. Such items are known for their green tint and being "ugly and strong, like those that forged them."
    • Oddly, "Dwemer Metal" better fits the traditional description of orichalcum — it's a lustrous red-gold, an ancient and advanced civilization used it to make all their wonders, and it isn't found naturally, forcing players to smelt down items from Dwemer ruins for ingots.
  • Endless Ocean: The orichalcum ingot is one of the legendary treasures in Blue World, and is the most expensive non-treasure chest salvageable item (and the fourth most expensive overall).
  • EOE: Eve Of Extinction: Used for both the main character's weapon and the bosses' weapons. It's awkwardly pronounced in-game as "OriKILLUM" and "oRICKulum."
  • Fly FF calls it "Shining Oricalkum."
  • Golden Sun: Orichalcum appears in Golden Sun: The Lost Age and Golden Sun: Dark Dawn as an Item Crafting material called Orihalcon (that also Randomly Drops), used for getting one of the game's Infinity Plus One Swords. Strangely enough, you can't find any in Lemuria, the game's Atlantis equivalent.
  • In Guild Wars 2 Orichalcum is red-bronze in appearance and the highest-level base metal in the game, used in the top tier of crafting recipes. While present in all level-appropriate zones, prior to the expansion packs it was most frequently encountered in Orr, the game's Atlantis analogue.
  • Harvest Moon: "Orichalc" is used to create jewelry in some of the games.
  • Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis: Orichalcum is a central plot device and Plot Coupon. It's used as fuel for the Atlanteans' abandoned ancient artifacts scattered around the globe, which Indy must dig up. The Nazis want it because it powers the God Machine under Atlantis.
  • Kid Icarus: Uprising: The Great Sacred Treasure is stated to be made of orichalcum.
  • Kirby Super Star: Appears as the treasure "orihalcon". This was fixed in the remake.
  • Lineage 2: Orichalcum is used in dwarven crafting.
  • Lost Odyssey: Orichalcum is used to craft either Seth or Kaim's Ultimate Weapon.
  • Lunarosse: Beating the Abyss-King gives you a hunk of this, which can be used to max out your party member's weapons. It overlaps with Thunderbolt Iron, as it's mentioned to have fallen out of the sky some time prior.
  • MapleStory: It's called "Orichalcon" in-game because Orichalcum has the syllable "cum" in it, which is censored out.
  • In Mega Man X5, the Orichalcum, held by Crescent Grizzly / Grizzly Slash, is one of the components required to upgrade the Enigma laser cannon so it can destroy a colony ship. When recovered, it is said to increase the weapon's "striking ability." In Western releases, it was renamed the "Crystal Ball," possibly because the translators did not recognize the reference.
  • Poseidon: Master of Atlantis: "Orichalc" is used as a monument decoration, as well as fuel for the deadly Atlantean fire.
  • Ragnarok Online uses "Oridecon" as a crafting material.
  • RIFT: Orichalcum appears as a crafting material.
  • In Runescape, orikalkum is the proper name of what is commonly called "dragon" metal in the present day. It can't be worked in a forge, only in the direct heat of a dragon's breath, which led to it being used primarily by the Dragonkin.
  • Shining Force III: Orichalcum is used as material the blacksmith can use; it's the best material, beating out Mithril. In Shining Soul II it's used to make Ice and Holy elemental equipment at the blacksmith.
  • SoulCalibur: The Orichalcum is Sophitia's legendary weapon in the second game and can be purchased in SoulCalibur III.
  • In Soul Sacrifice Delta, the Orichalcum are giant snails with treasure chests as shells. They have low spawn rates but high Life EXP or Magic EXP, so be on the lookout for these guys.
  • Square Enix loves Orichalcum. Many of their RPGs typically include either the raw material or something made from it.
    • Dragon Quest: The general rule of thumb is that if it's made of Orichalcum, it either kicks three different kinds of ass or is a flat-out Game-Breaker.
      • Dragon Quest III: The Sword of Kings is made of the metal "Oricon".
      • Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai: Dai's sword is made of this material.
      • Dragon Quest VIII has it as an Item Crafting material.
      • Dragon Quest Swords: The near-unbreakable shield is a SPOON made of Orichalcum, but due to its obviously small size which can't be increases and that if you can block as accurately with any other shield as you can with the spoon, they'll be just as durable, it's not nearly as useful as it'd initially seem.
      • Dragon Quest IX: Orichalcum makes a comeback as one of the greatest yet rarest alchemy ingredients. To give you a scope on how rare it is, every other mineral in the game can be found as Randomly Drops or by finding them on the ground in certain spots of the world map. Orichalcum is found nowhere in the world and the only monsters that drop them do so with a 1/256 chance, which is as rare as it gets in this game. Fortunately, when you do get your hands on some, you can use it for some of the best gear in the game, such as the Sage's Stone, which heals your entire party, as well as Erdrick's gear, which is the best gear in the game barring the Uber-gear.
      • In Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime, both orichalcum and orichalslime (a hunk of metal shaped like a Slime) are used as weapons and alchemy ingredients.
    • Final Fantasy: Some items are made of the material, with various spellings. An orichalcum knife is a very strong item. Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles instead have it available in the form of ore to make items.
    • Kingdom Hearts: Orichalcum appears in some games as an Item Crafting material. Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts III have an even stronger variety called "Orichalcum+", of which only a few pieces exist, and every one of them is needed to craft the Ultima Weapon.
    • Legend of Mana has it under the name "Orihalcon".
    • Romancing SaGa 3: the dolphin statue in Vanguard is made of it; in enhances water magic which allows the city to move freely in the ocean.
    • Tactics Ogre has it in the form of a sword translated as "Oricon". Also as "Oracion" in Knight of Lodis.
    • The World Ends with You has an Orichalcum pin, which is used as a trade material for extremely rare shop goodies.
  • Star Ocean: Orichalcum appears as an Item Crafting material. In the first two games, Orichalcum is a strong metal which can make some very good weapons, armor and accessories. In the third game, finding the right Inventors to produce Orichalcum reliably is the gameplay equivalent of nuclear weapons.
  • Super Robot Wars has a number of mecha and weapons made of "Orichalconium" (most famously Cybuster) or the stronger "Zol-Orichalconium" alloy ("Z.O." for short). In the Original Generation games, it plays the same role as Alloy Z and Super-Alloy Z.
  • Tech Romancer has a mecha, G-Kaiser, made of the material "Orihalconium".
  • Terraria features Orichalcum as an alternative to Mythril. Its appearance is pink, and a full set of armor with any of the helmets causes pink petals to strike an enemy you hit.
  • Tibia has a magic item called the Orichalcum Pearl.
  • Titan Quest: Orichalcum is a more powerful substitute for bronze.
  • Valkyrie Profile: Orichalcum is used for Item Crafting.
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Orichalcum ingots and ore are crafting ingredients found in loot drops and at merchants, which are used to craft many high-end weapons and armor.

    Webcomics 
  • In Adventurers!, a Rummage Fail shows that the inventory contains one piece of "Orialicurirhum".
  • In Demon Fist, "orihalcon" is super-strong and damps out supernatural energies (so when Rory is handcuffed with it, he can't use his demon arm or manifest Shaise, Crag or Dither). The pirates are amazed to discover that Rosenquist has entire prison cells made of the stuff.
  • Irregular Webcomic!: In the Cliffhangers storyline, Those Wacky Nazis are after Atlantis' orichalcum to build their war machines with.
  • Mindmistress: "Orichalium" is mentioned as one of the stable transuranic elements carried by a meteorite that hit the Atlantic Ocean, whose remnants became the islands that Atlantis was built on.

    Web Original 
  • The Descendants: It's first seen as a rough type of armor called 'orihalcite' that even Alloy couldn't effect with his powers. Later appears in a refined form with the proper name.
  • Used with WILDLY variable spelling in the Whateley Universe.

    Real Life 
  • The name derives from Greek ὀρείχαλκος, oreikhalkos (from ὄρος, oros, mountain and χαλκός, khalkos, copper), meaning literally "mountain copper". The name "oros" was sufficiently close to vernacular pronunciation of Latin word for gold, aurum as oro, that it was transliterated "orichalcum" as "aurichalcum," which was thought to literally mean "gold copper". It is known from the writings of Cicero that the metal which they called orichalcum resembled gold in color but had a much lower value. This description fits perfectly to brass. Brass itself is an alloy of copper and zinc, and while it was known to Ancient and Medieval world and manufactured by smelting copper and zinc-containing ores, zinc itself was isolated only by the Medieval alchemists and in 14th century India. Brass itself was first made from pure metals instead of ores in the 16th century. Today, "oreikhalkos" and "aurichalcum" means "brass" in modern Greek and Latin respectively.
    • In 2015, 39 ingots believed to be orichalcum were discovered in a sunken vessel on the coasts of Gela in Sicily which have tentatively been dated at 2,600 years old. They were analyzed with X-ray fluorescence by Dario Panetta of TQ - Technologies for Quality; they turned out to be an alloy consisting of 75-80 percent copper, 15-20 percent zinc, and smaller percentages of nickel, lead, and iron. This is high quality brass.
    • While not exactly magical, brass itself is a noble metal alloy and widely used on application which require resistance for corrosion, such as marine instruments, marine propellers, door handles, locks and coins. Brass is also irreplaceable as a metal for musical instruments.

 
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Alternative Title(s): Orihalcon

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Orichalcum is frequently thought of as a do-anything magical super-material when really it's just a type of brass.

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