In the field of Alchemy, Alchemical Circles are an aid to magic that alchemists have discovered. It uses the memetic properties of magic in general in order to make it easier to perform certain feats of magic, make them more powerful, or even possible at all.
DISCLAIMER: In canon there is almost no information on Alchemy and how it works. As such, while trying to keep with what canon information there is and as close to real-world Alchemy as possible, Alchemical Circles are an invention for Mischief Managed.
(This page is a work in progress.)
Alchemical Circle Theory
No one really knows for sure why it is that we need to perform certain gestures or say certain words to do magic. However, deep research in Magical Theory suggests that magic interacts with sapient thought to take form. After someone invented the Levitation Charm and named it "Wingardium Leviosa," that would be forever the incantation needed for the spell, as people used it more and more. However, the existence of wordless and even wandless magic shows that magic can be performed even without those. Incantations, gestures, specific instructions, those are all foci for the magic.
It's with that in mind that alchemists have started researching further ways to reinforce the memetic properties of thing other than gestures and incantations, like symbols. And it was discovered (or invented, the difference isn't clear when it comes to magic) that certain symbolic arrangements can be used for that purpose.
An Alchemical Circle is that arrangement. The way it works is: after drawing the Circle manually, you place the target of the magic on it, and then you cast the magic. It's impossible to draw it magically for much the same reason you can't enchant a speaker to perform magic for you: magic can't create more magic. After you cast, the Circle will be consumed, and if it was successfully drawn, the magic will be completed. Any magical copies you created of that Circle will be consumed simultaneously, but all hand-drawn copies won't.
The downside is that, if you draw the Circle incorrectly, all that concentrated magic will not have a proper focus, and it will fail catastrophically.
Alchemical Circle Practice
In practice (that is, OOCly), an Alchemical Circle has two effects on any magic: first, the level of the magic being performed is temporarily reduced; second, the roll needed to achieve success is also temporarily reduced. How much of an advantage this gives and how hard it is to cast the spell depends on the number of symbols on the Circle, and also on whether it is conceptually correct (that is, whether it follows the appropriate drawing rules). All symbols must be drawn within smaller circles in the Alchemical Circle. Alchemical Circles are usually more specific than their parent magics (for example, there's no Circle for 'Parillis Verto,' but there is a Circle for the Match-to-Needle version of that spell).
Alchemical Circles require two dice rolls: one to draw the Circle successfully, and one to perform the magic successfully. First, you count the number of symbols inside the Circle; then you determine the target die roll for a correct drawing (you roll Divinations for this); then you determine the modified level of the target magic; finally, you determine the final roll of the target magic.
|Symbols||Target Roll||Level Mod||Dice Mod|
If you fail in your Divinations roll but don't roll a 1 (sans modifiers), you can have your character notice they didn't do it correctly and try again. However, if you do roll a 1, your character has not noticed their mistake, and must go through with a failed Circle. When your Circle has failed, no matter how much you roll for the actual magic, it will fail dramatically. How dramatically it fails is up to you, but there's a reason why Alchemy is widely regarded as dangerous and why Alchemists in general don't have a very high life expectancy.
If you succeed at drawing, apply the relevant modifiers and then roll for the actual magic. When you do, regardless of whether the magic was successful, your Circle and all magical (but not manual) copies of it will glow and then disappear.
Runes and Writing
A simple way to improve the power of your Alchemical Circle is by inscribing writing or runes around it. For this to work, you need to add an extra circle around your standard Alchemical Circle, and inscribe it with writing describing what your magic does. This writing, however, must cover the entire circumference of the Circle, and be non-redundant (that is, it can't repeat information it has already mentioned), otherwise the entire Circle fails. If you write around your Alchemical Circle, add 1 to the Target Roll and subtract 1 from the Dice Mod (so, for example, a Circle with 8 symbols would have a Target Roll of 8 and a Dice Mod of -7 intead).
You can also choose to write using Ancient Runes. The previous rules apply, you must cover the entire circumference of the Circle with non-redundant information. If you do, add 2 to the Target Roll, subtract 2 from the Dice Mod, and subtract 1 from the Level Mod (so, for example, a Circle with 18 symbols would have a Target Roll of 15, a Dice Mod of -14, and a Level Mod of -6 instead).
A Transformation Circle is one that serves to Transform a substance into another. All Transformation Circles must have two groups of symbols, one for each substance, with the same number of symbols on each group. The symbols for a single group must be connected amongst themselves and the groups must be connected to each other by straight lines.
The Match-to-Needle Circle contains two symbols to represent the match (the wood at the top left and the fire at the bottom right) and two to represent the needle (aluminum at the bottom left and layer-upon-layer at the top right). The diagonal lines connect single groups, and the horizontal lines connect one group to the other.
Parillis Verto, the Transformation Spell that's used to turn a match into a needle, is a level 1 Transfiguration with a target roll of 7, a level 3 Transfiguration with a target roll of 6, or a level 5 Transfiguration with a target roll of 5. Since this Circle has four symbols, in it, for it to be successful you need a Divinations roll of 5. In this case, when using Parillis Verto on the Circle to turn a match into a needle or a needle into a match, the spell becomes a level 0 Transfiguration with a target roll of 5, a level 2 Transfiguration with a target roll of 4, or a level 4 Transfiguration with a target roll of 3.
The Fera Verto Duo Transfiguration turns an animal into an object of a different size. This Circle is for the specific version of the spell used to turn a raven into a candle or vice-versa. The symbol at the top is fire, the one at the bottom right is wax, and the one at the bottom left is a wick, which together represent the candle; the symbol at the bottom is a raven, the one at the top left is a skull, and the one at the top right is a peacock feather, and together they represent the raven.
The spell is a level 23 Transfiguration with a target roll of 9. To draw this Circle successfully, you must roll a 6 in Divinations, and if you do, it becomes a level 22 Transfiguration with a target roll of 5.
A Potion Circle must contain three groups of symbols:
- How: The procedure for the Potion, including apparatuses, materials, and ingredients.
- What: What the Potion actually does, such as distilling, mixing, or transforming.
- Results: What you expect to gain from the Potion.
The symbols of the 'How' aren't linked to each other, but they are all linked to the symbols of the 'What.' Those are linked to each other, and they have two circles around themselves instead of only one. These latter are in turn linked to the third group's symbols, which are also linked to each other. Lines in a Potion Circle are less angular and softer than those of a Transfiguration Circle.
The Wideye Potion is a level 3 Potion (roll of 5) that serves to keep a person awake, or to counteract the effect of sleeping draughts. It is powerful enough to serve as an antidote to the Draught of Living Death, while simultaneously being very simple to brew.
The symbols on top, "how," contain the Ouroboros symbol (for the snake fangs), the Herba symbol (for the Standard Ingredient), and the Crucible symbol (representing the mortar). The symbols in the middle, "what," are Digestio (for the heating), Solvare (for the dissolution), Pulvis (for the grinding on the mortar), and Hora (for the time the Potion has to be left brewing). The final symbols are Dies (day) and Life, which stand for "being awake."
This Circle has 9 symbols, which means a Divination roll of 8 is necessary for it to be drawn successfully. The level mod is -2, and the dice mod is -7, making the Potion effectively become a level 1 Potion with a target roll of 0. However, since a natural 1 is always a critical failure, you still have to roll something greater than that to succeed at brewing it.
Like Transformation Circles, Conjuration Circles have two groups of symbols. Unlike them, these groups mustn't have the same number of symbols, and they can't be used in both directions - that is, a Conjuration Circle cannot be used to Vanish an object.
A Conjuration Circle has one group for whatever it is we're trying to conjure ("something") and another for nonbeing, or "nothing," so that we effectively represent creating something out of nothing. The symbols for nothing are smaller, not connected to each other (only to those of something), closer to the center of the Circle (not touching the edges), and their lines are softer. Furthermore, there must be less symbols for nothing than for something (as in the end there is in a metaphysical sense more than there was before), usually at a ratio of 1:2, rounding up. If there are more nothing symbols than that ratio, the Circle fails silently, as the nothing consumes the something; if there are less, the spell goes out of control and can produce too much.
Orchideous is a level 14 Conjuration (roll of 7) which creates a bunch of flowers coming out of the caster's wand. The symbols for the "something," starting at the top left and going clockwise, are Earth, Herba, Wood, and Nitre Flower. The symbols for "nothing" at the bottom are the aether (upper one) and the void (lower one), respectively European and Japanese Fifth Elements.
The Circle has 6 symbols, so you need to roll a 6 in Divinations to draw it correctly. If you do, the Conjuration becomes level 13 and you need a roll of 3 in Transfigurations to successfully cast it.
Since Transformation Circles must always have the same number of symbols for each substance, sometimes it is necessary to add extra symbols to one of the groups so that both have the same number. Other times, you need more symbols to make the Circle more specific and focused. Sometimes you just want to add more power to your Circle.
Whichever the case, sometimes you want to add extra symbols to your Circle. Those are called Filler Symbols. As an example of a filler symbol, we have the Skull and the Peacock Feather symbols on the Raven-to-Candle Circle, which serve to complement the tryad that represents the candle.
Alchemical Circles use a number of Symbols to represent their processes. While these symbols aren't inherently related to the process, they've nonetheless been used for centuries, and that lends them much memetic weight. They usually have a primary and a few secondary meanings. Typically, Alchemical Circles use symbols whose primary meanings are relevant to their magic, while the secondary meanings are typically used to lend more weight, power, or definition to the magic. When an Alchemical Circle uses a symbol for its secondary meaning, other secondary meanings are ignored and cannot be used in conjunction.
(Under construction. More to be added in the future.)
Primary meanings: Aether, the fifth essence.
Secondary meanings: Spirit, soul, void, nothing, everything, transcendence, perfection, prima materia.
Primary meanings: Silver, moon.
Secondary meanings: Metal, transcendence, perfection, transmutation.
Primary meanings: Mercury, quicksilver.
Secondary meanings: Fluid connection between the High and the Low, metal, volatility, stability .
Primary meaning: Crucible.
Secondary meanings: Container, mortar, measuring, beaker, precision.
Primary meaning: Day.
Secondary meanings: Light, sun, sunlight.
Primary meaning: Death.
Secondary meanings: Stillness, decay, stopping, end.
Primary meaning: Earth.
Secondary meanings: Ground, grass, dust, strength.
Primary meaning: Herb.
Secondary meanings: Plants, growth, vegetables.
Primary meaning: Life.
Secondary meanings: Activity, growth, energy, movement, birth, start, change.
Primary meaning: Nitre flower.
Secondary meanings: Flower, nitre (potassium nitrate), plants, nature.
Primary meaning: Snake.
Secondary meanings: Renewal, cycle, creation, eternity, unity, wholeness, immortality.
Primary meaning: Feather.
Secondary meanings: Changeability, transition, mutation, volatility, stability, transformation, transcendence.
Primary meaning: Dust.
Secondary meanings: Grounding up, reductionism, base matter, beginning, end.
Primary meaning: Raven.
Secondary meanings: Flight, death, decay, bird, spirituality, darkness, difficulty.
Primary meaning: Skull.
Secondary meanings: Death, animals, life, rigidity, solidity, resistance, strength.
Primary meanings: Gold, sun.
Secondary meanings: Brightness, life, perfection, transcendence, transmutation.
Primary meaning: Solution.
Secondary meanings: Dissolution, mixture, flow.
Primary meaning: Sulfur.
Secondary meanings: Life, spirit, fire, combustibility, heat, dryness.
- ↑ http://mmsl.wikia.com/wiki/Approved_Transfiguration_List#Level_1
- ↑ http://mmsl.wikia.com/wiki/Approved_Transfiguration_List#Level_3
- ↑ http://mmsl.wikia.com/wiki/Approved_Transfiguration_List#Level_5
- ↑ http://mmsl.wikia.com/wiki/Approved_Transfiguration_List#Level_23
- ↑ http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Wideye_Potion
- ↑ http://mmsl.wikia.com/wiki/Approved_Potions_List#Level_3
- ↑ http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Draught_of_Living_Death
- ↑ http://mmsl.wikia.com/wiki/Approved_Transfiguration_List#Level_14