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Old 06-18-2017, 11:26 AM   #1
Prince Charon
 
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Join Date: Dec 2012
Default Katalysator-2 worldline

There's also a thread for Katalysator-1, and the Katalysator index/miscellany thread is up.

Katalysator-2 (Q6, current year 1669) has the earliest known development of the catalyst drug, believed to have been invented by Paracelsus around 1530 or 1531. The potion took quite some time to spread, but was well-known among alchemists and other occultists in Europe by the 1570s. Other psi drugs are believed to have begun appearing in the 1550s or 1560s, but Infinity has not been able to narrow it down further.

Early-on, many psi abilities in this worldline were seen as witchcraft in Europe and much of the Muslim world, but power is power, and Princes who ignore a useful form of power will often be replaced by those who do not. Near the end of the 16th century, Pope Romanus II bowed to the zeitgeist, and in 1588 released a bull declaring most such powers to be natural, 'containing no deviltry but what sinful men bring to them.' Several Protestant nations and a few Muslim states had made similar decisions prior to this, with others following. By 1669, the catalyst has spread across the world - few are the nations that still forbid its use, and even fewer that have not heard tell of it. A factor in this may be the fact that without the right kind of healer, or the right kind of healing power, large doses of the catalyst are difficult to survive, which also keeps the levels of power and insanity low.

A small number of alchemists have chosen to work on bioengineering, creating fantastic beasts and plants (and even near-human sophonts) for their patrons, for the advancement of SCIENCE!, or simply for their own amusement. Common examples include gryphons, dragons, owlbears, orks, hobgoblins, pixies, and many others. While many more alchemists are simple elixir-brewers and the occasional researcher, 'the mad alchemist and his blasphemous monsters' is a common image in the public consciousness, and one that can make life uncomfortable for the common working alchemist. The 'monster' that is most often imagined (especially by those who have never seen an actual 'monster') is the dragon:

The first 'true' European dragons (as opposed to spirits that manifest as dragons) hatched in 1603, descended from several generations of progressively-weirder crocodilians. These dragons have wings (though they use Levitation to fly, only using the wings for steering and increased speed), appear to breathe fire (Pyrokinesis with a photokinetic hologram), and survive well even in fairly cold places (PK-based Temperature Tolerance), but unless possessed by a spirit, are only a little brighter than normal crocodiles (about IQ 4). They resemble crocodiles with longer legs (still four of them) and neck, a larger, horned skull (protecting a bigger brain), sometimes thicker bodies, and huge, bat-like wings. They can grow to the height of an elephant. A few of these dragons are semi-upright, and have dextrous hand-like talons on their front legs. The earliest known example of this type of mutation is believed to have hatched around 1626 or '27. Some time in the 1630s, icewyrms (white dragons that thrive in even colder environments than usual, and seem to breathe 'freezing black flames') began to be spotted in the mountains of Scandinavia, and later Scotland, Iceland, and northern Russia.

'False' dragons include wyverns (generally made from birds, and having only four limbs: two wings in front, and two legs in back), various offshoots of dragon-breeding experiments (no or too small wings, no psychokinesis or the wrong abilities, et cetra), and natural animals that resemble dragons, but aren't (e.g. large dinosaurs, draco lizards). Spirits that take draconic forms are sometimes classified as false dragons, especially if not recognized as spirits - in much of Asia, the spirits are considered true dragons, and the alchemists' creations are called false. False dragons in general are somewhat more common than true dragons.

Outside of alchemy, other technologies have likewise advanced ahead of schedule, due at least partly to small numbers of precognition- or Probability Alteration-based Gadgeteers. Wheellock or flintlock revolvers, usually multi-barrelled and sometimes loaded with touch-paper cartridges, are found in the hands of those who can afford them, and even in some cavalry regiments (IRL, revolvers did exist as early as the 16th century, but due to technical limitations, were not widespread). A few skirmisher units have begun carrying revolver-action rifles, though most of these use a single barrel and a cylinder containing a few rounds, rather than the pepper-box configuration common among pistols.

Medicine is fairly advanced, not only because of alchemists producing healing potions (generally psi boosters for Rapid Healing or Regeneration), but due to the development of an early microscope in Italy in the late 1550s (both Florence and Venice claim to have invented it first), the germ theory of disease was invented in 1593 (the germs are considered very small worms, or bugs). Distilled alcohol is used as both a painkiller (get the patient very drunk before surgery) and a germ killer (hands, surgical instruments, and the wound are washed with it before and after surgery). Some chirurgeons do still make a living as barbers, when not called on to cut into people, while others may work as innkeepers.
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-- Tacitus

Five Earths, All in a Row. Updated 12/17/2022: Apocrypha: Bridges out of Time, Part I has been posted.

Last edited by Prince Charon; 12-19-2018 at 08:26 AM.
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