Alchemy is a powerful tool; in the hands of a skilled practitioner one can achieve almost anything with enough time, resources and study. With it, magicians have pushed the boundaries of humanity's power closer to the domain of the Immortal's day by day, achieving feats once thought impossible without the help of the divine, and in recent arcs certain alchemists have begun to turn their attention towards trying their hand at something only the Immortal's have been able to do so far: creating an entirely new form of life.
A Homunculus is a term for a life form, sentient or otherwise, that has been created through alchemical means. Due to the difficultly involved in making them, the lack of research and the moral issues surrounding them Homunculi are incredibly rare, probably numbering at just over a dozen in the entire world, and are usually kept so secret by their creators that the vast majority of people will never see or even hear about one in their entire lives. Research on them is heavily restricted, if not outright banned, by scientific institutions, and considered a tool too powerful for humans to wield or an insult to their authority by the Immortals, and so most alchemists attempting to create one do with a level of security and privacy boarding on paranoia in order to ensure their attempts to create life do not end with the destruction of their own. In order to even begin understanding the basic concepts of Homunculus creation an alchemist needs the grandmaster skill 'Homunculus Creation', and would need to spend years researching the theories behind them before attempting to create their own.
As a Homunculus is a classification of monster rather than a species and could potentially be created in a number of different ways there is no way to say for sure what they might look like or what abilities they might have; they could be the size of a pencil or a house, humanoid in appearance or completely unlike any creature ever seen before. However as research on them is difficult and extremely rare the Homunculi around in this age are almost certainly weak, fragile, short lived and with animal to childlike intelligence's, completely unsuitable for performing beyond the easiest of tasks, and are said to be particularly vulnerable to magic or even high concentrations of ether. They also do not possess a real soul but a shallow mockery of one, making them unable to produce ether by themselves and giving them behavior noticeably similar to necromancy thralls, such as a hunger for the souls of the living. They can not hold any sparks of magic or the blessing of an Immortal, and are unable to dream or become ghosts. Perhaps worst of all a homunculus will not pass on to a better place when they die but will simply vanish into nothingness, which is why every homunculus will fight tooth and nail to remain in existence for as long as it can in a world that would almost certainly kill them if it found them.
Among alchemist circles there is talk of a scholar in Viden who was able to create a "True Homunculus", a sentient creature with the ability to understand language and learn just like a human. However three days after its creation the alchemist destroyed it along with lab and every scrap of research he'd made on the subject, then went into hiding and has never touched a piece of alchemy equipment since.
Creating a Homunculus
As the subject of creating homunculi is still large unexplored, and the sharing of research almost never happens, there has yet to be any definitive list on what reagents are necessary to create one. Researchers consider the following to be a good starting point, but during their experiments will almost certainly add, remove or change reagents as they go in order to find more effective combinations. Players are encouraged to add their own unique twist to the recipe should they attempt to make a homunculus for themselves.
- Bone - The bones of some manner of study creature, or a suitable substitute.
- Flesh - The flesh of some manner of study creature, or a suitable substitute.
- Hair - The hair of some manner of study creature, or a suitable substitute.
- Becomer’s Blood - Necessary to mold the bone, flesh and hair mentioned above into a working body.
- Murderer’s Heart - Though homunculi can be made to possess the shadow of something like a soul, it is but a pale imitation of those found in living creatures. In order to make the body receptive to such a soul, the heart of someone who, knowingly and willingly, killed someone they loved for selfish reasons is needed to house it.
- Eye of Newt - Though it may sound like the hocus-pocus used by fairytale witches, newt eyes are important for bestowing the homunculus with a body that can naturally heal itself at even a normal rate. Otherwise the creation may completely bleed out from just a little cut.
- Brain - A fresh, undamaged brain from a creature of human-like intelligence or higher. If the homunculus is capable of limit feats of intelligence, it may display slighter better talents in areas the previous owner excelled at.
- Servant’s Skull - The skull of a pet, slave, lifelong servant or some other creature whose life was spent in the service to another. Used to impart the instincts to serve a master upon the creature.
- Yvitha’s Ether - A sample of ether tied to Yvitha’s domains, usually found in an artifact of her making or the body of someone bearing her blessing or curse. Used to connect the mind to the body. (Note: Yvitha shares a mental link with all of her chosen, living or dead, and will know when her power is stolen from one of her servants. She knows from her own research how dangerous a Homunculus can be, and while she might allow one of her followers to conduct such research at Viden under the most careful supervision anyone else should expect to be hunted by her from the moment they claim this reagent.)
- Temple Monkey Head - Used to impart on the homunculus the ability to perceive and understand the world around them to some level.
- Philosopher’s Cerebral Cortex - The cerebral cortex of a person practiced and passionate in philosophy. Used to impart the ability to make judgements in the creation.
- Blood - Needed to create a shadow of a soul to fuel the homunculus. This step is considered blasphemous by a number of Immortals, chiefly Famula, and so using this as a reagent will likely earn you their ire.
- Corpseflower - Needed to bind the false soul to the body.
- Large Quantity of Ether - To provide a charge to power the creation process. A powerful well may suffice.
- Possessed Flesh - The flesh of a creature that died while being possessed by a spirit. Needed to bind the false soul to the mind and body.
- Empathy Threads - A tricky reagent to procure without the spark of Empathy, emotional threads recently plucked from a sentient being must be directed into the mixture of reagents in order for the homunculus to vaguely feel true emotion.
- Moseke Tree Bark - In an ultimate act of self-sacrifice, a champion of Moseke can give their own life by transforming into a tree in order to heal everyone else around them. A few strips of bark from such a tree can provide the first spark necessary to bring a homunculus to life, but will probably earn Moseke’s disfavour if discovered.
- Totem Residue - When a Becomer collects a totem from a newly pregnant female subject, the first time he uses that totem, he does NOT shift into a pregnant form of that target, as the fetus is already forming its own life force, and cannot be simultaneously morphed along with the actual target of the totem. A totem cannot embody more than one entity, so when the first transformation takes place, there is something of this currently developing lifeforce left behind. This one-time residue is only a by-product of the first transformation with this totem and a key ingredient in provide a spark of "life-force".