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Copper

Suggestion/Discussion: Basic Chemistry & Applications

10 posts in this topic

Disclaimer: I realize some/most of this might fall outside the timeframe intended in TFC. On the other hand, none of the mechanics proposed alter gameplay or balance significantly - they mostly add things to do, which TFC sometimes lacks.

 

Anyway! It's hard not to notice that TFC already provides an assortment of reactants, from alcohols to acids, bases and lots of organic matter, together with barrels, glass bottles, ceramic wares and plenty of heat sources. What could we do with all this? While the possibilites are many and varied, I will give some examples that I spent some time detailing - though keep in mind Copper is not a chemistry major.

 

Part I: Reactants:

 

Let's go over what we already have:

 

(this analysis is from a present-world POV. Steve wouldn't know these names or why any of this even works. T'would be the result of a lot of experimentation)

 

- Alcohols in the form of alcoholic beverages (seven types, no less! Gotta catch 'em all). For our purposes, these would be considered complex solutions containing some fraction of Ethanol, for the most part. Distillation could optionally be implemented to produce a lot more pure solutions (and stronger booze!)

 

- Acids from three possible sources: vinegar for weak acetic acid, which can be concentrated by direct boiling. For strong acids, we have two possibilities: Sulfuric acid, which might be produced by burning sulfur powder and bubbling the resulting (toxic) gas through water; and Nitric acid, which might be produced by reacting Sulfuric acid and Saltpeter (KNO3) under heating and again bubbling the resulting gas through water (Copper is actually not sure on this one).

 

- Bases from limewater, which is another simply Calcium Hydroxide. With a pKa of over 12, this is a strong base. Keep in mind that, while limewater has a fixed composition, it is obtained in game by mixing Flux and water. Now, Flux can be many things, including, but not limited to: Sodium Carbonate (which can be made to react with CO2 to produce Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda, to get those breads to finally grow and not need to be parted with a hammer (nested parenthesis!))), Calcium Hydroxide itself and even some phosphate minerals.

 

- Organic matter from everything. A particularly good source would be rotten flesh.

 

Part II: Reactions:

 

All this stuff could be used to make...

 

1) Glue

 

This is the easiest! Adding a base such as baking soda or limewater to curdled milk causes it to "unclump and become a thicker plastic-like substance", which can be used to glue things together, according to wikipedia. There are, of course, other ways to make glue, such as heating prepared hide (which is already in the mod) in water, possibly with a weak acid, to obtain hide glue.

 

2) Fertilizer

 

Inorganic fertilizers are mostly composed of: Nitrogen (actually, nitrate (NO3-)), Potassium (K+), Phosphate and some trace metals. Nitrate and potassium come straight from saltpeter, metals come from...all over the place, really, but I'm thinking maybe copper and zinc powder, and phosphate is tricky. We can exert some abstraction and just consider that it comes from Flux, or we can turn to organic sources and precipitate phosphate out of a very dilute rotten flesh solution using limewater. For balance reasons, I'm thinking this should be crafted as a mixture of a stack of saltpeter powder, a stack of phosphate/flux, one grinded copper nugget, one grinded sphalerite nugget, resulting in half a stack of fertilizer powder, to be applied directly into farmland. Each application would raise a random nutrient (A, B or C) by some amount, and prevent further application to the same block until the next season.

 

3) Painkiller

 

Willow bark has been known to act as painkiller since...forever, prettty much. While you can just bite it and get a mild effect, we can do better than this: macerate the bark into powder with a quern or some other device (I'm thinking of extrafirma's mortar and pestle) and extract the active salicin with ethanol. The resulting tincture acts as a much stronger painkiller, at the cost of giving you a severe stomach irritation. The tincture can be finally turned into something akin to aspirin by breaking salicin into salicylic acid by reacting with sulfuric acid and heat, and then adding concentrated acetic acid and cooking a tad more, producing acetylsalicylic acid, which won't irritate you and will recover some health on the spot. Now this one involves a lot of [...and then a miracle happens...] steps (and Copper is also not sure about all of them), but it could theoretically be done (the final step is regularly done as first semester general chemistry lab experiment, which Copper recalls having done a few years ago), so, I list it for the sake of completeness.

 

4) Paper

 

The paper making process in vanilla, which is inherited by TFC, is just to simplified to be called paper. It's a lot moke akin to papyrus. I propose paper should be turned into papyrus, which would be still used for plans but would break after each use. Prepared hides could be made into parchment, which would serve the same function and also break after each use, but neither could be used for books. In order to make books, Steve would have to craft paper. A simplified paper making process could be: make wood into powder/chippings, cook in sulfuric acid for a while to remove lignin - this produces cellulose, which can be hydrolysed in acid to produce sugar OR pressed against a flat surface to dry into paper. Ta da! (Actually, lignin can also react with acid to produce Vanillin, but why on earth would Steve need artficial vanilla flavoring?)

 

and finally

 

5) Soap

 

This one's also easy. A simple reaction of animal fat or ashes with a base such as limewater will do. Can't really think of a use for it, though.

 

----

 

Anyway, to close off this huge post, Copper's making these suggestions because: I) the potential is all already there, and II) this would provide players with a lot of tinkering and meddling and building of labs and gathering of reactants to do! Maybe to take a break from all the mining and forging, or maybe as a reason not to stop playing after you're sitting in a pile of red steel ingots!

 

But it is, of course, quite a lot of stuff to add. Copper's aware of that.

 

Also! If you are a better chemist than Copper, feel free to call him out on his mistakes!

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I would love alchemy/chemistry to be similar system to metalworking.

That means :

 - It's own crafting system, similar to forge/anvil combo. Maybe combine it with heat mechanics. 

 - It's own tools. mortar & pestle, beakers, heating instruments, etc..

 - It's own tiers. From the start, you can only make basic tools and chemicals. They are not much useful, but they work. Later on, you get better tools and items and can make better/more complex stuff.

 

Last thing I would love to see is some "interaction" between metalworking and chemistry. For example, you would need basic metals to start chemistry, but you would need some more advanced chemistry to make steel. 

 

So, while your suggestion is good. The scale is still not there. I would really like if you tried to think of how would tiers and how would it integrate with metalworking.

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Something akin to the meal system would work here, I think, in regards to mixing reagents.

This, together with an expansion of the meal system, would create I think a purpose for cooking vessels (Starting with ceramics, then advancing to metal cookware).

It's fun to think about, in any case.

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well i do not know about modern chemistry but alchemy  would work but alchemy also includes mysticism and it seems no one wants mysticism in the game I don't know

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well i do not know about modern chemistry but alchemy  would work but alchemy also includes mysticism and it seems no one wants mysticism in the game I don't know

 

Or just original chemistry, without microscopes.  Chemistry is not new.

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Or just original chemistry, without microscopes.  Chemistry is not new.

 

you are thinking of biology chemistry very rarely uses microscopes if they do it would be the electron microscopes 

plus early chemistry was just making soap burning things making glass etc so it would be basically what we have in the game right now thats why I vouch for alchemy 

 

 

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Alchemy would be a grand! This could be a mixture modification where you would be able to "cook" and prepare various solvents, drinks and substances in order to start cooking or creating other items. Though creating it would be, like mossman said, a great and big system, similarly big to smelting and working on metals.

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I rather like this, except for one minor issue with your paper suggestion.

 

While I like the idea of parchment made from hides, parchment is a much more durable substance than paper. Often in antiquity the parchment would be turned into a Palimpset, by being washed with milk or scraped with an abrasive like pumice to clear off the previous writing so that it could be written to again. This could be done several times over, depending on the thickness of the hide used. In that regard, I would think a parchment plan might last many more uses than a papyrus, or even a paper plan.

 

As an alternative to your idea that plans from parchment or papyrus would be single use, I would suggest giving all plans a durability, and if there is a need to save room on item IDs, instead of differentiating a 'Papyrus Shovel Plan' from a 'Parchment Shovel Plan', the level of materials could influence the final durability the finished plan. For example let's say a plan has a maximum of 128 uses. Papyrus might only give you 8, while a paper plan would give you 32, and you'd get the full 128 uses out of a parchment one.

 

The numbers could of course be adjusted to balance the cost of producing the materials with their durability. Parchment requires prepared hides which can be rare depending on your location or how many animals you have on hand for breeding, and making prepared hide requires several steps to produce over a few days. However, papyrus is relatively easy to produce, and paper would possibly be somewhere in the middle if I am reading your steps right.

 

As for books, I would say maybe you could make scrolls out of papyrus, which don't require leather but maybe instead use 2 sticks, and 3 sheets of papyrus, and would have fewer pages available. Books I'd say could be made out of either parchment or paper, but maybe paper would give you a book with more pages in it since the pages are thinner than sheets of parchment would be. So that way you'd have more room to write in a parchment book than you would on a papyrus scroll, but less room than in a proper paper book. Or you could reverse paper and parchment books since parchment would possibly be harder to produce than paper.

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In the latter part of the TFC era (1400-1500s) Acids were used to engrave into metal plates for the Printing Press.

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