Alchemia

Alchemia

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The Mostly Definitive Guide for Alchemia
By SweepingsDemon and 1 collaborators
This is an attempt to show, in order, the series of deductions the player is intended to make while solving the puzzles. This is necessary because many players complete the game without actually interacting with the puzzles or understanding how they were intended to be solved. Those who decrypt the messages through other means and want to understand what the developer's intent, or at least what I believe to be the developer's intent to be, is when solving the puzzles may find the information here.
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Preface
Alchemia is a strange and arcane puzzle game, where there is almost no interaction with the application itself and the puzzles are solved through outside research and personal work. The puzzles vary in complexity, but the encrypted messages composing the central puzzle of the game are alphabetic substitutions and therefore vulnerable to brute-force or analytical tactics. As a direct result, many players complete the game without understanding the intended sequence of deductions or truly experiencing this journey. Thus, this guide.

Each major step covering a page from the book is a section, with individual steps being separately designated spoiler text, with the intention that the reader is able to only look up the portion they desire to have explained. There is one puzzle I do not at this time fully understand the intended solution to; this will be elaborated on in the section for that puzzle. If you, the reader, in fact understand the final steps for this puzzle, please comment or message me by all means so that I can add it to the guide and credit you as a contributor.

Finally, a brief word of thanks to the developer of the game; I really enjoyed my experience playing through Alchemia, and have never had quite a similar experience. I think in many ways it could have been improved significantly with fairly little effort and I fervently hope to see another game (that does not use alphabetic substitution) to take me on another journey in future.
Initial Constraints
This section covers the absolute basics and should be immediately apparent to most players, but for the sake of completeness I will begin by examining the constraints the developer gives us as we begin this journey.

The title and subtitle of the text indicate the subject matter of our journey; we can limit our queries to things related to Alchemy.

A cursory search for the author, Basil Valentine, and the dedication to the King Rudolph II shows the publication of a widely reproduced book,"The Twelve Keys of Basil Valentine"[en.wikipedia.org], also with a focus on alchemy.

The printer's notes at the bottom of the text date the work, and notify the player that any results after 1688 AD can be ignored.

The second page of the text shows the symbol "RMB" (purpose unknown) as well as the Latin phrase "Liber librum aperit" which translates to "The book opens the book." All this indicates is the need for outside research.
ABSCONDITA EST INSIGNE
"Remove the false emblems and leave only true,
rearrange what remains to build the key anew."

This is fairly straightforward; rearrange the letters on the "true" emblems to build the "key".

"A Tyrolese printmaker hides but one,"

The Tyrolese printmaker is Stephan Michelspacher[en.wikipedia.org]. The work in question is Cabala, Spiegel der Kunst und Natur in Alchymia[archive.org].

"another with the canon of Bridlington."

Canon of Bridlington refers to George Ripley[en.wikipedia.org]. The relevant document is the Ripley Scroll[www.levity.com].

"Faust holds two for all his glory,"

Faust[en.wikipedia.org] clearly refers to the historical figure. There is an image from a specific grimoire attributed to him on the Wikipedia page that might attract your attention. It's the Praxis Magia Faustiana[dangerousminds.net].

"the last in the eternal alchemist's laboratory."

This doesn't really need a hint, but for the sake of completeness... The eternal alchemists's laboratory refers to "The First Stage of the Great Work," popularly known as the "Alchemist's Laboratory[en.wikipedia.org]"

The Answer

The third plate of the Cabala (39th page of the provided link) shows the man in the moon emblem (A and D).
The Ripley Scroll has a page including an image of three circles connected by lines (N and G)
The Praxis Magia Faustiana has the symbol of three lines (N and E) on the backside of page 4, and the symbol resembling a clover (O and M) on page 7.
In the Alchemist's Laboratory, an hourglass is sitting under the table on the left (L and E)
Counterintuitively, these are the true emblems.
The resulting letters are NGLEOMADNE.
Unscrambling the letters gives "Golden Mean[en.wikipedia.org]", which refers to Icarus flying the middle path between two extremes. In this case, this is literally the middle of two letters. For example, between X and Z is Y (+1, -1) and between N and Z is T (+6, -6). Follow this rule to decrypt the letter pairs into single letters.
LINGVA MATER
"At Babel our tongue did split, but through gematria a link still fits"
Gematria converts letters to numbers, where the 1st letter of the alphabet maps to the number one.
This can work for more than just the English alphabet.
Ancient Greek, Hebrew, and Yiddish are languages the author of this game gravitates towards.

"The sages did imitate in kind, so their recipes no other would find."
All four of the hints on the cardinal directions result in the same answer by different means.

"Study their works in page and word, the firstletterof eachworda clue conferred"

The Answer
Soyga: Soyga refers to the book of Soyga[www.holybooks.com]

Atrop: Searching the pages for ATROP, on page 115 it mentions that ATROP is the reverse of PORTA.

The Porta Cipher is a modified Caesar cipher, which is similar to the other 3 cipher types listed in reverse at the cardinal directions (Trithemius, Selenus, Vigenere).

The gematria of the letters on the cardinal directions gives the page number and word number to use as the keys for the various ciphers.
(South: English, LA – F is 21 – 6 or the 21st page’s 6th word of "The Cryptomenytics and Cryptography of Gustavus Selenus")
(East: Ancient Greek, Eta – Beta is 7 – 2
(West: Hebrew, waw – nun, zay is 6 – 17
(North top: Yiddish, Bet yod – Zayin is 12, – 7
(North bottom He – Gimel Samcech is 5 –18


North hint: A Porta Cipher with a key/password "B", which is the first letter in "being" from the 12th page, and "beset" 7th word and the 5th page, 18th word from the book of Soyga.
Vigenere Cipher with a key/password "N"
Selenus Cipher and Trithemus Cipher were not solved by us but should give you the same end result of a shift 13 Caesar Cipher.
CHYMISTRY
This solution is incomplete. If you know more than this guide reveals, please share your knowledge in the comments or message one of us.

"Group by appearance their magnitude revealed,
if more than pyrite you wish to yield."
The image is the five alchemical symbols for the base elements.
Presumably using Barlet’s key values (2nd stanza) and appearances (colors from 3rd stanza), Use the number of occurrences of each color and the values of these occurrences to somehow arrive at the solution.

"When with clarity you hope to see,
see the aid of Barlet's key."
Barlet's key is a set of numbers, symbols, and alchemical ingredients in French.
Barlet’s key[www.flickr.com] associates each of the 12 symbols with a number and chemical.
This includes orpigment (yellow dye), aymant (magnet/lodestone), chaux viue (quicklime), soulphre vis sel (Sulfuric Acid?), Antimony Earth Metal, Cerue (White Lead), Flowers of Antimony, Eau Royale (Aqua Regia), Borax, Cinnabar, Azur, and l’maille de mars (path of mars).

"Repealer of the mines royal act,
only he can bring the unseen letters back."
According to Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle repealed the mines royal act of 1689[en.wikipedia.org]
The critical information here is that he was the principal founder of the Invisible College[en.wikipedia.org].

The Answer
Fill in the letters of Invisible College in the blanks above the other letters to form a key. Use this key to decipher the letters within the alchemical symbols[en.wikipedia.org] and philosopher's stone[ascensionglossary.com] as follows:

Downwards pointed triangle, Water: Nhzrwdy is Nigredo (black)
6 pointed star: Philosopher’s Stone: Arzwnth is Argenti (silver)
Downwards pointed triangle w/ line, Earth: Khrhdh is Viridi (green)
Upwards pointed triangle, Fire: Fsaky is Flavo (yellow)
Upwards pointed triangle w/ line, Air: Asqum is Album (white)


Trial and error gave the following
Stone, Earth, Air, Fire, Water become 1, 0, 2, 4, 3 when on top and 3, 1, 5, 4, 2 when on bottom. Example: Stone top and Air bottom would be 1 and 5 or 15 which becomes “O”

Note: whenever a wrap-around of numbers to letters occurs, add that number of wrap-arounds to the final letter. Example: 3 is C but 29 is D, not C (29 -26 +1 = D) and 55 is E (55 - 26- 26 + 2)

SVPER STELLAE
"Cicero writes of an ancient machine,
to calculate the future - surely but a dream"
Cicero’s machine is the Antikythera Mechanism[en.wikipedia.org]. A portion of the Antikythera mechanism is a Corinthian calendar. The puzzle's month names are not in sequential order in the page image.

"The man with the golden nose,
arrange the zodiac as his last works shows."
This is a rare circumstance where I cannot point the player to a primary source. There is a drawing published in 1577 and a plate from the Harmonia Macrocosmica[upload.wikimedia.org] published in 1660 showing the correct zodiac layout; neither De mundi aetherei recentioribus phaenomenis liber secundus nor the Astronomiae instauratae progymnasmata contain an image of the zodiac in question .

"He of the fifth month knows the technique,"
"He of the fifth month" refers to Julius Caesar[www.timeanddate.com]. This indicates that our text is encoded in a Caesar cipher.

"connections plus word forms a key, so to speak."
This is a hint for how the cipher works. The number of connections a given zodiac symbol has plus the month name gives the shift key.

The Answer
Use the Brahe zodiac sign placement with the month name and line placement from the Alchemia page.

For each section of the code: use the sign’s number of connections on the Brahe zodiac. Add this to the corresponding location’s Greek month number. Example: Libra is the 3 o'clock symbol on the Tycho zodiac which has 2 connections. ΚΡΑΝΕΙΟΣ (Kraneios) is the 3 o'clock month listed, which is the 2nd Greek month. 2+2 = 4, so use a ROT4 cipher for the first section. See the red circled section of the image below for further clarification.


Sagittarius: 4 + 7 =11
Aries: 3 + 4=7
Aquarius: 4 + 3 = 7
Leo: 2 + 8 = 10
Pisces: 5 + 12 = 17
HISTORIA
"Text in green the substitution will reveal,
and lift this thrice-great seal."

"Text in green" and "thrice-great" both refer to the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus.
As Above, So Below[en.wikipedia.org]
. It's another substitution cipher. The things on top become the things on bottom.

"First find Cleopatra's gold,"

Cleopatra here refers to Cleopatra the Alchemist[en.wikipedia.org]. The document in question is the Chrysopoeia.

"next a secret the sphinx does hold."

Like many other things in this game, looking at the Wikipedia page for the Sphinx[en.wikipedia.org] might help. The desired text is the Atalanta Fugiens. Emblem XXXIX and its attached discourse has the answer.

"Seek Panopolis' son but know,"

Panopolis’s son here refers to Zosimos of Panopolis. His name is somewhere on the page.

"it ends with a fire below"

The alchemical symbol for fire is simply a triangle pointing upwards. The symbol is "below" Zosimos.

The Answer

Cleopatra's gold is in the middle right square and is the bespoke symbol of a dark circle connected to eight surrounding light circled by lines.
The sphinx's secret refers to the combination of a semicircle, quadrangle and triangle to form the philosopher's stone and is shown in the upper left square.
"Zosimos" is spelled out on the side of the middle left square.
The bottom right square contains the symbol for fire (an upright triangle) and is below the Zosimos square.
The cipher only contains the letters present on the four listed squares; replace the letters on top with the letters on bottom.

NVMERO SANCTVM
There are no hints for this, other than the Latin text at the bottom of the page. The origins of each symbol will be in the following spoiler text, identified by row:

First Row: Roman Numerals
Second Row: Ancient Greek
Third Row: Mayan
Fourth Row: Hebrew
Fifth Row: Egyptian

A brief analysis of the verses:

"Alkahest will split each in twain,
returning to its elements once again."

A cursory search will introduce the player to the alchemical properties of alkahest, which is a hint regarding how to process the numbers. Each number has to be split into its prime factors, composing two lists.

"Ordered with Eratosthene's aid,
numbers to letters two texts are made."

Eratosthene's aid here refers to Eratosthene's sieve. Instead of "order" referring to the order the number lists need to be arranged in, it refers to assigning a numeric value to each number based on its place in the sieve. For example, 2 is assigned a value of 1 because it is the first number in the sieve, while 5 is assigned a value of 3 as it is the third number in the sieve. Apply a direct alphanumeric substitution to your new number values, wrapping the alphabet if it exceeds 26, to get two words.

"Take the first of each in sequence,
to this proof lend credence."

The words from the result of the previous stanza should point the player to a certain book. Something commonly associated with the author of this book is the key here. Take the first digit of each sequence number for as many characters as are in the message. This is your cipher key.

The Answer
Each of these numbers is a composite number (the multiple of two primes), 74 (2*37), 69 (3*23), 6 (2*3), 55 (5*11), 1403 (23*61). Dividing each into these primes gives two lists; the lower primes (2, 3, 2, 5, 23) and the higher primes (37, 23, 3, 11, 61).

Use Eratosthenes's sieve[en.wikipedia.org] to determine the ascending order of prime numbers:
2 is the first prime, A is the first letter
3 is the 2nd prime, B is the 2nd letter
5 is the 3rd prime, C
11 is the 5th, E
23 is the 9th, I
37 is the 12th, L
61 is the 18th, R
Decoding: (2, 3, 2, 5, 23 and 37, 23, 3, 11, 61) gives ABACI LIBER[en.wikipedia.org]


Liber Abaci was written by Fibbonacci, of Fibbonacci Sequence fame. Take the first digit of each number in the sequence. So 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144... becomes 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 1… Use these digits as the rotational cipher (The first letter “O” shifts 1 to P, the second letter “N” shifts 1 to O, etc.)
MAPPUS MUNDI

"Identify these lands hidden in many a great atlas,"

Hidden lands refer to places that do not exist.

"and a country marked by an X thus...
Cross Sigmisund's alchemist and Napier's bones,
Magus of Combwich and one the Baresh codex owns."

X marks the spot, 4 locations can only have one intersection formed by 2 lines connecting them, for one solution which is the name of a country.

"Fill a table ten by five with what you find,
to lift this fata morgana of the mind."

Take the five previous solutions and organize them in a table. The 5 by 10 table consists of 5 different proper nouns which are up to 10 characters, but don't have to necessarily be that long.
Fata morgana (phantom islands) also refers to places that do not exist.

The Answer
Seven year island I: seen once every 7 years through the fog is Hy Brasil[en.wikipedia.org]
Rock of Mercator II: is what the north pole was thought to be, Rupes Nigra[en.wikipedia.org]
Kircher’s Isle III: is Atlantis[en.wikipedia.org], note that North is upside down
Raleigh’s endIV: is El Dorado[en.wikipedia.org], see the tiny pyramid symbol in the middle top

Make a line connecting Scotland (Napier's Bones[en.wikipedia.org]) and Italy (Baresch Codex Owns[en.wikipedia.org]). Add another line connecting Southern Poland (Sigmisund's Alchemist[en.wikipedia.org]) and Southeast England (Magus of Combwich[en.wikipedia.org]). Those lines cross in Belgium.

Spoiler image clarifying the above:


"Fill a table ten by five with what you find, to lift this fata morgana of the mind.":

Arrange the solutions to the above in the coloumns of a 5 by 10 table as shown below. The numbers in the code correspond with the letters in the table. Each letter is assigned a value corresponding to its row and column, which matches the cipher text.

Note: the missing letters in the code must be inferred from context clues of surrounding letters.

CLAVES SEPTVM
Each puzzle page is linked to a coded stanza on this page. The order of these is itself a small puzzle. The bolded word in each stanza of the "Claves Septum" page refers to a particular alchemical element and associated symbol, which can be found here[gothiccharmschool.tumblr.com].

or in the spoiler image below:
MAGNVS ARCANA
This page contains the meat of the game puzzle -- 7 different cipher texts. The clues required to decrypt this page are contained in the solutions to the other pages in the book. The final message(s) are additional clues pointing to the ultimate solution. There's no actual puzzle here.

To find a specific cipher solution, refer to the CLAVES SEPTUM section to figure out which element corresponds to your cipher, then go to the section for that page.

Some people miss this:There are dots above some of the letters. This is a common method of enciphering a message.

The Answer [Hints]

So you decoded the messages, huh? And you still need help solving the last puzzle in the game?

Here are a couple hints...

Take your sequence of names. You may notice they correspond to another page in the book that hasn't been used for anything yet. (If you don't have names, you're not done).

You're looking for a combination of page turns.

You have to start on a specific page. There's a hint in the last message you decoded before the names.... If it doesn't register, make sure you input the sequence quickly. The game is looking for an input sequence within a specific window with the pages at a specific index. If you wait for the pages to fully turn, you won't trigger the end.

Once you've solved it...
Did you hear something? Check the covers....
Conclusion
This was our first guide, made because we found the game to be a unique, compelling experience and mourned that so many "finished" the game without truly solving the puzzles. In fact, we ourselves were not able to completely solve the Chymistry puzzle or find the use of the Vigenere or Selenus portions of the Lingua Mater cipher, and hope the guide will connect us with someone who can help us finish those portions.

Hopefully you found the information contained here useful. If you have any additional pertinent information or criticism, please leave a comment or send a DM.
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3 Comments
pcube Sep 30 @ 9:15pm 
This is amazing!!! Kudos to the both of you for putting in time and effort to write this guide WITH spoilers so you don't accidentally see something you wanted to solve yourself. :-)
SweepingsDemon  [author] Aug 9 @ 8:46am 
Go for it, just include that it's a translation.
是香蕉君吖 Aug 8 @ 7:58am 
May I get your permission to translate the guide into Chinese?