Strauss’ Silence, sometimes referred to as Dampening Obscura, is a recent alchemical development pioneered by the Regalian Scholar’s Court. Similar to the commonly-known Obscura, this powdery, reactive substance is occasionally used by seers of the Azure Order while apprehending rogue mages. Azures are not the only group known to utilize it, however, with the Regalian Guard and assorted groups of zealots occasionally gathering their own stocks for offensive operations. With a harsh rhetoric of targeting mages continually on the rise, supplies of Strauss’ Silence are expected to remain in high demand due to Stonepetal’s relative scarcity in Regalian markets.
Devised by Iron Fist disciple Aurick Strauss, dampening obscura first surfaced during the time of prelude to the Chrysant War. Xenophobia and Regalian nationalism had seen a meteoric rise with the upcoming closure of Regalian Pessimism, and with this came increased scrutiny over magic users. As such, artisans and tinkerers following nationalistic persuasion were more likely to be patronized by the noble houses belonging to the Iron Bulwark faction. Aurick was among such a body of opportunistic alchemists, and for months he spent his days toiling over formulae and alchemical concepts.
Intent on creating a debilitating weapon for use against mages, Aurick drafted a final concept for Strauss’ Silence. Containing the usual ingredients for Obscura, ratios of commonplace ingredients for the smoke bomb remained unaltered while the use of charcoal was omitted entirely. Expeditionary parties were dispatched to Hyarroc’s Stone Forest where they gathered specimens of Stonepetal, though Wolathar raids and encounters with the various beasts stifled progress for some time. Aurick was a sharp individual, however, and between utilizing connections in the Iron Fist and receiving donations from several generous benefactors he was able to reach his first milestone. Acquiring all ingredients and apparatuses required for manufacturing his creation, he promptly moved onto the phase of refinement and experimentation.
Several more months passed before Aurick devised a stable, repeatable batch of Strauss’ silence. By this time the project had been noticed by several institutions by the Iron Fist’s propagating word through networked alchemists. Notably, several sentinels of the infamous Azure Order approached the Regalian alchemist with handsome offers to take the formula off his hands. Pressured by both the promise of coin and prestige, Aurick surrendered his works to the Azures and went under their patronage. With ample funding and resources, he then continued to perfect his formula with relative comfort, while operatives of the Azure Order began to arm their seers with the concoction. Those in the Order tend to offhandedly call the mix “Obscura Silentium.”
Today, Strauss’ Silence is in widespread use by the Azure Order. Though under relatively tight control by its bureaucracy, stolen quantities have been reverse-engineered by varying rogue alchemists and assorted criminals. Still uncommon, these batches tend to be of weaker potency and are prone to irregularities that may put the life of its user at stake.
Similar to Obscura, the initial steps in creating a batch of Strauss’ Silence requires rudimentary utensils and a fine attention to detail. The base ingredients of Fireweed and gunpowder remain of chief importance, and poor storage and improper separation of these two reagents has led to the death of several alchemists. Once Fireweed has been procured, it must be properly dried out and then crushed to a coarse consistency. The Fireweed must be kept in a dark room during this process to ensure it doesn’t react to light. Meanwhile, sap must be extracted from the Stonepetal plant and spread out across a sheet relatively evenly until dry. After hardening to a resin, it is usually smashed to pieces with a small mallet before being crushed into a fine consistency with mortar and pestle. A quantity of lapis lazuli must also be pulverized to a very fine dust, at which point all preparatory work is done.
After all ingredients have been prepared, alchemists procure a stock of clear, glass bottles to mix in all ingredients. Once again done in the confines of a dark room, the Stonepetal resin, lapis dust and gunpowder are all carefully mixed together dry before being divvied out into however many portions are intended. The crushed Fireweed is then added in last before the bottle is securely sealed via a cork and wax. Just as with Obscura, the bottle is left briefly in the sun to “charge” the fireweed and have it primed for use. One notable feature that Strauss’ Silence holds over regular Obscura is that the glass bottles used are generally larger due to an increased proportion needed for the lapis dust to sufficiently hamper a mage’s casting abilities.
Strauss’ Silence requires a brief setting in strong sunlight to charge its ingredients before being used. Afterwards, it may be thrown or otherwise have its housing shattered to expose the fireweed to ample air, at which point the ingredients react.
Upon breaking, Strauss’ silence reacts with a slow, one-to-two second simmer before igniting in a disorientating flash of gunpowder. While the explosion itself is generally weak, direct contact to skin or appendages can result in varying degrees of harm such as burns or lacerations. Once the gunpowder has ignited, the Stonepetal resin rapidly vaporizes and produces a roughly three cubic meter area of thin smoke. Any unfortunate enough to be trapped in the fumes will be accosted by vivid hallucinations after several minutes of breathing the vapors, while scattered lapis dust seriously inhibits the casting of spells. Those beneath a skill level of Expert will find themselves entirely unable to draw from their form, while those more skilled may be able to produce weakened effects until the hallucinations prohibit concentration completely. The factor of dust settling and smoke wafting away is entirely dependent on what environment it is subjected to, with outdoor winds tending to carry it away within minutes. Indoors, however, the Stonepetal smoke may linger for twenty minutes, while it takes only around five to ten minutes for the lapis dust to settle.
Unignited, Strauss’ silence is a fairly mundane in appearance. The herbal Fireweed and gunpowder mix tend to dominate its makeup with an ashy dust, while the silvery resin of Stonepetal and crushed lapis are visible to the keen eye. Once ignited, Strauss’ silence produces a thin vapor of white smoke. While certainly not thick, it still proves to be a slight inhibition to sight.
- While Strauss’ silence is generally frowned upon by mages, there are certain cabals and groups within the Regalian Sewers that are known to keep their own stocks. This is believed to be done so that one group of mages has advantage over another during periods of gang warfare which often take place.
- Aurick Strauss is rumored to have sold his original formula to several less-than-legal vigilante groups supported by Regalian nobility. This is supported by the fact that several notorious diviner cloisters utilize the alchemical formula rather frequently, though any evidence of Aurick selling his secrets has yet to be proven.