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Steel Eyes
With the coming of Haley's Comet a number of Orichalcum veins appeared. What is Orichalcum in the cycles without magic? And what about any items made in previous cycles?
Herald of Verjigorm
Without the magical effects it would probably be mistaken for impure copper or other similar looking metals (to some extent it is impure copper...). In artifacts, such a mistake would be seen as "proof of their inferior refining techniques," and in the wild it would be ignored.

[edit]although that one island appeared to have no minerals of value before the comet showed up, so it might look even less valuable than copper[/edit]
Or just not exist at all.
Herald of Verjigorm
If it was only used for decorative portions on artifacts, then orichalcum could easily have had no physical form during the downcycle (that would count as less valuable than copper...).
Most likely it appeared as orichalcum. Immortal elves didn't morph into humans during the down cycle; they stayed elves and had to hide their ears. Orichalcum probably would have been inexplicible if anyone had analyzed it during the down cycle. However, it was extremely rare, and the items it was used on were too valuable archeologically to just melt down and run through a metalurgical test.
Guess the question is: were the veins of orichalcum that suddenly appeared during the Year of the Comet there before, or did they spontaneously appear? I'd guess worked orichalcum stayed exactly what it was during the downcycle - probably the few folks that had orichalcum artifacts in any large number knew what it was. I'd guess that the mana wackyness brought orichalcum veins into existence pretty much outta nowhere.

In other news, have there been any canon SR references to the True Elements? Specifically True Earth? Given the orichalcum rush I wouldn't be surprised - but if not, maybe it's just that no-one knows to look for the stuff yet.
Ancient History
The best explanation is p.84 of Year of the Comet. Personally, I think that the rise in mana may have just triggered an alchemical change where the right elements were present.

[/edit] There has been a reference to True Fire, and references to rare magical minerals besides natural Orichalcum.

See my Orichalcum page for mining sites and overview.
This orichalcum appears as solid spheres of 5 to 30 grams in pear-shaped crystal quartz stalactites within certain caverns.  According to Celedyr, this si some sort of natuyral refing process, of which the orichalcum is a residual waste material.  When harvested, he gets the crystal, Snowdonia gets the orichalcum.

Yeah, I had assumed that those crystals were True Earth, m'self.
Ancient History
Or living crystal. Hard to tell.
Could it be like baby obsidian men?

Note that I have no real clue about what I am talking about.

But if that is possible, then Rhownoby is setting himself up with allies for his whole mining/digging/underground kick.

Now, if I only knew anyting about obsidianmen...
Ancient History
Obsidimen don't have babies in the traditional sense. Asexual reproduction from source spirit/liferock material. The chances that the Snowdonia orichalcum mine is a Liferock is somewhat slim, but if it is then Celedyr is complicit in raping the orichalcum and base materials from it.

Well, at least my idea wasn't totally stupid.
In other news, have there been any canon SR references to the True Elements?

As AH said, there is at least one reference to True Fire, in the book describing the european paranormals (sorry, I don't know the english title). It was in the sprite page.
Moonstone Spider
I have some familiarity with the precious metals. In my best guess, Orichalcum would have looked like Electrum, a naturally occuring and sometimes manmade alloy of gold and silver, often with copper in it as well. The earliest known coins were electrum as were a number of early artifacts right up until the Grecan era.

Keep in mind there's nothing inherently absurd about the chemical makeup of Orichalcum, it would be quite easy to manufacture it right now in any jeweler's workshop. All the metals in it mix quite easily (Although you'll burn a nightmarish amount of laundry detergent keeping the Copper from oxydizing, use a reducing flame for that part) and alloy with no difficulty.
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