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Lithic Weapons and Griffon Mountain

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Dragonnewts have a Klanth (RQGB P38) obsidian blades set into a wooden haft and grip :

1H Sword Klanth Base 10 STR 7 DEX 11 Damage 1d10+1 HP 12 ENC 1 Length 0.8-1.0 SR2 Typs S

 

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The klanth is a good one, but less exotically:

  • Spears
  • Axes
  • Javelins
  • Bow and Arrow
  • Slings
  • Nets and Lassos

...all made from wood, fiber, sinew, and/or stone, and potentially without damage or skill penalties in use.  Some pretty sophisticated tools for hunting and warfare can be crafted without proper metallurgy.  Durability is the primary issue at hand.

Didn't the original RQ1 & 2 have relative hardnesses for the interaction of weapons and armor made from different materials?  I don't recall it covering wood and stone, though.

!i!

[Edit:  I'm pretty sure the rules for differing materials that I was thinking of were from Tunnels & Trolls.]

Edited by Ian Absentia
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Spears can have stone blades

Arrowheads can be stone.

Atlatl darts too.

Slings, of course, classically use stones.

Axe blades of stone (like a club, but sharpened) are quite old.

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5 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

...  Durability is the primary issue at hand.

THIS!  One source I found suggests stone tips average 1-3 uses before breaking.

Archaelogists find broken-off-tips in mostly-random locations; larger broken base pieces are usually found at camp/village sites, presumably brought home to re-work into smaller pieces.

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15 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

... without damage or skill penalties in use...

Obsidian, being glass, can be crafted to a hellaciously-sharp edge/point.  As noted, it's also FRAGILE.

As I think about it, I would allow obsidian a +1 damage bonus!  But then, figure all armors as being TWO points more effective specifically against obsidian edges/tips (and also degrade those edges, quickly rendering the pointy part non-pointy).  But that's "allow" if a player wanted some customization for their klanth-wielder / etc... otherwise, too much bookkeeping.

 

 

Edited by g33k

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Let's not discount construction from bone, horn, and ivory, either.  There's a world of mayhem to be squeezed from the pre-metallurgic environment.

Thanks to @Videopete for reminding me how much I enjoy the neolithic environment of Griffin Mountain (even though I always had difficulty wrapping my head around marrying the technological level to residence in the citadels).

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia

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15 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

Let's not discount construction from bone, horn, and ivory, either.  There's a world of mayhem to be squeezed from the pre-metallurgic environment.

!i!

And just plain ol' sharpened wood!  After all, if it's good enough for a master Vampire...   😁

 

I quoted some data from "thoughtco" above, without citation.  I'll give the whole link...  Good reading for anyone interested in neolithic parts of Glorantha!

https://www.thoughtco.com/arrowheads-and-other-points-facts-167277

 

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2 hours ago, Byll said:

Dragonnewts have a Klanth

A klanth is a macuahuitl, a kind of heavy club inset with obsidian blades; obsidian has been tested by surgeons and scientists as being ridiculously sharper than razorblade and breakage in combat just makes a new, equally-sharp edge.

So let's be clear that this weapon is not characteristic of the kind of tools we talk about when we're discussing lithic technologies used in the neolithic, where fragile obsidian would have been limited in use to more useful purposes.

image.png.7c0b92a045fa75c6ca38ce78282a5dce.png

Much more common and dangerous to metal-wearers are spears and javelins, especially propelled by atlatls, which basically lengthen your arm and thus make your throw stronger and require almost no familiarity to use. And don't underestimate slings; slingers were an important part of ancient armies, as they were very mobile and incredibly accurate.

One of the things that might be surprising is that in most neolithic societies we know of, warfare was absent; most conflict was homicide, typically of an intimate partner by a man if the society was loose hunter-gatherers. The organisation of band societies by women, either self-organised or by family, seems to have protected them from abuse as those leave more balanced homicides.

Warfare in low-tech societies typically involves basketry shields enhanced with wood stavings, bodily decorations, spears, clubs, and stone axes; bows were lethal but less useful in combat than other weapons due to their low quality compared to things like composite bows.

In areas like Papua-New Guinea, where neolithic technology paired with incredible crop yields, unbelievable population densities lead to very interesting social dynamics. Men's houses developed because men had to marry the daughters of their enemies, who they probably killed male family members of, so they didn't dare sleep alone with them. Homonormativity developed - researches found in many tribes a percentage of people depressed they could not express their heterosexual desires because it was socially impossible, and everyone else just had sex ritually with their spouse to have children and had same-sex partners the rest of the time and didn't really care.

Children were raised bilingually by their parents. Constant warfare over territory and endless social struggle over the socialisation of children was intense - you had to make sure the children stayed loyal or else they'd defect and take territory with them!

Trade was very important but you couldn't trust your neighbors, so you had to find routes past them to the NEXT tribes, so speaking many many languages was the norm.

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42 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

A klanth is a macuahuitl...

c.f. the Hawai'ian leiomanō, which used shark's teeth instead of obsidian.  Neither of which would be found in a run-of-the-mill Balazaring's possession.

Monolithic generalisations of neolithic cultures aside (Griffin Mountain was notably light on cultural detail), I think I'd prefer a down-home campaign set in Balazar over Sartar.  It's nice to have a "primitive" cultural region that hasn't been stamped HSUNCHEN by way of shorthand.

!i!

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Back when Bronze was making its way up into Northern Europe, flint-knappers actually tried to compete with the new luxury material for a while, developing increasingly sophisticated techniques to imitate bronze daggers and even sabre-like swords (albeit probably ceremonial ones). Some of the flint daggers border on short thrusting swords in length, at least by bronze age standards.

https://www.khm.uio.no/english/research/collections/objects/a-dagger-ahead-of-its-time.html

The situation in Glorantha may or may not be conducive to this sort of thing. Balazari elites have probably access to Bronze, and Bronze isn't usually an alloy in Glorantha and so can be treated more like iron from an economic and logistical point of view - this might mean that flint knappers might not see the point in trying to emulate metallic weapons.

But then on the other hand, Balazari flint knappers have had bronze-wielding neighbors for a long time, and so they've certainly had time and opportunity to develop.

Throw in some ancestral magic to reduce breakage* or what have you, and they might potentially be competitive in this local environment.
(*or, inspired by Thor putting his goats together after eating them to ressurect them, perhaps some Balazaring flint-deity allows a warrior to "Mend Flint Tool" after a confrontation where it breaks.... just throwing ideas out there.)

Lastly, there is of course always the Rule of Cool, which should not be forgotten.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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22 hours ago, Videopete said:

So wanting to run a campaign but I looked everywhere but saw no mention for stone weapons, aside from clubs what else can be used.

John Whittaker has written two excellent books on the subject of stone tools (and weapons). I've given the Amazon links so you can use the look inside feature toes some of the pics (and read a bit). I learnt knapping for my degree and the first book is a good guide, although there are now many easier to follow guides available (and courses):

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Flintknapping-Making-Understanding-Stone-Tools-ebook/dp/B003TXTC7M

I've included American Flintknappers: Stone Age Art in the Age of Computers as the cover is fantastic inspiration for Glorantha styles.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00F9JBGNM/

and here's complete resource: http://www.survivorlibrary.com/library/flintknapping_pdf_book.pdf

20 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Let's not discount construction from bone, horn, and ivory, either.

16 hours ago, metcalph said:

Or one always use a sabretooth's eyetooth.

All of these together including teeth, sinew and resin are excellent materials to create and enhance you weapons and tools alongside your stone / sharpenable material of need.

One thing my tutor always told us is that these kind of tools are viewed as disposable. They last until they break or are useless. You just make another (or pull out your spare) as opposed to metal tools that have better longevity and so become a treasured item.

Finally don't forget the praxians are also a neolithic culture with access to metal tools and weapons, but do no metallurgy themselves (they don't make or repair the metal part).

Edited by David Scott
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The Votanki don't have a specialized warrior culture, all of their lethal tools are double use for hunting or other pursuits. There may be some form of multipartite axe or stone sickle (although grain and even seeds of wild grasses don't seem to flourish in Balazar).

The Votanki are likely to do fire-farming in their forests, artificially creating clearings where fresh growth will come on recently denuded ground. They appear to have managed to avoid far-flung forest fires (and thereby conflicts with the wandering aldryami of their lands).

 

The oldest spears known from terrestrial manufacture predate the Neanderthals in Germany and probably were produced by Homo Steinheimensis. They were made completely from local wood and were sufficient to pierce animal (in this case, apparently horse) skin and muscle, and are shaped and were presumably handled just like olympic spears. Replicas were thrown uo tp 70 meters by modern athletes.

 

 

10 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Let's not discount construction from bone, horn, and ivory, either.  There's a world of mayhem to be squeezed from the pre-metallurgic environment.

Horn isn't that well suited for making weapons. A reindeer antler has a similar structure to bone and lends itself well for harpoon points, but using red deer (or wapiti) antlers for such a purpose results only in failures.

Bird bones are notorious for splintering into very sharp fragments which can hurt an esophagus (some of the tougher tissue in e.g. a dog's body), so purposfully splinterd bird bones will likely make for good arrow (or light javelin) points that may last for a few shots into soft tissue.

 

10 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Thanks to @Videopete for reminding me how much I enjoy the neolithic environment of Griffin Mountain (even though I always had difficulty wrapping my head around marrying the technological level to residence in the citadels).

The technological level of the citadel dwellers is higher mainly through trade. While they have bronze workers who can work imported bronze and probably apply gold leaf to all manner of surfaces, there is no evidence of metal mining by humans anywhere in the Elder Wilds. The Greatway dwarves are happy to trade some brass to the Votanki and the citadel dwellers, and probably also to shape it according to their specifications.

The imported tools might include metal digging tools. While bison hunting on foot with only stone- or bone-tipped spears certainly was practiced in the pre-Columbian west, hunting trapped animals reduces the risk a lot, and the Elder Wilds appear to offer sufficiently common choke points in the migration routes where large animal traps would work.

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8 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Throw in some ancestral magic to reduce breakage* or what have you, and they might potentially be competitive in this local environment.
(*or, inspired by Thor putting his goats together after eating them to ressurect them, perhaps some Balazaring flint-deity allows a warrior to "Mend Flint Tool" after a confrontation where it breaks.... just throwing ideas out there.)

Even just the Repair spirit magic spell could increase the lifetime of a stone spearpoint substantially. All for the low, low cost of--that's right folks--of one magic point!

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5 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Votanki...

You mean the Balazarings have been over-thought, too?  What am I saying?  Of course they have.

5 hours ago, Joerg said:

...(although grain and even seeds of wild grasses don't seem to flourish in Balazar).

You mean haven't been mentioned in published sources to date.

5 hours ago, Joerg said:

Horn isn't that well suited for making weapons.

And yet it's been used, structurally and/or decoratively.

I'm being testy, but we're going to keep this about having fun in Balazar, yeah?

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia

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Remember that even in Gloranthan myth, hunting rabbits and eating grubs and fish is the major source of protein for the Green Age and for neolithic peeps. They mostly eat berries, roots, and plants. The powerful hunting gods (Odayla-equivalents) enable risky but heroic kills that require a lot of energy and material expense that create a rich larder of stored foods - think pemmican and fermented meats, basically.

Even with the rule of cool, hunting deer is costly and annoying for people who have primitive bows and access to much easier souces of protein; assuming a dense population, such as a settled longhouse-style population the size of an Orlanthi tribe rather than about ten mobile people, is going to farm rabbits next to their yams. And the Lunar crops like maize, beans, and squash have 100% made it to the Balazarings by now (they made it to the isolated Hmong in the highlands of Cambodia and South China by like 1550 CE!).

Hunting deer or large animals is hard work when you have shitty bows and thick underbrush. There's a reason the first domestic animal (not commensal, dogs are commensals) was the reindeer some time in the late Paleolithic; easier to acclimate them and learn to manage herds and cull for meat than to try to hunt them.

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20 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

The powerful hunting gods (Odayla-equivalents)...

Foundchild!  First appeared in Griffin Mountain.

20 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

And the Lunar crops like maize, beans, and squash have 100% made it to the Balazarings by now...

This has struck me before; with proximity to and trade with the Lunar Empire, how have the Balazarings not risen to the hillbilly status of the Sartarites?  And why aren't the Lunars relocating settlers here?  Maybe that's what's happening at the citadels, though, radiating outward as the inexorable millstone of civilisation grinds onward.  I somewhat unfairly leveled the hairy eyeball at Joerg above regarding an overwrought development of Balazar.  There's room and opportunity for updating the 1981-era background.

20 minutes ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Hunting deer or large animals is hard work when you have shitty bows and thick underbrush.

Ugh, remind me to not tell you the stoopid, stoopid story of dispatching a rogue rooster camping in my rhododendron thicket.  I hear you.

!i!

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1 hour ago, Ian Absentia said:

You mean haven't been mentioned in published sources to date.

 

Actually, wild local grain is gathered by the citadel folk and a staple of their diet, but no one grows domestic grain, or tries to domesticate the wild varieties. Balazar's questing brought in pigs from Maniria, but no grains.

 

1 hour ago, Ian Absentia said:

And yet it's been used, structurally and/or decoratively.

Structurally as a handle, or even as the arm of the atlatl - yes. As point or blade, horn is inferior to wood.

1 hour ago, Ian Absentia said:

I'm being testy,

Really?

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37 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

the hillbilly status of the Sartarites

Sartarites aren't exactly hillbillies; the Lunars just think that because they are dicks.

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25 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

This has struck me before; with proximity to and trade with the Lunar Empire, how have the Balazarings not risen to the hillbilly status of the Sartarites?  And why aren't the Lunars relocating settlers here? 

IIRC farming has been tried, and it fails outside of the lands claimed by the land goddesses of Holay. There is no extant land goddess - possibly a victim to the Chaos Horde deflected in the Unity Battle? - that would support any kind of plowing. Instead, Balazar had to woo and marry Rigtaina, a hunting nymph (an aspect of the Lady of the Wild) to establish his citadel lord dynasties.

The pig breeders of the citadels are acculturated Votanki who have lost the respect of their hunting kin.

Elkoi (until 1628 at least) is a Lunar relocation project, started under Phargentes (who conquered the place - probably even before re-taking his brother's kingdom), tired of having to stage countless punitive raids into Balazar). Without a working agriculture, there is little hope to raise the population density much.

I would assume that there would have been Lunar settlers attempting to grow maize, using up ever more human sacrifices, to little or no avail. The farmers probably either starved, ran away, or were acculturated as pig tenders. It is likely that Phargentes would have sent troublemakers, probably from Aggar, or later from his own kingdom.

One thing that might work would be to extend the Glowline into Balazar (changing the magical reality of the affected land) - but after all resources to such endeavors had been sunk in the failed Sartar project, I doubt anyone could even crowd-fund a new Glowline extension project in the Empire.

 

25 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

Maybe that's what's happening at the citadels, though, radiating outward as the inexorable millstone of civilisation grinds onward. 

It is possible that Balazar could have achieved more if he hadn't perished in the Dragonkill War, alongside all of his able-bodied Yelmalian followers. This may have been good news for the Votanki, who might otherwise have been enslaved much like the Kitori in Sun Dome County, serving a rather broad Yelmalian warrior elite rather than a small citadel lord elite.

The term "Ergesh" was first published as Plentonius' identification of Votank on the Gods Wall, indicating a long standing tradition of hunting for slaves in the Elder Wilds.

25 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

There's room and opportunity for updating the 1981-era background.

I blame the weird decision to make one of the few well-developed corners of Glorantha into a Blank Land when the Genertela Box was published for much of the hiatus. Griffin Mountain provides probably again as much material on the Lunar Provinces as does Genertela Box, and was invaluable to me when I put together my own precursor of the Guide in the early nineties. When Moon Design published their edition in 2001, we finally received gaming material on Sartar, though for Hero Wars (then HeroQuest).

There was of course the Griffin Mountain freeform, which I experienced in my biggest role so far (Boshbisil the Giant). That's one of the few Gloranthan freeforms I didn't get my hands on the gamemasters' package...

If you want to keep the publication rhythm, we have about two years to create an updated version with a campaign for the post-Dragonrise arc. But to be honest, I would rather see a Hahlgrim's War campaign statted out, possibly with a few side quests, before creating a new campaign in the shadow of Argrath's endeavors towards Saird.

One thing worth pursuing in an Argrath-related campaign might be a hunt for EWF remnants, although I suppose that Balazar's presence in the Votanki lands was very much caused by such an endeavor, with Balazar recognizing a chance for dynastic grandeur.

17 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

Really!  I threw you a bone in my response to Qizilbashwoman above, though.

While sort of applicable to a thread on Votanki (and their neighbors), this is a perfect example why trade between Balazar and the Empire will remain limited to curiosities and maybe furs.

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49 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Structurally as a handle, or even as the arm of the atlatl - yes. As point or blade, horn is inferior to wood.

What about magic horns? As folk are fond of saying around here, Earth ain't the Lozenge. Bonus upside of no tree-people getting grouchy 'cuz your atlatl's made from their great-great-grandpa's shin.

Plus, IIRC magically handled bone & wood is presented in the Guide and other sources as a crafting staple in Prax & other primitive culture groups. I remember something about a Rhino-bone lance in Plunder?

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

IIRC farming has been tried, and it fails outside of the lands claimed by the land goddesses of Holay. There is no extant land goddess - possibly a victim to the Chaos Horde deflected in the Unity Battle? - that would support any kind of plowing. Instead, Balazar had to woo and marry Rigtaina, a hunting nymph (an aspect of the Lady of the Wild) to establish his citadel lord dynasties.

[ ... ]

One thing that might work would be to extend the Glowline into Balazar (changing the magical reality of the affected land) - but after all resources to such endeavors had been sunk in the failed Sartar project, I doubt anyone could even crowd-fund a new Glowline extension project in the Empire.

This helps put some perspective on backwaters like Balazar, and it's something I'm still adjusting to in updating my old-timey Gloranthan thinking to current sensibilities.  Things don't happen on a grand and lasting scale in Glorantha without supernatural sponsorship.  You want to raise crops?  You can buy, plant, and tend seed all you want, but they'll eventually fall short of expectations and needs without entreating a deity or spirit of agriculture to augment your methods or change the land itself.  Want to raise pigs even?  Still not as simple as purchasing breeding stock from the Lunar traders; you need to have a god or goddess behind your efforts to make it last and part of your society.  Even hunting, as you point out above, is going to peter out without negotiating spiritual rights.

Balazar remains the primitive backwater that it is precisely because no one's changed the magical nature of the land since Balazar himself perished.

And that is prime fodder for a Griffin Mountain campaign!

!i!

[Edit:  Speaking of Blank Lands, is Garsting -- just over the hill from Balazar -- still considered one?  Is anyplace in Glorantha still considered one?]

Edited by Ian Absentia
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1 hour ago, Ian Absentia said:

This helps put some perspective on backwaters like Balazar, and it's something I'm still adjusting to in updating my old-timey Gloranthan thinking to current sensibilities.  Things don't happen on a grand and lasting scale in Glorantha without supernatural sponsorship.  You want to raise crops?  You can buy, plant, and tend seed all you want, but they'll eventually fall short of expectations and needs without entreating a deity or spirit of agriculture to augment your methods or change the land itself.  Want to raise pigs even?  Still not as simple as purchasing breeding stock from the Lunar traders; you need to have a god or goddess behind your efforts to make it last and part of your society.  Even hunting, as you point out above, is going to peter out without negotiating spiritual rights.

Balazar remains the primitive backwater that it is precisely because no one's changed the magical nature of the land since Balazar himself perished.

And that is prime fodder for a Griffin Mountain campaign!

!i!

[Edit:  Speaking of Blank Lands, is Garsting -- just over the hill from Balazar -- still considered one?  Is anyplace in Glorantha still considered one?]

Yes please do @Jeff, et al. What are official blank lands, if there are any?

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