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Mining in Glorantha.


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Asrelia is the guardian of the wealth deep down in the Earth, which would include godsbone (metal), knapping or carving rock material, coal, jet, amber, salt, mineral pigments, jewels. Or it could be any challenger of that guardianship, which opens it up to plenty male deities and a few female ones on the side.

Mostal or his brother Stone are patrons of mining, too, but not really accessible to non-Mostali.

 

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I would second Asrelia. It would be foolish of miners to not sacrifice to Asrelia when mining.

Aurelion has some connections to mining, as does Mostal.

There might be Heroes who raided Asrelia's Halls and took her treasures. They would be patrons of miners.

Krarsht might be an interesting patron of mining, due to her many tunnels.

Argan Argar or Lodril might be patrons of obsidian mining.

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18 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Asrelia is the guardian of the wealth deep down in the Earth, which would include godsbone (metal), knapping or carving rock material, coal, jet, amber, salt, mineral pigments, jewels. Or it could be any challenger of that guardianship, which opens it up to plenty male deities and a few female ones on the side.

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I would second Asrelia. It would be foolish of miners to not sacrifice to Asrelia when mining.

Asrelia is the guardian.  I can see miners propitiating her, for sure!

But I can't see her as the patron god/dess of taking the stones up out of the earth... that's the opposite of her remit!

 

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Aurelion has some connections to mining, as does Mostal.

There might be Heroes who raided Asrelia's Halls and took her treasures. They would be patrons of miners.

Krarsht might be an interesting patron of mining, due to her many tunnels.

Argan Argar or Lodril might be patrons of obsidian mining.

I rather like this idea!  That there is no singular, direct, and clear deity for this.  Everyone propitiates Asrelia, or there's cave-ins and other disasters.

But then different miners pray to different deities for different kinds of beneficial outcomes...

Edited by g33k
soltakss
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5 minutes ago, g33k said:

Asrelia is the guardian.  I can see miners propitiating her, for sure!

That's why I mentioned her challengers.

5 minutes ago, g33k said:

But I can't see her as the patron god/dess of taking the stones up out of the earth... that's the opposite of her remit!

Asrelia still releases all the life each spring from her care. She is the goddess of distributing the bounty of the earth, like e.g. the granaries of Nochet.

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7 minutes ago, Joerg said:

...

Asrelia still releases all the life each spring from her care ...

That feels like it waters-down both Ernalda's bounty (if she has to get it from Asrelia) and Asrelia's hard-nosed nature (if she automatically releases the treasures every year).

I mean, I can see the imagery here... the cold earth suddenly burgeoning with life, like a vault thrown open.

It just doesn't feel very Asrelian!

I thought that Asrelia mostly opened her Vault when there was a problem, when the normal harvests fail.

 

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2 hours ago, g33k said:

That feels like it waters-down both Ernalda's bounty (if she has to get it from Asrelia) and Asrelia's hard-nosed nature (if she automatically releases the treasures every year).

Who said anything about automatically? That's what the Sacred Time rites are for.

 

2 hours ago, g33k said:

I mean, I can see the imagery here... the cold earth suddenly burgeoning with life, like a vault thrown open.

It just doesn't feel very Asrelian!

I thought that Asrelia mostly opened her Vault when there was a problem, when the normal harvests fail.

That's a different problem she can solve, yes.

She does share her bounty with those who have proven themselves to be worthy. Sounds like a goddess for miners to me.

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6 hours ago, Joerg said:

Mostal or his brother Stone are patrons of mining, too, but not really accessible to non-Mostali.

 

Honestly, they might be more accessible to non-Mostali than Mostali, given that Mostali are described as generally atheistic and in the Guide at least, not really seeing Mostal as a mythical person/deity, but more as a metaphor for the "world machine" (ie. the cosmos, I assume). 

Hell, Mostal-as-a-deity might even be a human invention! Either that or an internal Mostali cultural divergence (heresy?) exported to the mortal rubes or something.

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it seems weird to me to imagine humans worshipping Mostal (except maybe some "dwarf friend")

Considering that humans see Mostal as the "God of Dwarves" ( I may be wrong ?), I don't see any storm / light / shadow people worshipping it. Maybe clumsily  propritiating it but worshipping a non-human god who never cares about human being ?

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How does mining work in Glorantha, anyways? Is there any ore processing that humans do apart from very limited iron mining and smelting, or does metal mining consist of digging out solid nuggets or chunks of godbone with minimal processing? Is the majority of mining open pit or is shaft mining used sometimes? 

If we're looking at shaft mining (which historically dates back to the Neolithic for valuable minerals) then some of the most important things are fresh air and a low water table. Mining was, historically, a deadly occupation that was frequently the province of slaves or debt peons, and one which only the most desperate people took up willingly. So in that sense, perhaps there aren't any positive gods of mining to pray to, but only terrible ones to propitiate. Molanni, of course, to keep her from stilling the air, and some of her minor siblings, who provide actively poisonous or explosive air if neglected. Then, too, we would probably have a god of underground water to propitiate for avoiding floods and keeping shafts pumped dry. 

For an open-pit mine, the emphasis would be less on the danger and more on the shared drudgery, the need for strength and endurance. Lodril, possibly Barntar, local hero-cults. 

If metals are frequently processed from ores, then of course an Asrelia god-talker is necessary (perhaps with an Issaries one alongside) to sort and grade the ore, and Gustbran becomes relevant here as the ore gets roasted, alongside local river-gods if the ore gets washed. Perhaps, (for MGF) one needs to invoke a strong Disorder-associated god in order to make sure ore crushing and spalling goes off properly, which means that you need a Maran or Zorak Zoran or Eurmal god-talker on the site at all times. Fun for the whole family!

If metals are almost always dug out as solid chunks, then many of these processes become less important at the mine itself and it's all about clearing away the gangue that's clinging to the surface of the metal. 

Granted, smelting was almost always done on-site, so the process of purifying a metal chunk to Runic quality would probably be performed there. This is probably the area where Mostal is most likely to be directly worshipped, as Stasis is associated with alchemy and transmutation and this would include purifying the metal. 

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1 hour ago, Eff said:

How does mining work in Glorantha, anyways?

I don't overthink it.

You dig a shaft down or a tunnel, you expand out following seams and dig them out, bringing them to the surface. Then you wash the rock/dirt to get the stuff out. If you need a chemical reaction then you use an alchemist. If you need to smelt ore to extract whatever is inside it, then you have some kind of furnace appropriate to the task/culture and use that.

That's it.

 

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28 minutes ago, soltakss said:

I don't overthink it...

Unless you've got some good stories to tell, focused in & around a mine!

I mean, RQG is all about embedding the characters in their community... what if the community isn't as reliant on farming & herding &c, but has some non-trivial income from mining?

Replace "Cattle Raid" &c scenario's with gnome/etc raids on the mine, and so forth.

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1 hour ago, Eff said:

How does mining work in Glorantha, anyways? Is there any ore processing that humans do apart from very limited iron mining and smelting, or does metal mining consist of digging out solid nuggets or chunks of godbone with minimal processing? Is the majority of mining open pit or is shaft mining used sometimes? 

I think that the vast majority of the metal used in Glorantha comes in the shape of nuggets or more significant chunks of godbone.

Other than the Third Eye Blue, I am unaware of any humans able to recover Death Metal from corrosion. Whether they appear as a cult, a culture of wandering smiths, or as specialist retainers of powerful leaders (like Gringle) may vary from region to region.

So what about the elemental rune metals? Nuggets and even chunks of godbone are subject to some corrosion, which means that they may be surrounded by ore if taken out at the motherlode. Possibly also at fluvial deposits, but the way Godtime rivers and geology worked, these may be a bit of a headache.

A lot of mining will be shaft mining or open pit mining.

Quite a few deposits will resemble battlefield archaeology more than conventional mining. The "miners" may unearth artifacts alongside bits and pieces of metal. Starting in the Godtime, when the bones of the combatants would have been a source of metal, too.

One post-Dragonkill source of metal would be the equipment of the True Golden Horde and their adversaries killed in the Dragonkill, often slagged and melted before overgrown and covered in dust. The Resettlement and subsequent activities may have unearthed most of that by now, but not necessarily all of that.

Artefact hoards are another possible find when looking for "archaeological" metal. Dragon Pass has seen many a battle, and many a population may have hidden some of their metal to keep it from being plundered.

 

Smelting (which does not mean melting) ores into metal is a process of transmutation that should be known to the Mostali, and probably to a couple of human cultures. It is a pyrotechnology that falls under the aegis of Gustbran, the Lowfire of the Bonfire and working fires. Smelted metal may result in solids that need lots of hammering and welding to get workable ingots. Or it may result in pools of molten metal at the bottom of the furnaces or in crucibles which may be re-heated after cleaning and then used for casting implements from the melt.

IMO a lot of Orlanthi smithing uses welding of pieces of metal and lots of hammering rather than casting. Troll smithing (of lead, mainly) even can skip the heating of metal with fire.

There will be cast objects in Orlanthi culture, too. For welding, you want chunks of metal that are worth the effort. Small-grained nuggets are better melted and cast - either directly in the shape you want for your implement, or as ingots for transportation and trade.

Smiths receiving ingots may melt them, or they may hammer, weld etc. them into the desired object.

1 hour ago, Eff said:

If we're looking at shaft mining (which historically dates back to the Neolithic for valuable minerals) then some of the most important things are fresh air and a low water table.

Or water management. If irrigation of fields is known, then drainage can be deduced. Use of elementals may help to move water uphill, too.

The Zistorites had the corkscrew as one of their insignia. That suggests that they knew to build water-lifting devices, probably not just muscle-powered, but also by water wheels or even wind mills.

 

1 hour ago, Eff said:

Mining was, historically, a deadly occupation that was frequently the province of slaves or debt peons, and one which only the most desperate people took up willingly.

Fishing was an occupation with higher death rates than mining, yet there were plenty cultures focussing on that as a major source of their primary production.

Work in a quarry probably has a similar risk, and even a clay pit for pottery may have accidents similar to those in mining.

But then, even logging is a hazardous occupation, and that's before aldryami come into consideration.

Mining comes with additional health risks from exposure to mineral dust, smoke, and gas.

 

1 hour ago, Eff said:

So in that sense, perhaps there aren't any positive gods of mining to pray to, but only terrible ones to propitiate. Molanni, of course, to keep her from stilling the air, and some of her minor siblings, who provide actively poisonous or explosive air if neglected. Then, too, we would probably have a god of underground water to propitiate for avoiding floods and keeping shafts pumped dry. 

Also lesser spirits of rocks and minerals, and yes, often capricious or malevolent ones. "Cobold" is such a mining spirit. Then there are Mostali creations, possible without direct oversight for the last two or three millennia.

 

1 hour ago, Eff said:

For an open-pit mine, the emphasis would be less on the danger and more on the shared drudgery, the need for strength and endurance. Lodril, possibly Barntar, local hero-cults. 

If metals are frequently processed from ores, then of course an Asrelia god-talker is necessary (perhaps with an Issaries one alongside) to sort and grade the ore, and Gustbran becomes relevant here as the ore gets roasted, alongside local river-gods if the ore gets washed. Perhaps, (for MGF) one needs to invoke a strong Disorder-associated god in order to make sure ore crushing and spalling goes off properly, which means that you need a Maran or Zorak Zoran or Eurmal god-talker on the site at all times. Fun for the whole family!

Add in the production chain for fuel. Roasting (usually done with sulphide ores to get the more accessible oxides) is a preliminary step to smelting, but may result in some metal if done under well-controlled conditions where suitable amounts of oxide and sulphide react with one another. Building and maintaining those fires is a form of sorcery or alchemy, really.

 

1 hour ago, Eff said:

If metals are almost always dug out as solid chunks, then many of these processes become less important at the mine itself and it's all about clearing away the gangue that's clinging to the surface of the metal. 

These are often water-intensive processes, which means you'd have to carry your yield to a stream if your mining wasn't already washing river sands for nuggets.

For (probably way too "modern") methods of treating ores, the best source is Georg Agricola's "De Re Metallica", available in translations from the original Latin, with wonderful wood carvings illustrating late medieval and early modern age European mining technologies. Imperial Roman methods would have been on a similar level.

1 hour ago, Eff said:

Granted, smelting was almost always done on-site,

While ore is a lot heavier than charcoal, it comes in way more manageable volume. It is easier to transport one cartload of crushed ore than it is to transport twenty cartloads of charcoal required for roasting, smelting and/or melting. Transporting ingots is even more efficient.

1 hour ago, Eff said:

so the process of purifying a metal chunk to Runic quality would probably be performed there.

Access to quality charcoal is imperative for most metalworking. Many metal deposits may lack such access, and as mentioned above, moving some ore is less of a logistical challenge than moving many times the amount of charcoal.

If you are using wind to get your fire up to temperature, a reliably windy slope will trump both the logistics of ore and charcoal, as the alternative are bellows which require food (or fodder) logistics of possibly even a larger scale.

Refining metal to Runic quality may require alchemy to get the vitriols to etch away residual mineral gangue.

Amalgamation and subsequent distillation of the mercury may be known and practiced. No idea how unhealthy that would be with Gloranthan Sea Metal.

 

1 hour ago, Eff said:

This is probably the area where Mostal is most likely to be directly worshipped, as Stasis is associated with alchemy and transmutation and this would include purifying the metal. 

The very process of transmutation is what I would associate with Change rather than Stasis. Stasis may describe the desired outcome, but the process is Change.

Good thing the Mostali are sorcerers rather than theists, allowing them equal mastery over these contrary principles.

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Just as a note, as far as I recall, Jeff has mentioned that at least as far as Chaosium is concerned, Bronze-godsbone is the exception, and Bronze-alloying is the norm. Whether that means that tin and copper are found in ores or nuggets I have no idea. As for other kinds of godsbones, I also have no idea, but I'm gonna guess that they too are the exception to how those metals are found. (Exactly what the ratio of godsbone to nugget or ore is I obviously have no idea.)

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Godsbone has been used for manufacturing superior metal implements since the Gods Age - possibly since before the Golden Age. The earliest metal may have come from deities drawing it out of their own living bones...

Godsbone out of conflict would have been available only from martial contests or the upheavals, like Yelm's victory over Molandro (according to the Jonstown Compendium).

Looking at some of the early myths e.g. of the brotherhood of the log in Entekosiad makes it clear that death and having a body eaten was a temporary inconvenience rather than a significant loss. The Court of Kargan Tor may have had duels to the temporary demise of one of the contestants, with a magical restoration as the duel ended. Much like the ritual combat in Trollball restores the players (though not the "balls").

Using body parts of overcome opponents is a typical trope in the more primeval myths, like Varanorlanth overcoming the helpers that the Lady of the Wild used to distract him from chasing her (which ended up in him going fishing instead...).

Having a trophy taken from one's body presumably had a little more consequence than just having been slain a bit. No idea where taking some of the bone for an implement would range in that regard.

 

Getting a sizable piece of genuine godsbone is a major stroke of good luck after millennia of such pieces being collected and worked into legendary tools. There may be quests where metal cast in bone shape may be infused with divinity, creating some form of imitation godsbone with properties above the normal quality of rune metal.

 

I think that ground up godsbone in nugget or "dust" or flake shape is fairly common - so common, that smelting is considered an inferior source for metal, considered only where the native metal deposits have been depleted.

This is a situation similar to what went on on Cyprus about 1350 BCE. There, the copper (ore) deposits had been depleted, and the metallurgists turned to other ores in order to remain able to pursue their trade. That's how the first iron smelting started.

 

IMO it is possible to smelt metal from ores or corroded metal in Glorantha, using charcoal-fueled, meticulously aired fires in furnaces. Charcoal consumption should be comparable to real world charcoal consumption.

There is a magic that creates the blue, hot flame which can affect certain ores to release the metal. In the real world, we would talk about carbon monoxide as a reducing agent. TMI for Gloranthan metallurgy, though. There should be a cooperation or perhaps conflict between the elemental properties of Fire and Air which draws out the metals from their (oxidic) ores.

Sulphide ores are ores (or corroded metal) infused with Darkness, and that infusion of Darkness needs to be removed by roasting in a cleansing fire. Possibly even for metallic lead.

German language has a collective noun for sulphidic ores, which tend to be black: Kiese. (Kies is also a German term for rather big-grained sand, which is what the dictionaries will give you as the primary meaning.) This seems to come from the medieval and probably earlier tradition of mining, and specialized vocabulary used by miners, metallurgists, and alchemists. 

Like I said earlier, there may be methods which use a mix of oxidic and sulphide ores, and lots of heat and force, which may yield metal, allowing troll smiths to arrive at Darkness Metal without too much application of deathly Fire, giving it a good Disorderly pounding instead. It is even possible that the roasting process may be done by feeding sulphide ores to trollkin or certain types of maggot, collecting the transformed ore from their feces. And no, even in an optimistic set of conditions this wouldn't be applicable subject to real world chemistry for lead.

 

Mostali and people working for the Mostali (like the Gemborg vassals around the Low Temple in Caladraland) may be able to use coal from sedimentary deposits - usually from seams that get exposed to the surface or cliff sides, rather than deep mining. Transforming coal into coke makes it more applicable for smelting, but building fires which can maintain good aeration and a stable temperature from coal or coke is a lot harder than doing so with decent-sized pieces of charcoal. Pieces usually a bit larger than the charcoal you get for barbecues.

Relying on charred aldryami for smelting of metals seems somehow appropriate for the Mostali, as does roasting of sulphidic ores as a preliminary step. It appears to be a joint effort of Copper and Brass Mostali to produce the normal rune metals and alloys thereof, while the smelting of Iron requires the Iron caste. Other castes still may aid in providing the heat and fuel. Or magic.

 

IMO smelting of metal is restricted to rather advanced cultures in Glorantha. The world being a post-apocalyptic setting, this advanced culture may have existed in a distant past, with knowledge somehow surviving in unexpected places, or recoverable from heroquesting into Godtime.

 

Another question that may be surprisingly difficult to answer is: What exactly defines a metal in Glorantha? Does Dragonbone qualify?

True Dragons are obviously divine-equivalent entities, and thus it is not surprising that their bones may have properties not too different from godsbone. The dragons'  possible out-of-Glorantha origin makes their bones largely free of elemental associations, even beyond the general celestial association of the bones of most Power Rune-descended deities (silver).

Other quasi-metallic substances are known, e.g. in the ruins of the first Artmali port on the eastern shore of Pamaltela, which appears to have been made of solidified blue (or violet) moonglow. I am thinking of a glass-like substance with certain metallic properties when reading about it.

A similar speculation about a Blue Moon Metal was in Book of Drastic Resolutions: Volume Darkness, with the Qa-Metal. Same or similar moon, same or similar material, if you want to follow that non-canonical source in absence of a detailed canonical one. It allso opens the market for other magical quasi-metals.

The cloud material used in the Helering ships of that period is another such substance.

It is possible that these are derivatives of Quicksilver and Sea Metal, differently solidified, and potentially less stable than the metal known as aluminum.  Lo-Metal, with the "Lo" better assigned to Lorion than to Lodril in my opinion.

Smelting of Sea Metal should be unknown. Probably even to the Mostali. But then, I don't think that the Mostali would have any qualms about slaying a body of water to get at the liquid bones.

 

Getting into the economic geology of metal deposits as natural metal or ores, I tend to feel that most ores are the result of corrosion of natural metals- often dust or flitters exposed to corrosive influences.

Some ores may have formed from organs of supranatural entities - think in analogy of the remains of the Faceless Statue, whose special material is quarried by the Flintnail cult in Pavis. The congealed blood of divine entities is known to form magical crystals, which have quite superior properties in large enough and magical enough chunks.

Smelting ore from crystal dust feels like a logical alchemical refinement of material that is just not quite magical enough to be used in its own right. But then, this is not too different from considering other organs than bones or blood of demised supranatural entities.

 

I was talking about Yelm vs. Molandro as one possible source of godsbone, but there is of course the way more epic wresteling match between Lodril (or Veskarthan, or Solf, or ...) and the earth entitiy deep inside, and/or possibly Krarsht, as a source for metal (brass) deep inside the Earth.

Brass is not necessarily available as godsbone, as it has already been melted by the heat brought into the Earth, even where it is found as natural metal deposits. Functionally the same as bronze. One might argue that the mythical origin of brass and bronze is different, but another interpretation of the Lodril descending myth is to see it as the copulation between Sky and Earth which would in time give birth to Umath. Brass would be remaining celestial seed (tin) alloyed with the ample earth metal (copper) to create the same alloy that occurs in the bones of Storm deities. Whether we are talking about Umath's unborn siblings, or spilled seed, or the bones of volcano gods who are the children of Lodril and the Earth, brass is what we get. (The latter may occur in godsbone if the mountain died or was amputated in cold.)

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8 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

A greater access to godsbone (and relics?) might be part of the explanation for why the Dawn Age took off so quickly and contained so many civilizations that later eras would still be impressed by despite the relatively small population, for example. 

Superior access to relics definitely is behind the rapid rise of Dorastor from an obscure colony of farmers at the end of the first century to the leading urban civilization of the continent.

IMO the Vingkotlings would have made use of whatever godbone they had at their disposal. Likewise the Godtime origins of the Pelorian phalanxes.

 

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