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Question about metallurgy


Agentorange

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My copy of BRP Rome arrived today, and a thing of beauty it is too, Ave Pete Nash !

Now, I was leafing through it and looking at the weapons and armour of the period and I started wondering about the relative strengths of the various kinds of metals available in relation to each other. Metallurgy is a subject about which I know very little. So...if it were possible to make a breast plate of all the various kinds of metal, and taking Bronze ( 6AP ) as our base line. can anybody suggest what values would be for:

Copper

Iron

Steel

so on and so forth ?

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In the case of a breastplate the differences between bronze, copper and

iron would probably not be significant enough to justify different AP values.

Besides, the BRP rulebook gives AP 7 as the average AP value of half plate

armour, most probably made of steel, so there is not much room for values

between the AP 6 of bronze and this AP 7 of steel.

It would be different with weapons. Copper is too soft to make any useful

weapons longer than knives. A good bronze sword is equal to an early iron

sword, the main reason for the introduction of iron weapons was the avai-

lability of the iron, not a difference in quality. Later iron weapons and espe-

cially steel weapons are superior to bronze weapons.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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What rust said. There is not enough granularity in the BRP system for different metals to make much of a difference to AP in the Roman era. With armour, for a given weight you will probably get the same APs for bronze and iron (maybe even copper, but you'd have to do more after-combat maintenance). Steel - there is evidence that steel was around in Roman times (mostly in swords, IIRC), but it was probably created accidentally by blacksmiths.

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Ok, that all make sense. Moving forward then to the medieval period and the renaissance era presumably metallurgy had come a long way since the Roman period ?

Steel is I'm guessing the default metal for such an era. Now in the renaissance era we get suits of plate armour that have been 'proofed' against firearms, that is at certain distances they would resist pistol ( and maybe ) musket shot.

This obviously represents a major leap forward from the Roman era. Was this due to better materials ie better grades of steel, or was it due to better metal working and forging techniques ?

Or, and I suspect this the answer, a combination of both of the above ?

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The "proofed" armour was mostly a myth. It gave some additional protection

against shots fired at very long range, but otherwise was not much better

than a "buff coat" of stiff leather, and its weight seriously reduced the mobi-

lity of the soldier.

Therefore from the Renaissance onwards most soldiers decided to wear no

metal armour at all except a helmet, only those soldiers who expected to do

much close combat with blade weapons continued to wear a breastplate or

cuirass.

The real improvements in metallurgy happened much later, after more of the

chemistry of the various metals and alloys was understood, at the beginning

of the Industrial Age. As far as I know, the first really "proof" armour was de-

veloped during the American Civil War, and it was still a very thick and extre-

mely encumbering breastplate that was rarely used.

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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Well, better grades of steel only come from better techniques. A lot of the better metal-working techniques were a bit "black magic" in that the smiths discovered things by trial-and-error and good results were passed on, but not necessarily with the knowledge of what made them good. There were a lot of misconceptions, because scientific method was not really well established and who was to know that the charcoal made your Toledo steel harder rather than the blend of oils used for quenching? And Japanese swordsmiths were amazing in their use of ritual, although not a lot of it actually contributed to the better steel of their weapons.

I would say it was a combination of these improved techniques and better armour design - modern (i.e. renaissance) plate armour was much better designed and relied more on turning a blade or arrow (or musket ball) than simply resisting it. It was also progressively better articulated so that the weight was better distributed, there were fewer weak points, and it was relatively easy to move about in. So, top-of-the line plate might be an AP or two more. Tilt armour might be even higher, but pretty useless in adventure-style combat.

Actually, early medieval metals were probably not great compared to the Roman era (although I'm a bit 'rusty' in that field). One exception might be the comparatively good Viking swords of the dark ages / early medieval period, which used different grades of metal twisted and hammer welded in order to combine the elasticity of one with the hardness of the other. The resultant wave pattern also looks very nice, by the way - there's a lovely replica blade in the British Museum.

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One exception might be the comparatively good Viking swords of the dark ages / early medieval period, which used different grades of metal twisted and hammer welded in order to combine the elasticity of one with the hardness of the other. The resultant wave pattern also looks very nice, by the way - there's a lovely replica blade in the British Museum.

A similar technique was used in Asia to create the famous Damascened Steel:

Damascus steel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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My copy of BRP Rome arrived today, and a thing of beauty it is too, Ave Pete Nash !

Thank you! Its always nice to hear appreciation. :)

Now, I was leafing through it and looking at the weapons and armour of the period and I started wondering about the relative strengths of the various kinds of metals available in relation to each other. Metallurgy is a subject about which I know very little. So...if it were possible to make a breast plate of all the various kinds of metal, and taking Bronze ( 6AP ) as our base line. can anybody suggest what values would be for:

As everyone else has asserted, the differences between the metals are very small with regards to APs. The Roman army continued to use bronze and brass helmets alongside iron equivalents into the 2nd century AD, so they were probably just as effective protection.

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...

As everyone else has asserted, the differences between the metals are very small with regards to APs. The Roman army continued to use bronze and brass helmets alongside iron equivalents into the 2nd century AD, so they were probably just as effective protection.

IIRC, the roman soldiers were using bronze very late and liked it because:

1/ contrary to iron, bronze does not rust.

2/ bronze was equivalent to basic iron for sword and other short weapons

3/ bronze was cheaper to iron (don't forget that up to Marius, roman soldiers had to pay for their equipments).

It was the lack of tin that led to the progressive replacement of bronze by iron.

Better work led later to a better iron, and then to steel, wich was clearly superior.

Runequestement votre,

Kloster

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