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M Helsdon

Swords of Central Genertela

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20 hours ago, RHW said:

In Storm Tribe (now non-canon but very useful IMO) the Humakt subcult of Inginew can work iron and the cult of Babeestor Gor can, at the very least, enchant it.

Ingrew is mentioned in Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, and still canonical, so far as I am aware.

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It might be useful if we set aside the normal meanings for the words 'iron', 'bronze', 'copper' and so forth. Those words imply that that the Gloranthan metals called by those names possess properties and respond to treatment the same as Earth metals of the same name. And it is very clear from their discussion in Greg's writings and the metals' treatment in RQ that this is not the case.

We know these things for sure:

*Gloranthan bronze is not usually smelted from tin and copper. They are the literal Bones of the Gods that slain in the Gods War.

*Many human cults know the secret of working Gloranthan iron/ Ur-metal. A smaller number know the secret of working it into steel. Orlanth, Humakt, Yelm, Yelmalio and cults within the Lunar Empire [Blue Moon, etc.] certainly do. And the Mostali don't send gobblers after all of them, so the secret of Ur-metal must not be all that very important. A Lesser Secret rather than a Greater.

*Many Rune metals can be enchanted to the properties of bronze, but few to the properties of iron.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Iron needs to be heated to different temperatures to be suitable for particular uses. I'm sure that's in Weyland the Smith.

That's semi-true. By heating to certain temperatures in oxygen-rich atmosphere, you can lower carbon content, by pushing the blade into glowing embers at certain temperatures you can increase carbon content.

I find the chicken-shit step for de-phosphorizing his iron after creating the first raw stave, then shattering it and feeding the shards to his chickens extremely ingenious in lieu of an oxygen lance to be dumped into the crucible of molten iron (a technology a La Tene era smith certainly couldn't have employed). The nitrate in the bird feces does provide the oxygen to get the phosphate oxidized and wandering into the slag.

But that's just my personal, trained chemist's interpretation of that weird production step - a theory I haven't seen in any publication, but then few material scientists write papers on old Germanic poetry. Based on an experience I had when I had to do a wet analysis of soft (carbon-free) iron, where the only impurity I could find was phosporus from the faint (but still toxic) smell of phosphane when I treated the stuff just with hydrochloric acid. (Adding some peroxide did take care of phosphane formation, but any attempt at wet chemistry determination of phosphorous failed, so I had to rely purely on my nose.)

3 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Bronze does not.

In fact, bronze blades can be hammered starting at room temperature, although a skilled blacksmith can hammer a piece of iron or steel to at least red glow from room temperature, too.

Anyway, real world bronze doesn't come in laminate layers of growth patterns as gods bones do, and I bet working such a laminated bronze when artificially created (perhaps through a dipping process) would require techniques quite different from working cast bronze. Whether it would have superior or inferior material properties in the Real World is yet a different question.

3 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

The manufacture of bronze and iron swords is very different; you could make an iron sword in the same way as a bronze sword, but I wouldn't bet your life on it in combat.

If you actually can cast steel, a cast steel sword probably is the equal of a cast bronze sword, but I guess we're talking alloy steel rather than carbon steel in such a case. The problem with casting steel is the temperature needed - castin bronze does well with red glow, while casting iron or steel requires white glow, or you don't have a liquid.

(There's a Lindybeige video pointing out this flaw in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy showing the open cast casting of the Uruk Hai swords, and how the metal in question must have been aluminium rather than iron.)

The blacksmith has an advantage over the Redsmith that he can alter the final hardness of a blade through tempering in moderately aerated coal embers, but using different types of steel for key parts of a blade, or using laminated (damascened) steel.

The almost mythical reverence for damascened blades (when Uthberd steel blades actually were superior to swords imported from Damascus) was what made me suggest growth rings in Gods Bones to account for the superior performance of Dragon Pass bronze blades versus standard cast bronze (or cast "brass") blades when analyzed by a materialist Gloranthan metallurgist.

 

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4 minutes ago, Joerg said:

If you actually can cast steel, a cast steel sword probably is the equal of a cast bronze sword, but I guess we're talking alloy steel rather than carbon steel in such a case. The problem with casting steel is the temperature needed - castin bronze does well with red glow, while casting iron or steel requires white glow, or you don't have a liquid.

A cast iron sword would be very brittle, unless you have access to technological processes unavailable in the Iron Age. Iron was certainly cast, and the oldest cast iron objects date back to around the 5th century BC, but weapons were made using wrought iron. The highly quality steel you seem to be referring to might be known to the dwarves, but I strongly suspect that no humans in Glorantha have the knowledge or technological/magical infrastructure to handle it.

My interest is purely fixed in Bronze and Iron Age technologies and capabilities - not hi-tech.

11 minutes ago, Joerg said:

(There's a Lindybeige video pointing out this flaw in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy showing the open cast casting of the Uruk Hai swords, and how the metal in question must have been aluminium rather than iron.)

That's very common - the same error occurs in Game of Thrones and the director admits it isn't realistic, but was used because it looks 'good'. Making a usable iron sword takes time and effort, and whilst the process can be very cinematic, many directors don't have the patience. If I recall correctly, it was one of the few good things in the most recent Conan movie.

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3 minutes ago, svensson said:

It might be useful if we set aside the normal meanings for the words 'iron', 'bronze', 'copper' and so forth. Those words imply that that the Gloranthan metals called by those names possess properties and respond to treatment the same as Earth metals of the same name. And it is very clear from their discussion in Greg's writings and the metals' treatment in RQ that this is not the case.

I would do so only in cases where the real world metal has significantly different properties, and the only case where that needs to be considered really is IMO aluminum. Gloranthan quicksilver has a strange color and behaves strangely when poured into water, but is still sort of recognizable.

3 minutes ago, svensson said:

We know these things for sure:

*Gloranthan bronze is not usually smelted from tin and copper.

Except when it is. Smelted from nuggets of gods bones of earth and sky, more often than not. I do think that smelting metal from non-metallic ores is a thing in Glorantha, too, but the product is inferior to gods bone metal in terms of hardness and durability, though preferable to having no metal at all.

Metal deposited in metal nuggets is the main source for metal in Glorantha, but I am fairly certain that the big kingdoms and empires have to rely on smelting ores rather than nuggets to satiate their hunger for metal for everyday use.

To confuse the issue further, the alloy "bronze" is referred to as "brass" by the mostali (they named their alloyist caste that way) and by the volcano woshippers of Pelanda.

The Volcano mountain god children of Veskarthan and the Earth or Land have mixed elemental origin, too - fire and earth, which translates to tin and copper, aka bronze if we use real world terminology. Personally, I speak of brass when the bones of mountain gods are concerned, and of bronze when the bones of Storm gods are the source.

Dragon Pass being rich in bronze must either mean that the Vingkotlings were a lot more divine than we tend to assume, or that we have a mix of Lodril-descended and perhaps fallen star and earth deities here. Fallen against Chaos in between the Unity Battle and I Fought We Won, the same period that saw the desperate defense of Baroshi and the death of his parents. How metallic are the skeletons of demigods?

Real world brass isn't even quite an alloy (which has sliding degrees of composition and random placement of atoms in the crystal lattice) but a mix of two well-defined metal-metal compounds of copper and zinc, a metal unknown in the pure form to the metallurgists of old who still were able to create brass from the ores.

3 minutes ago, svensson said:

They are the literal Bones of the Gods that slain in the Gods War.

More often than not fragments of these, and in case of ores, what corrosion left of shards of them.

3 minutes ago, svensson said:

*Many human cults know the secret of working Gloranthan iron/ Ur-metal. A smaller number know the secret of working it into steel. Orlanth, Humakt, Yelm, Yelmalio and cults within the Lunar Empire [Blue Moon, etc.] certainly do. And the Mostali don't send gobblers after all of them, so the secret of Ur-metal must not be all that very important. A Lesser Secret rather than a Greater.

Distributing iron might be an ongoing mostali plot to weaken the two other Elder Races that are susceptible to damage by iron. Humans are gleeful accomplices in this.

3 minutes ago, svensson said:

*Many Rune metals can be enchanted to the properties of bronze, but few to the properties of iron.

The mechanical properties of unenchanted iron are little different from bronze, without any rules effect other than to block magic when present in suitable amounts. Only Enchanted Iron has the super-metal  effect in RQG.

Bronze can be enchanted - this is rarely done, as the benefits are small. I houseruled that enchanted bronze blades could hurt creatures only hurt by magical damage, but unenchanted bronze with silver inlays had the same ability.

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34 minutes ago, svensson said:

It might be useful if we set aside the normal meanings for the words 'iron', 'bronze', 'copper' and so forth. Those words imply that that the Gloranthan metals called by those names possess properties and respond to treatment the same as Earth metals of the same name. And it is very clear from their discussion in Greg's writings and the metals' treatment in RQ that this is not the case.

Not the same, but in many cases, close analogues. Smiths in Glorantha appear to use recognizable tools, so bronze working is probably almost identical; iron is more problematic, but the rarity of blacksmiths compared with redsmiths suggests it requires more complex techniques (and different rituals of course).

34 minutes ago, svensson said:

We know these things for sure:

*Gloranthan bronze is not usually smelted from tin and copper. They are the literal Bones of the Gods that slain in the Gods War.

I believe that Jeff has said that making bronze from copper and tin is not uncommon, and it replicates the union of Earth and Sky.

Brass, of course, is the mixing of sullied Sky with Earth, as in Lodril and his offspring embedding themselves into the body of Earth.

Gloranthan Brass and Bronze otherwise appear to be virtually the same.

Edited by M Helsdon

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13 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

A cast iron sword would be very brittle, unless you have access to technological processes unavailable in the Iron Age.

Yes. Note that I was only talking about cast steel. I wouldn't take up a sword of cast bronze mixed with slag unless in very dire straits, either, and that's a pretty fair description of cast iron. Reliably creating bronze casts without hidden flaws is a high art, too, when all you have for non-destructive material testing is the sound the blade makes when tapped with some other metal implement.

13 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Iron was certainly cast, and the oldest cast iron objects date back to around the 5th century BC, but weapons were made using wrought iron. The highly quality steel you seem to be referring to might be known to the dwarves, but I strongly suspect that no humans in Glorantha have the knowledge or technological/magical infrastructure to handle it.

Yes, I was talking about the steel casting that was invented in the late 19th century here.

I would hazard the guess that the inventors of iron on cyprus produced the first (but useless) objects of cast iron before they found out that the stuff could be improved significantly by angrily pounding on it with their hammers. If you have ever seen the lumps of "iron" you receive from processing bog iron in small earth crucibles, you would doubt that you even succeeded in reducing the stuff to metal. It takes lots of heating and pounding to create anything resembling an ingot from that spongy stuff, and probably half of it will be lost as slag (which can be recovered in the next melting batch with bog iron, though, increasing the yield significantly).

13 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

My interest is purely fixed in Bronze and Iron Age technologies and capabilities - not hi-tech.

So no enchanted metals? No dwarven magical equivalents of electro-melting ores? No alchemical transformation of ores into metals via amalgams and subsequent removal of the quicksilver?

And then there are those Seleucid era galvanic cells which are suspected to have been used for silver-plating more base metals. At times, we tend to underestimate our predecessors badly, though there are many ludicrous pseudo-scientific drivel statements to the contrary on the web. (I sort of hate-love the fatal misconception of piezo-electricity in the videos spouting the use of the Egyptian pyramids as electricity generators...)

13 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

That's very common - the same error occurs in Game of Thrones and the director admits it isn't realistic, but was used because it looks 'good'.

Quite annoying to both hard fans of the world and to geeks, I guess.

13 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

Making a usable iron sword takes time and effort, and whilst the process can be very cinematic, many directors don't have the patience.

It takes a certain pacing in the story to make the smithing process worth the while, usually reserved for a maguffin like in Highlander 3 (the least terrible of the squels IMO).

 

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8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

So no enchanted metals? No dwarven magical equivalents of electro-melting ores?

Unless you know how the analogues were handled, you can't really start to think about in-world magic, and then you are pretty much limited to hand waving about rituals and sorcery.

8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

No alchemical transformation of ores into metals via amalgams and subsequent removal of the quicksilver?And then there are those Seleucid era galvanic cells which are suspected to have been used for silver-plating more base metals.

I haven't looked into terrestrial alchemy (long after the Bronze or Iron Age periods of interest) and it's more a late Classical fantasy, and remain unconvinced by the 'Baghdad/Parthian batteries' - no ancient electroplated objects have ever been found, and the objects claimed to be electroplated have been found to be the result of mundane fire/wash-gilding using mercury.

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1 minute ago, M Helsdon said:

Unless you know how the analogues were handled, you can't really start to think about in-world magic, and then you are pretty much limited to hand waving about rituals and sorcery.

While that is true, hand-waving without any idea how technology achieves such results won't improve credibility to the tech nerds that form a significant subset of Glorantha nerds. I cannot be the only Glorantha fan who also reads science fiction for the science in that fiction.

1 minute ago, M Helsdon said:

I haven't looked into terrestrial alchemy (long after the Bronze or Iron Age periods of interest) and it's more a late Classical fantasy, and remain unconvinced by the 'Baghdad/Parthian batteries' - no ancient electroplated objects have ever been found, and the objects claimed to be electroplated have been found to be the result of mundane fire/wash-gilding using mercury.

I too have some doubts, as my simple experiments with galvanic plating of copper coins using just salts and some vitriol solvent resulted in lead-colored silver plating due to irregular surface structures even after some polishing.

Much of mediaeval and early modern age alchemy was mystical allegory rather than natural philosophy on material (it is way too early to talk about the scientific method that stepped on the stage only since Lavoisier, on the eve of the French revolution which cut short that first scientist and his career). Newton was a natural philosopher part of the time, and a mystic in his later alchemical works. Mint masters and prospectors were more like modern day chemists than most alchemists ever were. But then, the purity of coin alloys had been a subject of scrutiny since the middle classical era, and hence just falls into the latest part of your era of interest.

The archaeological record covers only a fraction of the amount produced by any period, and metal objects are as prone to have been recycled as are glass shards. Pottery is about the only one-way material known to the ancient world, everything else was re-used over and over unless devoted to the gods. You need a culture with strongly non-destructive burial customs and a tradition of rich grave goods (rather than mainly symbolic ones) to get anything resembling an insight into the material culture. Everything else is at best a glimpse.

I am not sure how well electrolytical coated material would have withstood corrosion, providing a metal-metal phase border usually invites galvanic reaction at just these transition places. It sure is a problem in modern day fresh water tube systems.

Use of mercury for fire/wash-gilding probably is where medieval alchemists got the idea for quicksilver as the universal metallic catalysator. Modern chemical insights show that electronegativity of alloys can be significantly lower than that of pure non-classical metals, and that producing them for alloy purposes as amalgams is within the possibilities of real world chemistry.

Georg Acricola cites classical authorities in his 16th century treatises on mining, and looking at some of the standard works the Romans had on waterworks, I wouldn't be astonished if they had similar treatises on metallurgy and mining, too. There are a few first century books on civil engineering like waterworks that still are part of the engineers' foundational syllabus, and the Hippodamos principles on urban planning are as present in the oppidum of Manching as they are in the layout of Washington DC or Manhattan.

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Hard to keep up with the discussion, so throwback to a few bits discussed earlier:

- there are some Chinese bronze swords with (supposedly, there's almost no documentation in English) a laminated construction, of a softer core and hard edges wrapped around it.

- bronze is tricky in some ways - you definitely wouldn't want to quench a bronze sword after casting and further heat treat - that leads to softer metal rather than harder! Bronze is instead work hardened by hammering the edges while cold. 

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54 minutes ago, JanPospisil said:

- there are some Chinese bronze swords with (supposedly, there's almost no documentation in English) a laminated construction, of a softer core and hard edges wrapped around it.

Interesting: my fan book doesn't cover Kralorela, but if there's ever a second volume covering the East (and maybe the West) will have to remember that. As I understand it, Western Gloranthan swords are more like those of the Warring States Period than any European model.

Looking through the sources I gathered when considering an Eastern expansion, one says that the laminated swords employed bronze with a high tin content for the edges and bronze with lower tin content for the spine to give a sharper more flexible sword. They were made by using two molds - first a smaller one for the core, and then when cool this was placed in a larger mold with room for the edges, probably supported/embedded in wax and the higher tin content bronze poured in. Not entirely sure how they ensured the metals bonded.

Whilst I can claim to know a little bit about Near Eastern/European warfare of the Bronze/Iron Age (but by no means expert) my knowledge of Chinese warfare is considerably less. Yesterday, a friend shared a Chinese animation with me depicting different periods of warfare, and I was astonished to see cavalry armed with long-hafted dagger-axes.

54 minutes ago, JanPospisil said:

- bronze is tricky in some ways - you definitely wouldn't want to quench a bronze sword after casting and further heat treat - that leads to softer metal rather than harder! Bronze is instead work hardened by hammering the edges while cold. 

Agreed, instead for bronze, annealing can be used to harden a blade, but beyond a certain point it can weaken it, so it is reliant upon the skill and judgement of the smith as quenching it to cool it quickly can be disastrous. The edges, as I understand it, are sometimes very carefully 'forged' (as in heated and smoothed) to make them thinner after removing flash, and then cold hammered, with the final step being carefully grinding and polishing using disk or rod-shaped stones, using charcoal dust and clay paste.

https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/science-update/nuclear-physics-unveils-secrets-bronze-age-sword

The manufacture of bronze and iron swords get roughly a quarter, and a half a page in the 'book', with three different methods of making an iron sword described (one guaranteed to make a poor but relatively cheap blade that will eventually either bend or snap).

Edited by M Helsdon
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1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

Whilst I can claim to know a little bit about Near Eastern/European warfare of the Bronze/Iron Age (but by no means expert) my knowledge of Chinese warfare is considerably less. Yesterday, a friend shared a Chinese animation with me depicting different periods of warfare, and I was astonished to see cavalry armed with long-hafted dagger-axes.

There's a lot of cool stuff from China. I'm not very knowledgeable about it, but my eyes went wide when I saw the phrase "rhino hide armor", which was apparently fairly common at one point.

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23 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's hard to see when the originals are alone - but this one is definitely a marked improvement. Great, deep inking/shading.

Thank you.

Latest reworking.

comparison11.png

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Today's rework. [Since this was posted minor modifications made to the sarissa. Did deliberate showing the whole thing, but it would make the sketch at least twice as tall, and the picture sits below a text box.]

comparison12.png

Edited by M Helsdon
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21 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I'm noticing the soldier does not have any footwear. Is there particular reason for that, or just for the sake of some variety?

Both.

Gave me a break from drawing varieties of footwear, and acknowledged the fact that some historical hoplites didn't wear their footwear worn when marching in battle. There was the thought that being barefoot gave them a better leverage and grip in the event of a 'shield push'. Thucydides writes that the Spartans habitually went barefoot, and he mentions another city where the hoplites only wore a shoe on their left foot, as their bare foot gave them better traction on wet and muddy ground.

The sketches aren't definitive - there's no such thing as a uniform in any Gloranthan (human) regiment, save that, for example, hoplites will all wear a helmet (styles and ornamentation will vary) and some form of torso armor. Just because one Vanntar phalangite has chosen not to wear anything on his feet doesn't mean his comrades do the same: there would be a variety of boots, sandals, shoes, bare feet. Some Lunar regiments probably approach a uniform but there is likely to still be a wide variety in the detail of equipment.

The other reason was that it's my assumption that most Templars in a Sun Dome regiment are relatively poor peasant farmers, and their mercenary service brings wealth to their communities, so a hardy peasant might forego wearing footwear as unnecessary - shoes wear out (there's been a study of how long Roman legionary boots lasted on campaign, and despite iron hobnails and repairs, they didn't last very long). Repair spells might be effective, but leather soles will still wear through, and even hobnails erode - that sort of gradual incremental wear and tear might not be magically repairable.

Should add that the Axe Woman further up the page is also barefoot, but for religious reasons...

Edited by M Helsdon
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