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Bronze Chainmail


Jon Hunter

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Ok i.m sure this has been done to death before, but juts coming up to speed with discussions.

Runequest has always had bronze chainmail in its armor lists etc, RW bronze was never made into chainmail and doesn't have the properties for it how is this reconciled?

  • Giving Gloranthan bronze different properties than RW bronze?
  • Writing chainmail out of your Glorantha?
  • A bit of both?
  • Making chain-mail an iron only armor type?
  • Any of suggestions /accommodations?

Cheers

Jon

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No need for bronze mail IMG, especially with the current bronze age styling.  There can still be bronze scale armor.  But if you can make mail out of aluminum or lead, say, that's another reason to wear those other metals.

Edited by Roko Joko
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1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

Ok i.m sure this has been done to death before, but juts coming up to speed with discussions.

Runequest has always had bronze chainmail in its armor lists etc, RW bronze was never made into chainmail and doesn't have the properties for it how is this reconciled?

  • Giving Gloranthan bronze different properties than RW bronze?
  • Writing chainmail out of your Glorantha?
  • A bit of both?
  • Making chain-mail an iron only armor type?
  • Any of suggestions /accommodations?

It's Glorantha.

I haven't seen any RW chainmail made of Lead or Gold or Aluminium either, but they are definitely in Glorantha.

 

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Bronze (from the classical era) is a very loose term to describe a wide range of copper alloys made with a host of additives. Some were deliberate concoctions for special purposes (hardness, brightness, etc.) others were accidental simply based on what raw materials were at hand and recycled. Perhaps Gloranthan bronze is equally diverse and that famous mines like Volsaxiland and Enneserach are just particularly good quality seams. 

Unless well provisioned, smiths made what the did form what was available, which is probably why different regions become known for quality of a particular product (bronze for a plow has different requirements than bronze for tableware). Even the chieftain's grave at Ciumeşti, which gives us the earliest Earth examples of chainmail (iron) contained bronze greaves. So I'd imagine that in Glorantha, where 'bronze' is far more readily available than iron, it gets coopted into all manner of uses, even those where iron would be better suited.

 

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57 minutes ago, simonh said:

I’m sure I remember reading tha Gloranthan bronze is somewhat more ductile than ours.

Simon Hibbs

That's because it's not really bronze, it's actually Hu-metal (of which the closest real world approximation is bronze, for the sake of an anology)

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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I'd go somewhere in the middle and make bronze chainmail be quite possible, but kind of rare and maybe only found amongst specific cultures. So if your Dragon Pass character has a chainmail it might be an interesting character hook as to how on earth  they got a hold of it.

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I said this before, but it bears repeating: IMO Godsbone brass or bronze is a natural laminate, with growth rings creating a layered effect that is impossible to achieve with just melting copper and tin. Godsbone needs to be hammered to retain those properties and cannot simply be cast into whichever shape you think is convenient to achieve.

The mostali might actually have a process of damascening brass to a similar effect. They refer to the metal by the name derived from the volcano/mountain deities exclusively, regarding the birth of Umath as the disastrous destruction of their world machine, and while they are happy to work storm-originated godsbone, they won't refer to it as such.

Chainmail requires access to rather thick wire of the metal in question. Now producing wire isn't foreign to Gloranthan metal artisans - gold, pewter, and probably copper and bronze as well are shaped into wires before leaving e.g. pearl-like ornaments melted onto a bigger piece of ornamental metal, like e.g. a cloak clasp or a belt buckle. Producing this wire is a time-intensive task, however, and requires at least a journeyman's skill.

Producing enough thick wire for even a small piece of mail armor (maybe little more than a curtain to attach to a helmet to protect the neck) will take up quite a lot of reliable wire.

 

But then there is another question when it comes to Gloranthan armor: does anyone but the iron mostali walk around in an impervious shell of metal, or is armor more a statement of protection, expanded by sympathetic magic to cover slightly more than it actually does?

Does armor "magically" attract weapon hits? If so, plate greaves and what we would name "ceremonial" bits of metal plate worn on chest or abdomen would be a lot more effective than SCA experience would suggest.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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Chain mail has certainly declined in usage in our art direction etc. in favour of scale mail. Simply because, as others point out, chain mail is more of a late dark ages thing. I am sure dwarves make iron chain mail, but I suspect that bronze is uncommon. I would treat references to mail as scale, unless it is a god or hero, in which case it might well be dwarf mail. I know Orlanth has a hauberk of mail called Turnspear. That might well be something he 'stole' from the Mostali, and iron.

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13 minutes ago, fulk said:

Yes.  But they would be using iron, not bronze. 

Becuase they had iron to use. Historically, it's not so much that bronze mail isn't possible but that by the time a culture had the metallurgical skills to manufacture mail, they had discovered how to work iron. Bronze mail is quite possible in RW, but as iron is generally lighter and stronger than bronze (and often less expensive), it's preferable to make armor our of iron.

In Glorantha, runic Iron (not really the same as terrestrial iron), is a rare, somewhat divine substance, and armorers are forced to work with Glorantha Bronze (again, not really the same as the terrestrial  metal) due to the relative scarcity of Iron. 

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Chain mail (as interlinked rings) dates back to around the 4th Century BC in western Europe, becoming more common from the 3rd Century BC, and being copied by the Romans as lorica hamate. An example found at a Romano-British temple at Woodeaton was made of iron and bronze links - the bronze fittings may have been decorative. Roman Republic/Empire 'stuff' now tends to lie outside the catchment zone for inspiration for human Gloranthan cultures.

For Glorantha, given the technical knowledge required, as well as the expense, it's probably best viewed as Mostali, with human smiths unlikely to have knowledge of its manufacture.

Edited by M Helsdon
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In RQG, chainmail is not in the core rules - which is my way of saying that humans in the greater Dragon Pass region (including the Lunar Empire and the Holy Country) don't make it. BUT when you get the Bestiary, you will see that the iron dwarf example is armoured with iron chain mail. And man it is good armor.

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On 13/02/2018 at 7:35 AM, Psullie said:

Bronze (from the classical era) is a very loose term to describe a wide range of copper alloys made with a host of additives. Some were deliberate concoctions for special purposes (hardness, brightness, etc.) others were accidental simply based on what raw materials were at hand and recycled. Perhaps Gloranthan bronze is equally diverse and that famous mines like Volsaxiland and Enneserach are just particularly good quality seams. 

As the gods are diverse, so too must be the bronze of their bones. We already have the example of different magic crystals, said to be created from blood of wounded and dead gods.

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Ignoring history and looking at what we know exists, bronze mail does seem to exist - just not in the form we'd expect. It seems that it was used as decorative edging on iron mail. The material was a bronze alloy called Latten and it looks like gold - hence it's decorative role.

Mail shirt at the Wallace collection in London

http://wallacelive.wallacecollection.org/eMuseumPlus?service=direct/1/ResultLightboxView/result.t1.collection_lightbox.$TspTitleImageLink.link&sp=10&sp=Scollection&sp=SfieldValue&sp=0&sp=1&sp=2&sp=Slightbox_3x4&sp=0&sp=Sdetail&sp=0&sp=F&sp=T&sp=2

Mail standard at the Wallace collection in London

http://wallacelive.wallacecollection.org/eMuseumPlus?service=direct/1/ResultLightboxView/result.t2.collection_lightbox.$TspTitleLink.link&sp=10&sp=Scollection&sp=SfieldValue&sp=0&sp=2&sp=2&sp=Slightbox_3x4&sp=0&sp=Sdetail&sp=0&sp=F&sp=T&sp=3

both have it as the edging.

The consensus seems to be that the reason that bronze mail wasn't made is that it was more difficult to work with as it was brittle and that iron was much more plentiful. Why use an inferior material. I realise that Gloranthan bronze to only analogous to real bronze so there must be another reason - 

Have you ever watched someone making mail? We've a guy at our group who links mail while gaming (much like those who knit while gaming). He's buys wire (it's not iron but a softer alloy) so he's not doing the drawing process through plates or hammering it down. He wraps it round a core to get the tiny diameter required, then snips it in to rings. Then he uses pliers to bend open the ring, attaches it to the appropriate place (it's 1 to 4 mail) then bends the ring closed. It's really time consuming. This isn't even the riveted kind (I've no idea how long that would take) or the ring to scale kind (quicker as there is a scale disc in the mix).

Just the needle nosed pliers would be the magic bit. The harder the metal the more strength required. I'm wondering who would be able to make the tools required to do this in bronze age Glorantha and who would have the time! This is clearly dwarven magic!

BTW if you like swords and armour, and are visiting London - most people miss the Wallace Collection in the heart of the West end as they believe it's just paintings, cookery and fancy room with furniture. It has an excellent arms and armour collection spread through 5 galleries.

https://www.wallacecollection.org

Edited by David Scott
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