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David Scott

Glorantha technology and Glorantha material technology

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over in Esrolian Merchant ships (https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/7379-esrolian-merchant-ships/) the discussion eventually got to X was invented in y BC, so we can have it in Glorantha. I'm not knocking that approach but it got me thinking about what are the actual limits of Glorantha technology.

@jeffjerwin said

 

 

Quote

Cranes were invented in Greece in the late 6th c. BCE.

Glorantha no doubt has many magical and impossible in our physics solutions for lifting heavy or unwieldy objects. It's the sort of practical magical knowledge that every stevedore and carpenter needs. I suspect in Esrolia the Vogarth the Strongman cult is important partly because of building and moving goods.

For example I'm not doubting that cranes exist in Glorantha, but what I'm interested in is does Glorantha have more than the simple pulley that Mesopotamians used for hauling water (1500 BC). Have they invented or acquired from Dwarves the compound pulley described by archimedes (250 BCish). Likewise do they have a knowledge of simple machines like those listed by Heron of Alexandria -  lever, windlass, pulley, wedge, and screw. 

The use of the screw means we can have olive and apple presses.

Also @Joerg said:

but I think a hull sheathing of beetle carapace will still be less costly than one of lead.

This idea of other materials is part of this - is scaling up chitin based legs and carapaces reallygoing to work? how do yo fasten them together?

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David Scott:

Why develop water screws and pumps when you can enslave (long-term binding enchantments) elemental spirits to move your water up hill or along to fields? Why build cranes when sorcerers or priests can animate very heavy stone and lumber loads to walk themselves to building sites? Magic tends to suppress technological innovation and application in my Glorantha unless you experience the highly disturbing examples of Zistorite and God Learner pragmatism which threaten the fabric of the magical, spiritual and divine worlds operating pervasively under the surface of Glorantha.

Even time, experience and history are somewhat mutable in Glorantha, despite the Great Compromise, so even trying to catalogue and date a technological history may be thwarted by meddlesome heroquesters changing mythical pathways and past realities in order to alter modern temporal understanding of what has been. In a world where just about all "reality" is mutable illusion and myths, these questions become unanswerable and somewhat pointless. That is why in my Glorantha, many scholars tied to mobility or illusion runes scoff at fixed histories and discount the value of well catalogued and organised temple libraries where "false order" can eclipse truer understanding of the nature of Gloranthan "reality". This is a big bone of contention between change oriented scholarly traditions and scholarly traditions tied to the stasis rune. Needless to say, Mostali go almost apoplectic when confronted with these notions of historical fluidity and temporal mutability, but in the opinion of many human scholars they are occluded by their insistence on a fixed order and their blind devotion to the immutable nature of their Great Machine dogma; in the eyes of most Lhankor Mhy and Ippri Ontor scholars, that is.

 So just go with the flow and let whimsy and fancy take you where they will. 

Cheers.

Evilroddy.

Edited by Evilroddy
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Well, we know cranes are mentioned in King of Sartar as being a 'recovered knowledge', and there are numerous mentions of ballista and other devices. It seems safe to assume that humans in Glorantha are aware of historical technologies up to around the 3rd or 4th century BC. Magic, whilst it augments technology or provides non-technological solutions, isn't 'free' but requires time, effort and 'power', so whether a technological approach or a magical approach is used depends upon available resources, including magic. For instance, Disruption spells can kill your opponent, but if you are skilled with a sword, you can do it potentially faster with a physical weapon (of course the making of your sword may or may not have involved magical rites). The God-King could raise an entire city with magic, but the majority of humans don't have that capability, and build stone by stone, brick by brick - they may strengthen their constructions with magic, but that isn't a given.

Of course, the memes of Glorantha are myth and magic, and not technological, so the rate of technological innovation is slow or non-existent. Even if a culture has the necessary tools and technology it won't necessarily use them in ways that are obvious to us (with the benefit of hindsight and centuries of engineering solutions). For example, the Romans had everything they needed to make wheelbarrows, which are a pretty low-tech multiplier of productivity, but they didn't. Instead it seems to have been thought of first in China around the 1st century, but didn't arrive in Europe until the 12th century! Some claim there were wheelbarrows in Classical Greece, but the evidence is sparse, and even if they were, they had no impact.

And the Romans had all the technology to make bicycles... except perhaps the tyres: wheels, gearing, etc. were all available to them. I forget where I encountered it, but once read an amusing article about Roman legionaries cycling along their roads...

Almost all Gloranthan cultures have no mindset of technical innovation, with strong reasons to avoid dangerous changes, so people do things as they have always done. If cranes were used by the ancestors, then they are probably still in use, somewhere. Everyone jumped on Dormal's rites to permit sailing at sea, but only because people remembered being able to do this.

Edited by M Helsdon
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I expect a lot of tech is tied up in secret guild/cult techniques that blur the line between magic and craft. Imagine all the little tips and tricks that a Gustbran initiate is taught along the way. Are the secrets of safely gathering arsenic and alloying it with bronze to make stronger armor and blades magic? Well, anyone could theoretically try it, but if you haven't been taught to enact the story of how Gustbran learned to safely do it, there's a decent chance you'll end up poisoning yourself in the process. Is that distinguishable from magic in Glorantha?  Not really. 

Flintnail's cult provides a similar point of reference. It's possible that the uninitiated could successfully utilize an arch or buttress in a construction project, but the experts certainly aren't sharing their methods with outsiders. Is the Lunar Coder making sketches of their worksites in his book while visiting Pavis going to be able to duplicate them back home? Maybe, but I'd bet that the implementation includes something that looks a lot like an experimental HeroQuest to "rediscover" how the Emperor's palace was constructed in God Time.

 

Edited by JonL
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3 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

Why develop water screws and pumps when you can enslave (long-term binding enchantments) elemental spirits to move your water up hill or along to fields?

I would argue that the "Bindings" for such long-term elemental spells would almost certainly look (to the un-initiated) an awful lot like a water screw or pump.

Yes, the Reason they work in glorantha is myth and magic, rather than physics, but the end result will be remarkably similar to our own ancient world. IMG.

Edited by boztakang
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4 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

David Scott:

Why develop water screws and pumps when you can enslave (long-term binding enchantments) elemental spirits to move your water up hill or along to fields? 

The simple answer in RQ was, "Shit no, that costs too much permanent POW and I lose my elemental to boot; (footnote) go build a shaduf you lazy peasant, this is still a muscle power economy."

4 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

Why build cranes when sorcerers or priests can animate very heavy stone and lumber loads to walk themselves to building sites?

Well, everyone has at least a dozen trained sorcerers in their back pocket for such emergencies.  It isn't like sorcerers and priests have their own agendas after all.  I am sure they have nothing better to do than get a job in the construction industry and put their hard won magic to use in the service of common laborers (Total Sarcasm).  You are talking revolution and class warfare Evilroddy, dogs and cats living together in sin, mass hysteria!

4 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

Magic tends to suppress technological innovation and application in my Glorantha unless you experience the highly disturbing examples of Zistorite and God Learner pragmatism which threaten the fabric of the magical, spiritual and divine worlds operating pervasively under the surface of Glorantha.

 Threaten the fabric of the spirit world indeed!  Nonsense!  It was just that some fool failed to convert from Seshnelan Imperial base 12 to Jrusteli base 10 properly, blame the bastards at Zistorwal who first put the ritual specs down for forgetting a comma and confusing everyone's context.  Could have happened to anyone! It is all merely evidence of the absolute necessity of peer review and solid proof reading.  There was nothing even remotely disturbing about Zistor.  It was all well understood Jolanti principles reinforced with some Feldichi insights and was going to be the first deity built specifically to serve humanity rather than the other way around.  Zistor was going to be wonderful. Blah blah, you and your precious metaphysical ecology.  The Goddess Swap was sabotaged by our Vadeli enemies and I have the proof!  So stop conflating theistic propaganda with facts please ;)

4 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

Even time, experience and history are somewhat mutable in Glorantha, despite the Great Compromise, so even trying to catalogue and date a technological history may be thwarted by meddlesome heroquesters changing mythical pathways and past realities in order to alter modern temporal understanding of what has been.

I thought the whole notion of time travel had been vetoed in the canon?

4 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

In a world where just about all "reality" is mutable illusion and myths, these questions become unanswerable and somewhat pointless. That is why in my Glorantha, many scholars tied to mobility or illusion runes scoff at fixed histories and discount the value of well catalogued and organised temple libraries where "false order" can eclipse truer understanding of the nature of Gloranthan "reality".

It sounds like those so-called scholars spend plenty of time polishing their silver to get the tarnish off it, in between snacking on scrolls.  You need to hire yourself a party of Humakti and Stormbulls and "review the student body" for tricksters and atyari inflitrators.  I will bet that you will find an idol of a rabbit made entirely of poop in the dormitory attic and a krarsht tunnel behind one of the basement book cases leading to a cave full of rotting head ghosts.  "False order" indeed; anyone would think that runes like Law and Truth hold no power anymore!

4 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

This is a big bone of contention between change oriented scholarly traditions and scholarly traditions tied to the stasis rune. Needless to say, Mostali go almost apoplectic when confronted with these notions of historical fluidity and temporal mutability, but in the opinion of many human scholars they are occluded by their insistence on a fixed order and their blind devotion to the immutable nature of their Great Machine dogma; in the eyes of most Lhankor Mhy and Ippri Ontor scholars, that is.

Change oriented scholars? You do know there is such a thing as a trickster spell called "Lie" don't you?  I am reliably informed it can seem very persuasive, but any sage worth the beard has the spells to see off such obfuscation. Theories of historical mutability? Nonsense.  What happened happened, but those living in the present may have differing opinions about what it all meant.  Such opinions, (and they are opinions, not theories), boil down to sentiment, and sentiment has no more reality than the bamboozlement of the callow mind that falls prey to such nonsense.  Yes, a dream is a real dream, but it is not reality.

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2 hours ago, boztakang said:

I would argue that the "Bindings" for such long-term elemental spells would almost certainly look (to the un-initiated) an awful lot like a water screw or pump.

Yes, the Reason they work in glorantha is myth and magic, rather than physics, but the end result will be remarkably similar to our own ancient world. IMG.

That's certainly how the Mostali sorceries work IMG, and so anyone using the Mostali plans would end up doing it the same way.

The Dwarven Water Screw uses the Movement Rune to force water to act against its desire to join Magasta and flow uphill.

 

In fact, the Mostali probably view the core runes as the tools of the maker. The Movement Rune is the Divine Cog, eternally turning in ordered movement. The Life Rune is the Cosmic Hourglass, measuring the lifespan of things and when they need to be replaced. The Storm Rune aka Umath was the Great Spring of the universe, storing motive power until it became wound too tight and shattered, introducing disorder to the World Machine.

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@David Scottbeat me to this topic. I did a little research on this, and found this interesting article (though I differ on a couple of points made in it):

https://www.tor.com/2017/09/25/using-archaeology-in-fantasy-fiction/

 

Basically, much like the other aspects of history, a lot of the technology of Glorantha is based on mythic precedents.

The iconic sailors of Glorantha all use weird material. The Waertagi use "living bodies of slain sea dragons", the Sendereven cut their outrigger catamarans from special rocks (sounds rather similar to creating Moai), dwarf paddle-wheeled floating castles use opus caementitium (aka concrete), a material also attested in use for Pelandan architecture (as per Entekosiad), and the elves breed and grow special trees into boat shape.

The original Artmali and Helerite boats and ships were solidified clouds, purple for the Artmali and tan blue for the Helerites. I already speculated in another thread about the architectural possibilities in such a material.

In  face to face conversation with @Jeff I learned (or at least got the impression) that at least some of the earliest seagoing vessels in myth were little more than a good-sized piece of barch for a hull, a huge leaf for a sail and a branch for a mast, held together by the will (and creative power) of the creator and sailor.

If you look at the first boat myths, we get the Sofali Diros with his sea-turtle shell, we get Kogag with his giant beetle carapace, and Varanorlanth too. We have reed boats from riverine Peloria and Maniria (including the Zola Fel valley here) which are almost dully normal.

There should be humungous dugouts, possibly in the Maslo copies of the Sendereven design. Possibly widened through application of superheated steam - a technology apparently already known to mesolithich spear-makers, which requires water, fire-heated rocks, animal skins, and more fire-heated rocks. If you manage to heat timber to 120 degrees or more, it becomes malleable like putty without losing its year-ring lamination. Manipulating something that hot requires some ingenuity, but that's a quite commonplace quality in humanity.

Malkioni really should be (or have been) using coracle-based technology rather than planked hulls, in imitation of the Waertagi hulls. The Free Men of the Seas might have changed that with their radically new designs, leaning on Manirian knowledge acquired from the Olodo. Likewise the Yggites with their access to seal skin.

 

The earliest naval activities occurred on the "coastal parts" of Sramak's River. In the west, the experiences of the Waertagi have survived the Gods War. In the East, the wager of the Prosandara and Venperesha (Revealed Mythologies p.74) created land in the seas and sea in the lands before any other water invaded the land. These outermost islands were soon populated, and whether the people were created in loco or ferried there, they soon started taking to the seas and to meet the neighbors. It is from this oldest tradition the Sendereven came.

The Keets appear to have been drawn to the beaches of the southwestern corner of the world, which is how the sea gods were enraged by the "blessing" bestowed by the keet sage who was trod upon by the dancing sea god who received lightness and couldn't return to his sea any more. (Sounds somewhat similar to the myth of Heler...)

Rivers are there in the Golden Age, IMO this starts with the Birth of Umath, which pushed his mother down and his father upward. The ever-hungry waters were only too happy to return to the sixth side of the Earth Cube which had been inaccessible to them for too long. Rivers expanded into lakes, wetlands and smaller seas, providing opportunities for the earliest boating above drowned land (seas, rather than bottomless oceans). The God Learner maps show the Solkathi current that goes around the Spike meeting the Neliomi current, establishing the sea north of the Spike even before the Great Flood that followed (and that covered highlands with huge standing waves). In a way, the dry lands of Kerofinela and Kethaela (and Saird) may have been the result of a huge downward wind blowing the waters to either sides of these lands. Those extremes retreated, and some balance of sea and land was found on the surface of the cube, until the seas dried up later in the lesser Darkness - possibly through the agency of Valind building his glacier, possibly for other reasons.

 

The mermen as we know them are the youngest of the Elder Races, younger than mankind. They were born when the Vadrudi ravaged the invading seas, picking wives from the waves without asking for consent. The earliest Diros stories would come from this period, too, as they require an interaction with Sea above Former Lands. (At least that's how I see this. Others might disagree.)

This puts the start of naval history outside of the outermost East Isles and the Waertagi coast (or at least surviving and accessible memories thereof) in the Storm Age.

 

One problem with assessing which technologies were conceived (or willed into being) way back when is that narrators of a mmore modern age will replace terms that they don't really understand with technological terms they are familiar with. That's how the ceramic storage vessel that Diogenes inhabited when he was met by Alexander has become a cooper's barrel in western European tradition and imagery.

The same goes for mention of other technological inventions for ages past. Even when avoiding the route of von Däniken and his ilk, there are tantalizing images and models of things that would not have survived as material leavings because they were made of perishable substances. We infer the archaeology of textiles from weights that we assume were required for a hanging loom. We have not the slightest idea when baskets or basket-held skin containers were first used. Unlike ceramics, these didn't survive.

Finding copper-age Ötzi as an ice mummy has expanded our knowledge of earliest textiles by 100%. Similarly well-preserved remains are only known from bog finds or salt mines, and usually younger by millennia. For other data the textile archaeologists look at depictions in durable materials, like ceramic dolls or fresco paintings like those of the "Minoan" culture, or possibly wall paintings invisible to the naked eye but detectable with modern spectroscopy and datable by analyzing minuscule chalk crusts forming over them, like the recent discovery of definitely Neanderthal wall paintings about 15000 years before the arrival of the African immigrants that provide the majority of our European DNA.

 

So, let's examine our discussion whether certain technologies are bronze age or not (and keep in mind that bronze age didn't end simultaneously everywhere - in my mind, the Bronze Age lasted until about 500 BC, regardless of early iron industries e.g. by the Etruscans starting well before 800 BC - and yes, I am aware that BC isn't the politically correct term, but I'll use it nonetheless).

"Barrels require metal hoops, so they are definitely not a Bronze Age thing." Paraphrasing from a comment here lauding the insistence on amphorae as standardized containers. Probably well and true for the Mediterranean, but when a Roman author testifies the use of barrels in transalpine Gaul, he describes a well-established technology of the La Tene people, and quite likely stretching back to the Hallstatt culture or even its precursor. We don't have any literature about that. Oral tradition is treacherous, as the Diogenes in a Barrel misconception shows (quite on topic), but that doesn't prove a negative. It is extremely likely that the army that attacked at the Tollense crossing came from a barrel and bucket-using material culture, just not proven. And that battle predates Khadesh, and hints at having a similar scale, so we are looking at a huge organized human endeavor in a region that historians relying on Greek and Roman authors have labeled benighted Barbaria, and that label has stuck even to modern pre-historians.

When we find durable evidence for a culture in that region, it can be stunning, like the gold hats or the Nebra disk. But most of that culture's activities appear to have been made in perishable material.

Human remains are among the less perishable material from that region, as are certain grave gifts. Unfortunately, body burials were rather few in that time, and remains in urns have seen thorough destruction. So basically,  a culture of great recyclers has recycled allmost all the evidence for their activities. Post holes can only attest for what was within the soil.

But it is that period that means "Bronze Age" to me. Whenever I see Greek Hoplite armor, it shouts anachronism to me. To everyone in the Anglophone world this seems to shout "Bronze Age", but it (and contemporary ship building) is about as period appropriate as the late mediaeval armor in that Arthur flick with Connery as Artus and Richard Gere as Lancelot for events that are set in the crumbeling remains of Roman culture in Latinized Britain - off by a millennium.

 

So, if there was a coracle or paddled canoe-based advanced naval technology on the Atlantic and Baltic shores, we don't have much evidence of that. We get the Hjortspring Boat dating from around 400-300BC, and it was accompanied by presumed contemporary iron weaponry - that's La Tene culture further south, the Iron Age successor of the Late Bronze Age Hallstatt culture. We see rock carvings that are somehow (no idea how exactly) dated to 2000 BC, give or take a millennium, which show objects with double protuding stems very similar to the shape of the Hjortspring boat, so one might assume that there was such a naval culture in the northern seas. We don't have any findings from this period, though.

But we know those were warmer times, with a local climate comparable to Tuscany now, so it is possible that the boreworm (which started the discussion below) was native in those waters back then. While the Baltic Sea has a few anoxic pockets where wooden remains might have survived, no such lucky find has been made yet in those much smaller areas than the vast anoxic underbody of the Black Sea with its very own story of flooding preserved in an environment hostile to all surface life. Varchulanga's realm, only without the big organisms escaping. Or possibly some other deity of darkness and deep sea trapped in a locked bottom of aerated water. Think of a (possibly shapeless) marine vampire lifeform (or undead, or chaotic) whose vulnerability is aerated water rather than sunlight. Something like this must exist somewhere on the sea floor of the Homeward Ocean... and it might guard some lost holy Earth place to rival Ezel or Seshna's Temple. Food for a merman campaign, maybe.

 

7 hours ago, David Scott said:

This idea of other materials is part of this - is scaling up chitin based legs and carapaces really going to work? how do yo fasten them together?

Once you start looking at giant-sized insects as source for construction material, quite a few weird ideas might work. Who needs glass windows when you can frame the transparent wings of giant insects and put those in the wall openings? Surely better than parchment.

The carapace shielding doesn't have to be water-tight - it needs to be bore-worm proof. And it might only work in combination with those charmed bait boards (think galvanic anodes in modern ships and containers for liquids, like warm water reservoirs) that end up on the menu of the troll providers.

Silky cocoons are produced by quite a number of pupae, and while that stuff won't necessarily be up to par with bast or spider silk for tensile strength, the sticky bits of these might be just the material to be put between overlapping pieces of carapace lashed together with some stronger fibre. Or maybe someone has found a way to use insect legs for rivets - put a thinner one from the outside into a wider one on the inside and put a splint into a hollow through both of these.

That recorder played by the troll wind lord in the 13G illustrations? I would bet that it is made from an insect leg rather than a bone. Take enough hollow insect legs, and you might get useful tubing.

Then there are insect excretions based on specific feeds, like e.g. laquer. Troll giant insect herders might be able to produce this on (ancient) industrial scale.

There has to be a reason why cities like Nochet or Boldhome tolerate man-eating monsters in their midst. This might be it.

 

Then there is the perennial "Gloranthan metals aren't quite their terrestrial equivalents".

Gloranthan metals probably corrode differently than terrestrial ones. Still, I like to suggest sulfidic corrosion associated with Darkness, and oxidic corrosion associated with Sea and Storm. Earth and Sky might claim that they don't corrode but transmute to something better, but then I am fairly certain that sulfidic corroded metal can be quite tasty to uz palate.

The standard metal is brass or bronze, a naturally occurring alloy of earth metal and sky metal, either of volcanic or of storm origin. Lodril's descent created the first brass, and that's how mostali metallurgists will classify this kind of alloy. Brass is solidified liquid, whereas bronze (at least in gods' bones) has growth rings, something anathema to Maker dwarves even though it provides an additional durability. As far as my theory of metals goes.

You can melt air-descended bronze, and after cooling you will get a metal undistinguishable from brass, and probably one that suffers all the weaknesses we associate with bronze vs (contemporary) iron (although few of those have been proven - the main consequence of the introduction of iron may have been a much greater availabiity of metal objects from local production, although usually inferior unless it underwent the refining hinted at in the Wayland myth re-melting the sword he made in contest with the King's previous smith).

Storm-descended bronze will be of a better quality than brass much like normal (non-refined through oxidizing) steel is inferior to damascened, layered terrestrial iron, for IMO the same mechanical reasons.

 

What else do we have in anachronistic material? Let's ignore iron, it is as fantasy a metal as is Mithril in Tolkien's Middle Earth, and from a very similar source (dwarves delving deep, then too deep). But we have glass, and more to the point, we have glass-blowing, and we had that for centuries, already in the time of the Autarchy. Possibly even earlier.

But again, the Mostali had it way before that. Already their second caste, the lead dwarves, know the secrets of molten rock not returning to its mineral graining. That means glazing (and implies ceramics), although blown glass possibly might have had to wait until the brass mostali provided the non-unique tools for heating a glass drop and then pushing exhaust gas (not necessarily "Air", as Mostali tend to dislike that concept) into it.

Whenever the humans develop something that has been pre-empted by Mostal the Maker, the mostali and dwarves accuse the humans of theft, or of unlicensed plagiarism and duplication (which, if one believes Hollywood's lawyers, is a crime with higher damage sums than all the homicides and bodily harm with guns in total).

Once a concept has been imprinted on Gloranthan reality, it cannot be unmade. It may be suppressed in some form for extended times, possibly requiring huge rituals or cataclysmic spells, but it will creep back. Take Nysaloran illumination, or take writing (as per the Fourth Age or late Hero Wars Illiteracy curse in King of Sartar). Is the God Learner secret really gone for good? Or do the de-deifying events of the late Hero Wars render it without any meaningful material to work upon? I wouldn't be outraged if the Umathelans somehow managed to re-discover that secret and use it against the mostali advance, making that cataclysm even greater.

 

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One major reason for limiting the strangeness, at least in human cultures, is that it makes the setting less accessible to newcomers. Whilst it is 'cool' that most metals are derived from the bones of dead gods, and iron was manufactured by dwarves and is now mined where large quantities of Iron Mostali and Iron Constructs died, it doesn't detract from the fact that these metals are recognizable.

Weird magical technologies should mostly be kept to the 'periphery' - non-humans, ancient civilizations, powerful entities etc. for both accessibility and mystery.

The use of metals (wherever they come from), stone, leather, bone are all relatively mundane (even if they are sometimes worked with low-level magics).

Glorantha is a world where magic is (mostly imperceptibly) winding down with every Age, as magic decays in the face of entropy. The Magic Goes Away meme. With the Hero Wars there are going to be massive magical cataclysms, as the pre-Time disasters reoccur on a 'smaller' scale, much as in Greek Myth, the Trojan War resembled the actual Dark Age in the Mediterranean that swept away most of the great powers of the Bronze Age.

Edited by M Helsdon
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21 hours ago, Evilroddy said:

Magic tends to suppress technological innovation and application in my Glorantha unless you experience the highly disturbing examples of Zistorite and God Learner pragmatism which threaten the fabric of the magical, spiritual and divine worlds operating pervasively under the surface of Glorantha.

I agree with this, however I'm looking at what exists rather that what magic can do with it. 

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20 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

It seems safe to assume that humans in Glorantha are aware of historical technologies up to around the 3rd or 4th century BC.

So Heron is too late, perhaps the equivalent of Dwarf technology. It's the cut off point that interests me. 3rd century BC may have the compound pulley. This would certainly change the way ships work.

20 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Almost all Gloranthan cultures have no mindset of technical innovation, with strong reasons to avoid dangerous changes, so people do things as they have always done.

I totally agree with this. This why I'm asking what does exist.

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18 hours ago, JonL said:

Are the secrets of safely gathering arsenic and alloying it with bronze to make stronger armor and blades magic? Well, anyone could theoretically try it, but if you haven't been taught to enact the story of how Gustbran learned to safely do it, there's a decent chance you'll end up poisoning yourself in the process. Is that distinguishable from magic in Glorantha?  Not really.

I'm not sure that this kind of metallurgy exists in Glorantha. I believe that bronze just two metals and a much simpler alloying process there.

I'm a great believer in that Glorantha is missing many of the processes we use as the building blocks of the world are much simpler. I think it unlikely that arsenic exists given the limitation of the runes. For complex alloying processes I'd go with adding other runes as the impurity if I really needed it. 

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15 hours ago, Tindalos said:

The Dwarven Water Screw uses the Movement Rune to force water to act against its desire to join Magasta and flow uphill.

So only the Dwarves have the water screw?

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15 hours ago, Joerg said:

Who needs glass windows when you can frame the transparent wings of giant insects and put those in the wall openings? Surely better than parchment.

I'd agree here. It would likely be a matter of supply though.

15 hours ago, Joerg said:

The carapace shielding doesn't have to be water-tight - it needs to be bore-worm proof.

Although I don't think carapace would expand when wet. I don't believe bore-worms exist in Glorantha other than some chaotic menace. How do you attach it?

15 hours ago, Joerg said:

Silky cocoons are produced by quite a number of pupae, and while that stuff won't necessarily be up to par with bast or spider silk for tensile strength, the sticky bits of these might be just the material to be put between overlapping pieces of carapace lashed together with some stronger fibre. Or maybe someone has found a way to use insect legs for rivets - put a thinner one from the outside into a wider one on the inside and put a splint into a hollow through both of these.

Good ideas.

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30 minutes ago, David Scott said:

. I think it unlikely that arsenic exists given the limitation of the runes. For complex alloying processes I'd go with adding other runes as the impurity if I really needed it. 

I see gloranthan arsenic as being reflecting the Malign Earth - which might be as simple as being copper tainted by lead or iron (a eutectic alloy if you want to get all sciencey).

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34 minutes ago, David Scott said:

So only the Dwarves have the water screw?

Known to the Zistorites (King of Sartar p80).  Stormwalk Mountain is described as being in a corkscrew shape (Guide p234) which might indicate that the Holy Country knows what they are.  

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Water wheels - mentioned in both Kralorela (Guide p273) and the Lunar Empire (p307)

Water mills - known in Peloria since the Dawn Age (look at the Ten Sons and Servants in the Gods Wall Guide p674 - Moruder has a small "baton of authority" despite the foreman being Mohenjar and so the Ten Sons and Servants have two boss figures which seems rather extravagant.  The occupation that is missing from the Ten Sons and Servants is the Miller.  In the good old days (ie the Golden Age) before they had watermills, they made flour using rolling pins.  That Plnetonius interpreted the pon as a baton of authoriity indicates that water mills had superseded rolling pins in the making of flour.

Don't know of any Windmills apart from the William Church illustration.

Torsion weapons - sold by the dwarves but they clearly trust humans in having them and have done so since the Dawn Age (Culgak - History of the Heortling Peoples p14) and the Horse Nomads (Glorious ReAscent p81) and Sun County (Harpoon).

Water Clocks - the Seshnelans have one in Leplain (Guide p417)

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56 minutes ago, David Scott said:

So only the Dwarves have the water screw?

II was thinking it would be one of those devices the dwarves license out that become well known.

Like chainmail or crossbows.

Although as metcalph mentions, it was also known to the Zistorites (which would probably make it unpopular in the third age)

 

1 minute ago, metcalph said:

Don't know of any Windmills apart from the William Church illustration.

There's this Q&A piece: http://www.glorantha.com/docs/devil/ where it's mentioned that Zzabur made some windmills.

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Beetle wing windows:

2 minutes ago, David Scott said:

I'd agree here. It would likely be a matter of supply though.

Possible sources: Pavis, Nochet, Boldhome, Naskorion - basically any place where trolls and humans cohabitate for them to recognize a "get wealthy and influential" opportunity.

 

2 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Although I don't think carapace would expand when wet. I don't believe bore-worms exist in Glorantha other than some chaotic menace.

I am with the Martins (Hawley and Helsdon) on this topic - something like that has to exist, and will in all likelihood be an outright plague in the Sea of Worms. The Middle Sea Empire will have spread this across the known shores, if the Waertagi have not done so before to thwart their wooden-hulled wanna-be rivals.

Western ships will have sorcery dedicated to deal with this threat, Kethaela has troll cooperation.

 

2 minutes ago, David Scott said:

How do you attach it?

Secure it on the rib-heads supporting the railing, like a hide stretched over a model. I don't see evidence for the use of nails in Kethaelan ship-building, so nailing it on (as would have to be done with metal sheeting) doesn't seem likely.

 

2 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Good ideas.

You were the one to point me towards giant insect (or crab) legs for innovative materials. The only use I envisioned earlier were giant crab legs for spear shafts in my Volcanic Cave Under the Glacier setting that was discussed on the HeroQuest Yahoogroup just before there was a Glorantha Yahoogroup, a technology contributed by the Vadrudi males/selkie wives portion of that trapped population. All of which not canonical at all, and not yet written up in a gameable format.

If you are a yahoogroup member (I never cancelled my membership and got Yahoogroups to react very surprised at me revisiting these old hunting grounds of mine), here's a direct link that should work once you are logged in:

https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/HeroQuest-RPG/conversations/topics/16980

That thread discusses a few other innovative use of materials in a situation of exctreme scarcity, too, like lava cast into ice moulds.

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43 minutes ago, Joerg said:

If you are a yahoogroup member (I never cancelled my membership and got Yahoogroups to react very surprised at me revisiting these old hunting grounds of mine), here's a direct link that should work once you are logged in:

As an aside, I recently downloaded all of the Yahoo Groups I was a member of to make searchable archives (along with the various Glorantha & RQ digests of old). You may want to check out:

http://yahoogroupedia.pbworks.com/w/page/93006447/Chrome Application To Download Messages

 

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1 hour ago, metcalph said:

Water wheels - mentioned in both Kralorela (Guide p273) and the Lunar Empire (p307)

I don't have any problem with Water wheels as they are in the Guide, but also they are roughly 3rd-4th Century BC in the form of the Noria

1 hour ago, metcalph said:

Water mills - known in Peloria since the Dawn Age

Water mills of course exist and then so must the gearing to convert the vertical drive into the horizontal turn of the millstones. So Glorantha likely has a crude toothed cog in water mills. One of the Lismelder clan has a dwarf built mill. Gears seem to originate in 4th Century BC china and later in 3rd Century BC Greece. Readers may find this book interesting http://www.gutenberg.org/files/30001/30001-h/30001-h.htm. The implication within, is that the Chinese were casting gears in the 4th Century BC, but I wonder if the non-dwarf version is an evolution of the spoked wheel. The spoked wheel has evidence from the 3rd Century BC as well https://www.harappa.com/content/wheeled-vehicles-indus-valley-civilization.

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Are Orlanthi chariots solid or spoked? The Sintashta Culture which seems to have the first spoked chariots, seems to fall slightly outside (although I may be wrong) the 3rd century BC cutoff that @M Helsdon has suggested (and that I think is a good line). I'm not trying to be rigid in definitions here, just trying to get a feel for the technology. https://erenow.com/ancient/the-horse-the-wheel-and-language/15.html

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imho the level of technology for Glorantha depends on what would destroy the suspension of disbelief for your group.

This that tend to do that are

  • Modern inventions retrofitted with primitive technologies
  • Things that seem inconsistent with our perceptions of the technology level of the Glorantha
  • Things that have obviously been changed just cause we can - id consider joerg's beetleskin hull's in that
  • Things that  just seem out of place

Lots of those things are very personal to refs, players and groups due to taste, level of knowledge, preconceptions and previous gaming experience.  So I really to think this is an area where "your glorantha may vary" is very well applied.   

What cannon should be probably is to take the the path of least offence and to be most  vanilla, as not to force on to people gaming tables ideas which will jar.   So if you want a flame thrower  made of bellows spewing Greek fire, you may. But don't expect it in an official supplement any time soon.

Seriously I think worry about lots of details put players don't give a hoot about. If Harrek turns up in longboat, triremes, or a galley. most of out players wouldn't care.  Just as long as he doesn't role up in a Medi evil Caravel or steam powered iron clad.

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41 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Are Orlanthi chariots solid or spoked?

The illustrations in the Guide and the Glorantha Sourcebook all show spoked wheels, which isn't surprising as the spoked wheel dates back to the 20th century BC!

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