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David Scott

Glorantha technology and Glorantha material technology

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1 minute ago, M Helsdon said:

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!

oops division error by me 

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Technology is such a misleading word. Let's work backwards for a moment.

We know that Mostal created the six simple machines to aid him in creating the Cosmic Spike, but men stole their secrets during the God Time. Men used them to raise their temples and sacred stones, and more. Men learned the techniques of forge and kiln from Gustbran, who also showed men how to harden wood with fire. Fortunately, men never stole the secrets of mana capacitors, mainsprings, flux containers and dispersal grids, complex gears, steam tubes, gun powder, the technique for generating raw energy from spirits and the energy transmission networks, cylinder pumps, or energy drain matrixes - at least none who did survived the Greater Darkness.  

In the Dawn Age, the Openhandists of Greatway aided the Dragon Pass Councils and built walls, weapons, armor, and much much more. They mined stone and made metals for men. But in the Second Ages, the Openhandists became fewer and the God Learners managed to reverse engineer some Mostali devices. The most dangerous of these were reclaimed by the Mostali, but others escaped their grasp. The disasters that ended the Second Age meant that even the once rich civilisations of Seshnela, Loskalm, Peloria, and Kethaela lost most of the techniques stolen from the Mostali, and again men became dependent on the Mostali (who rarely offered their services at any price).

Exceptions of course exist. The Dwarf of Dwarf Run aided Sartar and his dynasty stole the secrets of working stone from the dwarfs. As a result, Sartar has fine roads, walls, and bridges. And the Dwarf still offers his services, although at a greater price than before. The Third Eye Blue cult stole the technique of shaping metal through song. Men trade with dwarfs at Gemborg, Imther, and Noastor. 

And of course, the God Learner secrets are not entirely lost, and who knows what old manuscript might be uncovered in the Great Library of Nochet!

But for most Gloranthans, the world is muscle and animal-powered, with simple machines, and tools of bronze, stone, and wood.

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3 minutes ago, David Scott said:

oops division error by me 

The Babylonians did division by multiplying a number by its inverse, something their use of the sexagesimal system may have helped, with math texts going back a very long time.

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4 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Technology is such a misleading word. Let's work backwards for a moment.

We know that Mostal created the six simple machines to aid him in creating the Cosmic Spike, but men stole their secrets during the God Time. Men used them to raise their temples and sacred stones, and more. Men learned the techniques of forge and kiln from Gustbran, who also showed men how to harden wood with fire. Fortunately, men never stole the secrets of mana capacitors, mainsprings, flux containers and dispersal grids, complex gears, steam tubes, gun powder, the technique for generating raw energy from spirits and the energy transmission networks, cylinder pumps, or energy drain matrixes - at least none who did survived the Greater Darkness.  

In the Dawn Age, the Openhandists of Greatway aided the Dragon Pass Councils and built walls, weapons, armor, and much much more. They mined stone and made metals for men. But in the Second Ages, the Openhandists became fewer and the God Learners managed to reverse engineer some Mostali devices. The most dangerous of these were reclaimed by the Mostali, but others escaped their grasp. The disasters that ended the Second Age meant that even the once rich civilisations of Seshnela, Loskalm, Peloria, and Kethaela lost most of the techniques stolen from the Mostali, and again men became dependent on the Mostali (who rarely offered their services at any price).

Exceptions of course exist. The Dwarf of Dwarf Run aided Sartar and his dynasty stole the secrets of working stone from the dwarfs. As a result, Sartar has fine roads, walls, and bridges. And the Dwarf still offers his services, although at a greater price than before. The Third Eye Blue cult stole the technique of shaping metal through song. Men trade with dwarfs at Gemborg, Imther, and Noastor. 

And of course, the God Learner secrets are not entirely lost, and who knows what old manuscript might be uncovered in the Great Library of Nochet!

But for most Gloranthans, the world is muscle and animal-powered, with simple machines, and tools of bronze, stone, and wood.

As for ships, which I believe started this whole thing, most modern ships are either Diros boats built for river travel that have been adapted to ocean waters, or built based on ancient designs. The Esrolian merchant ships are shallow-bottomed  because they are primarily designed for the Choralinthor or the wide rivers of Esrolia, and only recently (last two generations or so) used on the ocean waters. Dormal likely used an impractical pentekrator or trireme because that's what his model was!

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12 minutes ago, Jeff said:

As for ships, which I believe started this whole thing, most modern ships are either Diros boats built for river travel that have been adapted to ocean waters, or built based on ancient designs. The Esrolian merchant ships are shallow-bottomed  because they are primarily designed for the Choralinthor or the wide rivers of Esrolia, and only recently (last two generations or so) used on the ocean waters. Dormal likely used an impractical pentekrator or trireme because that's what his model was!

With the probability that this is entirely or partially, wrong, I've endeavored to define ships, based on material in the Guide, Sourcebook and King of Sartar comic:

Trireme

The characteristic warship of the southern Genertelan coasts is the trireme. Its construction involves a carvel-built shell of planks held together with pegged mortise-and-tenon joints forming the hull built up from the keel and stem- and stern-posts, the internal ribbing then fitted to this hull to reinforce it.

Four to six heavy ropes are stretched from stem to stern to strengthen the hull; these are slacked off or removed when the vessel is out of the water and put on and placed under tension just before the trireme goes into the water again. Twisting these cables to the proper tension requires the efforts of a team of sailors.

Holy Country ships use pitch from the Shadow Plateau applied to the hull to make it watertight. This gives it the distinctive black color, though the upper parts are often brightly painted.

A trireme has three banks of oars, the lowest bank (the hold-rowers) emerging from oar-ports through leather sleeves to hinder the taking on of water, the middle bank (the thwart-rowers) from under the outrigger, and the upper bank (the stool-rowers) fixed to rowlocks through the outrigger extending beyond the side of the hull. Each oar is rowed by one oarsman, sitting on a leather cushion.

The oars of the stool-rowers, being the furthest from the water, are slanted down at the steepest angle. As the only one able to see the oars striking the water, a stool-rower is responsible for synchronizing the oars of the two rowers below him.  

There are 27 oarsmen each side at the lowest level, 27 either side at the middle level, and 31 on each side at the top level (where there is room for two additional rowers, fore and aft, where the hull is shallowest). The oarsmen are rarely armed.

A light deck, to port and starboard, protects the upper bank of oarsmen, and provides fighting platforms running fore and aft. This fighting deck is often protected with a bulwark hung with shields.

Holy Country naval tactics emphasize ram attacks which favor speed and maneuver. Boarding the enemy with heavily-armed troops is a secondary tactic.

Ten to twenty marines are the usual complement, with the rest of the deck crew consisting of the captain, a helmsman using two steering-oars by means of a transverse tiller, a bow officer, shipwright, and the bosun who commands the oarsmen, a drummer or flute player, a signaler, and deckhands to handle the sails.

The number of marines is low because too many people moving on deck threatens the vessel’s stability on the open sea and reduces the efficiency of the rowers. Some are stationed in the stern and act as bodyguards for the captain and helmsman. Others are at the prow to act as boarders. In calmer sheltered waters, such as Choralinthor Bay, the number of marines aboard might be increased to as many as forty, though risking a reduction in speed.

Other navies, less adept at ramming, emphasize grappling and boarding. Their triremes are of heavier construction and carry more marines.

Normally the ship makes use of a main square sail rigged from the main yard amidships for propulsion, and a smaller ‘boat’ sail at the prow to aid steering. Warships lower their mast and sails before going into battle.

Ships are protected by magical guardians worshiped by the crew.

 

Trireme

Length

120 ft.

Beam

18 ft. outriggers

13 ft. hull

Draught

3 ft.

Speed

Knots

Duration

Sail:

3-7

Daylight

Oars:

Maximum

9

20 minutes

Fast Cruise

4-5

3 hours

Slow Cruise

3

9 hours

 

Logistics: Warships

Warships have very specific requirements for rope, timber and canvas. Whilst basic repairs can be carried out with the supplies and tools carried aboard, stowage space is limited. A trireme, for example, generally carries no more than thirty spare oars.

Any significant damage or maintenance must be carried out ashore, often with the vessel out of the water.

Supplies for the crew are also limited, with only food and water for a few days carried. Triremes put into shore for the crew’s midday meal (if feasible) and at night.

A trireme crew requires around 560 lbs. of food and nearly a 100 gallons of water a day. As these vessels are built for speed, not carrying capacity, they can only remain at sea for a limited time.

Both triremes and penteconters are of a sufficiently light build that they can be drawn up on a convenient beach. These vessels often require a reinforced keelplank to prevent pebbled and rocky beaches wearing through the keel.

Warships are reliant upon supply ships or bases for longer periods. Land bases in proximity of the fleet is essential. For the Wolf Pirates, since 1605, the Three Step Islands have proven suitable for their raids on the coasts of the Solkathi and Rozgali Seas.

 

Bireme

In addition to the sea-going trireme, the Holy Country fleet included biremes.

These vessels have two banks of oars, and a single sail and mast, lowered before combat, and a cutwater which can be used as a ram, attached to the hull by bronze nails. This permits the ram to become detached if it becomes embedded in an enemy ship.

The elevated upper-works running the length of the ship are mounted on stanchions above the oarsmen and include screens and shields to protect the archers and priests who are the principal armament of the ship. This superstructure gives the marines an advantage in height, but also makes the vessel susceptible to crosswinds, hindering its maneuverability and making it vulnerable to capsizing. As a result, their use is restricted to the calm waters of Mirrorsea Bay.

 

Bireme

Length

70 ft.

Beam

11 ft.

Draught

3 ft.

Speed

Knots

Duration

Sail:

2-5

Daylight

Oars:

Maximum

6

20 minutes

Fast Cruise

3-4

2 hours

Slow Cruise

2

4 hours

 

Penteconter

The characteristic ship of the Wolf Pirates is a fast and narrow clinker-built fifty-oared sailing ship used for ramming and boarding.

In clinker construction, the keel is laid down first, with a heavy shaped keelson above it, and the raked stem- and stern-posts attached, with a pointed forefoot sheathed in bronze as a ram. Vertical ribs are added, and then the shell of overlapping plank strakes, starting from the keelson and working upwards, fixed with bronze rivets and later caulked with tarred wool. Crossbeams brace the structure and are used as benches for the single bank of oarsmen. Twenty-five rowlocks are attached to each gunwale by wooden pegs. Each oar is worked by one rower. A rail along the gunwale is a common feature.

High planked half-decks fore and aft provide fighting platforms protected by latticework panels. Limited storage space lies beneath them, including ladders stowed save when beaching the craft.

Some of these wolfships have a central gangway running fore and aft, but leaving the oarsmen’s heads exposed.

The mast is set in a socket in the keelson, with a single square sail rigged from the yardarm; the sail is furled immediately prior to battle. These ships are very fast with the wind behind them; they are designed to operate under oars and sail.

Some penteconters are uniremes with a single level of rowers, but their great length makes them unsuitable for the open seas. Ships become increasingly fragile and unstable the greater the length-to-beam ratio.

Wolf Pirate vessels are biremes, with two banks of oars on each side; the lowest bank (the bench-rowers) of 14 oars and above them the upper bank (the beam-rowers) of 11 oars. This layout gives them speed, acceleration and rate of turning superior to an ordinary penteconter.

They approach merchant vessels under sail and oars, at twice the maximum speed of a merchant ship. Nearing their victim, the beam-rowers ship their oars, furl the sail, and act as reinforcements for the boarding party.

The use of sails and oars also permits the penteconter to outrun warships when it has the wind behind it.

The vessel is steered by a large deep rudder at the starboard aft side.

In addition to the fifty oarsmen, who are all armed, the deck crew consist of the captain, helmsman, bow officer, shipwright, champion and the bosun. Two or three warriors may also be aboard to be ready to lead a boarding action.

Pirates usually have diverse weapons and armor, according to personal preference and wealth. The helmsman is equipped with a long spear, which they use to protect the ship when beached or to aid the warriors in the first stages of a boarding action.

Wolf Pirate penteconters are protected by fierce magical figureheads on the prow (typically a demonic wolf), the magical guardians and protectors of the ship, worshiped by the crew.

These galleys are capable of remarkably quick bursts of speed and rapid maneuvers. Battle tactics are customarily ramming and holding fast to the enemy vessel and then boarding – with the number of warrior rowers giving a numerical advantage.

When conducting a raid, a penteconter is beached stern-first to permit a quick getaway.

 

Penteconter (‘bireme’)

Length

70 ft.

Beam

10 ft.

Draught

2.5 ft.

Speed

Knots

Duration

Sail:

3-7

Daylight

Sail and oars:

9-10

20 minutes

Oars:

Maximum

9

15 minutes

Cruise

4-5

2 hours

 

Merchantman

The merchant ships of the southern coast of Genertela are oval in shape, of carvel construction, and propelled by sail. The vessels are partially or completely decked, with a hold below carrying a cargo of approximately 74,800 lbs. usually carried in bales, barrels and amphorae. Some merchant ships are much larger, but only a rich House can afford to build and maintain them.

Most merchantmen carry only a single square sail; some have a foremast carrying a smaller foresail, often used to aid steering. Lacking a keel, the sails can only be used when the winds are favorable. Esrolian ships may have a curved sternpost in the shape of a goose, the sacred bird of Imarja, the source of the Four Esrolian Virtues.

The ship has a flat bottom, to allow the ship to be grounded at low tide for loading and unloading, when a harbor is not available. The stability of the vessel is enhanced with magic.

The hull is usually lined with black pitch and a very thin sheets of lead to provide protection from worms and other marine creatures. This permits the ship to stay in the water throughout the sailing season, unlike a warship, but increases its weight and reduces its maximum speed.

These ships are often used as support and supply for trireme squadrons.

The ship is guided with two steering-oars with a transverse tiller. It may carry oars for use when the sea is smooth and there is no wind, but carrying enough oarsmen to propel the ship at any speed is uneconomical. The crew numbers six or seven, including the captain.

Most of these ships include a small shrine to Dormal at the bow or stern.

 

Roundship

Length

40 ft.

Beam

11 ft.

Draught

4-6 ft.

Speed

Knots

Duration

Sail:

2-5

Daylight

 

 

Edited by M Helsdon
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Gears and cogs are part and parcel of the Mostali mythology as we have been presented it. That makes me somewhat reluctant to have them readily available for mundane human use.

Leonardo the Scientist uses pedals and some form of transmission (no data whether chain or leather belt) to power his pedalcopter, so the advanced alchemical sorcerer will have access to mechanics like those pictured in the woodcuts to Agricola's book on mining. 

Horizontal windmills that don't need any translation might be acceptable. Possibly as wheel mills like in the olive pressing industry.

 

Pulleys are a logical extension of blocks, once someone has the genius idea to pull a rope through a series of these. Legend ascribes this knowledge to Archimedes, in a wager that he would be able to pull a warship out of the water all on his own, a feat worthy of Hercules. Unless you used pulleys...

Saronil used winches in his cranes, which angered the Mostali when he applied those to his Orlanth temple. It isn't clear whether this natural philosophy was secret royal magic or made freely available to all the builders employed by the dynasty. Given the ability to finish their projects despite sometimes very short reigns, I tend to freely available, which means that Dormal could have known about pulleys and winches when he started the re-discovery of the seas, and all his imitators might have inherited such technology alongside the Opening (and might regard that as part of the Opening package).

 

I wouldn't worry too much about strange material in a setting. It is like the small size of the hobbits in the Lord of the Rings movies - in the first movie, Peter Jackson pulled all sorts of optical tricks to make the hobbits and Gimli appear smaller than the rest of the cast. In the later movies, the size of the hobbits had been established and was sort of projected by the watcher's mind with only the occasional nudge to memory. If you look at the material culture of e.g. Raymond Feist's Kelewan, the metal-poor parallel world invading Midkemia, their material industry serves for a few plot points and then disappears in the background. I know very few people who started thinking about the atomic number of Mithril when discussing Tolkien's Middle Earth.

If enchanted gold or lead can obtain the hardness and tensile strength of bronze, we have left conventional material science anyway, and nobody is upset, so what is the big broohaha about tools and weapons that traditionally cast terrestrial bronze cannot produce in stable variations? If we just state that the comparable gloranthan item requires a process involving alchemy or other such magic to provide a viable item, what is the difference to enchanted gold or lead? There are plenty outwardly mundane materials produced in Glorantha with the help of magic, like most crops.

Sometimes the mind boggles at other weirdness, like the concept of items as re-usable sacrificial gifts to the god. Quite nifty, such an item that receives a ritual marring which may be removed after some pious waiting time until it can be sacrificed again. And again, and again, and again, with no significant material investment, for good magic. Other sacrificial components double as ingredients for the holy feast.

That's not really limited to Glorantha. There are some ritual food sacrifices at a volcano IIRC on Java where there are people descending into the caldera of the (active!) volcano to catch some of these sacrifices for food. The sacrificer doesn't mind, the sacrifice seems to lie in the tossing of the gift, not in what happens to it afterwards, and the volcano hopefully remains placated.

 

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Are you sure that winches are what Saronil did that angered the Mostali? I heard it was when he stole the secret of supporting stones without wall or framework. Or maybe it was the technique of making a straight line over a long distance. Heck I heard lots of stories about this one.

Or did you just make that one up like I did?

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16 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Gears and cogs are part and parcel of the Mostali mythology as we have been presented it. That makes me somewhat reluctant to have them readily available for mundane human use.

But we know they must have these as there's not another way for the transmission to work in a mill. Unless you know of a primitive technology to do this. I believe that wooden toothed cogs in mills exist. Metal ones with teeth are the domain of the Dwarfs.

16 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Horizontal windmills that don't need any translation might be acceptable. Possibly as wheel mills like in the olive pressing industry.

IIRC we've been through the whole windmill thing before and they are not Gloranthan except that one picture by William Church. As for horizontal windmills...

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21 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Pulleys are a logical extension of blocks, once someone has the genius idea to pull a rope through a series of these

Of course, but you need the genius idea hence my question of do only simple pulleys exist. They existed for quite a while without that advance. going along with @M Helsdon's idea that innovation isn't normal in Glorantha, I don't think that this logical evolution exists.

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Saronil used winches in his cranes, which angered the Mostali when he applied those to his Orlanth temple.

KoS 2ed says that Saronil bargained with the Dwarves for their building spells (p32). It then goes on to say that he learnt new techniques for building towers (p114), and built a keep and a road. It was using his skills building the new Orlanth temple that earned the enmity of the Dwarfs and they deserted him. It then goes on to say that he died while rescuing his granddaughter from "the strangers" who were "possibly dwarves trying to exact their old vengeance against the king".

I would speculate that the building spells he learned were for making towers and roads. The dwarves supported him in making a keep, which is a fat tower. It was the temple that caused the problem and when they deserted him, leaving him to do it on his own. That looks like his last construction and then perhaps his magic went without dwarf support. I like the idea that this infers to me that dwarf magic is cooperative. 

It says that much later Londario built man-powered cranes.

Otherwise no mention of cranes and winches. What's your reference for this?

Edited by David Scott

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6 hours ago, David Scott said:

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. 

I expect that the hypothetical story where Gustbran  discovers the deep mystery that introducing just the right impurities counter-intuitively makes cast bronze stronger would frame the "what" and "why" process in much that way,. A Brithini smith surely has very detailed knowledge on the runic correspondences and compositions of various minerals. The "how" still involves adding controlled amounts of whatever mineral extract at the right stage of the process, even though the "why" in Glorantha has nothing to do with valence electrons.

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1 hour ago, JonL said:

I expect that the hypothetical story where Gustbran  discovers the deep mystery that introducing just the right impurities counter-intuitively makes cast bronze stronger would frame the "what" and "why" process in much that way,. A Brithini smith surely has very detailed knowledge on the runic correspondences and compositions of various minerals. The "how" still involves adding controlled amounts of whatever mineral extract at the right stage of the process, even though the "why" in Glorantha has nothing to do with valence electrons.

Gustbran is a son of Veskarthen, so we can imagine how the myth goes, with a lot of innuendo.

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9 hours ago, David Scott said:

So simple or compound pulleys on Glorantha ships?

Simple pulleys for most, block-and-tackle for Mostali would be my choice. 

SDLeary

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5 hours ago, David Scott said:

KoS 2ed says that Saronil bargained with the Dwarves for their building spells (p32). It then goes on to say that he learnt new techniques for building towers (p114), and built a keep and a road. It was using his skills building the new Orlanth temple that earned the enmity of the Dwarfs and they deserted him. It then goes on to say that he died while rescuing his granddaughter from "the strangers" who were "possibly dwarves trying to exact their old vengeance against the king".

I would speculate that the building spells he learned were for making towers and roads. The dwarves supported him in making a keep, which is a fat tower. It was the temple that caused the problem and when they deserted him, leaving him to do it on his own. That looks like his last construction and then perhaps his magic went without dwarf support. I like the idea that this infers to me that dwarf magic is cooperative. 

It says that much later Londario built man-powered cranes.

Otherwise no mention of cranes and winches. What's your reference for this?

Ah, the Londario angle was what I missed in my recollection - I haven't touched these Fourth Age speculations for a long time, and I don't feel inclined to re-open those boxes of worms.

A simple jump then. The library found by Londario would have been the inheritance of one of the libraries of Argrath's realm, which means access to material from the Royal Library where the non-spell aspects of these building techniques would have been documented.

Then there was a debate about Saronil I had among others with Peter Metcalfe, prior to the publication of WF 15 IIRC, and whenever Peter and I manage not to disagree on something I tend to see that as an indication of Gloranthan factuality. Though not canon.

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7 hours ago, Joerg said:

Then there was a debate about Saronil I had among others with Peter Metcalfe, prior to the publication of WF 15 IIRC, and whenever Peter and I manage not to disagree on something I tend to see that as an indication of Gloranthan factuality. Though not canon.

Seriously?  I don't know what argument you are referring to here but there's any number of reasons why I might not disagree with whatever you are saying (keeping the debate focused on the subject at hand rather than responding to another of your digressions, eyes glazing over at the umpteenth mention of the La Tene celtic culture etc).  Simply because I chose not to get pick apart whatever particular theory you are pushing does not make it correct or even factual.

For the record I think the theory that Saronil stole the idea of Winches is just plain wrong and not worth debating.

In the future could you be more aware that you are pushing your own barrows and acknowledge them as such rather than using the silence of others, outdated works or even cryptic conversations with the keepers of the canon as support for them.

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About windmills, www.glorantha.com/docs/devil/ mentions Zzabur using them in the ice age but that could just be mythical.

About compound pulleys, they're magical to me, so I don't have much of a credibility problem saying they're magical in Glorantha.

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3 hours ago, Roko Joko said:

About windmills, www.glorantha.com/docs/devil/ mentions Zzabur using them in the ice age but that could just be mythical.

All such documents are not part of the canon until they are repeated into Print.  This will happen with many documents and will not happen with others.  So the compelling evidence for Windmills is not there (yet?)

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On 4/3/2018 at 3:13 AM, metcalph said:

 

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

 

Old Wind? On the Dragon Pass map? Not canon then...? Huh, I always rather enjoyed Church's art.

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3 hours ago, jeffjerwin said:

Old Wind? On the Dragon Pass map? Not canon then...? Huh, I always rather enjoyed Church's art.

The Old Wind Temple is described in the Sartar Companion and is desrcibed as a series of caves around a ledge that leads up to a flat shelf that is the Umath's Throne/Orlanth's Camp and which is considered to be the temple proper.

But the William Church illustration I was thinking of was (from the Dragon Pass Gazetteer):

Old Wind (2).jpeg

Edited by metcalph

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Oh yes. Which parallels the huge windmill shown on the DP map. However, it's highly dubious if Storm Age Orlanthi would have built anything like the above...

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Cogwheels translating horizontally rotating (quicksilver-powered) waterwheels into a vertically rotating representation of the Sky Dome (complete with a mechanism duplicating the tilt) are documented for Kuchawn, away from the eyes of any Mostali as the octamonist Babadi don't leave their mountain.

 

Materials and technologies used for architecture and infrastructure:

We know about poured concrete, opus caementitium, which will also allow mortar more durable than the usual (central-European) sand/calcinated chalk mixture. (But then, the durability of Portland cement concrete isn't quite what the bridge-builders of the 70ies thought it would be, either). There won't be steel-reinforced concrete for lack of steel and unsuitability of brass or bronze, although stabilizing the base of a dome with a chain inside the concrete might be known.

The Sun Dome temples with their hemispherical domes take some fairly advanced architectural knowledge, and that knowledge must have been around already in the Dawn Age as the design was spread in the Gbaji Wars. We don't hear of such domes collapsing due to earthquakes, either (excepting unusual ones like Vestkarthan's shudder in 1050 which devastated most architecture in Maniria) or dragonfire capable of melting walls and armies to glass (see Glasswall). Rural or backwoods Sun Dome temples like the Dykene one are simple stone vaults, probably plastered and frescoed with a suitable yellow pigment. (Real world cadmium sulphide, for instance.) These domes would be quite massive, built in the usual way above a wooden support. The big ones like the two in Prax or the new one in Vanntar look like they approach the size of e.g. the Pantheon in Rome or precursors of the central dome of the Hagia Sophia. The Pantheon with its windowed concrete dome manages because of the tuff addition to the material, giving it an exceptional lightness. A stone construction like the Hagia Sophia, even on a smaller scale, requires significant buttressing, cleverly hidden in the Hagia Sophia in hemicircular side domes, but no such are shown in the map of the Sun Dome.

There is always the possibility of a wooden construction, with gold foil inside, and possibly outside as well. Given a suitable preservation and climate, such wooden constructions can last for better than a millennium. When the roof beams of the Basilica in Trier finally were replaced, 1600 years had passed, and while single beams may have been replaced over time, the general construction last that long. However, in order to get that much lifetime, such a wooden dome needs to be double-shelled, with enough space in between for repair and maintenance crew to get to work, and to bring in replacement parts.

There is a possibility that the Praxian domes and the one in Sartar are exceptional in their workmanship among the newer temples, and that they used dwarven architectural secrets - Flintnail cultists in Prax, and the inheritance of Saronil for Vanntar. The original ones from the Bright Empire may have used Greatway masons, too. (The Balazar citadel ones may have had dwarf support, too). But that leaves Domanand and its EWF era daughter temples elsewhere but Prax in a period when Greatway Openhandism was actively pursued and interdicted by the Nidan decamony.

A precursor architecture to the Sun Domes would  have been the Anaxial-Era Star Towers of Yuthuppa, that have star dome representations on their tops. The text tells us that they are hollow, but have spiralling staircases on the insides. I wonder whether they also have balconies and vertical compartmentalisation like Buserian's Frame. However, that frame is said to reflect the construction scheme of a horse nomad yurt, a culture which came into contact with Yuthuppa only under Jenarong.

The biggest dome of all was of course Manarlavus' Dome covering "all of Dara Happa" (at least Raibanth, although the map claims that it covered Yuthuppa and Alkoth, too), protecting it from the advancing glacier. This was shaped like the hull of Anaxial's Ark, and built of bricks and stones (part of which were stolen by Darjiinians). But as a Godtime construction that did not survive into the ravages of Time, we can use it only as an ideal, not as an actual technology. It still is a contender for the greatest construction ever made by humans (and demigods).

 

Cyclopean walls are a feature of Godtime Glorantha, and survived in a number of places into History - parts of the Nochet Wall and the wall of abandoned Old Karse are of this type, and this may have been used on Vingkotling fortifications like Whitewall, too. These could be like the mortarless can't-fit-a-blade-between masonry of the Inka at Macchu Picchu. Basements of Ziggurats in Kerofinela and Kethaela may use this, too. These might be the work of (elder) giants (or possibly Faceless-statue sized Jolanti) - giants as builders appear in Orlanthi myths, too (Aedin's Wall), and even Balazar's children went to giants for their archtecturally somewhat inferior citadels at the end of the Second Age (not the layout, but the workmanship).

Malkioni masonry inherits from the Kadeniti (who might have been the inventors of concrete as used by humans), and from the Likita earth temple builders (which would be related to those of Hrelar Amali, Ezel and the Paps), but the Middle Sea Empire added technologies and more importantly styles from other cultures like Teshnos, Kralorela or Fonrit, and left this inheritage in those places plus Maniria, too.

 

There are a number of metal buildings in Glorantha, all of them magical in origin - the brass citadel of Sogolotha Mambrola, the Silver Bridge of Glamour, the Iron Forts of Kralorela.

Other divine/hero plane architecture in the Middle World included Akez Loradak, a huge spire shaped from volcanic glass, shattered in 1318, or Belintar's towers in the City of Wonders. The three dwarf-made pockets and the royal palace of Boldhome border on this, too - even when cutting from virgin stone, the dwarves must have stabilized naturally occurring fault lines in that rock with their magic. I would assume that the entrances to Greatway look fairly similar to the Boldhome Pockets. The entrance to Dwarf Mine is another such place.

Godtime ruins or buildings may use other exotic material, like the postulated violet-cloud material used in the first landing site of the Artmali. Sculpted (as in sculpting putty) earth or rock would be frequent where earth cultures or Lodril-cognates were at work.

 

 

Edited by Joerg
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'magic and handwavin' is how Gloranthan buildings don't fall down. In our world domes, arches, cantilevers etc all work because of gravity and physics which are Gold Learner heresies in Glorantha. Just how does gravity work when the world is a floating cube in an infinite sea with a great big dome over head, the Moon sits within the atmosphere and the sun does actually go around the world? While it's great to try and get a handle on what's likely to be anachronistic the truth is that Glorantha is an alien world and not Earth's past, it is bound by its own of, and often contradictory, rules based on magic and myth, not physics.

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Yeah, you should reach for magical explanations as soon as any other.

But you might also want to know things like who can and can't build domes and why.

 

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1 hour ago, Psullie said:

'magic and handwavin' is how Gloranthan buildings don't fall down.

If that's good for your Glorantha, go for it. 

1 hour ago, Psullie said:

In our world domes, arches, cantilevers etc all work because of gravity and physics which are Gold Learner heresies in Glorantha.

YGMV.

Gravity isn't necessary when being heavy pulls something down. Arches are stable because they conform to the stasis rune? Fine, go with that.

(Wouldn't it be more correct to say that gravity and phyiscs are God Learner orthodoxies?)

1 hour ago, Psullie said:

Just how does gravity work when the world is a floating cube in an infinite sea with a great big dome over head, the Moon sits within the atmosphere and the sun does actually go around the world?

The moon is the embodiment of balance between the heaviness of earth and dark and the upward trend of light. Look at its rune. Where else could it be? (Not: where else should it be - that's what the Hero Wars are for.)

And it should be atmohemisphere, and the sun only goes around the Inner World, at an average speed of about 1000 miles per hour, much less in summer when it's strong, much faster in winter when it's weak. (Faster if you calculate its speed against the rotating sky dome which forces it to take a loopy detour.) There is plenty of sea and even some outlying land that is outside of its path.

There is a hungry darkness at the bottom of the universe, drawing things towards it, and a worse hunger in the void beyond that. It is this pull which makes things heavy.

Why is gold so heavy? First of all it is a metal, and metals are heavy. But yes, gold may well have used to be the lightest metal, but Yelm's stay in Hell in the Darkness would have changed that and lent a heaviness to the metal of light.

1 hour ago, Psullie said:

While it's great to try and get a handle on what's likely to be anachronistic the truth is that Glorantha is an alien world and not Earth's past, it is bound by its own of, and often contradictory, rules based on magic and myth, not physics.

So basically Gloranthan physics are more or less effects like Newtons laws explained by myths (note the plural, there may be multiple stories contributing to the status quo of the world). Something which Sir Isaac seems to have pursued himself in his later years with his studies of alchemy and manifestation of symbols.

 

The magic in Glorantha isn't any more what it used to be in the early ages of the world. In Godtime, some material representation and a purpose backed by creative power were all that was needed for a technology.

Those are the original tools of Mostal. They brought order and stability into a realm of phantastic possibilities, channeling those possibilities, narrowing them. In the early Golden Age, everything was moving towards an orderly cycle of repetition. A glorious state of motion bound to stasis was within reach. But then Umath was born (not made, and why should he have been made, as there was no space left for another element?) and new creativity was released, leading to new growth. In hindsight, it was a mistake to set up things to let a male sky rub against the female earth, without a lubricant and protective layer. Something new and unforeseen was sparked and grew inside the Earth, then burst forth and lifted the moving parts out of alignment.

Other flaws which seemingly had been contained broke free, too, and there was no contingency plan for that, only plans for limited countermeasures, which the mostali activated. More damage reports came in, then the damage reporting system broke down.

So yes, there used to be a Glorantha where will and purpose were enough to effect something. On occasion, glimpses of this become available to the Gloranthans, whether through the emanations of the Pseudocosmic Egg which changed Gloranthan reality within Nysalor's Bright Empire, breaking open the access to the Hero Planes by the God Learners, dreaming the Dragon Dream in the EWF, or emerging from destruction and Chaos like the Red Goddess.

But these bursts of activity and creativity feed on the magic of the world, and leave a world behind that has to struggle ever harder to gain access to the magic of Godtime. That's why purpose and handwaving aren't enough any more.

 

To address your initial comment again: It is not like the God Learners were big fans of gravity or physics. Not even the Zistorites with their Machine worship. They aimed to transcend those restrictions. For a while they succeeded.

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3 hours ago, Roko Joko said:

Yeah, you should reach for magical explanations as soon as any other.

But you might also want to know things like who can and can't build domes and why.

On the human scale, the Gloranthan cosmos seems to work much as our Bronze Age/early Iron Age ancestors believed their world worked. They knew the rule of thumb rules for building structures that wouldn't fall down (and some Mesopotamian law codes had pretty dire penalties for a builder whose work fell down and injured or killed someone) but also knew it was necessary to make sacrifices and bury figurines of the gods to supplement the purely physical construction. So a Gloranthan human will use both sets of 'rules', the 'physical' and the 'magical', though even in Third Age Glorantha the distinction between the two is blurred, because everything has a spirit - even a mud brick.

Sun Dome domes are innately magical because the congregation inside can see the Sun through the solid dome. And the domes aren't indestructible, as the many ruined domes at Mirin's Cross demonstrate.

In our world corbelled domes go back to the Bronze Age, with the Treasury of Atreus perhaps the best known. The Persians also inherited dome building from Mesopotamia, and they invented the squinch, though they didn't build impressive domes until the late Iron Age.

The interior of the Treasury of Atreus:

 

800px-07Mykene_Atreus02.jpg

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