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Glorantha technology and Glorantha material technology


David Scott

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8 hours ago, David Scott said:

Dried animal dung is the major (perhaps only) fuel the Praxians use. No need for firewood or charcoal. It’s still used to fire pottery in some parts of the world.

From the modern perspective, I think this would be a "low-fire" pottery, relying on an interior glaze so as to not absorb liquid/odors/etc.

I don't believe dung is capable of enough heat to make fully-vitrified "high fire" pottery or "stoneware".

Mythical, non-physics explanations are readily available, for those who desire them.

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13 hours ago, The God Learner said:

Nothing gets you crazier than Lunar Maize Brew.

The low landers and their Lunar friends may be content with their "moon shine," but only those who wet their grain with the mountain dew from the slopes of Kiero Fin herself can one brew the true White Lightning.

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21 hours ago, JonL said:

Similarly, beer has been produced in the Fertile Crescent for many millennia. If Esra's cult cannot do the same with Her barley, it would be a cryin shame (even if they store it in jars rather than casks).

 

Easy there! No one is objecting to beer. I use wine in this example only because in this period beer was an everyday drink, whilst wine was a drink of feasting and celebration. 'Bars' tended to serve wine, and beer was served at home.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popina

http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/assemblage/html/6/Kelly_web.html

 

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20 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

Let players and gm's define antiquity in manner that works for their gaming table.

Agreed. And let's nor forget, Orlanthi were Anglo-Saxon influenced at Greg's table for a long time too, because he know more about that from his Arthurian studies. It still worked. So if you want to pull those elements into your game because your group find it easier, its hardly without good precedent.

It's just that it brings certain connotations with it that become problematic, so its easier for writers to stay more clearly bronze age

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The RQ layout thread, which went off on a tangent, got me thinking about saddles and stirrups. The font of all modern knowledge, Wikipedia, tells me that saddles c. 700 BC (okay for Glorantha) but stirrups (c. 200BC) would be questionable, it also says that stirrups do help the rider utilise the mounts speed and mass but their absence does not preclude lances. I'm not a rider so thought I'd put it to the community. I'm thinking Pentan nomads would have the toe stirrups (for their archery etc) but what about Praxian or other cavalry?

 

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2 hours ago, Psullie said:

The RQ layout thread, which went off on a tangent, got me thinking about saddles and stirrups. The font of all modern knowledge, Wikipedia, tells me that saddles c. 700 BC (okay for Glorantha) but stirrups (c. 200BC) would be questionable, it also says that stirrups do help the rider utilise the mounts speed and mass but their absence does not preclude lances. I'm not a rider so thought I'd put it to the community. I'm thinking Pentan nomads would have the toe stirrups (for their archery etc) but what about Praxian or other cavalry?

 

There has been a bit on this, the conclusions i heard were, this pentians have them,  praxians are only allowed one for mounting , no one else is allowed any.   

I may be being a little factitious....  but at my table they exists and are used because its easier and the game wont break down into a 45 minute debate on whether lances should pass mounts damage modifiers through  if the riders not using stirrups. 

Edited by Jon Hunter
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Sandy Petersen had an interesting article on ancient warfare (http://www.pensee.com/dunham/glorantha/aow.html) which led me to buy the book he references. I'm thereby tempted to classify most pre-stirrup riders as 'light cavalry' who mostly throw javelins or fire their bows at enemies. But in Prax, I think Rhino riders and suchlike probably can serve as 'heavy cavalry'. 

Some might also replace technological innovation such as stirrups with various practical sorts of spirit and rune magic. "Stay Mounted" (reusable), anyone? Invented by various Horse cults, then appeared among the Lunar Giraffe Riders (pink and light blue companies).

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15 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

I may be being a little factitious....  but at my table they exists and are used because its easier and the game wont break down into a 45 minute debate on whether lances should pass mounts damage modifiers through  if the riders not using stirrups. 

Your argument is based on misconceptions regarding the effect of stirrups on mounted warfare, dating back to the 19th century.

There was shock cavalry long before the introduction of stirrups and the addition of a 'mounts damage modifiers' does not require them. Instead, the seat of the rider is what is important.

For warfare, stirrups only contribute the following:

* An aid in mounting and dismounting (whilst Glorantha has many tall riding animals, most breeds of horses are unlikely to be large; most cavalry horses in the ancient world were 'large ponies' by modern standards).

* Helpful in riding long distances (but the design of the saddle can mitigate this).

* The only area where stirrups provide a major benefit is in archery, where a skilled mounted archer can 'stand' in the stirrups, divorcing themselves from the motion of their mount by flexing their knees. However, in RQ terms this level of skill is probably in the high 80%s for riding and archery.

So if your players are fixating on the presence or absence of stirrups then they are concentrating on something that isn't important.

In fact, stirrups can be lethal in close-order combat, as an unhorsed rider can become tangled in their stirrups, and be dragged/trampled, with no chance to avoid blows or continue to fight, which ancient unhorsed cavalry certainly did.

Numerous Roman cavalry reenactors ride without stirrups. In the last year there was a program on television in the UK of a gathering of twenty or so. Already familiar with Arrian's Ars Tactica, they already knew the display drill performed by Roman cavalry in the 2nd century AD. What they lacked was training in throwing javelins from horseback. Divided into two competing teams, after a few days of training, they successfully performed a display, most registering hits on the target. One of their trainers was from the Royal Armouries, and interspersed between scenes of the troopers being taught, he demonstrated his ability to throw a javelin from horseback; the force of his hits was measured, and the momentum of the horse contributed significantly to the penetrating power of the javelin. This is why mounted javelin throwers were a major force in combat for many centuries.

Whilst few reenactors have attempted to wield a kontos lance in combat, tests have shown that again, the hit is subject to the mount's 'damage modifier'. And cataphracts, heavily armed and armored, were highly effective long before the stirrup arrived.

It's down to the shape of the saddle, giving a firm and secure seat to the rider.

So to prevent your 45 minute debate, just note that damage bonuses apply. If your players can cope with playing in a world where the Earth is flat, and there are sheer mountains that are miles high, and a moon suspended up in the air, then they should be able to withstand the shock of a lack of stirrups. It should make little to no difference to play.

Edited by M Helsdon
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4 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Your argument is based on misconceptions regarding the effect of stirrups on mounted warfare, dating back to the 19th century.

There was shock cavalry long before the introduction of stirrups and the addition of a 'mounts damage modifiers' does not require them. Instead, the seat of the rider is what is important.

For warfare, stirrups only contribute the following:

* An aid in mounting and dismounting (whilst Glorantha has many tall riding animals, most breeds of horses are unlikely to be large; most cavalry horses in the ancient world were 'large ponies' by modern standards).

* Helpful in riding long distances (but the design of the saddle can mitigate this).

* The only area where stirrups provide a major benefit is in archery, where a skilled mounted archer can 'stand' in the stirrups, divorcing themselves from the motion of their mount by flexing their knees. However, in RQ terms this level of skill is probably in the high 80%s for riding and archery.

There is one other, and that is when things devolve into melee. The stirrup also provides a "floor" for those using melee weapons. This allows them to utilize more lower muscles when attempting an attack or defense. Certainly this extra is not required, but is of benefit.

SDLeary

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5 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Your argument is based on misconceptions regarding the effect of stirrups on mounted warfare, dating back to the 19th century.

There was shock cavalry long before the introduction of stirrups and the addition of a 'mounts damage modifiers' does not require them. Instead, the seat of the rider is what is important.

For warfare, stirrups only contribute the following:

* An aid in mounting and dismounting (whilst Glorantha has many tall riding animals, most breeds of horses are unlikely to be large; most cavalry horses in the ancient world were 'large ponies' by modern standards).

* Helpful in riding long distances (but the design of the saddle can mitigate this).

* The only area where stirrups provide a major benefit is in archery, where a skilled mounted archer can 'stand' in the stirrups, divorcing themselves from the motion of their mount by flexing their knees. However, in RQ terms this level of skill is probably in the high 80%s for riding and archery.

So if your players are fixating on the presence or absence of stirrups then they are concentrating on something that isn't important.

In fact, stirrups can be lethal in close-order combat, as an unhorsed rider can become tangled in their stirrups, and be dragged/trampled, with no chance to avoid blows or continue to fight, which ancient unhorsed cavalry certainly did.

Numerous Roman cavalry reenactors ride without stirrups. In the last year there was a program on television in the UK of a gathering of twenty or so. Already familiar with Arrian's Ars Tactica, they already knew the display drill performed by Roman cavalry in the 2nd century AD. What they lacked was training in throwing javelins from horseback. Divided into two competing teams, after a few days of training, they successfully performed a display, most registering hits on the target. One of their trainers was from the Royal Armouries, and interspersed between scenes of the troopers being taught, he demonstrated his ability to throw a javelin from horseback; the force of his hits was measured, and the momentum of the horse contributed significantly to the penetrating power of the javelin. This is why mounted javelin throwers were a major force in combat for many centuries.

Whilst few reenactors have attempted to wield a kontos lance in combat, tests have shown that again, the hit is subject to the mount's 'damage modifier'. And cataphracts, heavily armed and armored, were highly effective long before the stirrup arrived.

It's down to the shape of the saddle, giving a firm and secure seat to the rider.

So to prevent your 45 minute debate, just note that damage bonuses apply. If your players can cope with playing in a world where the Earth is flat, and there are sheer mountains that are miles high, and a moon suspended up in the air, then they should be able to withstand the shock of a lack of stirrups. It should make little to no difference to play.

My issue isn't that I disagree with you, I don't feel well informed enough to do so. You obviously know your stuff martin. 

But the fact its a tedious argument i don't want at a gaming table.

If stirrups offend you massively don't have them in your Glorantha, if like most gamers its not a significant issue do whatever makes the game run smoothly.

In trying to define what i'm reacting to, its a larger point. 

I'd like Glorantha flavoured by and informed by quality information about the ancient world. but i don't want Glorantha defined and constrained by it.

The bronze age monicer that Glorantha has is very loose and there a large numbers of things from out world that would that would never fit into the bronze age description;

For examples dinosaurs, cannon cults, Guilds, Pole Axes, Simildons, Balazaring Hunter Gatherers, need i go on?

Flavour and information is one thing. Trying to retrofit canon onto every archaeological find, piece of research or new theory about the bronze age to my mind  starts to loose sight of what Glorantha is and whats its here for. 

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1 hour ago, SDLeary said:

There is one other, and that is when things devolve into melee. The stirrup also provides a "floor" for those using melee weapons. This allows them to utilize more lower muscles when attempting an attack or defense. Certainly this extra is not required, but is of benefit.

Partially true, but a saddle providing a firm seat by a raised cantle and pommels which grip the rider's thighs works just as well.

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3 minutes ago, Jon Hunter said:

But the fact its a tedious argument i don't want at a gaming table.

That's an issue for you and your players. Technological constraints are one thing that defines a setting, if you ignore them, then you are losing some of the richness of it, a trend which ends in plastic fake medieval game settings. YGMV.

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17 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

That's an issue for you and your players. Technological constraints are one thing that defines a setting, if you ignore them, then you are losing some of the richness of it, a trend which ends in plastic fake medieval game settings. YGMV.

I'd agree with the general point and direction of the arguement, but there are levels of relevance and sensible places to limit the compliance to history.

When you argue that praxians and pentains have stirrups and no else do. You are creating very odd and inconsistent argument to make Glorantha comply with earth bronze age technology, rather than saying if that is the case Glorantha differs from earth.

 I think internal consistency matters a lot more than  compliance to earth. If two relatively primitive cultures have stirrups, it makes little sense that other don't. You can create a conservative Glorantha argument to support the position, but your only doing that to make Glorantha complaint with you well informed understanding of the bronze age, not the benefit of the world.

Edited by Jon Hunter
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22 hours ago, Jon Hunter said:

There has been a bit on this, the conclusions i heard were, this pentians have them,  praxians are only allowed one for mounting , no one else is allowed any.   

Stirrups and saddles came up a few times in my praxian play tests. I side stepped the argument by letting the players decide. Some thought their hero would look cooler bareback and stirrupless. Others thought they should have both, one or the other or none. Most though a minimum of a blanket for comfort would look best as it can be colourful and or rune strewn. Most agreed that khans would never use them even if they existed and I liked that. So stirrups and saddles are for beginners amongst the praxians. Some people will never progress and like comfort. 

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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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1 minute ago, Jon Hunter said:

I'd agree with the general point and direction of the arguement, but there are levels of relevance and sensible places to limit the compliance to history.

When you argue that praxians and pentains have stirrups and no else do. You are creating very odd and inconsistent argument to make Glorantha comply with earth bronze age technology, rather than saying if that is the case Glorantha differs from earth.

 I think internal consistency matters a lot more than  compliance to earth. If two relatively primitive cultures have stirrups, it makes little sense that other don't. You can create a conservative Glorantha argument to support the position, but your only doing that to make Glorantha complaint with you well informed understanding of the bronze age, not the benefit of the world.

Look if you want stirrups in your Glorantha, it is no water off my back. If you don't want stirrups, that's fine too. Personally, I believe the primary importance of the stirrup is actually it allows the rider to mount taller beasts and gives more flexibility to the right and left. So it is entirely possible that the high llamas and bisons have stirrups, but many horse riders (and sables, and impalas), do not.

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13 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Look if you want stirrups in your Glorantha, it is no water off my back. If you don't want stirrups, that's fine too. Personally, I believe the primary importance of the stirrup is actually it allows the rider to mount taller beasts and gives more flexibility to the right and left. So it is entirely possible that the high llamas and bisons have stirrups, but many horse riders (and sables, and impalas), do not.

You may not believe it i'm not really arsed about stirrups either. I care little for barrels either :)

I am bothered about the balance between game play and compliance with earths bronze age in defining glorantha , not with yourself but in some of the debates on here. 

The one that got my goat was that skirmish level units were unheard of in the bronze age so shouldn't appear in Glorantha.

That one actually affects game play as skirmish level groups ( 6 -8 man ) are very good for a roleplay sessions, so need to exist really. I don't care what the romans/greeks/persians/hittites or anyone else did, or what archaeologists say. Game play needs them so they should be part of canon. 

The insights martin gives are well informed, fascinating and i learn alot in the discussions, but to my mind they should flavour and inform what glorantha is not define it.

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59 minutes ago, Jon Hunter said:

When you argue that praxians and pentains have stirrups and no else do. You are creating very odd and inconsistent argument to make Glorantha comply with earth bronze age technology, rather than saying if that is the case Glorantha differs from earth.

In the terrestrial Bronze Age, no one had stirrups: they are a relatively late Iron Age innovation. Toe loops date further back, but even then to the Iron Age.

Gloranthan Bronze Age is partially a matter of technology, but perhaps more a way that its inhabitants relate to their world, which works approximately in the way our Bronze Age ancestors thought their world worked.

1 hour ago, Jon Hunter said:

 If two relatively primitive cultures have stirrups, it makes little sense that other don't.

Hmm, it isn't a matter of 'primitive' or 'advanced' - the steppe nomads had stirrups long before the Romans or Byzantines. In fact the whole idea of technological 'levels' is alien to terrestrial history, where technology uptake was very slow, unless it had an obvious and immediate benefit, and then usually arrived as part of a hostile takeover. The Romans and Greeks could make very clever mechanical devices using small gears and cogs, but they never thought of any major applications for them. They could have built wheelbarrows, dramatically enhancing their productivity; they could have built windmills; Hero of Alexandria didn't exactly build a steam engine, but he was on a potential development path. None of these things happened. The Romans, however, gleefully used innovations from further north such as chainmail, and from further west, such as the template for their swords, and they had the organization to return those innovations to their inventors in force.

In fact many major innovations came west from China, but that creativity and invention didn't last, partially due to internal cultural changes, and in part due to a severe case of Mongols. The Mongols happily took over advanced Chinese military technology (including the engineers and troops who could use it) but didn't innovate, and effectively set in motion China's own dark age of the mind, which lasted until Western ships bearing the ultimate fruits of Chinese invention arrived...

The Mongol destruction of Baghdad had a similar impact in the Middle East. It's a good thing they didn't get far into Europe.

It's a matter of mindset: we're the beneficiaries of several centuries of scientific and technological innovation - which is virtually unique in human history. There were a few times and places where something akin to the Enlightenment could have happened earlier, but didn't. Our entire mindset regarding innovation is utterly different to that of the inhabitants of the ancient world. For that matter, even in the early Enlightenment some of the people we tend to see today as scientific geniuses such as Newton, thought very differently about the world (Newton seems to have spent at least as much time calculating when Biblical prophecies would be fulfilled as he did on gravity and light).

Much the same is true in Glorantha, where most of the human population know that innovation leads to disaster, as the end of the Second Age demonstrated. So people do things the way their ancestors did, and their cultic allegiance requires. Goods move, but ideas less so, except perhaps in the Lunar Empire, but everyone outside their domain sees them as tainted with Chaos, and their religious innovations are unlikely to end well.

Personally, I see roleplaying within those constraints one of the factors in why Glorantha isn't a run-of-the-mill fantasy setting. However, my opinions do not, in any way, define Glorantha.

YGMV.

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This "Bronze Age" is going to haunt us forever...

I am perfectly happy to say "it is Iron Age technology level with bronze as the ubiquitious metal", because that's what we have. Coins, the occasional chainmail, stirrups, opus caementitium, glazed pottery, unnecessarily Athenian triremes...

And it isn't even like muscle power is the only source of force used. People have put elementals as engines in multiple applications, and the dwarf manikin automatons of all sizes don't quite use muscles and skeletons either.

Also, the effects @M Helsdon ascribed to the mongols on the Chinese and Baghdad is rather weak compared to what hit the Gloranthan civilizations repeatedly. I have no problem with a Second Age technologically more advanced than the Third Age, and some leak-overs, and likewise with "Atlantean" pre-Gods War technology for other populations than the Mostali. Those Feldichi of Dorastor, whatever the Gold Wheel Dancer cyborgs were up to, Kadeniti and possibly others that have forgotten they ever had such splendor, or won't touch it again (Doraddi).

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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10 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Partially true, but a saddle providing a firm seat by a raised cantle and pommels which grip the rider's thighs works just as well.

Not quite as much for melee though. You generally have more power with something like a sword or spear thrust if you have a firm footing. Not quite as much power when going from the waist.

The cantles and pommels do work extremely well during a charge or toss of a javelin, and "well enough" during melee.

SDLeary

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2 hours ago, SDLeary said:

The cantles and pommels do work extremely well during a charge or toss of a javelin, and "well enough" during melee.

Indeed. Well enough was sufficient for around a thousand years of cavalry combat. I've watched a re-enactor stabbing and thrusting at targets using a Roman horned saddle.

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

And it isn't even like muscle power is the only source of force used. People have put elementals as engines in multiple applications, and the dwarf manikin automatons of all sizes don't quite use muscles and skeletons either.

 

When I was scanning this, my brain read this as "dwarf mankini". Now I can't shake that image. Help!

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1 hour ago, M Helsdon said:

Indeed. Well enough was sufficient for around a thousand years of cavalry combat. I've watched a re-enactor stabbing and thrusting at targets using a Roman horned saddle.

Guys, it is worth mentioning that this is the considered opinion of both Sandy and myself. There is a vigorous academic debate about the development of stirrups, and their actual original function. If having stirrups in your Glorantha is necessary for it to have verisimilitude, then for goodness sake, don't have them. I personally don't think they are used by horse riders (but are necessary for the high llama riders and bison riders into order mount and dismount), but why insist on it?

Jeff

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