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Coal in Glorantha

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In our world coal is basically metamorphosed plant material, that happens over a long time. I'm not sure it would exist naturally in Glorantha, other than specialised fuel made from elves by dwarves. There is one mention of it that I can find, in GRoY - the Brass, Silver, and Coal Tablets. There is no mention of origin. Charcoal is likely the fuel of choice for smithing, we know that one of the 18 orlanthi professions is charcoal burner. However YGMV.

 

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Earthblood (oil) and firebone (coal) appeared in Chuck's old Volcano Twins write-ups in Different Worlds 15 (reprinted in Rick's Cult Compendium) and Tales of the Reaching Moon 7. Aldryami aren't best impressed with burning such materials, considering it a 'desecration of their dead'. The cult teaches Detect spells for these materials.

As to what current thoughts are on the matter, I'm afraid I can't help.

Edit: In case you don't have these sources, the cult write-up notes:

"Deep beneath the Earth the Twins sought for a way to dispel the Great Darkness, and there they found the buried remnants of the Green Age. Fused and blackened, these artifacts still had the Heat and Light of the young Sun locked in rock and liquid. Caladra and Aurelion taught mortals their use."

Edited by Quackatoa
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Still plant based like RW, if the Green Age hint above isn't enough, the Cult Compendium goes on to state - 

Not so the Aldryami, for though the gifts of
the Twins helped spare the living forests, the
Aldryami considered the burning of firebone (coal)
and earthblood (oil) to be desecration of their dead.
And though Aldrya shares the Twins’ love of
Fertility, her enmity for them is little less than for
Oakfed himself.

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

In our world coal is basically metamorphosed plant material, that happens over a long time. I'm not sure it would exist naturally in Glorantha'''

While Time is way too young for them to have formed after the first Dawn, God Time gives an indeterminate duration within which the metamorphosis could occur, and the metamorphosis doesn't have to follow Tellurian mechanisms; the formation of ores doesn't, after all.

1 hour ago, David Scott said:

Charcoal is likely the fuel of choice for smithing...

I agree here, but mostly because the near-primal woodlands in most places give ready access to wood for charcoal, rather than having to hack coal out of the ground. If coal is used, I think it would be either where there has been widespread deforestation, or where there are easily accessible deposits of coal near, or at, the surface.

Having coal as an alternative fuel certainly gives options for adding flavour to locales. Mostly sulphurous ones :)

Having 'mineral' oil as an option is also interesting: the secrets of purifying useful compounds from raw petroleum would be jealously guarded by alchemists who knew them. Edit: there's a risk of evolving into some sort of Diesel-/Steam-Punk hybrid of RQ though, which could be fun, or could be vile anathem, depending on your Glorantha...

Edited by womble
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Coal would be remnants of the victims of the Green Age. We all know that the surface world used to be covered by forest in its entirety, according to Aldryami and Mostali myths (the Mostali claim that this happened against the plan). It isn't any more, mountains were raised by volcanism, tectonic giants, or dwarf activity.

The spirits of these entities (and new bodies) would have appeared elsewhere, since there was no permanent death this early in the Creation of Glorantha. There were entities that failed to re-assemble after dismembering - Annilla's husband dismembered in the conflict with the dragons or Umath crashing into the White Camp are examples of this.

I would expect Glorantha to have all stages of coal, from anthracite via stone coal and lignite down to peat.

 

One possible problem with geological strata in Glorantha is the fact that the World of Time is just a drawn-together patchwork of shards of reality with some more or less plausible transition on the seams. Discontinuities might be common.

I also wonder how much the Earth Cube was shattered. The four or so major shards of the cube are now separated by the oceanic rifts (one of which, the least vertical of them, is about to obliterated in the reconstruction of Somelz). But were the main land masses we know within Time all continuous during the Greater Darkness? How tattered was the Lozenge, and was that just on the surface, or all the way down?

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I was very pleased to see "firebone" making an appearance.  I had completely forgotten that reference from TORM.

In places where coal and charcoal are not known or plentiful, such as Prax, there is an interesting alternative.  If you want to melt bronze, then a fire made from dry bones is perfectly acceptable.  Bronze melts at 950C, and bone fires and dry bones burn pretty hot, up to 1500C, which is only a little shy of what is required to melt iron.

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I was pleasantly surprised to see this topic come up, because I was wondering about the economy of charcoal in Glorantha myself. Considering  that you would either have to  have access to a 'sterile' Aldryami-free forest (which might not even be possible), or  risk the wrath  of the elves in  felling trees,  charcoal might be rare or valuable, greatly complicating the work of a smith. 

There might be wizards, or  Lodril initiates,  who make their living  summoning salamanders to ignite forges. 

Shaman of fiery spirits like 'Oakfed' might fulfill the same function.

Yelmites might have consecrated 'Solar Furnaces', where sacred mirrors concentrate the sun's rays to  laser-like intensity (impossible in the real world of course).

The Lunars might even a version that uses 'Moon Lenses' to  do the same thing. 

The Mostali probably have some  magic that causes metals to melt at room temperature, or otherwise become ductile at a command. 

 

 

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There is a mention in RQ:G 256, where coal is a substance that you could use Detect Substance on. (Well, it mentions it as a particular substance for spell purposes, but that seems to be the main use)

The other uses of coals seem to be more using it in the sense of mostly-burned wood.

 

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2 minutes ago, 1d8+DB said:

I was pleasantly surprised to see this topic come up, because I was wondering about the economy of charcoal in Glorantha myself. Considering  that you would either have to  have access to a 'sterile' Aldryami-free forest (which might not even be possible), or  risk the wrath  of the elves in  felling trees,  charcoal might be rare or valuable, greatly complicating the work of a smith. 

You don't need core wood or entire trees to produce charcoal. There is a reason why the charcoal burners are called "stickpickers" among the Heortlings.

Aldryami gardening does involve quite a bit of pruning, of clearing out less desirable growth. Charcoal burning does provide a couple of side products, some of which may give fertility and life, while others might bring death, defoliation etc. as per Agent Orange. Which might even be desired by the Gardeners to provide some avenue of expulsion or of protection from wildfires.

The Winterwood Aldryami even have logging agreements with the natives of Ygg's Islands (though not with the Loskalmi), which probably was instrumental in the Loskalmi takeover of Ygg's Isles after Dormal Thawed those parts of Fronela. Cutting off living parts to be disposed of, then regrowing them appears to be the Aldryami way, as also specified by the Limmer in Elamle.

2 minutes ago, 1d8+DB said:

There might be wizards, or  Lodril initiates,  who make their living  summoning salamanders to ignite forges. 

Shaman of fiery spirits like 'Oakfed' might fulfill the same function.

In both these cases, Gustbran is the Lowfire of choice - even for operating the pottery kiln, but then the trinity of the lowfires has the "secret" that each of them can be called from the others by one or two steps.

 

2 minutes ago, 1d8+DB said:

Yelmites might have consecrated 'Solar Furnaces', where sacred mirrors concentrate the sun's rays to  laser-like intensity (impossible in the real world of course).

Solar furnaces are a similar concept as wind mills - enslaving the deity to do human work. I would expect either in Fonrit, but not in Genertela.

 

2 minutes ago, 1d8+DB said:

The Lunars might even a version that uses 'Moon Lenses' to  do the same thing. 

Fire called from the sun or the moon works well at destroying forests, but both such spells lack the fine-tuning you would want to heat metal in a reproducable way.

 

2 minutes ago, 1d8+DB said:

The Mostali probably have some  magic that causes metals to melt at room temperature, or otherwise become ductile at a command. 

I don't think so - the Brass caste of alloyists has the spells for heat regulation, possibly including from sources like volcanism. Copper dwarves are the creators of metal tools from the octagony metals. Iron mostali handle both the production and the use of iron, but may rely on brass dwarves to do their heating.

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6 hours ago, Joerg said:

Coal would be remnants of the victims of the Green Age. We all know that the surface world used to be covered by forest in its entirety, according to Aldryami and Mostali myths (the Mostali claim that this happened against the plan). It isn't any more, mountains were raised by volcanism, tectonic giants, or dwarf activity.

Not sure if "we all know", with the God Learner maps introducing forests as an alien encroachement that didn't seem to reach all parts of the world. Of course, they might be dead wrong, or "forests" might mean something beyond just tree-coverage.

4 hours ago, 1d8+DB said:

I was pleasantly surprised to see this topic come up, because I was wondering about the economy of charcoal in Glorantha myself. Considering  that you would either have to  have access to a 'sterile' Aldryami-free forest (which might not even be possible), or  risk the wrath  of the elves in  felling trees,  charcoal might be rare or valuable, greatly complicating the work of a smith. 

Well, these are problems for ordinary lumbering as well, for carpentry purposes - and they clearly manage somehow, so there's clearly a way around it.

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3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Well, these are problems for ordinary lumbering as well, for carpentry purposes - and they clearly manage somehow, so there's clearly a way around it.

I always imagined the Heortling 'stick-pickers' as charcoal burners... it's a similar activity and similar (very low) social status as it was in at least medieval times.

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13 hours ago, Joerg said:

In both these cases, Gustbran is the Lowfire of choice - even for operating the pottery kiln, but then the trinity of the lowfires has the "secret" that each of them can be called from the others by one or two steps.

This is very true.  The forthcoming RQ: Gods of Glorantha has plenty to say about Gustbran.

First and foremost is the Heat Metal spirit spell.  It suggests that 5 points of the spell allows bronze to soften enough for hammering (which is a bit odd, as IRL bronze is cast in molds , and isn't much worked with hammers etc, but more filed, rasped, and sanded).  NVM, huh?  The other thing that Gustbran has (apart from the dubious spell "Create Bonfire" which seems to have no discernible use, as while it makes a fire larger, it doesn't increase salamander hitpoints, or increase the flame intensity.  Perhaps I missed its value somehow?) , is the spell "Forge Fire" which provides the caster with 12 hours of use of their forge or kiln without additional fuel being required.  Given that fuel is expensive, and maintaining temperatures is hard work, that is a deceptively valuable thing. 

 

 

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My first thought was Lodril's poop.

Fatherhood has clearly had an impact on my perspective.

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8 minutes ago, JonL said:

My first thought was Lodril's poop.

Fatherhood has clearly had an impact on my perspective.

I wouldn't discount it. The Cult of the Excretis Incendium venerate the lord of the Earth-Fire by burning his sacred feces and inhaling the fumes to aid in the casting of bronze, thus symbolically showing the superiority of Lodril Volcanos over the myriad slain storm barbarians.

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On 11/25/2018 at 1:38 AM, Darius West said:

... the dubious spell "Create Bonfire" which seems to have no discernible use, as while it makes a fire larger, it doesn't increase salamander hitpoints, or increase the flame intensity.  Perhaps I missed its value somehow?

... 

I would presume it has primarily social / community / ritual benefits (not primarily combat/adventuring benefits).

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On 11/24/2018 at 7:36 AM, womble said:

...

Having 'mineral' oil as an option is also interesting: the secrets of purifying useful compounds from raw petroleum would be jealously guarded by alchemists who knew them. Edit: there's a risk of evolving into some sort of Diesel-/Steam-Punk hybrid of RQ though, which could be fun, or could be vile anathem, depending on your Glorantha...

I would presume "some sort of Diesel-/Steam-Punk hybrid" to be entirely-canonical Glorantha in some Mostali-controlled places.

 

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Oh man, now I want to explore a forgotten Zistori off-shore oil rig that has been uncontacted since the Closing.  The Gift Carriers eventualy came in the night and slew everyone who actually understood the principles by which the whole thing was designed, but the Dronars have dutifully maintained things by rote as best they can ever since. They are of course now even weirder than a bunch of Zistorite rough-necks were to begin with after centuries of isolation.

What does one do with several centuries' stockpile of Zistor's Blood?

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On 11/27/2018 at 3:05 AM, g33k said:

I would presume it has primarily social / community / ritual benefits (not primarily combat/adventuring benefits).

Or you could just build a bonfire; no spell required for that.  It isn't exactly high-tech.  Humans have been doing that since the deep stone age.  Why do you need a rune spell to make it just a little bit bigger for a moment?  I suppose you might use a point of the spell on a simple tiny flame such as you might get from an ignite spell to make a fire catch properly without huffing and puffing on the tinder, and slowly feeding the fire etc.  It would be a bit like dumping a flask of accelerant on a campfire.

Edited by Darius West

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