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Old 12-12-2019, 08:18 AM   #41
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Personally, I have never had much issue with the multiplier for bronze. Metals were valuable in TL4- societies. In addition, pure enough sources of tin and copper to allow for armor and weapon quality bronze were quite difficult to find, so bronze with contaminates (suitable for household items) was probably 10% the cost of better quality bronze (suitable for armor and weapons).
But is such a large spread between, say, scale and plate appropriate? Using +3 CF, bronze scale armor costs $80/lb; assuming the cost of labor is the same as for iron scale (which is $7 iron, $13 labor, per lb), this puts the bronze for scale at around $63/lb - just shy of 10x the cost of iron. Bronze plate armor costs $500/lb; assuming the cost of labor is the same as for iron plate (which is $14 materials, $111 labor), this puts the bronze for plate at around $389/lb ($382/lb if we assume it uses the same amount of charcoal as iron plate) - over 50x the cost of iron, and over 6x the cost of bronze appropriate for scale.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:18 AM   #42
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Of course, a realistic modern figure is something like $0.25/lb for iron and $1/lb for bronze, and the GURPS constant dollar model implies that you should be able to use the same number at other TLs, which will make the cost difference between iron and bronze nearly irrelevant. That's a general problem with how GURPS does prices, though.
There are a few places where GURPS steps away from this concept. Notably, the armor design Pyramid articles, where bronze/iron/steel drop markedly in cost at TL 5 (and TL 6 for steel), and more advanced materials tend to drop in price 1 TL after their introduction. Those do still have the issue of conflating material and labor cost together, of course. For example, as per "Low Tech Armor Design" (Pyramid #3/52), high-quality bronze (DR 68 per inch) shaped to fit a vehicle (or flat-top helmet) costs $100/lb, while comparable-quality iron costs $25/lb. Taking that same bronze and shaping it instead into plate armor increases cost by $300/lb, while doing the same to the iron increases cost by only $75/lb.
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Old 12-12-2019, 11:30 AM   #43
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
But is such a large spread between, say, scale and plate appropriate? Using +3 CF, bronze scale armor costs $80/lb; assuming the cost of labor is the same as for iron scale (which is $7 iron, $13 labor, per lb), this puts the bronze for scale at around $63/lb - just shy of 10x the cost of iron. Bronze plate armor costs $500/lb; assuming the cost of labor is the same as for iron plate (which is $14 materials, $111 labor), this puts the bronze for plate at around $389/lb ($382/lb if we assume it uses the same amount of charcoal as iron plate) - over 50x the cost of iron, and over 6x the cost of bronze appropriate for scale.
Bronze scales are easier to replace if there is a mistake and easier to work because of the flexible nature of the armor. Fitting the bronze plate to an individual requires enormous effort, probably hundreds of hours of skilled labor, as adjusting it is quite difficult. Anyway, most hoplites wore linothroax, not bronze, so it was much less expensive (bronze was for wealthy citizens, not common folk).
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:20 PM   #44
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Anyway, most hoplites wore linothroax, not bronze, so it was much less expensive (bronze was for wealthy citizens, not common folk).
We don't have much evidence but what little we have suggests that the organic armour worn by Greek hoplites was made from hide, not linen. Most of the references to linen armour in their texts talk about foreigners wearing it, not Greeks.
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:25 PM   #45
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Bronze scales are easier to replace if there is a mistake and easier to work because of the flexible nature of the armor. Fitting the bronze plate to an individual requires enormous effort, probably hundreds of hours of skilled labor, as adjusting it is quite difficult.
Yes, this is a big part of why plate costs more than scale. What of this is different from making iron armor? Perhaps fitting an already-made piece of bronze is more difficult than fitting an already-made piece of iron, as the former cannot be worked hot. However, you likely don't have to work the bronze into shape as much as you do the iron - you can create a mold based on the person you're fitting the armor to, and cast the bronze into that (and then making needed adjustments), rather than having to start with a sheet of metal and work it into shape. Which method requires more labor, or do they require roughly the same amount of labor? It seems like bronze would require a bit less labor, but I may be underestimating the labor involved in making the mold, casting, and cold-working it into final shape as opposed to making iron plates*, cutting them to size, and hot-working it all the way into shape.

*As mentioned in LTC3, you typically don't have the same people making the plates and making the armor. However, as we're just looking at materials and labor, it doesn't matter that the platers and the armourers aren't the same people, their labor counts the same.
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:29 PM   #46
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Yes, this is a big part of why plate costs more than scale. What of this is different from making iron armor? Perhaps fitting an already-made piece of bronze is more difficult than fitting an already-made piece of iron, as the former cannot be worked hot. However, you likely don't have to work the bronze into shape as much as you do the iron - you can create a mold based on the person you're fitting the armor to, and cast the bronze into that (and then making needed adjustments), rather than having to start with a sheet of metal and work it into shape. Which method requires more labor, or do they require roughly the same amount of labor? It seems like bronze would require a bit less labor, but I may be underestimating the labor involved in making the mold, casting, and cold-working it into final shape as opposed to making iron plates*, cutting them to size, and hot-working it all the way into shape.

*As mentioned in LTC3, you typically don't have the same people making the plates and making the armor. However, as we're just looking at materials and labor, it doesn't matter that the platers and the armourers aren't the same people, their labor counts the same.
Not at all, you are not casting thin sheets of bronze with a person as the mold. Castings are going to be far to thick to be of use as armor until worked. Casting weapons far more practical that armor.

So no you are not talking about much difference in the amount of working.
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:33 PM   #47
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
Annealing softens the metal, it doesn't harden it. It is necessary to remove any work-hardening so that the smith can continue to work it. Iron is annealed by heating it up and allowing it to cool slowly. Bronze is annealed by heating it up and quenching it in water.
You're right of course, I did a very bad job of explaining how steel is hardened or softened and why brass and bronze must be cold worked.

If you want steel to cool slowly, let it air cool, bury it in hot sand, or keep it in a slowly cooled oven. (FWIW, glass and some ceramics must also be cooled in this fashion to keep them from shattering as they cool.)

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In any case, the CF is based purely on the material. Bronze costs four times more than iron. Any differences in construction have their own separate CFs.
This is a big issue. Remember that the primary constituent in a brass or bronze alloy is copper, which is a semi-precious metal. Historical "copper pieces" might have been bits of cast or stamped brass or bronze.

By comparison to copper and tin, iron is extremely common although deposits of iron which are sufficiently rich to make it worth the trouble of mining them are a bit scarcer.
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Old 12-12-2019, 02:51 PM   #48
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Yes, this is a big part of why plate costs more than scale. What of this is different from making iron armor?
One factor which hasn't been mentioned yet is that rolling mills are TL5 technology.

In ancient and medieval times the way that you got metal sheet was by having people beat thicker ingots of metal flat. This took a lot of time and was a semi-skilled trade which occupied many people, many English surnames like Platner, Hammer, Green (for greensmith - AKA coppersmith), Black (for blacksmith) attest to this. They were also called "iron beaters" resulting in the German surname, Eisenhower.

So, even though low TL labor is cheap compared to high tech labor, it's still a tremendously labor intensive job.

All that hammering had the beneficial effect of helping to drive impurities (silica inclusions mostly) out of the steel, so hammered steel stock was slightly better quality than unhammered ingots.

Another factor is that to make big sheets of metal you need big ingots, which means that you must have bigger smelting and metal puddling facilities and huge amounts of fuel to feed the kilns. At some point, the mass of fuel, the size of the crucibles, and so forth gets so big that it's beyond the scale of what artisanal smelters can produce.

Technically, it's possible to forge weld sheets of steel together, but getting a good, strong, consistent forge weld across a large area is a tricky task even for the best smith. And, until the invention of brazing, it's impossible to join multiple sheets of brass, bronze, or copper.

The later Romans and the Chinese got close to producing steel and bronze on an industrial scale, but most places it was smaller scale artisan operations.

Finally, don't forget fuel costs. Smelting ore or heating large metal items is very fuel intensive. Entire forests were cut down to feed smelters and forges, which required the services of foresters and charcoal burners. The latter was semi-skilled seasonal work, but it was still artisanal hand labor. Industrial scale metal production had to wait until the widespread use of coal as a fuel.
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Old 12-13-2019, 09:22 AM   #49
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

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Not at all, you are not casting thin sheets of bronze with a person as the mold. Castings are going to be far to thick to be of use as armor until worked. Casting weapons far more practical that armor.

So no you are not talking about much difference in the amount of working.
How thin can you manage to cast something? A bit of research online indicates around 3 mm using sand casting or similar, which would be DR 6 when made of good bronze. That's thicker than the greaves we're talking about, so they probably can't be cast to shape (they need to be pounded out to get to the correct thickness, and that's not going to be easy to do if they're already shaped). The question, then, is how much more expensive it is to cold-work bronze into shape as opposed to hot-working iron into shape (hot-working is faster but uses up fuel - I assume the labor savings more than offsets the charcoal cost - and apparently isn't an option for bronze).

Of course, this suggests the possibility that DR 6+ bronze armor costs significantly less per pound than does thinner armor, which would certainly cause some... interesting effects.

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Originally Posted by Pursuivant View Post
One factor which hasn't been mentioned yet is that rolling mills are TL5 technology.
[SNIP]
I'd imagine all this is why metal goods cost a good deal more prior to TL 5. However, the discussion is how price should increase when you make armor out of bronze. The only way (outside of royal proclamations or similar) for bronze items to consistently* be 4x the cost of iron armor is if bronze costs 4x as much as iron and requires 4x as much labor (which may mean 4x as many man-hours, or workers that are paid 4x as much for their time, or some combination of more man-hours and more expensive workers). I don't really see anything in your post that indicates bronze would be more expensive to work than iron (aside from large plates being impossible to forge-weld, but you can get your big plate from casting, which is why bronze was still used for plate armor at TL 2).

*Over a variety of armors, that is. Realistically, the cost of bronze itself is going to vary wildly depending on the cost of copper and tin. The cost of iron can also vary, but probably not as much as bronze (iron's a pretty common metal, once you figure out how to work it).
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Old 12-14-2019, 01:46 PM   #50
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Default Re: [LT Armor Loadouts] Expensive Greaves

Greaves are also one of the hardest pieces of armour to make, because they are intricately shaped and very thin. Today greaves and gauntlets tend to be the most expensive parts of a kit because most of the cost is labour. A friend who reads Italian archives found one 16th century armour guild which sold armour at a flat rate per ton.

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GURPS typically overcharges for plate for gamist reasons (plate is game-mechanically better than mail, but historically had a lower pricetag), and I believe undercharges for cloth armor for the same. Also, the CF system doesn't really work that well for bronze - a relatively flat addition to cost based on weight would be more appropriate, and this "error" is particularly pronounced for the more expensive armor types, like plate. Finally, bronze was a type of material that had wild fluctuations in price (largely based on the price of tin), making the GURPS one-price-fits-all approach not work that well for it. The above "errors" were most likely chosen because they work better for gaming than, but when you put it all together, you do indeed end up with greaves as the most expensive armor pieces, by far, for a late hoplite.
Another problem is that in real life, cuts tend to land on the extremities: the head, lower legs, and arms. This is even more true in shield fighting. GURPS just uses one 'average' set of hit location modifiers and random hit location tables, and does not try to represent how hard it is to hit someone in the Chest or Abdomen behind a large shield. So in real life, a helmet and greaves are extremely important for a shield fighter, but in GURPS they are less valuable.
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