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Old 04-12-2024, 07:41 AM   #11
ericthered
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Default Re: A low-grade armor and weapon material for a Fantasy setting

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
A shaft made of normal wood that can stand up to the rigors of combat would be better suited to making a tier 1 polearm, quarterstaff, spear, etc. In GURPS terms, a sub-par shaft of normal wood would be Cheap in materials and/or balance, but tier 0 is actually below even that - my current thoughts are that tier 0 weapons tend to cause reduced injury compared to normal tier 1 ones (tier 2+ generally just get a little bonus damage against mundane foes and make armor less effective, but many foes have traits that let them divide injury by some value, and tier 2+ weapons can downgrade or outright bypass this protection).
I mean, you've considered two materials and one is too good and the other isn't good enough? I'd go with just braiding the serfwood/goodweed into a pole and letting it be crappy, if crappy is what you want.

Its worth noting that a proper pole requires proper drying and some other steps. you could skip those for tier 0 poles instead.
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Old 04-12-2024, 08:36 AM   #12
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Default Re: A low-grade armor and weapon material for a Fantasy setting

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Perhaps steal a march from Minecraft, and have the blades of Tier 0 bladed weapons be stone with a wondervine grip? They can then be shaped into whatever form the weapon "should" have, and perhaps even be sturdy enough to survive an entire dungeon crawl before needing another blade knapped.
A stone the shape and length of, say, a standard sword is going to call for careful selection and a lot of labor to knap it right, and then absent magic it's going to be quite brittle and unlikely to survive a fight.

However, bringing up magic does make me realize that there may be a solution staring me in the face, at least if no other options really appeal to me. One aspect of Oubliette is that there exists a resource called Shards (harvested from monsters and the dungeons) that is something like crystalized magic, and which can replace labor (both the time and the exertion) when crafting things. I originally had it also able to replace raw materials, but have since largely changed my mind. The lowest denomination, Red Shards, can replace $1 worth of labor each (abbreviated S1 and nominally worth around $2 on the open market - or as money itself, as many are willing to take Shards in place of more traditional currency). Essentially, a craftsman can basically just grab the raw materials and sufficient shards to replace his labor, then concentrate for a moment and wind up with a completed item. Technically, you could do this at any point of the process - a swordmaker could start with a sword blank and materials for the hilt and use some shards to grind, polish, and assemble it, start with iron ingots and charcoal instead of the blank and use more shards to mix in the carbon from the charcoal to make steel and shape and assemble it, or even start with iron ore and green wood and use yet more shards to smelt, char, mix, shape, and assemble it.

One thing I've recently been considering is allowing Shards to be used to make things that human laborers cannot due to physical/technological restraints. For example, a suit of mail made entirely out of rings punched out of sheet metal (rather than having some portion as that and the rest being the traditional riveted rings), or a structure that is stable in its current form but where it would have had sections completely unsupported during construction (although technically I think those can be built, you just have to build some temporary scaffolding to support it until its finished). There may also be things that would be ruinously-expensive to make at the setting's level of technology (like the precise gears that enable trikes and the clockwork "batteries" of gear rifles) but that call for only a fraction of the labor's worth when using Shards.

So it could be that, rather than subsidized gathering of serfwood and spearleaf (or whatever materials/names I ultimately settle on) and further-subsidized crafting of gear from them, you instead just have someone gather up* some serfwood and spearleaf then sacrifice a Red Shard to make a whole pile of gear. Sure, all that would probably require hundreds of dollars worth of labor to actually produce, and some of it might not even be possible to produce (say, serfwood intertwined through and fused with the spearleaf, holding it steady without introducing fracture points like actually poking holes to thread the serfwood through would), but this is just one of those cases where it's cheaper to use Shards. Ridiculously-cheaper, really, going from potentially hundreds of dollars to S1 (which in turn is worth only $2) and whatever labor was expended gathering things up.

If feels like cheating, but with what I'm wanting to do, may honestly be the best option. But please, keep the suggestions coming - I'd be happy to be wrong.

*In theory, you might be able to even skip the gathering, having Shards replace that labor. I'm not sure if I want to allow for this, however - if this is possible, you could actually use Shards to undermine or even tunnel straight through a castle wall for fairly cheap** (these methods are normally more difficult to pull off because while you're taking a pick to the wall, there are arrows, stones, boiling oil, etc raining down on you from the defenders above), and I don't think I want that.

**This is more GURPS specific, although presumably these rules aren't too terribly divorced from reality. A castle wall would count as Hard Rock, meaning a pair of average-strength laborers could clear away around 20 cf of it in an hour and 40 minutes, including time to rest and recover from the labor. Assuming 8 hours of work+rest per day, that would be about 96 cf per pair per day, or around 48 cf per person. Digging a 6'x6' square tunnel through 10' of wall (on the upper end of how thick castle walls tend to be IIRC) calls for clearing away 360 cf of material, calling for 7.5 man-days of work. Considering Shards are worth twice their labor value, that's equivalent to the daily wages of 15 poor laborers to drill a hole through your enemy's defense in an instant. That would be well worth the expense!
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Old 04-12-2024, 11:24 AM   #13
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Default Re: A low-grade armor and weapon material for a Fantasy setting

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
A stone the shape and length of, say, a standard sword is going to call for careful selection and a lot of labor to knap it right, and then absent magic it's going to be quite brittle and unlikely to survive a fight.
We're already providing a variety of vine that's basically magical, why not something that cleaves as readily as flint and holds an edge like obsidian? (I was going to suggest obsidian in the first place, but for some reason most of the people I play fantasy RPGs with seem to think that anything made of obsidian must be darkly magical, not just knapped from volcanic rock.)
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Old 04-14-2024, 11:16 AM   #14
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Default Re: A low-grade armor and weapon material for a Fantasy setting

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The ultimate in low-tech weaponry seems to be the proverbial sticks and stones. Throw rocks or bash the foe with tree branches. As for protection, pre-TL1 societies generally don't see to have much in the way of armor. A leather cap might help against getting your own head bashed in. Or you could always follow the path of Thorin Oakenshield, who used a branch of an oak tree to ward off blows after his shield broke.
Stone is a lousy armor material, and most other potential TL0 armors are a) not very durable in the sense of leaving substantial evidence that can last thousands of years, and b) most likely not much more than abnormally heavy clothing.

Wicker shields are a thing, historically.
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Old 04-14-2024, 01:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: A low-grade armor and weapon material for a Fantasy setting

If the setting is near the sea, seashells might be used for a crude form of scale mail. Same for coconut shell shards. Attach to the previously mentioned vine armor. Or use palm fronds for the base armor and attach or weave into the armor as it is made.

The thick green outer shell of a coconut might serve as a helmet good for deflecting one or two blows before becoming useless.

You could wrap thorny vines around your basic stick club to add in some piercing damage. Bonus points if the thorns have natural poison. Attach to away side of a shield to make for a more painful shield bash.
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Old 04-18-2024, 06:38 AM   #16
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Default Re: A low-grade armor and weapon material for a Fantasy setting

Having given it some thought over the last week, I think I've largely made up my mind on how to handle this. Thanks to everyone who contributed, your help was very useful.

First off, I have indeed decided that the way these weapons are typically made is with Shards, where a single Red Shard can be used to create a pile of equipment. I have further decided Shards can indeed do things mundane craftsmen cannot, although there's probably going to typically be a premium for doing so (as an example, I've decided mail is normally made entirely from riveted wire, while Shards can be used to make it out of solid rings, which results in a 10% reduction in weight; in GURPS, this matches the reduction seen for Fluting of rigid armors, and as that is a +4 CF - x5 cost if no other Cost Factors are involved - I've decided this will be as well; factoring in the doubling of price to account for using Shards, that implies the armor's "base price" is actually 2.5x as much as for riveted mail). Technically this premium does apply to the creation of Tier 0 gear (you can make markedly fewer swords than clubs with a single Red Shard), but those are all so cheap it doesn't have a real impact.

The wondervine will indeed be known as serfwood. The term "serf" has evolved from its original meaning, as serfs are now much more mobile; they are frequently encountered on the natural roads made from serfwood, and also make use of it for crafting wicker containers (which they typically do without the benefit of Shards).

The bladed leaf is to be known as spearleaf, and because I can't resist doing so, is a member of the mint family. This means spearleaf is often used for flavoring and as a medicinal herb, so it's not just something that exists to allow making weaponry.
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Old 04-22-2024, 08:54 AM   #17
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Default Re: A low-grade armor and weapon material for a Fantasy setting

And the bards were all singing:
Let's use serfwood now
Everybody's learning how
Come and weave a basket with me!

(This program brought to you by Serfserve, the land's finest woven tableware. Serve your guests right with SerfServe!)
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