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Old 09-11-2020, 02:06 PM   #1
StevenH
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Portland, Oregon
Default Hair Growth magic item considerations

The Hair Growth spell can be used to enchant an item for a relatively cheap cost (100 energy). It causes hair to grow a million times faster, resulting in hair that grows 0.2 inches/second (nails too, but let's ignore that for the moment), or, after 8 hours, 480 feet long (and weighing 70lbs). Nice little prank to pull on someone while they are sleeping!

But it results in strands of hair 480 feet long. Normally, human hair makes lousy yarn, because the scales on the hairs don't adhere well to their neighboring hairs, meaning that the yarn has a tendency to unravel. But these hairs are 480 feet long. They won't unravel that easily.

Hair also has a tensile strength of between 200-250MPa, or about half that of steel. A full head of hair can support 12 tons, apparently, which corresponds to a rope about 3/4" in diameter.

By my calculations, a human hair rope 1/8" in diameter can support 650lbs (static; 160lbs in a fall). 200 yards of it weighs 4lbs. Pretty darn useful, if you ask me.

But that's not all. If every barber has one of these, that can generate a lot of hair. Industrial sized amounts of it. Rope just became fairly inexpensive. Wigs too.

And what if you put it on a sheep, or a yak or llama? A shepherd could just shear the same sheep each hour, producing immense amounts of wool. And so wool just became the cheapest fiber in the economy. In fact, if you don't have one of these devices, you are no longer in the wool business.

I also read about human hair being used as some sort of armor, but I couldn't find any details except to find a note saying that executioners hated their "clients" having long hair as it interfered with their blade. And I couldn't find any info on what kind of cloth could be made with such a fiber; I suspect it might be very useful.

Anyone have any other thoughts on the societal effects of such an item?
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Old 09-11-2020, 02:32 PM   #2
Tyneras
 
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

My default method of limiting magical effects on the economy is to treated all magically created materials as conjured, so I'd just have all wool or hair just poof out of existence once cut free. Still good for a prank, though.

Anyway, a society with such items (and I'm not running the world so its not poofing out of existence) would likely experiment with every hairy animal around to see if anything has better fur than wool. Such a society may have very strange herds and textiles. Blankets woven of "tiger wool" for example.

The choke point on production would be the weavers, so a single fairly small herd might be all an entire city might need.
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Old 09-11-2020, 04:23 PM   #3
StevenH
 
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

Hmmm. Your point about strange herds made me think of something else. Feathers, if I remember correctly, are also keratin-based. So, like hair and nails, feathers should grow quickly as well. So goosedown might also be rather inexpensive, reducing the number of straw-ticked mattresses and replacing them with down-filled ones. Pillows are more comfortable, too, since more of those would be down-filled.

Fletchers won't have trouble getting materials.

I have Aarakocra in my world (the original Argentavis type, not the 5e Hawkman type). They have a 20' wingspan, with flight feathers up to about 4' long. Anyone have any ideas what a society could do with a large supply of them?

I'll have to look through my beastiary to see if there are any critters that people might use for harvestable fibers. And then see how well those fibers will work as yarns/threads, if the information exists.
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Old 09-11-2020, 04:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

The usual biological cycle is a period of growth for a predetermined period of time, after which it dies but is held in place for a long period before it is released and the cycle begins anew.

Would you get giant feathers? Multiple cycles of growth and shedding in a short period?
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Old 09-11-2020, 05:25 PM   #5
StevenH
 
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

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Originally Posted by Tyneras View Post
The usual biological cycle is a period of growth for a predetermined period of time, after which it dies but is held in place for a long period before it is released and the cycle begins anew.

Would you get giant feathers? Multiple cycles of growth and shedding in a short period?
Good question. The description in Magic says that you put the hat on, and an hour later your hair and nails (and feathers, one supposes) grow at a greatly accelerated rate (1 million times as fast) until 1 hour after you take off the hat.

So I would expect that if you put the hat on a Aarakocra, they would go through several molts until an hour after the hat was removed. Since they are based on raptors, the feathers don't just all fall off simultaneously, they fall randomly and continuously (so you are never left with a "naked" bird with no feathers while they wait for the next cycle). Most birds molt 1-3 times a year, so if you assume the Aarakocra molt twice each year, putting the hat on one makes them molt every 16 seconds.

I can't even imagine what that must feel like to have the feathers cycle that fast. Great way to make a warm nest, perhaps?

The long feathers might make good lean-to coverings. Probably wouldn't replace shingles, but they might be able to replace thatch. Lighter, at least as waterproof, but I suspect would be less fire-resistant.

As an aside, if you tie someone's hands into fists and put it on them, you have turned it into a torture device.
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Old 09-11-2020, 05:52 PM   #6
Alden Loveshade
 
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenH View Post
The Hair Growth spell can be used to enchant an item for a relatively cheap cost (100 energy). It causes hair to grow a million times faster, resulting in hair that grows 0.2 inches/second (nails too, but let's ignore that for the moment), or, after 8 hours, 480 feet long (and weighing 70lbs). Nice little prank to pull on someone while they are sleeping!
I'm not sure about how cheap it would be (and it sounds like a dangerous prank). You not only have to pay for the enchantment and the item, you have to find/pay someone who's willing to go through that eight hours--and take the chance of getting a neck injury if they turn their head wrong. And that's to get what's apparently inferior rope.
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Old 09-11-2020, 05:58 PM   #7
Tyneras
 
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

If we presume you get a rapid cycle of growth and molting instead ludicrously large feathers (as cool a a shield made of a single giant feather would be), the feather based armor (LT p.104) could be tremendously common. It would allow such a culture to both have beautiful and colorful armor and also free them from supply limitations for the best feathers, possibly justifying a full +1 DR to textile armor instead of the RAW much more limited bonus. I'd give it a +1 DR*, +4CF to keep it in line with similar bonuses.
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Old 09-11-2020, 06:35 PM   #8
StevenH
 
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyneras View Post
If we presume you get a rapid cycle of growth and molting instead ludicrously large feathers (as cool a a shield made of a single giant feather would be), the feather based armor (LT p.104) could be tremendously common. It would allow such a culture to both have beautiful and colorful armor and also free them from supply limitations for the best feathers, possibly justifying a full +1 DR to textile armor instead of the RAW much more limited bonus. I'd give it a +1 DR*, +4CF to keep it in line with similar bonuses.
The 4' feather size comes from Argentavis magnificens, the critter the Aarakocra are based on, which had huge primary feathers. So, to them, their feathers are normal sized.



But I hadn't even thought of feather based armor. That would look cool. Feathered capes/cloaks might be all the rage, especially since the area I am focused on (geographically) is tropical/subtropical, so there are all kinds of very colorful birds to harvest feathers from. I will definitely take another look at LT and feathered armor.
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Old 09-11-2020, 06:43 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alden Loveshade View Post
I'm not sure about how cheap it would be (and it sounds like a dangerous prank). You not only have to pay for the enchantment and the item, you have to find/pay someone who's willing to go through that eight hours--and take the chance of getting a neck injury if they turn their head wrong. And that's to get what's apparently inferior rope.

The way I see it, people could sleep with it on, letting their hair grow out over the edge of the bed. It would need to be cut off before they could get out of bed; it's unlikely that they would be able to lift a 70lb weight with their necks. The more obnoxious part of that is the nail growth: 8 hours would give you nails that were 80 feet long, which makes the hands utterly useless because the nails would be all curled together into a mass of keratin. But I agree, there could be some serious injuries. And heaven help them if they have to get up in the middle of the night to use the jakes.



Do you have a source for the note about the inferiority of the rope? Everything I have been able to find puts a human(oid) hair rope as being pretty good, with a pretty favorable strength to weight ratio.
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Old 09-11-2020, 08:36 PM   #10
Alden Loveshade
 
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Default Re: Hair Growth magic item considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenH View Post
Do you have a source for the note about the inferiority of the rope? Everything I have been able to find puts a human(oid) hair rope as being pretty good, with a pretty favorable strength to weight ratio.
I was actually going by this discussion, and was comparing it to silk. In retrospect, silk was perhaps an unfair choice for rope. It looks like human hair compared to typical rope material (at least to nylon) is pretty good as you said.

By the way, a friend of mine was in a survival class. Students could choose one type of wire to take with them on a survival exercise, and she chose piano wire. Looking at the link below, I can see why (it deals with human hair as well).

http://scienceline.ucsb.edu/getkey.php?key=1693
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