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View Full Version : How long would a brand last on a dwarf?



Cikomyr
2019-07-09, 12:07 PM
So, I am still in the process of world-building, and I am reading the Elfe/Nain graphic novel series (Elf/Dwarf), where the Dwarves are split into 4+1 cast-like order. The +1 being the Wanderers, basically the surface dweller castless.

I was thinking of a way dwarves would show their membership to a specific Order, and I got thinking that branding might be thematically appropriate. And then I got thinking again, wondering how long a brand on a yound adult (say, when a Dwarf comes of age) would last to be seen clearly? Would there be a need to rebrand every 50 years or so, maybe?

Honest Tiefling
2019-07-09, 12:27 PM
1) Is it possible to handwave this via some sort of magical concoction/ritual that makes it last however long is appropriate?

2) What of things like a transdermal implant? I am not familiar with that work you are referencing, but I assume some sort of 'traditional' dwarfyness wouldn't mind some metal on or in the skin.

3) Where is the brand located? I would imagine that the thickness of the skin would have an impact on the brand.

Cikomyr
2019-07-09, 12:34 PM
1) Is it possible to handwave this via some sort of magical concoction/ritual that makes it last however long is appropriate?

Not a bad idea. Maybe for nobles and high dignitary, you could even have fancy symbols. But for the commoners? Nah.


2) What of things like a transdermal implant? I am not familiar with that work you are referencing, but I assume some sort of 'traditional' dwarfyness wouldn't mind some metal on or in the skin.

Look up Elfes et Nains, the Lands of Arran. It's a pretty good french graphic novel series that I think has been translated.

They wouldn't mind subdermal implant, but in my world it's not what I would have been looking for.


3) Where is the brand located? I would imagine that the thickness of the skin would have an impact on the brand.

Good point. Where would be by most convenient.. Maybe the wrist?

Honest Tiefling
2019-07-09, 12:55 PM
Aha! Found a TV Tropes page, this should help for giving advice.

Well, in your setting, is there a chance of social mobility? I could see a higher ranking dwarf getting access to alchemy to make intricate, long lasting designs, but yeah, maybe not the lower classes. But if it only lasts for 50 years, what if they got a chance to prove themselves (Or even get demoted) when their brand healed? If you want a setting for a tabletop RPG, this could be an interesting event for backstory purposes or even a climatic event.

As for the wrist...I'm not sure. Branding for body modification purposes isn't widespread, so it's hard to do a quick search on it. However, the wrist is very close to some veins, so I imagine that's not a great idea. Most brands I've seen (Be it human or animal) seem to favor the chest, shoulder and back. There is traditional facial and stomach scarring, but this seems to be a test of pain, not sure if that is appropriate. Different castes could have different locations as well.

Also, you'd need to keep your brand clean for a bit, and keeping the hand/wrist area clean while working can be difficult for certain jobs.

Segev
2019-07-09, 02:36 PM
In one of the last novels in the Wheel of Time series, we're introduced to a far-away foreign empire where tattoos show your station in society. The fewer you have, the higher your station. Being demoted results in more tattoos being applied. A viewpoint character is horrified to realize this means that this society ONLY has downward social mobility. Unsurprisingly, the highest-ranking person (and only one without tattoos) is one of the Foresaken, who are essentially the biggest bad guys outside of the Satan-equivalent itself.



Brands tend to last forever; they don't fade very well with age. It would take serious effort to have one fade in as little as 50 years, unless you've got a regeneration thing going on. I mean, they CAN go away, but it has to be on a spot that sees a lot of turn-over of cells.

So have them last exactly as long as you want them to for plot purposes. Your dwarves have access to magic to enforce it if needs be.

Cikomyr
2019-07-09, 03:08 PM
In this case, the branding is not meant to denote social class, but cast. There are commoners and high lords of all casts, with the exception of the Wanderers (castless).

So the same brand could be applied to everyone, but the higher class would have more refined identification of their cast.

For the records, the orders are:

The Forge (Smiths, Miners, Metalworkers, Alchemist, Runes)
The Talion* (Merchants, Bankers, Crasftmen, Assassins)
The Temple (Priests, Architects, Lorekeepers, Exorcists)
The Shield (Soldiers, Militia, Police)

All orders have jobs for fighters, or scholars, etc.. The Talion gave their own caravan guards, the Shield have their bookkeepers, etc.. It's not as static a system as you might imagine. Orders fight for influence and power, but all are somewhat dependant of one another by nature, and each have their own internal political games and are subject to strife.


*The talion is the Dwarven currency

Spore
2019-07-09, 05:05 PM
One can implant irritant foreign objects so that the area never fully heals, yet there is no major discomfort going forward. One could cut it out but doing so results in becoming casteless.

Pauly
2019-07-09, 07:06 PM
Brands are scars.

Scars tend to fade over time, but their visibility will depend on:
- base skin color (scar tissue tends to fade to the base skin color).
- is the surrounding skin suntanned
- the depth and severe ness of the original brand.
- the pattern and location of the scar.

Fresh scars tend to be reddish.

Iím a chef so my hands and forearms are covered with burn scars. The scars on the inside of my forearms, which are not suntanned are almost invisible, but the scars on the outside of the forearms, which are suntanned, are much more visible.

Societies that practice ritual scarification tend to use parts of the body, such as the abdomen or chest, where the skin doesnít bend or flex so much. I assume that this allows the scar to form in a stable pattern. Branding of criminals in Europe and China was done on the shoulder blades. I assume for similar reasons.

tomandtish
2019-07-10, 01:10 PM
Can't speak for how long a brand would last. But when I was 16 we cleaned the outside of the house with a power washer. It had been running for several hours. When lifting it into the truck, my dad slipped and the exhaust came down full wait on my arm right at the elbow for 4-5 seconds before we could get it off.

That scar is still clearly visible and distinct 34 years later. OTOH, it took almost a year for my injury to heal to where I could fully move my arm again without pain and tearing of scab. it was a serious 3rd degree burn.