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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default World Without Metal

    I'm working on an idea I had for a world where useful metal is rarer than magic. I figured a lot of npcs would be 2nd level instead of 1st, so that I could give them a level of a one-level class (hedgemage, designed to give them functional magic to replace the metal tools that are ubiquitous in other settings). The basic idea is that all metal weapons are masterwork, since you need to be a master smith to even touch things like iron, and metal armor is unheard of. Druids and rangers would have more power, since they have dominion over wood, the other major human resource.

    However, I'm having a bit of trouble figuring how to do some stuff with the fluff, and some of the rules could use a bit of work as well.

    Rules:
    What would a metal sword be worth in a world where only the astocracy had metal?
    What weapons would the players be restricted to that would still be fun, and how could other weapons be modified to include them?

    Fluff:
    What would be used as coinage? Direct barter is a bulky system, and not one most PCs would be open to.
    How are town guards outfitted? Without cheap swords and armor avaliable, the options drop sharply.
    What place would metals like gold take compared to iron in a world where they're both very rare?

    If you think of other issues for me to think about, or have any ideas for solutions to these issues, I would love to hear them. I'm sure I can think of something for most of this eventually, but I could really use some help on the value of metal weaponry. I'm just not at all sure how to finagle the numbers.

    Thanks!
    ~Levitas

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    If you want a good reference source, look at either the 4th Edition or 2nd Edition Dark Sun settings. Both have fluff & mechanics for dealing with rare metal - and scarcity in general.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    If you can get hold of it, I'd also recommend having a look at the Epoch setting in Fantasy Craft's Adventure Companion.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Debatably gold would be the least valuable metal - you just cant do stuff with it. I get a lovely image of a few peasent walking around with gold jewlery on all gaping in awe at one guy wearing some iron chainmail.
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Hi. Nice idea.

    First thing, to make the metal rarity worth, i think metal weapons should be even above masterwork class.

    Like, all Metal weapons are like magic (Can easy sunder throuh non metal equipment, bonus on damage and critical multipliers).
    That assuming 3.5.

    Anyway, whente there's no Iron.
    People use Bronze.
    If you can't make bronze, you use Cooper.

    If that fails. Bone and Stone. With bones including Chitin, Shells, Claws and Horns. Obidian (volcanic glass) is useful to make blades, i heard.

    Anyway, that said. Swords are realy hard to make without metal.
    Axes, Clubs, Hammers and Spears. All use a "bulk head" and a wood handler.
    Bone/stone/glass Knifes are ok too. Staves too.

    Coinage... Well, you can use Ivory (Simple/Pure White/Black)
    Works more less like gold.
    Can be used raw as trade good. Can be made as decorations and "jewels".
    You can "sculpt" coins of ivory.

    Guards? Spears, Clubs and Staves. Real cheap to make. Easy to train.
    Armor you can go with hide and even wood plates.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Unarmed combat.
    Since non metallic weapons are of lower quality, unarmed combat makes more sense.
    And the currency doesn`t have to be coins - favours, bills, water, food, pieces of souls, clothes...
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Quote Originally Posted by akma View Post
    Unarmed combat.
    Since non metallic weapons are of lower quality, unarmed combat makes more sense.
    And the currency doesn`t have to be coins - favours, bills, water, food, pieces of souls, clothes...
    Weell... people use weaponries even without metal, like in the stone age or ancient central/southern america, since weaponries are one of man's upside against animals. Haven't you ever heard of stone axe? stone knive? wooden club? obsidian?

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    What sort of animals will you populate the world with? Ankylosaur armour plates or giant insect carpace would make valuable resources when added to leather or hide armour. Of course, hunting these creatures should be dangerous - already high armour class should be increased or supplemented with damage resistance. In fact, having something like a DR/metal weapons become a staple of the setting would greatly personalize it. A wooden spear will not affect many creatures who do not gain DR per standard D&D.

    Statting out these and turning them into the a principal hunted beast for the bone would also make the setting a bit more unique, I think. Besides, with the minmi, you don't even have to come up with a new name for the critter.

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    Realistic obsidian sword:
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    Last edited by Icedaemon; 2011-03-19 at 05:11 AM.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Thanks, FireJustice, you've made a lot of very good suggestions. A'copy/paste'd!

    I am using 3.5 as the base, and while I appreciate the comments about other systems, I can't look too far into them because of "budget constraints." However, I did follow some links on the Dark Sun wikipedia page, and got some very good info there. Thanks!

    You have some good suggestions, Akma, but most won't work for the setting I'm writing. I want to focus on using money rather than currency. Metal coins can be melted into ingots again, but things like bills and ivory coins really can't, and food only has value if it's eaten.

    Should I make non-metal weapons less potent, or metal weapons more potent? I like the idea of metal weapons being a step above magic weapons, so I'll keep that in mind for price, but I'm worried that the DMG's rules for lower-tech weapons and armors will damage player balance in a prolonged campaign.

    ~Levitas

    Edit: Thanks, Icedaemon! I'm definately taking time to stat out those Minmi, and the Obsidian sword (the top one, the bottom one is as daft as you say). I will have to be careful with DR/Metal Weapons, though it will be an excellent addition. (you posted while I was writing, that's why the edit)
    Last edited by Chalybs Levitas; 2011-03-19 at 05:21 AM.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    A world without metal would be, for the most part, a stone age. But if the nobility are using swords, then, as archaeologists think happened in Europe, there could well be significant overlap with a bronze age.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    If magic is relatively common, you could use a version of the 2E spell "Glasssteel." As the name implies, it made glass and crystal items as hard as steel.

    In 3/3.5, crystal weapons and armor are common with psionics users. This is fine unless you are looking for more "realism," since crystal items would tend to shatter...

    The olf 2E Fighter's Handbook had stone weapons doing less damage than metal (and prone to breakage), and bone weapons doing less than stone (and even more prone to breakage). Claws or teeth from Large or larger creatures would make fine weapons (and gaining them could be an adventure in and of itsself).

    Leather and Hide armors would be most common, I'd imagine. You could also do what some Native American cultures did and make armor out of porcupine quills stitched together. Or make bone "scale" or "plate" armor. Or use plates from giant carapaced creatures. Materials like Darkwood already exist, and wooden slats/plates would be easy to manufacture and replace.

    Perhaps some of the creatures have leathery skin with lithoderms (bony growths). This would make a fine repacement for Studded Leather.

    As far as town guards go, I'd have to say bows, slings, staves, clubs, spears, bone/stone/claw/tooth swords/knives and nets. Leather armors, maybe with wooden or bone reinforcement.

    Gems would probably take the place of most currency, I'd think.

    Sounds like it could be a fun world to adventure in.
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  12. - Top - End - #12
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    What I was thinking, The Big Dice, was that since this is a world without metal, the advancement would be different than our world, where progression through the ages seems to have been mostly triggered by aquiring new ways to work metals. Since there aren't any metals for that to work on, I figured the culture could reach a medieval-like society by growth through refining minor magic use and working with other materials.

    I like the idea of gems as money, since they're relatively small and portable. I'm sure I can get the players enthused about finding bags of diamond chits on some BBEG.
    Let's see ... standard progression is: Copper, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
    If we're using gem equivalencies, it could be:
    topaz blue/clear
    banded sardonyx/adventurine
    fire opal/roze quartz
    star sapphire

    I could use useful metals of various sizes in place of the gems on the treasure table, which could be an interesting player dilema, if they're deciding whether to sell it or use it as metal.
    The only problem I see with that is all of the other possible gems. Should I just ignore their existence, or set up a whole table of relative values, and have each country use a different set of gems for coinage?

    Any ideas on which gems I should use? I'm not sure the ones I picked out above are the best choices.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    I definately recommend gems etc for currency, and I also agree with everything FireJustice said.
    Have you read 'To your scattered bodies go' by Philip Jose Farmer, or any of his Riverworld series? If not, basically all of humanity has been resurected in a world devoid of all metal, birds, animals except for fish, and insects except for some worms. There's a fish with a massive horn on its head which they use to make stilleto daggers and arrow heads, a massive whale-like fish which they use the jaw bones of to make longbows in a world without yew trees(Or whatever those trees were), fish "bones" for arrow flights, and of course fish hide for leather shoes and armour etc.

    For weapons, I think metal weapons could be the equivalent of +1 weapons and keen weapons, that sort of thing. Maybe bypass some DRs like adamantine too. For primitive weapons, maybe they have a -1 penalty to damage? Flint spears would be pretty good weapons, spears with only fire-hardened heads might have a -1 attack penalty, or maybe some animals have DR/flint or better.

    I can definately see stone maces, axes, daggers, hammers, picks, spears, and javelins as weapons, and arrows/sling bullets go without saying. Wood weapons could be clubs, greatclubs, spears, and shivs. A lot of weapons would have bone counter parts too.

    Some armour ideas:
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    Padded
    {table]Armour Name | AC | ACP | Max Dex | Speed | Weight | ASF | Type
    Gambeson | 1 | -0 | +8 | 30ft | 5lbs | 5% | Light
    Cord | 1 | -0 | +8 | 30ft | 5lbs | 5% | Light
    Buff coat | 3 | -2 | +5 | 30ft | 15lbs | 15% | Light
    [/table]
    Scale
    {table]Armour Name | AC | ACP | Max Dex | Speed | Weight | ASF | Type
    Lamellar, leather | 3 | -2 | +6 | 30ft | 10lbs | 15% | Light
    Lamellar, horn/bone | 5 | -4 | +5 | 25ft | 15lbs | 25% | Medium
    Scale, leather | 3 | -3 | +5 | 30ft | 15lbs | 20% | Light
    Scale, horn/bone | 5 | -5 | +4 | 25ft | 20lbs | 35% | Medium
    Studded, horn/bone | 4 | -2 | +6 | 30ft | 15lbs | 15% | Light
    [/table]
    Hide
    {table]Armour Name | AC | ACP | Max Dex | Speed | Weight | ASF | Type
    Animal hide | 4 | -3 | +4 | 25ft | 20lbs | 20% | Medium
    Beast hide | 5 | -4 | +3 | 25ft | 25lbs | 25% | Medium
    [/table]
    Animal: Wolf, bear, etc.
    Beast: Rhino, elephant.
    Plate
    {table]Armour Name | AC | ACP | Max Dex | Speed | Weight | ASF | Type
    Leather | 2 | -1 | +6 | 30ft | 10lbs | 10% | Light
    Chiton | 6 | -4 | +4 | 25ft | 25lbs | 25% | Medium
    [/table]

    Shield
    {table]Armour Name | Shield Bonus | ACP | Weight | ASF
    Small, wooden | +2 | -1 | 5lbs | 5%
    Small, covered wooden | +2 | -2 | 6lbs | 5%
    Small, Chiton | +2 | -1 | 5lbs | 5%
    Large, wooden | +3 | -2 | 10lbs | 15%
    Large, covered wooden | +3 | -3 | 14lbs | 15%
    Large, Chiton | +3 | -2 | 10lbs | 15%
    Woven | +1 | -1 | 10lbs | 5%
    [/table]
    Covered: These have a layer of leather or linen glued on them. This makes them more durable, but also heavier and more cumbersome
    Woven: These shields are generally about the size of a large shield and are made of woven branches. As such, they offer little actual protection beyond confusing the enemy as to your whereabouts much like a cloak.

    Last edited by Mayhem; 2011-03-19 at 07:59 PM.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    I think you should account that mining with no-metal is a lot harder than it seens.
    Stone picks wear out real quick.
    You also need to cut and polish gems, again without metal is harder.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Quote Originally Posted by FireJustice View Post
    I think you should account that mining with no-metal is a lot harder than it seens.
    Stone picks wear out real quick.
    You also need to cut and polish gems, again without metal is harder.
    The OP did say that magic would be more common (minor magics, anyway). Perhaps some of those would be of assistance in mining. Perhaps the lack of easily retrieved/mined metal is the reason metal is so scarce.

    Metal is rare, not completely absent. Therefore, there would be metal to cut/shape gems (polishing is, if my memory serves, done by stone powder on a griding wheel, not metal).

    Just my 2 cents.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    - Without metal, I think most melee weapons should be hacking weapons like clubs or staffs or piercing weapons such as arrows or spears. I don't see any special reason of why they should do less damage although it's possible to add some "break chance" rule to the game for some weapons.
    Slashing weapons can be made out of other materials, but they should be of lower quality since it is probably harder to keep the weapon sharp.

    - Coinage can be either by natural and relatively rare item for that culture like shells or semi-precious stones.
    Another possibility is to go for common but processed material like wooden disks with a symbol on them.

    - If both gold and iron are rare, it's not likely that many people will know how to work with iron.
    I'm guessing both metals will be used as jewelry to show off riches, with a small emphasis on gold since it's more "shiny".
    As for iron, if you can find the right person, and have enough quantity, it should be worth more than gold.

    - One more point, is the relationship between metal and magic in your world.
    Will metal be needed as spell components for some types of magic? If so, the prices of metal should soar and even a small piece will be a cause to start a war.
    Can magic replace metal? If magic is common enough to be used in mines, construction or by common soldiers, metal is not really needed and even a metal sword will not be worth the fuss if a common magical wooden club can be just as good.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Gems as currency is a cool idea. I just love the idea of a bag full of glistening, polished, multi-colored stones.

    <<

    *clutches dice bag*

    No reason. >>

    Have you read the books Magician, Apprentice, and Magician, Master by Raymond E Feist? One of the worlds in there is largely without metal and has advanced magic. For most of the weapons and such they have developed a way to make a hard resin out of some tree or plant or something that grows on the world. The books are an interesting read, though the world without much metal doesn't get detailed until the second of the two books. A good read even if you aren't looking for more source material to draw from.

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    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Recommended Reading:

    Riftwar Saga ( Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon) by Raymond E. Feist.

    It's the beginning of a fantasy series where the general premise (at the start anyway) is a "normal" fantasy world is being invaded by another where there is virtually no metal. I think that Feist does a good job covering metal substitutes and the role that what little metal there is plays. He makes the whole thing very believable. While it's not D&D material, it should give you ideas.

    There is also another trilogy which he has set in the world of the invaders: Daughter of the Empire, Servant of the Empire, Mistress of the Empire.

    (while you could theoretically just read these 3 to get the ideas, I think that you'd get a better feel for it by reading the preceeding books first which will also give you the feel for the differences between metal cultures and metal-deprived cultures.)

    Hopefully that's helpful to ya. Sounds like it should be an interesting project.

  19. - Top - End - #19
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Quote Originally Posted by Trog View Post
    Have you read the books Magician, Apprentice, and Magician, Master by Raymond E Feist? One of the worlds in there is largely without metal and has advanced magic. For most of the weapons and such they have developed a way to make a hard resin out of some tree or plant or something that grows on the world. The books are an interesting read, though the world without much metal doesn't get detailed until the second of the two books. A good read even if you aren't looking for more source material to draw from.
    My bad. I must've skimmed Trog's post too quickly before posting my own. He's right though. Good read. (Got me started on the fantasy genre.)

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    I've actually been working on a similar concept for a story of mine. (not an entire world without metal but a country) Now I need to read those books...

    I know it's crazy and unrelated, but I recommend you at least check out the Japanese manga "Break Blade." It's about a world without metal where they use magic to manipulate quartz... and build giant robots out of it.

    Still though, it's an interesting concept. If you can use magic to modify the hardness and flexibility of different materials, obviously society would choose the most common materials to work with, that way it becomes a universal trade. You should consider adding a guild or maybe an entire country that focuses on quartz or granite, using magic to make it easier to wield. Or obsidian would work.

    One thing about guards: in a world where only leather armor is truly mass-producible, bows and arrows would see significantly more use than spears or clubs. Maybe horsemen would use spears, and they would keep pikes around to defend against horsemen, but common guards probably wouldn't carry melee weapons at all.
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    there's a huge difference between no metal and no iron.

    if there's no metal, why not? has no one figured out how to turn ore into metal? and if so then what is the tech level of the world's civilizations?

    if people know how to smelt ore then what ore is available? if copper and tin is available you can make bronze which is fine for making simple weapons and armor. it's not as good as iron but it'll do in my opinion.

    in a world where metal is rare, tons of other materials can be made to make weapons, including bone, obsidian, ivory, glass, stone, and wood. plenty of bludgeoning and piercing weapons don't need metal to be effective.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    I believe in a world like the one described, the most believable reason for the scarcity of metals would be either that the metallic mineral deposits are located in a very limited number of places, or that the minerals simply are not concentrated into ore veins. In the former case, there might be as much metal as we see on earth, it is just that a small handful of people control it tightly. This of course would lead to stagnation of technology and thus further limit the availability. In the latter case technology to refine and work the metal would likely be very high, as that would be the only way to get it. The real problem is that in an extreme version of that case, it is unlikely that the idea of metal work would have come around.

    An alternate more fantastical reason would involve some outside force depleting the available metal- Imagine something like Githyaki pirates arriving by spell-ship and strip mining the planet. The know-how and technology would remain, as would the cultural understanding of metals usefulness, but the resources needed to use such would be limited to the worst of mines- the kind of thing that the pirates considered not worth their time.

    Just some thoughts...

    -+G

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Here we go:

    ---

    A thousand years ago, three massive armies met on a large plain to destroy each other. They were armed to the teeth with metal weaponry and armor.

    The plain was actually the bed of a sea that was drained many years before. An ancient druid spent his days tirelessly studying magic in the hope of one day summoning water back to the plain and restoring the sea that was there before.

    When he saw the armies marching forward, kicking up a veritable storm of dust as they approached, he was filled with such a rage that he decided to stop them in their tracks. He went to the circle of power he had spent years preparing, but instead of summoning water he cast a spell that would attract all the metal swords and shields out of the hands of those who wielded them.

    A great cry of distress went up from the three armies as they were robbed not only of their weapons but their armor and chariots as well. Every little bit of metal turned to liquid and flowed toward the foolish druid who was too entranced by his spell to notice. One of the great generals desperately ordered his archers to attack.

    When the first arrow pierced his neck, the druid howled with frustration more than pain. Unwilling to die without seeing his life's work come to pass, he threw his entire being into the spell.

    The resulting explosion of druidic energy swept over the land, drawing in every scrap of metal for hundreds of miles. Buildings were torn asunder and many were killed in what later became known as the Great Upheaval.

    When it was finished, a massive tower of metal was all that remained of the druid's efforts. The three great armies were never seen again, in fact not a single man left the plain that day. The very iron in their blood had been drawn into the obelisk, frozen in eternal pain and rage yet frozen nonetheless.

    No weapon, magical or otherwise, has ever been able to scratch the surface of the obelisk, and for a long time weapons of war became scarce. But with time, men learned to adapt as they always have. Civilization was rebuilt, and now attempts to thrive in the shadow of the obelisk which serves a silent reminder of a lesson now all but forgotten.

    ---

    Bam, done. Change the amount of time since this happened, and you can control how much society knows about metalworking and how much they've moved on to different materials.

    Sorry, it's midnight here and I totally BS'd that whole thing. Feel free to use or partially use it, I'm a lot better at throwing out random ideas than I am at finishing them.
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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    If metalworking is a lot technology rather than an undeveloped one, that changes things.

    That's the idea behind the Tsurani in the Riftwar books. They're a kind of blend of Inca and Japanese societies and they had to find alternatives to using metal when resources ran out. The metal they have in incredibly precious, to the point where a handful of rusty nails and a broken sword were considered fabulous wealth and a good justification to invade another world.

    If it's an emerging technology to be able to work metal, you've got a different situation to develop.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Re: World Without Metal

    Your coinage is obviously the Iron Piece instead of the platinum!

    In seriousness, if metal is rare and valuable, then it should be used for coins, just as precious metals are normally.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    I'll just second all of the prior mentions of stone, bone, and wooden weapons, since others have said all I can think of. Don't underestimate wood - many communities in south and southeast Asia were banned from metal weapons by their European colonizers, and many adapted by turning to such weapons, including Wood which was generally readily available and easily crafted (relative to stone or bone weapons or composites with those). They were also used to deadly effect, even against their better-armed European oppressors who were still armed with metal and often post-musket weaponry.

    I also want to point out that I think some have forgotten a common substitute for precious metals in a low-metal environment: wood. It's been used before in many countries. And if you don't like something too coin-like, there's also something like the Koban, and similar tab-like forms were used in various places in Eurasia (sometimes wood, historically generally due to lack of availability of gold or silver).

    Quote Originally Posted by Govain View Post
    Riftwar Saga (Magician: Apprentice, Magician: Master, Silverthorn, A Darkness at Sethanon) by Raymond E. Feist.

    It's the beginning of a fantasy series where the general premise is a "normal" fantasy world is being invaded by another where there is virtually no metal. I think that Feist does a good job covering metal substitutes and the role that what little metal there is plays. He makes the whole thing very believable.
    Sounds like something of interest.

  27. - Top - End - #27
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Mayhem's Avatar

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    *excellent*
    Ahem, where was I?

    Ah yes. Petrified wood is harder than steel, many cultures made use of it. The maori used them for their taiaha, which are basically wooden dwarven urgroshes, and they practically made a buisiness out of beheading. A good way of proving you killed someone was to take their head, that was their motto.

    Heh, steel coins. Dragonlance reference, and I would've loved that when I was younger. Now though, I think steel coins in a place where steel is needed is just counterproductive. Gold was coveted, but it wasn't useful for anything.

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    I've got a stone-age campaign world sitting on my back burner, it's got several differences from what you're going for but the no/low metal part is the same.

    For your first questions: Value? Depending on how much metal you want to have, and how many aristocrats, I'd say make a metal sword cost as much as say a good warhorse with tack and harness, or something else that's out of the reach of the "commoners" in a typical fantasy setting. If you want it to be rarer, increase the price. Really a lot of it depends on required infrastructure for producing metal weapons. It's wildly different if there are no more new metal weapons, only relics from some long ago time (as opposed to say: metalsmithing is fairly easy, but metal itself is rare).

    The list I came up with for my stone age setting is: Blowgun, Dart, Dagger, Club, Morningstar (Spiked Club), Shortspear, Longspear, Spear, Quarterstaff, Maces (light/heavy, stone), Javelin, Sling (stones only, -1 dmg), throwing Axe, light Hammer, Handaxe, Battleaxe, Warhammer, Greataxe, Greatclub, Bolas, Net, Shortbow, composite Shortbow, Longbow, Whip. With stone or bone taking the place of metal for the appropriate weapons.

    I'd say if allowing for excellent exotic materials (obsidian, various monstrous fangs/spikes) you could easily add Shortsword, various polearms, and other bladed items to the list.

    In my campaign only one society has developed enough to require money, I have them using tiny shells filled with gold (they use slaves to grab tons of gold-rich sediment and heat it over fires to melt the gold, no forging or real metalworking needed). Gemstones or intricately carved wooden coinage could also work.

    There are several ideas in this thread, but a lot of it depends on the available level of technology and resources in your world.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    First of all I want to join the many other posters in saying that the Empire series of books is highly relevant to what you are trying to do and checking them out (indeed, just skimming them) will probably give you a really good idea of how a society could learn to adapt to a reality where metal is extremely scarce.

    It's important to decide early on how the metal scarcity came to be and how long people have had to adjust to it. In the Empire series the fictional culture have lived with this limitation pretty much forever and have learned to adapt by discovering alternate materials and ways to work them, specifically lacquered wood and needra (think six-legged cow, the entire series is obsessed with legs for some reason) hides. If the change has happened more recently then obviously the struggle to find replacement materials would be rather more frustrating.

    I'm personally not quite convinced by the idea of metal coins, specifically iron/steel coins. Superior metals are simply too damn handy to be tied up in a monetary system - you'd want to use it for crafting/building purposes. Instead I'd say a combination of wood and shell tokens should do the trick, with gems and possibly (soft) metal coins taking the upper stratum of extreme wealth.

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    MonkGuy

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    Default Re: World Without Metal

    Sorry about the double post, I'm typing this on my iPad and I can't seem to find a way to make it scroll once the post window has been filled, so I have no way to edit my post .

    A possible way to make metal weapons stand out that shouldn't require too much work is to keep normal weapons as they are in the PHB, and instead buff metal weapons by giving them a damage dice as though they are 1-2 sizes bigger.
    Since hit points are abstract anyway, there is no reason you can't simply rule that in your campaign a wood lacquered longsword sharpened to a razor edge deals a full 1d8 damage. This way you can keep the balance of the regular gear (and skip the headache of whether or not you're screwing the weapon-based classes) while still making metal weapons feel powerful and desirable. An example would be:

    A lacquered wooden scimitar deals 1D6 damage, it remains unchanged.
    The same scimitar worked in iron deals 1d8 damage, it holds an edge better and is more effective against the predominantly wood/hide/chitin armor.
    The same scimitar worked in ancient Damascus steel and lovingly folded and refolded using techniques passed down from master to apprentice since times immemorial would deal a full 1d10 damage.

    You could probably do something similar with metal armor if your characters should be lucky enough to acquire some, probably by adding additional base AC or some kind of damage reduction.

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