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Desril
2012-02-13, 12:56 AM
I saw a topic on making a world without naturally occurring metal, and then this post "Chemists or alchemists would still be able to make at least some. By the simple fact that living creatures contain about a dozen kinds of metals."

That got me thinking, why not make a sword using only metals obtained from the corpses of slain enemies. Quick googling and division gave me the numbers ~100 humans to get the 300 grams of iron that would make most of a 3lb blade.

"The people that used to live in that village to the north."
:smalleek:

My question for the playground is; what do you all think of this idea, and, assuming that adamantine = diamond, how much carbon do you think would be needed to make an adamantine sword? And what would you name that unholy abomination of a weapon?

Knaight
2012-02-13, 01:21 AM
I saw a topic on making a world without naturally occurring metal, and then this post "Chemists or alchemists would still be able to make at least some. By the simple fact that living creatures contain about a dozen kinds of metals."

That got me thinking, why not make a sword using only metals obtained from the corpses of slain enemies. Quick googling and division gave me the numbers ~100 humans to get the 300 grams of iron that would make most of a 3lb blade.

300 grams isn't anywhere near 3 pounds. 3 pounds is approximately 1350 grams, which would require 4.5 times as many materials. Fortunately, 3 pounds is fairly heavy for a sword (unless it is a two handed sword), so not quite that much would be needed in the first place.

Desril
2012-02-13, 01:30 AM
Hrm, yeah, your numbers are closer to right.

~2.2 kg to a pound, but wouldn't the mass in kg of the item be the weight / gravity (9.8m/s2)

How much does a standard blade weigh? The 3 lb was just an estimate on my part, I just knew the 8 lb that games tend to place them at was way over the actual weight.

/facepalm *has figured out my problem, was thinking in Newtons not pounds*
I shouldn't attempt math while half asleep.

Knaight
2012-02-13, 01:45 AM
Hrm, yeah, your numbers are closer to right.

~2.2 kg to a pound, but wouldn't the mass in kg of the item be the weight / gravity (9.8m/s2)

How much does a standard blade weigh? The 3 lb was just an estimate on my part, I just knew the 8 lb that games tend to place them at was way over the actual weight.

/facepalm *has figured out my problem, was thinking in Newtons not pounds*
I shouldn't attempt math while half asleep.

1 pound is very near 450 grams in earth gravity. 900 grams for a one handed sword is entirely reasonable, as is 1kg, which keeps the math simpler.

Bastian Weaver
2012-02-13, 07:32 AM
Well, actually, in a world where metals do not occur naturally the living beings also wouldn't contain as much metallic substances as they do in our world.

Eldan
2012-02-13, 07:50 AM
Well, actually, in a world where metals do not occur naturally the living beings also wouldn't contain as much metallic substances as they do in our world.

A metal-less biochemistry would be a huge headache. Every chain of electronegativity needs several metals. That includes photosynthesis (and pretty much everything else ending in -synthesis) as well as the opposite, digestion of glucose.

I'd recommend just not mentioning it. The world lacks metal ores, not metal ions.

Bastian Weaver
2012-02-13, 08:01 AM
Well, metal ions have to come from somewhere, right? Either from metal ores or magic. Like plants that have roots so deep they reach the bottom of Hell, getting all the required metals from there.
Hmm. Intriguing.

Spiryt
2012-02-13, 08:06 AM
The better question would be how exactly extract those tiny amounts of this stuff from every one of the trillions of cells.....

Even if some bonked villain (aaha haaha haha Buahahaa) would do it just because it's morbid, I would guess that efficiency would so low that even 1000 humans wouldn't be nearly enough for pound of iron....

Eldan
2012-02-13, 08:47 AM
Well, metal ions have to come from somewhere, right? Either from metal ores or magic. Like plants that have roots so deep they reach the bottom of Hell, getting all the required metals from there.
Hmm. Intriguing.

Not really, no. Pretty much every common stone out there consists, to a good part, of metal atoms of one kind or another. Mostly alkalis, true, but iron and copper atoms aren't exactly rare either.

Elemental
2012-02-13, 09:28 AM
Ultimately, a world lacking completely in metals would require quite a bit of divine intervention in order to prevent everything from falling apart.
I mean, if you only use non-metals, you get twenty-five elements, at most. But it's more like twenty-two.

A more realistic explanation would be an extreme rarity of metal ores due to the actions of an ancient civilisation that mined it all out before moving to another place. You only need trace quantities for biology.

Edit: Though, admittedly, a sword crafted from the blood of mortal creatures would have an interesting history.
Imbue it with powers that cause it to become stronger when stained with blood... Add some vampiric properties... A curse or two...
Excuse me, I need to get to my laboratory.

Eldan
2012-02-13, 09:35 AM
Yeah. IT would make a pretty neat artefact backstory. Not remotely realistic, but with blood magic, it could work.

Fhaolan
2012-02-13, 09:51 AM
Working out backstory, don't mind me...

There comes a point that something becomes difficult enough that alternatives will be used because they wouldn't have come up with the concept in the first place. Which is why you end up with weapons like the Macuahuitl, obsidian chips in a wooden cricket bat-like thing.

They're not going to dump a lot of resources into pulling metal out of bodies unless there *was* metal previously, they've gotten used to it, and it's all disappeared now so they're desperately hunting for alternative sources.

In which case, there are easier places. I'm under the impression that plants fix a higher percentage of metal in their tissues than animals do. And the amount of metal disolved in seawater is relatively high. If they've got the tech to refine metal out of human flesh, it will be the same to refine it out of these other sources.

Unless, of course, this is *magic* and blood magic at that (all that iron in the blood, of course), so it requires human sacrifice.

Eldan
2012-02-13, 10:10 AM
To be fair, Alchemists did discover a lot of chemicals by more or less researching blindly. I could see them finding metals in tiny quantities, recognizing their usefulness after some experimenting ("This tiny grain is harder than stone, or bone!") and then trying to make more. Give it a few centuries, and it could work.

Bit Fiend
2012-02-13, 01:07 PM
Working out backstory, don't mind me...

There comes a point that something becomes difficult enough that alternatives will be used because they wouldn't have come up with the concept in the first place. Which is why you end up with weapons like the Macuahuitl, obsidian chips in a wooden cricket bat-like thing.

They're not going to dump a lot of resources into pulling metal out of bodies unless there *was* metal previously, they've gotten used to it, and it's all disappeared now so they're desperately hunting for alternative sources.

In which case, there are easier places. I'm under the impression that plants fix a higher percentage of metal in their tissues than animals do. And the amount of metal disolved in seawater is relatively high. If they've got the tech to refine metal out of human flesh, it will be the same to refine it out of these other sources.

Unless, of course, this is *magic* and blood magic at that (all that iron in the blood, of course), so it requires human sacrifice.

I agree, it would be hard to come up with the concept of "extracting" metals for weapons if no one knew what metals are and what they can be used for in the first place. But we're still talking about a fantasy setting so there's at least one more factor to consider: species other than man. What I'm thinking most of in this context are demons and devils. Even if there was no metal in hell (which I find unlikely \m/) the denizens of the lower planes would for sure have come up with the concept of forging iron weapons from the blood of mortals. Either by looting fallen demons or by friendly contact with fiends mages would eventually have stumbled across this concept too.

Ashtagon
2012-02-13, 02:23 PM
So you kill however many enemies and extract the iron from their bodies.

What are you using for an anvil? What tools are you using to hammer the metal into shape?

erikun
2012-02-13, 03:08 PM
I am rather curious of what process you are planning to use to remove the iron (ions, mind you) from the dead cells of the corpses. You can't exactly boil off organic matter and get iron as a result.

I am also wondering why you are taking all this time to create a poorly-made iron sword - as the dvanced metallurgy for making steel or good sword production wouldn't exist in a world without any known metals - when you have over ten tons of raw calcium to work with from the same corpses. Surely, you could make something far more useful than a single sword from all of that.

Also, a 2-pound sword of diamond would require two pounds of carbon. :smalltongue: Conservation of matter, and all. Probably the best way to measure that, though, would be to burn the body and remove the bones. Organic cells have a lot of oxygen and hydrogen in them. Still, I think a 200-pound body should supply two pounds of ash without much problem. The tricky part would be compacting your carbon-ash into a diamond structure.

Knaight
2012-02-13, 03:33 PM
So you kill however many enemies and extract the iron from their bodies.

What are you using for an anvil? What tools are you using to hammer the metal into shape?

There's no particular reason a polished stone anvil couldn't be used, and the same applies to the hammer. Moreover, the thread presumes the potential existence of viable alchemy and fantasy metals, so magic is in anyways.

On diamond - a diamond sword would be absolutely worthless. Diamond is hard, yes, but it is also very inflexible and very brittle, neither of which are desirable qualities in a sword. A diamond sword is liable to shatter the instant it comes into contact with so much as a the stone of a stone headed club.

Bit Fiend
2012-02-13, 03:38 PM
I am rather curious of what process you are planning to use to remove the iron (ions, mind you) from the dead cells of the corpses. You can't exactly boil off organic matter and get iron as a result.

Nah, we're talking about alchemy, not chemistry... :smallwink:

Fhaolan
2012-02-14, 12:48 AM
On diamond - a diamond sword would be absolutely worthless. Diamond is hard, yes, but it is also very inflexible and very brittle, neither of which are desirable qualities in a sword. A diamond sword is liable to shatter the instant it comes into contact with so much as a the stone of a stone headed club.

Again, you'd likely go the Macuahuitl route, mounting diamonds on the edge of a more flexible 'core' material, like ratan or the like.

Xuc Xac
2012-02-14, 08:28 AM
Why use diamonds? Broken glass (like obsidian) is already the sharpest cutting edge known to science. Diamonds are just really hard but they aren't particularly sharp. In fact, in their natural state, diamonds are as sharp and pointy as a d8.

The idea of a using iron from blood to make weapons was discussed in an earlier thread here. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192425)

Need_A_Life
2012-02-14, 08:39 AM
assuming that adamantine = diamond, how much carbon do you think would be needed to make an adamantine sword? And what would you name that unholy abomination of a weapon?
X-1, where X is a PC, relative of a PC, ally of a PC, casual acquaintance of a PC or child of a PC.

They'd be just in time to save the named NPC (maybe), while the unnamed NPC before them delivered the last amount of material for Bloodrend. Of course, if X amount of victims makes a powerful item, what about X+1?

Or what if it stores the knowledge of those whose lifeblood it takes, allowing the knowledge on how to fight some greater evil to be preserved until it is needed once more, at the cost of a few lives now?

Hmmm... *scribbles campaign notes*

Dr. Yes
2012-02-14, 08:41 AM
Re-reading the OP, I don't think he was talking about making this sword in a metal-less world—that discussion is just what sparked the idea.

If you wanted to save on time and Human Resources, you could also render the village's livestock. That way, you could still legitimately say that your sword was made from the citizens of [x] village. :smallsmile:

mcv
2012-02-15, 08:33 AM
I agree, it would be hard to come up with the concept of "extracting" metals for weapons if no one knew what metals are and what they can be used for in the first place. But we're still talking about a fantasy setting so there's at least one more factor to consider: species other than man. What I'm thinking most of in this context are demons and devils. Even if there was no metal in hell (which I find unlikely \m/) the denizens of the lower planes would for sure have come up with the concept of forging iron weapons from the blood of mortals. Either by looting fallen demons or by friendly contact with fiends mages would eventually have stumbled across this concept too.

I think this is exactly it. If a world has only trace amounts of metal, nobody will know how to work metals. But demons and other outsiders might have access to other worlds that do know metalworking. The idea of making a sword from the iron in blood fits right in with demons.

So likely someone sells his soul (and quite a few others) to demons for the knowledge of how to make really powerful swords. And it involved a lot of blood and results in a weapon made from a material nobody in this world has ever seen before.

Cwymbran-San
2012-02-15, 09:07 AM
On the matter of weight: a sword weighing 3 pounds would not be fit to do what it is designed for in the first place: slashing open someone, as well as pierce armor.
An average swordsman would need to put a tremendous amount of energy into the swing just to achieve a cut, not to mention crack bones. And after a sufficient application of force, the metal would yield to the force of the wielders arm and break.
My own katana (equivalent of a slash-only bastard sword) weighs 3750 grams which ist roughly 7 pounds, the the longsword would be in the range of 5-6 to be effective.
Diamond would not break (too hard for that), but the impact would trace up the arm holding the blade, forcing the wielder to drop it or break the wrist.

Ever smashed a stick into a tree as a child? Remember how much that hurt in your arm? Now imagine doing the same thing with a stick made of much harder material. The force from the impact needs to go somewhere, and if the blade does not yield (and vibrate as most metals do in that case), your bones will. This is another reason for a certain needed weigh on some blades: to absorb the impact of a blow before it can hurt the wielder. Try stopping a baseball bat swung your way with a knife, then try again with a bat yourself and see what i mean :smallsmile:

As to the original idea: Sounds sick, kind of "what happens if the dragon kings of Athas find out about this?" Such a weapon would be utterly evil, like Stormbringer.
So i would name it Bloodcaller. Born out of blood and screaming for more.

Spiryt
2012-02-15, 09:24 AM
On the matter of weight: a sword weighing 3 pounds would not be fit to do what it is designed for in the first place: slashing open someone, as well as pierce armor.
An average swordsman would need to put a tremendous amount of energy into the swing just to achieve a cut, not to mention crack bones. And after a sufficient application of force, the metal would yield to the force of the wielders arm and break.
My own katana (equivalent of a slash-only bastard sword) weighs 3750 grams which ist roughly 7 pounds, the the longsword would be in the range of 5-6 to be effective.

I don't know where are you taking those heresies from, but please don't post it in informative tone like that, becuase someone may just got fooled.

Longsword doesn't need to be in range of 5 - 6 pounds to be 'effective' and they very, very rarely weighted that much.

Katanas of 'average' dimensions pretty much never weighted even close to that. They also weren't in any possible way "slash only".

3750 grams is a bit above 8 pounds actually, and any 'katana' weighing that much must be ridiculously overbuilt.

Swords weren't usually designed to pierce armor either, you don't need massive blades to 'crack' and cut bones...

As far as shock goes, you don't need really massive blades, that's what proper harmonics were for.

And so on, and so on....

Some quick reference for originals:

http://www.palus.demon.co.uk/Sword_Stats.html

http://www.zornhau.de/source/schwertexkursion/dinkelsbuehl2.htm

Diamond would not break (too hard for that)

Porcelain is also pretty hard, and it breaks like hell.

Diamonds obviously aren't very similar to porcelain, but are also somewhat brittle.

Premier
2012-02-15, 09:24 AM
On the matter of weight: a sword weighing 3 pounds would not be fit to do what it is designed for in the first place: slashing open someone, as well as pierce armor.
An average swordsman would need to put a tremendous amount of energy into the swing just to achieve a cut, not to mention crack bones. And after a sufficient application of force, the metal would yield to the force of the wielders arm and break.
My own katana (equivalent of a slash-only bastard sword) weighs 3750 grams which ist roughly 7 pounds, the the longsword would be in the range of 5-6 to be effective.

I'm afraid you, like many other people informed by popular culture, are gravely incorrect about the weight of historical swords. Most medieval and renaissance one-handed swords were around 2.5-3.5 pounds, and hardly ever exceeding 4 (http://www.thearma.org/essays/weights.htm), and even renaissance two-handed swords (ones intended for actual use, not including ceremonial weapons), almost as long as a man is tall, were not heavier than 8 pounds. (http://www.thearma.org/essays/2HGS.html) These are swords actually made in the middle ages and the renaissance and found in museums, not replicas.

And going by the weight, your katana sounds like something made by modern tools and materials with little consideration of historical accuracy, probably on a manufacturing line for tourists or people who just want to have one hang from their wall but don't actually know anything about swords. No offense intended, you understand, but if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck...

EDIT: Ninja'd.

Xuc Xac
2012-02-15, 11:16 AM
Diamond would not break (too hard for that), but the impact would trace up the arm holding the blade, forcing the wielder to drop it or break the wrist.

Others have already pointed out how laughably wrong you are about swords, so I'll just point out the error in this part. Hardness is just a measure of the amount of force required to dent or scratch something, not break it. Diamonds will shatter quite easily if struck forcefully because of their extreme hardness. Something soft will absorb the blow's energy by collapsing and forming a dent. Something flexible will flex under the impact and then bounce back. A diamond is neither soft nor flexible because it's so hard.

Conners
2012-02-15, 12:36 PM
Talk about swords becoming rare... Only Emperors and mighty Kings would have swords, in such a setting.

In generally though... it'd just freeze the world in a pre-history setting, with stone knives, stone arrowheads, stone swords (Aztecs), and wooden weapons (like stone-headed spears, or just sharpened stakes).

You'd need people to have implausible amounts of metal in their bodies to have it any other way. Few societies are psychotic enough to farm human organs... but they might become that way out of necessity.

DoctorGlock
2012-02-15, 01:09 PM
I am rather curious of what process you are planning to use to remove the iron (ions, mind you) from the dead cells of the corpses. You can't exactly boil off organic matter and get iron as a result.

Any chance a centrifuge would work?

Knaight
2012-02-15, 05:18 PM
Any chance a centrifuge would work?

There are two main issues.
1) Rotary motors tend to use magnets, which means we're going to need metal. Lots of it. So that doesn't help.
2) The iron is actually chemically bonded to a bunch of CHNOP molecules - centrifuges tend to work better when you aren't trying to actually break chemical bonds, particularly as this centrifuge is going to be on the slow side as the best option is probably water power.

TheStranger
2012-02-16, 12:00 AM
With real-world physics, it's insanely difficult to get the metal out of a human body. Luckily, we're playing D&D, and mashing a human body into a fine paste and extracting a few grams of metal probably wouldn't take more than a 3rd level spell, if that. Of course, wall of iron is only a 6th level spell, but we'll ignore that.

Personally, I'd apply the rule of cool. Handwave the details and go to town. How many people does it take to make a sword? A defeated enemy army, or a city full of their women and children, or some other dramatically appropriate number. How do they get the metal out? Magic and/or alchemy. Could the PCs do it? Sure, there's a spell you can learn, but the logistics are a bear, it would take a long time, and anyway, I'm not going to run a game where you commit genocide. For bonus points, make up a reason that only metals from sapient beings can be forged into weapons (or just say that only sapient beings have the metals in them - maybe that's why they're sapient in the first place). Otherwise, somebody will come up with the idea of making swords from cows and ruin the effect.

I'm imagining a world where every metal weapon that has ever been made has a name and an epic backstory, and learning all of them wouldn't take more than a few days. Making such a weapon should require horrific acts of genocide (or, occasionally, epic sacrifices where an entire army willingly gets pulped in order to arm a hero to face some rampaging evil), along with teams of arcanists working around the clock to "smelt" the raw materials into useable form. Any metal weapon should have dozens of stories told about the heroes and villains who have wielded it.

I kind of want to run a game in that world.

Coidzor
2012-02-16, 01:23 AM
Yeah. IT would make a pretty neat artefact backstory. Not remotely realistic, but with blood magic, it could work.

If you're going to that point you might as well just make the sword out of solid blood.

Cwymbran-San
2012-02-16, 07:10 AM
My apologies for the confusion i may have caused concerning weight and measures. A part of me wants to say i only wanted to draw all the experts out of cover, but that would be a lie. I posted these things because of false memories on my side, coming from visits to museums with examples of swords and armor through different ages.
There were quite a few examples of plate armor pierced by swords, so i asked the custodian how that happened and he told me about the weight of the weapons, the way they worked and stuff. So this is how it came to me.

And just for the record, no, my katana indeed is handforged, not from a japanese mastersmith but in europe, and is exactly the posted weight. It was made for my size and strength from modern steel, agreed, but i trusted the smith to know what he was doing :smallsmile:

jaybird
2012-02-16, 08:39 AM
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ed050p347?journalCode=jceda8

Anyone in a sciences program at university should be able to access this through their library website. Shouldn't be too difficult, 2nd year orgo/biochem labs never really are.