Friday, March 29, 2019

It may as well be gold

When fantasy authors want have a substance with some strange, fantastic property, they often create a fictional element whose sole defining characteristic is that one property: adamantium, kaiber, mithril. Ditto many fictional species. Consider the tribble, which is completely uninteresting save for its impossible fecundity. And fictional materials are not created for no reason. There is never any descriptions of "Jorium, which is like aluminum with a melting point that's slightly higher and a reddish sheen."

Fine, but it can be interesting to break this rule. Maybe iron weapons sever the soul, which mithril is merely a hard metal bled by a god, as in Holy Selmat. Maybe lightsabers require corundum, and they are red or blue based on whether they are fueled by a sapphire or a ruby. The point is, interesting features should not be restricted to the annex of fictional entities, doled out one-per as needed. Bees are weird! Hickory is weird! There's a reason you come up with interesting monsters when you ask yourself "what if this animal behaved like that animal?" You are defamiliarizing the animal's behavior.
One thing I want to try is a slight tweak on +X magic weapons. Rather than just having the number, I would assign each number to a certain material or technique. Like, a wood staff would be +0 if it were ash and +3 if it were ironwood.

Some implications of this:

  • +X weapons are not necessarily magic, but higher numbers probably still are.
  • You can cap the highest plus based on the material.
  • Certain materials are more abundant in some places and nonexistent in others, creating a natural disparity.
  • Wood weapons: +0 ash, +1 oak, +2 hickory, +3 ironwood, +4 clipwood*
  • Metal weapons: +0 iron, +1 steel, +2 damascus steel/noric steel, +3 starmetal, +4 taseqtis, +5 half-gold*
*Let's say clipwood a species of tree that glitches into itself, so that one branch is actually three identical branches clipped into each other, making the weapon very dense.
*Let's say half-gold is irradiated gold after 5 years of decay. I know some people have written about how gold must be magic (why else is it expended in so many magic rituals,) and when it's radioactive it radiates that magic in a powerful aura. After 5 years it's mostly safe to wield.

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