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A 'metal culture'

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Firekeeper, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    Ok, so I have another question regarding the kingdoms in my world. One specifically, has built itself on the back of metallurgy. They are based in the north, and have exclusive access to the vast mountain ranges where they get their iron. I call them my 'metal kingdom' because that's basically what they are, they've built their prosperity and way of life around metal and the working of metal.

    My question.....

    I have two differing visions for this kingdom. One is a kingdom whose virtuosity in metallurgy gave rise to other sciences, such as chemistry. Or one where the metallurgists and metal smiths suppressed any other sciences to protect their positions as the quintessential tradesmen of their society.

    Help! Which would you choose to use?
     
  2. Guy

    Guy Inkling

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    I think the first is more plausible. It would be, at best, extremely difficult to suppress the other sciences to that degree, and ultimately detrimental to the development of that society.
     
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  3. Centerfield97

    Centerfield97 Troubadour

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    My first question would be about how this kingdom feeds itself. If it is in the (probably cold) northern region of the continent, and its economy and way of life are primarily focused on metallurgy, where are they getting their food?

    Should this require an importation from other kingdoms, I think it could create an interesting political, social, and economic dependency that could cause conflict later on.
     
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  4. Malik

    Malik Archmage

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    METAL CULTURE!!

    [​IMG]

    "AAAAARRRRHHHH!!! RUCK 'N' RAWWWW-LLLLL!!!"

    I'll just show myself out.
     
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  5. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    Good question. IN my world there are five kingdoms, yet they are not the constantly warring states we often see in fantasy. They aren't exactly on each others Christmas lists, in a manner of speaking, but their able to keep a pretty stable peace between each other. A large reason for that is trade. The metal kingdom (sorry, working title) exports small amounts of their metal working to the others, not much as they are very protective and greedy when it comes to their metal craft, as well as large amounts of timber from the deep mountain forests. In return they get food and other supplies from the other kingdoms, and supplant this with wild game from the same forests.

    I'm not quite sure where this will lead. Good point on the politicking. I'm just not sure which way to go with this. They would certainly be a stronger kingdom if they allowed other sciences to flourish, because they are very agriculturally weak, but somehow I feel that politics would keep other sciences suppressed.

    The metal workers in this kingdom have a very high social status, and the top ones are in many ways seen as more irreplaceable than the royal families. I wouldn't g as far as to say a senior metallurgist could refuse the king, but he would certainly have a clout in local and mid-level courts. I think at least some of the senior metallurgists would feel threatened by a chemist who can make explosives that can clear a dam or be used in war.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
  6. Centerfield97

    Centerfield97 Troubadour

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    I feel like the metal kingdom would face a disadvantage in war. The metal they export can be maintained and doesn't always need to be imported all of the time by other countries. It isn't a necessity. Food, on the other hand, needs to be constantly imported, is difficult to store, and is required for your population to live.

    So imagine another kingdom that provides, say, maybe 80% of the metal kingdom's food, stocks up on metal for creating weapons and armor. Their army fully equipped, they cut off the metal kingdom from food and declare war. Now the metal kingdom can have the most ridiculously decked out knights ever, but without enough food to support their nobility, people, and army, their society will begin to collapse. People will protest, soldiers will starve, and they'll basically be done for.

    Just something to think about.
     
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  7. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    Pretty much. I don't foresee an all out war situation where that weakness is exploited, but it is certainly there and for the most part they are too arrogant to see it. There will voices within the courts who try to highlight this, but for the most part are ignored.

    But this is one of the reasons why peace has lasted so long in this world, because each kingdom is dependent on the others in many ways and each are pretty well established so conquest isn't much of an option.
     
  8. Yellow

    Yellow Minstrel

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    I'd like to add to Centerfield97's comment on military by saying that a country wouldn't even need to export food to your metal kingdom to take advantage of its weakness. A country with no trade relationships whatsoever could simply invade and block trade routes. They wouldn't even need to make war to see the metal kingdom fall, just wait it out while they starve. That's why I would see the metal culture more as a vasal state of sorts to some larger political force that can guarantee a constant stream of imported food in exchange for technology. This would provide more stability to your metal culture, both military and resource-wise, than simply relying on trade with foreign governments.

    As for your question, you could go mid way, and have a culture where other sciences have developed, but under the control of some organization of powerfull metalurgists who at least try to manipulate the evolution of technology in the metal country. You could even mix it up a bit with corrupt governments taking bribes from said guild of powerfull metalurgists to restrict or direct development of other sciences according to their interests. A bit of internal political intrigue is allways a nice touch. Just an idea to toss around.
     
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  9. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    I like those ideas...very interesting. Something to stew on for sure. Thanks! :)
     
  10. Centerfield97

    Centerfield97 Troubadour

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    Why wouldn't this happen? For reasons other than your story's plot, why wouldn't a young council member in another kingdom address it? Nobody is ever content, people are always power hungry.
     
  11. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    It's true, but my world kind of mirrors today's modern superpowers. There is talk of conquest I'm sure, but it would end up being far too costly to the winner, and the other three nations would step in. Each currently benefits too much from the peace to risk conquest, especially considering the toll it would take even if such a war could be won.

    Right now, this is a world without a single, linear plot. There are many stories I'm working on set in this world, it will exist long after they are completed. I think, at some point there will be wars and perhaps the collapse of a kingdom or two, but I don't see this ending in a last-kingdom-standing type scenario. These kingdoms are more or less backgrounds for the actual stories, they aren't the story themselves. But their culture will shape the stories and characters, so they are very important nonetheless.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
  12. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    As somebody dwelling in a part of the world where the economy is dominated by resource extraction...

    With the situation you describe, metals alone wouldn't cut it. In that scenario, the 'metal kingdom' is pretty much automatically a vassal of one or another of the neighboring kingdoms, though they might protest otherwise. There would be 'ambassadors' at court who could almost boss the king around, at a minimum.

    But I also have doubts about metallurgy leading to major advances elsewhere, barring...'practical chemistry' and engineering. To get beyond that, you need other things, like advanced mathematics.

    Now...if the more innovative metalurgists are on good speaking terms with advanced 'natural philosopher' types in the other kingdsoms, then you have the groundwork for a sort of 'enlightenment', as per Europe about 400-500 years ago.
     
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  13. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    My vision for them is that they are a kingdom that fortified itself long ago in an area rich in timber and metals. Since they had the best materials for arms and fortifications at that time, they were basically able to dominate the rest of the land to the point of almost, but not quite wiping out other forces.

    Fast forward a few centuries, and now they are mostly dependent on the other nations for many things. The old arrogance is still there, keeping them from moving forward. They are waning. Fast. Yet for now they still have enough resources and political strength to keep themselves afloat. They are not completely helpless in terms of agriculture and other things, merely weak in them.

    Although, I really do like your idea of them being a kingdom in name only, when really are just a vassal state to another. A king who fancies himself powerful yet is ruled by the ambassadors from the other nations. Oh, I like that :)
     
  14. Quillstine

    Quillstine Troubadour

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    I’m going to go in the opposite direction from the others with this one. I think the idea of the other sciences getting suppressed is really good. I love contrast in a story, and I can see cities made mostly out of metal streaking across a rocky landscape (I am saying rocky because I would imagine the landscape is rather baron due to all the ore! They would look just as impressive if it is a green one!). I think the other sciences being suppressed also makes for some really interesting plot possibilities. Like the German engineers sneaking out of Germany toward the end of the war, I can see chemist’s (alchemist’s depending on your setting I guess!), physicist’s, biologists etc… trying to sneak into other kingdoms to practice their arts. It opens up a range of secret organizations and cults that would be really fun to explore. Like speak easies for researchers in the “Dark Arts”!
    Do the poor suffer in kingdom from a lack of agriculture? I think a revolution from within the kingdom would be more interesting than war from others.
    As for war with the others, I don’t see the kingdom would be that easy to overthrow. You said they hoard a lot of their metal and their skills for wielding it. I would imagine then they give the other kingdoms inferior quality items? Also I imagine they have weapons designed that other kingdoms have no idea exist?
    Sounds like an awesome idea, looking forward to see how it progresses.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
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  15. Firekeeper

    Firekeeper Troubadour

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    Thanks :)

    Yeah, they have a lot of their metal working in their architecture. Not to an extreme point, but we're talking about a culture who is very arrogant in their pride pertaining to the metal working. So it's there in the buildings and cities. And yeah, the mountains are very barren, but this kingdom also possess a lot of the surrounding forests near the mountains, so they have a lot of timber as well. A lot of the cities are in barren areas, but a lot of the outlaying villages are surrounded by trees and wildlife.

    They do indeed export very inferior metals, though they market them as near priceless. They horse all of the good metals and technology for themselves, and are very guarded with their knowledge. For example, if a senior metallurgist went abroad, he'd be ordered to take along an escort for protection, but they would also be there to make sure he does not expose any secrets. He would not be allowed to hold any meetings without at least one member of the escort there to "protect" him. And they do indeed have weapons no other kingdoms know exist. Picture Old Japan selling the West mostly dull, brittle blades while keeping the katana secret.
     

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