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A world with very little metal (geography, society)

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Swordfry, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. Swordfry

    Swordfry Troubadour

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    I think I have finally come to the conclusion that my world is going to be one with very little metal. There is metal, every kind found on Earth, just in quantities too small to be used for mass productions like buildings, weapons, and armor. To be clear, there is no shortage of essential metals in living organisms. A human in this world would not be iron deficient.

    What impact would this have on my world? Would landscapes be different than here on Earth?

    Any change in the makeup of bodies of water or animals living in them? I know that many fish contain high amounts of a few metals so this could be different.

    Would it at all effect agriculture?

    Would it effect the types of animals? Like more or less herbivores?


    How advanced could a human-like society become without the mass use of metal as a resource? Buildings, especially more large scale ones like cathedrals and castles.

    How advanced could this society become in terms of productivity? I know it would be lower, as some trades would be more difficult. But could a society like this flourish as a large city, able to properly support a large population? This is all without any kind of mechanization. So nothing like steam powered, or wooden machines or clockworks.


    This would already somewhat suit my different intelligent races and where they live. One mostly lives in heavily forested regions, one in near barren, rocky tundras, and one secluded to the coasts of the main continent, living on beaches and coastal cliffs. So really I can see my races living pretty well without hardly any metal as a resource.
     
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    Sounds like Feists 'Kelewan,' a planet from his 'Riftwar' series. Kelewan's inhabitants came up with a number of clever alternatives to metal for weapons and mundane items. Unlike your world, Kelewan was home to a powerful empire with ambitions spanning worlds.

    My 'second world' is something like this, though with a number of sophisticated civilizations. This has more to do with geography than ought else; there simply isn't that much land. The one metal I allowed in almost normal quantities was iron, as its fairly common. Even so it's not wasted. Being a terraformed world, though, there are no coal deposits, which means using fumar tree's and solar concentrators to work metal with.
     
  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    Iron's going to be common no matter what, honestly. At least, common enough to be used for tool making. Even if you have a world with very low metal content, you will still see meteor impacts, assuming such things exist in your world of course.
     
  4. Reilith

    Reilith Sage

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    You can have mostly wooden structure for living, and common stone ones for more important ones. As for geography I am not so sure. I would have to look it up first, then give you a nudge.
     
  5. Asura Levi

    Asura Levi Sage

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    That reminds me of the Dark Sun setting for D&D, a world where the resources had being so depleted that iron/steel weapons are a rarity, the standard being wood and bone weapon.

    But I do not know if bones are any good for sword-like weapons.

    I also haven't a clue about geography or life in general.

    You could have the minerals all the same and in great amount but far too deep to be used maybe?
    Or [with] some magical plague that destroyed the metal on the surface?

    In truth, I really haven't got a clue about your main questions, but wanted to share a bit of ideas. :)
    (here in hopes of not having being too useless, :D )
     
  6. Swordfry

    Swordfry Troubadour

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    Not useless at all! I actually hadn't considered simply having most of the metals too deep down into the ground to be accessible. I really don't have a subterranean race like dwarves too.


    And in case anyone is curious, I'm planning on having weapons made out of things like sea shells, coral, and pieces of crustaceans like shells as a big trade of weaponry. The sea life is much stronger and more durable than here on earth, so this is actually very plausible for decent weapons and gear.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
  7. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    This reminds me of my post-apocalyptic mermaid story. The apocalypse involved a sea goddess taking all the worked metal in the world and bringing it back down under the crust so humans couldn't use it against the merfolk (since earth metal is toxic to them). The merfolk use weapons of narwhal tusk, fire coral, shark teeth, etc. rather than metal.
     
  8. X Equestris

    X Equestris Maester

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    You can always use rock as weapons. Obsidian in particular would be a game changing resource in a world where softer materials are used as weapons.
     
  9. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    Very true. Flint is very good as well; apparently it can take an edge sharper than steel.
     
  10. Tom

    Tom Istar

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    Oh yes. I've seen a flintknapper create a flint knife in less than two minutes that could slice leather like butter. Not the kind of edge I'd want to be on the receiving end of. Obsidian holds a sharper edge than flint, but it's also more brittle, and will break into shards if it's worked too much. Flint is an ideal material, as it's a lot more durable, and is easier to fashion a weapon out of.
     
  11. elcheapodeca

    elcheapodeca Dreamer

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    For armor you could look into bone or tusk armor. Like in this picture of a cooper age Siberian warrior. [​IMG]
     
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  12. Bluesboy

    Bluesboy Dreamer

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    Iron wasn't in very high supply in China and Japan for much of their history as it doesn't naturally occur in high quantities in that area. Their swords are therefor slim and sharp, often with only one edge to maximise the efficiency of the small amount of metal in it. Maybe a research into Chinese and Japanese warfare would be of benefit to you :)...your societies don't have to resemble those cultures, but their attitude to metal I think would be similar.

    Hope this helps
     
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