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Faerie weapons? - not made of iron!

Discussion in 'Research' started by Jess A, Jan 8, 2013.

  1. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

    Hello all,

    In many mythologies, faeries are allergic to iron and iron alloys. I would like to keep this in my novel, which is set in a fantasy world based on 1500s-1600s Europe. However, some faerie races are warriors in the novel and are always at war with each other. What might their weapons be made of, avoiding iron? I still picture them with shining swords/axes etc, so something as close as possible - i.e. not so much bone or wood. Perhaps another metal that might not affect them in the same way (aside from the usual injuries caused by dangerous weapons...). Magically-forged swords sounds fun, but I would like a bit more of a basis to what materials have been used. Could magically-reinforced silver work? Sounds like a cop-out. It needs to be durable, strong, common enough to mine, not too hard to clean and maintain, and as lethal/durable as human weapons. I don't know much...if anything...about metalworking.

    Not looking for alternative fighting styles. I want information about swords, spears, axes etc. I just need to know enough to basically describe what they are mining to make the weapons and how they might be made/forged etc.

  2. gethinmorgan

    gethinmorgan Scribe

    Hmm, depends on the kind of faerie you are dealing with ... and the assumption that they would mine the stuff they make their weapons out of. :bee::bee::bee:

    The historic variants are all applicable - bronze, wood and horn, bone and stone, but why stop there? Magical glass? Solidified moonbeams? Unobtainium? Mithril? :D
  3. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    Bronze? It has certain advantages over iron in that it is less brittle, but not so easy to repair - it can't just be put back together but has to be melted down and remade. Bronze - and for that matter copper, which bronze is an alloy of - has the advantage of looking utterly cool and magical when molten, glowing and shining and almost as if it contains a life of its own, and also very shiny and almost sinsiter being as it is a red-ish gold as if it were in fact made of gold and blood. Be aware, though - the shape of a bronze sword will be different to an iron one because of the nature of the metal. if I recall correctly, a more leaf-shaped, curving, elegant blade will be needed rather than a straighter, more angular one. Research Mycenaean swords for an idea of what they might look like.

    Then there's stone. Depending on the beliefs of the fairies you're using, you could have some particular special stones used to make, say, axes and arrow heads that have certain visual features found only in seams high up on mountains - it is thought certain Neolithic residents of Britain sought out certain pieces of greenstone from the Lake District from high up on one of the peaks which were shot through with impurities which made them look very cool indeed (but perhaps not especially useful) while ignoring the purer, more useful stone further down the slopes. But various stones, most notably flint, can be used to make sharp weapons and tools by chipping pieces off with a hammerstone. They come from the earth but don't require smelting.

    Flint can be found under chalk quite often, but elsewhere too. It is formed of cooling molten rock and has an almost glassy quality. Obsidian, too, is formed the same way (in basic forms) and can be very sharp indeed. Tools from these things are shaped by literally striking the piece of flint with a stone. You strike where you want the edge to emerge and keep striking until you've got it the shape you want it. A skilled flintnapper could make a utilitarian axe in under an hour from a piece chipped out of the rock in a mine. For something a bit more refined I don't know.

    In terms of armour, leather would be the obvious choice if avoiding metal, but perhaps not best suited to fairies if they're not farmers. The hide of any forest-swelling creature like a deer might be usable. Or you could use woven withies from a willow tree - not going to do much against an arrow but could stop an inexpertly or wildly swung sword.
  4. Kvothe

    Kvothe Acolyte

    Ebony? Glass? Moonstone?
  5. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

    Alloys e.g copper and tin, the tin making it stronger
  6. Wanara009

    Wanara009 Troubadour

    Obsidian is a staple material for the South American armaments. It's basically broken glass and glass can produce the sharpest naturally occurring edge known to man and can stay sharp for a very long time--so long it's not used. The drawback is that it quickly wore away the sharpness when used. Alternatively, one could always use dense metamorphic stones like marble or slate for blunt weapons or even spear or arrowheads.

    Also coming from South America is salt-treated cotton shirts, strong enough to stop arrows from short bows. Couple this wooden plate/scale armour, you'll get all the basic protection. Lacquered wood is also a good material for armor, especially when made into lamellar, scalar, or laminar armor.

    You can also go the animal way with bone and horn weapons and armour ala Monster Hunter (TM). Note that this won't work well if your setting don't have animals with hide/scales that could resist blades like the Monster Hunter universe.

    I'm not a big fan of crystals since it's very hard to shape and don't usually come in big, workable pieces except in exceptional circumstances. However, a small cutting instruments with crystalline edge/blade is possible. As such, you could make arrow and spearhead out of it.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
    Jess A likes this.
  7. Gurkhal

    Gurkhal Auror

    You can always got magical with them and say that they have weapon made from starlight and tears and things like that.

    Otherwise I think that wood and various types of natural weapons might be what you're looking for. Or they could have some strange metal that humans don't know about.
  8. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    My Fae use bronze for tools and weapons, and sometimes alloys of silver for special stuff like elfshot.
  9. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    Only in Skyrim. :D
  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    You can make up a metal. Mithril, star-metal, and so on.
  11. I'd go with bronze. Only really, really awesome bronze since they are fairies and all.

    Polished bronze has this beautiful golden lustre I could see fairies appreciating, plus bronze is generally associated with older, more pagan times. Perhaps they use some special metalurgy/magic to make them stronger, lighter and more resistant to corrosion than normal bronze? Kinda like the dwarf weapons in Elder Scrolls.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2013
  12. Shreddies

    Shreddies Troubadour

    Depending on the feel of the fairies, you could go with magically treated wood (for the handles) and amber (for the blades). The Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion did something like this for some of its armor and weapons, I thought the amber weapon set looked pretty neat.

    You could also bypass at least one of the problems with crystal that Wanara mentioned by having the fairies cultivate them. Like crystal farms, or something.

    If you don't want something a too far into the realm of fantasy then Bronze might be your best bet. It's a Copper-Tin alloy, so no iron involved. Plus there are a few types of bronze that look almost like gold, only more reddish.
    Jess A likes this.
  13. Though, the Elder Scrolls series in general have this slightly odd approach to glass/ceramic-like materials actually being forgable. (Volcanic glass, ebony, moonstone, amber, etc.) It works because it's an established part of the setting but it doesn't really make sense outside of it - what they call "ebony" clearly isn't even the same type of material as actual ebony*, for example, and what they call glass isn't really actual glass.

    What I'm saying is that this all amounts to making up a whole new material from scratch. They could have called ebony "blacksteel" or something and it would have made functionally no differance.

    *I've always suspected they meant it to be obsidian, but got it mixed up somehow.
  14. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    In the Elder Scrolls universe, "glass" weapons and armor are apparently derived from something called "malachite". Obviously not the same as the malachite from our world, though apparently Earth's malachite can be smelted.
  15. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Yeah, they mostly grabbed some impressive-sounding substances to name their materials after, no logic needed. (For instance, to make the larger moonstone armors in Skyrim, you also add an "ingot of quicksilver"...)

    Then again, it does work as exactly that: a short list of cool words to consider. :)
  16. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage


    You've all given me quite a few options to consider. Thank you for your great contributions!

    On faeries mining metals - yes, there are some faeries who might mine metals (not dwarves but a kind of underground creature), but this does clash a little with common perception of faeries. The other option is that they used to trade with humans - they did in the past - and humans were the miners.

    On bronze, wood etc and magical means - I suppose I could mesh these together. I've never played any of the video games mentioned, so a lot of that stuff doesn't mean much to me :p but the concepts certainly do. I could use a magic rock or volcanic rock drawn from the earth and forged with magic. Probably often done, but since it's not a huge plot point in the story (aside from it being non-iron), it probably doesn't matter too much.

    Or, as someone else mentioned above, weapons completely forged from magic - though I suspect human magic users or other faeries with magic might present a problem if they can 'unwind' the threads of magic from the weapons. I might take that idea for one two faerie kinds, but the warriors will likely use a type of special wood or metal magically forged so it has a solid substance.

    Maybe I am being too logical - after all, as mentioned, this is fantasy!

    Thanks again.

    Also, is there a limit on how many 'thank yous' I can issue? I would like to give everybody a thank you but in the past, the button has vanished after five people have been thanked (or something along those lines)
  17. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

    On armour - the faeries do not farm on a large scale. Most of them hunt and gather or grow small amounts of food. They don't breed animals for slaughter. I was thinking some sort of light metal, but certainly you've given me some other options to think about. Maybe something forest-based. Wood-based even, but very modified.

    Ooh! Crystal farms sound great, I would love one for myself. ;)
  18. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Mithril is the traditional elven magic metal isn't it - from Tolkein at least. But if you didn't want to go that way I'd tend to pick a metal for its coolness. Silver for example would look really cool, though as a metal it would such. But if you allowed it with something, maybe aluminium to make it light, you might be able to get a decent blade out of it. And you could give it a cool name like as previously mentioned, moonsilver.

    Bronze I'd tend to stay away from as such, simply because everyone knows it and most people know it was replaced by steel for obvious reason. But if instead you used the copper part of the bronze alloy and mixed it with something else, say chromium, you could create an interesting alloy that might look damned good. Call it say eldritch copper or some such.

    Also, I'd think again about the natural weapons, bone etc. I agree they don't sound too great at first glance, but don't forget, these are fairy we're talking about. If you can have mythical races, why not mythical beasts that they hunt. So imagine a sword made from the horn of a minotaur. Or a unicorn. Dragon scale armour.

    Cheers, Greg.
  19. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

  20. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

    Greg - all great ideas, cheers for the link, too!

    I did consider having them hunt a mythical creature for its bones. Special bones, of course. But I don't think there would be enough bone to go around to equip so many, and I want to avoid them over-hunting or farming too many creatures. For royalty, that might well serve fine. Yes the reason stated above is why I did shy away from bronze - I have a book on swords and it didn't sound too appealing in the book!

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