Discussion:Article 1 of Homebrew

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ConorOberstIsGo (talk06:25, 7 March 2015 (MST)[edit]

Baptism Of Fire[edit]

Earth for many a thousand year,
Then I am born of flame,
For one mere moment water-doused,
Tell me, what is my name? - Traditional Dwarven riddle adapted to Common


The fireball spells and the flaming swords of high fantasy are what most come to mind when D&D is mentioned in the same breath as ‘fire’. I am here to tell you that this idea is plainly wrong-headed. Consider this:

Your typical Faerûn inhabitant uses fire for light and heat and food. She wakes at dawn and may have a raw breakfast but the meat happens to be smoked to cure it. Based on travels or her home’s location she will set aside time to gather firewood. What would it mean to her if the wood supply was wet or exhausted? Without arcane techniques, even the lighting of a candle requires an oil lamp. And how is this lamp lit? Her plough and tools are forged locally and her leathers are tanned with heat from the fire. A theatrical performance after dark in the Middle Ages would have to be lighted, again, with naked flame. So many theatres burnt down that a literal iron curtain was invented (from whence the term derives).

Perhaps Faerûn operates a more sophisticated judicial system but, in human history, fire was also employed not only to deliver a sentence but also to arrive at a verdict. Ordeal By Fire was as much a sentence as it was a means to establish guilt. The accused would be made to walk over red-hot ploughshares or hold a red-hot iron rod. Their innocence would then be determined by the degree to which their burns had healed in three days’ time. Animals and inanimate objects would also be put on trial in the Middle Ages as deodands (forfeits to God). Even tree branches which fell and killed a villager were held legally responsible. While animals were often sentenced to death by hanging or burning, I have tried as hard as I can to discover whether a tree branch would be drowned or hanged until dead but cannot find the answer (you might think it should be burned at the stake but presumably you would have to find a wooden stake who was also guilty of murder to tie it to).

Let’s return to the idea of fire as a weapon; in human history the ransacking of villages was often accompanied by torching of village huts or ‘scorched earth’ (the practice of burning farms as you invade a land to make the conquered populace dependent on your supply line). Weaponry would specifically make use of fire’s destructive and terrifying effect long before WWI’s flamethrowers; a hail of fire arrows could, predictably, raze wooden forts to the ground and did so for thousands of years. There would be no point in firing them off The Wall at a wildling infantry army in the Game of Thrones series, although it might look pretty badass – sorry Throneheads! (actually, can we please start calling GoT fans ‘Thronies’? I would like that).

The Chinese had initially used pyrotechnics for celebratory purposes but then began using it in warfare to propel arrows and even live rats, which were fired at the enemy to create fear among men and horses. Greek Fire (an ancient form of napalm) was hurled in pots or pumped under pressure at enemy ships to great effect too. The secret of Greek Fire may itself have been one of the technologies lost in the burning of the Library at Alexandria. This event is said to have set back humankind’s technological advance by as much as a thousand years (more recently, the name of the inventor of the fire hydrant was lost to history when the patent office also burnt down – tragedy but on a different scale).

Now to bring this back to D&D: What are the consequences of Alchemist’s Fire in a confined, poorly-ventilated dungeon? Could you light a big fire at a cave mouth and choke or smoke out its inhabitants? I think most DMs might entertain such an idea. Alternatively, some DMs might read this and plan a tavern fire encounter with treacherous falling beams, someone to rescue, walls of fire and mad-eyed goblin arsonists. While your characters are camping on the road and telling stories staring at campfire flames, or carrying torches into the darkest crypts, or disinfecting wounds with hot irons, or cooking up a halfling hotpot, just give it all a second thought. In the meantime, please read on and see what takes your fancy in this, the proudly-presented 0th edition of Homebrew.

Riddle Answer: Steel

Author: Jonathan Poupart (AKA ConorOberstIsGo)

ConorOberstIsGo (talk06:25, 7 March 2015 (MST)[edit]

This is just a first draft and may not flow well or might strike an odd tone. It's up for comments but please don't edit the article above when posting or else your constructive comments may become redundant as each person rewrites it. Instead just post as you would in any other discussion and feel free to quote me. I welcome criticism as my day job is fiction so this is an area I would like to work on. I will also try to submit other things around 5e encounters/items but again these will be separate discussion threads.

ConorOberstIsGo (talk00:15, 13 March 2015 (MST)[edit]

Baptism Of Fire vers2[edit]

Earth for many a thousand year,
Then I am born of flame,
For one mere moment water-doused,
Tell me, what is my name? - Traditional Dwarven riddle adapted to Common


The fireball spells and the flaming swords of high fantasy are what most come to mind when D&D is mentioned in the same sentence as ‘fire’. I am here to tell you that this idea is plainly wrong-headed. Consider this:

Your typical Faerûn inhabitant uses fire for light and heat and food. She wakes at dawn and may have a raw breakfast but the meat happens to be smoked to cure it. Based on travels or her home’s location she will set aside time to gather firewood. What would it mean to her if the wood supply was wet or exhausted? Without arcane techniques, even the lighting of a candle requires an oil lamp. And how is this lamp lit? Her plough and tools are forged locally and her leathers are tanned with heat from the fire. A theatrical performance after dark in the Middle Ages would have to be lighted, again, with naked flame. There were so many theater fires that a literal iron curtain was invented (where we get the phrase).

Perhaps Faerûn operates a more sophisticated judicial system but, in our world's history, fire was once employed not only to deliver a sentence but also to arrive at a verdict. Ordeal By Fire was as much a sentence as it was a means to establish guilt. The accused would be made to walk over red-hot ploughshares or hold a red-hot iron rod. Their innocence would then be determined by the degree to which their burns had healed in three days’ time. Animals and inanimate objects would also be put on trial in the Middle Ages as deodands (forfeits to God). Even tree branches which fell and killed a villager were held legally responsible. While animals were often sentenced to death by hanging or burning, I have tried as hard as I can to discover whether a tree branch would be drowned or hanged until dead but cannot find the answer (you might think it should be burned at the stake but presumably you would have to find a wooden stake who was also guilty of murder to tie it to).

Let’s return to the idea of fire as a weapon; the ransacking of villages was often accompanied by torching of village huts or ‘scorched earth’ (the practice of burning farms as you invade a land to make the conquered populace dependent on your supply line). Weaponry would specifically make use of fire’s destructive and terrifying effect long before WWI’s flamethrowers; a hail of fire arrows could, predictably, raze wooden forts to the ground and did so for thousands of years. There would be no point in firing them off The Wall at a wildling infantry army in the Game of Thrones series – sorry Throneheads! - although it might look pretty badass. Actually, can we please start calling GoT fans ‘Thronies’? I love both the books and the show but I would like that.

The Chinese initially used pyrotechnics for celebratory purposes but then began using it in warfare to propel arrows and even live rats, which were fired at the enemy to create fear among men and horses. Greek Fire (an ancient form of napalm) was hurled in pots or pumped under pressure at enemy ships to great effect too. The secret of Greek Fire may itself have been one of the technologies lost in the burning of the Library at Alexandria. This event is said to have set back humankind’s technological advance by as much as a thousand years (more recently, the name of the inventor of the fire hydrant was lost to history when the patent office also burnt down – tragedy but on a different scale).

Now to bring this back to D&D: What are the consequences of Alchemist’s Fire in a confined, poorly-ventilated dungeon? Could you light a big fire at a cave mouth and choke or smoke out its inhabitants? I think most DMs might entertain such an idea. Alternatively, some DMs might read this and plan a tavern fire encounter with treacherous falling beams, someone to rescue, walls of fire and mad-eyed goblin arsonists. While your characters are camping on the road and telling stories staring at campfire flames, or carrying torches into the darkest crypts, or disinfecting wounds with hot irons, or cooking up a halfling hotpot..... just give it all a second thought. In the meantime, please read on and see what takes your fancy in this, the proudly-presented 0th edition of Homebrew.

Riddle Answer: Steel

Author: Jonathan Poupart (AKA ConorOberstIsGo)

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