Dragon by Dragon – August 1976 (2)

August of 1976 – A month after the bicentennial, and Marvelites were grooving to such titles as Planet of the Apes, The Champions and Black Goliath, the Seattle Seahawks were playing their first game, Big Ben breaks down in London, Viking 2 enters orbit around Mars, the Ramones make their first appearance at CBGB, and The Dragon’s second issue hits the stands. So what did the gaming geek of 1976 get for his money?

John M. Seaton devises a procedure for “monkish” promotional combat (i.e. knock off the master to assume his level). I love this kind of thing, and given the recent popularity of FlailSnails Jousting, I wonder if there isn’t a market for FlailSnails Monkish Combat.

The procedure would be similar – write up 6 rounds of combat, denoting your strike, kick, block or other maneuvers, and then we see where it goes.

Lots of fiction in this issue.

The second installment of Gygax’s Gnome Cache is in this issue. I’ll freely admit this here – I almost never read the fiction in Dragon. I probably missed out on something.

Speaking of fiction, Jake Jaquet gives us the conclusion to “Search for the Forbidden Chamber”. Didn’t read this either.

Gardner Fox (you might have heard of him) has a short story in this issue called Shadow of a Demon which is covered very capably at Grognardia.

Another installment of “Mapping the Dungeons”, wherein DM’s of the 1970’s try to hook up with players via The Dragon. St. Louis appears to have had a surplus of DM’s looking for players – 8 of them in this issue.

Some dude named Paul Jaquays was running the Spring Arbor College Dungeoning Society in Spring Arbor MI. Wonder if he ever amounted to anything.

Through the magic of Google, I found the following DM’s online:

Keith Abbott of Muskegon MI

Michael Dutton of Mountain View CA might have done some art for WOTC – could be a different guy

Bill Fawcett of Schofield WI kinda founded Mayfair Games

Karl Jones – could be this guy?

Drew Neumann – maybe a composer of film and television scores – he was at Wylie E. Groves High School in Detroit at the right time (Class of ’77). Could have known Ellen Sandweiss, who was in Evil Dead. Did music for Aeon Flux

Scott Rosenberg of Jamaica NY – has a couple issues of The Pocket Armenian floating around online.

Ed Whitchurch has achieved some level of DM’ing fame

Joe Fischer gives us more tips for D&D Judges. He covers interesting entrances for dungeons (i.e. under stuff you don’t expect them to be under) and “friendly” traps that aren’t necessarily harmful. He also provides a random table for treasure chests that are, 50% of the time, trapped thus …

D% Trap
0-30 – 1d4 spring-loaded daggers fire when chest is opened
31-50 – Same as above, but daggers are poisoned
51-65 – Poisoned gas released when chest is opened
66-75 – When opened, chest acts as mirror of life trapping
76-85 – When opened, chest explodes for 1d6+1 dice of damage (wow!)
86-90 – When opened, an enraged spectre comes out [which can be read a couple ways, either of them endlessly entertaining]
91-95 – All characters within 5 feet lose one level [after the first use of this trap, I guarantee everyone will give the thief plenty of space when opening chests]
96-98 – All characters within 5 feet lose one magic item
99-00 – Intelligent chest with abilities of 2nd – 9th level magic-user [nice!]

He also mentions intelligent gold pieces that scream when removed from a room, or replacing real gold pieces in a dragon’s horde with chocolate coins (though as valuable as chocolate was in the “olden days”, that might actually be a step up). He also brings up the idea of creatures with odd alignments (chaotic dwarves, for example).

A couple more spotlights (Joe Fischer rocks!)

Monster Gems are 500 gp gems that can be commanded to turn into monsters (per rolling a wandering monster) for one week – when the week is up, or they are killed, the gem is destroyed as well. It might be fun to rule that every gem worth 500 gp (exactly) is a monster gem.

Hobbit’s Pipe (by Marc Kurowski) – Clay pipe, when smoked, gives ability to blow multi-colored smoke rings (4 per turn, moving at 4” (40’) per turn – love the specificity). The pipe can be smoked 3/day. He also offers up five magic pipeweeds, a bag of infinite wealth, helm of forgetfulness, and ring of infravision.

Lynn Harpold give a long account of Quetzalcoatl and his cult in Central America.

Creature Features gives us the remorhaz. Love the “stat block”:

Move: 12”
Hit Dice: 6/10/14 (8 sided) dice
% in Lair: 20%
Type Treasure: F
Bite for 3-36 points
Breath for 3, 5, or 7 dice of fire damage
Magical Resistance: 75%
Low Intelligence
Number Appearing: 1 (1-4 if in lair)
Description: 30’ long. Blue Hued underneath, wings & head backed with red.
Armor Class: Underside: 4. Back: 0 plus special. Head: 2.

Apparently, the standardization bug had not yet bitten.

Jon Pickens presents the Alchemist, a new D&D class. They don’t label this one as an “NPC Class”, so I guess it is fair game for all you D&D-ers out there. I’ll roll one up quickly for FlailSnails:

Xander Wort, Neutral 1st level Alchemist (Student)
Str: 5; Int: 13; Wis: 16; Dex: 16; Con: 7; Cha: 10
HP: 2; Attack: As Cleric; Save: As Fighter (+2 vs. poison and non-magic paralyzation)

Max. AC is 5
Can use one-handed weapons (excluding magic swords)
Use poisons and magic items usable by all classes
Psionic ability as fighters (replace Body Weaponry with Molecular Agitation)

Special Abilities:
Detect Poison 20%
Neutralize Poison 10%
Neutralize Paralyzation 15%
Identify Potion 5%
Read Languages 80% (one attempt per week)
Prepare poisons (strength level equal to their level; costs 50 gp and 1 day per level) and drugs (as poisons, but knocks unconscious for 4 hours)
Prepare a potion of delusion

None – until 3rd level (Scribe)

His bit on poison is pretty cool. If the HD of the poisoner or level of poison is equal to or greater than the victim’s HD, they must save or die. If at least half their HD, they are slowed until a constitution check is passed, trying once per hour. If less than half, there is no effect, but the poison accumulates in the blood until it’s enough to slow or kill the person. A very nice system!

This is actually a very groovy class. The hit points are low, so I don’t know how long Xander would have to live, but he can wear some decent armor and load up on poisoned darts and a poisoned long sword and might just make it to 2nd level.

Jon Pickens also presents optional weapon damage, allowing fighters and thieves to gain mastery in different weapons, increasing the damage they deal with them (except with dwarf hammers, military picks, pikes, pole arms and arrows). Fighters master one weapon per three levels, thieves one weapon per four (and are limited to sword, dagger and sling). Those with a Dex of 13 or better can gain mastery with a combination of two weapons, gaining the ability to strike with both weapons per round or with one weapon and treat the other as a shield. Sword and sword or flail and morningstar combos require a Dex of 16 or better.

Another good system – very clean and simple to use.

All in all, a pretty good issue. Lots of neat rules ideas and some good pulp literature.

Mines and Mining – Part Five

The Finale! Previous posts are as follows:

Part One: Mining and Smelting
Part Two: Alabaster to Corundum
Part Three: Diamond to Lodestone
Part Four: Marble to Rhodochrosite

Natron (5 sp / lb): Art, Preservation
Salt (5 gp / lb): Alchemy, Cooking

Salt occurs as a white, pink or reddish mineral in rock salt form. Rock salt occurs in vast beds of sedimentary minerals resulting from the drying of enclosed lakes and seas. These salt beds may by up to 350 meters thick and cover many square miles. Salt is also extracted from sea water.

Salt can be extracted from rock salt deposits by mining it. This was traditionally a very dangerous profession, and thus left to slaves and convicts. The salt occurs in the form of irregular salt domes, and may be transparent, white, pink, reddish or red in alternating bands. Some salt mines still in operation today are very ancient, including famous mines in the Punjab and Poland. These mines cover many square miles, run up to 10 levels deep, and have hundreds of miles of passages and thousands of chambers. In other words, they would make perfect dungeons.

Salt can also be collected from salt water from the sea or from brine springs. When extracted from water, the salt is either evaporated from the water using salt pans (pots made from a crude ceramic material called briquetage) or by boiling it down over a fire. Even when boiling is used, the brine is usually allowed to evaporate in salterns in order to concentrate it before the boiling occurs.

Salt is a useful material on its own, primarily as a food additive and an alchemical ingredient. At some points in time it was almost as valuable as gold. Alchemists can make spirit of salt, or hydrochloric acid, by mixing salt with vitriol (sulfuric acid). Spirit of salt was mixed with aqua fortis (see Urine) to produce aqua regia, the gold dissolving acid. Alchemists also used salt to produce sal mirabilis, or miraculous salt, a popular laxative.

Another product of dry sea beds is natron. Natron was used as a grease-cutting cleaning agent, a mouthwash, and tooth paste. When blended with olive oil, it made soap. Natron was an ingredient in antiseptics and it was used to dry and preserve fish and meat, kill insects, make leather and bleach clothing. The Egyptians used it in the mummi-fication process because it absorbs water. When added to castor oil, it made a smokeless fuel, allowing artists to pain in tombs without staining them with soot. The Romans combined natron with sand and lime in their glass and ceramic production, and it was used as a flux in soldering precious metals and as an ingredient in blue paint.

Sandstone (8 sp / lb): Architecture

Sandstone is a sedimentary rock composed of sand-sized minerals. Most is comprised of quartz and feldspar, the most common minerals in the Earth’s crust. Sandstone is usually colored tan, brown, yellow, red, gray and white. It is a common building material because it is easy to work and often resistant to weathering.

Serpentine (1 gp / lb): Architecture, Art

Serpentine is a group of many different minerals. The Romans called them “serpent rock”. They come in colors ranging from white to grey, yellow to green, brown to black and they are usually splotchy or veined. Serpentine is plentiful in sea beds. In the soil, it is toxic to plant life, and thus deposits often underlie strips of grassland in wooded areas. Serpentine marble (lizardite) ranges from red to green and weathers very well. Serpentine is a common stone in hardcarving. It can be carved into art objects or used as an architectural facing.

Silver (100 sp / lb): Art, Coins, Equipment

Silver, or argentum, is a whitish metal that is harder than gold, but still easily worked. This made it an excellent material for making coins, and in fact most coins through history were minted from silver. There are three main sources of silver: Quartz, galena and acanthite. For more information on quartz, see the entry for Gold & Quartz. For information on galena, see the entry for Lead. Acanthite is a blackish-grey mineral with a metallic luster.

Silver is most often used to make coins. Historically, silver coins were far more common than gold and copper (or bronze, brass, billon or potin) coins. In fantasy games, silver is also used on weapons, probably in the form of silver plate, because of its effect on lycanthropes. Silvering a weapon would probably involve the use of mercury, and would be performed by an alchemist rather than a smith.

Lunar Caustic, or lapis infernalis, was made by dissolving silver in aqua fortis and evaporating the substance. Sticks of lunar caustic were used in surgery because of its antiseptic properties. It blackens the hands. Argentum fulminans, or fulminating silver, is a silver compound that explodes readily, though the charge is fairly harmless in small amounts.

In mythology and folklore, silver is associated with the moon, thus lycanthrope’s vulnerability to silver.

Slate (5 cp / lb): Architecture

Slate is a grey stone formed from shale. The most common use for the stone is roof shingles, though high quality slate can be used for grave markers and other monuments.

Soapstone (1 cp / lb): Art

Soapstone is rock composed of talc and rich in magnesium. Soapstone has been a medium for carving for thousands of years. Native Americans used it to create bowls, cooking slabs and smoking pipes, the Indians for temple carvings and the Chinese for official seals. It is highly heat resistant, making it a good material for cooking slabs, seals that are to be dipped in hot wax and as a mold for soft metals.

Spinel: Medium Gem

Spinel is a class of minerals found in gemstone bearing gravel, limestone and marble. Spinels range from blue to mauve or dark green, brown or black in color.

Black Powder (3 gp / lb): Equipment (Guns)
Sulfur (1 sp / lb): Alchemy, Laundry, Medicine
Vitriol (10 gp / vial): Acid

Sulfur is a soft, yellow mineral that can be found near volcanoes and hot springs and in salt domes. It can also be extracted from pyrite (iron + sulfur), cinnabar (mercury + sulfur), galena (lead + sulfur), sphalerite (zinc + sulfur), stibnite (antimony + sulfur) and the sulfates, gypsum, alunite and barite.

Sulfur is extracted by stacking deposits in brick kilns built on sloping hillsides, making sure to leave airspace between them. Powdered sulfur is then placed on top of these piles and ignited. As the elemental sulfur burns, the heat melts the sulfur in the deposits, causing molten sulfur to flow down the hillside. It is then collected in wooden buckets.

Sulfur was used by the Egyptians to treat granular eyelids, and the Greeks used it for fumigation and bleaching cloth. Sulfur was also used, along with phosphorus, by Robert Boyle in a forerunner to modern matches. Sulfur is odorless. The odors associated with it come from hydrogen sulfide in rotten eggs and sulfur dioxide in burnt matches.

Alchemists could turn sulfur into a powerful acid called vitriol. Vitriol was, in fact, sulfuric acid. It was made by burning sulfur into sulfur dioxide, and then converting the sulfur dioxide into pure sulfuric acid.

The colors of Jupiter’s moon Io are from various forms of sulfur. The planet probably smells of brimstone, and could be an excellent haunt for demons and devils.

Clay (5 cp / lb): Art

Terracotta, from the Italian for “baked earth”, is a clay-based ceramic. Terracotta usually has a reddish-orange color. Terracotta could be glazed or unglazed. It could be used to make pottery, figurines, bricks and roof shingles. Perhaps the most famous use of terracotta was in the creation of Chinese Emperor Qin Shi-Huang’s terracotta army. Virtually all cultures made use of terracotta, from China to India to Greece and Western Africa. Terracotta could be dried in the sun or baked in kilns.

Tin (3 gp / lb): Alloys, Equipment

Tin, or stannum, is a silvery metal that is primarily found in an ore called casserite. Pure tin deposits are sometimes found near river and stream flows. Miners harvest this tin by digging a trench at the bottom of a deposit, loosening the gravel with a pick, and then running water over the gravel to remove unwanted material. This process creates gullies. Casserite occurs in quartz deposits. It is a black to reddish brown to yellow crystalline mineral. It is found with tourmaline, topaz and arsenopyrite (q.v.).

Tin was mostly used in the form of bronze or pewter. Bronze is an alloy of tin and copper (see Copper above). Pewter is an alloy of tin and lead (85:15) that might also contain portions of antimony or copper.

Tin ingot currency (see below), with each ingot weighing one pound, was used in Indo-china and the Malay Peninsula during the 14th and 15th century.

Alchemists created “butter of tin”, or tin chloride, which was used in the dyeing industry to fix colors.

Topaz: Medium Gem

Topaz is a gem that occurs with granite or rhyolite lava flows. Pure topaz is colorless, but tinted wine, yellow, pale grey, reddish-orange or blue-brown from impurities. Precious topaz is orange and imperial topaz is yellow, pink or pink-orange. Blue topaz is the rarest. Folklore holds that topaz wards away evil spirits.

Tourmaline: Medium Gem

Tourmaline is a semi-precious stone found compounded with such elements as aluminum, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium and potassium. It occurs with granite, marble and schist. There are several varieties of the gem. About 95% of all tourmalines are schorls, and colored bluish to brownish to black schorl. Dravite is a dark yellow to brownish-black, rubellite is rose or pink, indicolite is light blue to bluish-green, verdelite is green and achronite is a colorless tourmaline.

Turquoise: Minor Gem

Turquoise is blue-green mineral. It is a hydrous phosphate of aluminum and copper. Even the best turquoise is only a bit harder than glass. It forms from the action of acidic solutions on pre-existing minerals during weathering, often from such minerals as malachite and feldspar. Turquoise is often a by-product of copper mines. Turquoise has been valued as a precious stone for thousands of years. It was used by the ancient Aztecs, Chinese, Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Persians, for whom it was the national stone. The name derives from the French for a product derived from Persia imported through Turkey. It did not become a common ornamental stone in Europe until the 14th century. Common belief held that the stone had prophylactic qualities, and would change color to indicate the health of its owner. It was also supposed to aid horses.

Aqua Fortis (50 gp / vial): Acid
Black Powder (3 gp / lb): Equipment (Guns)
Saltpeter (2 gp / lb): Alchemy

Urine is not a mineral, but it contains minerals and it was an important material for Medieval industry. It was used as a source for both phosphorus (q.v.) and saltpeter, or potassium nitrate. Saltpeter is Latin for “stone salt”, and it was a critical ingredient in black powder and slow matches. Saltpeter was obtained by mixing manure with either mortar or wood ashes, common earth and straw into a compost heap 5 feet high by 5 feet wide by 15 feet wide. The heap was covered to protect it from the weather and kept moist with urine. This leached the water from the heap after one year, with the remaining liquid being mixed with wood ashes to produce saltpeter. The saltpeter crystals are added to sulfur and charcoal to produce black powder.

From saltpeter, the alchemist can produce aqua fortis, or strong water. Aqua fortis is nitric acid, a highly corrosive and toxic substance. Aqua fortis was used as a solvent to dissolve silver and most other metals, with the exception of gold and platinum. It was prepared by mixing sand, alum or vitriol with saltpeter and then distilling it by a hot fire. The gas that is produced condenses into aqua fortis. Refiners used this acid to separate silver from gold and copper, to mosaic workers for staining and coloring wood, and to other artists for coloring bone and ivory a fine purple color. Book binders used it to produce a marble effect on leather. Lapidaries use it to separate diamonds from metalline powders and to etch copper and brass. When mixed with oil of vitriol, it was used to stain canes with a tortoise shell effect.

Alchemists mixed aqua fortis with spirit of salt to create aqua regia, the gold dissolving acid and an important step in the creation of the philosopher’s stone.

Zinc (7 gp / lb): Alloys

Zinc is a grey metal that is found in deposits of sphalerite. Sphalerite, which is also called zincblende, black-jack, and mock lead, is a yellow, brown or grey mineral.

Zinc is smelted by roasting in an oven. The zinc is placed in a clay retort shaped like a cylinder resting on a funnel. The retort is also packed with dolemite and a fuel like cow dung. The retort is then placed vertically into a furnace, which causes the zinc to become a vapor that condenses in the clay funnel and drips into a collection vessel. Such a furnace can separate 450 pounds of zinc in a day, producing sulfuric acid as a by-product.

Zinc is primarily used as an alloy with copper in brass. Flower of zinc, an alchemical compound also called zinc oxide, was used as a salve for the eyes, skin conditions and open wounds. It is still used in baby powder and creams that prevent or fight rash. The Romans used flower of zinc in paints and to make brass.

Hyacinth: Medium Gem
Jacinth: Medium Gem
Jargoon: Medium Gem
Zircon: Medium Gem

Zircons occur in many kinds of rocks, but mostly granite. Zircons can be black, brown, hazel, pink, red, yellow or colorless. Light colored zircons are called jargoons, a corruption of the Persian zargun, or “golden colored”. Red zircons are called jacinths, and yellow zircons hyacinths.

Zircons were believed to decorate the lost city of Iram and the hilt of Excalibur. In the Roland cycles, Ganelon gave his wife Bramimunde two golden necklaces inlaid with jacinths and amethysts. According to the Book of Enoch, there is a mountain of jacinth in Hell. Jacinth was believed to be a good luck stone for travelers. It also wards off plague and protects one from fire.

Mines and Mining – Part Four

This post covers minerals M through R.

Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

Marble (4 gp / lb); Architecture, Art

Marble is formed from the metamorphism of limestone. It is mostly comprised of crystals of aragonite and dolomite. The name derives from the Greek for “shining stone”. Pure white marble comes from very pure limestone. The swirls seen in most marble are impurities from clay, silt, sand, iron and other materials. Green coloration is usually from the presence of serpentine. Marble’s relative softness, resistance to shattering, and color made it a popular medium for sculpture and architecture.

Cinnabar (3 gp / lb); Alchemy, Art
Mercury (10 gp / lb); Alchemy, Art
Vermillion (2 gp / oz); Pigment (Red)

Mercury, also called quicksilver or hydrargyrum, is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. It is a silvery metal found in deposits of calomel, livingstonite, corderite and cinnabar. Cinnabar is a scarlet to brick red mineral that is found in alkali hot springs and near volcanoes, often with dolomite.

Mercury is separated from cinnabar and other minerals by roasting. The mercury condenses easily into a condensing column and then collected and shipped in iron flasks.

Alchemists would heat elemental mercury with aqua fortis to prepare mercuric oxide. The reaction produced a thick, red vapor over the surface of the solution, while the mercuric oxide fell out of solution as red crystals. The oxygen released from this solution was called “dephlogisticated air” by Joseph Priestley.

Cinnabar is a source of vermillion, an orange-red pigment that has been used since prehistoric times. To the Romans, who called it minium, It was the most valuable pigment. The imperial government fixed the price at 70 sesterces to the pound, ten times more expensive than red ochre, because of the incredible demand and the short supply of cinnabar. Like many ancient pigments, it was toxic. The Olmecs and Mayans relied on its toxic reputation to repel tomb robbers, putting it in burial chambers and inserting it into limestone sarcophagi. The Chinese used it in carved lacquer ware, the layer of lacquer protecting people from the toxicity of the cinnabar.

Mercury dissolved gold and silver, making it useful in plating those two metals over other materials. Alchemists combined mercury with tin, sal ammoniac and flowers of sulfur to make mosaic gold, a yellow, crystalline powder used as a pigment in bronzing and gilding wood and metal.

Obsidian; Equipment, Minor Gem

Obsidian is volcanic glass that occurs in obsidian flows near active or dead volcanoes. It is usually black, but impurities can make it dark green to brown and even colorless. Obsidian with fluffy white inclusions is called snowflake obsidian. Gas bubbles can produce obsidian with a golden or rainbow sheen. Obsidian has been used since prehistoric times to craft blades, tools and projectiles. It can also be cut as a gem and used in art objects and jewelry.

Olivine and Peridot
Olivine; Minor Gem
Peridot; Medium Gem

Olivine is a greenish mineral common on Earth, the Moon, Mars and in comets. Gem quality olivine is called peridot. Peridot occurs in lava rocks. It is a rare gem and always colored olive green. Peridot is the only gemstone found in meteorites. Olivine is supposed to provide protection from magic spells, while peridot wards off enchantments.

Fire Opal; Medium Gem
Opal; Medium Gem

Opals are a mineraloid gel commonly found in sandstone and basalt. The water content in opals can be quite high, up to 20%. Opals range from colorless, white, gray, red, orange, yellow, blue, green, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown and black. Opals that have red against black are the rarest, while white and green opals are the most common. Fire opals are translucent, transparent opals of warm colors, such as yellow, orange or red. Opals were believed to be lucky stones and to cause invisibility if wrapped in a bay leaf and held in the hand.

Pearl; Minor Gem

Pearl is not a stone, though it does have a mineral base. Pearls are produced by a living, shelled mollusk. They are made from layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl. The best pearls are produced by oysters, but they are quite rare. In a haul of 3 tons, only 3 or 4 oysters will produce perfect pearls. The largest pearl yet found came from a giant clam, and weighed 14 pounds. White and black pearls are the most common and popular pearls, but there are also pink, blue, champagne, green and purple pearls.

Phosphorus (7 gp / oz); Alchemy
Proto-Match (1 gp); Equipment

Phosphorus does not occur free in nature, but can be found with many other minerals, especially apatite. White phosphorus was discovered in 1669, by German alchemist Hennig Brand. It was named for Phosphorus, the light-bearer, i.e. Lucifer.

The most common way of obtaining phosphorus was from human waste. The process involves boiling urine to produce a residue which was heated to produce phosphorus gas which would condense into a white powder. The powder is flammable and capable of blistering fingers and burning holes in cloth. It takes 2,000 gallons of urine to produce one pound of phosphorus.

Hennig Brand eventually sold the recipe for 200 thalers (approximately 80 gp) and others eventually figured out the recipe from clues left by Brand. In 1680, Robert Boyle made the forerunner to modern matches when he used phosphorus-coated paper to ignite a sulfur-tipped wooden splint that he rubbed across the paper.

Pitchblende (Uranium)
Pitchblende (100 gp / lb); Art, Magic Items

Pitchblende, or uraninite, is a black mineral that contains uranium, lead, thorium, rare earth minerals and radium. The radium and lead are due to the decay of the uranium. Pitchblende was usually found with silver deposits.

Refined uranium is a silvery white metal. The element was discovered in 1789 by the apothecary Martin Heinrich Klaproth, but the metal was not isolated until 1841 by chemist Eugene-Melchior Peligot, making it unlikely to have been discovered in most fantasy settings. Unrefined pitchblende, however, was added to glass and mosaic tiles to give them a yellow-green to orange-red color. This uranium glass was usually about 2% uranium. Given the composition of pitchblende, a Referee who is running a science-fantasy game might want to require it as an ingredient for making magical objects.

Platinum (1,000 gp / lb); Coins, art objects

Platinum is a silvery metal that is resistant to corrosion and acid and malleable enough to work. It occurs with copper and nickel ores, often in the sands of rivers.

Like gold, platinum dissolves in aqua regia, and this substance was used to isolate pure platinum in the 18th century. More often, natural platinum, which is combined with other metals in the platinum family, is found and was worked by ancient peoples.

Platinum is harder than gold or silver, and with a much higher melting point. Platinum was unknown in Medieval Europe, but the peoples of pre-Columbian Central and South America were aware of a naturally occurring gold-platinum alloy and used it to make jewelry. Once the Europeans obtained platinum, they found they had no way of making a fire hot enough to melt it, which prevented them from minting the platinum coins sometimes seen in fantasy games. Such coins, had they existed, would have probably been made from the aforementioned alloy (and thus worth 5 gp each).

Porphyry (5 gp / lb); Architecture, Art

Imperial porphyry is a deep brownish-purple rock used to build monuments and buildings in ancient Rome and in hardcarving. It is an igneous rock that contains crystals of quartz (q.v.) and feldspar (q.v.). It came from a single quarry in the rocky wastes of Egypt’s eastern deserts.

Amethyst; Major Gem, Protection from Drunkenness
Aventurine; Medium Gem
Banded Agate; Minor Gem, Sleep
Carnelian; Medium Gem, Protection from Evil
Chalcedony; Medium Gem, Protection from Undead
Chrysoprase; Medium Gem, Invisibility
Citrine; Medium Gem
Jasper; Minor Gem, Protection from Poison
Moss Agate; Minor Gem, Sleep
Onyx; Medium Gem, Cause Chaos
Rock Crystal; Minor Gem
Rose Quartz; Minor Gem
Sard; Medium Gem
Sardonyx; Medium Gem
Smoky Quartz; Minor Gem
Tiger’s Eye; Minor Gem, Protection from Ethereal Creatures

Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s crust after feldspar. It occurs with granite, shale, schist, sandstone, and gneiss. Pliny believed it was permanently frozen ice because it was often found near glaciers, but not volcanoes, and in spherical form would cool the hands and act as a prism. Quartz deposits often contain gold (q.v.).

Many forms of quartz are precious stones. Pure quartz is rock crystal, citrine is pale yellow, rose quartz is pink, amethyst purple, smoky quartz gray, milky quartz (the most common) white, jasper reddish brown, tiger’s eye is gold and red-brown and hawk’s eye is blue.

Agate, a form of quartz, comes in many varieties, including banded agate and moss agate. Onyx is a black agate with bands every color but blue and purple. Sardonyx replaces the black of onyx with brown. Both are cut into cabochons and used for intaglios (i.e. engraved gems).

Chalcedony is a white or lightly colored quartz. It can also be banded. Aventurine is translucent chalcedony with shimmering inclusions. Carnelian is translucent orange-red, while sard is a brown carnelian. Chrysoprase is gemstone quality chalcedony that is apple green to deep green.

The native Americans called quartz geodes that contained agate, jasper or opal “thunder eggs”. They believed that they were thrown by thunder spirits at one another.

Rhodochrosite; Medium Gem

Rhodochrosite is a precious stone that varies in color from rose red to pink or pale brown. The purest form of the stone is rose red in color. Rhodochrosite occurs in hydro-thermal veins in silver ore deposits. The Incas believed it to be the hardened blood of their ancient kings. As a soft mineral with perfect cleavage, it is difficult to facet.