6
$\begingroup$

I am developing setting for a dnd campaign I like to run next year. Its takes influences from Xenoblade 2, where people live on or inside humongous creatures while the entirety of the world is an endless sea.

One thing that I am stumped on, is where would society get non-organic materials, such as Iron, Copper, Gold, etc. I do not like to use the Scavenger mechanic from the game.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You might want to clarify that the salvaging mechanic you're talking about is diving into the ocean for resources. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Sep 3 '19 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ Thing is that the items you are collect from salvaging in that game are already processed materials. Android Gear, Modern Resistor, Screw Coil, etc. Which is way I don't like the idea. Far too video gamey. Ores from shallow points might be one thing, but diving to the bottom of the ocean is impossible, its even extremely difficult in our world. $\endgroup$ – needoriginalname Sep 3 '19 at 4:28
  • $\begingroup$ You might look at the Blue Planet role-playing game for inspiration. It is a sci-fi rpg taking place on an ocean world. biohazardgamespublishing.com/premise $\endgroup$ – Klaus Æ. Mogensen Sep 3 '19 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ "diving to the bottom of the ocean is impossible" this gives you a secondary issue, which you may or may not care about... how do nutrients get back up to the surface? All those creatures gotta eat something, and their food has to get its nutrients from somewhere. Upwellings on Earth require coastlines... $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Sep 3 '19 at 12:34
4
$\begingroup$

Some elements might naturally accrete on the ocean floor like manganese nodules. These contain a wide range of metallic compounds like iron, chromium, etc and are a potentially valuable mineral source.

Your creature-cities might be taught to dive deep and collect these nodules for their symbiotic inhabitants — or parasitic inhabitants as the case may be.

And, some fish might absorb metals through the water to grow stainless steel teeth for biting through tortoises shells or super hard crustaceans. These fish could be hunted and harvested for their razor sharp corrosion resistant teeth.

Other fish might absorb metals to form their scales. These might be ranched and shorn like sheep for their coppery and tin scales, then cast back into the water

All the compounds and elements might need alchemical processing to purify them and convert them to a form they can be used for construction or metalwork.

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

Interesting metals are dissolved as salts in the water (google the worlds' oceans content of gold, or uranium). The huge animals everyone lives on drink the sea water and extract these elements. They can be mined by cutting organs or body parts from animals and burning them, the resultant ash is your ore for further processing.

Some body parts may contain noble metals in their pure form. Maybe gold or silver or even copper are slightly toxic to the creatues in their dissolved form, so they are sequestered in special kidney or liver like organs?

IRL diamonds form under immense pressure, on your world diamonds could be a form of gall stones.

IRLS animals use mostly calcium (not quite a metal, chemically speaking) for bones, other metals might show up in bones of huge fantasy creatures.

I suggest you take thse ideas, think through the implications and the optics (do you want proud gall bladder miners in your world? Or dungashers, who burn the dung of these creatures for ore?) and see if they are fun and make sense in your game world.

$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

If you cannot go outside to harvest materials, then the only way is for your creature to eat the materials itself.

We could use the behavior that some land animals use to get access to salts vital to their biology (just google salt lick). Instead, your creature consumes parts of the sea bed to obtain vital nutrients (the animals they eat might be attached to the sea bed as well, or have homes inside, and the animal has simply evolved to take a chunk out of the sea bed).

When it consumes this, it also swallows any non-organic materials within the sea bed and your people harvest this.

Alternatively, your creature might consume trace amount of elements which are filtered out by the body. Overtime, the non-organic materials form into small balls, stones or piles that your humans can harvest.

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Seaweed can be grown free-floating. Seaweed is high in iron. Now all we need is a way to pull the iron out of vast quantities of seaweed mulch and we’re golden. Well, not literally golden. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Sep 3 '19 at 6:27
  • $\begingroup$ Well if you start mining kidney stones the miners might be golden. $\endgroup$ – Borgh Sep 3 '19 at 14:39
2
$\begingroup$

Harvest metals from the dead.

Removal of metal ions using an industrial biomass with reference to environmental control

It is well documented that microbial biomass is capable of absorbing metal ions from aqueous solutions even when the cells have been killed... The biosorption of metals using non-living biomass has recently been comprehensively reviewed by Modak and Natarajan (1995). The use of dead biomass eliminates the problem of toxicity and the economic aspects of nutrient supply and culture maintenance.

Your seas are rich in mineral salts. Water dwellers must exclude these salts from their bodies or they will accumulate to toxic levels - this is exactly the case for fish and other higher animals in Earth's oceans, which must keep the salt from the ocean from entering their bodies in excess.

But once dead, the energy to expel salts is gone, and dissolved materials will accumulate, binding to organic molecules and possibly even crystallizing within dead tissues. The linked article uses that phenomenon to clean wastewater streams.

In your world, dead creatures accumulate metals from the water. The longer they have been dead the more inorganics they have accumulated, until they start to fall apart. Dead things might also stop floating and sink as they get heavier, but a floating dead leviathan is also a good anchor for plants and photosynthesizers. An attached colony of kelp with air bladders could keep the corpse afloat for a long time or even indefinitely. The plants might give off chemicals to suppress decomposers that will destroy their dead float. Also sentient organisms might make constructs to augment the buoyancy of dead things, to facilitate repeated metal retrieval trips.

In your world, floating kelp colonies have one or more skeletons and corpses, ancient or fresh at their center. Your characters will need to get in there to retrieve metal crystals. A fresher corpse might also have scavengers interested in the meat and ready to fight off intruders. Other things might have taken up habitation in such an ecosystem.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

In your world, the humongous habitat-creature could start out as a small deep dweller which is connected to the deep sea bottom via feeder tentacles, moving over the bottom to collect nutrients.

As it grows, methane and pure size force the creature to slowly rise to the surface, the feeders growing at a proportionate rate. The creature will therefore always be connected to the oceanic floor, sucking up nutrients like a gargantuan vacuum, and alongside with the organic material, metals and other debris is sucked up and fed into the processing organs.

Your people would extract these materials and waste products before they are disposed of through the creatures waste organ.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

Trade with aquatic people. If there are water breathing species that can mine the bottom you could trade with them. Bonus points if they are unable to use fire so your protagonist civilization is the only ones able to craft metal. That would create a mutal trade dependency.

$\endgroup$
0
$\begingroup$

To add to other answers: some meteorites are from metal (mostly iron), others contain carbon with other minerals. So, occassionally, a chunk of material may just drop from above.

$\endgroup$

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.