December 2nd, 2008


Things that make me go 'uh?'

I missed a vast number of birthdays during my long absence from posting: Belated Happy Birthday wishes to:
ravenwings_7, spikendru, ciciaye, i_digress_uk, bedawyn, ralob, theohara (although Meghan has been absent from LiveJournal for many months and wouldn’t have seen it anyway), josephine_64, toysdream, xanpet2000, kazzy_cee, salice89, beccagirl17555 (another long-term absentee), desoto_hia873, miriya_2099, lilacdream7, rhi_silverflame, beer_good_foamy, c05mick1d, cyberwitch13666, charmingkarla, ladymela99, harpygoddess, mangosorbet007, deborahc, priscellie, petzipellepingo, woman_of_, meli1_77, ergie, mythichistorian, gipsy_dreamer, deyvra, and weyrwolfen. Happy birthday for today to denny_dc and to the inimitable shadowscast.

Department of things that make me go ‘uh?’

One reason for my lack of posting is that I’ve been playing ‘Neverwinter Nights 2’ again. The latest expansion pack, ‘Storm of Zehir’, is out. It’s slightly disappointing compared with its predecessors; the well-drawn companions, and the interactions with them, are missing and somehow it gives the impression that the player characters are mere bit parts in someone else’s story. Also too much of it focuses on trade instead of adventure. It’s still a good game, though, and it isn’t those niggles that have inspired this post.

In D&D from 3rd Edition onwards ‘cold iron’ often crops up in descriptions of weaponry. Said to be particularly efficacious against demons and fey creatures, ‘cold iron’ weapons are more expensive than steel. The origin of the term – which, to my surprise, the Wombat didn’t know – is that it is short for ‘cold-forged iron’, when a sword is made by beating a wrought iron bar on the anvil without heating it red-hot in the forge first. Incredibly labour-intensive, of course, but it produces a weapon stronger and less brittle than cast iron and harder and able to hold an edge better than hot-forged iron. Once techniques for producing proper steel were developed cold-forged iron vanished from use and remained only in folklore.

In ‘Storm of Zehir’, however, the writers have missed the point. There is actually a cold iron mine! As I said to the Wombat, while tearing my hair out, that’s the equivalent of a cold coal mine – or, as ‘cold iron’ is a finished product, perhaps the equivalent of the legendary Jam Butty Mines of Knotty Ash.