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Irongrass and Firegrassby Niels Just Rasmussen
So to give an example of invented ordinary plants. Grass have in it's stem silica-dioxide phytoliths (not as crystals), that grinds the teeth of animals trying to eat it (as it doesn't want to be eaten). So what if we change that into a grass that has magnetite instead (actually some animals have magnetite as it likely helps them to guide themselves according to the magnetic field - Rainbow trout has magnetite in their noses). Magnetite is Fe3O4, so it could also be an “iron ore“
So name “Irongrass“.
Found in the Ethangar Khanate.
Grows on clay soils, that has a big iron content it can draw from, but not on quarts sand.
It's seeds falls down from the plant and are not wind carried, so it grows in clusters and spreads slowly.
It has a very “metallic“ taste, which keeps many animals from eating it.
Size: Grows up to 30 cm with a thick stem.
Colour: Greenish black and shines with a slight metallic hue.
Weight: Is more heavy than normal grass.
Because of the weight the top of the plants tips and it will always tip according to the magnetic field [Mystara can't have a magnetic field as it has no spinning molten core, so it is according to the magnetic field of the Hollow Earth Sun].
Ethangarians always know the direction, when looking at the grass (only with fairly good wind will the grass be blown away from it's preferred tilting direction. The grass can also be harvested as a source of Iron for tool- and weapon making, which is an old tradition in Ethangar. It is important when harvesting Irongrass that the stem is cut. If you pull the plant too hard, you will pull up the roots and as the grass spread slowly a non-patient harvester eager for fast profit can easily destroy a huge area.
Some high status individuals seek foreign iron ores or even foreign prestige weapons instead, while conservatives would always stick to the production of plant-iron instead of imported rock-iron from Rockhome.
I was thinking that the Ethangarians would have a serious problem to get enough heat for the smelting process if they didn't have access to wooden charcoal. As they are a plain people there are very few trees in Ethangar; and to import it from Darokin would make it extremely expensive.
So then you could have another grass growing in Ethangar, which can burn with the temperature of 1591-1597 degrees Celcius, that is needed to melt magnetite. Magnetite is a (alpha-iron), that can only dissolved low amounts of carbon (0,02 %). It will produce low carbon steel and thus not be the steel quality of high carbon steel.
But Iron has a boiling point of 2870 degrees Celcius, so if you can heat it beyond that you can vaporize iron. So what can burn with that temperature - answer is Magnesium, that burns at around 3000 degrees Celcius.
I’m thinking that the ethangarians would create an earth mound. In their they put a mixture of Iron Grass and Fire Grass. They have bellows to pump air into the mound, and a hole in the top for gasses to exit. Some of the magnetite might vapourize, but with the intense heat it will likely first go liquid and sink to the bottom of the mound, where it can be collected.
Otherwise they need some kind of mechanism to turn vapourize iron back into metallic iron.
[I'm not a metallurgic expert or a smith - so if any expert has an explanation how this could be improve let me hear!].
“Firegrass“ (is like iron grass, but instead of Magnetite is contain Magnesium).
Size: 50 cm
Colour: Green with a light silvery metallic hue (it’s is normal light green if it hasn’t enough magnesium to make it true fire grass).
It is a fast growing plant and is the cause of catastrophic wildfires, that burns incredible hot on the Ethangarian plains.
It has tiny seeds, which are wind born, and the grass will start to re-grow immediately in an area just after it has been burnt.
It grows best in areas of dolomite limestone deposits, which are rich in magnesium for the plant to absorb through the roots.
It can grow other places, but wont uptake magnesium in amounts enough to make it a “firegrass“ and thus also grow slower.