Not enough Cinnabryl?

Discuss Mystara's Savage Coast / Red Steel setting here.
The Book-House: Find Savage Coast products.

Moderators: Seer of Yhog, agathokles

Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Sturm » Wed Nov 22, 2017 12:29 pm

I recently re-read the Red Steel boxed set while I work on issue #18 of Threshold magazine which will be dedicated to the Savage Coast and something bothered me. The rule says that everyone living in the Savage Coast need a ounce of Cinnabryl per week to protect himself from affliction. That's because after a week the Cinnabryl depletes and becomes red steel.
Now the Legacies regions must have something like 2,000,000 inhabitants (in a very low estimation based on canon figures, but my estimation for the area would probably be ten times higher) and if every adult one needs a ounce of cinnabryl per week this means 48,000,000 ounces per year so 1,361,000 kgs of cinnabryl which is HALF THE modern yearly production of gold!
Also cynnabril cost 1 gp per ounce, so a normal person would need 48 gp a year to not become afflicted during the year.
The clerical spell Maintain last only one day per caster level and it requires at least a 5th level cleric or a 12th level wizards so it does not seem possible, as described in Narvaez, that clerics making rounds are enough to keep the population Unafflicted.
It seems to me the amount of cynnabril needed was grossly miscalculated in the rules. With such requirements less than one third of the population could ever be able to afford cynnabril and all the others will become afflicted in the first year, leading to a Savage Coast entirely composed of Superpowered freaks in a short time.
I think I will retcon with an ounce of cinnabryl lasting one month and the Maintain spell lasting one month per caster level. This IMO maintains the idea of many people needing a lot of cinnabryl, but to more reasonable levels.
Did you ever face this problem in your campaign?
User avatar
Black Dragon
Posts: 3706
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:26 pm
Location: Genoa, Italy

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Chimpman » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:05 pm

It's never come up directly for me, but I think I'd be more inclined to reduce the volume of required cinnabryl, rather than increase the protection time from a week to a month. Likewise with regards to clerical magic, I think I allow the creation of a lower level "Maintain" spell that just deals with the effects of the Red Curse - it seems reasonable that the population would have put time and effort into developing something like this that could work on a large number of people. Or perhaps the magic is ritual based - still requiring a higher level caster, but able to reach a massive amount of the population (something that requires folks to go to church).

The reason is otherwise you may have to deal with balance issues when it comes to PCs. The weekly drain on a PC (who has treasure) is much different that the weekly drain on your average peasant. I'm not sure what kind of balance issues increasing the protection time from one week to one month would cause.

Another question - what is Red Steel worth? Can peasants who have depleted cinnabryl sell it in order to continue buying fresh cinnabryl?
Visit the Exiles Campaign Setting (a Mystara / Spelljammer crossover)
Visit Mystara 2300 BC

Moderator of The Tabard Inn and Blackmoor. My moderator voice is purple.
User avatar
Posts: 7549
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 6:52 pm
Location: USA, California

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Havard » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:19 pm

I had never looked too closely at the rules and numbers like this, but the whole idea that everyone is affected by the curse and that everyone can develop legacies and afflictions seems too extreme for my tastes.

I like the underlying concept of the addiciton being a rationale for a feudal system and also making the barons a kind of drug dealers if you want to look at it that way, but maybe there is a different way to handle this and get the same effect?


Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
User avatar
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 17305
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Location: Norway

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Cthulhudrew » Thu Nov 23, 2017 1:09 am

I tend agree with Sturm's assessment; the SC/Red Steel Campaign Setting seems to suggest that the number of Afflicted in the Savage Coast (fully subsumed by the Red Curse) is relatively small in number compared to the population, but those numbers in comparison to the cost and amount of cinnabryl needed on a daily basis just don't square. At the very least, I'd assume that the majority of the populations of all Savage Coastal nations are Afflicted, and that "pure" un-Afflicted are rare and confined largely to the nobility and/or otherwise well-to-do.

Now that could certainly make for a very interesting setting, but it changes the underlying assumptions of the 2E campaign setting quite a bit.

(This is just one of the many reasons why I prefer the original setting rules from Dragon Magazine 171-173 myself. The outbreak of the Red Curse during the WotI period alone would have seen a massive outpouring of Afflicted across the various nations that is not reflected in the 2E campaign, if only due to the lack of immediate stockpiles of cinnabryl necessary to forestall the sudden onset of mutations brought about by the sudden change of the nature of the Red Curse. And I'd imagine things would have been a lot bloodier even than they were, with nations suddenly having more than just an economic interest in acquiring cinnabryl mines.)
Moderator of the Mystara and Greyhawk forums. My moderator voice is gray-green.
User avatar
Green Dragon
Posts: 3951
Joined: Tue May 27, 2008 2:13 pm
Location: Long Beach, CA

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby night_druid » Thu Nov 23, 2017 2:16 am

I suppose that you could look at it as there isn't enough Cinnabryl to go around, leading to massive outbreaks of Red Curse. Desperate peasants lay siege to nobles' strongholds, who have hoarded what they can while the world around them burn. Thousands die; villages, towns, whole cities left depopulated and desolate by the Red Curse. A real doomsday scenario for the region.
Moderator: Spelljammer, Kingdoms of Kalamar. My moderator voice is green
User avatar
Radiant Dragon
Posts: 5989
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 9:08 pm

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Sturm » Thu Nov 23, 2017 10:10 am

Yes indeed the original rules by Bruce Heard made more sense, but Tim Beach explained here why they were changed: Basically TSR management thought it could be attacked as encouragement to drug abuse.
Still I am not opposed to the idea that the Week without Magic lead to a spreading of the curse, but I would avoid doomsday scenario and rule that there was more or less enough cinnabryl around. I like the idea of church-based rituals for the maintain spell, as this would also explain a classic Spain-like devotion.
And I would diminish the amount a cinnabryl needed, either 7 grams for one week or an ounce for a month, which is the same.. but I could go with a gram a day which is easier to remember for me :) indeed peasant can seel depleted cinnabryl as red steel, making easier for them to keep a store of the mineral.
That's interesting and has many opportunities for drama, if all peasant families must keep on themselves and in the house something so precious..
User avatar
Black Dragon
Posts: 3706
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:26 pm
Location: Genoa, Italy

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Patrick » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:45 am

I think the rules as presented in Red Steel fit very well for the Savage Baronies. The nature of Cinnabryl/Red Steel as high value/high volume commodities justify the existence of the extensive shipping, trading, urbanization, and control by the inheritor orders. Half of earth's modern gold mining sounds like a lot; 0.00005% of earth's modern iron mining sounds much smaller... and I'm not convinced either is a particularly meaningful benchmark.

1 gp/week is less than the cost of food, probably around the cost of clothing (and, like food and clothing costs, most of this is probably not transacted in coin). The aristocracy and emerging middle class can afford the expense; the poor rely on some level of government/inheritor/church support to scrape by--and the government/inheritors/churches see a looming threat if the masses start starving/freezing/getting afflicted in large numbers. This, then, is the engine driving the exploration/trade/industry of the whole region. And I think it works pretty well.

One thing to consider in tamping down affliction rates among rural populations is this nugget from the sourcebook: "cinnabryl is self-perpetuating while in deposits of red clay. That is, the metal produces more nuggets of itself while in that material." It's reasonable to think that farmers plowing their fields will occasionally unearth some cinnabryl, and that many homesteaders/villagers might know of smaller deposits nearby that provide some level of protection for the locals, but aren't productive enough for large-scale mining.

Where this becomes much more problematic, I think, is the rapid expansion of the curse throughout Herath, Eusdria, Robrenn, Bellayne, and Renardy. The Herathians might have had enough foresight to stockpile significant amounts of cinnabryl ahead of a potential collapse of the defenses. But the situation in the other four countries, with a week without magic followed be the sudeen onset of the Red Curse, would've definitely been a devastating blow, and I agree that the Red Steel material doesn't really make it clear how serious a calamity this was. I guess a best-case scenario would've been that local rulers, Herathians, and inheritors foresaw the potential expansion and stockpiled enough cinnabryl to smooth the transition. Or that various immortals took an active hand in helping in the immediate aftermath. Or... since these areas had vermeil already, maybe they also all had significant cinnabryl deposits. But it was well-known to be toxic, and so every farm or village had a refuse pile where they tossed any that they found, avoiding handling it more than they had to. And then once the curse started, it was simply a matter of getting the message out to hurry and grab the cinnabryl out of the landfill. I've never actually had a campaign visit any of these lands, so not 100% sure how I'd handle it. But I like the Red Curse rules in the Savage Baronies enough that I don't think I'd rewrite them--just have to figure out how those other countries can fit in with the new system.
Posts: 148
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2010 4:16 am
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Carillion » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:34 pm

Hello Sturm,

I agree with you! I think you've summarized quite nicely what I was thinking when I was running a Savage Coast campaign many years ago. I also extended the length of time Cinnabryl amulets and maintain spells lasted, not only for the reasons you mention, but also to ensure that the PCs didn't have to constantly worry about getting poisoned or becoming afflicted. This allowed me as the DM to concentrate more on the different and varied cultures of the region when writing adventures.

In my campaign, individuals only suffered from the red curse if they were particularly careless or unlucky, and so the amount of afflicted was relatively few (and these would be living for the most part in either isolated communities or being cared for by religious orders). The one exception I made was regarding individuals who allowed themselves to become poisoned so they could utilize additional magical abilities - they could easily become afflicted unless they took very thorough precautions.

Ultimately, it depends on what type of campaign you want to run. If you want a mild horror theme running in the background, then obviously you could reduce the availability of Cinnabryl and maintain spells, and maybe add the chance of insanity arising in those who become afflicted. However, I think care should be taken when deciding on this, as if the red curse was completely out of control, then many individuals would just simply leave the Savage Coast and move to another region entirely.

As a side note, I own Dragon magazine issues 171 & 172, but not issue 173. Does anyone know whether there is a lot of material about Cinnabryl and the red curse in issue 173 as well? I only mention this as I note that Cthulhudrew referred to issues 171-173 above.


User avatar
Posts: 281
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:56 pm
Location: Surrey, England

Re: Not enough Cinnabryl?

Postby Sturm » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:11 pm

173 contains an account by Raman about Hule and Hosadus and some letters, none about the Red Curse, it seems.

About the Savage Coast indeed I prefer the legacies to be less common, and affliction limited to the poorest or more isolated populations. Normal people will fear affliction too much to try to get legacies. Indeed it could be a good idea to add a rule about people who poisoned themselves willingly.. they may need more cinnabryl or clerical magic to ward off afflictions..
User avatar
Black Dragon
Posts: 3706
Joined: Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:26 pm
Location: Genoa, Italy

Return to Savage Coast

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest