Full Item Description
Chathelgcahl Steel is almost impossible to tell from mundane steel, determining the difference requires the tools of an alchemist or the use of divination magics. It has much the same strengths and weaknesses of traditional carbon steel.
Chathelgcahl Steel is a very unique version of the standard (iron + carbon = steel) formula of metallurgy. By utilizing the ore pitchblende in turning iron to steel, chathelgcahl steel is created. This embues the iron with a small amount of uranium, as well as trace amounts of lead and radium. If too much pitchblende is used, the resultant steel is fragile and weak due to large amounts of imperfections in the metal structure.
The Radiation Question
Chathelgcahl Steel is radioactive, but not in doses large enough to be lethal. Perhaps if a warrior was to carry the same chathelgcahl Steel sword his entire life he could contract cancer from exposure to the radiation from the weapon. It does not glow in the dark.
The Strength of the Steel
Chathelgcahl Steel and regular carbon steel are very similar to each other in terms of strength and durability, as well as in terms of weight. The strength of chathelgcahl steel does not become apparent until heat is applied to the metal. As carbon steel with become increasingly brittle and breakable at increasing temperature, chathelgcahl steel retains it’s strength. Thus a carbon steel weapon will fatigue and break if exposed to excess heat (fire elementals, demons of flame, dragon’s breath, elemental plane of Fire, Hell) while a chathelgcahl steel weapon will retain it’s form and strength much longer.
The Question of the Uranium Sword
This submission, hack work as it is, was inspired by Cheka Man and his quest for a uranium sword one day in the flash chat. While other members pointed out nifty things like radiation and cancer, I was left to ponder something. Can you make a sword out of uranium? Not knowing how hard uranium was, or really even what color it was, I embarked on a research mission. I already knew that the military used depleted uranium in anti-tank rounds, but the military also uses lead, and lead wouldn’t make a good sword.
So I read, and I wiki about and discover High Speed Steel, which happens to be an industrial alloy of iron and uranium. It has a higher heat tolerance than regular steel and is well suited for making cutting dies and mills to cut other hard and durable metals without succumbing to heat and stress fatigue. Nifty!
So what does this mean in a fantasy setting? I mean there isn’t much of a PC need for metal cutting tools. While industrial applications are limited, the fantastic ones are not. The ability of uranium-steel to resist heat are useful in a setting where monsters can be made of flame, magma, or like dragons have much higher than normal internal temperatures. Weapons made of this type of steel might grant bonuses when fighting such creatures and armors would certainly add defence bonuses.
While I am rather in the dark to the exact metallurgical process of creating high speed steel, I can see the process being much like the folding and hammering technique with pulverized pitchblende (a common uranium ore) being added to the hot iron while it is being shaped. And on a side note, the metal is resistant to heat, and not immune to it.
Additional Ideas (3)
This finely crafted spear was forged some centuries ago by the half-elven warrior Aetron. Having been badly beaten, but allowed to live by the Lady of Unyielding Flame, the warrior sought a weapon that could pierce the succubus demon's molten heart. he knew this to be her weakness, but his arrows had burned and his sword had failed to accomplish the task. Indeed the demon had allowed him a free strike to demonstrate her scorn for his efforts. Following the wisdom of Xzar, wise in things of metal and stone, Aetron crafted the spear from raw iron and pitchblende, creating a Chathelgcahl Steel spear.
Mounted on a haft of the hardest wood, Aetron faced the Lady of Unyielding Flame and as she felt no magic in his spear bind him to attack, but promised her counterstroke would end his life in pain and ashes. The spear struck and though the haft burned and broke, the point of the spear pierced her blackened husk of a heart and the demon perished with a shrill scream of terror and pain.
The spear head remains, and is now regarded with holy reverence as a weapon of demon slaying, it's mundane metallurgy now glossed over with divine platitudes and etchings.
The warrior-mage Calceph was a boisterous and vagabond soul who would sojourn across hostile planes and cause all sorts of problems. During his travels, he discovered that oldest of lessons; fire really hurts. not one to be discouraged by fear or common sense, Calceph constructed an articulated suit of Chathelgcahl Steel plates and dragonhide leather. The armor was a success in terms of protection from flame and flame based attacks.
However, it was deemed in large a terrible failure. Not being an armorer by trade, the armor that Calceph created was overy heavy and the plates too thick. Wearing the armor tires a wearer very quickly, and in addition the weight is poorly distributed across the body, making it unwieldy as well as heavy.
The armor and Calceph were both lost when the warrior-mage managed a planar jaunt to Acqua where he promptly sank into the ocean in his armor. His last words were recorded as "What the? water? I can't swi...*gurgling noises*
Generally, High Speed Tool steels involve Tungsten / Molybdenum / Vanadium, rather than lead. I cannot find the actual effect of alloying Uranium with Iron, aside from some tantalizing notes on Iron-Uranium-Nitrides having vastly magnified magnetic properties. However, basic indications are that Uranium should be able to form a hard steel, possibly even temperature resistant as described. With the magnetic properties in mind, however, it may also be feasible to use these as either a readily enchantable material, or more interestingly, a material that tends to display the properties of the strongest magic in the area.
The military uses uranium bullets because they sharpen themselves as they go through a target. You won't see that here, but, it's nifty anyway.