Bog Iron Hunter
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Basic Information

Bogs and peat bogs are frequent locations of small iron ore deposits. These come in the form of rocky clumps of bog iron, ranging from as small as a pea to as large as a skull in size, submerged in the muck. The trained eye of the bog iron hunter can tell from the look of the "iron slick" residue on the top of the bog that it's likely to have deposits.

Bog iron was the main source of iron for the vikings, and more generally the entire pre-Roman iron age. It was an especially important source of iron for communities too small to support, or cultures lacking the technology for, extensive mining. As recently as the American Revolution, bog iron was used for most of the cannonballs used by the colonial rebels.

It is the bog iron hunter's job to find and extract these deposits from the boggy water. They may prod the muck with a staff or spear-like implement in search of larger nodules. Alternately, they may cut out sections of turf in the bog and strain them for smaller iron pebbles. Bog iron is a slowly renewable resource, so if a bog gets thoroughly stripped of ore in a few decades it is likely to replenish. Bog iron accumulates from flowing springs of ground water within the bog, and can be deposited by iron-oxidizing bacteria, or collect as a precipitate in the acidic waters of the bog. These nodules can contain geothite, magnetite, vugs, or quartz.

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Game and Story Use

  • Obviously this is a great justification for lower tech-level tribal cultures, small towns, or even goblinoid species to have iron tools and weapons without requiring a traditional mining operation or infrastructure.
  • They thought I was crazy, building my castle on a swamp! A seemingly valueless tract of flooded lowland might actually conceal a wealth of valuable minerals.
  • NPC Bog Iron Hunters could launch your plotline when they find something else in the bog. Bog mummies, the eggs of a dragon or some metallic monster, or the treasure of a failed expedition to the moors. Some cruel fate may befall them and require investigating by the PCs, or their discovery could change the balance of power of an entire region.
  • The Bog Iron Hunter might wander the boggy wilderness hunting for valuable nodules that they then haul to a major city to sell to a blacksmith. The PCs might be hired as guards or escorts by this character, or they may hire the bog iron hunter as a guide to a dangerous bog.
  • In a fantasy setting, Bog Iron might have special magical properties.
    • It may be a valuable spell component
    • It may be capable of being forged into swamp-themed magic items. They may be especially buoyant, gift you with water-breathing, camouflage or even turn you invisible when in water or mud, or have a special acid attack or resistance.
    • Cold iron that is also bog iron might be the ultimate weapon against the fey, hag, or witch that prowls the bog.
    • Instead of being created by mundane chemistry, the bog iron nodules could be the eggs of some creature (like in that classic Star Trek episode).
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