Baker's Bizarre


A little bit on Oil

The following is a loose collection of facts, rewritten to fit into the Hârnworld milieu. The facts come from gamers, historical sites and the internet - and I cannot and will not attest to their truth. The following sounds logical to me and thus I present it as the "Truth" for Hârn. Do with it as you will.



There are three main sources of oil on the island of Hârn:

Both oils are used in cooking and lighting.


Fish Oil

Fish oil predominates in trade on the island of Hârn, where it can be found in wax-sealed barrels and pottery urns on almost any trade route at any season of the year. Every chandler's shop has several barrels and jars kept in back - just in case it's needed.

Any fishing village along the many coasts and rivers devote half their produce to creating oil for either local use or sale.

Ivinians are renowned for the selling of whale blubber which can be reduced into a potent form of fish oil that burns slightly cleaner, if not longer, than oils from smaller fish.

But it is the olive oil from southern Lythia that is most prized. Olive oil burns the cleanest, although it too has a slight smell and makes a smoke thicker than that from a candle, when burned


Oil Lamps

Oil lamps came in two forms: The open wick and the closed wick.

The open wick was an open pan of oil, usually made out of pottery, with a small siphon at the end of which the fire was lit.

The average open wick lamp would burn roughly 4 hours per pint of oil, assuming it is placed in a spot without wind or draft. It gives off just enough light to work by, but not quite enough light to read or write by.

A closed wick is a thick wick that peeks out from a pottery, glass or even metal container that holds the oil. The closed wick lamp is usually surrounded by a hood or a shade.

The most expensive closed wick lamps are made of metal, usually brass, and had wires around the wick so that the fire could be better contained.,

This latter lamp was greatly preferred on ships because the flame and more importantly the oil, was better contained and protected from spilling. The average closed wick lamp burned for roughly 8 hours per pint of oil.


Animal Oil

A tanners shop will have rendering fat behind his tannery barrels where the smell is almost noticeable. Fat is rendered into tallow as soon as its removed from the meet for the latter does not spoil and takes less space to store. It also does not attract animals.

The legion uses animal oil, for armor, leathers, weapons and lighting, is equally in demand.


Leather Oil

Leather oil is actually animal fat that has been reduced to an oil and mixed with beeswax, pine pitch and ashes. The mix quickly hardens into a block that is chopped up and worked with the hands until the block becomes paste once more. This paste can then be rubbed onto the leathers to keep them subtile.

Adding beeswax and pine pitch provides some level of water-proofing to the leather. Leather oil is a long process, usually using a cloth to rub the leather oil into the material.

Chandlers sell leather oil at about half the price of regular oil by the pound. No legionnaire is without a block of leather oil. Usually a quarter pound block is sufficient to keep a suit of leather armor oiled for a tenday.


Weapon and Armor Oil

Animal fat cannot be used on weapons and armor because it does not absorb. Instead you need something to coat the metal and prevent rust. For this mineral oil (also called rock oil) is mixed with and finely powdered wood ash. The ash helps thicken the mixture so it will remain on the armor longer.

The oil is applied sparingly, so a pint of oil is enough to oil a standard legionnaire's weapons and armor for a month.

Since chainmail is cleaned by tossing it in a barrel of sand, and then rolling the barrel along the ground, the sand will not only dry the metal but clean off the oil as well. Chaimail is therefore only oiled when cleaning with sand is not an option.

Chandlers sell weapon and armor oil at 1.5 x the price of fish oil. They can also make this type of oil to order.



The length of time a candle will burn depends on the size of the candle and the design of the candle. You can make a candle that burns fast and produces more light, or one that burns slow and produces less light.

Note: For gaming purposes, assume that this is a linear relationship.

1 pound of candle wax producing 1 candela (candlepower) of light lasts 60 hours. Thus, you could make a 4 ounce candle that produces 1 candela for 15 hours, or a 8 ounce candle that produces 2 candela for 15 hours and so on.

A chandler can adjust the illumination/burning-rate of his candles by adjusting the diameter of the wick, the material of the wick, the quality and composition of the tallow/wax, and the diameter of the candle (up to a certain limit). If the diameter is too large, the outer rim never melts, which essentially wastes that wax and limits the illumination.


How To Render Tallow

Fill a big pot 3/4 full of chopped animal fat. Cover the fat with water. Bring to a rolling boil and maintain until the water has evaporated and the fat rendered. Only when most of the water is gone, and the fat is sitting in a shallow layer of liquid that most of the tallow is extracted from the fat. When most of the water has boiled away, several changes will rapidly occur. You will need to watch the pot closely. The bubbles of the mixture will become smaller and less violent. The color of the liquid changes from a light, muddy - brown color, to a dark, clear liquid. The fat is rendered when it turns into brown crisps which have the appearance of bacon. Also, a scent of bacon becomes very strong. It may take about three hours to reach this point.

If the tallow is left on the fire after the water has completely evaporated, it could reach the flash point and burst into flames. You will know when this is about to happen if a light, white smoke is given off. At this point the tallow should be taken off the fire. Use extreme caution when removing the pot from the heat. Spilled tallow can cause an explosive, highly dangerous fire.

Let it cool about ten minutes then strain the impurities from the tallow. The tallow is ready to pour into your wicked molds.

Cut 100% cotton wicking or twine (8-12 ply) into approximately 18-20 inch sections. Tie a knot about two inches from one end of each string. On the same end, rub a bit of tallow and twist to a point (this helps the string go through the small hole). With the knotted end first, lower each string into one of the larger holes of the mold and down through the smaller hole in the bottom. Tie a larger knot outside of (and next to) the bottom hole. The inner single knot helps pull the candles out. The outside knot seals the bottom hole. Across the top of the mold tie each pair of strings to a small, pencil-sized stick. Make sure they are tight and centered.


How to Make Your Own Candles

Before pouring tallow, remove it from the fire and place it away from all heat sources. It's best to let the mixture cool a little

Carefully pour the warm tallow into the wicked molds. Fill the molds, and partially fill the flat reservoir on the top. This is necessary because the wicking absorbs some tallow and the tallow shrinks as it cools. Make sure the wicks are still centered in the candles.

Let filled molds set for approximately one hour. Cracks throughout the tallow in the reservoir is one indication the candles are ready to remove from the molds.

To remove the candles from the molds, you must first cut the knots off the bottom of the molds. Be careful not to cut into the molds. Remove the tallow from the reservoir. Use the sticks as handles to pull the candles from the molds. Cut the sticks off the candles. Cut the knot off the tip of the candle if it is exposed. Your candles are now ready for use.


Other Candle Ingredients

Candles can be made from beeswax, which melts at lower temperatures than tallow renders and is far less flammable. They can also be made from Sperm Wale Oil and waxes found in the wild (like from certain barks when boiled, or tree saps).

Different ingredients burned at different rates with different amounts of light produced.

Beeswax burned with an intense yellow light and produced.5x more light than a tallow candle.

Sperm Wale Oil burned with an intense white light and produced 1.5x more light than a tallow candle. Sperm Wale Oil should be priced the same as Ambergris.

In Hârn there is an ongoing argument over whether a tapered and dipped candle burns better than a molded candle. Some scriptoriums prefer one over the other, although all scriptoriums prefer Sperm Wale Oil candles over almost every other source of lighting, save magic.



The other common use for tallow is to make soap. Lye, strained from wood ash was mixed with tallow and lime. The hard yellow-brown block that results is foul smelling and scratchy, but worked none the less. A softer, more gentle, form is available on Hârn as an import from Shiran, but it is at least twice the price.

Local chandlers make soap either once a year to order, or whenever there is a glut of candles. Wood ashes are purchased from each household. As an average, 5lbs of wood ash or tallow can be traded for 1lb (16 oz.) of soap. The chandler will then take a week in fine weather to strain, boil and then dry the soaps. Each chandler will add his or her own herbs, flowers and scents to the mix. While few normally chandlers make much extra soap, cities like Shiran (renowned for its excess) actually exports soap.

Caravans leaving Shiran may have barrels of soap powder which the crushed and crumbled dry remnants from making and cutting soap bars. They also carry wooden crates of soap. The crates are wrapped in tarps for fear of their contents getting wet.

In Hârn soap making is done best in the heat of summer, and simmering pots and the smell of lye predominates over every village on the hottest days. Soap is as common as candles on the isle, and only the very rich buy it.


A Little Bit on Grain

Four grains are widely cultivated on the island of Hârn: wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Of these, wheat was most valued because it makes the best bread. It is also the most vulnerable to disease and weather.

Farming Grains

All four can be sown in fall for harvest the following summer. This so-called winter crop, however, could be easily lost to a particularly cold winter or stormy spring, so to hedge their bets Hârnic farmers plant a second crop in the spring. This crop would not produce quite as well since it hadn't had as much time to grow. It was planted just as early as the farmers could get their plows into the ground (generally Morgat), and would be harvested in early fall.

Several steps were involved in planting a grain crop. Hârnic farmers worked on a three-field rotation system: one field for grain, one field for hay, and a third left fallow, which frequently meant it was sown with a legume which would be plowed under to enrich the soil. The fields themselves were long narrow strips of land, and one would cultivate strips which were not contiguous, the idea being that way nobody would be stuck with all the bad land. The soil would be enriched throughout the winter with lime, chalk, manure, and by plowing under burnt weeds.

A sport called "camping," which involved two teams trying to take each other's men prisoner, was sometimes played on fallow fields and was encouraged as a means of breaking up clods. The fields were plowed with a good old medieval ox-drawn moldboard plow, the seed was broadcast by hand, and then a device called a harrow -- a square wooden frame with wooden spikes pointing into the earth -- was dragged across the field to cover the seed. Sometimes they harrowed a field before the seed was sown in order to break up clods.

The crop would be weeded once or twice in spring and summer, and then harvest began in late July for the winter crop and in August for the spring. Ripened grain is delicate and falls easily off the stalk, so they harvested it carefully with a hand sickle, bound it into sheaves, and carefully arranged the sheaves into stacks. The stacks didn't stay out too long, but were brought indoors for winter storage. Grain was frequently stored just like that, still on the stalk, partly so it would draw up the last moisture from the stalk and become heavier, but mainly because threshing and winnowing are good indoor activities for bad weather, and would keep people warm and occupied throughout the winter.

Threshing took place in an open area of the barn where a special wooden floor was set up. Flails were used to beat the stalks, thereby causing them to shed their grain. The straw was then removed, and the grain scooped up with a wide, shallow winnowing basket. By tossing the grain into the air and fanning it, the lighter chaff (inedible husks) blew away until only the heavier grain remained. The heaviest grain fell closest to the winnower and was saved to plant next season. Grain that was to be eaten was dried in a kiln and taken in sacks to the mill.


Milling Grains

Once milled, the grain became flour. It kept longer and was easier to store.

The miller had to pay the manor lord a yearly fee that he made from charging the peasants for the use of his mill. Often he would barter raw grain for the privilege. He then sells both grain and flour to travelling merchants. The miller buys the sacking he uses from local weavers, often trading flour for sacking. It is stitched and cut in the mill as needed.

It should be noted that most of the windmills on Lythia are post mills. These produce just enough power to turn the millstones counter to each other and crush the grain, so long as it is facing the wind directly. Fortunately this type of mill can be turned. But if it is not kept turned into the wind, with sails unfurled, it could blow over.


Trading Grains

Every Hârnic caravan that travels over long distances (more than a week in travel between towns) carries sacks of flour and rough grains in equal quantities. The flour is to sell and the rough grains is to feed the draft animals when fodder cannot be found. Usually the grains are bought at each mill and then sold in surrounding areas, so that the grains are never carried more than a day. The few times where grains and flour are carried longer distances up to a loss of half the content carried is expected.

Sacks of flour often are sewn up at the mill and not opened again until they reach their destination. Large batches of flour, such as that traded to Azadmere, is checked by opening one bag in 20 and sifting through a handful of flour for weevils, other pests or spots of mold. Smaller batches are often sold without being checked, which while easier for all involved does often lead to someone being cheated.


Frumente yn lentyn

From England, 15th century. Barley cooked in Almond Milk.

Original recipe from An Ordinance of Pottage

16. Frumente yn lentyn. Take clene pykyd whete. Bray hit yn a morter, and fanne it clene, & seth hit tyl hit be brokyn. Than grynd blanchid almondys yn a morter; draw therof a mylke. Do hit togedyr & boyle hit tyl hit be resonabull thykke: than loke thy whete be tendyr. Colour hit up with safferyn. Lech thy purpas when hit ys sodyn, than ley hit on disches by hitsylfe, and serve hit forth with frumente.

- Hieatt, Constance B. An Ordinance of Pottage. An Edition of the Fifteenth Century Culinary Recipes in Yale University's MS Beinecke 163. London: Prospect Books Ltd, 1988.



Frumenty in Lent. Take clean picked wheat. Pound it in a morter, and remove the hull, & boil it until it cracks. Then grind blanched almonds in a morter; make an almond milk. Add the wheat to the almond milk & boil until reasonably thick; make sure the wheat is tender. Color it with saffron. Cut your porpoise after it's boiled, then set it in dishes with nothing else, and serve it with frumenty.


Modern recipe

Stir together all the ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for approx. 45 minutes, or until the bulgur is tender and the mixture becomes thick. Be careful not to scorch. Serve as a soup or as a sauce for meat.

Frumenty was one the most popular foods of the Middle Ages, used as an accompaniment to roast meat, venison being particularly favored. However, this particular recipe was intended for Lent and was meant to be served with boiled porpoise! Frumenty recipes appear throughout surviving period cookbooks & manuscripts, proving that its preparation was wide-spread and common. Apparently, any cook worth his or her salt could prepare this dish.

This translation, along with notes, has been published as a related reading in the Glencoe Literature Series (Glencoe/McGraw-Hill) edition of The Mayor of Casterbridge (Thomas Hardy).


Potage of Rice

England, Fifteenth Century. A thick rice dish, colored gold.

The original recipe from MS Harley 5401:

Potage of Rice. Recipe rice, & pike am & wash am clene, & seth am to ai breste; an lat am kele & cast erto almond mylke, & do erto a lityll porcyon of wyne, anoer of hony, and colour it with saferon, & boyle it & serof it forth.

- Hieatt, Constance B. "The Middle English Culinary Recipes in MS Harley 5401: An Edition and Commentary." Medium Ĉvum vol. 65, no. 1 (1996): 54-71.


Gode Cookery Translation:

Pottage of Rice. Recipe. Rice, & pick them & wash them clean, & boil them till they burst; then let them cool & add there-to almond milk, & do there-to a little portion of wine, another of honey, and color it with saffron, & boyle it & serve it forth.



Place the cooked rice in a soup or sauce pot; add enough almond milk to just come to the top of the rice. Add a small amount of the wine, then add enough honey to slightly sweeten. Color with the saffron or its substitutes. Bring to slow boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook slowly until the liquid cooks down and the mixture thickens, being careful not to scorch or burn the bottom. Serve forth!


A Note on Almond Milk

In the Middle Ages, animal milk was not refrigerated, and fresh milk did not stay fresh for long. Most cooks simply did not use much milk as the short shelf-life of the product made it a difficult ingredient to depend upon.

Rather than animal milk, Medieval cooks turned to the milky liquid produced by grinding almonds or walnuts. This liquid, high in natural fats, could be prepared fresh whenever needed in whatever quantities. It also could be made well ahead of time and stored with no danger of degeneration. Because of its high fat content, it, like animal milk, could be churned into butter.


A Little Bit on Trade

What you can find and where

  In a chandler's shop:

Amount Item
Base Ingredients

2d20 gallons of fish oil

2d10 gallons of beeswax

1d4 gallons of Sperm Wale Oil
Finished Oils

2d10 gallons Armor Oil

3d10 gallons Weapon Oil

4d10 gallons Candle Oil

2d10 gallons Cooking Oil

1d100 Tallow 1d10 ounce candles

1d40 Beeswax 1d10 ounce candles

1d10 Sperm Wale Oil 1d10 ounce candles

Multiply all amounts by their shop size. All amounts are displayed in pounds. Chandlers will make and trade items, acquiring the unprocessed goods from locals.

Any caravan travelling along a major trade route (E.G.: the Salt Route, The Fur Route, etc.) or to a major city usually will carry at least 1/2 of its cargo as either candles, oils or unprocessed goods for the two.

Prices may vary as much as 500% between any two places on Hârn depending more on the skill of the person with which you are bartering than supply and demand.

Quality on the items is highly variable, depending on the skill of the person which made them. This can have some impact on the price, but regardless of the item's actual quality most traders will assure the buyer they only deal in the highest quality possible. If the buyer returns claiming the goods were poor quality, the standard response is "you got what you paid for."


In the Millers' Mill:

Amount Item
Base Ingredients
  2d10 barley

3d10 rye

4d20 oats

5d20 Wheat
Finished Flours

1d10 barley

2d10 rye

3d20 oats

4d20 Wheat

Multiply all amounts by their shop size. All amounts are displayed in pounds.

The miller's main customers are: the manor lord, inns, taverns, the legion and, of course, the baker. If there is a baker in town, chances are everyone buys their bread from him, if they can. In legion town the baker must present a cart-load of bread every three to five days to the fortification. As a bonded craftsman, the legion sets up his shop, purchases his tools and pays most of his guild fees in return for the baker fulfilling their needs first. Any extra time can be spent making money for themselves.

Any caravan might buy bread for personal consumption, but is far more likely to carry sacks of flour or threshed grains for trade. Threshed grains (or raw grains) also make good animal fodder for caravan's horses and/or oxen.

Flour and grain are usually stored in sacks, but if they are to be transported over water - a careful merchant will purchase barrels from a cooper instead. The barrels will keep the water out and may even be easier to retrieve, should an accident occur. An average barrel of flour holds 65lbs, as oppose to a 10lb bag.



This was taken from the Fort Clatsop National Memorial Webpage almost verbatum.

Numerous sources led to the creation of this article, including: Stephen McDonald from the harnlist, The History of Candles webpage,Museum Surplus Mideavil Antiquities, Ancient Oil Lamp Reproductions,
Oil Lamp Tutorial,
Trade and Commerce,
Montana Pitch Blend, and a host of other sites. The Boke of Gode Cookery provided the recipes. Gies and Gies various publications for other information.


This page was last updated on June 8, 2002
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