8

There have been a few questions and comments in our community lately regarding Dragonglass and the need to have weapons (swords, arrowheads etc) made from it to combat the White Walkers.

In Season 3, Episode 8, Samwell kills a White Walker with a dragonglass dagger, by stabbing the Walker in the shoulder.

However what interested me is how deep a wound is needed to destroy a White Walker? Is a single, shallow cut enough? If so, rather than trying to manufacture arrowheads or spear-points, men could be given slivers of dragonglass and simply throw them at the Walkers, throwing enough will almost certainly cause some wounds. Manufactured weapons of dragonglass could then be provided to those better trained to use them.

There are a number of pages that talk about dragonglass killing White Walkers, there is not (that I can find) any discussion of the degree of wounding needed for this to succeed.

Is there any in-universe lore that gives this detail?

  • White Walker or wight? – TheLethalCarrot Aug 25 '17 at 13:13
  • @TheLethalCoder - White Walkers... to my knowledge wights are not affected by dragonglass. Hence the tag is restricted to Game of Thrones, not including the books – Alith Aug 25 '17 at 13:19
  • Did you watch the latest episode? Did you see Sandor give up on the hammer and start using the daggers instead? Did you see how the Bear died? – TheLethalCarrot Aug 25 '17 at 13:21
  • Not had a chance to see the latest episode yet :) – Alith Aug 25 '17 at 13:22
  • 1
    Well your question is answered there, wights are affected by it. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 25 '17 at 13:24
7

I am only versed in show knowledge so that is where this answer will come from:


It Needs to Penetrate the Skin

In the scene where Sam stabs a White Walker with the Dragonglass dagger it only penetrates the skin and the effect seems to radiate from that area. See the below:

The both times we see Jon kill a White Walker is with his Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw. However, on both occasions his swipe is so strong his sword effectively goes straight through the White Walker turning it into what appears to be ice shards.

Therefore, it appears that to kill one you only need to penetrate the skin of the White Walker though we only have a few occasions to go on.


To back this up with some scenes from the latest episode S07E06. The wight bear is only killed when Jorah stabs it with a Dragonglass dagger:

Also when the wights are attacking the men trapped on the island it appears the dragon glass weapons seem to just graze over the wights, though this might just be the editing not being good enough to make the attacks look like they are actually hitting.

This can be used as backup evidence that to kill one you only need to penetrate the skin. However, as it is about wights it might be a bit different.

  • 2
    Melisandre says at one point in the books that the wights and the Others are different, and have different methods of being killed. The wights are "only dead flesh" and "steel and fire will suffice for them." Dragonglass is no more effective against them than against a living human (and arguably less so). The Others/White Walkers are the only ones vulnerable to dragonglass. – PlutoThePlanet Aug 25 '17 at 16:41
  • @PlutoThePlanet If you watch the fight scenes with wights vs Dragonglass they don't fare well against it. The wight bear is only "killed" when it comes into contact with a Dragonglass dagger. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 31 '17 at 15:53
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    Yea that's apparently yet another thing that was changed for the show. S7E7 states this explicitly when Jon kills the one in King's Landing with a dragonglass dagger (and tells everyone as much). I had made my comment before that episode had aired and directly contradicted the books. – PlutoThePlanet Aug 31 '17 at 19:52
5

Others / White Walkers

It only needs touch the skin of an Other (White Walker), but you better have time on your side if it is going to kill them...

And then he was stumbling forward, falling more than running, really, closing his eyes and shoving the dagger blindly out before him with both hands. He heard a crack, like the sound ice makes when it breaks beneath a man's foot, and then a screech so shrill and sharp that he went staggering backward with his hands over his muffled ears, and fell hard on his arse.

When he opened his eyes the Other's armor was running down its legs in rivulets as pale blue blood hissed and steamed around the black dragonglass dagger in its throat. It reached down with two bone-white hands to pull out the knife, but where its fingers touched the obsidian they smoked.

Sam rolled onto his side, eyes wide as the Other shrank and puddled, dissolving away. In twenty heartbeats its flesh was gone, swirling away in a fine white mist. Beneath were bones like milkglass, pale and shiny, and they were melting too. Finally only the dragonglass dagger remained, wreathed in steam as if it were alive and sweating. Grenn bent to scoop it up and flung it down again at once. "Mother, that's cold."

A Storm of Swords - Samwell I

We see the mere touching of the dagger causes the Other's skin to smoke, that while "dying" they melt/burn away, and it takes twenty heartbeats for all flesh to be gone.

So, honestly, if you are going to try and take down an Other, it would be best to stab it; otherwise you are going to be trying to press the dragonglass against its skin for quite a while and probably nowhere near as effective...

Wights

If you happen across a wight you would think that dragonglass would work as they comes from the same place.

The dragonglass dagger had melted the pale thing in the woods, true . . . but Grenn was talking like it would do the same to the wights. We don't know that, he thought. We don't know anything, really.

A Storm of Swords - Samwell II

But when Sam is attacked by a wight his dragonglass does nothing and later Melisandre confirms this.

Sam cleared his throat. "S-sire. The dagger . . . the dragonglass only shattered when I tried to stab a wight."

Melisandre smiled. "Necromancy animates these wights, yet they are still only dead flesh. Steel and fire will serve for them. The ones you call the Others are something more."

A Storm of Swords - Samwell V

However, Sam never actually hit the skin of the wight. He forgets that the blade was destroyed by the armor the dead man had been wearing.

There was no time to think or pray or be afraid. Samwell Tarly threw himself forward and plunged the dagger down into Small Paul's back. Half-turned, the wight never saw him coming. The raven gave a shriek and took to the air. "You're dead!" Sam screamed as he stabbed. "You're dead, you're dead." He stabbed and screamed, again and again, tearing huge rents in Paul's heavy black cloak. Shards of dragonglass flew everywhere as the blade shattered on the iron mail beneath the wool.

A Storm of Swords - Samwell III

In the end I would tend to agree with Melisandre though, but only because steel and fire will do better against the armor that the wights are wearing. While the Others have their own armor, the wights will be equipped with whatever the person who is turned was wearing when they died.

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