Metals of the Forge Fires

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ilmarinen
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Metals of the Forge Fires

Post by ilmarinen » 11 Sep 2019, 20:31

A crafters guide to metalworking for armor and weapons in Shadowgate

While information on these materials can be found in the Dungeon Master's Guide or Faerun source-books, we have included them here to make it easier for you to reference them as well as add a little more flavor to your metal crafting. Please keep in mind that while these materials may have special properties in your table game they do not as of yet here in Shadowgate. They may eventually at some point in time, however that can neither be confirmed nor denied by the writer of this article. This is merely a reference to aid any would be smiths in their role-playing of the craft. Please keep in mind this is not intended to be a 100% accurate essay of metallurgy by any means. More so what you may find a medieval blacksmith saying to a layman of the time.

The Common Metals

Bronze

Bronze is the most inferior of the war metals by far, being a copper alloy and softer and less able to hold an edge than well worked iron or steel. However high quality bronze is superior to poor quality iron. It is abundant and easy to work with, which makes it popular in poorer rural areas or those lacking the facilities to work with iron and steel. Some prefer it for its ornamental uses as well since it can be easily embossed and decorated. It will also polish to a mirror-like shine. Bronze will tarnish over time, however in doing so it protects itself from further corrosion and some find this to be a desirable look. In some cultures bronze holds a place of ancient nostalgia as it was to many the first metal that could be used to great effect for weapons and armors. Anymore however, it is often forgone for these purposes and used primarily for fancy decor. It has found a new popularity
among soldiers and new adventurers wanting the protection of metal armor, without the heavy price of steel.

Iron

Iron is incredibly abundant and often low in price. It can be found in most mountain ranges and even in the depths of the underdark. It is popular for use in tool making and construction. A decently skilled smith can forge weapons and armors of higher quality and durability than bronze, but there is a price to be paid in maintenance. It is tougher than steel, however it is brittle and not the best of choice for slashing or cutting edges. Low maintenance weapons such as clubs and maces are prime candidates for this metal. Armor made from iron can be heavy and cumbersome, imagine wearing an iron stove and you may be on the right track. Iron, like steel can also be put through a process known as case-hardening, or surface-hardening. In this process the weapon or armor is packed in charcoal and baked in a furnace over a period of time. When quenched it leaves the surface harder than the interior adding to its versatility and making it less brittle overall. If properly cared for it can hold a dull grayish luster, however this is a painstaking process as iron will begin to rust within a days time in all but desert climates. It is so prone to corrosion that it will even begin to rust before it leaves the fires of the forge, often meaning its use is solely utilitarian and function. The value of iron however cannot be underestimated as without it, steel would be a fantasy.

Steel

Steel is the mainstay of the common metals. It is the most durable and versatile, while still being relatively inexpensive. To that effect it is common to find weapons and armors made of steel in most smithies around the realms. Any metal smith worth their salt knows how to work with steel. It can be made hard and heavy for use in armor, swords of many sizes, as well as axes and clubs. It can be made light and springy for foils and rapiers or chain mail armors. It is a very versatile metal. It comes in many varieties of quality. Some being no better than iron, to steel that can withstand the ravages of time when properly cared for. The superiority of steel over iron comes much in the fact it is often more flexible and not as rigid. This means that it is less likely to crack, break or shatter with impacts. It can be case-hardened just like iron. As well a skilled smith knows how to flute, or add ornamental ridges to metal plates in order to create artificial thickness, thus making a thinner lighter plate as effective as a flat thicker plate. It also adds a very nice decor to the armor that is often known as the Gothic style.

Titanium

Often known as mock mithril, or con-mans mithril by those who detest it, titanium is an abundant yet hard to obtain metal. Even though there are those, mostly among dwarven and elven circles, who detest it, titanium holds many marvelous properties. High quality arms and armor made of titanium are at times often indistinguishable from true mithral as it holds a luster that ranges from polished steel to a silvery mithral like shine when properly polished. There are however ways to tell them apart. One such way is that mithril is slightly lighter than titanium. Though both are comparable in their strength, when weighed against steel the mithril will always be lighter. Thus placing the object on a scale with a steel weight of comparable mass can show the mithril for the mock-up. Another test, is the test of time. Mithril will never tarnish, rust or corrode. It is truly a metal made forever. This is not however true of titanium. It is incredibly resistant to the forces of nature and time however, so this method is often best used for older objects. Lastly, mithril will dimly shine as if by a light of its own in moonlight.  Titanium is still a very valuable and saught after metal. It is the strongest of the common metals. However common is used loosely as even though it is abundant it is very hard to obtain as previously mentioned. Iron can simply be reduced in a smelter from iron sand and other ore containing it. Titanium requires much time, pressure, and the work of skilled refiners and alchemists in order to obtain usable amounts. Unlike the other common metals, unless it is alloyed with steel or iron it cannot be patinad. The proportions of these alloys are often a very well guarded secret.

The Uncommon Metals

These metals are listed as uncommon because they generaly would have some sort of special properties that make them unique and special. Granted right now the difference is purely ascetic. What makes them special is listed all the same to help add a bit of flavor to anyones role play. I am sure seriouse crafters will do their own research, and maybe even contribute as time goes by. For everyone else, here are shadowgates uncommon metals.

Arandur

A rare metal that can be quite hard to find, at least in high standards of quality. The ore itself has a blue-green tint and is often found near deposits of naturally forming glass. While it is a wholly impressive metal, if it is not tempered properly it is no better than normal steel. From the hands of a sub-par craftsman, that battle axe you just purchased may as well be made of glass. Even in the hands of people who know how to work it this day and age, you really won’t find anything about it worth paying the high price for. I you can have the prestige of owning something made from one of the finest rare materials known but the secrets to making it so special are all but lost these days. The metal itself when worked has a rather lovely bluish silver tint to it like mithril, and in dim light it has a greenish hue as well. Even if left to rust over time it will hold an edge like nothing else can. This is however the stuff many swords of ancient legends have been made from. Including those of fabled elven make. One of the most notorious swords of all, the  Vorpal Blade and the lesser but still impressive swords of sharpness were most commonly made of arandur due to its incredible ability to hold its edge. The secret to its greatness came from tempering in the blood of certain dragons.  It was also told that shields and armor made from the stuff could absorb spells composed of pure magical energy, like that magic missile spell those mages are so crazy about. Of course ever since the great shadow gate incident so it’s told, the metal just hasn’t ever been the same. You might still find artifacts that hold their original properties, but nothing new has been made since. At least that is the story.

Darksteel

This remarkable steel alloy gets its name from the deep purple layer of tarnish it develops over time. It can be cleaned up and polished to look like regular steel, but most just let it tarnish since it helps slow the eventual rusting that claims most metals in time. As far as its properties go, they say it’s almost as hard as adamantium. The recipe for this alloy is as you might guess a very jealously guarded secret. Rumor has it, darksteel came about when a few dwarven smiths got together to try and make homemade adamantium. Another rumor has it that rumor is a load of bull-hocks. Either way, the best darksteel money can buy is usually considered second rate fair compared to just how good this stuff can be. If the recipe to making it has supposedly been lost to time, you have to wonder how it keeps hitting the market every now and then. Either someone somewhere still has a decent supply or some hands got shook and there is a very rich dwarven clan somewhere raking in on a false scarcity. Who can really say? They say you can take a magic sword made out of this stuff, and melt it down and recast it into something else and it will keep most, if not all of its former magical properties. Legend had it, back before that shadow gate blew up and made half the realm into a bloody desert, darksteel had a natural ability to protect anyone wearing the stuff from lightning and spells that electrocute you. I can imagine the talosians don’t regret the state of the world one bit when it comes to that, cause nowadays it’s just a pretty purple metal that the nobility just goes baby talk over.

Dlarun

Dlarun, or dlaran as some folks pronounce it is a bit of an oddity. It’s not really a metal, but then again it is. To get dlarun, you have to find yourself a nice patch of clay near a riverbank. They say you can find the most of it on the banks of rivers that flow through areas touched by the feywild. They say a lot of things, maybe you noticed that. Don’t know who they are but they like to talk. Once the clay is roasted, someone goes through what is left and collects the chips of dlarun and then gathers them into a crucible. A lot of heat later you have yourself a nice chunk that is about as hard as soap. Halflings are the undisputed masters in this area and it’s said they know a secret mix of alchemical agents you can add in with the clay to get better material out of the crucible. A lot of smiths who like to make really ornate and decorated items love this stuff because even though finished works are almost as tough as steel, the soap like ingots can be easily shaped and carved into just about anything you want. A second killing will cause it to harden into a nice bone-white metal that can be easily mistaken for bone white ivory since it can take a nice polishing. For this reason someone gave it the nickname icesteel. Finished pieces have a very dim greenish tint in candle light as well. Once upon a time, if you had what amounted to about a pound of the stuff touching your bare skin it would help protect your noggin from all sorts of mind magic and the like. You’ve heard it before, so say it with me, then that blasted shadow gate had to go and blow the world into a new era. Those Tsarven psions probably didn’t shed many tears over this one.
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