Today we are breaking down blacksmiths. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the building level system, check out the first post in this series here. This is how levels work in my world of Volaiya, specifically, the area north and east of the mountain range Du’roth ‘Ol known as the Northern Sanction.
This post, and each one following it in the series, will highlight a specific building type (blacksmith, inn, stable etc.) and layer on my building level system. My hope is to make an easy guide for DMs and players who want to create their own towns and cities quickly and easily! Let me know in the comments what buildings you want to make sure I cover and any details I’ve left out!
Blacksmith Building Level Breakdown
Level 1: Poor quality
These establishments should never be relied upon. They exist mostly to re-shoe horses of those passing through or maybe provide some simple building materials should they get around to it. They should be very small and run down. Roofs will leak and the floor is just packed dirt. Any weapons the players attempt to purchase here are either nonexistent or terrible quality. They are rusted, chipped, dull and very unreliable in combat. They would typically be owned and operated by one person who either no longer cares or doesn’t have the skill to do anything well. You can check the first post in the series for some role playing/lore options as to why establishments like this would exist at all.
Level 2: Serviceable quality
The weapons selection at these smiths are decent and functional but won’t impress anyone. The owner/operator is more of a “jack of all trades” than a master of anything in particular. There is not much of a focus between weapons or building supplies, but there is typically a decent selection of both.
These are found in most towns over a population of 250 or so. They are typically self starters who had apprenticed with another blacksmith in a different town or city and went to start their own smithy when he felt ready. There won’t be any magical items at smiths of this size/renown. At this size you will still typically find one craftsman working the forge. If he has an apprentice it will be a child or sibling.
Role Playing opportunity: Add some females to the blacksmith game! Players will expect males to be working the forge, have the NPC be female. Or have the male smith apprenticed by his daughter. One of the best things about D&D is the ability to break stereotypes so do it!
Level 3: Good quality weapons and armor OR building supplies
At this level there will be multiple smiths and apprentices working with a larger forge or multiple forges. If there is only one smith, give them 2-4 apprentices. The apprentices could be of different rank within the forge but to maintain the quality and quantity of work at smithies of this size there needs to be at least 3-5 people working it. Level 3 Smithies will tend to specialize in either weapons and armor, or other metal work like building supplies & horseshoes, or ship building materials should they be located in a coastal area. Rarely will you find smiths who can create this kind of quality without focusing on one thing or the other.
The weapons will be of fine quality and will be impressive to others who see them due to the artistry involved but they will not be magical. A smith at this level may have a few magical weapons to sell but they would not be of their make.
Lore Note: The secrets of imbuing weapons and items with magical properties were lost when the 7 Tomes of Dwarven Craft were lost or destroyed when their kingdom fell. Once the Skyforge went cold it was only a matter of time before their enemies were at the gates.
The magical weapons they have will be either:
- gifts they have received or payment for services rendered or,
- Items they’ve found in a previous adventuring life.
They may or may not be willing to sell them – that’s up the owner/operator of the smithy and the DMs discretion.
Level 4: High Quality items of a specific kind
These Blacksmiths are only found in the larger cities (populations of at least 3,000 – 4,000) or potentially in smaller towns if they have decided to leave the big city behind. They will be specialized in either swords, ranged weapons, armor, etc. They won’t be a jack of all trades but the quality of these arms and armor will be exceptional. They will have some items that would be considered “+1 ” from a mechanical standpoint but they would not be magical in nature. The attack or armor bonus would only be due to the quality of the blade or plate. Attacks made with the blades would NOT be considered magical.
These items would be very expensive but not as expensive as magical items. Example: a longsword from a Level 4 sword smith would be between 600-800 gold, but it would be a +1 longsword (non-magical). They would have some magical weapons for sale. When adventurers need money and have found something they can’t use they typically hold on to them until they find a shop of this caliber who understands their value and can afford to buy them. A standard Level 4 blacksmith might have between 3-5 magical items for sale ranging from 800-2,000 gold depending on the weapon or armor.
There will be between 5 and 15 crafts-people working at a Level 4 Blacksmith. The larger establishments will offer a variety of items but that will be due to the number of people who are there crafting. They may have 2 smiths who make swords, one who specializes in blunt weapons, etc. Level 4 smiths are the largest blacksmiths by size, number of workers, and volume of product on offer.
Level 5: Exceptional Quality
There are maybe only 3 or 4 Level 5 blacksmiths in the world. Two of them are in the largest and wealthiest city in the Northern Sanction, Erast.
Lore Note: One Level 5 blacksmith is rumored to be in the Dragonborn city of Zir, in the desert lands far to the south. The smithy is worked by Dwarven slaves they say.
These smiths are actually smaller than a Level 4 operations as they only work on commissioned pieces. The items they create are requested by high kings and nobles and cost 1000’s of gold. They are inlaid with gems and other adornments that few could have access to. The pieces they create take months to complete. All Level 5 smithies have at least two dwarves working in them. The two in Erast are human owned, but the dwarves who live and work there are responsible for the incredible quality. These smiths have been known to trade in magical items like weapons and armour but only to make money – they take no pride in owning them. Because they typically only deal with nobility, these magic items are typically overpriced by 100s or 1000s of gold pieces. Should the players find themselves at a Level 5 blacksmith, they could haggle or trade other items to drop the price. They could also complete quests for them to get their hands on the items they carry.
That’s it for the Blacksmiths of Volaiya!
I hope some of these “rules” will help you quickly visualize the kind of blacksmith you are looking for and the type of establishment it would be found in.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I’m always looking to refine the system to make it the best I can.