Blacksmith
rating: 0+x

A blacksmith courted me
Nine months and better
He fairly won my heart
Wrote me a letter.
With his hammer in his hand
He looked so clever
And if I was with my love
I would live forever.

(from Blacksmith - trad. Roud 816)

Basic Information

A blacksmith is a metalsmith who works with Iron and Steel. Iron is traditionally described as a "black metal". Steel is made from iron. Working with iron and steel is largely a process of heating and pounding. You put the metal in fire till it's red hot, then you smash it with a hammer until it's the shape you want (or until it needs to be heated again). The blacksmith is typically presented as being very strong. Larger jobs might require two people, one to hold the object with tongs, and the other to pound on it. A blacksmith's striker is an apprentice whose job is to swing a big hammer when and as the blacksmith directs.

A blacksmith creates tools, farm implements, horseshoes, chains, and possibly armor and weapons. Those who specialize in a narrow range of products probably use a more specific title, such as Armorer or Weaponsmith.

At some points in history the working of iron possessed a certain amount of mystique, at least partially due to the complicated and mysterious techniques a smith had to learn to make decent products. Also, in cultures where iron was a sovereign protection against the fair folk - or equivalent powers, the smith, who worked iron all the time, was seen to have special immunity. This sort of quasi-mystical status can be found in dark ages Europe and pre-colonial Africa amongst other cultures. In many legends it will be the smith who lays The Devil - or an equivalent malicious trickster - on his anvil and hammers him into surrender, combining brute force and iron in a traditional response to the supernatural.

For more information, see Smith.

See Also:

Sources

Bibliography

Game and Story Use

  • See Smith for further ideas.
  • Most villages in the middle ages will have a blacksmith. Transporting lots of different metal goods long distances is not much fun when you lack mass production and a transportation & shipping infrastructure. In later eras (such as the wild west), or magical settings that have easy transit or shipping, blacksmiths can be more spread out, and towns can better afford to import what they need.
  • With that hot forge and heavy tools, the village smithy has plenty of improvised weapons close at hand. It could be an exciting spot for a fight scene.
    • Traditionally, in movies, the blacksmith is some big scary bruiser who swings a mighty hammer. They don't tend to last long, but they look scary.
  • The forge is also a source of potential danger for the town. A fire might start there and spread to nearby buildings.
  • A blacksmith might also be a retired adventurer, as Coll was in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series. He could serve as an NPC mentor for a callow young apprentice hero.

Building This Character

Character Level

  • In gaming, usually a low-level NPC.
  • In TV and Movies, if it comes up at all, the blacksmith is usually reasonably good at melee, so that trope implies at least a few experience points under their belt. They're rarely the star, though, so they often end up meeting a poor end.

Attributes

Skills

  • Blacksmithing, Craftsmanship, Tradecraft, etc.
  • Just enough combat skills to swing a hammer, or test the balance of a weapon they're perfecting.
  • Intimidation is common in movies, as they look all tough and menacing with their hammers. In reality, a blacksmith could be a very friendly and meek person.
  • If your game system has specialized knowledge skills, a blacksmith may know a lot about the tools they make and whatever other skills those tools are used for.
  • A tiny bit of chemistry is possible, but far from guaranteed.

Special Abilities

  • In Magic: The Gathering there's an old "blacksmith" card with "protection from red". Ever since I first saw that, I've thought it would indeed be really useful for a smith to have some sort of supernatural resistance to heat and fire. You could work faster and longer, and not have to be nearly as careful.

Flaws and Hindrances

  • Hard of Hearing would make sense. All day long pounding on metal can't be good for the ears.

Combat Role

Variants

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License