rating: 0+x

WHO was the first that forged the deadly blade?
Of rugged steel his savage soul was made:
By him, his bloody flag ambition waved;
And grisly carnage through the battle raved.
Yet wherefore blame him? we’re ourselves to blame;

Tibullus, (from) Elegy XI

Basic Information

A bladesmith is a speciality smith who focuses on the manufacture of blades. For most of history, this is likely to mean that he produces swords, knives, daggers and similar weapons. Most likely he works in steel, but it is possible to have this sort of specialist in an earlier era working in something else (probably bronze).

This trade is a sub-speciality of weaponsmithing and may specialise further into a knifesmith or swordsmith, although it is technically possible to have a smith specialising in some kind of non-weapon blade (probably in an early modern, semi-industrial era) such as a scythesmith. A craftsman who makes non-weapon knives (for example for cooking or eating with) is normally called a cutler, otherwise non-weapon blades are likely to be turned out by a regular blacksmith.

This will usually be high end work - a bladesmith will normally only make blades and not meddle in other forms of ironwork - and is likely only to be found either in a large town or city or around a castle or similar military base where there is a strong enough demand for weapons to keep him busy. In many eras bladesmithing will control some of the highest end steel working technology, using techniques like pattern welding and differential tempering and thus is likely to have "mysteries of the trade" that are more mysterious than many. In a fantasy setting, a bladesmith may well have some magical abilities, either to produce enchanted swords or to make swords that can be readily enchanted by someone else.

The role of swordsmith in particular seems to be a popular job for retired warriors - at least in fiction anyway - giving him an above average chance of being a badass grandpa. This is fairly common in Japanese legend and most European fantasy and participation in at least one forging scene or montage appears a compulsary part of professional developement for these people.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • PCs will almost certainly seek one of these people out - besides weapons, they can also be used as NPC mentors, trainers etc.
  • At some point a PC will probably want to forge their own sword - hope they've been keeping their skills up, especially if they want to work in applied phlebotinum.
    • Failing that, they may need to go and find someone who can.
    • Or at least someone who can teach them (if they have to make the damned thing themselves).
    • If the relevant smith is an antisocial, mountain dwelling hermit, hilarity may ensue.
  • Every craftsman traditionally had a mark with which he signed his work - tracing the maker's mark on a weapon found at the scene of a crime (whether used by the perpetrator or the victim) may be an important clue.
  • A skilled weaponsmith may be taken hostage and forced to work for the BBEG.
  • Putting the last two together, the smith might still be putting his mark on the weapons, allowing the PCs to trace them back to source and rescue him.
  • If the artifact of doom happens to be an evil weapon it might only be possible for it to be destroyed by its maker. If he is hostile … or dead … this may be a problem.
    • Destroying it on the forge or in the furnace where it was made may be an option (can't think why no-one has used that one before).
    • Alternatively there may be a prophecy wrinkle like "by the hands that forged it" which allows even a dead maker to participate in the destruction.
    • Failing that (especially in a setting where reincarnation occurs) the PCs are on a fetch quest for a person.
  • The whole cutler vs. weaponsmith thing can be subverted - albiet possible in a more humorous campaign - with a set of kitchen knives forged by someone better known for their magical swords … possibly as a gift to a legendary master cook.
    • A short story in Dragon magazine once featured a magical "blade" forged by a legendary master and held by a barber. Unsurprisingly it turned out to be a pair of magically sharp scissors…
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License