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Basic Information

A Smith is someone who works with metal, shaping it or making things out of it. The term refers to a profession, typically a skilled artist or craftsman.

At some points in history smithing - especially 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.

That said, smithing is also a "hat" for a variety of legendary and fantastical species - dwarves are probably the most famous, but in some treatments various kinds of giant and even goblins have been known to smith in various metals as well.

Linguistically it has the same root as "Smite" - because the smith pounds on metal with a hammer to shape it. Aside from elbow grease and metal, the next most important ingredient is fire.

Smith Subtypes

As demonstrated by "phlebotinumsmith" you can pretty much put the suffix "smith" behind anything to create a neologism meaning "the person who makes or repairs that", "the guy who makes that out of metal", or "the person who bashes and shapes that". So, expect your standard fantasy setting to have a mithralsmith, magicsmith, etc.

A smith may have assistants, or work with fellow tradesmen, who fulfill related rolls, such as:

See also:

  • Cold iron - considering the mythical implications of iron.
  • Foundry - Effectively an industrial smithy (although the strict definition is more to do with casting).
  • Smelter - Either a refinery where metal is processed from ore, or someone who works in one.
  • Smithy - which can mean the actual forge the smith uses, or more generally the smith's workshop / retail store.
  • Tinker - works with light metal, sells and repairs random small objects. Sometimes a traveling repairman.
  • Wordsmith - a clever way to indicate an author or poet.


Okay, I guess Drop the Hammer and Anvil on Head are vaguely related, as well… but not really.


Game and Story Use

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