A Guide to Metals and Their Properties
A Mastersmiths' guide to metals of worth and the knowledge you will need to become a true Master of Metals.
by Master Blademsith Cethrik Hammerstone
Master of the Thirteeth Blade, Bladesmith to King Regrare Alderkin, Maker of Caldebane - The Ever Cutting Blade
In my many years of toiling over the furnace I have pounded many items for many important people, most of the time more important in their own mind as rights should be. I have molded armor for the sons of Gods. Battered shields for the captains of the Titans. Even folded the blade Caldebane the Ever Cutting Blade for the Legendary Hero Uthelius of Abursis. With five thousand folds the blade was my masterwork of pieces. Never needing a whetstone, even after I saw it cut through two men wearing full plate of Black Iron and continuing on through a two foot thick oak.Â
Even my most wondrous pieces of work would never have happened were it not for the metal I forged them with. Any smith worth his weight can forge a suit of armor or a blade that can withstand time with the simplest of metals, but why would they? Why withstand time when you can make something that can rewrite time and history itself. That my reader is where your choice of metal comes in. Leave the simple iron and steel to farmers and makers of ticks and tacks, use Cold Iron or Green Steel to make your mark in the pages of Legend.
I have compiled a list of all metals known to be worth using for arms and what I have found them to be good for. As my days are numbered I find my knowledge far outweighs those who say they are my equal. instead of going to the grave with my secrets I find myself indulging in spreading my name not only in my work but in my knowledge that others know not. And so begins the beginning of the last bit of knowledge you will need to become a true Master of the Metal.
BladesmithÂ Cethrik Hammerstone,Â Master of the Thirteeth Blade
Iron: Iron ore is one of the mostÂ abundantÂ metals that can be used and is found nearly anywhere. Veins of it have been found in mountains both on the surface and deep within its bowls. Being so abundant, most cultures and kingdoms have access to this metal in one form or another and rarely needs to trade for it except in the most remote areas that trade or import it.
Black Iron: Always dark in color, the metal is thick with distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water. Bladed weapons made with black iron are known to not only be tough and resistant to breaking, but capable of being honed to a sharp and resilient edge that lasts much longer than an average metal blade. This metal is normally found in areas heavily saturated with water such as underwater caves, mines that wind under large bodies of water, or ravines that once were under water for extended periods of time. Black iron is a little more common than other unique metals and easier to mold into the smiths' defined purpose, that being the case they were more commonly used in mystical armor and weapons back in the days of Legends when magic items were crafted.
(Game Mechanics Follow)
It is heavier than normal iron and when made into armor and weapons it grants the items a higher armor rating, structure, and reduction. Bladed weapons made of black iron tend to never need sharpening and tends to whistle ever so slightly when used. Heavier weapons made of black iron, such as hammers, mauls, and the like tend to land heavier and more solid blows dealing an additional damage.
Blood Iron: Normally ichor colored but always having a defined red hue to the metal it is used only in weapons that have an edge to slash or pierce. Blood Iron is a foul metal some Mastersmiths claim was cursed by the Gods when it was used by mortals to help topple their power eons ago. Blood iron is found only in areas of vast destruction such as mountains that have collapsed or volcanic eruptions that have destroyed parts of the landscape. Those mining the area have reportedly spoken often of getting ill when staying in the area for too long. Occasionally the greedy miner dies if exposed to long to these areas rich in blood iron.
(Game Mechanics Follow)
When struck, the victim must make and succeed a Physical and Mental Save in order to fight off the metals effects. Those who fail either of their Save rolls are afflicted with a wound that festers and cannot be healed by magic means. The wound will do minor damage every day until fully healed naturally.
Cold Iron: This iron needs no alloy treatment and it shines with a silvery gleam, almost having a mother of pearl shimmer. Cold iron is only found under water and is difficult to mine due to this unfortunate location. Items made of this are rare only for this fact as the metal can be found off the coast of many cities, it is just too far out to effectively mine without risk of drowning.
(Game Mechanics Follow)Â
While cold iron is effectively simple iron it has the property of adding a minor bonus only when dealing with Critical Shots to include Aimed shots. This bonus does not give a bonus to strike however, if the attack misses by one or two points then the attack still fails. However, if they made a successful strike but missed a critical roll by one or two points then the attack and the critical are still a success.
Steel: Simple steel is more or less a product of iron laced with other forms of metal. (This is a fantasy explanation trying to not explain the carbonation required to make it.) Â While steel is not found anywhere as it is made from iron itself, iron can be found almost anywhere and is abundant enough to be a foundation for most cultures to use.
Blue Steel: It appears as dark blue, silvered metal that sparkles in light as if it were coated with a tiny film of frost that forms over its surface when exposed to air. The material is cold to the touch and wisps of smoke can be seen wafting from the metal when exposed to warm air. Wearing armor made of Blue Steel makes the wearer constantly cool, almost chilled. Blue steel is only found in the icy north buried under glacial ice. Tunnels dug through the ice and snow can often be seen from a distance reminiscent of a hive of insects tunneling through the sand.
(Game Mechanics Follow)Â
When a critical strike is successful, in addition to the critical the target will also be at a negative modifier to their Initiative as well as to their combat rolls to include strike, parry, and dodge.
Green Steel: Silvered metal with veins of deep green flowing through or a more pure form of a deep dull green metal, non-reflective. Found deep in swamps and marshes cluttered among the twisted roots of gangly trees it is thought the metal is more a byproduct of some plant that has similar properties to metal. The fact that it behaves like steel and has similar properties some smith refute this claim but the fact that it is found in clumps under the roots of trees no one can explain. (Game Mechanics Follow)
When used in armor it grants the basic hardness bonuses to AR and Structure/ Reduction. When used in weapons it is almost solely used in bladed weapons as blunt weapons do not gain its beneficial properties other than the hardness bonus. Green Steel has the ability that once tempered and folded its edge cannot be dulled. Because of this sharpness it has the added benefit of dealing a minor addition in damage.
Mithril: Mithril is a silvery, glistening metal that is lighter than iron and stronger than steel and seems to have a slight gleam to it even in the dark of night. It is very rare and can only be found deep in the bowels of the largest and oldest of mountains. Items made from mithril, whether armor, weapons, or trinkets; never have a fear of rusting or aging and breaking normally. They can be damaged for sure but take an extensive amount of force to break something made from this metal. Because of this, items made in the time of Legends were popular to be made from mithril. (Game Mechanics Follow)
Armor and weapons made from mithril are much lighter and stronger than iron and steel, but due to the rarity are more costly by far. Wounds made from a mithril weapon never seem to fester as the cut is always clean. So while someone could die from a mithril weapon, it would not be due to getting sick from infection arising from the wound not being cleaned. Weapons are light and exceptionally balanced and give a bonus to all initiative rolls and damage of weapons.
Dragon Silver: Dragon silver is possibly the rarest for of metal, even more so than starmetal, because a dragon must agree to temper the metal with their own blood. The smelted mithril is injected with blood from a willing dragon and the end result is wondrous beyond even the divine at times. It looks similar to mithril but has a tint of reddish underlying the silver gleam. Mithril seems to glow a pinkish red in daylight. In the days of Legend, items of the most Holy design were made from Dragon silver and are a defined almost as unique.
Dragon silver borders on legendary itself as most smiths have only heard mention of it from highly trained master smiths. All items made from Dragon silver have a tendency to seem to have a mind of their own, almost sentient in nature so to speak. They are harder to damage, much lighter than your average metals, and usually do additional damage when wielded or protective in nature.
(Game Mechanics Follow)
All underlying abilities aside, they all have a unique aura about them that seems to speak to those who claim ownership of them. Weapons are light and exceptionally balanced and give a moderate bonus to all initiative rolls and damage of weapons is increased.
Adamantine: Adamantine is colorless and shiny, having a similar luster like steel that is highly polished. It seems to reflect more light than it absorbs. It has been known to even glow at night after being exposed to daylight for even an hour. This rare metal is not found in typical ore deposits, instead is always found in clusters of crystals or gems. More to the point, more often than not precious gems seem to be anchored in clusters to the ore.
Few items were found to be made of this rare metal larger than trinkets and jewelry due to the limited amount of the ore readily available, however when armor and weapons were made from it they were spectacular and coveted. Nearly all of the armor and weapons made in the age of Legends were imbued with mystic properties, some being powerful enough to threaten the Gods. These unique items were hidden and lost to the pages of history for fear of them wreaking havoc once again. Some say the creation of these items were what caused the Gods to begin their punishment of mortals for fear of an uprising wanting to destroy or hide them from being used against them.Â
(Game Mechanics Follow)Â
Weapons are light and exceptionally balanced and give a generous bonus to all initiative rolls and damage of weapons.
Starmetal: Starmetal is a flat grey in color and has a dull polish that seems to drink in the light more than reflect it. More to the point it doesn't seem to reflect light at all, making small rooms slightly darker when an item made from it enters. Outside at night however it glows faintly like the stars in the blackness. This metal is extremely rare to find as it comes from the sky, some say the gods throw it to the ground in fits of rage or in times of heroic need. Whatever the case is, it falls from the heavens in a fiery flash that brightens the sky as if the sun landed from the heavens exploding in a shower of rock and hot debris. What is left from the crash is starmetal.
(Game Mechanics Follow)Â
Items made from starmetal are stronger, lighter, and more resilient than normal items. Armor and weapons rarely need care or sharpening. All seems to glow in the night sky. Weapons are light and exceptionally balanced and give a major bonus to all initiative rolls and damage of weapons is increased.
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? Responses (6)
This is of course something I was writing for my gamers to explain some of the odd items and weapons they were finding, sure they were magical in some aspect. This of course is not an end all to all metals used and is definitely not scientific in its prose but just something I made to make mundane weapons and armor not so normal and boring without throwing magic item after magic item on the table. All numerical bonuses and actual game mechanic numbers were removed in the idea of Strolen's and the GM who uses them to alter them as they see fit.
And this of course is more for my game system as e old timers know, and is not all encompassing for every system out there use and alter as you wish.
Oh, when I saw the title, i was hoping for an all-out, super-scroll expose on all metals as they relate to fantasy gaming, but now I see these are metals are endemic to your world. Nothing wrong with that. A good treatise with some interesting, original bits. Good work.
A good sub - I have been thinking about something along these lines as well.