|The Third Gift - by Elmer Boyd Smith|
This isn't surprising, given the importance of a) metal objects to hit other people with; b) armour to prevent the things in (a) hurting you; and c) pretty things made of metal in both history and fantasy games.
I'm not going into the process of finding, mining, smelting, or purifying the metal, as interesting as these processes are (in my first career, I spent three years roaming the Australian Outback, doing the first and assisting the second of those processes), or the actual forging of objects. Rest assured, however, that it's more in-depth than Skyrim indicates.
I do want to touch on the forges in mythology and see what can be stolen for campaigns.
Given that there is a book somewhere called "Smithing Gods, Including: Hephaestus, Aul , Gofannon, Goibniu, Creidhne, Luchtaine, Ogoun, Seker, Ilmarinen, Wayland the Smith, Svarog, Kotar (God), Qaynan, Gobannus, Vishvakarman, Tvastar, Kothar-Wa-Khasis, Sethlan...."(ISBN: 1242775668 / ISBN-13: 9781242775666) this won't be an exhaustive listing, just my usual attention deficient musings.
|Bill Nighy being a God, Wrath of the Titans...|
|Front panel of the Franks Casket|
In most tellings of the legend, he was married to a creature of faerie, sometimes a Valkyrie, others a Swanmay. She leaves him, as she must, and he is left with only a ring. Later, he is imprisoned, and crippled by King Nithad, and made to craft wonders. He escapes, able to fly by his craft, after revenging himself on the kings children. He is credited with many of the famous swords of the era, and is rumoured to still exist, in the lands of faerie, only able to be reached through the megalithic cave named after him. Here's a somewhat neglected page that gives more details. Also, Michael Scott Rohan's Winter of the World series has this story as it's basis, especially the last book, Hammer of the Sun, even though this typifies his problem of the story getting too huge and too metaphysical in the third book, somewhat out of keeping with the first two (IMHO).
What can I steal from this? Well, given the physical frailties of these legendary smiths, I'm happy having no 'god of smithing' (except for the blasted dwarves) and make this craft the sole providence of mortals, who can exceed and even challenge the gods. Especially if it is a beginning science, with different techniques of metalcrafting held secret by guilds or cities, and the complications of magic in the whole process. Also, don't try double-crossing or betraying a master smith. They will screw you over in the end, especially if you're planning on using the stuff they made for you. I'm happy with the idea of a god having to visit a smith to get their weapons and armour, and more delicate goods, forged, and having to bargain with someone who knows their own worth, and isn't beholden to any of them.
There are also many places of legend, where mighty forges of past ages once sang, or famous items were forged. Some of these are still used, and held for special purposes, such as the Thran Forge near the Kheldarian Capital, where all the arms of the Royal Guard are forged, and the sword and armour of each fallen king is remade for his successor. Some are recovered from the sufferings of time, and fired up again, like the Sacred Foundry, near Ironholm, where an exotic but powerful furnace and machinery for hammering and billows was found in hidden tunnels below the ruined fortress that towers over the coastal road.
Others are lost; the most famed being the Forge Kudotha in the deep passages of the lost Dwarven Fortress of Azhgaul, clearly first modelled on Moria, but now different, even if I use the random mapping tables from the 1st Ed. I.C.E. sourcebook.
There are also smaller, lost forges, in dungeons and ruins, and each of these can hold precious and rare materials, often in the form of ingots, half-finished artifacts, or even the quality of the crafting tools. It may not pay to be the new owner of one of these forges when the descendants of the original owners hear of it and decide to reclaim it, especially if they are Dwarves. Even the Elves can be a hit nasty about it, too.
Happy Easter Everyone!