Within the world of Knight Realms, there are brave knights, fierce warriors, and powerful leaders that do battle - the din of blades on armor, and spears on shields, resounding through the woods. But who makes all these arms and armor? Who equips these mighty combatants with the tools or their trade?
Knight Realms has many professions, several of which can be defined as a "support" role. Alchemists, Physicians, and Healers are some of them - this article focuses on the Smith profession.
The smith, at first glance, looks like an interesting list. It has the smithing skills, of course; a good body ratio (3 to 1), and even some decent combat skills. Strength, of course, is the gem of the list as far as combat goes, but it needs to be noted that the Smith profession is not a combat class.
All of the smith's combat capabilities come as a compliment to his smithing capabilities. His strength, toughness, and ability to break weapons and shields is merely a derivative of his primary function - to make things. This is not a bad thing - being able to shatter your opponent's sword is certainly handy! But if you want to play a truly destructive combat character, look to the Berserker or Chaos Warrior. The lack of defenses - mental or physical - make the Smith a one-trick pony in combat. In an extended fight, or a battle against something with claws or spells, they are at a severe disadvantage. The Smith's combat skills make a good addition to another list's fighting abilities, but they do not stand well on their own.
So why play a Smith? The reason is simple - they are essential to the rest of the town, and will always be needed. Much like healers are always needed to patch up adventurers after a fight, Smiths are always in need to repair armor and weapons, or to make new ones. Combat is not the only way armaments are damaged or destroyed - thieves (and worse) often steal them, meaning people will always need to replace them. Upgrades to better weapons from more exotic materials is also a constant source of work for the Smith.
The key thing to realize when starting out as a smith is this: A beginning Smith, with only Rank 1 Smithing skills, is capable of being useful and even profitable without ever learning a new skill, for quite a long time. The majority of a Smith's work will be in simple tasks - forging a new steel sword, repairing chain mail, sharpening a sword, or girding a shield. Even if they never advance to the higher ranks of smithing, these basic needs will always exist, and will always make the Smith needed, and generate him income. Granted, she will need to quickly purchase more Crafting Points, but these are simple to buy and quickly add up.
Beyond the initial Rank 1 skills, the most requested ability is the Materials track - the ability to work with Silver, Crystal, Meteoric Ores, and Mithril, the most prized of materials. Even with only the first rank of Metalsmithing, a Smith capable of working with Arcane materials can handle most requests. The rest of the skills are just icing on the cake - useful, but not necessary to maintain the role of a Smith. Some Smiths actually avoid the more time-consuming skills, such as Exalted armor and weapons, as they want to avoid spending tedious hours on a single project - they're not saying "no" to a customer if they lack the ability to do what they ask for.
What to expect
Now that you've decided to play a Smith, here's what to expect.
- You will be spending a lot of time at a forge, role-playing making things. A LOT of time. Make sure you will be comfortable with a chair, drinks, etc.
- You can never have enough Crafting Points. Even with 40 CPs on your card, you may quickly find yourself tapped out if a lot of work comes in at once.
- The main cost of smithing is not Crafting Points, it is time. More difficult projects and materials require more time than CP, and while you can always buy more CP, you cannot buy more time in given Period. You will need to learn how to prioritize your work when it all piles on and time is limited before a battle begins.
- You will need to assemble a collection of smithing tool physreps - at the very least, a hammer, and preferably an anvil. If you are sharing a forge with another Smith, you may be able to split the decorations with them. Just don't use real steel props on someone's latex sword!
- Expect to be interrupted a lot. If you are out adventuring, you will be asked to forge or repair something. If you are working at the forge, you will be interrupted by monsters or customers looking for more work.
- Company, especially other Smiths, makes the time go faster while forging. Safety in numbers never hurts, either. Keep friends, allies, and compatriots around you while you work.
- Try to set scheduled times when you will be at the forge, or make public announcements when you will be working. This will allow you to get all your work done at once, instead of returning to the forge repeatedly for each request.
- Materials are hard to come by, especially when looking for large quantities to make a suit of armor. Come up with an organized way to collect and store smithing materials (and their item cards). You can also use the same system to store finished goods.
- Not everyone will have coin, and you will not always have exact change. Learn to barter, or to keep credit with your customers. Keep a running tab written somewhere. Offer to convert gems and other goods to credit for people.
- Consider your character's ethics and morality. Eventually, they will be asked to make something that is morally questionable, or outright illegal. How will they react to the request?
Eventually, you will reach 10th level, and by then you will most likely have access to all the Smithing skills you want. At that point, you need to consider where you will go with your character. While staying focused on Smithing is a choice, there's only so far you can go with just Crafting Points and the limited skills you can purchase from the Smith list. Options include becoming a combat character, and use your Smithing abilities to enhance that choice; becoming a caster, and using your physical attributes as a Smith to cover the weakness in combat most of them have; or broadening your role as a supporting member of the town, choosing to avoid combat in melee or of the mystical sort. Each offers different rewards, although the handful of combat based skill already on the Smith list favors picking up an actual combat class.
In the end playing a Smith offers some great opportunities - Role-Playing at the forge, the chance to earn wealth In-Game, the sense of accomplishment and belonging knowing you are keeping the town safe and armed, and some good chances to simply socialize In-Game and relax Out-Of-Game while working at the forge. It might not be as exciting as being a Swashbuckler, or as potent as a Mage, but its rewards are not to be overlooked.