Runesmiths are an elite class of usually dwarven artificers hailing primarily from Cyrenica and Volgeberg who are skilled in both the standard production of smithied goods as well as enchantment. The craft of runesmithing is derived from ancient and largely mysterious giantish arts, though it has evolved over millennia to become its own distinctive craft. In recent years, the art of runesmith has expanded out of its home territories, and this trend has accelerated thanks in large part to the extensive trade and communication flowing through the Tealestrian Sea. Runesmithing is often compared to artificership another art originally conceived of by the other short folk. The two trades are distinctive however, in emphasis, with runesmiths focusing on enchanting through the forge, and artificers producing magical curiosities primarily through supernatural abilities. More than a few particularly ambitious sorts have mastered both crafts however.
There are few hard qualifications to become a runesmith generally, and, at least in theory anybody can try to become one. However many masters refuse to take on apprentices who they deem unworthy of the time necessary to train them. In practice this means that most runesmiths come from prestigious families, with a credible reputation that would encourage a master to expend the resources to take on said apprentice. Others favor experience, expecting their potential apprentices to have had some training in the magic or crafting art.
All runesmiths start out as apprentices, working under the tutelage of an older, experienced master runesmith. As an apprentice, they learn the tricks of the trade, and are provided tools, room, and board (or a stipend to secure such things for themselves), by their master in exchange for turning over their work to be sold by the master. After an extended apprenticeship usually between ten and twenty years depending on the race of the apprentice (with shorter lived beings often, but not always having shorter apprenticeships), and their knack for the trade, the apprentice becomes a journeyman, and is sent out into the world to perform minor crafts for rural clients, often making less money than they will later in their career. A journeyman is then allowed to progress further when they have spent about ten years as a journeyman if they can secure an affidavit of customer satisfaction, and a sponsorship from one of the urban guilds. If they can secure these things they will then become a guild smith, working on their own, or in a larger workshop. Many still prefer to be travelers and become known as Roaming Smiths by their more settled peers. The final step regardless of one's status is to become a master runesmith, this takes a long time, usually a century or more in the dwarven lands (though those guilds that have large numbers of humans or other short lived beings shorten this term to twenty years or so from their apprenticeship), upon the conclusion of this term they may ask their local guild for the status of master, to do this they must submit a Magnum Opus for consideration by the guild, this is often a magic item of exquisite quality though smiths with a talent for civic engineering can point to public works project on which they have provided significant work. If the guild believes the opus adequate, the smith will become a master, allowed to train new apprentices.
Payment & Reimbursement
Runesmiths, as professional craft workers are largely paid specifically for the services they provide rather than receiving a wage per say. Runesmiths are often sought out to produce magic items on a per order basis, producing individual items for wealthy patrons. Two major exceptions exist to this paradigm, the first are runesmiths who work in an organized shop who often produce en masse, relatively weaker magic items. These runesmiths often take a wage derived from the shared income of the workshop, or in highly organized shops in stable areas, a fixed wage. The other exception are runesmiths who work for civil engineering projects who are kept on retainer by states and provided a wage to keep them on retainer.
Runesmiths, because of their rather specific and challenging skillset, and the often extensive amounts of work needed to produce their work are highly paid, with even journeymen runesmiths being members of the growing urban bourgeois class (at least in more modern societies). Particularly prized or experienced runesmiths are also provided social status directly, sometimes even receiving titles of nobility and deeds of land in exchange for services for particularly powerful patrons. Indeed, much of the ruling class of Volgeberg, to the extent that such a thing even exists, is comprised of powerful and experienced master runesmiths.
Runesmith's primary purpose is to produce a magic items. Independent runesmiths work largely on commission for extremely wealthy patrons such as the nobility, merchants and artisans, national governments, and successful adventurers. They are largely very successful in this role with runesmiths producing more magic items than virtually any other producers of magic items. Runesmiths from Cyrenica and Volgeberg have even gone so far as to produce semi-standardized magic items, or at least the largest and most successful workshops do.
Runesmiths are highly celebrated in their home societies, being granted a level of financial security that even other skilled artisans in Cyrenica do not. Runesmiths are effectively members of the nobility and some of the more successful runesmiths are even outright granted titles by Cyrenica, though Volgeberg's republican and traditionally egalitarian society means that status is not official. Runesmiths are sought after even by other nations whose rulers often pay handsomely for runesmiths to move into their lands.
Runesmiths are relatively rare in society, despite the tendency of Cyrenic and Volgier peoples to manufacture goods. The massive amount of training needed to even become an apprentice runesmiths limits the number of people that can join their illustrious ranks. This means that fewer than one in a thousand people become runesmiths, with only slightly more even being seen as serious candidates for an apprenticeship. Master runesmiths are even rarer with even large cities only having one or two runesmiths if any at all.
The first runesmiths are believed to hail from ancient times, back when giants ruled the lands of central and even southern Galisea, long before their retreat to the north, and longer still before the rise of the Yulan-Tai. The first smiths learned from the giants, the ancient art of carving runes into their blades to strengthen them against the monsters that roamed the world in far greater numbers after the Great Cataclysm. Over the centuries, and particularly after the giants retreated to their northern holds, runesmithing evolved as an artform. More permanent enchantments were the primary feature of the more modern runesmiths. The profession further evolved, particularly as Cyrenic and Volgier culture became distinct and independent of one another. Runesmiths would become more entrenched as a social class as well as a profession, and masters became particularly venerated. In the modern era, runesmiths have served an increasingly vital role safeguarding magic traditions, and preserving knowledge of older enchantments.
The tools of a Runesmith are entirely unlike those of a regular smith. These include, hammers, tongs, bellows, and anvils. Where they differ from regular smiths is in the additional materials necessary to enchant. Alchemical materials, such as vials of Alchemical silver, rune carving tools, and even spell books are utilized heavily by Runesmiths. A great many runesmiths even keep enchanted equipment for themselves in order to improve their own abilities, often reducing the time necessary to produce items, or improve the final quality of their enchantment.
The materials used by Runesmiths is generally quite varied, but often winds up be quite similar to the materials used by regular smiths. Common materials such as iron, steel, and even bronze are used heavily by many runesmiths in the crafting of their weapons. More exotic materials, such as mithral, cold iron, adamantine and Indric Steel are less common, but still in greater use than that of normal smiths, and even comparatively rare extraplanar building materials are utilized in the forging of weapons by runesmiths more than anybody else. Lastly, alchemical silvers and materials that are outright magic or extraplanar in nature are occasionally utilized for the purposes of enchanting items.
Runesmiths make use of highly specialized works that service the needs of both smithing and working, as well as spellcasting and enchanting. A large, high quality forge serves as the basis of a runesmith's workshop, with the specific details of the forge often specified by the oftentimes ancient original master smiths who originally constructed the forges that apprentices of apprentices work to this day. Also key to the runesmith's workshop is the a quiet space away from the primary forge in which to conduct the various magical rituals necessary to take a finely crafted conventional weapon, tool, or jewel. When working in groups, these two spaces are often significant complexes in and of themselves.
Runesmiths are first and foremost the primary producers and purveyors of enchanted goods. In this rule Cyrenic and Volgier runesmiths are some of the most productive in the known world with only Aeillans and Felorans approaching the level of productivity that are reached by Volgier and Cyrenic runesmiths in the modern world. Runesmiths produce many manufactured, enchanted weapons, armor, tools, and jewels to the open market, or much more commonly on commission for various patrons. Given the great expense of the producing magic items, runesmiths overwhelmingly serve the moneyed classes, such as nobles, merchants, extremely wealthy artisans, and famous adventurers, as well as the larger, and more importantly, better organized states in the known world.