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Dwarves are excellent miners—they have to be to expand their homes deeper and deeper below the earth. Centuries of mining and generations of engineers have provided dwarves with mining knowledge that surface races can only dream about, secrets which allow them to excavate the hidden treasures of the deepest earth.
This chapter includes information on surveying a mining site, sinking a shaft, and operating the mine over its lifetime. Using these systems, players will be able to run a profitable (they hope) business, either selling the extracted ore to a smelter or keeping it for their own use.
Also found in this section is information about smelters and forges, two other dwarven specialties that are inextricably tied to mining in general. Without the smelter to purify ore and the forge to make something out of the new metal, there would be little purpose to mining at all. With this information dwarves have everything they need to dig up minerals, turn them into useable metal, and forge the metal into weapons, armour, or other items.
Not for the faint of heart, the miner’s life is one fraught with hardship and peril. Whether seeking new deposits of ore in isolated areas or chipping away at the stone wall of a mine shaft hundreds of feet from safety, miners are made of sterner stuff than just about any other labourer. In this section, each aspect of mining is covered, from surveying the site all the way to turning the ore over to a smelter for processing.
There are three skills vital to the success of any miner. First is the Profession (mining) skill, without which a dwarf is just another labourer with no appreciation for the fine art of pulling wealth from the ground. Second, Knowledge (geology) is necessary for a more thorough understanding of how the earth works and how its stones relate to one another. Last, Engineering allows miners to shore up dangerous areas or reinforce mining tunnels for easier access to the actual digging faces of the stone. While a common labourer with no interest in any of these skills can be put to work, it takes all three to fully realize a mine’s potential.
Surveying the Site
The first step in becoming a miner is finding a place to do some mining. For dwarves this usually means travelling to uninhabited areas and rooting around in the caverns and byways haunted by strange creatures or abandoned by all. Because dwarves mine so extensively, it is safe to assume that any workable vein of ore or deposit of gems within a day’s travel of a dwarven hold has already been discovered, claimed, and slated for mining at some point in the near future. Enterprising dwarves in search of their own claims must travel further from home.
Assuming the dwarf can find a series of tunnels to explore (not much of a problem in most fantasy campaigns), he can survey roughly one square mile of tunnels every three days. The Games Master must determine beforehand what types of ore or lodes of gemstone are found in a given area—even the best miner cannot find a vein where none exists. Games Masters are encouraged to choose the type of material present in a given mile of tunnels by using the table below.
Ore or Gemstone Presence Table
|01–30*||None (coal)||86–90||Gems, Poor|
|71–75||Iron||98||Exotic metal, low**|
|76–80||Silver||99||Exotic metal, average**|
|81–85||Gold||00||Exotic metal, excellent**|
*On a roll of 1–30, the Games Master should roll 1d4; on a 4, a deposit of coal exists in the area.
**Roll again on the Exotic Metals Table, below, to determine the exact type of exotic metals found.
Exotic Metals Table
|01–40||Pure Silver||01–35||Pure Gold||01–40||Pure Platinum|
|41–70||Ice Steel||36–60||Alchemy Lace||41–60||Elemental Kernel|
|71–90||Red Iron||61–85||Primal Iron||61–80||Wraithstone|
Details of each exotic metal’s properties can be found below, under ‘The Forge’.
When gemstones are discovered, they come in one of three grades: poor, average, or excellent. Poor gemstones are worth 1 to 50 gp and rare stones worth 100 gp are sometimes found. Average gems are generally worth 100 to 500 gp, and excellent gems run the gamut of value from 500 gp on up. The exact type of gem is left up to the Games Master; compare the value of the gemstone to the lists found in Core Rulebook II for a wide range of choices.
Exotic metals are the most valuable of all ores. From red iron to mithral to the fabled adamantine, pockets of this type of material are prized above all others by miners. Roll on the appropriate table above when a pocket of exotic metals is discovered. There is always a chance the metal found is not what the miner at first though but merely a very high-quality vein of standard ore.
After spending three days surveying the area, the miner is allowed a Profession (mining) (DC 15) check to determine whether he can pick out the telltale signs of mineral or gemstone deposits. Dwarves may add their stonecunning bonus to this check; a miner with 5 or more ranks in both Profession (mining) and Knowledge (geology) is entitled to a +2 synergy bonus to the roll as well. Success on this roll enables the miner to discover the most likely spot to begin mining for ore or gems, although the purity or amount of material is still unknown.
Characters who are searching for spots to mine on the surface have the same chance for success (the probabilities for ore or gemstones existing in an area remain the same as well), but the area in question is twice the size of an underground survey, 2 square miles, and it requires one week to survey. Searching overland is easier than clambering around tunnels underground, but the chances for finding a suitable site are also lower than in underground mining.
In uncivilized areas beyond the reach of any government or property owners, a claim is both unnecessary and useless. Where a ruling body exists and recognizes property rights, however, a claim ensures no one else begins mining a site discovered by the miner. If the land is already owned the miner will have some explaining to do and will likely lose his claim to be the rightful owner. If it is not owned, the miner’s claim, registered with the nearest official empowered to handle such matters, prevents other miners from mining in the area for a period of one month. If after this month has passed the original miner has not begun work his claim is considered invalid and other miners are free to begin digging up the ore.
A claim is not typically an offer of protection or even proof of ownership in most areas. It is merely a legal statement of intent from the miner, indicating his desire to operate a mine in a given area. The laws prohibit other miners from encroaching on this business, but if the miner does not utilise the natural bounty, someone else surely will.
Protecting the claim is entirely the responsibility of the miner. While the law will uphold his right to defend the claim from interlopers, it is up to him to provide for the safety of his potential property and any other miners working for him. In most cases, this involves hiring guards to watch over an area. Depending on the danger of an area, guards must be paid from 2 to 5 sp each day they are on guard and, if they are more than an hour’s travel from home, will require shelter and food of some sort. The costs of this vary greatly, but tents and rations may be purchased (as detailed in Core Rulebook I) to house and feed the guards. If a guard is killed while on duty, the fee of all other guards on the same job doubles to reflect the hazardous environment.
Sinking the Shaft
The first real bit of mining occurs at this point, when the miner sinks a shaft in the location chosen during the survey process. The first shaft is usually 100 feet deep (or long), 10 feet wide, and 6 feet tall. The digging process is slow, with progress measured in feet per day, and thousands of cubic feet of rock must be hauled out of shaft the during the excavation. See the Mining Speed Table below for information on how many cubic feet of material a creature can remove from a mine each day.
The digging speeds in the table above assume manual digging using simple tools, such as a pick and shovel. These rates also assume the miner is dumping the mined rock in the tunnel behind him to be picked up by assistants. If the miner must drag his own rocks out of the tunnel, the amounts should be reduced by one third. A single labourer assistant can haul rock for three miners.
A miner requires space equal to his face (normally 5 feet by 5 feet) in which to work. Two dwarves could work side by side in a 10 foot-wide tunnel, but only a single stone giant could work in the same tunnel. The height of a tunnel is also important—a creature must have at least 1 foot clearance between the top of its head and the tunnel itself in order to dig out the mine at the speeds listed above.
If a creature is forced to work in a smaller space, he will be able to continue mining but at a reduced rate. If the tunnel is less than 1 foot taller than the miner, but more than ¾ of the miner’s height, the mining speed is reduced to 75% of normal. If the tunnel is less than ¾ of the miner’s height but more than one half of the miner’s height, the mining speed is reduced to 50% of normal. Miners may not work tunnels less than half of their own height; there simply is not enough room to work.
If a miner is working in a tunnel that is not as wide as his face, his speed is reduced by 50%, in addition to any other reductions for height, as noted above. In no case may a miner work in a tunnel less than half his face.
Mining Speed by Creature Size (Cu. Ft.)
|Miner’s Size||Soft Material||Average Stone||Harder Material|
Spells and Mining
Using magic to increase tunnelling speed is a common practice amongst miners with a mystical bent. The following spells are quite useful to miners:
Disintegrate: This spell is primarily useful for removing tailings from a mine, destroying the rock completely. While it is sometimes used to reach an otherwise inaccessible vein of minerals, disintegrate is too destructive to be used in areas where active mining is taking place.
Transmute Mud to Rock: This spell must be used in conjunction with transmute rock to mud to repair the tunnel.
Transmute Rock to Mud: When this spell is used, a miner working in the same area may double his normal tunnelling speed. Transmute mud to rock must also be used after the tunnel is mined to solidify and fortify it against possible cave-ins. Failure to do so increases the next mining event roll by 30% for this tunnel only.
Digging up or down is more difficult than digging horizontally. Miners digging down will need a hoist bucket to remove the rock from the shaft, a process which slows them to 75% of their normal mining speed if there is a surface crew winching the bucket up and down the tunnel, or 25% of their normal mining speed if they must scramble up and down the shaft to man the hoist themselves.
Miners digging up will have to construct a mining platform to continue moving up into the new tunnel. This new construction reduces the mining speed by 50%, and one shift out of every day must be spent raising the platform into a new position and preparing for further construction.
One advantage of a vertical tunnel, however, is the increased surface area for the diggers. In a horizontal tunnel, the width of the tunnel is normally enough to accommodate two miners, working side by side. A vertical tunnel, however, allows four miners to stand close to one another and work on a single section of rock (see diagram below).
Assuming a shaft 100 feet long, 10 feet wide, and 6 feet tall, a group of dwarven miners will have to move 6,000 cubic feet of rock. A group of six dwarves (working in pairs, digging the shaft by hand, and working in rotating 8-hour shifts) can dig a total of 180 cubic feet of rock each day. It will take these industrious dwarves
34 days to dig the initial shaft. Of course, any miner worth his salt will be using a wheel bore to speed things along, decreasing the overall time to sink the initial shaft to approximately ten days.
Assaying the Shaft
Once the first shaft is hewn through the stone, the miner can spend some time figuring out whether he has found any interesting veins or pockets of wealth. After a week of studying the shaft and the tailings taken from it, the miner (or a hired professional) is allowed to make a Profession (mining) check or an Alchemy check (DC 15 for either check) to analyse his findings. Success in this check reveals the approximate number of veins found in the shaft and the probable quality of those veins.
The Games Master should roll 1d10 to determine the number of veins uncovered in the initial shaft. Once the number of veins is known, roll 1d20 for each vein to determine the 5-foot section of the tunnel in which the vein is discovered. The Games Master is free to decide in which direction the veins flow from the main shaft, or roll on the table below:
If two or more veins are discovered in the same section of the shaft, heading in the same direction, a particularly rich lode has been discovered. Multiply the quality of the extracted ore (determined below) by the number of veins in the same location.
Roll 1d10 for each vein to determine its quality. This number will be used to determine the overall value of each cubic foot of material removed from the tunnel around the vein and is a rough measure of the purity or quantity of material found in the vein. Remember to multiply this result by the number of veins in the same area to determine the actual quality when more than one vein is found in the same area, as noted above.
A mining tunnel is typically narrower than the initial shaft and its course is defined by the direction the vein or deposit flows through the surrounding stone. In most cases, a tunnel is wide and tall enough for a single miner to work comfortably (for dwarves, this is a 5 foot wide by 6 foot tall tunnel) as he pursues the vein.
Each day, the miner is allowed a single Profession (mining) check (DC 20) to determine his efficiency. For every point by which he exceeds this check, the miner digs out an additional cubic foot of stone for the day. Miners do not have to make any skill checks to follow a vein successfully; the appearance of metal or gems is obvious enough to make the required course clear to even the simplest labourer.
Volume and Mass
While it is all well and good to discuss the number of cubic feet hauled out of a tunnel each day, it is also important to know just how much all that rock weighs. Every cubic foot of stone weighs a whopping 150 pounds on average. So a dwarf with a wheel bore is pulling out 100 cubic feet of rock each day for a total moved stone weight of 15,000 pounds. This averages out to 1,875 pounds per hour—which is why you need three labourers for every miner just to haul the rock!
For the purposes of this system, mining tunnels are developed in 20 foot segments. The first segment is the easiest to dig out; additional segments bring the possibility of new challenges, dangers, or unexpected boons for the miner. Immediately after the completion of the first 20 feet segment of a mining tunnel, the Games Master should roll on the table below to determine what, if anything, waits for the miner in the next segment. Descriptions of each event can be found below the table.
Mining Tunnel Events
|76–80||Soft stone seam|
|81–85||Hard stone seam|
When an event is indicated for a segment, roll 1d20 to determine in which foot of the new segment this event occurs.
No Event: The vein continues roughly straight ahead for the next segment.
Up, Down, Left, or Right (45° or 90°): Each of these events indicates a change in the course of the vein and the tunnel if the miner wishes to continue pursuing the material.
Unstable Rock: The material the miner is digging through becomes dangerously unstable. A successful Profession (mining) check (DC 10) is necessary to avoid collapsing the last 10 feet of the tunnel. If a collapse is avoided, the miner must immediately leave the area and mining cannot continue until the tunnel has been shored up. Stabilising the tunnel requires 1d4 days of labour and a successful Engineering check (DC
15). If the Engineering check fails, the current engineer is unable to stabilise the mine and another expert must be called in to handle the job. If both engineers fail, the rock is too unstable to continue mining without magical assistance (see below). Miners caught in a tunnel collapse suffer 6d6 hit points of damage, with a Reflex save (DC 10) allowed for half damage. Miners can clear a collapsed tunnel of rubble at twice their soft material mining rate.
Soft Stone Seam: The remainder of the segment is composed of softer than normal stone, allowing the miner to dig through it at an increased rate. See the Mining Speed by Creature Size Table above, using the Softer Material column to determine mining speed.
Hard Stone Seam: The remainder of the segment is composed of harder than normal stone, which slows the miner’s progress. See the Mining Speed by Creature Size Table above, using the Harder Material column to determine mining speed.
Vein Ends: The deposit of metal or gemstones ends at this point in the segment. Exotic metals are much more likely to end than veins of any other material. Regardless of whether this event is rolled, low exotic metal veins never run for more than 80 feet, average exotic metal veins never run for more than 60 feet, and excellent exotic metal veins are never more than 40 feet long.
New Vein: A new vein is discovered. Determine the type, value and direction of this vein as if the tunnel it was discovered in were the main shaft of a new mine.
Water: One of the greatest hazards faced by miners is the possibility of digging into a subterranean lake or stream. When this occurs, flooding is guaranteed and the miners’ lives are in grave peril. When this event is indicated, all miners working in the tunnel are permitted Profession (mining) checks (DC 15) one foot before the water is encountered. If this check succeeds, the miners are aware of the presence of water and may report to the mine’s engineer for advice on how to continue. In most cases, this advice is to stop mining and clearly mark the tunnel. Waste rock from other tunnels is then used to seal up the tunnel to protect the rest of the mine from flooding.
If the check fails, however, the miners continue merrily along, hacking their way through the wall and releasing the water. When this happens, the water bursts through the pierced wall, pouring hundreds, possibly thousands, of gallons of water into the tunnel. The amount of water which fills the tunnel is determined by rolling on the following table.
|Roll||Amount of Water|
|01–50||Water pocket. All miners at the end of the tunnel are allowed a Reflex save (DC15) to avoid suffering 1d10 hit points of damage. The water rushes harmlessly out of the tunnel after the initial burst and stops flowing entirely one round after it is released.|
|51–75||Small stream. All miners at the end of the tunnel are allowed a Reflex save (DC 15) to avoid suffering 3d10 hit points of damage. The water rushes down the tunnel for 50 ft. before falling to a more manageable level. This water will flow 1 ft. deep and 5 ft. wide until it meets an incline, at which point it reaches equilibrium. This breach can be sealed with a successful Engineering check (DC 20).|
|76–90||River. The miner has uncorked a subterranean river, pouring thousands upon thousands of gallons of water into the tunnel. All miners at the end of the tunnel must make Reflex saves (DC 20) or suffer 6d10 hit points of damage; a successful save prevents one half this damage. Regardless of whether they save, the miners are swept along in the river’s new course for 1d6 X 100 feet before the river subsides to a stream 1 ft. deep and 5 ft. wide. During the initial 1d6 X 100 feet, the water will go up a single incline but subsides in the following round to the bottom of the incline, where it reaches equilibrium. The power of the river flowing through the hole in the wall makes it impossible to seal this breach at the source, but the entire tunnel can be sealed with an Engineering check (DC 30).|
|91–00||Subterranean sea. Also known as the mine-killer, this unhappy event floods the entire tunnel, killing the miners at the end of the tunnel instantly as tons of water smash through the wall and rage into the rest of the mine. This water will fill 500,000 cu. ft. of the mine before reaching equilibrium, fl owing down before it flows up. This breach cannot be sealed and the initial tunnel, at least, is completely lost.|
|Gas:||The miner has uncovered a pocket of gas. There is a 50% chance this gas is flammable; if the miner is carrying a torch or other source of illumination which relies on a flame, the gas detonates, causing 4d10 hit points of damage to all miners within 30 feet of the gas leak. This explosion also has a 40% chance to destabilise the tunnel (see unstable rock, above).|
If the gas is not flammable, it is not breathable. All miners within 50 feet of the gas leak are allowed a Fortitude save (DC 15) when the gas is released. If the save is successful, the miner realises the air is growing stale and may leave the area to let the gas dissipate. If the saving throw is failed, the miner does not recognize the danger and succumbs to the gas in 1d4 rounds. In the latter case, the miner will die in 1d6+4 minutes if not removed to an area where the air is not fouled.
Regardless of whether the gas is flammable or simply dangerous to breathe, it dissipates harmlessly in 6d10 minutes.
Lair Incursion: At this point in the tunnel the miner breaks into the lair of a group of subterranean creatures. The number and type of creatures dwelling in the lair are left up to the Games Master, who can use this event as a lead-in to another adventure.
Magma Flow: Each miner working at the end of the tunnel is allowed a Profession (mining) check (DC 10) one foot before this event occurs. A successful check reveals the telltale signs of magma nearby, allowing the miners to consult with the engineer before proceeding. If the checks fail, the miners continue mining, oblivious to their danger. When the last foot is breached, a stream of magma spurts into the tunnel. The miner is allowed a Reflex save (DC 20) to avoid suffering 5d6 hit points of damage as the magma sears his flesh. Fortunately for all involved, the magma also cools quite quickly, forming a crust which seals the breach in 1d4 rounds.
Planar Rift: While rare, this event indicates a passage tunnelled into the heart of the elemental plane of earth. The exact effects of this are left up to the Games Master, but encounters with earth elementals, certain types of genie, and other extraplanar creatures are sure to spice up life in the mine.
To determine the amount of money a mine makes, multiply the number of feet the vein was followed for a week by the price index of the material (shown below) being mined. This product is then multiplied by the vein’s value to determine the number of gold pieces earned from that vein for the week.
Material Price Index
|Copper||1||Exotic metal, low||15|
|Silver||2||Exotic metal, average||20|
|Gold||5||Exotic metal, Excellent||25|
Armed with the information we have so far, we can calculate the amount of money our trio of miners from the previous example can pull from a single vein of material each week. For our example, the dwarves already sank their shaft and discovered a vein of silver. They have each agreed to work one shift a day, seven days a week, while they explore the vein. They will be using a wheel bore to accelerate their progress.
Each day, the dwarves will be able to drill 100 cubic feet of stone per shift or 300 cubic feet, total, per day. Their tunnel is 5 feet wide by 6 feet tall, so they will be drilling in 10 feet each day. At the end of the week, barring any mishaps, they have followed the vein for 70 feet. The vein has a quality of 5, so the amount of money earned is as follows:
Vein Quality: 5
Length followed: 70
Price Index of silver: 2
Total Value: 700 gp
So for a week’s work, the dwarven miners recovered 700 gp worth of silver ore. To realize that money, of course, they will have to get the stuff to the smelter to be rendered down into raw metal.
Paying the Help
A mine will not run itself. While a miner could operate a mine all on his own, it is much more efficient (and profi table) to bring in some help. The following types of NPC are useful when running a mine.
Engineer: An engineer is needed to keep things on track and ensure the miners are not collapsing tunnels on a regular basis. The engineer inspects the mine daily for stress and for areas which are becoming unstable due to mining operations. An engineer is an NPC with at least 10 ranks of the Engineering skill and 10 ranks of the Profession (mining) skill. Engineers charge 5 sp/day for their services and one engineer is required for every 40,000 cubic feet of excavated tunnel in the mine.
Miners: These skilled labourers do all the hard work in a mine, either using a pick and shovel to claw their way through the stone in search of riches or manning a wheel bore. These NPCs have at least 5 ranks in the Profession (mining) skill. Miners charge 2 sp/day for their services.
Unskilled Labour: Someone needs to man the bucket hoists and haul the rocks away. For every miner, three unskilled labourer are needed to do the grunt work. Labourers charge 1 sp/day they are on the job.
Guards: For every ten employees, the mine needs one guard. Depending on how dangerous the area is, guards charge from 2 sp to 5 sp per day. This amount is doubled for one month following the death of a guard at the hands of a hostile creature while protecting the mine.
Lieutenants: For every 20 guards, the mine needs a lieutenant to keep them in line. Lieutenants charge 5 sp/day.
Commander: If there are ever more than five lieutenants, a commander is needed to keep them organized and working in unison. Commanders charge 5 gp/day.
In general, workers demand their pay once a week and prefer to have their money handed over on the same day every week. As long as miners are paid what they ask, on time, they will continue to slave away in the mine as long as it lasts.
Operating the Mine
Once the first shaft is in and miners are working on the tunnels, it is important to keep the mine in good working order and bring in the necessary pieces of equipment to keep things running smoothly. The actions and items listed below are necessary to operate a mine. Penalties for not having or conducting each of these are listed in the individual descriptions.
Structural Inspections: Mines are inherently unstable places, what with people banging away on the rocks all the time and generally trying to tear things up. The engineer must spend at least one hour each week per 5,000 cubic feet of tunnel examining it for possible structural damage or instability. Each week there is a 10% chance per 5,000 cubic feet, or portion thereof, of tunnel that the rock will become unstable and require further support. Engineers automatically spot this impending trouble during their normal inspections and instruct the labourers to improve the structural supports at a cost of 5 sp.
If an engineer is not inspecting the mine properly, any missed structural problems may collapse. Each unstable area of the mine has a 20% chance per week of collapsing if it has not been properly supported under the direction of an engineer. This chance increases by 10% every week the area is not worked on after the first, leading to an eventual cave-in.
Support Beams: When a tunnel is dug, it is necessary to support it to keep it from collapsing under the weight of the stone above it. Unskilled labourers take care of putting in the support beams, which cost 5 sp for every 400 cubic foot section of tunnel. These supports are placed as the miners carve out the tunnel and are figured into the time required for mining.
Bucket Hoist: The bucket hoist is used to pull ore up through a vertical shaft. It requires four labourers per shift to operate and costs 500 gp to purchase. A hoist can ascend or descend 10 feet per round when loaded or 30 feet per round when empty. A bucket hoist can hold as much as 3,000 pounds of stone (roughly 200 cubic feet of rock) when fully loaded.
The hoist racks up an additional 10 gp per month in maintenance expenses. Failure to pay this fee results in a 20% chance of failure each week (noncumulative) until the maintenance is performed (at double normal cost) or a second month has passed without maintenance. After the second month without maintenance, the chance of failure rises to 40% per week. Miners will not enter a bucket that has not been maintained for three months or more; the chance of failure then rises to 40% per use of the bucket and even a simple miner can see the thing is about to come falling apart.
Ore and Tailings
With all the rock coming out of a mine, a sizeable pile of the stuff is going to end up around the mine in short order. Unfortunately for the mine operator, only a tenth of all the rock pulled out of the mine is of any value; the rest is junk rock, also known as tailings. Tailings are used to backfill played-out tunnels (important for reducing maintenance costs, since backfilled tunnels do not need to be inspected or reinforced) and a significant portion is sold to local builders and masons for their own work. A miner can sell 20% of his tailings each week at the rate of 1 sp per pound. While this certainly is not a princely sum, it can help to offset the shipping costs of getting ore to the smelter.
After a mine has been in operation for a week, any extracted ore needs to be taken to the smelter for processing. Smelters charge 10% of the cost of the ore, 20% if they have to come and get the ore for themselves, and an additional 5% if they have to get the ore themselves and it is more than a day’s travel from the smelter itself. In most cases, it is to the benefit of the miner to transport the ore himself using labourers and purchased wagons.
Smelters are massive operations that belch clouds of black smoke and jets of roaring flame from their stacks at all hours of the day and night. Even dwarves draw the line at having the smelters in their communities because of the noise and pollution. Most are situated a mile or two from the edge of town to prevent driving other dwarves crazy with the noise and air pollution.
A smelter normally has from one to ten furnaces, and each furnace can process roughly 5,000 pounds of ore in a day. Because each furnace must be cleaned between loads of ore from different mining concerns, the amount of ore produced in a day can be considerably lower when many mines are all using the same furnace to process smaller amounts of ore. This in turn reduces the profits made by the smelter, leading larger operations to offer a 1% discount to miners who deliver their ore in 5,000 pound increments.
Some miners tire of forking over a portion of their proceeds to the smelter and make a go of running their own processing plant.
The Cost of Smelting
Smelting is not as involved a process as mining and the potential for mishap is much lower. Still, there are expenses and dangers involved in melting rock to release the ore within. The first expense comes in the form of personnel. One labourer can crush 200 pounds of rock into a gravely powder suitable for processing in one hour of work. The number of labourers needed for a smelter is dependent on the number of furnaces and how fast the owner wants to keep things running. For most efficient operation, each furnace requires four labourers per day; average wages for labourers are 1 sp per labourer per day.
In addition to the cost of the furnace, a furnace needs reagents to free the valuable materials from the raw ore. The chemicals used cost 1 gp per 500 pounds of ore processed. When running at full speed, each furnace needs 10 gp of reagents each day.
The most obvious expenses are the furnaces. A typical furnace costs 2,000 gp and is 10 feet wide x 30 feet long x 10 feet tall. Essentially large iron ovens with bellows attached along their length, the cost of a furnace is primarily taken up just paying for the materials used in its creation. Each furnace can process 5,000 pounds of ore in a 24-hour period provided there are at least three workers manning it during each 8-hour shift. If the ore being processed comes from more than one mine, reduce the total amount of ore processed by 200 pounds for every load of ore after the first. Thus, if three mines provide ore, the furnace processes 4,600 pounds that day (5,000 pounds – 200 for the second load of ore – 200 for the third load of ore = 4,600 pounds).
The high temperatures required by the smelting process damage the interior of a furnace over time, and the gases released by melting rock can corrode iron in a remarkably short time. Every furnace requires 5 gp in maintenance every month, plus 1 gp for every 5,000 pounds of ore processed during the month. Failure to pay the maintenance costs for a furnace may have dire consequences. When a maintenance payment is missed, the Games Master should roll on the following table to determine the resulting consequences. For every month in which another maintenance payment is missed, the Games Master should roll on the table again, with a cumulative 10% modifier for each missed maintenance payment. If the furnace operator catches up on the missed maintenance payments, the possibility for a mishap is removed until another payment is missed.
Smelter Maintenance Mishaps
|51–60||Minor breach. A hole has opened near the ceiling of the furnace, making it difficult to keep the furnace at optimum heating efficiency. Reduce the amount of ore produced by the furnace each day by one half.|
|61–75||Broken bellows. One of the bellows used to maintain ventilation in the furnace is broken. The furnace cannot be operated until it is repaired at a cost of 50 gp. The repairs require one day to complete.|
|101–105||Blowout. A section of the interior is so badly corroded it collapses with a full load inside. Partially molten metal jets out of the side of the furnace and splashes to the floor, causing 5d6 hit points of damage to any characters within 10 ft. of the breach. A Reflex save (DC 15) reduces this damage by one half. The blowout can be repaired at a cost of 750 gp and the repairs require a week of work to complete.|
|106–110||Meltdown. The bottom of the furnace disintegrates during the smelting process. A full load of molten metal rushes out to fill the area beneath the furnace and 10 ft. around the furnace as well. Any character caught in the flood of steaming metal suffers 6d6 hit points of damage. A Reflex save (DC 15) reduces this damage by one half. The furnace can be repaired at a cost of 1,500 gp and repairs will require two weeks of work to complete.|
|111–120||Collapse. The corrosive effects of the smelting process and lack of maintenance combine to destroy the furnace in a catastrophic collapse. The walls and floor of the furnace give way suddenly and the roof falls inwards, sending gouts of liquid metal squirting 20 ft. in all directions from the edges of the furnace. All characters in this area suffer 8d6 hit points of damage. A Reflex save (DC 15) reduces this damage by one half. The furnace cannot be repaired, only replaced.|
The Games Master should randomly determine the day of the month and shift during which the accident occurs.
Smelted metal is cast into ten-pound bars, with five-pound and one-pound bars used to make up the difference when there is not enough processed metal to cast a complete ten-pound bar. Consult the table below to determine the value of a pound of each type of metal.
Values per Pound
|Metal||Value per Pound|
|Exotic Metal, Excellent||200 gp|
|Exotic Metal, Average||175 gp|
|Exotic Metal, Low||150 gp|
|Gems, Average||250 gp/gem|
|Gems, Excellent||350 gp/gem|
|Gems, Poor||100 gp/gem|
Divide the value of the ore produced by a mine by the values listed in the table above to determine how many pounds of finished metal are provided. For gemstones, divide the value produced by the mine by the value listed above to determine approximately how many gems of a given type were present.
Gemstone mines do not produce ore as do mineral mines. Instead, gemstones are picked out of the stone brought up in the bucket hoist and set aside for sale to jewellers and gem merchants. This allows gemstone miners to keep more of the money in their own pockets when compared to mineral miners, as there is no need to pay a smelter and transportation costs for the raw gems is negligible. See the table above to determine the average number of gems taken from a gemstone mine.
Other than platinum, gold, silver or copper, a miner will have to sell his goods to a merchant of one sort or another to realise a profit. The typical precious metals can be converted at most banks for a fee equal to 10% of the total value of the metal being converted into coins.
Gemstones in their uncut form are worth only a quarter of the value of polished and cut stones. A character with the Craft (gemcutting) skill can realise up to one half of the market value of the stones himself, cutting and polishing them for sale to local jewellers. To prepare a gem for sale successfully, the character must spend one hour per 50 gp value of the gem and succeed at a Craft (gemcutting) check (DC 10 +1 per 50 gp value of the gem). It is possible to further increase the value of a gem through skilful haggling (see ‘Tricks of the Race’ chapter for more information on haggling).
Exotic metals, coal, lead, iron, and tin must all be sold to a merchant to convert their inherent value into coins. Exotic metals are easy to sell—finding a buyer willing to pay 80% of full market price for the metal is automatic in any community in the Large Town category or larger, but it is impossible to sell such rare materials in smaller communities. Characters selling such items may haggle for a better price, as noted in the ‘Tricks of the Race’ chapter.
Properties of Exotic Metals
While the special properties of mithral and adamantine are covered in some detail in Core Rulebook II, the other metals discussed above are presented here for the first time. Descriptions of each kind of metal and why
it is so valuable can be found below.
Pure Silver: This metal is, as the name indicates, absolutely pure silver. Even the finest smelters cannot create silver this pure, and alchemists have taken to calling the metal ‘elemental silver’ due to its perfection. Pure silver has no special properties but fetches high prices amongst collectors and the fashion-conscious looking for a status symbol.
Ice Steel: This lightweight metal is dark, almost black, in its natural state but becomes translucent blue once it has been properly smelted. While not as light as mithral, ice steel is still considerably lighter than iron. Any weapon or armour made from ice steel is one-third lighter than a steel item of the same type.
Red Iron: Slick and ruddy in hue, this metal is useless for making armour because of its extreme weight. For weapons, however, red iron is an excellent material, allowing the wielder to generate much more force than would be possible with a weapon crafted from steel or other materials. Red iron weapons weigh three times as much as if they were made from iron but allow the wielder to add +2 to the damage the weapon causes on a successful hit.
Lustrous Silver: When exposed to moonlight, this metal shines a brilliant white, shedding light as a torch. In addition, the lustrous silver will continue to provide light for two hours for every hour it is exposed to the light of the moon. For example, a disk of lustrous silver exposed to moonlight for 3 hours will shed light equivalent to a torch for the next six hours. Prized for use in jewellery and other ornamental items, lustrous silver is also quite popular with adventurers and miners, two groups in need of reliable, portable light.
Pure Gold: Like pure silver, this is simply gold in its elemental, completely pure state.
Alchemy Lace: Composed of gold, silver and copper, this metal is prized for its beauty and malleability. While it has little use in the more practical arts of armour- and weaponsmithing, alchemy lace is sold far and wide for use in jewellery.
Primal Iron: Formed when the world was young, primal iron is extremely useful in the crafting of weapons and armour. While it possesses no intrinsic magical properties and cannot be used to create magical weapons or armour, it is also immune to most minor magical effects. Armour crafted from primal iron provides a +1 natural bonus to all saves against spells and magical effects targeted specifically at the wearer. This does not provide any additional protection against spells with an area of effect or spells which target the environment surrounding the wearer, however.
Weapons created from primal iron are more able to slice through magical defences, partially ignoring the protection provided by magically enhanced armour and biting into the flesh of creatures which normally require magical weapons to strike. When a primal weapon is used to make an attack, it gains a +1 natural bonus to hit and damage if the target has any magical armour bonuses. The weapons are also able to hit creatures which can normally be hit only by +2 weapons or greater, though primal iron does not provide any bonuses to hit or damage against such creatures.
Pure Platinum: Like pure silver, this is simply platinum in its elemental, completely pure state.
Elemental Kernel: There are four types of elemental kernels—air, water, earth and fire. When found, the kernels glow brightly in the colours of their elements: white for air, blue for water, coppery-brown for earth, and scarlet for fire. While a miner may not know exactly what a kernel is when it is discovered, he will clearly see it as something more impressive than a mere gemstone.
Imbued with elemental power, weapons and armour which house these kernels are useful when used to combat creatures of the various elemental types. Items housing an elemental kernel may be otherwise enhanced through the use of spells and receive additional magical bonuses during their creation.
In order to house a kernel, the armour or weapon must be crafted specifically to hold the kernel; these precious elemental items may not be attached to existing equipment. Implanting a kernel in an item increases the Crafting check DC by +10. If the Crafting check fails, the kernel is destroyed by the smith, leaving behind a smoking husk of blackened stone. Items of this nature are never ‘just for sale’; elemental kernels are at least as rare as adamantine and are snatched up as quickly as they are found. An adventurer wanting an elemental suit of armour or an elemental weapon should be prepared to find his own elemental kernels.
Elemental kernels housed in weapons provide a +4 natural bonus to all attack and damage rolls against creatures of the opposing Elemental or Outsider types and subtypes. Air kernels, for example, provide a +4 attack and damage bonus when used against creatures of the Elemental (earth) or Outsider (earth) subtypes.
When housed in a suit of armour, elemental kernels provide a +4 deflection bonus to the wearer’s Armour Class against creatures of the opposing elemental type or subtype.
Wraithstone: In its raw form, this metal appears as faintly glowing chunks of metal which moan quietly when exposed to sunlight. While difficult to work with (increase the DC of all craft checks by +10), wraithstone is prized by armoursmiths for its excellent protective capabilities.
Wraithstone armour is surprisingly light. It is considered two categories lighter than a normal suit of armour (to a minimum of light) and weighs only 25% as much as a suit of armour made from iron. The low weight and surprising flexibility of the metal also reduces the armour check penalty and arcane spell failure chances by one half.