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Old September 19, 2021, 10:58   #33
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 449
Quirk is on a distinguished road
Posted a long reply, forum ate it. Sorry if this is overly terse, am now low on time.

What do I like about smithing? Mostly, I think it's about building up the character, step by step. As you say, trading a harder middle game for an easier end game. You build the character via skills and abilities; smithing is like that in spades.

But it's also about building the character to be hugely powerful, to crush your enemies and see them driven before you. And not just because you got lucky and found Ringil or the Boots of Feanor, but because you personally and deliberately made those powerful items, via skill and hard work and sacrifice.
This is the old "linear warriors, quadratic wizards". I like this too, because I like playing wizards. Unfortunately this makes the late game suck for routes that have more linear power gain, and pushes players to Smith as a route to higher scores whether they like Smithing or not.

At this point, I'm going to make some highly speculative and totally untested statements about what would make Smithing more interesting and fun for me personally. Take them for what they're worth: I'd like to see more Smithing actions, which means more forges, which in turn means making each forging action be less significant. One possible way to do this would be to dispense with "Artifice", and make each of the choices in the Artifact menus be an Enchantment, and allow multiple Enchantments to be put on the same piece, one at a time, with increasing numbers of "forge uses" required for each additional Enchantment, and probably an increased cost to Enchant an already Enchanted item. You could make a lot of simply Enchanted items, or just a few really powerful ones, or something in between. The work done on a piece early on the start would not be irrelevant, it would be a step toward the thing you ultimately want e.g. first you make a non-magical (+1,2d6) [+1] Longsword, then later you add (Defender), still later you brand it with poison, and finally just before going to face Morgoth you make it Sharp. Thus, the equipment progresses, just as the character progresses.
This is a very interesting idea, though the flow you've described would be a little difficult in practice I feel. Jumping from defender to defender + poison, or poison to poison + sharp makes for a huge upgrade, and would be difficult not to make lumpy.

I did have a somewhat similar idea for a skill called Reforge, which would let you reshape an artifact into a slightly more powerful artifact of the same type. The old artifact powers would be lost though, so you might for example replace slaying orcs, wolves, dragons and raukar with flame brand.

However, this would require some reshuffling of Smithing power level again as I am not looking to make it head and shoulders the best late game choice, and looking at wobbly's ongoing Morgoth-killing run it's clear it's still possible to build some powerful gear as things stand. (FWIW I think wobbly's smithing on this run has Smithing in a place I am quite happy with it - most gear customised to fill niches the character needs without being dramatically better than normal end-game gear, plus an uberweapon).
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