Extracting Metals from Ore

Our covenant has a mine. Not exactly unique, but it works.

I was thinking about extracting the actual metals though. If it's done by a mundane, what skills would be used? Profession: Miner? Craft: Smithing? Do we need a specialist with Profession: Smelter?

And if we do it via magic, do anyone have good suggestions for the effect?

The most common method of iron smelting in this time period, the bloomery, involves a form of smithing - hammering sponge iron into wrought iron. Smithing is also required to work pig iron from blast furnaces. Ergo, Profession: Smith probably covers most of the steps between ore and bar iron, in most processes.

(One exception. Crucible-fired steel requires Mythic Alchemy, and a reagent.)

Doing it by magic requires Finesse, with all the usual modifiers. The base effect is ReTe 5 (shape metal in a very unnatural way), +1 for Touch range.

In Covenant, page 51, there are two spells that you can use as guideline: The Spell of Wrought Iron (ReTe15) and The Phantom Blacksmith (ReTe20).

The first one transform raw pig-iron into wrought iron. A Per+Finesse check of 9+ is required to succeed in this transformation.
Based on that, you can design a spell from Ore to ... .
Depending on the type of metal you are getting from your mine, you might need only one spell to convert it (copper, silver). With a Finesse of 9+, you get a working metal with impurities, good enough for most mundane application. For pure metal, you will need an extra spell, a Rego with a higher target number.
Alternatively, you could go with a Perdo to destroy impurities, except that when you improve the quality of something, Creo has to be used, and is often a Ritual (removing poison or disease for example). So decide with your troupe what logic you want to apply.

I would say it is craft:iron, not profession:smith, but yes, it comes from the same techniques. Generally the ore is extracted by heating the rock until the metal melts, but most ironworking furnaces of the time did not generate enough heat to do this directly (ironically most glassblowing furnaces did, but the guilds all kept their secrets and there wasn't a lot of communication between crafts...) so they developed techniques to get the iron out of varying ores at lower temperatures. Copper, silver, tin, and gold all have lower melting points, so they could be extracted with heat alone.

I'm aware of this, but bloomery is explicitly not interesting. We are in Sauerland, very close to where the first german blastfurnaces are built, and very close in time. Plausibly, the first one already exist.

Good catch, but shouldn't be relevant. But thank you for rememberring, I do tend to forget mythic alchemy, sadly.

... and I wanted to avoid finesse. This works, but I was hoping to avoid it.

Same as above. This works, but I was hoping to avoid the finesse rolls (should probably have put that in the OP, sorry.

I would argue that you (currently) couldn't do this with Perdo, though arguably one might do something with MuTe (and T: Part).
And if we're going for MuTe, it's usually better/faster/cheaper to just create the metals desired.

The Blast Furnace (which certainly is hot enough), is known in our area from around 1200 AD.

Craft Iron would probably be Craft: Blacksmith. Is this the skill most generally accepted for this purpose?

Sorry. :smiley: In general, Hermetic magical Craft requires Finesse as part of the balance.

Don't sell it entirely short, though. Within the limits of your Finesse (again, sorry), magically-created Philosophiae reagents can do a lot to improve the quality of your iron. Depends on whether you just want to do away with a mundane blast furnace or to make consistent sword steel.

Yes (C&G 64).

For the smelting specifically, I meant.

The distinctions between Crafts and Professions are sometimes blurred. Also it is not entirely clear how broad or narrow the titles of said abilities should be. Do you name the ability for the material you work with or the product you create (which can use several materials)

IMHO it is a Craft if you produce an item, by working a raw material into something else. It is a Profession if you provide a service. But is it "working a raw material" if you extract ore from a mine, is it Craft (miner) or Profession (miner)? Or does it even matter?

Anyhow IMHO the people with Craft (Miner) digs out the ore. One uses Craft (Smelting) to get the metal from the ore. One uses Craft (Blacksmith) to work the iron into tools or objects. Substitute other names for the skill to work other metals: coppersmith (or redsmith/brownsmith), tinsmith (or whitesmith), silversmith, goldsmith.
If you instead name the ability for the item you create rather than the material - like craft (Jewelry) I assume you can make jewelry in all sorts of metals.
If you are a Weaponsmith you can craft weapons from iron or steel, or bronze I assume, including wooden shafts. If you are an Armorsmith you can create armour from raw metals, and also create leather armor, but yiou need a tanner to prepare the leathers (or so C&G says).

I think maybe I had a point but lost it...

I'm not sure you can avoid FInesse since the whole process of extracting ore sounds like Craft Magic. But I don't think it should be difficult though, its a simple process although by doing it in an instant makes for high EFs.

Stephan did. I was trying to avoid it for Dietmar.

But why worry? Why does Dietmar care whether Finesse is needed? Doesn't he rely on mundanes to actually work the mine? Just have someone train them in Finesse

I think it is possible to create a spell to separate the metals form the ore without the finesse requirements.
As seen with the spell: Swift Knives, Invisible; on page 96 of Covenants it is possible to reduce an animal (spell is not specific for targets) into its component pieces

The spell is
PeAn 40
R: Eye, D:Momentary, T: Individual
Req Rego
This spell reduces an animal to its components. A dead sheep, for example, becomes a pile of unwashed wool, a hide, a collection of bened joins of meat, a stack of organs, and a skeleton. The contents of the alimentary tract vanish.
(Base 30, +1 Eye, +1 Destruction of Alimentary contents, +0 cosmetic requisite)

Now firstly we compare the complexity of Perdo Animal and Terrum; the closest tie between the two forms is:
Destroy Dirt - Base 3 &
Destroy an animal's corpse - Base 5
So there is a 2 magnitude difference between the forms, but we are stone and metal; To make the math easier I will work at the Metal level but there are arguments later regarding this
But for now the Base levels between the spells are identical
So for our new spell we start at Base 30
we cannot look into the eye of a pile of ore but that can easily be changed to range touch: +1 Magnitude
the Rego requisite appears to already be factored into the base level so no further magnitudes
There are no parts of the ore that we want fully removed so no further magnitudes
The cosmetic requisite (which I am unclear on) is a +0 Magnitude
So we are currently looking at Spell level 35;
Now the sticking point - Size; I will assume you have either mundane or magical means of digging the ore from the mine but at this level you can only effect a single cubic foot, which ore to metal ratios will make the process quite slow
adding a single magnitude to effect 10 cubic feet (or possibly a Cubic pace - I don't know the imperial conversions), will make the spell a lot more efficient

So we are left with
PeTe 40
R: Touch, D:Momentary, T: Individual
Req Rego
This spell reduces an Pile of ore to its component make up.
(Base 30, +1 Touch, +1 Size +0 cosmetic requisite).

There are a couple of points to consider

  1. What is the mythic Europe understanding of ore and metal, if we split it to its component parts will we have a heap of pure elements that instantly react to the world around them or do we have small piles of semi refined metal and a pile of 'stone'
  2. as we are effecting a pile of ore which is mostly a stone item and not a base metal, would we instead only need the base level for stone, saving us a magnitude for size; what happens if there happens to be Gem stones in the ore as well, do we need further spell levels? consider the original spell does not distinguish between types of animals

Now I will say that In my opinion the whole Finesse for Craft seems flawed to begin, I get the idea but it just makes Rego magic marginally weaker; why bother to learn Rego magic to craft a sword when you can just use Creo magic to make a perfect example of a sword(?) yes creo magic requires Wis but Rego magic would require multiple spells effecting different forms (Terrum, Herbum and possibly Aquem and Ignem). even the idea of fine craftsmanship falls down when presented with the arguably iconic Conjuring the Mystic Tower, which doesn't require a finesse roll or Rego to have "an elaborately carved tower...[in which] you determine the design of the chambers within"

Metal is extracted from ore by heating it to a liquid state. So, liquify the metal without heat. I estimate this to be a Rego Terram effect: the caster is changing the metal from one natural state to another, so Level 1, plus 2 magnitudes for metal. Base level: 3.

Range touch works fine.

Changing a solid to liquid for a moment does not give time to drain from the surrounding rock, so increase the level a magnitude to at least diameter, Level 4. Sun duration may be smarter, to let the whole mass of ore drain completely.

The individual size for base metals is a cubic foot, and for precious metals 1/10th of a cubic foot. In either case you'll want to increase it one target size, so minimum Level 5.

So, something like:

Liquify the Base Metal / Blood of Mars (iron) / Tears of Venus (copper) / (something appropriate for tin or mercury) ReTe

Level 5

R: Touch D: Diameter T: Group

Changes a base metal from a solid metal to a liquid metal. Metal mixed with another material (for example, in an ore) will either drain from the material or pool in it, and some stirring may be needed to separate the metal from the other material. The amount affected is up to 10 cubic feet of mixed material.

This specific spell works only on one base metal: iron, copper, mercury, tin, or lead. Other spells of identical effect are needed for other base metals. A similar effect can be used to liquify precious metal, either silver or gold, but at 1/10th the target size (so, 1 cubic foot).

ReTe Base 1, +2 for metal, +1 for Dia., +1 for Group / increased size

I would push it up a bit to Sun, and probably enchant it into a crucible-like bowl. Some agitation and pour-off over the course of the day will get the metal out.

I'm not so sure this should considered a free pass to avoid a FInesse roll. Although only one or two of the spells in this insert box specifically mention FInesse rolls the introductory text for the spells remind us of the higher Ease Factor for using FInesse to do what a skilled craftsman can do. IMHO all the spells are Craft magic and require Finesse. While individual spells don't specifically mention Finesse they should have, if nothing else then to specify how difficult it is to perform. Sadly not all text in all ArM books is as clear as ne could desire, in order to avoid confusion. Sadly it is very hard to write so clear that nothing is ever misunderstood.
Swift Knives does in an instant what a skilled butcher can do in hours.

I'm not completely convinced. Sure, water can naturally turn into ice, because of the natural cold during the winter. But metal? In ME terms metal doesn't melt naturally. I'm not sure even scholars living close to active volcanoes believe the lava is melted metal, because once it cools it looks and feels like rock.

Metal is found both in pure deposits and in compounds. This was known medievally - cinnabar was mined for mercury in this timeframe. The effect described would only work on deposits. Separating metal from mineral using mundane methods requires heat; magic should be able to do this either with a heated crucible or a straightforward magical separation.

A straight magical separation is, I would say, a slightly unnatural ReTe effect, base 2. This amounts to (with essentially the same other parameters as before) a level 10 or 15 spell effect, to separate metal from mineral without heat.

Tin melts at 449 degrees Fahrenheit. Paper burns at 451. If burning paper can melt tin, I'm pretty sure medieval philosophers would be familiar with metal being in both liquid and solid states. Lead melts at 621, and molten lead was used frequently in the middle ages. Indeed there are documented bronze castings (using meted copper and tin)done in Classical Greece, and copper melts at 1983 F. It is Iron, which melts at anywhere from 2060 to 2900 F depending on quality and type that presents a challenge for medieval technology, plus early steel which melts at 2600 to 2800 F.

To the best of my knowledge, bronze was primarily cast - even during the bronze age - rather than "forged".
That's not a significant problem.

Sure, but is lighting a fire to turn the solid metal into a fluid form "natural"?
That is like suggesting turning wood into ash is also a natural process. Lots of materials can change if some sort of man-made process is applied.
Ice melts into water over a fire as well, but leave it until summer the same thing happens - naturally. And I believe this distinction about ice is also a fix of the older editions' Form-inflation where water=Aquam and ice=Terram (and maybe even steam=Auram?). And I realize there are plenty of holes in my theory. Be that as it may I don't see ReTe used to liquefy metal as supported by the guidelines in RAW in any way comparable to ReAq concerning ice.

Also, I believe the originalæ thread's intent was to see if the use of FInesse could be avoided. IMHO this is unlikely, but train mundanes in the ability instead of using magus-time for this.

Depends on the metal- if the metal would melt in a natural (wood) fire, it could probably be considered natural (lightning strikes do burn forests naturally), but the higher temperature melting points probably not. A forest fire apparently burns anywhere from 572 degrees to 2192 degrees, with the typical forest fire being 1472 deg (Fahrenheit in all cases), so I would pick a threshold of either 1472 or 2192 and rule that anything with a melting point above that is clearly unnatural. ..

However there is a simpler guideline in that "Craft an item from metal" is considered to be a base 4 effect and I would see extracting metal from ore to be a similar effect. Otherwise you can use CrIg to extract the metal through melting, regardless of temperature.

Wouldn't copper melting at room temperature be unnatural, even if copper could have a natural liquid form? Wouldn't it be simpler to cast MuTe to make the copper melt and flow from the ore, or if the chunks of ore are still a singular individual, add a parts modifier?
I'm pretty inexperienced, so sorry if my questions are a bit...nontechnical.