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So the backstory is I am DM-ing a 5e D&D game for my players; I have just given them a forge that makes magical items if it uses a certain ore from inside the mine it is in. They have 1 dwarf who is qualified to run the mine at this time.

In order to limit the effectiveness of the forge producing an excessive amount of magic items, I want to have a wait time between when they "place an order" for a magic item, and when it's done, symbolizing the 1 dwarf having to mine the ore, refine/smelt it, and then forge the weapon.

There are rules for crafting are in the PH, but I have yet to find anything to base the mining/refining time off of.

Any suggestions or recommendations are appreciated, thanks.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Could you identify a metal on Earth that represents the magical ore of your world? Different metals appear in different areas with different concentrations. Or can you tell us what the concentration and accessibility is? Is the dwarf simply picking it up off the ground? If he must dig, what kind of ground? Etc. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 17 at 5:03
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Nick, If you want a more specific D&D based focus, you can also try this question on the roleplaying stack exchange. They usually deal with specific questions in D&D while here its world building in general. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Jun 17 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ What metal do you need? Iron ore with 15% iron is almost literally all over the place (and near the surface), while gold ore is very rare in the first place and ore with more than 5 parts per million is considered very rich. Then, how much metal do you need? If you want 2 kg of iron a robust dwarf in a good place will shovel the ore in a wheelbarrow in a few minutes, if you want 2 kg of gold your drawrf should plan for a lifetime carreer. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 17 at 5:48
  • $\begingroup$ There is an SE for RPGs where you will find people who seem to be PhD's in D&D law and rules. I'd strongly advise asking there for rules related to this. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 17 at 6:44
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    $\begingroup$ What does "qualified to run the mine" even mean? Operating the forge and smithing the weapons is complex, but a colossal amount of mining in antiquity was done by people who had no training at all, but were merely slaves. The bulk of the manual labour involved requires no expertise. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Jun 17 at 8:55
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I did a quick check on the internet and found that the average broadsword would weigh around 2kgs, more or less. The average iron ore contains around 65% iron/volume, meaning that a good round figure would be that it takes around 3Kg worth of iron ore to actually make the sword in terms of materials. That, depending on the richness of the vein of iron ore you've found in your mine, the fatigue and/or stamina of your dwarf, transport time for both the dwarf and the resultant ore from and to the surface, sounds like a couple of hours work under ideal conditions.

But, that's not your real resource problem. Your real resource problem is coal. You're going to need around 10Kg for just a few hours of working with the metal after it's smelted, and a LOT more than that to actually smelt the ore in the first place. So, your dwarf is going to have to work in at least two mines to make your sword as the iron ore provides the metal, but the coal is needed for the energy. So, if you have a rich vein of anthracite coal around, add a couple of days of effort to the materials gathering. If you don't have ready access to the right coal around you, this could blow out to a couple of weeks or worse.

But, that's not your real problem. Your real problem is the skills and time required to fashion the sword in the first place. Just looking at what was required to make a Katana in feudal Japan you can see that the skill required to forge and create such a sword is no small contribution to the process, and there are also steps where the metal must be folded many times to get the metal in a ready state to become a strong yet flexible sword.

Bottom line is that your metal for your sword isn't your bottleneck; your energy supply (coal) will take more effort simply because you'll need more of it, and even with your ideal skillset required to forge the magic weaponry it's going to take more time to do that then find the raw materials.

Remember, this is not the industrial revolution yet and your artisans aren't competing with factories that can churn out hundreds of ready-made magical daggers all of the same quality and type because they have replicable manufacturing figured out. Each of your magical items will be hand made and in all likelihood, your dwarf is going to be sitting around for around half the year unless he's supplying more than one artisan of magical weapons.

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    $\begingroup$ Why did you add the reality-check tag? That tag requires a solution to be presented to be tested against either real-world rules or the OP's world rules (e.g., "My dwarf mined 1 ton of ore in two days, is that realistic?"). $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 17 at 6:16
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    $\begingroup$ It seems somewhat inappropriate to change the tags on a question so fundamentally and then answer it on the basis of that tag. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 17 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ alright, I'll go in and remove it. The logic I had was that it was a check that limiting on resource mining was valid. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Jun 17 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ @StephenG all good, I understand the point you were making and I wasn't trying to add the tag to justify the answer. In point of fact I made the tag edit with the idea that I wasn't going to answer, that it was just a clean up. That said, I understand how it can look and I'll note that for the future. $\endgroup$ – Tim B II Jun 17 at 9:13
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    $\begingroup$ Or charcoal. Medieval smiths used charcoal. It wasn't easy to make, but it was frequently made and available for purchase. $\endgroup$ – Tanner Atwater Jun 17 at 16:22
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2 days. Maybe 4 if you want to be 8 hours shift dwarf.
If you know what you're looking for and where to look for it then it's quite easy (easy as physical labour can be). Efficiency of mine could be from ok. 1000 kg to 230 kg for shift (around 12 hours of work). Smelting so turning your ore into more usable ingot would take another day. For that medieval smelters used metallurgical batch that was charcoal.
From 300 kg of ore in bloomer with mechanical blast (so using bellows) would get 45 kg or iron. At the same time they would have to use 300 kg of charcoal. Medieval Metallurgy source in Polish
Here a video of smithing a sword from a store bought flat bar of steel in six hours. But when your dwarf is the one who make cast there is no reason for him to not cast inglots that are already semi-sword shape. It don't have to be the best because you gonna magic enchant it anyway.

Now the time sensitive part of the whole process if fuel. You either need to have the charcoal on site ready (mind you that first smelting need those 300kg. When your dwarf use only 4 kg of iron then he we still have around 40kg left for other orders [and usually that how the smelters worked, they smelt during summer warm days while during cold fall and winter they mined for iron and smithed]).
Or he need to have stash of coke (I assume that due to orders coming from time to time it would be better to stash more energy efficient fuel, so turning wood into charcoal and coal into coke).
In this case you, as DM, can decide how much time you need/require. To give some numbers: 1kg of charcoal need around 5 kg of wood. Would your heroes be able to cut the wood prior to placing an order and "pay" for it with wood? Or would you require all heroes to chip in for the first smelting so they would have iron ingots ready for further use.

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