Mithral

Mithral is a very rare silvery, glistening metal that is lighter than steel but just as hard. Sometimes called Dragonsilver, or Vergentum.


Mithral is a beautiful, but rare, silvery metal that has the strength and hardness of steel but is much lighter.[1] Mithral is magnetic,[2] and has the same anathematic capability as alchemical silver in overcoming some creatures' resistances to normal weapons or magic circles, such as lycanthropes.[1][3]

Armour is the most common use of the metal: mithral armour is very light and restricts movement far less than even masterwork steel armour.[1]

Off the battlefield, mithral is sometimes used in cookware as food rarely sticks to it. Of course, such items are very rare due to the prohibitive cost of using mithral for such mundane purposes.[4][5] It is also used to craft thin, lightweight, but sturdy horseshoes.[6]


Description

Mithral ore appeared as a silver-and-black mineral in its natural form, and became a shining silvery-blue when it forged.[3]

Mithral was produced through a process similar to that of steel-smelting.[5]
Properties

Whenever a magical spell or spell-like ability struck an item forged from mithral the results were somewhat unpredictable. Seemingly half the time this occurred, the individual in possession of the mithral item became partially and temporarily protected from magic's harmful effects.[3]
Uses

Items cast from mithral weighed only half as much as similar items forged from steel.[5] Since pieces of armor made from this valuable metal were very light, they allowed the wearer to make better use of their natural agility and were less restrictive on spellcasting.[6]
Rumors and legends

Among some bardic circles it was said that mithral combined with steel could create adamantine,[3] but according to dwarves this claim was laughable.[5] It was believed by some that dwarves simply did not wish to perform this difficult feat of metallurgy for anyone outside their race, unless they possessed an exceptionally good reason.[3]

Mithral was a precious silvery metal, very lightweight but capable of providing extreme strength in alloys, which was mined by the Dwarves in the mines of Khazad-dûm. The name mithril came from two words in Sindarin—mith, meaning "grey", and ril meaning "glitter". Mithril was also called "true-silver" by Men, while the Dwarves had their own, secret name for it.

When worked like steel, it becomes a wonderful material from which to create armor, and is occasionally used for other items as well. Most mithral armors are one category lighter than normal for purposes of movement and other limitations. Heavy armors are treated as medium, and medium armors are treated as light, but light armors are still treated as light. This decrease does not apply to proficiency in wearing the armor. A character wearing mithral full plate must be proficient in wearing heavy armor to avoid adding the armor's check penalty to all his attack rolls and skill checks that involve moving. Spell failure chances for armors and shields made from mithral are decreased by 10%, maximum Dexterity bonuses are increased by 2, and armor check penalties are decreased by 3 (to a minimum of 0).

Mithral in its pure form was apparently rather soft and malleable. It could be used for various alloys to produce extremely lightweight, hard and durable armour but it was also a component of ithildin. The Elves loved it for its beauty and presumably used it for jewelry and attire rather than weapons or armour.

Mithril was extremely rare by the end of the Third Age, as it was found only in Khazad-dûm. Once the Balrog known as Durin's Bane destroyed the kingdom of the Dwarves at Khazad-dûm, Middle-earth's only source of new mithril ore was cut off. Before Moria was abandoned by the Dwarves mithril was worth ten times its own weight in gold. After the Dwarves abandoned Moria and production of new mithril ore stopped entirely, it became priceless. The only way to obtain a mithril-object at the end of the Third Age was to either use heirloom mithril weapons and armour that were produced before the fall of Moria, or to melt down these existing weapons to forge new ones. The Ñoldor of Eregion made an alloy out of it called ithildin ("star moon"), which was used to decorate gateways and portals. It is visible only by starlight or moonlight. The West Gate of Moria bore inlaid ithildin designs and runes.

While Moria is the only known source of mithril, there are inconclusive indications that it may also have been found in Númenor and in Aman in smaller quantities.

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