This suggestion is a combination of a bunch of ideas I have seen, as well as a lot of stuff I have come up with by myself. I am not claiming all of the ideas in this suggestion as my own, so please don't sue me.
A subject that has come up a lot recently is that of controlling what modifiers you get on your equipment. I have sat and thunk for a while, and have sorted out a way that might make that work.
The gist of this suggestion is this: Add a mechanic that allows you to do something for a blacksmith, have them "teach" you, and then you would "learn" how to put certain modifiers on certain things.
So, now onto the more detailed part!
The first part of this suggestion is simple, but necessary for the rest of this suggestion. Blacksmiths would get a new option in their "Smith" GUI: Correct. (I am still not good with names, so if you come up with a better term, please let me know!) It would be a button, near the "Reforge" button, perhaps resembling a hammer rotated in a different direction. Anyway, when you click it, it would reforge the item in the slot, but would make it so that it has no modifiers of any kind. When you do this, it would remove coins in your inventory equal to the amount it would remove if you reforged it. This should only be able to be done with items of that blacksmith's faction's equipment's material. (The reason for this part of the suggestion will be made clearer soon.)
Blacksmiths would get a new "Training" mechanic. Here is how it would work:
Blacksmiths would get a new option in their right-click GUI: Train. When this button is clicked, (for the first time for this particular smith) the blacksmith will give you a miniquest. This miniquest would probably involve collecting a certain amount of materials, collecting a certain amount of tools, or killing a certain number of enemies. Once you have completed this miniquest, the smith will accept you as their apprentice (sort of).
Once you are a blacksmith's apprentice, you can learn from them. To do so, you would need to click the "Train" button again. This would bring up another GUI with an equipment slot, as well as a grayed-out dropdown box. To start, you must put an equipment item (of the blacksmith's faction's equipment's material, such as Iron for Gondor, or Orc Steel for Mordor, etc.) with no modifiers into the equipment slot. Then, the dropdown box will be accessible, and from it you can select a lesson to learn. These lessons would each be the name of a group of modifiers; for instance, the modifiers Keen, Mighty, and Legendary would all belong to the "Damage" group, and the modifiers Lucky, Fortunate, and Blessed modifiers all belong to the "Looting" group. (NOTE: These options only include modifiers that you can get by reforging that specific item, so, for instance, you can't learn how to get Dwarfbane, and you can't learn how to get Handy if you are using a sword.) Once you have selected a lesson, (with the dropdown box) a cost will appear on the screen, as well as a "Start Training" button becoming clickable. The cost will depend on what lesson, and what level of the lesson, you are learning. Once you click the "Start Training" button, as long as you have the required amount of cash (which should be a lot), the smith will take his fee, and training will begin.
Now, the "training" can be whatever the mod-team decides. What I envision for the training is just the GUI turning into a looping animation of a hammer and an anvil (like Forge's loading icon), while, in the background, you hear the sounds of a hammer hitting an anvil (like when you use an anvil) intermingled with positive and negative sounds from the blacksmith (such as the Vanilla Villager "Ur-hur" and "Nuhr-uhr" for Men, the Dwarven enemy-spotted and victory sounds for Dwarves, etc). Whatever it is, after a short time, (10 or so seconds) you receive the item back with a lot of negative modifiers (as you were using it to practice) and you will have "learned" that lesson. If you were to talk to the blacksmith and click "Train" again, you would get to learn another lesson, or the same one again, but at the next level (5 or so levels, max). (NOTE: If, for some reason, you were to train with another blacksmith, you would still have to complete the mini-quest, but you would still know the lessons you had previously learned.)
Anvils would receive another (yes, another) change. A similar dropdown box to the one in the training GUI would be added to the anvil. Once you have put an item in the first slot, you can choose any one (or none) of the modifier groups you had learned a lesson on with that material. (For instance, any lesson you learned from a Gondor Blacksmith can be applied to any equipment that is repaired using iron, such as Dalish weapons, or Rohirric weapons - even Haradric weapons. Again, you can not apply weapon-specific modifiers to non-weapon items, or anything like that.) If you have selected a modifier group, it will bring up a material cost. (The material cost should depend on the modifier group applied, for instance, Damage modifiers would require very little extra materials, if any, while a Knockback modifier would probably need about as much as is required to reforge the item.) If these materials are put in the bottom addition slot of the anvil, you can pull the upgraded weapon out of the output slot. The weapon will now have (in addition to earlier modifiers, not exceeding 3 total) a positive modifier from the group you selected, but it will also have a large chance of having a relative negative modifier added to it. (For instance, if you upgrade a weapon with a Damage modifier, it will most likely also get a negative Durability modifier.) The higher your level of learning, (i.e. the more lessons you learned on the subject) the more likely you are to get a better positive modifier, and the less likely you are to get a really bad negative modifier, possibly even to the point of not getting one at all. (See examples in this comment.)
|Group||In Group||Side Effects|
|Durability||Hardy, Lasting, Enduring||Unknown|
|Looting||Lucky, Fortunate, Blessed||Unknown|
|Knockback||Hefty, Hulking||Dull, Blunt, Crooked|
|Damage||Sharp, Keen, Mighty, Legendary||(Negative Durability)|
[Blacksmith's Apprentice] - Learn a lesson from any blacksmith
[Professional Smith] - Learn all lessons for one material
[Master Smith] - Learn all lessons for every material used by Good
[Black Smith] - Learn all lessons for every material used by Evil
Hopefully that all made sense, but if you think something should be clarified, let me know! As always, I appreciate your suggestions, constructive criticism, and kudos!