Metal is crucial for civilization. There are those who gather it, those who forge it, and those who trade for it, but all the civilized races seek to get their hands on it.
Mining technology ranges from very primitive to quite advanced, and nonexistent in some places.
Common metals, meaning simply that they are not precious metals, are those pure metals and alloys used for commonplace items - pots, weapons, armor, tools, and mechanical devices.
Kellsteel is the high-grade steel that makes up many crucial metal components. It is flexible but extremely tough, and it can apparently hold an edge for years. Attempting to reforge Kellsteel ruins its special temper and renders it no better than high quality, but otherwise unremarkable iron.
The techniques for making Kellsteel were lost with the , and attempts to replicate it have failed.
The first artisan metal that the civilized races learned to forge; it is identical to what we would call "wrought iron." Iron ore is quite common is quite cheap to produce if one has the proper equipment.
Scale Iron is used primarily for large items (like armor) and everyday items that are too common for Cogsteel to be used (pots and pans). Warriors still prefer steel weapons for obvious reasons, but iron is frequently used for expendable ammunition like arrows and bolts.
Steel is produced in small amounts as an accidental byproduct of the ironmaking process. Metalworking being not terribly advanced, the method by which steel is produced is still not well understood, though it does not stop talented smiths from trying their best to master it. Forged steel is not nearly as well-made as Kellsteel, but weapons of steel in whole or (more frequently) in part are often found in the hands of wealthy mercenaries, warriors, and adventurers.
Copper is relatively common, and methods for forging it developed around the same time that the dwarves were discovering iron. It is considered too soft and unsuited for weapons or armor, but is commonly used for household items and machine parts. Having copper pots and jewelry is considered something of a status symbol, as it is marginally less common than scale iron and is generally considered superior for domestic use.
Lead, being fairly common and easy to smelt, has a variety of applications. It is used for joining stained glass and weighting fishing nets, and clock pendulums and the roofs of large buildings are often made from lead. It was once used for cooking pots as well, but it has been observed to sicken some creatures and is now rather rare in this capacity.
Lead is not used in weapons except to cast sling stones and crossbow bullets.
Precious metals are those unsuited for weapons or armor, and too rare to be used for cooking pots.
Gold was being cast into jewelry and ornaments long before iron was first forged. Easy to hammer out and form into various shapes and items, the origins of gold-working have been lost in history.
Lotus Gold, named for the pinkish color of the common lotus flower, is an alloy of gold and copper that has a warm, pinkish hue. Lotus Gold was developed not long after copper was first smelted as a means to dilute gold into a stronger form. Lotus Gold is not considered nearly as precious as pure gold, but it can be made into more durable items - pure gold jewelry is very easy to bend or deform.