I think that if RC get a new “training” weapon then it should lead to a new class, with all other combat classes stemming from that one.
I think a fitting option would be a slinger; the token for which might be crafted at the weaver rather than the mason. It would mean that RC need to rely on trapping a bit more because leather is now more important than ever for their military; but because the slinger is a ranged class they’d be very useful for slowing down approaching enemies. Their higher level skills could be stunning effects and taunts, so they work a little bit like a knight – locking enemies down and disrupting attacks – only they rely on other soldiers to stop enemies getting into melee range. In the early game, that basically means a few slingers surrounding an enemy and constantly drawing its aggro, keeping it away from any one slinger it gets close to; in the later game it’s a way to lure enemies into a counter-attack or stop them for a moment while a footman catches up to finish them off.
The Ascendancy could get slingers as a new, separate class; and only learn the recipe for the sling weapon after completing some mission (either an Iskender caravan makes contact to establish trade but comes under attack, or maybe the Red Kiln pass on knowledge they’ve learnt from fighting the RC’s slingers)… however the class is unlocked, it should be something for relatively well established towns (I’d say even an event that can only unlock in a Level 2 town); giving them a powerful defensive class to man the walls if they can complete the challenges.
I love the idea of a clay windchime as an alternative to the wooden one – the important point is the note of the goblin trainers’ whistles, as long as that note is carried over it really shouldn’t matter what instrument is playing it.
However, I’ve usually found that getting a blacksmith to level 4 as RC isn’t all that hard – I find plenty of ore when I’m mining for stone, the only challenge is finding wood to fuel the furnaces with. And when I play RC I buy up all the wood I can, and push to get acacia saplings as soon as possible (to this end I’ll usually make my first farmer out of one of the hearthlings with a higher Mind score rather than saving them for a later industry); so wood isn’t actually a problem for me. I keep my construction simple so there’s not a lot of scaffolding involved, and I make sure my blacksmith is levelling up on the most efficient crafts possible (e.g. as soon as I can make bronze bars I get them to make a couple and then start them making those bronze ingots into armour; as soon as iron unlocks I get them to make a few iron ingots and then turn those into armour) so that I’m not burning a lot of wood while levelling up to steel production.
The difficult part is doing that while dealing with escalating attacks… and I think that’s where slingers would come in useful, since they allow you to slow down those attacks without dramatically increasing your military score.