I would rather have civilians and soldiers get better at doing townie jobs with time, and be able to make job-related weapons/equipment.
I.e. When a townie has an axe equipped they chop trees faster, or if they have a hammer equipped the armor and/or weapons they make are higher quality (Atk/Def stats in the upper end of items' range). Having more townie items that can be equipped (bone carving knives, rolling pins, butcher knives, etc.) and of different material levels (maybe only wood, stone, iron for equipable tools). Better materials = better results.
Having more types of heroes (I would like to see clerics or priests that heal/buff townies) would fill the role I think you're looking for. Being able to make special weapons (a staff of healing like you suggest), armor (bracers or protection?) and other accessories (rings amulets) that heroes can buy/use would also be awesome.