Character Trades

A character “Trade” in RoM can be described as the concerted and focused pursuit of a practical occupation, craft or other similar practice requiring a specialized skill or set of skills in which the character may have or be working to obtain a measurable amount of knowledge, training, and proficiency. Most commonly, a trade is pursued in order to generate the income or provide the financial means needed to support him and his preferred lifestyle, but this is NOT the case for members of the Noble Class, which forbids laboring by the sweat of one’s own toil to obtain one’s daily bread, as the business of their class is To Fight. For those of the Noble class, any Trade knowledge taken on beyond the Warrior Trade expected of them, justifying their many privileges and great influence, are more of the nature of pastimes or hobbies (except in the case of the proliferation of those versed in one of the healer trades, deemed necessary for survival on the battlefield for themselves and their comrades in arms).

Now – who is this character?

What personal pursuit, labor or Trade(s) is/are each character concerned with?

Most every Trade presented here embodies some general traditional, familiar character archetype, however, they are based directly on the historical careers of the people of the medieval period of the game. To this historical information, such additions and embellishments were made as deemed appropriate to provide familiar ground for veterans of the hobby and genré, especially as they may have been handed down as folklore, but also to give them a dash of heroic fantasy and perhaps even some magick, as well – some a little, some a lot.

The system of Trades is designed to reflect the fluid nature of working careers in the period of the game, and also to interlock in such a way to provide the flexibility required to create a wide variety of permutations.

Choice of Trade(s) provides a guide for the players in allocating strengths and weaknesses when determining their characters’ attribute scores. The trades from among which the players may choose for their characters are presented on the rosters under the heading “Character Trade Rosters”, as follows.

The trades are broken up into four lists by general family according to their basic natures, the aspect of the life and society that they affect and to which they most properly belong. These families are Social Trades, Labor Trades, Scholastic Trades and the Spiritual Trades.

Within these families, all the Trades are further divided between the social class(es) with which they are most closely associated, between the Noble, Common, and Landbound. Some trades (pastimes or pursuits for those characters that don’t actually work for a living) are more appropriate for some social classes than others, falling in line with the period concept of the Golden Chain, explained in the game world background section of the text.

As GM, you must decide fairly early on just how advanced you are going to allow the characters in your game to be at the start of play. You must set a limit on the number of Trades with which they may be equipped, in order that all characters created for your game be created on a level field, built with equal access to resources.

Two or three Trades make a fairly basic character, as even the basic peasant out in the fields requires both Farmer/Gardener and Husbandman over a few different types of farm animals from (dairy) cows and sheep to chickens and geese to describe his knowledge and skills. 

Two or three Trades may limit options for distinguishing characters of the same Trade in the same party, even though a few of the Trades include choices for optional skills that help to accomplish this, and Life Skills still provide the possibility of still more variance. On the up-side, however, this limitation diminishes the amount of overlap between characters at the same time.

Four or five trades provide for more wide-ranging, well-rounded possibilities, and are recommended for more experienced players whose expectations for their characters are likely to be higher, at the outset, especially those with more experience specifically with RoM.

Also, by the Assize of Arms from the period, all men of the age of 16 up to the age of 60 are required to obtain and maintain certain arms, arms and armor, or arms, armor and additional combatants and train for the defense of the home shire and the realm at large as members of the Fyrd/Levy. Female characters are by no means excluded from the Fyrd, but they have a choice, where you may stipulate the male characters do not, as GM. You may choose to make the Fyrd compulsory, as it was historically, or elective. 

IF it is compulsory, you must decide whether it counts towards the character’s allowance of Trades or not (GM’s discretion). If it does, the number of Trades allowed is really one less than it appears, because one is automatically filled already.

Equipping a character with either the Garrison/Watch or the full Warrior Trade (Champion, Squire, Knight, Sacred Knight, etc.) more than fulfills the obligation to be a part of the Fyrd.

IF you wish your players to start with more advanced, well-rounded and defined characters, you should definitely allow five (5) Trades. Doing this limits avenues for further development and growth through game play, however, and duplication of Trades and especially specific Trade Skills between characters in the party also becomes more of a problem. 

More than this is not recommended but, in the end yours is the last word, as GM.

 

It’s best if you come to an agreement with your players to negotiate a “happy medium” standard number of Trades, between their ability to create the characters they envision and your desire to make sure everyone has clear and immediate paths of progression to aspire to, into which their characters can grow as play proceeds.

The final decision is yours, however.

This decision sets the standard for ALL the characters entering the particular game or campaign you are working on. You may wish the players to enjoy the process of building their characters from the ground up, starting with only one or two trades, and/or to enjoy witnessing the characters’ growth as your story unfolds.

 

Quick Method

A character may only be equipped with a Trade that corresponds to his Social Class by birth, according to the above Roster of Trades by Social Class.

IF the character is allowed more than one trade, all must belong to his Social Class by birth, according to the following roster.

Custom Method

All the character’s Trade(s) must be purchased with the DP’s allotted at the beginning of Character Generation. 

IF your GM has allowed your character more than one trade, all must be paid for.

  • The cost of any Trade that lies within the character’s Social Class by birth according to the Roster of Trades by Social Class is one (1). 
  • The cost of any Trade that lies one (1) step away from the character’s own by birth according to the Roster of Trades by Social Class is five (5 DP’s), e.g., for a Commoner to take either a Noble or Landbound Trade, or a Noble or Landbound born character to take a Commoner’s Trade.
  • The cost of any Trade that lies two (2) steps away from the character’s own by birth according to the Roster of Trades by Social Class is fifteen (15 DP’s), e.g., for a Noble born character to take a Landbound Trade, or vice-versa. 

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Character Trade Rosters,

by Social Class

Noble Class Trades

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Free Commoner Class Trades

SocialScholasticSpiritualSocialLaborScholasticSpiritual
Labor

Landbound Class Trades

SocialLaborScholasticSpiritual

  • (T) indicates a trade that may be given only to a character with a Town background.
  • (R) indicates a trade that may be given only to a character with a Rural background.
  • (Cr) indicates the trade so noted is one of the Craftsman trades.
  • (K) indicates the trade so noted is one of the Knave trades.
  • (G) indicates the trade are overseen by a guild or a social fraternity like a guild (as the “Thieves’ Guilds” emulates the true trade guilds) so you must consider the type of apprenticeship served.
  • IF more than one of your character’s trades is governed by a guild connection (as applicable), you must pick one. This is the trade by which game world society identifies him and by which he is held accountable before the law.
  • IF your character is a practitioner of magick, you must find out whether Wizardry or any of the trades or magick practitioners are governed by a guild. Many of the magickal trades are marked as a guild affiliation due to the commonness of the “wizards’ guild” trope in the genré. While they are so marked, it is up to the GM’s discretion if it is actually so, according to his plans for his own game world. Of course, as in any other RPG of the genré, those characters that wield magick in some form always require more care and attention in creation and also in maintenance once brought into play. RoM is no exception in this.
  • (C) indicates the character has taken minor orders in order to go to university for a formal education, due to the fact that the Church rules all higher education, owning and maintaining the guilds of scholastic masters known as universities.
  • (HW) indicates that the trade so noted may be taken either as a Hearth- or Hedge-Witch or Hedge- or Hearth-Wizard trade, Hearth Witch trades being restricted to only those characters coming from Rural backgrounds.
  • (CM) indicates that the trade so noted may be taken either as a CunningMan or WiseWoman Witch or CunningMan or WiseWoman Wizard trade, CunningMan or WiseWoman Witch trades being restricted to those characters coming from Rural backgrounds.
  • (D) indicates that the trade so noted is one of the Druid trades. A character’s trade indicates a period of learning and so directly affects the determination of the age the character has achieved at the point in game time at which he enters active play. In most cases, each of the trades represents a formal commitment in the form of an apprenticeship that can last anywhere from 4 to 20 years. The specific number of years that are added for each is covered under Character Age.

 

1, 2, 3 … 15 Many entries on the trade rosters are marked with numbers. They denote trades that, when marked with the same number, describe a career path, often starting with some lesser forms or directly related trades at the low social class and moving to high (even noble), i.e., Guide to Woodsman to Huntsman; Warrior to Squire to Knight; Beastmaster or Acrobat to Jongleur to Troubadour; Husbandman to Beastmaster; Boatman to Mariner; Recommender to Courtier). These marks only relate to the trades on the same roster, of the same type (Social, Labor, Scholastic, or Spiritual). They may be either socially intertwined or by the general nature of or specific skills employed, and generally indicate the avenues for advancement later, as play proceeds. These markings generally cross lines of social class. For the low born or commoner character it provides a route to eventually achieve greater social standing, if not actually a change in class. In this way the permeability of the class system that was almost unique in the medieval English culture is illustrated.

Many of those so marked are prerequisites to other trades that make up their career path.

1) A Recommender can work his knowledge and social connections to the point where he can obtain additional training in languages, the social arts and graces to acquire the full portfolio of skills expected of a Courtier.

3) A savvy Chapman wandering the backcountry roads might work his fortune to become a solid, successful Merchant with an office and warehouse in a town. He might then aspire to travel on board the ships with his goods to take on the skills of a mariner and become a Merchant Adventurer, or a Mariner might aspire to the station of the master owning the ship he works on, to learn numbers and bookkeeping and the myriad little things he must know about the cargo in the hold to become a Merchant, and thus, also a Merchant Adventurer.

4) Any common Player or Minstrel – even Acrobat or Beast Master from the Labor Trades (the latter specializing in creating trained animal acts) – can eventually train to take on a greater role in a performance as a Jongleur in the Social Trades arena, seeking a Troubador to serve and work under, in time to become a Troubador himself.

6) Beastmasters must always be Husbandmen first, as Husbandmen who are NOT Beastmasters stand as the majority by far. A character cannot have Beast Mastery without also having skill as a Husbandman to see to their daily care, and Beastmasters are considered more highly skilled and respected.

7) Not all Huntsmen are Warriors, and not all Warriors are Huntsmen, but there is a common occurrence of those practicing both trades. IF they are also Warriors, from a Huntsman character might earn a sergeanty, like any Warrior, and perhaps even knighthood, gradually climbing as they are able to gain recognition. Woodsmen can also aspire to become Huntsmen.

8) Gentleman-born Warriors might be taken on at some point as Squires, Squires may in time be knighted on the eve of some important battle. These and even common (Warrior) men-at-arms (or even Huntsmen who are also Warriors) can rise through service to become sergeants and eventually perhaps knights for service to their social superiors in battle.

10) Surgeons must always either be Midwives or Barbers first, as the Midwives and Barbers who are NOT Surgeons stand again as the majority by a wide margin, and Surgeons are considered more highly skilled and respected. This is especially true of Surgeons who go off to university to become Physickers, the apex of their career.

Leeches can aspire to become Midwives or Barbers and then to Surgeons and perhaps even finally to university for a PhD in Physic.

11) Some of the crafts are associated with Smiths, as warriors and barbers are, so your character can start out practicing his craft and eventually move over into making tools for his colleagues in the trade.

12) This links those trades native to rural life of Rustic folk. It is easy enough to find a reputable man of the soil to teach what he knows if your character can convince him that he really wants to learn.

13) Any of the Trades so marked are available to any Scholar character by returning to university to obtain another degree in that subject matter.

14, 15) Hedge Wizards and Hedge or Hearth Witches, respectively, can work towards perfecting their craft and eventually shedding the shackles of whatever props or folkway of magick they practice (as applicable), in the fullness of time eventually becoming full-fledged “True” Wizards or Witches.

In the same fashion, CunningMen and WiseWomen can work towards perfecting their craft and become Hedge Wizards and Hedge or Hearth Witches, respectively. From there they may aspire to eventually becoming full-fledged “True” Wizards or Witches.

Of course either of these scenarios presume the character not only lives long enough to do so (for it is likely to take a good many game years) but that they also discover opportunities to further educate themselves in order to move to the next stage.

  • IF starting your character at any point below the trade considered the apex of that trade career path, your character may set forth to transition to the next trade higher up on that path as soon as he has enough experience under his belt. 
  • IF you only want a certain (lesser) trade aspect on a given career path rather than the apex trade on that path, or are limited by Social Class of birth (especially characters of Common or Low social class), you are welcome to it but, in the end, by no means limited to it. Your character can always climb up from there, learning the greater trades on that path by seeking out a teacher in the trade at some later point during play, after he has acquired enough skill (see “Advancement”) to move up. The lesser form taken gets the character’s foot in the door, allowing him to earn the respect of his brothers in the craft so he can climb up the ladder later on, if he so wishes.

Setting up your character’s trade(s) is likely to call for making some tough choices.

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Trades & Character Concept

In RoM, Trades are intended to provide a flexible tool for describing as closely as practical the scope of knowledge, skills and abilities the players want their characters to have. The trades embody traditional, familiar fantasy character archetypes that most veteran gamers find familiar, but they also include some less familiar skill sets, to be used as “modules” or “building blocks”. Thus, the trades have been divided a little more finely than they might otherwise be. This allows your players to create heroes (or potential heroes) that more closely meet their needs and expectations and also to meet your simpler needs as GM in describing the MUCH more numerous NPC’s in your game world.

The Huntsman, often under the name of “Ranger” (actually very narrowly defined officers of the Forest Law in medieval England), is usually treated as a sub-class of Warrior, and conflated with the Husbandman Trade. For the purposes of RoM, all three are distinctly separate. This way, Huntsmen who are Husbandmen and Huntsmen who are not can be easily distinguished from one another in terms of trade/skill game mechanics, and Huntsmen that have been trained to survive on the battle-field as Warriors from those that have not.

Just because a number of fields of interest may (generally) lie within the scope of the knowledge of a particular trade’s practice doesn’t mean every character who is a member of that trade is skilled in all of them, much less equally good at all those aspects. Not all Warriors are Knights, not all Midwives or Barbers are Herbals or Surgeons, not all Knaves are Cut Purses, and not all Knaves are well-connected Rogues.

In his own eyes, and those of the medieval game world society in general, however, the Huntsman who cares for his master’s horses or hounds for the hunt in the stables in the countryside (Husbandman) and goes into battle in the retinue of his lord swinging a sword (Fyrd, Garrison, or full Warrior) practices only one Trade, and opts to be known as a Huntsman, as that is the more socially prestigious of the three.

The system of Trades is designed to show their commonly inter-connected nature, reflecting how some trades are closely enough associated with one another that their members commonly slide from one into another, or grow from one into another up through a hierarchy. In practice, medieval careers were really rather fluid and closely interrelated, especially in England, the basis for these rules.

This being the case, it may take more than one Trade as they are provided and described here to properly express the knowledge your players might want to equip their characters with for the start of play. The trades listed on the rosters in Character Generation are NOT the only possibilities available. The player can use his imagination to put together what is not already specifically represented, too.

A Brigand is a Warrior-Rogue, or Warrior-Knave (any), OR Warrior-Rogue-Knave. Simple.

There are many different ways in which one can be a Knave – a Knave-Husbandman or especially as Knave-Husbandman-Rogue can be a Horsethief. A Forger-Scrivener or -Clerk (Knave, Knave-Rogue or simply Rogue) is a Forger that can falsify official documents or correspondence, while a Forger-Gold/Silver Smith (Knave, Knave-Rogue or simply Rogue) is a Forger that can falsify dies for coins or official seals to affix to charters or other documents, while a Forger-Craftsman (Knave, Knave-Rogue or simply Rogue) can be a Forger that can create faithful reproductions of great works of art in his chosen craft or works in styles of foreign lands and/or ancient cultures.

Compounding the Warrior trade with Knave Trades such as Cut-purse, Draughlatch or Roberdsman results in a trade that has seen much popularity in the (medieval) fantasy genré, as seen in Fritz Lieber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser characters, either with or without the Rogue aspect.

The Merchant-Adventurer commonly encountered in the historic record is a Merchant who had the courage and audacity to travel with his cargo and learn the skills of a Mariner, in addition, OR a Mariner with the temerity to beard his employer with requests to learn the Merchant trade, so a Merchant-Mariner in game terms. The approach depends on the player’s vision of his character’s origins or back-story.

Any Mariner can take part in waylaying other vessels and plundering them as a Pirate, with or without the connects of a Rogue. Old Yarmouth was full of pirates in the period, among other coastal towns, but a Pirate can be even more notorious if he can truly distinguish himself in boarding attacks as a Warrior. Again, simple.

A Custom Method character only allowed a single Trade might be cast as a Knave (any) but given the advantage of a wealthy background –– or even Noble (paying the extra cost for following so ignoble a skill set). Having enjoyed the advantages of Finishing School that Knave has a sound foundation for growing into a Courtier, hiding in plain sight. Of course, that character could start as a Courtier, or a Merchant with or without the advantage of the Finishing School. There are MANY different ways “to skin a cat”, so to speak.

Straight from the historical record, the maker of surgical instruments comes to his trade through his knowledge as a Surgeon-Gold/SilverSmith. Who better to design and execute the tools of the trade than a man who knows their use? Surgical instruments are the focus of his Smithcraft. This IS his ONE (1) Trade, and he does not practice his Smithcraft (generally, for the public, for profit) for any other purpose than this. It is the area in which his knowledge of Smithcraft is founded and centered. It is simply defined by two “trades” (skill-sets) rather than one for the purposes of the game to allow for the possibility of creating Surgeon characters who are simply Surgeons, NOT GoldSmiths making surgical instruments, and allowing for GoldSmiths who are not Surgeons who can make whatever sorts of things they like with their Smithcraft.

It’s all about where the player wants the emphasis. What is his character’s back-story/background.

If you’re making a Smith who likes to design and invent things like Leonardo da Vinci, he is probably best described as a Scholar, to get the firmest grasp on all the theories, and a Craftsman-Smith, equipped with the Artificer specialty so he can apply those theories, and also the Artisan specialty if you want him to grow to draw and paint as beautifully, also.

Put your head together with your GM and be creative!

The allowance of multiple Trades may seem at-odds with the express rule for medieval game worlds stated in the passages headed “The Medieval Mind” with the limitation of “One man, one trade”, BUT you and your players alike should look upon the Trade(s) chosen to define each character in the mechanical framework of the game as having a single focus, comprising only one trade between them in the eyes of society, and any other (unrelated) Trade(s) taken as providing context for that trade in the character’s life in the eyes of the denizens of the game world.

This is why a number of the trades that generally “go with” or “belong” together had to be divided up into their constituent aspects. Just because they are commonly associated doesn’t mean they should AUTOMATICALLY be assumed to be part and parcel of the same thing.

Note that the Allied trades are ONLY suggestions for the character generation process, a means for further distinguishing and personalizing your character.

The players are encouraged to make the most of the various race, trade, and skill combinations in their Guide, to aim for making flexible well-rounded characters and seek the most complimentary combinations. Choosing trade bundles/skills that conflict with the racial and social point of view, attitudes, and disposition can easily make the character a misfit or even an outcast among his native people, but that can be fun to play!

The background generated for the character has a direct effect on how others of the character’s native class view his chosen Trade(s)/skills, and so should also be kept in mind. In general, battle is considered to be the province of the nobility, or a means of advancement for any free commoner who is not afraid to risk his life, but the large and strong among the landbound class might just as easily find themselves taken by his lord to serve in battle or man his castle walls and gain an opportunity to win freedom in return for loyalty in the heat of battle (Sacred Knight, Warrior, Huntsman). Farming, Husbandry and the provision of unskilled labor are the proper work of the free commoners and landbound classes, as are the manufacturing and processing craft trades in the towns (Smith/Artificer, Mason/Architect, Craftsman-Artisan, and so on).

Academia is the preserve of those with connections to the Church and who can afford it or those who have sufficient social contacts to find a sponsor. The Church owns and maintains all institutions of higher learning (Alchemist, Physicker, Scholar, Lawyer, Magister). The highly learned Scholar character has benefit of clergy at law, but are required to take no higher orders unless he wishes to pursue a career in the Church. This may include the trade of Wizardry (PhD in Natural Philosophy), but the GM may allow for that trade to be passed on privately, after the manner of a private or guild apprenticeship, as well, so the player MAY have the option to choose a Church connection.

Knavery and all the trades of the desperate and hungry who stand beyond the law or have been abandoned by the Church belong in large part to the disaffected of the landbound class (Roberdsman, Draughlatch, Cut-Purse, Horsethief, Forger-Clerk/ -Smith/ -Artisan), including the Hearth-Witches and Hedge-Wizards who are the last resort of those who cannot afford more or better magick to turn the tide of Fate in their favor.

When choosing a trade it is also important to remember that the character are viewed by society according to the trade with the highest social prestige, and in return are expected to act in accordance with the commonly accepted rules and conventions of that social circle. If a character is a Knight of some sort, he are treated by the medieval game world society at large as a noble with prestige according to the wealth he displays, and in turn are expected to behave like a knight. If he is a Courtier also, he are treated even more as an integral member of the upper social circles and he are expected to act like a member of the refined upper crust of society. The Trades/skills a character practices determines the social circles in which he is accepted, which social groups hold him in esteem.

The RoM system of character creation is primarily skill-based. While there are “trades” which can it appear like a “class-based” system, that is really a superficial illusion. The trades are really much more flexible and adaptable than this. They are intended to provide something more along the lines of loose character templates. Most people are more comfortable having general guidelines in which to work, and that applies to character creation for roleplay, as well. Thus, the trades are used as a framework into which the skills fit. The trades are nothing more than general labels used to break the whole spectrum of skills down into associated groups, to make the skills easier to deal with. The sum of each skill group provides a rough sense of identity corresponding to the nature and/or quality of the sort of character who might practice such skills, BUT because there is no requirement that all be taken (Custom Method characters), those practicing the same trade are not all identical. Because the trades can be bundled or Allied in various ways, along different paths to represent different types or flavors of a given trade concept, the permutations that can be achieved are quite diverse.

  • IF the GM or player doesn’t see the combination that represents the type of character he is trying to create, he should think about creating an additional trade with the selection of skills desired, or perhaps (for the sake of preserving the modular nature of the trades in the system) only a smaller off-shoot sub-trade module that can be bundled with an existing trade to achieve what is desired.

While the variety of trades and the various ways in which they can be bundled together in a single trade and also combined (Primary with Secondary) may be extensive, it is not considered to be exhaustive, nor is it intended to be. The GM and players are encouraged to make RoM their own, to add or subtract whatever they deem necessary to create and maintain the standards and gaming environment that suits their style of play best.

Spiritual Trades

A character may have as many as three Spiritual trades, BUT only one of each level of expertise, i.e., one full trade (True Druid, Mystic, Witch or Wizard), one Hedge Wizard or Hedge/Hearth Witch Trade (which MUST be of a different variety/Trade of magick AND based on a folkway-format) and one Cunning Man/Wise Woman Trade (which MUST, again, be a different variety/Trade and also a different folkway-format).

For this purpose, all Druid trades aside from the True Druid count as Hedge/Hearth Witch/Wizard-level trades.

The folkways are described under the Trade descriptions (Hearth/Hedge-Witch/Wizard, CunningMan/WiseWoman) to which they apply.

  • IF the Mystic trade is to be one of the two or three Spiritual trades your character is equipped with, it must be the full trade. 

For this purpose, the Sacred Knight and Berserker trades count as a CunningMan/ WiseWoman-level trade, while the Magus counts as Hedge/Hearth Witch/Wizard-level trade.

All the Trades, Alphabetical & Linked