The Connoisseur skill is a deeper and sharper focusing of the Lore skill, it represents a specialty exhaustively researched and enjoyed by a character, celebrated for its complexities and nuances. A Connoisseur is a true expert who has a great deal of knowledge about a field that is generally governed by taste or style, such as any of the fine arts, but especially anything perceived as pleasing to the senses. The Connoisseur understands the details, technique, and principles of a given art to a degree that makes him competent to act as a critical judge. Using empirical evidence, a certain refinement of perception regarding technique and form, and a disciplined method of analysis, the responsibility of the connoisseur is to attribute authorship, validate the authenticity and appraise the quality of the substance of his field of knowledge.
Due to the fact that the Connoisseur must be able to critically evaluate the substance of his specialty, to examine it for color, texture, sometimes even smell, the character must have an AWA score of no less than 14 in order to be a Connoisseur in any field or topic.
The connoisseur has the discrimination to perceive the subtleties of his field of interest and approaches them with deep appreciation. He is versed in all the variations and earmarks that establish where the items of his specialty originate regionally and, when the author is particularly well-known, his name as well. Even when the author is not particularly well-known outside his own region, the Connoisseur still has a good chance of knowing who he is. He knows the hallmarks of all the great Masters’ workshops, and can distinguish the Master’s own work from that of a student in his shop.
The Connoisseur’s knowledge spans the history of the subject matter, where and how it arose and came into use, and the characteristics that mark any and all major periods or phases in style, as well as what inspired them, if a cause can be found (if not, it is likely the Connoisseur has his own pet theory he is likely to share gladly with any who might even hint at a passing interest).
The following is a brief list that should give the player an idea of the possible areas of expertise. This list is meant to be representative, not exhaustive. It is expected that more specialties are going to be considered and the GM entertain including them generally.
Charters, Writs, & Official Letters
Plate & Jewels, precious metals and gems
Decorative Arts, paintings
Decorative Arts, textiles
Decorative Arts, sculpture
Decorative Arts, wrought (primarily metal)
Jewelry & Gemstones
Furniture & Furnishings (primarily wood)
Fashion/Clothing, Shoes and Accessories
Beer & Wine or other fermented beverages
Victuals, Fine Cuisines & Delicacies
Since the cultures of a given sphere of influence all share similar characteristics, this aspect assumes that any Foreign Culture taken to expand the knowledge of the Connoisseur’s sphere of knowledge is removed enough regionally that the characteristics are sufficiently different so as to warrant a separate skill. For example, western Europe would be one sphere, covered by a single, domestic skill, but certain telltales would indicate the actual nationality and region of origins, whereas eastern Europe would have different characteristics, as would middle eastern, and far eastern, each of these requiring different skills to extend the Connoisseur’s knowledge to encompass in his field of expertise.
The Connoisseur’s skill is the foil for the work of the Forger/Mimic or Copyist. It is his bailiwick to determine a Master’s original from a reproduction and distinguish those antiquities that are truly period from modern facsimiles.
The att. mod. for any use of this skill is based on the character’s AWA score. For each aspect of information a Connoisseur wants to assess, a separate check must be made, and the character is required to work from generalities to specifics.
The DV for evaluating a piece within the character’s specialty starts with the obvious, such as the nature of the materials, whether false finishes were used, paint, enameling, leaf, gilding, silvering, as opposed to solid materials, purpose of the piece if intended for some sort of use. For this aspect, the number of materials are likely to provide a sufficient DV, counted Progressively. Where the item might have been found or used (as applicable) the GM must decide, the general DV table may help in judging this aspect.
The DV to determine the age of an item, if not recent, is one (1) per 15 years for the first 200 years, then one (1) per hundred after that in addition, then one (1) per 500 years after that. To determine the style by region, a base rule of thumb DV of one (1) per 100 miles from the Connoisseur’s own residence and/or region where the Connoisseur grew up (if different), might work. For reading tell-tale signs that narrow the origin down to specific town is half-again (x 1.5) that DV, and to determine whether by the Master’s hand or an employee in his workshop double that (x 2).
The DV for telling a fake is provided by the skill of the Forger/Mimic or Copyist, equal to his AV to create the work being evaluated. This assumes it is a recent copy, not a copy made contemporary to the original, if it is of any appreciable age (100+ years old).