The Mechanics 5. Levels of Achievement for Trades & Skills

Scattered throughout the descriptions of certain Trades, Trade Skills and Life Skills, there are a few points clearly marked where the knowledge and capabilities are broken down into strata referred to as Levels of Accomplishment (LoA’s).

LoA’s are “meta”-levels of a sort, milestones marked often as a means for rewarding a character by granting greater, often unique, special knowledge and abilities. These provide higher and higher goals to which the players may aspire. The benefits of individual SL’s accumulate only slowly and gradually. A single SL means only a difference of few percent in chance of success, while a LoA can represent a whole new ability or aspect to explore, the opening of  door. This can be far more clear and motivating as a goal.

They are also used as a broader means of measuring the characters’ progress and standing relative to one another, applied to both TR’s (for players’ benefit between characters practicing the same Trade) and CR’s (for your benefit as GM, to provide the broadest marker of competency between PC’s and NPC’s).

In order from least to greatest, the LoA’s are Apprentice; Journeyman; Warden; Artisan; Master (“Simple”) and Master of the Works or Works Master. These are drawn from the ranks into which the members of the guilds [particularly in Germany] were divided in the period of the game, a happy discovery perfectly in line with the needs and purposes of the game. By the names of the Levels themselves, in addition to being indicative of general skill and knowledge, their importance and impact both socially and professionally are clear, whether in or outside the guild. Because of their basis in the guilds of the period of the game, the LoA’s are also directly linked to social prestige and Reputation for the purposes of the game.

While there are in fact six LoA’s, the first, the Apprentice, is a stage considered already completed in the trade(s) and skills with which any PC being brought new into play has been equipped. While there is no “level zero” allowed in the rules, the Apprentice LoA actually represents one, BUT this is better described as a stage through which not much is known but during which one works to achieve journeyman (Improver) status. Journeyman improver is the first LoA when a character has enough practical knowledge and prowess to actually be able to go forth and practice in order to hone it, the beginning of the career.

All characters are assumed to have completed the terms of the apprenticeship in which they were engaged prior to being brought into active play (nobles excepted, as applicable). The terms under which it was served are provided in “Playing the Game” for the player’s consideration, insofar as it affects the character’s future opportunities.

That experience lies behind them, for better or for worse.

The Journeyman LoA is reached once the apprenticeship is concluded. This is the limit in LoA obtained by most characters in regards to their trades and skills at the start of play. A journeyman is considered skilled enough in and knowledgeable enough of all materials, practices and techniques of the craft to work in the field but, due to their lack of experience they are generally only able to work as help-mates to full guild members, called Wardens, or masters (note the lower-case “m”).

Regardless of their actual knowledge and experience (SL), however, most guilds require that all journeymen spend no less than 3 years polishing their skills before they establish shops of their own, and often as many as 5 years. Some of the guilds stipulate that the journeyman is to travel about during this time serving other masters than he under whom his apprenticeship was served, learning other perspectives and approaches to round out his knowledge and experience of the craft.

Travelling from one town to another to gain experience of different workshops in this way is considered an important part of the training of a journeyman aspiring to be a master. While doing so, the journeyman is expected to collect written reports from his clients attesting to his skill and the manner in which he discharged his craft and conducted himself, recommendations that together are called bona fides (BOW-nah FEE-days).

Any craftsman who travels to find work must carry his bona fides from his home attesting to his identity, good character and accomplishments in his trade, otherwise he is subjected to difficulty on the road, likely treated as a vagabond, and even greater difficulty getting clients and finding work, being unable to prove his qualifications. During the period of his travels the Journeyman is called a “Journeyman Improver”.

Only after the 3 to 5 year period of wandering [“Wandelbarwerk”] is completed, is he truly known as a “Journeyman Proper”, or simply Journeyman. The acknowledgement of the municipality or guild with which his apprenticeship was originally registered (as applicable) is required to officially pass from Improver to journeyman Proper. The character’s bona fides and letters of recommendation accumulated during his “improver-ship” are requested for inspection before he is approved and acknowledged as a Journeyman Proper.

As a journeyman, a job in the craft for which he is trained may be found. The master of the shop always takes credit for the work due to that fact he keeps an eye out to make sure that his personal methods and techniques are used and the craft executed his way, along with periodic instruction in more advanced techniques provided to fill any gaps in the journeyman’s knowledge. This is closely closely regulated by the guilds, especially while a journeyman is an improver.

Journeymen Proper encompasses the period of transition to full seasoned Warden in the guild, when Journeymen work to save their pennies to pay the fees to enter the guild in their own right and perhaps even to eventually afford the cost of the master-piece of the trade the guild requires to prove knowledge and skill – hopefully one day to even buy a shop of their own. This station or rank was created in the guilds and craft halls to protect those already in business from undue competition. It separates those who are truly accomplished and established from those newly released into the workforce in the craft from apprenticeships every year.

Journeymen in general hire on under established craftsmen of the trade on Sunday mornings on a weekly basis, usually gathering at some traditional location/market where the masters know to come look for the help they need. Journeymen are paid out on Saturday evening as they are dismissed, and are often only hired for piece-work, or jobbing, to complete a specific piece or production run the master of the shop does not have time or sufficient labor to complete on his own. In this way, the Journeyman is rehired every Sunday until the piece/order is completed, unless his workmanship does not meet the standards of the master of the shop. Journeymen are protected by the guilds in that, once hired for the week, they are guaranteed a full week’s work, which means wages, meals, and shelter. Journeymen are much better treated in the shop-master’s house than the poor apprentices, too, protected by guild by-laws from many of the tyrannical abuses visited on those poor souls.

A Warden is a noted and respected man of his trade, a member of his local guild and granted ready entrance to most local guild or craft halls after providing proof of apprenticeship (his bona fides). He has practiced his trade for no less than three or four years as a journeyman. Those of this rank are commonly called as the representatives of the journeymen in the fraternities and guilds, sworn to uphold the standards of the trade, hence the name. The name comes also from the construction industry, where those of this rank are placed as wardens over journeymen, lesser craftsmen, and simple laborers to supervise one phase or aspect of a building project, of fashioning individual pieces or supports, or the installation of the same. In chartered towns where different crafts and trades provide men for the watch in different quarters of town after sundown, the Wardens fill that service also.

Most who have achieved this LoA are working at establishing their own shops in the town or city in which they have chosen to build their business. The process of establishing a name and reputation in the minds of the locals and the other practitioners of the trade for the type and quality of the work performed is of prime importance.

A man must be a Warden of his craft before he may formally or officially take on any apprentices or hire journeymen to work under him.

Any innovations a warden wants to make in the trade may entertained with some curiosity by his peers and the true masters of the guild, but all such are likely to be met with suspicion and even hostility when they do not originate from the top members of the guild themselves, the Masters and WorksMasters – especially when touted as “labor-saving.” This justification is usually interpreted as the willful elimination of some poor journeyman’s livelihood.

At this point the character gains a voice in the guild even if he is not specifically elected as an officer (a Warden proper is an elected office in the guild hierarchy). He may begin to involve himself in guild politics, to influence guild activities as a peer of the trade in good standing, which is always accompanied by the requisite feasts and gifts. Patronage of the upper echelon of the guild can smooth the way. If a character does not mind one with more power and influence claiming his ideas or techniques for his own, that is the path to take to get one’s innovations accepted. Otherwise a character must bide his time until he achieves those heights himself.

Achieving Artisan status allows a character to begin to work towards making a respected and solid position for himself in the guild or craft hall organization for the rest of his life. His skill is grown to the point where he has developed a much wider reputation and he is notable, his work desired by the community. The original designs of a Craftsman-Artisan are in definite demand throughout the shire, and his name begins to filter through the surrounding shires and the greater region. This gives him somewhat more [professional] clout, certainly over the wardens beneath him, but this is directly affected by the character’s activities and the way in which conducts business and handles himself socially.

This LoA lays the groundwork for any sort of political impact the character plans on having at the higher LoA’s in the guild.

Upon attaining the Master, Simple LoA the character is truly considered an expert in his field (skill, trade), to be consulted by those of lesser skill to solve design or structure or finish problems or other difficulties arising from the use of the skill, craft, trade in question, and especially sought out by clients who wish to be regular patrons for the commissioning of especially notable or important works. At this LoA, a character may well be sought out to design important works, execute high profile projects. There are but few around to rival the skill and ability of one who has achieved this LoA. The character’s reputation is assured on a regional level, and his name starts to be one of note among the elite of the trade nationwide. This is the minimum LoA required to draw royal patronage if the character has a patron himself to promote him to the Crown at Court. In local guild politics the character begins to be a man of true note at this point, a real mover and shaker irresistibly drawn into guild politics unless he has taken steps to insulate himself from such affairs. Closer to home, the character is expected to take the next step on the ladder of fortune and fame and open a larger manufactory where he employs other poorer craftsmen and journeymen, supervising them and applying his own personal hallmark for all the work accomplished under his view.

When the WorksMaster LoA has been attained, the character is truly a master in every sense with the trade or skill in question, known even to those outside the trade or industry. The WorksMaster is considered a diligent man of great heart and rare ability in his field. He is sought out to direct and manage the works of great projects, even bestowed with their Keeperships if he has the patronage and has played the social game and achieved the Reputation to attract sufficient attention. A man of this LoA has few peers, and they are likely to be scattered through the neighboring countries as well as his own, his name a household word among the others of his trade and those who deal in the same goods or services, his Reputation lifting that of the work of his colleagues of the same town or city. If it is his intent to climb the ladder of fame and fortune at this point he is likely to have a great manufactory where a number of other poorer craftsmen AND journeymen work for their bread, applying his own personal hallmark for all the work accomplished under his view.

7-3. LoA SL Requirements

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J-man P = Journeyman Proper WrkMstr = WorksMaster

Great care must taken by the character reaching this LoA to avoid deep entanglements in local politics, guild politics and related obligations. Despite the great respect his achievement bestows on him, such a character is viewed as a valuable commodity in and of himself, for sale or use, trade or barter, and his very life likely subject to manipulation by those of great wealth and power, certainly worth a fair ransom and even worthy of being bickered over by those of the great and powerful who wish to avail themselves of his skill, if not actually lay exclusive claim to them.

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The actual numeric rank in SL or TR a character must achieve in order to qualify for any benefits it represents in additional knowledge, abilities and/or social prestige of a LoA depends on the attribute(s) that governs its primary use, noted in the description of the trade or skill. Where there are more than one such attribute, you must choose which applies, or if you prefer, to take an average of relevant attribute scores.

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A character may not spontaneously or automatically be awarded increased knowledge and abilities on attaining the SL or TR required to qualify for a new, higher LoA, but most often is only provided with the opportunity to learn a new application of his skill(s), or to seek out a teacher so they can learn the advanced lore for which they were not previously ready.

For example, upon reaching the Master LoA, a Hedge-Wizard or Hearth-Witch becomes eligible to seek out a master in High Magick and finally learn how to cast cantrips. The SL of those magicks for which a cantrip form is available starts at 1 and the SL’s of the leaser forms are tied to it, rising 1-for-1, in parallel.

In some cases, the LoA represents an extension of a character’s knowledge, in which case the effective SL parallels the skill from which it stems, experience with its use accruing to the skill it is derived from. In this case, the LoA represents a simple widening of the scope of the skill as a direct result of the character’s own work, no additional teaching is needed. The character is simply be able to figure things out on his own, as it is a natural progression and growth in the character’s own knowledge and skill by trial and error. This aspect applies most notably to the widening of the effects of a great number of magickal charms.

For example, a character with a 14MGA reaches Journeyman Proper LoA with a magick charm at SL6. If a charm allows him a broadening of its effect at Journeyman Proper LoA, this practitioner can utilize the effect tied to that LoA at SL1 immediately upon reaching SL6, and its effective SL rises in tandem with the SL of the root charm, so at SL10 that effect can be cast with SL5.

As a player develops his character’s Trades in TR through play, the character gains opportunities to grow and expand his knowledge and skills.

Upon reaching the Warden LoA with any given Trade, a character may go seek out a master of a Trade that is Allied to it in order to learn it.

IF the character waits until he reaches the Master LoA with it, instead, he is no longer bound to only choose an Allied Trade, but may choose any Trade at all, provided he can locate a master willing to teach him.

In regards to roleplaying, SL’s are also a loose measure of the general degree of respect a character’s colleagues may show him in the profession, if he gets on well with them, and an indicator of how willing they may generally be to entertain him if he should come to call – regarding business, not necessarily socially. High accomplishment in skill may open a door or two for social advancement, BUT only if the character plays it correctly.

A character’s LoA as recognized and acknowledged by his [guild] peers is of greater consideration than specific SL in this regard, however.

Regardless of his actual TR, a character stands to be denied the acceptance of his guild or craft hall and the honors of his accomplishments (if he indeed is interested in pursuing them) until he has not only fulfilled the journeyman requirements, but has made and submitted a “masterwork” exemplifying his skills and grasp of the craft for their approval – at his own expense. In addition to this, he must pay a fee to enter the guild, and he is also expected to feast and entertain the officers of the guild and his new colleagues in thanks, again at his own expense, and also make sure he keeps current on his yearly dues. A character’s ability and skill is only publicly recognized after he has had his work examined and approved and his application has been accepted.

Without the approval and acceptance of his guild, no man may practice his craft in peace for the public for his daily bread within the law.

A man’s guild is the means by which he is called to account for his deeds before the law. The more exclusive and prestigious a guild or craft hall (such as goldsmiths and the various merchants), the more stringent these requirements are. As mentioned, some apprenticeships alone last 12 to 14 years, though historically these were commonly abbreviated in return for the payment of a fine of several pounds sterling per year forgiven. There are also instances when a guild determines it has enough members to serve the needs of the local industry and the demands of the market. In these cases, a character may have to move on to another town or city, or seek a license in a lord’s demense elsewhere, or wait until one of the current members retires or dies in order to take his place. That is, of course, only in the event that a character wants to set up shop and visibly practice his arts for the public for his daily bread.