The Ongoing Career

Learning Additional Skills,

Engaging in the Trades 

& The Impact of the Guilds

In cultivating a skill the character starts by learning the steps or process by which a task is accomplished, but afterwards he must accumulate experience (negative AND positive) with it. By way of practice, repetition over time, the character forges new pathways for motor impulses, acclimatizes the body to new patterns of movement and ingrains the skill in the body’s memory. While the process is essentially the same regardless of what it is the character is learning, the type of skill or knowledge involved dictates the length of time the process may take, trade and sub-skills being somewhat more stringent in their requirements, whole trades taking the longest and being the most involved.

Regardless of whether Life Skills or trade skills that define aspects of the various trades, skills require a “master” to train a character in – one who has himself reached the Warden LoA or higher, as described above. Again, this master, teacher, mentor, or trainer need not have any skill in the Magister trade but it is, naturally, very helpful and advantageous to the student.

Skills, as opposed to trades, are fairly easy to add and implement. Of those that are called Life Skills, some are practiced by the common run of NPC’s as trades (Boatman, Cottage Craftsman, Cook, Drover/Charioteer, Forager, Musician). Nonetheless, their learning falls under the time frame of a skill rather than the apprenticeship procedure expected of the more complex and formal trades.

Once a character has completed the “apprentice” level training and becomes a Journeyman-Improver, equipped with knowledge enough to practice and perfect his art by means of the normal Advancement rules until he attains the skill of Journeyman Proper and then Warden, he may forge ahead under his own steam by his own experience, with one minor exception:

Trades such as are practiced by the PC’s are another matter entirely. These involve a greater knowledge base be developed in order to pursue, far and above beyond that required for the simpler pursuits previously discussed. This is where the true apprenticeships come in, such as are enumerated in years in the process of calculating character age at start of play.

Allied trades that fall within the scope of another trade, as smithcraft within the Warrior trades, or Alchemist with the Wizard or Witch trades, Herbal with the Witch or Druid trades, Husbandman with Farmer, may be picked up after a character has been brought into play to complete the full complement of the character’s knowledge of his craft or trade, as desired. Such trades may be learned from a master of the trade into which the character has already been initiated who has already extended his scope to include the desired trade, OR may be taken from a simple master of the trade desired, so long as the master is willing and acknowledges the character’s right to access the “mysteries” of the trade. BUT where a character already has a relationship with a master who might teach him further, there is little point in not using the resource, unless the character is at odds with the master and the relationship unsuitable.

In a similar vein, a Surgeon may decide to go to university to pursue a PhD as a Physicker to improve his lot in life, his social standing and his earnings potential. A Player may wish to pursue music as a Jongleur with an eye to eventually becoming a Troubador. Where the trades are related by association in practice (Allied), such crossing over is common and there should be no real difficulty in finding a master. However, masters within a given trade should be preferred by the PC when he is seeking to expand his knowledge regarding one of his Trades to include an Allied Trade. Rural masters in an outlying lord’s demesne and those who are NOT members of a strong local (town) guild are more easily approached for this purpose.

Alternately, a character may choose to pursue a completely unrelated trade, with or without any such related trade knowledge included in its scope (as above).

The issue in all of these cases, however, is one of apprenticeship.

All characters are encouraged to look on the masters of their Trade(s) who have the additional knowledge of Allied Trades as a resource to return to for additional training because of the previous apprenticeship(s) the characters are assumed to have already fulfilled with them to get to the point at which they stand. This is why the topic of the guilds is discussed in “The Medieval Mind” in relation to the trades, the guilds and fraternities, so the player who had plans to follow that route to social influence and/or fame and fortune could start planning the route of that ascent.

Many players and GM’s alike are under the impression that apprenticeships are solely the province and concern of the guilds, but this is not so in the least. Apprenticeships are simply the traditional medieval social mechanism for the transfer of the knowledge of skilled trades. The process of apprenticeship is designed to protect those already engaged in a line of work and also to protect the knowledge of the processes of each trade from entrepreneurs and other interlopers, as a guarantee that the standards set by those already established in it continue to be met.

For ALL apprenticeships, regardless of their type or form, there is a price paid to the master to take the candidate (PC) on as apprentice.

The standard period contracted for in an apprenticeship is 7 years. This period of time is by no means graven in stone. As can be seen on table the Age Modifier table for character generation, some of the more lucrative trades take significantly longer to learn.

To get the master to compromise that standard takes money.

The fee to the master should be doubled for every year by which the period of apprenticeship is to be diminished, to compensate the master for the loss of the apprentice’s labor over that time. The best a character should be able to do in such a case is to cut the apprenticeship in half, OR down to 3 years, whichever period is longer.

Taking training in an additional trade, whether Allied to a trade he already has or not, the player has a decision to make concerning the apprenticeship he enters into, as follows, to gain it, for enter one he must. Not all apprenticeships are created equal, however. Especially as those within the strong and powerful guilds of the cities and towns have it.

There are several different types or standards for apprenticeship:  the common apprenticeship, registered apprenticeship and formal guild apprenticeship.

Every Trade with which a character has been equipped represents some sort of apprenticeship already served.

IF it is Allied to a Trade that is central or pivotal to the character’s identity and/or public image, it is likely to also have been taught by the master to whom he apprenticed for the Trade to which it is Allied.

IF it is not Allied, the character likely apprenticed informally to the master from whom it was learned, or was sent by his master to an acquaintance to learn it.

Where there is a connection with a guild (as applicable), the player must decide what sort of apprenticeship his character served. Not all apprenticeships are created equal. Especially as those within the strong and powerful guilds of the cities and towns have it. There are several different types or standards for apprenticeship.

Common apprenticeship is fine if the player only wants his character to be able to practice some trade or craft for his own, his family’s and/or the PC party’s benefit. This bears the cheapest fee to enter into, just the customary fee to the master who takes the student on. After completion, the character is employable as a Journeyman-Improver in the trade in question, but only in the district where he took his training, where any letter of reference from his master can easily be verified.

Registered apprenticeship requires the presentation of the applicant upon entering to apprenticeship and the presentation of the Journeyman upon completion of the apprenticeship in the baronial court before the bailiff, steward or other governing official of the lord in whose demesne the apprenticeship was served, or in the Chamber of the town, as applicable. After completion, the character will have documents from the lord or town bearing the official seal attesting to his training and skill, good character and social status. A Journeyman coming out of a registered apprenticeship is assumed to be staying in that same locale to make his way by that craft, or at least to return to it after he has completed his wandelbarwerk or Improvership (3 to 5 years). A full registered apprenticeship salso allow a guild to be approached for membership at a later date, if desired.

The certification provided for completing a simple registered apprenticeship is the minimum documentation accepted as proof of training when applying for admission to a guild, should a character choose to pursue that in an area where the guilds have a controlling interest and as such stand as a force with which to be reckoned.

This sort of apprenticeship is the most usual when the would-be craftsman is learning and is practicing in an area where there is either only one big guild for all crafts and merchants combined, or where the is no guild present at all, but all trade and crafts governed directly through the court of the lord-in-residence.

Alternately, where there is a guild connection to a character trade, the player must consider whether the character actually went through a formal, guild-ruled apprenticeship.

Guild apprenticeships are registered not only in the Chamber of the town, like the registered apprenticeship above, but also in the Chamber of the Guildhall to which he is applying as an apprentice. Only a master of the guild, examined and approved and in good standing can be engaged for a guild apprenticeship. Guild apprenticeships are very prestigious and sought-after, for the guild only admits a certain number of new apprentices in any given year, so to keep from being run out of business by a flood of competition.

The player must decide whether he wishes to leave the character the option of being able to have a say in his local town government (town residents only) later or wants to be able to get involved in the politics of one or the other of his crafts, after his character has grown some, especially if the PC has any wish to have any ability to influence the guild’s practices. Where there are guilds, they are the only means of exercising any voice in government, and only from within their ranks can they be influenced or changed. Entering a guild by having come up through the ranks from apprentice to journeyman to master in it gives the character all the background knowledge he desires about the members of the guild and their habits and politics, which may turn out to be vital in the course of play with a GM savvy enough to tap such a rich plot resource.

A guild apprenticeship or even simple registering is by NO means required, however. The great majority of masters of various handicrafts and especially those with a scholarly bent are able to provide the character with affidavits attesting to the legitimacy of any apprenticeship served, to be kept along with letters of recommendation among his bona fides if he should travel out of the area where his training or education was taken. These credentials are not as eagerly received as a lord’s or town’s certification documents in the marketplace by clients unless the craftsman using them stays within the district where the master who penned the recommendation is known.

However, if the PC intends to use the trade as a means of entering the social arena, including the circles controlled by the guilds, then a registered apprenticeship, if not an actual guild apprenticeship, is a must.

Of these three types, the character may only have gone through either a registered or full guild apprenticeship, not both, and with only one trade, which must be one of those marked as being ruled by a guild or established by the GM as being such. The apprenticeships served for any other (Allied) trades are assumed to have been “common” in nature.

Having served an apprenticeship, even a properly registered one in the town in which he is practicing his craft/trade, does NOT make a character a member of the guild, able to practice his trade or craft publicly for a profit wheresoever he pleases. Even his freedom to practice a craft privately is grounds for attack if doing so cuts to any provable degree into the business of guild members legitimately engaged in that trade.

Once a character is received as a full member of a guild, all fees paid, his previous master accepts him as a peer, but not before. He is invited to guild meetings and celebrations, be able to take advantage of lodgings in the guild house and other facilities like weights and measures, access to the guild library to study advanced techniques and theories of the craft, and also band together with his fellows to make purchases of raw materials in bulk for a break in price. He can then also start choosing and cultivating allies to aid him in accomplishing any political aims. This is the character’s prime source of knowledge and wisdom when he seeks further training in the craft. Locating a mentor would be a prudent measure, though he must be carefully chosen according to political sympathies and general character, balance of Virtue and Vice.

This is where the character’s trade SL and Reputation differ, and it is through the guild that the reputation can be worked on and increased. While the trade SL reflects real skill, Reputation is a social achievement linked to fulfilling the expectations of the guild AFTER a particular LoA has been reached. Reputation only follows trade SL when the PC works at achieving it socially after reaching a given LoA in skill.

IF the character is neither a member of the journeymen’s association or the guild at large, no guild member will ever teach him any further secrets of the trade, including the master under whom he served his apprenticeship, and certainly not any master who has not had any such close acquaintance with him. In addition, whether the player likes it or not, every trade the character has knowledge of, whether primary or secondary or bundled within another greater trade, represents an oath the character has sworn not to reveal his master’s secrets nor to betray the secrets of the craft. If the character violates his oath and the trust of his fellows in the trade, or gives them reason to think that he intends to, he can be severely punished at law by his master, the guild, and also by the Church for violating his oath.

Historically, outsiders have been stabbed to death by guild members for revealing that they had knowledge of the mysteries of their guild and trade, regardless of how exalted the interloper’s social class.

The PC could well make himself a target for similar reprisal if he does not honor his oath of secrecy.

Nobles have absolutely nothing to do with the guilds, except perhaps in the case of greater nobles who have the capability to provide charters by which they may be formed in towns (boroughs) within their domain or feofdom. The nobles are simply above these organizations socially and, especially insofar as they represent people who by their very nature toil by the sweat of their brow for their daily bread, they are actually forbidden to participate in them. The nobility are Those Who Fight, and are limited to earning their way with the sword, on the battlefield, in military service to some lord or the king, which includes working in some domestic capacity as a minister of that lord’s household, rendering that lord chivalric service. Eldest sons inherit all, and either employ or subinfeudate their brothers, or find posts sufficient to the dignity of the family for them from among their allies. Careers in the Church are also common in lesser sons of noble families. If separated by time and circumstance, no doubt they keep in touch by letter (assuming they parted well). The dignity of the family must be upheld, and posts of sufficient station for the family always found for younger sons of noble blood, the sons then encouraged to apply for them.

Nobles do not work for their bread except by use of their martial skills and knowledge of war, or in the household of another great family. All other skills aside from Warrior (Squire, Knight, Sacred Knight), Courtier/Courtesan, Diplomat, Huntsman, Troubador/Trouvere and Scholar (any) are only hobbies, of which their class tolerate whatever pleases them (as long as it does not place them in a servile position, such as Cook, whereas puttering about as a Gourmand would be perfectly acceptable). Such interests as these are only meant to be pursued for filling times of leisure, certainly not for profit or to provide their “livelode” (livelihood) in any way.

IF the character is of the noble class and has taken the actual rank of knight, he may NOT toil for his daily bread at farming or husbandry or any craft of hand, none of the trades designated as “Craftsman” or including the term “Artisan” under the Labor Trades. Warcraft is the mark of the Noble class – swinging a weapon in battle (Warrior, Knight, Huntsman, etc.). This is due to the deeply ingrained sense of identity of the nobility as “Those Who Fight.” This is the source of their identity, authority and privilege. Those who violate this rule and are found out stand to be stripped of their social rank, title, and privileges.

Any nobleman discovered working for his bread by the labor of his own hand with any tools other than those of battle stands to be stripped of rank and privileges, reduced to the state of a simple freeman.

Noblemen have no more to do with crafts and merchants than they do their own money, except as a diversion at a faire, because that is what servants and agents are for. There was a famous king who delighted in making clocks, however, but this was a personal passion that was practiced at leisure, and certainly not for sale, although one might certainly be sent as a gift to honor a friend or political ally.

Those of the Clergy really have very little to do with the trade and commerce represented by the guilds, except insofar as the lords and princes of the Church also have the capability to provide charters by which they may be formed in towns (boroughs) within their domains or feofdoms. The Church also benefits from the religious fraternities spawned by the guilds which provide a focus for their religious activities. If a character from a clergy background (or Scholar trade) doesn’t take the tonsure and at least follow some sort of Scholarly trade, he is bucking his family’s expectations, but any honest craft or trade might be accepted with equal grace – depending on the original class to which the Clergy parent had been born. If the character comes from gentle or noble blood, more is expected, as spelled out in the previous passage concerning nobles and the trades. Any character coming from a Clergy background is truly be executing a 180° turn in social direction from his family’s traditions if he engages in commerce, the pursuit of “filthy lucre” as a merchant, even moreso if he joins one of the powerful merchant guilds of the great towns or cities. For the purpose of eligibility, those from the Clergy class are just as eligible as any freeman to be trained for and engage in craft or trade.

Freemen are the ones to whom guilds truly belong. Guilds are the quasi-feudal creations of these men, the thoroughly medieval institutions through whose officers they stand up to the power of the great lords and treat with them, or with the king of the realm in person, presenting their petitions for dispensations, protections and humble petitions for redress of grievances, where as individuals they would otherwise get quashed, or be overlooked and ignored – regardless of how wealthy they might be as individuals. Only as a group are they to be accounted for. the great towns have no monopoly on the access to charters, however. In regions where there are no great towns, or sometimes a group of smaller towns band together, or a group of larger hamlets or villages, and present a petition to their lord for a regional charter to protect their commercial interests.

Those of the landbound class are generally forbidden membership in the guilds. Guilds are for the free classes alone, but this does not mean that a freed person who was originally born to the landbound class can never join. His previously bonded blood can not be raised as an objection if the character travels out of his district after obtaining freedom in one town and joining a guild in another town, where his past is not known. Nor does the ban against landbound characters mean that they cannot learn crafts or trades. As long as they can get up the master’s fee, they can buy apprenticeships for any of their children, it merely requires a license from their lord, for which they must also pay, to compensate him for the loss in labor. They must also find a willing master outside of one of the guilds (more numerous, especially in the rural districts, than one might at first think).


Whether the character joins a guild or journeyman’s association or not, players of freeman or freed landbound characters must choose a single trade for which they are known in society, as their public identity, which dictates how NPC’s in the game world address them, approach them, and deal with them in general. The player should think the whole guild situation over carefully, and the GM should expect to be addressed on the matter. Once the choice is made, and a character joins a journeyman’s association or guild, he is not able to change his mind. That is the one trade for which he is identified and best known, with which he is associated, and what is more, it is the political party to which he is tied.

This decision does NOT need to be made during the character generation process, indeed, it probably should not be made at that time (except perhaps by seasoned players who know what the consequences are and are prepared for them). Membership in a journeyman’s association is the first step in the character’s public life, where he begins to work on his Reputation, but it doesn’t start in earnest until he actually joins the guild.

If he waits until that time to start forging contacts and associates with his colleagues, the character has an uphill battle for Reputation before him. While the decision can be put off allowing time for careful consideration, it should be decided while the character is still in the Journeyman phase, whether Improver or Proper.

It is the associations formed earliest, especially back during apprentice-ship, which serve the character best in regards to building and maintaining Reputation and even achieving Fame, however. In the period of the game, the longest enduring associations are always the best trusted, especially among the wealthy and noble.

These are discussed at length in the text concerning the guilds in the overview of the Medieval World, where the player of a character trained in a trade that has a guild affiliation (as shown on the Trade Rosters) is required to qualify the type of apprenticeship(s) served and any relationship to a guild he might have.

For a simple registered apprenticeship, another fee is required to present the new apprentice before the Chamber of the town or the lord’s court in whose jurisdiction the master resides for registering the apprenticeship to create a public record of it. Upon completing the apprenticeship, the new Journeyman must be presented again in court to lord or town to declare the terms of the apprenticeship met, the skills of the pupil confirmed, and documents to that effect enrolled and issued for the Journeyman to carry, requiring again the payment of the appropriate fees to the clerks.

Common apprenticeships can be converted to “registered” status as long as the master lives or his spouse (if married) if she be widowed of the master and continue in the craft herself, and one or the other able to appear in the baronial court before the bailiff, steward or other governing official of the lord in whose demesne the apprenticeship was served, or in the Chamber of the town, as applicable. Their testimony is required, the creation of an affidavit and the engrossing of the court rolls, all of  that require fees to be paid.

For a formal guild apprenticeship, presentation and registration in the Chamber of the town as well as in the Chamber of the Guildhall, rather than only the former, both at the commencement and at the conclusion of the apprenticeship, effectively doubles the fees that are associated with the apprenticeship.

When a PC wishes to pursue training or instruction in a number of skills or trades simultaneously, you should use the rules for dividing the day into activity slots, allowing him to pursue as many learning opportunities at a time that he has such activity slots. Of course, the time required to complete the learning of any of them should be multiplied by the number of ways he is splitting his attention.

IF for any reason a character should cease to pursue the desired Trade/skill, for every (AWA) days he remains away from it, he loses the benefit of one (1) of the days of the time requirement he has already completed. In this way, he may end up putting himself in a position where he must start all over again, from the beginning. When that character does return to instruction, you should make sure to let the player know that the character is having a VERY rough time of it, as if he were starting all over again from scratch. as usual, the player must never

In the same manner discussed in the passage on Time Requirements previously, you should never reveal the amount of time learning any skill or trade takes beforehand, only grant the PC knowledge of the approximate (worse case) period of time it could take, and then inform the player when the character has completed training and successfully absorbed the knowledge in his master’s good opinion, achieving SL1 or TR1, as applicable.