Thursday, June 23, 2011

Medieval Professions by Social Class (or, "Get a Job, Hippie")

This is pretty sweet. A list of medieval professions at They're grouped into broad specialties (farmer, artist, etc.) but the actual professions themselves are nicely granular (as the very guild-oriented professional classes tended to be).

This is relevant to my interests, BTW, because I'm attempting to cobble together a rough profession-based "no-system skill system" for D&D (or "insert your pseudo-medieval European fantasy game here"). Basically, just a roll on the social class table from the Unearthed Arcana, and a second roll on a social class sub-table of professions - each one gets a handful of skill names (some of which you might have only a 25% or 50% chance of actually acquiring), and that's it. No numbers, no rules whatsoever, you just have those skills, write'em down. If it comes up in a game, we'll deal with it during the game.

Luckily, I'm the proud owner of Gary Gygax's Living Fantasy, and that book lists an astounding array of medieval professions, and it groups them using the same class hierarchy (lower-lower through upper-upper) that the UA does. (Shocker, huh? :D) so between that, the above link, and a few other online resources, it shouldn't be a huge chore to at least put together fairly comprehensive profession lists. From that point, I can pretty much just fill in the interesting ones as I go along - if "land court bailiff" or whatever isn't represented on the skill list, I'm sure nobody will kick.

We did a very tentative test of this at the game tonight; we know know that the fighter is from an upper-class military background, the thief is the son of a well-to-do merchant, and the elf's parents were wealthy antiquarians. (Which of course means so far nobody knows how a shovel or a mop works, or how to navigate by the sun or the stars, for example.) (Should I run a polo-themed adventure, they're all set, though!)