rating: 0+x

Basic Information

A craftsman is a person who makes their living by the means of a craft or skilled trade, typically either in manufacturing (such as a potter or blacksmith), construction (such as a house carpenter or mason) or a combination of making and fitting such as a farrier creating and installing horse shoes. Historically these trades have been considered at the higher end of "working class" employment - still working with hands and tools, but more skilled and better paid than labouring and, in medieval Europe at least, formed the majority of the guilds. Informally at least, there would be some hierarchy in trades as well - a tanner, typically covered in filth on a daily basis, is not going to be as highly regarded as a, for example jeweler, although are both are still "commoners" by the grand reckoning. Besides "cleanliness" of the trade, the value of the product (although not normally its necessity) and the status of the customer will also figure (a craftsman who produces luxury goods for nobles with, perforce, be considered socially above those who sell daily necessities to the poor). For most purposes, craftsmen should probably be considered solidly (perhaps definitively) middle class, with franchised masters at the upper and their journeymen and apprentices strung out below them (and as above, the goldsmiths looking down on the tanners).

In later eras, social discord tends to arise as craftsman led manufacture is forced to compete with growing industrialisation powered by less skilled labour serving machines, although into the modern era skilled trades continue to defend their space within industry and thrive in the service sector.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • If these people aren't appearing in your campaign world you're either doing it wrong or your world is pre or post civilised (a hunter-gatherer society cannot support skilled trades and a low scarcity eudaimonia serviced by AIs and replicators doesn't need them).
  • Unless you are playing "that RPG" (or ones of its clones), there is absolutely no reason for a PC not to be a craftsman … although either the scope of the campaign or that of his business will likely need to be restricted (no matter how good a swordsmith you are, you're going to struggle to make a living if you spend most of your life away from the forge solving mysteries).
  • Finding and hiring craftsmen can be a job in itself - again, in the pre-modern period, there is unlikely to be much slack capacity sitting around waiting for orders and the guild may want a say in the allocation of any large orders anyway. Even fairly routine jobs may need to wait on the craftsman's work queue.
    • For characters into the "base building" end of an RPG, bringing useful trades into a stronghold or settlement could prove a useful quest: in need of an armourer for your new castle, you may be content to sponsor a franchise with the Worshipful Company of Armourers and see who they send, or you may have a candidate in mind that you need to entice into your employment. And then keep.
  • In the modern era "craftsman made" will imply high end, luxury goods due to the necessary input of skilled labour - in the pre-industrial era it goes without saying.
    • Also, a craftsman made piece is - or at least will tend to be - functionally unique. When it comes to anything for which you need interchangeable, replaceable parts this is not a good thing. - when, for example, you need a replacement bolt for your rifle, you want to draw it, swap it out for the old bolt and go back into action. You do not want to sit around whilst the armourer meddles with it to fit it to the action of your particular weapon - indeed, in combat, you may want to hot swap the bolt from a rifle that has been broken in some other way. Arguably this only became mature technology around WW2, although it was demanded (and the tests frequently "fudged") from around the beginning of the century.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License