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Basic Information

A journeyman is a member of a guild who has passed his apprenticeship and is now free from indenture and entitled to be paid for his work. Under guild rules he is not, however, entitled to work for himself and is obliged to seek employment with licensed masters of his guild until he has accumulated sufficient skill, status and capital to be awarded his own franchise (alternatively he could inherit a franchise from his father, father-in-law or other relative or marry a master's widow with a right to her husband's franchise). Theoretically a journeyman might also practise his trade in areas outside the reach of guild franchises - potentially even getting his chosen location recognised as a new territory of the guild if he is lucky and successful and so becoming a master by default.

The name is actually derived from the French "journee" (meaning a day) and refers to the journeyman being entitled to claim the guild day-rate for his work, but has an interesting double meaning in that a journeyman was often expected to travel from place to place, working for various masters and learning new techniques.

Time spent as a journeyman could vary immensely - a competent man with easy access to a franchise could make master quite rapidly, whilst a less lucky or skilled one could spend the rest of his life in the grade. Thus a given journeyman could be any age from teens to elderly.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • These are the medieval equivalent of the typical working class guy and an expected feature of most medieval towns and cities or travelling from place to place, either in search of work or on their master's business.
  • On many occasions, they may actually be the people who do all the work in a given franchise, with the master having a more "supervisory" role.
  • Actually a very good status for a PC craftsman, given that he is expected to travel and has a reason to be wandering about looking for work (which, in a historical medieval setting is important to avoid being taken up as a vagrant or other potential trouble maker). The character can focus on wandering whilst still having the ability to take casual work from local masters or unreached villagers as he goes.
  • Often a key ingredient of medieval plots - journeymen scheming to get their own franchise and/or frustrated by their inability to get promotion to master, competing with one another to romance their master's daughter(s) (or to kill him off and marry his wife!), or roaming from place to place in a suspiscious manner.
  • The arrival of a foreign journeyman with strange techniques might cause a sensation in a community.
  • Guild politics allowing, it may be entirely possible for an extremely skilled journeyman to be employed by a master of distinctly mediocre talents who gains an unjust advantage thereby. Depending on the men in question, the journeyman may swiftly rise to become a master in his own right, may reverse the intended flow of training, or may end up an unappreciated minion, possibly with his promotion indefinitely delayed by a master with the right connections (which he would have needed to get a licence without the necessary talent, even by inheritance). Preventing such a journeyman moving on may also require some sharp practice.
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