Sunday, 21 August 2011

Some Sidebars from RCFG Skills Section

Working for a Living

Skills like Craft, Perform, and Profession make it possible for characters to earn a living without adventuring. 

While there are no extended rules for this within RCFG, the Game Master is encouraged to look at the rules for what NPCs in various professions make as wages, and reward the PCs accordingly.  Certainly, having a profession (or similar skill) can be used to allay the costs of “down time” between adventures!

That said, the Game Master should also remember that NPCs have an initial advantage over PCs in almost every profession.  This advantage is based on several factors:

· Existing workspace/shop/supplies.
· Existing customer base – a startup business usually makes less than an established one.
· Existing social network – known professionals are usually supported by their community, using a network of friends, family, and business contacts.

In some cases, marketing oneself as a professional requires admission into a guild or other professional association, which may or may not be easily attained.

For this reason, most PCs who both work and adventure will either have to hire an overseer and labourers to build their business while they are away, or will have to hire themselves out as intermittent journeymen.

Busking and begging (usually using the Perform skill) may also be regulated, or subject to guilds, gangs, and assigned spots.  A percentage of the gross take might be payable on a daily basis to a local boss who “owns the corner” where begging takes place.

Overall, these considerations are not to discourage players from considering business ventures for their characters.  Rather, they are offered as a means both to prevent players from assuming that working requires little more thought than a skill roll to generate lucre (in which case, why adventure at all?) and to ground the PCs in the campaign world’s various guilds, criminal gangs, and professional associations (as appropriate).  In addition, it makes it possible for the Game Master to make such contacts available as a form of “treasure” for adventuring!

How long does it take to make a belt buckle?

Craft skills allow characters to make items, generally at half the cost the item is typically sold for.  Usually, the DC for making these items runs between 5 and 20, depending upon the complexity of the item.  Assume a crafting time of 1 day to three months or more, depending (again) upon the complexity of the item.

Some rulesets attempt to give you a formula that you can use to determine exactly how long it takes to craft any given item.  RCFG doesn’t do this; crafting proceeds at the rate that the Game Master says it does.  The Game Master is encouraged to listen to the players, and to attempt to make a reasonable ruling. 

In the long run, though, the Game Master cannot be expected to know how long it takes to make a bow, or a suit of armour, or a belt buckle, and his ruling is final.  If it seems like the crafting process is taking longer than it should, or that it is going incredibly swiftly, then there is some other factor influencing it, like a run of good or bad luck.

Generally speaking, trying to meticulously determine how long it takes to craft anything is more time consuming and difficult than any benefits gained by so doing.

The Importance of Crafts

Craft skills are more important in a pre-industrial society than in a modern society.  Even in the early industrial era, it was imagined that given the time and tools, most modern conveniences could be recreated.  Thus, in Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island, or Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, the industry of knowledgeable craftsmen is rewarded in a primitive environment.

Characters traveling to wild and exotic locations may not always be able to buy or scavenge the equipment that they need.  The ability to make weapons, pottery capable of holding water or grain, shelter, and so on, can make the difference between survival in a primitive milieu, and death.

To people living in a post-industrial society, who have never crafted furniture by hand, or shoes, or worked metal...who have never turned wood, made a cart wheel, fixed a wooden axle, or thatched a roof….how to complete these sorts of tasks can seem “obvious” or “easy”.  There is little conception in modern society of the skill, knowledge, or time required.

Players are advised to read Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe for some conception of working crafts under primitive circumstances.  The BBC historical series, Tales from the Green Valley, is also highly recommended, and is available on DVD, as are many episodes of the BBC series, Time Team.

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