I have a question on the "Wealth and Poverty" chapter of Covenants.
Typically, the largest category of expenditures for a covenant is Provisions - basically foodstuff. A covenant can save up to 50% of this cost by employing a sufficient number of Laborers: people who grow, raise, hunt or gather food. On the other hand, there's no limit to how much a Covenant can save on Provisions by having a sufficient number of diverse (Provisions) Craftsmen, like brewers or dairymaids.
To me, this seems counterintuitive. With a sufficient amount of vegetables, poultry, milk etc. a covenant should be able to survive without importing food from the outside world, even in the absence of Craftsmen who can brew ale or make cheese. Conversely, a covenant may have all sorts of Craftsmen, but if it lacks someone bringing in the basic foodstuff, it should not be able to feed its folk. In other words it would make more sense if the Provision cost savings limits were reversed: no limits on savings from Laborers, and at most a 50% cost reduction from Craftsmen.
Is the current version a typo/poor phrasing to be erratad? Or am I missing something? In the latter case I would be really curious about the rationale behind such a design decision.
Serf's Parma, but the list of provision-craftsmen is a fairly short list - and if you exhaust the list-as-written then you still have a big percentage to make up with either labourers or imports.
Where I'd point out a small issue is identifying what counts as a provisions craftsman. A cheesemaker or vinter or brewer take a product, perform a complex process on it and produce something out the other side that is able to be stored for much longer periods of time. A dairymaid or butcher, on the other hand, simply process the raw materials into human-consumables.
As such, I'd put dairymaids and butchers into the labourer pool - even if the job itself requires some skill - because they are primary producers rather than craftsmen. Same with lumberjacks, shearers, gardeners, quarry-workers, fishermen, etc.
So I guess you could draw up a list of very exotic provision-based craftsmen then try and hit the cap by having lots of awesome across the board, but that's extending upon the RAW by adding your own categories to the table. If you do that, it'd probably be a good idea to add a limit on production-based craftsmen contributions.
Actually the book says that the lists of craftsmen are just examples, and specifically states that with sufficiently many different craftsmen you could reduce the provision cost to zero. So the problem's there.
Incidentally, I agree with all your "assignments" to laborers vs. craftsmen, except for dairymaids - which, as far as I could tell, don't just milk cows but also deal with making cheese and butter... or am I mistaken? I must admit that the dairymaid for me is some sort of near-mythical creature, like the knight or the goatherd...
Well, if we use the dairy-maid as an example of a craftsperson (dangerous, I know) then you could argue that some or all of your craftsmen include the acquisition of raw materials as part of their craft.
It lets the rule make some sense; having a small commune of highly skilled people looking to their own needs is technically viable if you assume that each craftsman's duties and expense includes the acquisition of its own raw materials.
I admit, there's straw clutching happening here, and my serf's parma is still up.
On the topic of self-sufficient covenants via craftsmen: Meh, you could, but you still need the full set of teamsters. I.E. people to go to and come back from market. Your baker is probably taking his pay in wheat at least partially (for example). So you still are engaging in trade, its just that you are engaging in more barter or otherwise selling.
Side note: I actually calculated what you need for a fully "self-sufficient" covenant. For every 52 inhabitant points (of people that actually do stuff) you want 20 servants, 5 teamsters, 35 laborers, and 24 craftsmen of various sorts. Eliminates all costs except for labs, inflation, equipment prep, books and wages. If you skip wages you should be able to have no costs. (Replace pay with good equipment and high living conditions.)