Profession : Autocrat

Hi there,

Serena the autocrat "Through the Aegis" p51 has the ability "profession : autocrat". In the same book, on p69 the Loyalty bonus is only listed once, as given by "profession : autocrat". There is a "Profession : autocrat" summa in "Through the Aegis" p153 in a different covenant as well.

Covenant p38 has two sperate profession abilities for administering the covenant : Steward and Chamberlain. It mentions autocrat as someone doing both jobs. From the example given on p38, it seems it can combine both ability for calculating the loyalty bonus (of 12), but does not mention an ability "profession : autocrat" anywhere.

This is confusing : is "profession : autocrat" a leftover from past editions ?

Profession Abilities (ArM5 p.67) are not cut in stone, or "nailed down chamberpots": they are described by examples. Autocrat may be a Profession as well as Steward and Chamberlain.

If a character has a single Ability Profession: Autocrat instead of Profession: Steward plus Profession: Chamberlain and paid only the XP for a single Ability, it makes sense to also allow only a single bonus for a covenant's Prevailing Loyalty. After all, she is only a single person in charge of running the covenant and boosting morale and cohesion.

You might consult your troupe, if a single character wishes to take two Abilities with the purpose of boosting Prevailing Loyalty twice. To me it smells a little bit fishy.

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In before someone blows up on how "ToA" sucks. Now on to an answer.

There are several ways you could handle this in the game. The breakdown of the three leadership roles are being in charge of the Servants, Specialist, and Troops. The listed Professions in Covenants are not the only Professions that can fill the leadership position of those categories, which should be able to be replaced by any Profession which can provide leadership to one of those categories without penalty.

The two most common ways I have seen are to handle an Autocrat are

  • Allow an Autocrat to take both Profession Steward and Chamberlain, then calculate the bonus from each (feels slightly overpowered)
  • Allow the Autocrat to take Profession Autocrat, then calculate the bonus only once from that ability (and the bonus would actually be half of the total applied to two catagories)

It comes down to if you wish to allow the bonus per leader or the bonus per category. An Autocrat is only one of the possible hybrid positions possible. You could also have someone for example who performs the duties of the Steward and Captain. Personally I am in favor of only allowing the bonus once per leader position, no matter how many of the categories the leader fulfills.

My current game actually has an Autocrat, Steward, Chamberlain, and Captain. The Autocrat provides no bonus to Loyalty (he is not directly leading), but if something happened to the Steward or Chamberlain the Autocrat could fill in for them (at half his Pre + P: Autocrat for each category).

EDIT: For anyone wondering, the Autocrat is the only position in our Covenant who sits on both the High Council (with the Magi) and the Low Council (with Steward, Chamberlain, Captain, and elected representatives of important crafts/professions)


This is not intended as a criticism of the book, I like Through the Aegis very much.I'm just trying to make sense of something confusing :grinning:

The following does not make much sense to me in the example given in covenant p38
"They have a turb captain (6 loyalty points) and an autocrat (12 loyalty points),"

Either the autocrat has Profession : autocrat 12 (or any combination of presence/profession : autocrat giving a total of 12) which seems extreme and a bad example. Or he can combine both profession steward and chamberlain scores of 6 which would makes much more sense as an example, but may be "overpowered" as pointed out.

If professions are not cut in stone, how are books, teaching and such working for them ? If my autocrat reads a summa of "profession : steward", can he gain xp for "profession : autocrat" from it ? Can he teach someone with "profession : steward" using his score in "profession : autocrat" as his maximum score ? It seems it creates more problems : does it requires a troupe decision each time ? It becomes burdensome...

Also I would think the size of the covenant should be taken into consideration : I could imagine an autocrat serving both roles in a small covenant, but needing two separate specialists for a larger one. But for simplicity's sake, I would prefer to just have the rules from covenants as such.

I like Through the Aegis as well. It just has a few conflicts in it which some members of the forums dislike and point out their dislike of often.

I think you are misunderstanding the point Oneshot and myself are making here. The number/type of Professions are not nailed down in stone, the same as the number/type of Craft skills is not nailed down in stone. There are some activities that can be performed by more than one Profession, the same as there are some items that can be created by more than one Craft.

However just because there is some overlap in activities/items, that does not mean that the individual Professions/Crafts can be blended for learning. A book on Profession: Steward only provides XP to that profession. A book on Craft: Blacksmith only provides XP to that craft.

As for which of the available options you use within your game, that is of course completely up to your group. If you would prefer to just use the rules in Covenants, then just use those rules and ignore any inconsistencies brought about by other books. All books outside of the core book are in effect "optional rules" and can be used or ignored as a group desires.

I think I get the point now. Thank you !

But I think it is somewhat curious a steward couldn't learn anything at all for his specific profession in a summa intended for autocrats (or the other way around) if indeed the abilities overlap in their activities... but well for simplicity's sake, I can live with it !

It is important for simplicity sake in a game rules system. Otherwise you would have to go with what you find in systems like GURPS in which similar skills can be used to default from each other and you can use those defaults as the base level for learning a skill.

GURPS style example breakdown: If Skill A defaults to Skill B at -3 (and vis versa) and you learn Skill A to +2, you can use Skill B at default -1 and increase Skill B with experience from that default. But what happens if you stop learning Skill A and spend XP until you learn Skill B to +6? The default for Skill A is now +3. Now you have to design some system for the change over of XP (which GURPS does have).

It rapidly gets very complicated, to an extent that can make much of the current AM system look simple. If you want to include a House Rule in your game that some portion of similar Professions/Crafts can be carried over by books/teaching that is fine. It will just something far beyond the default AM rules.

(If you are wondering, GURPS totals up the XP spent on the two and figures out how much of it would have to be spent on the higher skill. Then the default for the lower one is calculated and any remaining XP from the total is applied to it. The lower can match but not exceed the higher during recalculation.)

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I love Through the Aegis! I use the hell out of that book. I’ve raided its libraries for texts, its NPCs are the parens of PCs in my games, and I even got to play a Northern Seas campaign for a while. Incredibly useful, page for page!


Reaching 12 is extreme for a grog, because they tend to be unremarkable background characters who die early. Reaching 12 isn't so extreme as it seems for a companion. A score in profession of 12 requires 390 experience points. Practice experience for something like that is probably 5 experience per season. With Affinity, that would be 7.5 xp per season. With Independent Study instead, that would be 7 xp per season. At 7 experience per season, assuming only 2 seasons per year are dedicated to the skill, that checks out to 28 years of experience. Now let's assume you can get to a skill of 4 in two years through books and/or training before you start on the job. You're now assuming 25 years of experience doing your job (e.g. neither Wealthy nor Poor virtue). Puissant Autocrat would actually be faster than Independent Study or Affinity, and would mean 22.5 years on the job. Also bear in mind that the bonus to loyalty found in page 38 on covenant includes the Presence attribute. I think it's likely an Autocrat would have a Presence score of +2 or higher. Otherwise - why is he being picked for such a crucial job if he's not skilled with people? With Presence +2, he doesn't need any virtue, just 22.5 years on the job is enough. With a virtue... it gets even quicker. I don't think a +12 to loyalty bonus from one autocrat is that extreme, assuming the covenant picked someone who is skilled for the job and kept him at it for a long time. Would a wealthy covenant invest in a longevity ritual for a skilled autocrat? Possibly. Is it plausible he lives in a palatial environment giving him a bonus to aging condition, unlike the rest of the grogs? Possibly, if the covenant has abundant mundane wealth. +12 to loyalty from the autocrat in a spring covenant? Nope. In a Summer or Autumn covenant? Sure. The reason the majority of mundanes don't reach a given skill level is that they tend to die early from disease and such. There's no reason a trained autocrat should die early unless the covenant is extremely poor and the magi don't care about their companions.

While your troupe is certainly free to adopt whatever house rules you like, the Convenant rules are very clear on the loyalty bonus from the turb captain, steward, and chamberlain:

To me, allowing a single individual to claim for the covenant both bonuses does not smell fishy at all.

Mechanically, it's a simple design choice. A covenant can either save and have a single specialist covering two roles; or spend more and have two people with a somewhat higher total bonus, not nearly twice as much. The total bonus with two people can be higher because each person can be more focused, in terms of xp and Virtues (Puissant , Affinity etc.)*. In my experience, most covenants except those that already have all the specialists they want will go for the single role, hence the popularity of the autocrat figure.

From a verisimilitude point of view, while every simplified model has its weaknesess, it makes sense that a single person who's skilled at two "sides" of a job can do better than one who is skilled at only one, while at the same time doing worse than two people each specializing in either side and working together.

*EDIT: There's one exception: a single Companion completely focused on being an exceptional autocrat can sometimes be more effective that a Companion + grog pair of specialists, each with a single role. But I think that in that case it's very fair to "reward" the player of the autocrat - who probably cannot have as many opportunities for adventure as other figures - with a large impact on what is ultimately a rather specific aspect of the Covenant.

It's the second. The autocrat generates 6 points on average for each (characteristic+ability) pair, and adds the two bonuses together. This is explicit as per Covenant rules p.37 . Remember that 6 in a (characteristic+ability) pair is considered about "average" for a professional, in that it allows one to generate as per the rules in C&G exactly the labor points needed to support oneself with 1,2,or 3 seasons of work per year if one is, respectively, Wealthy, "average", or Poor. Highly optimized characters can do much better, of course.

The issue is the Autocrat the OP asked about, who has the skill Profession: Autocrat and not Profession: Steward or Profession: Chamberlain.

While a single character claiming the bonus from two categories with two skills is valid by Covenants, allowing a single character to claim the bonus in two categories with a single skill is something that feels... off. So is there some different way you would suggest dealing with an Autocrat who's only profession skill was Profession: Autocrat?

Issues like this are common from two books, TtA and MoH. I like both of those books but they both have parts which feel like the individual author of a section inserted their own personal interpretation which does not fully jive with RAW or previous books.

As an aside, an Autocrat using two different Profession skills would need to be maintained at a "Average" level if using the rules from C&G. And at "Average" level they would have no free time, since they are required to work 4 seasons a year.

By the RAW, such a character would gain the Covenant no bonus at all to Loyalty. Of course, there are still a number of situations where he might apply the Profession:Autocrat skill for the benefit of the Covenant.

Is that satisfying? Not quite, to me.

In my view, the best solution would just be to "fix" the character, remove the Profession: Autocrat, possibly snip off a few xp from another skill or two, and give the character two skills -- a Profession: Stewart and a Profession: Chamberlain, possibly at a slightly lower score.

In my view, the second best solution, if one wants to keep a Profession: Autocrat skill, would be to have it work as both Profession: Chamberlain AND Profession: Stewart at 2/3 the score (round up) for the purposes of Loyalty. So, Autocrat 7 would be usable as BOTH Chamberlain 5 and Stewart 5, and an Autocrat with Profession:Autocrat 7 and Presence +1 would yield a total Loyalty bonus of 12. Having a multiplier at 2/3 rounded up means that at the lowest levels it's slightly more xp-efficient than having the two skills; at the higher levels, slightly less. Of course, a single skill means you get more out of Virtues such as Puissant , so ... I guess more or less it balances, though it's never going to be perfect under all angles.

I wholeheartedly agree. That's why I never consider what's in those two books as "evidence" that a rule works in this or that way.

Not really. Covenants explicity states that a single person can take up (any!) two of the three roles of Turb captain, Stewart, and Chamberlain. I assume that means without being overworked, so having two "free" seasons per year.

What about someone who takes a single role? I think there are two options here. The first is to say that hey, that specific role only takes "half" the job-time of that person, and the other half is ... well, still spent for the covenant in some other role, e.g. contributing to savings as a craftsman (assuming he has the skill) or counting as "half a servant". Alternatively, you can just say that well, too bad, there's a synergy in having a single person filling in two roles, and if you employ two people that need to coordinate, that's lost. I do not think it makes much difference in either case.

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How about this?

An autocrat can be a necessity for a small covenant, a luxury for a middling one and becomes a necessity again to a large covenant with a lot riding on its prosperity.

The autocrat is not a Steward or a Chamberlain and certainly not a Captain but can substitute for two of them (though not both at once) and aid all three.

An autocrat's skill is in management of those underneath them and co-ordinating them. They smooth communications and ensure compliance.

An autocrat who is not called upon to act as substitute for the Steward or the Chamberlain distributes their skill level as bonuses to the effect of the three people they directly supervise as they see fit. They can only do so for the Turb Captain when the Turb is at home and not involved in missions outside the covenant (so normally during winter and any other peaceful seasons given over to training and guarding).

Perhaps some points of the Autocrat's bonuses could be distributed elsewhere but the rule should be they help others when they are not substituting for others. "No, no. I'm afraid you'll have to sort it out for yourselves. I'm far too busy getting the kitchen staff calmed down. Does anyone know how Hulfrida's doing? I can't wait for her to get back on duty..."