Specialists and advancement

One of the resources that a covenant should have is specialists. In addition to being valuable for the services they provide they also allow to reduce the expenses in the yearly maintenance of the covenant. During covenant design you buy the ability level with building points but they should also evolve as the years pass, gaining experience in their key abilities and increasing its level.

My troupe is now discussing how that type of characters should be maintained. We do not want to lose the benefit of the level increase but we do not want to keep a detailed character sheet for them either.

So, how do you handle this in your sagas?

We assume that they dedicate between 2/3 and 3/4 of their yearly XP to their main skill. The rest is spread out among the other abilities. So, if you are only keeping track of their primary skill they will get 2/3 or 3/4 of the yearly XP than a normal detailed character. Easy enough. Age is determined when covenant is built. We also put specialists at around skill 5 and have them between 21 and 31 years (20+1D10). Older if they have several useful skills.


We have actually made sheets for many of these companions and advance them. Everyone advances a couple of grogs and specialists.

Totally academic question. Out of curiosity, how much free time do specialist shave to study/practice advance?

I'd imagine scribes, bookbinders and illuminators could be kept busy all the time and would only get exposure XP.
Similar arguments could be said of glassblowers and toolmakers in a covenant where a lot of lab work (not book study) is happening.

In these cases, I think the exposure XP system breaks down a bit. For a Magus, exposure XP is the cherry on the sundae. They already got something else out of the season, making something, refining the lab, attuning talisman, whatever. For everone else doing their J. O. B. they get the shaft. It's something I've been giving serious thought to for a while. I haven't come up with anything.

Logically, unless they are Poor, they get two free seasons just like everyone else. After all, those two free seasons represent holy days, feasts and assorted other free time that is worked into the everyday life of everyone in Mythic Europe. If you're forcing your scribes to work on Christmas and Easter, you can pretty much be sure that it will cause trouble for you in the long run.

It seems a good approach. How would you calculate the total xp the specialist will gain during the year? I'm thinking that, for example, a carpenter could dedicate the four seasons to maintain the covenant buildings and earn 5 px per season (practice with immediate feedback) so the total xp per year will be 20, all spent in the key skill craft: Carpenter. In this case, they will not need to divide the xp

That was another doubt I had. What happens when the specialist gest older. Do you require the magi to go through the process of finding another specialist or just consider that the Build points spent gives them a permanent "skill level" (E.g. assuming the old carpenter trained an apprentice that, at the moment of his death, will take its place with exactly the same skill level)

We tried to do so but the bookkeeping grew so much and some of the players complained :frowning:

My understanding is that they advance by practicing the craft itself. In our covenant we try to maintain them occupied as much as possible. You know, they tend to run into problems if they are allowed free time :wink:

Ostensibly, holy days would be days of rest. It is expected that a magus gets 13 days off per season (standard lab duty assumes 1 day off per week, and 6 days of work). I'd say that's reasonable for every nonmagus, but it may or may not fit into the medieval paradigm. I'll skip that point for now.
So you honestly expect a group of Magi to hire scribal staff who loaf around for the equivalent of 6 months per year? Meaning that they can only copy 2 tractatus a year? Or 2* (6+Prof Scribe) in summa a year? When a magus knows he can do something similar. Can they be paid more (double) to get full efficiency out of them? This is a very interesting question to me, for both a saga I'm playing in and one I'm running.

Our people get 10XP if the covenant is poor (spring, winter), 20XP if the covenant is OK (summer) and 30 XP if the covenant is overflowing with aides and training is a covenant priority (autumn, powerful). All the grogs earn that ammount of XP, be it cooks, scribes, shield grogs or washerwomen. Not perfectly realistic, but it works for us and makes an improved covenant a place you want to be in for mundanes. We give the whole lot of XP on the winter solstice, when we cast the aegis.

When the old guy dies, we assume that there is a replacement with a skill of 5 or 6. That is generally lower than the previous one, but not by a massive ammount (a pair of points). We do not use the detailed covenant rules in Covenants, so that is not a big problem for us. Sometimes we get no replacement for important figures (librarian) and there we go with a story :slight_smile: Everybody can be a carpenter, but not everybody has the skjill set to run a 300 people covenant or a thousand volume library.


By practicing the craft, I understand you to mean making copies of books, etc (correct me if I'm wrong). Actual work of the profession. That would be exposure XP, not practice, IMO.
Note, in this case, unlike a Magus who derives benefit makes a copy of a book, which he can then trade, and gets exposure XP, the professional staff only get paid in silver, and XP.
Let me see if I can make my case plainer. A scribe or a magus with scribe can copy 1 tractatus or 6 +Profession:Scribe per season. Period. It presumes little free time (this is the magus paradigm at work). So, pretend I'm a magus, and we hire scribal staff. RP aside, you tell me your skill, so I expect you to provide 4 Tractatus a year or 4 * (6 + Profession:Scribe) in summae a year, but I only get half of that, because he has to have free time? I as a magus know I could produce double the amount of work in the same time (Scribe scores being equal). I get half the value I perceive...

With other professions, I can see free time, but the rules for scribing are pretty clear. And they're meant to not overpower a game which derives most of the experience from books. I'm not advocating a point of view, I'm just trying to understand the process. PC's should expect half production from scribes, because they get free time? How many people actually play like that?

Hardly. You really wouldnt like me doing carpentry for you, for example. :mrgreen:

I really like this approach. We are using the detailed covenant rules so maybe we were a little bit lost but I think your "abstract" approach is better in terms of bookkeeping. With your permission I think I will use it :slight_smile:

I think that this could be considered as Practice. The core rulebook indicates that practice is like exposure but it requires a full-time activity. In this case, as the specialist is not performing any other thing, our troupe consider that it qualifies as practice of a trade or craft in an environment with immediate feedback and, thus grants 5 xp per season.

Regarding the other question I think that this would depend on what you have in the market. Maybe is true that, by hiring an scribe you are getting half the value but then, how many scribes are there that will be willing to work for a full year without rest? Specially if this is not the standard way for their profession. This may be source of an interesting story, though...

So essentially, you keep the character advancement rules, applying the poor flaw and wealthy virtue based on the covenant's wealth to all characters (except magi, and companions?).
I think this is probably a good thing, although, I'd modify it to be 16 XP, 24 XP or 32XP (depending on the wealth level), where the the 6, 4 and 2 XP come from is exposure for the season where the character is "working," which would go into their professional score, no choice. The 10, 20 or 30 XP can be spent as they wish.

Consider you work for a rich covenant, and you've moved up the ranks, and your role is more supervisory, and less hands on. You have more time to pay attention to other things, and can do a lot just on autopilot, or make comments to your staff of journeymen or apprentices and they fix it and this would represent the exposure XP (1/4 of your work activity for the year). If you're a dedicated worker, you take time to "experiment" in your field or some other field and spend the 30 xp as you wish, in your profession or wherever. If you're in a poor covenant, you're constanty doing stuff, there's no one else to do the work, and so less free time to grow your skills, and learn new things. I think I might adopt this model, tweaked as indicated, for characters we don't want to advance in other ways (story or study) in Bibracte. I also wouldn't object this being applied to scribes, as they could be seen as overseeing scribal staff under them. And your model of having a journeyman available when the master passes away is good, too.

I expect them to have no choice. By custom and societial expectation, their scribal staff is entiled to "loaf around" for six months. Do you expect the scribal staff to tolerate working conditions worse then those of the serfs in the fields? Also, they're not "loafing around" the whole time. They are also practicing, being trained or taught or reading.

Remember that for non-magi the whole business of seasons is abstracted. The scribes don't actually have 6 months of free time. Rather, that also represents the time they have to devote to study and self-improvement as part of regular tasks. In other words, we might consider that while Arnuld the Scribe is copying those 2 tractati per year, he is also being trained in Profession: Scribe (by the chief scribe who oversees his work) and practicing Charm (by courting the chambermaid). He isn't spending the entire time from June 21 to Sept 21 just being Trained any more then he is spending the whole time from Dec 21 to Mar 21 chatting up the chambermaid. He's copying, being trained and practicing at once throughout the year, in addition to spending time off "loafing around" on holy days.

As per City and Guild, working more hours and skipping holy days is actually socially unacceptable and, at the extreme, sinful. The thought of being "paid overtime" to copy more texts would not be attractive to an average 13th century scribe. Instead, it would "slave driving" on the part of his greedy and sinful masters... something sure to lower the scribes Loyality and give the covenant a bad reputation, making it harder to get new scribes after the overworked ones have run off with the chambermaids.

Do you play scribe specialists this way? Or are they always churning out books 4 seasons a year, or at least more than 2 seasons a year? I would imagine that most PC covenants, and even NPC covenants aren't thinking they can only get 2 books per year from their scribe(s). If they are, I'm a bit suprised.
Note, nothing in what I said is about working more days or extra hours. The amount of production is based on a Magus working a standard day, 10 hours, and has the sabbath off (or a rest day, if you prefer). The 10 hours, in the medieval paradigm is probably not all that long a work day. The serf in the field or pasture is probably going 12 hours or more a day. And knowing how farmers are, they are working all day, every day, despite holidays, so the scribe DOES have it easy.

Yes, we do.

Our NPCs actually have names, personalities, relationships, even goals and desires. It's called a roleplaying game. That's the point.

Umm, wow. Condescend much? You come from the Berkeley list? :smiley: When you say something like that there's a huge latent assumption that you presume I don't do the same.

Note, I said I'd be suprised, I never said I don't name NPCs or think about how the world might work. Some people might not even think about it, some people might handwave it and say it's a different kind of thing than what a magi does. And I'll say that the serf in the field is working 365 days a year, to heck with holidays, because that's what a farmer does (and continues to do in the modern day), while that scribe is kicking back working 5 hours days while developing his professional skills the other 5 hours of the day.

Note, you've completely ignored my contention that the scribal rules are written for magi, not a scribe. I find it hard to believe that the medieval paradigm supports professionals working 5 hours a day on producing stuff, and then lets them have 5 hours to develop skills for their own personal and professional development. But hey, it's a big world, I'm willing to listen to carefully developed and supported points.

Hi there!

Your more precise rules might fit better in your saga. We do not use fractions for non-central characters, though (we still use the 3rd edition XP system for them) but it works OK enough for us.

For names and personalities of the grogs, we look at our workmates, friend groups and families. We have quite a rich personality and name collection :slight_smile: We simply abstract 90% of the stats. As said, it is a RPG game, and we despise it being a bookkeeping game. Each group has different preferences on that one.


The reason that mages get 4 seasons each year is that it is assumed that other than days of rest 1/week, they are working on whatever project they want to work on and they do it all day with exclusion of meals and rest. If your mage's quill runs dry, the scribe makes them the ink. If you need a new quill, the scribe goes to get if for you. If you need parchment, again the servants run for it. You can work steadily. You get exposure for it since you are writing but your 'G' is not getting better because you wrote a whole line of them to perfect it like proper practice. You have no hobbies, no family, little outside activity.

Your scribes generally have the day of rest, feast days and special saint holidays, days of community activities, evenings after day's work and so on. THe scribes have to make their ink, trim the quills and so on as well. Lots of little things that they can develop skills.

In other words, magi are nerds. :smiley:

Except, of course, most of my magi have hobbies, families and lives. My "namesake" Lucius was an avid gardener, had two children and regularly attended mass at the parish church. One wonders whether that ought to have effected his advancement...

Well if you go by Covenants then lab work is 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, with no vacation that doesn't get made up from your Sundays off. That's a pretty intense schedule even for a young nerd professional. The rules for learning from books and other sources are a little easier, fortunately.