Somebody’s got to hire the adventurers, or sell them cool stuff, or disdain their very presence in this otherwise very respectable village. They’re the craftmasters, the industrial elite of the Speaking Lands, and they’re our entry this week!
I’ve got a soft spot for social structures in general (no news here) and also for making “town” more interesting than a single inn next to a blacksmith with a curious facility for swords instead of plowshares. Even a lowly village has a pecking order, and at the top of most are the craftspeople (and the landowners, but they’re boring).
So let’s take a look at the clever, the deft-fingered, the knowledgeable, and the rich…
Originally of dwarven culture, the honorific “Craftmaster” denotes a person who has devoted significant time and study into the mastery of a given craft. There are tailor craftmasters, brewing craftmasters, armorer craftmasters, horse breeding craftmasters, and on and on ad infinitum. The ubiquity of dwarven trade routes touting the quality of goods produced by their own craftmasters spread the honorific from the Rushing to the Quiet Sea.
The word itself has been adopted into nearly all the languages of the Speaking Peoples. The locals might call them kraftmeister or crafty-man or kraster, but the meaning is usually intelligible even for outsiders who don’t speak the language. Many of those cultures have also adapted or created a roughly analogous social role of a respected and talented craftsperson. Some places add their own wrinkle, such as on the Norsteppes, where hereditary clan leaders must be recognized craftmasters before they are afforded any political authority.
Who the honorific is applied to can be surprising for travellers new to an area which values their industries in different ways. One community might call its schoolteacher a craftmaster while not extending that title to its carpenters and brewers. Another might apply the honorific to anyone who does not work the land. The traders of Ouradon only recgonize as craftmasters their jewelers who use manual tools; those who employ jewelshaping magic are ineligible for the honor.
While the honorific overlaps the titles of mastery confered by many professional guilds, it is generally understood to be distinct by way of being less defined. Guild titles are conferred by local organizations who have their own byzantine rules for accepting and recognizing each other’s titles. Craftmaster therefore is often used as an inoffensive middle ground when official recognition may be politically complicated. Anybody can be called a craftmaster to convey a sense of respect.
Craftmasters are generally sedentary and the honorific usually refers to their place in a community. In many places, introducing oneself as a craftmaster is poor manners; the recognition of your talents is meaningless unless it comes from someone else. Adventurers are rarely recognized as craftmasters, as they are generally assumed to be rootless troublemakers with occasional utility.
This entry’s wide open: we haven’t touched on any of the referenced articles. So which way shall we jump next week?