Most Novans produce at least some household goods, but a few – about ten percent of the population – make their living solely by producing goods.
Most Novan households produce some simple household goods for their own use, such as clothing or wooden farm implements. However, the majority of goods are produced by professional craftsmen. These craftsmen are typically based in a town, though a few make their living in a dwelling such as a farm or castle, and even fewer live as itinerant tinkerers traveling the countryside.
Boys are apprentice to a craftsman at about the age of ten, and generally train for four to eight years before being judged a “journeyman,” or craftsman competent to work in his own name. If a craftsman is sufficiently skilled, in many more years he may be judged master, competent to take an apprentice of his own. Apprentices pay for the privilege of their training, so this represents an increase in the craftsman’s income, in addition to the higher prices a master may charge for his goods.
Most crafts are associated with a guild. A guild is an association of masters of a given craft who pool their influence in matters relating to their craft rather than their individual practices. Guilds may set price ranges for their goods, negotiate the terms by which they provide services to the local knight, protect secrets of their trade from outsiders, and other such activities. One of the most important functions guilds serve is to judge the work a journeyman presents as proof that he has achieved master-level skill (known as a “masterpiece”), and thus promote journeymen to master status. Guilds are geographically based, but the guild masters of one guild generally recognize mastery conveyed by another.
Craftsmen may have wildly differing social statuses. Some crafts, such as weaponsmithing, have a higher status than others, such as wagon-making. A craftsman’s status is determine by his skill, the importance of his clients, and how important his products are to those clients (the baker to a lord is generally less important than the goldsmith to that same lord, for instance). Most craftsmen barely make an adequate living, though a rarified few are quite wealthy indeed.
Some craftsmen are set apart by the magical nature of their products. The red priests do manufacture some spells directly, and these are highly prized, but most such objects are made by craftsmen who learned the art from a priest (or who learned it from a master who learned it from a priest, and so on). Craftsmen who work in magic generally have a status boost compared to those who do not, and are also seen as slightly mystic figures.
Return to the main page