I’ve tried more than once to adequately explain the differences between the twelve crafts, or “trades,” as I’ve alternately described them, and you can see my previous attempts to do so in the archives of my blog any time you want to click through the category, “Crafts and Professions.” (Which is most probably up for renaming.)
I’m not sure if I shared this before but at some point I found a study of human needs that took the basic “hierarchy” many of us are familiar with and reorganized it into concurrent, overlapping requirements. The results provide a means to better comprehend human needs in a form that transcends both culture and history.
The nine needs outlined by the study are affection, creation, freedom, identity, leisure, participation, protection, subsistence, and understanding.
Without going into detail about how and why these needs work (I’ve been going over them for quite a while now since I stumbled across them while researching Maslow’s Hierarchy), I want to say that I found a use for them in describing the differences between Trades, as I’m now referring to them (for the added alliterative appeal).
The Twelve Trades, for the purpose of discussion, are Academics, Athletics, Creation, Cultures, Deception, Discipline, Initiative, Intuition, Perception, Persuasion, Survival, and Theatrics, and at this point have been in use for far longer than I can recall. (Several years I think, by now.)
I’ve called them Skills, I’ve called them Crafts and Professions, but I think I may stick to Trade, thus defined: “an occupation, especially one requiring skilled labor; craft.” It covers several bases which I’ve tried to address more than once, and there are extra implications that I think are likewise lacking from many roleplaying games.
Therefore, the purpose of the trades is to fulfill basic needs, nominally considered “human” needs, but generally shared by most sentient species that humans may encounter. One can easily argue that dragons, dwarves, or demons share needs however in different form (consuming gold, ale, or souls is all subsistence).
Anyway, I’m working on the chart but this may well be the turning point for defining all the Trades. Some are more useful to the “bottom line” while others are only possible in “more evolved” societies. Once I get a bead on where priorities fall, I should be able to start lining up races with themes and such. Lots to do, lots to do…