Moving forward through the D&D 5e backgrounds, we pick up on this fine Monday with the Guild Artisan.
What is it?
The Guild Artisan is any sort of craftsman or merchant. The guild you are a part of is effectively a trade or labor union of some kind, and they broker some of your work and otherwise wield intermediary influence.
How can my class use it?
Naturally, anyone of any class can be a Guild Artisan, but of course it may benefit some more than others. It doesn't really have any sort of skew to it the way an Acolyte or a Criminal does, so it would probably be about as likely to see them from any class. Still, there is a handy list of 20 potential guilds in the entry, and some of these may be more suited to one class or another. Bards make decent calligraphers and scribes, as many of them already write down their stories, songs, and poems. Barbarians are probably the least suited for the life of a Guild Artisan, as some primitive societies lack metalworking and the like, but a strong character like a Barbarian would likely make a decent stonecutter or mason. Clerics could chose nearly anything, and their crafting might largely be devotional works to their god. Paintings and sculpture are great sources of religious iconography. Druids will also generally stay away from metalwork, but work in weaving and dying seems right up their alley. Fighters and Paladins might have a desire to maintain and create their own weapons and armor, and so fit naturally into the role of smith. Monks have historically had some ties to brewing, and it might be fun to play this out in game with a brewery based Monk Guild Artisan. Rangers seem like they would make ideal cartographers with all of the traveling they do, and would probably also make decent fletchers and bowyers for the sake of their own equipment. Personally, I love the idea of Rogue Guild Artisans working in the valuable and expensive items such as jewels or painting, and primarily making money by counterfeiting rare and valuable items. Or perhaps being a smith of some kind and minting fake coins by debasing the currency. It just seems like a very Rogue thing to do. Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards fit pretty naturally into the role of alchemist, as that is fairly universally represented as magic-adjacent.
Why should I use it?
Access to Insight and Perception as background skills is really good, since they're arguably two of the most useful ones. Getting a free language is also great, especially for characters like humans who might be lacking in that department. Obviously, getting the ability to use artisans tools of some kind is a major feature that you can also take advantage of, but with the Guild Merchant variant, you could substitute this for another additional language or similar proficiency instead, which may be more useful to you. Also, your Guild Membership feature is possibly one of the better features that exists. The guild offers lodging and networking, giving you a place to stay as well as access to hirelings and employers. There is also the added benefit of the guild supporting you through any legal troubles. This does come at the cost of 5gp per month, but seeing as Guild Artisans start with 15gp, your first 3 months are basically paid. Not to mention that as an adventurer, 5gp a month is practically nothing, even if you struggle to make your membership dues by your artisan's trade alone.
What if I play a system other than D&D?
The key here is to present your character as a craftsman or merchant. You will likely be money-motivated, but no matter what you should have a craft and engage in it, or busy yourself with sales and merchanting. To faithfully hold to the ideas of the Guild Artisan, having some sort of trade association or organization is a good idea. In sci-fi settings, this might be some interstellar corporation, and in modern settings it could easily be an actual trade or labor union. As long as you are an active participant in the economy, this is likely the right path for you.
I hope you enjoyed this and the rest of the content by Digital & Dice. Until next time…Game on Internets!
- Draconick, Digital and Dice Contributor
I, Nick “Draconick” Johnson, am a writer and roleplaying enthusiast with over ten years of experience in various tabletop roleplaying games both as a player and as a GM. I am also somewhat involved in other forms of tabletop gaming such as wargaming, board games, and card games. It is my hope that by creating and maintaining this website that I can share my unique take on all things within our hobby and to foster a community of like-minded individuals.