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Alternate Profession Rules

While the basic rules for the Profession skill are perfectly suitable for the needs of most campaigns, there is little opportunity to make them a meaningful part of play. Those rules assume that the character is spending a full week conducting business (when it is often more desirable for a PC to merely do a single day’s work), and they offer few ideas on how to modify the basic check to account for circumstances, roleplaying opportunities, and so forth. For example, there are two primary methods of plying a trade while practicing various professions. One is by setting up a place of business in a static location, and the other is by traveling from point to point, offering services. Both of these approaches are possible within a single area of expertise in almost every case, though there are advantages and disadvantages inherent in each. The Profession rules as written do not take any of this into account.

Of course, you can choose to fully roleplay the establishment and development of a business, making appropriate Profession checks along the way while incorporating most of the decision making and operations of the business into the PC’s story. Alternatively, if you don’t wish to delve into the complexities of creating a business and handling the bookkeeping to run it, then assume you find enough opportunities to convince the occasional passerby to buy a good or service from you to make a small profit. You earn your check result in silver pieces per day in this fashion. However, if you want a system that’s relatively easy to manage but that offers more choices and options for using the Profession skill, the following system provides rules that are a little more flavorful and involved.

With this alternative system, use the following version of the Profession skill instead of the original rules.

Profession (Wisdom; Trained Only)

You are skilled at a specific job. Like Craft, Knowledge, and Perform, Profession is actually a number of separate skills. You could have several Profession skills, each with its own ranks. While a Craft skill represents ability in creating an item, a Profession skill represents an aptitude in a vocation requiring a broader range of less specific knowledge. The most common Profession skills are architect, baker, barrister, brewer, butcher, clerk, cook, courtesan, driver, engineer, farmer, fisherman, gambler, gardener, herbalist, innkeeper, librarian, merchant, midwife, miller, miner, porter, sailor, scribe, shepherd, stable master, soldier, tanner, trapper, and woodcutter.

Check: You know how to use the tools of your trade, how to perform the profession’s daily tasks, how to supervise apprentices and helpers, and how to handle common problems. You can also answer questions about your Profession. Basic questions have a DC of 10, while more complex questions have a DC of 15 or higher.

Setting Up Shop

The full function of the Profession skill allows you to run a business of the appropriate type successfully. Professions in most cases can be operated from static locations (such as store fronts or offices) or performed while traveling. They can be small operations requiring little in the way of assistance or large companies that demand numerous laborers. Table: Business Size and Setup lists the size of the business, the minimum and maximum number of employees needed to operate it, the amount of time it takes to establish the business (find and purchase equipment and the location from which to run the business, hire employees, renovate or repair the property, apply and pay for any licenses, advertise, etc.), the costs to open or upgrade the business, and the amount of profits to be gained.

Labor Factor: This value indicates the minimum labor “cost” of running your business. It serves as a penalty on your Profession skill check to determine profits, accounting for the various laborers, assistants, experts, and apprentices you must employ to maintain a business of the associated size. Typically, your business can have a maximum number of employees equal to 2 × the positive value of its base Labor Factor (or a maximum of two employees for a mobile business), but each employee your business has beyond the minimum increases the Labor Factor penalty by 1.

Minimum Employees: This is the minimum number of employees needed to run a business.

Maximum Employees: This is the maximum number of employees a business can maintain.

Initial/Upgrade Costs: The cost listed is the amount required to either establish (for a Mobile or Small business) or upgrade (from Small to Medium, or Medium to Large) a business. The value is multiplied by the number of ranks you have in the appropriate Profession skill, and reflects the quality of tools, equipment, decor, advertising, and so forth needed to maximize your talents and effectiveness at running a business of that size. If you gain more skill ranks, you must pay for the increased cost associated with those ranks in order to gain the benefit of those ranks on checks to determine profits—otherwise, all checks made to determine profits are capped at the highest skill rank for which you’ve paid. If you spend 125% of the listed cost, you set up a masterwork operation, with the finest equipment, tools, and furnishings available. Such a workspace grants you a +2 circumstance bonus on all associated Profession checks (including ones to determine profits).

Monthly Profits Factor: This value is used to calculate net income earned after the cost of goods, overhead, and labor are taken into account.

Mobile Business: Your business functions as a traveling operation, either as a small street-side setup within a town or city (such as a rug to display wares at a bazaar or a cart or wagon pulled through the city while the proprietor hawks the goods), as a roving professional service moving between multiple communities, or as a service that actually involves travel (such as that of a sailor, merchant, etc.).

Small Business: Your business is a small shop, usually one of several within a single building. A Small business might cater to a community as small as a hamlet or to a single neighborhood within a metropolis.

Medium Business: Your business is either a large shop occupying all of a single building or multiple smaller storefronts (each equivalent to a small business). A Medium business usually occupies a small town or larger community.

Large Business: Your operations are sizable, either functioning as several Medium businesses within a single small city or larger settlement, or as multiple businesses of any size distributed among several small towns or larger communities.

Running The Business

Running a business using the Profession skill requires a great amount of time, and as such, most heroes don’t maintain an active operation. Those who do often turn over most of the day-to-day tasks to subordinates so they themselves can continue adventuring. You can employ and supervise trained apprentices and assistants to help you manage the business affairs. For every assistant or apprentice you take on to help run your business, you reduce your time required to actively participate in the business by 25%. Thus, with one assistant, you work 75% of the time and are free the rest of the time. With two assistants, you can split your time evenly between the business and other endeavors, and so forth, up to four assistants, who can take complete control of the business operations on your behalf. You can choose to divide each day, week, or month between working and free time. Each assistant you add imposes a penalty equal to the appropriate Labor Factor penalty on your skill check to determine profits. See Table: Business Size and Setup.

It takes time to find and hire such skilled employees. For each employee, you must spend 1d4 days × the number of ranks she possesses in the appropriate Profession skill searching her out and training her. You can only hire a trained worker who has at least half as many ranks in the appropriate Profession skill as you do, but no more than you do; a skilled individual with more ranks than you will not lower herself to be your assistant.

Table: Business Size and Setup
Business Size Labor Factor Minimum Employees Maximum Employees Setup Time Initial/Upgrade Costs Monthly Profits Factor
Mobile 0 0 2 1 day 1 gp/rank 5
Small –2 2 4 1 week 100 gp/rank 10
Medium –5 5 10 2 weeks 1,000 gp/rank 100
Large –10 10 20 1 month 5,000 gp/rank 1000

Determining Profits

To calculate the income you receive from your business, attempt a skill check in the associated Profession skill, taking the appropriate Labor Factor listed on Table: Business Size and Setup as a penalty. If you employ extra assistants, remember that each one increases the Labor Factor penalty on the check by 1. Multiply the result of this check by the Monthly Profits Factor on the table to determine your net monthly profits in gold pieces.

For example, if you are running a Small trading house with a modifier of +9 in Profession (merchant) and you have hired two extra assistants (beyond the two-employee minimum) to manage things for you while you adventure, your net modifier would be 9 – 2 (for the Labor Factor) – 2 (for the extra assistants) = 5. If you roll a 9, for a total of 14, you then multiply that total by 10 (the Monthly Profits Factor for a Small business) to determine that you’ve made a net profit of 140 gp over the course of the month. If you had chosen to manage the business in person, with no help from extra assistants, then your profits would have been 160 gp, but you would have been tied to the store and unable to adventure for half the month.

Typical Business Setups

Listed below are each of the professions featured in the game, along with a quick description of how a character could operate that business either as a traveling service or from a storefront. of course, other professions are possible, limited only by a character’s imagination.

Architect: Mobile architects are very uncommon, and most often travel from noble to noble, providing expertise in the construction of manor houses and strongholds. A mobile architect might also serve as an attachment to a military unit or a mercenary company, training the soldiers in construction of defenses on the field of battle. More often, architects operate small businesses in larger towns and cities, creating and selling plans for construction or overseeing projects already under way.

Baker: A baker can peddle goods (usually cooked at home) as a street vendor, often from a bazaar stall or cart. In rare instances, a renowned baker might travel the countryside, offering to create masterfully made baked goods in smaller communities, most often during holidays and other celebrations (and sometimes while in search of apprentices). A baker can also establish a storefront to sell all manner of breads, cakes, pastries, and pies, probably in conjunction with various Craft (baked goods) skill checks. The baker might also take special orders for custom creations, particularly catering to the wealthy within a sizable town.

Barrister: Traveling barristers might operate on a predetermined circuit, attending to legal matters in small communities scattered through rural areas, often at the behest of the local nobility. However, most barristers serve in a fixed location, performing their legal duties in conjunction with an established court of law. Depending on the type of government that exists within a locale, the barrister might serve a set of clients among the general populace, or he might act more as judge and jury in all disputes.

Brewer: A traveling brewer likely functions as a microbrewer, crafting his beverages at home then selling them from a wagon or cart, sometimes even between multiple communities or at local fairs. Larger brewing operations may set up shop in a rural community where the ingredients are fresh and then ship the finished product in larger towns, or they might receive the ingredients from elsewhere and craft their brews within the city walls.

Butcher: A mobile butcher might move among several very small, rural communities, either buying livestock or offering to slaughter and dress them on the premises. Most butchers operate butcher’s shops, selling fresh cuts of meat delivered from elsewhere. Very large operations might sell to nobles or armies in need of sustenance.

Clerk: Traveling clerks, while not common, are not unheard of. They frequently roam from town to town, preparing paperwork on behalf of clergy members, mayors, and minor nobles. Clerks who operate storefront businesses tend to provide bookkeeping services to other businesses, and also offer the creation of announcements, invitations, and other printed materials.

Cook: Cooks who travel often do so in the company of military units or caravans, while those who want to settle down frequently run restaurants or pubs. Some cooks also make a living serving fantastic dishes at court or operating catering services for other businesses.

Courtesan: There are very few instances of traveling courtesans; most who claim to be are grifters or con artists, offering companionship only as part of some elaborate scheme. Most true courtesans are found either at court or working in a bawdy house. An individual could run a brothel as a full-time business using this Profession skill.

Driver: By its nature, the profession of driving requires travel, so most mobile drivers work independently, serving military units or caravans, handling carts, wagons, carriages, and the animals that pull them. Localized driving businesses could offer dray work to other shops in a community, provide carriage service (like a taxi service), or even contract out full caravan service. Alternatively, mercenary drivers might participate in chariot games for sponsors willing to pay enough.

Engineer: Engineers function in much the same way as architects. Mercenary captains who lead bands of military engineers for hire typically have some skill in this profession.

Farmer: Mobile farmers often serve as traveling workers, moving between farms to gather crops on behalf of wealthy landowners. Some highly skilled farmers also travel between communities, demonstrating and selling new kinds of plant breeds or diagnosing diseases. Otherwise, farmers operate plots of land, growing produce to sell in urban areas.

Fisherman: Fishermen must go where there is water, but some truly do travel, by either taking wealthy clients on fishing expeditions for sport or finding work as an independent contractor on a commercial fishing vessel. Fishermen who wish to start a local business often run a dockside company with one or more boats or ships with crews that bring in large catches, which the business owner then sells to local inns, taverns, and so forth.

Gambler: A lone gambler who makes a living winning coin usually moves from place to place once her skills are noted and she wears out her welcome. Some occasionally hire on to teach others how to gamble effectively (this is particularly popular among nobles who are constantly trying to one-up one another). Gamblers who want to make a business of it often set up betting houses, bookie services, and casinos.

Gardener: Mobile gardeners serve as landscapers, hiring out to grow and groom public parks. Some gardeners start local businesses that cater to either the city or wealthy nobles who want flower gardens, hedge mazes, and the like. Their employees visit clients regularly to plant new starts, trim and train established plants and trees, and ready gardens for the changing seasons.

Herbalist: A traveling herbalist rides alone or with a caravan, moving between locales to gather fresh herbs and sell dried ones. Stationary herbalists sell their wares from small cottages in the rural parts of the country or from shops in big cities. The largest herbalist businesses conduct trade with large-scale food suppliers and hospitals, providing seasonings and remedies, respectively.

Innkeeper: A traveling innkeeper serves as a hired hand who helps get struggling businesses back into profitable shape by arranging for better entertainment, bouncers, victuals, and other amenities. Inns run as businesses can range in size from small bed-and-breakfasts to large military barracks.

Librarian: A traveling librarian moves about the land, dealing in books (particularly rare ones) with communities that either don’t have access to a library of their own or with folks who simply can’t afford much in the way of reading material. Permanent libraries can be anything from small, specialized shops that deal with very specific subjects to massive cultural edifices that represent the pinnacle of a given civilization. Private libraries that are run as businesses are rare and usually cater to clients with large amounts of money to spend.

Merchant: Traveling merchants can bring goods either on pack mules or as part of a great caravan, and can be found hawking their wares on nearly every street corner. Shopkeepers of all ilks buy and sell every trade good imaginable. The largest trade consortiums manage hundreds of caravans, storefronts, and warehouses.

Midwife: Some midwives travel between communities, helping to deliver babies at each stop. In more urban communities, they can be hired on by temples and hospitals that specialize in infant birthing.

Miller: A traveling miller might go from village to village with a portable mill and set up shop for a few days or a week, grinding the community’s grain before moving on to the next place. Millers running established operations in farming country would work out of a mill built near a flowing water source, while larger commercial milling operations in urban areas could serve all the farms and merchants for miles around.

Miner: Miners must find work wherever the ore, stone, or precious materials they mine are found. However, a lone miner could make a living excavating foundations and basements, live as a prospector hunting for gems and panning for gold in the wild, or work as a mercenary employed to assist a military unit in building defenses or sapping the enemy’s walls.

Porter: Portage work tends to operate out of hubs of civilization, whether in small frontier towns where the need for porters to carry exploration and adventuring gear is high, or in great cities where merchants are in constant need of strong backs to carry, load, and unload cargo. A lone porter could hire out to anyone needing assistance on a short- or long-term basis, while a businessperson could run a portage and delivery service in any sized community.

Sailor: Individual sailors not tied to a particular port simply hire on to ships that need an extra hand. However, organized groups of sailors sometimes hire themselves out to those with ships in need of full crews.

Scribe: Lone scribes who travel from town to town offer not only writing services, but also sell fine papers, inks, pens, and scroll and map cases to customers. Larger enterprises can provide a full range of copying, translating, and illuminating services to a broad range of customers in villages, towns, and cities.

Shepherd: A single shepherd will travel to find work wherever there is a need for tending sheep, especially during shearing and birthing season. Someone with a mind to run a shepherding business would have the skill to operate sheep ranches and wool-processing facilities, as well as working in conjunction with butchers to process meat.

Soldier: Soldiers go where there is fighting. Individual mercenaries, guards, or marines serving aboard ships accept coin in exchange for their combat prowess. Mercenary captains in charge of whole units or armies effectively run sizable businesses. Urban organizations offering escort and guard services to wealthy nobles and merchants can also grow quite large.

Stable Master: Anyone who has a way with horses could travel with caravans or armies, serving as a horse handler, while operations in small villages might exist side by side with inns and taprooms. Larger businesses could offer a full-service stable that buys, heals, races, sells, and trains horses.

Tanner: A lone tanner might provide his leatherworking services to a number of communities in proximity to one another, and small businesses that offer both tanning services and finished goods for sale are common enough. Bigger operations usually set up near cities where large numbers of livestock are gathered for processing.

Trapper: Solo trappers can catch and skin enough game to make a living in a frontier or wooded region, and small groups of them might establish a trading post where they could sell their wares along with other goods. A large trapping company might hire scores of individual trappers, bringing in massive quantities of furs that are then shipped to other parts of the world.

Woodcutter: Individual loggers might move from place to place, felling enough timber to sell to one small community at a time. Large logging operations can potentially clear entire regions of forest in a short time, preparing and shipping the wood—either as whole logs or sawn lumber—by water or caravan to sell anywhere growth and development occurs. Shipyards also require substantial amounts of lumber and make good customers.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Unchained © 2015, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Dennis Baker, Jesse Benner, Ross Beyers, Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Robert Emerson, Tim Hitchcock, Jason Nelson, Tom Phillips, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Thomas M. Reid, Robert Schwalb, Mark Seifter, and Russ Taylor.