Artisans of all types can be found throughout the Seven Kingdoms, as well as across the sea in the Free Cities and beyond. These specialized craftsmen create all manner of beautiful things — pottery, paintings, toys, and other wonderful objects. Performers also fall under the Artisan’s banner, from storytellers and singers to jugglers and mummers. Some Artisans establish shops or permanent stages in cities and towns, especially near the keeps of powerful lords. Others are paid by noblemen to entertain with jests and song. Mummers travel across the Seven Kingdoms bringing their shows, handiwork, and often a bit of thievery wherever they stop.
Blacksmiths, carpenters, and other utilitarian craftsmen are also considered Artisans. Even though the work they do is more vital than that of an artist or mummer, these lay craftsmen often have less contact with noble lords than do their more frivolous counterparts. Still, smiths are very important during times of war, and may be called upon to produce mass quantities of horseshoes, or simple weapons to equip the armies of their lord and his bannermen. Armorers are considered a cut above the common smiths, and highly prized by lords.
Finally, diplomats, stewards, and merchants can also be considered Artisans. They may have been raised to a position of prominence from the smallfolk, or be from a cadet branch of a noble house, long fallen low in the world. Whatever their position, Artisans are often the bridge between noble and common blood.
Craftsmen rarely go looking for adventure, although sometimes it finds them. Most are content to stay at home with their forges or lathes, making as good a living as can be had from their trade. Singers, storytellers, and mummers, however, are often found roaming the Seven Kingdoms in search of adventure. These fanciful folk seek inspiration for their tales and will brave a certain amount of danger in order to find it.
Still, performers and craftsmen rarely put their noses into noble affairs if they can help it; it is considered best to stay out of sight until their skills are called upon. This holds less true for diplomats and merchants who court nobles as their livelihood; they are often drawn into greater machinations than they ever expected, though.
Artisans live by the skills they have learned throughout their lives, whether it be the art of crafting a suit of armor, learning to run a household, or amusing the ladies at court with jests, dancing, and foolery. Their combat ability is limited, but the best know how to defend themselves with words rather than steel. They can talk their way out of many disagreements, calling upon noble defenders in more dire situations. Over the course of a long career, an Artisan ideally becomes an established master of his craft, and may even attract a noble patron for whom the Artisan can work the rest of his or her days.
Many craftsmen and Artisans follow in a family tradition, trained by their fathers or uncles in the family’s line of work. Women can become Artisans as well, although it is uncommon for a woman in the Seven Kingdoms to apprentice or work outside the home in a craft or trade. Still, some rise to prominence within the great houses.
Artisans who do not learn the trade from their fathers are usually apprenticed to masters: their parents hope to give their children a better life than they could provide. Mummers are also very family-oriented in their own way, although they are far more likely to adopt stray scoundrels and lost souls in their journeys than they are to have children of their own to teach. These youths are trained to be performers or to work the crowds that such performances always draw.
All of the major and minor houses of the Seven Kingdoms have uses for Artisans of every type. Jesters and singers entertain the crowds during feasts and tournaments, smiths and fletchers work day in and day out to provide weapons and armor for their liege’s armies, heralds and stewards keep the households running, and merchants buy and sell on the lord’s behalf. Independent Artisans are often called upon during times of war to provide additional services for the troops of a house at war, and some may even be pressed to fight if their services are not considered essential. Fools and mummers are scarce in war-torn lands, fearful that marauding lords may force them into service, confiscate their goods, or make their lives forfeit.