I feel comfortable with the three skill lists I have generated thus far:
Probitates (Warrior - spades)
Liberal Arts (Priests - hearts)
Mechanical Arts (Artisans - diamonds?)
The last question is -- what about clubs? Clubs are often associated with the peasantry. I could give them a few of the mechanical arts, such as agriculture. Or, I could go with DW's taxonomy and use them for rogues, thieves vagabonds, and highwaymen.
On the other hand, I could just ignore them. Three skill lists is good. However, at this point I also like the idea of having one list for each suit of cards.
What about recycling other skill lists?
I don't think I can just reuse, say, the AD&D thief skills here. For the first thing, some of them have already been claimed by other lists. "Climbing" and scaling walls falls under the warrior's probitates, for example. "Deciphering languages" should probably fall under the liberal arts.
One thing I might be able to do is split up the Mechanical Arts. Put all those related to industriousness and agriculture under Clubs, and all those related to merchants/trade/urban pursuits under diamonds.
The Danger of Class-as-Role
Skills should not be overly technical or essential. For example, if you have a skill for "Assassination" then it implies anyone without this skill can't do some quiet killing. Likewise, skills shouldn't be obviously criminal in nature. For example, "hunting" is already one of the mechanical arts; hunting could obviously be poaching, as well! A villein cotter might have a rank in "Armaments/Smithing" from the mechanical arts.
So, I want to keep this skill list "dual use." They should be things that can be done for woe or weal, although they might have a predilection for nefarious activity.
I haven't been able to find an easy reference for this. However, this site has had some interesting primary source links.
What Other Associations do We Have
Clubs is associated with more than agriculture. Originally, the Latin suite was that of "baston," which means a stick, club, or cudgel. While these have associations with the mob and peasantry, the fasces was also a symbol of authority. There is also the tarot association with staves and power (either wielding it or submitting to it). Another theme is simplicity and nature. Yet another is creativity and willpower.
We could use the seven "mancies" -- hydromancy, pyromancy, etc. These represent various magical arts. For peasants, they could just represent connections with the land in various ways. But for those with "the gift," they could be keys to magical power. I don't like this approach however as it undermines the relationship that each of the suits already has to an element.
Perhaps something to stew on for awhile...
OD&D Experience Levels
8 hours ago