Now that I have been taking a small vacation to Azeroth, returning to World of Warcraft for a bit to see some of the new content and connect with some friends back in the US, I thought I would like to make some comments on this experience and how I have learned from it as a RPG player and RPG Blogger.
I think one of my favorite things about World of Warcraft has been the profession system. I think it is really, really entertaining and engaging. Some people might think it is a big waste of time, or just something that you do to pick up some gold, but I really enjoy it. I have gone through a number of professions on my various characters, but my current avatar - Cystematic - a level 70 Mage, is currently both a Miner and a Tailor. I am really excited to finally sew myself a flying carpet when I scrap together the gold I need to pick up all the cloth for it.
Now, I have to say, It is a bit suprising that I would be excited about something like that in WoW, but not really in D&D. One of the reasons for this, I have to say, is the disappearance of crafting and profession skills from the game when it made its move into 4e. Sure, you can get some crafting ability when you take a particular background, but these backgrounds really only make some of your other skills better and don't really reflect what I would like to see.
Can anything be done about this? Sure, I think there is something very simple that any DM could house-rule into D&D 4e. When you make a new character, starting at level one, you can get training in a certain number of "Minor" skills. These minor skills don't grant any combat abilities, nor are they really used in Skill challenges, but what they are used for is granting flavor to your character that is reflected in the characters mechanics. This may be a very non-Old School way to play the game, but I am not from the old school. I like to have my game mechanics very clear and I like having my character stats show off what my character is like.
These minor skills could be things like Perform, Craft (Armor), Craft (Weapons), or even things like my WoW mage's tailoring. These skills would let you do some cool stuff that wouldn't throw off the balance of the game in the slightest. You could make a bit of small money from your profession now and again, and players could even combine their crafting skills to build magic items at higher skill levels.
If you have any house rules like this, or have a comment on this, I would appreciate any feedback that the RPG Blogging community might have to offer.