I've been thinking a lot about professions. To be clear, we don't know a lot, and even what we do know isn't solidified yet. But since we had some discussion earlier about how to handle professions in a group setting, I thought I'd share my thoughts.
There are (currently) 5 professions. You get one for free. You can get a second with a feat. You get 10 days between games to use professions (20 if you buy a feat and sacrifice your soft action). These days are split between all of your professions (so it's not like second dawn where you choose one to activate). Each profession starts with one default action that takes 1 day, and you can buy access to new actions that help you specialize, but they cost build.
Two of these professions explicitly produce permanent items (Offensive, Defensive, Utility). Over time, individuals with these professions will be able to produce better items, making their old items obsolete. The intention with this design is that obsolete items should be used for trade with those who have different professions.
Two other professions explicitly produce consumable items. These professions intentionally generate more than a person can use in a game in order to give them many consumables to trade with.
The third simply generates components and money for trade, and it's important to note that this profession is as far as we know so far the only reliable constant source of components (other options include looting so far, presumably also finding hidden things on plots or around the camp site)
So the question is how to optimize profession use within a group to ensure we are all well equipped for our given combat roles?
And the way to answer that question is to do some meta-examination of how trade is likely to work, given what we know about slots and what we know about professions and what we've seen in the past with group trading behaviors.
The first thing a person is going to want to do is fill out their own slots. For most your profession lets you fill one of those slots (exception: Opportunist, who is fortunately also the first person the craftsmen are going to want to trade with since they have all the resources). Once you have that first slot filled, it's then easy to trade with other professions in the same category (permanent items for permanent items, consumable for consumable).
Once you've filled a slot (in the case of consumables this means you have enough for the weekend) you don't really have a lot of incentive to get extra equipment for that slot. So while it's easier to trade like items for each other, there will rapidly come a point where you don't need those similar items anymore and it becomes advantageous to trade between categories (permanent for consumable and visa versa).
In this crafting system, determining value seems fairly simple so far. An item will require resources and time to build, so if you used uncommon resources to build a suit of armor and it took 4 days, you can probably assume that it's worth 4 days of similarly uncommon consumables. Shit may get nuanced once we learn how each system works and how skills in each one change the crafting process, but for now it seems like it's actually that easy. Value = Time and Components
But as you can see we're starting to get into the realm of things we don't know. So bear that in mind as I speculate about skills.
Skills are a huge unknown. They could be straight upgrades to what you can accomplish, or they could be sidegrades that open up new possibilities. There's been hints that some skills may encourage specialization, and if this is the case then it's important to note that it's possible that no player group (perhaps not even the entire player population) will be able to cover every specialization within every profession. And if my intuition is correct, that will force us to trade with other groups. Because it's not a good idea to cram any item you can into a given slot, you really want something that works well with your build.
It might be possible for us all to take two professions, but remember that unless you're buying a lot of feats and sacrificing your soft BGA that cuts down on how much time you can spend on a single profession. You also have to spend build on skills in order to gain the benefits of specializing, so it's worth trying to make a 60 point build forecast for your character and see how many points you've actually got for professions. Also, the more people in each profession we have, the more those people need to collaborate and plan when it comes to resource sharing. Otherwise you'll have people who can't get the resources they need because the other members of their profession in the group are hoarding - whether on purpose or through lack of communication. Not usually an issue within groups, I expect we will have a lot of openness with each other about the resources we're holding on to.
I think it is important to take advantage of the possibility of a second profession, because it increases flexibility just the tiniest amount. But we have to think about how we intend to do that. Here's a few possible strategies:
Primary / Secondary professions: Each person has a primary profession that they buy many skills in and a secondary profession that they leave at starting level just so they can make some standard starter gear to use in an emergency.
Two Highly Specialized Professions: Each person has two professions that they buy specialties in, but they focus hard on just one or two areas within it. Between the whole group with six or seven people we could then have 12-14 specializations. Is that more worth while than just having two specializations in a single profession? Probably not, but it's not any worse either and it's up to you what's best for your character.
More likely we'll be doing a combination of the above because everyone's needs are different. And it's worth noting that there will be some people who just don't want to spend any build at all on a profession! With a 60 point build cap for the endgame, you've got a lot of things to consider, so that's something that is going to happen!
As a group I think a good goal is to have one person with each profession, and to have at least one person in each profession specialize a bit. Even if we each only have one profession skill, that gives us value that other groups might need and creates opportunities for collaborative trade between groups.
Ultimately the answer to the question I asked about how to be most effective isn't to be self sufficient as a group. We don't need all the specializations. We don't need total coverage. We just need to know what we can do, what we can't do, what other groups can do and how to fill our gaps by trading other groups. We need, preferably, to have niche abilities that the other groups don't so that we can be valuable to the player community as a whole. And we need to always be looking for ways to obtain resources. I don't know for sure what is going to happen if you have a hard profession bga to use and no resources to build things with, but it sounds like the only profession you can use with no resources is Opportunist.
Resources, which I've sort of touched on but not talked about in depth, are the whole other half of trade. If none of the other professions can build things without resources, that actually gives Opportunists a lot of power in the system. That means that as a group, it's important to have at least one opportunist, and to find other means of gathering resources in-game.
We're still not sure yet how supply from Opportunists will meet up with demand from crafters - can they pick and choose what kinds of components they get for their work? Is it random? Can they generate enough quantity to have multiple things built, or only enough for just one item? It's just not something we can anticipate until we see the rules, and until then I don't want to make any assumptions.
When it comes to choosing second professions, I started out wanting to do both armorer and blacksmith, but now I'm starting to think Opportunist because of the need to generate resources as a group. Personally I want to focus my build on my armorer abilities, so I don't really have a desire to specialize in my secondary one. It's just going to be there for emergencies. I encourage you to play with some of these ideas in your character concepts (even if you're from other factions or group concepts - we may need to trade with you)