100 Medieval Careers

February 6th, 2009

Taking a brief break from adventure design, I present a related topic:  100 jobs NPCs in your game-world might have.  Helps with creating those random NPCs — pick a job, then add a name, race, gender, and a quirk or two.

I’ve broken them down into some broad categories, in case you want to go old school and turn it into multiple subtables to randomly roll on.  If you’re taking that approach, note that the “Working Class” and “Scoundrels and the Underclass” categories should be most common in the typical medieval-European-style game worlds, followed by Professionals, Entertainers, and Martial, with Learned and Lesser Nobility being least common.

100 jobs, after the jump.

Learned

  1. Academic – a scholar or sage — astrologer, cartographer, historian, philosopher, etc.
  2. Architect – a master builder
  3. Ascetic – a hermit or wandering monk
  4. Barber  – a doctor, surgeon, bloodletter, dentist, and haircutter
  5. Barrister – a lawyer
  6. Bureaucrat – a local functionary, servant to some more powerful political figure
  7. Engineer – a builder of roads, bridges, castles, fortifications, and siege engines
  8. Herald – an announcer and deliverer of news on behalf of a lord
  9. Monk/Nun – a lay cleric devoted to prayer and spirituality
  10. Scribe – skilled in taking dictation or copying documents

Lesser Nobility

  1. Adventurer – a minor scion of a noble house who’s chosen to wander the world
  2. Dilettante – a minor scion of a noble house who dabbles in various interests
  3. Diplomat – a representative of his house in dealings with other noble houses
  4. Knight – a well-trained warrior, skilled with sword and lance
  5. Minister – a political figure appointed by the ruler to govern a specific area or to oversee a domain; also lesser but important officials, such as a reeve or judge
  6. Page – a very young noble beginning his training to be a knight
  7. Squire – a young noble progressing on the path to knighthood, perhaps herself a capable warrior

Professionals

  1. Armorer
  2. Artist – a painter of portraits
  3. Baker
  4. Blacksmith
  5. Bookbinder
  6. Bowyer
  7. Brewer – a maker of beer and ale
  8. Bricklayer – a laborer skilled in the building of walls and ducts
  9. Butcher
  10. Candlemaker or Chandler
  11. Carpenter – an elite tradesman, skilled in math as well as woodworking
  12. Cartwright – a maker and repairer of carts and wagons
  13. Clothier – a garment-maker
  14. Cobbler or Shoemaker – makes and mends shoes
  15. Cook
  16. Cooper – a barrel-maker
  17. Dyer – a maker of inks, paints, dyes, and stains
  18. Engraver
  19. Furrier
  20. Glassblower
  21. Goldsmith or Silversmith
  22. Hatter
  23. Innkeeper or Tavern-keeper
  24. Jeweler
  25. Joiner – a maker of furniture
  26. Leatherworker
  27. Locksmith
  28. Mason
  29. Merchant
  30. Moneylender
  31. Potter
  32. Shipwright – a builder of ships
  33. Tax Collector
  34. Tinker – a traveling craftsman who repairs tin pots and other small items, often also a peddler
  35. Torturer
  36. Trader – by land or by sea
  37. Vintner – a maker of wines
  38. Weaver

The Working Class

  1. Boatman – travel by lake or river
  2. Coachman – driver of a coach
  3. Farmer
  4. Fisherman
  5. Gravedigger
  6. Groom – one who tends animals
  7. Herdsman – a keeper of livestock
  8. Hunter or Trapper
  9. Messenger
  10. Miller
  11. Miner
  12. Painter or Limner
  13. Peddler – an itinerant merchant of goods
  14. Ratcatcher
  15. Sailor
  16. Seamstress
  17. Servant – maid, butler, attendant, steward, etc.
  18. Stevedore – one who loads and unloads goods from sailing ships or caravan

Martial

  1. Bodyguard
  2. Bounty Hunter
  3. Forester – a ranger or game warden, often empowered to act as law enforcement within the forest
  4. Gatekeeper or Toll Keeper
  5. Jailer
  6. Mercenary or Soldier
  7. Watchman

Scoundrels and the Underclass

  1. Bandit, Mugger, or Thug – steals by force; often part of a gang of thieves
  2. Beggar
  3. Burglar – steals by breaking and entering
  4. Fence – finds buyers for stolen goods, may serve as a pawnbroker
  5. Gambler
  6. Pickpocket or Cutpurse – steals by stealth
  7. Procurer – streetwise specialists in finding whatever their client might be looking for
  8. Prostitute
  9. Slaver
  10. Smuggler – moves stolen or illegal goods
  11. Wanderer – a “barbarian” nomad, drifter, or rover

Entertainers

  1. Acrobat
  2. Actor
  3. Clown
  4. Dancer
  5. Fortune-teller – might well have real power in a fantasy world
  6. Juggler
  7. Minstrel
  8. Prestidigitator – stage magician
  9. Storyteller

(Edit: Small changes and clarifications to the list, 2/5/09.)

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10 Comments

  1. bonemaster, Feb. 6, 2009, 9:44 am:

    Not a bad list. I wonder in a fantasy game how real Wizards view the Prestidigitator? I wonder if they are looked down upon or if some real Wizards pretend to be Prestidigitators for some covert reason?

    bonemaster´s last blog post: Friday Update

  2. Wimwick, Feb. 6, 2009, 11:09 am:

    Great list, I like how it’s divided up into social class as it makes it easier to find what I’m looking for. I noticed in the underworld section there is no Street Thug.

    Wimwick´s last blog post: Campaign Design: An Introduction

  3. TheLemming, Feb. 6, 2009, 12:36 pm:

    Thanks for the list – that’s just the set of medieval careers that will be adopted into my gm notebook ;)

    TheLemming´s last blog post: Gamedesign: Rattled by riddles

  4. Scott, Feb. 6, 2009, 2:46 pm:

    @Wimwick: I think “Bandit” covers that. Maybe I should rename that slightly, but my idea was that it was a “tough” — someone who steals by force or threat of force.

    @Bonemaster: That might depend on how the game world views wizards in general. If magic is rare and wizards are persecuted, they might try a dodge like this; if magic is common and respected, then prestidigitators might be looked down upon as imitators, or they might be con men, bilking the naive of cash in exchange for their “magical” services.

    (Edit: I’ve made some changes to the list — replaced a duplication that I hadn’t noticed, and clarified “Bandit” as above, along with a few other clarifications. There are still jobs I haven’t listed, or instances where I’ve combined a few jobs under one heading, but for a list of 100, I think this one covers the important bases.)

  5. noneedtono, Feb. 2, 2012, 3:47 pm:

    Thanx for doing my homework :P haha

  6. Booty Cheeks, Feb. 5, 2013, 8:45 pm:

    Thanx For the help with the homework… (>*.*)>

  7. Roger, Jan. 3, 2014, 5:37 pm:

    You for got Shrubber…

    Excellent list otherwise.

  8. Hani, Apr. 8, 2014, 12:47 pm:

    I cheated with this list lol.

  9. derp da derp, Apr. 29, 2014, 1:58 pm:

    derp

  10. Cameryn Kyre, Jul. 9, 2014, 9:47 pm:

    Great list! Really helpful.

    I’d add apothecary or alchemists in there and perhaps Falconer fishmonger and weaver

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