A Bounty Hunter is a Western character who hunts down criminals and fugitives for profit.
Bounty hunters may also appear in any genre where central authority lacks the resources to enforce its dictats itself - which would include authentic feudal settings, most after the end campaigns and anywhere with an open, partially developed frontier (like space).
A more measured form of bounty hunter still operates in the modern US, tracking down and recovering people who have skipped bail or are defaulting on civil lawsuits.
Sharia 'courts' in the UK (and doubtless elsewhere in the developed world) have been observed to use a kind of bounty hunter against those who refuse to accept their 'authority' and have been sentenced in absentia.
Game and Story Use
- Player characters can be bounty hunters themselves, making it easy for the game master to throw adventure plots at them - just wave a large bounty at them, and they will jump in any direction you want.
- If they are, then another group of bounty hunters would make good NPC rivals.
- Bounty hunters may also hire a group of local ruffians (the PCs) for reinforcements.
- Or the PCs may need to sell a prisoner to a licenced bounty hunter if such things need a permit which they don't have.
- There may even be a guild under the "right" circumstances.
- Fantasy games might include supernatural bounty hunters - 3.5ED D&D had a whole "species" of them.
- Conversely, player characters who have recently had some problems with the local authorities might have bounty hunters on their trail, who somehow manage to show up at the most inconvenient moments.
- This might not be mere coincidence, of course - any careful bounty hunter will want to get his target when he or his allies are distracted by other events, since that increases his odds of getting the bounty.
- Alternatively, PCs may find bounty hunters picking up their contacts and other allies (or just enemies that they need to find and question) and disappearing with them. Possibly for entirely legitimate reasons.
- Where a non-state actor can post bounties (such as the Sharia bounty hunters mentioned above) PCs might find themselves employed to protect the target (particularly if the state refuses to recognise the problem) and/or dispose of the hunters - possibly by eliminating those that placed the bounty.
- The promiscuous use of bounty hunters can be a real nuisance to neighbouring jurisdictions - either because bounties have been posted against their citizens or because fugitives are crossing into their territory. Either way local law enforcement may be faced with a steady stream of would be kidnappers and assassins who consider themselves fully entitled to pursue their business wherever they find it.