"I had a job in the Great North Woods,
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much,
and one day the axe just fell…"
Bob Dylan Tangled up in blue
Often this is an older worker, who's no longer in good enough shape to do the hard stuff any more. He'll frequently carry a bell or triangle to ring to let everybody know dinner's ready.
Also found in the military - where the cook is traditionally fat and bad tempered, although if you take it back to the Nelsonian navy the cook was often a sinecure for a partially disabled man.
More generally, this characterisation can be applied to anyone who takes their kitchen out into the wilderness.
Game and Story Use
- Fun way to make one Cowboy stand out from the crowd, especially in a light-hearted game.
- Particularly if he's a very bad cook and won't accept it - or doesn't care.
- Equally a very good cook can be a positive asset - and possible the wilderness equivalent of the bartender.
- As Steven Seagal has proven, this archetype has some serious Player Character potential, too. Villains assume you're a wuss, or have some old injury, and underestimate you. Won't they be surprised when they learn otherwise? It's actually just that you're the best chef in camp and thus inherited the role.
- The Cook could be an innocuous cover for the NPC villain too. Just so long as your players don't remember Long John Silver.
- Someone putting together an expedition is well advised to hire a decent cook to make sure the Iron rations are tolerable - and it might be an interesting bit of characterisation for an NPC patron, well known as an outdoorsman, to take great care in hiring the cook for his expedition. Whilst the PCs are expecting to "rough it", their employer realises that any damned fool can be uncomfortable and prefers to make sure that his party are healthy, well fed and able to concentrate on their jobs.
- Camp cooking might even be a speciality of the cooking skill in some systems - taking into account the completely different skill sets that are often required to cook good food in the field.