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Basic Information

A forester is someone who manages a forest for a living - which can actually mean a variety of things dependant on era and culture. The modern, and early modern forester is mainly concerned with aboriculture and the harvesting of timber … and frequently how to tie those in with the preservation of the forest's ecology and with leisure users1.

In the pre-modern period, a forester was often a crown official entrusted with the government of an area designated as forest (which, ironically, didn't necessarily need to be tree-covered). These areas were usually designated as a hunting preserve of either the crown or a peer of the realm and the forester's main function was to preserve the quality of the forest and prevent hunting, although he would also be responsible for law enforcement within his bounds and for the management of any settlements within the forest. This could be something of a challenge as a large, lightly settled area would be the sort of place prone to attract outlaws. In this period, someone solely responsible for timber management would more likely be called a woodward and any given forester might well have several such working for him.

See Also:

…both roles that potentially overlap with the keeping of a hunting preserve.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A medieval forester makes a fairly good employer for PCs, given their likely requirement for cheap muscle to remove nests of bandits and outlaws (and monsters in fantasy settings) from their bounds.
  • Otherwise, PCs attempting to camp and hunt in a royal forest are likely to run afoul of these people.
  • For a Robin-Hood style campaign, the King's Forester may well be a recurring villain as the PCs become the outlaws in need of being flushed out.
  • Note that truly wild woodland won't typically have a forester assigned - or will have one whose writ exists only in theory - and forest law may not apply, or will be honoured more in the breach than the observance.
  • Probably not a good job for a PC, unless you were thinking of running a medieval police procedural where the party are a forester and his officers and tour the forest looking into crimes.
  • A modern forester is the sort of person likely to discover corpses fly tipped in his forest and/or find other illicit activities such as drugs labs. Any response from death to active collaboration may ensue as required.
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