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Basic Information

A huntsman is a person who manages hounds and hunting dogs during a hunt. Typically, this person would be in the employ of a wealthy hunter, and be paid to perform their duties as part of a hunting entourage. See Master Of Hounds for more detailed information.
Besides dog handling, the huntsman may also serve as a hunting guide for the party - sometimes to the extent of ranging the hunting ground in advance to find the lairs and haunts of suitable prey so that the hunt can come to scent quickly rather than hunt up for themselves. During the hunt, the huntsman will handle dogs (as above) or accompany and assist less capable members - possibly so far as to serve as a bodyguard (in case of dangerous prey) and/or to deal the quarry a debilitating wound so that the "VIP" hunter can make the kill. If the huntsman's role during the hunt mainly revolves around finding the prey, he may also be termed a tracker. Where necessary, they can also provide coaching, advice and assistance in stalking skills, camouflage and technical details of the ground (for example helping a shooter calculate windage).
In between hunts, a huntsman's duties may overlap with those of a gamekeeper, managing a hunting preserve, preventing poaching or anything else that would clash with hunting (so possibly overlapping with or liaising with a forester as well) and making himself aware of the distribution of game in advance to aid hunt planning. In some instances, this may lead to him gaining law enforcement powers within a forest or preserve. On a smaller scale he may also be responsible for the acquisition and maintenance of hunting equipment.

In later periods, a huntsman may refer to a member of a hunting party wielding a gun of some kind, or to a member of the military wielding a rifled long gun1.


Game and Story Use

  • Including this profession in your gaming world can offer a bit of flavour to an otherwise bland and not-so-well-thought-out royal hunting party.
    • Less martial PCs (or those elevated from non-hunting classes) could be assigned one as a helper.
  • It could also be a good name for a mercenary group who wields rifles
  • Huntsmen are also likely to be a common encounter in areas used for sport hunting - this may be a problem if PCs are up to no good.
  • Equally a huntsman may hire PCs to deal with excessively dangerous game or other predators infesting their territory - including two legged ones such as outlaws, bandits and assorted humanoids.
  • Speaking of which, a huntsman may also be called upon to track two legged game - and may even specialise in it given certain employers. Besides the obvious hunting of criminals, there may also be a requirement to find missing persons2.
  • Fantasy environments may have some highly specialised huntsmen - what, for example, of someone who leads safaris into the plain of fire or the upper levels of Hell3?
  • Fantasy huntsmen may also use something other than dogs - spiders are a favourite, especially for underground species4 (although how the hell they are meant to train a spider is anyone's guess) - but anything predatory and pack orientated may work. One of the Jurassic Park movies had a chap who had trained "velociraptors" (actually more similar, in size at least, to deinonychus or utahraptor) to hunt in a pack with him.
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