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Basic Information

The Pinfold is the medieval equivalent of the animal shelter, and was the place where the local Pinder would take stray or troublesome animals.

The Pinfold was usually a small field in town, with a fence around it. Fancier pinfolds might have a stone enclosure with a roof over it, more like a small barn.

There was often an adjacent house on the property, called a Pound House. The Pound House was where the Pinder lived, so he could keep his eyes on the animals and make sure no one took them back without paying the appropriate fine. More information on how the impounding process and associated fines worked can be found on the Pinder page.


Game and Story Use

  • If the PCs lose track of their horse, here's where it will end up. There will be a fine to pay.
    • In a strictly authentic setting, there may be some social tension if a noble's horse is impounded by a servile pinder. There may be good characterization available for both the local landlord and the horse's owner in how the situtation is resolved.
  • In a fantasy setting with wandering monsters, the Pinfold might need to be armored or protected with ward magic to keep the nasties locked away. If the town is besieged, an enchanted or encastled pinfold might serve as a redoubt.
  • The pinfold is a great place for minor complications and local color.
    • A fugitive needing to get out of town quickly might steal an unclaimed horse from the pinfold.
    • Some valuable livestock getting loose could nicely complicate a nearby combat encounter (anyone remember Zulu?).
    • Someone who's starving might raid the pinfold for a bit of fresh meat.
      • The scent of all that horseflesh might be a big distraction to invading orcs.
    • "Why didn't you tell me you stored my horse in the same pen as a rust monster? Now I have to buy new stirrups before I can go questing!"
    • At the truly prosiac level, a manor court might find itself hearing a series of title disputes if someone accidentally, deliberately or allegdly redeems someone else's animal from the pinfold.
    • This may even be a popular alternative to horse-theft: turn the horse you want to steal loose (or even have an accomplice take it to the pinfold claiming that it was eating his cabbages), wait for the pinder to book it in and then go over, apologise, pay the fine and ride off. Probably unsucessful in a village where everyone recognises everyone else's animals, but where there is a lot of through-traffic this could be quite sucessful.
  • The whole operation of a pinfold can be complicated during livestock breeding seasons - again, many villages only keep a very limited number of intact male animals, but horses are another matter altogether.
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