The Rancher is a Western Character who owns a large spread of land, typically raising cattle.
The Rancher employs the Cowboy, Camp Cook and other ranch workers. He (or sometimes she) is the equivalent of a business owner in a more urban setting. They generally will dress a little better than their employees, but not too much—most ranchers are hands-on to some degree, and need to be able to do anything an ordinary cowboy could.
If the rancher owns several ranches, or one big enough to count as its own feudal country, they become a Cattle Baron.
Game and Story Use
- "Saving the ranch" is a common plotline for Westerns, as a couple of bad years could put a small rancher on the verge of bankruptcy.
- This doesn't mean charity, nor require a PC Rancher. Instead, the PCs could be ranch-hands on his spread.
- Classic motivation for a Cowboy is to one day own a ranch of his own. The Determined Homesteader may have similar goals of growing his little 'stead into a full blown ranch.
- Rancher is a nice versatile NPC model. He's wealthy enough to be a patron, but not so powerful as to automatically be classed as a villain. It's believable for him to be a Self Made Man, and thus is likely to be viewed sympathetically by the players. He has a vested interest, a ranch to defend, and is thus rooted to the campaign setting. With a bad twist of fate, or a perceived threat to his ranch, and he could change sides in the middle of a struggle and not seem treacherous or unreasonable for it.