Medieval Professions V: more NPCs you won’t find in published adventures


Pilgrims, like the famous band described in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, were a common sight in the Middle Ages.

While it isn’t necessary to conduct extensive research into Medieval daily life to create an exciting Dungeons & Dragons game, bringing real-world history and anthropology to the game can bring a level of “background realism” that players will appreciate. To that end, the RPG Athenaeum has thus far outlined 12 important Medieval occupations, which never seem to appear in the pages of published D&D modules.

The first posting in this series, describing the vocations of messenger, gravedigger and rat catcher, can be viewed here.

The second posting, detailing the livelihoods of the chandler, crier, and dragoman, can be found here.

The third posting, describing the duties of the alewife, friar, and plague doctor, can be viewed here.

The fourth part in this series, detailing the vocations of barber, falconer and miller, can be found here.

Today’s post will discuss the rag and bone man, the chantry priest, and pilgrim.

Continue reading

Medieval Professions IV: More NPCs You Won’t Find in Published Adventures


As this 13th Century drawing suggests, falconry wasn’t only practiced by medieval nobility.

While it isn’t necessary to conduct extensive research into Medieval daily life to create an exciting Dungeons & Dragons game, bringing real-world history and anthropology to the game can bring a level of “background realism” that players will appreciate. To that end, the RPG Athenaeum has thus far outlined outlined six important Medieval occupations, which never seem to appear in the pages of published D&D modules.

The first posting in this series, describing the vocations of messenger, gravedigger and rat catcher, can be viewed here.

The second posting, detailing the livelihoods of the chandler, crier, and dragoman, can be found here.

The third posting, which focuses on the trades of the alewife, friar, and plague doctor, can be viewed here.

Today’s posting will describe the trades of the barber, falconer and miller. Continue reading

Medieval Professions III: More NPCs You Won’t Find In Published Adventures


While probably not a physician in the strictest sense, plague doctors like the one pictured above were a common sight during the Black Death of the 14th Century.

While it isn’t necessary to conduct extensive research into Medieval daily life to create an exciting Dungeons & Dragons game, bringing real-world history and anthropology to the game can bring a level of “background realism” that players will appreciate. To that end, the RPG Athenaeum has thus far outlined outlined six important Medieval occupations, which never seem to appear in the pages of published D&D modules.

The first posting in this series, describing the vocations of messenger, gravedigger and rat catcher, can be viewed here.

The second posting, detailing the livelihoods of the chandler, crier, and dragoman, can be found here.

Today’s entry will focus on the trades of the alewife, friar, and plague doctor. Continue reading

Medieval Professions II: more NPCs you won’t find in published D&D adventures


This recent post on the RPG Athenaeum suggested that, while it isn’t necessary to conduct extensive research into Medieval daily life to create an exciting Dungeons & Dragons game, bringing real-world history and anthropology to the game can bring a level of “background realism” that players will appreciate. To that end, that post outlined three important Medieval occupations which never seem to appear in the pages of published D&D modules: the messenger, gravedigger and rat catcher.

A few site visitors suggested that expanding this topic may be helpful for dungeon masters (DMs) who want to color their settlements with a bit of historical realism or have the opportunity to role-play an unusual non-player character (NPC) with an interesting occupation.

Thus, a second installment of what has become a series on Medieval professions follows, with attention being devoted to the chandler, crier, and dragoman. Continue reading

Three Medieval professions that don’t appear in D&D adventures


Although it isn’t necessary to conduct extensive research into Medieval daily life to create an exciting Dungeons & Dragons game, bringing real-world history and anthropology to the game can bring a level of “background realism” that players will appreciate. Most published adventure settings include non-player characters (NPCs) engaged in those professions players may know from school history classes  - merchants, knights, friars, peasants, carpenters, blacksmiths and such – along with those professions of particular interest to adventurers, such as scholars and weaponsmiths. While the professions typically presented are certainly enough to convey a believable setting, adding some less-known, but historically accurate Medieval professions can add to your setting’s believability and provide you with an opportunity to role-play some unusual characters.

Medieval careers, especially during the later Middle Ages, were more diverse than many people think. The purpose of this posting is to describe three Medieval careers that never seem to be mentioned in most published settings, but could contribute greatly to the development of an adventure or a settlement’s “sense of place.” These include the messenger, the gravedigger, and the rat catcher. Continue reading