Unsung Heroes: Fantasy City Jobs/Careers/Trades
Large towns and cities are full of people from different trades and different walks of life, everyone from highborn stewards to the old man that lights the street lamps at night. Most of these people are craftsmen or professionals of some kind, either independent businessmen or members of powerful guilds who pay their dues and pass on their skills to journeyman as instructed by the laws of their guildhall. Use the following list of professions that can be found in most fantasy cities to add detail and interest to your urban encounters.
Apothecary The town pharmacist knows the physical effects of many combinations of herbs and minerals. Apothecaries are always looking for knowledge of new herbs and formulas.
Architect Designing large and important buildings requires a unique set of specialized skills. This NPC is part project manager, part engineer, and part artist. Architects are curious about new building styles and new building materials.
Auctioneer Even in a large city, very expensive or unusual items may have no steady market. Sale of these items is advertised in advance and carried out by an auctioneer.
Bookkeeper A vibrant urban economy requires large amounts of commerce, including investment, money lending, and taxation. The job of this NPC is to keep track of all the figures. He may carry some of his books with him, along with an abacus or slate tablet.
Brewer This NPC makes ale or beer and delivers it to the local inns and tavems. He is always looking for a unique brew to give him an advantage over the competition.
Candle Maker While the poorest cities get by on torchlight, more advanced cities burn through many hundreds of candles and many barrels of oil every night. It is the candle maker’s job to keep everyone well supplied.
Chimney Sweep Often young boys who can fit with relative ease into narrowy spaces, a city’s chimney sweeps provide a valuable service, since an untended chimney creates a dangerous fire hazard. Chimney sweeps are filthy, and as a result are often unwelcome in a city’s more prosperous establishments.
Coal Burner This person makes coal by slow-burning wood in pits out in the country and delivering it to homes and businesses inside the city. He smells of smoke and burnt pine.
Ditch Diggers Someone has to clean out the city’s gutters, middens, and sewer pits, and that job falls to these poor laborers. They dig out sewage and dump it outside the city, sometimes searching through it for unexpected treasure.
Gambler A smart person, or one who’s willing to risk a little cheating, can gamble as a profession. Gamblers tend to alternate between being totally broke and generously wealthy.
Iceman In temperate climates, icemen cut large blocks of ice from lakes and store them in straw to be delivered to customers during warmer months.
Jailer While almost every town has a jailer who keeps the keys to the town militia’s jail cells, in many large cities, the services of the town watch or militia are inadequate. As a result, private businessmen often build jails, hire soldiers, and offer arrest, imprisonment, and justice for a price.
Lamplighter This NPC patrols the city streets at night, making sure that the proper lamps and torches are lit, and that no one is pilfering oil. He also acts as a sort of night watchmen and has the town militia at his call.
Librarian A library is more of a business than a public service. Books are hand-copied and expensive, so libraries are often exclusive to people who pay high membership fees. The ones that allow patrons to borrow books charge a few coppers each, and may use armed thugs to enforce due dates.
Locksmith This profession includes making keys and locks, as well as fixing or picking existing locks. This business is usually tightly controlled by guilds and monitored by the authorities. Anyone with locksmithing skills who is not a member of the guild is assumed to be a thief.
Messenger This NPC is the equivalent of a postal service in many towns. Messengers are summoned when there is something to be delivered and generally deliver items to a single destination аг а time. Messengers are always in a hurry.
Midwife These are generally women, and are tasked with assisting with births and tending to women’s medical needs. They work closely with apothecaries and are said to have unique magical powers.
Miller Most large towns and cities posses a mill for grinding grain into flour. The mill may be the reason the city formed in the first place. The owner and operator of the mill is an important man with a lot of local influence.
Painter Paints are made from flax seed oils, or from agricultural products like milk or egg yolks. Without any magical or alchemical enhancements, they wear quickly, so there are always buildings nа city that need painting.
Papermaker Large towns require detailed records, and therefore lots of paper. The papermaker makes parchment or paper and scrapes vellum for important documents. He is also called a ragman, because he wanders the streets collecting old rags to make paper.
Payer City streets are paved by pairs of simple laborers, one pulling а cart of bricks while the other remains bent over, placing bricks at remarkable speed.
Perfumer Most cities are crowded, with inadequate sanitation and few public baths. In such an environment, the sweet and exotic scents wafting from the perfumer’s cart or shop are all the advertisement he needs. The perfumer himself is usually the finest-smelling individual in town.
Ponderator This is the inspector of weights and measures. His duties vary from checking the weights used by merchants to tasting beer and ale to verify quality.
Scribe In a society where many people are illiterate, being able to read and write can land you a good job. Scribes act as personal secretaries, or charge a fee to copy or translate documents.
Serf The slaves and indentured servants of landholders may escape and hide in the city. The laws in some areas reward them with their freedom if they can avoid capture for a year. The town militia may make sweeps of the town to capture hiding serfs and collect their bounty.
Ship Caulker Large port towns provide maintenance for the ships that come into their harbor. This laborer caulks and seals hulls and removes barnacles. He is covered in dark tar and smells of rancid fats and oils.
Steward Wealthy merchants and noblemen are seldom seen in a city market. Instead they send one of their stewards to do their shopping and settle their affairs.
Street Cleaner Streets are swept clean by simple laborers, sometimes filling a cart with refuse to dump outside the city, or sweeping garbage into festering gutters and middens.
Tax Collector Every city imposes taxes of some kind. This NPC assesses how much each individual owes, based on their apparent wealth, and makes sure the money is collected. Нез not very popular.
Thatcher A thatch roof provides wonderful protection from the elements, but it takes a great deal of time to create and maintain. Thatching is a vital skill, often protected by a guild or special laws.
Town Crier These are the newsmen of the city. Anyone who has an important message for everyone in town hires a town crier to walk the street and shout it.
Vintners While wine is made out in the country, someone has to bring it into the city and sell it. The vintner’s customers are the wealthier nobles and tradesman, not the ale-swilling commoners.
Wetnurse Children of rich merchants and nobles may have wetnurses, brought in to care for them from the time they’re born, relieving the real mother of all the tiring and tedious duties.
BY ALEC AUSTIN
BY JEFF CARLISLE