Huntsman, Woodsman and Guide

True adventurers by nature, wandering explorers by vocation, Huntsmen, Woodsmen, and their ilk find themselves more comfortable far from the habitations of men under the luminous dome of cerulean skies shining with fretwork of fire, glittering with lights like diamonds at night with its procession of constellations like old friends. Most are a dab hand with animals due to a long association through common Husbandry or training in Horsemanship as a Knight. Many are more comfortable around beasts than people, being less complicated and far more honest. All are versed in the lore of the wilds and the requirements for survival in the lands ruled by the whims of Nature. In character though, the followers of these Trades can run the moral gamut from high to low, like any other.

The Huntsman’s training focuses on the lore of the wild places, plants and beasts, to enable him to survive and prosper, to provide for all his needs. He is familiar with the Forest Law by necessity, so he does not fall afoul of it. He may even serve as one of the roaming officials, a familiar figure in the castle from which the forest is administered. The Woodsman lives either in or near the woods or wild places and makes his living from the bounty there, out travelling its trackless expanses daily to provide for his needs, but without the hunting skills that are the mainstay of the Huntsman’s skills, though he may be a trapper seeking pelts. The Guide’s skills are simpler still, lying mainly in knowledge of trails and topographical features of the land and commonly found out herding the sheep in the pastures, agisting the pigs in the forest, and/or Foraging for the bounty of the land or serving as a Guide.

Only the training of the Huntsman, provides the opportunity to cultivate Beastmastery or Husbandry, specifically in regards to the beasts of the Hunt (Horse, Hawk, and Hound), as an integral part of the Trade. All of these, however, will have ample opportunity to cultivate Foraging and the knowledge of the Herbal, as desired.

Like several of the other Trades, the Huntsman and his ilk will develop certain sensory skills during their apprenticeships which are expressed in the form of AWA checks, such as a Direction Sense, a Weather Sense and a Time Sense. These will enable the character to discern all cardinal and secondary compass points, and provide him with a keen sense regarding fixed points from which he has departed in his wanderings, such as campsites, villages, towns, or whathaveyou; to predict the weather for up to (AWA + trade SL) hours in advance by reading the clouds, the movements of the wind, interpreting the feel of the very air itself, noting the subtle changes in the plant life and the movements of the local animal life; to tell the time of day and even month or season of the year, knowing where to look for the relevant signs, the proper positions of sun, moon, and stars in their annual processions.

Huntsmen, Woodsmen, and Guides will have a Direction Sense to aid them if they wish to forge their way across trackless countryside or wilderness, to keep them from getting misdirected, but with a relatively accurate set of directions they need no d100 check to find their way to their destinations.

Maps are a luxury for those who can afford them in the period of the game, but even for those who can they are only generally useful. The sorts of maps available in the period of the game is specifically useless for determining distances and accurate relationships in space of different locations and especially do not represent the true nature of topographical regions. The best they can do is indicate the general routes of national or regional roads and mark the approximate positions of the points of major importance (towns/cities) along the way.

The average citizen of the realm will know the major routes through his shire, and most definitely within his hundred, and that will include the intrepid Huntsman, Woodsman and Guide. And while it is unlikely the average citizen has used these routes unless they are in his backyard and used to get to the local market(s), they is well-known and travelled by the Huntsman, Woodsman and Guide. All will know the general direction such routes head. The closer such routes are to their homes, the more likely the average citizen will know the next couple villages or towns in either direction from where he would reach join those roads, but this is considered common knowledge for the Huntsman, Woodsman or Guide.

All characters, both PC and NPC will have knowledge of topographical details such as the locations and general extents of major features like manors and lords estates, rivers and streams, or villages and minor towns, markets, religious foundations, churches and chapels found within (AWA) miles from the town or village in which he resides, in which he is likely to have been born and grown up. This will include the Huntsman, Woodsman and Guide, as well, of course

The in’s and out’s of small local features like farmers’, cowherds’, and shepherds’ paths, major game trails, the small paths leading from the various public facilities like, grange, mill, and manor, common small game trails and paths  used by Foragers, Huntsmen, Woodsmen and Guides, downs, cliffs, mountains, knolls, crossroads, creeks, streams and rivers, their fords, meadows, and pastures, especially those with names important to local historic traditions, bogeys, fairytales or cautionary tales which are found within (AWA) furlongs from the town or village in which a Huntsman, Woodsman or Guide character resides is considered to be common knowledge for him, also. The lesser paths followed by those of a particular trade (farmers out to the fields and back or among the fields, herders of all sorts of animals to the areas where they are grazed) is common knowledge but only for those whose business makes them familiar with them (GM’s discretion)

Of places of major importance within (AWA) miles, regardless of why they are important, a resident will likely know the general direction in which they lay and the approximate amount of time it would take to get there, but it is highly unlikely they will ever have been there personally. The Huntsman, Woodsman or Guide, on the other hand, will likely have been to visit all such sites at least a time or two.

The areas described above is measured from the Huntsman’s, Woodsman’s, or Guide’s home and that of the mentor who instructed him in wood craft, as well, making two circles that will likely overlap somewhat, but not necessarily. Within the areas of which he has detailed knowledge, the character will need no Guide or Direction Sense to get around and is in no danger at all of ever getting lost except through the malicious application of magick on him.

So long as the Huntsman, Woodsman, or Guide makes the effort to ride the land, explore it and get to know it, he is able to increase the extent of the area in which he is familiar with all the major locations of importance by [(AWA ÷ 4) miles with every trade SL gained, or (AWA) furlongs for the area in which he is familiar with even minor details.

Skill or instinct for direction will only come into play when directions given, whether verbally or on a map, do not agree with the lay of the land (they may have been maliciously skewed by the source), or fail to account for major geographical features (one or more mountains or valleys) that can get the character turned about, or a feature of terrain like marshes and wet lands or forests that block the view of the lay of the land. In the period of the game, there were no maps showing accurate distance relationships or topographic features to assist any warlord in creating a campaign plan. Local informants and enemy deserters is prime sources of intelligence regarding the lay of the land when waging war in foreign countries. It will not be uncommon for armies to miss each other completely, which is one of the primary reasons for sending heralds ahead to offer battle at a specific place on a particular day.

Sometimes there just isn’t any substitute for a local guide in foreign lands.

Huntsmen, Woodsmen and Guides will always be needed as scouts even at home to supply knowledge of the local countryside to visitors. Except for those forced to travel for a living or those who have the luxury of travel, most folk will not have any practical knowledge of the district in which they live beyond a (AWA)-mile radius of the place  where they were born and raised. In the case of those encountered  living in places where they have not had that length of exposure, it is assumed that it will take roughly (30 – AWA) years to develop the same level of familiarity with the new locale.

In the course of his adventures, the Huntsman, Woodsman or Guide may find himself traveling to distant locations, going far afield to locations that are completely different from his native environs, even to different climates, BUT this will have only a limited effect on his skills. His effective Huntsman (etc.) trade SL is limited to no greater than Warden LoA, or (trade SL ÷ 2) if he has not reached that LoA. In addition, until he has acclimated himself to the new climate and region SL of all the character’s trade skills is limited to no greater than his inhibited Huntsman (etc.) trade SL (as applicable).

This will continue until such time as the Huntsman (etc.) can acclimate himself, to locate and correlate the local landforms, weather cycles, and animal life to the points of reference in his native experience that will make him more comfortable in practical terms with the ways in which things in general differ from that with which he is more familiar and comfortable.

Each week spent acclimating will restore an effective trade SL/SL to him until he is back at full capacity.

IF the character has a local member of the same trade (Huntsman for a Huntsman, Woodsman for a Woodsman, or Guide for a Guide) to show him around, warn him of hidden dangers and pitfalls and help to make him more comfortable in the new surroundings, the rate of acclimation will drop by (host‘s trade SL) in days.

The player and GM will please note that no SP’s may be accumulated by the exercise of the character’s trade and no progress made in it during the period of acclimation.

After the period of acclimation, the region with which the character is familiar, as explained above for his native region, is measured from the point of his base-camp and host’s location in the new environment/climate as if the character were TR1 again, and must be patrolled and expanded in the manner described for his native territory as his trade SL progresses there.

When the Huntsman’s knowledge and expertise are expanded from his native environs to an additional foreign climatic region (as above), his skill in the previous (native) environment/climate is subject to atrophy like any other neglected skill, requiring an AWA check on d100 vs. the time elapsed at the end of every (AWA)-week period that the character is away from that environment/climate.

The Huntsman may well be a Knight in addition, by birth and blood right, with all of the advantages in battle that brings, BUT a Huntsman is not a Knight or even a Warrior of any kind in and of himself in regards to his Trade training.

The Huntsman, Woodsman and Guide is allowed the same (trade SL) bonus to his P-RES score as a Warrior or Knight versus pain and privation due to their rough and tumble existence in the wilds in addition to their training in arms.

The selection of weapons this Trade allows is more limited than the Warrior. Very often the Huntsman is a Knight or at least a Squire or Gentleman (descended of knights), relied upon by the crown in times of war. As such he is trained in the weapons appropriate to his class, as detailed in the description of the Warrior Trade (pg __) and also in the description of the Weapons skills and again in Chapter 7. of Character Generation, concerning buying equipment. Freeman Huntsmen will have a different array of weapons to choose from and be less likely to be called on except in dire need to enforce the peace in the forest precincts. When the Huntsman or other citizen, or Ranger or other officer of the forest is the man closest to respond to the presence of a malefactor, he is expected to raise the Hue and Cry as he pursues and subdues them. Knowledge of the Forest Law is essential for any man who will tread its paths with any regularity or live in any formal royal forest or in any district where there is forest land nearby.

The Huntsman will not be granted the same training in weapons and armor as a Knight or other professional Warrior in regards to the benefits to defense skills and the ability to wear heavier armor without penalty, and will not be granted the same benefits in developing speed of action, attack, or defense as a trade Warrior or Knight, etc. If the player wants those advantages for his character, he must equip the character with that Trade as well.

The Huntsman’s training in the field and the need to coordinate on scouting operations has given rise to a language of necessity – a silent one like that used by some Warriors. The character is trained in the use of the Battle Sign signal-language, a series of hand signs easily discerned at short distances with which they may speak to any other Warrior trade individual within sight. This language is included in the character’s (native) Language Life Skill. The Huntsman should be very careful with whom he shares knowledge of this secret language, for who knows who his enemies is later on?

The signal language of the Warrior is centered around movement and direction, action and simple nouns and states of being like “go” or “come”, “stay”, “right” or “left”, ”forward” or “back”, “pass by”, “look”, “beast”, “large”, “small”, “hide”, “attack”, “kill”, ”friend”, “guard”, “trap/ambush”, “all clear”, “armed” or “harmless”, and so on and so forth.

The simplicity and limitations of this language are major reasons for Huntsmen taking war names, or simple descriptive titles. They are more easily rendered in the battle language, often modified so that they can be rendered exactly in the signs for ease of communication.

Like the Warriors with whom they associate and for whom they commonly act as guides and scouts, the  Huntsman is granted the same allowance for the purposes of sleeping in armor so used are they to having to be ready for armed conflict on a moment’s notice. This will allow the Huntsman to actually benefit from the practice in recovering WND and FTG where for those of other Trades the discomfort will rob them of such rest and recovery, as described in Chapter 3. of Part III. The Rules of the Game.

Another benefit of the Huntsman’s Trade training comes in the form of a  bonus of (1 per 4 trade SL’s) to the character’s base BP’s and also his FTG. The FTG bonus will increase the Wind determined from it by extension, as well. This is explained in Step 7. of Part I. Character Creation.

The Huntsman’s trade SL is added to his CND for the purposes of determining how quickly he recovers his Wind and FTG, in addition (NOT for purposes of determining the time needed to heal wounds).

Though it would be a bit too much to address to cover all aspects exhaustively for the purposes of the game, a few of the more common aspects of the Huntsman’s and Woodsman’s knowledge are presented here on which the GM should allow the player some latitude in play.

The following passages can help smooth play, particularly when the player(s) or GM don’t want to roleplay every knit-picking detail, or the player(s) and/or GM don’t have knowledge equal to the character’s.

Much at home in the wilds, all Huntsmen, Woodsmen and Guides will know well the basics of how to choose a campsite for the most comfortable bed sites, safest fire-pit sites, best drainage, best view of surrounding countryside and/or cover from sight, even for tactical advantage. They is assumed to know how to pitch a camp, to choose the best disposal sites for waste and latrines, according to the prevailing winds and natural drainage. They will know how to string tarps up for maximum protection from the elements (no substitute for a pavilion or tent, but the character can make them comfortable enough (in a pinch), gather and dry wood as needed, strike a fire with either flint and steel or friction bow and maintain it, bank it to preserve it, lay the best fire for light or cooking, and strike. He can gather safe, soft, bedding material to lay under ground cloth or bedroll, and will have a knowledge of Knot-Tying equal to that of any Mariner.

The character’s knowledge of plants will enable them to forage for and prepare the proper materials (bark fibers, reeds, grasses, sinews, etc.) for twisting or braiding various lengths of rope and cordage that they may need. In addition, the character will have the knowledge necessary for the gathering of and weaving of other types of grasses, bark fibers, reeds, rushes, willow switches, etc. into various baskets, sacks, blankets, crude cloth to make clothing, sandals, and the like, BUT for this activity the basis of the character’s AV is only (1 per 4 trade SL’s) and the results is very rough unless the character has knowledge of the Craftsman-Weaver trade. In this case, the Craftsman trade SL will form the basis for the AV, and a bonus based on the character’s Huntsman (etc.) trade SL is added to it for this purpose.

Afterwards, the character is able to strike the whole mess and pack it away, even attempt to disguise the fact that it had ever been there, if he has the Conceal Stealth skill.

IF desired, he may even do so leaving no obvious sign, providing a [(trade SL) + (CRD att. mod.)] DV for any coming after to discern the previous use of the site. This will take [(number of people in the party) + (number of animals, as applicable) + (number of days the campsite was occupied)] x 10 in minutes to accomplish.

IF the campsite should be discovered despite the character’s efforts to conceal it, the same DV is used for all information the Tracker investigating the site tries to discern.

The Huntsman, Woodsman, or Guide’s skills is of benefit to those with whom he travels when cutting cross country taking advantage of game trails and local footpaths as opposed to established roads so as to make the route shorter, more nearly a straight line (topography permitting). The penalties to the maximum speed that can be safely traveled which may be imposed by the prevailing vegetation (bracken, vines, and undergrowth, bushes, saplings, trees and the like, including those arising from crossing wetlands) or the surface conditions (uneven, shifting or irregular, broken, or rocky) may be reduced by the use of his woodcraft. He will not be able to eliminate any penalties to speed due to the path or footing being buried or submerged by water, snow, etc., however.

In play, the total of any such movement penalties may be decreased for the Huntsman by 5% per 2 trade SL’s, due to his sharp eyes and ingrained ability to sense and choose the easiest path through any terrain or wilderness setting. So long as the Huntsman, Woodsman, or Guide is leading, the Huntsman, Woodsman, or Guide may extend his skill to aiding the movement of those he is leading, but the size of the party my hinder the amount by which he can aid them.

For every point by which [(STA of the largest in the party is greater than the Huntsman’s) – (STA by which the smallest is less than the Huntsman’s)] + (number in the party) is greater that the Huntsman’s (AGL + trade SL), the Huntsman’s effective trade SL is lowered by one (1) for determining how much he is able to reduce cross-country movement penalties, as described above.

The Huntsman is able to ensure that his passage or that of his party will not disturb the local animals overmuch. In their passage he is able to avoid allowing those accompanying him from startling birds or small game out of cover, and to avoid annoying and provoking casually encountered predators (as opposed to any who might have picked up their scent and be stalking them). To reflect this, the GM will add the Huntsman’s [(trade SL) + (CHM att. mod.) + (AGL att. mod.)] to the party’s DV for Random Encounters to occur with animals in rural or wilderness areas, and also to improve the results of Encounter Reactions with animals when they do occur, to make them more benign in nature.

As mentioned, Huntsmen, Woodsmen and Guides are well-versed in woodcraft and lore, BUT Huntsmen and Woodsmen by far the most completely. Both the Huntsman and Woodsman trades also encompass a number of ‘pioneering’ skills, including knowledge of building such shelters as lean-to’s, wickiups, wattle-work, sweat lodges, and/or finding suitable cave shelter (if available), BUT for this activity the basis of the character’s AV is only (1 per 4 trade SL’s) and the results is very rough and will stand only so long as the character inhabits them, they isgin to fall apart immediately upon being vacated, unless the character has knowledge of the Carpenter-Craftsman trade. In this case, the Craftsman trade SL will form the basis for the AV, and a bonus based on the character’s Huntsman (etc.) trade SL is added to it for this purpose.

IF he wishes to hunt (and/or fish in areas where it is practical), the Huntsman or Woodsman’s knowledge will include the knowledge of preparing dried/jerked meat (when cut into strips, this can take from 1-2 days, regardless of the type of meat), but for this activity the basis of the character’s AV is only (1 per 4 trade SL’s), unless the character has the Cook (Chef) Petty Skill, in which case that SL will form the basis for the AV, and a bonus based on the character’s trade SL is added to it for this purpose.

He is able to find edible insect life, for which he will have the same (1 per 4 trade SL’s) basis for AV, unless he has the Forager skill, in which case that will again become the basis for the AV and the bonus based on trade SL again is allowed.

With the hides of the animals that they dry, those who decide to hunt is able to make rawhide (a 2 or 3 day process) or tanned leather (with or without natural fur, depending upon the type of skin or pelt, generally a 4 to 5 day process), for which he will have the same (1 per 4 trade SL’s) basis for AV, unless he has some aspect of the Leatherworker/Tanner/Tawyer-Craftsman trade, in which case that will again become the basis for the AV and the bonus based on Huntsman or Woodsman trade SL will again be allowed.

Through their knowledge of percussion flaking, pressure flaking, pecking/crumbling, and abrading, Huntsman characters may make crude tools such as knives, awls, hammers, axes, clubs, etc., for which he will have the same (1 per 4 trade SL’s) basis for AV, unless he has some aspect of the Mason/Sculptor-Craftsman trade, in which case that will again become the basis for the AV and the bonus based on Huntsman or Woodsman trade SL will again be allowed.

Applying these tools to horn and bone with similar skills, characters may produce additional tools (needles, tanning knives & scrapers, handles for tools, etc.), for which he will have the same (1 per 4 trade SL’s) basis for AV, unless he has some aspect of the Carver-Craftsman trade (regardless of the material on which the character normally works), in which case that will again become the basis for the AV and the bonus based on Huntsman or Woodsman trade SL will again be allowed.

The Traditional Huntsman

Three classic items mark a man as a forester : a bow, his green garb and possession of a hunting horn. Lincoln green is a color that was named after the cloth woven in the city of Lincoln and certainly helped the forester blend in when about the woods in pursuit of his duties. Foresters commonly also disguised themselves with leaves and foliage to help them blend into the Vert, arranging branches and twigs so they point downwards to the ground as movement is exaggerated by any foliage arranged to point upwards. According to ancient custom and the practices of the Hunt, for which he is trained by Trade, the Huntsman must be able :

To shoot a bow. This skill to be used against the venison and against poachers in equal measure.

The optimal type of hunting bow is one that should be approximately six feet five inches in length and made of boxwood or yew, strung with a silk bowstring (as the silk bowstring is quieter, lasts longer and can cast a heavier arrow than hemp), It’s nocks should be horn and the arrow pass of buckskin to reduce the noise of the arrow against the bow when shot.

The fistmele (bracing height between the belly of the bow and the strung string) should be one palm’s width plus two fingers which is about an inch less than the standard fistmelé which is the height of a clenched fist with the thumb held upright (the thumbs up sign, hence the phrase “rule of thumb”).

Arrows should be at least 35” in length and fletched with low cut and short fletchings when making a light shaft, or high cut and longer fletchings when making a heavier one.  The arrow head should be barbed.  The arrow head should be aligned so that the barbs are in the same plane as the arrow nock.  When shooting a Mediterranean draw should be used (three fingers) as opposed to the two fingered Flemish draw (a stronger grip for a stronger bow).

Barbed arrow heads are forbidden within a forest unless one has leave to use them as in the case of a forester or when a part of a licensed hunting party.

To train a scenting hound, after the fashion of a Beastmaster, as represented on the Trade roster. There are a number of jobs and titles that are associated with the different types of hounds (lymerer, fewterer, berselleter, etc.) depending on the breed.

These hunting dogs are bred with their specific purpose or role in mind and their handlers would’ve had their own titles and responsibilities. The dogs most commonly used are :

The Lymer or lymehound, similar to a modern day bloodhound. These dogs are used to scent the prey.

The Gazehound, in modern speech, is a grey hound. These dogs are used to run down the wounded prey. The keeper of the gazehounds is called a fewterer. One of the tasks of the fewterer was to build bowers to keep the gazehounds and ladies out of the extremes of weather, in addition to caring for the hounds.

The Brachet is another scenting dog, but is used as a lone beast rather than a pack hound. The brachet is commonly carried on the horse  across the saddle by the Huntsman.

The Mastiff is a larger and more powerful dog that is used to protect from or bring down larger prey. They are also be used for guard duty. It is commonly held that a person with a mastiff sleeps very well.

The Alaunt – The alaunt is a large powerful dog also, but bred for one purpose only, for battle – to kill. They are commonly armored and used to take on wild boars (themselves the most dangerous beasts of the hunt). They are virtually untamable, unlike the mastiff, no longer bred in modern times. The bulldog is bred from alaunt stock, however.

Alternately, a Huntsman may be skilled in one of the other two beasts of the hunt – hawks, in which case he is called a Falconer, or horses, as a Master of Horse. At the player’s option, the character may be equipped with more than one such beast specialty, up to (AWA ÷ 4) as desired, with the understanding that each with be tracked in SL separately, according to the use given it.

To stand properly in his tree (stable stand). The Huntsman must be able to construct a stable stand for his own use as well as for the use of higher ranking hunters in his charge. If the prey is to be hunted in open country, artificial stands called “hays” is constructed. The Stealth skills of the Trade is employed when awaiting the prey in stand or hay as well as when out stalking it.

A derivative of the word “hay” is used when driving game towards stable stands and it is here whence the archers’ war cry of “Hahay! Hahay!” comes.

While at York during the Weardale campaign in 1327, the archers of Edward III’s army got into a fight over a game of dice with the servants of the Knights of Hainault.  Jean le Bel recorded that “all the other archers of the town and the others who were encamped among the Hainaulters gathered up their bows, [shouting] “hahay hahay” like pigs, and wounded many of the servants and forced them to retire to their hostels … these archers, of whom there were a good two thousand, had the devil in their bodies and shot, with amazing skill, to kill everyone, both lords and varlets”. The men-at-arms of Hainault counter-attacked and, in the end, 316 archers were dead.

To remember the placement of archers who shoot with you. Even in the period of the game, safety was a concern, despite the lack of high visibility jackets or risk assessments. William II (“Rufus”) was killed in 1100 by an arrow while out hunting.  Great stock is placed on a forester who knows where bowmen in his vicinity are placed and where their arrows will pass.

In this case, the PC is allowed a Direction Sense check to remember the relative positions of his party members in an ambush or hunt he is orchestrating, to guide him to their original positions as a point of departure to find them even in the thick of the fray.

To observe the wind, and to be mindful of it. Being upwind from the beast being stalked the wind will allow the scent of those on the hunt to be carried down to them and alert the prey to their presence. The Huntsman must take note of it and be mindful of any changes.

To cut arrow shafts. In this case, the Huntsman will have this skill only if the player should equip his character with the Bowyer/Fletcher craft Trade from the Elective Skills list for the Trade. Otherwise, the Huntsman should be adept enough to effect simple repairs as needed.

In Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” the yeoman archer has arrows fletched with peacock feathers and is dressed in Lincoln green. Peacock feathers are a high quality fletching feather and so, unlike the mass produced goose fletched war arrows, any using such fine arrows would expect to retrieve them after they’d been used.

To skin a hart. This includes not only skinning the beast, but butchering it and preparing the meat and hide for transport back home or to camp to be cooked.

To direct his scenting hound. This will apply only to those who are Masters of Hounds, as described above. The Falconer and Master of Horse must equally be able to direct the beasts in their charge.

To sound his hunting horn. The sounding of the horn is the best means for maintaining contact within any hunting party or with the local foresters when in the wood, unless one has access to magickal means. The horn is the common man’s tool. The hunting horn, despite its one note, may be sounded in a series of strokes and mots and thus be used to convey a surprising number of messages.

Assemblée: The gathering.

Chemin: The Road or way to the meet.

Queste: The search for the quarry.

Requeste: The search anew when the quarry has turned to cover.

L’eaue: A water obstacle.

Chasse: The hounds running.

Retraite: The withdrawal & return homeward.

Ayde: At bay or a request for help.

Vehue: The sight of the quarry.

Mescroy: The changing of the line of scent.

Relaies: The need for a relay of hounds.

Prise: The death of the quarry.

Appel de Chiens: Calling together of the hounds.

Appel de Gens:  Calling the hunters together.

Classes are held to instruct all those who need to know the different calls. This does NOT qualify as an Instrument skill. The medieval hunting signals evolved into the modern day fox hunting calls. These hunting calls were the forerunner to the bugle calls of later armies. Indeed, the Menée stroke (assembly call) was used prior to Agincourt (1415).

A good hunters’ horn must be made from true horn and twelve to fourteen inches long. From belly to ends it should curve up no more than four inches.  This slight curve along its length is preferable so that it can hang against the contours of the forester’s body when not in use.  The horn is bound with fibers to provide extra protection and should always sound louder than a fewterers’ horn (the gazehound handler) or the woodsmen’s horns.

Also, upon reaching the Warden LoA, the Huntsman will have attained the knowledge and experience to move through the wilderness without leaving a discernable trail to the untrained eye. Even to the trained eye, a Tracker check is required to discover the traces of the Huntsman’s passing, his experience in woodcraft providing a DV equal to his [(trade SL) + (AGL att. mod.)].

Also, upon reaching the Artisan LoA, the Huntsman’s empathy with the beasts of the wilds gained through his woodcraft will enable him to commune with them to seek impressions of their experiences, thus gaining information of events in the vicinity within the past (trade SL) days.

Settling down, still, quiet, and alone in the wilds, the Huntsman must wait for a beast of some sort to come nigh him close enough to establish eye contact. He must remain still and quiet in order to forge a bond with the beast and allow the beast’s spirit to fill him so he can sort through it’s impressions and experiences to discern events having occurred in the vicinity (GM’s discretion) within the time limit. This can be very handy in tracking when the physical trail is lost.

The AV for communing for information this way is equal to the character’s [(trade SL) + (SPT att. mod.) + (AWA att. mod.)].

Also, upon reaching the Master LoA, the Huntsman’s empathy with the beasts of the wilds gained through his woodcraft will enable him to physically approach wild beasts without spooking them. This will enhance his ability to commune with them when seeking information.

By settling down, still, quiet, and alone in the wilds in the sight of a beast who has noticed him, the character can try to draw that beast to him. This is a very useful talent when seeking counsel with the beasts in the country.

The AV for drawing the beast in is equal to the character’s [(trade SL) + (CHM att. mod.) + (SPT att. mod.)].

This link with the beast will also enable him to convey ideas of his own to the beast, communicating in a limited fashion. He is confined to simple concepts such as pain, grief, hunger, anger, fear, predator, prey, love, and caring. Direction is easily established, but the character will not be able to discuss concepts of time beyond “happened” (past), “now”, and “will happen” (future) within the current day. Both player and GM must understand that this is not true speech, it is loose and broken and will not translate into civilized verbal communication well. To those observing, Huntsman will utter the occasional grunt, click, whistle, groan, growl, chirp, or chittering and/or other similar sounds.

The character will need to make a successful roll to determine whether the beast has understood clearly what the character intended to communicate.

If the roll is failed, the GM must make an Encounter Reaction check, as described in Chapter _. of Part _. later in this book (pg ??) to determine the beast’s reaction to what it understood the character to mean.

Having forged this level of bond with the beast, the Huntsman is in a position to ask any boon or service from the beast in addition to seeking information. For this the GM must make an Encounter Reaction check, a favorable reaction indicating agreement to grant the boon. Though the DV will increase for every such boon granted, the character may continue to ask boons as they are fulfilled. The beast will only labor under one boon at a time.

The Forest

It is important that the player of a Huntsman understand the special place of the forest in the medieval world and the knowledge expected of him and the practices followed by those of his Trade.

A “forest” in the period of the game is a very specific area, far different from the concept as it is understood today, as an area of densely wooded land. It is “the highest franchise of princely pleasure”, above the inferior franchises of Chase, Park and Warren.

“He [the King] doth grant a commission out of Chancery, under the Great Seal of England, directed to certain wise and discrete persons fit for that purpose, therein declaring that His will and pleasure is to make a forest in such a place, in such a shire, within so many miles of such a place, and therefore by the same commission He doth will and command them, that they shall diligently perambulate and view the whole country and shire within so many miles compass, and so much of the same, as they by their view and perambulation shall think meet and convenient to make a forest of for His delight and recreation, to bound and meere the same by sufficient marks, meeres, and boundaries to environ it round about, so that by those marks, meeres, and boundaries the circuit and whole compass of the forest may unto the King be known and discerned from other land which is not forest.”

“A Forest is a certain territory of woody grounds and fruitful pastures, privileged for wild beasts and fowls of Forest, Chase, and Warren, to rest and abide in, in the safe protection of the King, for his princely delight and pleasure, which territory of ground, so privileged, is meered and bounded with unremovable marks, meeres, and boundaries, either known by matter of record or else by prescription : and also replenished with wild beasts of venerie or Chase, and with great coverts of Vert, for the succor of the said wild beasts to have their abode in : for the preservation and continuance of which said place, together with the Vert and Venison, there are certain particular laws, privileges, and officers, belonging to the same, meet for that purpose, that are only proper unto a forest and not to any other place.”

Forests are large tracts of land held in the hands of the Crown, usually including large areas of heath, grassland and wetland, anywhere that supports a notable population of deer and other game.

Under Henry II (1133-1189) fully 30% of the entire kingdom lay under the Forest Law as royal forest.

A forest as defined in medieval society embraces Chase, Park and Warren and is comprised of four elements, the first two being Vert and Venison. The Vert is comprised of “every plant that doth grow within the forest and bear green leaf which may hide or cover a deer under it.” This encompasses “great wood” and under wood, bushes, trees and woods, alike, and all that bear fruit of any kind at any time in the year giving food for the venison, not herbs such as thistle, gorse, heather, and the like.

Over Vert is comprised of “Hault Boys” or greatwood, fruit-bearing and not, including old ashes and holly trees.

Neather Vert is comprised of “South Boys” all manner of underwood, including bushes, thorns, gorse, ferns, and heather (accounted coverts to hide the deer)

Special Vert is comprised of every tree or bush in the forest bearing fruit to feed the deer, whether Over Vert or Neather Vert, as pear, crab[apple]trees, hawthornes, black[berry]bushes, and the like.

The Venison is comprised of the Beasts of the Forest, the Beasts of the Chase, and the Beasts of Fowl and Warren. The five Beasts of the Forest are the hart, hind, hare, boar, and wolf. The five Beasts of the Chase are the buck, doe, fox, marten, and roe (deer). The Beasts & Fowl of Warren are the hare, coney, pheasant, and partridge.

These are the beasts that are privileged in the forest. Of these, only the red and fallow deer are esteemed for the table, the rest only for the sport of the hunt.

The Venison is divided further into two categories : Bestes Doulces (sweet beasts) which are the stag, the hind, the fallow buck, the roebuck and the hare. The other category is Bestes Panntes (stinking beasts) which are the wild boar, the sow, the wolf, the fox and the otter.

The traditional practice on Fridays was abstinence from meat, when fish was consumed. The otter was classified as a “fish” or beast of the water, as far as the Friday meat prohibition was concerned.

The Vocabulary of the Forest

Age                  Deer                  Hynd                  Hare

1                  Calf /Hind Calf                  Calf                  Leveret

2                  Brocket/Brachet                  Brocket Sister                  Hare

3                  Spayad                  Hind                  Great Hare

4                  Stag/Staggerd

5                  Stag/Great Stag

6                  Hart

Age                  Wild Boar                  Buck                  Doe

1                  Pig of the Sounder                  Faun                  Faun

2                  Hog                  Pricket                  Pricket Sister

3                  Hogstear/Hoggister                  Sorell                  Doe

4                  Boar                  Sore

5                                    Buck of the 1st Head

6                                    Buck/Great Buck

Age                  Roe                  Marten                  Fox

1                  Kid                  Marten Cub                  Cub

2                  Gyrle                  Marten                  Fox

3                  Hemuse

4                  Roebuck of the 1st head

5                  Roebuck

Age                  Coney

1                  Rabbit

2                  Coney

Boar and hare fat are called grease.

The fat of all kinds of deer is called suet, except for the fat of the roe, which is bevie grease.

The Spoor

The spoor of a beast is called according to the beast.

The spoor of all deer is fewmets or fewmeshing.

That of the hare is called crottels or cratising

That of the boar is called lesses.

Those of foxes “and all other vermin” are fyants.

The Tracks

The tracks, traces, and footing are also called according to the beast.

Those of the hart are called the slot.

Those of the buck and all other fallow deer are the vewe.

Those of the boar are the trace or the treading.

Those of the hare depend on the conditions :

in plain fields she soreth.

in chasing about to deceive hounds she dubleth.

in beating a hard high way she pricketh.

in the time of snow they are referred to as the trace of an hare.

Those of the fox “and all other vermin” are called the footing.

The other two elements of a forest are the particular laws and privileges that prevail in its confines and the officials who have charge of it :

“… certain meet officers appointed for that purpose, to the end that the same may the better be preserved and kept for a place of recreation and pastime, meet for the royal dignity of a prince.”

The officers of the forest are the Steward, the Verderers, Foresters, Regarders, Agisters, and Woodwards.

The Verderer is a judicial officer chosen in full county by the freeholders in the same manner as the shire Coroner. It is his responsibility to hold the Swanimote (a minor court) and act as judge over the freeholders within the forest who made up the jury, to view and receive the attachments of the Foresters and record them on his rolls.

This name for the position comes from the Norman word ‘vert’, a word that means green, referring to woodland. Verderers are often Knights or persons of high social standing (Squires, Gentlemen) who were elected by the county court.  If a dead or wounded deer was found with an arrow the arrow was sent to the forest verderer and enrolled as evidence. Verderers investigate and record minor offenses and deal with the day to day administration of the forest.

The graves of several 13th and 14th century verderers are adorned with the symbol of an axe representing the control they had over the felling of vert .

A Forester is “an officer sworn to preserve the Vert and Venison in the Forest, and to attend upon the wild beasts within his bailiwick.” Foresters are charged with protecting and preserving the Vert and Venison, apprehending offenders against the forest law.

The Assize of the Forest issued in 1184 make the forester’s responsibilities and penalties for not protecting the King’s wood quite clear.

“And the lord king has commanded that, when a forester has the lord king’s own woods in his charge, if those woods are destroyed and he can by no means show good cause for the destruction of the woods, vengeance shall be taken on the forester’s own body and not otherwise.”

Each forester is assigned a patch of forest to look after called a ward, a walk, or a bailiwick. The forester would also enforce “chiminage”, which is a toll for passage through the forest, specifically a road tax to purchase “chiminagium”, which is ‘right of way’. They also levy the exaction of ale, or the equivalent in money, in the event of a festivity.

The Charter of the Forest of 1217 defined and restricted chiminage and scotage (keeping of an ale house by a forest official) indicating that these aspects of his duties were routinely abused by the unscrupulous.

Among the foresters are Foresters-in-Fee who are classified as either under-foresters (deputy-), the foot or walking foresters over them, and the riding foresters above them all. In addition to the regular foresters, some officers known as arrow men might be employed who’s day-to-day duties are to keep order within the forest boundaries, similar in nature to the sergeants of the Peace in the shires. They commonly have an unsavory reputation among those within their districts.

Ranger is a colloquial name for the under-foresters. These are paid £20 to £30 per year out of the Exchequer, plus certain deer both red and fallow for their fee. Their office and authority is to walk and range daily throughout all the purlieus (disafforested regions on the borders of the royal forest) and the land disafforested to hear, see, and inquire of all offenders and their offenses within the range of their liberty; to walk and range the purlieus and conduct the beasts safely out of the purlieus back into the royal forest; to prevent all trespasses and offenses of the forest of hunting in the purlieus, appearing at the next court of the forest following, that the king may have certified what wild beasts have been killed in the purlieus.

The riding foresters are also called Bow-Bearers because they have the right to carry a strung bow in the forest, where as their sub-ordinates require a warrant from the Warden of the forest to do so.

The term sergeant-in-fee is also applied to indicate a forester who holds land (less than a Knight’s fee) in return for his service.

The foresters are be paid approximately 2d per day and in addition receive certain allowances of wood and venison. The wood and game make the office of forester more attractive despite the low wages.

The Regarders are itinerant visitors by nature. Their duty is to travel and make a regard or take a view of the forest once every three years, to inquire of all offenses, and of the concealment of such offenses by any officer of the Forest.

The Surveyors who determine the boundaries of the forest and the Regarders (from the French, regarde, to see) are the eyes and ears of the law of the forest.  These officers report to the Warden when there is an infringement on the forest and trespass upon the royal rights such as assarting and/or purpresture. Regarder and surveyor visits provide a check against collusion between the foresters and local offenders which occasionally does happen.

The business of the Agister is to look after the pasturage of the Forest, and to receive the payments for the same from those persons entitled to pasture their cattle or set their swine to forage the mast or acorns in the Forests. Both the pasturage and the payment are referred to as “agistment.”

Agisters receive and take in the beasts and cattle of every resident of the forest who pays for common herbage there, to pasture and feed them, but only for such beasts as are commonable within a forest (kine, oxen, cattle, et al). Geese, goats, sheep, and swine are not commonable.

Agistment lasts from St. Edmund’s Day (June 9) to Holy Rood Day (September 14). However, Agisting private lands may be done for herbage only at any and all times of the year desired by the owner, and the pannage taken, but after the king’s demesne woods if the owner’s lands are adjoining, and not including goats and sheep within the regard of the forest.

The Woodward is a type of forester, the officer who has the care of the woods and Vert and presents offenses at the Woodmote. Woodward is a colloquial name for the Forester-in-Fee, who also sits as advisor to the warden of the forest.

The main difference between the forest and chase is that “… offenders in a Chase are to be punished by the common law, and not by the Forest Law” as are those who commit offenses in a Forest. In addition, Chases have only Keepers (which in a Forest would be called Foresters) and Woodwards, and have no courts of attachments, no seats of justice. Forests are open as opposed to being enclosed, as a Chase or Park is though their bounds are well-marked by ditching.

During Fence Month (June 9th to July 9th) the deer drop their fawns and the officers of the forest are expected to occupy themselves primarily with the safekeeping of the young deer “who cannot run nor shift for themselves”. At other times of the year they are expected to watch over the deer through the nights.

Under Henry II, twelve Knights were appointed in each forest to watch over the beasts and oversee the officers of the forest.

Fence Month is kept every year with men performing “watch and ward”. All officers of the forest appear in the Verderer’s Swannimote to receive their directions as to where and with what company of men they are to keep their watch and ward.

Hunting Styles

In the period of the game, a few hunting styles are recognized , those being : hunting from a hide (called a bow-and-stable stand), stalking, and hunting Par Force. Bow & stable hunting is a kind hunting similar to pheasant shoots today where the game is driven towards the waiting hunters. Par force is similar to the chase en masse used in modern fox hunting. Stalking is following the game using stealth. These are the forms of hunting we is most concerned with in the game due to common use. The snaring of birds by fowlers is used more by woodsmen in the employ of those with rights of Warren than by noble hunters themselves. The popular sport of falconry lies largely in the hands of the nobles who can afford it, and is not so much pursued for procuring meat for the table, but for sport.

Stalking with the Bow

Stalking with a bow is most commonly carried out in three different modes. The first is on foot, with the use of a scenting hound. The second is with a  number of archers and a couple horsemen.  The archers get into position and silently ready themselves. Their best position is a stone’s throw from one another, in practice, with each positioned in front of a tree to provide a clearer shot. Also, if the prey should run past the archer, it is better that it pass on the left hand side for a right-handed archer and pass on the right hide side for a left-handed archer, as it is quicker and easier to twist rather than have to reposition one’s feet for the shot. The archers wear green to blend in and, if they are not already nut brown of face from their time outdoors, they must disguise themselves with ivy or leaves. The two horsemen attending the archers start by riding downwind of the prey and when in position they drive the game before them towards the waiting archers.

The third, requires the archers to all hide in a cart that has been selected because it has squeaky wheels. The cart is slowly driven through the forest and the squeaking noise brings the curious deer nigh.  When the deer are close enough the archers start shooting.

In all forms of stalking “a weaker bow” is preferred. A weaker bow can be held for long periods while partially drawn without tiring the archer. Holding the arrow partially drawn makes completing the draw much quicker, thus reducing the odds of spooking the prey.

If a deer is shot but not killed and the arrow is recovered it is quickly inspected. If the blood is “bright and clear” the Huntsman knows the prey is merely wounded and a long and difficult chase required to bring it down.  If the blood is “thick and sticky” he knows the prey is close to death and will not be far away.  In either event, the forester will sound his horn to bring forward his lymerer with the lymers or his fewterer with the gazehounds and the chase would begin.

Two different styles are commonly followed in hunting with a bow unattended : mounted on a horse, or on foot. A horse is less likely to disturb the deer and the archer does his best to approach the deer from behind, to avoid approaching from the sides or the front. The left stirrup is made shorter than the right for better support and stability when shooting from the saddle. The archer on foot must rise early, go alone and commonly approaches from upwind (contrary to common sense). The rutting season from August to mid-September is considered the best time to hunt deer, when the deer are likely to be distracted.

Birds hunted with bow and arrow are pursued using blunt-headed shafts with large fletched feathers. A bird is stalked where it rests and is simply shot from its perch, as taking down a bird in flight by bow is extremely difficult. Taking down birds in flight is commonly left to the efforts of the falconer and his charges.

The wild boar is an extremely dangerous animal to hunt and as such it is considered prudent to use a “hide” to hold an alaunt at rest in ambush.  Wild boars are said to be most vulnerable when availing itself of mud holes and so it is building a hide near one at least two feet across is preferred.

Hare or rabbit hunting is pursued both on horse and on foot and centers on the use of a dog, multiple dogs, or a rider to flush the hares towards the waiting archer.  Again, the mating season during the month of April is considered the best time to hunt the hare.

Par Force Hunting

Par Force hunting is considered a much more noble form of bringing down the prey as the venison is run down by the hounds before the kill is made, in much the same manner as modern fox hunting.

It begins with the Quest whereby a forester and a lymer track a hart and sight the quarry before the hunt.

Following is the Assembly, the gathering of the hunting party to determine how best to assay the day’s hunt.

The Relays are then plotted by the Huntsmen, the most likely path of the hart, along which the hounds are positioned to ensure that fresh hounds are available along all stages of the chase.

Next the Moving or Fyding takes place whereby a forester would track down the hart with the help of a lymer and his hounds.

The Chase occurs next, when the hunters run down the venison until it is exhausted.

In the next stage, the Baying, the venison is brought to bay. This is the point at which the hart, no longer able to run, turns to defend itself.  The hounds are held back and kept from attacking, leaving the highest ranking man in the hunting party to make the kill. The kill might be made with sword, spear or lance and led to the Unmaking and Curée in the same manner  bow and stable hunting.

 A Bow & Stable Hunt

The following is the typical sequence of events for a royal hunt according to Le Livre de Chasse by Gaston Phoebus, Count of Foix (1387-1389).

Once a day is set for a royal hunt the designated master forester informs the local sheriff of the number of men, archers, stables and cartage needed for the removal of game to be taken down.  The foresters then begin work constructing the necessary stable stands or blinds or bays, or set out to inspect and repair those still standing.

On the day of the hunt those under-foresters, foot foresters, riding foresters, woodsmen, fewterers, lymerers and all others required to aid the hunt are required at first light to reach the forest edge and make ready for the arrival of the royal party.  The fewterers build bowers to shelter the gazehounds and ladies from the weather.

Upon the arrival of the royal party, after they have broken their fast and all are in position, the Master of the Game blows his horn three times.  This signals the beginning of the hunt.

The hunt begins by “voiding the rascal”, that is, emptying the forest of the venison that offers little in the way of sport for the hunters. Hounds are taken in to harry and herd the younger red and fallow deer, barren does and hinds (female deer) towards the stable stands, where they are either killed or diverted away to be hunted another day. The older and wiser harts (male deer over 7 years old) would remain in the wood but, if one were to be chased out and killed, the Master of the Game would blow the death on his horn as usual, before cutting up the beast and rewarding the dogs with bread soaked in the blood.

After the voiding, the harts are raised and the chase begins.  The hart hounds – those dogs specifically trained to chase the harts (managed by the Master of Hart Hounds) – are unleashed and the scenting out begun. Despite having the hart hounds to guide them, the reputations of the Huntsmen depend on how well they lead the hunt to the prey. It is usual for the Huntsmen to scout out likely hiding places in the days leading up to the hunt so that they are able to lead the hunting party quickly to the deer.

Once a hart is found, with luck the kill follows. When it comes to the kill, the honor of carrying it out belongs to the King on a royal hunt, the highest-ranking lord of the hunt, otherwise. Things do not always fall out so nicely according to social precedence. The kill is the point of the hunt, most often, and the highest-ranking lord may not be the one in position to deliver the killing blow.

Once the beast is dead, the unmaking and curée takes place – the ceremonial cutting up of the carcass, followed by the rewarding of the hounds. Offal or numbles (heart, lungs, liver etc) would be spread on the hide of the finest beast and the king would take or offer the choicest morsels as was his privilege. All those involved would be offered their share according to a complex system of hides and venison.  Each person with a claim would be required to mark the beast accordingly and to aid in this the arrows are personalized by distinctive fletching.

Whoever makes the killing blow receives the greatest glory. If an arrow injures a deer but it is eventually killed by a hound, the hound is credited with the kill. If it is unclear to whom the kill belongs, the Master of the Game arbitrates.

The Forest Law

Three courts serve the needs of the Forest : the Woodmote (court of attachments), the Swannimote or Swainmote, and Justice-seat. The Woodmote is held every 40 days for the Foresters to bring in their attachments concerning any damage done or offenses against Vert or Venison in the forest, and for the Verderers to receive and mark the same. No judgement is passed here, however. The Swannimote is held three times a year, first on St. Edmund’s Day (June 9th) to coincide with the fawning and the meeting of the agisters for the agisting of lands, woods, and pasture for herbage, second on September 9th to coincide with the agisting of beasts not commonable for mast (swine and hogs), and third on November 9th to receive the money due for pannage in the forest and to enter the payments in the Verderer’s Roll.  The first Swannimote is also coincides with the beginning of the fawning and Fence Month, the agisters meeting also to make sure no beasts were foraging in the wood and disturbing the deer at their fawning. Swannimote is the court to which all the freeholders within the forest owe suit and service. Here the Verderers sit in judgement. In this court all offenses against the Forest Laws may be tried but, again, no judgment or punishment follows. This is reserved for the justice-seat, held once every three years, to which the rolls of offenses presented at the Woodmote, and tried at the Swannimote, are presented by the Verderers. The justice-seat is the court of the chief justice in eyre.

Even the nobility require a license to hunt and hawk in the king’s forests. Such licenses are usually limited to certain beasts and certain forests, even if the noble should hold a manor or lordship in that very forest. By the Carta de Foresta, those archbishops, earls, or barons answering a royal summons are allowed one or two deer by view of the forester, if present, or after sounding the horn to alert him, otherwise, if their route should taken them through a royal forest. They are allowed the same privilege on their return from the king’s summons, as well.

In the issuing of licenses to hunt, there is a strong distinction drawn between those granted for pleasure, and those granted for profit. The license for pleasure is not transferrable, nor to be exercised with servants and/or train, and the beasts killed may not be carried off and used. If the warrant specifically allows stipulates a right to the disposal of the beast(s), it is a license for profit, thus allowing the attendance of servants and train. The carcass might even be sold and the grantee’s discretion. Otherwise, a license of pleasure grants no rights whatever of ownership in the carcass.

A “license in law” for the hunt is one granted verbally by the owner of the forest, where a “license in fiat” is written and placed under seal and carried by the grantee.

Those hunting without license are arrested and carried off in person to prison, and kept there to languish until a special warrant from the king releases them.

Those found trespassing in the forest with bow and arrow, crossbow, or greyhounds is arrested as if they had already committed the deed for which they are equipped, but not to be imprisoned unless taken in one of four manners :

Stable Stand : found standing with crossbow or longbow bent ready to fire on the deer, or greyhounds on the leash ready to slip.

Dog Draw : found with dog on a leash drawing him after a wounded beast.

Back Bear : found carrying a carcass.

Bloody Hand : found coursing in the forest or having coursed and marked with blood, or found in the forest marked in any suspicious way with blood.

If engaged within the bounds of the forest, trespassers that flee the forest officers, against whom the Hue & Cry is then raised, may be injured and even slain if they resist by force of arms.

If the officers raise the Hue & Cry in the forest and pursue them outside the bounds of the forest if he has “fresh suit” (current and immediate trespass) and keeps them in view. Otherwise the officer(s) is to make inquiry of who they were by name and surname and shire and town where dwelling, who were their aiders, receivers, or directors in making said trespass.

Outside the forest, the officers are restricted from using extreme force in arresting and attaching the offenders. So, if there be danger to the officers, they are to let the offenders go and make presentment in the next Swannimote of that forest after the inquiries outlined above. The forester is them to inform the Chief Justice of that forest. After receiving the testimony of the Verderers, the Justice can issue a special warrant  for the offenders wherever in the realm they may be to have them imprisoned until they find sureties to answer for their offenses and trespasses.

To make off with Venison slain to the king’s use by his foresters is a felony, as is the taking of any other man’s produce after his labor has gathered or felled it. Taking swans and herons young in the nest, or tame deer, is likewise a felony. On the other hand, cutting another man’s trees or grain or taking fruit from his trees is not a felony, nor is taking doves or fish in the wild.

Those committing felonies such as these in the forest may be pursued by the Hue & Cry wheresoever they may go as felons before the common law until they are apprehended.

To cut underwood, thorns, elder trees, boughs, “lignum siccum” (dry [seasoned] wood), “siccos ramos”, and “huius-modi” within the forest as well as “digging or delving up of turves and clods” or otherwise making “waste and destruction in woods or grass” are all trespasses of Vert. Trespasses of Special Vert are punished more severely.

In the King’s woods, ALL Vert is considered Special Vert. Rushes, fern, gorse, and sedge are profit items of the forest, protected by its officers.

By forest law, no man may cut covert or wood, without the view or delivery of the Forester or Verderer, and the license of the Chief Justice of the Forest Eyre. Housebote or Hedgebote may not be cut and taken even in a man’s own forest freehold without the view and delivery of the foresters, nor without a warrant (license) to do so. Housebote is the term applied to wood allowed to a tenant for repairing the house and for fuel. Hedgebote is the term applied to wood used for repairing hedges or fences. The right to cut turf for fuel was called “turbary”.

To cut one’s woods, requires a writ “ad quod damnum” from the Chief Justice of the Forest to the Chief Warden of the Forest, or his lieutenant in the specific woods, who then have the “Foresters, Verderers, and other honest sufficient and lawful men dwelling in the forest in those parts” where the wood in question lies, to inquire and certify to the king in the court of Chancery or the Chief Justice :

1) Whether the cutting of the wood would be of hurt or annoyance to the forest of the king

2) Whether it is of hurt or annoyance to any other person or not

3) What hurt or annoyance it is to the forest of the king

4) What hurt or annoyance it is to any other person

5) How and in what way it is of hurt or annoyance to the forest of the king

6) How and in what way it is of hurt or annoyance to any other person

7) How much the wood in question contains by the number of acres

8) How much every acre is worth per year

9) How far the wood is from any other covert of the forest

10) Whether the wild beasts of the forest hunt or frequent the wood or not

Before he can have his license to cut the wood, he must come before the Chief Justice and “be bound unto the Queen’s majesty by recognizance … in a certain sum of money” to guarantee that, from the felling of the wood for seven years after, he will fence the wood and keep it with sufficient hedge and ditch from further hurt from cattle or deer. Small ditches and low hedges, as for a forest assart to preserve and keep the cut wood until it is grown anew.

The offense of “purpresture” is an encroachment on the Forest rights by the building of a house, encroachment, or enclosure within the forest, or using any liberty or privilege without lawful warrant or good title, regardless of whether the land belongs to the offender or not. If the land is his, a license must first be obtained. In either case it is an offense punishable by fines at the discretion of the justices.

When a man converts woodlands within the Forest into arable land, it is called an “assart”, a punishable offense as well.

To make an assart in one’s own forest land, cutting down the woods and turning the land to tillage, contains both waste and destruction of the woods, and requires its own license, again using the writ “ad quod damnum” specifying the same.

Not to pale a cutting (surround it with a fence) so as to preserve it for regrowth, resulting in its being eaten by deer and cattle into oblivion, is destruction of the forest, much more serious than making waste (cutting and then hedging and ditching to protect the cutting so it can grow anew). Cutting during the wrong season so the trees don’t grow back is just as bad, both waste and destruction of the forest.

The ploughing or drowning of meadow land so that it turns to rushes and is barren is also an offense of waste.

All residents of a forest are allowed to maintain a mastiff about his house for defense but, “most chiefly”, this right belongs to gentlemen, husbandmen, farmers, and householders of any worth” resident on the forest. These hounds must be lawfully expedited and lawed, however. Every three years when the regard of the forest is taken by “the view and testimony of good and honest men”, inquiry is also made into the dogs needing lawing and expediting.

The killing of any Beast of Forest, Chase, or Warren without license is a trespass of Venison. To hunt a beast out of season, as well.

If a lawfully expedited dog should be found upon any deer, the master shall be quit of any charges for the deed.

Little dogs (not used for hunting) may be kept in the forest without lawing. The actual expediting of hounds is carried out through the Verderers forty-day court of attachments (Swannimote), after the presentment of the Regarder’s Roll of dogs in need of lawing, by a man appointed to that purpose at that time.

In practice, one of the hound’s front paws is set on a 1ft. square block 8in’s thick and a 2in broad chisel is set across three claws. With a sharp blow from a mallet, the claws are struck cleanly off at the point where they emerge from the skin.

Due to the fact that the forest law does not run in the private Chases, there is no lawing of dogs there.

Hunting Seasons

Hart or Buck                  Midsummer Day to HolyRood Day

June 24 to September 14

Hynd or Doe                  HolyRood day to Candlemas

September 14 to February 2

Roebuck                  Easter to Michaelmas

(var.) to September 29

Roe                  Michaelmas to Candlemas

September 29 to February 2

Fox                  Nativity of Christ to the Annunciation of Our Lady

December 25 to March 25

Hare                  Michaelmas to Midsummer

September 29 to June 24

Boar                  Nativity of Christ to the Purification of Our Lady

December 25 to February 2

Wolf                  Christmas to the Annunciation of Our Lady

December 25 to March 25

In trespasses of the forest, there are no accessories. All witting commanders, aiders, receivers, and assisters (ie., as receiving venison of the forest poached by a trespasser, or harboring offenders, or ordering other to commit such offenses) are treated as principles, as if they committed the deed themselves in their own person.

The forester himself is expected to raise the Hue & Cry being a locally well-known person, the better to lead and have others follow, BUT any other officer or minister of the forest – and, indeed, any other resident of the forest – can do the same, and is expected to do so, if he see any offender or malefactor committing offenses within the forest.

A very strict set of rules is observed in all the king’s forests for the duration of Fence Month, as follows :

Any swine, sheep, and/or goats found in the forest are forfeited to the king, delivered to the Verderers “that they [the owners] may answer the value thereof [pay the fine for]”.

“No man shall be suffered to go wandering up and down in the forest out of the king’s common highway in the forest, ‘lest that he should steal or bear away the young fawns.”

“Nor n o man to pass to and fro; nor to fetch or drive any cattle or beasts through the waste soil of the king’s forest, out of the highway, for fear of troubling or disquieting of the wild beasts in the time of their fawning.”

All dogs resident in the forest are to be kept in for the month.

All suspicious wanderers to be attached (arrested) and brought before the Verderers.

All dogs loose in the wood to be seized and their owners found.

Any caught hunting or coursing any wild beast in the forest to be attached and brought before the Verderers.

Any caught attempting to make away with any fawn are to be apprehended and carried to the Verderers.

Any bearing crossbow or longbow out of the king’s highway in the forest to be brought with the weapon(s) to the Verderers.

Any caught gathering rushes or “bents” or such like are to be attached and brought to the Verderers to find pledges to guarantee their good behavior.

Any driving swine are to be attached and the swine brought to the Verderers.

Any driving cattle to agist them to be apprehended and brought to the Verderers.

Any injury or death of any deer so found is to be inquired into and reported to the Verderers.

Any and all offenders or trespassers in the forest are to be apprehended and carried before the Verderers. If they will not and cannot be taken, then the Hue & Cry is to be raised until they have been.

Punishment Under the Forest Law

Taking hawks or destroying their eyries and making charcoal of “browsewood” within the forest are finable offenses, BUT :

“Every man shall have, within his own woods, eyries of hawks, sparrowhawks, falcons, eagles, and herons, and shall also have the honey, that is found in his wood.”

However, he must exercise these rights and be ready to give proof, else these rights fall to the king.

For the making of waste the fine is equal to the value of the land per acre, based on its nature and yearly yield previously, to be set at arbitration.

The fines for purprestures are typically higher than for assarts

Waste is seized into the king’s hand until it is regrown and the fine for the offense is paid in full. If the offender should die before his presentment in court, the land made waste is held until the heir fulfills the terms. Assarts made without a license are handled in the same manner, unless the offense is committed in the king’s own demesne woods, in which case the offender is arrested and detained.. Outside the king’s demesne woods, the offender will only be detained until he has found six pledges to his good name and character and further good behavior, twelve pledges on a second offense, and on the third he is jailed without bail.

If a concord can be reached with the king or his justice, once the fine is paid, a yearly rent may be fixed and the offender continue to hold the land wasted.

In the king’s own demesne woods there is no bail allowed for offense by purpresture, and no mainprise, and the purpresture to be yielded back to the Crown along with any fee (fief) held.

Purprestures made on one’s own land without license are to be pulled down.

Carts and horses used to carry away the King’s Vert are to be seized to the King’s use and the trespasser fined to the value of the wood; the same with those on horseback.

Aside from the punishment for breach of the King’s Free Chase Royal, cutting any fruit-bearing wood carries a fine of 20s. (£1).

According to the Charter of the Forest issued in 1217, no man shall lose life or limb for the killing of Venison.

For keeping a mastiff or any other unlawed dog, aside from a little dog, in the forest bears a fine of 3s. This is a flat fine regardless of social rank. The use of greyhounds to hunt without a license is fined on a sliding scale. The greater that trespasser’s estate, the higher the fine.

GM’s Notes

The Huntsman, Woodsman or Guide will require a check on d100 to determine whether he is able to keep to that direction strictly while traveling. Each successful D100 check for direction is good for roughly (SL) or (AWA ÷ 4) miles of travel, whichever is greater. When the character fails, he may try to recover his direction relative to prominent local landmarks (as applicable, GM’s discretion), but he may still become hopelessly lost if traveling some trackless wilderness. This aspect of the Sense will also enable the character to gauge the distances travelled to within [D 10 – (1 per 4 SL’s)] furlongs, whether travelled by day or night.

This aspect of the Sense will also give the character a chance to memorize or remember the directions of curves, turns, and twists travelled along his path and the order in which they were taken when he doesn’t have the means or time to map the way, even when blindfolded, and give him a chance to judge the distance between. It will also give him a chance to recognize routes travelled or locations visited in any foreign place when he returns to them, or should he stumble across them again in later wanderings.

The Weather Sense/Direction Sense base DV’s depend on the current weather circumstances and the change that is to come in them, as applicable. The greater the difference between the approaching weather and that which is currently prevailing, the easier the change in weather is to predict. In spring and fall the weather is more volatile, more subject to quick and more extreme changes, and thus more difficult to sense. The base DV starts at 30, 40 during the spring and fall, plus ten when in the mountains, on the shore, or at sea. The number of degrees of change in temperature is subtracted, minus 5 for each level of change in the prevailing cloud cover, and also for each level of change in precipitation.

Overcast and especially foggy or snowy weather may impair those attempting to use any aspect of the Weather Sense or Direction Sense somewhat, as they depend on the ability to consult the positions of the sun, moon, and familiar stars and constellations for reference. The feel of the prevailing winds & breezes, their taste, indicating the moisture content and temperature of an approaching weather front, the texture and feel of any precipitation or behavior of any mists or fog, and a general knowledge of the terrain and country and the plant growth (mosses, mushrooms, growth of trees, etc.) and habits of animal life of the area may allow them to compensate, however (GM’s discretion).

Failing with this skill can send the character tramping off in some random direction that can be determined by the roll of a D5. Plotting the direction that the character is headed on a square grid Similar to that used for tactical situations, the GM will roll his die and count around either to the rt. or the It. (GM’s discretion) the same number of 45° increments shown on the die, as if counting increments of a turn in combat. The character will end up circling gently around to the direction indicated over the course of the distance for which the check normally would have been good. The character should be allowed an additional AWA check to allow him to discover his mistake before he travels all that distance, however, as discussed in the GM’s notes at the beginning of this chapter (pg _).

The GM will also need to be prepared for the player who wants his Huntsman to be a great hunter and provider, to meet the expectations the name of the Trade itself will no doubt raise, hunting and running a line of traps for food or furs.

In order to create and run a (string of) trap(s) for any purpose the GM will please note that the Huntsman must have the Trapper skill. The restrictions and requirements for trapping may be found under the description of the Trapper skill.

For hunting, the GM should allow the character a check for success after (% chance of success) ÷ 10, in hours, using the table for the “predict weather” ability earlier as the base DV.

The AV for hunting, whether awaiting driven game or stalking it, is equal to the Huntsman’s (trade SL) + (AGL att. mod.) with a bonus based on his Stealth skill.

The base DV may be found using the following table.



Terrain Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Forest 20 10 10 30
Plains/Scrub 30 20 20 40
Waste/Desert 30 50 40 20


Terrain modifiers and inclement weather affect the DV accordingly.

If the Huntsman is successful, he can bring down 1 common game animal per 4 trade SL ‘s for the period of the check.

The player must specify the game he is hunting but, at the GM’s discretion, the result can vary to smaller prey that may cross his path when the player rolls near the percentage chance of success.

This is only recommended when the PC has had a particularly bad run of luck in hunting, however, and the party really needs the food to survive. Alternately, rather than skew the results, the GM can dice for an encounter that may otherwise be helpful. Of course, if it is winter and the party has ventured forth into relatively uninhabited wilderness without sufficient supplies, the GM is more than justified to allow the PC’s to suffer the effects of any ill-luck that come their way in hunting.

If the Huntsman also has the Cook or Survival skill he may smoke or salt the game after trapping and cleaning so that it can be taken on the trail.

In regards to the use of the Artisan or Master LoA abilities for communing with beasts and begging boons, the DV is equal to the beast’s HRT score, minus 1 per point the beast’s STA is greater than the character’s, or plus 1 per point of the beast’s STA is less.

IF at any time a negative Reaction is indicated (regardless of how bad) the boon is denied and the beast will take his leave. Otherwise the beast will remain close by the Huntsman for (trade SL) hours to a maximum of [(CHM) + (BTY att. mod.)], minus the difference with the beast’s (HRT) if the beast’s HRT is greater, or plus the difference if the character’s [(CHM) + (BTY att. mod.)] is greater.

Since animals are basically territorial, the character may return to the same area and seek to draw the same beast again and over time eventually cultivate the beast as an “Animal Friend”. To accomplish this, the character must draw the beast to himself no less than (Warden LoA SL requirement) times, as determined by his CHM score, and spend no less than (beast’s HRT +2) hours in the beast’s company in each encounter, before the beast is considered an Animal Friend. An additional encounter is required for every occasion on which the beast took off due to a negative Encounter Reaction due to the begging of a boon.

Animal Friends will generally act as if domesticated towards the Huntsman, suffering his touch and even rough-housing in accordance with the habits of the species, but they will still be wild beasts especially in regards to any others who approach. Indeed, a separate Encounter Reaction is required if the Huntsman should try to introduce the beast to any of his human(-oid) friends. For this purpose the Huntsman may stand by the beast and add his (trade SL + CHM att. mod.) to the reaction result to improve it.

If the reaction is positive, the beast will not feel unduly threatened and will suffer their presence peaceably, BUT they will not allow any to approach closer than (beast’s HRT ÷ 2) feet, or they will either lash out or take their leave (Encounter Reaction check, GM’s discretion). With the Huntsman’s aid, the Animal Friend may be acclimated to his human(-oid) associates to the point where their approach and touch is allowed.

The Assize of the Forest (1184)

This is the assize of the lord king Henry, son of Matilda, with regard to his forest and venison (Venatio, meaning either game or hunting rights) in England, [proclaimed] at Woodstock by the counsel and assent of the archbishops, bishops, and lords of England.

1. In the first place, he has forbidden that any one shall commit any sort of offense touching his venison and his forests, and he wills that no one shall take confidence from the fact that hitherto those who have committed offenses touching his venison and his forests have been declared in mercy [only] as concerned their chattels. For henceforth, if any one commits any [such] offense against him and is convicted of it, he wills that full justice shall be had of that man as was had in the time of King Henry, his grandfather.

2. Item, he has commanded that no one shall have bows, arrows, dogs, or hounds in his forests, unless [such person] has the warrant of the king or of some other man who can [lawfully] be his warrantor.

3. Item, he forbids all persons to give or sell anything to the destruction or waste of their woods, which are within the forest of King Henry; while fully conceding that, without waste, they may take from their woods whatever may be necessary for them, and this by view of the king’s forester.

The forest was a game preserve which might include all kinds of land, either inhabited or uninhabited. Within it might lie extensive woods that were the property of lay and clerical nobles. Such persons, under royal supervision, were entitled to any reasonable use of their own woods.

4. Item, he has commanded that all those who have woods within the bounds of the king’s forest may put proper foresters in their woods; for which foresters those to whom the woods belong are to be sureties, or they are to provide such proper sureties as can pay compensation, should the foresters commit any offense touching what pertains to the lord king. And those who, outside the bounds of the [forest] visitation, have woods in which the venison enjoys the peace of the lord king are to have no forester unless they will swear [to respect] the king’s assize, the peace of his venison, and whatever custodian is put in charge of his woods.

5. Item, the lord king has commanded that his foresters shall exercise care over the forest of knights and others who have woods within the bounds of the king’s forest, [to see] that the woods are not destroyed. For if on this account the woods are destroyed, let it be well known to those whose woods are destroyed that compensation is exacted from those men themselves or from their lands, and from none other.

6. Item, the lord king has commanded that all his foresters shall swear to the best of their ability to enforce the assize that he has established for his forests, and that they will not disturb knights or other good men in [the enjoyment of] what the king has granted them with regard to their woods.

7. Item, the king has commanded that, in each county where he has venison, twelve knights shall be appointed to guard his Vert and venison together with the forest; and four knights shall be appointed to have charge of agistment in his woods, and to receive and keep his pannage. And the king forbids that any one shall provide agistment for his own woods within the bounds of the forest before agistment is provided for the king’s woods. And [provision for] the lord king’s agistment begins fifteen days before Michaelmas and lasts until fifteen days after Michaelmas.

8. And the lord king has commanded that, when a forester has the lord king’s own woods in his charge, if those woods are destroyed and he can by no means show good cause for the destruction of the woods, vengeance shall be taken on the forester’s own body and not otherwise.

9. Item, the king forbids all clergymen to commit any offenses touching his venison or his forests. He strictly orders his foresters that, if they find such men committing offenses, they shall not hesitate to lay hands on those men in order to hold them and put them under attachment (restraint either of the person or of his property, to assure his appearance in court); he himself will give full warranty.

10. Item, the king has ordered that his assarts, both new and old, are to be inspected; likewise his purprestures and wastes of forests, and that each [class of offenses] is to be recorded by itself.

11. Item, the king has commanded that, on summons of his master forester, archbishops, bishops, earls, barons, knights, freeholders, and all men, as they wish to be protected and not to be declared in the king’s mercy, shall come to try the pleas of the lord king touching his forests, and to attend to his other business in the county [court].

12. At Woodstock the king has also commanded that, if any man commits a first offense touching the forest, good pledges shall be accepted from him, and so likewise if he commits a second offense. But if he does wrong a third time, for the third offense no further pledges shall be accepted from him, nor anything other than the body of the misdoer.

13. Item, the king has commanded that every man who is [at least] twelve years of age, and who dwells within the peace of the venison, shall swear that peace; and clergy holding lay fees [shall do the same].

14. Item, he has commanded that the lawing of mastiffs shall be carried out wherever his wild beasts enjoy his peace and have been accustomed to enjoy it.

15. Item, he has commanded that no tanner or bleacher of hides shall dwell in his forests outside a borough.

16. Item, the king has commanded that henceforth no one, either within or without a forest, shall engage in any kind of chase at night for the taking of wild beasts wherever his wild beasts live or enjoy his peace or have been accustomed to enjoy it, on pain of imprisonment for one year and of redeeming themselves by fine at his pleasure; and that no one, under the same penalty, shall raise against his wild beasts any obstruction, either living or dead, between his forest and the woods or other regions disafforested by him or his ancestors.