An initiated follower of the Way of the Crook (der Kreukweg), your flock is your microcosm, each member a devotee of your sacred song of wanderlust.
Shepherds are often apprenticed at age 12, at which time they adopt a large but gentle dog, their companion in the art of boundary management (the Way of the Crook). They are taught to understand the herd as an extension of their self, spending long hours meditating on grassy hillsides and in secluded mountain valleys.
Shepherds acquire a complex set of Secret Signs (see Tier 2) through a series of secret initiation rituals. Many shepherds also learn a unique martial art based around the use of the crook (as a Quarterstaff). When it is too dark to read or too early to start drinking, sparring with other shepherds helps break up the monotonous hours on the mountainside. Long nights spent under the stars make most shepherd excellent navigators.
The shepherd career was inspired by a reading of Montaillou: The Promised Land of Error by Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie. Chapter IV (pp. 69-88) provides a surplus of ideas for role-playing itinerant shepherds. “They formed a rural nomad semi-proletariat, without hearth or home but with their own traditions, their own pride, and their own special conceptions of mountain liberty and fate” (p. 69). The author gives several historical examples of respectable farmers and craftsmen who, having been ruined by the Inquisition, became shepherds, nourishing revenge in their hearts to accompany the heretical beliefs of their souls.
Additional inspiration may be derived from the Pastoureaux movements in medieval France.
Goats large enough to ride (see Tier 3) are obviously at the GM’s discretion. In the land of Azyria, the dwarves breed large mountain goats as mounts, and have occasionally traded the most robust specimens to their human allies. Another option for intrepid GMs might be alpacas or other camelids.
Shepherds might fit well into either the Ranger or Peasant class, so a Shepherd may move into the first level of another Career in either of those classes (at the GM’s discretion) for 100 XP if you have completed your current Career level. Otherwise, see the rules on pp. 48-9 of the WFRP 4e rule book.
Shepherd Advance Scheme
Tier 1: Drover’s Apprentice – Brass 2
Skills: Animal Care, Animal Training (dog), Athletics, Charm Animal, Endurance, Navigation, Outdoor Survival, Perception
Talents: Animal Affinity, Hardy, Night Vision, Orientation
Trappings: Shepherd’s Crook (Quarterstaff), Bedroll, Backpack, Tinderbox, Large but Friendly Dog (Schäferhund)
Tier 2: Shepherd – Brass 4
Skills: Heal, Intuition, Melee (Pole Arm), Secret Signs (Shepherds), Stealth (Rural), Track
Talents: Acute Sense (vision or hearing), Careful Strike, Read/Write, Rover
Trappings: Book (Pastoral Romance), Loneliness, Flask of Spirits
Tier 3: Goatherd – Brass 5
Skills: Climb, Consume Alcohol, Ride (Horse or Goat*), Play (any, but probably not harpsichord)
Talents: Robust, Strider (Rocky, Tundry, or Woodlands), Tenacious, Well-Prepared
Trappings: Riding Horse (or Surly but Tolerant Riding Goat) with Saddle and Tack, Drinking Problem (optional)
Tier 4: Master Drover (“Kreukmeister”) – Silver 3
Skills: Haggle, Ranged (Bow, Entangling, Sling, or Throwing)
Talents: Luck, Seasoned Traveler, Sixth Sense, Strong-Minded
Trappings: Flocks and/or Herds, Drover’s Apprentices, Bow or Sling with Ammunition