WFRP 4th Core Book- Riverfolk Class of Careers

Where There’s a River, There’s a Way

The Empire is known for its waterways, massive rivers like the Reik and the Talabec that bisect the nation into many pieces. Rivers are perfect as natural borders between the provinces as well as ways to travel the breadth of the Old World. Where there’s travel, there are people, and where there are people, there is trade and jobs to be had. The Riverfolk Class of Careers covers those that make their living on the water. They might not be seafarers (though some are), but these people know the waters of the Empire better than anyone!


Who needs an oar when you’ve got a stick!

(Dwarf, Halfling, High Elf, Human) Everyone’s favorite slab of muscle with a golden heart, Carl Withacee, spend much of his time on A Grim Podcast of Perilous Adventure as a boatmen, trained by Joseph Quartjin, a fantastic NPC from Enemy in Shadows. Boatmen of course know all about how to ply the waters of the Old World. Due to their knowledge and ability to help people travel relatively safely on the rivers their Status starts at a reasonable Silver 1 and can increase to Silver 5 if they make it to the Tier 4 Barge Master. Knowing the rivers is paramount to getting your goods where they need to go, so Boatmen have a bevvy of Skills and Talents to make sure they get the job done! Starting with access to the Sail (income Skill), Row, and Swim Skills that are relatively rare makes them unique right out of the gate! Add in Fisherman, Strong Swimmer, and later Seasoned Traveller, Waterman, and Orientation, your boatman is going to get you where you want to go. All that rowing builds up muscle and makes boatmen decent fighters as well as knowing Melee (Basic), Dirty Fighting, Strike Mighty Blow, and Very Strong. Boatmen make natural NPCs that ferry the party from here to there and are stellar sources of rumors, as they have many people to talk with. Boatmen PCs can be indispensable in a campaign that has any amount of river or sea travel such as The Enemy Within or (likely) the rumored upcoming Lustria campaign from Cubicle 7. Boatmen could be enemies of the party as well. A one shot of destitute PCs that try to rob a river barge or even a nobel’s pleasure cruise where the boatman becomes the BBEG with his oar blessed by Manaan.


So, this is a Career in 4th Edition. Who knew?

(Dwarf, Halfling, Human) So I’ll be honest here- I didn’t even realize this was a Career in this book for about a year of playing 4th edition. Once I learned of the Career, I had no idea what it was! Apparently huffers are expert water navigators, specializing in hazardous or treacherous areas. Must be one of those terms we just changed the word for as Americans! Either way, huffer is an interesting Career for PCs and NPCs alike. A PC huffer, like the boatman, is extremely useful in a campaign that features any time on the water with Skills at the first Tier like Perception, Row, and Swim. Interestingly, they don’t have Sail (until Tier 4- Master Pilot), even though they have access to Waterman. Also, their income Skill is Lore (Riverways), but they don’t have Int as a Career characteristic until Tier 3- Pilot. Seems a little confused to me. Otherwise, they have a ton of useful Skills and Talents through their Career like Charm, Language (Any), Haggle, Leadership, Night Vision, River Guide, Sea Legs, and Sharp. Their status is decent as well, as their trade keeps others and their cargo safe. It starts at Brass 4, but increases up to a respectable Silver 5. Huffers seem like a natural antagonist to PCs, where they might think their job is in danger when these adventurers are brought aboard their ship. 


Roadwardens, but on the river.

(Halfling, Human) Roadwardens of the rivers, riverwardens are the police force for the Empire’s waters. Known for being as corrupt as they are helpful, riverwardens have a similar reputation to their cousins the roadwardens. Naturally, riverwardens are a combat-centric career, so much so that their income Skill is Melee (Basic). Like other Riverfolk Careers, they have access to Row, Sail, and Swim at Tier 1- River Recruit. Later they have access to Ranged (Blackpowder), Climb, Leadership, Lore (Law), and Navigation. Notable Talents include Very Strong, Criminal, Gunner, Fearless (Wreckers), Hated (Any), and Kingpin. The Career really leans into the corrupt aspect of the job, but these are all options, so you can play as one of the few trustworthy riverwardens that are really there to do the job. Maybe you’ve joined an adventuring party to follow a lead on a smuggling ring you’ve uncovered between Nuln and Altdorf, or you want to follow the trail of raiding goblins into the Drakwald with a party to put an end to them for good? Luckily, with the Status of a riverwarden, you might even be able to afford sellswords to help you. They begin at Silver 1, and move up to Gold 1! Or maybe you’ve had enough of the corruption around you and want to get back to honest work, clearing the Empire of filth and the taint of Chaos. A riverwarden fits in as an NPC well, throwing a corrupt official at the party is always fun, and they can become a longer-term villain, finding things to need to arrest the party for, or maybe they’re a legitimate riverwarden that thinks the party is corrupted themselves (whether it’s true or not). A shipsword master with a crew of riverwardens would make for a deadly enemy.


Watch out, she’s got her eye on you!

(Dwarf, Halfling, Human) I read through the description of this Career multiple times, and the best I can tell is that this is someone that lives on the river and does all kinds of things. From fishing, eeling, digging for clams, and maybe some stevedoring. Riverwomen live and work on the rivers, but their income Skill is Endurance, putting in the long days of back-breaking labor. Seems like this is the equivalent of townsperson, but on the water. So they get Skills like Outdoor Survival, Row, Swim, and Talents Fisherman, Strider (Marshes), and Strong Swimmer to start. Honestly, this seems like a ‘filler’ Career to me, to make sure there were eight Careers in the Class. We do see some differences from other Riverfolk later in the Career with some unique abilities like Ranged (Throwing), Set Trap, Melee (polearm), and Master Craftsman (Boatbuilder). They are like a ‘jane of all trades’ Career. This is reflected in their relatively low Status, starting at Brass 2 and ending at Silver 2. Playing as a riverwoman seems easy enough, they know a lot of things, and have experience with just as much. Leaving a riverside town for adventuring is a no-brainer for character motivation. A riverwoman NPC would be a great source of information or as a mentor for a PC to learn Skills and/or Talents outside their current Career.


No jokes here. Nope.

(Dwarf, Halfling, High Elf, Human) If you really want to know your way on a ship, the seaman Career is the way to go. True sailors (and often one step away from pirate) and lovers of the water, be it salt or fresh! One of my favorite parts of this Career is that the first Tier is called Landsman! They start at a hefty Silver 1 for Status and increase up to Gold 2 as a Ship’s Master. All of the typical Riverfolk abilities are here, Sail (income Skill), Row, Swim, Melee (Brawling), Fisherman, Strong Swimmer. Less of a combat career after a second glance, seamen are great leaders and light on their feet while aboard a ship or on the beach. Talents like Catfall, Sea Legs, Old Salt, and Public Speaking make them excellent ship captains. The Skills they develop while on the water include Athletics, Dodge, Entertain (Singing), Leadership, Perception, and Navigation. They’re a great combination of travelling and fighting abilities. A seaman PC would be helpful whether on the water or not, as a lot of those Talents help while land-lubbing it up anyway! A seaman NPC would be very helpful, or very deadly. No party of adventurers wants to get on a Ship’s Master’s bad side when they have a sailing ship and crew as part of their trappings!


With a pocket full of dreams and a pistol in your hand, you can accomplish anything.

(Dwarf, Halfling, High Elf, Human) Smuggler is a great career for telling stories. PC smugglers practically have their backstory written for them. A deal gone wrong, cargo confiscated, a person on the run. Hiding your smuggler background, but having all kinds of shady Skills like Bribery, Sealth (Rural or Urban)(Income Skill), Row, Sail, and Swim, makes for a useful adventurer. Smugglers know how to hide, be it themselves or things. I’m a little surprised that their Status is low, starting at Brass 2 and going up to Silver 2 by Tier 4- Smuggler King, and that they don’t get Fellowship as a Career Characteristic until that same Tier. These are no the ‘talk their way out of anything’ smugglers, but more ‘please don’t look there’ smugglers. They do have some helpful Talents though, like Criminal, Strong Back, Dealmaker, Etiquette (Criminals), Briber, Fearless (Riverwardens), and Kingpin. A smuggler NPC would be really fun to play for the GM, especially if they have something to hold over one or more of the PCs. Making an enemy of a powerful smuggler would be a bad idea, as they know how to make things disappear…


There’s never been a better stevedore than Carl.

(Dwarf, Halfling, Human) Just imagine a halfling stevedore… that’s it, that’s the joke. Our friend Carl makes a second appearance this Class as he started as a Stevedore on A Grim Podcast of Perilous Adventure! Lifting and lugging heavy boxes and barrels is the life of a stevedore, making them ubiquitously strong and often ornery. At the same time, the higher stevedores are savvy business people. Like the riverwoman, stevedores have Endurance as their income Skill, showing the focus on their hard labor to make some Karls. Stevedores are known for being thugs and gang members as much as lifting boxes, so they have some decent combat abilities like Melee (Basic), Athletics, Intimidate, Perception, Dirty Fighting, Very Strong, and Sturdy. Being a stevedore will likely not make one rich though, they start at Brass 3, but do increase to Silver 5 at Tier 4- Dock Master. So all that work doesn’t go completely unrewarded. A stevedore PC might be tired of the grueling work and want something more than picking things up and putting them down. Or maybe they ran afoul of the Fish or Hook gangs in Altdorf and need to get out of town. Stevedores make for easy thugs to fight PCs, but a Foreman or Dock Master that is against the party could make their life difficult in quite a number of ways!


Do you want pirates? Cause that’s how you get pirates.

(Dwarf, Human, Wood Elf) Wreckers are unfortunate souls that try to take the easy way out. They lure ships into wrecking themselves in the water then steal whatever they can. If there are people in the way, wreckers are great fighters and amoral enough to often not care who is in their way. Wreckers are decidedly evil, or at best desperate in a harsh world. Their Status reflects this, starting at only Brass 2 and increasing to Silver 2 if they become a Wrecker Captain. Melee (Basic) is their income Skill, which makes sense, as they will have to fight the crew of any ship they wreck to get their goods. They back up their fighting abilities with Break and Enter, Dirty Fighting, Furious Assault, In-Fighter, Warrior Born, Dodge, Cool, and Intimidate. They are surprisingly cunning and are able to Set Traps, use Bribery, and Navigate their way out of trouble. A wrecker PC might be done with that life, or might be the sole survivor of a group of wreckers trying to find a new gang. Wrecker NPCs make for great enemies to fight, or a River Pirate or Wrecker Captain can catch the ire of the PCs when they save an innocent ship from one of their wrecks. If you’re playing a more sea-faring campaign, wreckers make perfect pirates too!

Back to the Shadows

Next time is the penultimate Class- Rogues! Classic Careers like Witches, Thieves, and Grave Robbers make their appearance. Until then, make sure to check out our Patreon at for all kinds of awesome content. Also, if you’re looking for any of the books I’ve mentioned throughout the article, head over to or if you’re in our Discord, tag Anthony with anything you need!

Dan is a founding member of the PCN, GM/host of “A Grim Podcast of Perilous Adventure,” and “Settling the Southlands” as well as a player in The Lost Omens Podcast, and The Slithering. Dan is also a novelist and writer of adventures.

4 thoughts on “WFRP 4th Core Book- Riverfolk Class of Careers

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  1. Huffer is an odd word. It doesn’t seem to appear in the English dictionary either and has some rather nasty connotations in the Urban Dictionary related to drug taking. So, I’m curious where it came from and why it was used ‘River Pilot’ would be the obvious choice. I even tried looking through some websites listing river related terms thinking that perhaps someone was a boating fanatic but came up blank.

    There is a story i read somewhere that local river pilots are up in arms about the building of all the canals in the Empire. Mainly because most of them by-pass the hazardous stretches of the Reik and thus are doing them out of business. So, perhaps its a term for a sort of rogue river pilot.

    1. Thanks for looking that up! The only experience I have with the word is more the Urban Dictionary definition. Maybe someone else out there knows? It’s a neat Career, but what is up with that name?

    1. Oh, that makes sense since they changed the boathook to a Brawling weapon. I’ll try to remember to check the errata for the next Classes. Thanks!

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