Rangers

Let them come for me. The woods are my home.

LORE

Ranger character Icon

The idea of the ranger in history borrows from a long legacy of lonely hunters, frontier survivalists, forest isolationists, wilderness scouts or guides and guerilla fighters.

From the primordial hunter-gatherers stalking their prey, spear in hand, to Canadian coureurs des bois surviving in the wilderness, and indigenous mercenaries hired for their tracking skills, there is enormous diversity in the ranger trope. In military history, ranger generally refers to light infantry troops trained in reconnaissance, ambush and guerilla fighting, operating in small numbers or even as commandos.

Also, the relationship between the ranger and nature can hardly be understated. If the rangers are sometimes merely skilled in survival and hunting, they often have a much deeper connection related to their upbringing or way of life, being frontier people, pioneers, or native to the land they protect.

Even non-indigenous rangers are often seen adopting local customs and a certain respect for the wild, to the point city folks and bigotted officials may look down on them for ‘’going native’’ or preferring the company of beasts to the one of people.

Popular culture is filled with famous and iconic rangers. Lord of the Rings’ Aragorn is certainly the king of this trope, as the most well known and probably the first incarnation of the idea in fantasy. Jon Snow from Game of Thrones is also a famous ranger, and it can easily be argued that The Witcher’s Geralt of Rivia, a monster hunter, is a ranger in all but name. Famous more modern characters like Rambo or Katniss Everdeen cannot be ignored, all contributing to the success of the ranger as a character theme over the years, and its popularity in fiction.

Characters

In fantasy, rangers are often depicted as lone wolves, stoic silent types, or antisocial wild characters more at ease with animals than people. They may also be heavily influenced by the idea of the hunt, seeing things through a predator-prey lense, or adopting a very pragmatic mindset revolving around survival. Without necessarily being amoral, rangers are often the type of characters that can be unwilling to get embroiled in people’s affairs. Fitting the trope of the anti-hero or the reluctant leader, they are followed for their skills and self-reliance, without any real personal desire for authority or glory.

Rugged and used to get through rough patches, rangers are resourceful and knowledgeable characters that can often rely on past experiences to get through a difficult situation.

The relationship between a ranger and the wilderness can be a rich element to develop when creating the character. For some, nature may be a home or heaven to protect from being despoiled by civilization.

It can also be a place of exile, a place to flee someone’s past and shame and get a second chance, away from those who used to know their face and their deeds. It can also be a reassuring world, a hard but simple life free from the intricacies and complexities of the cities, a life that brings freedom, peace of mind, and allows one to challenge their limits.

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Costumes

In LARP, rangers are expected to wear highly functional clothing and equipment designed for wilderness survival, stealth and mobility. Earthy tones like brown, grey and green are often the most natural choices, and decorations should be limited and subtle, often taking inspiration in the natural world or using materials easy to gather in the environment like wood, bone and feathers. Cloaks and hoods are iconic to ranger characters, but they can certainly be replaced by long coats or scarves for a similar effect.

A ranger is expected to fight, but frontliners they are not. Armor should be limited to leather or ringmail, anything noisy or too heavy defeating the purpose of a light footed and mobile combattant.

In melee, rangers may fight with long hunting knives and hatchets, often dual wielding to compensate for their lack of reach or shield. Versatile weapons such as the bastard sword or longsword can also be very on theme, especially considering the most famous ranger of all wielded one in Tolkien’s one ring saga, and so did the iconic Jon Snow, another famous ranger. Of course, a guide or scout may favor a combat staff doubling as a walking stick, while a hunter may prefer to carry a spear into battle, piercing foes the same way they hunt wild boars. A melee weapon shouldn’t be too cumbersome though, for rangers are expected to skirmish with hunting bows, crossbows, javelins or throwing knives, if they aren’t entirely fighting with projectile weapons.

Lastly, the importance of a ranger’s accessories shouldn’t be underestimated. Expected to survive alone in the wild for prolonged periods of time, what a ranger lacks in armor, they carry it in additional equipment like waterskins, supplies, a bedroll, cooking wares, rope and medicine. A ranger with a hefty backpack or an overburdened set of belts full of pouches is something to be respected. After all, it is a ranger’s duty to throw a few extra apples to any comrades who missed their second breakfast.