On the Shoulders of Heroes
The wilderness is a harsh and unforgiving place. Endless pines, rough hills and steep mountains litter the lands of Bellög. Dangers lurk in the crevices and coves, caves and lakes. Only few dare to explore the wild, untamed lands. Many men content themselves with the lands close around their homesteads. Rangers are strong, resourceful and resilient warriors that roam the places where few other sane men would go. They have their own reasons, be it scouting ahead of a war band, bringing outlaws to justice or protecting the innocent from monsters. A ranger combines a great knowledge of nature and wilderness survival with a steady hand in combat.
More often than not, rangers relish the thrills of adventuring and exploring. Some have a need to do what is right, to protect the weak or they simply lust for gold. Whatever their motives, adventures play a central role in the life of a ranger. Their experience makes them excellent scouts and guides for adventuring parties. Even in a dungeon environment a ranger can make himself useful: he can find traps, cast healing spells and makes a decent combatant.
A ranger’s life is one of constant trials and dangers. To survive in the wild one certainly needs a high wisdom score. Constitution is important for survivability and dexterity both helps a ranger dodge threats as well as influence a great number of ranger skills. Depending on his fighting style, strength may play an important part in a ranger’s tactics.
Unlike druids, who also call nature their home, rangers may be of any alignment. Evil rangers are usually villainous outlaws, while good rangers fight those that would harm the weak.
Mielikki, goddess of the woods, is patron to many rangers. Dwarven rangers from the mountains often worship Ilmarinen. Rangers in coastal regions, such as Barbossa and Merma, sometimes worship Atho.
Becoming a Ranger
Rangers are usually taught by trainers, or masters. They have no ties to each other beside this sacred bond. It is not uncommon that rangers from the same area, or that learned from the same master, are rivals. Masters either charge a fee for an apprenticeship or, if they are inclined to do so, take up students for personal reasons. Some of them first test their apprentices, or have rough codes which they expect them to obey. Many rangers have learned the ways of the world from their fathers or grandfathers. It is common for rangers to have an animal protector, a lucky charm, who guides them through the forest or serves as a companion. They often decorate themselves with the animal’s fur or feathers, and a tattoo of them across their back or arms.
Elves, with their respect and love for nature, often choose the path of a ranger. Half-giants, who wander the plains and forests of the treacherous North, have a long history of becoming rangers. They often take levels of barbarian and find fierce, powerful animals to guide them. Many of them ride powerful steeds or immense mammoths. Humans, and half-humans, are common rangers as well.
A ranger can make a valuable addition to a group of heroes. Their extensive knowledge of survival and adventuring makes them valuable guides. Rangers excel at stealth and have the ability to detect traps, making them great replacement if a party is lacking a rogue. Despite their great skills, rangers pack a punch in combat and make great supporting characters.