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General Ranger, Why Do You Guard the Frontier?

Rangers are warriors who roam the wilds defending civilization against monsters. Determining why your ranger lives such a rough life may open up new roleplaying opportunities for you to explore and offer new ideas for your GM to incorporate into her world.

ranger.jpg

Image courtesy of Deviant Art Creative Commons

Rangers hail from a variety of backgrounds. They share in a common a willingness to both survive in the wilds away from civilization and to fight the enemies that prowl the frontier. Here are d12 reasons your ranger might prowl the wilderness.
  1. Angry all the time. You have a temper. And you are skilled in killing people. It hasn’t been a safe combination in crowded settlements. So you roam the wilds and kill the enemies who threaten the settlements and the people you’ve chosen to avoid.
  2. Falsely accused. They say you killed a man in cold blood. You were going to hang, no question. So you fled into the wilds. Whether you dream of trying to clear your name or not, you help greenhorns who stumble into your home and need help while you avoid the noose.
  3. Forgotten nobility. You believe you are descended from an ancient line of nobility whose realm has fallen and whose people have been scattered. You guard the kingdoms of other people since yours has fallen.
  4. Good at killing. You have a knack for killing people. You may not like it or you might actually enjoy it. Either way, you’ve decided working in the wilds makes it easier to find enemies that need to be killed and in larger numbers. You’ve never been happier.
  5. Just a job. Guarding the frontier means you are in charge most of the time. Your success and survival are tied to just you and your decisions and that suits you just fine. Anything to avoid haughty nobles, corrupt watch, and drunken louts.
  6. Loner. You don’t like many people or you don’t like crowds of people. There are less people in the wilds and your enemies are usually easier to spot and kill. You avoid going into settlements whenever possible.
  7. Lost it all. Whatever you once had is now gone. Plague may have taken your family, a fire your home, or war your homeland. When in settlements you tend to get angry while off in the wilds you are simply quiet and melancholy so you try to avoid civilization.
  8. Loves the wilds. You love the sound of the wind through trees, the crashing noise of waterfalls, the moon and stars on a dark night, and fresh air to breathe. You’re willing to fight for your small piece of the wilderness.
  9. Running from the past. Something haunts you. Maybe you left behind your family, deserted from an army, refused a noble’s order, or risked a forbidden romance. Now you run and you cannot go back. If the bounty hunters close in it is time to move on.
  10. Thrill of adventure. You love canoeing through rapids, scaling cliffs, traversing overgrown forests, swimming in oceans, exploring underground caves, and treading where no civilized person has walked before. You likely enjoy a good scrap too.
  11. Trying to forget. Maybe you fought in wars and have memories you want to forget. You might have been an assassin for the realm and you tired of killing. You might have served on the watch and burned out while carting off knifed drunks from taverns and slain prostitutes killed by violent men. The wilderness is much quieter and the monsters here make more sense to you and are easier to deal with.
  12. Wanderlust. You must see what is over the next hill, around the next river bend, and over the next mountain. If you stay in one place too long you become agitated and unsettled until you set out for somewhere new.
Some of these ideas will work better if you work with your GM to incorporate them into adventures. Your ranger will need at times to accompany his adventuring companions into settlements, but he will always be eager to leave civilization behind and return to the wilderness he calls home.
 
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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I dunno... the fact that that 9 of these have negative connotations and only 3 have people being rangers for positive reasons (love of the wild, thrill of adventure, wanderlust) does not do the class any favors. It's like we're telling people "Only anti-social jerks become rangers" and I fear we run the risk of players jumping off from that starting point and being anti-social jerks themselves all in the name of "just playing my character!"

At least six and six would bring a little balance I would think.
 

stadi

Explorer
I dunno... the fact that that 9 of these have negative connotations and only 3 have people being rangers for positive reasons (love of the wild, thrill of adventure, wanderlust) does not do the class any favors. It's like we're telling people "Only anti-social jerks become rangers" and I fear we run the risk of players jumping off from that starting point and being anti-social jerks themselves all in the name of "just playing my character!"

At least six and six would bring a little balance I would think.

Why would someone who is really social become a ranger? you have to be anti-social a little bit to become one. And if you are looking for reasons why someone became anti-social, those reasons tend to be negative.
 

I dunno... the fact that that 9 of these have negative connotations and only 3 have people being rangers for positive reasons (love of the wild, thrill of adventure, wanderlust) does not do the class any favors. It's like we're telling people "Only anti-social jerks become rangers" and I fear we run the risk of players jumping off from that starting point and being anti-social jerks themselves all in the name of "just playing my character!"

At least six and six would bring a little balance I would think.

While I disagree with quite a bit of your critique, I'll help you out with a solution anyway (Aragorn is the inspiration for forgotten nobilty and none of the dozens of players I've GMed for act the way you're describing in your conclusion). I'll bring the postitives up to 11. You can ignore the other 9 you see as negative and just roll a d12 for the positive vibes or take a chance and roll a 20 hoping for only positive backgrounds. Here you go:

13. Loves animals and wants to keep the animal population healthy.

14. Family lives in tree houses throughout woods and so do you.

15. Studying trees and learning every leaf.

16. Prospecting for gold and watching out for other miners.

17. King’s guardian of the wilds protecting it from poachers.

18. Guide through trackless lands who informs his charges of everything about nature they see. He might backpack it, go by horse, or run a boat.

19. Historian traveling the wilds to find ancient historical sites to study.

20. Friend of druids and loves the wilds like they do.

bonus 12: pick two you like out of the 11
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Nice! Thanks for this!

Too often the "dark loner with a bad past" trope gets trotted out by players who think that it's a cool and original backstory. When in truth the trope is just so overdone at this point that coming up with positive characters who don't have evil families or been abandoned or lost everything is actually more original and creative now. So finding any ways we can inspire players to actually look towards happier and more positive ideas for interesting characterization and backstory is only a good thing in my opinion. Especially considering it also helps with table cohesion on the whole when everyone is looking towards common cause. :)
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Why would someone who is really social become a ranger? you have to be anti-social a little bit to become one. And if you are looking for reasons why someone became anti-social, those reasons tend to be negative.

The frontier isn't always empty.

There could be fey druids, logging camps, trapper towns, good aligned tribal people, and/or nature tilted humanoids. And the rangers could be very friendly with these outdoorsy folk as the rangers are their protectors.

Rangers don't have to be mean, angry, grim, apathetic, crazy, or sourpusses.
 


Von Ether

Adventurer
I dunno... the fact that that 9 of these have negative connotations and only 3 have people being rangers for positive reasons (love of the wild, thrill of adventure, wanderlust) does not do the class any favors. It's like we're telling people "Only anti-social jerks become rangers" and I fear we run the risk of players jumping off from that starting point and being anti-social jerks themselves all in the name of "just playing my character!"

At least six and six would bring a little balance I would think.

We are not bonding over tragic back stories!
 

stadi

Explorer
The frontier isn't always empty.

There could be fey druids, logging camps, trapper towns, good aligned tribal people, and/or nature tilted humanoids. And the rangers could be very friendly with these outdoorsy folk as the rangers are their protectors.

Rangers don't have to be mean, angry, grim, apathetic, crazy, or sourpusses.

anti-social does not necessarily equal evil, mean, angry, grim, apathetic, crazy. It means you don't want to be around people too much, and the wilderness is more suited for that than the city.

just because you don't like people too much / don't like to be around people too much doesn't mean that you don't help them. but there has to be something behind that anti-social behavior, and that is usually some negative experience.

I know where the misunderstanding comes from: anti-social can mean someone who is "actively bad" and is also used for people who are "not social" without being evil. I use both versions.
 




Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
anti-social does not necessarily equal evil, mean, angry, grim, apathetic, crazy. It means you don't want to be around people too much, and the wilderness is more suited for that than the city.

just because you don't like people too much / don't like to be around people too much doesn't mean that you don't help them. but there has to be something behind that anti-social behavior, and that is usually some negative experience.

I know where the misunderstanding comes from: anti-social can mean someone who is "actively bad" and is also used for people who are "not social" without being evil. I use both versions.

My point is that Rangers don't have to be anti-social.

Rangers can be in ranger organizations. They can be social with the tribal, natural, outdoorsy, and animal inhabitants of the wild. They can be a in-between between a wild group and a civilized group. They could be a commander of a nature branch of a government or army and interact with many groups. Ranging could just be a job and have no impact to personality at all.

Rangers being anti-social is just a stereotype. It has no need to be common.
 

stadi

Explorer
My point is that Rangers don't have to be anti-social.

Rangers can be in ranger organizations. They can be social with the tribal, natural, outdoorsy, and animal inhabitants of the wild. They can be a in-between between a wild group and a civilized group. They could be a commander of a nature branch of a government or army and interact with many groups. Ranging could just be a job and have no impact to personality at all.

Rangers being anti-social is just a stereotype. It has no need to be common.

yeah, but why choose to be in the wilderness in the first place if you can be in the city that is more civilized, and where life's easier (but where you meet a lot of people)? because you are anti-social :)

it just depends where you are looking it from :)
 


Rangers can also be a more Martial aspect of a Druid Grove. Hence they patrol the borders of their Groves and stuff. If anything is off, they report in before engaging unless the situation requires them to directly intervene.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
yeah, but why choose to be in the wilderness in the first place if you can be in the city that is more civilized, and where life's easier (but where you meet a lot of people)? because you are anti-social :)

it just depends where you are looking it from :)

Maybe they don't like to socialize with city folk or rural country folk.

Maybe maybe rangers are just a little bit backwoods or deep in the desert. They like talking with trappers and hunters about shootin' and skinnin' and drinkin' mountain juice. They go to worship at druid circles. They go to faerie dance parties. They are the vets for the mountain dwarves logging camp and the halfling truffle pickers.

Again. You can be social outside of a city. And this is coming from a cityslicker.
 

stadi

Explorer
Maybe they don't like to socialize with city folk or rural country folk.

Maybe maybe rangers are just a little bit backwoods or deep in the desert. They like talking with trappers and hunters about shootin' and skinnin' and drinkin' mountain juice. They go to worship at druid circles. They go to faerie dance parties. They are the vets for the mountain dwarves logging camp and the halfling truffle pickers.

Again. You can be social outside of a city. And this is coming from a cityslicker.

I think we are talking about the same thing just calling it differently.

What is the difference between city life vs wilderness? are those people really different or are there simply less of them and that's why the whole thing becomes different?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I think we are talking about the same thing just calling it differently.

What is the difference between city life vs wilderness? are those people really different or are there simply less of them and that's why the whole thing becomes different?

Both
There are less people in the wilderness.
But those people in the wilderness in D&D are very very different. Some arent even really people.
 


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