The Rangers of Mundia

Thanks to J.R.R. Tolkien, father of high fantasy, most fantasy readers (and fantasy RPG players) have at least a passing familiarity with what kind of character I mean when I use the term “ranger.” On the whole, the rangers of Mundia (my story world setting for The Vaetra Chronicles) bear a strong resemblance to Strider/Aragorn (played by Viggo Mortensen) from The Lord of the Rings.

Mundia’s rangers are strongly affiliated with the druids. Rangers are one branch of the Defenders of the Faith, the druid martial unit that consists of rangers and monks. Monks are the security guards of the druid temples and monastery preserves. Rangers are the more prestigious scouts and policemen.

If you have not already done so, I recommend reading my article The Druids of Mundia for an overview of druid society and organization. That article defines some of the terms I use here.

Rangers are the eyes and ears of the druids out among the mundane population. They travel frequently in the performance of their duties. Those duties include carrying messages between temples and preserves, monitoring secular activities, and maintaining the security of druid refuges.

Rangers are easy to identify. Their uniform is a forest-green hooded tunic and pants. When they wear armor, it is made from dyed leather (often studded.) For weaponry, most rangers favor swords, daggers, and bow, although some carry a war axe instead of a sword. All rangers are proficient in hand-to-hand (weaponless) combat as well as in edged-weapon fighting.

Ranger Ranks and Duties

starsRangers can hold one of three ranks: Hunter, Lieutenant, or Marshall. Hunters patrol the druid refuges and carry messages between preserves and temples. Lieutenants supervise Hunters and are equivalent in rank to a druid Priest. They are usually stationed at a major temple and report to a Marshall. Marshalls are equivalent to a High Priests in rank. They keep an office at the regional preserve, but they are frequently on the road engaging in negotiations with secular authority or meeting with their superior, the Archdruid.

A ranger’s rank is indicated by an embroidered badge on the left breast of his or her tunic. The base symbol is a two-inch, five-pointed star, outlined in black thread. The star’s fill color is what denotes rank: Hunters have a black fill, Lieutenants have a maroon fill, and Marshalls have a silver fill.

Ranger Priests

Some rangers have magical abilities, although this is rare. Most rangers are mundane believers who have committed themselves to the protection of the spirits. If a recruit is capable of using magic, trainers strongly encourage him or her to join the priesthood.

Unofficially called “ranger priests,” a silver circle circumscribes the rank badge of rangers who can use magic and choose to remain among the rangers (see the fourth badge in the image above). These rangers generally ascend the ranks more quickly than their mundane brethren.

Rangers vs. Sorcerers

On of the primary responsibilities of the Defenders of the Faith is to protect the sanctity of all druid lands and facilities. Sorcery is considered sacrilege because it consumes the living force of vaetra without the guidance of the spirits. Rangers closely monitor the activities of sorcerers within their region. They keep sorcerers away from druid refuges, while their monk brethren protect the temples.

Ranger priests are privy to one of the great druid secrets: that druid blessings are more similar to sorcery than the priesthood would ever admit to their mundane congregations. Druid blessings are indeed a magical gift from the spirits, but vaetra supplies the power needed for manifestation, just as it does for sorcery. Sorcerers are kept away from druid ceremonies partly to protect this secret.

Rangers in the Vaetra Chronicles

Rangers first make their appearance early in the forthcoming Vaetra Unleashed, Book Three of the Vaetra Chronicles. In the following scene snippet, Jaylan and Sulana encounter rangers when they travel to the healing center at the Grand Cedars Refuge in search of assistance.

Patches came to a halt with a low whinny, and I looked ahead to see why. Talon had stopped with his hand raised. About a dozen yards ahead of him, three riders blocked the road. All of them were dressed in green and carried swords. Like us, they had their hoods up, so it was difficult to see their faces.

Rangers. They found us sooner than I expected.

The center man rode forward a few paces. A serious pair of eyes observed us from under the shadow of his hood. “Welcome to the Grand Cedars Refuge,” he said. “May I know the reason for your visit?”

The greeting was friendly enough, but our answer to his question would probably determine whether or not we’d be allowed to proceed.

I expected Talon to answer for us, but before the ranger finished speaking, Daven eased his horse to the front of our group and responded with an urgent tone.

“My mistress is ill and our healers have not been able to help her. We know that Grand Cedars has the best healers in the empire.”

The rest of us sat still and wisely said nothing while the lead ranger looked each of us over in turn. His gaze lingered on Sulana, undoubtedly noticing that she didn’t look particularly sick. “What is the nature of her illness?”

“She was struck by lightning and still suffers from weakness and reduced dexterity.”

The ranger sat back in his saddle and considered us again. He motioned toward the trees by the side of the road behind us, and as I turned to look, three monks slid silently out of the forest in knee-length, tan robes. They arranged themselves in a semi-circle behind us. Two of the monks had quarterstaves in hand, and one held a sling at the ready. We were surrounded.

The ranger narrowed his eyes at Daven and said, “Keep your horses at a walk and follow me.” He turned his horse around and rode away from us. His fellow rangers fell in alongside our group, casting occasional glances our way. The monks followed on foot.

As you might have guessed, my rangers were inspired by the Ranger character class from my Dungeons & Dragons days, although Mundia’s rangers are much more closely allied with the druids. As I developed the role of rangers in The Vaetra Chronicles, I became so enchanted with them that Nigel Shields, Defender Marshall of the Northern Region evolved into a major character in Vaetra Unleashed.

I can hardly wait for you to meet him.


I have blog comments turned off because of problems with spam. Feel free to use my contact page if you would like to get in touch with me.