Friday, May 10, 2013

Calçan Rangers

As the "lost province" of Calça undergoes a fair amount of turmoil, the rangers have increased in number and responsibility over the last few years.  For many years, an unofficial corps of volunteers who patrolled the land, the rangers have had to rapidly evolve into a much more professional outfit due to the increased incidents of bandits and refugees streaming in from (respectively) the east and the north.  Many rangers are now full-time, sponsored by wealthy patrons, or by the villages and hamlets that they represent.  Their level of skill and training have also vastly increased; former military scouts from Terrasa and elsewhere having been brought in to develop more rigorous standards.  Most importantly, the senior rangers have been taking on apprentices at a furious pace, and churning out new recruits.  The ranger corps in Calça is now relatively young, but relatively skilled and strong.  It's also offered a more advantageous and realistic outlet for the more adventurous youths than any that the region had before, and for those who can't stand the thought of a lifetime of farming or simple village craftsmanship, it's a somewhat romanticized new occupation.

Within the ranger corps (not yet with capital letters, but if it continues to grow in prominence, importance or size, it may well be soon) there are several roles or specializations that have developed.  The entire outfit is, at most, a few hundred members in size, and many of these specializations only have a dozen or so members who work on them.

Sherrifs

These are rangers that are assigned permanently to a specific county.  For very large or troubled counties, the sherrifs might have one or more deputies to assist them in their duties.  The concern of the sherrifs and their deputies is enforcing the peace and dealing more with local issues.  By far, the majority of the rangers are sherrifs.

Bounders

Bounders are not tied to a specific county for their responsibility, and are free to mobilize and move around the entirety of Calça as needed.  Usually messages are sent to bounders, who often have "day jobs" and do their ranger work as "reserves", when there is a specific need for temporary numbers to deal with a problem.  Some bounders operate beyond the borders of Calça entirely, keeping a wary eye on areas where problems may develop that will spill into the heartland.

Shadows

The smallest branch of the ranger corps are the shadows, highly skilled and experienced hunters of supernatural threats which accompany the immigrants, or which linger from ancient days in the land, long before the arrival Terrasan settlers.  Disquieting and alarming to most of the populace, the shadows are seen as necessary, but nobody likes to be reminded of that fact.

The Calçan rangers are based, in part, on my long-time love of the concept of the Texas rangers, the Dunedain from Lord of the Rings, my love of the ranger class in various editions of D&D, and most recently my brush with some YA fiction that I've tried to get my son to read, The Last Apprentice series (called The Spook's Apprentice in the UK) and The Ranger's Apprentice series.  I tried to listen to both series myself as audiobooks during my commute, since my son seemed to be somewhat reluctant, even though the books seemed to be right up his alley. I had to agree that the execution of both was somewhat lacking--they're slow moving and not terribly interesting; but the idea of them both was solid.

In addition, I'd like the DARK•HERITAGE setting to be expansive enough to allow for different kinds of stories, possibly set in different regions.  Calça is already a kind of cosy, country atmosphere--kind of like the Two Rivers from the Wheel of Time series, or The Shire from the Lord of the Rings--yet one that's threatened by encroaching darkness and problems, ringed about with shadows.  Despite the fact that I want the setting to be expansive, I also want it to be consistent after all, and that means the use of plenty of horror elements lurking in the background.  The cosy backcountry areas of the DARK•HERITAGE setting (at least in Terrasan settings) tend to resemble the Eastern European countryside of Dracula, or the English moors of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and The Wolfman (either the 1941 or the 2010 one--the mood was very much the same.)  Or perhaps the French film The Brotherhood of the Wolf, which gamers seem to be really enamored of, for some reason.  At least once you dig a little bit past the cosy "Shire" take on it.

Baix Pallars is another rural area full of small hamlets and villagers, but that one is more specifically mimicking Arkham Country in fantasy drag.

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