What defines a Ranger?

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Ursus
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Ursus » Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:11 am

Udwin wrote:
it would be better to be known as a Ranger by one's skills, reputation or gear than by the big sword scabbard or war-bow at one's side.


Admittedly I do go on quite a bit about the bow and blade more than woodcraft and gear. 8) The rangers for me though are a very combat driven group. Every time we see them in the books they are "loaded for bear" so to speak, always being mentioned carrying sword and bow and spear. Aragorn proclaims their time in combat multiple times and more.

"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters – but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy; for they are found in many places, not in Mordor only." FOTR pg 242 The Council of Elrond

"If Gondor, Boromir, has been a stalwart tower, we have played another part. Many evil things there are that your strong walls and bright swords do not stay. You know little of the lands beyond your bounds. Peace and freedom, do you say? The North would have known them little but for us. Fear would have destroyed them. But when dark things come from the houseless hills, or creep from sunless woods, they fly from us. What roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the Dunedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?"

This to me indicates that the rangers spend much of their time in pursuit of the enemy and in combat with them. Hence my carry of war weapons much of the time. As mentioned above I do have a smaller sword that I carry from time to time. This is my blade I would wear close to home or working in the fields, my longsword is what would go on rangings where combat is likely to be encountered. Skill at survival in the woods and living off the land is as natural to breathing for a ranger, but its not their roll. Their roll is protection of the common folk and relying on the ability to live off the land to remain in the field for long periods of time with stealth.

Also I think evidence of their lethality is hinted at in the 30 rangers Halbarad brings to Aragorn. Three point here.
One- They are well armed and armored. This is likely due to riding to war. Yet still they have good weapons and likely plenty of training to go with them.
Two- They are thinly spread as only 30 could be assembled indicating that heavy enemy activity has them quite busy, but that even thinly spread they are still an efficient fighting force.
Three- Drawing attention to them only being a 30 man unit seems to indicate that they are fell handed indeed.
"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters – but hunters ever of the servants of the Enemy."

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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Eledhwen » Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:13 am

I think they were quite capable of combat, but I think they mostly practiced a kind of guerrilla warfare rather than the classic group combats such as the Ithilien Rangers were capable of. I do not see them as SEALS or Force Recon or Spec Ops...I see them as remnant clans of a great and powerful people, very aware of their dwindling numbers and their duties to protect folk and resist the Enemy. Hit and run would be the more likely routine for them. I am speaking of the Dunedain here, not the Ithilien Rangers.

Yes, they could gather into small groups, as they did for Aragorn, but remember that 30 is all that could be gathered 'in haste'. There could have been more, is the implication, if there had been more time, which speaks to their scattered, far-flung nature.

I seem to recall a recounting of a group of Rangers of the North resisting the Black Riders at the Tharbad Crossings and being defeated and scattered. While they could not have overcome the Witch Kind and his entourage in any case, there do not seem to have been very many of the Rangers there either. I got the impression of an ad-hoc group scratched up for the purpose, or a small group on watch to the South of the Shire.

More scout and guerrilla fighter than main line combatant, though they were certainly capable of the latter. Opportunists as well. That sort of MO would also contribute to their mystery in the eyes of common folk.

In my opinion, of course.

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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Ursus » Wed Jul 01, 2015 11:59 am

Eledhwen wrote:I think they were quite capable of combat, but I think they mostly practiced a kind of guerrilla warfare rather than the classic group combats such as the Ithilien Rangers were capable of. I do not see them as SEALS or Force Recon or Spec Ops...I see them as remnant clans of a great and powerful people, very aware of their dwindling numbers and their duties to protect folk and resist the Enemy. Hit and run would be the more likely routine for them. I am speaking of the Dunedain here, not the Ithilien Rangers.

Yes, they could gather into small groups, as they did for Aragorn, but remember that 30 is all that could be gathered 'in haste'. There could have been more, is the implication, if there had been more time, which speaks to their scattered, far-flung nature.

I seem to recall a recounting of a group of Rangers of the North resisting the Black Riders at the Tharbad Crossings and being defeated and scattered. While they could not have overcome the Witch Kind and his entourage in any case, there do not seem to have been very many of the Rangers there either. I got the impression of an ad-hoc group scratched up for the purpose, or a small group on watch to the South of the Shire.

More scout and guerrilla fighter than main line combatant, though they were certainly capable of the latter. Opportunists as well. That sort of MO would also contribute to their mystery in the eyes of common folk.

In my opinion, of course.

Eledhwen


I agree whole heartedly on the guerrilla warfare, they were simply to few to risk the casualties on large engagements. Something I haven't stated very clearly is my case is more for their individual prowess. I've always thought of them as having some form of higher training than your average ranger from Gondor. Skills that are a remnant of Numenor maybe even some Elvish training to supplement what time has lost. That's enough of my rambling for now, time to go be dad.
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Eledhwen » Wed Jul 01, 2015 12:22 pm

Yep, individually I think they were 'more' than say someone from Gondor, since they are Dunedain...that means they have extended life spans, etc. More skilled, more experienced, etc. In this way they could be seen as similar to our SpecOps folk as they could take on far more than their numbers might indicate simply due to their skill and experience. Even in Gondor there were those in whom the old blood ran nearly true; Faramir, Prince Imrahil, etc., but even they were not quite like those in the North. Tolkien indicated that they had blended with other men and so they had 'thinner' blood, as it were. I still wouldn't want to face Faramir or Imrahil. LOL

So yeah, I do not see them as operators in the modern sense of the word, but their individual capabilities in their own milieu would echo that. Otherwise, guerrilla warfare, mainly because that is what they were capable of with their dwindling people...and they were very aware of this fact and their duties and service. :)

I think we have a pretty similar idea of them.

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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby MasterStrong » Wed Jul 01, 2015 1:23 pm

I tend to agree with the guerrila fighting concept being used by rangers, though I feel that is more due to their limited and far flung numbers. They seem well trained for traditional combat when they come together. Maybe a case can be made for them being trained as a form of Special Ops at some point, though I'd need a good deal more coffee for that.

Also, though I don't recall it being mentioned in the books (I'm overdue for a reread), it seems a fair amount of their woodcraft could easily be adapted for...ahem...hunting bigger game. We talk of bows being used for hunting vs. warfare, but snares and trapping are a far more efficient way of hunting small animals. The knowledge of the land that rangers possess, simply from living in it constantly, would give them the upper hand to trap a roving band of Orcs or whatnots in a terrible position.

I'm not sure that's what I set out to say. Again, more coffee. Do rangers drink coffee? That's another thread altogether.
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Eledhwen » Wed Jul 01, 2015 2:03 pm

This Ranger drinks coffee and can be mighty dangerous without it. ;)

SpecOps..no, I don't think so. I think they can fight very well together is small groups because they are Dunedain..they have longer lives and a LOT more experience than other folk. They probably work with one another whenever they gather, and over time that and battles would do the trick. Our modern culture is enamored of special operations troops...they get a lot of specialized training and gear and such..but there is no indication that is the case with Rangers...well, maybe the Ithilien Rangers of Gondor. A longer lifespan and wide travels would bring a LOT of experience to a group; Aragorn rode with Theoden when he was a boy, and ran about with Elronds' sons...a kind of cross training, if you will.

I really do shy away from the whole ninja-spec ops-super soldier kind of image. I never got that feeling about them at all. I suppose it is a cool notion to a lot of folk, that's fine. Just doesn't blow my skirt up, as it were. ;)

I suspect they use both bows and snares to hunt, yep.

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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Greg » Wed Jul 01, 2015 4:13 pm

A large portion of the spec-ops image flow get comes from the popularity of the Ranger's apprentice novels. They're a fun read, but folks tend to forget that the word Ranger is not universal, so Rangers in those books do NOT equal Rangers in Tolkien. The other big issue, honestly, is probably the fault of fan films. The hunt for gollum, though fun, shows aragorn ghosting around orcs like he's got a magic ring on. Then he takes on something like twenty orcs at once later. Spec ops and combat driven...there you go.

I'll happily support that their experience would lend them to be more than the average man as fighters...Eomer stated as much when the grey Company arrived at dunharrow. I just don't think that their FORMAL training in arms would necessarily have gone past, say, adolescence, due to low numbers of tutors and high need for the adults to be elsewhere. Aragorn'so own experience shows a similar route...housed at rivendell until he came of age, where I presume he was taught to fight, etc. After, he spent all of his subsequent "training" time abroad. Not learning to travel from books, as it were...learning on the job, for several decades. He didn't become the greatest traveller and huntsman of the time by guessing.

The fallen north kingdom, in short, was a school of hard knocks for everybody.
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Eledhwen » Wed Jul 01, 2015 4:23 pm

OJT on steroids, aye. :)

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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Udwin » Wed Jul 01, 2015 5:20 pm

We could probably also chalk up an association between Rangers and a Stealth-and-Heavy-Combat focus to last year's execrable 'Shadow of Mordor' game. For a lot of 'mainstream' Tolkien fans, that may be a main source of familiarity with a misguided idea of Rangering...yet another reason it should've been stripped of the Middle-earth label and just been titled 'Assassin's Creed Clone in Generic Fantasy World With Gratuitous Violence'. Rolls right off the tongue.
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Greg » Wed Jul 01, 2015 9:02 pm

There are certainly a lot of pop culture things like video games that don't help the casual observer see Rangers as hunters and travelers. "They carry a bow and a sword, and they wear green...let's make them ASSASSINS!"

So that's what this forum and this thread are for...setting the record straight!
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Ursus » Wed Jul 01, 2015 9:32 pm

Greg wrote:There are certainly a lot of pop culture things like video games that don't help the casual observer see Rangers as hunters and travelers. "They carry a bow and a sword, and they wear green...let's make them ASSASSINS!"

So that's what this forum and this thread are for...setting the record straight!


Hear, hear. Pop culture is the enemy of any hobby. So the next question is this. What direction do we take this so as to make the public see what a proper ranger is without making them look like glorified park rangers or super woodland assassins? Is it something that will always very from person to person or ought we strive to carve an everyman's version of this venerable trade? Like every culture there are bound to be classes. For example just because you are of the Dunedain does that mean you must be a Ranger or is a Ranger one of many occupations of the culture. And if you are a Ranger are they all more or less uniform in kit, armaments, and training? Do some carry out special tasks etc.
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Eledhwen » Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:18 pm

Uniformity for the Dunedain...mmm, not outside of say the cloak. Earth tones definitely, to include the dull types of slate blue and such I should think. Actual kit types...quivers, bows, weapons, would vary some I'm thinking. They would look...rather ordinary to our eyes. They had height and presence to the Bree landers, and tended to be worn as the weathered rocks.

Every Dunedain a Ranger? No, I don't think so. They would have other pursuits among them. My own pursuit of the Harper-Bard is one. Doesn't mean folk were not familiar with weapons or living in rustic settings. They would have elder folk (former rangers or just older village folk), as well as young folk, and those doing things that require continuous or nearly continuous presence. I get the sense of small villages scattered through the land. Decentralization after a fashion, with the exception of the Chieftain.

From the books the Rangers in the North were just wanderers doing unseen work, unthanked and mostly unnoticed. Portraying that to the public would an interesting task. A kind of demeanor? We have our stars of course, that may have been a linking decoration among them. Pendants, earrings, bracelets, brooches, etc. In the case of active Ranging kept hidden I should think. But individuals do what they do, so maybe not.

All of them could likely boil water. ;) What I mean is, I doubt there were totally menial tasks for the most part...most folk in small villages take turns with various chores in my experience. There would be tasks that some would gravitate to; herders, smiths, etc. Small numbers does not allow for a lot of serious specialization of the kind we see today.

Hmmm. Good questions, and deserving of more thought than I have given here.

Fascinating stuff! :)

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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Zaskar24 » Wed Jul 01, 2015 10:53 pm

This is a very interesting topic and has been a great read so far. I hope that I can add to it.

I agree that the Dunedain should not be compared to modern day SpecOps guys. I do think that they would be considered an elite force because of what they did on a level comparable to the aforementioned Major Robert Rogers and his Rangers. I do believe that it has been discussed here as one possible inspiration Aragorn.

For some reason I also see them as a Ranger from another era of American frontier life. To be exact the Texas Rangers. Since the Dunedain often operated alone or in small groups to protect the frontiers of the West from all forms of evil as the Texas Rangers did for Texas. More of a law enforcement agency then a military group by the time of the late Third Age. This is based on the famous quote from Texas Ranger lore "One riot, one Ranger" by Captain William "Bill" McDonald, though it was an illegal fight and not a riot that spawned it!

As for arms and armor I could see the Dunedain travelling in the more civilized lands with "hunting" bows, hatchets and knives. Rarely with swords and the like. The occasional spear as well since it was often a hunting weapon. The heavy hardware as it were would only be broken out in times of need from hidden steadings or even caches that would be set up in a territory that would be covered by a small group and relatively quickly available when needed to deal with greater threats such as the Nazgul in the Shire. This could also explain why the Grey Company could only gather roughly 30 people at short notice.

In rougher areas such as nearer the Misty Mountains and other "hot" zones they would be armed for combat with light armor and weapons up to handy hand and a halfers for those inclined to use them. Even some with arming swords and smaller shields or bucklers and using MS. I.33 combat styles.

Sorry for the long first real post here. This is the type of topic I can sink my teeth into.

I also agree that not all Dunedain would be Rangers. I do think that there would be a network with some of those who were not being salted into locales and acting as local support for the Rangers. Shelter, food, medical, communication, equipment cache management, etc.
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Peter Remling » Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:10 am

Ursus wrote:. So the next question is this. What direction do we take this so as to make the public see what a proper ranger is without making them look like glorified park rangers or super woodland assassins?


Why alter the gen pop's impression ? The townsfolk held them a little in awe, a little in fear, not unlike how many thought about the Texas Rangers. Having a bigger than life reputation couldn't hurt.
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Re: What defines a Ranger?

Postby Ursus » Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:58 am

Peter Remling wrote:
Ursus wrote:. So the next question is this. What direction do we take this so as to make the public see what a proper ranger is without making them look like glorified park rangers or super woodland assassins?


Why alter the gen pop's impression ? The townsfolk held them a little in awe, a little in fear, not unlike how many thought about the Texas Rangers. Having a bigger than life reputation couldn't hurt.


Make no mistake my way of rangering will not change one bit but I will lend my skills and ideas to creating a better atmosphere for those on here if I can.
Last edited by Ursus on Fri Jul 03, 2015 2:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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