It’s week seven of my Class Showcase series, where I take a class from D&D and give three examples from popular culture. This week: Rangers.
#3 Strider/Aragorn (The Lord of The Rings Trilogy)
An orphan raised by Elves, who became a Ranger, who became a hero, who became a King, Aragorn is without a doubt one of the most famous and pivotal characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy series. Through his leadership, tracking abilities, combat skills, and sheer determination, Aragorn is one of the driving forces that leads to the ultimate downfall of the dark lord Sauron. Looking at his Ranger skills in particular, Aragorn or Strider manages to hide the hobbits from danger, provide them with food and guidance on the journey to Rivendell, protect them from the wraiths, and even provide a certain amount of healing to Frodo. His skill with animals, horses in particular, is also quite evident. Aragorn was, is, and will be the template for many Rangers in D&D.
#2 Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Trilogy)
Until a little novel by Suzanne Collins came around in 2008, the list of female rangers was quite thin. Since that time, I can name several who fit the bill such as Merida from the Pixar movie Brave (2012). The character of Katniss has inspired a whole new generation of young women and writers who create stories for/about young women rediscovering their “hunter” or “primal” side. In the stories, Katniss begins as a young woman forced to break the laws of her world and hunt game in the wild to provide food and basic needs for her family. Later, as she gets sucked into the Hunger Games and several other political plots, her fighting skills and survival instinct allow her to become not only a figurehead but also the spark that lights a powder keg of upheaval.
#1 Link (The Legend of Zelda Series)
From his first appearance in 1986 to his latest romp in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Link is one of the most recognizable characters in all of video games. Now granted, some of his incarnations over the years vary greatly and while I may not consider his character a Ranger in all of them, I certainly consider him one in two of the most popular incarnations of the franchise: A Link to The Past (1991) and Twilight Princess (2006). Here’s some evidence for you: 1) He is equally skilled with both sword and bow; 2) His armor is quite obviously light/medium and not heavy; 3) He has access to magic; 4) He can communicate with animals and other wild creatures; and 5) In both of the two games listed above, he originates from a forest setting. In some ways, I can also see the argument that Link may be a Bard (lots of musical references) or perhaps an Arcane Fighter build. However, in my opinion, Ranger fits best.