See, ever since I started reconsidering the ranger, my imagination has captured this pic completely at odds to the way the character class is generally portrayed. You folks probably know what I'm talking about: the effete, lightly armored archer type, perhaps with some forest colored cloak (brooding hood included), and...for the males anyway...a light beard or Erol Flynn goatee. Something like this:
|Pulled from Pinterest|
Because here's what I am picturing: a really beefy bruiser, dressed in plate armor, sporting a beard that would put a Jeremiah Johnson style mountain man to shame. Probably carrying a big axe for felling trees and orcs alike.
But BIG okay? Not slim and trim, but barrel-chested with the increased lung capacity of a cross-country skier. A ranger should be damn near as big and hairy as a bugbear...literally. After all, the average bugbear only has 14 hit points; it wouldn't be unreasonable to expect a 1st level ranger to have at least that many hit points in AD&D, given their constitution requirements. And if playing a campaign where the DM awards max HPs to start, the ranger's going to be closer to ogre-size.
Rangers are human bugbears...they're big, sneaky sons of bitches that goblins tell campfire stories about, trying to scare each other. They live and ply their trade on the edge of human civilization, operating in areas the normal army can't or won't operate. Armed and armored to the teeth, they are self-sufficient and fiercely independent...if you find the maximum (3) rangers operating together, chances are they are a married couple and a single child learning the parents' craft. Other than a mate or a student-teacher relationship, there's little reason for rangers to congregate: they value their solitude and while they'll tolerate non-rangers' lack of etiquette in impinging on their space, they won't tolerate such intrusions from their own (ranger) kind, who should really know better.
|It was this or|
some viking image.
As I consider the role of such characters in my campaign setting...especially as they relate to both druids and bards...this is the image I'm holding in my mind's eye. Rangers: the true bully of the wilderness. Bugbears have nothing on 'em.