63: Underground Tracking
Chances 64: Outdoor Tracking
Modifiers 65: Spell Progression
(1st Edition) 66: Giant Class Creatures
The ranger is one of the most popular character classes in the AD&D® game. A woodsman and tracker, as well as a dangerous fighter, he combines good combat skills with a few extra abilities that give him many options and decisions during play. He boasts the courage and strength of a warrior and the stealth and self-reliance of a thief. He combines the druid's affinity for the outdoors with the devotion and magical aptitude of a priest. He's a hunter, a tracker, and a survivalist. By temperament and by choice, he's a loner, often preferring the company of animals to people. Without question, he's one with nature, sworn to protect the inhabitants of the wilderness and preserve the integrity of the land.
The ranger's origins can be traced to the time when isolated human settlements were first founded in areas of unclaimed wilderness, or in areas occupied only by savage humanoid tribes. Those who were at first hunters, trappers, and guides were turned by the necessities of survival into canny wilderness warriors; and ultimately into the principle protectors of the scattered settlements of humans and demihumans, which had to fend off countless humanoid raids.
Few in number, but effective far beyond the power of local militias or the occasional military patrol of a ruling lord, the rangers have kept a protective watch on the forward frontier of human expansion. There are seldom more than one or two to be found in any place, but somehow, as a group, they manage to cover huge areas of the frontier. Where the tide of expansion has been turned back, they are the last to fight a desperate rear guard action against encroaching hordes of evil humanoids.
In more civilized areas, it is common for kings and wealthy nobles to annex large tracts of forests for personal use. Some are maintained as private game preserves, others are harvested for the valuable timber. As a king's wilderness holdings grow, so does the need to protect them. But suitable candidates are hard to come by. Often, from among local woodsmen and hunters, able-bodied and trustworthy retainers are recruited as forest justices or wardens. Skilled in the management of land, wilderness survival, and natural lore, the forest justices are charged with guarding the king's holdings, preserving his game from poachers and his subjects from outlaws and brigands.
In other places, the local authorities have either lost control or become tyrannical. Perhaps the local order has broken down and the land is overrun by bandits or robbers. Perhaps a bad ruler has taken over and driven the peasantry beyond all possible tolerance. At such time a hero may arise, striding out of the wilderness, setting right the wrongs, returning a just overlord to power, and then disappearing back into wild and unknown lands. Such is the stuff of legends. Such is the legacy of the ranger.