Applications for Women Rangers are CLOSED. We have two active on grid and only a few more than that in male rangers.
Houses that are able to boast Rangers among their resources do so only through contracting them from House Forrester or House Havarean, or sending boys to train from a young age. Other Houses may train their own Scouts, Rangers are a step above and are highly skilled in using stealth and the bow.
Rangers are trained in bushcraft (survival), hunting, building traps, tracking, and often sketching or cartography. As they are highly sought after, Rangers are considered on par with Knights among their native lands. Unlike most commoners, Rangers are expected to be literate enough to label maps.
While Rangers rarely ride horses more than they must to cover larger distances, some do when they don't have need to be stealthy.
Rangers begin as young children learning to hunt, stalk quietly, use a bow or sometimes a spear. Generally it is a set of skills handed down from father to son but sometimes young children are taken in from other areas and trained. Somewhat like pages and later squires but with less formality and cost. Once proficient enough they become scouts in their teen years and may also have courier duties. The very best of these may hope to one day become Rangers though like squires, they must /earn/ the position and prove themselves worthy, usually around the age of 18 to 20 years and rarely earlier. They must prove to be perceptive and not tongue wagglers.
Some Rangers train in certain areas such as wardens to protect timber or game areas, to become caretakers of these for various Houses. While other Rangers continue their training with a focus stemming from Scouting to learn cartography and perhaps sketching for the means of information gathering. Such Rangers are valued by Houses that wish to keep an eye on each other's lands, though Rangers are not suited to political intrigue and courtly manners. That is where the real spies flock like flies to honey.
It is rumored that some Rangers specialized in assassination but among Rangers themselves and House Forrester, this is strongly disfavoured. It is dishonorable and if it were true, would cast Sky Forest, the Rangers, and House Forrester into an ill light, untrustworthy. Any common cut throat can turn sell sword to accept payment to murder with knife, garotte, or bow and officially the Rangers want nothing to do with such men. If they exist among the Rangers, they do so in secret, keeping such activity very quiet.
Weapons and Armor
Rangers generally wear leather as they need to be able to move quickly and quietly over the land. They also tend to live off of the land they serve, with their Lord's permission, and therefor must be able hunters, not bogged down with excessive gear.
For weapons, most Rangers use bows, recurve being favoured among those Rangers of Sky Forest, and long bows favoured among those from Greenshire - which makes them easy to tell apart. It's not a carved in stone rule however as a number of them may use either depending on whether they will be working in open land or wooded. Houses who contract Rangers often prefer some of each, which means increasingly Greenshire is requested to field more Rangers than in the past. Rangers generally do not bother with crossbows as they are heavy and too slow to reload.
Other weapons a Ranger may use includes the spear, and the sword. As Scouts, Rangers are expected to be able to defend themselves if they must and a bow makes for a very poor shield, where as a blade can turn aside almost anything and still be a useful weapon. Proper shields are not carried by Rangers. As mentioned, a Ranger must not be burdened heavily and must be far above average in their skills to be selected in the first place. Sword, spear or other weapons are generally less used than bows as an axe or sword is harder to hunt down your meals with.
**Common or Noble? **
The vast majority of Ranger are dirt poor commoners. While Greenshire has a limited wealth, Sky Forest is about as poor as a county of Mobrin can be. Therefor rangers are the answer when you can't afford to equip many knights. Although a noble /can/ be a ranger, this is pretty rare outside of Sky Forest as it doesn't carry the honor and esteem of knighthood. Some say Rangers are nearly as esteemed as highly as knights in Greenshire and Sky Forest, but not quite as much elsewhere.
The Royal Rangers are the most select and elite group who serve the King. While all of the Royal Rangers are recruited from Greenshire and Sky Forest, they serve House Kilgour in Darfield and are sent all over Mobrin in that service. These rangers are hand picked for the best skills and are provided with the highest resources and equipment, paid well. While women rangers are exceptionally rare in any group, Royal Rangers are exclusively men.
To be recruited to the Royal Rangers one has to get a personal invitation from the royal family or be sponsored by a Royal Ranger. There are high standards to be upheld and all Royal Rangers are seasoned, proven men, no boys in training. Any Ranger that does not consistently hold to the highest standards will be dismissed from the Royal service to seek employment elsewhere. An oath of service is given to the King. Such is usually binding for life or until such time as the Ranger wishes or must retire, or is killed. The oath taking is much like a Squire's vigil for becoming a knight and is a serious affair conducted at temple so that the oath may be witnessed by the Gods.
Royal Rangers are expected to be DISCREET. This means not talking about their work with anyone who isn't in charge of their orders. If a noble requests information of a Ranger, that noble should be referred to the Ranger's House of Service and no such information shared without proper permissions. Rangers who are indiscreet are untrustworthy and will be dismissed from their oathes of service.
Are a reserved few who have the highest rank over their brethren. These are the 'Captains' among Royal Rangers who pass on the orders, are responsible for seeing that all in their command keep their skills sharp and their conduct becoming of the King's requirements. This is usually a position reserved for an older and experienced Ranger though a younger man might attain such rank if he proves himself especially adroit in carrying out his King's or Crown Prince's orders.