The War for Thamatra
The Kingswood Rangers
Kingswood Rangers Association
Due to the unique nature of the Kingswood government system, most affairs of the realm are administered by the Order of Mielikki, a religious order with chapterhouses located throughout the kingdom. These chapterhouses act as community centers, training facilities, and defense barracks, and are usually semiautonomous as far as local control is concerned. Most chapterhouses house and maintain both a clerical and a militant branch. This militant branch is the Kingswood Rangers, fighters who act as defenders of their communities, protectors of the realm, and, if necessary, enforcers of the King’s Will, the code of laws that governs the realm.
The Rangers’ primary functions are protecting the forest and maintaining the peace, although they are not specifically law enforcement; they serve more as a standing militia under the authority of the Order of Mielikki. Rangers are authorized to take whatever action they deem necessary when events warrant it for the general good of the realm, including on-the-spot judgments.
Rangers are forest warriors, combining fighting skills with the arts of concealment, tracking, hunting, and other survival techniques useful to a lifestyle that will oftentimes take the ranger far into the field, especially along the Borderlands. The chapterhouses provide training in these skills for those who chose the ranger calling, in exchange for their services to Realm and Order. As devotees to the goddess Mielikki, the rangers view their role in Kingswood society as an honored duty and divine privilege, and most rangers will remain active as rangers in some capacity thruout their lives. Senior level rangers will usually be group leaders, trainers, or chief administrators of the local ranger detachment.
Each chapterhouse has it’s area of responsibility that their rangers patrol, ensuring that the forest remains safe for all of its good inhabitants by dealing with any evil ones they happen to find. Rangers will breakup fights, capture criminals like bandits, killers and slavers, and hunt down monsters such as goblins, orcs and trolls that happen into their areas. They will also aid their communities with organizing construction projects, food gathering (hunting) and, in times of crisis, disaster relief up to and including mobilization of the populace for relocation to safety. They also act as intelligence gathers and covert operatives in cases like breaking up slaver networks or bandit rings.
Ranger detachments are usually grouped into units referred to as bands. Each band has a senior level ranger-lord as the leader, with each band divided into 4 or 5 squads of 3 to 7 members, with midlevel rangers as squad leaders. These bands are answerable to the local Matriarch, who is in turn answerable to the Grand Matriarch and to the King. This is usually the extent of formal band structure, and only applies to ranger bands within Kingswood. Oftentimes rangers will travel alone or with one or two companion when outside of Kingswood proper, and try to abide by what laws may exists in the lands they are traveling in.
Rangers are required to give tithing to their order chapterhouse; however, most chapterhouses will provide advanced training, safe lodgings, personal storage, and (sometimes) a salary to it’s rangers. When a ranger reaches ranger-lord status, the mother chapterhouse may help with funding the establishment of a new ranger band and chapterhouse, provided the ranger has served the order faithfully and with merit.
Not all members of a Ranger detachment are actually rangers; some members are mercenary fighters, Order healers, and other specialists that the detachment may require in the performance of it’s duties. This is especially true for the Border Patrols, where having a multi-disciplined group with a few heavy-hitters and a couple of healers is vital to survival. Although only humans, elves and half-elves can be rangers, the Rangers have been known to employ (i.e., hire or contract the services of) dwarves, halflings and other races when conditions warrant. (Basically, if they need your skills, your alignment is good, and your skin isn’t green, you’re hired!)
The Border Patrols are bands of rangers and allied specialists responsible for patrolling places like the Crack or the Dragonspire Mountains, regions known for their goblin infestations. The physical features of the Crack creates a zone where the Goblinkin realms of the Underdark are close to the surface, and goblins and their ilk are frequent intruders to the regions of Kingswoods’ northern border east of the Lake Regions.
The Dragonspires are another area where goblins and other monsters are active nuisances. The mountains are impassable between the Blue Fells south to the Tunnels at Khun, but the Goblinkin have caves and warrens in several of the valleys and ravines that make up the foothills of the mountain range. Periodically the Goblinkin will mass and lead raiding parties on forays into the eastern borders; the patrols are there to stop them.
Kingswood is also responsible for the security of a major portion of the Three Kings Roadway, patrolling the area from Ansgar and Westwood east to the borders of Khun, north of the Great Dismal Swamp and the Ogrefens. The swamps are havens for bandits, slavers, and, of course, ogres and other Trollkin species, so patrolling the roadway and the southern border is considered an “active” tour of duty, great for gaining experience.
However, the most challenging border duty of all is the Brendanmoor/Westwood Patrols, where the goal is to keep the wild elves of Westwood separated from the neighboring kingdoms of Kingswood and Brendanmoor, and the allied city-state of Ansgar, mostly for the protection of all parties concerned. Westwood elves are notoriously mischievous and dangerous. They will ambush travelers near their borders for fun and booty, and will capture and torture any trespassers into their territory. They have been known to harass patrols for amusement. Any patrols that react negatively to these harassment’s tend to disappear. This is difficult duty, since the wild elves, who are the source of the problems in the area, are under the protection of Kingswood, and are not to be harmed.
In times of war, when the King has called for a muster, the Rangers are granted the privilege of volunteering for service outside of the realm. Those who defer from foreign service are not criticized, but are expected to act as the Homeguard while the King’s Army and the Ranger Expeditionary Forces are away.