Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Southland: Pirate Stats

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

Pirate Seaman
+2 Dex
HD 1 (d8), Hp 4, AC 12 (None)
Fort +0, Ref +4, Wis +0
Melee: Cutlass (Short Sword) +1 to hit 1d6
Ranged: Light Crossbow +3 to hit 1d8, M

Sailing Skill +1 [(Int bonus + Wis bonus)/2 + 1/2 level]
Climb +2

A scurvy dog with little discipline, but typically high morale.

Pirate Petty Officer (Mate)
+2 Dex, +1 Wis, +2 Str
HD 5 (d8), Hp 20, AC 12 (None)
Fort +1, Ref +6, Wis +2
Melee: Cutlass (Short Sword) +7 to hit 1d6+2
Ranged: Light Crossbow +7 to hit 1d8, M

Sailing Skill +4
Climb +5
Intimidate (Physical) +4

Usually command ballista and catapults on ships and keep the men in some semblance of order.

Pirate Captain
+3 Dex, +2 Wis, +3 Str, +1 Int, +1 Cha
HD 7 (d8), Hp 28, AC 15 (Leather, worn if expecting combat), Enhanced Init.
Fort +2, Ref +8, Wis +2
Melee: Long Sword +10 to hit 1d8+3
Ranged: Light Crossbow +10 to hit 1d8, M

Sailing Skill +6
Climb +7
Intimidate (Psychological) +5
Haggle +5

The brains of any pirate ship.  They’re also usually the only ones who can effectively pilot the ship and find prey.  The Pirate Captain keeps his job by a combination of their sailing knowledge, their physical prowess, and plenty of booty for the men.

Captain-Emperor Hobart
+3 Dex, +4 Wis, +3 Str, +4 Int, +4 Cha, +2 Con
HD 9 (d8), Hp 64, AC 18 (+1 Leather, +2 Bracers), Enhanced Init.
Fort +5, Ref +9, Wis +7
Melee: +2 Trident +14 to hit 1d8+5 + DC 12 Ref Sv or +1d6 Bleed
Ranged: Repeating Heavy Crossbow +12 to hit 1d10, 5 Bolts, M

Sailing Skill +9
Climb +8
Intimidate (Psychological) +9
Charm +9
Haggle +9
Dinosaur Control Headband +9 (Wis + ½ level) vs 10 + Dinosaur’s Will Sv, can directly control the actions of any giant monster with concentration.  With three successful controls over three days, the animal is conditioned and will follow commands without direct control.

The Admiralty never should have passed Hobart over for promotion, much less allowed him to drummed him out of the service on trumped up charges for protesting the slight.  He was a brilliant officer, but always had a bit an ego.  Hobart is the Commonwealth’s prime example of creating their own worst enemy.  He’s a control freak and almost unable to delegate responsibility for any of the myriad schemes he has for revenge and glory, which is probably his only limiting factor.  Hobart is the Mirror Universe version of Governor-General Bligh (right down to the hyphenated title).    

[Stats for the various giant monsters are in the Tasmania entry.  ***link***] 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Southland: The Crossbones

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

The Crossbones

This was once a pirate group covertly sponsored by the Hegemony, in an attempt to siphon off the wealth that the Commonwealth was shipping out of the Southland.  The effort was joined by pirates from the Oriental Empire and the Commonwealth and even unknown countries.  However, the attacks were a minor nuisance, relative to the total shipping. 

Then came Captain Hobart, a former Commonwealth Naval officer and nobleman.  Whatever motivated him to turn on his country did so with a vengeance.  His knowledge and tactics turned this rag-tag group into a navy in their own right (albeit a pretty grubby one).  The price on his head is astronomical, but his crews remained loyal to him, trusting and fearing him more than the Commonwealth.

Giant monsters surrounding the continent had always been a menace to shipping.  The island of Tasmania, or Monster Island, was not only populated with them, but they seemed to be actively and intelligently keeping intruders out.  Hobart correctly figured out that there was someone controlling them.  At great cost, Hobart and the pirates managed to explore the island and found a degenerate clan of Ancient survivors.  He managed to force them to teach him how to use an Ancient magical device that could control the monsters.  Hobart then massacred the group (though there are a few survivors, who are currently in hiding). 

This was a scary development.  The Crossbones took possession of the island and openly declared it sovereign territory under Captain-Emperor Hobart.  The Commonwealth Navy would have found this amusing, but with giant monsters backing up the claim, the pirates could make it stick.  Striking from a hidden, fortified, well protected nearby base, the Crossbones are a force to be reckoned with.  Effectively, he’s made the Bass Strait between Tasmania and the Southland a hunting ground and the south of the continent, a danger zone. 

While the Navy hasn’t been given sanction to assault the island, they have beefed up their presence and the shipping is more protected.  It’s something of a stalemate.  As long as Hobart alone can control the monsters, his rule is also secure, but the pirate captains are grumbling about the lack of easy pickings.  Hobart may be planning more ambitious adventures, perhaps an invasion of the mainland and taking the gold and diamond shipments there.     

So far, Hobart has only made one major mistake.  The Gillmen, living offshore, often came ashore to take eggs of the giant monsters to raise them as their servants.  While he approached them under truce, Hobart didn’t like the non-human intrusion and slaughtered the poachers.  This brought quick retaliation from a small army of Gillmen and their giant monsters.  The Crossbones with their monsters held their own and beat them back.  Hobart even took a magic trident from their king, who was leading the assault, though he escaped.

While the Gillmen haven’t made such a large scale attack again, they are a constant guerilla warfare menace to the island and to the pirate ships at sea.  Worse, they’re not discriminating between the pirates and the colony, and they have been attacking coastal settlements.  It’s pretty much another stalemate situation, as no one is able to effectively strike back at the Gillman’s underwater bases.    

The pirates also have mobile supply points in secluded bays all around Tasmania, giving them greater range and making them harder to spot. 

The town of Hobart (how modest of the Captain-Emperor) is every bit the den of pirates you’d imagine if it were a Disneyland ride.  It is, however, an actual functioning municipality.  There are women (with questionable backgrounds brought in or purchased from various other nations) and children (of dubious parentage).  It is well-defended by ships, monsters, and even coastal emplacements and siege batteries.  There are also a network of informants on the mainland, keeping the pirates informed of naval movements and shipments.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Southland: The Hegemony

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

The Hegemony
While the Hegemony and the Commonwealth are officially at peace, it is a much more complex relationship.  The sides fought a major war with one another 20 years ago.  The war coalesced several, previously unfriendly nations into the Commonwealth after the invasion.  While the Prophecy Empire was never directly attacked, the disintegration of their invasion force and sudden death of much of their leadership, broke the empire back up into the unallied, minor clan holdings from which it sprang.  Only recently, have they formed something close to a national government, the Hegemony.    

Being neighbors, though mostly geographically separated by inhospitable terrain, the nations are continuing trade partners.  Frictions are usually, and correctly, attributed to the Hegemony’s very weak central government and the rebellious actions of individual clan states.  While there is some low-level conflict over the “Dark Continent” colony, the possible riches in the Southland have rekindled some serious animosity. 

Hegemony business concerns and efforts at exporting workers and mercenaries have mostly been blocked by the colonial government, naturally suspicious of the Commonwealth’s old enemy.  Besides, they’ve already established a relationship with the much friendlier Oriental Empire.  Individual clan states have taken to sponsoring pirates and in-land adventurers to raid in and around the colony in a more aggressive action.  (This effort has actually gotten away from them at sea and ended up helping to create the Crossbones pirate nation.) 

There is always a persistent fear that events on the home continent may ignite open warfare in the Southland, and vice versa.  At any given moment, the hot-blooded clans of the Hegemony might unite again, given the excuse.  The nations of the Commonwealth haven’t forgotten being invaded and many of them still want payback for it.  That trigger could happen because of events in the far away Southland.  

The Kalbarri Portal

Seven Sisters Myth: The last remaining Sisters found a Wizard with a magic gate.  He warned them that he could not control their destination in times such as these.  The Sisters were desperate.  He took the treasures that they had accumulated (gold, diamonds, and Philosopher’s Stone) and gave them transit through the gate.  One at a time, they disappeared through it, but all of them went to different, far off places.  The Sisters were finally safe, but they weren’t together anymore.   

The Kalbarri Portal may actually pre-date the Wizard-King’s empire.  It may be another source for their immense arcane knowledge, as it can connect with the other-worldly/other dimensional/other periods of time.  Of course, one has to be high-master of magic to command the object to function correctly.  More likely, a lesser wizard might activate the Portal, but the destination will be completely unknown.  It can, and will, activate by itself or by the command of a user on the other side.  Anything can come out of the Portal under those circumstances.

The Portal is known in the Commonwealth colony of Perth, but they do not have the resources to fully examine it.  Though it radiates strong magic, colonial authorities elsewhere have had little interest in it.  The sparseness of the land and the presence of two dangerous insect colonies (Giant Ants at the Pinnacles and Giant Locust swarms near the Portal) have dampened any exploratory enthusiasm.   

Hegemony raiders, however, use this area as a gathering point, being an easy-to-spot landmark.  Having experience with locusts and giant ants in their homeland, they’re actually able to use them as a screen for their activities.  They also revere the object, but given the Hegemony’s traditional aversion to magic, they do not have sufficient skills to activate it, except by accident. 

While devout fanatics, the raiders are masters of hit-and-run tactics on caravans and small settlements and forts.  They take whatever treasure they can carry and captured supplies, destroying anything they can’t take with them. 

Hegemony Raiders
+1 Str, +1 Con, +2 Dex, +2 Wis
HD 2 (d8), Hp 9, AC 14 (Leather)
Fort +4, Ref +5, Will +2
Melee: 2 attacks/rd Scimitar +3/+2 to hit 1d8+1
Ranged: 2 attacks/rd Short Bow +4/+3 to hit 1d6
Charge: Spear +3 to hit 1d8+1, max dam + Stun, breaks spear
Mounted Archery Skill

Hegemony Raider Captain
+2 Str, +1 Con, +2 Dex, +3 Wis
HD 5 (d8), Hp 25, AC 14 (Leather)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +4
Melee: 2 attacks/rd Scimitar +7/+4 to hit 1d8+2
Ranged: 2 attacks/rd Short Bow +7/+4 to hit 1d6
Charge: Spear +7 to hit 1d8+2, max dam + Stun, breaks spear
Mounted Archery Skill

HD 3+6, Hp 19, AC 13 (Natural)
Fort +5, Ref +6, Will +1
Melee: Bite +0 to hit 1d4+2 (Camels don’t bite when carrying a rider, only when being handled by someone they don’t know)
Camels are known for their ability to travel long distances without food or water.
Carrying Capacity: A light load for a camel is up to 300 pounds; a medium load, 301–600 pounds; and a heavy load, 601–900 pounds. A camel can drag 4,500 pounds.

Horses have proven to be impractical in western Southland for extended field operations.  The Commonwealth has used oxen as the primary beasts of burden and relied on well-known watering holes and outposts.  The Hegemony raiders have brought in camels for their operations, which allows them a wide range of deployment without the need for constant resupply.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Southland: The Oriental Empire

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

The Oriental Empire
[Yes, this is the Jianghu setting.]

Note that this is how the Commonwealth refers to them.  They refer to themselves as “The Empire.”  The Commonwealth and the Empire are not geographically anywhere near one another on their home continent.  As such, they only have limited diplomatic contact and some, tenuous trade missions. 

The Empire was well aware of the Southland, but never made any claims to it.  Their expeditions found it long ago, but were easily repulsed by the strong Humanoid presence.  They abandoned all contact and declared the land in quarantine.  The Commonwealth would come along centuries later when the continent was more habitable.  Suddenly, it was all a foreign colony of a barely known country.  Initial news of this conquest and possible riches to be had there fell upon incredulous Imperial ears and two years after it had happened, much too late to do anything about it.  

The Empire and its Emperor have been quite disturbed by these developments.  At this point, all they can do, short of war, is continue to the monitor the colony and attempt more subtle means of domination.  Trade, espionage, diplomacy, and spreading internal dissent are the Empire’s main tools in this quiet conflict.  They aim to destabilize the colony and take over in the chaos, by taking individual cities and towns, if necessary.  They want Imperial forces seen as helpful liberators in such cases. 

Their main focus has been along the west and north settlements, and coincidentally nearest to the most valuable resources.  They have been exporting workers to the various mines as cheap labor, and even some mercenary groups to help keep the peace.  Along the eastern settlements, they aggressively seek trade and investment in subtle economic warfare.

Governor-General Bligh is highly suspicious of the Oriental Empire’s goals, but even he is unaware of the true level of the threat and still allows the Empire unmolested transit and contact.  As it stands, only the inherently xenophobic secret society of the Founders stands in their way.  The group actively sabotages much of the Empire’s efforts, though mostly because it threatens their own monetary interests.  Imperial agents have only recently become aware of the Founders, as such, they have refocused their efforts on either eliminating them or co-opting them to their side.   

Imperial Operative (Thief/Spy)
+3 Dex, +3 Int, +3 Wis, +3 Cha
HD 5, Hp 15, AC 13 (None), Enhanced Init.
Fort +1, Ref +7, Wis +4
(Only ever takes ½ dam at most from failed save)
Melee: Dagger +3 to hit 1d4, Sap +3 to hit, used for KO
Ranged: 2 x Dart +6 to hit, 1d4 each

Lucky: DC 12 Will Sv on first hit in a rd to avoid damage, DC 18 on other hits in a rd.

Stealth Attacks
All-Steath check (DC 12 Stealth check) + Successful attack roll, may be attempted once on an opponent, once per encounter
Surprise-Unsuspecting victim, Max dam x2 + Stun
KO-Unsuspecting victim, DC 12 Fort Sv or KO 1 turn
Sneak-In combat, Max dam + Stun

+6: Detection (Traps, ambushes), Detection (Trapped items), Disarm Traps, Find (Secret doors and items)
+6: Stealth (Hiding, sneaking), Pick Locks, Escape Artist, Forgery, Pick Pockets
+5: Acrobatics (Balancing, jumping), Climb
+6: Fast Talk, Haggle, Disguise, Intimidate (Psychologically)
+6: Charm
+5: Intimidate (Physically)

An Operative isn’t deployed for combat purposes, but rather to gather intelligence and create human capital that can be used to further the Empire’s agenda.  This may be by observation, theft, and social engineering (befriending people, blackmail, bribery, etc).

Imperial Assassin (Ninja)
+3 Dex, +3 Int, +3 Wis, +1 Str
HD 6, Hp 18, AC 13 (None) Enhanced Init
Fort +2, Ref +8, Will +8
(Only ever takes ½ dam at most from failed save)
Melee: Wakizashi +7 to hit 1d8+1
Dagger +7 to hit 1d4+1 + Poison
Ranged: Shuriken +9 to hit 1d2 + Poison (carries 4)

Poison-must be re-applied after a successful hit, 1 rd to apply, carries 4 dosages of each, will save 1 Deadly dosage for themselves if caught
Paralyze-DC 18 Fort Sv or KO 1 turn
Deadly-DC 18 Fort Sv or die in 1 + Con bonus hrs, will reduce all bonuses to 0 for 1 turn even if successfully saved

Shadowy: DC 12 Ref Sv on first hit in a rd to avoid damage, DC 18 on other hits in a rd.
Vanish: May use a smoke bomb or ambient darkness to disappear for 1 rd once per encounter/turn. Thereafter a Stealth check is required to escape detection. Alternately, the ninja has a 1 rd, running headstart.

Steath check (DC 12 Stealth check =< Opponent HD, DC 18 > Opponent HD) + Successful attack roll, may be attempted once on an opponent, once per encounter
Opponent HD =< DC 18 Fort Sv or reduced to 0 Hp, saved take Max dam + Stun
Opponent HD > DC 12 Fort Sv or take Max dam x2, saved take Max dam + Stun

+6: Detection (Traps, ambushes), Detection (Trapped items)
+6: Stealth (Hiding, sneaking), Escape Artist
+5: Acrobatics (Balancing, jumping), Climb

An assassin (Ninja) is deployed to eliminate certain individuals who are in the way of the Empire’s agenda, who cannot compromised in a more peaceful way.  They normally take pride in only killing the target on a mission.  Ninjas are expected to kill themselves if they fail or are caught.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Baseball Blog 8-23-15 Back to the Dog Pound

There!  Your Southwest University Park nickname.  Finally.  You’re welcome.

This time I was fortunate enough to go as part of a group outing.  I say “fortunate” because I actually wasn’t part of the group; I was a guest of someone who was, Ron.  There was also some significant guilt attached I’ve been actively attempting to poach this person from this business for the place that I work for.  I now know what sort of ethics I have went it comes to going out to a ball game: I don’t have any.  At least I had the manners to invite my host to an Aggie football game that my business is having a tailgate at.  Hopefully I’ll have a report on that event in a couple weeks.  I already bought a shirt and hat for it, so I’m economically obligated.

There was some significant delay in the getting to the park and confusion as to where we were supposed to go, but we were there in time for the game.  I had time to visit the teamshop and pick up a hat to go with the shirt.  I also grabbed the 2014 and 2015 Chihuahuas team set baseball cards.  Still no Buster Posey card damn it!  I’ve bought all these cards over the last couple years and still haven’t gotten a Buster card.  I can’t understand what I’m doing wrong.  Wait, what’s that?  Try buying a Giants team set if you want a Buster Posey card?  Let me look over these Chihuahuas cards again.  There’s got to be one in there.  In the meantime at least I now have a couple of Chico cards to content myself with.  Good move giving the mascot a card.  I also picked up a shot glass for someone at work.  I thought about getting the larger and more practical beer glass, but Ron reminded me, “Dude, whatever you buy, you’re going to have to carry for the rest night.”  Good point.  Between this shopping trip and the trip the day before to get the Aggie gear, I don’t think I can afford any more free tickets to sports events.

This was apparently a very popular event.  If I can extrapolate from this, group and suite sales are probably a big part of the Chihuahuas revenue.  It is a great place for a group outing.  Ron and I ended up in the Santa Fe Pavilion with most of his co-workers.  There were several team staffers there for hospitality.  Chico even put in a special appearance.  (And once again, action during the game prevented me from getting my picture taken with him.)  The provided food was bacon-wrapped hot dogs, fajitas, nachos, and big cookies.  The fare was pretty good, though I was tasting that hot dog for the rest of the night. 

The view was honestly not that great from the outfield.  Action going to Center and Right field was occluded unless you were in the very front row of seats.  Those seats are also usually in direct sunlight (a fortunately placed cloud kept it shady for most of this game), and while it would be a tremendously lucky shot, one does feel the need to keep a mitt while sitting there (though being careful to not interfere with play, not sure where the home run line is offhand).  The seats and chairs behind them have a lousy view, but are cooler and less dangerous seeming.  Fear not.  There’s a large TV with the MILB feed of the game playing on the wall, so you don’t have to miss any plays.  There’s also two smaller TVs, in this case, one with a Major League game and another with a stupid NFL pre-season game. 

The outfield view does give you a new appreciation for outfielders and flyballs.  It’s a long way out there and whole bunch of territory.  By the way, the grass out there is manicured to an Astroturf-like conformity.  It was a little breezy that night.  It kept the wide-open pavilion very comfortable.  There were storm clouds and lightning in the distance, which thankfully kept their distance. 

Once again, the crowd was still filing in in the 3rd and started leaving in the 8th and 9th, regardless of the score.  Ron’s co-workers were very pleasant, though there was one kid there who had the same camo shirt I did.  We were looking at each other like debutantes at a ball who had the same dress on.  He went with the full camo hat as well.  I had considered that style, but they only had it in the fitted version (heads up, those aren’t a good investment unless your head and hair are kept at exactly the same size all the time), and I thought the black hat would look better by itself without the shirt.  Enough fashion. 

Though it may not show, I made heroic efforts in keeping a scorecard during the game.  I got bumped out of the front row seats after a couple innings.  I was standing for about three innings.  Finally, I was seated on a tall bar chair in the back for the rest of the game.  All the while, bacon-wrapped hot dogs and a long line waiting for them were tempting me.  Thankfully, at some point later in the game, I could hear Tim on the speakers in the pavilion and I could take out my static-y radio earplugs.  The cute little Goth girl with purple highlights was also a continual distraction.  (She wasn’t one of Ron’s co-workers, so I couldn’t ask for an introduction.)

The game itself was a bit of a disappointment.  Like I said before, that last game was a classic and unfortunately you can’t expect that every time.  Such is the nature of sports in general.  The NFL does a pretty good of making most of their games exciting, but that’s mostly because their games are fixed.  The Chihuahuas lost to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 3-2.  Renfroe, making his debut, got a home run in the 1st that got the crowd going.  Other than that, the largest cheer in the game was for the grounds crew in the 5th doing a choreographed dance while going around the bases.  That also proved to be the pivotal inning, as the Sky Sox loaded the bases and scored two on a single.  Other than mounting a couple of efforts in the 6th and 8th , the Chihuahuas offense didn’t match their pitching effort.  At least the game went quickly at 2 and ½ hours.  Ron commented on the good pace of the game thanks to the pitch clock.  I mentioned seeing an MLB game earlier in the week where a reliever actually walked around the mound in-between each pitch.  Thankfully, that guy wasn’t pitching here.   

The star of the game was Chico.  He challenged the Sox first baseman to a push up contest and won by default.  Hey, doing one-armed pushups in that outfit, you’re the star Chico.  The game may have been a bit disappointing, but me and Ron both wanted to return as soon as possible (it was his first time there).  Regardless of the result, as I told Ron, “It’s never a wasted day at the ballpark.”   

Southland: Adventurers

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

The colonial authorities have neither the resources nor inclination to explore.  They are too busy trying to keep order in a near lawless frontier, not to mention, fending off occasional organized monster attacks.  In the meantime, there’s plenty of willing adventurers.  They distract the monsters, soften up their lairs, and pay taxes if they find anything.

The colonial government has opened up the interior to exploration, salvage, and exploitation.  There is a flat 10% tax on recovered treasure and magic weapons and items.  Given the lack of civilization (that is, fences for illegal goods) and how low the tax is, it’s an easy choice to pay it, if you get lucky.  Adventurers are encouraged to explore the Outback.  Finding the lost capital would lead to fame, riches, and probably instant nobility.

Information is power.  Random exploration is certain death on this continent.  The environment is too harsh and sustenance is too sparse.  Not to mention the lethality of the monsters if not properly prepared to face them.  Characters need to gather info on treasure.  Where it is and what’s there guarding it.  They can get information from various sources: interrogation, maps, books, libraries, guides, eavesdropping, snooping, bribes.  A major concern is supplies.  Easy water and food are not naturally found around most major sites (except from previous perished adventurers), much less the open Outback. 

Adventurers are the most irregular of irregular forces that might be called upon to defend the colony.  Bribery, force, and circumstance are about the only means of compelling adventurers to action that isn’t in their monetary interest.  That said, successful adventurers are often some of the most powerful warriors and wizards in the colony.  Colonial officials will always court them when in need.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Southland: The Rangers of the Southern Cross

A Fantasy Core Setting
© Jerry Harris 2014
(This link will take you to the Fantasy Core Index.)

The Rangers of the Southern Cross
While all of the different branches have their merits, there is only one elite corps of soldiers stationed in the Southland.  (There are “special forces” units in the Regular Army, such as the officially-doesn’t-exist Cloak unit, but they are not present in the Southland.  Yes, we are talking about psionic fighter/thief/wizard troops with magic weapons.)  The Rangers are officially scouts for the Frontier Service and not a separate unit.  Unofficially, they don’t mix, as the Rangers are always in the field when on duty, and when off duty they generally live away from their home base. 

Frontier caravans seldom move without a Ranger escort.  They serve as an early warning system for frontier towns and forts.  Often they are the first reinforcements in the event of an attack, and the ones going out to bring more.  Bounty hunters are seldom needed in the Southland as anyone who runs off into the Outback is as good as dead.  On the occasion that someone has to be recovered or there are lost and missing individuals, the Rangers are the best option.  Civil disorder on the frontier isn’t unheard of.  The Rangers are often deployed to restore it.

The Ranger Corps is a relatively late addition to colonial defense and not a standard Commonwealth military unit.  It was instituted (and approved by Governor-General Bligh) by a now retired general, who noticed that certain individuals not only seemed to intuitively understand the Outback environment, but functioned better without the regular members of their unit.  Originally a specialized scout service unit for a dangerous frontier route, after meritorious action in a battle (on their own initiative), the general awarded the entire group battlefield commissions.  The Ranger Corps was formally established.  Their duties were expanded, though left somewhat intentionally vague.  The group was allowed to choose its own members from among volunteers from any service.  Probationary members would have to earn their Ranger commission by their actions and with the consent of a Ranger Captain. 

There is no standard uniform.  Members are only identified by their distinctive Southern Cross badge.  There also isn’t a standard member of the group.  There are tough outdoorsmen (rangers and barbarians) that you’d expect.  But there are also wizards, knights, demon-hunting paladins, and some highly questionable individuals (thieves) forming squad members.  Their backgrounds, appearance, and methods all differ, but their ability to accomplish the mission is the only thing that matters. 

The typical unit doesn’t exist either.  There are loners, pairs, small parties, and even full squads (up to 11).  Unfortunately, ego is an issue between most Ranger groups.  They won’t work well together without a strong reason and strong leadership.  Smart commanders will normally assign a specific task for a group and leave all of the details up to them. 

All Rangers are technically officers, up to Captain.  The “technically” part is that they all have field commissions and are normally not Academy graduates and that their only designated subordinates are themselves.  Their rank is even questionable outside of the Southland.  (And don’t even think about pulling rank on board a Commonwealth warship, unless you feel very confident about your swimming abilities.)  Rangers may take command of any militia unit where there is no active duty officer present.  They may also take command of any Frontier or Regular Army unit where they are the ranking officer.  They must defer to any Academy trained officer of equal rank, regardless of experience. 

This causes all sorts of chain of command issues. Ranking Rangers are not compelled to take command and often won’t.  They’ll simply designate whoever seems competent to take charge and tell them to stay out of the Rangers’ way.  Further, an experienced Ranger will seldom take orders they disagree with from inexperienced equal ranking Academy officer.  (Though in fairness, there’s usually a very good reason for it.)  A Ranger unit can quietly mutiny and take command in such a situation and even make any deaths look like an accident.  Of course, there may be other considerations behind bad orders that an insular Ranger group wouldn’t know about, which can cause them problems later.   

[I’m not providing stats for a typical Rangers, because there aren’t any typical Rangers.  These individuals would be full character class NPC’s from 5th to 8th level.  Yeah, they’re tough.]