I know in an earlier post on Rangers, I likened them to the ultimate Druid henchmen, I still tend to hold that overall view of them.
However, reading a few posts on forums and in RPG communities lately, I notice how stuck folks get on the text used in the Class description and the tendency people have to liken the Ranger to a Tolkien Aragorn type character.
In all honesty, I don't see that in the 1E Class description. What I do get from the book description is a specialist fighter type who is supposed to be an uber-badass with greater minimum set of "natural" abilities as evidenced by the min requirements for certain ability scores over those of a "regular" fighter.
I tend to think not so much of a "woodlands" Ranger but an Army Ranger instead. Someone who is trained toward taking down a particular set or class of "target" opponents. in the case of the 1E Ranger, that would be those creatures identified as "Giant" Class.
I think some of the confusion comes from the the reference to outdoor skills like tracking and "woodcraft" as well as having the ability to cast Druid (and MU) spells at a higher level.
Think of the Army Ranger type though. Not only do they excel at kicking Giant Class ass, but they are trained to be more of a "guerilla" tactics fighter, using the environment around them to get one up on opponents who may not operate or typically have been trained to fight in such a manner.
In that light, tracking and "woodcraft" skills make perfect sense considering that type's need to function and be resourceful in that type of operating environment.
No, I don't see Aragorn in the book Class description. I see instead a specialty fighter who is more of a "guerilla" fighter than a conventionally trained soldier type.
Look at the description of a Fighter and I get more of an impression of a Roman soldier, taught how to use conventional weapons of war such as swords, spears, lances, etc... against others more or less like themselves.
Back to the Ranger Class description. and with that comparison, I see even moreso that "Army Ranger/guerilla" distinction.
As a matter of fact, I see the use of spells at higher levels part and parcel of the specialist who is trained to take down the biggest baddies out there. The ones where "conventional" weapons and fighting abilities may not be enough to get it done against such monstrosities. Those spells help them take on the even bigger dogs of those types of creatures.
As a matter of fact, I am enjoying seeing the Ranger in such light that I now seriously considering moving away from my Druid Henchman view and adopting this one all out.