I think that this character is near ready. I’ve spoken with the DM and now he approves of the character concept, a half elf ranger with racial substitution levels (in Races of Destiny). He now desires more work be done on the character’s backstory, and indeed that time has come to address this point.
Benefits of the Character
As any ranger, he still has the ability to fight (I need to decide his preference, melee or ranged), cast divine spells (level 1 spells until 8th level as ranger), and a handful of arcane spells (as per half-elf ranger). He has the potential to serve as the party healer in a pinch, but it will be 8th level when he can cast Cure Light Wounds; he can at least cast it from a scroll, suggesting at the on-going battles he may soon find common with the rest of the group.
His main focus was always to be an investigator, chasing the cause of the Day of Mourning in Cyre. I’ve considered pursuing this as an outlander, but decided that it would be substantially more meaningful as a Cyran, and a built in reason for him to be out of the country as a part of the war.
Service in the Army
I’ve decided a while ago that this Ranger was going to be a witchhunter, that this would be a part of his employ, a Ranger in the army entrusted to sneak around enemy lines and take out company mages from battle formations. This suggested the Arcane hunter, which required Knowledge (Arcane) 1 rank at 1st, and granted Favored Enemy (Arcanist). The DM has ruled against this, however, as it would cause friction within the party, indeed possibly too much friction, so arcane hunter is left off of the build lists. Knowledge (arcane) and spellcraft seem logical skills to build regardless.
To obtain knowledge (Arcane), the character needs the feat (Education). This role also requires stealth, survival, and tracking, core abilities of the Ranger. Why is he fighting? I have in my mind a hint that he is tired of Kings and crowns, and has no further interest in the conflict. I suggested before that he had a life before serving in the war and that life was lost to conflict. Maybe he never fought for the right to Thronehold, only to avenge his losses. And now all of Cyre is gone. His losses are now so much worse.
What is he fighting for?
Vengeance. To bring consequence to murderers.
As a half-elf, he could have lived a whole human life time. He could have had a family. Whatever he lost, he doesn’t want to talk about it. With Cyre in ruins, and now the Mournland, he has no home to defend. But the character was not just about simple vengeance. He was built to focus on the recovery of the Mournland, to survive its challenges and find its causes.
What is the childhood like?
Does it matter? Cyre is gone. Perhaps he lost a childhood friend, maybe a parent. Youth also means weakness, though, and so rather than focus on vengeance, perhaps he wishes to overcome a shameful memory, a time when he ran and left someone to die. Maybe he has made a promise to never stop hunting the one responsible for something; the focus on arcanists would tend to suggest it was a mage that caused such pain.
I have to nail this down, so let’s come to this understanding. He was born into a tiny one-horse village that exists no more. Such villages would have been routinely uprooted by the conflict; credit to resettle the village would have been scarce while the war was ongoing. As a youth, he knew refugee camps and poor labour conditions in the highly productive slums of Cyre from a young age. He would have hated it, but it would have taught him a thing or two how to survive in urban settings.
He may have made a promise to a dear friend, or his dying family members, that he would live to resettle that little village. And then he went off to join the war to earn the money he needed to support this family. He wouldn’t have left full human siblings, but he might have left nieces and nephews.
Then there’s the Mage.
This was his day job, but it makes sense that he would have volunteered for a job he had an inclination towards anyway. Others moan and cry about the hardships of hunting mages, of Mage Duty as it could be; he threw himself into it. Why? Of all of the schools of magic, Enchantment is the most odious. Picture it – You are hiding in a field full of dead bodies, and in walks the Necromancer – that is scary! The abjurer or the diviner looks at a distance near identical to clerics, you can always pick out the Alteration mage because his specialty looks like so much fun. Illusion mages seem the most cheap – we won the battle, dispel illusion, no you didn’t! But the consequences of Enchantment, of permanent confusion, allies fighting each other, of people reacting to emotions not their own, and using that as an excuse to say it didn’t happen. Enchantment is more than scary; it is odious, and more than powerful enough to lead to a lost village or two. With a ring side view of a battle where an enemy Enchanter kills the soldiers defending his village, this character may have developed an awareness for the harm Enchanters can wrought, and interest in what other mages can do, and a desire to learn to unmake their efforts.
Who are his parents?
He has some anger against the Valenar Elves, who turned on and butchered Cyran refugees after the day of Mourning. It would be a terrible twist if his father was Valenar, an errant Elf who had a romantic tryst with his human mother one night many years ago. The father would outlive him, so he might exist to meet, or fight, again.
What is his name?
Easiest and hardest question. Using the random name generator, for a long period of time, I come up with: Gairn Faelan