I may have mentioned this before elsewhere, but often times it's hard to speak authoritatively on any class in Beta, because no matter what the changes and the new imba combos and whatnot are right now, they will likely change drastically the next time a new build comes into play. This isn't to say that it's impossible to write about them, but often times whatever words you write will be obsolete, or at least inaccurate, by the time you sit down to write next week's column.
For example, last week I wrote about traps. I mentioned that Freezing Traps no longer break immediately on damage. Well, now they do again. As Ghostcrawler tells it, they couldn't find a way to make pets automatically ignore a frozen target, so they called the whole thing off. Now, honestly, that seems a bit like chopping off your hand to take care of a mosquito bite on your pinky finger, but hey. On the plus side, she also said that they'll put it back in once they figure out how to reign in pets (I recommend using the passive button on the pet bar, myself). But who knows when that will be?
So I thought I'd take a trip down a path that's more solid this week, and speak a bit about roleplaying your Hunter. These are a few archetypes I looked at when roleplaying my various Hunters, with various tips on roleplaying them and reflections on how they fit in to various factions and alliances around the game. As always, of course, general roleplay rules apply: Don't be a jerk, don't godmode or Mary-sue it, and don't let roleplaying get in the way of your fun or your group's success.
The Rustic Outdoorsman
This could probably be described as the basic solid, generic hunter archetype, not that that means it's a flat archetype by any means. Consider this person to be a Hunter in every sense of the word. They're survivalists in the non-talent tree sense of the word. They're used to going out into the woods for days or weeks at a time. They know where to lay traps and what to bait them. They know how to fish, and how to cook whatever they've caught. They know how to build a fire and how to construct a crude lean-to, and how to administer basic first aid.
An Outdoorsman (or woman) might be gruff and short-tempered and prefer to eschew other company, or he might be exuberant about his hobbies and love showing greenhorns the ropes on a camping trip -- or just love showing off. They probably don't worry too much about which ranged weapon they use, as they're likely rather utilitarian and use whatever works best. Whatever the weapon, it is always well cared for.
If you're unsure how to roleplay your Hunter, this is probably a good archetype to start with. If you're dedicated to it, you could have Cooking, Fishing, and First Aid maxed just to say that your character has basic outdoorsman skills. Your character will probably consider themselves a bit of a steward of nature, so you may consider learning Herbalism for herb lore and information about fauna - they'd obviously know what herbs are medicinal and what plants and fungi are edible for long stays in the wilderness. Of course, you could also go the Skinning/Leatherworking route for the idea of wasting no part of the animal on your hunts and knowing how to survive in the wilderness.
The Big Game Hunter
This guy is sort of like the rustic outdoorsman archetype, but a little bit more focused. Essentially imagine Hemet Nesingwary and his posse. These type live for the thrill of the hunt (Not to be confused with the Thrill of the Hunt). They probably have basic wilderness skills like the rustic outdoorsman, but they may be less concerned about what happens to the animal after they kill it, unless they want to stuff it and display it or take a body part as a trophy. Then again, maybe part of their enjoyment of hunting is a nice venison stew afterwards. They've probably honed their tracking and trapping skills to a fine edge, all the better to get the edge in their latest hunt.
You can play this type of Hunter many places on the scale of morality. They may simply enjoy the thrill of the hunt, and may even be conscientious about making sure they don't upset the natural balance too much. Some may be a little bit more careless, overhunting in places, but not quite realizing they could be more moderate, and mostly being reasonable. You could also play a Big Game Hunter as DEHTA's worse nightmare, a burnt earth type who kills for the pleasure of it, mowing down animals by the dozens. Of course, with that last one, you do have to be careful not to take it too overboard, unless you really enjoy mustache twirling, or are hoping to get Captain Planet to come after you or something.
The Special Forces
In this case, Special Forces may vary a bit by which race they are. A Dwarven Rifleman may have neglected his wilderness skills a bit, but will likely be more well drilled and military-minded, by the book and all. A Night Elf Ranger is probably used to solitude, as she has likely been patrolling the borders of Ashenvale in solitude for hundreds or even thousands of years until very recently. She may feel some animosity especially toward Orcs because of the Warsong because of this.
A Blood Elf Farstrider may be the most interesting instance of this archetype to play. As a Ranger, he is still loyal to Silvermoon, but he will find himself very uncomfortable with recent developments in the city. When Mu'ru was still in Silvermoon, he likely clashed with the Blood Elves over it. He likely does not like the use of Demonic Magic (Arcane magic is still OK though, he would have been used to that as a High Elf, and still partakes of it himself for his addiction), and may look for answers for the problems of Blood Elf society or for ways to combat the scourge in the forest that most others have left behind. He's definitely more in tune with the natural world than most of his people.
In this case, it's probably a good idea to read up a bit on your chosen race and see how politics and military movements have gone for that race for the past few years to get an idea of where your character might have served and what their duties were. Ask yourself a few questions. Did their wilderness survival skills atrophy because of their military service, or did they use those skills on patrols and long marches? What type of enemies would they be fighting, and do they have a special hatred for these enemies? Has thier service given them any special training or any sort of martial discipline that would show up in their actions and speech patterns?
This type of Hunter may treat the ways of Hunting as something akin to a religion. In the case of the Tauren or the Wildhammer Dwarves, they may even literally treat it as a religion. Hunting animals may be accompanied by rituals thanking the spirit of the animal for providing them with sustenance, or by prayers or songs or dances praying for a good hunt or offering thanks to the spirits for a good hunt. They probably feel close to Shamans or Druids, or at least share many religious and spiritual beliefs with them.
These types may have a very Feral side to them. They may consider themselves part of the natural order or circle of life, in the form of a Predator. They may see their duty as culling the weak from the herd, which would lend itself well to a PvP-minded Hunter who sees the other faction as in need of culling, and may end up leading to quite a bit of juicy conflict, with ample opportunities for many other characters to see your character as evil or an enemy. Of course, they can just as easily be a peaceful type who would rather focus on the natural world than worry about meaningless wars.
A Hunter of this type may have many talismans for luck or protection on the Hunt. They may hold cultural significance. You could have a Dreamcatcher designed to catch curses sent by evil spirits, or a feather from the first swoop you ever killed blessed by your tribe's shamans.
A Hunter of this type may treat their pet as more of a partner than a companion, having sensed its noble spirit, and possibly even believing it an equal or partner. After all, if spirits are in all things, who is to say the spirit of an animal is any less noble than the spirit of a Dwarf or Orc or Night Elf?
Horde Hunters are more likely to use this archetype, since most Horde races have a history of shamanism that would cause them to believe in animal spirits and animal totems and interacting with spirits. Still, a Wildhammer-style Dwarf, with their intense affinity to Gryphons and other animals, or a Night Elf, with extensive experience with Druidism and nature worship, could both easily fit into this category.
Whatever you want to be
I always feel like writing roleplay guides infringes a bit on what I think is one of the most important rules of Roleplay: Do what you feel, as long as it fits in with the game world and doesn't infringe on other plays. Finding your own character archetype is often half the fun of playing. You may take elements from one archetype above, a bit from all of them, or invent your own new archetype. For example, a lot of Tauren are probably heavily Mystic, but many of them will certainly have a healthy dash of Big Game Hunter, while Dwarves have Special Forces under their belt, but probably have a lot of Hunters who are just plain lovers of the great Outdoors.
As long as you aren't claiming to be the half-dragon daughter of Illidan or a long lost Titan god, who's to say you can't? And as long as we're on the subject, I'd love to hear your own Hunter roleplaying stories and ideas. It may be just the inspiration someone needs to create their next character.