All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW.
Hunters are one of the more enigmatic classes in WoW. They have no racial requirement, and there's not really much in the way of hunter organizations in lore. While the elves have long had a history of rangers, other races don't really have that kind of back story involved. If you're a hunter, you really don't possess mysterious magical abilities or come from some sort of storied or tragic background.
That said, it means that roleplaying a hunter leaves a tremendous amount of story potential completely open to interpretation on the part of the roleplayer. In some ways, it makes it much more entertaining to have no limitations to work with, no history to look back on and consider. In other ways, it can almost be far more daunting, because there simply aren't any historical guidelines on what makes a hunter unique -- and that's a lot of information for a roleplayer to come up with.
Who you are
Here's what we do know: Hunters are masters of ranged combat. Deeply in tune with nature, a hunter has no problem at all tracking prey and bringing it down. While hunters don't really possess the magical skills of a druid or a shaman, they do have a deep connection to the balance of nature. Not the balance of the elements, but the cycle of life and death in the world, and how that cycle will always continue on long after the hunter himself has passed on.
In addition to this understanding, hunters are also always accompanied by one animal companion or another. Nobody really knows how hunters tame the animals of the wild. And hunter companions should never be considered domesticated animals, either. These companions are there because they have developed a bond with the hunter that transcends the need for speech or conversation. A hunter's companion is there to serve the hunter, but it is not a servant -- it is a willing friend that has decided to accompany the hunter on his life's journey.
This kind of spiritual bond isn't necessarily bound up in magic, but there is a touch of mysticism to it. And there's almost a sense of magic in how a hunter tracks his prey and brings it down. There's certainly a sense of magic in how skilled he is with bow or gun, and in how he uses traps and shots with little thought or effort to bring down whatever it is he happens to be after. Somewhat magic, too, is the ability a hunter has to use the aspects of the various animals of the wilds, somehow calling forth the agile nature of a monkey, the speed of a cheetah, or even the eyes of a hawk.
For the elves of the world, hunters have had a long standing tradition in the race -- the skills and prowess of elven rangers and their stories stretch back far into history. This could have something to do with the natural and sometimes magical connection that most elves have with nature and the world that they walk upon. For other races, there really isn't any kind of storied history as far as organizations and groups are concerned.
But really, that's almost to be expected with a hunter. Hunters don't really concern themselves with the same kind of rigid structure seen in most races and societies. They aren't invested in the idea of belonging to a group. For a hunter, the world and the wild are his group; the animal companions he's gained over time are his organization. Hunters are not the most social of creatures, often preferring to be out in the open wild over the confines of a city.
What defines you, and why you fight
It's that lack of a connection that almost defines a hunter. Hunters are connected with the world and the wild far more than the cities and organizations and government and other niceties of polite society. Because of this, there is a kind of kinship between hunters, one that doesn't always extend to the other classes out there. A hunter may admire a rogue's ability to quietly and quickly take down a target, but a rogue lacks that innate connection to the wild that hunters possess. A hunter may admire a druid's ability to shift into animal forms, but druids lack the prowess with ranged weapons that are a hunter's forte.
So why then, does a hunter choose to fight for their faction? There's any number of reasons, and those reasons are entirely up to the roleplayer. Is your hunter dedicated to his faction, even if he may not feel quite at one with it as a soldier fighting in an army? Is your hunter simply after the payment that will help in providing the supplies necessary to keep himself alive? Is your hunter interested in history, or the potential spoils of war? Or is your hunter an observer, simply participating in order to learn from those around him, filing away any weaknesses he sees for future reference, in preparation for the day in which he might need to fight an enemy of that particular class or race?
And that's really only a handful of possibilities -- there are any number of reasons a hunter could choose to participate in battle. This is why it's sometimes tough for a player that roleplays the hunter class. It's all open to interpretation. Your best bet with a hunter would be to figure out what exactly lies in his past. What was your hunter's family like? Was he part of a big family, or small? Does he have any surviving family members? Does he come from a long background of hunters -- did he learn to be a hunter from his parents or siblings?
What drew your hunter to the class? Did he grow up with an unusual aptitude for ranged combat? Is he just a natural sharpshooter? Or was the the call of the wild, a love of nature, or the ability to bond with animal companions as lifelong friends? Did your hunter have a lot of friends growing up, or did he spend his time largely isolated? Was he isolated by choice, or by circumstance? These kinds of questions can help set up what kind of personality your hunter has, and how he relates to the people around him.
Interaction with others
Hunters by and large are pretty reclusive, preferring to be out in the wild over being in the midst of the hustle and bustle of a city. They generally have a far deeper connection with their animal companions than any mere person could offer. After all, a person is a person, but the animal they bond with is someone who will absolutely without question lay down their life for their friend with no questions asked. That animal companion is with them every moment of their lives, all the ups and downs and in between, offering comfort, protection, and the kind of kindred spirit to the wild that a mere person just couldn't compete with.
This isn't to say that a hunter is automatically antisocial -- some of the most boisterous dwarves are hunters, some of the most garrulous goblins, some of the most chatty humans. Your hunter can absolutely have a whole circle of friends and family that they love and enjoy spending time with. It's just that for a hunter, there is a greater call that beckons, and the family and friends that they have will always come in slightly behind that wild call. Invariably, a hunter will want some time alone, even if they enjoy the companionship of other people.
Again, it falls to the individual roleplayer to find that balance and determine just how social their hunter happens to be, where they fall on the spectrum of social interaction. And although that leaves a lot for a roleplayer to fill in, it also leaves a lot of flexibility for character development. Between the sharpshooting, quick-witted marksmen and the quiet friend and companion to the creatures of the wild, the hunter class offers a unique twist to roleplay that guarantees no moment will be spent truly alone.
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