Rangers are versatile members of any party. They can lead a group through dangerous wilderness without getting lost, track a wild beast or missing person in diverse environments, and are capable of wielding a multitude of weapons. They’re hired by travelers as guides and make excellent bounty hunters and monster slayers when the time calls for it. They’re also quite passionate and considerate of nature and the flora and fauna that live among it.
If you’re playing or writing a ranger, we’ve got some tips on how to get in their head. Dorian has played a ranger for six years and understands them quite well. Having done so for such a long time, or course, not all rangers are the same. So, for those looking to play or create a ranger, here’s what you need to know.
Roleplaying a Ranger
Playing a ranger comes down to a few key factors. No matter if you’re using the most popular TTRPG in the world, Pathfinder, Forbidden Lands, or Lord of the Rings, rangers have several things in common. Focus on the following traits when you create a ranger to improve your roleplay and writing.
Rangers are fierce protectors of nature. They work to safeguard all that is natural in the world.
Rangers know their plants. They can tell the party if a plant is deadly, poisonous, edible, or has healing properties. If they don’t know, they work to do so.
Rangers are kind to animals. As protectors of nature, they work to understand creatures of the world, even the dangerous ones. If it comes down to a fight with a beast, they may instead choose to scare away the creature instead of killing it. Rangers are also known to have animal companions.
Rangers always seek to understand. Rangers tend to stick to the wilds or live away from cities. This can make them curious about the world. Going to a large urban area can seem outlandish to them but with every place they visit, they seek knowledge first. Knowing more about a place, person, or creature is highly beneficial.
Rangers can be difficult at first. Like nature, rangers tend to be guarded and may appear off-putting at first. Once they get to know a person, they warm up easily to them and let their guards drop.
Rangers are masters of weapons. There is a reason rangers are known as masters of the hunt. Not for their hunting skills, but their ability to wield and master just about every weapon created.
As writers, we find inspiration in nearly everything we come across. So, we thought to help with your roleplay, we should introduce you to a few popular rangers from movies and video games.
Geralt of Rivia. Geralt is a Witcher, which is a fancy way of saying ranger. He hunts monsters, uses herbs to make potions and poisons, and is proficient in knowing creatures, tracking, and fighting. He’s gruff and blunt but has a kind heart and is always willing to help those in need.
Aragorn. Aragorn from Lord of the Rings is one of the best examples of a ranger we can think of. While known as a Ranger of the North, the title referred to a wandering people who protected the land but sought to remain a secret from others. This gave them a reputation for being distrustful, harsh, and dangerous. While Aragorn can appear quite harsh, he’s kind to everyone he meets once he learns more about them. He also has several animal companions during his journey. Brego is with him in The Two Towers and The Return of the King. While Bill the pony accompanies him in The Fellowship of the Ring.
Ruuda Drybarrel. Self-plug. Ruuda’s backstory in our fantasy book series Thread of Souls focuses on her interaction with a group or rangers. She was trained by Deep Stalker ranger Nier Shadowsnare but was not blessed to be a Deep Stalker herself. The Deep Staker rangers are protectors of the Deep Hollows and work to ensure safe passage for travelers on the roads, protect creatures, and are hired out when needed for specific jobs. Ruuda’s history with the rangers could play a larger part in her story, but you’ll have to read and find out.
You don’t have to look far on the internet to find multiple people posting their own “writing rules”. It’s on Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, published books, and more. Some are from professional authors, some from amateurs, and some from just random people who think they have talent but haven’t published anything yet. As authors ourselves and people who often publish blogs about writing tips and tricks, this begs the question, do you actually need rules for writing? Are there actual do’s and don’t’s that make or break your book? Or is it all just nonsense from people with superiority complexes?
Too Much Info
When you start to look up some guidelines for writing online, it doesn’t take long before it all just feels too much. “Describe eyes like this”, “Don’t describe eyes at all“, “Don’t use prologues“, “Use prologues”, “Don’t slow down your pace“, “Give the reader time to breathe“. It all feels a bit contradictory. If you are looking for hard advice to follow, it can seem like a losing battle.
This reminds me of an amusing quote I found on Pinterest once that made fun of these writing rules by saying “the best thing to give your reader is just a blank page“.
Do Rules Have a Place in Creative Writing?
When you are writing a creative piece, is there really a need for rules? Do you need to follow a formulaic plotline? Or do you simply write what is in your heart? Everyone has different tastes in stories. What one person likes to read will be completely different than what someone else likes to read. It begs the question if there is much of a point in sticking to certain specifications as if that will magically make your book the perfect story for every single person in the world.
We once worked as part of a writing team for a company, and one member of the team believed that stories should have a “you did this / you go there” POV so that the reader is drawn in to believe they are part of the story. But for both of us personally, we really dislike those types of POV’s and don’t enjoy stories written like that. This team member spouted out all these “rules for writing” to support his point, but does that have any merit when it actually comes down to personal taste?
Breaking the Writing Rules
We watched a documentary about J.R.R. Tolkien once, and something said in it will always stick with us. It said that his Lord of the Rings books would be considered completely unmarketable today because they break all the “rules” of telling a story. And yet, they still live on as one of the best works of fantasy. Unless, of course, you don’t like The Lord of the Rings, in which case refer to the paragraph above.
We knew an author who was a huge Stephen King fan, and he read many of King’s guides on writing. As such, he believed one should never, ever, use adverbs. However, he was also a big fan of Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle. Having read The Name of the Wind, we found this an interesting point of view since Rothfuss liberally uses adverbs. In our opinion, both authors tell fantastic stories, though we are much bigger fans of fantasy than horror.
When Should You Actually Pay Attention to Writing Rules?
So, is there any use for these writing rules if all it comes down to is personal preference? When we post blogs or entries on social media giving writing tips, it is with the intention that people will use this if they are seeking help, or an outside point of view. Not as a rule to always follow. We really dislike the dialogue tag “said” and use it as infrequently as possible. We have written a blog post about alternatives to use. But if you like “said” and hate all other tags, more power to you! You do what works best for you. That post is only meant for those seeking input on different ways to write dialogue.
If you love you writing as-is, don’t worry about what others say you should or should not do. We do think that everyone can benefit from hearing outside viewpoints on how others go about their writing, and writing courses, but that doesn’t mean you suddenly have to change what you do entirely just because someone else does it that way.
Perhaps we should change “writing rules” to “writing opinions”. So many young, potential authors get scared off of ever starting a book because a random person on the internet will toss around these rules like they are decrees sealed in blood that you must follow or end up a failure with no future. This is just silly. Tell the story that is in your heart exactly the way you want to tell it. There are people out there who it will resonate with. And in the end, you have told your story the way you wanted to, and that is the most important thing.
Happy February! A bit late on the draw this month, but we have our Spool of Souls monthly update on what we are currently working on, and our new releases.
Upcoming Book Releases
After a big delay due to an injury, we finally have a date in mind for the publication of the promised lore book “Jade’s Alphabet of Animals”! We’ll be sending it out to ARC readers in March, with publication in April. It will be our first picture book, and will give whimsical insight into lore for Thread of Souls. If you are interested in being on our early reader ARC team, please reach out!
We’ve mentioned before that we will be launching a behind-the-scenes podcasts that talks about the creation of the books. That was supposed to launch this week, but we’ve had a few setbacks just with our own scheduling. Life gets hectic. We hope to have it going later this month, and it should be available the same place as our newly released soundtrack.
Our Corventos map blanket is here! It is so beautiful! We have that and many more items available in our Redbubble store. Our roadmap for the year is to release a new product each month, so keep on the lookout for them!
If you are one who likes to support artists, we have recently opened up subscription tiers on DeviantArt. These include early access to art as well as once-a-month requests. If you haven’t visited our DeviantArt yet, check us out! That’s the main place for all Thread of Souls-related art, and we occasionally host contests, a well!
It’s certainly been a crazy December for us here at Thread of Souls. Among us being super ill over Thanksgiving, being laid off, and moving, we managed to get through a lot and we’re here to share it all!
Thread of Souls Book IV: Asunder
Asunder is here! The fourth book in the Thread of Souls series was a complete wonder to work on. We remember playing through it vividly in our home TTRPG game and loved bringing each and every seen to life on pages. A lot of memories were formed when playing it at the table and we can’t wait to share it with all of you!
Dorian has been hard at work with the trailer for Asunder. Using Talia’s amazing art, the official trailer was launched on December 7. You can check it out below.
Our composer friend, Sean, continues to supply us with fantastical music for Thread of Souls. The latest tracks are titled Jade’s Theme, Into the Gloomdwell, and Fate. While we’re keeping two secret for now, Fate can be heard in the trailer. It’s simply amazing.
It’s an exciting time! The fourth book in our Thread of Souls series, Asunder, is launching next week on December 15th! As we prepare for this final leg of publication, we’d love to share what’s been going on behind the scenes with the book.
Finalizing the Cover
We recently unveiled the cover for Asunder! We worked closely with our artist, Vivien Reis, to ensure it captured the mood and setting of the book. We are super, super happy with how it turned out! To help our artist out, we provided her with a lot of images seen in the recently released book trailer as well as some of the promotional artwork we’ve been using.
We also finalized the book’s back cover summary, going through various revisions until we were happy with it. The biggest hurdle we had to overcome was deciding which major character to feature on the back cover. We had Brother Zok for Phantom Five, Unole for Ash & Thunder, and Taliesin for Path of the Spiders. It was Dorian that had the idea we went with! The official summary will be unveiled this weekend across all social media!
Ordering an Asunder Proof
We are awaiting a final proof from Amazon to ensure it all looks exactly how we want it to! That consisted of formatting the book and dealing with all the annoyances that come along with that haha! It can be a two-day process of copying over the text, ensuring all chapter headings are formatted the same, adjusting picture ratios, fixing any lingering spaces between paragraphs, and even adjusting the margins. I ran into a problem with the page numbers being too low and it took me longer than it should have to realize what the problem was and how to fix it haha.
The Book Trailer
After a few months of work, the trailer is done! I drew all the art, Dorian animated, and we used a song our friend composed. Earlier this year we were for sure going to do the trailer, but then in the summer things got really busy and we abandoned the idea. But in October we decided to do it once again and we’re so glad we did! It turned out super cool haha. I drew the art on multiple layers and sent them over individually to Dorian, who used his magic to give them 3D-esque effects and make them move and glow.
A Difficult Time
As some of you know, it’s been a really crazy time for us. We were launching Asunder just a month after doing major updates to the first three books in terms of covers, the map’s format, and some other interior details. It also happened to be at the same time we both got laid off from our full-time jobs, then we got food poisoning, then we were moving, and then I re-tore my abdominal muscle (that I originally injured in 2018, and injured again in 2021). Throughout all this, we’ve tried to continue to put effort into our passion for Thread of Souls and what it means to us, and to our readers.
Thank you for your continued support of Thead of Souls! I hope you enjoy Asunder when it launches on Amazon on December 15th!
You sit at a desk in a dimly lit classroom. The windows are covered by large tapestries depicting the various studies of the arcane: divination, protection, defense, potions, and the like. The smell of old tomes, incense, and ink fills the space.”
Suddenly, the tapestries snap open bringing harsh sunlight in the room. Other students shield their eyes at the change of scenery. A burst of magic erupts from the doorway and in strides the teacher. They wear a robe of pink with blue sigils and a matching pointed hat that hangs slightly askew. “Welcome to Magical Studies I, I am your professor. Turn to page 157 and we shall begin with how to summon a simple light spell.”
Magical academies, such as the Citadel in Thread of Souls, are all the rage in fantasy, right? As authors, we love sensory details but what does it sound like within an academy? Music is a great way to get ideas and inspiration. Imagine the above scene with the following tracks playing in the background.
Magical and mysterious is Eothas. It’s soft and soothing and is great for lore drops and providing details about locations, people, and items. At the Citadel, it’s a wonderful backdrop for sweeping shots detailing the school and its three spires of law, study, and research.
The Crystal’s Shimmer and the Wind’s Revelations is a mesmerizing track for showcasing wonderful magic. It’s light and full of wonder. A great backdrop for the crystalmancers of the Citadel as they learn and teach about the eight disciplines of magic.
How May I Serve You? is an eerie discordant track for untrusting moments. Magical academies are full of many interesting people and not all of them are to be trusted. Each and every person has their own agenda. The Citadel is home to powerful mages, without giving any spoilers, not all of them are as they seem.
Bonus Dragon Prince song. I See You pairs nicely with How May I Serve You?
Mages are scholarly and Cyrus, the Scholar fits nicely for a library.
Alabastra is for those moments when the students explore the restricted section. It’s way more fun to venture into an unauthorized zone. Forbidden is just an invitation for curious mages.
My word, it’s been a busy time here at Thread of Souls land. With injuries healing and colder weather upon us, we are here with our monthly update. It’s a doozy.
Book IV Asunder ARC Readers
The fourth book in our fantasy series, Asunder, is off to our ARC readers! It’s been a wonderful time editing the book and we are excited to get it into the hands of our adventuring party. While they are reading over Asunder, we are moving on to other matters such as marketing, trailers, and social media outreach.
Just because book IV Asunder is handed off to our ARC team doesn’t mean you can’t join! If you want to become a member of the Thread of Souls adventuring party (our ARC team and other fun collaborative projects) hit us up. Comment on this post or send us an email.
Check out that new updated map as well. Coming to an updated book in the not-too-distant future.
New Covers for Books I – III
We are in the process of updating the covers for Thread of Souls. We have seen the updated covers for books I and II, Phantom Five and Ash & Thunder. Holy smokes, our editor rolled a natural 20 for both of them. The cover for Path of the Spiders is coming along as well. We can’t wait to show you the finished covers for all four books.
Thread of Souls Music
We’ve mentioned before about working with a composer on music for TOS. So far we have heard 10 tracks for the first three books. Our composer sends them to us as soon as he’s finished and each one is a fantastic surprise. So, we are going to show off one of those for you.
We still haven’t watched the Dungeons & Dragons movie trailer, but are curious about it. What has us even more interested is the announcement of two prequel books ahead of the movie: The Druid’s Call and The Road to Neverwinter. Let’s talk about what we know and what we’d like to see from them.
The Road to Neverwinter is written by Jaleigh Johnson. Little is known about it but we can deduce it will take place in the city of Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North. As huge fans of the Neverwinter MMO, we’ve spent, I was going to say countless hours exploring the city, but it’s 361.5 hours, according to Steam. That’s more than 15 days.
Needless to say, we are looking forward to The Road to Neverwinter.
The Druid’s Call, from E.K. Johnston, also has a special place in our hearts for one important reason. Talia’s first tabletop character was the Jade, a main character in our fantasy octology Thread of Souls.
The two books are exciting and they got us thinking. We’re sure they’re written like a typical story — choose a premise, characters, outline it, and write it — but we believe it be great if they were based on their own tabletop experience. Imagine if the characters in both books were played by actual people around a table like a ttrpg game.
The players all choose a character in the story and roleplay them and tell the story together. With A Druid’s Call following the main protagonist Doric, the actions and decisions her player makes shape the world and therefore the overall book.
The same be The Road to Neverwinter. While it’s unclear what the story is, the book must involve some of the characters from Honor Among Thieves. Our thoughts are on rogue Forge Fitzwilliam, as he is tied to the city.
However the books and movie are written, they’re sure to be thrilling. But as authors who turned our ongoing ttrpg campaign into fantasy books, it is definitely a fun way to write a series after playing it around a table with friends.
Clothing is an important factor in a story. You may not consciously think about the characters’ outfits while reading or watching, but they tell the story just the same. Shows and movies are easy-to-track outfits, while books or actual plays are more challenging. Keeping track of your character’s clothing is fun and should be part of the tale itself.
Clothing isn’t Optional
Talking about character outfits is just as important as talking about them. You don’t have to describe much or go into much detail. Something as simple as stating the character wears dark leather armor and carries a belt with multiple daggers on it, gets several points — pun intended — across.
This character relies on stealth and strikes quickly. This brings to mind they may be some sort of rogue. The dark armor suggests they prefer to stick to the shadows or be out at night.
You can use clothing to quickly describe a character without outright saying what their specialty is. Mages wear flowing robes, rangers wear leather or fur armor dyed the color of nature, and clerics or healers wear colored robes depicting their deity.
Plot, plot, plot. Location, location, location
Keep in mind the environments your characters visit. Once again, clothing description isn’t meant to take up a lot of words. You’re not in school anymore, you don’t need to hit a word count. What you need to worry about is the type of clothing. If your story takes place in a cold and snowy biome, make sure the characters wear thick outfits to keep them warm.
Vice versa, if they are at the beach for a relaxing day. Put them in clothing that says beach attire. Also, don’t forget about their weapons.
For the love of all things holy. Nothing drives us madder than when characters have their weapons with them all the time! Take them away from time to time. Give them moments to use random objects to fight with. A frying pan hits just as hard as a hammer. Another thing. Please, if they get locked in prison, have the guards take their armor and weapons. Throw in the trope of having a stealthy or rogue character thoroughly searched if you have to. It’s funny.
Major plot points require outfit changes, too. These can be anything from going from one environment to another and character growth. If a character is just starting out on their quest, their outfit should be tailored to their lifestyle. Perhaps they are a professor and only wear professional-looking attire. Then, once they get thrown into the fire as it were, they come out changed. No longer are they that clean professional instructor, but an adventurer who has seen some shit. Their new clothes should reflect this. Now, they wear business attire but it’s ripped or bedazzled with color.
Keep clothing in mind when you write. Outfits make great characters and really help describe your characters even more.
“How did you become a writer?” When we tell people what we do, their reaction is always the same. Eyes widen, smiles cross their faces, and a look of intrigue and interest passes over them. They ask that question, typically followed by “What do you write?” and “How did you get into that?”
Answers to those then usually lead to the inappropriate questions of income, but I believe the meaning behind them is sincere. People that are not within the arts have a hard time wrapping their mind around others being creative for a living.
So here is our story. It is very condensed for blog purposes, but I hope it inspires those seeking to write. If not, we hope it is at least entertaining!
I believe everyone that ends up being a writer already knew they would from childhood. This was true for Dorian and I both, though the details were different.
I have been crafting stories ever since I could pick up a pencil. Even before I was old enough to know how to spell and write sentences, I told my stories through a series of pictures Crayon-colored across ripped-out notebook pages. It is little wonder I ended up loving drawing so much!
Once I learned how to write, that was my hobby. My love. My passion. I wrote everything. I wrote Star Wars fanfics even before I knew what a fanfiction was. I wrote stories inspired by characters from my set of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. My original story was selected to be put up in my elementary school. If my adoptive parents hadn’t kept such a tight leash on me, I probably would have been involved in community writing programs and field trips. Such was my love for it.
By my preteen years I was writing 200+ page novels by hand. I had written six of them by the time I was 18. And one ghost-story children’s book, but I quickly found I didn’t like writing children’s stories. My reading was advanced, and so my writing reflected what I read.
For Dorian, he started out differently. His love of the craft came not from putting words on paper, but from the art of storytelling. He dabbled in creating short films with his friends as an adolescent. He admired the early pioneers in digital journalism, especially for video games, comics, and other fantasy topics.
The largest project he undertook in his adolescence was writing a comic book series called “Produce Guy”, inspired by his local job at a grocery store. It involved a produce worker getting superpowers and battling villains in a light-hearted and witty storyline. Alas, it never got past the first draft as he had no artist friends.
For me, experiences with college and “advice” from my adoptive parents made me believe pursuing a career as a writer wasn’t the right path. I need to go into the corporate world! I got my degree in psychology, which I still believe today helps me write characters.
During college I spent my free time writing fanfictions for The Legend of Zelda, Xiaolin Showdown, Sonic the Hedgehog and the like. I had a lot of success and won many community awards, including “Fanfic of the Year”, “Best Adventure”, and “Best Romance.”
I went into Human Resources, specifically recruitment because I like to help people. I thought I would be helping people get a job and enjoy their work life. But my personality did not mesh well with corporations, and I was appalled by the systemic racism I found within which even went as far as a boss telling me to bring him “less brown people”.
Wanting to get away from that culture, I moved into career advisement for a college. I enjoyed a more practical approach to helping graduates. I helped them write resumes and even published one career-oriented newspaper that then got cancelled by executive leadership because they didn’t want to get graduates’ “hopes up” that they could land a certain career. Covering their asses, as it were.
Suffice to say, I was burned out and depressed by the lack of creativity within these spaces, and felt quite hopeless about my future.
I met Dorian just as I was graduating college. Unlike me, he was more closely following a career as a writer. He’d been discouraged from pursuing the type of writing he wanted by family, saying it wouldn’t “lead anywhere”. So instead, he worked across a few local news stations in his early career. He moved from entry-level cameraman job to writing stories for the anchors as well as for website publication. He wrote commercials, breaking news, and produced the newscast as a whole.
On the side, he wrote and hosted a podcast for Einfo Games for free as a way to indulge his creative side. The side that enjoyed fantasy stories and adventure. Like me, he didn’t enjoy his jobs and wanted a better fit for himself. He’d gone to college for journalism, even though it wasn’t the university he’d desired or the specific degree program to get him where he wanted to go. Like me, he’d followed the advice of family and it wasn’t turning out how he’d hoped.
The Turning Point
I would say 2018 was the biggest turning point for us. Three years after we got married and bought a house, we were both laid off from our jobs. My college closed down, and his news station did staffing cuts. We were at home for six months, and for the first time we started to explore other options.
Maybe we didn’t need to live in this state? Maybe we could follow our original dreams? Maybe we could turn both of our passions of writing into something else?
A series of events happened from 2018-2020 that really kick-started this. I took a remote job writing resumes for clients on a freelance basis. This allowed me flexibility with my schedule and the ability to pursue other passions.
Dorian wrote freelance across a variety of platforms remotely, this time focusing on nerdy news. He wrote for free for a website called The Nerd Stash for a couple of years, getting me on the staff, as well. We also both wrote for Car Bibles and The Drive, this time for pay. He was published across other platforms on a freelance basis, which was very hard work to get pitches accepted for a writer that had no big names behind him.
Still, at least we were enjoying ourselves for once. We were both at home together, writing about things we actually liked. Minus the resumes for me, of course, but it paid well. And there was Thread of Souls.
The Beginning of Thread of Souls
We started playing our first tabletop game in September of 2015, two months before we got married. I was more hesitant, not really understanding what it was. I only agreed to join because only two of Dorian’s friends agreed to show up for the first game, despite him helping a large group learn the rules and make characters. After that, I was hooked.
I loved the game so much I started drawing for the first time since starting my corporate career. As the game progressed, I thought about writing again. I wanted to turn this story we were telling into a book series. When I was around 19 years old I had tried to get my novels published. But I was young, inexperienced, unpolished, and didn’t have a great deal of support to help me learn what I needed to do. Because these books were based off a game that was so close to our hearts, I didn’t want to go down that path again. I didn’t want them changed by a publisher for what was “marketable” or “trendy”. I wanted to tell our story the same way it had touched my heart.
In 2019 we wrote and published Phantom Five independently. And in 2020 we did the same with Ash & Thunder. This initially was just for fun. Just because we loved it. When other people began to read it, and give it good reviews, we realized we had something special. Something that other people might enjoy and be moved by.
Our Lives Now
Both of our careers have become more stable after the drastic shift we took to become writers. We write for video games and still do some freelance work. But our focus is on Thread of Souls. We publish one book a year and intend to increase that number as the years go on with supplemental stories. We also started publishing for Dungeon Master’s Guild. Thread of Souls may have started as a mashup of many tabletop games, but it did not take long for us to change it to a fully homebrewed game with our own rules, pantheon, monster stats, and classes. We decided to share that creativity on another platform.
That has led to a social media presence, and Dorian getting back into video production for YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. It has led to our weekly blog writing and getting to express ourselves creatively through other means. We also became digital nomads, moving from one city to another, and sometimes traveling in our campervan.
That does not mean everything is easy. After all, for writers the future is often a question mark. You can only hope the jobs don’t stop, and that people keep buying your work. But after layoffs from the corporate world, that wasn’t exactly stable, either. For us, the freedom and sense of personal achievement we feel is far worth the risk.
If you are looking to become a writer, my advice is this. Don’t let people who have never followed this path tell you what you should or should not do. They don’t know. If you can find a mentor, or be involved in a group, all the better. I wish we’d had that. You don’t need to worry about a degree or work history. One of our most fulfilling creative roles hired us just because of the content on our website and never asked to see a resume. Doing something even though it’s risky is far better than doing something “stable” that drains you. And finally, be loyal to your own dream above anyone else’s dream.