There are a thousand ways to die out here. Unless you want to experience one of them, you'll follow me and do what I tell you.Blight-trackers are Surface explorers and rangers without peer, experts at navigating the irradiated wastelands of the lands above the caverns. Sometimes called the Kaia of the Surface, the Blight-trackers are used as guides by any serious expedition heading out into the wastes. They know how to best avoid the creeping death of Blight, where to hide from the horizon-spanning storms, and run. Blight is a quiet, unseen killer, and the wise take every precaution to avoid it.
I know myself well enough to realize why others can't be trusted.Among those who brave the Surface, the Blight-trackers are among the most skilled, unrivaled in surviving the dangerous, sunlight lands. The Blight-trackers usually work alone or in pairs, trusting few to match their expertise - too many fools venture to the Surface in search of gold and glory. Trackers are slow to trust, and each thinks that they have the best way and that other trackers will get them killed.
When Blight-trackers do work together, it is usually with one master and her apprentice. In their typical role, they are hired by another party to guide them through the Surface and ensure they Survive. The most common reasons for such expeditions is to hunt the monsters on the Surface, or finding precious resources available nowhere else. The only thing that changes for the Blight-tracker is how high their price.
Many consider Blight-Trackers to be mad: who in their right mind makes a living in those accursed wastelands?For their part, blight-trackers find their calling for any number of reasons. From family tradition to wanderlust, Blight-trackers take pride in their ability to go where others fear to tread and make a good living doing so. No matter the cause, every tracker is a rival. There is little camaraderie between Blight-trackers. When Blight-tracker form teams, however reluctantly, little change. Everyone is a blight-tracker, and everyone has the responsibilities one. These groups are usually forced creations, made when particularly large expeditions hire several Blight-trackers to aid them. The results have led some to call them "bickering-trackers", and it is not a nickname they take well to.
Becoming a Tracker
If you think you want to be a tracker, you're not cut out for it. Don't think, know it.Most trackers start their career as an apprentice to a master tracker and learn the craft from them. Every Blight-tracker has their own criteria for what they require from an apprentice, but there are a few common traits they seek. Toughness, smarts, and grit, the type who won't break from the strain of a Surface expedition. Much like Kaia, being able to adjust to the situation is considered vital. Less honest trackers take on less than capable apprentices with no real intent of ever seeing them graduate, but use them as cheap labor or expandable fodder. The apprentice does whatever their masters tell them to, often seeing to menial tasks of cooking, cleaning, and testing their master's more dangerous theories.
There's no formal rite of passage shared between trackers for when an apprentice becomes a master herself. Some trackers will tell them, while others leave the realization to the apprentice themselves. It is often a harrowing journey with who fail before the end. Blight-scars are common marks of an apprentice, often forced to do the more risky parts of blight-tracking.
Some Masters offer little more than an 'off you go, then' as graduation.In recent times, aging trackers have begun to establish schools and more formal apprenticeships in the city-states in the Outer Shell. Many traditionally taught tracker look down at these "text-book" trackers as lesser, who believe only those who have felt the string of Blight can really appreciate its dangers. Most of these schools are still in their infancy, following a more-or-less structured curriculum, cobbled together by whatever Blight-trackers started it. In the end, the lore behind blight-tracking little more than individual observations put together and tested. If they survived, it was probably correct. Trackers from such schools usually agree on the basics and share a similar approach, as well as being considerably easier to work with.
Can you imagine being the first? Going up here, seeing nothing but dust, sand, and death than going "aye, this'll be a lark"?It is difficult to follow the history of Blight-trackers or know when experience and experiment gradually became knowledge. The earliest recorded Blight-tracker is over a century old, but how many died testing those theories is unknown. Exploring the Surface is a dangerous venture and in large part due to Blight and the success of these early trackers did much to build their reputation. Today, blight-tracking is going through a transformation. The old system of master-apprentice is being challenged; ideas are being exchanged rather than hoarded. If they can surpass - or even equal - the old guard of Blight-tracker remains to be seen.
The Surface A hostile world of scorching sun and deadly Blight, the Surface is the land above. Few ventures into this desolate place, and fewer still return. Blight-Tracker specializes in navigating the hazards of the Surface world. Read More ABout The Surface
Tools of the Trade'Never carry something you aren't going to use' is a common saying among the Blight-tracker, repeated endlessly to every new expedition that they join. Travel is hard across the Surface, and any weight not worth carrying is a danger. Blight-trackers select their equipment depending on where they are going and who they are guiding, but some tools have become synonyms with blight-trackers. Most famous among them is the blight-box, filled black, metallic sand that supposedly allows Blight-trackers to determine the presence of Blight. Other tools of tracking vary between trackers, from pendulum and dowsing roads. Many trackers find things in their travels, from bone spears made sharp through Cadaverurgy to unknown metals that shine near Blight. Trackers wear rugged, practical clothing suitable for the journey, with Surface temperatures ranging from biting cold to scorching deserts depending on where they go.
Always keep a weapon sharp. Know how to use it.
Left in the WasteUnlike Kaia who are popular and well-regarded by the citizens of the underworld, Blight-trackers have a more complicated reputation. As guides and wardens against a hazard no one else can even see makes it easy to place the blame when something goes wrong. Amateurs that call themselves Blight-trackers only make matters worse. Blight-trackers are sometimes accused of leading travelers to their doom or abandoning them in the wasteland, and there is some truth to that. Many blight-trackers value their own lives far more than those of their client. Expeditions that seem doomed to failure are sometimes abandoned by their trackers, ensuring what might have been just possibility.
Traditions of the TrackersThere aren't many traditions among the trackers, but a few have spread from master to apprentice. The most common among them is the first hazing, when the master first takes the apprentice into an area of shifting Blight and leaves them there. This is where many apprentices gain their first blight-burn, if they make it out at all.
The Shrouded Lands Few things arouse such obsession with Blight-trackers as the Shrouded Lands, the vast regions of the surface world cloaked in lethal Blight and shrouded by continent-spanning storms. Every tracker at one point or another grapple with the challenge of just how to pierce the shroud and be the first to find that lies in beyond. So far, none have succeeded. Read more about the Shrouded Lands
R. Dylon Elder
I've always had a soft spot for rangers lol I love seeing them in strange settings as well. It took me a moment to really get through it. You have a few grammar errors but I'm not really disuaded by that. Apart from this I may have missed it but I'm wondering why the big shift from the master and apprentice role to the the school system happened. Was there some event that caused it?
Wonderful as always, I love the language and the layout. The idea is good and I love how you use the Kaia and link to it, it made me get a bit of a deeper understanding of both! I found a small mistake: "In the rare cases were tracker form teams" I'm pretty sure it should be "where" instead of "were" Keep being awesome!
Thanks! I'll fix those :D
Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
I love this, it's so good with how it's written. At first you would think that someone who is known to see death and survive the harsh wastelands is going to be an edgelord that doesn't make friends that well, but with the way it's written you don't get that edge to it. Instead it is more along the lines of these Blight-trackers being helpful, but just not that up for competition in the same job. How much would a trip through the wasteland cost? Are there any famous Blight-trackers people recommend?
A fair bit; they're definitely high-priced professionals and they're in a pretty good position in their negotiation in that you might die from radiation poisoning without them. There are; I should add a couple of those to the sidepanel! Thanks for the prompt!
Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.