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Storozhi (rangers)

Written by KoshcheiBessmertnyi

Storozhi are highly specialized military bands that protect the land from invaders and marauders, both human and monstrous. They gather at remote lodges called Storozha (hence, their name) where they watch over the northern frontiers, manage vast tracts of forest land, and carry out raids into enemy territory. Though they are organized and can act collectively, storozhi learn to survive harsh wilderness conditions and work independently. Masters of lightning attack, tracking and extreme survival, rangers acquire preternatural abilities that most common warriors lack.   Storozh Lodges   Lodges are both physical structures located in wild areas on the frontier, and storozh secret societies, which pass down military and arcane secrets to new recruits. There are three types of storozh represented at the three main lodges found in Nor' lands - the Strelok, the Lovchii, and the Ushkuinik.   Strelki   The Strelok is typically an archer and hunter who specializes in tracking and bringing down quarry. Some of them are employed by elites to manage beasts and other troublesome creatures on their estates, or to provide game for their lord’s table. Others are posted at borderland forts to repel human or monstrous invaders. Some, like the famed Andrei, are even sent on missions to the Otherworld.   Lovchie   The Lovchii typically trains as a game warden, to protect tracts of forestland from poachers, bandits, and rival rulers who would seize the territory to access its fur resources for themselves. These types of storozhi are stationed on the most remote estates, far from recognized borders. They are also called upon to confront pagan tribes to secure the flow of fur, to capture apostates from the faith that seek shelter among these tribes, or to root out hidden evil from long-hidden ruins and tombs. The Lovchie are the most isolated and independent of the Storozhi, and it is for this reason that its members seek out animal companions.   Ushkuiniki   The Ushkuiniki are guardians of waterways against invaders, bandits, and fell creatures that live beneath the surface of the waters( though some are also not above engaging in a bit of raiding against recognized enemies). Most start off as crewmembers on light vessels that usually operate along rivers, but can also sail across open seas. With time, they develop into feared warriors with a reputation for toughness, who can operate on water as well as on land, and specialize in lightning-quick amphibious assaults. Their name originates from oshkui – the native Kuz’ word for “bear” – likely a reference to the shape of the figureheads that adorn their boats (though legend has it that the name actually refers to bear skinshifters that founded the lodge). Along with watercraft and combat training, Ushkuiniki pass down secrets of wondrous underwater kingdoms, knowledge about the beings that guard them, and of the magics that can tame or defeat them.

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