When you look at the world around you – what do you see? I’m not speaking of the things that fill the physical realm – but the interplay of the people who share your space.
Do you see others in regards to the black and white nature of cause and effect? Or do you taste the subtle tensions of respect and honor that connect each of those around you with each other and yourself? Possibly the aspect that stands out the most is the hierarchical status of those around you – the interplay of social prestige and power?
While it is true that we all have, within ourselves, a unique blend of these three perspectives – known to those in the social sciences as cultural worldview dichotomies – there does tend to be a predominant paradigm for each person. Note here as well that, in addition to being a unique mix for each individual, we also see in the real world a blending of these views based on given cultural contexts.
Destiny Classes as Classification Parallels
Destiny’s game world holds an interesting presentation of ‘Classes’ of Guardians from which players are able to choose from (as most of us know). For many, the choices are based around simple game mechanics (looking at you, “jumping” abilities) – but for some, there are deeper connections that are possible to be made.
I like to always point out that, in the lore of the game world, Classes of Guardians are not just a clique or club that an individual Guardian belongs to – but rather is indicative of the predominate psychological nature of how they see the world around them and how they wield their Light. It is a symbol, in other words, of the primary classification of their cultural worldview in the gameworld of Destiny.
Note here that, just as in reality, Guardians are not simply one of the above three dichotomies. They are a unique combination of the paradigms – sometimes made evident in their associations with particular sub-classes over others. In particular, for this article, I want to take a look at the Hunter class and their specific focus on the Power – Fear dichotomy.
Power – Fear Dichotomy
This paradigm is where assessment of the people around oneself are made in hierarchical terms – the knowledge of where they fall in line according to their level of power is the basis of decisions. This worldview is usually not able to be swayed by the moral views of good/bad – but rather is simply interested in the position of individuals (or groups) in regards to the power they wield. The world is viewed in the context of a power struggle between all the inhabitants – transgressions here are defined as offending the existing powers rather than an abstract law or sense of internal honor. Restoration in this paradigm is something that often requires an outside power to counteract the ‘sin’ that has been performed – which is something seen in a number of animistic cultures in our world through the use of various rituals or holy objects such as amulets. This restoration ultimately is something that is dependant on the figure at the height of the hierarchal chain – which means that there isn’t a prescribed path to resolution, as this figure can (and often does) change over time.
Psychology of a Hunter
What does it mean to be a Hunter? I say, it’s all about where you belong. The Warlocks have their libraries, the Titans have their walls…But Hunters belong in the Wilds.
Hunters are those who are willing to bend…and at times even break, the rules to achieve their goal. This doesn’t mean that they live above or outside the law necessarily…but rather that, due to their often being in situations where there is no law, this tends to be a type of Guardian who thrives in situations that can, at their best, be described as within the grey area.
Presented as wanderers whose main goal tends to be survival, Hunters tend to travel alone – though they will band together into ‘packs’ if they require the extra strength that numbers provide. However, due to their tendency to be always looking for the next adventure, Hunters are generally only seen in the City because they have no other choice. These are individuals who live for the thrill of the moment, so a stationary existence is not something that they are comfortable with usually.
This also means that Hunters are usually very aware of the level of power, be it viewed in social status, prestige, or control over others and resources. This power is paramount to a Hunter, stemming from their tendency to be focused on survival – for themselves or their ‘pack’. Another common thread in this view is that it isn’t clouded by moral classifications – realistically the idea of “good” or “bad” doesn’t play into the abstract fact of if one lives or does. Those arguments are for after – when the basic need for survival has been met or for those who don’t have to worry about it (pointing again to the hierarchical sense of power over others).
Bladedancer & Arcstrider
Beautiful lethality, relentless style.
Flow like lightning. Strike like thunder.
A Hunter that views speed and close quarters combat as what signifies a competent individual, the Bladedancer/Arcstrider is often shown in the light of being a monk or warrior caught up in a disciplined trance. The aspect of power that is generally viewed as paramount for this sub-class is based around the judgement of who is ‘guilty’ and deserves the death that they are renowned for delivering without mercy. The height of power, then is to be the judge – the ultimate decision-maker when it comes to choosing who is or is not deserving of being put down by their blades.
The description of the Bladedancer Hunter as the “shadow of death” who is encouraged to lose themselves in the “blade trance” lines up nicely with the emphasis of the Destiny 2 sub-class of the Arcstrider and their emphasis on embodying the weapon. They are told to seek discipline above all else, being more than just a force of nature or a mere warrior – they are encouraged to enter into a state in which they are the weapon. They are, for all intents, the executioner of the will of those in power.
A lone wolf who lives for the perfect shot.
A Hunter who views accuracy and instinctual decision-making as powerful signs of competence, Gunslingers are the classical lone wolves of the Hunter class. Their interpretation of power are those who are most accurate and the quickest on the draw – the individual who can make the first shot…and have it strike true.
This is most visible in the Rose & Bone lore entry:
…my heart’s more or less a cannon, and my purpose is to land that first shot. One shot. You take it and you don’t get a second.
These Guardians are renown for their strong sense of gallow humor – cracking jokes in the face of certain death and covering their own pain with a dark sense of humor. But under that facade of carefree wanderer lies a warrior who knows what they’re fighting for – a fighter who fights to protect those around them from experiencing the pain that they themselves have lived through. This drives them to see the importance of being the quickest and most accurate – because in their world, to be anything less is to fall into the darkness they fight so desperately to hold at bay.
Cayde speaks to this quite clearly:
No law sayin’ others can’t use ‘em, but a cannon is a Hunter’s weapon. It speaks straight, speaks loud, with precision, with intent. Just like us.
– Ballistic Trauma Expert bounty
Draw from the Void. Light the way.
A Hunter who is paradoxically an outcast, but one of the best at supporting others, the Nightstalker views the ability to provide (or control resources) as the sign of competence. While these are those Hunters who are at home “balanced on the infinitesimal knife’s edge” of the uncivilized wilds more than in civilized areas – they are also those individuals who understand the need for supporting the pack. They provide so that they can survive – there isn’t really a moral degree to the view, but one of stark reality. They deliver killing blows to their prey without hesitation and mercy – embodying the aspects of the predator that all prey fear: a degree of empathy with their targets that, to outsiders, is often confused with their becoming the monsters they hunt.
This is the sub-class that sees the “truth in the edge of Light” – a group whose very source of power is the fact that they have overcome their fear of the Void. The greys of morality and debates of what is ‘good’ or ‘evil’ is something that a Nightstalker has no room for – in their world, the simple power to survive and to provide nourishment for their charges is their primary concern. And in the world of Destiny, that concern is something that dominates their concern. Shades of color aren’t the concern of those who live in the dark, hunting the monsters who prey on those of the light.
To reiterate, just as our personalities in reality, Guardians are not simply one of the three dichotomies discussed at the start of this article. They are a unique combination of the paradigms – sometimes made evident in their associations with particular sub-classes over others. The stereotypical Hunter, however, does tend to align with the Power – Fear dichotomy – but this is not to say that there aren’t degrees of Honor – Shame or Guilt – Innocence (both which will be discussed in correlation with the other classifications in articles to come).
So…when you look at the world around you – what do you see?
Ut humiliter opinor,