The Rangers are a nature-worship faith, with less of a focus on talking to trees and more of a focus on avoiding or placating nature in its many horrific, destructive forms. They recognise the totems of the desert’s hostile inhabitants — venemous Scorpion, cunning Coyote, ruthless Sandstorm — and seek to mimic them: either to emulate their capacity to survive, or to know how to avoid their wrath.
The Rangers have grown soft since their rise to power. The initiation rite of surviving in the desert for three days without bread or water has degenerated into a three-day-long feast of wine and meat. Some would say that they are merely adapting their ethos of ‘Do whatever is necessary in order to survive’ to a city rather than a desert.
The Howlers, on the other hand, would say that they are dead weight, and ripe for culling. The Howlers — or, if you want to use their full name, the Walkers in the Howling Wastes — are a growing power that follow the same gods as the Rangers, but keep to the old ways. The philosophical point of contention with the Rangers — which, really, is only the tip of the iceberg — is that suffering makes you strong, and is therefore a good thing. Both sides agree that nature is cruel and brutal and that suffering is the way of the world, but the Rangers teach that it is something to avoid using every ounce of cunning available to them, while the Howlers teach that suffering is a crucible that forges you into a better person.
But really, it’s not the philosophical difference that’s important between the two: it’s the social one. Howlers keep to the old ways. They really do know how to survive for days in the desert with nothing but their bare hands, they really do eschew material possessions, and they are a lot better at relating these lessons to the masses than rich and powerful Ranger priests. The Howlers have not yet become the power that the Rangers will be, but their star is certainly on the rise.