New Ranger combat styles
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  1. #1
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    Block Logan


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    New Ranger combat styles

    Hi. I'm tinkering with the idea of some new combat styles for rangers. I have a decent unarmed style worked out, and would like a two-handed weapon style. Thing is, I'm stumped. I can't think of three feats that would make it worth while, as I'm not great at optimizing builds. Any one out there with any ideas? Thanks for the help.

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    If you get the "Base Classes" index file at Crystal Keep, there's a short list of alternative combat styles from various sources in the section about rangers. That might give you some ideas.

  3. #3
    these are ones I've gathered or created ...

    Standard Ranger Feat Tree
    • Ranged (Rapid Shot/Many Shot/Improved Precise Shot)
    • Two-Weapon (Two-Weapon Fighting/Improved TWF/Greater TWF)

    Ranger Feat Trees (Dragon 341)
    • Rider (Ride-By Attack/ Spirited Charge/Trample)
    • Beast-Wrestling (Improved Unarmed Strike/Improved Grapple/Stunning Fist)
    • Piscator (Exotic Weapon (net) /Improved Trip /Improved Critical)
    • Strong-Arm (Power Attk/Improved Sunder/Great Cleave)
    • Throwing (Quick Draw/Point Blank Shot/Far Shot )

    Other Feat Trees (Me)
    • Runner (Run/Mobility/Shot on the Run)
    • Scouter (Stealthy/SF: Hide/SF: Move Silent)??? not sure on this one
    • Beast Lord (Wild Cohort/Animal Affinity/Leadership)
    • Rock (Toughness*/Dwarf’s Toughness/Giant’s Toughness)

    Black Company Feat Trees
    • Light Weapons (Weapon Finesse/Improved Initiative/Spring Attack)
    • Two-Handed (Cleave/Great Cleave/Improved Critical)

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    Given that Rangers are wilderness warriors, there is no reason why they couldn't develop an unarmed combat style- especially one based on animal attack forms, like the Shao Lin monks of the RW.

    They would get:

    IUC- plus the ability to treat them as natural & manufactured weapons. Whether they increase in power like the Monk is up to you.*

    INA

    ImpGrapple

    Hands As Weapon- a feat from AU/AE that lets you enchant your unarmed strikes like manufactured weapons. In the alternative, use the equivalent rules from the CompWar Kensai.

    Proficiency with weapons that mimic natural weapons- like clawed gloves, bladed gauntlets, and so forth. Details about which weapons they'd learn would depend upon their "totemic" animal.

    *Check my sig for more Monk goodness you could apply to this idea.

  5. #5
    A ways back I had invented some alternate weapon styles for rangers. I remember creating one for sword and board style, polearm (spear) style, and unarmed combat. Unfortunately, those notes were on my old computer whose motherboard is now fried.

    IIRC correctly the sword and board involved things like shield specialization and revolved around boosting the ranger's AC. The polearm style went off improved trip and whirlwind attack. Unarmed was a tamed down version of monk, but could be nice with the right spell selections.

    Overall, I still think ranger is a pretty shoddy 3.5 class even though it is significantly improved over the 3.0 ranger. I think scout is what ranger could/should have been. You could always go with a scout/ranger with the feat that allows skirmish and favored enemies to stack. I forget it's name, but its a pretty decent feat.

  6. #6
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    It's not at all shoddy. It's just more of a skirmisher, sneak, and ranged combatant in 3.5 than it used to be, because rangers are supposed to be fairly rugged and capable in melee as well as archery..... Nonetheless, it's no weak class. While it does have a bit less offense than the fighter against most enemies (no W. Spec./G.W. Spec./etc.), it has better general skills and general utility, plus some healing/stealth/nature magic, along with a mediocre animal companion to fight and scout alongside them, making it overall sort-of tougher than a Fighter.

    Part of the problem, really, is that 3.5 buffed Power Attack for two-handed weapons while nerfing it for light weapons, making it suck for two-weapon fighting and thereby weakening rangers' traditional (in D&D anyway) fighting style in comparison to that of some fighters and most barbarians (and consequently making traditional sword-and-board fighters less worthwhile, too). And 3.5 nixed the magic projectile weapon + magic ammo enhancement bonus stacking from previous editions, making ranged combat less potent (though at least that's one nerf I sort of agree with, given the inherant advantages of ranged weaponry).

    Anyway, some possible alternate combat styles for rangers:
    Brawler: Improved Grapple, Superior Unarmed Strike (Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords), Snap Kick (Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords).
    Fencing: Weapon Finesse, Spring Attack, Bounding Assault (Player's Handbook II).
    Evader: Sidestep Charge (general feat from the Expanded Psionics Handbook and the SRD), Evasive Reflexes (Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords), Improved Trip.
    Interceptor: Hold The Line (Deities & Demigods and the SRD), Stand Still (general feat from the Expanded Psionics Handbook and the SRD), Cometary Collision (Player's Handbook II).
    Lancer: Ride-By Attack, Spirited Charge, Power Critical (Lance) (Deities & Demigods and the SRD).
    Pole Armsman: Short Haft (Player's Handbook II), Cleave, Whirlwind Attack.
    Shieldbearer: Improved Shield Bash, Agile Shield Fighter (Player's Handbook II), Knock-Down (Deities & Demigods and the SRD).
    Tactician: Vexing Flanker, Adaptable Flanker, Combat Tactician (all three are from Player's Handbook II).
    Zweihander: Reckless Offense (general feat from the Expanded Psionics Handbook and the SRD), Great Cleave, Improved Critical (any two-handed melee weapon of the ranger's choice).

  7. #7
    They really need to be abilities that are useful and appropriate. . . for the levels at which they are gained. Tricky, I know. My own Ranger class doesn't cast spells, and so has much greater combat prowess (and a few other abilities) to compensate.

    The first problem is to choose something for level 2, that you really wouldn't be wanting to take at level 1, in order to be even functional with the chosen method of fighting. This is where the Ranged option for the default 3.5 Ranger is good - Rapid Shot, regardless of whether you've actually taken Point Blank Shot at level 1 or not. And you can't really argue with RS - it's pretty damn handy, for any archer.

    At level 6, Ranged is still good - whether you've taken PBS or not, in other words. And at level 11, not too shabby either - even if you've never even considered taking the (lesser) Precise Shot feat, say. And each has a BAB minumum that's just right.

    Two-Weapon Fighting combat style, however, is a debacle from word go. So, at level 1, I can either not be a two-weapon fighter (lacking the requisite feat to make it anything less than a bad [worse] joke) and then suddenly morph into one at level 2, hoping to already have, or be able to purchase, the needed weaponry (presumably). . . OR I can take TWF at level 1, and have level 2 in Ranger be utterly redundant. Wow. On the other hand, the next two feats along for this style are quite OK (in terms of skipping pre-reqs, including hellish Dex minimums [considering this is a melee build, y'know]). And hey, the BAB thing happens here, too. So that's fine.

    Most of the custom variants I've seen have been considerably more flawed in this way. For example, getting Improved Trip at 11th level (or even 6th level) is just not great. If you want a tripping warrior (so to speak) you need IT at level 2, at the latest really. And even then, it's not ideal, but hey, you're not a Fighter - some compromise might be needed.

    Of course, how many appropriate combat feats (or, even better, groups or even trees of same) exist that have pre-reqs, and preferably level limits? Yeah, that's the problem. I guess abilities could go in place of a feat here and there. . .

    So, in the end, I'd be scouring all the official and 3pp sources, for such feats (and maybe abilities), then cobbling together some nice triplets for the poor old Ranger. I wish anyone who decides to do so the best of luck.
    Last edited by Aus_Snow; Thursday, 9th July, 2009 at 06:10 AM.

  8. #8
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    Overall, I still think ranger is a pretty shoddy 3.5 class even though it is significantly improved over the 3.0 ranger. I think scout is what ranger could/should have been.
    and
    It's not at all shoddy. It's just more of a skirmisher, sneak, and ranged combatant in 3.5 than it used to be, because rangers are supposed to be fairly rugged and capable in melee as well as archery..... Nonetheless, it's no weak class. While it does have a bit less offense than the fighter against most enemies (no W. Spec./G.W. Spec./etc.), it has better general skills and general utility, plus some healing/stealth/nature magic, along with a mediocre animal companion to fight and scout alongside them, making it overall sort-of tougher than a Fighter.
    and
    They really need to be abilities that are useful and appropriate. . . for the levels at which they are gained.
    All together, these posts kind of sum it up for me.

    I love the Ranger, and I play it much as Arkhandus suggests, but it is a flawed class. (Well...which one isn't, really?)

    I think that one of the things I was hoping for from 4Ed- within the framework of being more like 3.X- was a melding of the best parts of the Ranger & Scout into a revised Ranger class, with level-appropriate abilities and something better than the Animal Companion as a benefit.

  9. #9
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    ...consequently, if anyone's interested, you can check out my version of the Ranger class in my Aurelia thread here (linked in my signature after the previous post).

  10. #10
    Be careful making home-brewed stuff. It's very easy to make over or underpowered things. Also, there are already variants to every class among the various sourcebooks.

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