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D&D 5E Am I missing something with Favored Foe?

NotAYakk

Legend
11th level Fighter, Variant Human:
Subclass: Champion
Fighting styles: Two-Weapon Fighting, Archery
Feats: Dual Wielder, Sharpshooter
Skills: Stealth, others chosen to taste.
Stats & other feats: Chosen to taste.

The melee/archery approach isn't as strong with Duelist. You choose either sacrificing action economy or sacrificing at least 2 points of AC. It's not trivial thing to ignore, as this is specifically what makes the TWF DEX choice so strong for Fighters. Even with the other subclasses, the fact DEX works for both longbows and versatile melee weapons makes it a strong choice.

There are other effects downstream of having that additional attack. You gain more from magic weapons. You don't sacrifice as much to Shove + Attack. You benefit more from certain spells like Enlarge/Reduce and Elemental Weapon. A Battle Master can potentially spend an additional die (wouldn't recommend for EKs). You're likely to force more concentration checks on casters. You lose less damage potential to overkill. Etc.
So you are saying for a non-focused build that spends feats on both close and long range weapons, duelist isn't as good.

But for that build, you are competing with the wrong alternative.

XBE+SS is the same number of feats and gets you a 1d6 weapon usable up to 120' away with a bonus action extra attack, -5/+10 option even in melee, attribute bonus to damage already. And you can mix in +1 bolts (if they are cheap in your world) to get +1 damage and +1 to hit.

You lose 1 AC from DW, which you can make up by taking the defensive style instead as your 2nd style.

And you only need 1 magic weapon, instead of 3. I mean, if you need long range, you can also own a heavy crossbow (1d10) or a longbow with even more range as a backup magic weapon.

-5/+10 and +2 to hit from archery style is hard to compete with with DWer. I mean, DW flametongue rapiers +9 to hit for 1d8+2d6+5=16.5 damage, 4 attacks/round.

An equal rarity +2 hand crossbow with +0 bolts is +8 to hit for 1d6+15=18.5, 4 attacks/round. And doesn't use up 2 attunement slots, and permits magic bolts on top of that, and gives you the +13 to hit/10.5 damage per tap option for high AC foes.

Going +2 on the rapiers instead of flames is +2 to hit for -5 to damage each; 2.5 damage per point to hit. The tradeoff for the XBE is 2 damage per point to hit, making accuracy cheaper for the hand crossbow build, and the hand crossbow can swap on-the-fly on each attack depending on the situation.

The baseline rapiers (no magic) deal 1 more damage per hit; the baseline hand xbow does 2 more to hit.

It isn't very close really.
 
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Except XBE+SS is the same number of feats and gets you a 1d6 weapon usable up to 120' away with a bonus action extra attack, -5/+10 option even in melee, attribute bonus to damage already. And you can mix in +1 bolts (if they are cheap in your world) to get +1 damage and +1 to hit.

"Except" nothing; this isn't a mixed melee/ranged build. It's a pure ranged build where you can still attack if something closes within 5' of you. One major point of a melee is to threaten enemies with opportunity attacks.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
"Except" nothing; this isn't a mixed melee/ranged build. It's a pure ranged build where you can still attack if something closes within 5' of you. One major point of a melee is to threaten enemies with opportunity attacks.
Draw a melee weapon in your free hand. You are now as good at OAs as the TWF until your next turn.

If you acxept them being non magical or cheap, you can do this every round by dropping them at the start of your turn. (note that switching loadout with twf+range requires a full action unless you drop them; one to sheath, one to draw. Going twf to bow is actually 3 interactions!)

Unless every single round you OA you'll still do better with hand Xbow than TWF.

I mean, unless OAs are special and do more than damage; the threat from an OA is less than the damage it could deal.

If we assume a large supply of +1 bolts and a small supply of moonstone daggers is cheaper than 2 more magic weapons each at rare tier or above, then we get at a 5' range:

TWF with an OA every single round, using a Flametongue and a +2 offhand rapier is +9/1d8+2d6+5 x4 (16.5) +11/1d8+7 x1
XBE with a moonstone dagger OA is+9/1d6+18 x4 +9/1d4+5 OA

TWF: 66 @+9 11.5 @ +11
XBE: 93.5 @ +9

Subtracting we get 29.5 @ +9 in exchange for 11.5 @ +11.

With nothing but moonstone weapons (magic, no combat bonuses), we get:
+9/1d8+5 x5 (47.5)
vs
+6/1d6+15 x4 or +11/1d6+5 x4 + 9/1d4+5
74 @ +6 or 34 @ +11 and 7.5 @ +9

Tradeoff is:
74 @ +6 vs 40 @+9 (-3 to hit for +34 to damage)
34 @ +11 vs 40 @+9 (+2 to hit for -6 to damage)

That is a lot of damage for -3 to hit. Or a bit of accuracy for -6 to damage.

I don't think there is an AC where TWF wins here.

Suppose we look at AC from 15 to 25.

Then TWF non-crit damage difference is 21-(AC-9) times 40/20, or 60-2*AC, per round.

XBE non-crit damage is 21-(AC-6) times 74/20 with SS, and 21-(AC-11) times 34/20, or 99.9-3.7*AC vs 54.4-1.7*AC.

60-2AC >= 99-3.7AC means 1.7AC >= 39, or AC >= 23.
60-2AC >= 54.4-1.7AC means 5.6 >= 0.3 AC, or AC <= 18.

So for TWF to outdamage this XBE build, AC must be both 23 and over and 18 and under; there is no such AC.

We can now factor in champion crits. 0.1*5*(4.5) is 2.25 for TWF and 0.1*4*3.5 +.1*1*2.5 is 1.65 for XBE.

So TWF becomes 62.25-2AC.
SS becomes 101.55-3.7AC
noSS becomes 56.05-1.7AC

Solving again
62.25-2AC >= 101.55-3.7AC
1.7AC >= 39.3
AC >= 23 (rounded)

62.25-2AC >= 56.05-1.7AC
6.2 >= 0.3 AC
20.7 >= AC

So it still doesn't work.

Now, if I give the melee character flametongues, and the ranged character diddly, the melee character comes out ahead.
 
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auburn2

Adventurer
Draw a melee weapon in your free hand. You are now as good at OAs as the TWF until your next turn.

If you acxept them being non magical or cheap, you can do this every round by dropping them at the start of your turn. (note that switching loadout with twf+range requires a full action unless you drop them; one to sheath, one to draw. Going twf to bow is actually 3 interactions!)

Unless every single round you OA you'll still do better with hand Xbow than TWF.

I mean, unless OAs are special and do more than damage; the threat from an OA is less than the damage it could deal.

If we assume a large supply of +1 bolts and a small supply of moonstone daggers is cheaper than 2 more magic weapons each at rare tier or above, then we get at a 5' range:

TWF with an OA every single round, using a Flametongue and a +2 offhand rapier is +9/1d8+2d6+5 x4 (16.5) +11/1d8+7 x1
XBE with a moonstone dagger OA is+9/1d6+18 x4 +9/1d4+5 OA

TWF: 66 @+9 11.5 @ +11
XBE: 93.5 @ +9

Subtracting we get 29.5 @ +9 in exchange for 11.5 @ +11.

With nothing but moonstone weapons (magic, no combat bonuses), we get:
+9/1d8+5 x5 (47.5)
vs
+6/1d6+15 x4 or +11/1d6+5 x4 + 9/1d4+5
74 @ +6 or 34 @ +11 and 7.5 @ +9

Tradeoff is:
74 @ +6 vs 40 @+9 (-3 to hit for +34 to damage)
34 @ +11 vs 40 @+9 (+2 to hit for -6 to damage)

That is a lot of damage for -3 to hit. Or a bit of accuracy for -6 to damage.

I don't think there is an AC where TWF wins here.

Suppose we look at AC from 15 to 25.

Then TWF non-crit damage difference is 21-(AC-9) times 40/20, or 60-2*AC, per round.

XBE non-crit damage is 21-(AC-6) times 74/20 with SS, and 21-(AC-11) times 34/20, or 99.9-3.7*AC vs 54.4-1.7*AC.

60-2AC >= 99-3.7AC means 1.7AC >= 39, or AC >= 23.
60-2AC >= 54.4-1.7AC means 5.6 >= 0.3 AC, or AC <= 18.

So for TWF to outdamage this XBE build, AC must be both 23 and over and 18 and under; there is no such AC.

We can now factor in champion crits. 0.1*5*(4.5) is 2.25 for TWF and 0.1*4*3.5 +.1*1*2.5 is 1.65 for XBE.

So TWF becomes 62.25-2AC.
SS becomes 101.55-3.7AC
noSS becomes 56.05-1.7AC

Solving again
62.25-2AC >= 101.55-3.7AC
1.7AC >= 39.3
AC >= 23 (rounded)

62.25-2AC >= 56.05-1.7AC
6.2 >= 0.3 AC
20.7 >= AC

So it still doesn't work.

Now, if I give the melee character flametongues, and the ranged character diddly, the melee character comes out ahead.
There are a few problems with this:

1. It ties you to a specific weapon type, and relatively rare one at that. Find a +3 dagger and you are still going to be rocking your hand crossbow because that is what your feats are tied to. Other builds do this too, but not with as much specifificity. GWM is going to be ok if he trades his non-magical greatsword for a magical Glaive, or even a magical Greatclub. A TWF dex build can use Rapiers, daggers, shortswords and scimitars, all common weapons. a TWF strength build can use any melee weapons and brings a ton of versitility with thrown weapons.

2. +1 bolts are not common in any campaign I have ever played. The most effective way to make them common is to get a wizard to cast magic weapon, but that is a spell slot, it requires the party wizard to get that spell essentially for you.

3. When you run out of bolts you are SOL. Unless your party has someone who has woodcarvers tools, that will happen frequently if the DM runs ammunition RAW. Even if someone has woodcarver tools, you are not going to be able to keep up with the rate you use them and you will still run out if away from civilization for more than a few days. As noted in 1 above, you have put so much in this specific weapon there will be a big dropoff when you go to your backup.
 
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Jessie_S

First Post
Soemthing about the “every time you deal damage” part, some folks are reading as meaning you can use a “stack” of FF each time you hit, and that it isn’t a separate effect, somehow. It’s...strained, at best.
Soemthing about the “every time you deal damage” part, some folks are reading as meaning you can use a “stack” of FF each time you hit, and that it isn’t a separate effect, somehow. It’s...strained, at best.
I think the logic is the part that says "increase the damage by 1d4" instead of "add 1d4 to the damage". So at lv1, every turn you are "increasing the damage" of each weapon attack on that creature by a d4 as long as you hit them that turn. At the end of a minute if you kept concintration, that's 6d4+whatever you hit them with.

I like this interpretation more and more now. It's additional damage every attack that grows as long as you avoid losing concintration, and makes Rangers feel even more like a hunter in that they have to keep singular focus on an enemy. I may move to this interpretation in my home games even if it is proven wrong.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think the logic is the part that says "increase the damage by 1d4" instead of "add 1d4 to the damage". So at lv1, every turn you are "increasing the damage" of each weapon attack on that creature by a d4 as long as you hit them that turn. At the end of a minute if you kept concintration, that's 6d4+whatever you hit them with.

I like this interpretation more and more now. It's additional damage every attack that grows as long as you avoid losing concintration, and makes Rangers feel even more like a hunter in that they have to keep singular focus on an enemy. I may move to this interpretation in my home games even if it is proven wrong.
Indeed.

I think it’s probably not as broken as it might at first seem, honestly, anyway.

Let's give the most generous possible reading. You can add 1d4 to the additional damage every turn you keep concentration up, once per round, and it only uses 1 use of Favored Foe to do so. Again, most generous reading, though I'm limiting it to once per round for simplicity so we don't have to try to model the frequency of reaction attacks.

Without investment in con saves, you probably won’t keep concentration for more than 3 rounds per use. That’s 6d4 (2.5x6=15) total over those 3 rounds, which is very slightly better than 3d8 (4.5x3=13.5) spread over 3 rounds due to a more flat average, but close enough to not matter. Hunter's Mark over 3 rounds, before level 5 and assuming an archer for simplicity, is 3d6 (3.5x3=10.5), but catches up at level 5 and up with two attacks per turn, assuming all attacks his for simplicity, becoming 6d6 (3.5x6=21) over 3 rounds.

So, even reading Favored Foe as you suggest, it's not actually much better than Hunter's Mark at low levels, and is weaker after level 5, purely in terms of DPR, which isn't the whole question of course.

So let's investigate action economy in regard to this reading. Damage from a bonus action attack that you are only able to take because you didn't have to use the BA to activate your extra damage gets attributed to FF as if it came directly from the feature.

A dual weilder ranger, Favored Foe (the above reading) vs Hunter's Mark. Assuming all attacks hit, and the ranger takes every possible opportunity to attack, against a foe with massive hit points. (for obvious reasons, HM is boosted by playing a Hunter with Hordebreaker or a Gloomstalker, in those fights where their additional attack features come into play, but let's ignore that for now)

Let's also assume level 5.

Favored Foe will not interfere with dual wielding, and so over 3 rounds we can assume 1 additional attack. Assuming this is a Drizzt wannabe because I'm lazy, that's an extra 1d6+3, for 1d6+6d4+3 (3.5+(2.5x6)+3=21.5) over 3 rounds, from using Favored Foe and keeping concentration for 3 rounds.

Hunter's Mark doesn't have that extra attack, but does add a d6 to each attack, rather than 1/turn. So it is dealing 2d6 the first round, then 3d6 in both subsequent rounds, or 8d6 (3.5x8=28) damage over 3 rounds.

Now, obviously Favored Foe will benefit from investment in concentration even more than HM, at least in long fights against big beefy enemies, but I hardly think that will bring it to a point where it's just always better than HM, or anything.
 


Level 2 ranger has:
1 level of spellcasting (known spells, not prepared)
1 fighting style
2d10 HD
Martial Weapon Proficiency, Medium + Shield for armor
Favored Foe (or FE)
Natural Explorer
3 skills

Level 2 paladin has:
1 level of spellcasting (prepared, entire list)
1 fighting style
2d10 HD
Martial Weapon Proficiency, Heavy+Shield for armor
Lay on Hands (10 HP)
Divine smite
Divine sense
2 skills

Subtracting, the Paladin gets:

Prepared instead of fixed spells
Heavy armor
Lay on Hands, Divine Smite, Divine Sense vs FF+Natural explorer+1 skill
You're missing two major things:
  • The Ranger is almost certainly using Dex and the Paladin Str. Dex > Str in skills. (One reason for this is the fighting styles on offer; rangers don't get great weapon or protection and paladins don't get two weapon or archery).
    • It's comparatively trivial, but there's a Beastmaster Ranger build that uses Wis as their attack stat as Druidic Warrior has Shillelagh as a cantrip and the new viable beast option also uses Wis; there's no real Paladin equivalent.
  • If Tasha's is in play the Ranger is probably using Deft Explorer rather than the incredibly situational ability Natural Explorer. That's expertise on their most important skill (Perception? Stealth?) and two languages (which are, admittedly, situational)
    • Str becomes even less useful for a ranger at L6 with Deft Explorer because they get a climb speed and a swim speed, cutting most of those skill checks
Divine Smite is a meaty ability that has narrative impact when used. FF, meanwhile, is rounding error when used.
Divine Smite also costs spell slots. FF is free. At second level a paladin can divine smite or cast spells twice a day. A ranger can FF twice and cast spells twice per day.

If we assume that the paladin Divine Smites twice a day - but the Ranger Goodberries once to provide as much healing as Lay On Hands then we've still got two FF fights and a Hunter's Mark fight from the Ranger. That's 4d8 damage from smiting vs 2* d4/round and 1*d6/attack. Not seeing a huge advantage to the smite here (and especially not if they want to use their spells for anything other than smites) - the Paladin has more burst damage but less sustain.
That, plus the fact that someone said "when is action free damage crappy", is why I'm comparing those two. Action free damage that has extra requirements and has nearly no impact even when you use it doesn't suddenly become non-crappy just because it is action free damage.
It's action free damage that, unlike smite, comes with its own resources to use.
Its damage fails to scale very fast, but you still have to check concentration (are you using it), determine when it ends, remember who it is used on, apply it once per round not per attack (so you can't just automatically roll the dice).
This last would be crappy if it wasn't how rangers worked anyway. All the level 3 subclasses except the beastmaster have an extra dice damage 1/round mechanic at level three (although the Gloomstalker's only applies to their extra attack in round 1 and the fey wanderer and hunter can apply theirs to multiple targets 1/target/round). It's not how I'd have chosen to do things, certainly - but this overhead is in how the ranger works. Its damage might fail to scale on its own - but that's because it's a patch to the scaling of the ranger as a whole.
If we compare it to other classes, it is lackluster. If we consider it alone, it is lacking.
And if we then throw in the rest of the class it's decent enough. Smite is basically a class-defining feature. Favoured Foe is a tweak to class abilities of a weak class that's better than the ability it replaced and helps them close the gap on the upper mid pack.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If we assume that the paladin Divine Smites twice a day - but the Ranger Goodberries once to provide as much healing as Lay On Hands then we've still got two FF fights and a Hunter's Mark fight from the Ranger.
The Paladin still has Lay On Hands, and Divine Sense, to be fair.
 

The Paladin still has Lay On Hands, and Divine Sense, to be fair.
I've taken Lay On Hands into account - I subtracted a ranger spell to use on Goodberry :) And yes, there's the very situational divine sense vs either the very situational Natural Explorer or (more likely if Tasha's is in play) deft explorer.

The more I look at it the more evident it seems to me that the only benefit Divine Smite actually provides over simply an extra spell prepared is the lack of bonus action (which would matter to a ranger more than a paladin) and concentration required to set it up. The various Smite spells all do one dice per spell level plus something else while Divine Smite's something else is an extra dice of damage rather than e.g. save or go blind. Making it free action no concentration does put it above the curve for a level 1 spell - but if all we're talking about is an above the curve level 1 spell automatically prepared then free damage with no resource cost other than concentration stacks up against it nicely.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Divine Sense isn’t that situational. It covers some of the most common foes in the game. It will come up vastly more often that traveling through a single terrain.
 

Divine Sense isn’t that situational. It covers some of the most common foes in the game. It will come up vastly more often that traveling through a single terrain.
Which is why I intended to call Natural Explorer very situational (but missed the words "Natural Explorer" out and have now edited). I agree it won't come up much - and even when it does it's not terribly useful.

Good job Tasha's offers an alternative class feature that:
  • At level 1 gives you expertise in one skill of your choice and two extra languages known
  • At level 6 makes you faster and gives you both a climb and a swim speed (in place of a second terrain)
  • At level 10 gives you a source of temp hit points (in place of a third terrain) and helps you recover from exhaustion
Divine Sense is more situational than any of those although that third ability is at best a speed bump by the time you get it.

For the record Tasha's also offers you more spells in place of the utterly pathetic Primeval Awareness that has to be the most pointless ability in the game. The PHB Ranger is pathetic, the Tasha's ranger is pretty strong.
 

ehren37

Explorer
That's...interesting. Yeah, I think letting it increase like that (probably needs some sort of cap) might actually give ranger something useful.
Yeah, upon consideration, I actually quite like that read. I might cap the d4's at proficiency bonus, but its worth testing. Fights rarely go 4+ rounds anyways, and certainly few individual foes last that long.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Which is why I intended to call Natural Explorer very situational (but missed the words "Natural Explorer" out and have now edited). I agree it won't come up much - and even when it does it's not terribly useful.

Good job Tasha's offers an alternative class feature that:
  • At level 1 gives you expertise in one skill of your choice and two extra languages known
  • At level 6 makes you faster and gives you both a climb and a swim speed (in place of a second terrain)
  • At level 10 gives you a source of temp hit points (in place of a third terrain) and helps you recover from exhaustion
Divine Sense is more situational than any of those although that third ability is at best a speed bump by the time you get it.

For the record Tasha's also offers you more spells in place of the utterly pathetic Primeval Awareness that has to be the most pointless ability in the game. The PHB Ranger is pathetic, the Tasha's ranger is pretty strong.
Sure, Tasha's is great. I'd personally rather fix NE and FE than replace them, but even then one way to do so is simply to add Deft Explorer and Favored Foe.

Regardless, increasing the FF damage over the course of a battle won't make the Ranger as powerful as a paladin.
Yeah, upon consideration, I actually quite like that read. I might cap the d4's at proficiency bonus, but its worth testing. Fights rarely go 4+ rounds anyways, and certainly few individual foes last that long.
Proficiency bonus probably works, but even 1+proficiency bonus wouldn't be overpowered.
 

Sure, Tasha's is great. I'd personally rather fix NE and FE than replace them, but even then one way to do so is simply to add Deft Explorer and Favored Foe.

Regardless, increasing the FF damage over the course of a battle won't make the Ranger as powerful as a paladin.
On its own no. But I'm not convinced that the ranger with all the Xanathar's substitutions isn't already more powerful than a paladin.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
On its own no. But I'm not convinced that the ranger with all the Xanathar's substitutions isn't already more powerful than a paladin.
I've played with a ranger using the Tasha's substitutions as additions, and it wasn't quite as powerful as a paladin. In the same league, but certainly not more powerful.
 



Well that's going to throw things about regardless. I was playing a ranger, which fits my playstyle, and my friend a paladin, which fits his. Neither of us felt overshadowed by the other at all.
It's not ranger vs paladin situations where I'm worried about strict overshadowing - what they do is different enough that they can be tweaked into specialties easily enough. It's ranger vs rogue where you've two sneaky dex guys with high mobility and expertise on their skills.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I will say this, the Ranger Multi-classes better with Tashas. A lot better.

Assassin Rogue/Gloomstalker Ranger was already good, now it's very good. Especially with the Poisoner feat.

When you get Assassinate, a level 10 (which is admittedly high level for most games, but within the range of most games at least) Assassin5/Gloom5 can stack 3d6 Sneak Attack, 3 attacks (4 if dual wielding), 2d8 poison, 1d4 FF.

Let's say this is a non-powergamer type, who uses a shortsword and shield, so it's just 3 attacks with a non optimal weapon. That's 3d6 (10.5) + [1d6+6]x3 (28.5) + 1d4 (2.5) + 2d8 (9) = 50.5 average damage, not counting any additional setup like casting Hunter's Mark instead of using FF, which would bring it up to 58.5 by replacing the 2.5 with 10.5.

Actually writing it out, only poisoner is from Tasha's in that in terms of actually improving damage. I'm pretty sure even if we assume a dual weilder hunter's mark will still come out ahead. *

But Tasha's let's level 1 be useful in all campaigns, and gives a way to just not even choose Hunter's Mark and still be effective in terms of damage. So, I'm cool with that.

*Let's do a dual weilder, then Fighting Style changes to TWF. That's 3d6 (10.5) + [1d6+4]x4 (30) + 1d4 (2.5) + 2d8 (9) = 52 (10.5+30+2.5+9), using Favored Foe.

Using Hunter's Mark, cast ahead of time, it's; 3d6 (10.5) + [1d6+4]x4 (30) + 3d6 (10.5) + 2d8 (9) = 60 (10.5+30+10.5+9)

Hunter's Mark, cast in the first round while maintaining stealth, which for this build should be easy; 3d6 (10.5) + [1d6+4]x4 (30) + 2d6 (7) + 2d8 (9) = 56.5 (10.5+30+7+9)

Yeah, Hunter's Mark is more damage in any scenario other than a long fight using the most generous possible reading. Honestly, if you use the most strict reading, I'm not sure FF is even worth dropping more languages and knowing more about certain types of creatures. It's really just the low number of spells known that would make me tempted to take it, and since we use feats I'd probably just take Fey Touched and leave my ranger spells for more interesting things.

But with the generous reading, I really might take FF.
 

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