D&D 5E Companion thread to 5E Survivor - Subclasses (Part XI: Rangers)

Undrave

Hero
Companion to: D&D 5E - 5E Survivor - Subclasses (Part XI: Rangers)

I hesitated before starting this thread because I don’t really know much about the Ranger in actual play. I think the number of sessions I played with an actual Ranger in the party could be counted on the fingers of one hand? And I was never really impressed or took notice of what they did…

I’m not a fan of animal companions on principle. I think we should just admit they never properly work as class feature and just make them a companion class and have the DM consider them a full character when they’re added to the party for the purpose of encounter design. Any player who wants one has to be ready to handle that extra character.

Making what is essentially 1 character in 2 bodies is always going to be a little clunky. Even worse if you have to take random monster stats for your companion (Tasha’s Primal Beasts are way better).

That said, I think Drakewarden and Swarmkeeper are some of the better incarnation of that concept so I’m upvoting either while down voting the ill-conceived Beast Master.

Ranger is one of those classes I'd love to try to redesign from the group up. It would probably work great with the Warlock frame where you can pick if you want to be a melee skirmisher, archer hunter, or a beast master and then add another element on top. The way I see it, the Ranger is the Warrior of the Border. They stand between two ‘worlds’ and protect one from the other. The Frontier the stand on should be what define them (in addition to my aforementioned style idea). You could have Ranger who stand between nature and colonist, between nations, between the material plane and a specific plane (Fey Wanderer, Gloom Stalker, etc), maybe with orders tasks with finding ‘fissures’ between the planes and getting rid of them. Maybe even an Urban Ranger who stands between two gangs to defend the little people.

I see the Ranger as a warrior who is naturally isolated, physically or metaphorically, and has to survive using whatever mean possible. My ideal Ranger would probably lean more into Rituals and exploration utility than combat casting, with the amount of combat casting you get based more on your subclass than as a general system with slots and stuff. Maybe invent a Trapsmithing Kit with actual traps you could build?
 
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Wandersails

Explorer
why is everyone downvoting drakewarden? do people genuinely dislike it? I get that it's a pet subclass but its definitely not as egregious as some other examples of that (by which I mean beast master lol)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I've only seen a Gloom Stalker played and it was really cool, so I'm upvoting that. Beyond that, I'm voting based on how rangery I think the name is. Drakewarden isn't at the top of my hit list, but it doesn't seem all that rangery to me, so I will eventually get around to it unless it's gone before my higher hit targets are.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I feel like getting an animal friend is the only reason to I'd ever play a ranger over a rogue, so I kind of take the terrible efforts at making animal companions a little bit personal.
Same here, though I probably don't take it quite as personally. I think that WotC was on the right track with Unearthed Arcana No. 8, but they just didn't give us enough to work with (they only did the first five levels.) If they could have taken it all the way out to 20th level, and given us a full picture of where they were going to end up and how they were going to get there, it might have been better-received by the "fans."

(I put that last word in quotes because we all know people on these forums who say they love the Ranger class, yet never seem to have anything good to say about it. But "fan" is shorthand for "fanatic," so...)

Hey I get it, it was early days, and WotC was still trying to figure out this whole playtest-and-survey thing they wanted to do. They tried out a few different formats before they settled on the ones we have now. I don't think they ever tried that "five-level-preview" format ever again, thank goodness.

Maybe someone should rewrite those three subclasses from UA#8 and polish them up a bit, advance them all the way to 20th level?
 

I don't think animal companions should be represented by their own bodies and stats and hitdice etc. It's just another attempt at vaguely modelling reality rather than making a thing playable.

Swarmkeeper has the right spirit! Your animals are always present, but you're not taking two turns every round to play with them. It's just a bit too specific (you fly now) to match many concepts, and a bit too hands-off for the animals to have any personality...

Anyway, I am currently playing a Tasha-fixed Beast Master, but I am not voting for BM in this. People might think it's a vote for the subclass, rather than Primal Companion.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
(I put that last word in quotes because we all know people on these forums who say they love the Ranger class, yet never seem to have anything good to say about it. But "fan" is shorthand for "fanatic," so...)

To be fair, it's possible to love a concept despite the fact that it has never been done well in D&D.

I'm a fan of half dragons, despite the fact that D&D hates me for it and will never pass up an opportunity to punish me for having hope of seeing a good half dragon in the game.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
why is everyone downvoting drakewarden? do people genuinely dislike it?
For myself, two reasons:

1. Anything past Xanathar's I'll downvote. There are too many subclasses IMO and throwing on more and more "theme" subclasses is not good design. If you want a Companion, one subclass should do it, you just change the companion...

2. Dragons. Anything that incorporates dragons into the PCs is not good for me.

So, I'll keep downvoting it until it is gone.

Now, I can speculate for others: they see it as a strong contender against a subclass they want, so want to draw first blood and get rid of it so they won't be beaten by it in the end. 🤷‍♂️

I feel like getting an animal friend is the only reason to I'd ever play a ranger over a rogue, so I kind of take the terrible efforts at making animal companions a little bit personal.
It is one reason I would never play one, myself. Having an animal companion shouldn't be the crux of the ranger's identity IMO. For that reason, I won't be upvoting any "companion" ranger subclass.

That's just my take, anyway. Cheers.
 

I've really come around on Rangers. The efforts made to fix it were finally starting to feel right with the Tasha's additions. Deft Explorer, Primal Awareness, and Primal Companion are great. Not a fan of Favored Foe or Favored Enemy but I can appreciate the effort to try and fix it. The 11+ range of levels are boring but I could say the same about other classes too.

For the Survivor thread I'm trying to show Drakewarden some love even though @Maxperson is right. It could have been a subclass for Paladin or Fighter and I wouldn't have batted an eye. But it is pretty cool that we got it and it seems good mechanically. Otherwise, I'm leaning towards Fey Wanderer and Gloomstalker.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Companion to: D&D 5E - 5E Survivor - Subclasses (Part XI: Rangers)

I hesitated before starting this thread because I don’t really know much about the Ranger in actual play. I think the number of sessions I played with an actual Ranger in the party could be counted on the fingers of one hand? And I was never really impressed or took notice of what they did…

I’m not a fan of animal companions on principle. I think we should just admit they never properly work as class feature and just make them a companion class and have the DM consider them a full character when they’re added to the party for the purpose of encounter design. Any player who wants one has to be ready to handle that extra character.

Making what is essentially 1 character in 2 bodies is always going to be a little clunky. Even worse if you have to take random monster stats for your companion (Tasha’s Primal Beasts are way better).
Idk, I think both the Tasha’s primal beast and the UA revised Ranger BM work great.
That said, I think Drakewarden and Swarmkeeper are some of the better incarnation of that concept so I’m upvoting either while down voting the ill-conceived Beast Master.

Ranger is one of those classes I'd love to try to redesign from the group up. It would probably work great with the Warlock frame where you can pick if you want to be a melee skirmisher, archer hunter, or a beast master and then add another element on top.
Something similar to warlock, maybe, yeah. I’d be Fine with BM in the base class separate from the main subclass choice, like pact boons, but I’d need them to take up a little more of the power budget than the warlocks pact boon does.
The way I see it, the Ranger is the Warrior of the Border. They stand between two ‘worlds’ and protect one from the other. The Frontier the stand on should be what define them (in addition to my aforementioned style idea). You could have Ranger who stand between nature and colonist, between nations, between the material plane and a specific plane (Fey Wanderer, Gloom Stalker, etc), maybe with orders tasks with finding ‘fissures’ between the planes and getting rid of them. Maybe even an Urban Ranger who stands between two gangs to defend the little people.
I mostly agree with this. Especially the first part.
I see the Ranger as a warrior who is naturally isolated, physically or metaphorically, and has to survive using whatever mean possible. My ideal Ranger would probably lean more into Rituals and exploration utility than combat casting, with the amount of combat casting you get based more on your subclass than as a general system with slots and stuff. Maybe invent a Trapsmithing Kit with actual traps you could build?
In 5e, I don’t see an elegant way to do this that doesn’t leverage spell slots. Having to sacrifice subclass to gain Spellcasting is a nonstarter. This is where I’d look more to the artificer than to the warlock for inspiration. I know some folks cannot abide the thought of nonmagical abilities using spells slots, so I’d be fine changing it to a monk style set of points called Hunter’s Focus or something.
why is everyone downvoting drakewarden? do people genuinely dislike it? I get that it's a pet subclass but its definitely not as egregious as some other examples of that (by which I mean beast master lol)
It’s one of my least favorite published subclasses. It doesn’t need to be a ranger subclass and would work better as a fighter, it is very weird in terms of mechanics supporting theme with the summoning, and it shouldn’t cost anything to have the pet available, all cost should be associated with boosting its efficacy.

And I’d rather not get flight than get it at that late a level. At that point it’s a waste of a feature level that could have been doing something interesting.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
i have gone a thousand different ways over the years, really since 4e launched, about the ranger. That’ll happen when your favorite class conceptually keeps getting done dirty.

One thing for 5e that I think the subclasses really don’t reliably cover is toolkit.

I think the ranger needs a more versatile resource pool, like a less specific point pool, and an expanded set of fighting styles, or a new design pillar in the class like artificer infusions or warlock pact boons.

Things like having an improved familiar that can fight, making traps and specialized poisons (dragons bane and the like) and hidden bivouac and whatever else, but also things like mounted archer that gives a mount and some mobility based shot-on-the-run type benefit that works on or off mount.

That, and more features need to be group-usable. The ranger should be a Jack of all trades that can help any group not totally blow it at survival and stealth.
 

Undrave

Hero
i have gone a thousand different ways over the years, really since 4e launched, about the ranger. That’ll happen when your favorite class conceptually keeps getting done dirty.

One thing for 5e that I think the subclasses really don’t reliably cover is toolkit.

I think the ranger needs a more versatile resource pool, like a less specific point pool, and an expanded set of fighting styles, or a new design pillar in the class like artificer infusions or warlock pact boons.

Things like having an improved familiar that can fight, making traps and specialized poisons (dragons bane and the like) and hidden bivouac and whatever else, but also things like mounted archer that gives a mount and some mobility based shot-on-the-run type benefit that works on or off mount.

That, and more features need to be group-usable. The ranger should be a Jack of all trades that can help any group not totally blow it at survival and stealth.
Traps should basically be like mundane rituals: you need time and material (valued in GP) and maybe something to anchor the trap to.

I think that'd be cool.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Traps should basically be like mundane rituals: you need time and material (valued in GP) and maybe something to anchor the trap to.

I think that'd be cool.
This may be controversial, but I agree, I just would also want the ranger to be able to spend a spell slot (or whatever) to do it as an action, using magic to shortcut the normal process.
 

Gonna be perfectly honest, I simply do not understand the "players should NEVER get dragon options" position. Like...dragons are cool. D&D has always been about the opportunity to do, and be or become, something cool. We get demonic things and elvish things and werewolf things. I don't understand why getting a taste of dragonish stuff is anathema.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
I don't think animal companions should be represented by their own bodies and stats and hitdice etc. It's just another attempt at vaguely modelling reality rather than making a thing playable.

Swarmkeeper has the right spirit! Your animals are always present, but you're not taking two turns every round to play with them. It's just a bit too specific (you fly now) to match many concepts, and a bit too hands-off for the animals to have any personality...

Anyway, I am currently playing a Tasha-fixed Beast Master, but I am not voting for BM in this. People might think it's a vote for the subclass, rather than Primal Companion.
Yeah pets as special effects are a great way to handle animal companions which is essentially what Swarmkeeper and Primal Beast does. Snow white calling up a flock of little animals to aid her is a classic

 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
Ranger is one of those classes I'd love to try to redesign from the group up. It would probably work great with the Warlock frame where you can pick if you want to be a melee skirmisher, archer hunter, or a beast master and then add another element on top.
I could definitely see rangers having a choice of a skill focus, a magic focus and a beast companion focus, and then a secondary focus choice of damage or tracking/survival or stealth or support that is expressed different based on their first focus, say you choose tracking/survival: skill might get expertise in survival and investigation, magic might get divination spells and create food and water and leomunds tiny hut and the companion path would get an exclusive Wolf companion with bonuses to track and hunt.

Ranger version of eldritch invocations would be great too.
 

Undrave

Hero
In 5e, I don’t see an elegant way to do this that doesn’t leverage spell slots. Having to sacrifice subclass to gain Spellcasting is a nonstarter. This is where I’d look more to the artificer than to the warlock for inspiration. I know some folks cannot abide the thought of nonmagical abilities using spells slots, so I’d be fine changing it to a monk style set of points called Hunter’s Focus or something.
I'd see the magic the base Ranger get to be more like Eldtrich Invocation: You pick some stuff you can do and it tells you how often. Maybe your Ranger gets to use Pass Without Trace at will, but it takes him 15 minutes to cast it now. Maybe they get Cure Wound once per short rest, etc. The more half-caster stuff would be optional. Spell slots honestly feel too formal to me, too Wizard. The Ranger's not a guy who went to college, he learned his magic from encountering people and being an apprentice. The Ranger's magic is not flexible, it's just something they do for specific purposes.
This may be controversial, but I agree, I just would also want the ranger to be able to spend a spell slot (or whatever) to do it as an action, using magic to shortcut the normal process.
That said that idea is also really neat! It's like a different take on a Paladin Smite! If the Ranger keeps the Spell Slot progression that's a good use of it.
Yeah pets as special effects are a great way to handle animal companions which is essentially what Swarmkeeper and Primal Beast does. Snow white calling up a flock of little animals to aid her is a classic
A bit like a Shaman should. I'd like to see a take on the Necromancer using this philosophy for the bulk of their ability, with only a handful of proper 'Raise Undead' type of summons so it doesn't get overwhelming.
Ranger version of eldritch invocations would be great too.
Yeah that's what I was thinking. The Warlock model is just so fun that I wish it was applied more.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I'd see the magic the base Ranger get to be more like Eldtrich Invocation: You pick some stuff you can do and it tells you how often. Maybe your Ranger gets to use Pass Without Trace at will, but it takes him 15 minutes to cast it now. Maybe they get Cure Wound once per short rest, etc. The more half-caster stuff would be optional. Spell slots honestly feel too formal to me, too Wizard. The Ranger's not a guy who went to college, he learned his magic from encountering people and being an apprentice. The Ranger's magic is not flexible, it's just something they do for specific purposes.
The ranger not being flexible is a non starter for me. Of all the classes, only the wizard and Druid makes sense to be more flexible than the ranger. As for spell slots, I mean that’s how Spellcasting works in 5e. The Arcane Trickster didn’t “go to college” either, nor the Druid, tbh.

The ranger is a trades professional whose trade demands versatility and adaptability.
That said that idea is also really neat! It's like a different take on a Paladin Smite! If the Ranger keeps the Spell Slot progression that's a good use of it.
Thank you. I think we just have different base assumptions about the game and the ranger specifically.
 

Undrave

Hero
The ranger not being flexible is a non starter for me. Of all the classes, only the wizard and Druid makes sense to be more flexible than the ranger. As for spell slots, I mean that’s how Spellcasting works in 5e. The Arcane Trickster didn’t “go to college” either, nor the Druid, tbh.

The ranger is a trades professional whose trade demands versatility and adaptability.
I’d like the class to be versatile, but I just don’t feel it fit for someone who’s not a full caster to have a huge spell list they can switch whenever. And, IMO, a lot of what the Ranger uses Spell for is just to compensate for a lack of good non-spell mechanics. Like, the Ranger spell list has what are basically trap but as spells. I’d like to see more design going outside of spell slots. The Ranger’s a competent Warrior, they shouldn’t need to be spending spell slot in battle all the time. Even if they make Hunter’s Mark magical it should be a class feature and not a spell.
Thank you. I think we just have different base assumptions about the game and the ranger specifically.
I'm mostly not a fan of seeing everybody with the spell slot Vancian casting. I'm not particularly a fan of it. Magical Class features for the Ranger? Cool and flavourful. The same feature as a spell? BOOOOORING :p
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I’d like the class to be versatile, but I just don’t feel it fit for someone who’s not a full caster to have a huge spell list they can switch whenever. And, IMO, a lot of what the Ranger uses Spell for is just to compensate for a lack of good non-spell mechanics. Like, the Ranger spell list has what are basically trap but as spells. I’d like to see more design going outside of spell slots. The Ranger’s a competent Warrior, they shouldn’t need to be spending spell slot in battle all the time. Even if they make Hunter’s Mark magical it should be a class feature and not a spell.

I'm mostly not a fan of seeing everybody with the spell slot Vancian casting. I'm not particularly a fan of it. Magical Class features for the Ranger? Cool and flavourful. The same feature as a spell? BOOOOORING :p
Yeah, see, I don’t see the spell slot system as anything but a neutral delivery system.

If D&D moved away from all real magic being spells, I could see a few ranger designs with no spell slots, but as 5e is? IMO the 5e ranger genuinely has to be a spellcaster, and that’s fine. Pass Without Trace isn’t a wizard spell. I’d love more spell exclusivity by class, but the game might be ditching that idea for the rest of 5e’s lifespan, judging by the playtest.

I’d love for pass without trace to be a thing rangers can just do, even with smaller numbers, as part of just making the group more effective at doing the things rangers do that usually end up being group checks.

But I also love the Ranger whisper Sylvan words to their arrow that they purposefully made from the branches of thorny trees like the lemon tree (the one at my parents’ had thorns over an inch long) and causing it to explode with thorns when they shoot it. I think it makes sense that doing so requires drawing on an internal reservoir of power the Ranger has cultivated over time, though not as deeply as a Druid does, to give power to those Sylvan words. In a game wherein magic works a different way, I’d expect the ranger to do magic that way, instead.

I’m not a fan of different schools of magic working completely differently in one world, and you either do one or the other. That, to me, is even more idiosyncratic than flex-vancian Spellcasting. IMO it limits concepts more than just saying, “magic works via XYZ model, regardless of where it comes from or what it’s used for”.

Then, specific spells distinguish different characters, and in game stuff like divine magic has character by way of trends and norms in the specifics of those spells, and then some classes have exclusive tricks they have cultivated that you’d have to train with them to learn, in the form of class (or even subclass) specific spells baked into class features like the UA hunters mark if HM was nowhere in the game but the Ranger.
 

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