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


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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Which is a pretty big non-starter for me. It isn't at all neutral, it's a very specific and limiting approach. The fact that "shoot a lot of arrows" is a spell is utterly bizarre to me.
Why? A spell is just a distinct and repeatable magical effect. Ultimately, it's a rules mechanics widget. There's no actual difference between it and 4e powers, except that 4e was able to actually properly leverage the widget for the benefit of all characters.

And the example isn't "shoot a lot of arrows" it is "shoot an arrow that explodes into a hail of literal thorns", and even if we change it to Conjure Barrage, it is "shoot an arrow that duplicates magically into enough arrows to blanket a 60ft cone, with enough density that it's more lethal to anyone in the area that a single well aimed arrow would be".

Those are very magical abilities, that makes sense as "powers" (ie mechanical widgets representing distinct fantastical abilities, which since they are magical, means...) or spells.

Spell slots are literally just a measure of how much power you have, used to mechanically balance the game so that conjure barrage isn't at-will.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
And the example isn't "shoot a lot of arrows" it is "shoot an arrow that explodes into a hail of literal thorns", and even if we change it to Conjure Barrage, it is "shoot an arrow that duplicates magically into enough arrows to blanket a 60ft cone, with enough density that it's more lethal to anyone in the area that a single well aimed arrow would be".

Those are very magical abilities, that makes sense as "powers" (ie mechanical widgets representing distinct fantastical abilities, which since they are magical, means...) or spells.


now this is a Barrage of Arrows predicted on Martial Awesomeness rather than magic - not only does our hero fire three arrows at once, the momentum when they strike throws the targets back to hit the enemy behind them too.

I like to think of Spells as Feats of Magic - which also means that they can be duplicated as non-magical Feats of Power
 
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Why? A spell is just a distinct and repeatable magical effect. Ultimately, it's a rules mechanics widget. There's no actual difference between it and 4e powers, except that 4e was able to actually properly leverage the widget for the benefit of all characters.
Sure there is. For one thing, a spell has a level and consumes a slot. A spell has (or explicitly does not have) specific types of components: verbal, somatic, material; each of which can be disrupted. Slots are 100% fungible within a single level, and very near fungible (minus scaling effects) in general. A spell can be counterspelled, or deactivated by an antimagic field, or otherwise negated in ways that do not generalize to "literally any pre-defined thing someone can do."

Spells, in the D&D sense, are a VERY specific thematic and mechanical package. They are not, and should not be mistaken for, a totally general "any repeatable magical effect" mechanic.

And the example isn't "shoot a lot of arrows" it is "shoot an arrow that explodes into a hail of literal thorns", and even if we change it to Conjure Barrage, it is "shoot an arrow that duplicates magically into enough arrows to blanket a 60ft cone, with enough density that it's more lethal to anyone in the area that a single well aimed arrow would be".

Those are very magical abilities,
Nope. Not to me. They're things Green Arrow can do on a whim, so long as he still has ammo. Representing Green Arrow's completely mundane (if high-tech) ammunition as interchangable, upgradable, completely magical effects is a non-starter.

that makes sense as "powers" (ie mechanical widgets representing distinct fantastical abilities, which since they are magical, means...) or spells.

Spell slots are literally just a measure of how much power you have, used to mechanically balance the game so that conjure barrage isn't at-will.
Spell slots are way, way, WAY more specific than that.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
It mostly boils down to, from what I’ve observed, that just because something is magic that doesn’t mean it needs to be a spell, and by a similar token, just because something is fantastical that doesn’t mean it needs to be magic.

There’s too much of anything in 5e that slightly pushes the boundaries of being beyond the perception of mundane abilities being fasttracked straight into being a spell when it doesn’t need to be, because that puts it in a neat little box for wizards to place into the one system they have for all their supernatural abilities.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Sure there is. For one thing, a spell has a level and consumes a slot. A spell has (or explicitly does not have) specific types of components: verbal, somatic, material; each of which can be disrupted. Slots are 100% fungible within a single level, and very near fungible (minus scaling effects) in general. A spell can be counterspelled, or deactivated by an antimagic field, or otherwise negated in ways that do not generalize to "literally any pre-defined thing someone can do."

Spells, in the D&D sense, are a VERY specific thematic and mechanical package. They are not, and should not be mistaken for, a totally general "any repeatable magical effect" mechanic.
They are only so specific in mechanical context, not thematic. They are whatever they are described as at the table.
Nope. Not to me. They're things Green Arrow can do on a whim, so long as he still has ammo. Representing Green Arrow's completely mundane (if high-tech) ammunition as interchangable, upgradable, completely magical effects is a non-starter.
The green arrow absolutely cannot shoot a hundred arrows at once in a 60ft cone that cause more damage to each creature they hit than a normal arrow shot normally would do. Exploding arrows are one thing, but that would fit the ranger far less than anything I’ve seen proposed in any ranger thread.
Spell slots are way, way, WAY more specific than that.
No, they aren’t. If we can’t even agree on this, there’s no point continuing this particular discussion.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle

now this is a Barrage of Arrows predicted on Martial Awesomeness rather than magic - not only does our three fire three arrows at once, the momentum when the strike throws the targets back to hit the enemy behind them too.
Yeah that’s magic IMO, just like throwing someone 30 feet with a kick would be, which is also common in Bollywood style action movies, but it also literally isn’t on the same level as conjure barrage, lightning arrow, or the Ranger’s non arrow based spells like pass without trace.
I like to think of Spells as Feats of Magic - which also means that they can be duplicated as non-magical Feats of Power
In that case, feats of power can reasonably be fueled by spell slots, easily allowing a single ranger to cast spells and make traps and have a pet they can boost, and perform feats of ability, all on the same limited resource.
 

They are only so specific in mechanical context, not thematic. They are whatever they are described as at the table.
Can you actually separate the theme from the mechanic? I see no way to do so here. D&D spellcasting, much to my frustration, has theme and mechanic welded together better than almost any mechanic I know of.

I like when theme and mechanic are deeply intertwined, but if, and ONLY if, it is reasonable and effective for them to be so. 4e's Lay On Hands, as I am wont to reference. I deeply dislike it when the mechanic is welded to a theme that is completely off for the rest of the class. Ranger abilities are not hand-jive mojo. Forcing them to be so, with all the things so entailed, is deeply frustrating to me.

The green arrow absolutely cannot shoot a hundred arrows at once in a 60ft cone
In JLU he could do effectively equivalent things. Not sure why I should care about versions that can't.

No, they aren’t. If we can’t even agree on this, there’s no point continuing this particular discussion.
Sure they are. I gave you a comprehensive list of the problems. You blew it off with a "that's just thematics." Every class which uses spell slots is beholden to the rules and trappings I described. The mechanic and the theme are welded together. Instead of just blithely dismissing those concerns, show me how they can be addressed.

Show me how you can have spell slots that don't enforce a very specific mechanical and thematic expression.
 


niklinna

Legend
now this is a Barrage of Arrows predicted on Martial Awesomeness rather than magic - not only does our three fire three arrows at once, the momentum when the strike throws the targets back to hit the enemy behind them too.
Not only that, but he shows the princess—and us—how to do it! You just use not two, but four fingers, and turn the wrist facing outward. Easy peasy!

Yes this is the kind of over the top ranger I would want to play. I don't want no VSM components and anti-magic counterspells messing with my day.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Can you actually separate the theme from the mechanic? I see no way to do so here. D&D spellcasting, much to my frustration, has theme and mechanic welded together better than almost any mechanic I know of.
Easily. It’s a meta currency.
I like when theme and mechanic are deeply intertwined, but if, and ONLY if, it is reasonable and effective for them to be so. 4e's Lay On Hands, as I am wont to reference. I deeply dislike it when the mechanic is welded to a theme that is completely off for the rest of the class. Ranger abilities are not hand-jive mojo. Forcing them to be so, with all the things so entailed, is deeply frustrating to me.
Spells don’t have to be “hand-jive mojo”.
In JLU he could do effectively equivalent things. Not sure why I should care about versions that can't.
No, he can’t. Show me Green Arrow shooting a hundred arrows in a 60ft cone at once. From a single arrow.
Sure they are. I gave you a comprehensive list of the problems. You blew it off with a "that's just thematics." Every class which uses spell slots is beholden to the rules and trappings I described. The mechanic and the theme are welded together. Instead of just blithely dismissing those concerns, show me how they can be addressed.

Show me how you can have spell slots that don't enforce a very specific mechanical and thematic expression.
You literally just don’t…describe their use…like you do a wizard casting spells. I genuinely have no idea what the issue even is.
 

Easily. It’s a meta currency.
What does that mean? What consequences does that have? Why is it partially fungible, but only in very specific ways? Why can it be blocked by a specific set of things which only apply to spells? Etc., etc. You haven't answered the question at all.

Spells don’t have to be “hand-jive mojo”.
There are only and exactly (as of this writing, at least) six ranger spells which do not have somatic components. (Five 1st-level, one 4th-level.)

So, where exactly are we avoiding the hand-jive mojo?

No, he can’t. Show me Green Arrow shooting a hundred arrows in a 60ft cone at once. From a single arrow.
First: Who says it has to be a single arrow? If we're already not having it be the spell, why should it be limited by the things the spell is limited by? Why should absolutely all supernatural things be shoehorned into one single expression and never allowed to be anything else?

You literally just don’t…describe their use…like you do a wizard casting spells. I genuinely have no idea what the issue even is.
But it still is equivalent to a wizard casting spells. That's the problem. All spellcasting is, by intent and definition, precisely equivalent, other than list access and rate at which you get slots. That's the whole point of spellcasting in the first place--and the reason why they're unifying spell lists in the current playtest. It's the reason why absorb elements functions 100% perfectly identically--in all respects, from components required to slots consumed to net results to things which could impede or prevent its use--whether it is cast by an artificer, druid, ranger, sorcerer, or wizard (or EK/AT, if they learn it.)
 



doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What does that mean? What consequences does that have? Why is it partially fungible, but only in very specific ways? Why can it be blocked by a specific set of things which only apply to spells? Etc., etc. You haven't answered the question at all.
Because it's a meta-currency used to balance distinct fantastical mechanics widgets, so it has limiting mechanics.
There are only and exactly (as of this writing, at least) six ranger spells which do not have somatic components. (Five 1st-level, one 4th-level.)

So, where exactly are we avoiding the hand-jive mojo?
The somatic components are not specified, nor are any verbal components. As some quick examples, the somatic component of Alarm can simply be the process of unwinding the silver wire around the area, or it can be more complex and involve setting something like an alarm trap, which is imbued with magic during that process. No "hand-jive" (a term which I really really hate in this context. I think we can discuss this stuff without using loaded phrases that dismiss the validity of a thing you don't happen to prefer) needed.

Somatic components do not necessitate waving your hands around like Doctor Strange, which is the only thing I can imagine you mean by "hand-jive".
First: Who says it has to be a single arrow?
The existing ability that we have been discussing, that Green Arrow has never done the same thing as, and never will unless they make him magical.
If they're firing a hundred arrows or even just a couple dozen in a few seconds, they are doing something that goes beyond the realm of even Legolas heroic action, into the profoundly impossible, and thus magical.
If we're already not having it be the spell, why should it be limited by the things the spell is limited by? Why should absolutely all supernatural things be shoehorned into one single expression and never allowed to be anything else?
They aren't. The game has things that are very supernatural that aren't spells. Frankly, I don't see any reason why some of it isn't a spell. It's not like every feature that references a spell has to use spell slots to do so, nor is it like every feature that uses spell slots does so via spells.
But it still is equivalent to a wizard casting spells. That's the problem. All spellcasting is, by intent and definition, precisely equivalent, other than list access and rate at which you get slots. That's the whole point of spellcasting in the first place--and the reason why they're unifying spell lists in the current playtest. It's the reason why absorb elements functions 100% perfectly identically--in all respects, from components required to slots consumed to net results to things which could impede or prevent its use--whether it is cast by an artificer, druid, ranger, sorcerer, or wizard (or EK/AT, if they learn it.)
I'm having trouble parsing this to find a thing I can recognize as potentially problematic.

Seriously, does not compute. What is the issue? You're describing how the system works, and then saying it's a problem, but you aren't laying out what about the above is bad. Why is "spellcasting uses the same mechanical framework" a problem?

Like you list the artificer, so I'm guessing you would completely disregard the narrative impact of casting via tools and the encouragement to treat this as making things to create the spell effect, because the end result is the same and it still costs a spell slot, and whatever else?

I don't believe that there is anything remotely problematic about that, and it's especially weird for me as someone who loves 4e DnD to see this objection when it is literally just 4e powers with different names. It's the same complaint as the "powers are all just spells renamed, everyone does the same thing", and I found it baffling then as now.

The 5e Ranger cannot be played like a wizard. The two classes have too little in common, and their basic actions are dramatically different, as are their specific lists of distinct mechanical abilities. The fact they both references spells and spell slots is about as meaningful as the fact they both get PB increases at the same levels, or that they both attack with a d20+stat+PB against AC when they make an attack.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
The fact that Anti-Magic Zones and Counterspells are even a thing that's necessary just feel like an indication that Spells design is a problem. IMO.
Wait what? How?

The ability to counter spells and other magic is proof that spells are designed in a problematic manner? What on earth?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Not only that, but he shows the princess—and us—how to do it! You just use not two, but four fingers, and turn the wrist facing outward. Easy peasy!

Yes this is the kind of over the top ranger I would want to play. I don't want no VSM components and anti-magic counterspells messing with my day.
Cool, how does he gain information from nature beyond what is possible by mundane means? How does he counter the highly magical natural world in order to protect settlements from said nature and protect and preserve nature from the excesses of expanding civilization?

What does he do that isn't doable as a Fighter?
 

I don't believe that there is anything remotely problematic about that, and it's especially weird for me as someone who loves 4e DnD to see this objection when it is literally just 4e powers with different names. It's the same complaint as the "powers are all just spells renamed, everyone does the same thing", and I found it baffling then as now.
I doubt a response to any other part of this would be productive, but I felt I should respond to this.

Powers are actually generic. They literally correspond to all possible pre-defined actions. If an action is pre-defined, it's a power. There is an exact, one-to-one correspondence between "is a predefined action" and "is a power." Every pre-defined action is a power, down to even basic attacks, and every power is a pre-defined action.

Spells are not the end-all, be-all of pre-defined actions. They are significantly more limited than that, in numerous ways, which you have repeatedly and blithely dismissed with less than a full sentence. Those limitations are the problem, and your refusal to even momentarily consider them is a significant stumbling block for having any kind of conversation here.

Edit: One other response.
Like you list the artificer, so I'm guessing you would completely disregard the narrative impact of casting via tools and the encouragement to treat this as making things to create the spell effect, because the end result is the same and it still costs a spell slot, and whatever else?
I listed the artificer because absorb elements is an artificer spell--as well as being a spell on the class list of every other class I mentioned. The only reason I listed those classes is because they are the classes which can cast absorb elements, which just happens to be the alphabetically first 1st-level spell from the ranger spell list (and most lists it's on, since it starts with "ab.") There was no further motive than to note that this spell effect is 100% identical for all of these classes that cast it, and the slots used for it are 100% fungible.

However, in this case, you are mistaken. While artificers do "cast through tools," absorb elements is not an M spell, and thus is not cast that way. The artificer's tools are not involved. It does have somatic components though, which are described thusly: "Spellcasting gestures might include a forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures. If a spell requires a somatic component, the caster must have free use of at least one hand to perform these gestures." "Forceful gesticulation or an intricate set of gestures" that can be done single-handed. What else should I be calling it? (And no, I don't consider that an interesting or meaningful distinction from "cast through spell focus," which is what every 5e spellcaster does with M spells.)

Cool, how does he gain information from nature beyond what is possible by mundane means?
Via supernatural abilities which are not spells.

How does he counter the highly magical natural world in order to protect settlements from said nature and protect and preserve nature from the excesses of expanding civilization?
Via supernatural abilities which are not spells. Like how Lay On Hands, Song of Rest, Inspiration Dice, Channel Divinity, and Ki are supernatural abilities which are not spells, though they may sometimes interact with spell mechanics (e.g. that Cleric variant CD that restores a spell slot or certain Monk actions which allow you to cast spells by spending Ki.)

What does he do that isn't doable as a Fighter?
Supernatural abilities which are not spells. Same as several other classes which have supernatural abilities that are not spells, and thus cannot be used by Fighters.

I am dead serious. The supernatural should not be shoehorned into "spells and only spells."
 
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niklinna

Legend
Supernatural abilities which are not spells.

I am dead serious. The supernatural should not be shoehorned into "spells and only spells."
Well, see, 3e did it that way therefore it's bad. And doing everything as spells makes things simpler therefore that's good!

I really don't mind ranger having utiliity spells, it's been that way since AD&D at least. But for the Ranger's hallmark combat abilities to be spells, or built around them...what then does he do that isn't doable as a Wizard?
 

Well, see, 3e did it that way therefore it's bad. And doing everything as spells makes things simpler therefore that's good!
You misunderstand. I am not saying "bring back Spell-Like Abilities, Supernatural abilities, and Extraordinary abilities."

I am saying that it would impoverish the game to restrict things such that the only supernatural (=magical, non-mundane, whatever you want to call it) abilities are specifically spells. You'd have to eliminate Lay on Hands, Song of Rest, Channel Divinity, Bardic Inspiration, Ki, and plenty of other features that are all explicitly supernatural but which are not spells, and could not be expressed as spells. At least, not without completely gutting their function.

I think we should expand, not contract, the things that aren't spells but are still clearly "magical" (I prefer the word "supernatural" because "magical" is so thoroughly married to "spells specifically the way D&D uses them" that most people use the two interchangeably.) Let the classes known for spellcasting do spellcasting, and let other classes have their own ways of approaching the mystical, supernatural, transmundane, etc.

I had thought that was the whole point of repudiating 4e's design: that having everyone use the same fundamental resource mechanics is bad. That "making everyone a Wizard" was bad. Now people are proposing to literally, actually make everyone a Wizard!

I really don't mind ranger having utiliity spells, it's been that way since AD&D at least. But for the Ranger's hallmark combat abilities to be spells, or built around them...what then does he do that isn't doable as a Wizard?
Exactly. Especially if the One D&D playtest move of having one Primal list goes through--meaning there will not be any Ranger-specific spells anymore.
 

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