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5E Ideas for Unique Ranger Spells and Magic

Minigiant

Legend
I know I know
A lot of people don't like rangers having spell casting. However I believe one of the reasons why the ranger class had issues in many editions is the disconnect of the low magic settings found in most fantasy stories and legends and the higher fantasy supernatual and magical elements of many D&D settings. Because the ranger is one of the two classes most tied to the environment, there is less to pull from real stories, legends, and literature. This causes the ranger's spell lit and class features to feel either out of space or underpowered when shifted to D&D from somewhere else. Or even worse, the features and spells are lifted fully from any other class like a druid or a wizard.

So how about we think of the ranger magic and supernatural elements more organically.

Imagine there were one or more ranger organizations in a stereotypical Dungeons and Dragons world. These warriors are known to travel the world and encounter many peoples, monsters, organizations, and environments. The rangers roam many terrains and defend civilization from all sorts of enemies.

What kinds of magic would a ranger actually pick up and share to his apprentice?
Which long forgotten scrolls and items would a ranger bring back to the stronghold?
Which discoveries would a wizard or druid deem useless that their ranger party member might regard as useful?

Like we all know a wizard invented hunter's mark. But of course the wizard was never going to track anything physically nor was he or she going to hit anything with a weapon anymore. So he sold it to a passing ranger for 50gp and a bearskin rug. Now every ranger is using it.

For example, I'm shocked that a ranger cannot plant a bug on a target. A literal magic insect that they can plant on a target that they can track and listen in with a magic rock. The rock could even beep. Or buzz to fit the insect theme.

Or a desert ranger could escape approaching orc warriors by turning into sand Michael Jackson style. I could have used that one.

What is the point of wizards if they teach the local rangers how to make their arrows explode? Can cast wish but doesn't want deranged racist archers blowing up random gnolls and goblins in the forest.
 

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Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
They should have a Rangercraft cantrip. Functions include: 1) lighting campfires, 2) drying wood to be suitable for a campfire, 3) salting, dehydrating, or otherwise preserving foods, 4) altering their scent or tracks, 5) leaving marks in natural places that only you can see, and 6) 1 minute of darkvision (with concentration).
 

Minigiant

Legend
Would Spiderman's webwinging and Tarzan's vineswinging fit a ranger?
You like a low level variant flight?

Wild Swing
  • 1st level Transmutation
  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Range: Self
  • Components: S M (a leg of a spider or a small vine)
  • Classes: Druid, Ranger
  • Duration: Up to 10 minutes
  • As you cast this spell, you hands become wreathed with spider silk or thin vines. On your command, long threads spout from your palms to grapple to the heights. While your hands are free of objects, you gain a flying speed of feet equal to double your Strength score. You cannot fly higher than 30 feet above the tallest point within 60 feet of you.
  • At Higher Levels: If you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the duration of the spell increases by 1 hour for each slot level above 2nd.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I like the idea of Rangers having more unique magic, but not some of the OPs suggestions that are too "tech-magic" like for myself, anyway.

Maybe a spell Scent on the Wind which would allow the ranger to track by scent or get advantage or double proficiency?

I think the best place to start would be from the ground up. What would the ranger's magic allow them to do that others can't or shouldn't be able to?
 

Minigiant

Legend
I like the idea of Rangers having more unique magic, but not some of the OPs suggestions that are too "tech-magic" like for myself, anyway.
Well that's what I was going for a bit. I was thinking Ranger spells would be mostly for combat buffs, tracking tools, and instant survival gear.
Especially so players who don't like overtly magical rangers could refluff some of them as secret ranger tech.

Maybe a spell Scent on the Wind which would allow the ranger to track by scent or get advantage or double proficiency?
That sounds perfect for a ranger.

I think the best place to start would be from the ground up. What would the ranger's magic allow them to do that others can't or shouldn't be able to?
There are 2 parts to that.

What is ranger magic?
Answer is undefined. D&D never pinned don't what it is. Most of the time it is "divine" and "druidic". But not always. There are some intellectual arcane elements in it for the tracking spells and arrow spells.

Why are some spells ranger exclusive?
This one is easier. The D&D ranger is based on a collection of jobs. Ranger spells would be spells that aid in doing those jobs. Other classes don't commit enough to these jobs to learn these spells. They are close but the ranger hints to an obsession. A ranger tracks both mundanely and magically so no foe can escape them. They combine elemental and physical damage to bypass defenses. It's specialization. Notjust divination but tracking. Not just abjuration but alarms. Not just transmutation but plant awakening. Every spell is tailored to the job.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I think this is were having overlap in defined role sort of messes things up in 5E. A lot of people think of a ranger as twf or archery, for example, just as gwf seems more like it fits barbarian, and defense/protection is more typically paladin.

Which makes a better scout? A ranger or a rogue (particularly the scout subclass...)?
Which makes a better archer? A ranger or a fighter?
Which is better at survival? A ranger or a barbarian?
And so on...

Now, I like rangers having magic (more druidic with minor arcane) but I like their magic to be subtle, complimentary, and more natural. For example, I don't want to see a ranger shot a arrow and have it magically multiple into a dozen arrows raining on the ground. That isn't in my vision of ranger magic. BUT a spell that allows a ranger to shot multiple targets "in a line" with one arrow, something more akin to the piercing arrow concept of the Arcane Archer (but you would make one attack roll, not use a saving throw).

I would like to see rangers get a "point-blank" range for ranged weapons, like in AD&D.

Your idea of the swinging vine would be great if such foliage is already present. The magic would "pull" the vine to the ranger, making it so he could move across caps others couldn't hope to cross (except maybe a step of the wind used by monks...).

Spells where he could calm animals, even stop a herd of charging beasts by staring them down, etc. would all be thematic for rangers. While I see druids having a connection and harmony with beasts, I see a ranger as becoming their alpha male (so to say).

Things like heavy fog shouldn't bother their perception because their other senses are so keen and attuned to their surroundings (even if it cost them a bonus action to "focus" or something).

There are so many ways rangers could be made even better IMO, magic being a chief example.

What is ranger magic?
Ranger magic should augment and enhance their abilities in subtle ways. It isn't flashy or anything. When an outsider witnesses a ranger "using magic" it should just seem like the ranger does something great and the onlooker wonders "How'd she do that?!"
Examples include:
  • Heighten senses (scent, hearing, even touch might grant some form of "psychic impression")
  • Heighten ability (incredible jumps and leaps (not super-heroic, but plausible even if just plausible), quick climbing and swimming, faster movement)
  • One attack, many targets (sweeping melee attacks, piercing arrows, etc.)
  • Beast "dominance" by becoming the alpha-male to a pack or herd (but through mutual respect and understanding, not actual "dominating")
  • Plant tending (growing, communicating, respecting the life of plants and their part in the cycle of life, etc.)
  • Minor elemental touches (a cooling breeze, starting a camp fire, a sprinkling of rain)

Why are some spells ranger exclusive?
This one is easier. The D&D ranger is based on a collection of jobs. Ranger spells would be spells that aid in doing those jobs. Other classes don't commit enough to these jobs to learn these spells. They are close but the ranger hints to an obsession. A ranger tracks both mundanely and magically so no foe can escape them. They combine elemental and physical damage to bypass defenses. It's specialization. Notjust divination but tracking. Not just abjuration but alarms. Not just transmutation but plant awakening. Every spell is tailored to the job.
I agree in many ways, but in some ways not as much. No one should rival a ranger in tracking prey, but in matters druidic rangers should be the novices and druids the masters. Rangers should understand the strength of nature and use it to make themselves better, where druids can actually control nature, itself (if that makes sense?). Otherwise, I think we are much on the same page.
 

Minigiant

Legend
I think this is were having overlap in defined role sort of messes things up in 5E. A lot of people think of a ranger as twf or archery, for example, just as gwf seems more like it fits barbarian, and defense/protection is more typically paladin.
Part of it is the forest ranger is way too representative of the class. Forest Rangers use archery and TWF because of their environment. They aren't going to use shields. An arctic ordesertranger would use shields and be more defensive as there is less cover and you are easier flanked

Which brings us to...

Now, I like rangers having magic (more druidic with minor arcane) but I like their magic to be subtle, complimentary, and more natural. For example, I don't want to see a ranger shot a arrow and have it magically multiple into a dozen arrows raining on the ground. That isn't in my vision of ranger magic. BUT a spell that allows a ranger to shot multiple targets "in a line" with one arrow, something more akin to the piercing arrow concept of the Arcane Archer (but you would make one attack roll, not use a saving throw).
Arrow spells are "exclusive" to rangers because the other spellcaster would not use them. Paladins usually lack the dexterity. Priestly types and mages lack the proficiency.

Like I said in the OP, many of the ranger spells hint to research, development, and invention by wizards and druids. They just can't use them effectively and the secrets lost to them from disuse. Secret kept alive in ranger communities.

But I disagree on the ranger nature being natural. It can but it could be purely arcane or priestly as well. The default flavor of the ranger is that ranger are part of civilization. They just live in the wild.

Though a ranger might make a living as a hunter, a guide, or a tracker, a ranger’s true calling is to defend the outskirts of civilization from the ravages of monsters and humanoid hordes that press in from the wild. In some places, rangers gather in secretive orders or join forces with druidic circles. Many rangers, though, are independent almost to a fault, knowing that, when a dragon or a band of orcs attacks, a ranger might be the first—and possibly the last—line of defense.


A ranger's order or permission to roam could be backed by a lord, king, church, cult, court, tower, or druid circle. And there options on magic should resemble that.

Now I do argee that most ranger magic would be more sublte and complementary. They are often alone or at least outnumbered or outgunned. Rangers tend to apply stealth so flashy spells would be rare and combining magic with items they would already carry would be helpful.

But if your favored enemy is goblin, you would bring wide area AOE damage to kill many goblins at once.

That's the key to me. Every spell is to advance or support the objective: monster hunting in the wilderness.
Each spell supports the hunt, eases the hunt, quickens the hunt, strengthening the hunter, or saves the hunter.

The ranger has druidic spell because druidic spells would well in the wild. Rangers don't have to necessarily revere nature at all. A ranger has speak with plants not because they love plants but because plants often are the only ones with the information the ranger needs. Many rangers do lack nature and formdeeper bonds with it but if it isn't required, many wont go that far nor specialize. Rangers repect and understand nature but outdoorsmen buy their gear in town.

This why I don't like rangers having "spells known". They should be "spells prepared" casters.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
This isn't so much an idea for new magic, but maybe it would have been better if favored enemy added some spells known to the ranger's list. I could see calm emotions being useful for someone with fey as a favored enemy, and protection from evil and good for someone with celestials or fiends as a favored enemy.
 


dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
An arctic ordesertranger would use shields and be more defensive as there is less cover and you are easier flanked
Good point, but IME those rangers are less common. I'm not saying that means they shouldn't be represented, however. So, as I said, good point. :)

But I disagree on the ranger nature being natural.
That's fine. We just disagree on that point.

Now I do argee that most ranger magic would be more sublte and complementary.
And this, to me, is the more important point.

But if your favored enemy is goblin, you would bring wide area AOE damage to kill many goblins at once.
Maybe. Something like Entangle would trap the goblins and I can see a ranger more using that than Cordon of Arrows, for example. But again, this is just my point of view because I prefer it. shrug

Each spell supports the hunt, eases the hunt, quickens the hunt, strengthening the hunter, or saves the hunter.
While I agree that is important I think there are other aspects that are important too. So, maybe not every spell should support the hunt. :)

Rangers don't have to necessarily revere nature at all. A ranger has speak with plants not because they love plants but because plants often are the only ones with the information the ranger needs. Many rangers do lack nature and formdeeper bonds with it but if it isn't required, many wont go that far nor specialize. Rangers repect and understand nature but outdoorsmen buy their gear in town.
Well, maybe revere is too strong a word? But I think "understand" and "respect" aren't. Even a ranger who is hired by a town and lives in town, going out on occasion forays into the wild would fall under those words I think.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think that rangers should be able to gather intel from nature in ways that others simply can't ever do, maybe even druids. So, the Druid can cast speak with plants, maybe the ranger can cast a spell to experience what the plant experienced? Like psychometry for plants?

I think part of the problem is simply how few spells the ranger knows. Can you really justify taking animal messenger, beast bond, animal friendship, or even stuff like longstrider and jump, when you also kinda need to be able to turn spell slots into damage and tactical advantages with stuff like hunter's mark and ensnaring strike? I mean, obviously you can, but it sucks to have to choose between them in as limited an amount as the ranger gets.

Which is why I give rangers spells known equal to 1/2 level rounded down plus wisdom mod.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Good point, but IME those rangers are less common. I'm not saying that means they shouldn't be represented, however. So, as I said, good point.
IMO this is where Favored Terrain should come in. Each terrain should have a benefit to fighting in a certain way, and to surviving in certain contexts, that is useful in any enviroment, but especially useful in the associated terrain.
 

They should have a Rangercraft cantrip. Functions include: 1) lighting campfires, 2) drying wood to be suitable for a campfire, 3) salting, dehydrating, or otherwise preserving foods, 4) altering their scent or tracks, 5) leaving marks in natural places that only you can see, and 6) 1 minute of darkvision (with concentration).
7) Create latrine. At higher levels it comes with toilet paper and an air freshener.
 

Do Rangers and Druids still get their spells from Deities and/or Elemental forces in 5E like in earlier editions? Its been awhile since Ive read the PHB or had anyone play either in any of my campaigns. I always thought of Druids as more of custodians of a certain wilderness area, like a park ranger or Green Peace, who looked after a particular area or went to where they were needed. For example the people who went to Alaska to help clean up the Exxon Valdeze oil spill. Rangers were more like travelers who specialized in hunting, trapping. fishing, survival and camping. Like Green Berets/special forces or Les Stroud, just passing through. Im just asking as game mechanics aside, sometimes it was hard to tell where the concept of the two classes began and the other ended. I think that once this is established then determining the Rangers spell abilities is easier.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Well, a lot of that is really up to your table's preference. A ranger could be a rover or live in an established area, protecting just that region. It works either way. shrug

While I want rangers to have spells, they are primarily warriors. If I could make a comparison, I would say:

Rangers are to Druids as Paladins are to Clerics. I see those two classes as the warriors with some spellcasting ability instead of being spellcasters with some fighting ability. I always found it interesting to note there is no arcane equivalent to the Ranger or Paladin to compare to the Wizard.

At any rate, I suppose that is one of the reasons why rangers are so difficult to tie down--they represent different things to different people.
 

Well, a lot of that is really up to your table's preference. A ranger could be a rover or live in an established area, protecting just that region. It works either way. shrug

While I want rangers to have spells, they are primarily warriors. If I could make a comparison, I would say:

Rangers are to Druids as Paladins are to Clerics. I see those two classes as the warriors with some spellcasting ability instead of being spellcasters with some fighting ability. I always found it interesting to note there is no arcane equivalent to the Ranger or Paladin to compare to the Wizard.

At any rate, I suppose that is one of the reasons why rangers are so difficult to tie down--they represent different things to different people.
One thing that I never understood about the Ranger, whats with the Grizzly Adams, BJ and the Bear animal companion thing? Is he a loner walking through life alone with nothing more than a Chimpanzee at his side? Again as you said makes the class hard to pin down. Anyone Ive ever seen play a Ranger with an animal companion buried that thing within two or three games. Im gonna send Scraps into battle and it always ends up on the wrong end of a lightning bolt.
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
One thing that I never understood about the Ranger, whats with the Grizzly Adams, BJ and the Bear animal companion thing? Is he a loner walking through life alone with nothing more than a Chimpanzee at his side? Again as you said makes the class hard to pin down. Anyone Ive ever seen play a Ranger with an animal companion buried that thing within two or three games. Im gonna send Scraps into battle and it always ends up on the wrong end of a lightning bolt.
Poor Scraps! Not again! Boo-hoo-hoo! :cry:

Actually, the "beast-master" aspect of rangers never appealed to me, personally. I've seen others use them, but they weren't part of 1E so I don't bother with them. Honestly, I am not even sure when that concept made it into the ranger class... :unsure:
 

From another thread:

Baleen Bomb
Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: Self
Components: V, S
Duration: Concentration (maximum 10 minutes)

The caster immediately sprouts giant hummingbird wings and becomes pregnant with a baby baleen whale. At any time before the spells ends, the caster may decide to prematurely give birth to the baleen whale. The caster takes 20 points of force damage as the whale emerges from his or her body. If the caster is flying, the baleen whale falls to the ground. Any creature directly under by the falling baleen must make a dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature takes 15d6 bludgeoning damage, is knocked prone, and smells like fish until its next bath.



That unique enough?
 

Poor Scraps! Not again! Boo-hoo-hoo! :cry:

Actually, the "beast-master" aspect of rangers never appealed to me, personally. I've seen others use them, but they weren't part of 1E so I don't bother with them. Honestly, I am not even sure when that concept made it into the ranger class... :unsure:
If I had to guess the 2E Complete Rangers handbook. TSR needs money, QUICK...give the ranger some a Rambo knife with some fishing gear a rain poncho and...wait for it...a giant toad. But in all seriousness I think the ranger suffers from identity crisis from being something different in every edition. Again as you said made it that much harder to pin down the core of the class. So it begs the question where does its powers actually come from?
 

dnd4vr

The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
So it begs the question where does its powers actually come from?
Well, my thoughts are primarily druid with minor arcane, and it could even be exclusively "natural", but I know others have their own opinions of course. :D
 

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