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D&D 5E Is favored enemy and natural explorer really that bad?

auburn2

Adventurer
Inspired by the thread on favored foe, I figure I will talk about favored enemy.

With XGE and Tasha's I no longer think the Ranger is underpowered, even without the new optional features. Using a few of the subclasses, the Ranger class holds up well even without the new features. That said, how bad are the oroginal 1st-level abilities.

1. Favored Enemy: Everyone really complains about favored enemy and has been since the PHB, but I don't see it as that bad. Advantage on intelligence checks against a whole group of enemies and an extra language is pretty cool. Not effective in combat, but broadly useful in general. the tracking feature is less useful.

Favored Foe is better in combat and if you are building a combat-focused character I get why this would maybe be a better choice, but I don't think it is a better ability overall especially if you are building a skill character.

2. Natural explorer: NAtural explorer usefulness depends entirely on the game and DM. In an outdoor campaign, if your DM is rolling for you to get lost or slowing you in difficult terrain,find food etc, this ability is actually OP for a 1st-level ability .... especially the never lost part. Playing Tomb of Annihilation at 1st level my party was lost so often that I chose to multiclass to Ranger at level 2 with a character who happened to have a 13 Wisdom and dex. This was not even remotely in my original build idea for that character but we needed a solution to being lost all the time. This 1-level dip completely changed the nature of our game.

I like the idea of Deft explorer and as a character who likes skill monkeys I really like the idea of expertise in a skill and am drawn to it. I think this is way inferior to natural explorer if you are playing the kind of outdoor game noted above, but better in just about every other game.

Thoughts?
 

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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I added a small damage bonus to Favored enemy and some minor tweaks to the groups that could be chosen.

I started this thread about it, but have already made a couple of tweaks based on suggestions.

I think Natural Explorer is fine regardless if a DM is detailed about travel/exploration or tend to handwave it. In the first case, they have a better chance to succeed and in the second case it is easy to just say "Since Nora the Ranger knows the mountains well, you make it through safely" when otherwise there might have been an avalanche zone or a random encounter.

Then again, I am not much for a random roll for events or getting lost type of style and prefer to narrativize that within the framework of what the PCs are supposed to be capable of.
 


jgsugden

Legend
Ranger, overall, has never been underpowered. Some of the builds (beastmaster) were not successful, but overall the class was just fine. Hunters were competitive from day one. If you compare them to a Great Weapon Master Paladin they deal less damage overall - but they had so many more tricks up their sleeves.

As such, these two lesser abilities - which were more about the character of the class than the power of the class - have always been fine. That being said, I do prefer the replacements.
 

Retreater

Legend
2. Natural explorer: NAtural explorer usefulness depends entirely on the game and DM. In an outdoor campaign, if your DM is rolling for you to get lost or slowing you in difficult terrain,find food etc, this ability is actually OP for a 1st-level ability .... especially the never lost part. Playing Tomb of Annihilation at 1st level my party was lost so often that I chose to multiclass to Ranger at level 2 with a character who happened to have a 13 Wisdom and dex. This was not even remotely in my original build idea for that character but we needed a solution to being lost all the time. This 1-level dip completely changed the nature of our game.
Here's why I don't like this one. If these elements matter to a campaign, with this ranger ability, they no longer matter. If they don't matter to a campaign, then it doesn't matter if the ranger has the ability. It basically shuts down an entire component of a pillar of play and completely negates a style of campaign (wilderness survival, which has been a key feature in several campaigns such as Tomb of Annihilation and Rime of the Frostmaiden). That whole feature exists just for DMs to find a way to circumvent it. It's an example of bad design.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
They've never been bad abilities, but the mistake of Favored Enemy was to give it the same name of an old combat-oriented ability, with which players inevitably compared it and wondered where had the damage bonus go. The REAL favored enemy ability in 5e is the set of Hunter special abilities against a type of creature.

Favored terrain is good but they could have been more generous with the amount of terrains. Maybe instead of 1/2/3 they could have gone with 2/4/6 or even 2/4/all. The usual problem is hypothetical, that as soon as you choose a favored something your DM will want something else in the adventures.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Here's why I don't like this one. If these elements matter to a campaign, with this ranger ability, they no longer matter. If they don't matter to a campaign, then it doesn't matter if the ranger has the ability. It basically shuts down an entire component of a pillar of play and completely negates a style of campaign (wilderness survival, which has been a key feature in several campaigns such as Tomb of Annihilation and Rime of the Frostmaiden). That whole feature exists just for DMs to find a way to circumvent it. It's an example of bad design.
Maybe. I can say TOA was a lot more fun after we had a Ranger. It was almost impossible to get anything done before that. The DM was running it like the campaign book said to I think.
 


Ranger is a lot more satisfying (and not over-powered) if you give them all of the alternate features in addition to the standard features.
That sounds like doing that with the Revised Ranger would be super fun.

But then again I've always preferred the Revised Ranger, but could never understand why people weren't for it as the "fix" to the PHB Ranger.

Shrugs
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Here's why I don't like this one. If these elements matter to a campaign, with this ranger ability, they no longer matter. If they don't matter to a campaign, then it doesn't matter if the ranger has the ability. It basically shuts down an entire component of a pillar of play and completely negates a style of campaign (wilderness survival, which has been a key feature in several campaigns such as Tomb of Annihilation and Rime of the Frostmaiden). That whole feature exists just for DMs to find a way to circumvent it. It's an example of bad design.
This,

They've never been bad abilities, but the mistake of Favored Enemy was to give it the same name of an old combat-oriented ability, with which players inevitably compared it and wondered where had the damage bonus go. The REAL favored enemy ability in 5e is the set of Hunter special abilities against a type of creature.
And this.

Favored enemy is fine, and the reason the Favored Foe damage boost is so middling is that it’s made to replace a feature that was never meant to boost the class’s damage, and doesn’t need to do so.
 


My issue with them has largely been the limited number. Favored enemy having no combat potential is also a problem IMO. I solved this by granting proficiency modifier to damage once/turn against favored enemy and increasing how often you get them. By the end, a 20th level ranger would have all the terrains and most of the non-humanoid foes.

A common complaint with them is that they are very DM dependent, since if you never see your foe or explore in your terrain, the abilities are completely worthless. These issue should be easily resolved with session 0, and if not, you're better off finding a new DM anyway.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
There is no consensus on the viability or non-viability of the Ranger. For every person who says it's a POS, another one says it is fine. For every person that says the Ranger makes things trivial, another one says it's necessary to get anything done.

As is always the case... it entirely comes down to how your DM runs their game, which pillars they focus on, the manner they build encounters and scenarios, and how the player plays the Ranger character. And the only way you'll discover how viable the Ranger is will be for someone to actually play one.
 

Retreater

Legend
Maybe. I can say TOA was a lot more fun after we had a Ranger. It was almost impossible to get anything done before that. The DM was running it like the campaign book said to I think.
I can totally understand that. When I was DMing ToA they were bogged down in the hexcrawl portion for months, and it was getting tedious. Eventually I handwaved it since they didn't have a ranger.
And even that action partially supports my statement. If a character's ability allows a "not fun" part of the game to be avoided, then that's not a good ability - the DM should strike that element from the game regardless.
Consider if there was a character class called the gravity controller. One of its main abilities is to negate encumbrance effects on the party. The players hate tracking detailed encumbrance. While that's an important part of some games, as a DM you shouldn't make someone take that class so you can not have encumbrance play a major role in the game. Just be rid of it.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Rangers dont need more damage. They're top tier as is in that regard.

They need a reason to stick with the class beyond the first few levels.

You want improvements to Favored enemy at 6th, 11th and 20th (a better favored foe).

I guess I'll see if that is the case as my campaign develops. So far, haven't seen ranger do more damage than anyone else on average - but the party is only 4th verging on 5th.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
Consider if there was a character class called the gravity controller. One of its main abilities is to negate encumbrance effects on the party. The players hate tracking detailed encumbrance. While that's an important part of some games, as a DM you shouldn't make someone take that class so you can not have encumbrance play a major role in the game. Just be rid of it.
That's the main reason small bags of holding are common magic items in my games. No one really wants to make encumbrance a thing, but making cheap magic items to handle it lets those players who care about it give a fist-bump to verisimilitude.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I have to wonder if people's views on a class like ranger (or other options/sub-classes people can't come to a consensus about) is because of differences in style of play (something DEF CON suggested above). I don't play with people who try to maximize efficiency of every move, action, option, or choice. Nor am I of the GMing philosophy that every encounter (heck, not even every full adventure) should necessarily give every character the opportunity to do what they are best at. Those situations obviously come up, but for me being middling at something and working towards strategic opportunities to try what you're best at or make the best of what you're only average at is where the fun and challenge of the game lies.

Like, I can't help but ask the question, how often should a favored enemy come up in the course of a campaign to be "fair?" Every few levels? Once per adventure? Once per adventuring day? Once per encounter? Should they automatically become a major antagonist of the campaign? I don't think there is a right answer to these questions and I honestly I don't want the game to tell me either. (For the record, my answer would be somewhere between the first and second options).
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I added a few clauses to both 1st level ranger's features:

Favored terrain:
  • start with 2. Can change 1 at level up.
  • While in the favored terrain, a ranger can also:
1) replace 1 spell known for another after a long rest.
2) replace 1 favored foe for another after a long rest.

- While in a favored terrain, the ranger is always considered to have a component pouch and all components that are not consumed upon casting for the purpose of spellcasting.

Favored foe:
Gain advantage on all Wis/Cha/Int skills against a favored foe.


As for the DM side:
I consider that the actual terrain can be both type if need be, like an underwater cave could be both Coastal and Underdark. A city like Dale, built in them mountains would be considered Mountain, no need to add an extra Urban terrain.
 


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