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

auburn2

Adventurer
The basic flaw in the Ranger's design is analogous to the flaw in the CR system. They came up with a numerical scoring system and a formula that gives the appearance of rigor, but is actually a joke.

In the case of the Ranger, IIRC they had a way of scoring combat vs ribbon abilities. So, in this scheme, having tons of Ribbons makes up for not having a lot of combat abilities. Except, the reality is a combat ability is not worth one, two, three, or thirty ribbon abilities. It's comparing apples and automatic weapons.

Now, fortunately, the Ranger is not actually bad at combat. It takes a little effort to massage a solid warrior out of the class, but it can absolutely be done. However you will still have a lot of junk on your sheet that is largely useless. It will always feel like it is nowhere close to the equal of the Paladin that you would expect a d10-half-caster to be. There are things you can do to fix this, and I've posted my house rules here, and junk like Favored Enemy ain't it.

Really, the only good thing about Favored Enemy is you don't really feel as obligated to take Hunter's Mark as one of your very few known spells.
i have played rangers, including the crap phb rangers before xanathars, and i have played paladins. IMO you have this backwards - Paladin is nowhere equal to Ranger. They are better in combat, way better before Xanathars came out, but Ranger is a better class and far more fun to play in my experience YMMV.
 

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ehren37

Adventurer
The ranger is just a lost cause IMO without a rewrite. As is, they're basically a bad druid that loses half their spells in exchange for an extra attack and 1 hp per level. That is terrible by any metric. Their supposed exploration abilities pale when compared to what a full caster could do. Read Find the Path and tell me that rangers measure up. It gets even more sad when you compare them to Paladins, which basically get more bonus spells prepared from their Oath than rangers know. Or the more martial Bards, who get expertise, 2 attacks, full casting, and can poach spells as they like.

Middling combat, middling exploration compared to casters (that get to change their superpowers on a daily basis), and no real social pillar perks.

You could give them the subclass features of both Beastmaster AND Slayer, let them know all their spells and they might be approaching where they should be. Their spells need a massive overhaul, as by the time you get them they are often pointless. Look out for Cordon of Arrows... that paltry damage is totally going to mean something at 7th level!
 

I don't really agree with that. It's tantamount to also saying a DM doesn't need to do any work to integrate the agendas of the PCs or customize anything for the class mix at all.
If the DM is doing any work to customize for his mix of players and their PCs, then engaging in a little work to help the ranger's abilities shine is not really extra. It's the same appropriate diligence he's engaging in for everything else.
I think the point was: should some classes be more work for the dm than others?

No it isn't - it's bad communication between the DM and the player. You'd have the same problem with someone bringing a paladin to a piracy campaign.
Should some classes require more communication (and planning) than others?

(For example: if someone's playing a ranger, I as a dm now need to know what kind of enemy types they will be facing, and at roughly what percentages. If no one's playing a ranger, I do not need to plan this at all. I can just use whatever seems like fun / makes sense at the time. Even paladins and clerics, with specific anti-undead stuff, are still plenty effective without those foes so I can just use as many as I want.)

I would say the difference between dm prep needed shouldn't vary noticeably by class.

FWIW, I would rather the 'favored' bonuses be both thematic to the target and applicable beyond the target. IE: giant hunter rangers do lots more damage (especially to large targets), construct hunters are better at dealing with high AC, etc.
 

What is the definition of a "ribbon" ability? I only recently saw this being used and it also was in regard to rangers.
An ability that is more about establishing 'feel' or theming than actual power. A non-ranger example would be Divine Sense. It makes paladins seem more holy (they can just feel the evil in the room) but doesn't really do much to win encounters, outside of specific scenarios.

Basically a fluff power.
 



The only way to know the Stone Giants aren't there to be fought and that there's only one Fomorian is to read the adventure ahead of time, something most DMs frown upon. It's just bad design to make the player have to correctly predict an adventure's direction when choosing a class feature, and then expect the DM to change the adventure if the player guesses wrong.

Why would you think someone was cheating if they didn’t pick Favored Ememy Giants for an Out of the Abyss campaign? If a player wanted to “optimize” the Ranger enemy choice in that campaign with no prior knowledge, the player can choose Fiends b/c Out of the Abyss. No need to invoke the Jerk Fallacy.
 

Why would you think someone was cheating if they didn’t pick Favored Ememy Giants for an Out of the Abyss campaign? If a player wanted to “optimize” the Ranger enemy choice in that campaign with no prior knowledge, the player can choose Fiends b/c Out of the Abyss. No need to invoke the Jerk Fallacy.

Don't put words in my mouth.

Fiends are actually a bad choice for Out of the Abyss. You run into them surprisingly infrequently...thus illustrating you really can't know what the best choice is without detailed knowledge of the campaign book. The best choice is probably drow; the next best choice is probably duergar or maybe monstrosities (might make the Wormwrithings bit easier). Fomorians and Stone Giants both dwell in the Underdark, but the player has no way of knowing "giants" is a useless choice.

So, in fact, "you can just guess from the title of the campaign!" doesn't save this feature at all.
 
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vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Am I the only Dm that helps their player pick a good choice of Favored Foe and Favored Terrain BEFORE the start of the campaign? I mean, published APs or Homebrew campaign, as a DM, I know which enemies are gonna show up somewhat frequently. I wont cackle and wring my hands if my friend picks an un-relevant Favored Foe! Its not like the feature is OP even if its always on.

Yes Favored Terrain make some exploration challenges irrelevant, but I'm of the opinion that the ''skipped'' challenges arent the most thrilling part of exploration.

Doing it this way also remove the need to modify my campaign to fit the player's features.
 

What is the definition of a "ribbon" ability? I only recently saw this being used and it also was in regard to rangers.
It's just an ability that has such a minor effect on the game that it isn't worth considering. It technically does something, but in practice it has no meaningful effect.

A significant number of abilities over level 10 are ribbons. Rogue Thieves Cant. Battle Master superiority dice size increases are a ribbon. Cleric destroy undead. Fighter indomitable. Barbarian brutal critical. Monk/druid timeless body. They're there, but if they weren't you would not notice.
 

Of course, it's worth nothing that the ability itself is crap. You rarely need to track anything, and there aren't really any rules for monster knowledge checks. So it amounts to you sometimes getting advantage on a check to know something the DM probably wasn't going to hide from you if you'd never been a Ranger, were it actually important.
 

Undrave

Hero
The ranger is just a lost cause IMO without a rewrite. As is, they're basically a bad druid that loses half their spells in exchange for an extra attack and 1 hp per level. That is terrible by any metric. Their supposed exploration abilities pale when compared to what a full caster could do. Read Find the Path and tell me that rangers measure up. It gets even more sad when you compare them to Paladins, which basically get more bonus spells prepared from their Oath than rangers know. Or the more martial Bards, who get expertise, 2 attacks, full casting, and can poach spells as they like.

Middling combat, middling exploration compared to casters (that get to change their superpowers on a daily basis), and no real social pillar perks.

You could give them the subclass features of both Beastmaster AND Slayer, let them know all their spells and they might be approaching where they should be. Their spells need a massive overhaul, as by the time you get them they are often pointless. Look out for Cordon of Arrows... that paltry damage is totally going to mean something at 7th level!

The Ranger is just an extreme example of the 'DM may I' design principle of Martial classes compared to caster. While the Ranger is partially a caster, it seems WAY more in tune with Fighter and Rogue than with other casters. Paladins on the other hand clearly feel more Castery and fit in way better with Cleric, Bards, Wizards and co. in terms of design philosophy.

The Ranger's Favored Foe and Natural Explorer? Doesn't mean anything if the DM doesn't cooperate. Using Stealth as a Rogue? Doesn't happen because the rules for hiding in 5e are basically the Lacroix of rules: an hint of an impression of a rule. Can't even be bothered to give you decent exemples in the PHB. The Fighter (or Barbarian) wants to do something in a non-combat situation that doesn't risk pissing off the people around him (like good ol' Intimidate, the only social skill these two guys should supposedly ever consider)? Only if the DM cooperate.

Good ol' "You don't need X feature if your ROLE PLAY instead of ROLL PLAY" defense from people who play classes that have nearly EIGHTY pages of discreet rule elements they can interact with and press to "do stuff" in all sorts of interesting way.

Casters engage with the rules, Martials engage with the DM. Heck, half the exemples in this thread of "Oh the Ranger in my game was really impactful" ammount to "The DM threw them a bone!". There's practically no player agency involved. Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer is ONE choice you make at character creation and then on some other level and the applicability all just depend on your DM. You never get to choose to use those abilities or not and get to deal with the consequences.

I think the point was: should some classes be more work for the dm than others?


Should some classes require more communication (and planning) than others?

(For example: if someone's playing a ranger, I as a dm now need to know what kind of enemy types they will be facing, and at roughly what percentages. If no one's playing a ranger, I do not need to plan this at all. I can just use whatever seems like fun / makes sense at the time. Even paladins and clerics, with specific anti-undead stuff, are still plenty effective without those foes so I can just use as many as I want.)

I would say the difference between dm prep needed shouldn't vary noticeably by class.

FWIW, I would rather the 'favored' bonuses be both thematic to the target and applicable beyond the target. IE: giant hunter rangers do lots more damage (especially to large targets), construct hunters are better at dealing with high AC, etc.

Am I the only Dm that helps their player pick a good choice of Favored Foe and Favored Terrain BEFORE the start of the campaign? I mean, published APs or Homebrew campaign, as a DM, I know which enemies are gonna show up somewhat frequently. I wont cackle and wring my hands if my friend picks an un-relevant Favored Foe! Its not like the feature is OP even if its always on.
Check the text I quoted above you: Why would this ONE class means you have to do this extra work? It's bad design.
 

Using Stealth as a Rogue? Doesn't happen because the rules for hiding in 5e are basically the Lacroix of rules: an hint of an impression of a rule. Can't even be bothered to give you decent exemples in the PHB.

The DM who never allows sneaking or hiding because the rules don't explicitly say every context he has to is the Bigfoot of DMs.

I know a couple posters here severely nerfed hiding, to the point of disallowing attacking with advantage from a hiding spot, but I think they're very much outliers.
 

Undrave

Hero
The DM who never allows sneaking or hiding because the rules don't explicitly say every context he has to is the Bigfoot of DMs.

I know a couple posters here severely nerfed hiding, to the point of disallowing attacking with advantage from a hiding spot, but I think they're very much outliers.
I don't mean it never happens, just that it's bascially at the whim of your DM and sometimes it can be difficult for you to judge if the DM will allow it or not before you comit to your game plan and it's not consistant if you end up at multiple tables.

I'm not placing any sort of judgement on wether this is a good or a bad spot to be, design wise, I'm just judging how certain classes have more of this than other. It seems unbalanced and somewhat unfair.
 

Don't put words in my mouth.
You literally said “The only way to know ... is to read the adventure ahead of time, something most DMs frown upon.” Sounded like cheating to me. Sorry for the misinterpretation.

Fiends are actually a bad choice for Out of the Abyss. You run into them surprisingly infrequently...thus illustrating you really can't know what the best choice is without detailed knowledge of the campaign book. The best choice is probably drow; the next best choice is probably duergar or maybe monstrosities (might make the Wormwrithings bit easier). Fomorians and Stone Giants both dwell in the Underdark, but the player has no way of knowing "giants" is a useless choice.

So, in fact, "you can just guess from the title of the campaign!" doesn't save this feature at all.

A point worth considering: no character is guaranteed to be maximally effective with all their abilities out of the gate. Characters’ abilities evolve through play and the Ranger’s Favored Enemy/Terrain are no exception. The Favored Enemy section even says: “As you gain levels, your choices should reflect the types of monsters you have encountered on your adventures.” Not every Ranger needs to have the most common enemy in a campaign as the Favored from the get go. It won’t render them useless if they choose something else. The DM’s only responsibility here is to ensure the spotlight is shared, not to bend the campaign to one or two niche character abilities.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Check the text I quoted above you: Why would this ONE class means you have to do this extra work? It's bad design.
I agree its not that great as written: that's why I have the small tweaks posted earlier in the thread.

Calling the fact that I help a player make an informed choice for one of its feature ''extra work'' is pushing it a little.

Its no more work than telling a Totem Barbarian that the Elk totem lvl 6 features is not a good choice because I usually handwave overland travel speed. Or that an Enchantment-based wizard is not a great idea in an undead campaign. Same thing, really.
 

Horwath

Hero
A point worth considering: no character is guaranteed to be maximally effective with all their abilities out of the gate. Characters’ abilities evolve through play and the Ranger’s Favored Enemy/Terrain are no exception. The Favored Enemy section even says: “As you gain levels, your choices should reflect the types of monsters you have encountered on your adventures.” Not every Ranger needs to have the most common enemy in a campaign as the Favored from the get go. It won’t render them useless if they choose something else. The DM’s only responsibility here is to ensure the spotlight is shared, not to bend the campaign to one or two niche character abilities.
really?

look at fighter's low level abilities;
second wind; works every time, on demand.
Action surge; works every time on demand.

favored enemy and terrain are something like: 9% of the time, works every time.
 

Shadowedeyes

Explorer
Yah, the problem with a first level Ranger is that the only two abilities they get then are situational, which I don't think any other class has. The other half caster, the Paladin gets one at first level, but also gets some useful healing as an ability. Most everyone else gets generally all around useful abilities at 1st. While the Ranger gets more generally useful abilities as they level up, it's got a worse case scenario at 1st where they effectively could have no abilities during the first adventure.
 

really?

look at fighter's low level abilities;
second wind; works every time, on demand.
Action surge; works every time on demand.

favored enemy and terrain are something like: 9% of the time, works every time.

Except the Fighter gets to use those features exactly once between rests so... not every time on demand.
 

Yah, the problem with a first level Ranger is that the only two abilities they get then are situational, which I don't think any other class has. The other half caster, the Paladin gets one at first level, but also gets some useful healing as an ability. Most everyone else gets generally all around useful abilities at 1st. While the Ranger gets more generally useful abilities as they level up, it's got a worse case scenario at 1st where they effectively could have no abilities during the first adventure.
This is a reasonable synopsis.

The severity of the perceived “problem” may vary from player to player. Many simply don’t care and are patient with their Ranger character ability development. The Optional features from Tasha’s do attempt a solution. Although all 3 Ranger PCs in our current West Marches campaign chose not to use the Tasha’s options, FWIW.

Worth noting also that the problem becomes less pronounced in campaigns that start at higher levels than 1.
 

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