Blog (A5E) Level Up Class Preview: Ranger

The Kickstarter is halfway through! Last week we shared the adept with you. Today, it’s the most frequently requested class of them all — the ranger!

With the ranger, our initial surveys showed a lot of interest in a spell-less class. While the Level Up ranger can do fantastic things in the wilderness — think of Aragorn leading Legolas and Gimli as they chased the orcs in The Two Towers — those things are a product of skill, experience, and knowledge. Their abilities may even sometimes look like magic to the uninitiated, but they are not. The Level Up ranger is the undisputed master of the exploration pillar, with exploration knacks and other features which interact with the journey rules and other aspects of the game.

But we know some people like the spellcasting ranger, and so we have included an archetype (subclass) for that, as well as a rule which enables you to use existing spell-casting ranger subclasses with our new version of the class.


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey





Faolyn

(she/her)
Wow, this looks great. This is pretty much what I want a ranger to be like. But, of course, things to say:

Gnolls are still humanoids? I hope they got de-demon-background'ed in the MM, then. I felt they were still kinda too demony in the monster playtest. (My actual hope is that "gnolls" is just a mistake brought over from o5e and you fix it to read, I dunno, elves or something.)

Are "game animals" ever really defined anywhere? Does it count if the Narrator says the town of Stoneburg declares that gorgons are game animals in their neck of the world? Or does this ability only work with beasts? If it's the latter, I think you need to say that. If it's up to the Narrator, then hey, that's pretty awesome.

Flash of Steel? Free maneuver, no exertion cost? Awesome! I wonder if any of the other martial classes have something similar.

Can another ranger of sufficient use your hunter's blind without inadvertently ruining it?

For Under the Stars, do you have to spend the remainder of the time in light activity, or can you just get up and go? Is this the "be the annoying morning person who gets up at the crack of dawn and jogs a few miles before breakfast" trait?

Personally, I'd alter Beast Friend so that you can get a CR 1/4 beast at 11th level, or CR 1/2 if you're a Beastmaster (and maybe have a note that Beastmasters can get CR 1 beasts at, say, 17th level). Nevertheless, I love that Beastmasters can give their beasts temp hp and bonuses to attack and damage. I don't think that there should be any issues if you used the Beast of the Air/Sea/Land stats (they have no CR) instead of a regular-issue beast, but what does everyone else think?

I think the Wildborn does a great job of having spellcasting rangers, for those people who really prefer more magical rangers.

All, in all, this is a great class!

Edit: A nitpick: There seems to be an extra space above Waste Not.
 

WinnableBadger

Explorer
I really hope the ranger is just a more damaging fighter. I understand that the fighter may have more options in terms of the manuvers and stuff, but can it beat better hunters mark and extra +1s and stuff. As well as more d6s from the Accuracy Bonus. Its just crazy! Not to mention the saving throw bonuses from subclasses.
 

Kinematics

Adventurer
Really nice. It uses a lot of ideas that have been suggested or used in other ranger re-write attempts, with a little extra polish. Almost seems like too much stuff, but I realize some of that is multiple choice options, so it's not actually that large for any given ranger.

Only thing that seemed off to me was a couple of the options provided in High Ground: the +5 move speed, and making an area you pass through be difficult terrain, really don't feel like level 19 abilities. I would have expected them to show up at much lower levels.
 

King Brad

Explorer
Firstly, I'm loving it overall! I would definitely play one of these, especially the Warden.

...but is there a reason Beastly Attack (18th) is so much weaker than High Ground? It just seems pretty one sided. High ground has so much, and Beastly Att. just gets an extra non-magical attack from a friendly beast... that's not going to amount to much.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
This makes me very very happy, I do like Familiar terrain, the exploration knacks, non-spell Hunters mark and the Beastmasters best friends.
I’m seeing hints of doing a viable Tarzan, which is always my standard for assessing Ranger classes :)
 


Stalker0

Legend
Quick Nitpick: Trained Accuracy doesn't technically say "choose one of these", but format wise it looks like all of the the others that do say "pick one".
 


niklinna

Legend
Finally home and just finished reading it! I love this take on the ranger. It has everything and more I expect of a ranger, so much so that there are difficult choices to make for several features (see below). And to top that off, rangers eventually get to choose knacks from three other classes as well! Talk about a surfeit of options.

Two of the three "core" archetypes are great, very distinct in feel and clearly competent in their area of specialization. The Wildborn is the first spellcasting ranger I would want to play, the non-spellcasting features are just that cool. The Beastmaster doesn't seem to shine as brightly as the other two, and I've got some thoughts about that in the list below. I doubt I would want to play this Beastmaster, which is a disappointment.

Specific comments, including small corrections (I used to be a technical writer so I can't help but point them out):
  • p220: "Await" doesn't take a preposition, so the phrase should be "awaits his queen's presence". I might even suggest "awaits his queen", but that's moving past correction to style comments. (Not that I don't have more. 😉)
  • p221: "The ability to make these judgment calls quickly makes rangers valuable adventurers," (verb agreement).
  • p221: "... or sources of food where there seem to be none" (verb agreement).
  • p224, Trained Accuracy: Do you get both Accuracy Bonus and Accuracy Reserve? So many subsequent features are "choose one", and I wonder now if this was supposed to be as well.
  • p224, Accuracy Bonus: Interesting that this uses reaction rather than bonus action!
  • p224, Trained Accuracy, Accuracy Bonus: If you use this to do extra damage, when do you declare it? Before your attack roll, before determining whether the attack hits, before rolling regular damage, or after rolling regular damage?
  • p224, Accuracy Reserve: Wording is problematic. I can see some people interpreting this as an accumulating bonus if you stay still over multiple turns. Also, "that turn" refers to the last turn, not the current turn, but it's already over. I might phrase it as, "you gain a +1 bonus to attack weapon rolls for your current turn".
  • p224, Wilderness Mystique: The first of several multiple-option features where you only get to choose one. Kindred Spirit is my favorite, but I love all three options, and might want to have two of them (eventually). It'd be nice if, when a higher-level feature comes up, I could choose another option from a lower-level feature. But, that's a fairly big change.
  • p225, Game Hunting: This feature doesn't grab my interest, but every class has its marginal features.
  • p225, Explorer's Instinct: Now this is a hot feature! Really really like it. All the level 8–10 features very in line with what I want in a ranger.
  • p225, Wilderness Lore: Another "choose one" feature where I might rather be able to get both, eventually. Pendulum trap should be able to knock prone as well as dealing damage.
  • p225, Waste Not: "If sold to a collector, naturalist, or other druid...." Rangers aren't druids, no need to say "other".
  • p226: Argh, more "choose one" features! I want to be able to pick from the whole set of features I'm eligible for at my level. Why aren't these all just exploration knacks with level requirements? (Edit: More like the separate category Adepts have with their Focus Features.)
  • p226, Hunter's Blind: Anyone who also has this feature should be able to make use of the blind without harming it.
  • p226, Under the Stars: I guess this is useful if someone interrupts the party's long rest? But in general the others have to do the full long rest anyhow. Something more useful would be if you refresh on a short rest a feature that normally requires a long rest, and/or grant that benefit to a party member.
  • p227, Beastly Attack vs. High Ground: Another "choose one" feature, and wow, there's just no comparison here. High Ground gives you so much more.
  • 227, Nature's Scion: I assume you get the Master Tracker exploration knack as part of the feature, rather than gaining at-will use of it if you already have it? If so, and you had previously taken it, can you retrain it out for a new knack?
  • p227, Nature's Scion, Elemental Mastery/Summon Stampede: Now these are some capstones! Love them both, and for once I can accept that you only pick one or the other.
  • p227, Summon Stampede: Is "initiative count" a new term in A5E?
  • p229, Build Shelter: The time gating is silly. It already takes 8 hours to build, it shouldn't be something you forget how to do for a week.
  • p229, Ear to the Ground: I'm not sure what this would be useful for. I guess you could determine how many creatures are inside/outside a tent, or past a door?
  • p230, Longwalker: This is the kind of ranger ability I love, helping others in the team rough it, rather than just being able to rough it on your own.
  • p230, Poisons and Antidotes: Does this require proficiency in a poisoner's kit?
  • p230, Survivalist: How does the Befriend Animal activity compare to the Beast Friend knack?
  • p229, Beast Friend vs. p231, Beast Whisperer: Typography for CRs (1/8 and ¼) are done differently, as I've done here.
  • p231, Beastmaster: I might expect the Beastmaster to automatically get Calls of the Wild (or better) too, at the very least for their own Beast Friends. A Beastmaster should be able to ask their beast friend to go scouting or patrolling or hunting for dinner, or to deliver an object/message.
  • p231, Beastmaster: When you use your bonus action to order your beast friend to attack, does it do so immediately, or when its turn next comes up? (I far prefer how the new Tasha's Primal Companion acts during the ranger's turn.)
  • p231, Hunter's Pet: This feature seems pretty weak. Maybe I am missing something. I might have expected the beast friend becoming able to attack on its own without the ranger needing to spend a bonus action.
  • p231, Beastmaster: It looks like the pet's attacks never gain the ability to count as magical? How much of a problem is that?
  • p231, Friend of a Friend: Very cool to have a potential mount + a regular friend, but doesn't compare well to Warden's Saddled Up.
  • p231, Loyalty's Reward: Not my bag for a capstone archetype feature, but I don't deny it could be useful.
  • p231, Saddled Up: Wow, Beastmaster's friends stay dumb, but the Warden gets an intelligent mount that understands language! Now I really think the Beastmaster's friends should at least get Calls of the Wild.
  • p232, Spells Known: Rangers should prepare spells like (O5E) druids do, unless you've changed druids to have spells known.
I could have gushed about more features I think are really cool, but this post is already really long. Great job!
 
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Staffan

Legend
It looks like a really cool mostly-spell-less ranger. The only nitpick is the Big Game Traps ability, which seems a bit mundane for a level 12 ability. I mean, not to cross the streams or anything, but I don't think the Ewoks had a significant portion of level 12 rangers among them.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
Another very interesting preview! Overall I really like it, but I have several questions and observations:

  • Trained accuracy: I like the idea, but a Wis 16 Ranger at level 2 could deal 6d6 + weapon damage by spending all the 3 usages he gets and hunter's target. That's way too much for a level 2 character. This feature should be level gated (i.e. you can spend more usages only at higher levels). In addition, this could also be used with accuracy reserve, so by staying still and attacking a marked enemy the ranger would get +2 to the attack.
  • Game hunting: very cool, but why can the bonus attack with the net be performed only if in the other hand the ranger has a double weapon? Why not allowing to do it with any 1 handed weapon?
  • Explorer's instincts: two reactions per round is cool. But it clashes with all the arguments made against Action Surge regarding breaking the action economy. It's less powerful than Action Surge, but still...
  • Flash of steel: very cool, but another big warning. I sincerely hope also the fighter (and maybe the berserker and herald) has a way to do something similar with other maneuvers, or we're back to an underwhelming fighter with little staying power.
  • High ground + Covered shot: do they stack? I mean, with covered shot you can turn half cover into an effective 3/4 cover. Is this enough to then trigger high ground and turn the 3/4 cover into full cover?
  • Extreme exploration: immunity to poison means to the poisoned status, damage, or both?
  • Nature's scion: Using master tracker at will is wasted if the ranger doesn't know it. If a player wants to get to level 20 as a ranger, the Master Tracker Knack is therefore almost mandatory. Better to give it automatically as a class feature at level 9, or as part of Nature's scion.
  • Summon Stampede: very cool! But Enraged fauna would need a couple of clarifications: you summon up to 3 huge CR creatures. Then it says choose any number of creatures you see: is there any range limitation, or could the ranger attack an entire horde by standing on a mountaintop? Are the 6d8 damage per creature that attacks or not?

Exploration Knacks
In general, these are all very flavorful! One question though, is: these rules do not specify any kind of environment? Does this mean that the ranger would be able to use foraging skills even when in Hell, or in the Astral Plane? Some notes about how to handle this for both the player and Narrator would be useful
  • Expert forager: super nice. At level 1, with 4 minutes, an entire party of 4 gains 2 hp and 1 supply once per short rest. At higher levels though it's barely useful (5 hp per pc per short rest).
  • Healing Salves: At level 1, with an hour, a Wis 16 ranger can heal up to 4d4 hp of damage once per day. That's almost more than what an o5e Cleric can do by spending spell slots! At low level is very high, but at higher level it becomes only marginally useful

Archetypes
Beastmaster: I like the idea, but feels subpar wrt the other two.
  • Beast whisperer: basically a poor meat shield. At level 20, a tiny cr 1/4 critter gets 120 temp hp and +6 AC. But it's still a CR 1/4 critter, doing paltry damage except for the +6 proficiency.
  • Loyalty's reward: seems a bit underwhelming for a level 15 feature.

Warden: nice, wild knight idea. I definitely see an elven patrol working this way.
- Riding out: same observation as Fash of steel. Unlimited usages of a maneuver means that it will be spammed non stop and become like Eldritch blast in o5e. This is more situational than Flash steel, though

Wildborn: basically the original o5e ranger with some additional magical features. Nice. What's really unclear is how does the spellcasting feature work with the text blob at page 224 regarding spellcasting. The blob mentions free 1/day use of each 1st level spell, then free 2 usages a day at level 9. Then at 17th level it talks about a second usage of level 2 spells, but no mention is done for the first usage of level 2 spells (presumably around level 13?). This all requires quite some editing and/or clarifications
 
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Staffan

Legend
  • Healing Salves: At level 1, with an hour, a Wis 16 ranger can heal up to 4d4 hp of damage once per day. That's almost more than what an o5e Cleric can do by spending spell slots! At low level is very high, but at higher level it becomes only marginally useful
Huh? An O5e cleric that goes all-in on healing, even if they don't have the Life domain, can heal 3x (1d8+Wisdom modifier), so in most cases 3d8+9. That's significantly more than 4d4.

But yeah, the ability really doesn't scale well. 1d4 healing for an action at a level as low as 3 is pretty weak.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
Huh? An O5e cleric that goes all-in on healing, even if they don't have the Life domain, can heal 3x (1d8+Wisdom modifier), so in most cases 3d8+9. That's significantly more than 4d4.
Sure, but the cleric burns out all his resources to do so, the ranger only those related to this minor feature.
The ranger can distribute those salves to heal minor injuries to 4 people, the cleric can only heal 3.
And a cleric 1\ranger 1 would thus heal much more than a cleric 2, since he has only 1 spell slot more than a cleric 1.

It's a nice feature, the scaling is just off IMO
But yeah, the ability really doesn't scale well. 1d4 healing for an action at a level as low as 3 is pretty weak.
Yep. But the fact that it's an action is quite irrelevant for me, as I think this is mostly meant to be a post fight bandage.
The scaling is problematic.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
I also just realized that at level 1 a ranger with Wis 16 and Healing Salves can heal more than a 1st level Herald with lay on hands.
Healing for the ranger should be a marginal utility feature, while should be much more prominent for a herald, as the scaling of the features would suggest. But this is not true at the first 2-3 levels (unless of course the herald also burns spells slots for healing)
 

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