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

Dragonsbane

Proud Grognard
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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niklinna

Snickers satisfies!
More thoughts on the "choose one" class features. I originally vented some frustration at these being siloed instead of in a general pool like the Adept's Focus Features, but it turns out my choices would be pretty straightforward at most levels.

Trained Accuracy, 2nd level
Interesting tradeoff between Accuracy Bonus's limited uses and potential to get a really devastating hit, vs. Accuracy Reseve's steady but smaller bonus if you don't move, assuming it doesn't accumulate (which would be crazy). If you only get to choose one (as implied by formatting), I'd definitely go for Accuracy Bonus so I can pull off that crazy-hard shot. If you get both, they can stack, and that's pretty hot.

Wilderness Mystique, 4th level
Kindred Spirit seems clearly more powerful to me than the other two. Answering Silence is thematic as heck, but you're already the Nature/Survival expert, so why wouldn't you just do the check instead of helping an ally? Group challenges, I guess. As for Fearsome Mysticism, intimidating non-spellcasters seems very situational. But a boost to detecting hidden/invisible creatures seems to be useful much more often, so Kindred Spirit is the one I would take.

Wilderness Lore, 12th level
I really feel I (or anyone) could just work out with a DM how to do traps without having a class feature like Big Game Traps, so I would probably take Waste Not just for the extra income. :p The main benefit of Big Game Traps I feel is truly distinctive—that you can do it in 10 minutes—I don't find compelling enough.

Guarded Post, 13th level
Defensive Marksman is going to come up often. Hunter's Blind is cool and thematic, but with its proviso that anybody, even another ranger with the feature, will ruin your blind, I'd give it a pass. I guess, since it counts as a haven, you could go on an extended scouting/stakeout mission away from your party, but again, how common will that be?

Tactical Advantage, 14th level
This is an even pairing, I think. Covered Shot will often be useful for combat, and Nature's Shadow for scouting. If I didn't have another way of gaining an expertise die on Stealth checks, I'd go for Covered Shot, otherwise it would depend on the type of ranger I'm making.

Survivalcraft, 16th level
Under the Stars reduces your own time for a long rest, but you're in a party, so I still have some trouble seeing the real benefit here. Then again, there are other ranger abilities that require some time, so this could help there. Woodlore seems pretty minor for a 16th level feature, but it could be an ability that changes a desperate situation into a survivable one. You can just make a fire in your hand without any fuel! And when the 10 minutes is up, you just make a new one, again without any fuel (granted, it does cost an action).

Flora and Fauna, 18th level
For me it's no contest. Beastly Attack offers 1 purely mechanical benefit (powerful as additional attacks are) to High Ground's 4 thematic ones (including a boost to base movement). I find the 5E pet action economy just obtrusively gamist, so I'm not that interested in features that dance around it.

I also don't find the A5E Beastmaster subclass that compelling (some of its features are notably weaker than the O5E's Beast Master), but I will point out that it does have two friendly beasts by the time it gets this feature. And, if you can accumulate a mob of friendly beasts through other means (those other means probably won't be via a 2-level multiclass dip), you could get a lot of extra attacks each round.

Nature's Scion, 20th level
A5E's non-magical ranger still lives in a magical world, and so the capstone feature is at the very least mystical. Elemental Mastery gets you a 1-hour elemental pet, and Summon Stampede, well, delivers on what the name promises for 1 minute (fans of Avatar, rejoice). If you want a servant to do more than just cause random damage and status effects for one encounter, Elemental Mastery is the choice for you. (The pet elemental also gets a couple additional actions—Engulf and Guard Life—which could be useful.) But on the face of it, in terms of sheer effect on the battlefield, Summon Stampede is downright insane. You need to have a large number of beasts nearby for it to be usable, of course, but even in a dungeon or town you'll be able to at least call on Swarming Pests every other round.
 
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lichmaster

Adventurer
More thoughts on the "choose one" class features. I originally vented some frustration at these being siloed instead of in a general pool like the Adept's Focus Features, but it turns out my choices would be pretty straightforward at most levels.

Trained Accuracy, 2nd level
Interesting tradeoff between Accuracy Bonus's limited uses and potential to get a really devastating hit, vs. Accuracy Reseve's steady but smaller bonus if you don't move, assuming it doesn't accumulate (which would be crazy). If you only get to choose one (as implied by formatting), I'd definitely go for Accuracy Bonus so I can pull off that crazy-hard shot. If you get both, they can stack, and that's pretty hot.
This is really one of the features of the ranger that I find off, by a lot.
The devastating hit is crazy OP. Heck with a 16 wis, a level 2 ranger can do 6d6+weapon damage+str/dex bonus, and that's without a crit? Are we serious?
And regarding the flat bonuses... well, they clash against bounded accuracy. No class has anything similar for attacks, and for good reason.
If the two features are cumulative, and then the ranger has also a +1 weapon, it could easily outmatch characters with several levels more than him....
 

niklinna

Snickers satisfies!
This is really one of the features of the ranger that I find off, by a lot.
The devastating hit is crazy OP. Heck with a 16 wis, a level 2 ranger can do 6d6+weapon damage+str/dex bonus, and that's without a crit? Are we serious?
But it's just once per long rest, so that makes it okay! (No, it's pretty crazy powerful.)
And regarding the flat bonuses... well, they clash against bounded accuracy. No class has anything similar for attacks, and for good reason.
If the two features are cumulative, and then the ranger has also a +1 weapon, it could easily outmatch characters with several levels more than him....
They do seem to be serious about all that, though, based on the response on the discord server...where I was promised a detailed response to my first post here, and it still hasn't come. Not that I really expected one.... sniff
 

niklinna

Snickers satisfies!
Oh and the subclasses.

Beastmaster, Hunter's Pet, 7th level
Hide, Dash, or Dodge as a bonus action for each pet. Well, I guess that will help in some situations. (Notably, the O5E Beast Master pet's attacks count as magical by this point.) I'm still looking for a pet that's effective at, you know, fighting, instead of running around and yipping at our enemies.

Warden, Skillful Execution, 7th level
A nice variety of options, but I can really see all of them being highly desirable for any kind of campaign featuring political intrigue. So you have to pick what your ranger's style is gonna be. I would rather have seen two of these features be options (tuned for level) to the mount features Saddled Up and Riding Out.

Wildborn, Nature's Wellspring, 7th level
Magical Intuition gives you something you can (presumably) cast with a spell slot. Pass. Magical Weapons gives you something you can get by using magical weapons. Granted, it'll be useful if you lose your magical weapons, or can't get them. Still, pass. Overcome Magic—something I probably can't get by other means? Done!

Wildborn, Naturally Attuned, 15th level
Magical Abundance—more magic items is good, assuming you can get them. Magic Resistance—advantage on any broad category of saving throws is also always good. I'm inclined to boosting my saving throws.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
But it's just once per long rest, so that makes it okay! (No, it's pretty crazy powerful.)
We'll see how this will be received when low level bosses or elites will be oneshotted :ROFLMAO:
They do seem to be serious about all that, though, based on the response on the discord server...where I was promised a detailed response to my first post here, and it still hasn't come. Not that I really expected one.... sniff
We'll see I guess. I'm very hopeful and optimistic, but I see a few things that don't feel right.
 

Masha

Villager
  • Beast Whisperer: A trend I've noticed in LU previews so far that I'm not liking, there are a lot of abilities that penalize certain build order preferences. In this example, if a 1st level ranger wanted the beast friend knack (which if they are planning to take beast master at 3rd seems reasonable to me), they effectively lose a knack compared to a ranger that waited until 3rd to get it from the ability. That seems unnecessarily restrictive, why not just allow a ranger that already had beast friend to pick another knack.
I'm late to the party but on my reading of the Ranger, under Explorer's Instinct (8th level) and Trackless Hunting (10th) in mentions replacing an existing knack. So the ability to replace knacks is at the very least heavily implied, if not elsewhere explicitly stated. My expectation at this point is that similar to spells you can swap one out when you gain a level in the class. I might even extrapolate that this might be a blanket thing for many martial classes' selectables, since they are supposed to add a similar variety to spells to these classes.
 

One thing I might mention for those concerned about the subclass choices, is that Hunter is free in the O5e SRD and perfectly compatible. Now I understand that won't work for everyone's needs (I'm heavily blending content from both, so it would work for me), but in case it is useful, there it is.
 

niklinna

Snickers satisfies!
One thing I might mention for those concerned about the subclass choices, is that Hunter is free in the O5e SRD and perfectly compatible. Now I understand that won't work for everyone's needs (I'm heavily blending content from both, so it would work for me), but in case it is useful, there it is.
Hunter is quite distinct from the A5E ranger subclasses, so it rounds your subclass choices out nicely, yeah.
 




niklinna

Snickers satisfies!
There is a whole book of magic items that might include the solution too. Also maybe a ribbon in some feats could be involved as an option.
Now you've got me picturing a ranger's panther snarling and flashing a set of big glowing golden grills on its fangs.

iu
 

Horwath

Hero
This is really one of the features of the ranger that I find off, by a lot.
The devastating hit is crazy OP. Heck with a 16 wis, a level 2 ranger can do 6d6+weapon damage+str/dex bonus, and that's without a crit? Are we serious?
And regarding the flat bonuses... well, they clash against bounded accuracy. No class has anything similar for attacks, and for good reason.
If the two features are cumulative, and then the ranger has also a +1 weapon, it could easily outmatch characters with several levels more than him....
Finally something to combine with Assassin subclass, haha.

It's once per day, but lets say you're an elf, longbow+2d6 sneak attack + 6d6 accuracy.
5th level; it's a crit for 2d8+16d6+6, 71 damage on average.
 

lichmaster

Adventurer
Finally something to combine with Assassin subclass, haha.

It's once per day, but lets say you're an elf, longbow+2d6 sneak attack + 6d6 accuracy.
5th level; it's a crit for 2d8+16d6+6, 71 damage on average.
AKA you can pretty much one shot every other character of the same level, or even a couple of levels above (barring some very unlikely deflect arrow attempts). And this is also without using any combat maneuver. If you add in doubleshot you can roll an additional d8 for the normal damage. It's not so crazy op at high levels, but is the potential damage at level 2 that I really find jarring
 

niklinna

Snickers satisfies!
Well I've gone and filed official bugs for most of what I listed here earlier. On my most recent readthrough of the ranger, I've come to appreciate Beastmaster a lot more. I still think the 7th level feature is a bit on the weak side. The beast's attacks should count as magical by then, and since a creature only has one bonus action per turn, why let them have only one of Dash, Dodge, or Hide. I could be wrong though—being able to do any of Dash, Dodge, or Hide and also attacking is pretty darn powerful.
 

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