Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #7: Ranger

Welcome to the 7th Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of game’s ranger class. In our initial survey, you asked us for a spell-less ranger -- so here is our playtest candidate for it!

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This is a playtest document. We’d love you to try out the rules presented here, and then answer the follow-up survey in a few days.

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This is NOT the final game. It’s OK if you don’t like elements of these rules; that’s the purpose of a playtest document. Be sure to participate in the follow-up survey in a few days. All data, positive or negative is useful.

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Faolyn

(she/her)
Also why do we keep ability scores when all we use is the modifier?

As you said, sacred cows. And because an ASI lets you put two points in one score or one point in two, which means that a 14 (+2) Dex requires an entire ASI while a 15 (+2) doesn't.

Edit: Although, as you say where everything is a Fighter or a Wizard, it just means you could pare down the classes into a few key abilities and use them to modify the Sidekick classes, if you wanted something lower key than typical D&D.

I actually started working on something like this, but lost a bit of steam. You get new "class" abilities at 5th, 11th, and 17th level (which is when cantrips go up in power). Here's an example for barbarian Warriors (Spoilered for size):

1st Level: Rage: You can rage once, then can't rage again until you have completed a Short or Long rest. At 6th level, you can rage twice between rests, at 12th level, you can rage three times between rests, and at 17th level, you can rage four times between rests.

While raging, you gain the following benefits if you aren't wearing heavy armor:

• You have advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws.

• You inflict +2 damage with melee weapon attacks. This increases to +3 damage at 5th level, +4 damage at 11th level, and +5 damage at 17th level.

• You have resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

Your rage lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven't attacked a hostile creature since your last turn or taken damage since then. You can also end your rage on your turn as a bonus action.

1st Level: Unarmored Defense: When you're not wearing armor, your ACs equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier. You can use a shield and still gain this benefit.

1st Level: Danger Sense: You have advantage on Dexterity saving throws against effects that you can see, such as traps and spells. To gain this benefit, you can't be blinded, deafened, or incapacitated.

5th Level: Primal Knowledge: You gain a new skill, taken from the Barbarian skill list.

5th Level Fast: Your speed increases by 10 feet. Additionally, as part of the bonus action you take to enter your rage, you can move up to half your speed.

11th Level: Brutal Critical: When you score a critical hit, you can roll the damage dice three times instead of twice. At 17th level, you roll the damage dice four times instead.

11th Level: Relentless: If you drop to 0 hit points while you're raging and don't die outright, you can drop to 1 hit point instead. Once you do so, you can't do so again until yyou complete a Short or Long Rest.

17th Level: Persistent Rage: Your rage is so fierce it ends early only if you fall unconscious or choose to end it.

Obviously, it needs some work. But if you wanted a bare bones D&D without spending money on an OSR game, it has at least some potential. I think.
 
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Stalker0

Legend
I'll do my detailed review as before, but one thing I'll highlight.

Familiar Terrain: Its as powerful as it is inconsequential (hehe hows that for an oxymoron? :)

The ability is very neat and quite distinctive. When your group is traveling, it will feel great to have a ranger. But at the same time, nothing here is going to win fights or solve adventures....so why limit it to specific terrain at all?

Right now you have 3 points of the rangers level up tied up in this mechanic, the base line, the area that gives you 2 terrains at once, and the one that makes it faster to switch between them. That all feels so incredibly needless.... and it practically begs the DM to not only have the group travel a lot, but to travel through lots of areas or the ability becomes worthless. Why bother.... just give Rangers the ability straight up in all terrain. No muss, no fuss, they are just masters of travel....period. Then you have some nice design space back to round them out with something else.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I'll do my detailed review as before, but one thing I'll highlight.

Familiar Terrain: Its as powerful as it is inconsequential (hehe hows that for an oxymoron? :)

The ability is very neat and quite distinctive. When your group is traveling, it will feel great to have a ranger. But at the same time, nothing here is going to win fights or solve adventures....so why limit it to specific terrain at all?

Right now you have 3 points of the rangers level up tied up in this mechanic, the base line, the area that gives you 2 terrains at once, and the one that makes it faster to switch between them. That all feels so incredibly needless.... and it practically begs the DM to not only have the group travel a lot, but to travel through lots of areas or the ability becomes worthless. Why bother.... just give Rangers the ability straight up in all terrain. No muss, no fuss, they are just masters of travel....period. Then you have some nice design space back to round them out with something else.
Your comments on favored terrain devouring so much of the class is part of why I suggested bumping sniper's target & trained accuracy earlier. I don't think it's a bad thing to have a small number of core pillars like those & a few or many lesser things that interact with them or make maybe useful ribbons, but those pillars need to be great when so much of the rest is largely niche if the campaign is structured to use them well.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Obviously, it needs some work. But if you wanted a bare bones D&D without spending money on an OSR game, it has at least some potential. I think.
Sidekick-only 5e, and turning some of the more interesting class features into feats, is something I'm strongly considering.
 

level2janitor

Villager
I’ve long said that about all classes. They’re all fighters or wizards with subclasses.

Rogue - sneaky fighter
Ranger - outdoors fighter
Barbarian - shouty fighter
Cleric - holy wizard
Sorcerer - spontaneous wizard
Bard - musical wizard
Paladin - fighter/cleric
Monk - unarmed fighter

But then it’s not D&D any more I guess. D&D has its sacred cows.

Also why do we keep ability scores when all we use is the modifier?
But those classes all play different. You couldn't make sneak attack, or divine smite, or rage, or stunning strike just a subclass feature. It's so weird to me that some people think there should be, like, three classes and everything else should just be a subclass.
 

level2janitor

Villager
Looking over the whole class, it feels like they took 5e's PHB Ranger, ripped out the spellcasting, and then tried to make up for the loss of spellcasting by buffing everything else the class has.

It absolutely baffles me that natural explorer/favored enemy are here, almost entirely unchanged from the despised PHB versions, with the names replaced with words that mean the same thing. The only difference here is that you can swap the favored enemy on a long rest, and swap the favored terrain after spending two weeks in new terrain. Why do you get a second favored enemy when you can already swap them out? Why do you get three favored terrains??

There's also the fact that both your stride-and-seek features take concentration. Why? What purpose does it possibly serve to make a core feature take concentration? Isn't that what the entire community got pissed at when WotC did it with Tasha's ranger? Does any other class in the game require concentration for a core feature?

Another common criticism of 5e's ranger is how many of its features just remove a challenge instead of making you better at it, like the goodberry spell just immediately feeding you for a day. Well, the grub hunter knack does exactly that now that the spell is gone. Great. Oh, and the ranger gets zero combat features at 1st-level - another problem with the 5e ranger that has been brought up all the time when people talk about it.

So many of these features feel exactly as much of a letdown as 5e's ranger has been for the last five goddamn years. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely plenty of good here; I like the beast friend and call of the wild knacks, I like the idea of ranger getting an attack roll bonus as a core feature (to differentiate it from other martials by being more accurate instead of just dealing more damage), I like that it has maneuvers. But good god, it just falls into all the same traps 5e's ranger did.

The people behind A5e are talented, and they're capable of really good design - which is why it's so disappointing to see them give us another shake of the bag full of the same naughty word. Scrap everything taken from 5e ranger, start from scratch, and come up with something that isn't bogged down by all of 5e ranger's baggage.
 

Waller

Hero
Looking over the whole class, it feels like they took 5e's PHB Ranger, ripped out the spellcasting, and then tried to make up for the loss of spellcasting by buffing everything else the class has.

It absolutely baffles me that natural explorer/favored enemy are here, almost entirely unchanged from the despised PHB versions, with the names replaced with words that mean the same thing. The only difference here is that you can swap the favored enemy on a long rest, and swap the favored terrain after spending two weeks in new terrain. Why do you get a second favored enemy when you can already swap them out? Why do you get three favored terrains??

There's also the fact that both your stride-and-seek features take concentration. Why? What purpose does it possibly serve to make a core feature take concentration? Isn't that what the entire community got pissed at when WotC did it with Tasha's ranger? Does any other class in the game require concentration for a core feature?

Another common criticism of 5e's ranger is how many of its features just remove a challenge instead of making you better at it, like the goodberry spell just immediately feeding you for a day. Well, the grub hunter knack does exactly that now that the spell is gone. Great. Oh, and the ranger gets zero combat features at 1st-level - another problem with the 5e ranger that has been brought up all the time when people talk about it.

So many of these features feel exactly as much of a letdown as 5e's ranger has been for the last five goddamn years. Don't get me wrong, there's definitely plenty of good here; I like the beast friend and call of the wild knacks, I like the idea of ranger getting an attack roll bonus as a core feature (to differentiate it from other martials by being more accurate instead of just dealing more damage), I like that it has maneuvers. But good god, it just falls into all the same traps 5e's ranger did.

The people behind A5e are talented, and they're capable of really good design - which is why it's so disappointing to see them give us another shake of the bag full of the same naughty word. Scrap everything taken from 5e ranger, start from scratch, and come up with something that isn't bogged down by all of 5e ranger's baggage.
But they're supposed to be adding depth to the existing game, not writing a brand new game. If they rewrite everything, then its not advanced 5E any more. I think the assumption is you have to like 5E but just want it to have a bit more depth.
 

Waller

Hero
But those classes all play different. You couldn't make sneak attack, or divine smite, or rage, or stunning strike just a subclass feature. It's so weird to me that some people think there should be, like, three classes and everything else should just be a subclass.
Yea, I was making a joke about people who say rangers are just fighters with green hoods.
 

level2janitor

Villager
But they're supposed to be adding depth to the existing game, not writing a brand new game. If they rewrite everything, then its not advanced 5E any more. I think the assumption is you have to like 5E but just want it to have a bit more depth.
I get that, but ranger is by far the most complained about thing in 5e, and for good reason. Plus, if they're just publishing the same thing but with more depth, why remove the spells? Doesn't that signify they're willing to go in a different direction with the class, and the game as a whole? I know a lot of people wanted a spell-less ranger, but I don't think the outcry for that was nearly as big as the people who wanted the ranger's massive glaring problems fixed...
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
But those classes all play different. You couldn't make sneak attack, or divine smite, or rage, or stunning strike just a subclass feature. It's so weird to me that some people think there should be, like, three classes and everything else should just be a subclass.
I don't think anyone is saying that modern D&D should only have three classes--but an OSR-style D&D could. Remember, there used to pretty much only be 3-4 classes.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
Looking over the whole class, it feels like they took 5e's PHB Ranger, ripped out the spellcasting, and then tried to make up for the loss of spellcasting by buffing everything else the class has.

Isn't that the whole problem with spell-less rangers as a project?

D&D uses spells to do a lot of the little things that rangers do. Healing, herbs and botany, dealing with animals and fey, working with wood, stone, sand, and ice, dealing with the elements. Especially scaling elements and the item versions are either weak or outright magic items.

Therefore the issue with a spell-less ranger is often the designer has to either replicate these spells, create a whole new subsystem, or refocus the spell-less ranger more to combat or roguery. Therefore spell-less rangers rarely get off the ground as they are either not really spell-less or they are fighters in green hoods.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
We have a v2 of the ranger going out shortly. That might not be the last one (of all classes, this and warlord both have the biggest playtests planned, as they're the biggest changes/additions).
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
OK, as someone who didn't play 4e, what is so different about the warlord that it deserves its own class, with 2+ archetypes of its own, instead of just being a Fighter archetype?

Edit: This is a serious question, not intended to be a diss on the warlord or 4e. But whenever I've asked someone, they've described the warlord in a way that made it sound not that different from the Battlemaster, except more support than action-oriented (and then gotten mad I've asked, because they think I'm saying it's bad). So I guess I'm asking, what's the appeal?
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
OK, as someone who didn't play 4e, what is so different about the warlord that it deserves its own class, with 2+ archetypes of its own, instead of just being a Fighter archetype?

Edit: This is a serious question, not intended to be a diss on the warlord or 4e. But whenever I've asked someone, they've described the warlord in a way that made it sound not that different from the Battlemaster, except more support than action-oriented (and then gotten mad I've asked, because they think I'm saying it's bad). So I guess I'm asking, what's the appeal?
Well any class could be an archetype. But a warlord is much more supporty and battlefield controlly. In 4E terms I think it might have been a controller like the wizard? Rather than a striker or defender. IIRC, which I might not.
 

Nikosandros

Golden Procrastinator
Well any class could be an archetype. But a warlord is much more supporty and battlefield controlly. In 4E terms I think it might have been a controller like the wizard? Rather than a striker or defender. IIRC, which I might not.
In 4e the warlord is a leader, like the cleric or the bard. They provide healing, support and buffing.
 


Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Please head here for the ranger v2:

 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Well any class could be an archetype. But a warlord is much more supporty and battlefield controlly. In 4E terms I think it might have been a controller like the wizard? Rather than a striker or defender. IIRC, which I might not.
Well, not really. A wizard isn't an archetype, unless your class is Spellcaster and wizard is just one type of Spellcaster. Rangers and Paladins could be Fighter archetypes, if you pared them down to their extreme basics, but they also have enough to them that they can be their own class.

I'm looking them up here and they kinda look like bards. Are they just nonmagical, nonmusical bards that can wear heavy armor?

And again, with me, words like Controller and Striker mean nothing to me. I know what they do in 4e, but to me, they only mean "unnecessary limitation designed to mimic video game terminology" and say nothing about what their actual abilities are.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Well, not really. A wizard isn't an archetype, unless your class is Spellcaster and wizard is just one type of Spellcaster. Rangers and Paladins could be Fighter archetypes, if you pared them down to their extreme basics, but they also have enough to them that they can be their own class.

I'm looking them up here and they kinda look like bards. Are they just nonmagical, nonmusical bards that can wear heavy armor?

And again, with me, words like Controller and Striker mean nothing to me. I know what they do in 4e, but to me, they only mean "unnecessary limitation designed to mimic video game terminology" and say nothing about what their actual abilities are.
I’m probably not the person to ask about this. My memory of 4E is limited. Haven’t played it in years.
 

CM

Adventurer
To sum up the warlord, it's a nonmagical fighter/bard who makes their allies more effective by granting additional attacks or movement, boosting their rolls, penalizing enemies, and restoring HP (or granting temp HP) via superior tactics and morale-boosting.
 

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