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WotBS Nature's guardian ranger archetype: typo or incredibly op?

Birdmetal

Villager
Sorry for another post but one of my players is looking at rolling the a "Nature's Guardian" Ranger from the WotBS Player's guide. and it mentions they can choose a familiar up to a challenge rating of 1. I feel like this has to be a mistake since the familiar she's chosen is a giant eagle, which has more HP and much better melee attacks than any of the actual player characters in the party and is also large enough to ride on, which would basically eliminate the entire mission to deliver the case to seaquen by just having the ranger deliver it by air mail.

I feel like this must be a typo and it should instead be CR 1/4, to match the beastmaster ranger archetype in the PHB. Just thought I'd point it out
 

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Tormyr

Adventurer
No, CR 1 is intended so that the companion does not die in a hit or two. The giant eagle is a bit of a glass cannon that will punch harder early on but will become a bit of a liability in the late game (even with the improvements of Nature's Guardian).

The party might not want to split with the ranger and eagle going off on their own though. Gate's Pass is surrounded by wyverns from the start of the campaign with a nasty red dragon in the area. AC 13 is super easy to hit, and the giant eagle and ranger would come crashing down somewhere on their own, bleeding out (also, Nature's Guardian does not provide an AC bonus). Torrent would point this out (honestly, there is not really a great place in Gate Pass for the giant eagle to have been parked aside from the griffon aviary). This means the heroes need to retrieve the giant eagle as part of getting out of town, or someone might have tried to ride it to fight back during the attack, and the giant eagle was killed off screen during the midnight battle.

The intention was for the PC to have a companion with a bit of survivability that they can bond with over the course of the campaign (and is not useless by the end) while giving concrete combat bonuses that some might feel the original ranger was missing. If you are feeling uncomfortable with that, you might want to talk with the player about generally keeping with the group so that they don't have large portions of story dedicated just to them as well as not being too far away from the party (so they don't get killed).

Another option would be for you to be open with the player about your concerns to see if you come up with a solution between the two of you.

In my campaign, a PC had Takasi, and even early on, the giant eagle had to be cautious about when to engage, and there were some places (like cities) that it just could not go.

I hope those thoughts help. Feel free to ask any other questions or make a counterpoint. :)
 

Birdmetal

Villager
Thanks for the response :)

I can see how CR1 would start to feel pretty whimpy at higher levels, even with the hp gains and stat boosts offered during level up. But since it can be resummoned when it dies I don't think my player is going to be too worried about it dying in a couple of hits. And I'm still pretty wary of having the most capable fighter in the party at the start of the campaign be someones pet . Plus I dont know if I want to deal with the complication of the party having free access to flying transportation from the very start, since thats going to completely change the nature of their journey or involve me having to give them a lot of railroady-feeling reasons why they still have to journey as a party on foot. I feel that's exactly the reason why druids can't wildshape into flying creatures until level 8.

My player agrees that she thought it seemed too good to be true and we've settled on either using a CR 1/4 companion for now, which I will let "evolve" into higher CR at later levels or she can take the primal companion from the ranger section of Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, which is a lot less lame than the normal beast master companion offered in the PHB but wont complicate things quite as much as giving her a giant eagle right off the bat.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Okay, now that it isn't 15 minutes before my game and I have had a chance to sleep, I have a few more thoughts.

The first is that riding a flying animal requires an exotic saddle. This costs 60 gold and would generally be beyond the means of a ranger starting out (barring using starting gold instead of gear and having a lucky roll). The griffon and wyvern saddles found after the battle would not fit the giant eagle.

The second is that (at least in my games) large beasts are not allowed inside cities. This would include Gate Pass, Bresk, and Seaquen (at least at first, before they save the city). So the giant eagle would be hanging out outside the city during the first adventure. It would have to stay away during the midnight battle, and the city defenses would keep it out during the next day. The heroes would then be able to hook up with the giant eagle outside of the city, and it could signal that there is danger ahead during the gauntlet or that enemies are approaching at the farmhouse. Honestly, an extra fighter there would be helpful, and it would mean that Crystin and Haddin could likely stay out of the fight (in my game, Haddin mind controlled Smiley for a bit).

The third thought is that it would be interesting for the giant eagle to be infected with the indomitable fire in the second adventure. If this happens after they talk to Indomitability and Kazyk, their suggestions of letting the creatures on fire die with the forest will seem less sinister. After the giant eagle becomes infected, the heroes would likely rethink any agreement with those entities.

Once the heroes reach Seaquen, the ranger can get an exotic saddle made, and having a flying mount will be useful but not game breaking. If the giant eagle is doing too much damage, you can always add a difficulty level to some (but probably not all) of the encounters where the eagle will be present.
 

DarkRevenant

Villager
Even if they do figure out some way to get the ranger up and onto the giant eagle with the goods (despite your best efforts), keep in mind that the Ragesians can call upon an Erinyes to intercept the flier. Against a solo tier 1 adventurer, she could take the package with contemptuous ease. Kind of a dick move, though.
 

Hell, you could maybe even have the PC come across a wounded giant eagle mourning its dead rider somewhere along the road outside Gate Pass. Other people tried to fly the Ring to Mount Doom, and the Fellbeasts got them.
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
Even if they do figure out some way to get the ranger up and onto the giant eagle with the goods (despite your best efforts), keep in mind that the Ragesians can call upon an Erinyes to intercept the flier. Against a solo tier 1 adventurer, she could take the package with contemptuous ease. Kind of a dick move, though.
That wouldn't have happened though, because the Ragesians were cheapskates and didn't give Guthwulf the funds he needed until it was too late. :D
 

One of my favorite bits I wrote in the sadly un-finished WotBS novel we tried to serialize was putting in a vignette with Guthwulf intermittently, to show him as a sort of Hans Landa charming villain.
 


Salicus

Villager
Since I just saw it now and may be a bit too late. I have a Natures Guardian Ranger in my game as well and yes having (in our case) a direwolf is pretty much OP in the beginning. BUT it falls off rather quickly because it doesnt get that much strength as the PCs do. My Ranger invested in some barding in Seaquen but still it falls rather quickly. I had to adjust a lot in the beginning of the campaign(book 1 and 2) but later it becomes easier because it is just not as strong.
Another thing that I think was hard to adjust to, was stuff like keen senses. Since direwolf get advantage on hearing and smelling things it got a little annoying for me at least to have someone like that in the party.
About the resummon thing though: You should not forget, that find familiar is a rather costly spell to use in the beginning. Since you need stuff worth at least 10gp. And maybe its hard to find all the ingredients. My PC Ranger was able to buy enough for one resummon in the beginning of the campaign and I gave him one for free. Still he had to go a big portion of the Fire Forest without his direwolf because he uses him very offensively all the time.

That said we also adjusted the size a bit so it doesnt take too much space everywhere. Most innkeepers still dont want the direwolf inside.
About the Giant Eagle, yes it could be annoying to have him fly. But if you talk to the Player, I am sure he will not abuse it.
My group had feather tokens after the fire forest and said, that they could just use them to get to seaquen quickly. I told them, that while they were correct, it might take some fun out of the experience of traveling through dassen and so they did not do it. In the end the players want to have fun and experience adventures. Don't know if your players would behave like that though.
 

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