Unearthed Arcana Question about Ranger Unearthed Arcana: Primeval Awareness

Vithor Carvalho

First Post
Hello again guys,

I have some problems with my Ranger when he use this ability:


Primeval Awareness

Beginning at 3rd level, your mastery of ranger lore allows you to establish a powerful link to beasts and to the land around you.

You have an innate ability to communicate with beasts, and they recognize you as a kindred spirit. Through sounds and gestures, you can communicate simple ideas to a beast as an action, and can read its basic mood and intent. You learn its emotional state, whether it is affected by magic of any sort, its short-term needs (such as food or safety), and actions you can take (if any) to persuade it to not attack.

You cannot use this ability against a creature that you have attacked within the past 10 minutes.

Additionally, you can attune your senses to determine if any of your favored enemies lurk nearby. By spending 1 uninterrupted minute in concentration (as if you were concentrating on a spell), you can sense whether any of your favored enemies are present within 5 miles of you. This feature reveals which of your favored enemies are present, their numbers, and the creatures’ general direction and distance (in miles) from you.

If there are multiple groups of your favored enemies within range, you learn this information for each group.




How can I deal with this ability?


The Ranger chose Humanoid as an enemy, so if he uses it in a city, will he be able to find specifically the group he's looking for? Or how many humanoids are there he can have problems with that?


For example, we are in the sewer, under a city, he is not sure what we are looking for and uses the skill. What are the consequences?


Would he find the enemies in the Sewer? Does the city's population mess the ability?




Another small point. If he's looking for humanoids, and there are "Wererats" (Rat Men) in the Sewer, can he find the Rat Men in animal form? Or you might know where a Druid in Animal Form is using this ability (assuming the favorite enemy is Humanoid)

TY :)
 

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KahlessNestor

Adventurer
I would rule the usefulness of the ability based on population density in the area. At street level it would probably be useless. He would be overwhelmed. In the sewer, where there isn't likely to be a huge concentration of humanoids, it might be possible. I would say he couldn't sense wererats or druids in animal form though.

Sent from my SM-G900P using EN World mobile app
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
He can't identify specific groups at all. Just that there is a group, the size, and general direction/distance.

Since a city is a group, I'd tell him "he's in the middle of a group of about 5,000" (or whatever the population is).

If he's out in the wilderness he might get "there's a group of 20 3 miles to the NNE and a group of 8 to the south". The first could be a small village, a bandit camp or even a caravan on the road. The other group might be an extended family in their farmhouse, or might be a raiding party of goblins. The power doesn't distinguish.
 

jaelis

Oh this is where the title goes?
The Ranger chose Humanoid as an enemy, so if he uses it in a city, will he be able to find specifically the group he's looking for? Or how many humanoids are there he can have problems with that?
It's up to you as DM to interpret "group" but I would take it to mean different groups of creatures in distinctly different locations. I'd base that on the mile scale. So if there were two villages within 5 miles of you, you would be aware of that. If you're in the middle of a city, then that is all you know.

For example, we are in the sewer, under a city, he is not sure what we are looking for and uses the skill. What are the consequences?

Would he find the enemies in the Sewer? Does the city's population mess the ability?
I would say that unless the sewers are a mile underground, the ability would be pretty useless.

Another small point. If he's looking for humanoids, and there are "Wererats" (Rat Men) in the Sewer, can he find the Rat Men in animal form? Or you might know where a Druid in Animal Form is using this ability (assuming the favorite enemy is Humanoid)
The rules aren't very clear on that, but I would say that while the wererats are in rat form, they count as beasts. In the hybrid form I would probably count them as humanoid. For the druid question, the devs have said that when in animal form, you are a beast for all purposes.
 

Cyber-Dave

Explorer
So, he can sense any creature that has the "humanoid" type. If a creature is shapechanged into a different type of creature, he can or cannot sense them depending on the wording of the shapechange powers. Some powers actually turn you into the creature, and as a result you now have the new shapes type. Other powers don't, and as such you would still have your natural type as far as the primordial awareness power is concerned. In the case of wererats, they always have the humanoid type, and so you can always sense them. If places of huge population densities, you should feel free to say, "you feel many humanoids all around to. Too many to count!" Also, keep in mind, lots of people feel that the current version of the ability is a little overpowered or unwieldy for a DM to use. My DM uses it as written most of the time. Sometimes, however, if I am looking for specific information he will make me roll a survival check or spellcasting check (like an spellcasting attack roll).
 


Jacob Johnson

First Post
I spoke to my brother who GM's and has allowed this ability and it seems entirely problematic to us both. There are no limitations on usage for this ability which allows a ranger to consistently abuse this information gathering technique. Walls don't block it, even if the enemy is in the ethereal plane, it doesn't block it. Often times, a DM isn't prepared to deal with a group of intrepid explorers who decide to go off track and raid a nearby orc settlement for some additional XP. I feel this ability needs some refinement as allowing an entire block of humanoids to be tracked so easily is just broken for DM's. Oh.. there's kobolds over there, lets kill them. Lizard people in the swamp, let's lay an ambush for some quick XP, it will boost us over the next level. I think it should have a limitation in the number of uses per day, perhaps tied to the Ranger's wisdom modifier. Thoughts?
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I spoke to my brother who GM's and has allowed this ability and it seems entirely problematic to us both. There are no limitations on usage for this ability which allows a ranger to consistently abuse this information gathering technique. Walls don't block it, even if the enemy is in the ethereal plane, it doesn't block it. Often times, a DM isn't prepared to deal with a group of intrepid explorers who decide to go off track and raid a nearby orc settlement for some additional XP. I feel this ability needs some refinement as allowing an entire block of humanoids to be tracked so easily is just broken for DM's. Oh.. there's kobolds over there, lets kill them. Lizard people in the swamp, let's lay an ambush for some quick XP, it will boost us over the next level. I think it should have a limitation in the number of uses per day, perhaps tied to the Ranger's wisdom modifier. Thoughts?

If there is a "track" such that the DM is at a loss when the players go off of it, then that's not so much a problem with this class feature as it is the expectations everyone has for the game. The DM is running it one way (a game with a plot or storyline or a limited amount of prepared content) and the players are playing it another (as a sandbox or otherwise open-world type game). Limiting the number of times per day this class feature can be used probably won't have any effect on the problem. It likely won't just be this class feature that reveals this mismatch of expectations either.

If there's a plot or storyline, the DM needs to let the players know that in my view so they can buy-in and do their best to stay on it. The DM might even only give XP for achieving milestones relevant to that plot - wandering off to grind out some kobolds or lizardfolk gets them nothing but some laughs. When the DM and players are on the same page, the players will tend in my experience to use the feature only when it's beneficial to the party and to staying within the parameters of the game everyone has agreed upon.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
He can't identify specific groups at all. Just that there is a group, the size, and general direction/distance.

Since a city is a group, I'd tell him "he's in the middle of a group of about 5,000" (or whatever the population is).

If he's out in the wilderness he might get "there's a group of 20 3 miles to the NNE and a group of 8 to the south". The first could be a small village, a bandit camp or even a caravan on the road. The other group might be an extended family in their farmhouse, or might be a raiding party of goblins. The power doesn't distinguish.

This. It's not like the X-Men Movies where Professer X can use it to see the person and know how tall they are and what close they are carrying or anything like that.

If you do like Blue above, and just have the ability do exactly what it says it works just fine.

A Ranger knowing the exact population of Waterdeep shouldn't break any DM's game unless the ultimate goal of the party is to create a census.
 

Jacob Johnson

First Post
If there is a "track" such that the DM is at a loss when the players go off of it, then that's not so much a problem with this class feature as it is the expectations everyone has for the game. The DM is running it one way (a game with a plot or storyline or a limited amount of prepared content) and the players are playing it another (as a sandbox or otherwise open-world type game). Limiting the number of times per day this class feature can be used probably won't have any effect on the problem. It likely won't just be this class feature that reveals this mismatch of expectations either.

If there's a plot or storyline, the DM needs to let the players know that in my view so they can buy-in and do their best to stay on it. The DM might even only give XP for achieving milestones relevant to that plot - wandering off to grind out some kobolds or lizardfolk gets them nothing but some laughs. When the DM and players are on the same page, the players will tend in my experience to use the feature only when it's beneficial to the party and to staying within the parameters of the game everyone has agreed upon.

Isereth, this was merely meant as a single illustration of how this ability can be abused. There are many other ways besides going off track. While the Ranger should be the ultimate tracker, the ability to pinpoint such large groups of enemies with such precision is potentially game breaking. Perhaps the DM has encounters that require ambush or is carefully set up to force the players to think on their toes, before reinforcements surprise them, o or any number of encounters where knowing numbers, locations, and direction could lead to player abuse to the detriment of the DM. I'm not asking for it to be removed or a functional change but instead require the player to make a conscious decision about its use by limiting it in some way. Perhaps require a short or long rest before it can be used again. Perhaps it can be used only a number of times equal to the Rangers wisdom modifier before requiring a long rest. Something so that it can't be a virtual 'always' on button.
 

This single, stupid ability to the whole reason I haven't yet switched to the UA ranger. A sorcerer can't detect magic within 60 feet more than a few times a day, but a ranger can detect all creatures of a certain type within 5 miles 1440 times per day. The realization boggles my poor little brain.
 

Favored Enemy requires you to pick a type of humanoid. So you pick orcs. Great, you are the great orc hunter. You can detect them, their numbers and location. You lead your party there and lay an ambush just waiting for the 6 orcs you were sending to walk in.

Oops, those orcs are riding worgs and also have 4 ogres with them, neither of which you noted with your ability. Oh and one of the orcs is an Orc Paladin of Gruumsh that is leading the group.

Have fun.

My point being the ability is useful but it is narrow focus. It grants you intel, but not everything you need to know.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Isereth, this was merely meant as a single illustration of how this ability can be abused.

The example you provided doesn't show how a player can "abuse" it though - it shows the DM and players are not on the same page with the kind of game that is being played. What may look like abuse is really just the sign of a deeper issue, one that limiting the class feature does little if anything to address.

There are many other ways besides going off track. While the Ranger should be the ultimate tracker, the ability to pinpoint such large groups of enemies with such precision is potentially game breaking. Perhaps the DM has encounters that require ambush or is carefully set up to force the players to think on their toes, before reinforcements surprise them, o or any number of encounters where knowing numbers, locations, and direction could lead to player abuse to the detriment of the DM.

Again, that's not abuse. That's a DM either (1) not taking the ranger's abilities into consideration during the design of the challenge and/or (2) trying to force a particular outcome on the players. I think a better choice is to design encounters that take the ranger's abilities into account or to be happy when the players foil the (favored) enemy's ambush or whatever because that's what rangers do.

I'm not asking for it to be removed or a functional change but instead require the player to make a conscious decision about its use by limiting it in some way. Perhaps require a short or long rest before it can be used again. Perhaps it can be used only a number of times equal to the Rangers wisdom modifier before requiring a long rest. Something so that it can't be a virtual 'always' on button.

Okay. It's just that what you propose won't solve the problems above in my view. There are deeper issues at play with what you describe.
 

Jacob Johnson

First Post
The example you provided doesn't show how a player can "abuse" it though - it shows the DM and players are not on the same page with the kind of game that is being played. What may look like abuse is really just the sign of a deeper issue, one that limiting the class feature does little if anything to address.



Again, that's not abuse. That's a DM either (1) not taking the ranger's abilities into consideration during the design of the challenge and/or (2) trying to force a particular outcome on the players. I think a better choice is to design encounters that take the ranger's abilities into account or to be happy when the players foil the (favored) enemy's ambush or whatever because that's what rangers do.



Okay. It's just that what you propose won't solve the problems above in my view. There are deeper issues at play with what you describe.

Going off track to the DM's narrative to garner experience and potential loot isn't abusive to the GM? It would require the DM to do quite a few things. 1). The DM could Force his narrative thus potentially aggravating his player characters. 2). Force the DM to design things on the fly because he wants his world to have a semblance of realism by perhaps saying. "Yes.. you sense a den of kobolds about 5 miles east of here." 3). Remove this ability by redesigning or crafting encounters solely to limit the use of this ability.

Can any other class claim this power over the DM's creativity?
Can any other class claim such an ability which is virtually on at all times since game time takes no real time when traveling etc. (DM, I would like to check for favored enemies every 2 miles we travel). Of all the classes across 5e, I don't know of any ability which has such information gathering capability.

Does a DM also have to design his challenges with the Ranger's ability in mind? What other class can force the DM to do such a thing? And you don't see how this can be abused to give the players a much greater advantage than I feel is the intent of it's purpose? Heaven forbid you have rogue multi-class as a ranger just so he can choose this ability at lvl 3 for humanoids. This would make him the greatest spy/thief/assassin in the know 5e world. How would a DM deal with a player with 8 or 9 levels of rogue and 3 levels of Unearthed Ranger who decided they wanted to use this ability to keep track of the movement of guards in a castle, or a an enemy lair, or any other place in which their favored enemy resides? "DM I would like to spend the next 4 hours tracking the movement of all favored enemies."

And you don't feel this ability can be abused? I agree that the DM has the ability to resolve this, but in doing so his options are quite limited. Either he can design and build a world in which there are few, if any, of the rangers favored enemy thus crippling the class in a large way. Or he can make a house rule.. something that shouldn't be required, or he can just keep killing of players who are creative and can see how this ability could be used in a variety of ways to benefit the party and frustrate the DM.

Can we open a dialogue about how my proposal wouldn't solve the problem?
If you limit this to a number of times per long rest (Wisdom modifier perhaps) you remove a great deal of abusive potential by forcing the Ranger to make a decision about WHEN this should be used. If you can't use it limitless times, you must make a judgement call on when to use this ability. Do you waste it when there could be, potentially, none of your favored enemies nearby? Do you save it until your other skills have brought you close enough to have a good chance of finding what you are looking for? Do you use this before entering a lair in which you know there are favored enemies to get a good idea of what you are facing or do you save it for after a large encounter in which you can provide a way to track potentially fleeing enemies or ensure the safety of a battered team? I don't see how limiting this ability is a bad thing or won't solve the problems. Please speak to that point as you have challenged that this ability isn't able to be abused when it clearly can be.

I challenge you to find any class with any similar ability which is constantly available to them which can provide such information over a broad range with no limitation on uses or costs to the player.

This is not a DM problem. This is a design problem. Any ability which can force the DM to behave in a way that limits or requires them to build, design, GM or constantly be aware of that ability in the course of their game is both abusive to the DM and abusive to the other players (why bother having a rogue when you can just tell the mage and BSF what is behind the door because you spent 1 minute tracking your favored enemies). Pretty soon you will just have a party of Unearthed Rangers running around all with different favored enemies so that they can never be surprised and can always know what the DM has ready for them.

It's an easy fix for WOTC.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Going off track to the DM's narrative to garner experience and potential loot isn't abusive to the GM? It would require the DM to do quite a few things. 1). The DM could Force his narrative thus potentially aggravating his player characters. 2). Force the DM to design things on the fly because he wants his world to have a semblance of realism by perhaps saying. "Yes.. you sense a den of kobolds about 5 miles east of here." 3). Remove this ability by redesigning or crafting encounters solely to limit the use of this ability.

No, I don't think it's "abusive to the DM." I don't know what you mean by #1. For #2, in my opinion this goes back to the players and DM being on the same page with regard to how the game is played. For #3, I don't think that's necessary, but it's not uncommon for DMs to create challenges that allow some class features to shine whereas others do not. Many class features are fairly situational anyway.

Can any other class claim this power over the DM's creativity?
Can any other class claim such an ability which is virtually on at all times since game time takes no real time when traveling etc. (DM, I would like to check for favored enemies every 2 miles we travel). Of all the classes across 5e, I don't know of any ability which has such information gathering capability.

I don't see why any of that matters to either the DM or the other players. I certainly don't see the players' chosen class features as some kind of power struggle with my creativity as DM. It just enhances it, really, as it should do.

Does a DM also have to design his challenges with the Ranger's ability in mind? What other class can force the DM to do such a thing?

All of them? As I say above, many DMs create challenges specific to the strengths and weaknesses of their party. Or build challenges suitable to their players' level of skill with the game (e.g. a veteran player might need higher difficulty than baseline to be satisfied with the challenge).

And you don't see how this can be abused to give the players a much greater advantage than I feel is the intent of it's purpose? Heaven forbid you have rogue multi-class as a ranger just so he can choose this ability at lvl 3 for humanoids. This would make him the greatest spy/thief/assassin in the know 5e world. How would a DM deal with a player with 8 or 9 levels of rogue and 3 levels of Unearthed Ranger who decided they wanted to use this ability to keep track of the movement of guards in a castle, or a an enemy lair, or any other place in which their favored enemy resides? "DM I would like to spend the next 4 hours tracking the movement of all favored enemies."

Okay, you know the location and type of the favored enemies. What do you DO with that information? That's what is important in my view. I don't care if the players have that information at all. And in any case, they won't have the location and type of enemies who are not favored. The ranger won't detect the mastiffs that accompany the guards or the vampires in the castle's crypt or whatever. It's imperfect information.

And you don't feel this ability can be abused? I agree that the DM has the ability to resolve this, but in doing so his options are quite limited. Either he can design and build a world in which there are few, if any, of the rangers favored enemy thus crippling the class in a large way. Or he can make a house rule.. something that shouldn't be required, or he can just keep killing of players who are creative and can see how this ability could be used in a variety of ways to benefit the party and frustrate the DM.

Who is this DM that gets frustrated when the party gains an edge in the game? And what game is it that this ability will always give the ranger the edge? It doesn't seem very likely to me.

Can we open a dialogue about how my proposal wouldn't solve the problem?
If you limit this to a number of times per long rest (Wisdom modifier perhaps) you remove a great deal of abusive potential by forcing the Ranger to make a decision about WHEN this should be used. If you can't use it limitless times, you must make a judgement call on when to use this ability. Do you waste it when there could be, potentially, none of your favored enemies nearby? Do you save it until your other skills have brought you close enough to have a good chance of finding what you are looking for? Do you use this before entering a lair in which you know there are favored enemies to get a good idea of what you are facing or do you save it for after a large encounter in which you can provide a way to track potentially fleeing enemies or ensure the safety of a battered team? I don't see how limiting this ability is a bad thing or won't solve the problems. Please speak to that point as you have challenged that this ability isn't able to be abused when it clearly can be.

I challenge you to find any class with any similar ability which is constantly available to them which can provide such information over a broad range with no limitation on uses or costs to the player.

I have no issue with limiting the ability to create more of a meaningful decision point and fun trade-off for the player. That's something at least and maybe your proposed solution solves THAT problem. But if your complaints are about it being abused as it is currently written, then I would say (1) I disagree that your examples are demonstrative of actual abuse (but are demonstrative of some deeper issue with the game that this ability reveals) and therefore (2) your proposed solution does not achieve your goal of eliminating what you perceive as abuse.

This is not a DM problem. This is a design problem. Any ability which can force the DM to behave in a way that limits or requires them to build, design, GM or constantly be aware of that ability in the course of their game is both abusive to the DM and abusive to the other players (why bother having a rogue when you can just tell the mage and BSF what is behind the door because you spent 1 minute tracking your favored enemies). Pretty soon you will just have a party of Unearthed Rangers running around all with different favored enemies so that they can never be surprised and can always know what the DM has ready for them.

I'd love to DM a campaign like that. Because to me it's not always about what you know. It's what you DO. That's where the interesting stuff is found in my view. Players knowing things just mean they get to DO more stuff. That's fine by me!

If you're interested, I've written several actual play reports focused on how the UA revised ranger did. I think you'll find that Primeval Awareness is just not as big a deal as you think it is.

Edit: I reread what I linked and only one report saw a ranger use Primeval Awareness. Two PCs in different games had access to it, but only one actually used it.
 
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