The 5e Ranger
--by Steel Dragons
The Ranger is the warrior of the wilderness and borderlands. Where few dare to tread, the ranger boldly strides to protect their people's lands from encroaching threats. Rangers master these environments, know their denizens and are particularly skilled in dealing with whatever is found in "their" outdoors. Rangers are highly trained, not necessarily by tutors and mentors, but through necessity and the harsh surroundings in which they make their living and home. Whether by stealth and ambush, ranged attack, or up-close melee combat, a Ranger is able to handle herself admirably be it in combat or on the hunt. The Ranger is not some dumb axe-swinging barbarian or some haughty shining armored knight or paladin, she is a warrior of intelligence and skill and speed, with uncanny senses and powers of perception.
Ability Scores: As all warrior classes, Strength is very important to the Ranger for those times she must do hand-to-hand battle. Dexterity and Constitution are the Ranger's most important secondary abilities. Being fast and tough in the wild lands is necessary for survival. Most Rangers also opt for a moderate to high Intelligence as it effects their Tracking and Perception featrues. A Ranger with a 15 or higher in all 4 of these abilities receives a 10% XP bump.*
*This assumes one is using XP in the first place and following the optional rule of applying a bonus...which I just made up in my head as an "optional rule." I have no proof or insight that this would actually be a thing in 5e. But it worked for 1e, so why not throw it in there, right?
Hit Dice: Rangers begin play with 12 HP + Con. modifier. They receive their HD as a Fighter but recoup 1 additional HD per day after a short rest. (In essence 1 of the Rangers used HD is, effectively, "given back")
Weapons and Armor: A Ranger is able to use/be proficient in any type of weapons or armor. Note, however, that rangers suffer the same armor restrictions or penalties as Rogues when trying to be Stealthy.
CORE FEATURES (what Rangers have that no one else does):
Tracking: While any class might possess a tracking skill due to Background or Specialty, Rangers are simply better at it. They are capable of finding trails, tracks and noticing the most minor clues left by a creature's passage that would be overlooked by just about anyone else.
Keen Senses: A Ranger is finely attuned to his surroundings and has highly acute sight, hearing (as keen as their race allows) and above average smell to notice anything amiss. A Ranger is able to roll with an additional +2 (above and beyond Int. mod) against any attempt to Surprise them or their allies. They may also apply this +2 Senses Bonus to any Search or Perception rolls (looking for secret doors, noticing traps, etc.).
Favored Terrain: The Ranger is top warrior in their environment of origin, whatever the Player chooses that to be. Examples include (but are not limited to) Woodlands, Marshlands, Desert, Arctic/Tundra, Urban, etc...
This choice triggers a few things for the Ranger.
- The Ranger receives a +2 applied toward skills/ability checks that are appropriate for their Favored Terrain (Swimming or Sailing for a ranger from the Coast, for example).
- Similarly, the Ranger knows how to maneuver particularly well in their chosen environment. All Rangers gain a +1 to their Attack rolls while fighting within their Favored Terrain.
- The Ranger gains an additional +1 to their Tracking rolls if in their Favored Terrain. They receive an additional +1 if what they are tracking is one of their selected Favored Quarry.
- Rangers receive a +2 bonus to all Stealth checks while within their Favored Terrain.
- The Ranger is able to select 2 types of creatures that were prevalent or recurring threats in their Favored Terrain. These creatures are the Ranger's "Favored Quarry". They are the greatest recurring and infamous threats to her lands and she has spent much time hunting and/or learning to fight them before setting off on the Adventurer's path. The Ranger gains a +2 to all damage rolls, regardless of weapon, against them. Examples/guidelines: A Ranger of Woodland Terrain might choose Orcs and Owlbears. A Ranger who favors/is from Mountain Terrain might choose Goblins and Ogres. A Ranger with Swamp Terrain favored might choose Lizardmen and Black Dragons.
Natural Healing: All Rangers are very knowledgeable about the flora and fauna and are able to gather natural materials (plants, fungi, animal parts or fluids) to assist in Healing and first aid for her allies. With these materials available (either on the Ranger's person or able to be found in the immediate area), the Ranger is able to apply ONE additional HD (of the person being healed, not the Ranger's HD) during a long rest. Having or finding these materials should be assumed to be 100% while in the Ranger's Favored Terrain. Other terrains might require some searching (DM's call.).
Stealthy: Rangers are particularly good at moving quietly and going unnoticed in just about any setting. All Rangers are able to use Stealth skill/checks as if they were a Rogue of their same level. (Note the +2 bonus while in Favored Terrain, above.)
That's it for "built in class features" as far as I'm concerned. Magic is totally optional, Fighting styles and preferences are totally off the table...wield dual hand axes, use a boar-hunting spear as your primary weapon, Sword n' Board, short bow specialist, whatever your concept dictates (and preferably makes sense for your homeland/Favored terrain).
Specialties and Variants may [and I would like to SEE] include:
--"Beastmaster": Ranger gets an animal companion at 1st level (maybe a second one at 5th?); is able to calm most normal non-magically controlled animals; never has to make a Riding check?; given time is able to train animals to do tricks. That kinda thing.
--"Arcane Adept": Magic-user background gives access to some minor arcane spells and Arcane knowledge/lore.
--"Nature Adept": Noviate background [I just made that up, but whatever they call the "Acolyte" version of a Druid] gives access to some minor druidic/nature spell and Nature Lore.
--"X-hunter": Where X= Dragons or Giants or Goblins or Demons or Undead or wutev's. Ex: Something something, extra good at tracking and fighting dragons, yada yada, knows lotsa Dragon Lore.
--Archer or Two-Weapon specialties. Big yawn. But we already know it's in there and the folks that want their Rangers to be those things will [and should] be all over those.
Think that's all I have for Rangers.