D&D 5E [+] Rangers should have monster fighting spells equivalent to Paladin's Smite spells. Discuss!


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So to return to @Rocker26a's original premise, here's what I'm going to work on for my next 5-day design sprint.

I broke up the Ranger's "identity" into several categories that I think could be great categories to make spells in. They are:

  • Traps. These spells use your bonus action to set up and your reaction to trigger and have several triggers. The idea is the Ranger is using their primal magic to rig different kinds of traps, the more magical ones making use of magical regents and monster venom, etc, to generate the spell effects. Traps have costly material components, limiting their use.
  • Slaying. These are your special attack spells, things like Zephyr Strike. In this case, it'll be using fluff about how spells like Dragonslayer are inspired by killing dragons but can be used on any creature (and are more effective on flying creatures). Another spell is inspired by Elden Ring, Giant Hunt, where you do a powerful upward thrust that does more damage on Larger creatures but also does a knock up effect on creatures your size or smaller. The idea here is special magical attacks inspired by what a Ranger finds afield.
  • Replicating. Another term for this would be Mutagenics. I like the idea of Monster Hunter-style spells for the Ranger. They have a dragon's severed head as a component and use it to fire off their own version of the Dragon's Breath spell (different, more drastic effects). Consume a dragon heart and temporarily grow a massive claw to strike with. Inject trolls blood and gain a regeneration factor that stops if you take fire damage. These kind of spells show the Ranger's mastery over their favored foes. It can also be used for terrain stuff. Eat this rare rose as part of the spell and you release a scent with a hypnotic effect, etc etc.
  • Wisdoms. These spells are auras that effect your allies. They're inspired by wisdoms learned from wild places and use material components like grass from a tundra to cast a spell that gives us cold resistance + the ability to conjure blinding snowstorms once per the duration. You entreat spirits and "call in favors" from the wild OR you combine wild elements in narrative ways when you cast the spell.
  • Weakening. This is seperate from Slaying but uses a similar principle. It's things like having a spell that replicates the effect of ghoul's venom on the target. Essentially, these spells either weaken targets through conditions or novel effects, or they remove certain traits, such as flying, alternative senses other then sight, the ability to cast spells temporarily, etc. This is the Ranger's "knowledge" coming into full play.
I think these five categories can make an exciting array of spells but I won'tk now how many until I start outlining a little bit later. However, I think this kind of spell book could go a far way to giving the Ranger a firmer identity and more enjoyable play experience.
 

Rocker26a

Explorer
A lot to get into here!


These can be tricky, though not impossible of course. It's partially a matter of justifying them being a spell in the first place, I often see people dismissing Snare like "why is it even a spell, you could just set up a physical snare".

Slaying. These are your special attack spells, things like Zephyr Strike. In this case, it'll be using fluff about how spells like Dragonslayer are inspired by killing dragons but can be used on any creature (and are more effective on flying creatures). Another spell is inspired by Elden Ring, Giant Hunt, where you do a powerful upward thrust that does more damage on Larger creatures but also does a knock up effect on creatures your size or smaller. The idea here is special magical attacks inspired by what a Ranger finds afield.

Could work! I think Zephyr Strike itself is a bit hampered by some weird wording and the fact that it's concentration, but should be able to mitigate that.

Replicating. Another term for this would be Mutagenics. I like the idea of Monster Hunter-style spells for the Ranger. They have a dragon's severed head as a component and use it to fire off their own version of the Dragon's Breath spell (different, more drastic effects). Consume a dragon heart and temporarily grow a massive claw to strike with. Inject trolls blood and gain a regeneration factor that stops if you take fire damage. These kind of spells show the Ranger's mastery over their favored foes. It can also be used for terrain stuff. Eat this rare rose as part of the spell and you release a scent with a hypnotic effect, etc etc.

So, I think something like this base concept could be cool, but I have some thoughts about some of these premises. Were a character to perform these sorts of acts in a campaign, I think they'd readily be framed as the folly of a shortcut to power that compromises your "humanity" or another term that applies to all the awakened creatures, same as Lichdom or deliberate Lycanthropy. They're, y'know, "monstrous"! Obviously it'd vary between players and games, but. I like to imagine Rangers as "immune" to such temptations. They know their true worth, they don't need such things. This moment from KOTOR 2 is the example I turn to.

However, there is something sort of similar that I've been thinking about with a more positive framing. Unfortunately it's not really fertile ground for anything new. I was thinking that it could be cool if Rangers could learn spells via studying, fighting, or communing with their associated creatures. Learning Blur from Displacer Beasts, Misty Step from Blink Dogs, Dragon's Breath from, uh... I dunno, Owlbears or something?
Don't have it ironed out yet or anything, just a vague notion I like the idea of.


Could be good! Kind of similar to Pass Without Trace I guess.

Weakening. This is seperate from Slaying but uses a similar principle. It's things like having a spell that replicates the effect of ghoul's venom on the target. Essentially, these spells either weaken targets through conditions or novel effects, or they remove certain traits, such as flying, alternative senses other then sight, the ability to cast spells temporarily, etc. This is the Ranger's "knowledge" coming into full play.

This is probably the thing closest to what I've been toying with of course. Have some concepts but would like to get some more cooking.
 
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Undrave

Legend
As in, there's very little flavour to latch onto, it's just additional damage. Opposite problem to the feature imposing too much flavour, making it opaque to the point that you can't breach from the bounds it sets. Hide in Plain Sight tends towards that for example, you can't really escape that you're doing the Arnold from Predator thing.
Hmm... well, we could marry one of those situational bonuses with the Favored Foe ribbon abilities of knowing a new language and being good at knowledge checks? Let me see if I can come up with some new ideas...

Favored Enemy
Beginning at 1st level, you have significant experience studying, tracking, hunting, fighting and even talking to a certain type of enemy.

Choose a type of favored enemy: aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, or undead. Alternatively, you can select two races of humanoid (such as gnolls and orcs) as favored enemies.

You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track your favored enemies, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.

When you gain this feature, you also learn one language of your choice that is spoken by your favored enemies, if they speak one at all. Furthermore, you gain one of the following features depending on your choice of favored enemy:

Colossus Slayer (Aberrations, Constructs, Dragons, Giants): When a Large or larger creature within 5 feet of you hits or misses you with an attack, you can use your reaction to attack that creature immediately after its attack, provided that you can see the creature.

Deft Skirmisher (All): When you hit or miss any of your favored enemy, your movements do not provoke opportunity attacks until the end of this turn.

Forest Warrior (Beasts, Fey, Monstrosities, Plants): You gain a bonus to your attacks rolls equal to your Wisdom modifier when attacking enemies while you and your target are in difficult terrain

Horde Breaker (Beasts, Fiends, Humanoids, Undead): You gain a bonus to your attacks rolls equal to your Wisdom modifier when attacking enemies that are within 5 feet of another enemy

Prime Target (Celestials, Dragons, Humanoids, Monstrosities): your attacks inflict an additional 1d8 damage to creatures with no allies within 15 feet of them.

Resolute Mind (Aberrations, Celestials, Fey, Fiends): You have advantage against being Charmed or Frightened.

Unshakeable (Elementals, Giants, Oozes, Undead): You have advantage on Strength or Constitution saving throws caused by actions that inflict Acid, Bludgeoning, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Piercing, Poison or Slashing damage.

Weakness Seeker (Constructs, Elementals, Oozes, Plant): Your weapon attacks inflict an additional 1d10 damage to creature who resist the damage you inflict.

You choose one additional favored enemy, as well as an associated language, at 6th and 14th level. As you gain levels, your choices should reflect the types of monsters you have encountered on your adventures.

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This is just something I came up in the last couple of hours. The one thing that bothers me is that Elementals and Oozes share both their features, but I don't know what I would move around or replace features with.
 
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Hmm... well, we could marry one of those situational bonuses with the Favored Foe ribbon abilities of knowing a new language and being good at knowledge checks? Let me see if I can come up with some new ideas...

Favored Enemy
Beginning at 1st level, you have significant experience studying, tracking, hunting, fighting and even talking to a certain type of enemy.

Choose a type of favored enemy: aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, or undead. Alternatively, you can select two races of humanoid (such as gnolls and orcs) as favored enemies.

You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track your favored enemies, as well as on Intelligence checks to recall information about them.

When you gain this feature, you also learn one language of your choice that is spoken by your favored enemies, if they speak one at all. Furthermore, you gain one of the following features depending on your choice of favored enemy:

Colossus Slayer (Aberrations, Constructs, Dragons, Giants): When a Large or larger creature within 5 feet of you hits or misses you with an attack, you can use your reaction to attack that creature immediately after its attack, provided that you can see the creature.

Deft Skirmisher (All): When you hit or miss any of your favored enemy, your movements do not provoke opportunity attacks until the end of this turn.

Forest Warrior (Beasts, Fey, Monstrosities, Plants): You gain a bonus to your attacks rolls equal to your Wisdom modifier when attacking enemies while you and your target are in difficult terrain

Horde Breaker (Beasts, Fiends, Humanoids, Undead): You gain a bonus to your attacks rolls equal to your Wisdom modifier when attacking enemies that are within 5 feet of another enemy

Prime Target (Celestials, Dragons, Humanoids, Monstrosities): your attacks inflict an additional 1d8 damage to creatures with no allies within 15 feet of them.

Resolute Mind (Aberrations, Celestials, Fey, Fiends): You have advantage against being Charmed or Frightened.

Unshakeable (Elementals, Giants, Oozes, Undead): You have advantage on Strength or Constitution saving throws caused by actions that inflict Acid, Bludgeoning, Fire, Ice, Lightning, Piercing, Poison or Slashing damage.

Weakness Seeker (Constructs, Elementals, Oozes, Plant): Your weapon attacks inflict an additional 1d8 damage to creature who resist the damage you inflict.

You choose one additional favored enemy, as well as an associated language, at 6th and 14th level. As you gain levels, your choices should reflect the types of monsters you have encountered on your adventures.

--------

This is just something I came up in the last couple of hours. The one thing that bothers me is that Elementals and Oozes share both their features, but I don't know what I would move around or replace features with.
This is fantastic! I especially like Deft Skirmisher. Good stuff!
 

Rocker26a

Explorer
Hmm... well, we could marry one of those situational bonuses with the Favored Foe ribbon abilities of knowing a new language and being good at knowledge checks? Let me see if I can come up with some new ideas...

--------

This is just something I came up in the last couple of hours. The one thing that bothers me is that Elementals and Oozes share both their features, but I don't know what I would move around or replace features with.

I definitely like some of these! But... I'm just fundamentally resistant to the idea of Favoured Enemy as a class feature. Cannot be helped, I think.
 

Undrave

Legend
This is fantastic! I especially like Deft Skirmisher. Good stuff!
Thank you! I was also thinking Foe Slayer should just be an option, because I feel like +WIS to attack on a situation range of enemy is a stupid concept for a capstone ability. Would make it a second universal option with Deft Skirmisher. I've also considered Weakness Seeker going to 1d10 instead of 1d8 but I'm not sure.
 

Undrave

Legend
I definitely like some of these! But... I'm just fundamentally resistant to the idea of Favoured Enemy as a class feature. Cannot be helped, I think.
An extra language is a fun ribbon for a Ranger so I'd fit it in a revised Ranger. Maybe 'Far Travelled' as a feature?

You can just use the other features independently then.
 

Rocker26a

Explorer
I feel like +WIS to attack on a situation range of enemy is a stupid concept for a capstone ability.

That's actually what I made base Hunter's Mark do, so it doesn't overlap with the main ability that grants an extra damage die.
Yeah it's insane that it's a capstone. Even if it were on every attack, but it's not even that, it's once per turn!
 

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