Reasons to have paladins and rangers as classes

Gold Roger

First Post
One thing that I constantly see on this board is that people don't see a reason to have niche classes. Most often it's said about the ranger and paladin, but it's a problem the barbarian, assassin and others have too.

One argument often brought up is that these classes can be easily done with backgrounds, themes and potentially multiclassing.

Another is that these classes don't have a strong enough identity of their own to warrant their status as class.

These arguments aren't new, of course. You could very well make the case that in 3rd edition multiclassing and PrC's could just as well produce rangers and paladins. Still, the issue warrants discussion.

So, I thought it would be nice to collect reasons people find to keep these classes.

To make a start, I find keeping niche classes in the game allows to further distinguish and personalise PC's.

Yes I can take a fighter, give him a wilderness background and theme and I have a wilderness fighter, pretty much a ranger. I can take a cleric, pick the war domain, knight background and close combat theme and I have a holy warrior that looks an awful lot like a paladin.

But to get my holy warrior or wilderness warrior, I've just expended all my character options. He has that identity, but doesn't go further. With a ranger class I already have that core identity, an iconic wilderness warrior. And now I can things to make him my wilderness warrior. I can add the noble background or a city background, because I already have the wilderness skill needed, and add a facete to his Personality, he's a free roaming noble or a city boy driven out of his birthplace, by violence or maybe because he never felt comfortable. I can add in a religious theme or maybe an arcane one or one that emphazises social interaction and each results in a wilderness warrior who fits the archetype, but is different from all the other wilderness warriors out there. Of course, if I want, I can still pick the default background and theme and run around my "just wilderness guy" PC.

So, what other reasons do you see to keep around niche classes (wether specific ones or all).

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First Post
To me, it's about giving people what they want. People read LotR and want to play a ranger. It's iconic. People have ideas about it. They don't need to be multiclassing fighter, rogue, and druid to get what they want.

The paladin is more of a problem because it doesn't map well to anything outside of D&D; it's strictly a D&D-ism, and a niche within that. (Which is why I would replace it with a knight/cavalier/champion/etc., something that accomplishes more in terms of representing a broad archetype).


First Post
You've definitely hit on THE best reason to keep them as classes. I don't want to spend all my customization on making a ranger character when I could START with the Ranger class and spend my customization elsewhere into making it the Ranger I want to play.

Other reasons that I can think of are that most people who want Ranger/Paladins/Barbarians/whathaveyou to be backgrounds instead of classes seemingly want everything boiled down to the big four classes. While that is certainly viable game design, it's not particularly D&D game design. The only thing close was Basic and even that had races as additional classes. And really, if you're going to pair down classes you might as well just go classless and be done with it; there's no compelling argument for having few classes that doesn't also work for having no classes at all.

Another reason is more from the business end: Classes sell books. If WotC narrows down the conception of class they have fewer classes to put in splatbooks and thus people will be less likely to buy the splatbooks.


First Post
I like having paladins and rangers as classes. It just would not seem like D&D to me without them. Sorry but that's the best answer I've got.


Another reason to have Paladins and Rangers (et al.) as classes in D&D 5ENext is that some campaigns will be played bare-bones: class and race only, no backgrounds and themes allowed. In such cases, a player would not be able to play a Paladin or a Ranger at all if those types of characters were only achievable through choices of backgrounds and themes.

Li Shenron

Yes I can take a fighter, give him a wilderness background and theme and I have a wilderness fighter, pretty much a ranger. I can take a cleric, pick the war domain, knight background and close combat theme and I have a holy warrior that looks an awful lot like a paladin.


So, what other reasons do you see to keep around niche classes (wether specific ones or all).

My personal reason is that for me a Ranger is not a wilderness fighter, and a Paladin is not a holy warrior... I see them both as special individuals who were "called" rather than decided to pick their path. So for me a LG knightly war cleric is still a cleric of a certain deity while the Paladin is a chosen by Good itself, and the Ranger is not a scout but is a chosen of who knows? the world itself maybe, but still not just an expert hunter/tracker. Both classes are "organic" enough in concept that deserve to be a niche.

But to get my holy warrior or wilderness warrior, I've just expended all my character options. He has that identity, but doesn't go further. With a ranger class I already have that core identity, an iconic wilderness warrior.
I don't find this terribly convincing, because the same could be said about any class. To make a nimble, lightly-armored, two-weapon wielding fighter I have to use a bunch of character options. But now I can't make him my nimble, lightly-armored, two-weapon wielding fighter, because I've already used my character options up.

You mention an "iconic" wilderness warrior, and that's they key. You see rangers and paladins as being iconic unto themselves, and thus deserving full class treatment. But of course, people have different ideas of what classes are iconic, and it doesn't say anything that hasn't been said already. It's essentially just "I really think rangers should be a class."

If you see a swashbuckler (see above) as an iconic concept, then you'll want to be able to make one and still make him yours, as you put it. But if you think of it as a subtype of a fighter or a rogue, then you see no need for a separate class.

I'm A Banana

To a certain degree, any class is a niche class. You don't even need the Big Four. Or even a single one.

But classes are useful as bags of archetypal characteristics that come bundled together.

And then, with the promise of 5e character modularity, you can swap and switch out parts of your character for others. Or assemble those parts with something totally different. Or whatever.

Like I pointed out in the other thread, having multiple ways to do the same thing (how 4e did Vampires) isn't a bad plan. You pick the one that works best for you (or the two or the three or...) and go wild.

Yeah, you don't NEED a paladin class. But that doesn't mean you can't have one, anyway.

What 5e hasn't shown us yet is the distinct mechanics that these classes bring that backgrounds and themes don't, and how essential those mechanics may or may not be to a given archetype is a potential messy point. But there's no major flaws in the "going at it from four different directions" approach.


First Post
THANK YOU! You are exactly right. What if, to play a Fighter, you had just a generic class and then had to pick the Soldier background and some "Melee specialist" theme? Making paladins, rangers, barbarians, or other popular classes into themes would just make them all bland, cookie-cutter stereotypes.


First Post
For what its worth, I am in the other camp. That said, you do make an excellent point and I give you credit for that.

Food for thought. Thank you.


I think a ranger is clearly enough defined for in a more than four-classes system: A fighter/rogue with considerable attack capability and stealth and scouting skills.

However paladins much less so, as I see them. I don't like paladins, I plain out admit that, and I do not "get them". That said, what paladins appear to be to me are "clerics with worse spells and slightly better attack bonus", also limited to lawful good alignment.
But why not play a cleric? Okay, 3.5e speaking here, but a cleric is superior to a paladin in everything except BAB and hit point. And those are far more than compensated with spells.

I can not make a character who can do all the things a ranger can do with a fighter/rogue. No wild empathy, no favored enemy, no spells.
As a cleric, I can do everything a paladin can do, plus so much more! I don't have a problem with there being a paladin class that simply won't get used in my campaigns, but if it gets into the books, it needs a unique role and unique abilities. And not just fluff. You can put the fluff of paladins in fighter/clerics just fine.


My reasons for keeping the ranger and paladin as unique classes is simple: tradition. Both of them, but particularly the paladin, are an important part of D&D's... ahem... brand identity.

There's very little upside to reducing them to themes.

Can you imagine a version of D&D without orc baby-killing paladin arguments?

Crazy Jerome

First Post
Just to be clear, I like having some niche classes. Where I have my doubts is the idea that the archetypical ranger, paladin, bard, druid, barbarian, assassin, etc. are the best use of those slots. That is, I'm not against any of them, per se. But I am against any of them that are kept without due consideration for the things around it. The reasons, good or bad, are thus different with each class, and with each edition.

For example, a good reason to have a paladin class is that you've got this warrior type over here and this priestly type over there, and you want to stake out some other ground that is somewhat of a mixture but also brings its own elements into a nifty syngery that is greater than the parts, and "class" is the element of the system best positioned to take that ground.

A bad reason to have a paladin class is because we've always had one, and no matter what happens with the fighter and cleric during the course of the design, we are gonna squeeze a paladin in there somewhere, if we have to get an industrial-strength press to make it thin enough to fit--or radically change the system to leave it a spot. :p

In reality, the decision will never be that pure, either way, of course. And I don't mind a great deal of soul searching, bending, and even carefully selected system mangling to make the big, traditional ones work. (I'll extend a lot more room here to paladin, ranger, bard, and druid than I would to other classes, too, because they have a bigger claim on that tradition.)

Conversely, if having decided to make most or all traditional classes fit as a goal, then it becomes incumbent on the designers to make a system that readily accommodates them. That's fine to, since this isn't so much a "tail wagging the dog" thing in D&D as a, "who steps first, left leg or right?" thing. That takes us outside the realm of "good reasons" to have a class, though.


First Post
I am not sure where I stand on the issue, but I wanted to correct something here. The paladin is not a D&D-ism. It is a holy knight going all the way back to the old stories of Charlemagne. Roland is an icon as far as I am concerned. If Aragorn gets a class, so should Roland.


Because it's more fun to choose from a menu of ~12 flavourful, evocative archetypes than to drill down through a hierarchy of building blocks. A class description in the PH tells a story about the setting, and gets players interested in filling that role. I like Champions, but I don't want D&D to get too generic.

Because we want to attract new players, and I believe that the traditional presentation of classes is more attractive than a fully modular creation system.

I think a lot of the reasoning depends on how we see the direction of D&D Next. We almost have to declare our D&D Next "political affiliation" for our thoughts to make sense.

For me, I strongly support the stated direction of D&D Next, which includes trying to keep all the iconics and make the game work for fans of all versions from OD&D up to 4E. It also includes trying to make it feel more like D&D for more people, as much as can be achieved. I'm such a strong supporter of the design philosophy, that I find myself sometimes voicing my opinion in support of certain inclusions I'd personally rather have relegated to a dark corner of a fringe book, because some people like them, and they have precedent in one version or another.

From this perspective, discussing why we need classes like ranger or paladin has a simple answer: tradition. I like having them as base classes. I also like assassin as a base class, even though it's before my time and I've never had direct experience with it. I wouldn't even mind bringing in the Cavalier and Thief-Acrobat, although I think that's an example of classes that were always fringe enough (ie, not core PHB) that themes might fit better.

If, on the other, hand, a person disagrees with the stated (as well as implied) direction of D&D Next, then their preferences come with an entirely different set of logic. Does it add something significantly unique to the game experience? Does it add extra bloat? Could it still be D&D without it?

I couch almost all of my arguments in light of assumed support of the design philosophy, which means that they are totally invalid arguments if the design philosophy itself is being debated, and the same from the other direction.

As a proponent of mutual understanding and reasonable discourse, I kind of wish we all wore a badge saying where we fell from "Strongly Agree with the Design Philosophy" to "Strongly Disagree with the Design Philosophy."

Of course, that's a pipe dream that isn't going to happen, but man, wouldn't it cut down on a lot of needless debate and make it more profitable. :)

EDIT: How do I get rid of those hyper-text links in my post? I feel like I'm doing some sort of completely unnecessary advertising, lol.


The difference between the "core" classes and the "niche" classes is how broad the definition is. A fighter can cover a large ground. The fighter class can cover the heavily-armored sword-and-shield guy, the combat archer, the finesse duelist like Inago Montoya, a bare-chested Conan-style warrior. A rogue can be an Indiana Jones/Lara Croft style treasure hunter, a socially adept conman, the strikes-from-the-shadows assassin, the brutish thug/bandit, or even a Sherlock Holmes style detective. Wizards span a research bookworm dragged from his ivory tower against his will with no combat experience at all, a blaster firebug that gleefully throws around fireballs, a detective that uses magic to solve puzzles and mysteries, and a tactician chessmaster who casts spells to change the battlefield and solve puzzles. Clerics even have vastly different feels depending on their diety and domain now compared to previous editions, as shown by the difference between the Moradin Warpriest and the Pelor laser/healic cleric in the playtest, not even counting the various priests, clerics, and cultists from fiction of all genres.

However, how much range does a paladin really have? It's a heavily armored divine fighter. There's a little room to play around, but if move away from that too much you stop being the idea of a paladin. Same with classes like assassin, avenger, barbarian, etc. I honestly can't see how an assassin class can be better than themes on a Rogue or Fighter. Put a roguish theme on a Fighter and you have a warrior that can use stealth and deception to his advantage. Put a fightery theme on a Rogue and you have a combatant that takes advantage of dirty tactics and ambushes to kill stealthily and quickly. Put a divine theme on a rogue or a rogue theme on a cleric and you have an avenger. Put a theme on a wizard to allow access to some divine spells with some performance-based buffing ability and you've got a bard.

I think they really should approach what should and shouldn't be a class by the range of character types that would fall under that class but still be defined by that class. I personally don't think that paladin and ranger have enough variation to work for that, but that's my opinion. I love the Avenger class from 4e and would love to see a sort of divine assassin class in Next, but I can also see how that would really work better as a theme. If you really think that a class would be better served by being a class with various themes, try to image what a thief paladin or a defender ranger would look like and see if it's still a "paladin" or "ranger".

EDIT: This is my argument for why I believe they should go with a class + theme build for several of the classes of previous editions. I'm not saying I'm right and I'm not trying to say you're wrong if you think paladin/ranger/assassin should be a separate class. I'm just trying to state this is where I feel the line between a class and a class + theme should be drawn, and that's what the real question is here.
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Doug McCrae

So, what other reasons do you see to keep around niche classes (wether specific ones or all).
They make character generation faster and easier by removing options. Instead of searching through themes and backgrounds for his fighter, the player just picks the paladin class, and, presumably gets the default paladin theme and background.

Some games, such as those with high lethality, need char gen to be as fast as possible. And some players don't like to wade thru lots of options. Ofc, other players love it, so the options are there for those who want to build their paladin out of bits.

However the main reasons are tradition and nostalgia. And there's nothing necessarily wrong with that.

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