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D&D 5E The Dual Wielding Ranger: How Aragorn, Drizzt, and Dual-Wielding Led to the Ranger's Loss of Identity

Chaosmancer

Legend
I'm not a game designer, but I agree with some of the criticism of rangers that's been expressed here. I've never really been comfortable with ranger spells, mostly because they seem to have been tagged on without really adding anything: usually, by the time the ranger has access to them, power levels have increased to the point where they don't offer any real benefit. Favoured enemy seems too specific for a particular role to be such a key feature of the class.

See, I disagree with taking spells out of the ranger. First of all, doing so really does just push them to just being a fighter or rogue, which I don't want. Secondly, I feel a better solution is more ranger exclusive spells that are designed better. No body looks at the paladin spell list and says "Well, by the time I get these they are all worthless, paladins just shouldn't have spellcasting"

One thing I've seen that I think works pretty well is giving them more spells that make weapon attacks, like a slightly rewritten Steel Wind Strike (which should never have been designed to make it better for wizards than it is rangers) and more and better spells for archery, like improving Lightning Arrow.
 

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Haven't read the whole thread, but the MOST important thing that came out of UA, which survived in 2e, was Weapon Specialization. While this doesn't really relate directly to the Ranger per-se, what it DID do was create the first route in D&D to focusing on a specific weapon (or weapons) of choice. Prior to this time there was no special reason for a character to use one specific weapon. Sure, there was weapon proficiency and non-proficiency penalty, but all the melee classes had an adequate array of choices. Now and then a character might eschew a weapon due to not being able to use it really well, but there was no motive to specifically favoring one, except maybe that it was a powerful magic item.

Once specialization existed, and double specialization, etc. then the characterization of PCs changed. Most every fighter type character would specialize, why not? It was a free bonus! Of course you could now use less types of weapons well, but in general the reasons to switch weapons were fairly limited anyway, and bashing skeletons with your sword when you got +2 and extra attacks for half damage was probably a better idea than switching to a mace and doing slightly more damage per attack but getting less of them and hitting less.

This was a pivotal moment in the evolution of D&D melee/ranged combatants. Perhaps few used UA much, but a lot of people lifted that one rule, it was popular! And of course 2e obliged by porting it over pretty much verbatim.
 

I think the word "ranger" has always meant different things to different people.

For LotR fans it means "like Aragorn"; for others it means "uses a ranged weapon"; or a "park ranger" - protector of the wilderness; or "Texas ranger" - a travelling lawman; or a type soldier.

The class should be renamed wobfazler. What is a wobfazler? A wobfazler is as a wobfazler does.
I don't really agree with this whole idea that the archetype is not clear and distinct. Think about that English language word, 'ranger', it evokes a concept of traveling, and of traveling in remote places. Also of hunting and scouting. US Army Rangers are guys that go in front of the rest of the army, they find the enemy, they discover the lay of the land, and employ surprise and deception specifically as tactics (partly because they are likely to be outnumbered, being scouts). A Texas Ranger was a guy who rode around in a semi-settled frontier area and hunted down criminals, etc. Park Ranger is closely related to these as well, enforcing park rules and looking out for people in a wilderness or remote setting. Even the use by JRRT of the term 'Ranger' to describe Aragorn and the other Dunedain of Arnor is built on this same idea. Then you have adjacent concepts, like Robin Hood, who's never described as a 'ranger', but is certainly a guy who wanders a wilderness seeking justice.

So, there IS an archetype. Like all archetypes it has many varied instantiations and a complex genesis, but it exists. It is also ancient, as we have many 'heroic hunters' going back into ancient myth, and in many cases, like Odysseus, they sought justice or righted wrongs (admittedly against his own family, but as a king he was also a justice enforcer). He's also a bowman, a trait he shares with Artemis, Orion, etc. who all share some of these traits.

Obviously Aragorn was the specific model of the OD&D/1e ranger class. However, stuff like dual wielding wasn't all that oddball and its addition in UA/2e was not some tectonic shift. I dragged out the character sheet for my old Ranger PC, which was created in the early 80's under 1e. His weapon proficiencies are Bastard Sword, Hand Axe, and Longbow. He lacks a shield and I guess my idea was, because he had a high DEX (why? I don't know) that he would use a bow and dual wield in melee so he didn't need to equip a shield (and can easily chuck the axe and then wield the sword two-handed I guess). UA just seems to have let me double down on those options, I guess.

The character was never fully converted to 2e. There are a number of subtleties here WRT 2e. In 2e ONLY fighters, NOT WARRIORS, can specialize or double specialize, unlike UA, so a Ranger CANNOT DO THIS AT ALL. Thus 2e rangers have no 'archer' feature of any kind at all. Instead they get the 'no penalty to dual wield', which generally is a smaller benefit if you have a high dex, but is pretty useful for most rangers. Note that dual wielding was available to any PC in 1e, but is ONLY allowed to Warriors and Thieves (or maybe all rogues) in 2e. So, 2e's ranger really is a focused dual wielder, no specific archery focus was intended, though the DEX prereq does mean they are likely to be decent archers. Technically the 2e ranger is mostly a downgrade of the 1e ranger. They lost specialization, 2d8 starting hit points, and some of their spell-casting ability, though the focus on a declared enemy was good (I did pick up that aspect for my character due to his backstory, but I think we had actually already included something similar in our game before 2e).
 

But thieves, especially in 2e, were not warriors.

So the Dual Wielding Warrior had to go somewhere and the Ranger was chosen.
Right, but Rogues are specifically called out in 2e as the only other class which can dual wield besides fighters, AT ALL. In 2e all other classes (cleric and wizard) are thus excluded (I mean, not a really big deal but its there). Given the way dual wielding rules work, and the fact that Thieves cannot use a shield, they are actually basically just as good as a Ranger at doing it in 2e, they just don't need the 'no matter what your dex is' part, since they will surely have at least a 16 normally.

But personally, I think there really IS a decent possibility that one little bit was tossed onto the 2e ranger simply because it fit with Drizz't. Or maybe it fit AND they needed 'something extra' to give the Ranger, since they already took away a LOT that they had in 1e... (and especially in UA).
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
But personally, I think there really IS a decent possibility that one little bit was tossed onto the 2e ranger simply because it fit with Drizz't. Or maybe it fit AND they needed 'something extra' to give the Ranger, since they already took away a LOT that they had in 1e... (and especially in UA).


I went into this in Part 2.

TLDR; naw. The "maybe Drizzt" doesn't check out- but the designer of 2e had already "beta tested" a dual-wielding, dex-based martial class in OA.
 

Was this true before 4e? It seems to me that 4e's transformation was what really caused this particular dissatisfaction. Which really brings up another issue. It seems like each edition adds (or subtracts) something more or less completely new to ranger, and since someone will probably like what they did that edition there is now one more thing to make people unhappy about.

It probably would have worked better if they had tried to develop a stronger class identity from the whole Aragorn thing, rather than keep experimenting with new identity ideas. I think there was enough there to work with that a new D&D conceptual archetype could have been refined. Here are some thoughts.

-Full warrior. Heavy armor should probably be on the menu, and your choice of Strength or Dexterity focus.
-Magical. With their history of both divine/primal and arcane magic, they could even be the baseline "gish" class some would like. It doesn't have to go that far though. Being a dabbler also would be fine.
-Protector/Guardian/Warden. Conceptually they protect and guard something from something else. Part of this would include great sentry-like awareness. Things like being harder to surprise and having tracking skills would go with this aspect.

And that could probably have been the foundation. An alert warrior who uses magic to assist in guarding something (subclasses allow further definition).

That seems plenty strong enough that it could have become established in D&D lore, and D&D-inspired fantasy. I mean we have mystical unarmed martial artist monks and shapeshifting druids established now because of D&D, and this seems as strong as those.
PERFECTLY describes a straightforward 4e ranger build. Focus on STR and wear heavy armor, then pick up Ritual Casting (I am pretty sure there's at least one MC feat that will give it to you, along with some other goodies). You can also add some powers from whatever MC caster class you got, if you really want. This is a very solid and reasonably optimal character. It will dual wield as a matter of course, though I think you can fold in the spiked buckler if you want a bit of shield in there too. You'll be passable with a bow, assuming your DEX is not dumped, but not great with it, similar to most fighters. You could also use the MP2 'chuck-n-charge' build, which is pretty good too, though that probably pretty much mandates light armor.
 

Dual wielding as we are talking about does not predate Drizzt.

Dual wielding the tomahawk (hand axe) and knife (dagger) in the offhand do predate Drizzt and they are available in 1E for every character class except Cleric (who could not wield daggers or axes). They are not Ranger specific and were most often depicted on thieves and fighters in both the novels and sourcebooks. This is not dual wielding as I am speaking of it, we are talking about 2 of any one handed weapons (two swords, two maces, a sword and a hammer), which started for Rangers in 2E.

No class, including Rangers, could dual wield anything other than hand axes and daggers in the offhand. This was the case up until 2E and as noted above Drizzt, dual wielding scimitars, was published in a 1E sourcebook.
This is not accurate. NO rule in AD&D allows off-hand wielding of a larger weapon. You can wield any weapon usable in one hand as your primary weapon, and the secondary must be a 'smaller' weapon. Ranger is not exempt from this rule, they are simply excluded from the attack penalties when in light armor. While this might tend to make it a good option, a sword-and-board, or two-hander type of ranger is a perfectly good option. Since they have no specialization they are free to mix and match as the tactical situation dictates.

In fact, yes, you could dual wield a dagger and a tomahawk in all of AD&D, though a few classes lost this ability in 2e, technically (druids being the one that might actually matter). It wouldn't have been a good choice though, you'd be better with a bigger main weapon, there's no reason to stick to dagger, except for the edge case of a 1e Magic User (pretty unlikely to come up!). 1e clerics could, IMHO, technically dual wield a mace and a throwing hammer, though I cannot say I have ever seen it done.
 

Minigiant

Legend
See, I disagree with taking spells out of the ranger. First of all, doing so really does just push them to just being a fighter or rogue, which I don't want. Secondly, I feel a better solution is more ranger exclusive spells that are designed better. No body looks at the paladin spell list and says "Well, by the time I get these they are all worthless, paladins just shouldn't have spellcasting"

One thing I've seen that I think works pretty well is giving them more spells that make weapon attacks, like a slightly rewritten Steel Wind Strike (which should never have been designed to make it better for wizards than it is rangers) and more and better spells for archery, like improving Lightning Arrow.

To me there are too few defense buff spells.

There really should be some arctic, swamp, or desert spells that give defensive buffs and exploration bonuses like Hunter's Mark. Like a sand shield that shades you from the blistering sun.
 

Beastmaster ranger was a result of 3e Druid being OP OP.

Most D&D clones, MMOs, and fantasy games shifted beast companions to ranger from druids after Druidzilla. also 3e ranger was weak so ranger players utilized their weak beast buddy more whereas druids could easily forget they exist
4e's beastmaster build works QUITE well actually. I know people complained about the fact that the companion is not a combat powerhouse, but the reasons for that are fairly obvious, and you gave up very little to get the companion.

In terms of 1e or 2e, you can simply create a henchman as a beast, its not a big deal. 1e DMG doesn't really give you a rule to recruit one, but that shouldn't be a big deal.
 

It goes back farther and deeper than that.

Originally it was just Fighters and Magic-Users out of Chainmail. Arneson came up with hybrid fighter magic-users with some unique things to execute a Doctor Van Helsing character concept for a player to be a foil to a vampire bad guy side character. So we got a hybrid who used crosses to repel vampires and did healing.

Thieves were a variant of magic users with variant non magical spells for thief abilities and a touch of fighter (some weapons and light armor) to balance out their less powerful spell variants.

I am a fan of the two class concept. Fighters are not dumb and unskilled conceptually there.
All of the big 4 are pretty solid basic archetypes. You have the fighter, the mystery worker (cleric), master of arcane knowledge (wizard), and the trickster (thief). They are all pretty solid and attested over the whole range of legends, myths, and literature. I thought 2e's approach was pretty coherent here, all classes are sub-classes of Warrior, Rogue, Wizard, or Priest 'super classes'. Within each of these archetypes you could potentially implement a whole range of more specific character types. You can definitely argue which of these are 'needed' and which are more superfluous, but it isn't necessary that each and every one be entirely unique. They can overlap a bit here and there. Later 2e introduced kits, which was the start of what is now WotC pattern D&D, classes plus added 'modules' that may or may not be class-specific or super-class specific in different cases.

Of course WotC D&D also did away with the idea of the super-classes. I think that was mainly a mechanical thing, there is just nothing that NEEDS to be put there specifically. When I designed my own 4e-like game I considered the creation of 'archetypes' as super-classes, but it just didn't add that much. It was more confusing and complicated vs useful.
 


But "Guard" generally means someone who guards things like people, treasure vaults, cities, caravans.

That isn't what I am saying. Unless you think the fighter as written really carries good flavor for "I stand between the world you know and the things that wish to destroy it."

Sure, anyone can be "I fight monsters" but that isn't what I am saying here. I'm talking about something much more specific.
What this seems to be turning into is basically a debate about game design. '0e' was kind of a hodge-podge, but by 1e there was a pretty solid design concept. You had basically 4 'core classes' and then most of the other classes were 'sub-classes' of those (this is spelled out clearly in the 1e PHB). However there wasn't a principle which stated that the 4 were exclusive, and the 1e Monk is not really described as a sub-class at all (nor the Bard if you want to get technical, though it could be considered a sort of Druid variant). In this design the base 4 are playable classes and sub-classes are, to a varying extent, elaborations and specializations on them. In this scheme the casting sub-classes get their own spells, and the others sometimes get limited spell access. Otherwise sub-classes generally get access to some version of the main class core abilities (IE Assassins) or some more appropriate substitute (IE druids).

2e really mostly just polishes that design by making the base-classes non-playable abstractions which hold certain rules, like XP tables. That does change up some things in that all playable classes get some things in common, but also removes the idea that a class can be a sub-class of another playable class. Overall the difference is not that much, but now some classes are quite broad (fighter is basically "everything that isn't a paladin or a ranger" for example). Kits then get added later, along with the modular priest classes, to allow a more open-ended set of options without adding an endless litany of new classes. This replaces things like the Assassin, Monk, Thief-Acrobat, Cavalier, Barbarian, and all the OA classes, plus a lot of more specific examples. Clearly kits are meant to give you a way to articulate a very specific set of ideas that might represent a given setting, or maybe even a specific character. One question there is whether or not 2e really needs both sub-classes AND kits. It is telling that NO additional official classes are added to 2e beyond the ones in the PHB, everything else is strictly kits or else priest sub-classes or maybe wizard specialist variants (I think the Al Qadim ones are done that way, I forget exactly).

Interestingly 2e is a bit equivocal on the modular use of kits. Some of them seem applicable to more than one class, but most are described in supplements for a specific class (IE Complete Fighter's Handbook, it isn't Complete Warrior's Handbook). My feeling is if they'd rationalized 2e (2.5?) kits might have replaced all but the archetypal classes. As far as I know there really isn't a coherent set of rules about the application of kits either, can you have more than one? Can you acquire them after first level?

I guess you could think of 3e as a rationalization of 2e, in part. However it moves from kit to prestige class, and makes them distinctively something you gain AFTER first level. Of course MCing also becomes easy and almost free, but at the same time sub-classes remain, though now they are simply named as co-equal independent classes for the first time, IIRC. Frankly I don't think 3e was all that well thought out...

Ignoring 4e as going down a bit different path, 5e is mostly a rehash of the 2e idea, except with kits becoming sub-classes of classes, which are sort of loosely 'binned' but not really specifically declared to belong to a base class (so maybe it is more like 3e, but not quite). 5e doesn't seem to so much want or need something like ranger as a sub-class of fighter, it is more like it is a half-caster simply because this is how 5e tries to emulate the greater class parity of 4e. It does seem like Ranger and Paladin could almost have been simply fighter sub-classes, or even THE fighter sub-classes.

Every edition has tried to parse the meaning of class/sub-class/base-class/options in a bit different way, and it kind of seems like none of them really quite hit a home run. It just is not clear what, in D&D is supposed to make something a distinct class. Never was, never will be!

So, ARGUE ON! :)

So the question has always b
 

4e more or less took the fighting man and split it 4 ways based on fighting style

  • Archery- Ranger
  • Beastmastery- Ranger
  • Brawling- Fighter
  • Finesse- Rogue
  • Great Weapon fighting- Fighter
  • Heavy Throwing- Ranger
  • Light Throwing- Rogue
  • Defensive Two Weapon fighting- Fighter
  • Offensive Two Weapon Fighting- Ranger
  • Polearms- Fighter
  • Support- Warlord
  • Weapon and Shield- Fighter
  • Tactics- Warlord
The ranger was also a lot tougher and less vulnerable in melee and closer to a fighter in HP and AC. So much like 5e, the ranger is capable of taking heat and can fight anywhere on the battlefield without support. This goes with the flavor that rangers were trained to fight raiders and monster alone on in small squads of like minded rangers, therefore they'd need to be tough as they would not have a fighter totank for them or a cleric to heal them.

The rogue on the other hand was squishier. In 0e-4e, it was a lot squisher. This is because rogues were not supposed to be engaged in melee or firefights for long. Rogues either when in and did a swift killing blow or they need a tank to split ortake all the damage for them. Flanking was their best strategy in prolonged confrontrations.
I think part of the problem with this whole discussion is that the OTHER non-combat aspects of the two classes are important! Rangers DO have the aspect of wilderness traveler and warrior, and rogues DO have the aspect of urban sneak/thug and generally as a stealthy trickster. Technically 4e would let another class emulate the non-combat features of a Rogue or Ranger, but the whole package is pretty iconic in each case.

I think this brings us to THE fundamental question I like to ask about classes, which is why do they exist at all? I think the answer is really that they serve a deep RP purpose. They are a shorthand which allows us to articulate what the character IS. In that sense Ranger and Rogue are really good solid classes (well, we can still debate exactly what they represent, but I think it is clear there is a cluster of concepts for each one).
 

then what is its niche and why is fuzzy a good thing?
Ranger is certainly a wilderness warrior type, and distinct from barbarian as being a representative of civilization, where barbarians are the opposite, denizens of the wilderness itself. I mean, we can argue if every single character you can make up is COMPLETELY distinct, but we can define a set of things that tends to unite all rangers. They travel, they have survival skills, they have some sort of tie or relation to civilization, although they may have left it. Usually they can hunt, they have good weapon skills and generally use weapons and equipment which allow light travel and multiple uses (knives, axes, bows, light armor, often eschew shields, etc.). Sometimes they have associations with animals or other wilderness inhabitants.

No other class has this mix. Rogues may be lightly armed, often ranged, combatants. Druids may be wilderness dwellers and associated with animals/inhabitants. Fighters may utilize similar fighting styles, but tend to be 'defenders' (even if the term is not used explicitly anymore) who go toe-to-toe with foes. Wizards and clerics are obviously quite different. Certainly a specific instance of some other class might emulate a lot of what a ranger is, even being indistinguishable from a specific ranger in narrative terms. That might be true of almost any class. In 5e an Eldritch Knight could be virtually a wizard who happens to wear heavier armor and can fight with a weapon. A paladin could be virtually a cleric in narrative terms. Classes are not necessarily utterly distinct. I don't think we could ever pigeonhole every character as a specific class. Certainly literary and legendary characters don't easily fit in the D&D class structure at all, unless you are pretty lenient with it.

In v2.0 of my own game I think that classes will define 3 things, a power source, a combat role (and associated feature), and a non-combat class feature. None of these are absolutely exclusive though, and once you start playing you can pretty much pick up whatever powers and such you want. At most some things might be easier to use.
 

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I think this brings us to THE fundamental question I like to ask about classes, which is why do they exist at all? I think the answer is really that they serve a deep RP purpose. They are a shorthand which allows us to articulate what the character IS. In that sense Ranger and Rogue are really good solid classes (well, we can still debate exactly what they represent, but I think it is clear there is a cluster of concepts for each one).
Personally, I think the main purpose of having classes is to make character creation a conceptually different exercise than it would be if abilities could be picked al a carte.

By combining abilities into thematically linked packages, players taking levels in a class to get a certain ability that they want to mechanically model their character concept get other, thematically similar abilities at no additional opportunity cost. This makes those abilities much more attractive to rely on in comparison to taking levels in a different class that has a substitute ability. Ergo, acquiring any one ability in a class-based system dynamically changes the comparative opportunity cost of acquiring other abilities. By contrast, in an al a carte system, abilities are picked in isolation from each other, and the opportunity cost of taking each ability is fixed.

To use a generic example, in a class-based system, taking levels to acquire a desired offensive ability often comes with a defensive ability for "free". The player has an incentive to rely on that defensive ability even if it isn't the most powerful or (ostensibly) most efficient ability, because the marginal difference in effectiveness between the already-possesed ability and the better abilities isn't worth the cost of taking levels in another class. Accordingly, a diverse range of defensive abilities see play.

In an al a carte system, however, there is rarely any mechanical incentive to take a core ability that isn't either the strongest of its type, or the most efficient of its type. Either the character wants to emphasize (e.g.) defense, and so spends the character points to buy the best defense, or wants to emphasize some other aspect of their character and so wants the cheapest "good enough" defense. Accordingly, it is common in such systems to see the same abilities repeated from character to character for core elements like offense and defense.

This perspective doesn't only apply to powergamers either--the opportunity cost of taking thematic and/or idiosyncratic abilities can be quite high in any system. Freeing up the points/levels/etc. to make "non-optimal" choices incentivizes going with the most efficient options for core capabilities. As above, in a class-based system, the most efficient options are going to vary more from character to character than they do in an al a carte system, so more variety is the likely result.
 

One thing about a ranger that might help with uniqueness would be to focus the spell set. But even more important than that, to give them a boatload of rituals. Things that protect them when in the wilderness. Things that allow them to survive alone. Things that give them a huge advantage of specific terrains or creatures.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Personally, I think the main purpose of having classes is to make character creation a conceptually different exercise than it would be if abilities could be picked al a carte.

By combining abilities into thematically linked packages, players taking levels in a class to get a certain ability that they want to mechanically model their character concept get other, thematically similar abilities at no additional opportunity cost. This makes those abilities much more attractive to rely on in comparison to taking levels in a different class that has a substitute ability. Ergo, acquiring any one ability in a class-based system dynamically changes the comparative opportunity cost of acquiring other abilities. By contrast, in an al a carte system, abilities are picked in isolation from each other, and the opportunity cost of taking each ability is fixed.

To use a generic example, in a class-based system, taking levels to acquire a desired offensive ability often comes with a defensive ability for "free". The player has an incentive to rely on that defensive ability even if it isn't the most powerful or (ostensibly) most efficient ability, because the marginal difference in effectiveness between the already-possesed ability and the better abilities isn't worth the cost of taking levels in another class. Accordingly, a diverse range of defensive abilities see play.

In an al a carte system, however, there is rarely any mechanical incentive to take a core ability that isn't either the strongest of its type, or the most efficient of its type. Either the character wants to emphasize (e.g.) defense, and so spends the character points to buy the best defense, or wants to emphasize some other aspect of their character and so wants the cheapest "good enough" defense. Accordingly, it is common in such systems to see the same abilities repeated from character to character for core elements like offense and defense.

This perspective doesn't only apply to powergamers either--the opportunity cost of taking thematic and/or idiosyncratic abilities can be quite high in any system. Freeing up the points/levels/etc. to make "non-optimal" choices incentivizes going with the most efficient options for core capabilities. As above, in a class-based system, the most efficient options are going to vary more from character to character than they do in an al a carte system, so more variety is the likely result.

I don't disagree with any of this per se, but I do think there can be... different incentives in an "al a carte" system. Mostly I think this applies to MMO's which are a very different beast from TRPGs, but the ability to have a very specific niche is something that some people find appealing, or the ability to do a little bit of everything.

One big example of this are gishes. Gishes are far far far easier to work with in an "al a carte" system to my knowledge, and can allow for some odd combinations.

But, this is just to point out that both systems have strengths and weaknesses. I like both, just for different reasons and in different games.
 

Minigiant

Legend
I think part of the problem with this whole discussion is that the OTHER non-combat aspects of the two classes are important! Rangers DO have the aspect of wilderness traveler and warrior, and rogues DO have the aspect of urban sneak/thug and generally as a stealthy trickster. Technically 4e would let another class emulate the non-combat features of a Rogue or Ranger, but the whole package is pretty iconic in each case.
The 4e Ranger got Dungeoneering or Nature for free. 4e Rogues got Stealth and Thievery. Essentially the classes were different social classes in the pseudo feudal/caste/estates system D&D original used as a foundation.

  • Nobility- Fighter
  • Clergy- Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Monk
  • Military- Fighter, Ranger
  • Middle- Wizard
  • Peasants- Fighter, Rogue,
  • Outsider- Barbarian
That's sorta how the original D&D was set up in the background from the roots. There was a whole story package with the classes. 4e let you tap into another class' story with only a feat. 5e made it effortless.

I think this brings us to THE fundamental question I like to ask about classes, which is why do they exist at all? I think the answer is really that they serve a deep RP purpose. They are a shorthand which allows us to articulate what the character IS. In that sense Ranger and Rogue are really good solid classes (well, we can still debate exactly what they represent, but I think it is clear there is a cluster of concepts for each one).

Classes let you attach your character to the world's story and strength the roleplay in the types of worlds D&D tends to use. Classes let each world have different interpretations of the archetypes but made them matter in the setting in order to have a solid foundation to branch out from.

I think people getting away from the military role or origin of the ranger is where the confusion started. The pendulum swung to hard one way to "special uniques" divorced from the ranger origins.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
The 4e Ranger got Dungeoneering or Nature for free. 4e Rogues got Stealth and Thievery. Essentially the classes were different social classes in the pseudo feudal/caste/estates system D&D original used as a foundation.

  • Nobility- Fighter
  • Clergy- Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Monk
  • Military- Fighter, Ranger
  • Middle- Wizard
  • Peasants- Fighter, Rogue,
  • Outsider- Barbarian
That's sorta how the original D&D was set up in the background from the roots. There was a whole story package with the classes. 4e let you tap into another class' story with only a feat. 5e made it effortless.



Classes let you attach your character to the world's story and strength the roleplay in the types of worlds D&D tends to use. Classes let each world have different interpretations of the archetypes but made them matter in the setting in order to have a solid foundation to branch out from.

I think people getting away from the military role or origin of the ranger is where the confusion started. The pendulum swung to hard one way to "special uniques" divorced from the ranger origins.

I think they had to get away from the military role though, because that role is very much meant to be alone.

Even now, in 5e, I think the Ranger is one of the classes most likely to survive a fight with a group of low-level enemies. Their combination of skills, spells, defenses and abilities make it very possible. But... DnD isn't a solo game about kiting a squad of orcs through the woods. So, while I think the Ranger has some good design space in that direction, that is because it is a design space outside of the game of DnD.
 

Minigiant

Legend
I think they had to get away from the military role though, because that role is very much meant to be alone.

Even now, in 5e, I think the Ranger is one of the classes most likely to survive a fight with a group of low-level enemies. Their combination of skills, spells, defenses and abilities make it very possible. But... DnD isn't a solo game about kiting a squad of orcs through the woods. So, while I think the Ranger has some good design space in that direction, that is because it is a design space outside of the game of DnD.

Well it's the same with the rogue. Most of the classes are part of organizations or loners on a mission.

D&D is typically 3-6 loners going up.
 

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