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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

jayoungr

Legend
it lacks rules or at least proper instructions on how to do it, most new guard do not even know what a hex crawl is.
I think this would be a great section for the next Xanathar's/Tasha's style book. XGtE covered traps, and TCoE covered puzzles, so the next book could go into depth on hazards. And maybe talk about the hex crawl too.
 

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Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

I would say it is a little different for Rogues. There are a lot of "the party breathing down the thief's neck" scenes. And not all rogues are sneak thieves.
 

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.
That, IMHO, is more of a legacy result of the original premise of the game, that each PC is basically a self-interested loner with no significant backstory. Not that you can't construct such a story a story, but the game is antithetical to it, as designed. Something like Beyond the Wall illustrates this perfectly, a game where you do start with a specific setup, and it is an OSR type of game too.

Modern D&D doesn't need to have this issue, the players can simply design a team, from day one. This was really the mode in which 4e works best, though 5e is good for that too. Instead of 'random collection of strangers' you can be "The town misfits. Drafted into the town guard, the Mayor sends you out to solve the mystery of the disappearing farmers." Of course he half hopes you all won't come back, but...
 

Minigiant

Legend
I would say it is a little different for Rogues. There are a lot of "the party breathing down the thief's neck" scenes. And not all rogues are sneak thieves.
There was a long time where all rogues were thieves.
And even in 5e, the 3 subclasses of rogue are loner archetypes.

That, IMHO, is more of a legacy result of the original premise of the game, that each PC is basically a self-interested loner with no significant backstory. Not that you can't construct such a story a story, but the game is antithetical to it, as designed. Something like Beyond the Wall illustrates this perfectly, a game where you do start with a specific setup, and it is an OSR type of game too.

Modern D&D doesn't need to have this issue, the players can simply design a team, from day one. This was really the mode in which 4e works best, though 5e is good for that too. Instead of 'random collection of strangers' you can be "The town misfits. Drafted into the town guard, the Mayor sends you out to solve the mystery of the disappearing farmers." Of course he half hopes you all won't come back, but...

The game heavily takes from loners and organization members for the basis for many of their classes.

The Cleric, Druid, Monk, Paladin, are Ranger are more or less archetypes assumed to have most of its members be part of an organization to explain the the unique set of skills. Barbarians and Fighters are often part of a military organization or culture. And the old school rogue used to be part of organized crime.

Sure, PCs don't have to be current or former members of some group. Hoever constant defyingof the archetype and repeated deconstruction of the tropes is why the images of some classes are so muddy. The ranger, as the class looks, only makes sense in there are organizations or traditions gathering these skills and training 75%+ of rangers. Same with clerics, monks, druids, and paladins.
 

There was a long time where all rogues were thieves.
And even in 5e, the 3 subclasses of rogue are loner archetypes.



The game heavily takes from loners and organization members for the basis for many of their classes.

The Cleric, Druid, Monk, Paladin, are Ranger are more or less archetypes assumed to have most of its members be part of an organization to explain the the unique set of skills. Barbarians and Fighters are often part of a military organization or culture. And the old school rogue used to be part of organized crime.

Sure, PCs don't have to be current or former members of some group. Hoever constant defyingof the archetype and repeated deconstruction of the tropes is why the images of some classes are so muddy. The ranger, as the class looks, only makes sense in there are organizations or traditions gathering these skills and training 75%+ of rangers. Same with clerics, monks, druids, and paladins.
Meh, how is it hard to generate a group dynamic for a heterogeneous group? The ranger is assigned to guide the party. The cleric is assigned to 'complete the mission for the church'. The rogue is 'paying off his debt by keeping an eye on the wizard', who is searching for his master's lost spell book. I mean, this stuff falls off my fingers. If you want it tighter, then they're all part of the watch, and the warlord is 'sarge', and whatever. It isn't that much of an issue. In fact it is actually HARDER in newer editions where the PCs seem more established in their identities compared with 1e or OD&D where you're just some idiot that fell off the turnip wagon last night.
 

dmhelp

Explorer
The ad&d ranger was a fighter plus damage against a very large selection of enemies that you will encounter plus ribbon abilities (assuming you are in a group and the surprise bonus is ignored).

The ranger got screwed starting in 2e when it became a minor bonus against a small number of enemies that you will not encounter.

I still count half casting without divine smite as a ribbon. I think giving them back plus damage against evil humanoids and evil giants (you will usually encounter something in that set) would bring back the ad&d feel of the class.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Meh, how is it hard to generate a group dynamic for a heterogeneous group? The ranger is assigned to guide the party. The cleric is assigned to 'complete the mission for the church'. The rogue is 'paying off his debt by keeping an eye on the wizard', who is searching for his master's lost spell book. I mean, this stuff falls off my fingers. If you want it tighter, then they're all part of the watch, and the warlord is 'sarge', and whatever. It isn't that much of an issue. In fact it is actually HARDER in newer editions where the PCs seem more established in their identities compared with 1e or OD&D where you're just some idiot that fell off the turnip wagon last night.
My point is not that it's hard to make a group dynamic.

It is that people have been playing the outliers and special cases so often that they don't understand the purpose and meaning of the classes.

Sure you can play a ranger as a random nature guy. But the class was designed and still is designed to be a person trained by an organization or passed down tradition for a range of specific functions. Random nature guy isn't trained to perform guerrilla warfare on an invading scout party. Drizzt is a fighter rolling with high levels and plot armor.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
My point is not that it's hard to make a group dynamic.

It is that people have been playing the outliers and special cases so often that they don't understand the purpose and meaning of the classes.

Sure you can play a ranger as a random nature guy. But the class was designed and still is designed to be a person trained by an organization or passed down tradition for a range of specific functions. Random nature guy isn't trained to perform guerrilla warfare on an invading scout party. Drizzt is a fighter rolling with high levels and plot armor.

Eh, I'm not sure I agree with that. Everyone gets most of the classes and where they are supposed to come from. I've never really had someone not understand where the Cleric or the Barbarian came from or the purpose of the class. Same with the Monk and the Warlock. This seems to be a very minor sub-section of players to my eye.
 

My point is not that it's hard to make a group dynamic.

It is that people have been playing the outliers and special cases so often that they don't understand the purpose and meaning of the classes.

Sure you can play a ranger as a random nature guy. But the class was designed and still is designed to be a person trained by an organization or passed down tradition for a range of specific functions. Random nature guy isn't trained to perform guerrilla warfare on an invading scout party. Drizzt is a fighter rolling with high levels and plot armor.
it might help if people knew who to build such organisations for their worlds?
 


Minigiant

Legend
Eh, I'm not sure I agree with that. Everyone gets most of the classes and where they are supposed to come from. I've never really had someone not understand where the Cleric or the Barbarian came from or the purpose of the class. Same with the Monk and the Warlock. This seems to be a very minor sub-section of players to my eye.
I find a lot of the class disappointment comes from the disconnect of the setting, designers, and players
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
That, IMHO, is more of a legacy result of the original premise of the game, that each PC is basically a self-interested loner with no significant backstory. Not that you can't construct such a story a story, but the game is antithetical to it, as designed. Something like Beyond the Wall illustrates this perfectly, a game where you do start with a specific setup, and it is an OSR type of game too.

Modern D&D doesn't need to have this issue, the players can simply design a team, from day one. This was really the mode in which 4e works best, though 5e is good for that too. Instead of 'random collection of strangers' you can be "The town misfits. Drafted into the town guard, the Mayor sends you out to solve the mystery of the disappearing farmers." Of course he half hopes you all won't come back, but...

So the one thing I think is not quite correct here is that the TSR-era games (especially OD&D/1e) very much had the idea of protected areas within classes- what we refer to now as "niche protection."

While it is certainly true that there was often no significant backstory (in zero-to-hero, the character's story was created through play, instead of created through a narrative prior to play), the creation of a party was a group activity. We all know/remember that a party needed a cleric, but because of the way the game worked, you would need some amount of balance between classes- some amount of meat/muscle, some amount of healing, some amount of spellcasting, and some amount of thievery. Like the A-Team, you wanted a balance of classes.

We still see that today, but because the class-identity is so diffuse (no class is as weak in combat as the original MU, all classes have healing, any class can have stealth skills, traps are not omnipresent, most classes have access to spells (all classes if you consider feats and ancestry)) there is very little requirement of class diversity other than as a holdover from prior times.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Original low level MUs. Once they find a decent wand or can cast a number of offensive spells they generally rock combat in my experience.

That's what I was referring to- but more importantly, it's emblematic of why you needed niche protection even at higher levels.

With rolled hit points, and the thoroughly realistic notion that you were not getting a CON bonus, the 1e MU had an average of 2.5 hp/level.

An 8th level (that was pretty, pretty, pretty high) level MU would have 20 hit points. That's ... two hits. One hit in some circumstances.

Not to mention those offensive spells? There was an issue with that- you couldn't get them off if you were getting attacked. Because most spells were too slow to cast in combat first (exception- the power word spells, because that's what they designed for). So MUs, on their own, would often be toast in combat.

Wands helped, but in 1e they didn't recharge, and they weren't that common in the modules. For example, if you managed to get every single item in Keep (B2), which was a notoriously high-magic item module for low levels, then you got, in terms of wands by the end ... wait for it .... a wand of enemy detection with 9 charges, and a wand of paralyzation with 7 charges.

Point being- niche protection. You couldn't go wandering around with just an all-MU party. There is a reason that there were things like "marching order" and you had the fighters in the front (and/or clerics, or the clerics in the rear, and so on).
 

My point is not that it's hard to make a group dynamic.

It is that people have been playing the outliers and special cases so often that they don't understand the purpose and meaning of the classes.

Sure you can play a ranger as a random nature guy. But the class was designed and still is designed to be a person trained by an organization or passed down tradition for a range of specific functions. Random nature guy isn't trained to perform guerrilla warfare on an invading scout party. Drizzt is a fighter rolling with high levels and plot armor.
I'm not sure everyone shares your interpretation though. I think it is perfectly within the archetype to consider a loner who makes a living out in the wilderness to be a 'ranger'. This is the classic 'mountain man' trope. Indeed a lot of the famous pioneers of American history fall into this bin. It was said of Daniel Boone that as soon as he could see his nearest neighbor's chimney smoke he knew it was time to move on.

So I don't hold with your idea they are 'outliers and special cases'. They are maybe not the entirety of the trope, sure. I think what I was arguing is that D&D can handle the other types, the 'lawman' or 'member of an organization' too. There is nothing about the class design, in any edition AFAIK which really points you either way.
 

So the one thing I think is not quite correct here is that the TSR-era games (especially OD&D/1e) very much had the idea of protected areas within classes- what we refer to now as "niche protection."

While it is certainly true that there was often no significant backstory (in zero-to-hero, the character's story was created through play, instead of created through a narrative prior to play), the creation of a party was a group activity. We all know/remember that a party needed a cleric, but because of the way the game worked, you would need some amount of balance between classes- some amount of meat/muscle, some amount of healing, some amount of spellcasting, and some amount of thievery. Like the A-Team, you wanted a balance of classes.

We still see that today, but because the class-identity is so diffuse (no class is as weak in combat as the original MU, all classes have healing, any class can have stealth skills, traps are not omnipresent, most classes have access to spells (all classes if you consider feats and ancestry)) there is very little requirement of class diversity other than as a holdover from prior times.
I'm not sure we are saying things that are contradictory. Niche protection existed, to a degree, in 'classic' D&D, yes. Nobody is as good as the fighter at hitting things with a stick, nobody casts healing spells like a cleric, nobody blasts stuff and does everything like the wizard. Thief is a bit of a loser on that score, but they still have a pretty defined role and a couple of abilities that are hard to emulate (pick pockets for example).

And of course, it was perfectly feasible in every edition of D&D to create a 'team' through some sort of backstory. The originally conceived play structure of classic D&D, troupe play in particular, simply isn't that favorable to it. There's no formal backstory mechanism, PCs are largely fodder for the 'meat grinder' dungeon/wilderness, and the GM is often seen as an opponent. All of these discourage construction of some sort of unified party backstory or logic. Even if you strip away the troupe aspect and thus have a single fixed party roster, the other parts are against you.

I don't agree that modern D&D class identity is 'diffuse'. While 5e seems to me to cater to a bit of an 'everyone is a spellcaster' there are certainly strengths and weaknesses to each class. Anyway, if you look at 4e it has very strong role orientation and each role is quite distinct and useful. It may be that each class in modern D&D is not so fixed to a very specific set of abilities, but each CHARACTER is quite distinct (unless obviously the players choose to make nearly identical characters, something that any edition supports).

My point was more that modern D&D, because of your ability to choose your character options vs having some random die rolls do that, puts a lot more power in the hands of players to put their heads together and explain how they are an actual narrative team. The fact that you can usually expect to keep playing your character with a pretty reasonable probability, if you want to, also contributes. GMs are now seen more as facilitators of story than cunning exploiters of every character's weaknesses, so it is a lot less fraught to, say, have relatives. They may still be threatened, but now it is part of building a story vs the GM in the guise of some NPC trying to slaughter you.

So, finally, the type of concept like "I'm a ranger of the Order of the Arrow." is a bit more likely, more interesting, and more viable.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
I'm not sure we are saying things that are contradictory.

I think we are saying different things.

I am emphasizing that creating a team (a party) in D&D is a function of making sure you have a mix of different abilities.

You are discussing the idea of creating a team (a party) through the use of backstory and narrative ("explain how they are a narrative team.").

In other words, I am indifferent to the narrative of constructing a team*; AFAIC, it can be as cliche as the standard D&D trope of "You all meet at the inn looking for adventure," given that I prefer that characters create their stories through play. The idea of creating the full character and concept and story prior to playing the character is just not something I am usually that interested in.

*To me, it's just like in a typical movie- a quick montage of "assembling the team" wherein you get the group together based on their skills.
 

Point being- niche protection. You couldn't go wandering around with just an all-MU party. There is a reason that there were things like "marching order" and you had the fighters in the front (and/or clerics, or the clerics in the rear, and so on).
Meh, we did it :) I mean, we had a cleric and a fighter/MU, and then we had about 10 hirelings. That was starting off on the first day. As soon as we got a few gold we all copied each other's spell books, so everyone had at least one GOOD combat type spell. I seem to remember we made short work of B2. It was all done with hit-n-run tactics, mostly. Pretty quickly the front line spear chuckers had scale armor and shields, we hired a fighter as a henchman because he could block an ogre (at least until it was put to Sleep, lol), etc.

That party became infamous and was the most successful one ever. That was the start of Questioner of All Things, Triborb (he was the elf figher/MU), and Zorb of Orb, IIRC. It snowballs, you get a couple wands, you are even more deadly, you get some more, etc. Yeah, B2 actually doesn't have a ton of items, but that Wand of Paralyzation is awesome. It is 7 solid chances to get an 'insta-kill' on an opponent without using up a spell slot, and unlike Sleep it doesn't have a level limit (but does allow a save)!

Anyway, you just have to be sufficiently cunning. After a while we were able to do without the front-line, but that came a bit later. In the early levels well-equipped men-at-arms were quite sufficient :). Magic users also have a lot of starting gold, relative to what they need for equipment (basically almost nothing).
 

So the one thing I think is not quite correct here is that the TSR-era games (especially OD&D/1e) very much had the idea of protected areas within classes- what we refer to now as "niche protection."

While it is certainly true that there was often no significant backstory (in zero-to-hero, the character's story was created through play, instead of created through a narrative prior to play), the creation of a party was a group activity. We all know/remember that a party needed a cleric, but because of the way the game worked, you would need some amount of balance between classes- some amount of meat/muscle, some amount of healing, some amount of spellcasting, and some amount of thievery. Like the A-Team, you wanted a balance of classes.

We still see that today, but because the class-identity is so diffuse (no class is as weak in combat as the original MU, all classes have healing, any class can have stealth skills, traps are not omnipresent, most classes have access to spells (all classes if you consider feats and ancestry)) there is very little requirement of class diversity other than as a holdover from prior times.
I suspect the diversity still work because of what I call class fantasy or the what you fantasise about the class, like all wizards want to be super magic knowledge guys.
 

I think we are saying different things.

I am emphasizing that creating a team (a party) in D&D is a function of making sure you have a mix of different abilities.

You are discussing the idea of creating a team (a party) through the use of backstory and narrative ("explain how they are a narrative team.").

In other words, I am indifferent to the narrative of constructing a team*; AFAIC, it can be as cliche as the standard D&D trope of "You all meet at the inn looking for adventure," given that I prefer that characters create their stories through play. The idea of creating the full character and concept and story prior to playing the character is just not something I am usually that interested in.

*To me, it's just like in a typical movie- a quick montage of "assembling the team" wherein you get the group together based on their skills.
I'm certainly not getting into an argument about preferences, though I would point out again that classic D&D actually FOSTERED that approach, it was 'preferred' because it was the 'path of least resistance'. My point was more that it explains why you didn't have, for example, a ranger that was a member of an organization, or why every cleric is weirdly just some wandering guy without an attached temple, social responsibilities, etc. that seem to be appropriate to the archetype. That was what was being blamed as the source of the 'ranger problem' by some posters.

I'm not sure I agree with their assessment either. I was just pointing out that in MODERN D&D this should not be an issue. Backstory is much more supported and expected. Adventures are rarely just abstract dungeon crawls too.
 

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