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

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
This isn't going to make me look great but as a kid I often sympathized with that guy. About half the time he was the voice of sanity and reason, and in a real D&D party people would have been fine with him!
I can't back this up with anything except my own impression, but I suspect a lot of people felt that way. The Wikipedia entry for the show notes that Eric was depicted the way he was for a very specific reason:

Series developer Mark Evanier revealed that Eric's contrary nature was mandated by parents' groups and consultants to push the then-dominant pro-social moral for cartoons of "The group is always right; the complainer is always wrong".

I think a lot of kids were able to intuit this, and found Eric more sympathetic than the parents' groups intended.
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
First, I love your posts like this, and your sense of humor.

but...

I have a hard time keeping focus to read the wall of text and making it all the way to the end. If it's just me, I'll admit my failings and feel free to ignore me.

I just want you to know ...

all those youtube people?

You know, making their 10 minute videos reacting to each other in an endless circle je... cycle?

You want someone to blame? It's you, Sacrosanct. You are to blame! You have seen the enemy, and he is you. Or something suitably Pogo-like.

;)
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
I just want you to know ...

all those youtube people?

You know, making their 10 minute videos reacting to each other in an endless circle je... cycle?

You want someone to blame? It's you, Sacrosanct. You are to blame! You have seen the enemy, and he is you. Or something suitably Pogo-like.

;)
I won't deny the plausibility of this comment.
 


My guess as to why no Wild Elves was that the ranger was originally intended to protect civilization against the threats from the wild (much like Aragorn and the Dunedain did), whereas now, it's often associated with the opposite.

But in UA, everything changed. First, there was the opening up of the Ranger class to new races (UA 7). Not just Humans and Half-Elves, but ALL ELVES (except, um, Wild ... because they are too forest-y, or something ... eh ...).

The problem of the ranger is a version of that suffered by the gnome. They are both palimpsests of different interpretations throughout the years. They get stuck being all and none, and there's no consensus, no core identity. 5e has done a decent job of marrying them all together in both cases; at this point, there is no real core gnome or ranger, they contain multitudes.

As Zeb Cook put it- 2e tried to develop more of an identity for them. But it was still a mishmash. Are they archers? Lightly-armored dual wielding skirmishers? Spellcasters? Outdoors-y types? Friends of the nature and keepers of pets? WHY NOT ALL OF THEM? The lack of focus, the lack of a consistent archetype, has continued to bedevil the Ranger and is a feature in numerous conversations; mind you, it doesn't stop it from being popular, but it is neither a general archetype (FIGHTER, WIZARD, ROGUE) nor something specific and easily articulable (MONK, WARLOCK, BARD).
 

Coroc

Hero
Very good essay, i know about ad&d before i knew about drizzt, and i nthe gold box PC - games it always baffled me that rangers got 2d8 as starting hit dice. I always asumed Drizzt being a fighter first and later a ranger, dual wielding was a thing (with penalties) for 2e fighter also, and it was the strongest dpr output also for them, or thieves, so i never thought much about it, it was just an advantage rangers got from being lighltly armored, for me.

...

Before UA, remember, there were two things that "everyone knew" about Rangers. They were human, and they didn't have a high dexterity. Wait, what? Yes, you heard that right! So in the PHB in 1e, you see that only two races can be Rangers- Humans and Half-Elves. Except that half-elves were restrict to a maximum of level 8 as a Ranger- IF THEY HAVE 18 STRENGTH! If you have a 16 or lower strength (remember how rare the high abilities were back then, and you had all these other minimums), you were limited to level 6. More importantly, and weirdly, the only allowable multiclass for the half-elf with Ranger was ... Cleric/Ranger. (PHB 17, 23). And Clerics had a max level limit of ... 5. While I do not make sweeping generalizations, I never once saw a Half-Elf Cleric Ranger under the AD&D rules.

But in UA, everything changed. First, there was the opening up of the Ranger class to new races (UA 7). Not just Humans and Half-Elves, but ALL ELVES (except, um, Wild ... because they are too forest-y, or something ... eh ...). So you've added in Wood (hehehehehehehe SHUT UP BEAVIS), Valley (gag me with a ... never mind), High (It's 4:20 somewhere), Gray (do Gray elves exist in Greyhawk?), and ... wait for it ... DARK ELVES. That's right, Charlie Murphy, Darkness. The Drow have come to play in the Ranger Domain. Sure, they needed absolutely ABSURD requirements (UA 9), including a minimum 18 strength even to consider the class, but still!

Meanwhile, the Half-Elf had greatly expanded level limits, with the ability to go up to level 15 in Ranger with Monty Haul abilities (19 strength, 19 int, 19 wis, 19 con - seriously, it was like Gygax was begging you to cheat). Moreover, UA now had a rule that you could exceed the level limits by an additional two if you single-classed as a demi-human. (UA 8).

...
Those level limits, they argued back then that they would compensate the lack of special abilities humans had, plus reflect the faster learning curve of humans vs the long lived races. But it got ridicolous at some point :
I think female halflings in 1e could only achieve level 4 as a fighter or so, so what special abilities do these have to outwit a level 20 human fighter, if they only made it to level 5 ? Or is it they are especially bad at learning things, combined with their maximum strength of 16?

I do not know how this was played out at tables, most of the characters at my tables at 2e normally never reached the limit levels (which were much higher in 2e), one exception i can remmeber, i retired half elven single class rogue at some point (level 14 i think), but he became successor to Nerof Gasgal in this 2e GHK campaign, so not the worst job. My Ex playing him and everyone else took it easy, it was known upfront that choosing demihuman PC could result in this.

EDIT: Another thing about rangers which confused me was them being required to be LG, NG, or CG, while the druid class, of which it was said they are naturally close to eachother in goals and ideals, had to be TN.
 
Last edited:


Smarmot

Explorer
I'm not buying that the 2e Ranger was not largely influenced by Drizzt. The Crystal Shard was published before 2e and Drizzt was already a very popular character in that very popular novel. (I am aware that he was an afterthought as a character, despite his success.)
Drizzt as originally conceived could have been copy-pasted right out of the Unearthed Arcana as the example of a good-aligned drow character. And it was being a drow that allowed dual wielded scimitars, not being a ranger.
Since drow were not included as a playable race (at least not as distinct from other elves) when the 2nd edition PHB was printed, the only way to replicate the character's schtick (and many, many players wanted to do just that) was to give the schtick to the otherwise severely gutted ranger class.
When Hall of Heroes was printed also in 1989, it referenced the 1st edition Unearthed Arcana in the details about Drizzt. He was definitely a 1st edition character.
To me it's clear the order of events was:
Hey R.A., we need a new sidekick character to put in your novel. flips through Unearthed Arcana Hey how about this? We can use it now that Gary is gone, right? Crystal Shard and especially Drizzt becomes a stunning success but drow player characters have already been thrown in the naughty pile for 2nd edition. Aha! Let's rewrite rangers to keep the fan-boys happy!
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
The problem of the ranger is a version of that suffered by the gnome. They are both palimpsests of different interpretations throughout the years. They get stuck being all and none, and there's no consensus, no core identity. 5e has done a decent job of marrying them all together in both cases; at this point, there is no real core gnome or ranger, they contain multitudes.

In a world recognizing that presenting characters as parts of monocultures is an approach with severe flaws, this is perhaps a good thing, even.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top