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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

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
Clerics serve their deity and perform what tasks their deity wants. That kind of counts as their primary mission and philosophy.
Some clerics certainly do, but not all. If a setting has distant, enigmatic, or whimsical deities there can be clerics who have no idea what their deity wants them to do, clerics who have no idea who their deity is, or even clerics who actively oppose everything (they think) their deity stands for and are worried about the ominous fact that for some reason the deity still gives them spells....

On top of those examples, one can use the Cleric class to represent Ur-priest-style characters who steal their power from unknowing deities.

Or take a page from the hilarious sidebar from the old 3.0 Arms & Equipment Guide about special mounts who are smarter than their Paladins/Blackguards either trying to help hide their master's limitations, or exploiting their masters (depending on alignment). The same could easily be true for a smart cleric and a really dumb deity.

Priestess: "Yes, I am the High Priestess of the Frog God. Yes, he asks for a sacrifice of flies, but few realize that it is but a metaphor for how the fleetingness of life that so troubles us humans is in fact universal, extending even to the most humble of creatures."

Frog God: "What? No! Flies are really tasty! Give me more flies!"

Priestess: buries head in hands
 

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Some clerics certainly do, but not all. If a setting has distant, enigmatic, or whimsical deities there can be clerics who have no idea what their deity wants them to do, clerics who have no idea who their deity is, or even clerics who actively oppose everything (they think) their deity stands for and are worried about the ominous fact that for some reason the deity still gives them spells....

On top of those examples, one can use the Cleric class to represent Ur-priest-style characters who steal their power from unknowing deities.

Or take a page from the hilarious sidebar from the old 3.0 Arms & Equipment Guide about special mounts who are smarter than their Paladins/Blackguards either trying to help hide their master's limitations, or exploiting their masters (depending on alignment). The same could easily be true for a smart cleric and a really dumb deity.

Priestess: "Yes, I am the High Priestess of the Frog God. Yes, he asks for a sacrifice of flies, but few realize that it is but a metaphor for how the fleetingness of life that so troubles us humans is in fact universal, extending even to the most humble of creatures."

Frog God: "What? No! Flies are really tasty! Give me more flies!"

Priestess: buries head in hands
The fact that you can subvert a trope doesn't make it not a trope.
 



Raith5

Adventurer
Imo the ranger would be best served to take inspiration from Gerald / The Witcher as the monster knowledge guy who supplements his fighting style with traps, poisons, etc. The favored enemy bonus also points into that direction.

Agree. I also think this points to the idea that the core archetype of the lightly armored mobile warrior should be called the Hunter rather than the Ranger.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Whoever fights monsters should see to it in the process he does not become a monster. And if you research into the Drizzt, the Drizzt will research back into you.
- Herbert West, animatedly.


Today, on a very special episode of Snarf Explores the Classics featuring a young John Travolta in a sweater, we will be looking into the general topic of "Rangers, what's up with that?" and the more specific question of "What came first, the Drizzt or the Egg?"

Ahem. No. Well, yes, but more particularly:
1. Why do Rangers seem to keep having an identity crisis throughout the editions that has continued to 5e?
2. Did Drizzt create the dual-wielding ranger, or did the dual-wielding ranger create Drizzt?

Given that I am touching on the topic of Rangers AND Drizzt, I am quite sure that this will be a topic that no reasonable person can disagree with. In addition, I would like to thank @auburn2 for bringing this topic to my attention! So, without further preamble, let's talk about the history of the Ranger and how it led to the continuing crisis of identity (all things are IMO, of course, except for citations to the historical record, which are likely true unless I accidentally went into an alternate timeline).

1. The Pre-history and OD&D History of the Ranger.
"First the earth cooled. And then the dinosaurs came, but they got too big and fat, so they all died and they turned into oil." -Joe Strummer, getting the raga drop.


The Ranger first appears in Volume 1, no. 2, of The Strategic Review (TSR, get it?), the precursor to Dragon Magazine., in the summer of '75. Created by Joe Fischer, this is one of the first new classes, and is already an explicit "sub-class" of "Fighting Men." Early on, we see that it already almost fully formed- the level titles (Runner, Strider, Scout et al.), the ability to cast limited spells starting at 9th level (Cleric and MU, since druids don't exist yet), 2 hit dice at first level, a high requirement for constitution (min. 15), and a bizarre grab-bag of abilities that will seem eerily familiar to those who have read a certain fantasy series, including: No more than two can operate together; tracking; resistance to surprise; advantage fighting 'giant class' (really humanoids, from kobolds through giants); and ability to use Palantiri ... um, crystal balls and similar scrying devices.

In the words of Gary Gygax on this forum- "The Ranger class was originally devised by Joe Fischer, then a regular in my D&D game group. I published his initial treatment of the class in The Strategic Review, thereafter revised it and included it in the core game rules. Of course it is apparent that Joe based the class on JRRT's work and Aragorn. Likely a forester of some sort would have been created at some point, but it would have been quite different from the Ranger as it appeared. certainly."

Sometimes things that are obvious, are obvious. The original Ranger was Strider/Aragorn. Joe Fischer wanted to be Aragorn. We've all been there. Whether from the books, or because Viggo is dreamy.

(Finally, there was one additional interesting thing about the class as originally presented; high level rangers would attract followers, including extraordinary followers ... such as a pegasus, or a werebear ... which we will circle around again to for 2e!)


2. The Minor Revisions in AD&D
"If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is probably not the hobby for you." -Mal Cobb, confusingly.


While many other OD&D classes were introduced directly through supplements, the Ranger and the Illusionist are the only two classes that entirely skipped official publication in OD&D and went straight from the magazine to AD&D (1e). Given the number of times that Gygax has gone on record discussing how Tolkien was not that big of an influence on D&D, you would think that he extensively re-worked the Ranger for 1e, right? Right? RIGHT??!!???

Ahem.

Look, there are going to be some necessary changes because the systems changed. The old ranger had to be lawful. The new ranger has to good! The old ranger was a sub-class of fighting-man. The new ranger is a sub-class of fighter! You get the idea. Other than necessary changes, what substantive changes were made to the Aragorn-homage?
Um, well, the old ranger had pre-requisites of I:12, W:12, and Con:15. The new ranger has S:13, I:13, W:13, Con:14.
Switch out from cleric spells to druid spells (which is really an update- druids weren't around at the time).
Allowed three (3!) rangers to operate together instead of two.
Switched some of the d6 mechanics to percentiles, and made the surprise rules even more confusing.
And that's about it. We can pick some more nits here and there (yes, the spell progression changed and lengthened, etc.), but it was pretty-much a whole-hog port of the original class, that was just a thirsty attempt to play Aragorn.

...um, not that there's anything wrong with that. So by now, we have it established. The Ranger is Aragorn. Which is cool, and all, but ... well, classes in D&D generally are "archetypes," and "This one specific dude from one specific book that everyone knows" is not exactly an archetype. The Paladin, which is also a very specific vision, did not suffer from this simply because people were not nearly as familiar with the source material.


3. And then, there was Unearthed Arcana.
"I spent half my money on gambling, alcohol, and women of ill repute. The other half I wasted." -Fred Rogers, winking.


So a brief and minor interlude- in the summer of 1985 (see comments in the threads), Unearthed Arcana was released. Now, normally I like to completely ignore Unearthed Arcana, for the primary reason that, like the vacuum of outer space, it sucks. However, buried in the otherwise useless Ranger additions (mostly tracking stuff) is one bizarre and startling addition in the class; we can call it the Legolas Addition.

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).

So you've opened the door to Elven Rangers, and expanded the world for Half-elven rangers, and added Drow and allowed them to be Rangers. What do Elves do? Well, if you ask "the Guy at your table you always, always, always plays a character named Legolas" then you know the answer. Elves go PEW PEW PEW with their little bows because elves have no soul, dead eyes, and refuse to enter into melee combat like real, honest folk. .... ahem.

Sorry. So, the weird twist in UA is that the Ranger is now required to use a bow (or crossbow) as an initial weapon of proficiency. (UA 22) You might think that is no big deal; but by making this a requirement, and by adding the weapon specialization options, it suddenly becomes much more likely that the Ranger is going to specialize in going pew pew pew with a bow. Suddenly, the Ranger is an archer class!

Wait- so why is this a weird switch in UA? Because the original ranger class had no real special abilities with bows, or ranged weapons. In fact, because the original ranger was allowed to use any armor, and because it had so many prerequisites (S, I, W, Con), it was likely that your ranger was going to have sub-par dexterity, and not really worry about the ranged weapons. The original ranger was far more "later Aragorn in armor, fighting battles" than "wilderness warrior" despite tracking and druid spells. But the UA shift made it that much more likely to be an archer.

4. The Cook and Salvatore- Drizzt and 2e.
"I don't have OCD. I've checked, three or hour hundred times, and I definitely do not have it." -Crush the Sea Turtle, dude-ingly.


For once, I'm going to say this up-front. No hiding the ball.
DRIZZT IS NOT THE REASON FOR THE CHANGE OF THE RANGER IN 2E. PERIOD.

Now, let's read on! Gygax was ousted from TSR at the end of 1985, and the new regime began to turn to de-Gygaxing the product. In 1987, the great TTRPG designer, David "Zeb" Cook led a team to design what we would soon know as 2e. The material with the Ranger came out in the PHB in April, 1989, and was finalized in 1988.

So what changes do we see with the Ranger. Well, the one that immediately jumps out is that the requirement for a minimum intelligence has been replaced with ... you guessed it .... DEXTERITY! And Dexterity is now a prime requisite. But wait, there's more! The switch from the "Aragorn-style" heavily-armored knight-lord is complete, as the rules allow for wearing any armor, but note that many of the Ranger's abilities only work with studded leather or lighter armor ... including a certain brand new one. Are you ready? Are you sure?

That's right. Starting with 2e, the Ranger "can fight two-handed with no penalty to his attack rolls[.]" (PHB 28). The Ranger can still track, but now can also move silently and hide in shadows. Instead of just having "giant class" (humanoids, like orcs and kobolds et al) the Ranger can now pick a particular creature to have a bonus against ... you know, a favored foe. They are friendly with the critters of the wild, and ... blast from The Strategic Review past, can get cool followers at high level, like a werebear or pegasus. Almost like, you know, PETS. Finally, they lost the druid/magic user spells and go back to just casting Priest spells at high levels.

So here is where we get into the Drizzt question. So, did 2e do this to the Ranger because, like Raymond, everyone loves Drizzt?

NO. There are three crucial pieces of evidence for this (and I truly resent having to research this, not being totally into Drizzt. But hey, if you are totally into Drizzt, please feel free to add any corrections necessary):
A. Timing. Drizzt first appears as a sidekick in the Crystal Shard; the book was published after the rules for the 2e Ranger had already been determined and play-tested. Drizzt wasn't a massively popular character until a few years into the 2e run.

B. What Salvatore has said. Drizzt first appears in the novel The Crystal Shard. Drizzt was not some character with a lot of background at the time- instead, he was a last-second replacement in the nearly-finished novel. In Dragon Magazine #188, in 1992, R.A. Salvatore recounted the creation of Drizzt Do'Urden. He said that Drizzt was conceived as Wulfgur's sidekick, and that instead of having any particular planning for it, simply responded in a phone conversation when asked that "I'll do a dark-elf ranger." (Dragon 79). Importantly, Drizzt wasn't based on particular rules.
"And that's where he was born, just like that," Salvatore said, adding that many readers assume the dark elf originated in one of the author's role-playing campaigns. Although the author has played fantasy role-playing games like the ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS game for more than 10 years, "I have to tell you, the game had very little influence on my writing," he said. Instead, his main influences included classical literature and the landmark fantasy works of J. R. R. Tolkien. "I like to think of Drizzt as a cross between Daryth from Doug's book and Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings."


C. What Zeb has said. Dave "Zeb" Cook (effectively the "Gygax" of 2e) has been asked this specific question- yo, is two-weapon fighting for rangers because of Drizzt? And he responded with (I will quote the whole thing, and underline the relevant part):
Well, time was never really the issue with 2e, except that there was just a lot of work to get done. I think I worked on it for about 1 to 1 1/2 years. Of course even with that amount of time there was still a mountain of work to do. As for editorial freedom, there were constraints. Not really heavy handed "Thou shalt nots", but nothing I did was just on a whim. Anything I was changing or adding had to go through a process -- the other designers and editors had their input, the head of the department had his. There really wasn't any detailed input higher than that, but a lot of stated goals -- probably the demons and devils thing (honestly, people make way more of a name change than it deserves!) and the overall concern that we had to retain reasonable playability with 1e where we could.
A good example of the latter was what we could have done with armor class. Gameplay and system mechanics-wise, it would have been much better to change AC so it ran from 0 (worst) up. It's conceptually easier and would have given more flexibility in the design. But that would have made it much harder to use 1e material so we nixed it. There were similar discussion about rolling over or under given number. The systems were inconsistent, but it was what players were familiar with.
I'm not sure where the ranger took shape, though I know it wasn't an imposition because of Drizzt. (Frankly, I've never read more than bits of the Drizzt series.) It was more to make them distinct and it fit with the style and image.


So, between the timing, and the words of both principals, I think we can safely assume that Drizzt was not the reason for the switch. So, as a quick aside, why did Drizzt use two weapons? Well, maybe because two weapons are cool. And maybe ... because he's a dark elf. "Dark elves do not gain the combat bonuses of the surface elves with regard to sword and bow, but may fight with two weapons without penalty, provided each weapon may be easily wielded in one hand" (UA 10). It was just an odd synchronicity that you had emo super elf become popular at a time when a rules change permitted a class to start dual-wielding.


5. And This is Why the Ranger Continues to Baffle.
"Have you ever tried to unmake soup?" -Mr. Creosote, voraciously.


While it might be productive to continue going through and seeing various versions of the Ranger through 3e and 4e, I think that the original sin of the Ranger can be seen right here in the OD&D/1e/2e light.

Essentially, the Ranger was designed to allow someone to play Aragorn. That's it. That's the root of the class. So many of the original class-design features were to allow the class to play as a woodsy-Strider at low levels and a Knightly Aragorn at higher levels, just like the BOOKS! So you had a mishmash of heavy armor, and spellcasting, and tracking, and orc-killin', and only keeping what you and your horse can carry (because ... eh, whatever). Later, UA went more heavily into the archery, which was still weird given that Rangers weren't especially good at Dexterity.

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).

Okay, that's a LOT of words. Snarf is out.


EDITS, ADDENDUMS, AND STUFF
@Alzrius correctly pointed out a dating error in the comments w/r/t UA. Corrected.
Corrected typo per Voadam.
Thanks for the call out. However I disagree and I will post my reasons here. Unlike you I am an avid Drizzt follower and have read on the order of 10,000 pages of Drizzt novels. Here is my rebuttal:

A. Timing - The Crystal Shard was out well before the 2nd edition PHB, and was a much better seller, further Salvatory and the forgotten realms were being pushed and advertised in Dragon magazine as well around the same time (maybe before?) Crystal Shard was published. More or less immediately after that book Drizzt overtook Aragorn as the Archetype for a Ranger. Cook was soliciting input from fans in Dragon magazine starting in 1987 and continuing right up until printing. Finally I don't think anything was being rigorously playtested in 2E in the 80s and the draft of the Crystal Shard would have been available to some of the 2E designers well before it was published as a book.

B. Drizzt design thin and not focused on rules: I get what your saying, but wielding 2 weapons absolutely is a dark elf trait and recognized as such in Drizzt. It is called out in both the Fiend Folio and in the Unearthed Arcana you mention being specific to dark elves. Further, Salvatory might not have put much effort into the rules in general, but he did when it came to 2-weapon fighting and actually put it in print. Drizzt did not learn to be a Ranger in the Underdark, he learned to be a Ranger from Montillo, a blind human Ranger. This was long after he learned to fight with 2 scimitars. During this training Montillo asked him if he wanted a dirk or hand axe to use in his offhand (which is straight out of 1e rules for everyone except dark elves). Drizzt replies that he uses two Scimitars. Montillo, who is like the Ranger of Rangers in the surface world says that is an odd style. Drizzt replies that it is not so odd in his homeland (the land of the Drow who the rules say can do this). This is actually a conversation in a Salvatory Drizzt novel. If dual wielding was part of the Ranger class I think Montillo would have heard about it long before he met Drizzt and Salvatory specifically tied it to Drizzt Dark elf heritage. As an aside Salvatory makes other references to several quirky d&d rules in the early novels as well, this dies down in the latter novels.

C. Cook doesn't know. That is all he had to say but it is fundamentally different from "no it wasn't". If he doesn't know, then he does not know what inspired the idea. Where did this dual wielding Ranger come from? This remains unanswered following Cook's explanation. Maybe the idea came from a fan. Maybe it came from one of his designers. Wherever it came from, I am pretty confident that person got it from Drizzt.

Finally - What is obvious is at some point someone said "A Ranger should wield 2 weapons". What was the inspiration for this? Aragorn didn't do it. Legolas did not do it. Further, why the Ranger and not the Fighter or the Rogue - both of which it actually fits better as an archetype if not for Drizzt. Someone had to come up with that idea, no one involved can say how or why and that someone just happened to come up with it at the same time the most famous Ranger in history burst on the scene?
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Someone had to come up with that idea, no one involved can say how or why and that someone just happened to come up with it at the same time the most famous Ranger in history burst on the scene?
Briefly-

1. Montolio, the blind ranger who taught Drizzt, was first mentioned in Sojourn, in 1991. This is an example of R. A. Salvatore retconning Drizzt to meet the 2e rules, which were published two years before that.
Source-

2. Drizzt was a sidekick in Crystal Shard, it was not released in hardcover, and Drizzt wasn't that big in the TTRPG community until later. The first mention in the community is in Dragon Magazine (March of '88), and it's a blurb for the upcoming release of Crystal Shard which is being sold as an upcoming novel about Wulfgur the Barbarian - no mention of Drizzt. (Dragon 131 at 59). As late as February of 1990, TSR is still previewing and advertising the upcoming end of the Icewind Dale trilogy by saying that it is about Regis, the halfling thief, and not even mentioning Drizzt! (Dragon 154 at 98). In fact, until much later, the only (ONLY) mention of Drizzt I can find in the official mouthpiece of TSR was a rundown of upcoming books about the Forgotten Realms- the FR book are listed after the DL books, and Salvatore's book is listed after Niles's book - which was the pecking order at the time - and Drizzt is mentioned as the third character, after Wulfgur and Bruenor. (Dragon 141 at 69). So while I hear what you are saying, and things quickly started changing with the Dark Elf trilogy from '90 on, and certainly with the beginning of publishing Drizzt in hardcover (which was by '92), it is clear from the record as well as my memory that Drizzt wasn't well established until after 2e had taken off.

3. The reason I quoted the last part is kind of important. Look- I can provide quotes from the guy who actually made 2e. I can provide (and DID!) contemporaneous quotes from Salvatore. I can keep showing you that he wasn't important enough when 2e was being finalized and released. I can remind you that it would be utterly insane for TSR to both demand that a class be made specifically for a character, as well as demand that a race be removed at the same time so NO ONE CAN ACTUALLY PLAY THAT CHARACTER. ;)

Instead, I'm just going to say this- look, if it's super important to you, just do some research. Secrets don't keep. Someone, somewhere, is quoted as revealing the truth that you know to be true. So do the digging, and instead of insisting that Cook and Salvatore and the timeline and articles in Dragon are wrong, just provide some great historical evidence that you are right that I can check and add to the OP! :)
 

You can't resolve the argument one way or another. They may have decided the Ranger needed something new and come up with two weapon fighting independently. Or someone may have just read the Crystal Shard and thought it had just the thing that Rangers needed. The fact that Zeb Cook doesn't remember it is hardly definitive.

It's unresolvable.
 

auburn2

Adventurer
Briefly-

1. Montolio, the blind ranger who taught Drizzt, was first mentioned in Sojourn, in 1991. This is an example of R. A. Salvatore retconning Drizzt to meet the 2e rules, which were published two years before that.
Source-

2. Drizzt was a sidekick in Crystal Shard, it was not released in hardcover, and Drizzt wasn't that big in the TTRPG community until later. The first mention in the community is in Dragon Magazine (March of '88), and it's a blurb for the upcoming release of Crystal Shard which is being sold as an upcoming novel about Wulfgur the Barbarian - no mention of Drizzt. (Dragon 131 at 59). As late as February of 1990, TSR is still previewing and advertising the upcoming end of the Icewind Dale trilogy by saying that it is about Regis, the halfling thief, and not even mentioning Drizzt! (Dragon 154 at 98). In fact, until much later, the only (ONLY) mention of Drizzt I can find in the official mouthpiece of TSR was a rundown of upcoming books about the Forgotten Realms- the FR book are listed after the DL books, and Salvatore's book is listed after Niles's book - which was the pecking order at the time - and Drizzt is mentioned as the third character, after Wulfgur and Bruenor. (Dragon 141 at 69). So while I hear what you are saying, and things quickly started changing with the Dark Elf trilogy from '90 on, and certainly with the beginning of publishing Drizzt in hardcover (which was by '92), it is clear from the record as well as my memory that Drizzt wasn't well established until after 2e had taken off.

3. The reason I quoted the last part is kind of important. Look- I can provide quotes from the guy who actually made 2e. I can provide (and DID!) contemporaneous quotes from Salvatore. I can keep showing you that he wasn't important enough when 2e was being finalized and released. I can remind you that it would be utterly insane for TSR to both demand that a class be made specifically for a character, as well as demand that a race be removed at the same time so NO ONE CAN ACTUALLY PLAY THAT CHARACTER. ;)

Instead, I'm just going to say this- look, if it's super important to you, just do some research. Secrets don't keep. Someone, somewhere, is quoted as revealing the truth that you know to be true. So do the digging, and instead of insisting that Cook and Salvatore and the timeline and articles in Dragon are wrong, just provide some great historical evidence that you are right that I can check and add to the OP! :)
1. In Sojourn Drizzt was reconnected to meet the 1E rules, not the 2E rules. The conversation I mentioned - noting a hand axe and a dirk in the off hand - references 1E rules, as does his 2-weapon fighting style. There is no such distinction in 2E. What you are missing is 1E was more popular than 2E and being played well into the early 90s. Salvatore was writing Sojourn on 1E rules as 2E was brand new, not popular and not out before he started writing it and still incomplete when he finished.

2. I have read the book. Drizzt was one of the the primary characters in the Crystal Shard, honestly THE primary character. Drizzt writes monologs in the book of his thoughts, and is the only character to do so. Part of the book is him reflecting and telling the readers his internal thoughts on life. I don't know what you mean that he was a sidekick. It was republished under the title "Legend of Drizzt" which would be terribly misleading if he was not a main character. Further of all the main characters, his story was the deepest, focusing on not being accepted except first by the child Cattie Brie.

3. Cook did make the 2nd edition, and you have him saying he does not know where the idea for a dual wielding Ranger came from. He was also soliciting inputs from fans in dragon magazine, to include after publication of C.S.

While I am at it, I will note Rangers became bowmen not due to unearthed Arcana but due to an Archer class published in Dragon Magazine, which also included a subclass of "Archer-Ranger". This connection to the Ranger was carried forward into unearthed Arcana.
 
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auburn2

Adventurer
I pulled out some of my old books :)

Hall of Heroes was published about the same time as 2nd edition PHB. It included statistics for Drizzt.

This means factually the staff at TSR not only knew of Drizzt, they had even had speced him out when the PHB was being published.
 

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