Level Up (A5E) The Sadness that is Wilderness Lore (Ranger 12)

scaramouche

Explorer
The A5E Ranger is, to my mind, superior to the O5E Ranger (admittedly a low bar to cross) but still has some weird oddities. Rangers seem to be a particularly difficult class to design for some reason.

And the most illustrative example of this is their level 12 class ability: Wilderness Lore, which offers Rangers two surprisingly anemic options. Even for ribbons / exploration pillar abilities, they're kind of shockingly miserable and I'm wondering if anyone can provide insight on them to help me understand why they're placed where they are.

The first option lets Rangers set traps that ... do 1d8+WIS (probably 2, maybe 3) damage? Or knock enemies over or into pits (which are both superior to the tiny trap damage, but still kind of meh). For a level 12 PC, this seems pretty trivial. Also, is the implication here that only Rangers can set traps? Can someone proficient in, say, Engineering, NOT build equivalent traps? This kind of feels like 'you gain the ability to do something that lots of people can do but with more text'.

The second option lets you skin/scavenge creatures you've killed. Again, is this not something that anyone can do? Is the implication that only L12+ Rangers can scavenge monster parts? Also, the value of what's scavenged feels really paltry. Breaking an ancient dragon down to parts would net 100gp - pocket change for someone in a position to handle an ancient dragon in the first place.

Am I somehow missing some value or cool factor in this feature that Rangers get well into their careers, when they're wielding flaming swords and fighting Beholders and the like?
 

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Faolyn

(she/her)
The thing with the traps is that rangers can make traps for free and in ten minutes using pieces the ranger just finds, while other traps cost more money and can take a long time to make. Like, you can drop your ranger naked in a forest and they'd be able to find roots and vines to make a snare or a shovel-shaped branch to dig a trap.

As for the scavenged parts, my guess is you're pretty much guaranteed the small amount of cash, no matter what--like, you walk into a tiny, 1/2 horse town and can get the gold--but you'd need a specific buyer for other pieces, either by making contact with a Monster Part dealer or by finding a job posted on the Adventurer's Job Board. So that's RP, and you can set the values for as much as you like. And you can't carry extra parts around unless you have some way to preserve them, probably magically because I don't think most people who want a dragon heart will be happy with one that's been pickled or salted. So maybe, kill dragon, sell body part to local Monster Part dealer, offer to sell more parts for money, go back to the corpse, profit. Perhaps with a bit of "other people learned about the dragon and want to harvest parts for their own reasons, so you have to deal with them" stuck in the middle.

I do think that 90-100 gold is not nearly enough for the heart of even a young dragon, but honestly the economy in D&D is so weird anyway that it's hard to figure out what anything should cost.
 

WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
"Waste Not: With 10 minutes work you can scavenge valuable cuts from the corpse of a beast, dragon, monstrosity, or plant that has a CR of 1 or higher and has died within the last hour. If sold to a collector, druid, or other naturalist, this notable component is worth an amount of gold equal to 5 × the creature’s CR."

In regards to Waste Not the "Notable Component" language intrigues me. Does this language mean the ranger finds parts that count as a magical/crafting component? Is it above what would normally be found by standard butchering of the corpse?

As a DM I would probably rule that the ranger finds choice parts beyond what's normally found.
 
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scaramouche

Explorer
Good points, and I agree that there are house rules that can fix these. I did want to call attention to these, however. I quite like A5e. I think its guiding philosophy is strong and it brings innovations to the system. But there are areas that could use another pass, particularly around abilities that let you use a skill to do something the skill should already do (ie. Use Insight to know if someone is lying) or are quite mismatched to level. Wilderness Lore at 3rd level, for instance, would be just fine.

I'm not a game designer, and I'm sensitive to the enormous amount of content in A5e, so I do understand the challenge. If I, in my amateur way, were to rewrite Wilderness Lore, it might look something like this:

Master the Terrain
Not only can you avoid the dangers of natural terrain, but you can make those threats work for you. You take 10 minutes to prepare an area of natural terrain with traps and obstacles, requiring no additional materials. The terrain remains trapped until your next long rest.
While in this terrain, when an enemy moves through a space that no other non-ally has moved through, you may use your reaction to force the enemy to make a Dexterity save against the trap DC (8 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus). If it fails, it suffers one of the following effects (your choice):
  • 1d8 + your Wisdom modifier bludgeoning, slashing, or piercing damage
  • One of the following conditions: Restrained, Grappled, Prone (and movement reduced to 0 until the start of its next turn)
  • 2d6 falling damage and must climb 10' to escape
You can trigger this effect a number of times equal to your Wisdom bonus.

Treasures of Blood and Bone
With 10 minutes work, you can collect valuable materials from the corpse of a beast, dragon, monstrosity, or plant that has a CR of 1 or higher and has died within the last hour. These can immediately be converted into medicinals with a total value of up to 10 times the creature's CR.

Additionally, you are able to preserve any particularly potent materials that your DM determines might serve as magical crafting materials (dragon scales, basilisk eye, treant heart, etc.). These items can be safely packed and stored and will not deteriorate on their own.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
With 10 minutes work, you can collect valuable materials from the corpse of a beast, dragon, monstrosity, or plant that has a CR of 1 or higher and has died within the last hour. These can immediately be converted into medicinals with a total value of up to 10 times the creature's CR.
I think it's too limited. There are plenty of monsters of less than CR 1 that have useful parts. Cockatrice, various snakes, imps, etc.
 



WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
Treasures of Blood and Bone
With 10 minutes work, you can collect valuable materials from the corpse of a beast, dragon, monstrosity, or plant that has a CR of 1 or higher and has died within the last hour. These can immediately be converted into medicinals with a total value of up to 10 times the creature's CR.

Additionally, you are able to preserve any particularly potent materials that your DM determines might serve as magical crafting materials (dragon scales, basilisk eye, treant heart, etc.). These items can be safely packed and stored and will not deteriorate on their own.
I want to review the traps portion when I have a bit more time.

In regards to this I find the language a bit clunky tbh, but I like what you did.

What do you think of the following polishing?

"Waste Not: With 10 minutes work you can scavenge valuable materials from the corpse of a beast, dragon, monstrosity, or plant that has a CR of 1 or higher and has died within the last hour with a total value equal to 10 times the creature's CR. These materials can be used for magical or alchemical crafting and will not deteriorate on their own."
 


scaramouche

Explorer
I want to review the traps portion when I have a bit more time.

In regards to this I find the language a bit clunky tbh, but I like what you did.

What do you think of the following polishing?

"Waste Not: With 10 minutes work you can scavenge valuable materials from the corpse of a beast, dragon, monstrosity, or plant that has a CR of 1 or higher and has died within the last hour with a total value equal to 10 times the creature's CR. These materials can be used for magical or alchemical crafting and will not deteriorate on their own."
Yeah, I think that works well! One reason I put in the medicinals bit in was that one of the advantages of the ability is that you could get, say, a healing potion or antitoxin to use immediately (Here, eat this magical liver, it will totally help, honest) without having to craft. That said, I think your version works perfectly well and with simpler language than I had. Very cool!
 

WarDriveWorley

Adventurer
Yeah, I think that works well! One reason I put in the medicinals bit in was that one of the advantages of the ability is that you could get, say, a healing potion or antitoxin to use immediately (Here, eat this magical liver, it will totally help, honest) without having to craft. That said, I think your version works perfectly well and with simpler language than I had. Very cool!
Magical liver is the best liver. Pairs best with a bag of beans

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Davies

Legend
I would suggest dropping the CR requirement, mostly because giant fire beetles are CR 0 and one of the earliest "you can harvest something useful from this critter" examples I can find is taking their "glowing glands" that continue to glow for a few days after the creature is dead, per Moldvay Basic.

Edit: The value can be changed to "10 times the creature's CR (minimum of 1 gp)"
 
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lichmaster

Adventurer
Honestly I think that the ranger is a vestigial class that keeps being included in the game but struggles more and more to find its reason to exist.
Back when the game was more about combat, the ranger was a class which focused more on exploration, tracking, movement, specific monster knowledge and pets.
In o5e they made the very questionable decision of giving some classes (the ranger in particular) more oomph on the underdeveloped exploration pillar instead on the fighting side, resulting in a class that can shine quite a lot but normally not for much time.
In a5e, with a properly developed exploration pillar, the ranger shines even more on that side. The end result is a class that may feel unsatisfactory if the exploration aspect of the game is not that emphasized (which happens quite a lot, since we've been used to it from previous editions' published adventures).
It does have some cool combat features and flavor, but I think its limit is really on its inherited identity which is very tightly coupled with the exploration aspect of the game. If that's not a thing, the ranger has very little reason to exist. A5e has done a lot to improve also the non exploration aspects of the class, but some features, like trap making, are really underwhelming for the level you get them IMO.
 

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