D&D 5E This Land is My Land: A Guide to the Wisdom Ranger

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
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This Land is My Land
A Guide to the Wisdom Ranger
by Kobold Stew

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The purpose of this guide is to explore the practicalities of a wisdom-based ranger. The ranger does not have a lot of love in 5e, and while there are guides that focus on strength and dexterity builds, I want to explore if a Wisdom build is viable, and if so what it looks like; what is the role of spellcasting in such a build; and how it might play. The result is not optimized for dpr, but it is workable, and will give a Ranger with a different feel.

This guide is framed from the perspective that one already wants to build a character that does not key attacks off of either Strength or Dexterity. Why would you do that to yourself? Welcome to my world. As with any guide, the ideas presented here are mine, and fit my style of play. There are other ways to build rangers that can be optimized for damage.

The guide uses a basic colour scheme to indicate quality within the framework of the build being discussed. Some rankings would hold for any ranger, but some are distinctive for this build:

Gold for the best of the best​
Sky Blue is a very strong choice for this build.​
Blue is a good choice – you can make it work​
Black is viable but not a strong choice​
Purple may be useful in some cases, but isn’t helped by the build​
Red should be avoided or is not needed; there are better choices available​

Sources used: PHB, XGTE, TCOE, VGTM, FTOD, and accepting all the optional rules within those books.

CONTENTS
1. The framework​
2. Getting a Wisdom Attack.​
3. Race/Lineage and Feats​
4. Skills, Background, and Class abilities​
5. Archetypes​
6. Spells​
7. Multiclassing​
8. Sample Builds​
9. Room to Grow.​

1. The Framework.
The premise of the build is that Wisdom is going to be your highest stat for your ranger. To make this work, you are going to want a 14 in Dexterity (to get the most out of medium armor), and, for a melee build, however much Constitution can be managed (because so many spells require concentration). Strength is useful for Athletics but it and Intelligence can both be dumped, as can Charisma (though some Charisma is useful for Fey Wanderer).

For a Wisdom-based character, damage can come from cantrips (weapon cantrips and attack cantrips) and leveled spells. Shillelagh is best for a melee build; it can take advantage of Extra Attack (level 5), archetype features that key off of weapon attacks, and spells such as Hunter’s Mark. While the damage does not scale the way attack cantrips do, it does remain competitive. While Shillelagh can transform a club or a quarterstaff, the result is the same – a one-handed weapon that does 1d8+WIS damage. While the quarterstaff used this way can take advantage of the polearm master feat for an attack with the bonus action, and the additional damage is not the best use of a bonus action, and you do not get range with the attack (consider it only for Hunter, Gloomstalker, and Fey Wanderer archetypes; h/t @RxBriggs )

More challenging is a ranged build using the other weapon cantrip, Magic Stone: it is not clear if it can benefit from Extra attack (though I believe it can, since the attack is made with the Attack option even if it is thrown or slung, not with the Cast a Spell action), but features that require an attack “with a weapon” (such as Hunter’s Mark) seems to require the magic stone to be launched by a sling (which then reduces the effective range): This ruling is still ambiguous, but states:
An attack made with magic stone is a spell attack, even if you hurl the stone with a sling. The attack doesn't qualify for anything that requires a weapon attack, but it does work with a feature that requires a ranged weapon if you use a sling.​
So launching it with a sling is “with a weapon” but throwing it is not. This has to be negotiated with your DM up front, but a range of 60’ when thrown does not count “a weapon attack” (which would benefit from Sharpshooter, for example). Additionally, casting the spell as a bonus action only produces three stones, which means that after level 5 (when you have an Extra Attack), you will be casting this spell every second turn. For a ranged weapon wisdom build, a rogue with Sneak Attack using a sling is less fiddly, since it launches just a single piece of ammunition per turn.

It is also possible to build a wisdom ranger without using a weapon at all. Ranged Attack cantrips require a roll to hit and so shouldn't be used at melee range. Produce Flame works this way, and none of the cleric cantrips do. A bit more flexible are what I call close-range attack cantrips, which either require a melee attack (such as Primal Savagery or Thorn Whip) or require a save, and so can be used at range or at melee distance without disadvantage (e.g. Poison Spray, Frostbite). Neither of these benefit from Extra Attack (which requires the Attack action, not the Cast a Spell action); though damage scales for these attacks, with an extra die coming first at level 5, overall damage is slightly lower. Nevertheless, this is better for rangers with multiple levels of multiclassing, since the damage increases based on total level, and not only level in class.

A wisdom ranger will need at least one of the following options available to them through cantrips. This will determine your combat style more than anything else:
  • Shillelagh
  • Magic Stone with sling
  • Close-range attack cantrips
  • Ranged attack cantrips
The immediate assumption for a wisdom-based ranger is that spellcasting will be foregrounded. Options remain remarkably limited, however, both in terms of spells and slots available. Many Ranger spells require concentration, and so Constitution saves are going to be expected. The standard for Ranger spells by which to merit this is Hunter’s Mark, which adds 1d6 damage with a weapon attack. Does a wisdom-based character offer practical variation from that?

Additionally, there are narrative elements, that can be framed in terms of creating a consistent or appealing character. This is subjective, but it is worth asking how a given character works in play, and in particular whether the character has clear options available in and out of combat; and in combat whether the character has clear options available for their action and bonus action.
 
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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
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2. Getting a Wisdom Attack.

The first question that needs to be asked is how the wisdom ranger is going to get a cantrip that provides a wisdom-based attack. The answer will come from class abilities, race/lineage, feats taken instead of an ASI, or multiclassing (see section 7). You don’t need to have a wisdom attack at level 1 (i.e. from Race/Lineage): with a 14 dexterity, you can easily manage until you gain a fighting style that gives you one at level 2, and if you start at a higher level and are playing with feats, you might choose to wait to take Magic Initiate at level 4.

The choice of your wisdom attack shouldn’t be made in isolation: whether you are going to focus on melee or ranged attacks, and what archetype you are going to pursue are all inter-related choices. Maybe you don’t have a decision yet; that’s fine. But if a particular archetype or race/lineage appeals to you, that might change the choice you make for your attack cantrip. And vice-versa.

a. Race/Lineage (level 1).
Both Variant Human (PHB) and Custom Lineage (TCOE) give the option of a feat selected at first level (see below).

The Kobold (MOTM) may choose a sorcerer cantrip as part of their Kobold Legacy, and they can choose the casting stat. This means that a Kobold Ranger can use wisdom to cast Acid Splash, Chill Touch, Fire Bolt, Poison Spray, Ray of Frost, Shocking Grasp (PHB), Create Bonfire, Frostbite, Infestation, Thunderclap (XGTE), Mind Sliver, or Sword Burst (TCOE). It would b e tough to make any of these work as your primary attack, but it is possible.

b. Class Abilities (level 2)
Druidic Warrior (TCOE), a 2nd-level Fighting Style option, gives two druid cantrips. For cantrip selection, see below. Also, Druidic Warrior lets you swap out cantrips when you level up, which means you aren’t stuck with a choice made early and can guide your character to a playstyle you like.

c. Feats.
Whether it’s taken as part of the race/lineage at level 1 or instead of ASI at level 4, Magic Initiate (Druid) is always a good choice.

Each of these options provide two druid cantrips, at least one of which needs to be one of the following:
  • Create Bonfire. 1d8 (scaling) fire vs DEX, 60’. Some potential for a persistent hazard, but uses your concentration.
  • Frostbite. 1d6 (scaling) cold vs CON, w. disad. 60’. Basic damage, but good opportunity to weaken an opponent’s next attack.
  • Infestation. 1d6 (scaling) poison vs. CON, w. move. 30’. Short range, with unpredictable result of failed save.
  • Magic Stone. 1d6 wis 60’ ranged attack. This is a bit fiddly (see section 1), since it makes a weapon (it is launched with an Attack action, not a Cast a Spell action), but it asks for a ranged spell attack.
  • Poison Spray. 1d12 (scaling) poison vs CON. 10’. With range this short, this is like having reach on a melee attack, and it means you do get to break out your d12.
  • Primal Savagery. 1d10 (scaling) acid melee spell attack. This is a reasonable melee alternative to Shillelagh, but as with Poison spray it means Extra Attack offers no benefit, and does not benefit from Hunter’s Mark. Acid is less resisted than poison.
  • Produce Flame. 1d10 (scaling) fire ranged spell attack 30’. Shorter range than Frostbite and a damage type that is more easily resisted, but good damage, plus it doubles as a Light cantrip (making it better for characters without darkvision).
  • Shillelagh. 1d8 Wis melee attack. Weapon cantrip. This is likely why you are making this build in the first place. The spell works with a club or a quarterstaff. Quarterstaff is needed if you pursue Polearm Master, but otherwise the base weapon doesn't matter. Almost anything can be a club. Have fun: a branch, a shovel, a frying pan...
  • Thorn Whip. 1d6 (scaling) piercing melee attack. A good melee attack with some range and battlefield control. Though Thorn whip has some range, pulling a Large enemy closer to you is not always what you want to do.
  • Thunderclap. 1d6 (scaling) thunder vs. CON. Noisy, indiscriminate, and very short range. No one likes to stand by the Thunderclapper.
Remember that cantrips that require a save (Create Bonfire, Frostbite, Infestation, Poison Spray, Thunderclap) can be used at melee range without penalty, and so can be used for melee or ranged attacks. Like Shillelagh, Primal Savagery and Thorn Whip are melee only.

If you are only taking one attack cantrip, then you may also choose a cantrip that doesn’t hurt others. Of these, the one that will see the most use, even if it is also known by another in the party, is Guidance. It uses your concentration, but also helps you outside of combat while exploring or interacting with others. Druidcraft offers some flavour, and Mold Earth can have fun uses, but neither is urgent for this build, given the very limited selection of cantrips available to you. Gust is generally useless, but combined with Gust of Wind and Wind Wall allows you to have a theme.

If the Wisdom attack has come through Magic initiate, you may also select a single Druid 1st-level spell. The following are worth considering.
  • Earth Tremor. DEX save. Maintains a theme if you have taken Thunderclap, I guess.
  • Faerie Fire. DEX save. A useful spell throughout your adventuring career for dealing with unseen opponents, but it uses your concentration.
  • Healing Word. Bonus action healing can revive a downed colleague, and your WIS adds to the amount healed.
  • Ice Knife. Ranged spell attack and DEX save. Small burst effect with the possibility of hurting a small group.
Additionally, Animal Friendship, Cure Wounds, Entangle, and Snare are all on the Druid’s list as well as a Ranger's. Some DMs will let you add this to your list of available spells, so it is also available to be cast with spell slots, but you can’t count on that -- if so, then Faerie Fire, Healing Word, Cure Wounds, and Entangle all become more desirable.
 
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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
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3. Race/Lineage and Feats

[This section will need to be tweaked in the light of Monsters of the Multiverse]

As always, this choice doesn’t just come down to optimization. You’ve already put that to the side by pursuing this build. As of TCOE, the ability score increases that come from your character’s lineage do not need to follow what is prescribed in the PHB, VGTM, or TCOE. The absence of PHB races with a +2 wisdom is now moot, as any lineage can offer that. This means that any race/lineage can work with this build. Play your favorite, and it can be made to work. I’ll talk about a few possibilities here with particular synergies and opportunities. For convenience, we’ll use the default array to compare the outcomes on a level playing field, but it will be clear that there is little difference in what one can expect in terms of ability scores.

Variant Human (PHB, optional). 16 Wis, 14 Dex, 14 Con (12 10 8). An extra skill and a feat (see below).

Custom Lineage (TCOE). 17 Wis, 14 Dex, 13 Con (12 10 8). Darkvision or a skill, and a feat (see below). If you take a feat that gives a wisdom bonus, a character can start with 18 wisdom.

Solid choices for a feat include:
  • Alert, +5 to initiative
  • Lucky, always a good choice
  • Magic Initiate. Choosing Druid gives you access to Shillelagh or Magic Stone. Choosing Cleric gives you an attack cantrip keyed off of Wisdom and a wider selection of spells. If you can get a wisdom attack another way (e.g. through Druidic Warrior at Ranger 2), Warlock gives you Hex and Wizard gives you Find Familiar, but helpful cantrips are fewer: Mage Hand is on both lists, and would probably be a top choice.
  • Mobile, +10’ move
  • Mounted Combatant becomes a great feat if you are a small-sized Beastmaster
  • Observant, wisdom bonus and an opportunity to argue for the benefit of passive Intelligent (Investigation) checks with your DM. Brings Custom Lineage to 18 Wis.
  • Polearm Master, if you plan on using Shillelagh and not have a shield (not advised). While very good for a strength build, this is unlikely to help a wisdom ranger as much.
  • Resiliant (CON), con bonus and proficiency on con saves; a bit better for Custom Lineage if using the default array.
  • Ritual Caster. Gives you access to Find Familiar (as would Magic Initiate—Wizard) but also other ritual spells such as Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Unseen Servant, Tensor’s Floating Disk, Leomund’s Tiny Hut, Water Breathing, and Phantom Steed. All of which give you flexibility greater outside of combat.
  • Shield Master, if you want to shove with your bonus action; this will affect which archetype you pursue. Though there are other benefits, this is less helpful for this build than Telekinetic.
  • Warcaster, advantage on CON saves for concentration; fa bit better for Variant Human if using the default array
Or, from TCOE:
  • Chef, wisdom or con bonus, a nice side profession if rangering doesn’t work out for you. Can bring Custom Lineage to 18 Wis.
  • Feytouched, wisdom bonus, misty step, and a divination or enchantment spell; see below. Brings Custom Lineage to 18 Wis.
  • Shadowtouched, wisdom bonus, invisibility, and a necromancy or illusion spell; see below. Brings Custom Lineage to 18 Wis.
  • Telekinetic, wisdom bonus, mage hand, bonus shove action. Brings Custom Lineage to 18 Wis.
  • Telepathic, wisdom bonus, detect thoughts, and silent communication with your party. Brings Custom Lineage to 18 Wis.
If you select Feytouched, you also gain another spell, and there are some interesting options not normally available to a Ranger; this spell can also be cast with a spell slot, so it can really expand possibilities. In particular, consider:
  • Hex. Strictly better than Hunter’s Mark, and able to be used with all attacks, not just weapon attacks. This really opens the possibility of a scaling attack cantrip such as Primal Savagery.
  • Bless. One of the most powerful spells through the game, normally restricted to clerics and paladins, but it does use your concentration.
  • Command. You have a spell DC that makes this worth considering.
  • Compelled Duel. Normally a Paladin trick, this helps make a melee ranger sticky.
The spell options for Shadowtouched are less exciting, but still fun: Cause Fear (XGTE), Ray of Sickness, Disguise Self, or Silent Image are all fine, but none makes this better than Feytouched.

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Other races (PHB):
  • Hill Dwarf: Darkvision. Dwarven Toughness and Dwarven Resilience both beef up a melee build. 16 Wis, 14 Dex, 15 Con (12 10 8). Ready for Resilient (Con) at level 4.
  • Wood Elf: Darkvision, Perception. Mask of the Wild, Fleet of Foot, and Fey Ancestry all benefit ranger abilities directly. 17 Wis, 14 Dex, 14 Con (12 10 8). Ready for a feat with a wisdom bonus at level 4.
  • Forest Gnome (post-TCOE*): Darkvision, Minor Illusion cantrip (with a low DC). Gnome Cunning and Speak with Small Beasts give survivability and a ranger flavour, and you no longer need to invest in Intelligence. 17 Wis, 14 Dex, 14 Con (12 10 8). Ready for a feat with a wisdom bonus at level 4.
  • Half-Elf: Darkvision, two skills. 16 Wis, 14 Dex, 13 Con, 14 Cha (10 8). Really good for Fey Wanderer. Ready for a +2 Wis or Resilient (Con) at level 4.
  • Half-Orc (post-TCOE*): Darkvision, Intimidation. Relentless Endurance and Savage Attacks help a melee build, and you no longer need to invest in strength. 17 Wis, 14 Dex, 14 Con (12 10 8). Ready for a feat with a wisdom bonus at level 4.
Other Races (VGTM):
  • Protector Aasimar. Darkvision, necrotic and radiant resistance, Light, Radiant Soul for a bit of extra damage and flight (with no concentration). Healing Hands available for an emergency. 16 Wis, 14 Cha, 14 Dex, 13 Con (10 8). Ready for +2 Wisdom or Resilient (Con) at level 4.
  • Firbolg (post-TCOE*). A number of flavourful features, but not much that makes you more effective in combat: Firbolg Magic, Hidden Step, Speech of Beast and Leaf. 17 Wis, 14 Con, 14 Dex (12 10 8). Ready for a feat with a wisdom bonus at level 4.
  • Lizardfolk. Natural Armor is competitive with Chain Shirt, two relevant skills. Cunning Artisan lets you build your own shield and club (for Shillelagh), and Hungry Jaws gives you an extra attack with your jaws once per short rest, but you should have other things to do with your bonus action than this. Wis 16, Con 15, Dex 14 (12 10 8). Ready for Resilient (Con) or +2 Wisdom at level 4.
  • Bugbear (post-TCOE*). Darkvision, Stealth, Long-Limbed, Surprise Attack all fit the build very well if you do not invest in Strength. 17 Wis, 14 Dex, 14 Con (12 10 8). Ready for a feat with a wisdom bonus at level 4.
  • Goblin. Darkvision and extra damage from Fury of the Small once per short rest. What makes the goblin so effective is Nimble Escape, that lets the ranger Disengage or Hide with a bonus action every turn. This gives a melee character a use for their bonus action every turn, and makes for a particularly effective Gloomstalker or Swarmkeeper.
* "post-TCOE" refers to the new role that initial adjustment of ability scores are floating and can be applied to any ability. The races marked reuire you not to follow the default allocation of ability score increases, but to prioritize WIS, DEX, and CON.

As is clear, there is very little variation between these options in terms of ability scores, and so pick something that sparks joy for how you want to play.
 
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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
4. Skills, Background, and Class Abilities.

Rangers have a good range of skills, and this build does not require or expect anything in particular. A range of skills and tools are available for those that want them, and there is nothing particularly keyed to this build that is needed. A few skills are perhaps worth singling out:
  • Perception. Always important since it is an easy thing for the DM to ask for, but it is in my view overrated. Because you have invested in Wisdom already, it makes sense for you to have the sharpest vision in the party.
  • Stealth. Proficiency in stealth feeds into an ability score you are already quite strong in, and will make up for not maxing it out. At the same time, DEX builds will be better than you at this.
  • Athletics. I am an outlier in believing that this is a skill most characters should take if they have the opportunity. It just covers so many things adventurers do that every notch or two can improve your physical performance, shimmying onto rooves or along ledges, lifting ropes, whatever. This is particularly true since you have likely dumped strength for this build. Proficiency (or even Expertise through Deft Explorer, see below) will keep you competitive, even if it isn’t optimized for resisting grapples (which proficiency in Acrobatics would be). Some DMs can be persuaded when asked for an Athletics roll to allow an Acrobatics roll instead. If in your game the skills are basically interchangeable, Acrobatics is likely better. This is one of the two skills I think it is worth training in particularly if you are not maxing the relevant ability.
  • Investigation is the other. Being proficient in investigation helps as you fiddle with a lock or a contraption in a way that perception does not. Proficiency here can help counter the effects of a dumped Investigation roll, even if it is only you offering Help to another party member.
  • Survival. Another Wisdom skill that meshes with the expected Ranger skillset, and so an easy thing to be strong with. Used for tracking and hunting, and enduring harsh environments.
  • Nature. Take this if you want to have lore at your fingertips but realistically you will be fine without it.
All of these are on the ranger skill list, and so you can take three of them regardless of your background. Nevertheless, background should offer you something you want. Of the PHB backgrounds:

Criminal gives Deception, Stealth, and thieves’ tools.
Folk Hero gives Animal Handling, Survival, vehicles (land), and the ability to find protection amongst commoners.
Outlander gives Athletics, Survival, and the ability to forage for your party (the last being unnecessary if you choose the Goodberry spell).
Sailor gives Athletics, Perception, vehicles (water), and (with the variant feature) a Bad Reputation.
Soldier gives Athletics, Intimidation, and vehicles (land).
Urchin gives Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and thieves’ tools.

The above list is selective, and shows what I think is important for a ranger. Thieves’ tools are good to have proficiency with, even if there is a party rogue (again, the value of the Help action shouldn’t be underestimated), and adding proficiency to checks to control a runaway wagon makes vehicles (land) a solid choice.

I am a firm believer that backgrounds should offer the player whatever they want: PHB p. 127 discusses customization of backgrounds and does not erven present that as an optional rule or one that is DM dependent (though of course everything is DM dependent). Mix and match to your satisfaction, and develop a story around it. Any two skills, any two tools or languages, and any of the background features that are there should be fine. If you are using the default equipment packages, I typically take the one tied to the background feature, which might mean a character at level 1 is proficient in thieves’ tools but don’t own any (yet). You don’t need to take languages, since you will be given two languages with Deft Explorer anyways (where you cannot simply swap them for other proficiencies).

The ranger has a number of class features that have been revised since the game was released. Though they are listed as optional in TCOE, it is worth spelling out the benefits of each choice. In every case, the revision in TCOE is an improvement on the PHB option, and you should take it if allowed by your DM: Favored Foe not Favored Enemy; Deft Explorer not Natural Explorer; Primal Awareness not Primeval Awareness; Nature’s Veil not Hide in Plain Sight.

Level 1:
Assuming options from TCOE are allowed, you have choice between:
  • Favored Enemy (PHB). Requires a choice at levels 1, 6, and 14 of creature type, which is then dependent on the DM integrating those creatures into the game. While there are benefits for tracking and languages, there is no advantage in combat, which makes a dedicated enemy of the undead (for example) feel underwhelming.
  • Favored Foe (TCOE). In contrast, Favored Foe gives you much of the benefits of Hunter’s Mark, with slightly less bonus damage but which does not require dedicating oner of your precious few spells known. Since spellcasting is supposedly your strength, that is particularly freeing. It is less important if you have the **Feytouched feat and have chosen Hex, but still better than the alternative.
Assuming options from TCOE are allowed, you have choice between:
  • Natural Explorer (PHB). Again, requires a choice of a landscaper that may or may not be part of the campaign, offering out of combat benefits (to foraging, etc.) Flavourful but unimportant.
  • Deft Explorer. Expertise in one of your skills and two additional languages at level 1. At level 6, +5’ move and a natural climbing and swimming speed. This, I feel, is a huge benefit, in that with a base speed, you don’t need to make an Athletics roll to accomplish what now become ordinary tasks. A THP burst and the ability to remove exhaustion at level 10 – again, it might not happen a lot, but when it does exhaustion feels completely debilitating, and here it is solved trivially. No question which to take.

Level 2: Spellcasting. See section 6.

Level 2: Fighting Style Options. You choose a fighting style.
  • Archery. For a ranged build, this can add +2 to hit with magic stone if it is thrown with a sling (which reduces the effective range from 60’ to 30’). Probably not worth it.
  • Defense. Solid choice that benefits you throughout your career, but it feels uninteresting since you don’t see it saving you.
  • Duelling. +2 to damage with your Shillelagh, and still lets you use your shield. The best choice for a melee build if you don’t need to take Druidic Warrior.
  • Two-weapon Fighting. Not for you, since you won’t have two shillelaghs at a time.
  • Druidic Warrior (TCOE). You may already have chosen Druidic warrior to get your wisdom attack. If you haven’t, though, here it is.
  • Blind Fighting. Sounds Cool for a melee build, but won’t be used often. Effectively eclipsed by Feral Senses at level 18, if you get that far.
  • Thrown Weapon Fighting. Not for you.

Level 3:
Assuming options from TCOE are allowed, you have choice between:
  • Primeval Awareness. This is an odd ability, allowing you to sense the existence of a particular creature type (e.g. dragons or undead) within a mile of you, but not where they are or how many. Unlikely to be used often.
  • Primal Awareness. Adds another spell known per level. All of the spells are thematic for a ranger, but none is particularly compelling. Still, this is probably a more reliable bet than Primeval Awareness.
Level 4:
Martial Versatility. This offers some flexibility if you took Druidic Warrior and now want to take Magic initiate (Druid), but this is unlikely to be an option you will pursue.

Level 5:
Extra Attack is so important that you probably should not multiclass before level 5. See section 7. Not relevant if using an attack cantrip instead of Shillelagh.

Level 8:
Land’s Stride
. Not being slowed down by difficult terrain is a solid benefit.

Level 10:
Assuming options from TCOE are allowed, you have choice between:
  • Hide in Plain Sight. Not nearly as cool as it sounds.
  • Nature’s Veil. Short term invisibility as a bonus action.

Level 14:
Vanish. Hide as a bonus action is cool, but Rogues get this at level 2, and goblins get it at level 1.

Level 18:
Feral Senses. Effectively 30’ blindsight.

Level 20:
Foe Slayer. Hugely disappointing. It is not clear what benefit this offers if you chose Favored Foe at level 1 (which you did).
 
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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
5. Archetypes/Conclaves.
There are eight available archetypes (conclaves, subclasses) for the ranger. The choice is constrained both by the type of wisdom attack you adopt (section 2) and the choices you make for race/lineage and feats (section 3). If you are using Shillelagh, you are making a melee weapon attack. If you are using Magic Stone in a sling it is a attack with a ranged weapon, even though it is also a spell attack. If you are using a scaling attack cantrip it is a spell attack, but is not with a weapon.

Summary of archetype recommendations based on wisdom attack:
  • Shillelagh: Swarmkeeper, Horizon Walker, Gloomstalker (better if you don’t have darkvision), Fey Wanderer, Monster Hunter, Beastmaster (TCOE), Drakewarden (FTOD), Hunter
  • Magic Stone with sling: Swarmkeeper, Fey Wanderer, Monster Hunter, Hunter, Beastmaster, Drakewarden (FTOD)
  • Close-range attack cantrips [i.e. Primal Savagery, Thorn Whip, or cantrips that require a save such as Poison Spray] Swarmkeeper, Beastmaster (TCOE), Drakewarden (FTOD), Hunter
  • Ranged attack cantrips: Swarmkeeper, Beastmaster (TCOE), Drakewarden (FTOD)
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Six of the archetypes do not require the use of your bonus action in order to work. These are a good choice for characters who might already have committed their bonus action:
  1. those using Magic Stone to attack;
  2. goblins;
  3. those wanting to fight with polearm master or two-weapon fighting (both of which are suboptimal for this build in any case);
  4. those wanting a regular shove action either through Shield Master or Telekinetic;
  5. multiclass rogues, etc.
Hunter
For a wisdom ranger, Hunter is really only effective for a melee build, as the ranged builds all have disappointing levels. Nevertheless, if only using the PHB this is the best option. The Hunter allows choices of combat abilities at levels 3, 7, 11, and 15. The best choice depends on your wisdom attack, and whether you are using Shillelagh, Magic Stone, close-range attack cantrips, or ranged attack cantrips.
  • Shillelagh. (3) Colossos Slayer will be used more often than than Giant Killer. (7) Escape the Horde. (11) Whirlwind. (15) Evasion.
  • Magic Stone. (3) Colossus Slayer is better than Horde Breaker, which uses up your ammunition. (7) Multiattack Defense, unless you are concerned about fear attacks, in which case take Steel Will. (11) Volley, bad as it is, is your best bet. (15) Evasion.
  • Close-range attack cantrips. (3) Giant Killer. (7) Escape the Horde. (11) Whirlwind. (15) Evasion.
  • Ranged attack cantrips. (3) Giant Killer. (7) Multiattack Defense or Steel Will. (11) there is no good choice. (15) Evasion.
All the options at level 7 are reasonable. Escape the Horde fights many; Multiattack Defense is more effective against bosses. Steel Will gives advantage on fear saves, which is always good. With a high wisdom, your saves will be higher than many. At level 15, Evasion is easily the most powerful option, though it comes online very late in the game.

Beastmaster
It is generally agreed that the PHB implementation of the Beastmaster was unsuccessful, and that the beast was simply too fragile to be effective in combat, and the sacrifice of one’s own attack was disadvantageous most of the time. At the same time, having a crocodile or a buffalo as a pet is fun, and small rangers could even be bonded to a beast they could ride as a mount. The official revision was to introduce a different kind of beast-pet in TCOE which is both more durable and more easily replaced/replenished, and which didn’t require optimizing by flipping through looking for particular beasts with particular abilities: players choose from a generic template and add colour at will. My Beast of the Land might look like a hyena or a spider, but its abilities were the same. TCOE represents a substantial improvement, though it does expose a weakness as well (see section 7, under Beast Bond) that means any Beastmaster ranger needs to discuss implementation with their DM. The Beastmaster only works with Shillelagh or sling/Magic Stone builds, and is less good for those with a good use of their bonus action. It is possible to use the TCOE Beastmaster with one of the scaling attack cantrips. For a character that is small, the advantage of an independent mount makes for a constrained but interesting possibility.

The PHB version gave you a beast from the Monster Manual (3), which as an action you can command to attack; after level 5 that command can include a weapon attack from you. Exceptional Training (7) allows your beast’s attacks to be magical (errata), and allows you to use your bonus action to get your beast another non-combat action, including Help, which can give you advantage on your attack. Bestial Fury (11) gives it two attacks, coming online at the same time as the Fighter’s third attack. Share Spells (15) is a bit underwhelming, and for combat purposes only really applies to Absorb Elements and Pass Without Trace.

TCOE changes things so that it is not a wild animal, but a “primal beast”, which can be exchanged for a different type with each long rest. Much more robust, though it loses the man-and-his-bear Grizzly-Adams feel if the classic Beastmaster. Primal Companion (3) lets you command your beast either with a bonus action or using one of your attacks with the Attack action. While the creature is still only capable of one action per turn, that represents considerably more flexibility for the ranger and (importantly for this build) means that you can cast a spell with your Action and still have an attack from your beast. Exceptional Training (7) allows your beast’s attacks to be magical, but the bonus action benefit from the PHB is something you’ve had going since level 3, so it can like you are not getting much, even though you got it early. Bestial Fury (11) still gives the primal beast another attack, and Share Spells (15) remains underwhelming. Unless it’s an aquatic campaign, you’re not going to use Beast of the Sea. Beast of the Sky can be ridden by small characters and has a good chance to knock an enemy prone; Beast of the Sky does comparable damage but has flyby, which makes it similar to an owl familiar.

Gloomstalker (XGTE).
This is an excellent choice for a race without darkvision, and works best with Shilelagh as the wisdom attack. Though it can work with Magic Stone, your bonus action will be casting that spell almost every round. The key combat ability is Dread Ambusher (3), which lets you add your WIS bonus to initiative and have a particularly effective first round of each combat with weapon attacks. Gloom Stalker Magic provides additional spells, and rope trick (5), fear (9) and greater invisibility (13) are all respectable. Iron Mind (7) gives proficiency in Wisdom saves, a valuable bonus for resisting fear and charm effects. Stalker’s Flurry (11) allows an extra weapon attack, if either weapon attack from Extra Attack misses. Shadowy Dodge (15) gives a use for your reaction to impose disadvantage on an incoming attack.

Fey Wanderer (TCOE).
This is a very dynamic option that supports a wisdom build that has invested in at least one Charisma skill, such as a Soldier or a Half-Orc, both of whom have access to Intimidation as default. Both Half Elf and Aasimar wisdom rangers will possibly have +2 on the Charisma checks already, and this gives an additional bonus. It requires either Shillelagh or Magic Stone for the attack cantrip. Dreadful Strikes (3) gives a small amount of extra damage. The wording is clear that such damage can be applied only once per turn to each target, so it supports attacks against multiple opponents in the same turn. That will happen more often when attacking with Magic Stone, which is a nice consequence. It would also synergize with Polearm Master’s second attacks, if you are in melee with more than one opponent. Fey Wanderer Magic again gives an additional spell with each new spell level gained, with the best options coming at level 5 (misty step) and 9 (dispel magic). Otherworldy Glamour (3) allows you to add your wisdom bonus to Charisma skill checks, and gives proficiency in an additional charisma-based skill. Beguiling Twist (7) allows you to turn an attack that might have created a charmed of frightened condition against an enemy. It can therefore support a party member’s attack (if your party’s spellcaster tries to charm an enemy and it saves, you can refocus the magic on another enemy), or invert an enemy attack (if an opponent tries to charm or frighten your party and someone makes a save, you can direct the attack back on an opponent, including the one that cast it. This has the potential for a lot of fun. Fey Reinforcements (11) gives you the spell summon fey, and lets you cast it without the expensive material component and without needing to maintain concentration (though for a reduced duration). Misty Wanderer (15) allows you to cast misty step without a spell slot and to bring an ally with you. All of this is fun, and comes with a “Feywild gift”, such as antlers or always smelling like homebaked cookies.

Swarmkeeper (TCOE)
This is probably the best option for a wisdom ranger using attack cantrips, and it is very effective for Shillelagh and Magic Stone builds as well. Central to the archetype is the existence of a personal swarm. The text is clear that the player can define the nature of the swarm – it does not need to be insects or spiders or rats – but for a good character, it does require some thinking on how to envision the swarm without it disgusting passersby and villagers. Nobody goes up to and talks to the man with the beard of bees. The woodland animals and birds that assist Snow White could be a swarm, as could swirling mists enveloping the ranger or a half dozen hummingbirds hovering just over the ranger’s shoulders. But you need something you and the character can live with. Gathered Swarm (3) gives a bonus to each successful attack (not even limited to once per turn): extra piercing damage, or a possible 15’ push, or a 5’ move for yourself. All of these are effective. The 15’ move requires a strength save, and so good for repositioning casters (perhaps adjacent to an ally), and the 5’ move for yourself would allow you to disengage form an enemy without opportunity attacks against you and to break a grapple. Conceptually there may be a challenge to explain why your locusts are helping the ray of frost attack, but that is solvable. These effects are all enhanced by Mighty Swarm (11). Swarmkeepers Magic again adds another spell per spell level, including faerie fire (3) web (5) and gaseous form (9). It also teaches you Mage Hand, which will synergize well with the Telekinetic feat, extending its range to 60’ and allowing it to operate unseen. Writhing Tide (7) allows limited and very slow flight for a minute, but it does not require concentration. Swarming Dispersal (15) allows you to give yourself resistance to any attack and to teleport 30’, all with a reaction.

Drakewarden (FTOD)
Introduced in Fizban's, the Drakewarden is a variation on the Beastmaster using the TCOE variation. Unlike the Beastmaster, you must use your Bonus action to command it to do anything, and so it has less flexibility than the Primal Companion. Nevertheless, thanks to Bond of Fang and Scale (7), the drake becomes a (non-flying) mount for small and medium characters: that gives it a distinct advantage over the Beastmaster for medium-sized characters. Perfected Bond (15) makes the drake Large size and able to fly while mounted.

Two of the archetypes require the use of your bonus action in order to work. They are generally a poor choice for characters who might already have committed their bonus action.

Horizon Walker (TCOE)
The Horizon Walker is a fantastic concept – the lone traveller who crosses the planes – and this implementation does not live up to that potential. It is a very effective combat build however, with some fun and powerful abilities for a wisdom ranger using shillelagh or sling/Magic Stone. Horizon Walker Magic adds some great spells (misty step at 5, fear at 9, banishment at 13). Detect Portal (3) is almost useless: even if the DM is placing portals in your way, you can only check for them once per short rest. The real meat, however, comes with Planar Warrior (3) where you can use a bonus action to add damage to a weapon attack (+1d8, +2d8 after 11) and all the damage becomes the rarely resisted force damage. Ethereal Step (7) lets you become cast etherealness once per short rest that lasts a single turn: whereas you must see your destination with Misty Step, walls, floors, and prison bars are no longer a barrier. Distant Strike (11) allows you to hit multiple opponents with separate attacks, teleporting between them. The image of flicking around the battlefield hitting up to three opponents is cool, but requires some tactical thinking as you split your before each teleport to position yourself most advantageously. Since Planar Warrior only affects one target, the extra damage does not synergize perfectly. Spectral Defense (15) uses a reaction to give you resistance to any one type of damage from an attack after the attack has landed. While the build is effective for a dex-build archer, it is certainly viable for a Shillelagh build, but comes on very late compared to the rogue’s Uncanny Dodge, which is similar.

Monster Slayer (TCOE)
In some ways this is a revision of the hunter, offering fewer build choices along the way but allowing greater flexibility between melee and ranged attacks. It requires weapon attacks and so requires a Shillelagh or sling/Magic Stone build. The additions to the spell list from Monster Slayer Magic are fine but not especially compelling until Banishment at 13. Hunter’s Sense (3) allows you to identify potential weaknesses in an opponent, useful for identifying the way past boss opponents (and a Telepathic ranger could silently convey this information to allies). How often this will come into play depends on the campaign, but it could make-or-break the pursuit of a high-level opponent. Slayer’s Prey (3) allows a bonus action to mark an opponent which then suffers +1d6 damage. Unlike the Horizon Walker’s Planar Warrior, it does not need to be repeated each turn, which means if you seek out opponents that will take multiple turns to kill, you have your bonus action for other things. It doesn’t require concentration, and so stacks with Hunter’s Mark. Supernatural Defense (7) gives you +1d6 on saves and grapple escapes from the designated target of Slayer’s Prey (again encouraging the monster slayer to bypass minions and head for the boss). This becomes a pre-emptive attack with Slayer’s Counter (15). Magic-User’s Nemesis (11) gives you a focused defense against spellcasting enemies.
 
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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
6. Spells.
By 12th level, a Ranger only has 8 spells: 3 x 1st level, 2 x 2nd level, 2 x 3rd level (though substitutions are possible at each new level). This list can be expanded based on the Archetype chosen. Additionally, **Primal Awareness (optional, TCOE) adds one spell with each new level, but nothing that would normally be selected given the limited choices available to a Wisdom Ranger. Comparison is immediately going to be measured against Hunter’s Mark, a first-level Ranger spell that does not require concentration and does not benefit from a high wisdom, and requires no save, giving it +1d6 damage from any attack (not even just 1/turn. With so few spell slots and spells known, it is hard to beat that. But let’s try.

As we shall see, the most effective Ranger spells are summons, which are more powerful because of your wisdom build, and battlefield control, which generally aren’t. Using your spell slots efficiently is not straightforward.

Enough of the best spells have material components, that you will need a component pouch or a druidic focus (see TCOE), unless you have the Warcaster or the Artificer Adept feat. Spells with the ritual tag are marked; if enough of these appeal to you, consider getting the Ritual Caster feat. None is needed for one of your spells known.

druid_by_captdiablo_de63hv3-fullview-e1626640173265.jpg


I’m not going to describe every spell, but focus on those that benefit from your high wisdom, and ones that I see as potential rivals for one of your spells known. The Wisdom-based spells will have a better effect for you than for a traditional ranger. Many of these spells also require concentration, and rangers are usually concentrating on Hunter’s Mark.

Hunter’s Mark. The benchmark of utility in combat, this first-level spell is valuable. It requires a weapon attack, so should not be considered by a wisdom ranger relying on attack cantrips for damage. In most circumstances, it is not as powerful as Hex, if you can get it through a feat (Magic Initiate or Feytouched) and does not require a weapon attack. Unless you are planning on tracking your opponent, disadvantage on its Dex save/hiding roll is always stronger. Otherwise, it is always good to have available. If that’s true, then why not sky blue? If you are playing with the TCOE option of Favored Foe, you can get a very similar benefit (bonus damage, but no advantage on tracking or spotting) using a separate mechanism (proficiency times per long rest). From level 6, the bonus damage is the same (+1d6; +1d4 before then, +1d8 after 14). It’s still worth knowing, especially if you expect many encounters per adventuring day, but not quite essential any more.

Fiurther, for the Horizon Walker it becomes even less necessary, and other spells that require concentration can mix up the expectations for a Ranger (e.g. with Haste).

Level 1 spells:
  • Animal friendship (creature gets a WIS save). Weak effect, and comes late.
  • Cure wounds (WIS adds to the HP healed). Healing is always good but given your number of spells known, this is probably not needed. (If taken as part of Magic Initiate, it becomes a better choice.)
  • Ensnaring Strike. (WIS adds to the DC for a STR save; requires a weapon attack). It only affects a single target, but for a low-strength threat it is a great way of shutting them down. You’ll cast this better than most, and it can last most of the fight if you maintain your concentration.
  • Entangle (WIS adds to the DC for a STR save; optional TCOE). Great battlefield control, covering a 20x20’ area, requires concentration. Lacks the damage from Ensnaring strike, but can potentially grab multiple opponents. Added as an optional spell in TCOE.
  • Hail of Thorns (WIS adds to the DC for a DEX save; requires a ranged weapon attack). For a sling/Magic Stone build, this turns a single bullet into a small burst-effect, so that a single successful attack affects all within 5’. The concentration requirement allows it to last until it is successful, so you are not wasting your slot.
  • Searing Smite (WIS adds to the DC for a CON save; requires a melee weapon attack; optional TCOE). Similar to Ensnaring Strike, but with fire. Useful if you are building a theme, but only works with a Shillelagh build. Added as an optional spell in TCOE.
  • Snare (WIS adds to DC for an INT (Arcana) roll to perceive it and for the DEX save to get out; XGTE). While you can make more of this spell than another ranger, it’s really best cast by a druid who has more spells available.
Other level 1 spells to consider:
  • Absorb elements (XGTE). Very useful resistance from a spell that lasts through your career.
  • Beast Bond (XGTE). Telepathic link with a beast seems tailor-made for a PHB Beastmaster, and under the PHB rules it works, giving your beast advantage on creatures within 5’ of you. In that circumstance, it seems a good (but still not inevitable) use for your concentration. Under the revised TCOE Beastmaster, though, it no longer works since your beast’s intelligence is too high (as high as some in your party probably).
  • Goodberry. Like Cure wounds, it is always good to have some healing available, but it is never going to be your strength, and does not benefit from your wisdom.
  • Hunter’s Mark. See above.
  • Alarm®. Not worth one of your precious spells known, unless you are adventuring solo. Even then, Snare is probably better.
  • Detect Magic®. Someone should know this in the party, but it’s best if it’s not you.
  • Speak With Animals®. Given to you if you choose Primal Awareness; ritual if you become a ritual caster. Not very useful most of the time, though.
  • Zephyr Strike (XGTE). Gives yourself advantage and bonus damage and a free 30’ movement. It allows you to cover a great deal of ground, but only to benefit from a single strike.
Summary. Entangle and Absorb Elements are the two strongest spells available to you at this level, and at least one of them should be in your initial selection. I’ve argued that if you are playing with the TCOE options, you don’t need Hunter’s Mark, but it remains valuable if you are using Shillelagh or Sling. Nevertheless, a case can be made for considering Hail of Thorns for a slinger, and Cure Wounds for some back-up healing or if you are using attack cantrips.

Level 2 spells:
  • Cordon of arrows (WIS adds to the DC for a DEX save). Like Alarm and Snare, this is another 8-hour defensive option for use during a long rest. Like Alarm and Snare, it is not worth taking.
  • Gust of Wind (WIS adds to the DC for a STR save; optional TCOE). While it uses your concentration, this is a means to push anyone straight away from you 15’. They need to be in a line however, and though there are secondary effects, they are too circumstantial for this to be a good spell choice.
  • Healing Spirit (XGTE). With your high wisdom you get more use out of this than many, and it lets you give a small HP bonus to multiple targets. Uses your concentration.
  • Spike Growth (WIS adds to the DC for a Perception roll). Your Wisdom doesn’t help a lot, but this is such an effective spell, that it is worth taking and against multiple opponents it is an effective use of your concentration.
  • Summon Beast (WIS improves creature’s to-hit roll; optional TCOE). This spell gives you an ally in combat who can have Flyby or Pack Tactics, and whose attack roll is keyed off of your WIS bonus. It can last up to an hour, and so is a solid investment of a spell slot in place of Hunter’s Mark. 200 gp material component is required, but isn’t consumed.
Other level 2 spells to consider:
  • Aid (optional TCOE). Great spell, but so many spellcasters have this on their list. You probably don’t have that luxury, but it does benefit multiple people in your party
  • Enhanced Ability (optional TCOE). A very flexible spell on a lot of lists, but worth considering since it has many out—of-combat uses, and lets you shine, or help someone else shine, when needed.
  • Lesser Restoration. I love this spell, and always keep it prepared when I play a cleric. The blind can see, the deaf can hear, the lame can walk. Clerics and druids can have access to it much earlier than you, though, so it’s only worth taking if no one else in the party has access to it.
  • Pass Without Trace. Huge bonus for you and your party on stealth checks. Though it requires concentration, it is only available to rangers and druids, and so might be worth an investment from you.
  • Magic Weapon (optional TCOE). You don’t need this as a wisdom build. IF used with a shillelagh, you need to cast it on your club before you cast shillelagh, which is annoying for limited benefit (+1 to hit/damage vs. +1d6 damage from Hunter’s mark).
  • Silence®. A great spell to have when needed, but you don’t have the luxury to take it.
  • Beast Sense. Given to you if you choose Primal Awareness. Not very useful most of the time, though.
Summary. Spike Growth and Summon Beast are your best bets; but consider one of Healing Spirit, Pass Without Trace, or Enhanced ability. Offensive options are few; your attack cantrip or shillelagh is still the best basic use of your action

Level 3 spells:
  • Conjure Barrage (WIS adds to the DC of a DEX save). Toss a dart (or arrow or handaxe) into the air, and manifest a 60’ cone that does 3d8 (save for half). A single dart instantly becoming a blizzard of needles is fun if you are facing hordes, but most of the time you should be able to do more with a third level spell slot.
  • Summon Fey (WIS adds to the fey’s attack roll and the DC of the charm save from a Mirthful Fey; optional TCOE). If you’ve enjoyed summoning beasts, this expands your options or can serve as a good replacement. For a Wisdom build, the Mirthful Fey has a good chance of shutting down opponents with charm effects and teleportation. 300 gp material component is required, but isn’t consumed.
  • Wind Wall. (WIS adds to the attack DC of a STR save). More effective than Gust of Wind, and is very good for deflecting ranged attacks; still only 3d8 damage.
Other level 3 spells to consider:
  • Conjure animals. Unlike the elegant Summon Beast, Conjure animals is too fiddly and too uncertain, since the DM determines the exact type of monster that arrives. Your wisdom doesn’t improve it, and a druid will have had this spell for four levels at this point. The spell comes online too late for it to be worth your time.
  • Meld into Stone (optional TCOE). Unless this is going to be your schtick (“I get stoned before I go to sleep”), it’s a pass.
  • Nondetection. The power to avoid any divination is great, but it is not something you can do every day, and it is available to bards and wizards, who get it sooner.
  • Plant Growth. As a combat spell, it prevents opponents in a huge space (100’ radius) getting closer to you (or escaping), which makes this a great spell for rangers using attack cantrips. It also has an economy-breaking out-of-combat use that lets you bless every farmer in the area if you have a spell slot free before you fall asleep. Conceptually, the spell needs some plant life, but even a dungeon has algae on the walls that can be made to grow.
  • Revivify (optional TCOE). A great spell that restores a life just lost, but it is available to many classes and has an expensive material component.
  • Protection from Elements. A very good spell, but not a good use of your concentration.
  • Speak with Plants. Given to you if you choose Primal Awareness. Not very useful most of the time, though.
Summary. Level 3 is where some great spells come online in the archetype lists: Haste, Fear (which benefits from your high wisdom), and Gaseous Form. None of the spells at this level have that efficacy. Summon Fey and Plant Growth stand out for me, but Conjure Barrage, Wind Wall, and Revivify are all fine choices if they reflect the role you want to serve in the party.

Level 4 spells:
  • Dominate Beast. (WIS adds to the attack DC of a WIS save; requires concentration; optional TCOE). By the time you have access to this spell, the beasts in the game should not be a problem for you, even if you hunt dinosaurs. Requires concentration.
  • Grasping Vine (WIS adds to the attack DC of a WIS save; requires concentration). Ineffective battlefield control, and only slightly more effective than options available much earlier.
  • Summon Elemental. (WIS adds to the to-hit roll of a slam attack; optional TCOE). While thematically interesting for some characters, the creature summoned is not noticeably more powerful than a fey (which has charm) or beast (which has pack tactics) summoned with a fourth-level slot.
Other level 4 spells to consider:
  • Freedom of Movement. Other party members will have had this spell since level 7; you do not have access to it until level 13, and it replicates some abilities that you have had personally since level 8 with Land’s Stride. If it is useful, you should already know this.
  • Guardian of Nature (XGTE). The Great Tree option gives advantage on all your wisdom-based attacks and on CON saves for maintaining concentration, the latter being useful if you haven’t yet taken Resiliant (CON) or Warcaster as a feat. The addition of some terrain control that moves with you is a bonus.
  • Stoneskin. Resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing gives you some longevity in combat, but it probably isn’t worth your concentration and a high spell level, unless you are a Beastmaster in which case it can be shared with your beast at level 15. A one-level dip in Barbarian can give you this while raging, but then you wouldn’t be concentrating on anything.
  • Locate Creature. Given to you if you choose Primal Awareness. Not very useful most of the time, though.
Summary. Only Guardian of Nature is worth your attention at this level, though some archetypes get Banishment and Greater Invisibility, both of which are strong. Using the spell slot to up-cast one of the summon spells, however, gives that creature a multiattack for the first time.

Level 5 spells:
  • Conjure Volley (WIS adds to the attack DC of a DEX save). A substantial upgrade to Conjure Barrage, great for softening up an enemy in the first round of combat. Again, a reason to have a few darts in the pocket, or a blowgun.
  • Steel Wind Strike (XGTE). Less damage than Conjure Volley, but allows a focused attack on five enemies for a Shillelagh build. I can’t explain the 1sp melee weapon component, but at least that includes both club and quarterstaff.
  • Wrath of Nature (WIS adds to the various attack rolls and saves; XGTE). Ranged spell attack requiring concentration as rocks and vines and trees and grass all turn against your enemy. It’s a very flavorful spell, but probably won’t see a lot of use.
Other level 5 spells to consider:
  • Greater Restoration® (optional TCOE). Another spell that comes too late for it to be of benefit to you.
  • Swift Quiver. The distinctive ranger-only spell does not work for a wisdom build, since it needs ammunition in a quiver.
  • Tree Stride. A cool idea that is awful in implementation. Stay away.
  • Commune with Nature®. Given to you if you choose Primal Awareness. Not very useful most of the time, though.
Summary. Fifth-level spells become available at level 17, and if multiclassing is available it probably would be later still. Conjure Volley and Wrath of Nature are both fun spells, but it requires a substantial investment to get here, and not every campaign will do so.
 
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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
7. Multiclassing

If multiclassing is allowed in your game, the first question to consider is when to take levels in another class. Given the important power jump at level 5, when extra attack kicks in (or your cantrip scales, if you are using an attack cantrip as your wisdom attack), there is little to no benefit in multiclassing before level 5 unless it is for your first level and there is a particular class feature that you want. For me, the Roving benefit from Deft Explorer at level 6 is key to keeping your character mobile, and Favoured Foe bumps up to a d6. Level 7 gives an archetype ability and for Hunter and Beastmaster (and possibly Horizon Walker) grabbing it seems a good bet; level 8 gives an ASI and Land’s Stride, which removes the challenge of difficult terrain. Level 9 gives you third-level spells, which will be most appealing to Gloomstalkers and Horizon Walkers. For different characters, any of 6, 7, 8, 9 (“mid-levels”) are reasonable jumping-off points. Whether you come back is up to you. (I am not optimizing for level 20; the goal is to have fun at these mid-levels and still be viable higher up.

Suggestions below assume you have a Dex 13+ and Wis 13+

Starting with a level in another class.
If you are using an attack cantrip as your wisdom attack, you should only consider Cleric or Druid. Any of these can work with sling/Magic Stone, and all but rogue are good for Shillelagh builds.

Cleric 1. More spellcasting and cantrips allow you a choice of some close-range attack cantrips. You also become a ritual caster for spells you have prepared. Proficiency in Wisdom saves might pre-empt the benefit of some subclasses (e.g. gloomstalker 7).
  • Knowledge Domain gives you expertise in two knowledge-skills and the ability to cast Command.
  • Light Domain gives you an extra cantrip, Faerie Fire, and Warding Flare that can cause an opponent to attack with disadvantage.
  • Nature Domain gives you a druid cantrip (Shillelagh, Magic Stone, or an attack cantrip), a relevant skill, and proficiency in heavy armor if sneaking is not going to be your thing.
  • War Domain lets you make an extra attack with a Shillelagh or sling as a bonus action, which is good for Gloomstalker, Fey Wanderer, or Swarmkeeper.
  • Forge Domain (XGTE) gives proficiency in heavy armor and the ability to make your weapon +1 (if cast before Shillelagh).
  • (Peace Domain’s Emboldening Bond is too strong, and outclasses everything else; I can’t face it.)
  • Grave Domain (XGTE) gives another cantrip (Spare the Dying, usable at range) and the ability to sense undead, which is good if you style yourself as a crypthunter.
  • Twilight Domain (TCOE) gives heavy armor proficiency, Faerie Fire, Eyes of the night (great if you do not have darkvision), and vigilant blessing, which gives someone advantage on an initiative roll.
Druid 1. Easy access to druid attack cantrips including Shillelagh, and relevant spellcasting. You also become a ritual caster for spells you have prepared. Plan on taking at least one more level once you have Ranger 5. Also, you are foregoing wearing metal armor of any kind with this choice.

Fighter 1. Gives you proficiency in constitution saves, a fighting style (Shillelagh fighters should take Duelling for an extra +2 damage on each hit; sling/Magic Stone should take archery), and Second Wind, for a burst of hit points if needed. Also gives proficiency in heavy armor, but you will still need at least a 13 dexterity to be able to multiclass.

Monk 1. Unarmored Defense means you will likely start with AC 15 or 16, but you will not be able to use a shield. Martial Arts means that you can make an unarmed strike as a bonus action, but it will use your dexterity, and so be 1d4+2 damage on a hit.

Rogue 1. Proficiency in an extra skill and thieves’ tools, expertise in two skills (or thieves’ tools), and +1d6 sneak attack if you are using sling/Magic Stone as your wisdom attack; better still if you are a Beastmaster using a sling, since you can reliably gain the extra sneak attack damage.


Multi-classing at mid-levels.​

Cleric 1. Still desirable for the extra spellcasting, but you probably have already sorted how you attain a Wisdom attack, and so not as strong.
Cleric 2. Channel Divinity becomes available, for some ability to turn undead and a domain feature. Of note are the following:
  • Knowledge. Gain proficiency in any skill or tool. Great for overcoming obstacles on your own, but less valuable in a party.
  • War. Guided Strike, for when you absolutely need to hit your enemy.
  • Twilight. Twilight sanctuary can be very powerful for overcoming charm or fear effects.
Cleric 3. Access to second-level spells, including Aid, Calm Emotions, Lesser Restoration, and Spiritual Weapon which is a good use of your bonus action if you haven’t solved that yet (without requiring concentration).

Druid 1. Less urgent since you already have your wisdom attack sorted.
Druid 2. Access to wild shape which has amazing utility and gives a new feel for your ranger. The optional rule for a Wild Companion means you can summon a familiar for an hour if you wish. You can also choose a Circle. Good choices include:
  • Circle of Land gives extra spells including another cantrip.
  • Circle of Shepherd means you can talk to beasts (like the gnome ability) and learn Sylvan, and can create a Spirit Totem, all the options of which benefit the wisdom ranger build.
  • Circle of Stars gives guidance, knowledge of Guiding bolt, and a wildshape option to assume Dragon form which means you can’t roll less than 10 on a concentration check.

Fighter 1. Taking it late means you miss out on constitution proficiency and Heavy Armor proficiency.
Fighter 2. Action Surge is why you have pursued this path.
Fighter 3. Battlemaster gives you some combat maneuvers that work well with a Shillelagh build. Cavalier gives proficiencies and some uses for your bonus action, and is particularly good for a small-sized Beastmaster. Samurai also has some skill proficiencies and works with a Shillelagh or sling/Magic Stone build.

Monk 1. As above, but you've been slow taking this up.
Monk 2. Adds the ability to add ki abilities if you do not have something to do with your bonus action already. If you are using the unarmored defense, your movement improves by 10’.
Monk 3. Reaction to deflect missiles, and you choose a Monastic Tradition.
  • Way of Shadow adds some useful stealth skills.
  • Path of the Kensai lets you use your shillelagh to give you +2 AC.
  • Way of the Astral Self makes good use of your Wisdom, including with your ki abilities.
Rogue 1. As above.
Rogue 2. Gives you cunning action, which is the most flexibility you will have for your bonus action, unless you are a Beastmaster, Horizon Walker, or Monster Slayer.
Rogue 3, unless you are using a sling, you now have +2d6 form sneak attack. Of the archetype abiltities:
  • Assassin’s assassinate feature works very well with Gloomstalker.
  • Mastermind lets you Help at range, if you still haven’t found a use for your bonus action.
  • Scout gives you proficiency and expertise in both Nature and Survival, if you have lasted this long without them.

Circle-of-the-Moon-Druid-Best-Druid-Spells-5e.jpg
 
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Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
8. Sample Builds.

The purpose of each of these examples is to give a snapshot of what a wisdom-based ranger might look like at levels 1, 5, and 10. I assume a standard array, and no magic items.

Example 1. Variant Human Beastmaster
A wisdom-based Beastmaster, using the options from Tasha's, and taking a one-level CLeric dip at level 6 to expand spellcasting options and pick up darkvision. There is some flexibility, with ranged and melee attacks, as he guides a primal cougar.
Ranger 1
S12 (save +3) D14 (save +4) C14 I8 W16 Ch10

Attack: Rapier 1d20+4, 1d8+2 piercing [+1d4 w/ favored foe]

Proficiency +2
HP 12
AC 17 (chain shirt and shield)
Size: M.
Move: Walk 30’
Languages: Common, Goblin.
Proficiencies: Light, Medium Armor; Shields; Simple, Martial Weapons
Skills: Animal Handling, Survival, Perception, Athletics (exp), Stealth
Tools: Vehicles (Land), Thieves’ Tools

Background Feature: Folk Hero (custom)
  • Rustic Hospitality.
  • subbing Thieves’ Tools for Artisan’s tools.
Ranger Abilities:
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d4 damage (3/long]
Ranger (Beastmaster) 5
S12 (save +4) D14 (save +5) C14 I8 W16 Ch10

Attack: Shillelagh 1d20+6, 1d8+5 bludgeoning [+1d4 w/ favored foe] (x 2)
Frostbite: DC 14 of 2d6 cold and disad. On next weapon attack, 60’ [+1d4 w/ favored foe]

Companion Maul: 1d20+6, 1d8+5 slashing (charge: if move 20’ towards target before attack: +1d6 slashing and DC 14 Strength save or be knocked prone)

Proficiency +3
HP 44
AC 18 (breast plate and shield)
Size: M.
Move: Walk 30’
Languages: Common, Goblin Sylvan, Draconic
Proficiencies: Light, Medium Armor; Shields; Simple, Martial Weapons
Skills: Animal Handling, Survival, Perception, Athletics (exp), Stealth
Tools: Vehicles (Land), Thieves’ Tools

Spellcasting:
  • Cantrip: Shillelagh, Frostbite
  • Slots: 4xlevel 1, 2xlevel 2
  • Spells Known: 4 ranger (level 1): Entangle, Absorb Elements, Hunter’s Mark (+Speak With Animals); (level 2): Spike Growth (+Beast Sense)
  • Spells Known (Magic Initiate (druid)): Healing Word 1d4+3 (1/long)
Background Feature: Folk Hero (custom)
  • Rustic Hospitality.
  • subbing Thieves’ Tools for Artisan’s tools.
Ranger Abilities:
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d4 damage (3/long)
  • Duelling Fighting Style (+2 damage w/ Shillelagh)
  • Extra Attack
  • Primal Companion: Dodge, unless Bonus used to use another action, or one of my attacks to attack. Spell slot to restore (1 min); different beast can be summoned after long rest.
Primal Companion(typically): Beast of the Land (in form of cougar)
  • AC 16, 30 HP, 40’ move, climb
  • Maul: 1d20+6, 1d8+5 slashing (charge: if move 20’ towards target before attack: +1d6 slashing and DC 14 Strength save or be knocked prone)
Ranger (Beastmaster) 9/Cleric (Twilight) 1
S12 (save +5) D14 (save +6) C14 I8 W18 Ch10

Attack: Shillelagh 1d20+7, 1d8+6 bludgeoning [+1d6 w/ favored foe] (x 2)
Frostbite: DC 14 of 2d6 cold and disad. On next weapon attack, 60’ [+1d6 w/ favored foe]

Companion Maul: 1d20+7, 1d8+6 magical slashing (charge: if move 20’ towards target before attack: +1d6 slashing and DC 16 Strength save or be knocked prone)

Proficiency +4
HP 83
AC 18 (breast plate and shield)
Size: M.
Move: Walk, Climb, Swim 35’
Languages: Common, Goblin Sylvan, Draconic
Proficiencies: Light, Medium, Heavy Armor; Shields; Simple, Martial Weapons
Skills: Animal Handling, Survival, Perception, Athletics (exp), Stealth
Tools: Vehicles (Land), Thieves’ Tools

Spellcasting (DC 16):
  • Cantrip: Shillelagh, Frostbite, Guidance, Mending, Spare the Dying
  • Slots: 4xlevel 1, 3xlevel 2, 3xlevel 3
  • Spells Known: 6 ranger (level 1): Entangle, Absorb Elements, Hunter’s Mark (+Speak With Animals); (level 2): Spike Growth, Summon Beast (+Beast Sense); (level 3) Plant Growth (+Speak with Plants)
  • Cleric Spells Prepared (4xlevel 1): [Bless, Purify Food and Drink ®, Detect Magic ®, Cure Wounds typically prepared] (+Faerie Fire, Sleep)
  • Spells Known (Magic Initiate (druid)): Healing Word 1d4+3 (1/long)
  • Focus, Ritual Casting
Background Feature: Folk Hero (custom)
  • Rustic Hospitality.
  • subbing Thieves’ Tools for Artisan’s tools.
Ranger Abilities:
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d6 damage (3/long)
  • Duelling Fighting Style (+2 damage w/ Shillelagh)
  • Extra Attack
  • Land’s Stride: no difficult terrain, no effects from nonmagical plants, adv to save vs. magical plants
  • Primal Companion: Dodge, unless Bonus used to use another action, or one of my attacks to attack. Spell slot to restore (1 min); different beast can be summoned after long rest.
Cleric Abilities:
  • Eyes of the Night. 300’ Darkvision. Action to share it with 4 (WIS) creatures w/in 10’ of me for one hour. 1/long or spell slot.
  • Vigilant Blessing. Action to give self or other advantage on init.
Primal Companion(typically): Beast of the Land (in form of cougar)
  • AC 17, 50 HP, 40’ move, climb
  • Maul: 1d20+7, 1d8+6 magical slashing (charge: if move 20’ towards target before attack: +1d6 slashing and DC 16 Strength save or be knocked prone)

Example 2. Custom Lineage Swarmkeeper.
Here is a straight Ranger, using attack cantrips and not weapons. The image I have is a small-sized Ermine-derived biped, with a small pack of weasels that skitter around its feet. In combat it suddenly becomes fierce, and when it attacks with Frostbite, perhaps there are one or two weaving through the combat and nipping at toes as well.
Ranger 1
S8 (save +1) D14 (save +4) C13 I10 W18 Ch12

Attack: Rapier 1d20+4, 1d8+2 piercing

Proficiency +2
HP 11
AC 17 (chain shirt and shield)
Size: S.
Move: Walk 30’
Languages: Common, Sylvan, Goblin, Giant, Draconic
Proficiencies: Light, Medium Armor; Shields; Simple, Martial Weapons
Skills: Investigation, Stealth (exp), Athletics, Perception, Survival
Tools: fife

Racial abilities:
  • Darkvision 60’
  • Feytouched: Misty Step 1/long, Hex 1/long
Background Feature: Outlander:
  • Wanderer (incl. foraging)
Ranger Abilities:
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d4 damage (3/long)
Ranger (Swarmkeeper) 5
S8 (save +2) D14 (save +5) C13 I10 W20 Ch12

Attack: Primal Savagery 1d20+8, 2d10 acid [+1d8 Hex; +1d6 piercing swarm]
Frostbite 1d20+8, 2d6 cold [+1d8 Hex; +1d6 piercing swarm]

Proficiency +3
HP 39
AC: 18 (breastplate and shield)
Size: S.
Move: Walk 30’
Languages: Common, Sylvan, Goblin, Giant, Draconic
Proficiencies: Light, Medium Armor; Shields; Simple, Martial Weapons
Skills: Investigation, Stealth (exp), Athletics, Perception, Survival
Tools: fife

Spellcasting (DC 16):
  • Cantrips: Primal Savagery, Frostbite
  • Slots: 4xlevel 1, 2xlevel 2
  • Spells Known: 4 ranger (level 1): Entangle, Absorb Elements, Cure Wounds (+ speak with animals, faerie Fire); (level 2) summon beast (+ beast sense, web)
  • Spells Known: (+Misty Step, Hex)
Racial abilities:
  • Darkvision 60’
  • Feytouched: Misty Step 1/long, Hex 1/long
Background Feature: Outlander:
  • Wanderer (incl. foraging)
Ranger Abilities:
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d4 damage (3/long)
  • Fighting Style: Druidic Warrior
  • Gathered Swarm: 1/turn swarm adds +1d6 piercing, or STR save to be moved 15’ horizontally, or I’m moved 5’ horizontally.
  • Extra Attack
Ranger (Swarmkeeper) 10
S8 (save +3) D14 (save +6) C14 (save +6) I10 W20 Ch12

Attack: Primal Savagery 1d20+9, 2d10 acid [+1d8 Hex; +1d6 piercing swarm]
Frostbite 1d20+9, 2d6 cold [+1d8 Hex; +1d6 piercing swarm]

Proficiency +4
HP 84
AC 18 (breastplate and shield)
Size: S.
Move: Walk, Climb, Swim 35’ (fly 10’)
Languages: Common, Sylvan, Goblin, Giant, Draconic
Proficiencies: Light, Medium Armor; Shields; Simple, Martial Weapons
Skills: Investigation, Stealth (exp), Athletics, Perception, Survival
Tools: fife

Spellcasting (DC 17):
  • Cantrips: Primal Savagery, Frostbite
  • Slots: 4xlevel 1, 3xlevel 2; 2xlevel 3
  • Spells Known: 6 ranger (level 1): Entangle, Absorb Elements (+ speak with animals, faerie Fire); (level 2) summon beast, spike growth (+ beast sense, web); plant growth, healing spirit (+gaseous form)
  • Spells Known: (+Misty Step, Hex)
Racial abilities:
  • Darkvision 60’
  • Feytouched: Misty Step 1/long, Hex 1/long
Background Feature: Outlander:
  • Wanderer (incl. foraging)
Ranger Abilities:
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d6 damage (3/long)
  • Fighting Style: Druidic Warrior
  • Gathered Swarm: 1/turn swarm adds +1d6 piercing, or STR save to be moved 15’ horizontally, or I’m moved 5’ horizontally.
  • Extra Attack
  • Primal Awareness: cast Speak with animals and Beast sense 1/long w/o slot
  • Land’s Stride: no difficult terrain, no effects from nonmagical plants, adv to save vs. magical plants
  • Writhing Tide: bonus to fly 10’ for a minute 4/long.
Feat:
  • Resilient constitution

Example 3. Lizardfolk Druid/Horizon Walker.
This example starts with an idea of a low-tech/stone age lizard priest who develops a deeper understanding of the cosmic underpinnings of all that is real. A self-sufficient shillelagh build, starting abilities are assigned optimally post-TCOE.
Lizardfolk Druid 1
S12 D14 C14 I8 (Save +1) W17 (save +5) Ch10

Attack: Shillelagh: 1d20+5, 1d8+5 bludgeoning
Produce Flame: 1d20+5, 1d8 fire

Proficiency +2
AC 15 (natural armor) +2 Shield
HP 10
Move: Walk, Swim 30’
Languages: Common, Draconic, Druidic
Proficiencies: Light, Med Armor; Shield; Druid weapons
Skills: Survival, Stealth, Perception, Nature, Athletics, Intimidation
Tools: Herbalism Kit, Dice, Land Vehicles

Racial abilities:
  • Bite 1d6+1 Piercing. (Hungry jaws: bonus action 1/short to gain 2 (=CON) THP.)
  • Cunning Artisan (make shields and clubs)
  • Hold Breath (15 mins)
Background Feature: Soldier.
  • Military Rank.
Druid Abilities:
  • Spellcasting (DC 13)
  • Cantrip: shillelagh, produce flame
  • Slots: 2xlevel 1
  • Spells prepared: 4.
  • Focus, Ritual Casting
Equipment: dagger, druidic focus, club, shield
Lizardfolk Druid 1/Ranger (HW) 4
S12 D14 C14 I8 (Save +2) W18 (save +7) Ch10

Attack: Shillelagh: 1d20+7, 1d8+6 bludgeoning [+1d4 w/ favored foe; +1d8 all force w/ planar warrior]
Produce Flame: 1d20+7, 2d8 fire.

Proficiency: +3
AC 15 (natural armor) +2 Shield
HP 42
Move: Walk, Swim 30’
Languages: Common, Draconic, Druidic, Sylvan, Giant
Proficiencies: Light, Med Armor; Shield; Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Skills: Survival, Stealth, Perception, Nature, Athletics (exp), Intimidation
Tools: Herbalism Kit, Cards, Land Vehicles

Racial abilities:
  • Bite 1d6+1 Piercing. (Hungry jaws: bonus action 1/short to gain 2 (=CON) THP.)
  • Cunning Artisan (make shields and clubs)
  • Hold Breath (15 mins)
Background Feature: Soldier.
  • Military Rank.
Spellcasting (DC 15)
  • Cantrip: shillelagh, Produce Flame
  • Slots: 3xlevel 1, 2xlevel 2
  • Spells prepared: 5x level 1 Druid [typically Cure Wounds, Faerie Fire, Fog Cloud, Charm Person, Detect Magic]
  • Spells Known: 3 ranger (level 1): Entangle, Absorb Elements, Hunter’s Mark (+speak with animals, protection form evil and good, cause fear))
  • Spells Known: (+invisibility)
  • Focus, Ritual Casting
Ranger Abilities:
  • Fighting Style Duelling (+2 damage)
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d4 damage (3/long)
  • Primal Awareness: cast Speak with animals 1/long w/o slot
  • Detect Portal detect planar portal w/in 1 mile 1/short
  • Planar Warrior: bonus to pick creature w/in 30’; next hit does +1d8 damage and all damage is force.
Feat abilities:
  • Shadowtouched: cast invisibility and cause fear 1/long each w/o slot or components
Equipment: dagger, druidic focus, club, shield
Druid 2/Ranger (HW) 8
S12 D14 C14 I8 (Save +3) W20 (save +9) Ch10

Attack: Shillelagh: 1d20+9 to hit, 1d8+7 damage (2 attacks) [+1d6 w/ favored foe; +1d8 all force w/ planar warrior]
Produce Flame: 1d20+9, 2d8 fire

Proficiency: +4
AC 15 (natural armor) +2 Shield
HP 81
Move: Walk, Swim, Climb 35’
Languages: Common, Draconic, Druidic, Sylvan, Giant
Proficiencies: Light, Med Armor; Shield; Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons
Skills: Survival, Stealth, Perception, Nature, Athletics (exp), Intimidation
Tools: Herbalism Kit, Cards, Land Vehicles

Racial abilities:
  • Bite 1d6+1 Piercing. (Hungry jaws: bonus action 1/short to gain 2 (=CON) THP.)
  • Cunning Artisan (make shields and clubs)
  • Hold Breath (15 mins)
Background Feature: Soldier.
  • Military Rank.
Spellcasting (DC 17)
  • Cantrip: shillelagh, Produce flame, guidance
  • Slots: 4xlevel 1, 3xlevel 2, 3xlevel 3
  • Spells prepared: 7x level 1 Druid [typically Cure Wounds, Faerie Fire, Fog Cloud, Charm Person, Detect Magic, Healing Word, Thunderwave] (+Guiding Bolt)
  • Spells Known: 5 ranger (level 1): Entangle, Absorb Elements, Hunter’s Mark (+speak with animals, protection form evil and good, cause fear); (level 2) spike growth, pass without trace (+ beast sense)
  • Spells Known: (+invisibility), Misty Step)
  • Focus, Ritual Casting
Druid Abilities:
  • Wild Shape 2/long into CR ¼ creature (no fly/swim) for 1 hour.
  • may spend a wild shape to Find Familiar for 1 hr.
  • Circle of Stars: cast guiding bolt 3/long (=PROF)
  • may spend wild shape to assume starry form (e.g. DRAGON: any IN WIS check or CON save for concentration can’t be below 10 on die)
Ranger Abilities:
  • Fighting Style Duelling (+2 damage)
  • Favoured Foe: mark target for 1 minute or concentration for +1d6 damage (3/long)
  • Primal Awareness: cast Speak with animals and Best sense 1/long w/o slot
  • Detect Portal detect planar portal w/in 1 mile 1/short
  • Planar Warrior: bonus to pick creature w/in 30’; next hit does +1d8 damage and all damage is force.
  • Extra Attack
  • bonus action to cast Etherealness, 1/short
  • Land’s Stride: no difficult terrain, no effects from nonmagical plants, adv to save vs. magical plants
  • Tireless: remove one level of exhaustion/short rest; 4x/long (PROF), action for 1d8+5 (WIS) THP.
Feat abilities:
  • Shadowtouched: cast invisibility and cause fear 1/long each w/o slot or components
Equipment: dagger, star map, club, shield
 
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FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I'm thinking of how I would build a wisdom based ranger and what he would play like.

I'm leaning toward melee and using concentration spells. So Concentration saving throws are important. I think I'd start as Fighter 1. The fighting style gained by the fighter can be used to grant Dueling. The Ranger Fighting Style would take the one that grants Druid Cantrips.

Feats:
Elven Accuracy would be huge since there's some pretty good ways to create your own advantage (Entangle and Faerie Fire).
Polearm Mastery seems essential at some point as well - especially since Ranger Damage can really drop off in tier 3.
Resilient Wisdom
+2 Wisdom


Not sure the best order to take these in. Probably Polearm Mastery First. Then Elven accuracy next.

I don't see alot of benefit to staying ranger for the long haul. So I'm going to be pushing into Fighter, Cleric or Druid before long.

Typical combat for most of the game would be something like:
Turn 1 Cast Entangle/Faerie Fire
Turn 2 Cast shileleagh and Attack
Turn 3+ Attack
 
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ECMO3

Hero
Love it. The Ranger was pretty underpowered in the PHB, but Tasha turned that upside down and now it is one of, if not the most, powerful "martial" class .... although it is more of a GISH than a Martial now.

I am huge fan of the Wisdom Ranger. I generally favor a Fey Wanderer for this build, a few comments from my experience:

1. I run this more as a GISH slinging a lot of spells once I hit tier 2. This is especially true if you get extra spells through feats.

2. You can build it to make your own fear: Take Shadow Touched and Cause Fear as your 1st level necromancy spell. Cause Fear upcasts well and with a high wisdom and Beguiling Twist you can keep it running an entire battle, if someone saves you twist it and then you no longer need to concentrate and can even cast it again!. Also the mirthful Fey from Fey touched charms as a bonus action every turn which can again be used with Beguiling Twist.

3. Natures Veil should be sky blue. By the time you get it you can use it 3 times a day. A Bonus action to turn invisible can be used to give yourself advantage on attacks, and unlike the invisibility spell it does not go away once you attack or cast a spell.

4. I like a 1-level Rogue dip for the expertisex2. I actually like to start as a Rogue because you get an extra skill this way. A 2 level dip for cunning action works too, or you can play a Goblin and have that from the start. Cunning action plus frightened from beguiling twist is awesome.

5. Agree completely on athletics proficiency. This is one reason I like the Rogue dip-I can take expertise in Athletics, Perception and something else (Stealth or persuasion).

6. I don't go with a very high constitution. Usually I do 12 con and I never get resilient constitution. Going higher is costly and I like a 14 Charisma and decent intelligence for skills. I also like to start with a 16 dexterity for most of these builds. I don't put points on Dex, but I like it there to start for using missile weapons or multiattack with magic stone (I sling 1 magic stone and then fling a dagger for my second attack so I don't have to cast MS again that turn). I also like the extra point on dex saves and stealth.

7. On races a Fizban Metallic Dragonborn with dragonfear feat at 4th level works well. For this I start with a 16 Wisdom, 14 Dex and 15 Charisma, boost Charisma to 16 at 4th level with the feat. Pick a background that gets you a charisma skill (Feylost is particularly thematic) and you are screaming high on two charisma skills with an ability that can frighten a whole bunch of enemies and you only give up an attack to do it. This gives lots of opportunity for beguiling twist.
 
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