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D&D 5E Two Minor House Rules for Rangers and Druids

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
My current groups aren't using many house rules or optional rules and of my two groups the smaller one of more experienced players is where we experiment with options (like Lingering Wounds) and the other "newbie" group is where I try hold back on any complicating house rules/options (at least for now).

But here are two very minor things (I think) that I doing in both groups (with the caveat that we are mostly sticking to core rules only, so not sure if there are other options that address this stuff in later supplements).

Ranger (a change to favored enemy) - changes bolded

Beginning at 1st level, you have significant experience studying, Tracking, hunting, and even talking to a certain type of enemy.

Choose a type of Favored enemy: Aberration/Monstrosity , Beasts, Celestials, Constructs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Giants, Oozes, Plants, or Undead. Alternatively, you can select two lineages as favored enemies (specific cultural groups, such as people of a specific nation or organization - so you could choose orcs and/or members of Golden Braids Thieves' Guild).

You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track your Favored enemies, as well as on Intelligence Checks to recall information about them.

When dealing damage to your favored enemy with weapons (including unarmed attacks) you deal an additional +1 equal to half your level rounded down. (This bonus does not apply to damage from spells or other abilities, nor is it multiplied for critical hits). Note: You must be able to identify a member of a group or lineage in order to gain this bonus.

When you gain this feature, you also learn one language of your choice that is spoken by your Favored enemies, if they speak one at all.

You choose one additional Favored Enemy, as well as an associated language, at 6th and 14th level. As you gain levels, your choices should reflect the types of Monsters you have encountered on your Adventures.

Short version: combined aberrations and monstrosities because what's the real difference anyway? And I tend not use such monsters so much in my game so more opportunity to use the ability if chosen, and a small damage bonus - though I have played with using +1d4 at different levels instead but wanted to keep it easier to remember, so half-level seemed best as equal to level seemed like too much. I am open to tweaking the damage amount. I also opened types up a bit to allow rival organizations, nations, religions to be included as "favored enemies."

Druid (Circle of the Land):
Druids that choose Circle of the Land at 2nd level gain the following in addition to the normally listed abilities:

1. Advantage on all Nature and Survival checks in or about their chose terrain type.

The druid change is much more niche and simple, but it drove me nuts that a druid who chooses a favored terrain got no bonuses to do common stuff in that terrain.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Other similar things you've done?
 
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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Other similar things you've done?

In reverse order-

The Druid suggestion makes so much sense that it should be in the core rules. I mean, if I ever see a player take Circle of the Land ("But I wanna shapeshift!"), I'm sure it would be helpful.

If you aren't using monsters much anyway, and you aren't using aberrations and monstrosities at all, not sure this makes a difference? 0+0 still equals 0, and it would still be a terrible choice. I'd think about good options for your campaign and do that. :)
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions? Other similar things you've done?
A very simple thing added:
- Rangers and land druids are always considered to carry a component pouch and all non-consumed components )yes, even those with a cost) for their spells for as long as they are in their favored terrain.

Also, at higher level, both rangers and land druids can change their terrain for the one they finish a long rest in.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
+1/2 level to every attack's damage goes from ignorable to very strong at higher levels. Is it ranger class levels?

The ranger class has so many issues that if you had a campaign only against favored enemies a pure class ranger they wouldn't be overpowered, but they'd continue to be relatively incompetent outside of those fights.

So I'd be careful about baking too much into it.

If you are open to wider changes...

An additional class feature.
Hunted Foe
At level 1 they can cast Hunter's Mark as a bonus action once per long rest. They do not have to see their target, they can even cast it on their tracks or based off of hearing them, and this Hunter's Mark duration is indefinite; it lasts until the Ranger's concentration ends, or the creature is reduced to 0 HP. The creature they use this on counts as your Foe.

Favored Enemy
When you it a favored enemy with a weapon attack, you can apply Hunter's Mark (either casting it with a spell slot, transferring hunter's mark they have active, or via the Hunted Foe class feature) before you deal damage without using a bonus action.

Widen the Net
At level 5, Hunter's Mark no longer requires concentration, but the spell still ends if you are rendered incapacitated. You can have up to your proficiency bonus Hunter's Mark (or Hunted Foe) spells active at any one time, but no more than one on any one target. When you use your Hunted Foe class feature, you can apply it to up to your proficiency bonus targets at once; when it passes this limit, choose enough creatures to dismiss Hunter's Mark from to keep you below it.

You can go further, giving Rangers "back 10" level support:

Hunter's Dance
Starting at level 11, the damage dice of your Hunter's Mark spell increases to 1d8. Whenever a creature under the effects of your Hunter's Mark deals damage to you, you can roll your Hunter's Mark damage dice to reduce the damage you take by that amount.

Canny Hunter
Starting at level 13, when a creature subject to your Hunter's Mark forces you to make a save, you may roll your Hunter's Mark damage dice to add to your saving throw roll.

Apex Predator
Starting at level 17, the damage dice of your Hunter's Mark increases to 1d12.

Non-pure casters are all, in my experience, missing meaty features from 11 to 20.

The core of this is that I baked in the combat competence features into the baseline class, then tweaked Favored Enemy to apply HM without expending that bonus action. I then make HM scale a bit better -- more damage, defensive features, and stripping concentration requirements if you go 5 levels into Ranger.

Having that free bonus action isn't going to make a difference between competent and incompetent in a fight, but it will make you feel more competent when fighting your favored foe. In a fight not against them, you'd open with a HM then attack. In a fight against them, you can toss a bonus action lightning arrow, ensnaring strike, zephyr strike, swift quiver, guardian of nature, etc.

It is only 1 round faster ramp, but it is a nice boost. (Also, note that if you scout, you can use Hunted Foe to drop HM on a foe you can only hear or see tracks of. And that foe stays hunted forever -- in effect, adding them to you foe list -- until you choose to drop it.)

Bumping HM down to level 1 lets FE interact with it. A 1/day HM is not going to make a Ranger dip insanely attractive; it is nice, but not crazy. A 5 level "dip" gets you the concentration-free HM, but that is a serious investment. By putting that in, we boost FE another little bit, because many of the ranger bonus action spells are concentration required; allowing level 5+ rangers to stack them doesn't break game balance (it is strong, but not divine-smite strong), but does open up the ranger's book of tactics a bunch.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Personally, I've always thought that features such as favored enemy and favored terrain don't work out well in practice. Either the campaign features a significant amount of the specified foe/terrain, or it doesn't come up much; it's really up to the DM and therefore more of a mother-may-I features. I think 5e was right to make favored enemy more of a "ribbon" type of feature rather than a major focus of the class. There are other ways to boost the Ranger.
 
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el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
+1/2 level to every attack's damage goes from ignorable to very strong at higher levels. Is it ranger class levels?

The ranger class has so many issues that if you had a campaign only against favored enemies a pure class ranger they wouldn't be overpowered, but they'd continue to be relatively incompetent outside of those fights.

So I'd be careful about baking too much into it.

If you are open to wider changes...

Yes, only ranger levels.

As for the other suggestions, thanks - but if I were gonna make major revisions to the ranger it'd move more towards less spells and spell-like abilities, since I have never been a fan of spellcasting rangers save for the smattering of low level druid and magic-user spells higher level rangers got in 1E.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Personally, I've always thought that features such as favored enemy and favored terrain don't work out well in practice. Either the campaign features a significant amount of the specified foe/terrain, or it doesn't come up much; it's really up to the DM and therefore more of a mother-may-I features. I think 5e was write to make favored enemy more of a "ribbon" type of feature rather than a major focus of the class. There are other ways to boost the Ranger.

And to me without favored enemy and terrain, is it really a ranger? Those are defining features to me - next most important features being dealing with animals and then certain weapon styles, spells and anything else come way after that.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I added a spell to the spell lists of rangers, druids, and nature clerics. Like Find Steed, the spell summons an NPC beast to serve as a companion for the PC. The beast is an NPC with loyalty to the PC. It gets to use the PC's proficiency bonus rather than its own, and the maximum CR is limited by the spell level at which the spell is cast.
 

Gadget

Adventurer
And to me without favored enemy and terrain, is it really a ranger? Those are defining features to me - next most important features being dealing with animals and then certain weapon styles, spells and anything else come way after that.
If your definition of a Ranger is so narrow, than I would argue that there shouldn't be one to begin with. I'm not saying that the Ranger shouldn't have abilities related to hunting and wilderness survival, but that they should be more generic with broader application so the DM doesn't always have to remember to put in arctic terrain, or goblinoids or some such. Things like Hunter's Mark (there is an agrument over whether or not it should be a class feature or spell), Favored Foe (optional feature, though the concentration is a bit of a downer), and the Hunter subclass's Hunter's Prey features all seem to more or less accomplish this without the cumbersome "favored enemy" implementation.
 


Stormonu

Legend
A change I’ve strongly considered is changing the Battlemaster’s 3rd level ability - Read Enemy, and make it an ability to refresh a small number of Superiority dice.

I allow all PCs to make Nature/History/Arcana/Religion/Insight checks to learn information about opponents, so this is a redundant ability in my game, and I like the added versatility to the fighter’s repertoire that goes beyond simply attempting to deplete hit points.
 

cbwjm

Hero
The PC game Solasta: crown of the magister does something similar for the ranger, you deal additional damage to your favoured enemy equal to your knowledge level. Knowledge level in this case is unique to the game as when you encounter creatures you have a chance using a survival check to increase your knowledge about them. I think there are 3 knowledge levels so at most a +3 damage bonus.

I'm not sure about half your level as a damage bonus, I'd be tempted to use proficiency bonus unless you're concerned about multiclassing in which case your way at least ensures that only someone focused on being a ranger is getting a significant bonus.

With the wording, I don't think you need to mention that the damage isn't multiplied on a critical hit, that's already written into the game for crits as it is only damage dice that are doubled, and you've already mentioned that it needs to be damage dealt with a weapon so you probably also don't need to bring up spells and other abilities.

The druid change is nice and simple, I like it.

Side note with regard to favoured enemy, I'm tempted to change the humanoid choice to be just a single choice, humanoid, and leave it at that rather than requiring the ranger character to select two types of humanoids to gain the bonus.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
The PC game Solasta: crown of the magister does something similar for the ranger, you deal additional damage to your favoured enemy equal to your knowledge level. Knowledge level in this case is unique to the game as when you encounter creatures you have a chance using a survival check to increase your knowledge about them. I think there are 3 knowledge levels so at most a +3 damage bonus.

I'm not sure about half your level as a damage bonus, I'd be tempted to use proficiency bonus unless you're concerned about multiclassing in which case your way at least ensures that only someone focused on being a ranger is getting a significant bonus.

With the wording, I don't think you need to mention that the damage isn't multiplied on a critical hit, that's already written into the game for crits as it is only damage dice that are doubled, and you've already mentioned that it needs to be damage dealt with a weapon so you probably also don't need to bring up spells and other abilities.

The druid change is nice and simple, I like it.

Side note with regard to favoured enemy, I'm tempted to change the humanoid choice to be just a single choice, humanoid, and leave it at that rather than requiring the ranger character to select two types of humanoids to gain the bonus.

The prof bonus is an interesting idea, since that caps at +6, which is fine. I may use that.

I also may use your humanoid suggestion. Thanks!
 

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