D&D General What is a Ranger? A miserable pile of secrets! (+)

What is a Ranger? (pick up to 3)

  • Archery! Rangers and Bows. They just make sense.

    Votes: 48 40.0%
  • Dual wielding! Just like Drizzt taught me!

    Votes: 8 6.7%
  • Nature! But none of that magic crap, more like, "hey, that's poison oak, don't touch that"

    Votes: 67 55.8%
  • Magic! Like a mini-druid. Maybe poultices. Plants and animals are friends! With magic!

    Votes: 27 22.5%
  • Animal companions! Just like Drizzt taught me!

    Votes: 21 17.5%
  • DPS! Damage on damage on damage. Doesn't matter how, just keep magic out of it! They're martial!

    Votes: 10 8.3%
  • Favored foes! The "X killed my family" trope is due for a comeback! You'll see! You'll all see!

    Votes: 13 10.8%
  • Stealth! Stalking through the woods, unseen, unheard, unsmelt. This is the way.

    Votes: 58 48.3%
  • Aragorn! Just being Aragorn. That's all it ever was.

    Votes: 39 32.5%
  • Rogues! Just replace buildings with trees

    Votes: 8 6.7%
  • Monster Hunting! Toss a coin to your Drizzt!

    Votes: 29 24.2%
  • Environmental Adaptation! A Drizzt of all seasons!

    Votes: 10 8.3%
  • Magical Weapons Combat! Look I don't even know at this point

    Votes: 1 0.8%
  • Katniss! Dump Strider in the past! The future is catching fire and mocking jays!

    Votes: 2 1.7%

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Mind you, while we do heavily associate the Ranger with woodcraft, their skill set can work in other environments as well, such as urban, underground, or yes, in a dungeon. But the Ranger is more than just an explorer (that's more the Rogue's hat), he's a warrior with a different approach. He's an individualist and a free thinker that may just be more at home on the fringes (or far reaches) of society. Maybe he's a trailblazer, exploring new lands so that they can one day be settled.

Maybe he's a guerilla freedom fighter, opposed to an unlawful regime, hiding out in the jungle or the forest, plotting his next move.

Maybe he does have a deep spiritual connection with the land and the primal spirits of nature, that empower him with a bit of magic that allows him to do things others would find impossible.

But for some reason, we have a hard time packing all these elements into one class. It might actually be easier to define what a Ranger isn't than define what they are, if we're ever going to narrow down what elements deserve to be a class in of themselves, and what ones can be relegated to other classes.

For example, Rogues and Rangers can be scouts, skirmishers, lightly armored, dual wielding, archers.

Barbarians and Rangers learn to survive in harsh conditions, and are at home in less civilized regions of the world.

Druids and Rangers are masters of woodcraft, and have deep ties to the primal forces of the world.

Fighters and Rangers are masters of differing styles of combat and weapons. They are both highly trained and disciplined.

So what can we safely let these classes do, and what needs to be unique to the Ranger? Or can we dispense with the Ranger? Or is he meant to be some strange sort of hybrid of all of these classes at once (which is basically where we are today).
 

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Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
I simply don’t agree that high level play needs to mean high magic. Look at the other non-casting classes. They do just fine at high levels. A non-casting ranger could too.
The fighter and barbarian are solely scaled for combat so you only have to push up numbers.
The ranger handles the exploration pillar which has dozens of specific mechanical effects at base. Pull additional ones the DM can create or pull from 3rd party.

Even Level Up, only does 2 pages of Exploration Knacks. And only 1 scales past level 8. And half of them are spells written as not-as-spell (Beast Friend, Healing Salves, Poisons and Antidotes)

Or you'd have to make 8-10 different version of 5e's Natural Explorer. A class feature tons complain about.

So you'd be rewriting the ranger spells or writing a class feature for everything bad that can happen in the wild.
 

Mechanically, I’d do Ranger attack mod as combine strength and dex, divide by two and round up. Able to be applied to either and armor. And same with spellscasting, combine wisdom and intelligence or charisma, player option on which, and use that, round up. To give the well rounded bonus a survivalist needs.
 

Stalker0

Legend
For me, the "Ranger" is more like an army ranger or navy seal.

It is the "tip of the spear" covert ops.

It combines Stealth, Intelligence, mobility and crazy tough Constitution.
I'd make the case for a Navy Seal to be a rogue rather than ranger. It give you all the mobility you could want, along with the stealth. Navy Seals rely on ambush tactics much more than conventional strength....ie a sneak attacking rogue.
 

I'd make the case for a Navy Seal to be a rogue rather than ranger. It give you all the mobility you could want, along with the stealth. Navy Seals rely on ambush tactics much more than conventional strength....ie a sneak attacking rogue.
If two classes can stand in your face (Barb, Rogue) then Ranger can share the Rogue's ambush space.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I'd make the case for a Navy Seal to be a rogue rather than ranger. It give you all the mobility you could want, along with the stealth. Navy Seals rely on ambush tactics much more than conventional strength....ie a sneak attacking rogue.
Stealth is the second most popular option in this poll, right after nature. I think it’s safe to say ambush tactics fit right in with how most people envision the ranger.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The fighter and barbarian are solely scaled for combat so you only have to push up numbers.
The ranger handles the exploration pillar which has dozens of specific mechanical effects at base. Pull additional ones the DM can create or pull from 3rd party.

Even Level Up, only does 2 pages of Exploration Knacks. And only 1 scales past level 8. And half of them are spells written as not-as-spell (Beast Friend, Healing Salves, Poisons and Antidotes)

Or you'd have to make 8-10 different version of 5e's Natural Explorer. A class feature tons complain about.

So you'd be rewriting the ranger spells or writing a class feature for everything bad that can happen in the wild.
Again, I’m aware of your opinions about the necessity of magic to high-level play, and I don’t agree with them.
 


Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
So what can we safely let these classes do, and what needs to be unique to the Ranger?
look at the Ranger lore in 5e.

Deadly Hunters​


Warriors of the wilderness, rangers specialize in hunting the monsters that threaten the edges of civilization—humanoid raiders, rampaging beasts and monstrosities, terrible giants, and deadly dragons. They learn to track their quarry as a predator does, moving stealthily through the wilds and hiding themselves in brush and rubble. Rangers focus their combat training on techniques that are particularly useful against their specific favored foes.


Thanks to their familiarity with the wilds, rangers acquire the ability to cast spells that harness nature’s power, much as a druid does. Their spells, like their combat abilities, emphasize speed, stealth, and the hunt. A ranger’s talents and abilities are honed with deadly focus on the grim task of protecting the borderlands.

The ranger is a deadly hunter. The druid won't delve into arcane magics to do elementalism and divination to track and slay foes. The fighter won't tailer their combat gear for stealth, survival, and detection. The rogue won't hone their combat talents to stand up and survive a battle.
 

Undrave

Legend
But then you get the 3.5 Druid problem. Which I didn't think was a problem at all, until I saw the Fleshraker Dinosaur/Venomfire combo in action....but even without it, a strong case could be made for the starter Wolf to be nearly as good as another player character, and certainly way better than a Leadership cohort.

It's always the same thing: Either the animal is too easy to kill, either it's too overpowered. Either the PC with an animal companion is basically two PCs in one, or they lose half their class feature when the animal is dead.

Balancing animal companions has ALWAYS been terrible because they mostly exist to be a narrative flourish. The Scooby Doo to your gang.

My recommendation? Stop trying to make them a class feature.

Animal companions are now a sidekick class (with a couple of templates to choose from): You build them up and attach them to a specific PC through a Fighting Style that you can get as a Ranger, or through a feat. And the animal companion is treated as an extra PC when building encounters and when someone isn't giving it orders it's the DM's job to control it.

I think that's probably the best way to go about this. It might be a little more fiddly than normal, but it's the price to pay to add what is essentially a whole other character to your party, even if he's a minor one.
 

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