D&D 5E What is/should be the Ranger's "thing"?

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth (He/him)
In the new podcast, Mike Mearls indicated that in a future UA we're going to see the Ranger rebuilt from the ground up. The problem, as he presented it, is that the Ranger was originally a hodge-podge of abilities, based on the various things Aragorn does in the LR, and that even as the class developed it's own shtick in 2E, its specialized abilities were made available to other characters through the skill system. According to Mearls, this problem has still not been adequately remedied by 5E, thus the redesign effort that is presumably underway.

In your opinion, does the 5E Ranger have its own thing? If so, what is it? If not, what should it be?
 
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Remathilis

Legend
In the new podcast, Mike Mearls indicated that in a future UA we're going to see the Ranger rebuilt from the ground up. The problem, as he presented it, is that the Ranger was originally a hodge-podge of abilities, based on the various things Aragorn does in the LR, and that even as the class developed it's own shtick in 2E, its specialized abilities were made available to other characters through the skill system. According to Mearls, this problem has still not been adequately remedied by 5E, thus the redesign effort that is presumably underway.In your opinion, does the 5E Ranger have its own thing? If so, what is it? If not, what should it be?

In before the "should be a subclass/background" meme.

Rangers are hard to pin down; there is no uniquely "ranger" mechanic to me. They hunters, skirmishers, archers, and such, but fighters, barbarians, and rogues all share that design space. In essence, they steal bits from all of them and layer spellcasting on top of it.

(aside: I think its a problem not limited to rangers btw: sorcerers have a similar identity crisis).

Personally, I could see the ranger as analogous to the Scout (3.5) or Rogue; a more skills based character rather than warrior character. Highly mobile, adept at spike damage and ranged attacks, and expertise in skills rather than extra attacks and d10 HD.
 

They to have a unique mechanical hook, it's just one 5e doesn't treat as offensive. Favoured enemy, which is problematic as it's usefulness is game dependant. From a concept it's tricky to balance.
The basic ranger seems decent to me. The only quirk I might add is having hunter's mark be and automaticity known spell, a class feature cast through spells, so you choose other spells instead. Maybe some other flavourful or "ribbon" powers to give them a little extra pizzazz. The ranger gets a lot of exploration/flavour powers that don't affect balance much, so it could have a few extra.

The beast master ranger needs a little work though.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
In the new podcast, Mike Mearls indicated that in a future UA we're going to see the Ranger rebuilt from the ground up. The problem, as he presented it, is that the Ranger was originally a hodge-podge of abilities, based on the various things Aragorn does in the LR, and that even as the class developed it's own shtick in 2E, its specialized abilities were made available to other characters through the skill system. According to Mearls, this problem has still not been adequately remedied by 5E, thus the redesign effort that is presumably underway.

In your opinion, does the 5E Ranger have its own thing? If so, what is it? If not, what should it be?

I personally think the Ranger is 80% fine. It looks a lot like every single playtest comment I made and many ideas of mine spread across the internet.

The issue is not that the Ranger looks like Aragorn. The Ranger should look like Aragorn but not because Aragorn is "the ranger". It's just that Aragorn has all the abilities a D&D ranger would have. It's a fluke that matched perfectly.

The ranger's unique thing is it's adaption to the outside. It's external when most classes are internally focused. The ranger counters. It counters its favored enemy with knowledge of their mannerisms and culture. It counters the obstacles of its favored terrain. It develops fighting techniques to counter giants, hordes, dragons, or colossi. It develops a bond with beasts to counter the drawbacks of hunting and fighting alone. It develops skills and magic to counter the harshness of solo and squad based exploration.

The issue is that many D&D fans don't see this and want a fighter variant. I can't blame them. TSR and WOTC never explained the counteractive aspects of rangers. If either did, it never spread.
 
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epithet

Explorer
The ranger's "thing" would have to be the pet. You can be as good an archer as a fighter, as good with melee dual wielding as a fighter or a rogue, as good at outdoor adventure as a druid. Fighter and bard archetypes combine weapon and armor abilities with spells.

The only thing unique to the ranger in 5e is the animal companion of the beastmaster archetype. If you want to make the ranger unique, it pretty much has to be a pet class.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
#1 Base Ranger needs to = "Spell Less"

Originally/Traditionally, spell-use for rangers didn't start until 7th or 8th (9th?) level. Subclasses get picked at 3rd. That's enough of a jump up without having them be completely dependent on spell use for all of their shtick.

#2 Tracking & Wilderness Survival. Built into the class as a feature and "better/more effective" than anyone else is capable of doing via a tracking "skill" or feat. Surviving (food/water/shelter, if they are to be had) in wild/"uncivilized" lands should be trivial/a given for any ranger PC.

#3 Favored Terrain. The Ranger story, in nearly all iterations, is that they are warriors of specialized skill in their particular borderlands/wilderness/protecting a given civilization, whatever it happens to be (woodlands [default/most common assumption], dessert, coastal, mountains, "urban", etc...).Their stealth, survival skills, their combat ability (see Favored Enemies, below), extra language(s) they might know, maybe enhanced speed/movement rate through a particular type of wilderness, their nature & historic[or "forgotten"] lore, and heck maybe even stuff like their very AC, are all dependent on their terrain of origin. "Favored Terrain" needs to be a pivotal, if not "defining", feature of the ranger.

#4 Favored Enemies/Hunter's Prey/Ancestral Foes. The Ranger story, in all iterations, is that this specialization extends, specifically, to the most common enemy/threats to their particular civilization/settlements/populated lands. Combat bonuses, to hit and damage, bonus to tracking these creatures, bonus to lore/behaviors of these creatures, all depend on this [again] pivotal if not defining feature.

#5 Enhanced [Rogue level?] Stealth. Whether positted as "thieving" or not, Hiding/Concealment and Moving with Stealth/Silently are a given to a ranger's survival, livelihood and fighting style.

#6 Incidentals/situationals/extended non-combat features. Some of these might be included in the base class, some might be better served ass sub-class distinctive features, that's a matter for a more thorough examination/write up than I have time for now. Or, heck, doesn't fit 5e's format, but you could just list all of these things and say a Ranger gets to pick...I don't know, 2 or 3 of them as they see fit. But I'm talking about things like: Herb Lore/non-magic Healing or at least poison slow/neutralizing; Animal Handling/Empathy/Training [probably better served in a Beastmaster subclass redo); gaining Fighter "fighting style(s)" as they have now; LIMITED/MINOR Druidic Spell Use; Scrying/Clairvoyant Magic Item Use; maybe Scroll Use; LIMITED/MINOR Arcane Spell Use; maybe extra/enhanced "rogue" options for a more "thiefy/bandit/Robin Hood ranger type: trap detecting/setting, lock picking (probably not, but for an urban ranger, i suppose so), agility/climbing, etc...

Sub-classes, then, can be a bit more distinctive.
1. Beastmaster: everyone seems to want but needs a complete (NOT OP'd!) rework, but the animal empathy, maybe a natural speak with animals ability, gain an animal companion (maybe additional as you level up) but continue the "not an automatic extra set of attacks every round for me" thing.
2. Guardian: focus on the "protector of civilization" trope, enhanced combat abilities on Favored Enemy(-mies), maybe gaining/adding more as they level up and/or adding more/extra Favored Terrains as they gain experience in different environments.
3. Slayer: Play up the "Giant/Goblinoid-kille/Monster-Hunter" angle. Combat enhancements for fighting specific creatures and/or a wider array of creatures than the standard/base Favored Enemy(-mies). Maybe a tracking bonus, extra languages, other stuff that is more "the Hunter" sub class they have now, etc...
4. Warden: Druid magic, or any/all magic, Magic Item Use and Arcane Lore built in, more spell-dependent variant.

Throw in a Bounty Hunter Background or Feat and I think you've got all of the bases covered for 5e.

That's about what I've got for a 5e rehash of the ranger. I think it would work. But, if/since you're beginning "from the ground up" SPELL-LESS RANGER BASE. Magic for the ranger is/has always been/should be an "add on/to", not a default.
 

Coredump

Explorer
I think what they have is okay, they just need either more, or boosted.

They are a mix of Fighter/Rogue/Druid, with some Ranger things layered on top.

Give them all a 'pet', but the Beastmaster gets a better one and can do more with it. (analogous to druids & Wildshape.)
Give them more favored enemies, and more favored terrain. The boosts are not combat, so should not be much of an issue. (To be clear, not more options, but more at each level. Lets say they start with 4....)
Let Primeval Awareness become useful. They should be able to tell either/or direction, distance, numbers..... perhaps it takes longer, or a higher spell slot.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
#1 Base Ranger needs to = "Spell Less"

Originally/Traditionally, spell-use for rangers didn't start until 7th or 8th (9th?) level. Subclasses get picked at 3rd. That's enough of a jump up without having them be completely dependent on spell use for all of their shtick.

That's about what I've got for a 5e rehash of the ranger. I think it would work. But, if/since you're beginning "from the ground up" SPELL-LESS RANGER BASE. Magic for the ranger is/has always been/should be an "add on/to", not a default.

Never got that spell less ranger thing.

A guy and his wolf trekking 50 to 200 miles away from town in the wilderness alone to kill a squad of orcs or drow without spells is just silly.

How is going to heal himself? Alarm his camp? Cure a venom bite of a stray snake or poisonous bush? Outrun the squad if he must retreat? Ask natural denizens for help? Spot traps around their camp? Hide from a mage if they brought one?

D&D is too crazy to go without spells. It only worked in 1e and 2e because a ranger one-shot most intelligent monsters va their damage bonus or could outsmart most animals. Do you really want Joe "+8 damage to everything" Ranger to come back?
 

Li Shenron

Legend
In the new podcast, Mike Mearls indicated that in a future UA we're going to see the Ranger rebuilt from the ground up. The problem, as he presented it, is that the Ranger was originally a hodge-podge of abilities, based on the various things Aragorn does in the LR, and that even as the class developed it's own shtick in 2E, its specialized abilities were made available to other characters through the skill system. According to Mearls, this problem has still not been adequately remedied by 5E, thus the redesign effort that is presumably underway.

I don't think there is a solution for this supposed 'problem', whatever they do it will never satisfy everyone and will always require another revision after revision after revision. I think the designers know about this, but want to keep the design treadmill going, because it keeps gamers attention up, it keeps sales going, and it keeps the job needed.

Still, I think (less than) 1 year since the 5e release is quite a lot early to talk about "rebuilding something from the ground up". Was it a couple of year later, I'd have said they were readying up for 5.5e, but so early it feels more like an admission of failure, or at least an admission that they rushed the product to the release.

But truth is that, as I said, a final/ultimate/perfect version of the Ranger (or anything else) simply doesn't exist, and the current one is about just as good as the next.
 

epithet

Explorer
The biggest problem with the beast master archetype is that it isn't as good as the other animal companionship option available to every ranger. Using level 1 spells (animal friendship, beast bond) with the animal handling skill should mean that any ranger should be able to have a "henchbeast" after his first period of downtime in the campaign. This isn't limited to medium sized beasts at CR 1/4 or lower, either. By the time a ranger can take the beastmaster archetype, it's obsolete. Once you've got a spare 1,000 gold pieces and a level 9 bard or druid friend, you can have your henchbeast awakened to become even more effective. By that point, you can easily have a dire wolf or saber toothed tiger, or hell... go for broke and get yourself a dinosaur.

The beastmaster should be able to buff his pet with temporary hitpoints, the pet should be able to heal with hit dice during a short rest, the BMR should be able to command the pet to use a "second wind" ability once per long rest, and the BMR should get advantage to attack rolls against a target if the pet is within 5 feet of it.
 

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