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

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

As written? The RAW ranger's thing is "suddenly a dirty figure rises up from the mud, pulls out a bow and shoots ten arrows simultaneously, grievously wounding your whole warband of orcs; then he gestures and speaks a word and eight wolves materialize out of nowhere to finish you off." They're kind of like sneakier Eldritch Knights with less defense and more AoE/summoning.

I keep wishing I could play a solo campaign with a Ranger/Assassin. It would be awesome.
 

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Sadrik

First Post
It is not clear what a ranger does to me too. They are wilderness warriors. Ok, that is just some skills that make them effective in a particular terrain. That sounds like you can give them expertise in a few nature skills. It is also just skills so could encompass a background. I understand Mearls dilemma. The other ranger things are a bit of a grab bag. Should they be nature spellcasters too? They are in the nature. Sure why not? Should they be roguish outdoor scouts. Yeah sure, stealth and sneaky. The big key for me is they are a skill based class, knowing stuff. Monster knowledge. Knowing the weaknesses of monsters. Researcher. Van Helsing. A lone wolf, much like a rogue.

I think the animal companion thing should be backed out of as a thing. I think anyone should be able to have an animal companion, or familiar, or henchman, or special mount. If you want to dedicate your resources to it (spells and feats) then by all means have one. A whole class dedicated to it though seems odd.
 

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.

There is no Beast Bond spell, and Animal Friendship just charms it. (Charm = "can't attack you personally, you have advantage on social interaction rolls with it.")

That being said, I have no objection to players collecting henchmen. The barbarian in my campaign had a wolf at third level that he had originally captured from goblins and spent several weeks befriending. He was very protective of it until it died to a Slaad.

In short, if I had a beastmaster in my campaign who wanted his beast to act independently, I'd say, "Sure. But he only gets your proficiency bonus to his attacks/saves/AC/etc. when you are actively commanding him per the PHB. If you're busy with other stuff he'll just attack like a normal wolf."
 

I wouldn't mind if 'ranger' was a couple of feats. Ranger's Exploration for favored terrain; Beast Bond for an animal companion.

If I wanted to be a holy warrior with an animal companion, I could be a paladin with a ranger ability. A monk who lives serenely in the wilderness? A wizard who collects spell components from animals he hunts, and carves his spells into the wood of his bow?

Then again, I'm a fan of oversimplification - build yer own durned character however you want from a Lego Block collection, and "classes" only exist as sample combinations.
 

epithet

Explorer
There is no Beast Bond spell, and Animal Friendship just charms it. (Charm = "can't attack you personally, you have advantage on social interaction rolls with it.")

Beast bond is in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion. It is a 10 minute concentration telepathic bond with a beast that is friendly to or charmed by the caster. Meaning, you can train the beast with ease.
 

CrusaderX

First Post
Hunter's Mark should definitely be a class feature, not a spell. Though Rangers being a spellcasting class otherwise is fine with me.

I also wouldn't mind if the Ranger's "thing" was simply ranged combat. Look, it even matches nicely with their name! :) Make the Ranger the best archer in the game, bar none. Build the class around that, maybe even incorporating Arcane Archer features at higher levels.
 

Beast bond is in the Elemental Evil Player's Companion. It is a 10 minute concentration telepathic bond with a beast that is friendly to or charmed by the caster. Meaning, you can train the beast with ease.

Thanks for the correction on Beast Bond. I don't see anything in that spell though that makes the beast want to follow you around and fight for you. If there's a grizzly bear, Animal Friendship will prevent it from eating you, but it won't prevent it from eating your fellow PCs, and it won't join your party, any more than Charm Person would make a human guard join your party.

I do think the idea of a beastmaster and his pet cobra is hilarious though. The cobra would have two attacks at +12 to hit for 1d4+10 damage plus 3d6 poison (DC 11 Con save for half), AC 20, and 80 HP. That's a pretty mean cobra!

On reflection, I think the ranger's "thing" is "solo play." Rangers are the guys who spend weeks at a time on their own behind enemy lines and come out alive and victorious. The 5E ranger is reasonably good at that already but he could be better.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
It is not clear what a ranger does to me too. They are wilderness warriors. Ok, that is just some skills that make them effective in a particular terrain. That sounds like you can give them expertise in a few nature skills. It is also just skills so could encompass a background. I understand Mearls dilemma. The other ranger things are a bit of a grab bag. Should they be nature spellcasters too? They are in the nature. Sure why not? Should they be roguish outdoor scouts. Yeah sure, stealth and sneaky. The big key for me is they are a skill based class, knowing stuff. Monster knowledge. Knowing the weaknesses of monsters. Researcher. Van Helsing. A lone wolf, much like a rogue.

All good points.

I still believe that the best approach is to base the Ranger roughly off Aragorn, plus some additional baggage that came across D&D editions, and this is exactly what they have done in 5e. Combat based on direct experience, wilderness knowledge, tracking, outdoor/travel skills, nature-ish spells, they are all traits of the Ranger and I don't think it's a good idea to remove them. Other stuff like fighting styles (as in 3.5 two-weapon-fighting vs archery) is redundant and does not need to stay. Animal companion, as you say, should also not be a default... sure one of the most famous D&D Ranger had an animal companion, but pets are (1) always tricky to implement (and in fact it's the one thing about Rangers/Beastmaster that gets criticized in forums), (2) seriously disliked by a significant amount of players and DMs, and (3) plenty of famous non-Ranger literary characters also had a pet. In short, animal companion is the worst possible idea to base the Ranger around!

I don't think that "scout" is a concept strong enough to replace the Ranger as a class. It's a warrior with wilderness skills, or a nature-oriented rogue, or a Ranger without spells... or even less than these, and in fact it's something that 5e designers turned into a background.

So my bottom line is, either leave the Ranger be what it already is, or remove it from D&D entirely, but no need for a 'rebuild' or replacement.

I think the animal companion thing should be backed out of as a thing. I think anyone should be able to have an animal companion, or familiar, or henchman, or special mount. If you want to dedicate your resources to it (spells and feats) then by all means have one. A whole class dedicated to it though seems odd.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
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.

The bolded part was dealt with in the errata document.

Ranger’s Companion (p. 93). Like any
creature, the beast can spend Hit Dice
during a short rest. If you are incapacitated
or absent, the beast acts on its own,
focusing on protecting you and itself. It
never requires your command to use its
reaction, such as when making an opportunity
attack.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Never got that spell less ranger thing.

Which is interesting. Because I've never gotten the "rangers must have magic from level 1" 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.

Well, the idea they would encounter drow walking around on the surface is the silly part to me. But tackling a squad of orcs? An ogre or giant? Picking away at a camp of goblins or bandits via sniping and ambushes, skirmishing and then disappearing into the woods to come harass them more later? Yeah. Sure. Absolutely I would expect a ranger [with or without a wolf companion] to be able to do that.

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?

Herb lore/non-magical healing skill. Alertness/keen senses. Herb lore/non-magic healing skill (maybe "survival" check). Movement enhancement/terrain movement expertise. Bonus languages. Trap detection skill...."Hide from a mage if they brought "one" what?

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?

I'll give you D&D is crazy. Sure. But there's little to nothing a ranger should need magic for that they can't get away with built in skill(s)/expertise. Hiding from scrying...Ok. Maybe. Unless it was a built-in feature "Knowledge of scrying magic" business that let's you know some little trick or charm/talisman that can hide you. That requires "lost/forbidden/arcane" knowledge...not necessarily "magic use", as per 'spells."
 

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