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

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
heh. No.

The ranger's casting is the result of it's unfocused 'Aragorn did it' early design. In LotR, Aragorn had some elven training and, healed someone with herbs. The only available mechanic to reflect anything out of the ordinary a character might do was spells.

Although the ranger originally has magic because of Aragorn, if makes perfect sense for rangers having spells as you can't do healing, restoration, animal and plant manipulation, tracking and antitracking, and divination without being a caster in D&d.
 

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Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
Although the ranger originally has magic because of Aragorn, if makes perfect sense for rangers having spells as you can't do healing, restoration, animal and plant manipulation, tracking and antitracking, and divination without being a caster in D&d.

My point exactly. The Ranger's casting reflects utility in and out of combat. To do this with a spell-less Ranger would require the introduction of a whole new set of mechanics, which should probably go beyond the use of poultices and superiority dice.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Although the ranger originally has magic because of Aragorn, if makes perfect sense for rangers having spells as you can't do healing, restoration, animal and plant manipulation, tracking and antitracking, and divination without being a caster in D&d.
5e is less straightjacketed, in general, than other editions, so there's really no reason you couldn't accomplish many of the same things. Outright divination, for instant, isn't the only way to get information. Tracking (and foiling tracking) are mundane RL skills. Non-magical healing is already in as HD. And short of making them grow instantly or something animals & plants are easily made use of by someone sufficiently knowledgeable.

Plenty of proficiencies, plus some Extraordinary abilities, could easily cover the ranger's woodsiness - if that were, indeed, to be his defining 'thing' - which might suck in a mostly dungeon-delving or desert or ocean-going or planes-hopping campaign... really, any campaign that didn't spend a lot of time in the woods.

...

Plus, we've already seen non-casting Rangers, the non-casting, ranger-like Scout, and the classic Ranger didn't cast until high level.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
5e is less straightjacketed, in general, than other editions, so there's really no reason you couldn't accomplish many of the same things. Outright divination, for instant, isn't the only way to get information. Tracking (and foiling tracking) are mundane RL skills. Non-magical healing is already in as HD. And short of making them grow instantly or something animals & plants are easily made use of by someone sufficiently knowledgeable.

Plenty of proficiencies, plus some Extraordinary abilities, could easily cover the ranger's woodsiness - if that were, indeed, to be his defining 'thing' - which might suck in a mostly dungeon-delving or desert or ocean-going or planes-hopping campaign... really, any campaign that didn't spend a lot of time in the woods.

...

Plus, we've already seen non-casting Rangers, the non-casting, ranger-like Scout, and the classic Ranger didn't cast until high level.

Yeah but past level 7 everything flies teleports or casts pass without trace.

D&D is too crazy magically to be a wilderness expert past level 7 and NOT have magic. The default assumption is too supernatural. You'd have to design all kinds of skills and tools to replace magic spells and some can't be replicated without magic of its own.
 

Hriston

Dungeon Master of Middle-earth
I don't think "woodsiness" really captures the range of skills that could define the Ranger's adaptability to, or specialization in, the plethora of biomes. I especially like the idea of a planes walking Ranger, maybe as a subclass.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
Yeah but past level 7 everything flies teleports or casts pass without trace.
Only if the DM decides to place only challenges that do those things.

D&D is too crazy magically to be a wilderness expert past level 7 and NOT have magic. The default assumption is too supernatural. You'd have to design all kinds of skills and tools to replace magic spells and some can't be replicated without magic of its own.
I'd rather not work on the assumption that 5e is that limited & inflexible.
 

bedir than

Full Moon Storyteller
Although the ranger originally has magic because of Aragorn, if makes perfect sense for rangers having spells as you can't do healing, restoration, animal and plant manipulation, tracking and antitracking, and divination without being a caster in D&d.

The Mundane Ranger does it just fine.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Ok. Only took about a week.

What do we think o' this/these?

5e_ranger.jpg5e_ranger2.jpg5e_ranger3.jpg5e_ranger4.jpg5e_ranger5.jpg5e_ranger6.jpg
 

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kerbarian

Explorer
I was thinking about what could make a ranger feel unique mechanically. Being a generally tough, high-damage combatant is covered by fighters, and the current ranger Hunter mechanics don't feel (to me) like they create a distinctive role in combat. If a ranger's "thing" is deeply understanding her foes and exploiting that (still hotly under debate), I had some ideas about mechanics to represent that.

This is still a bit of a skeleton, but the basic idea is to replace spellcasting and the fighting style with a Hunter's Quarry feature plus a healing feature (keeping all of the other class stuff like Favored Enemy), then rework the Archetypes including a spellcasting subclass.

Hunter's Quarry: At 2nd level, you learn to carefully observe your enemies, predict their attacks, and exploit their weaknesses. As a bonus action, you can designate a creature you can see as your quarry until the start of your next turn. Once on each of your turns when you make a weapon attack with a one-handed or ranged weapon, you can make an additional attack against your quarry with a different light or thrown weapon. When you are attacked by and can see your quarry, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll.

For the archetypes:

Hunter: At 3rd level, you learn a fighting style (Archery or Defense) and the attack granted by Hunter's Quarry deals an extra 1d6 damage. At 11th level, the extra 1d6 damage applies to all of your attacks against your quarry.

Beast Master: At 3rd level, you gain a companion in the same manner and with the same stats as per the PHB, except for how it attacks. When Hunter's Quarry would allow you to make an additional attack against your quarry, you may instead have your beast companion make an attack against your quarry. At 11th level, you may have your beast companion make two attacks or use its multiattack action.

Warden: Gain spellcasting with the same progression as an Eldritch Knight, but choose your spells from the druid spell list. Once on each of your turns when you cast a cantrip, you can make an attack against your quarry with a light or thrown weapon. You cannot make this attack and the attack granted by Hunter's Quarry on the same turn.

The healing feature could be similar to the poultices from the UA variant ranger or something like "Student of Anatomy" that e.g. lets someone spend a hit die when you use a healing kit on them (can't be affected again until after a rest).

So... what does that get you?

Rangers would be doing something that feels different from other combatants almost every round -- they'll be naming a quarry, making an extra attack, and possibly avoiding their quarry's attacks with a reaction. Damage is quite competitive, I believe, maybe even a bit too high, though there's no nova capability.

Hunters have a compelling reason to fight with two weapons or to use a combination of ranged and thrown weapons (e.g. longbow plus thrown daggers or darts). The latter is a bit unusual, but I think it differentiates them from a battlefield archer (fighter) by having them fight closer in and use different weapons as their quarry presents openings. They'd also be perfectly competent as regular archers without using the bonus attack.

Beast Masters work similarly to the PHB version, but your companion can attack using (effectively) a bonus action instead of one of your attacks, which I think is a pretty significant change that would make the beast feel more relevant.

Wardens would be new, and having access to cantrips would give an even more magical feel than the current ranger, I think. Not sure if it's the best idea, but it at least passes the test of a subclass that I'd find fun to play. The interaction of cantrips with quarry would also allow interesting setups like using Thorn Whip or Poison Spray plus a weapon attack.

Would something like this feel distinct from the fighter, rogue, and druid? Do you think it would be fun to play? Would it feel like a ranger to you?
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
-snip all good stuff-

I was really wondering if I should include cantrips or not. Knocking it back to the eldritch knight spell progression definitely lets it feel more like the 1e ranger than my warden version. I like it.

I'm not sure if the cantrip + bonus action attack might be OP'd.

The beast attacking is basically how it works now. When you get Extra Attack, you can use your Attack action to have the animal attack. The extra attacks are nice, though. I almost did the same.

And just as a side note, up until this very afternoon, what is in my document as "Favored Quarry" was called "Hunter's Quarry." haha. Great minds and all that.
 

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