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What is the Ranger to you?

Xeviat

Explorer
I'm going to try drafting up some "Ranger as X Hunter" ideas this weekend, to see how that tracks with here and with my players. I was previously working on "all rangers have pets from 1st level", but that was really hard to balance, but not impossible; the big trouble was how strong the consensus was that all rangers shouldn't have pets.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
The animal companion needs to be able to enter melee combat and survive, maybe not as primary tank, but certainly the attention of a couple of adds. And the random fireball. And still not be dying, making the pet into an ability that only adds a weak link into the party; something the other players (not so) secretly wish wasn't present at all.

In short, the pet needs to soak as much punishment as any other character that doesn't actively avoid the heat of combat (because it can fire at a range or because it can fly/blink/invis et cetera).

Without that level of sturdiness, the pet is a ribbon ability and needs to be balanced as such.

Oh, and any animal companion that is actively worse than buying a frigging war dog before each adventure is like a slap in the face.

So the PHB AC is light-years away from acceptable. I don't remember out of hand, but it needs, at the very least
a) free will (no draining master's actions)
b) significantly better hit point progression (or AC) as it levels up. Can't remember if I thought it needed twice as many or even more, only that the PHB amount was hopelessly inadequate
c) magical attacks at level ~6 or so

Ideally, there should be Ranger spells to "share life" (master takes half damage inflicted to companion, and vice versa) and a specific Revivify Companion spell.

Again, it's "fine" to keep the current pet, but only if the Beastmaster subclass is entirely rebalanced to put essentially zero value on the ability. Actually, by far the easiest complete fix is to simply give everything the Beastmaster gets to the Hunter, and then basically pretend the Ranger class got only a single subclass...

Thank you for reading
 
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doctorbadwolf

Explorer
The Beastmaster pet in the revised ranger is most of the way there.

I’d simply give it greater resilience against actually dying, and add spells (as I’ve been suggesting for months) that buff and/or heal a summoned or controlled creature, availability to rangers, maybe warlocks, and Druids, and consider spell sharing at a lower level. The HP scaling needs to have a better floor, though, so you can have a hawk companion that isn’t begging for death.

I’d also accept making the Beast a spell creature like Find Steed, but a lot of people insist that it can’t be a magical creature.
 

Xeviat

Explorer
The Beastmaster pet in the revised ranger is most of the way there.

I’d simply give it greater resilience against actually dying, and add spells (as I’ve been suggesting for months) that buff and/or heal a summoned or controlled creature, availability to rangers, maybe warlocks, and Druids, and consider spell sharing at a lower level. The HP scaling needs to have a better floor, though, so you can have a hawk companion that isn’t begging for death.

I’d also accept making the Beast a spell creature like Find Steed, but a lot of people insist that it can’t be a magical creature.

Does the revised beast master ranger do too much damage at lower levels? It feels like it does, but I haven't gotten to see it in action yet. Compared to, say, a Hunter with horde breaker, they're both getting two attacks bit horde breaker has limitations on when they can use it.

Or does it self balance because people baby their pets?
 

Gladius Legis

Explorer
I’d also accept making the Beast a spell creature like Find Steed, but a lot of people insist that it can’t be a magical creature.
This has been my preferred solution from the beginning.

And I don't know how people can insist that it can't be a magical creature when the Beast Master's connection with their pet is explicitly described as "magically bonding," anyway ...
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
I think i'd just call it a manifest nature spirit and treat it like a familiar, summon it, dismiss it, etc. I don't have a lot of stakes in the Ranger game though, so I'm fine with the easy answer. I'd also be fine with it being a fighter subclass with no magic too (heresy, I know). Generally, I'd be against the animal companion being mandatory as I personally don't like the idea and I wouldn't want to have to kit-bash the class just to plat it without pets.

What I'd really like is a usable Urban Ranger concept. Maybe someone can point to a good one and save me some work...
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Does the revised beast master ranger do too much damage at lower levels? It feels like it does, but I haven't gotten to see it in action yet. Compared to, say, a Hunter with horde breaker, they're both getting two attacks bit horde breaker has limitations on when they can use it.

Or does it self balance because people baby their pets?
it does a little more damage, but they both have restrictions on use. PCs have more ways to get to enemies than a wolf does, for one thing. But it evens out after a while so I’m not worried about a small advantage in levels 1-3.

But people are still fairly careful, and tend to not send the pet solo against multiple enemies and the like.

This has been my preferred solution from the beginning.

And I don't know how people can insist that it can't be a magical creature when the Beast Master's connection with their pet is explicitly described as "magically bonding," anyway ...
Yeah I don’t see any problem with modeling it after Find Steed tbh.

What I'd really like is a usable Urban Ranger concept. Maybe someone can point to a good one and save me some work...
IMO the Scout Rogue does that very well. A custom background with the “City Secrets” background feature should fill out the rest of what you need?

Maybe drop nature from the level 3 feature, and replace it with City Secrets and an assumed knowledge of city factions?
 

Fenris-77

Explorer
IMO the Scout Rogue does that very well. A custom background with the “City Secrets” background feature should fill out the rest of what you need?

Maybe drop nature from the level 3 feature, and replace it with City Secrets and an assumed knowledge of city factions?
It's not a bad fix, but it's not quite what I was looking for. I was thinking more thief taker, which is more in line with the overall ranger ethos IMO. I'm currently using Gloomstalker with the Urban Bounty Hunter background, and it's ok, but I still have to massage the outdoorsy stuff form the core class. I was curious to see what, if anything, people had done to port the Ranger mechanics over to an urban environment. Maybe a floating preferred enemy that changes as he takes on new rid the streets efforts, IDK. It took me a while to realize that what I actually wanted was Batman, but that's about the size of it.;)
 

SkidAce

Adventurer
This has been my preferred solution from the beginning.

And I don't know how people can insist that it can't be a magical creature when the Beast Master's connection with their pet is explicitly described as "magically bonding," anyway ...
Find Steed summons a spirit.

I want the ranger to recruit a woodland ally and grow into a team.

They can "mystically bond" sure, but its not a summoned creature or spirit. Its your partner you grew up with.

That's a different story (and what I think people want) instead of "Summon WhateverBeast"
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
It's not a bad fix, but it's not quite what I was looking for. I was thinking more thief taker, which is more in line with the overall ranger ethos IMO. I'm currently using Gloomstalker with the Urban Bounty Hunter background, and it's ok, but I still have to massage the outdoorsy stuff form the core class. I was curious to see what, if anything, people had done to port the Ranger mechanics over to an urban environment. Maybe a floating preferred enemy that changes as he takes on new rid the streets efforts, IDK. It took me a while to realize that what I actually wanted was Batman, but that's about the size of it.;)
Okay, so the travel stuff is gonna be weird, but maybe they could apply to civilized regions and the roads between them? Not being able to get lost isn’t a big deal and works fine in a city too.

The combat stuff all works great.

Favored enemy could just be members of organized crime operations, perhaps? So, you’ve got advantage on Int and Wis checks to study or recall stuff about them, and to track them?

I think the rest is just making sure nothing requires natural terrain or whatever.
 

Flamestrike

Registered User
There are three problems with DnD's ranger.

1) Its a worse Fighter than the Fighter in the 'combat pillar', balanced out by a ton of 'exploration pillar' abilities that rarely (if ever) get used. Hunting, foraging and getting lost are rarely things that most groups worry about. Nature sense is pointless. Even favored enemy does nothing in the combat pillar.

2) Spell-casting is built into the base class. More for sacred cow reasons than anything else I can understand.

3) Mechanically, there is no reason to stick with Ranger past 5th level. Taking 4 levels of Battlemaster Fighter and 11 levels of Scout Rogue and you're a better 'Ranger' than the Ranger in everything barring Spellcasting (which sucks on a Ranger). Same number of ASI/ Feats as the 'pure' ranger, Expertise in 6 skills (including Stealth, Survival, Perception, Nature and two more of your choice - Athletics and Acrobatics look likely), Reliable talent as your capstone, +6d6 sneak attack, Skirmish, Cunning action, uncanny dodge, evasion, bonus to movement speed, action surge, 2 x fighting styles, and Superiority dice.

If casting really bothered you, you could take 3 levels of Battlemaster, 3 levels of Rogue and 9 of Druid to be a better caster, and fighter and skill monkey than your 'book' ranger.

Id like to see Ranger as a Fighter subclass (ironically as it was back in AD&D) or alternatively a Spell-less Ranger being the default class, with a Spell-casting Ranger being an Archetype option (the Warden?).
 

Saelorn

Explorer
1) Its a worse Fighter than the Fighter in the 'combat pillar', balanced out by a ton of 'exploration pillar' abilities that rarely (if ever) get used. Hunting, foraging and getting lost are rarely things that most groups worry about.
Much like the guideline of six encounters per day, this seems like a gap between the design intent and player experience. Those things should come up, and those should be useful abilities, if you're playing the way that the designers expect you to play; in much the same way that the warlock and the wizard are relatively balanced, if you follow the encounter guidelines.

3) Mechanically, there is no reason to stick with Ranger past 5th level. Taking 4 levels of Battlemaster Fighter and 11 levels of Scout Rogue and you're a better 'Ranger' than the Ranger in everything barring Spellcasting (which sucks on a Ranger).
Mechanically, multi-classing is an optional rule, which is not expected to be in use. The reason to stick with Ranger is because it's the only way to represent that character concept within the rules you're using. If some hypothetical multi-class monstrosity is a better Ranger than the Ranger in the book, then that points to the optional rules being unbalanced, rather than there being something wrong with the core class.
 

Gladius Legis

Explorer
Find Steed summons a spirit.

I want the ranger to recruit a woodland ally and grow into a team.

They can "mystically bond" sure, but its not a summoned creature or spirit. Its your partner you grew up with.

That's a different story (and what I think people want) instead of "Summon WhateverBeast"
OK, then make the spell form a bond with an existing beast instead of summoning a spirit, or whatever. The same spell can even resurrect the beast if it dies.
 

Flamestrike

Registered User
If some hypothetical multi-class monstrosity is a better Ranger than the Ranger in the book, then that points to the optional rules being unbalanced, rather than there being something wrong with the core class.
Its a Dex based Fighter/ Scout/ Ranger. Not sure how that's a 'multi-class monstrosity'. It's entirely thematic. It's basically a special forces soldier.

And I disagree that it points to Multi-classing being unbalanced. The Ranger (as a whole) sucks after 5th level even if you're forced to stay with the class in a game where there is no Multi-classing.

Its class features after 5th level are medicore at best (including the capstone). It literally gets to coat itself in Mud at 10th level (WTF?), gains a watered down version of Cunning action at 14th level (which Rogues get at 2nd) that only lets it Hide as a bonus action (no dash or disengage) - things that Goblins can do better just be virtue of being Goblins, and improvements to it's 'exploration pillar' stuff that no-one uses anyway and can be easily replicated with skills and a background (Outlander I'm looking at you).

It's spell-casting improves (at the same rate as the Paladin) but the spell lists of those two classes arent even on the same page (despite the Paladin class and class features being superior to the Ranger in every other area - compare natural explorer improvements at 6th level, vs +Charisma to all allied saves or +1d8 damage to every single attack you ever make, to muti-attack at 11th or the capstones or really anything).

Even its best spell in Core (Swift quiver), competes with Hunters mark (its main source of damage) due to concentration, forces the class into Ranged combat, and is online waaaay too late to ever be seen. It's AoE effects suck badly. 3d8 damage (save for half) in an AoE at like...9th level? Pass.

What's even more annoying is the class is actually really good at low levels (1-5), competing or actually outstripping Fighters and Rogues for damage (Simple Hunter ranger with Colossus slayer or Horde-breaker and Hunters mark, Bow and Sharpshooter and Archery style).

Then it rapidly enters a whole world of suckage. Even if you're in a game where the DM uses navigation, foraging and hunting rules (and for some reason you dont already know the lore of monsters you're fighting) those things (hunting, tracking, foraging, navigation, monster lore and survival) are total non-issues for the resources a mid to high level party of DnD PCs can bring to bear.

Heck, by mid level you're all probably flying or teleporting around the place, and magicking up food as and when needed.

Rangers are kind of fun from levels 1-5 where the exploration pillar is important, and their combat abilities are good. Then they just suck worse and worse each level thereafter.
 

Gladius Legis

Explorer
3) Mechanically, there is no reason to stick with Ranger past 5th level. Taking 4 levels of Battlemaster Fighter and 11 levels of Scout Rogue and you're a better 'Ranger' than the Ranger
That's a 15th-level build. Most campaigns don't go that far. Not a good example to make your case.

Also, the Scout is hands-down the most overrated subclass in 5e, precisely because everyone looks at the Lv. 13 and 17 features (again, past most campaigns) and thinks the whole subclass is good, when it's really not. The main Lv. 3 feature, Skirmisher, competes with Uncanny Dodge for your reaction and loses out most of the time. The free Expertised skills are OK, but not a true selling point. +10 feet of speed, also OK but not groundbreaking.

in everything barring Spellcasting (which sucks on a Ranger).
Hunter's Mark, Goodberry, Absorb Elements, Healing Spirit, Pass Without Trace, Spike Growth, Conjure Animals, Guardian of Nature, Freedom of Movement, Conjure Woodland Beings, Conjure Volley, Swift Quiver ... all good to great spells.

Rangers have their problems, mostly due to Natural Explorer and Favored Enemy as you said. But the spells are fine. Better than fine, in fact.

If casting really bothered you, you could take 3 levels of Battlemaster, 3 levels of Rogue and 9 of Druid to be a better caster, and fighter and skill monkey than your 'book' ranger.
Again, Lv. 15 character. Also, a laughably weak build with no Extra Attack and very low-level Sneak Attack. And gimped Wild Shape from only 9 Druid levels at Lv. 15.
 

Flamestrike

Registered User
That's a 15th-level build. Most campaigns don't go that far. Not a good example to make your case.
Yet here you are below using spells of 4th and 5th level (conjure volley, swift quiver etc - neither of which are online till 17th level, and conjure woodland beings at 13th level) to outline your point.

Also, the Scout is hands-down the most overrated subclass in 5e, precisely because everyone looks at the Lv. 13 and 17 features (again, past most campaigns) and thinks the whole subclass is good, when it's really not.
Scout was selected to gain Expertise to Survival and Nature. The Skirmish ability (movement as soon as a creature finishes its turn next to you) and bonus land speed is just gravy to a Ranged PC.

Hunter's Mark, Goodberry, Absorb Elements, Healing Spirit, Pass Without Trace, Spike Growth, Conjure Animals, Guardian of Nature, Freedom of Movement, Conjure Woodland Beings, Conjure Volley, Swift Quiver ... all good to great spells.
I'll take the Paladin list any day of the week thanks; Vengeance or Crown are looking good. Remember, all Paladins can also get bonus spells from Oaths, know more spells, and can swap spells out at will in the morning unlike Rangers (barring a few from XgTE who get a few bonus spells known).

Also, the Paladins class features are better. Much better. At literally every single level.

Again, Lv. 15 character. Also, a laughably weak build with no Extra Attack and very low-level Sneak Attack. And gimped Wild Shape from only 9 Druid levels at Lv. 15.
Those levels were taken AFTER Ranger 5; so it does have multi-attack. And action surge. And sup dice (precision and menacing). And +2d6 sneak attack. And Hunters mark. And Colossus slayer or Horde breaker. And the ability to Hide as a bonus action each round for advantage.

Heck, even ignoring the 9 levels of Druid (taken purely) for spell-casting, it's probably a better fighter, scout and survival expert than the default Ranger.
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
Much to my surprise, I wholeheartedly agree to two Flamestrike posts in a row (see XP given)

Yes, the core issue is probably that MMearls & Co vastly overvalue the explore pillar of the game; together with their inexplicable inability to understand what abilities contribute to fun gameplay and which shortcut and negate it.
 

Gladius Legis

Explorer
Yet here you are below using spells of 4th and 5th level (conjure volley, swift quiver etc - neither of which are online till 17th level, and conjure woodland beings at 13th level) to outline your point.
And you ignore literally all the other spells I listed before those? You are arguing dishonestly.

The Skirmish ability (movement as soon as a creature finishes its turn next to you) and bonus land speed is just gravy to a Ranged PC.
Again, Skirmish competes with Uncanny Dodge for the 1 reaction you'll have every round, and Uncanny Dodge wins out more often. Read and address my argument, please.

Those levels were taken AFTER Ranger 5; so it does have multi-attack. And action surge. And sup dice (precision and menacing). And +2d6 sneak attack. And Hunters mark. And Colossus slayer or Horde breaker. And the ability to Hide as a bonus action each round for advantage.

Heck, even ignoring the 9 levels of Druid (taken purely) for spell-casting, it's probably a better fighter, scout and survival expert than the default Ranger.
1) You didn't have a single level of Ranger in that build.
2) You only had 3 Fighter levels in that build. No Extra Attack for you.
3) You only had 3 Rogue levels in that build. +2d6 Sneak Attack at Lv. 15 without anything else like Extra Attack isn't going to cut it.

Are you even trying to make a cohesive argument? Or are you just throwing BS out there and hoping no one calls you out on it?
 

Flamestrike

Registered User
And you ignore literally all the other spells I listed before those? You are arguing dishonestly.
I didnt ignore them mate. I called you out on your own dishonesty for handwaving abilities at mid to high level away, while sneaking a few of them in yourself to prove a point.

Again, Skirmish competes with Uncanny Dodge for the 1 reaction you'll have every round, and Uncanny Dodge wins out more often.
I did adress your point. It's mainly taken as a ribbon ability. Scout is taken for the fluff (it fluffs with Ranger well) more than anything else.

But mechanically it's still a great ability. Your turn ends. A monsters turn begins; he attacks you, his turn ends, and then you move away half your move before anyone else can act (Presuming the classic Wood Elf, Mobile, bonus speed from Scout and Longstrider route), that's 20-30' of movement with no AoO's.

It's often more than enough to get you out of range of several creatures melee attacks for the rest of the round. For a class that is built on Kiting, it's more than a ribbon ability when used well.

1) You didn't have a single level of Ranger in that build.
That's as much a problem with your comprehension of what I wrote as it was with my writing.

I was refering to an alternate to the 11 levels of Scout and 4 levels of Fighter on top of 5 levels of Ranger (the post was about levels to take after Ranger 5). Substituting the 15 levels of Fighter and Rogue with 3 levels of Scout, 3 of Fighter, and 9 of Druid (if you care about spellcasting).

On top of Ranger was inferred. Now I've expressly clarified it for you.

Are you even trying to make a cohesive argument? Or are you just throwing BS out there and hoping no one calls you out on it?
Cut out the personal attacks man. We're a community here.
 

Flamestrike

Registered User
Much to my surprise, I wholeheartedly agree to two Flamestrike posts in a row (see XP given)

Yes, the core issue is probably that MMearls & Co vastly overvalue the explore pillar of the game; together with their inexplicable inability to understand what abilities contribute to fun gameplay and which shortcut and negate it.
It's more the exploration pillar is

A) rarely used and often hand-waved, and

B) when it is used, it's all too easily circumvented from mid levels onwards.

For a low level Tomb of Annihilation campaign with a hardcore DM, having a Ranger with 'Favored Terrain: 'Jungle' and Favored enemy 'Dinosaurs, Undead and Yuanti' is amazing.

It's just waaay too situational and rapidly is outclassed by 'we teleport and I cast Heroes feast'
 

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