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What is the Ranger to you?

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
I have in mind of merging the barbarian and the ranger into a single class to create my own vision of the ranger: the frontiersman who fights to protect nature from civilization and civilization from the dangers of nature. He's a guide and a specialist who goes against all odds to protect the things he cares about.

2d6 HD
Light, Medium, Shield
Simple, Martial
Wis, Str
1: Wild Wanderer (Unarmored AC to Con, Favored terrain), Vigilance/Against the Tide (aka barbarian rage only +2 damage)
2: Spells, Fighting style
3: Archetype
4: ASI
5:Extra Attack, Extra movement
6: Archetypes feature
7: Survivor Instinct (aka barbarian Feral Instinct)
8: ASI
9: Land Stride
10: Bane (Barb's Brutal Critical, X2 against 2 Favored Enemy)
11: Archetype feature
12: ASI
13: -
14: Archetype feature, Greater Bane ( 2 extra dice on crit, +1 favored enemy)
15: Persistent Vigilance (aka Persistent rage)
16: ASI
17: -
18: Gardian's senses (aka Ranger's Feral Sense)
19: ASI
20: Foe Slayer: On damage, reroll all 1-2-3.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad day
The Ranger is the Paladin for the Druid. Just as the Paladin is the divine champion of a particular deity, the Ranger is the champion of nature. Using special skills and druidic magic, they hunt down their enemies and defend the followers of the Old Faith.
Ugh, never. The trapper who's out there getting skins - likely a ranger. The demonic-influenced gnoll tracker - probably a ranger. The bounty hunters after the PCs - likely has a ranger.

Rangers are good with dealing with nature, but to revere it is not a requirement of the class in the slightest.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I regard the ranger as the "light cavalry" of the party - not in the sense of riding horses, but in the sense of being a highly mobile force used for scouting, flanking, and harrying the foe.

To me, the ranger is defined by:

  • Hard-hitting offense
  • Limited defense (they don't make great "tanks")
  • Mobility in combat
  • Exploration ability
  • Mastery of terrain
Note that "wilderness" is not on that list anywhere. I quite like the idea of an "urban ranger" who knows every rooftop and back alley. The key points of distinction between the ranger and the rogue are that rangers have more martial prowess and more ability to use the terrain in their favor, while rogues have a much broader and deeper set of noncombat skills.

(The other thing that isn't on that list is "magic." I don't feel like magic is a core part of the ranger concept, at all, and I look forward to ranger variants that let you trade spellcasting for other stuff.)
 

Kobold Avenger

Explorer
Thinking in the broadest of terms a Ranger is a specialized warrior who is in tune with the environment (possibly specialized in one) who knows a few tricks and secrets. That way it covers the outdoors hunter types, urban vigilantes, monster hunters and a couple of other archetypes, that can be represented as a bunch of subclasses.
 
It's a merge of different archetypes that I've come to enjoy, and, in that regard, I don't see it as significantly different from any of the other D&D classes, perhaps with the exception of the fighter, which is the "use this frame to build your own fantasy archetype" class, when you think about it.

As such I want it to have a mechanical framework that starts with Beren and Aragorn, but also allows Drizzt and Rexxar to do their stuff (including the ability to have an animal companion and fighting with two weapons without losing any effectiveness, when compared to other fighting styles), because fantasy archetypes can evolve with time, and the ranger certainly evolved a lot in my fantasy of choice.

I'm not specially for or against spellcasting, but I like the fact that it helps distinguish them from a fighter/rogue multiclass. I believe they should have a list of spells that focuses on mobility, stealth, magical shots/maneuvers and enhancements (self and animal companion), in a way that a player who wants to play a ranger with no spells can simply choose those that are easily reskinned as talent/destiny. A ranger's healing knack should exist, but it doesn't need to be represented as spellcasting.

Curiously, the only ranger thing that I don't believe is necessary as a mechanical choice is the favored enemy. I'd gladly drop it from the class and make it into a background that any character can choose.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
To me, the Ranger is the first and best example of a redundant class. It's a Fighter, with wilderness scout flavoring. There's literally zero reason why you couldn't just play a Fighter, give them the appropriate skill choices, and call that a Ranger. (Except in 4E, of course, where Fighter was redefined as melee-Fighter. In that edition, Ranger existed to be a ranged-Fighter.)
 

CapnZapp

Adventurer
I think World of Warcraft got it right.

Cool black powder schtick, ranged specialist, an animal companion that makes you proud.

The at-a-distance fighter with a melee servant is a distinct niche that would easily justify having Ranger as a separate class from Fighter.

The wilderness bonuses should be judged to be ribbon abilities; i.enot something that justifies worse combat capability.

The spells should be relegated to one subclass only.
 

BookBarbarian

Expert Long Rester
To me, the ranger is a bushcrafter. A mountain man/woman. Lives off the land, master scout and tracker. Daniel Boone. Don’t really care about Aragorn

Mechanically, that means light armor only, and no heavy weapons. Practical weapons that have multiple uses (as a bushcrafter myself, this is a golden rule). Space is limited and precious, especially if you have to hike an entire day. Or week. That means weapons are an axe over sword (along with a good knife and bow). Probably the most robust HP die of any other class.

No spells in the traditional sense, but could have spell like abilities that support that theme. Poultices, supernatural tracking and long range accuracy, etc. powers to enhance the ability of their animal companion. The ability to resist harsh climates and keep going when you’re beaten down.
I see this as a starting point. A core of the ranger if you will. A good description of a ranger in a world like the one we live in.

However a D&D Ranger may live in a specifically magical world. If living off the land in a land that is intrinsically magical, it makes sense for a ranger to learn useful land based magic. To me at least.

If living in a land of hostile monstrosities, giants, fantastic beasts, and other creatures it makes sense to me for a Ranger to learn special tactics or specialize in weaponry that is especially effective in combating such creatures.

For example if a Ranger is protecting a land in danger of being overrun by a horde of orcs, it may make sense for them to primarily use a sword over an axe or knife.

If the monsters of your land have tough hides represented by being resistant to slashing and piercing damage, it may make sense to specialize in blunt weapons.

Anyway while Strider leading the hobbits from Bree to Rivendell remains and shall forever remain my mental image of a Ranger overall Geralt of Rivia from the Witcher novels and games actually more embodies what I think of as a D&D Ranger.

Ugh, never. The trapper who's out there getting skins - likely a ranger. The demonic-influenced gnoll tracker - probably a ranger. The bounty hunters after the PCs - likely has a ranger.

Rangers are good with dealing with nature, but to revere it is not a requirement of the class in the slightest.
Agreed. In fact in fiction Rangers are far more commonly represented as defending civilization from the forces of the wild, rather than championing those forces.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
Fundamentally, a ranger is a trailblazer. A scout. Not necessarily a woodsman or a survivalist, but undoubtedly a pointman to the wilderness. Rangers are the ones who set out beyond the safety of the city walls into the untamed wild to lay the groundwork for its taming. Before there can be a kingsroad, there must be a trail beaten by the rangers from one city to another, which must be protected long enough and consistently enough to be deemed safe for ordinary people to travel. When the forces of evil begin mustering their strength, Rangers are the first to strike, to stop the threat before it can ever reach civilization.
 
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5ekyu

Explorer
Ugh, never. The trapper who's out there getting skins - likely a ranger. The demonic-influenced gnoll tracker - probably a ranger. The bounty hunters after the PCs - likely has a ranger.

Rangers are good with dealing with nature, but to revere it is not a requirement of the class in the slightest.
Ehhh...

See this is where i hit trouble.

My take is its not so much about revere as respect.

Respect nature to me isnt "dont kill animals and take hides." Its more "kill what you need and use it all" its more about the harmony and renewable or sustainable balance.

Tribes who hunt buffalo, take no more than they can use (often the weaker slower - duh) and use every bit of their kills show "respect" and honor the sacrifice and the hunt.

So, to me, an evil ranger would be like a buffalo hunter who slaughter herds, takes only hides, leaves rest to rot and wipes out the eco-system the herd created so he can pocket loads of coin. Then he moves on.
 

Shiroiken

Explorer
Ugh, never. The trapper who's out there getting skins - likely a ranger. The demonic-influenced gnoll tracker - probably a ranger. The bounty hunters after the PCs - likely has a ranger.

Rangers are good with dealing with nature, but to revere it is not a requirement of the class in the slightest.
Your campaign is free to vary, but I require paladins and rangers to actually worship a deity to gain their supernatural powers. Oddly, no one has ever complained.
 

Mercule

Explorer
As others have pointed out, the ranger can be a few different things. I think the class started out as a mix of a few related things, but grew out of control. It actually a good poster child for why I've become even more disenchanted by a class-based system -- I think it's stupid to use classes as bundles of abilities without archetypes, but I've found myself doing so more and more. Since the question makes no sense unless you're talking archetype, I'll go with that train of thought.

A ranger exists between civilization and the wilds. They could be tribesmen, but not in the "noble savage" mold. That's the realm of the barbarian (which is a dumb class, but that's another thread). The ranger is a (mostly) civilized person who lives apart, not a wildling who can carry on a conversation on philosophy. They have a bit of a special forces vibe, but not in sense of being able to kick the crap out of anything better than a fighter. They're harder to kill than most, but not in the raw physicality of the barbarian. They rely on training, but not in the same way as the rogue. They're just "smarter" in the sense of being more prepared for anything that comes their way. How, exactly, does one stat up a Boy Scout without making the player actually know all the things a Boy Scout would know? Well, in five editions, we've had five different answers. But, that's the kernal of the class -- a well prepared warrior who is comfortable without comforts, thinks ahead, and knows a smattering of things that reflect that preparedness.

What isn't a ranger?

A ranger isn't a druidic paladin. Their spells are tricks and tools they've picked up, not stuff they get from their religion. This is one thing 1E got more right than any other edition. Rangers had access to both magic-user (wizard) and druid spells. They actually had more wizard spells than druid, which always made it seem like the druid spells were tacked on or were a way to create a custom spell list without actually creating a custom spell list (paladins cast from the cleric list). So, the lack of explicit arcane/divine categories in 5E works well for rangers, who really should be considered arcane casters, more than divine. Rangers don't (have to) worship nature. They're actually much, much more likely to worship the gods of civilization.

A ranger isn't death on wheels. They should lose in a straight-up brawl against a fighter of the same level (Aragorn was not the same level as most folks). But, they also shouldn't typically allow themselves to get into a fair fight. But the not fair fight of a ranger looks a lot different than the not fair fight of a rogue. The ranger is going to use cover, movement, traps and snares, hazards, etc. to their advantage. Rogues will tell you they're fighting fair then use a hidden dagger on your kidney.

A ranger isn't (necessarily) a TWF master. I don't really have an issue with some rangers choosing to go this way, but it's totally orthagonal to the archetype.

A ranger isn't a wilder-rogue. There should be a noticeable difference in the way they handle problems. The rogue has become a bit too much warrior, for my taste, but that's a different topic.

A ranger isn't (necessarily) an animal handler. Yeah, I can see it as an option, but it's not core to the archetype of being prepared.
 

bedir than

Registered User
Light or medium armor
Simple weapons, bows, martial light weapons, all swords (that's specific for 5e, but oh well)
MAD (STR/DEX/WIS)
Ability to use HD in unique ways (double the number of dice ala 2d6 or 2d4)
Wilderness skills that include tracking, foraging, traps and some things that go beyond what other classes have in the wilds
Ability to learn specific enemies and then find their vulnerabilities (I may even use a way to make an enemy vulnerable to an attack type for 1 minute)
Friendship with beasts as a baseline, with a full-on companion being an option
Certain rituals as a baseline (alarm, goodberry, purify food&drink), with expansion of spells being another subclass option
Expanded mobility and fantasy spec-ops type stuff, with an expansion that could involve nova/hunter's mark

Not Aragorn as the baseline, as he was a named level hero.
The baseline is the Dúnedain -- the Rangers of the North.
 

billd91

Earl of Cornbread
Tolkien's rangers - whether the Dúnedain or from Ithilien. Tough warriors operating in the wilderness to protect civilization from the things that would have normal people hiding under their beds if they knew they were so close by. They have to be woodcrafty and wily because they may be operating far from easy help or support.
 

doctorbadwolf

Explorer
Ugh, never. The trapper who's out there getting skins - likely a ranger. The demonic-influenced gnoll tracker - probably a ranger. The bounty hunters after the PCs - likely has a ranger.

Rangers are good with dealing with nature, but to revere it is not a requirement of the class in the slightest.
ideally, none of those would have a level of Ranger, except perhaps the trapper. Rogues and fighters with the right skills and backgrounds cover those characters.

The Ranger isn’t just a hunter or scout or woodsman. They’re a champion of nature and defender of the free folk. That’s why we use the term Ranger rather than scout or hunter. The core element of Tolkien rangers that has always been and should always be part of the identity of the class is that purpose. Being not just a simple scout, but a guardian as well.

I think World of Warcraft got it right.

Cool black powder schtick, ranged specialist, an animal companion that makes you proud.

The at-a-distance fighter with a melee servant is a distinct niche that would easily justify having Ranger as a separate class from Fighter.

The wilderness bonuses should be judged to be ribbon abilities; i.enot something that justifies worse combat capability.

The spells should be relegated to one subclass only.
Not in the 5e structure.

Better to develop a secondary system of maneuvers that can replace the Spellcasting trait optionally, and give the ranger spell and maneuver options that are purpose built to support the companion, and plenty that aren’t, so that people can play with or without both spells and companion.
 

Charlaquin

Explorer
But the paladin is specifically based around the knight in shining armor. Who are your archetypal rangers?
Yeomen. Historically, Yeomen were attendants and groundskeepers to royal households, later becoming a term for commoners who held their own land. The Yeoman from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales is very much the ur example of the archetype in literature, influencing the Dunedain and Ithilien rangers in Tolkien’s works, and in turn the Rangers of most modern fantasy. Robin Hood and the merry men are also a good quasi-historical, quasi-mythical representation of the archetype, analogous to Arthur and the knights of the round as representing the archetypal knight in shining armor.
 
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