log in or register to remove this ad

 

General Which Edition Had the Best Ranger?

Which Edition had the best Ranger?


  • Total voters
    158

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The Ranger class has been through a lot over the years. Like every other aspect of our Favorite Fantasy Role-Playing Game(TM), it has grown and evolved over time...and not entirely for the better in some cases. With all of the discussion about the Ranger class in the forums these days, it got me to wondering--which edition did the best job with the Ranger class? Which one came closest to the ideal in your head when you think "I'm going to be a Ranger"?

THE OPTIONS:

Original D&D:
I never played this edition and I don't have a printed copy of it, so I can't say for sure if the Ranger even existed in OD&D. I'm including it in the poll just in case I'm wrong.

AD&D 1E: in this edition, the Ranger was a subclass of Fighter. They could use any weapon and wear any armor, but they gained extra attacks more slowly than Fighters and Paladins (which were also a subclass). It had tracking abilities using percentile dice, and its 'trick' was that it could surprise foes 50% of the time. They started getting spells at 8th level, from the Druid and Magic-User lists. And at high levels, they got followers--which could be playable characters, special mounts, or animal companions. They got combat bonuses against giants and...orcs, I think?

Basic D&D/BECM: there was no such thing as a Ranger class in this edition. I could have sworn there was a variant rule for it somewhere, maybe in the Rules Cyclopedia? I'm including it in this poll just in case someone remembers. I don't have the energy to get up and look for myself...my books are all in storage at the moment.

AD&D 2E: The Ranger was upgraded to a core class, and had the same hit dice as fighters. Certain abilities of theirs required light armor (like two-weapon fighting), and they got a bunch of the thief abilities for moving silently and hiding in shadows in addition to their tracking abilities. They also had the ability to calm animals, and they had a combat ability that let them focus on one specific monster. They gained spells, but they were restricted to 1st thru 3rd level spells. And at higher levels, they could recruit animals, fey, and druids as followers. They could choose any species that they wanted to have combat bonuses against; they were no longer restricted to just giants and humanoids.

D&D 3.X/Pathfinder 1E: In this edition, the Ranger had a number of changes. They could specialize in either two-weapon fighting or archery. They kept their spellcasting ability, but got access to magic much sooner and had their own spell list. Their followers went away, and were replaced with a single Animal Companion that became more powerful as the ranger gained levels. Race and alignment restrictions from other editions were dropped, allowing us to make evil rangers for the first time. The skill system was robust (some would even say bloated), allowing the ranger to shift skill focus and combat abilities around more easily, and a ton of prestige classes allowed for even more versatility.

D&D 4E: the 4E Ranger kept many of their abilities from 3rd Edition: they could still specialize in archery or two-weapon fighting, for example. They had the "striker" role, which meant they specialized in single-target damage. They were more mobile. They had the martial power source, and their powers were called "exploits". There were other abilities as well, but for the most part the Ranger was meant to be best suited for skirmishes against a single target.

D&D Essentials: Not sure if this is appropriate to list as a separate "edition," but I included it for the sake of completeness. The Essentials presented two different "flavors" of ranger (Hunter and Scout). The hunter was archery-focused, and the scout was melee-focused.

D&D 5E: The ranger is included as one of the 11 core classes, and has the two subclasses to choose from (hunter and beast master). The hunter gains combat ability, while the beast master gains an animal companion. Other supplements added the gloom stalker, horizon walker, and monster slayer subclasses.

UA Revised Ranger: In 2016, Wizards of the Coast released "Unearthed Arcana: The Ranger Revised" as an option for the 5th Edition ranger. It's getting a lot of discussion over in the other thread, so I'm breaking it out here for a little more granularity in the discussion. It isn't an official version yet, but it might be presented "as a revised ranger in a future D&D sourcebook." And it sounds like that sourcebook will be the new Tasha's book. Anyway, the UA Ranger has the Favored Enemy and Natural Explorer abilities from earlier editions, as well as the hit dice, fighting style, and spellcasting abilities of the 3rd Edition ranger (sort of). This version also has a couple of revised subclasses (called "conclaves"), like Beast, Hunter, and Deep Stalker.

Other: I'm not a very good historian, so I probably missed a version or edition or something. If I missed one, and it was your favorite, this is the option you should vote for. Tell us all about it!

I Can't Choose Just One: Choose this option if you feel every iteration of the Ranger class has been equally good (or equally bad) and you cannot choose a favorite among them. Then tell us all about it! But also...

This is not meant to be a Ranger Bash. It's easy to hate on the Ranger, I know. But let's try to focus on the parts that were good, the parts that the game designers got right. It's easy to take the low road and just dump on other peoples' work...let's take the higher ground and discuss the merits instead. Pretend you are back in kindergarten: for every negative thing you say about a particular edition's version of the Ranger, try to say one good thing as well.

Please don't turn this thread into an edition war. Stay on target, folks. This thread is for discussing the Ranger class, how it has changed over time, and how the past versions of the Ranger might be used as a guide for future versions. This isn't the thread for venting your spleen over your favorite and least-favorite editions of D&D in general. We get it--you no longer play certain editions of D&D, and you have your reasons, and that's fine.
 
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad

aco175

Legend
With 100% of the vote, 2e wins. Mostly it is buried far enough back that I have fond memories and not just remembering the bad times, like 4e/5e

OK, read the last part of the OP and can say that I like the slower spell gain from older editions and remaining more fighter, but had some other class things.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I voted for the UA Ranger as my favorite. It feels a little more close to what I think an ideal "ranger" would be (an outdoor specialist and master hunter), without getting bogged down in the weeds of customizing minutiae. I'm hoping that it survives, more or less intact, in Tasha's.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Best in feel 1E or 3.5 imho.

Mechanics perhaps 4E but it's not really a ranger beyond the name.

1E and 4E tuned fairly high power level wise.

So 3.5 perhaps judged by itself? Good class in the wrong edition (codzilla).

2E was kinda a wilder rogue and to dependent on.
1. 18/xyz strength
2. Other dual wield rules not used.
 

Gradine

Final Form
4e had a great class that was called "Ranger" but for all intents and purposes it should be considered entirely different.

2nd edition would probably win if AD&D didn't screw up NWPs so badly and didn't gate two-handed fighting to a single class.

5e Ranger is just fine, really. UA version is probably better but outside of meaningless white room damage maths the OG holds its own.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
4e had a great class that was called "Ranger" but for all intents and purposes it should be considered entirely different.

2nd edition would probably win if AD&D didn't screw up NWPs so badly and didn't gate two-handed fighting to a single class.

5e Ranger is just fine, really. UA version is probably better but outside of meaningless white room damage maths the OG holds its own.

Agree about 4E class. Had a great class called a Ranger.
 

I don't remember ever playing a Ranger myself, perhaps once in 3E. As a DM IME unless a campaign was heavily wilderness based they always seemed out of place in a regular party/campaign (along with the druid) and I always had to find ways to shoehorn them into it. One time I played in a Lanhkmar one-shot and a friend of mine was DMing and another was playing a Ranger. The DM for all intents and purposes forced the Ranger go into the city after the player insisted that he hated cities and would have no desire to do so, and as a result the Ranger went psycho and started killing random people. For the record the DM didnt tell us before hand it was a city adventure so it wasnt the player who created the Rangers fault.
 


Zardnaar

Legend
I don't remember ever playing a Ranger myself, perhaps once in 3E. As a DM IME unless a campaign was heavily wilderness based they always seemed out of place in a regular party/campaign (along with the druid) and I always had to find ways to shoehorn them into it. One time I played in a Lanhkmar one-shot and a friend of mine was DMing and another was playing a Ranger. The DM for all intents and purposes forced the Ranger go into the city after the player insisted that he hated cities and would have no desire to do so, and as a result the Ranger went psycho and started killing random people. For the record the DM didnt tell us before hand it was a city adventure so it wasnt the player who created the Rangers fault.

Kinda the players fault for deciding to hate cities when it's not built into the class.

It's essentially demanding I want to be in my element all of the time.
 


Kinda the players fault for deciding to hate cities when it's not built into the class.

It's essentially demanding I want to be in my element all of the time.
I would agree with you if there was a legitimate reason for the player to be in the city but there wasn't. It was a really badly DMed game with absolutely no direction, no adventure let alone an adventure hook. The Ranger didnt start going crazy until after hours of us in real and game time wandering around the city aimlessly trying to find a quest.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I would agree with you if there was a legitimate reason for the player to be in the city but there wasn't. It was a really badly DMed game with absolutely no direction, no adventure let alone an adventure hook. The Ranger didnt start going crazy until after hours of us in real and game time wandering around the city aimlessly trying to find a quest.

Crap DM then. They exist.
 



CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Yes I know. Suppose my point was that the Ranger is a class that the DM needs to consider whether or not its going to fit into the campaign or not.
Based on a true story:

DM: All classes are allowed in this campaign except the Ranger
Player 1: I absolutely must play a Ranger now.
Player 2: Me too. No other class will do.
Player 3: Same. I will fight you if I have to.

DM: Fine, rangers are allowed now
Player 1: Meh, Rangers stink.
Player 2: Yeah, they're super-weak.
Player 3: I want to play a Barbarian instead.

In my true story, it was the Warlock and not the Ranger. But still, my point stands: trying to remove something from the game is a task easier said than done, and it might not work for every game table. I've found it's better to say "we will use this version instead," rather than banning something outright.
 
Last edited:

Based on a true story:

DM: All classes are allowed in this campaign except the Ranger
Player 1: I absolutely must play a Ranger now.
Player 2: Me too. No other class will do.
Player 3: Same. I will fight you if I have to.

DM: Fine, rangers are allowed now
Player 1: Meh, Rangers stink.
Player 2: Yeah, they're super-weak.
Player 3: I want to play a Barbarian instead.
If I was the DM after that Id have made all the bad guys in the entire campaign all Rangers in one form or another. All specialized in hunting the PC classes.
 

I think 2e's class has defined what a ranger is. That's the iconic version of the class. Lightly armored, thief skills, TWF as a showcase ability, druid spells only, favored enemy, tracking is fairly potent, animal companions can be had through taming. This is the first version of the class that does everything we think of today as ranger-like.

5e + Tasha's is looking VERY nice. It might beat out 2e, but for now I put it in second.

4e is certainly the most powerful version of the class. Ranger was big old can of whoopin' in 4e. But that's kinda all it got. 1e was kinda the same way. If you fought a lot of "giant class" giants and humanoids, they dealt a ton of damage. Otherwise they were just fighters with weird hit dice and a treasure restriction that necessitated a bag of holding. These two are tied for third.

3.5e and 5e feel to me to be tied for coming close to 2e's flavor, but in having critical flaws holding them back. 3.5e is that edition's power balance problem, and 5e is the poorly designed first level. This is 4th place.

3e feels like the shell of the class. The first draft. Bad, and not able to compare to the other classes, and far too frontloaded for a game with a la carte multiclassing. 5th place.

As far as I'm aware, that's it.
 

The 1e Ranger, by far and away. It was effective in the system it was in, it had terrific mechanics like a massive damage bonus against "giant class" enemies (which actually encompassed A LOT of different enemy types), enhanced ability to surprise enemies and to avoid surprise, it actually did the warrior with a smattering of spellacsting thing well, and most importantly it wasn't married to any one fighting style like later editions would do with TWF and later archery.

I will say that, when taken in a vacuum, the 3.5 Ranger is well-designed. Key words, when taken in a vacuum. It's too bad that at the end of the day, it was still a martial and a half-caster in a system that was very unkind to both of those character types.
 
Last edited:

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Not having played 2e pnp, but having spent three life-worth of time playing BG 1-2, I'd say 2e + kit is the closest to what I imagine a D&D ranger to be: small access to utility magic that would make sense for a wilderness survivalist to know, hunter skills, dedicated but not mandatory fighting styles etc

To me, Minsc and Kivan are the D&D rangers, Drizzt is just a fighter who rented a blind ranger's AirBnB for a while and kept his cloak as a souvenir :p
 

Twiggly the Gnome

Adventurer
Basic D&D/BECM: there was no such thing as a Ranger class in this edition. I could have sworn there was a variant rule for it somewhere, maybe in the Rules Cyclopedia? I'm including it in this poll just in case someone remembers. I don't have the energy to get up and look for myself...my books are all in storage at the moment.
I think it was in one of the Voyage of the Princess Ark articles in Dragon. IIRC, it was sort of a druidic equivalent to the Paladin and Avenger.
 

Advertisement2

Advertisement4

Top