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D&D General Which Edition Had the Best Ranger?

Which Edition had the best Ranger?


  • Total voters
    159

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Not really worth anything. D&D has rules for fire damage. It doesn't have rules for exposure to heat.
Does 5e not have anything like "Any character within x feet of this [heat source] at the end of its turn takes y-amount of damage"?

I know some creatures give off enough heat or cold to auto-damage anyone in melee with them, repeating every round.

These are the sort of thing a basic Heat Resistance could really help with.
 

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AiME is a great book for those who want low magic D&D. I'd highly recommend folks who don't want much magic in their D&D to look at this book, and just port over the class mechanics and ignore the ME fluff if you don't want it.
Aside from the low magic part, I'm legit doing this and was the reason why I got AIME.
 

Minigiant

Legend
And in D&D, forests are full of treants, dragons, and other monsters just as bad, and yet rangers still wear lighter armor and weapons.

It doesn't matter who the opponent is. You're getting hung up in the combat. It's about mobility. A ranger is a scout. A tracker. Someone who lives off the land. It's their literal job. Someone in plate mail and a greatsword isn't going to be nearly as mobile as someone in hide armor and a sword and hand axe.

Let me put it like this. Bushcrafting is one of my hobbies. And I have plenty of experience hiking both in civilian life and the military. Every pound counts. Every once counts. There is a reason NO scout or wilderness explorer is heavily armored and armed. Anything and everything you carry needs to have a dual purpose of possible.

Modern scouts may encounter a battle tank but they still don't have M1A1s in scout platoons. So I'm sorry, I just don't buy that argument that a ranger would be in heavy armor and great weapons just because giants exist.

If you want a good example of a ranger, watch Platoon. Specifically how Elias looks at the gear charlie sheen is carrying, and tosses half of it.
I'm not saying all rangers should be wearing steel plate. I'm saying that the ranger from 3e on is described as a hunter of monsters and defender of civilization from the wilds. Limiting them to archery and TWF and leather armor makes little sense if they are no limited to a single environment. Especially if the world isn't bound to the rules on the real world and their world is littered with monsters.

You aint gonna be fighting green dragons and treants with little pokey sticks either but the trees give you ample places to hide. The desert and arctic don't. Not until high level and you get HIPS in some editions. Ambushing people from a tree is a forest thing.

So rangers from other terrains in a fantasy universe should not be expected to be TWFing archers in the lights armor available. The ranger isn't a hiker class, it's a killer class. The 1e and 2e ones are fighter types and the 4e one is a striker. The 3e ranger sleeps in a breastplate. You always had to be ready to go kill things. Often big things.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Could that be in part because they never (that we know of) really made or developed metal armour?
Doubtful. Because we have plenty of other examples of scouts belonging to cultures that did have metal armor and even then they wore nothing heavier than mail.

Also, while real life mountain men didn't have to fight ogres, they did have grizzly bears.

Either way, you're focusing on the combat part again. The reason scouts wore light armor and weapons was because mobility and encumbrance is the number one concern.

Speaking from some level of experience here. Put on heavy armor and a greatsword and go on a wilderness hike. You'll ditch that stuff in a hurry, regardless of what you may encounter just like a modern scout platoons has more mobile vehicles than an M1A1 even though they can expect to face enemy battle tanks themselves. Just like the fictional ranger class, they take on and beat these larger opponents via hit and run, quick strikes, and ambushes. Not face to face slugfests.

If you want a heavily armed warrior, play a fighter.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Also, while real life mountain men didn't have to fight ogres, they did have grizzly bears.
real life mountain men avoided grizzlies or shoot them with high powered guns.

Again, the D&D ranger is not a Real Earth medieval era military scout.

The 1e ranger understood this and deal high damage to giants and orcs with any weapon and any fighting style while having good tracking and ambush avoidance. However 1e's base mechanic held it back and made it very DM dependent to OOC success worldwide.

The 4e one did too but it relied on 4e's streamlined and simplified magic and skill system to remove the extremities and shoehorn fighting styles into the class.

To me, every edition made a decent effort but equally missed the mark.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I think it's important to understand that the ranger was created to emulate Aragorn. It's in the name. Then as the game started to mature, it was meant to also capture archetypes like daniel boone, grizzly adams, and robin hood.

Now, I think we can all agree that the modern ranger doesn't need to be limited to those temperate forest archetypes.

However, that doesn't mean they are automatically greatsword plate mail wearing classes. Regardless of terrain, rangers are scouts and frontierspeople. That requires mobility. Don't take my word for it. Look at historical archetypes from each region of the globe in all the terrain regions. How many were lightly armored and armed? Pretty much all of them.

Including modern rangers in the military today. Scout platoons have lighter vehicles and equipment because that mobility thing is important.

Should rangers have things that support their region and environment? Absolutely. But I just haven't seen enough real world examples of scouts and wilderness guides who were in heavy armor and arms. I cant even think of one.

And while yes, a two handed sword can be wielded quickly, that's not the point. The point is have you ever had to run with one over large distances of rough terrain? Try it.
Most two handed swords literally weigh less than 2 swords.
The only real argument against them is their bulk.
And your or my perception of what a ranger should look like is irrelevant, the game should allow more freedom in chargen than that.
 

For some context, the ranger (along with the warlock) is my FAVORITE "fantasy" for a character. My online name for a long time on many forums and avenues was Strider for a reason.

So, what system has the best ranger? I've read them all, but not played them all, and at the end of the day, I've come to some conclusions:

  • The 5E ranger is really whack mechanically but the fantasy is so poignant that people still love playing it.
  • What a lot of people love about the ranger fantasy is that its a "complete kit" in one character. This is a rough, hyper-competent, somewhat specialized person who works the frontier to take care of dangers.
  • The 5E ranger accomplishes this mechanically, but in a way that doesn't feel satisfying. The core ranger's mechanics are TOO specialized into their focuses, and either complete remove an aspect of the game (survival) or don't give enough benefits (Favored Foe).
  • The 5E ranger was designed with a more old school gameplay focus in mind. But 5E has evolved to be quite a game used to tell curated or pre-written stories. Because of that, a lot of the ranger's campaign-esque abilities (tracking things, finding monsters, and so on) just don't get a lot of use.
  • There's a bit of a culture issue too, where players don't like "metagaming" and designing their characters for the adventure. This is something that 5E players and Dms kind of have to get over; 5E works best with a session 0 and when all the characters are somehow mechanically and narratively tied into the adventure.
  • The 1E ranger is similarly designed, but with a narrower focus. You're literally a budding Aragorn who becomes a full on Aragorn. This is neat, but the fiction of the ranger in mainstream has evolved past this. The 1E ranger did what it was designed to do perfectly, but ultimately does not fit what people want from a ranger.
  • The 2E, 3.XE, and 4E rangers each take things in different methods, but they never quite build on their previous successes. This is what leads to the 5E ranger feeling so lackluster.

Now, on top of all these points, something else: there is an overblown problem where people say "everyone has their own idea of what a ranger is!" Correct, but that applies to literally every class. 5E was an attempt to make these classes fit as many possible stories as they could within that archetype. The ranger attempts this with giving options to pick from, but ultimately is missing the core component in everyone's ranger fantasy: the hyper-competent frontier soldier.

The frontier can be anywhere. It can be a city (crime frontier!), it can be oceans, the arctic, forests, what have you. This is seen in the Natural Explorer 5E ranger feature. However, instead of just giving benefits in that feature, what the ranger should have done was look how to apply these specializations to the party in unique ways. In other words, the terrains themselves needed to be given more mechanical heft in the system AND in the ranger.

To translate this a bit to something that could make more sense, Mearls at one point did a Happy Fun Hour where every terrain + creature type for favored enemy gave the ranger some kind of bonus. This was cool, but let's look at what virtually every ranger does in novels and movies - that, their helping of the party. I know it sounds like I'm talking in circles, but the 5E ranger does this, but in a way that is explictly focused on survival, and in a way that removes that component (survival) from the game.

Instead, the perfect ranger for 5E's goals is one where very terrain (and enemy) gives the ranger a suite of benefits. The ranger should then be able to give SOME of these benefits to the party.

Let's homebrew an example.

Trotter takes coasts for their Natural Explorer favored terrain.

Coasts gives the following abilities to the Ranger:
  1. A swim speed of 30 feet, and advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks to swim in fast currents.
  2. Removal of disadvantage when fighting ranged weapons underwater.
  3. The ability to hold your breath for a number of minutes equal to your Constituion score instead of your modifier.
The ranger can then choose one of these benefits to "teach" to, let's say for now, 5 creatures.

Then, because we don't want too narrow a focus, introduce the idea of picking up new terrains NOT just based on level but based on spending time in them.

  1. When a ranger spends their long rest inside of non-favored terrain, they can choose one of the abilities normally reserved for that favored terrain to learn. During another long rest, you can change to another benefit. You may only have one additional benefit like this active at a time.
  2. The ranger cannot give these benefits to its party members.
  3. At levels 6, 11, and 17, you have studied other terrains, giving you an addtional option for your favored terrain.

Now we have a ranger who is mastering the frontier, constantly learning, and getting to a level where they can give these benefits to their party members too.

Lastly, give the ranger Expertise for Survival checks. This covers their ability to track, find food, not become lost, and so on without just invalidating those aspects of the game.

I think this is a stronger skeleton for the ranger than what the 5E uses, and builds on the fantasy of the ranger as it has evolved over the last few editions. You can also apply these concepts to Favored Enemy, but that's for a different time, and to be honest I think the UA version of Favored Foe is the best version of this concept so long as you modify the spell a bit. Maybe something like this:

  1. You can spend a spell slot of your choice to cast a modified version of hunter's mark.
  2. The damage of the mark changes depending on the spell slot. (1d6 -> 1d8 -> 1d10 -> 1d12 -> 2d6).
  3. This special version of hunter's mark does not use concentration, and the damage can only be applied to one attack per turn.
This keeps the design of the ranger more in line with the rogue, paladin, and so on, and drives home the fantasy of a hyper-competent frontier warrior.

Then the subclasses of the ranger, called conclaves, introduce either:

  • Ways for the ranger to manage the frontier (hunter, beastmaster).
  • Fantastical environments that have impression the ranger, giving them unique magical abilities (horizon walker, gloom stalker, fey wanderer).

Boom! Dope ass ranger.

And make them Spells Prepared.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
real life mountain men avoided grizzlies or shoot them with high powered guns.

Again, the D&D ranger is not a Real Earth medieval era military scout.

The 1e ranger understood this and deal high damage to giants and orcs with any weapon and any fighting style while having good tracking and ambush avoidance. However 1e's base mechanic held it back and made it very DM dependent to OOC success worldwide.

The 4e one did too but it relied on 4e's streamlined and simplified magic and skill system to remove the extremities and shoehorn fighting styles into the class.

To me, every edition made a decent effort but equally missed the mark.
Having run into more than one grizzly while living in Alaska myself, yes. They are to be avoided. But you're missing the point. If you're gonna say a fantasy ranger may stumble upon a creature large like an ogre, guess what? Real life people stumble on grizzlies too. So that logic doesn't hold water that a fantasy ranger would need heavy armor and weapons because they might face a huge enemy. And even knowing that one could run into a grizzly, mountain men and scouts didn't go around in body armor and huge bulky weapons.


Basically what we have here is people who want a ranger to be heavily armed and armored but can't give examples of rangers actually doing that, real life or fantasy, contrasted to an entire list of real life and fantasy examples where rangers and scouts are lightly armed and armored. 🤷🏼‍♂️

What you want are fighters who go outside. Not rangers. Not by what the word actually means, or what the class description says. Or the inspiration behind the class.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
First, don't discuss moderation in thread. Now, I have to push against the rule in order to respond to you. Don't create situations where someone has to do that in order to engage with you, that is very bad form.
Second, the mod was wrong. Criticizing someone's behavior isn't "making it personal".
Third, "making it personal" isn't the same thing as insulting someone.
I'm not discussing moderation per se. I'm saying it seems to me that you can't can't discourse with someone you disagree with without making personal and condescending. I only brought up the moderation because you said you never made it personal when you were in fact moderated for that exact thing in this thread.

I really don't care if you disagree with @Umbran or his decision. He's the mod. Not you. Not me.

And since you insist on arguing, I'm going to ask you to stop replying to me from here on out. Sadly the block function no longer works like it used to, so I'm letting you know right now to stop. No one else wants to see it, and I won't be responding to you further.
 

cbwjm

Hero
Even though the popular perception of the ranger is two-weapon fighting or archery, you aren't locked into that. They have 2 other fighting styles available, duelling and defence, both of which can be taken if you want to increase your defence against ogres or other hazards by adding a shield. If you go defence then you can also decide that a greatsword is you ranger's weapon of choice, which is what I do.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Basically what we have here is people who want a ranger to be heavily armed and armored but can't give examples of rangers actually doing that, real life or fantasy, contrasted to an entire list of real life and fantasy examples where rangers and scouts are lightly armed and armored. 🤷🏼‍♂️

What you want are fighters who go outside. Not rangers. Not by what the word actually means, or what the class description says. Or the inspiration behind the class.

No, what we have is peoplewho want rangers to have the option of being heavily armored or heavily armed when it makes sense for them to be.

A fighter trains with all armors and weapons and specializes in the ones that work best for his or her abilities.
A ranger trains with all armors and weapons and specializes in the ones that work best to fight his or her favored enemies.

When it comes for the ranger's exploration half, their arms and armors shouldn't interfere with that. It's a fantasy game. The ranger should be able to sneak and track in heavy armor or over loaded or exhausted. If a base class feature is too much, make it a spell.

D&D has to start realizing that rangers have to be as fantastic as the rest of the game. Only 1e and 4e did this but it did so by toning down the fantasy a lot. 2e, 3e, and 5e were reluctant to do the same until they needed to boost sales and let go of the reins and unmuzzle rangers.
 

Ranger would never wear heavy armour.

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Although I like that Rangers generally wear light armour.

However, I think the whole armour system in D&D needs an overhaul. The points made about it beings impractical for rangers to go around everywhere in heavy armour upthread are valid but they apply just as much to Fighters for the things adventurers do on a daily basis. Plate armour is for going into to war - it's not for trekking through the wilderness.

Plus you get the whole perennial thing about sleeping in armour, which I find myself forced to handwave, because if I made players take 10 mins to put on heavy armour just so they could have any AC at all, then I would have nothing but Dex based characters.

I think I'd prefer everyone to get the option to armour up when appropriate and to not always wear the heaviest armour possible when it's not.
 
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I think I'd prefer everyone to get the option to armour up when appropriate and to not always where the heaviest armour possible when it's not.
This would work really well if they had a convenient way to carry around extra suits of armor/garnitures while they traveled.
 



I've never seen a horse in a cave. I suppose it must be possible with the right cave, but everything I know about horses suggests it isn't a very reliable solution.
Then no plate armour - you're caving.

Seems reasonable - you just need the system not to cripple you for not having it. Save the plate for when you're defending the town from an Orc attack.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Either way, you're focusing on the combat part again. The reason scouts wore light armor and weapons was because mobility and encumbrance is the number one concern.

Speaking from some level of experience here. Put on heavy armor and a greatsword and go on a wilderness hike.
You mean, just like every Fighter does every day when the party's travelling cross-country? :)
You'll ditch that stuff in a hurry, regardless of what you may encounter just like a modern scout platoons has more mobile vehicles than an M1A1 even though they can expect to face enemy battle tanks themselves. Just like the fictional ranger class, they take on and beat these larger opponents via hit and run, quick strikes, and ambushes. Not face to face slugfests.

If you want a heavily armed warrior, play a fighter.
Wondered how long it'd take someone to say this.

What I'm after is the heavy-Ranger concept. 1e did it just fine. No reason why it can't exist in more recent editions, provided Rangers are seen more as warriors-with-extras than light scouts and-or wilderness Rogues.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Plus you get the whole perennial thing about sleeping in armour, which I find myself forced to handwave, because if I made players take 10 mins to put on heavy armour just so they could have any AC at all, then I would have nothing but Dex based characters.
I'd never handwave this. Get attacked while you're sleeping? You're in trouble - you can either spend several minutes donning your heavy armour, or you can spend one action grabbing and donning your shield, or you can stand in unarmoured.

The heaviest normal armour I allow anyone to sleep in is leather; if someone's rich (or lucky!) enough to have mithril chain they can also sleep in that.
I think I'd prefer everyone to get the option to armour up when appropriate and to not always wear the heaviest armour possible when it's not.
I've had characters carry a spare suit of leather for light work - it's not that heavy. That said, packhorses and-or Bags of Holding are your friends. :)
 


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