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D&D General Which Edition Had the Best Ranger?

Which Edition had the best Ranger?


  • Total voters
    158

Undrave

Hero
4e. Playing one felt competent at a cool niche (striker) with lots of fun mechanical elements. Not a supernatural nature paladin, but a cool competent low armor alternative fighter.
And you could easily pick up the Ritual Caster feat to add yourself some out of combat magical utility, or Alchemist to add to your tricks. I think it makes a lot of sense that a Ranger would fight with strength and steel, but just pick up random tricks for solving problems out of combat.
I prefer spell-less rangers, so I would cast my vote for the editions where the ranger lacked spells.
So 4e.
The best rangers I've seen were entirely about the person playing it, not the class itself.

Even the best game mechanics in the world don't result in good characters if the person playing it isn't a very good player. This is why white-room analysis to me is absolutely pointless. Because no player plays their character in a white room.
:rolleyes:
 

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Aaron L

Hero
Full disclosure: the very first character I ever played was a 'heavy Ranger' - a plate-clad crazy-strong (beginner's luck on the dice!) tank who could, when he took his armour off, also track and do some other useful things. Thus, the heavy-Ranger character concept is one I will defend against anything; and also thus my utter disdain for the polar-opposite Drizz't-style Ranger. :)

In 3e I tried to replicate the heavy-Ranger idea, to rather dubious results even though the character managed to last a good long time.
There was never anything that said Rangers couldn't track or do "woodsy" stuff in heavy armor. My greatest character was a 1e Ranger named Malachi. I took him from 1st to 26th level, starting out at 25 years old and playing him until he was 98 years old over the course of a real decade. He founded a kingdom that became one of the most powerful in the world, reigned as king for decades, and became a legend. He wore between chainmail and plate mail his entire career. Heavily armored Rangers are my default assumption; restrictions to just "light" armor are bollocks.
 

Istbor

Dances with Gnolls
First time I played a Ranger was 3.5. It was a pretty fun romp. Got him up to lvl 19. Had some amazing weapons and armor for him. He was the bane of the DM. Until he got banished back to the Prime Material plane. Ah well, at least he didn't die.
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
The best rangers I've seen were entirely about the person playing it, not the class itself.

Even the best game mechanics in the world don't result in good characters if the person playing it isn't a very good player. This is why white-room analysis to me is absolutely pointless. Because no player plays their character in a white room.

I see your point, and largely agree with it. But I think there can be some value in analysis because it gives a rough outline. But we just need to remember it's a rough outline and should be taken with a grain of salt. I do think too many people put too much value in white room analysis.

But the effectiveness of any class is impacted a lot by how each table plays the game, for sure. A table that does a lot of exploration would find rangers to be more impactful than those who do arena style combat instead, I would imagine.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I see your point, and largely agree with it. But I think there can be some value in analysis because it gives a rough outline. But we just need to remember it's a rough outline and should be taken with a grain of salt. I do think too many people put too much value in white room analysis.

But the effectiveness of any class is impacted a lot by how each table plays the game, for sure. A table that does a lot of exploration would find rangers to be more impactful than those who do arena style combat instead, I would imagine.
Absolutely. Which is why I also can't help but roll my eyes at all the definitive exclamations of "X sucks!" or "Y is the worst!". Because like everything, it all comes down to the player playing their character, and the DM running their game. And those two things will have much more impact on how a class ultimately works or doesn't work in a particular game than whether it does an average point or two of damage more or less than another one when you average all attack rolls, damage rolls, ACs, CRs and all the other stuff that get thrown up in the white room.
 

I really liked the ranger as presented in the Midnight campaign setting core book. I thought it really nailed the class feel and mechanics. In general, I really liked the alternate classes in that book.
 


Undrave

Hero
I see your point, and largely agree with it. But I think there can be some value in analysis because it gives a rough outline. But we just need to remember it's a rough outline and should be taken with a grain of salt. I do think too many people put too much value in white room analysis.
I'm sure people don't put as much value on it as you think, it's just that it's a good format for discussions on the internet where we don't know how the others play the game. We gotta have something in common to talk about it.

But the effectiveness of any class is impacted a lot by how each table plays the game, for sure. A table that does a lot of exploration would find rangers to be more impactful than those who do arena style combat instead, I would imagine.

Yeah but the 5e Ranger impacts Exploration by... getting rid of it. "We're trying to reach X" "Okay, it'll take 5 days in the wilderness and you won't get lost because Jack's Ranger is there. And rolls a few die no one attacks you during the night. You're there!"


Absolutely. Which is why I also can't help but roll my eyes at all the definitive exclamations of "X sucks!" or "Y is the worst!". Because like everything, it all comes down to the player playing their character, and the DM running their game. And those two things will have much more impact on how a class ultimately works or doesn't work in a particular game than whether it does an average point or two of damage more or less than another one when you average all attack rolls, damage rolls, ACs, CRs and all the other stuff that get thrown up in the white room.

I think your conflating 'having fun with a class' and the idea that a class is good or not. You can totally have fun with anything in this game. I'm sure you can ask around and you'll find people willing to regal you with the tales of how much fun they had roleplaying a commoner, or a beggar, or how their 3.X monk was the totally the best character in their game...it doesn't make those classes good at mechanical stuff, AKA the stuff we can discuss and compare while being online and away from tables.

Don't forget we're on this forum for FUN and that, for a lot of people here, talking 'white room' stuff is FUN. Does it cover every possible situations that every possible character can be in? No! But it's enough to fuel discussion and keep people engaged with the hobby when not playing.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Yeah but the 5e Ranger impacts Exploration by... getting rid of it. "We're trying to reach X" "Okay, it'll take 5 days in the wilderness and you won't get lost because Jack's Ranger is there. And rolls a few die no one attacks you during the night. You're there!"
Disagree. I'm gonna quote myself from the other thread as to why I disagree. I think if that's how you're narrating it in the game, you're doing those abilities a disservice.

Indeed. I suppose instead of how Don described it, I'd describe it as thus:

"The jungle is oppressive at every corner. The heat feels like it's literally pressing down on you, but you hardly notice because your attention is focused on the deluge of stinging insects. Your only respite is getting lost in your own mind, shutting out some of your senses to maintain your sanity. Grar (the cleric) doesn't even notice that he's about to step into the quicksand, but Terigaria (the ranger) quickly grabs his shoulder and steers him to safety."

"Exiting the jungle at last, you come upon a village carved out of hill. The villagers look upon you with surprise. 'We are shocked to see you!' exclaims the elder. 'No one who is not of our village has survived the jungle. Most got lost and the jungle swallowed them up. Others couldn't hack their way through the jungle before exhaustion set in. How did you do it?'" "I have...certain skills" replied Terigaria.

That is, don't just narrate it as "OK, you pass the jungle, now you're at the village. Narrate it so that those abilities have a tangible feel to the story of the adventure, and highlight what would have happened if the ranger wasn't there. That is what makes those abilities feel useful.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
Yeah but the 5e Ranger impacts Exploration by... getting rid of it. "We're trying to reach X" "Okay, it'll take 5 days in the wilderness and you won't get lost because Jack's Ranger is there. And rolls a few die no one attacks you during the night. You're there!"
If that's the case, then you're not doing exploration very well. You're not actually giving them anything to explore. You're expecting dice rolls to do your work rather than come up with interesting things to do on the way that engage the players.
 

Undrave

Hero
If that's the case, then you're not doing exploration very well. You're not actually giving them anything to explore. You're expecting dice rolls to do your work rather than come up with interesting things to do on the way that engage the players.
The game does a poor job of explaining what you're supposed to do... beside, what, pray tell, can you add that would actually engage the Ranger in a way that would make them shine? Because none of those free pass abilities actually makes you better at something else that could be used. The abilities are PASSIVE. They don't engage you in anything.
Disagree. I'm gonna quote myself from the other thread as to why I disagree. I think if that's how you're narrating it in the game, you're doing those abilities a disservice.
And I'll repeat that it still means the player doesn't do anything. It might be cooler in your description, but it's no less passive.
 

the Jester

Legend
Voted for the 4e version, though both the 1e and 3.5e rangers are very, very close to it.

Honestly, this is a case where the difference between the 3.0 and 3.5 versions of a thing are so far apart that the poll should have separated them out.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I think your conflating 'having fun with a class' and the idea that a class is good or not. You can totally have fun with anything in this game. I'm sure you can ask around and you'll find people willing to regal you with the tales of how much fun they had roleplaying a commoner, or a beggar, or how their 3.X monk was the totally the best character in their game...it doesn't make those classes good at mechanical stuff, AKA the stuff we can discuss and compare while being online and away from tables.

Don't forget we're on this forum for FUN and that, for a lot of people here, talking 'white room' stuff is FUN. Does it cover every possible situations that every possible character can be in? No! But it's enough to fuel discussion and keep people engaged with the hobby when not playing.
Heh... well, if the vitriol we see from people here on the boards (like for instance Gladius Legis and their concurrent ranger thread) is not actual anger but merely the appearance of anger in order to play the "angry person" character while just "having fun" discussing white-room D&D... then fair enough.

But in truth... I'm a weeeeeeeeeeeeee bit skeptical that the ranting we see here constantly is just for funsies. I suspect there are some actual unhappy campers here that are genuinely upset that they haven't been given a D&D that is as mechanically tight as Go or Chess. ;)
 


Sacrosanct

Legend
it is quite good IMHO,

might as well replace Natural explorer and Favored enemy with Known lands and Ways of the wild

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.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest
The game does a poor job of explaining what you're supposed to do... beside, what, pray tell, can you add that would actually engage the Ranger in a way that would make them shine? Because none of those free pass abilities actually makes you better at something else that could be used. The abilities are PASSIVE. They don't engage you in anything.
I dunno, page 106 of the DMG has some interesting advice - specifically the Hour by Hour Approach to wilderness. The montage approach doesn't lend itself well to engagement, but even Sacrosanct's montage-oriented summary takes explicitly validates having a ranger in the group.
Ultimately, I think the montage approach is not best suited for groups that actually have PCs oriented around the wilderness. So give them something to do like you would when mapping out a dungeon. Give them obstacles and encounters that their ranger might be able to navigate around (at the cost of more time - and maybe with other interesting findables along the way like a lost shrine or monster lair). Give them obstacles that the ranger's skills will help the group detect and analyze (but that other characters' skills may be needed for). And give them some terrain that isn't on the ranger's favored list.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
In a PHB? 4e. Otherwise 3e, because one could use spell-less option from Complete Champion (a version of something going around the web since 3.0) which granted bonus feats and lacked the mystical abilities of the disappointing spell-less ranger option from Complete Warrior.
 

My vote went to the 1ed ranger.
I've almost always been a DM. I have seen hundreds of players throughout the years and one thing has been consistent.

In 1ed, if you could do a ranger, you would. No hesitation, no second thought. If you could, you would. The ranger class was not incrediby powerful but it was really good and its flavor was right on the spot. It was a subclass of fighters and the few limitations it had were not damaging to the class and you could have many kind of ranger. From the lightly armored archer to the heavily armored wielding two handed swords, the class had enough possibilities to accomodate a lot of play styles.

In 2ed, the ranger became a full class. Now it was a choice. The first two years, rangers were often picked up. But as time went on, players were going for better damage output. The Drizzt syndrome as I called it (and I am not the only one) made it so that now the ranger is pigeonholed in that playstyle or the archery...

3.xed did not do it better as the Drizzt syndrome was still going strong. At least, Master of the Wild did bring some nice prestige classes but still, rangers were not the first pick. But one thing was done good. Rangers were no longer forced to be good aligned. Now evil could have its own "rangers"...

4ed Did a good job. Better than the two other previous editions. But still, ranger is still a class that is looking for its niche. The power aspect of the game meant that at least the ranger could look like a spell less character but deep down, everyone always felt that powers were spell like abilities depending on the character type being played and the power used. But 4ed was much better than 2ed or 3ed but still inferior to 1ed as ranger in that edition were highly sought after.

5ed. A catastrophic design for the ranger. It barely took my old players three evening of playtesting to decided not to do one. We immediately removed the concentration mechanic from Hunter's mark and now, a few years later, the pet command is now a bonus action to make it attack, help or flee (or any other command). The command must not be reiterate every round as long as you want to pet to do something, it will keep doing it until the pet or its target is dead. On target's death, the pet will go on with its last command and might seek a random target if you don't direct your pet (generally, the pet will either go help you if you are in melee combat 50%, simply attack the nearest opponent 25% or just get back to your side 25%). These simple changes helped the ranger a lot, but still the class lacks a lot of the appeal that 1ed or 4ed had. And yet, we are using the UA ranger as the PHB version is utter BS. And Tasha's modifications are even worse than what I was dreading. WotC must hate the Ranger.

All these are from a DM's perspective. I almost never sit in the player's chair. So I consider myself pretty much impartial on these matters. This is what the cold hard fact are showing me. And it is not only in my groups that I see these effects. Even in other groups. In our Friday night D&D, many tables are now using the UA file ranger with my two mods. It works out well for them as well. They had high hopes for Tasha... guess it will be crushed hopes again.
 


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