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D&D 5E Why are non-caster Ranger themes so popular?

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Except that 99% of the time, when people say "magic," they mean spells-and-only-spells. Even if CD is explicitly "magic" (and I'd need to see the rules reference that says it is), my fundamental point still stands. Whatever words you want to call it, D&D is addicted to making ALMOST EVERYTHING out-of-the-ordinary into explicitly and specifically a spell. And then most D&D fans use the term "magic" for that thing. E.g., they don't speak of "psionics" as a form of "magic," they explicitly use terms like "psionic/magic transparency," NOT "psionic/spellcasting transparency."

As people actually use the words, D&D reduces almost all of the supernatural to magic and treats "magic" as synonymous with the spellcasting mechanic unless explicitly specified otherwise. This is a serious problem.
I disagree with every bit of this.
 

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niklinna

Looking for group
Sure, that's basically the 3e way, but being fast and loose with the line between (Su) and (Sp). But you're still bringing in a ton of spell baggage here: things subject to the spell dispel magic, or to the spell antimagic field, etc.
Spells affect all sorts of things, and the ability to dispel magic doesn't have to be a spell, but I see what you're getting at.

Also, bonus points for using the word "faffery".

Except that 99% of the time, when people say "magic," they mean spells-and-only-spells.
Oh, definitely not the case for me. But then I'm an old-timer.

Whatever words you want to call it, D&D is addicted to making ALMOST EVERYTHING out-of-the-ordinary into explicitly and specifically a spell. And then most D&D fans use the term "magic" for that thing
Mm, I think the one clearly led to the other, and has been quite the source of confusion.
As people actually use the words, D&D reduces almost all of the supernatural to magic and treats "magic" as synonymous with the spellcasting mechanic unless explicitly specified otherwise. This is a serious problem.
+1
 

I disagree with every bit of this.
Okay so...I don't really know what to do with that then.

It's explicitly the case that 5e turned various features, both semi-mundane (hunter's mark) and openly supernatural (eldritch blast, non-Hexblade hexes) into spells. It also emphasizes rather strongly the use of spells; there is no class in 5e that does not have a spellcasting subclass, though the Barbarian only barely makes the cut. That is, Ancestral Guardian Barbarians can cast augury or clairvoyance once per short rest, with Wisdom as their spellcasting ability modifier. The only classes which do not have spells inherently baked in are Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, and Rogue, meaning the vast majority of classes in 5e are inherent spellcasters (Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard, outnumbering the previous set two to one). Of them, more than half derive the majority (or even entirety) of their powers from spells or mechanics directly tied to spells and slots (Bard, Cleric, Druids other than Moon, Sorcerer, Wizard, and arguably Paladin as well due to Divine Smite being spell-powered). And that's excluding the Artificer, another spells-primary class. (Heck, they even tried to make a non-spell psionic class, and eventually abandoned it.)

5e is a game where spells are the primary and default means by which player-character supernatural powers are expressed. Many things that did not need to be spells were offloaded into spells, rather than being their own mechanic. This has gone hand-in-hand with the ongoing issue D&D has had since at least 3rd edition, where spellcasting simply trumps non-spellcasting solutions, while also being easily regained, breaking the intended cost of such tools, on top of making it so (for example) it is, formally speaking, a house-rule to allow a non-spellcaster to create magic items, because only spellcasting can do that.

4e tried to break that wheel entirely and people got some twisted knickers over it. So 5e has brought it back, and we've ended up with a new version of the same problem (though, admittedly, for new reasons). That is, the 5MWD remains an issue. People do fewer things per day than the rules were designed to expect. This shortchanged any classes built with an expectation of a long day, and supercharged classes built on spells: yet again, showing (regardless of intent) that if you want supernatural power, the thing you want is very specifically spells, not merely "magic" or whatever else.

As for the usage thing, I'm not sure what there is to argue about. I've seen it first-hand all over the place. People say "magic," but almost always they mean "spells." And even the rules are not consistent; counterspell and (despite statements made earlier!) dispel magic are only for spells, but antimagic field is everything "magical"--unless the effect is "created by a deity" (not clear what Cleric things that would cover) or comes from an artifact.
 

niklinna

Looking for group
counterspell and (despite statements made earlier!) dispel magic are only for spells
Aha. I thought it worked on magic effects more broadly (as in prior editions & other games—old knowledge dies hard!). This explains a couple miscommunications/misunderstandings I've had.
 

Aha. I thought it worked on magic effects more broadly (as in prior editions & other games—old knowledge dies hard!). This explains a couple miscommunications/misunderstandings I've had.
yeah, I had thought it worked for non-spells too, but the text only specifies spells, whereas AMF specifies "magical effects" much more broadly. But even then it's kinda weird (emphasis added):

Choose one creature, object, or magical effect within range. Any spell of 3rd level or lower on the target ends. For each spell of 4th level or higher on the target, make an ability check using your spellcasting ability. The DC equals 10 + the spell's level. On a successful check, the spell ends.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 4th level or higher, you automatically end the effects of a spell on the target if the spell's level is equal to or less than the level of the spell slot you used.

That is...it says "magical effect within range," but it only gives rules for removing spells. Which, again, emphasizes the confusion between "magical effect" and "spell"--if it's intended that it can remove non-spell effects, it's weird that it doesn't say anything at all about them, but if it's not intended to remove them, why say "magical effect" instead of "active spell" or the like? (My unending issues with vague "natural language" continue.)
 


Minigiant

Legend
I've always seen the D&D ranger as a tradition that becomes more magical over time.

For example most people see rangers as world wanderers. They travel and their range expands as they go. They meet new people as they go to new lands for supplies and create new relationships with new allies. And this is where they pick up new tricks like languages, exotic weapons, new tools, and spells.

And as rangers meet other rangers, ranger tricks are shared. And when a ranger takes on an apprentice, the young gain the cumulative knowledge of all the ranger masters before him or her, refined to favored enemies and favored terrains of the ranger's line. All at a younger and younger age. Rangers from long lines of mentors and alliances would be more magical than ones on their own.

I figured the same with wizard as a wizard would tch their apprentices high level magic despite not being able to cast it. A level 1 wizard should have the level 5 spell her master used written in their book. I guess this are the "free spells" you get at level up. Less resarching new spells but more remembering your teacher's spells or understanding the pages your teacher wrote.

But here comes the issue. The ranger never got the same love of old wizard and his eight subclasses and dozens of core spells and half dozen of new splatbook spells. Same with cleric and all their domains. 5e was particularly lousy with it as only gave rangers 2 subclasses, refferred back to exist cleric, druid, and wizard spells for ranger tricks, and rolled other ranger supernatural and mundane aspects like marks and trick shots into spells since it was using them. And by reusing the spell system, it got a preconceived progression system.

But yeah. Each favored enemy and favored terrain should come with a choice of new
  • Common or exotic language
  • Crafting option
  • Exotic weapon
  • Spell known
  • Tool proficiency
  • Trick of the trade

And there should be a ranger subclass for rangers who are come from a long ranger tradition and a subclass for rangers figuring it out themselves.
 

Xeviat

Hero
Actually, I think you kind of can. For example, Paladins never have to cast spells. They can use all their spell slots on smiting. I would be ok with something similar as an alternative to a non-spellcasting ranger. I’m not sure what ability you could give to rangers that spell slots would fuel, but if one could be thought up, I’d accept that.
Reverse smite. Retool Hunter's Mark. Bonus action to put it on. Gives you advantage to certain checks, maaaaaybe attack too? Gives you bonus damage on your next hit against the target. It expends after that. Higher level spell slots deal more damage, last longer, and can be cast on signs of the creature (1st level see the creature, 2nd level hear the creature, 3rd see tracks, 4th have an item possessed by the creature, 5th have a description of the creature ...)
 

MarkB

Legend
I find it weird that a lot of people in this thread seem to have an idea of Rangers as lone wanderers. I can only assume that this is some D&D baggage, as Rangers in both reality and fantasy fiction tend to act as part of larger, formal organisations. In Lord of the Rings this is true of both the Rangers of the North and the Rangers of Gondor.

Yes, you might have a Ranger out exploring alone, but generally only in the role of a scout, not someone expected to actually deal with threats solo. More usually they'd be operating in companies larger than most D&D adventuring parties, able to provide each other with mutual support.

And since the Ranger PC, also, is not expected to function alone, but to be part of an adventuring party, I see no good reason why this "solitary Ranger" concept should have any bearing on the class's design whatsoever.
 

niklinna

Looking for group
I find it weird that a lot of people in this thread seem to have an idea of Rangers as lone wanderers. I can only assume that this is some D&D baggage, as Rangers in both reality and fantasy fiction tend to act as part of larger, formal organisations. In Lord of the Rings this is true of both the Rangers of the North and the Rangers of Gondor.
It's all Drizzt's fault.

Really, though, I mean everything. Everything wrong with the world is Drizzt's fault.

😉

(I have never read nor do I intend to read those novels.)
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Actually, I think you kind of can. For example, Paladins never have to cast spells. They can use all their spell slots on smiting. I would be ok with something similar as an alternative to a non-spellcasting ranger. I’m not sure what ability you could give to rangers that spell slots would fuel, but if one could be thought up, I’d accept that.
I definitely think you can do this by giving the Ranger a set of abilities from Natural Explorer and Favored Enemy. I’m not gonna worry about primeval awareness right now, but I don’t think a rewrite that doesn’t use spell slots and is less magical would be hard.

Natural Explorer would give some Wilderness Knacks, which would be different for different terrains, and useful outside of that terrain.

Favored Enemy would get a Bane poison and a Hunting Strategy for each favored enemy. The Bane would have a small damage element and a secondary debuff that is tactically useful against that type of enemy. Eg, Dragons would be 1d4 damage that bypasses Resistence and the target is slowed and if it is flying it loses 5ft of altitude every turn. Useful for fighting dragons, and lots of other stuff. Hunting Strategies would be similarly broad and themed but more passive and/or group oriented.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I find it weird that a lot of people in this thread seem to have an idea of Rangers as lone wanderers. I can only assume that this is some D&D baggage, as Rangers in both reality and fantasy fiction tend to act as part of larger, formal organisations. In Lord of the Rings this is true of both the Rangers of the North and the Rangers of Gondor.

Yes, you might have a Ranger out exploring alone, but generally only in the role of a scout, not someone expected to actually deal with threats solo. More usually they'd be operating in companies larger than most D&D adventuring parties, able to provide each other with mutual support.

And since the Ranger PC, also, is not expected to function alone, but to be part of an adventuring party, I see no good reason why this "solitary Ranger" concept should have any bearing on the class's design whatsoever.
Well, Aragorn is first met having travelled alone, and the Rangers of fantasy even when they fit the LOTR mold are often alone and deal with a lot alone, calling upon allies at need.

One thing I think D&D Rangers could use is more communication oriented stuff, and group benefits where the Ranger spends a resource (even if it’s just time/actions) and the team is better at doing a thing.
 



ECMO3

Adventurer
I find it weird that a lot of people in this thread seem to have an idea of Rangers as lone wanderers. I can only assume that this is some D&D baggage, as Rangers in both reality and fantasy fiction tend to act as part of larger, formal organisations. In Lord of the Rings this is true of both the Rangers of the North and the Rangers of Gondor.
It is specifically from AD&D 1E where Rangers were not allowed to work with more than 2 other Rangers.
 

Minigiant

Legend
It's all Drizzt's fault.

Really, though, I mean everything. Everything wrong with the world is Drizzt's fault.

😉

(I have never read nor do I intend to read those novels.)
It is specifically from AD&D 1E where Rangers were not allowed to work with more than 2 other Rangers.

Gygax designed rangers to be lone wanderers because that's how they were seen in fiction and nonfiction by many.

The issue is that people often forgot that historic and fictional rangers usually had a supply chain/network or home base of friends, allies, mentors, and superiors. You always seen rangers after training and on rangings. Rarely doing training, going to town for repairs and restocking, talking to their mentors/trainers, talking to allies/other rangers...
 

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