5E Would it break the Ranger to give him Natural Explorer in every terrain?

Merudo

Explorer
Like many, I find the base chassis of the Ranger underwhelming.

In my opinion, this is in large part due to the "Natural Explorer" ability only working in a specific favored terrain. If that terrain is not encountered, the Ranger really isn't any better at exploring than the rest in the party. I find this regrettable; the Ranger is the quintessential outdoorsman, and as such should be competent on every terrain.

Would it break the game if the benefits of Natural Explorer applied to every terrain - as if every terrain was "favored"?

As a reminder, this would mean the that Ranger would, in all terrain:

  • Allow group travel through difficult terrain without losing speed
  • Never get lost
  • Always remain alert to danger while traveling
  • Move stealthily at normal pace when alone
  • Find twice as much food when foraging
  • When tracking creatures, learn their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.

None of these abilities seem overpowered to me. All of this is stuff that a Ranger should be good at, period.

So why not give it all to the Ranger?

Now having all terrain favored right at level 1 might encourage dipping Ranger too much. Instead, the Ranger could gradually become a master of all terrains. I suggest the Ranger learns two favored terrains at level 1, and learns one additional favored terrain every level after that.

This means the Ranger would become master of every terrain at level 7, which seems reasonable to me. By level 7, most of the troublesome environment challenges can be solved by magic anyway.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
There is nothing breaking at all about it IMO. However, like you said, until a Ranger is in an environment, how can they be an expert or favored in it?

I like the idea of getting two terrains at level 1 to represent background, etc. one of which should for story purposed maybe be the one the game begins in?

Beyond that, I will simply make it a rule that after so much time (I would think maybe a few days to a week?) of being in a new terrain could make it favored. Maybe a check each 24-hours or something if you wanted it more variable.

Otherwise, I would stay away from the one new one per level simply for the reason I opened with: if you have never been in a terrain, how can you possibly can those benefits for it???
 

Merudo

Explorer
Otherwise, I would stay away from the one new one per level simply for the reason I opened with: if you have never been in a terrain, how can you possibly can those benefits for it???
Agreed it is strange, but then again - the PHB Ranger learns two additional favored terrains, at level 6 and 10, without a prerequisite requirement of having been in said terrain.
 
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dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
Agreed it is strange, but then again - the PHB Ranger learns two additional favored terrains, at level 6 and 10, without a prerequisite requirement of having been in a terrain.
If the game designers wanted to make sense, a lot of things would have been done differently! ;)

Anyway, that is just the way we pretty much handle it: you can't take a favorite terrain after level 1 unless you are actually in a new one. If, (this hasn't happened, but could...) you have never encountered a new terrain by those levels, you can delay the feature until you do.
 

NotAYakk

Adventurer
Or 2 at level1, and just all at 6. No "new favored terrain" anymore. And rename feature.

"Survival Specialist" at level 1. "Survival Mastery" at level 6.
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
Would it break the Ranger? No.

Would it break every game with an emphasis on outdoor exploration? Yes.
 
My issue with favorite terrain is the same issue I have with favorite enemy: you don't get enough overall. By level 20 you should have all the terrains, and at least half of the favorite enemies.

In both cases the DM should work withthe players so they can make informed choices at lower levels. One of our earlier campaigns was based in a "lost land" jungle, so our ranger took forest and beasts. He was quite effective for exploration, because he knew what to expect. If he made this character and the DM was running a desert campaign against elementals, he'd been worthless.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Favored terrain has multiple problems. Being useless outside of campaigns set in the ranger’s terrain of choice is one of them. Another is completely overriding the exploration pillar when in the terrain of choice. It’s exactly the same issue as favored enemy used to have: the ranger is either overpowered or useless, with no middle ground between the extremes.

I think toning down the benefits of favored terrain and extending them to all terrain types would be a significant improvement. For example:

  • The ranger’s speed is not reduced by difficult terrain (their companions’ speed still is, so this is useful in combat and when scouting ahead overland but doesn’t allow the whole party to ignore difficult terrain overland).
  • The ranger adds double their proficiency bonus to any check made to resolve travel activities (this combines the “can’t get lost” feature, the “find double food when foraging” feature and the “know exact enemy numbers when tracking” feature in a way that engages with the overland travel mechanics instead of circumventing them. The ranger still has to choose an activity during travel like everyone else, and still has the possibility of failing at their chosen task, but they will always be the best in the party at their chosen travel task).
  • The ranger contributes their passive Wisdom (Perception) to notice danger even when engaged in other travel activities. (This is basically the same feature as the “alert to danger” ability, but phrased in terms of the travel mechanics for clarity of function.)
  • The ranger can move stealthily at a normal pace when traveling alone (this one seems perfectly reasonable to me as-written.)
 

Eltab

Adventurer
Some of the Favored Terrain benefits should be terrain-independent. You can keep watch while moving, follow tracks (but not count the creatures accurately), know North, all just because you 'grok' the outdoors. Knowing what to eat, how to avoid nasty terrain, never get lost, &c - that takes more detailed practice.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I’d generalize the abilities, emphasize that when in foreign terrain, the land simply teaches them how to survive in it. It’s mystical.

Then, add the UA variant feature Deft Explorer to the class, without taking anything away. Tweak as needed if you find some abilities too strong, but seriously they aren’t too strong.

Then add Favored Foe, again without any taking away. Make the no concentration part 1/day at level 1, and then Wisdom Mod/day at level 6.
 

Immoralkickass

Explorer
But its not the same. Other classes can solve troublesome environment with magic, but likely at the cost of spell slots, and you need to consider they might not have the spell prepared/selected.

With your fix, all Rangers need to do is exist, and they just auto-win any exploration encounter.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
But its not the same. Other classes can solve troublesome environment with magic, but likely at the cost of spell slots, and you need to consider they might not have the spell prepared/selected.

With your fix, all Rangers need to do is exist, and they just auto-win any exploration encounter.
Who are you replying to?
 

Asisreo

Explorer
Just a reminder that a well-built ranger gets expertise in 5 skills at level 1 because of natural explorer. Take that info as you will.
 

Asisreo

Explorer
To give context, you double prof with wis and int skills you have that has to do with your terrain (you don't need to be in your terrain, either.) You get 3 skills from being a ranger and 2 from your background.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
It just needs little tweaking and being spread across few levels

I.E.
Change rangers starting skills from 3 class skills to pick from to fixed 4 skills:
Stealth, Nature, Perception, Survival.

Move fighting style to 1st level.

At 1st level; ranger stays alert while doing some other activity,
Ranger finds twice the food while foraging.

2nd level: expertise in Survival and Nature
Ranger an move stealthy at normal pace,

6th level: expertise in Perception and Stealth
Ranger is not slowed down by natural difficult terrain

10th level: Endurance training; ranger gets proficiency in Con saves.
 

collin

Explorer
For my ranger character in a campaign that I've been playing, I had some discussions with the DM as to what we could do to make the ranger more effective and not get too power heavy. We settled on giving the character Hunter's Mark as an ability he could use x-number of times/day before needing to take a long rest to "recharge" and reuse the ability; the number and damage die go up based on the character's ranger level. That freed up a 1st level spell slot and seemed to help with making him more effective (at least in combat) without causing imbalance with the other characters and adversaries.
 
Would it break every game with an emphasis on outdoor exploration? Yes.
Yeah pretty much this. It renders outdoor exploration largely irrelevant.
How so, precisely? The only things I can personally think of that would potentially lessen the experience of outdoor exploration (let alone make it irrelevant) are 1) food issues...but those are already easily circumvented with spells like Goodberry or Create Food and Water...and 2) getting lost...which I'm not sure is all that hugely important as far as outdoor exploration goes (and is probably ALSO easily circumvented with spells). I don't know, if one is worried about that latter bit you could add the rider "does not get lost in non-magical terrain" to be able to selectively make it an issue; or take into account things like illusory terrain; fairy rings in dark, brooding forests; and/or oddly dizzying flatlands.

I mean, you can always call for a survival checks to avoid dangerous areas; nature to avoid poisonous or irritating plants; or perception/investigation to avoid traps and ambushes; or just include harsh weather and force the PCs to take appropriate actions to get a long rest in and avoid a level of exhaustion. Or, you know, come up with any number of interesting, qualitative, terrain-based challenges, features, or encounters for the PCs to interact with.
 
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GlassJaw

Adventurer
I'm going to get rid of the terrain for Natural Explorer entirely (same with Favored Enemy). It's clear with the Revised Ranger and Class Features UA articles that WotC is moving away from requiring that kind of choice - and I agree 100%.

I would make a hybrid of the Deft Explorer feature in UA Class Features and add additional choices based on Natural Explorer from the Revised Ranger.

I also agree that the Ranger needs to get bonus proficiencies and/or expertise in Nature and Surival.
 

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