UPDATE!: Due to feedback given by valuable readers (which can be viewed below, in the Comments section), I have made minor adjustments to the class, updating it to version 2.2. I added the Adrenaline Surge feature at 6th level, in order to grand added survivability, and replaced the Nature’s Ward feature of the Seeker path with the more expansive Spirit Guide.
So, finally, I have a Ranger Alpha which I am comfortable handing over to you. Because, let’s be real, guys. The last alpha was a bit of a mess. It was rushed and sloppy: a product of my own attempt at biting off WAY more than I could chew. The various features which were designed to make use of the Bonus Action mechanic in 5e actually just created a major limiting factor for the class: it had a lot of cool shit to do, but not enough actions to do it all. I’ve mitigated that by getting away from the original “bonus action playground” mentality of version 1.0. Instead, I’ve gone with more of a streamlined approach, primarily focusing around triggered abilities and passive benefits.
I’ve also distanced myself, thematically, from the “wandering mystic” version of version 1.0, and have focused instead on a more general survivalist idea. And I played with the concept of the ranger being more of a warrior than it was before, specifically focusing on skirmishing tactics.
The good news of is that this is a decidedly better version of the ranger than the last version I put out (and, if I’m being bold, I would say that it’s better than the core class).
The bad news is that what I’m presenting here is only a 6 level build. It’s small because I’m working my way up. I have a general layout for a full 20-level build, but I’m not sure how all of the pieces fit together (and my recent attempt at building and playing a level 11 version for playtesting resulted in kind of an overload of features, so things are still very much in flux).
I’m not going to go point-by-point with this version of the ranger. I have a few design notes, but nothing significant.
Why Six Levels?
I decided on six levels, rather than five or ten, because I wanted to give enough for a ranger that’s just starting out, but also allow you to play the low-level ranger to its fullest potential. In order to do that, it needs to have its Strider feature, which allows it to maneuver through difficult terrain. And that comes at level 6. And, besides that, if I only included 5 levels, then you’d really only be getting 3 levels of content, since levels 4 and 5 are taken up by an Ability Score Increase and Extra Attack respectively, and those features are a dime-a-dozen.
You can download a PDF copy of my new ranger playtest here: The Ranger: Alpha v2.2
|1||Fighting Style, Natural Explorer|
|2||Healing Poultice, Skirmisher (1d6)|
|3||Path of the Ranger|
|4||Ability Score Improvement|
As a ranger, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 2d4 per ranger level.
Hit Points at 1st level: 8 + your Constitution modifier.
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 2d4 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per ranger level after 1st.
Armor: Light armor, shields.
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons.
Tools: Herbalism Kit.
Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity or Constitution.
Skills: Choose three from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival.
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background.
- Leather armor
- (a) two short swords or (b) one simple or martial melee weapon
- (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
- A longbow and a quiver of 20 arrows
- An herbalism kit
At 1st level, you adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can’t take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.
- Ambush. During the first round of combat, you gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls, a +2 bonus to Armor Class, and your movement speed increases by 10 feet.
- Archery. You gain a +2 bonus to attack rolls you make with ranged weapons.
- Defense. While you are wearing armor, you gain a +1 bonus to AC.
- Dueling. When you are wielding a melee weapon in one hand and no other weapons, you gain a +2 to damage rolls with that weapon.
- Great Weapon Fighting. When you roll a 1 or 2 on a damage die for an attack you make with a melee weapon that you are wielding with two hands, you can reroll the die and must use the new roll, even if the new roll is a 1 or a 2. The weapon must have the two-handed or versatile property for you to gain this benefit.
- Protection. When a creature you can see attacks a target other than you that is within 5 feet of you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on the attack roll. You must be wielding a shield.
- Two-Weapon Fighting. When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.
You are prone to spending time in the uncivilized and unsettled places of the world, and are adept at surviving in such locales. You know the best paths, the best ways to find food, and how to track the wild and weird. You can spend 1 hour exploring and adapting to a particular terrain from the following list: Arctic, Aquatic, Desert, Forest, Grassland, Mountain, Swamp, Underground, or Urban. This exploration can be done as part of normal overland travel. As long as you remain adapted to that terrain, you gain the following benefits as long as you remain within it.
- Difficult terrain does not slow your group’s travel.
- Your group cannot become lost except by magical means.
- Even when engaged in another activity while traveling (such as foraging, navigating, or tracking), you remain alert to danger.
- If you are traveling alone, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
- When you forage, you find twice as much food as you normally would.
- While tracking other creatures, you also learn their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.
You can only adapt to a single terrain at a time. Taking an hour to explore and adapt to a new terrain causes you to lose these benefits in all other terrains.
At 2nd level, as long as you possess an herbalism kit, you can use it to create mystical healing poultices from flora in the surrounding area. You can spend 1 hour exploring and working with your herbalism kit to create a number of poultices equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum 1). A poultice takes 1 minute to apply, and can be applied to an injured living creature (so long as it has a discernable anatomy). At the end of that minute, the creature heals a number of hit points equal to 2d4 + your ranger level. This healing increases by 1d4 at 5th level, and every 4 levels thereafter (to a maximum of 6d4 at 17th level. Once a creature has benefited from a healing poultice, they cannot benefit from another until they complete a long rest.
Healing poultices must be used right away, else the combination of herbs and natural magic loses its efficacy. Therefore, a healing poultice loses all effect after 24 hours.
Starting at 2nd level, you become more effective in combat as long as you remain mobile. If you move at least 10 feet before making a weapon attack, your attack deals an additional 1d6 damage. Each creature you attack can only be affected by this damage once per round. If you attack two different creatures in a round, however, you do not need to move an additional 10 feet between attacks.
This damage increases to 2d6 at 11th level, and 3d6 at 20th level.
Path of the Ranger
At 3rd level, you select one of three ranger paths: the Hood, the Hunter, or the Seeker. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level.
Ability Score Increase
When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.
Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
At 6th level, you are capable of pulling from your reserves in order to heal yourself in the midst of combat. As a bonus action, you may spend and roll any number of hit dice and recover hit points normally, as if you had taken a short rest. You must complete a short or long rest before you can do this again
Starting at 6th level, your movement speed increases by 10 feet. In addition, moving through nonmagical difficult terrain costs you no extra movement. You can also pass through nonmagical plants without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they have thorns, spines, or a similar hazard.
In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against plants that are magically created or manipulated to impede movement such as those created by the entangle spell.
Rangers normally dedicate themselves to one of three ideals: that of the Hunter, the Hood, or the Seeker.
Hunters are skilled at tracking and slaying foes, as well as empowering their allies to do the same. They are highly versatile, changing up their tactics on the fly in order to adapt to any situation.
At 3rd level, you are able to aim your attacks in order to disable your foes. When you hit with a weapon attack, you can choose to aim it at a creature’s head, arms, or legs. The creature then makes a Strength saving throw (DC 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + your Dexterity or Wisdom modifier, whichever is higher) or suffers the appropriate penalty.
- Head. The creature has disadvantage on all attacks, ability checks, and saving throws until the end of your next turn.
- Hand. The creature drops a single held item of your choice. It lands 1d6 x 5 feet away from the creature in a direction of your choice.
- Leg. The creature’s speed is halved until the end of your next turn.
You must complete a short or long rest before you can make another called shot. At 11th level, you can make two called shots before you need to rest.
Starting at 3rd level, you can mark a single creature as your favored enemy as a bonus action. You deal additional damage equal to your Proficiency bonus when you hit your quarry with a weapon attack. You also have advantage on all Wisdom (Perception) and Wisdom (Survival) checks made to find or track it. If your favored enemy drops to 0 hit points, you may use a bonus action on your turn to mark a new creature as your enemy. If you go more than 1 minute without an active favored enemy, this feature’s effects end. You cannot mark another creature as your favored enemy until you complete a short or long rest.
At 7th level, you can select a number of allies equal to 2 + your Wisdom modifier when you mark a creature as your favored enemy. Those allies deal an additional +2 damage when they hit your favored enemy with a weapon attack. This damage increases to +3 at 15th level.
At 11th level, you may have up to two active favored enemies at a time. Each enemy requires its own bonus action to mark.
For some rangers, combat is unnecessary, and stealth is the more desirable option. These rangers are masters of maneuvering through combat without being seen, and striking when one least expects it.
Starting at 3rd level, through trickery, distraction, or perhaps something more supernatural, you can maneuver out in the open without being noticed. As long as you begin your turn hidden from enemies, you may activate this ability as a bonus action. For the rest of your turn, creatures do not notice or detect you unless you attack, cast a spell, or otherwise make yourself known. If you are not hidden at the end of your turn, then creatures can notice and detect you normally.
At 3rd level, you gain proficiency in two additional skills or tool sets. At 15th level, You gain proficiency with another two skills or tool sets.
Seekers are spellcasters and spiritualists, using magic to enhance their already-competent fighting ability, as well as using it to aid with exploration and stealth. They are extremely in-tune with nature, and are capable of reading their surroundings and listening to the whispers of the world itself.
|Level||Spells Known||Spell Slots|
When you reach 3rd level, you augment your skills with the ability to cast spells using the Ranger spell list.
Spell Slots. The Seeker Spellcasting table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a spell slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.
Spells Known of 1st level and Higher. You know two 1st level spells of your choice from the Ranger spell list. The spells known column of the Seeker Spellcasting table shows when you learn more ranger spells of your choice. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots.
Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the ranger spells you know and replace it with another spell from the ranger spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.
Spellcasting Ability. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for your wizard spells, since you learn them through communing with nature. You use your Wisdom whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a wizard spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell Save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier.
Spell Attack Modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier.
Ritual Casting. You can cast a ranger spell as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and you know the spell.
At 3rd level, you gain a spirit guide that can advise you, protect you, and aid you in battle. The spirit is normally invisible and intangible, but can transform into tiny woodland creatures such as birds and squirrels. It communicates telepathically with you alone, and acts as if it had average intelligence. The spirit guide cannot be targeted by attacks.
So long as you remain conscious and do not wear medium or heavy armor, you can replace your Dexterity modifier with your Wisdom modifier when calculating your Armor class.
In addition, you can command your spirit guide can inhabit the wood of a club, quarterstaff, or similarly-sized stick as an action in order to turn it into a deadly magical weapon. It transforms into either a shillelagh or spirit bow at your leisure, and gains the following benefits. You are considered proficient with both of these weapons.
Shillelagh. As a shillelagh, the weapon is one-handed and deals 1d8 bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage (your choice when you make the attack). All damage it deals counts as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity. Instead of Strength, you may add your Wisdom modifier to attack and damage rolls with the weapon.
Spirit Bow. As a spirit bow, the weapon is two-handed, has a range of 150/600 feet, and deals 1d8 piercing damage. It does not require ammunition, instead conjuring spiritual arrows when you draw the bowstring (this ammunition can be used for spells which require the use of ammunition, such as Cordon of Arrows). All damage the spirit bow deals counts as magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance and immunity. Instead of Dexterity, you may add your Wisdom modifier to attack and damage rolls with the weapon.
The spirit continues to inhabit the weapon until you recall it (a bonus action) or fall unconscious.
At 7th level, it only requires a bonus action to command your spirit to inhabit a piece of wood
Hit Dice. The reduction in HP, but retaining the 2 HD per level mechanic is intentional. I want the ranger to be a bit of a glass cannon in combat, but to be able to recover outside of combat quickly. This means that it technically has the smallest HD in the game, but has twice as many as any other class for resting.
Fighting Style. In making the ranger more of a warrior, I decided to return its fighting style. It can choose any style, because that should have been the default.
Skirmisher. This is a variant of the skirmish feature of the 3.5 scout. I wanted to encourage a ranger with multiple attacks to spread out their damage, which is why they can gain skirmish damage only once PER TARGET, rather than once per round. This is also an incentive to make the ranger a mobile warrior, encouraging it to move every round, even if it’s just darting around a foe.
Healing Poultice. I feel like the limiting factor of one application per rest and the 1 minute application time makes these fairly balanced. Only time will tell.
Extra Attack. Rapid attack was stupid in the last build.
Hunter. I designed the hunter with kind of a “striker/controller” style in mind, with a little bit of leadership thrown in. Called shot allows you to influence an enemy’s actions, while Favored Enemy is now just a passive damage bonus against a specific target. And I like the idea of the hunter being a leader, and giving his allies a minor bonus to damage against the creature. This is MUCH simpler and easier to use than the previous “quarry dice” mechanic.
Hood. Hood is the same as before. It may change, going forward, but I like what it can do now, and I think it evokes the right flavor.
Seeker. This is a new one, and I have to thank Marsupialmancer for the idea. Essentially, I wanted to have a spiritualist option for people who still wanted to play a spellcasting ranger. It doesn’t get as many spells as the core ranger, but I feel like its class features going forward will help to alleviate that.
Why No Beast Master? I’m still trying to decide how to move forward with the beastmaster. I want to create something that isn’t too powerful, but also doesn’t feel like it’s holding the ranger back (something I’ve criticized the core beast master of doing). I haven’t figured out how to do that, yet. I’d also like to add support for rangers that want to befriend monsters, like bugbears or hippogriffs. I’m sure that I’ll get there, eventually. But I haven’t yet.
If you do decide to test this out in your home games, whether you’re a PC who wants to play a ranger that’s a little different, or a GM that decides to include a ranger GMPC, then I encourage you to leave your feedback either here in the comments, or send it to me via my Contact Page. Enjoy!