So, a couple years ago, I took it upon myself to revise the ranger class, as I wasn’t satisfied with the way it was presented in the Player’s Handbook. Mike Mearls and the D&D team felt the same, and have taken a couple stabs at revising the class on their own. In fact, all over the blogosphere, writers and designers were tackling the ranger.
My first attempt was…less than successful. It was strange, had multiple mechanics that didn’t quite jive with each other, and just didn’t quite match the concept that I wanted to convey. I tried again, but only provided six levels of class and never updated that version.
And then, not too long ago, I got a message from a reader who wanted to know if I’ve done any updates since posting version 2.2 of the class.
Well, the version I present to you today is version 5.2.
There have been a lot of changes. I think that they’ve been for the better, and hopefully you’ll agree.
So, without further ado, I present The Ranger.
PDF Link: The Ranger, v5.2
The halfling climbs to the top of the wall, using her hooked swords to find purchase between the stones. Atop the makeshift parapet, she calls out to the encampment before her. The minotaurs turn to face her with large, curious eyes. They grunt to each other and one approaches as an envoy, questioning the halfling’s intentions and identity. She reaches for the sack on her hip, undoes the string, and reveals her response: the head of the last minotaur that dared question her.
Deep in the troglodyte caverns, a half-elf strides silent as a ghost with blade in hand. She smells something foul, crouches, and picks up a cracked femur, drained of its marrow. She smells it, eyes it with vision long-adapted to these dark tunnels, and a deep growl in the dark confirms her suspicions. The troglodytes have tamed a hill giant.
A half-orc stands atop the highest branches of a tree, surveying the vastness of the valley before him. It would take him three weeks to traverse on foot, and would be fraught with untold perils. He brings his middle finger and thumb to his mouth, and lets out an ululating whistle. With a rush of wind and a cry that echoes off the canyon walls, an eagle the size of a grizzly bear swoops down and snatches him out of the tree. He uses her specialized harness to climb onto her back, where he whispers their destination into her ear.
In the lands less traveled—the deep, dark, and mysterious places of the world where the bravest men and women yet quake in their boots—you will find rangers. They traverse the unexplored and live amongst the strange and frightening, and yet they survive against all odds. For they are masters of the wild and weird.
Masters of terrain and the wilderness, rangers are the most skilled survivalists that can be found. They live their lives apart from the civilized world and often eschew its greater courtesies. This gives them a great understanding of the dangerous world outside the walls of one’s home. Whether it’s the ratways of a city or the ravines of a wasteland, rangers know who to trust, what to do, where to travel, when it’s safe, and why the monsters want to eat you.
Whether formally trained by a cabal of rangers at the edges of society, personally tutored by a veteran huntsman, or self-taught in the dark places of the world, rangers are skilled combatants. Rather than perfect technique, however, a ranger’s true skill lies in tenacity and drive. Whether they wield a pair of blades, a bow and arrow, or a nine-foot boar spear, it is a ranger’s mastery over tracking, terrain and skirmishing tactics that makes them a deadly foe.
Creating a Ranger
When you create your ranger, it is important to consider how they came into this life. One does not normally choose to spend their life away from what the rest of civilization calls home. Perhaps, for your ranger, the warm feather bed and the bitter tavern ale are reminders of a life she wants to forget. Or maybe she hears the call of civilization, but was banished from it long ago and cannot partake of its succulence, much as she might desire it. Or maybe you were never a part of that world. You were born into a band of rangers, druids and barbarians whose lives have always been controlled by the whims of the wild. A ranger’s origin often informs much of their outlook on life.
You can make a ranger quickly by following these suggestions. First, make Dexterity your highest ability score, followed by Constitution or Wisdom. Second, choose the outlander background.
To qualify for new class levels as a ranger, you must have a Dexterity and Wisdom of 13 or better. You gain proficiency with light armor, medium armor, simple weapons, martial weapons, and one skill from the class’s list.
|Level||Proficiency Bonus||Class Feature||Hunter’s Mark Damage|
|1||+2||Bushwhacker, Natural Explorer||—|
|4||+2||Ability Score Improvement||1d4|
|7||+3||Ranger’s Conclave Feature||1d6|
|8||+3||Ability Score Improvement||1d6|
|9||+4||Survivalist (one saving throw)||1d8|
|11||+4||Ranger’s Conclave Feature||1d8|
|12||+4||Ability Score Improvement||1d8|
|13||+5||Survivalist (two saving throws)||1d10|
|15||+5||Ranger’s Conclave Feature||1d10|
|16||+5||Ability Score Improvement||1d10|
|17||+6||Survivalist (three saving throws)||1d12|
|19||+6||Ability Score Improvement||1d12|
As a ranger, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d10 per ranger level.
Hit Points at 1st level: 10 + your Constitution modifier.
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per ranger level after 1st.
Armor: Light armor, medium armor.
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons.
Tools: Herbalism Kit.
Saving Throws: Strength and Dexterity.
Skills: Survival, plus choose two from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Nature, Perception, and Stealth.
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background.
- Leather armor
- two handaxes, (b) two shortswords, or (c) one simple or martial melee weapon
- a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
- A longbow and a quiver of 20 arrows
- An herbalism kit
You react with swift and decisive action when attacked. You have advantage on initiative rolls and cannot be surprised. In addition, On your first turn during combat, you have advantage on attack rolls against creatures that have not yet acted.
You are skilled at navigating the wilderness and gain special benefits when beyond the realms of civilization:
- You apply double your proficiency bonus on all Wisdom (Survival) checks made to track.
- Difficult terrain doesn’t slow your group’s travel.
- Your group can’t become lost except by magical means.
- Even when you are engaged in another activity while traveling (such as foraging, navigating, or tracking), you remain alert to danger.
- If you are traveling alone or exclusively with a beast companion, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
- When you forage, you always find enough food for your group (except where the DM would determine otherwise).
- While tracking other creatures, you also learn their exact number, their sizes, and how long
ago they passed through the area.
At 2nd level, as a bonus action on your turn, you can target a single creature within 30 feet that you can see clearly and focus your attentions on them. Once per turn, when you hit a marked creature with a weapon attack, you can deal an additional 1d4 damage. This damage increases as you increase in level as shown on the Hunter’s Mark Damage column of the Ranger class table. You lose this benefit the next time you take a short or long rest. You can only gain the benefit of a hunter’s mark against one creature at a time, but you can dispel your hunter’s mark as a bonus action.
At 3rd level, you dedicate yourself to one of the ranger conclaves, and adopt an appropriate moniker. You may choose from the Beast Master, Bounty Hunter, Guardian of the Green, or Monster Slayer options, each of which is described at the end of this document. Your choice grants you features at 3rd level, and again at 7th, 11th and 15th 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.
Once you reach 6th level, your mobility in combat rivals even the most agile beasts of the wild. You can now take the Dash action as a bonus action on your turn, and you now ignore difficult terrain.
Upon reaching 9th level, you’re capable of surviving in the wilds with almost supernatural efficiency. You can effectively survive without food and water, eating and drinking only once each month, and your exhaustion penalties are always considered two levels lower than your current exhaustion level.
In addition, you gain proficiency with a single Saving Throw of your choice. At 13th and 17th level, you gain proficiency with a second and third saving throw of your choice. You cannot choose a saving throw with which you already have proficiency.
At 10th level, you cease leaving any signs of your passage, and can easily fade from view on a whim. You can no longer be tracked by any normal means through the wilderness, and you can cover the tracks of a group of up to 10 creatures (any more than that simply causes too much change to the environment).
In addition, you can take the hide action as a bonus action, and can hide while being observed so long as you meet the other prerequisites.
Beginning at 14th level, you gain the following additional benefit based on the terrain you currently inhabit. You can only benefit from one of these options at a time, but you get to choose which benefit you receive. For example, if you’re in an underground city, you may choose whether you want the Underground or Urban benefit. You may change this benefit by completing a short or long rest.
- Arctic: You gain resistance to cold damage.
- Aquatic: You gain a swim speed equal to your walking speed.
- Desert: You gain resistance to fire damage.
- Forest: You gain advantage on all stealth checks, and can move at full speed while hidden.
- Grassland: You gain +10 feet to your walking speed.
- Mountain: You gain a climb speed equal to your walking speed.
- Swamp: You gain tremorsense out to 30 feet. If you already have tremorsense, its range increases by 30 feet.
- Underground: You gain Darkvision with a range of 60 feet. If you already possess darkvision, its range increases by 60 feet.
- Urban: You gain advantage on all Charisma checks when dealing with locals.
At 18th level, you gain preternatural senses that help you fight creatures you can’t see. When you attack a creature you can’t see, your inability to see it doesn’t impose disadvantage on your attack rolls against it.
You are also aware of the location of any invisible creature within 30 feet of you, provided that the creature isn’t hidden from you and you aren’t blinded or deafened.
At 20th level, your ability to hunt foes has reached its ultimate peak. When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can attempt to slay them with a single strike. They must succeed on a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier) or take 10d8 additional damage. If they succeed, the attack instead deals 5d8 additional damage. Creatures marked by your Hunter’s Mark ability have disadvantage on this saving throw. Once you use this feature, you cannot attempt to use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
While most rangers tend to share a large number of talents and abilities, where they differ is in how those abilities are applied which they choose to master. These are represented by a variety of conclaves, or secret ranger societies, to which a ranger dedicates themselves. Four options are presented here: the Beast Masters, the Bounty Hunters, the Guardians of the Green, and the Monster Slayers.
NOTE: The Hunter option from the Player’s Handbook is also compatible with this version of the Ranger.
Beast masters are those who understand and tame the natural world. They travel with a bestial companion of their own, and maneuver the wilderness with unmatched ease.
At 3rd level, you create a powerful bond with a creature of the natural world. With 8 hours of work and the expenditure of 50 gp worth of rare herbs and fine food, you call forth an animal from the wilderness to serve as your faithful companion. You normally select your companion from among the following animals: an ape, a black bear, a blood hawk, a boar, a giant badger, a giant weasel, a horse (riding), a mule, a panther, or a wolf. However, your DM might pick one of these animals for you, based on the surrounding terrain and on what types of creatures would logically be present in the area.
At the end of the 8 hours, your animal companion appears and gains all the benefits of your Companion’s Bond feature. You can have only one animal companion at a time. If your animal companion is ever brought to 0 hit points, the bond you share keeps it stable, but unconscious, until it revives normally over time. You may instead elect for your animal companion to instead die when brought to 0 hit points.
If you take the time and effort to form a bond with a new companion, your old companion leaves you and is replaced by the new one.
Your animal companion gains a variety of benefits while it is bonded to you.
- The animal companion loses its Multiattack action, if it has one.
- The companion obeys your commands as best it can. It rolls for initiative like any other creature, but you determine its actions, decisions, attitudes, and so on. If you are incapacitated or absent, your companion acts on its own. When using your Natural Explorer feature, you and your animal companion can both move stealthily at a normal pace.
- Your companion uses your proficiency bonus rather than its own.
- In addition to the areas where it normally uses its proficiency bonus, an animal companion also adds its proficiency bonus to its AC and to its damage rolls.
- Your animal companion gains proficiency in two skills of your choice.
- An animal companion is proficient with all saving throws.
- For each level you gain after 3rd, your animal companion gains an additional hit die and increases its hit points accordingly.
- Whenever you gain the Ability Score Improvement class feature, your companion’s abilities also improve. Your companion can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or it can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, your companion can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature unless its description specifies otherwise.
Your companion shares your alignment, and has a personality trait and a flaw that you can roll for or select from the tables below. Your companion shares your ideal, and its bond is always, “The ranger who travels with me is a beloved companion for whom I would gladly give my life.”
|1||I’m dauntless in the face of adversity.||If there’s food left unattended, I’ll eat it.|
|2||Threaten my friends, threaten me.||I’m deathly afraid of water.|
|3||I stay on alert so others can rest.||Any time is a good time for a belly rub.|
|4||People see an animal and underestimate me. I use that to my advantage.||I growl at strangers, and all people except my ranger are strangers to me.|
|5||I have a knack for showing up in the nick of time.||My idea of hello is a flurry of licks to the face.|
|6||I put my friends’ needs before my own in all things.||I jump on creatures to tell them how much I love them.|
At 7th level, whenever an attacker that your companion can see hits it with an attack, it can use its reaction to halve the attack’s damage against it.
At 11th level, whenever you use the Attack action on your turn, if your companion can see you, it can use its reaction to make a melee attack.
Greater Animal Companion
When you reach 15th level, you can call forth more powerful and versatile animal companions. When you bond to a new companion, you may choose from the following choices, in addition to those you can normally choose at 3rd level: a brown bear, a dire wolf, a giant eagle, a giant goat, a lion, a tiger, or a warhorse.
While most rangers’ capabilities bring them to the deep, dark wilderness, bounty hunters spend time amongst fellow humanoids and know how to navigate the streets as well as the trees.
Starting at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with the Investigation and Persuasion skills.
In addition, if you converse with a creature for at least 1 minute, you can attempt to influence them, compelling them to undertake a course of action it might otherwise oppose. The request must be short (a sentence or two) and worded in such a manner as to make the course of action sound reasonable. Asking the creature to stab itself, throw itself onto a spear, immolate itself, or do some other obviously harmful act ends the effect.
The target must make a Charisma saving throw opposed by your Persuasion check. A creature that succeeds cannot be affected by this feature again for 24 hours. On a failed save, it pursues the course of action you described to the best of its ability. The suggested course of action can continue for up to 8 hours. If the requested activity can be completed in a shorter time, the effect ends when the subject finishes what it was asked to do.
You can also specify conditions that will trigger a special activity during the duration. If the condition isn’t met before the effect expires, the activity isn’t performed.
If you or any of your companions damage the target, they immediately come to their senses.
Creatures that can’t be charmed are immune to this effect.
Once you use this feature, you must complete a short or long rest before you can use it again.
Stand Against the Tide
At 7th level, when a hostile creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction to force that creature to repeat the same attack against another creature (other than yourself) of your choice.
Bring ‘em Back Alive
When you reach 11th level, you can read your opponents’ current condition and bring them down quickly for easy capture. As a bonus action on your turn, you can quickly study a single creature within 30 feet and determine whether it is above or below half its hit point maximum.
In addition, whenever you hit a creature with less than half its hit points remaining with a weapon attack, you can attempt to knock it out. The creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier) or immediately fall unconscious. It wakes up at the end of your next turn.
A creature targeted by this feature cannot be targeted by it again for 24 hours.
At 15th level, your drive to catch your quarry keeps you going long after others would have fallen. At the start of each of your turns, you regain hit points equal to 5 + your Wisdom modifier if you have no more than half of your hit points left. You don’t gain this benefit if you have 0 hit points or you are unconscious.
Guardian of the Green
The Guardians of the Green are spellcasters and spiritualists, using magic to enhance their already-competent fighting ability, as well as using it to aid with exploration and stealth.
When you reach 3rd level, you augment your skills with the ability to cast spells using the Ranger spell list.
Spell Slots. The Guardian of the Green 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 Guardian of the Green 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.
|GUARDIAN OF THE GREEN SPELLCASTING|
|Level||Spells Known||Spell Slots|
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. The spirit guide cannot leave your immediate vicinity without losing all of its senses and becoming completely insubstantial. It can speak any languages that you speak, and acts as if it has average intelligence.
The spirit guide also, at your option, possesses personality traits, an ideal, and a flaw. A few options are presented here, but feel free to expand and come up with your own interesting spirit guide.
|1||I have a lesson for every situation, drawn from observing nature.||Change. Life is like the seasons, in constant change, and we must change with it.|
|2||I have a joke for every occasion, especially where inappropriate.||Live and Let Live. Ideals aren’t worth killing over, or going to war for.|
|3||I get bored easily.||Respect. All creatures, good and evil alike, deserve respect.|
|4||I am utterly serene, even in the face of disaster.||Friendship. Our capacity for love increases with each bond we make.|
|1||I am quite wise, but I don’t pass on this wisdom until it’s too late.|
|2||I encourage violence in the face of almost any challenge.|
|3||I secretly despise nature, and welcome the joys of civilization.|
|4||I am slow to trust people, and prefer the company of animals and plants.|
At 3rd level, you can command your spirit guide to inhabit a club, quarterstaff, or similarly-sized piece of wood as a bonus 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.
As long as the spirit is inhabiting the weapon, you can freely transform it between its Shillelagh and Spirit Bow forms at will. The spirit continues to inhabit the weapon until you recall it as a bonus action or fall unconscious.
At 7th level, your spirit weapon gains a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls. This bonus increases to +2 at 11th level, and +3 at 15th level.
Starting at 7th level, your spirit guide’s presence allows you to communicate with plants, animals, and even the wind itself. You can speak with and understand all beast- and plant-type creatures.
In addition, the spirit guide can now normally move up to 1 mile away from you before becoming insubstantial and losing its senses. To do this, it must take on the form of a woodland creature. While out of your immediate vicinity, it gains the statistics of whatever form it has taken. If slain, it immediately reappears by your side and cannot leave you until you complete a long rest.
Avatar of Nature
At 11th level, you can suffuse yourself with the energies of your spirit guide as a bonus action, gaining a number of benefits for up to 1 minute.
- You gain resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
- You gain immunity to poison damage.
- Your AC can’t be less than 16, regardless of what kind of armor you are wearing.
- You gain darkvision out to 120 feet. If you already possess darkvision, its range increases by 120 feet.
- You can make two attacks with your Spirit Bow as a bonus action.
- All attacks made with your Shillelagh gain the Reach property, and whenever you hit a creature with your Shillelagh, you can force that creature to make a Dexterity saving throw or be pulled up to 10 feet in a direction of your choice.
Once your spirit guide’s energies leave you, you cannot use this feature again until you complete a short or long rest.
Starting at 15th level, your spirit guide will bolster your ability to resist harm. Whenever you fail a saving throw, you may immediately use your reaction to attempt the saving throw again with advantage. You cannot use this feature again until you complete a long rest.
Those who adopt the Monster Slayer mantle not only fell the beasts that lurk beyond the walls of civilization, but bear their remains as trophies.
At 3rd level, whenever you hit a creature with a weapon attack, you can immediately mark it with your Hunter’s Mark ability without using your bonus action.
In addition, whenever you mark a creature with your hunter’s mark, you gain additional benefits. Your attacks against that creature bypass any and all damage resistances or immunities it has. In addition, if the creature has a damage vulnerability, your Hunter’s Mark damage changes to that type as long as the creature remains marked.
At 7th level, whenever a creature marked by your Hunter’s Mark makes an attack against you that does not have advantage, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on their attack roll.
At 11th level, whenever you are brought below half your hit point maximum by a creature’s attack, spell, or ability, you can immediately make that creature the target of your Hunter’s Mark ability. If you’re already targeting a creature, you can immediately switch your Hunter’s Mark to this new target. Whenever you hit that creature with a weapon attack, roll your Hunter’s Mark damage die twice and add the results together.
Starting at 15th level, whenever you target a creature with your Hunter’s Mark feature, you gain advantage on all saving throws made against the spells or abilities of that creature.
Header Image by Dongjun Lu.
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