Ranger Subclass – Crimson Arrow

I’ve been inspired to make something themed around Horizon: Zero Dawn for a long time. It might just be my personal Game of the Year, and the new Frozen Wilds expansion got my gears turning once more. Aloy’s ability in the game to forage for parts and enter battle with a variety of interesting options is something I’ve wanted to see in D&D for a long time.

In addition to Horizon, I got a comment on my last post, Where I Designed a New 20-level Ranger, that claimed that the subclasses on offer were too melee-focused. I disagree, but do understand that sometimes people want an option that’s a little more specialized. And since the ranger is, after all a RANGEr, I decided to oblige.

Thus, I present the Crimson Arrow. It’s a scavenger/tinker/archer, and I think it’s pretty darn cool.

PDF: The Crimson Arrow v1.1

Header Image by Luc De Haan

The Crimson Arrow

The Crimson Arrow is one of the Ranger’s Conclaves, available to the ranger starting at 3rd level. It is compatible with the Ranger presented in the Player’s Handbook, as well as the ranger presented in my blog post: The Ranger, Revived!

Crimson Arrows are members of the Crimson Arrow Guild. They’re mercenaries and adventurers, though their true specialty is their ability to craft special arrowheads from seemingly-innocuous objects.

Their name’s origin comes from the fact that in their early days, before they could sustain themselves monetarily, they would constantly re-use arrows, stained red with the blood of their foes. And though the guild has become a success in ensuing years, this simple practice remains. Many members count their “reds” after battle, constantly testing themselves to see how many arrows it took to bring down a foe.

Unfortunately, some believe that they got their name from some of their more grizzly practices. It’s not uncommon to see a Crimson Arrow carving up his kills after a battle in order to extract fluids, harvest scales or fangs, or even pluck eyeballs for later use in their trick arrows.

Level Feature Trick Arrow Options
3rd Scavenger’s Lore, Trick Arrows 2
7th Arrow Snatcher 3
11th Precise Shot 4
15th Always Prepared 5


Scavenger’s Lore

Crimson Arrows are masters of eclectic knowledge, and often know strange facts and uses for things that others would never consider. Whenever you roll an Intelligence check to recall lore about a creature, plant, or magical object, you always recall at least one fact about it. The DM gets to decide on what this fact is, and it may end up being something that no one but you would find interesting or useful.

Trick Arrows

Starting when you join this conclave at 3rd level, you learn how to craft special trick arrows that possess a variety of effects. When you gain this feature, you learn two Trick Arrow options of your choice (see “Trick Arrow Options” below).

Once per turn when you fire an arrow from a shortbow or longbow as part of the attack action, you can choose to fire one of your trick arrows. Trick arrows are crafted on the fly, so you choose what type of arrow you want to fire before you make this attack. You can continue to fire trick arrows until you run out of supplies. Once used, a trick arrow becomes useless.

It takes one hour to scavenge for supplies, and you gain enough supplies over the course of this hour to craft up to two trick arrows. This increases to three trick arrows at 11th level. You can carry a maximum amount of supplies to craft a number of trick arrows equal to your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier. The hour spent scavenging for supplies can be part of a short rest. It can also be done as an activity while traveling. As part of completing a long rest, you can refill your supplies to their maximum level.

You gain an additional Trick Arrow option of your choice when you reach certain levels in this class: 7th, 11th, and 15th.

Arrow Snatcher

When you reach 7th level, your mastery over archery allows you to see ranged attacks coming and snatch missiles out of the air. Whenever you are hit by a ranged weapon attack, you can use your reaction to reduce the damage from the attack by 1d10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Ranger level.

If you reduce the damage to 0, you can catch the missile if it is small enough for you to hold in one hand, and if you have at least one hand free. If the missile is an arrow, you can immediately make a ranged attack using your shortbow or longbow as part of the same reaction.

Focused Shot

Upon reaching 11th level, your ability to focus when firing your bow gives you uncanny accuracy. You may use your bonus action to take a breath, focus, and draw a bead on an enemy. Your next ranged attack against that enemy gains advantage.

Always Prepared

At 15th level, you’ve always got trick arrow supplies somewhere on your person. If you roll initiative and have no trick arrow supplies, you discover that you have enough supplies to craft one trick arrow.


Trick Arrow Options

The Trick Arrows feature lets you choose options for it at certain levels. The options are presented here in alphabetical order.

If an option requires a saving throw, your Trick Arrow save DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier.

Blast Arrow

This arrow can be fired at a point on the ground, rather than a creature. When it hits, it immediately lets out an explosion of force and air, forcing every creature within 15 feet to succeed on a Strength saving throw or fall prone. If a creature is hit directly by this arrow and fails their saving throw, the explosion leaves them shaken and woozy. All attacks made against them until the start of your next turn have advantage.

Blinding Arrow

This arrow contains hot chili powder, powdered glass, or similar agents that burst forth when it hits its target. A creature hit by this arrow takes no damage, but must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or become blinded. A creature blinded by this arrow can take an action to wash out their eyes with water to see again. At the start of each of your turns, roll 1d6. On a 1-2, the creature can see again.

Burning Arrow

A creature hit by a burning arrow must succeed on a Dexterity saving throw or catch fire, taking 1d6 fire damage at the start of each of its turns. It can put this fire out by taking an action. At the start of each of your turns, roll 1d6. On a 1-2, the fire goes out on its own.

Corrupting Arrow

This arrow contains hallucinogenic compounds that cause creatures to act erratically. A creature hit by this arrow takes no damage, but must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw or become confused until the start of your next turn. A confused creature rolls 1d4 at the start of its turn and acts according to the result.

Result Behavior
1 The creature takes the Dash action, and uses all of its movement to run in a random direction. To determine the direction, roll a d8 and assign a direction to each die face. The creature will stop moving if continuing to do so would cause physical harm.
2 The creature sits down on the ground and begins babbling incoherently to itself. It takes no action.
3 The creature lets out a war cry and uses its action to make a single melee attack against a random creature within its reach. If there is no creature within its reach, it begins swinging wildly, hitting nothing.
4 The creature acts normally, but suffers disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.


Freezing Arrow

A creature hit by a freezing arrow must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or become slowed until the start of your next turn. If slowed, the creature can either move or take an action on its turn, not both. In addition, it cannot make opportunity attacks while slowed.

Hardpoint Arrow

Hardpoint arrows are heavy, and can only be fired a maximum of 30 feet. However, whenever you hit a creature with a hardpoint arrow, the attack is automatically considered a critical hit. In addition, the damage of a hardpoint arrow bypasses resistance or immunity to piercing damage.

Harpoon Arrow

This arrow is tipped with a wicked barb, and you can (at your discretion) attach a rope to its head. A creature struck by this arrow suffers normal damage. However, the arrow cannot be removed except by taking an action to make a Strength saving throw. Regardless of success or failure, the arrow is removed; however, on a failure, the creature suffers damage equal to the arrow’s damage die. Creatures immune to piercing damage are immune to a harpoon arrow.

If you attach a rope to a harpoon arrow, its range is reduced by 10 feet. By taking hold of the rope after it strikes its target, you can attempt to grapple the creature at range. In addition to the normal methods, the grapple is broken if you lose control of the rope, it is cut, or if the harpoon arrow is removed from the target creature.

A harpoon arrow can also be used as a grappling hook.

Shocking Arrow

A creature hit by a shocking arrow does not take any damage, but must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or become Stunned until the start of your next turn.

Tanglefoot Arrow

This arrow can be fired at a point on the ground, rather than at a creature. When it hits, it immediately explodes into a tangle of nets and adhesive, forcing every creature within 10 feet of where it landed to succeed on a Strength saving throw or become Restrained. A creature restrained by this arrow can use its action to repeat the saving throw. On a success, it frees itself. The entangling contents of the arrow dissolve after 1 minute.

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2 thoughts on “Ranger Subclass – Crimson Arrow

Add yours

  1. I like this subclass a lot. It might actually be my favorite one you’ve made for the new ranger.

    Scavengers lore seems like a really fun out of combat ability. As a player it sucks when you botch a roll and end up with the answer of “you know nothing” This ability gets rid of that and gives the DM free reign to pick something fun to share.

    I wonder if for trick arrows if proficiency + wisdom ends up giving the player too many. It might be the right amount it may not that’s impossible to tell without play testing sadly and even still will change based off the campaigns ability for short rest and over world travel time. A big open world game may see the player never running out of trick arrows even if they use one every turn.

    I greatly enjoy how a lot of your descriptions of the trick arrows have flavor text describing the arrows. Hopefully in time you can add nice descriptive text to shocking arrow, freezing arrow, and burning arrow as well which are kinda more “utilitarian” in text usage at the moment.

    My only real concern in terms of balance is that hard point arrows if used with a rogue multi class could be a bit absurdly powerful, being able to choose to have critical sneak attacks turn after turn. Having them just do a static amount of damage more (probably a D8) would negate this problem.

    I also think the arrows that require a saving throw, followed by they can turn off on a D6 roll after may be adding too many rolls into the game and may slow down overall flow.

    I hope that didn’t come across as overly negative cause I genuinely love what you’ve cooked up here. Feel free to ignore or use my ideas if you want, they are simply my thoughts on how to refine and polish this awesome subclass you made.


    1. Thank you so much for the positivity! My thought with the amount of arrows is that since I had a focus on utilitarian arrows, rather than bonus damage, I’d be more forgiving with usage. Plus, I restricted activation to when you declare an attack, rather than when you hit. So a number of your arrows are bound to miss in an adventuring day.

      You make a REALLY good point about hardpoint arrows, though. I intended to use critical hits as a shortcut around a wordy double damage rule. The additional 1d8 is a solid fix, though.


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