Rethinking the Ranger

The ranger has always suffered from a identity crisis issues. Does he cast spells? Does he use weapons? Does he have an animal companion? Dual Wield or Bow? Is he just a fighter with the nature and tracking skills? Is he a druid who fights with weapons instead of spells? I don't know. I don't think any three people actually can come up with a good answer to this either.

Well, why don't we try and start from the ground up.

What the ranger shouldn't be:

a) The ranger shouldn't be a fighter with a nature skills. The current 5e fighter can do this just fine (and hopefully there will be fighter subbuilds that can trade out those pesky heavy armor proficiencies and parry for some bonus skills and a ranged maneuver). So no MDD!

b) The ranger shouldn't be a divine (or primal) caster. Rangers can learn nature rituals for sure, and rangers might be able to utilize more magical seeming abilities, but they shouldn't have daily spell slots. Any magic they do have should focus on being more "rangery".

c) They shouldn't dual wield. (Or at least not be forced into dual wielding). Fights with two weapons is not emough justification for an entire class.

What the ranger should draw inspiration from:
  
a) The 3e scout. This class was a step in the right direction for the ranger. It had a clear focus on being a mobile striker that harrassed it's foes from afar and was at home in nature.

b) The 4e seeker. This class was underpowered and had terrible class support, but the concept was awesome. A primal "arcane archer". Launching elemental arrows that cause plants to grow on enemies, primal spirits to assault your foes, and a whole slew of other interesting effects, yes please!

c) The 4e hunter. This class again was somewhat lacking in execution, but had quite a few tricks that made for a very interesting "archer".

d) The fey beast tamer theme. This theme showed us that it is possible to have an interesting and powerful animal companion that doesn't break the game. If the ranger has an animal companion, this is how they should do it.

Other things to consider:

a)  Favored Terrain: Give the ranger interesting abilities based on the natural environment they are used to...but don't limit them to bonuses while only in that area. Ex. a swamp favored terrain might allow you to tread over difficult terrain with ease and allow you to make poisons to add to your weapons. A desert favored terrain might allow you to utilize fire spirits to enhanc your attacks with fire.

b) Favored Enemies: I believe Orzel has made some excellent progress on how these should work. I agree with him!

c) Yes my suggestions make this class more about being a "woodsmany nature archer" guy than a dual wielding fighter trained in nature. Yes this will tick off some old schoolers who want to make their nature loving dual wielder and don't want to play a fighter with a name change. Yes it might have to be done in the name of giving the Ranger a unique and distinctive place among the other classes. Don't make the class unable to fight in melee, but IMHO the focus of the class should on the ranged aspect more than anything else. The class needs to find its place and a purely ranged warrior concept has always been somewhat lacking in D&D.

My 5e Homebrew Material

The Warblade: A Mythic Fighter

The Hero: A Modular Class

a) The ranger shouldn't be a fighter with a nature skills. The current 5e fighter can do this just fine (and hopefully there will be fighter subbuilds that can trade out those pesky heavy armor proficiencies and parry for some bonus skills and a ranged maneuver). So no MDD!

The ranger shouldn't be something that could be built with a fighter and some nature skills, but it probably will need MDD. The game is only going to have so many fundamental mechanics, and there are already manuvers, spells/rituals, and psionics coming. Loading the class up with enough unique mechanics so that it can fight effectively but is different from a fighter would just clog the game up massively. It will need some unique mechanics, but that should be backed up with MDD also.

a) The 3e scout. This class was a step in the right direction for the ranger. It had a clear focus on being a mobile striker that harrassed it's foes from afar and was at home in nature.

The ranger shouldn't be pinned into being an archer any more then he should be dual wielding.

A ranger should be defined by his knowledge and experience with nature. But a sword and board ranger should be just as viable as any other kind. His distinctive abilities come from nature, favored terrain/enemy, quarry, animal compain, natural magics, that sort of thing, not his weapon choice.

The ranger shouldn't be pinned into being an archer any more then he should be dual wielding.


Why not?

The wizard is pinned into using spells.  It's much the same.  There exists a niche for a bow-focused class - physical ranged attacks - and Ranger is one that I think would do it well.  Dual wield isn't enough to make a class out of, because "fights in melee (with two weapons)" is still "fights in melee" and not all that different from other melee classes. 
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Well if we are rethinking the ranger from ground up shouldn't we start with the root deffinition of the word ranger:


1. A wanderer; a rover.

2. A member of an armed troop employed in patrolling a specific region.

3. Ranger A member of a group of U.S. soldiers specially trained for making raids either on foot, in ground vehicles, or by airlift.

4.
a. A warden employed to maintain and protect a natural area, such as a forest or park.

b. Chiefly British The keeper of a royal forest or park.


 
I think we can alter number 3 a bit to be: Soldier specially Trained for making raids, either on foot, or mounted (whether that mount be walking, flying, or swiming).

Oddly enough I think these definitions can in fact be used as the foundation of the ranger class itself. 
The ranger shouldn't be pinned into being an archer any more then he should be dual wielding.



The 3e scout wasn't restricted to archery at all.

I remain unconvinced that Ranger should even be a class; it seems more like a concept that could come out of more than one class with a correct background and skill selection, then you choose to call yourself a Ranger in-character if desired.
I think a Ranger class could be just fine as a "fighter with nature skills." The important thing would be to make the nature skills distinct so that a fighter couldn't learn to be as savvy around nature as the ranger does. The beast companion rules (for any class) should be a module for those that want that kind of element, with a warning for how it might change difficulty of play.
I remain unconvinced that Ranger should even be a class; it seems more like a concept that could come out of more than one class with a correct background and skill selection, then you choose to call yourself a Ranger in-character if desired.

I'd argue that D&D only needs two classes, thinking like that: Magic-User and Warrior. Everything stems out of those two in some variation. But the system is traditionalist at heart, and Ranger has become a part of the class tradition.
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
The ranger shouldn't be pinned into being an archer any more then he should be dual wielding.


Why not?

The wizard is pinned into using spells.  It's much the same.  There exists a niche for a bow-focused class - physical ranged attacks - and Ranger is one that I think would do it well.  Dual wield isn't enough to make a class out of, because "fights in melee (with two weapons)" is still "fights in melee" and not all that different from other melee classes. 




I'm just gunna throw it out there no one should be relinquished to usefulness only with a ranged weapon or melee weapon because it is just dumb...any adventurer worth anything will be at least proficient and base line competent with both ranged and melee attacks (of some sort) unless actively attempting to not be prepared for those instances...now if we have that and we say yeah but the ranger is really good at ranged combat I can't precisely argue with that.  That is except to say that the fighter is already pretty excellent with ranged combat so that would offer the ranger restriction without distinction.  While I think weapon based combat is important to the ranger I think pigeon holing them to a certain type of fighting is a little uncalled for.  I mean what stops a ranger from being a staff weilder or a sword and board kind of guy.  Heck maybe even a twohander kind of guy.  A ranger with an axe makes a whole bunch of sense to me.  Maybe he uses a sling or javelins instead of a bow for hunting.  Heck maybe he doesn't even hunt and gets the bulk of his food from fishing, and trapping, and not bow hunting.  Hey maybe he's a straight up vegetarian and doesn't hunt anything in the woods, only killing predators when they try to screw with him.  I don't know restricting to just archery seems needlessly limiting.  I mean I know the classical ranger tropes, but this seems like one of those places where leaving it a little open to the imagination seems cool.
I'd argue that D&D only needs two classes, thinking like that: Magic-User and Warrior. Everything stems out of those two in some variation. But the system is traditionalist at heart, and Ranger has become a part of the class tradition.



This is true.
I do not consider it a good thing.
I honestly don't think the Ranger needs a weapon-specialization element within it's core design. Have him be good with a Bow, or Dual-Wield, or even using a 2-handed weapon or sword/mace/ax and shield. Give him MDD and have Ranger specific maneuvers. Have "Ranged" maneuvers that are good with throwing weapons, bows, and crossbows. Take inspiration from such older material like the Tiger Claw maneuvers of the Tome of Battle and Ranger powers ala 4E.

I do like the idea of terrain based abilities that can be applied anywhere, much like Orzel's Favored Enemey scheme. It gives the class a strong distinction but doesn't hamper or limit it's capabilities over the broader campaign. I like the idea of having an animal companion but not using up a gross amount of resources to sustain and maintain. I like the nature/woodsy element of the ranger and think drawing inspiration from 3E's Scout + 4E's Hunter/Seeker + 4E's overall Ranger abilities is the best way to go.  
I agree with the thought that weapon specialization built into a class is less fun.  Also, for me the most memorable Ranger ever is Minsc - who loves to swing a big sword.

I really like the idea of shooting arrows that do spell effects or something - that strikes me as far more interesting than having divine spells - and there's no need to limit that to ranged attacks.  Let it apply to weapon attacks also.  At that point, the mechanics of the 4e assassin are largely contained within the Ranger, besides the ridiculosu Shroud concept - this is a good thing also.  It's possible your 4e Warden is contained within the Ranger as well.  I think that'd be something to explore also.

I'm in favor of exploring a favored ground concept.  Favored enemies has always seemed cool to me for flavor reasons, but is kind of a bummer if you rarely encounter your chosen enemies.  It puts cuffs on the DM to either repeatedly feature that enemey or dissapoint a player.
I have issues with Favored Terrain/Enemies to be honest. If you're not in the right place or fighting the right monsters, you get no bonus. 4E's Quarry system allows you the possibility to use the Ranger's mechanic in almost every fight and circumstance.

I've had DMs go out of their way to make sure a Ranger never fought a Favored Enemy. I've seen DMs non-consciously steer away from a Ranger's Favored Enemy. Mechanics really shouldn't be so easy to circumvent, or else the class in question can (and at some tables will) suffer as a result.
I have issues with Favored Terrain/Enemies to be honest. If you're not in the right place or fighting the right monsters, you get no bonus. 4E's Quarry system allows you the possibility to use the Ranger's mechanic in almost every fight and circumstance.



Agreed.
The ranger shouldn't be pinned into being an archer any more then he should be dual wielding.


Why not?

The wizard is pinned into using spells.  It's much the same.  There exists a niche for a bow-focused class - physical ranged attacks - and Ranger is one that I think would do it well.  Dual wield isn't enough to make a class out of, because "fights in melee (with two weapons)" is still "fights in melee" and not all that different from other melee classes. 




I'm just gunna throw it out there no one should be relinquished to usefulness only with a ranged weapon or melee weapon because it is just dumb...any adventurer worth anything will be at least proficient and base line competent with both ranged and melee attacks (of some sort) unless actively attempting to not be prepared for those instances...now if we have that and we say yeah but the ranger is really good at ranged combat I can't precisely argue with that.  That is except to say that the fighter is already pretty excellent with ranged combat so that would offer the ranger restriction without distinction.  While I think weapon based combat is important to the ranger I think pigeon holing them to a certain type of fighting is a little uncalled for.  I mean what stops a ranger from being a staff weilder or a sword and board kind of guy.  Heck maybe even a twohander kind of guy.  A ranger with an axe makes a whole bunch of sense to me.  Maybe he uses a sling or javelins instead of a bow for hunting.  Heck maybe he doesn't even hunt and gets the bulk of his food from fishing, and trapping, and not bow hunting.  Hey maybe he's a straight up vegetarian and doesn't hunt anything in the woods, only killing predators when they try to screw with him.  I don't know restricting to just archery seems needlessly limiting.  I mean I know the classical ranger tropes, but this seems like one of those places where leaving it a little open to the imagination seems cool.



Notice I never actually said only restricted to ranged weapons. I said focused around ranged attacks, but that I still want the class to be capable of fighting in melee. Even the "shots" of the Seeker could be modified to work in melee. The aspect of a mobile skirmisher just lends itself more to a ranged focus than a melee one. The ranger would have worse armor proficiency than a fighter, wouldn't have the parry maneuver, wouldn't use shields, etc. As such it is not the go to guy for a toe to toe melee fight. Hit and run melee sure, but not tank and spank. Other people started spouting bow only nonsense.

I think, bows, spears, and axes all make sense for Ranger weapon proficiencies. Spears and axes are good because they can be used in melee or thrown. Bows are good for that extra range which makes skirmish tactics even better. 
I have issues with Favored Terrain/Enemies to be honest. If you're not in the right place or fighting the right monsters, you get no bonus. 4E's Quarry system allows you the possibility to use the Ranger's mechanic in almost every fight and circumstance.



Agreed.



That is why I said favored terrain/favored enemy should provide a bonus at all times regardless of where you are or what you might be facing.

You favored "X" is basically like a fighting style. You developed fighting style "X" to deal with a particular kind of foe or fight in a specific kind of terrain, but the fighting style is universal in that it can still be used wherever you are or against any foe.
+ Rapid firing archers with near supernatural accuracy and speed
+ Two-weapon warriors who glide through combat like gypsy dancers
+ Animal companions that can act as scouts, spotters, or flank-buddies
+ Influence from 3e Scout and the "skirmish" mechanic
+ Nature skill (possibly an herbalist with minor non-magical healing powers)
+ Stealthy ambushers wearing medium armor like hide or studded leather
+ Urban rangers (bounty hunters)

- Favored Enemy / Terrain (but if I had to choose, I'd choose terrain from a short list of 4-5)
- Spellcasting (would rather see these as X/day non-magical abilities)
- Shields, heavy armor (too civilized)
- Lame abilities like "wild empathy" and "swift tracker"
A ranger excels in natural settings, like a bard excels in society, and the rogue is somewhere between the two. That is my vision of the class in reference to being based of the rogue. Just like the monk focuses on making their body a weapon, and the barbarian uses their instincts as a weapon, and the fighter styles making certain weapons and armor a force to contend with. The later are all examples of fighters.
I have issues with Favored Terrain/Enemies to be honest. If you're not in the right place or fighting the right monsters, you get no bonus. 4E's Quarry system allows you the possibility to use the Ranger's mechanic in almost every fight and circumstance.



Agreed.



That is why I said favored terrain/favored enemy should provide a bonus at all times regardless of where you are or what you might be facing.

You favored "X" is basically like a fighting style. You developed fighting style "X" to deal with a particular kind of foe or fight in a specific kind of terrain, but the fighting style is universal in that it can still be used wherever you are or against any foe.

Yep, Orzel's idea is gold as far as the Favored Enemy ability goes, IMO.

Wounds Module [updated for Basic]

Proficiency Module

A ranger excels in natural settings, like a bard excels in society, and the rogue is somewhere between the two. That is my vision of the class in reference to being based of the rogue. Just like the monk focuses on making their body a weapon, and the barbarian uses their instincts as a weapon, and the fighter styles making certain weapons and armor a force to contend with. The later are all examples of fighters.



That's essentially fluff, though, and should be determined by flavor and player choice.
I would be radical and turn rangers into beastmasters, the beast using the action of the master 4th edition style, the ranger having to choose between his own options or the ones from the beast.
The ranger or the beast would be one-half of the character.
I think the beast is a good justification for rangers being more nature related than fighters or rogues specialized in wilderness surroundings.

Archery is bad in surroundings with lot of obstacles, like wild forests.
Two weapon fighting is bad in surroundings with dense obstacles, or in narrow places, like tunnels (yes, Drizzt, this one is for you).
Rangers should favor diversity with their weapons, and not capitalize on one fighting style.

If you think my english is bad, just wait until you see my spanish and my italian. Defiling languages is an art.

Call me crazy, but I truly think a Ranger is just a fighter that has tracking and nature lore, and maybe the ability to communicate or influence/control animals.    I think all this can be achieved through backgrounds and feat selection.   No need for a class.   (I'm bracing myself for attack at this very moment. lol)   

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If the ranger is just another martial class, then it doesn't need to be; everything it could do would be handled by a Fighter/Rogue multiclass with the right background and specialty. D&DN is the Legacy Edition, and Rangers have been divine (druidic, primal) casters for most of that time. So, the OP's "what the ranger shouldn't be" doesn't work for me on 2 counts; I fully agree that the Ranger shouldn't get free TWFing (the only thing I was ever able to justify that with is that preditors that use claws use both claws ... tenuous at best).

The paladin has spells. The paladin is a fantasy interpretation of chivalric knights. Their adherrance to Christian and Chivalric ideals in real life is translated to Divine powers of Goodness in a fantasy world. Just like a samurai is often going to be interpreted with ki super powers, because those are within the mythos of the lore and fantasy blows them out of proportion.

Thus, the woodsman turned fantasy is going to have some strong connection and affinity for nature.

At least that's my opinion. I can remake the ranger to be what I want it to be, whichever way things go. 

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Call me crazy, but I truly think a Ranger is just a fighter that has tracking and nature lore, and maybe the ability to communicate or influence/control animals.    I think all this can be achieved through backgrounds and feat selection.   No need for a class.   (I'm bracing myself for attack at this very moment. lol)   



That is essentially my view as well.
I'd be content to see the ranger become a subset of the fighter, it doesn't really have enough to be its own class.

BUT, if the ranger is going to be its own class I think folding inas many of the previous editions woodsman/primal magic casters would be the way to go. One ranger might cast primal spells through is bow and arrows, another might summon beasts to fight for or beside him and yet another ranger could be swinging fro tree top to tree top hurling javelins. Etc, etc.
Basically in order to warrent being its own class the ranger needs to cover a broad concept, something this version of the monk does poorly but the fighter does pretty well.
If the ranger is just another martial class, then it doesn't need to be; everything it could do would be handled by a Fighter/Rogue multiclass with the right background and specialty. D&DN is the Legacy Edition, and Rangers have been divine (druidic, primal) casters for most of that time. So, the OP's "what the ranger shouldn't be" doesn't work for me on 2 counts; I fully agree that the Ranger shouldn't get free TWFing (the only thing I was ever able to justify that with is that preditors that use claws use both claws ... tenuous at best).

The paladin has spells. The paladin is a fantasy interpretation of chivalric knights. Their adherrance to Christian and Chivalric ideals in real life is translated to Divine powers of Goodness in a fantasy world. Just like a samurai is often going to be interpreted with ki super powers, because those are within the mythos of the lore and fantasy blows them out of proportion.

Thus, the woodsman turned fantasy is going to have some strong connection and affinity for nature.

At least that's my opinion. I can remake the ranger to be what I want it to be, whichever way things go. 



Not sure if you read all the way or just don't know what the 4e seeker is because despite you saying you don't agree with me...you do.

I think  a plain old fighter in the wilderness can be created with the fighter class.

I think the "ranger" should be more than just a fighter in the wilderness and I am all about giving them primal magic. I don't think their primal magic should be a copy of the druid spell list at a slower rate though like it was in previous editions. The 4e seeker and the Fey Beast Tamer theme both allow for a unique take on the "magical" ranger with "spells" that are actually thematically appropriate. The spells of this ranger would be channeling primal energy into your strikes making them burst into flame, freeze enemies, entangle them in plants, and much more. The fey beast tamer gives you a magical fey beast companion.
I'm about to roll out, so I'll catch up on this thread later. I just wanted to say I want to see the ranger as the mobile guy. If he uses two weapons he dances around foes. If he uses rangedweapons, he stays at bay and evades. I can't recall the name of the 4e build I liked the best (may've been the hunter as mentioned?). This was the one who threw a weapon from one hand, then charged in to attack w/ the other hand.
I could also dig seeker-ish primal abilities. In that I'd like to see ranged snares and melee ranged traps... might lend the ranger a controller/defender vibe?
Orzel's favored enemy idea is awesome, still. If wotc doesn't wholly steal it I shall be sad.
"What's stupid is when people decide that X is true - even when it is demonstrable untrue or 100% against what we've said - and run around complaining about that. That's just a breakdown of basic human reasoning." -Mike Mearls
I think what seperates the Ranger from the Fighter is where they focus their attention.  A Fighter excels at the use of his particular tools, armour and weapons.  He's studied them and learned how to make them his greatest assets.  The Ranger excels at using his enemies and the environment.  He's studied them and learned how to make them his greatest assets.

I like favoured terrain and enemy abilities even if they are just situational.  They give Ranger that "You're on my turf now, b****!" feeling.  But in the same vane, the Ranger could also be the analytical warrior that uses a few moments of observation to learn his enemies weaknesses or how best to use the battlefield to his advantage.
I have issues with Favored Terrain/Enemies to be honest. If you're not in the right place or fighting the right monsters, you get no bonus. 4E's Quarry system allows you the possibility to use the Ranger's mechanic in almost every fight and circumstance.



Agreed.



That is why I said favored terrain/favored enemy should provide a bonus at all times regardless of where you are or what you might be facing.

You favored "X" is basically like a fighting style. You developed fighting style "X" to deal with a particular kind of foe or fight in a specific kind of terrain, but the fighting style is universal in that it can still be used wherever you are or against any foe.

The problem I see with that is you end up either giving normal Fighting Styles exotic names (renaming Archery Mastery into something like Swarm Control) or you still haven't solved the problem of only occasional use. You can't count on a Large creature or a creature with a breath weapon to be in every encounter. Do you balance the Ranger in combat with these abilities, hurting him in combats where they don't get used, or without them, making him overly powerful when he gets to use them?
Class abilities need to have the opportunity to be useful in every combat. Just as an entire encounter in a "No magic zone" is unfairly weighted against casters, a "no favored zone" would be weighted against Rangers.Making part of an encounter in a "no magic zone", or making it dependent on a destroyable item is unique encounter design. Allowing a class ability to be fully negated in an encounter is just bad game design.
Look at Rogues. In 4E Rogues are given the ability to create moments where they are hidden, even in plain sight, to enable them to use their sneak attack (or whatever it is called in 4E). Similarly in DDN, there are numerous ways of gaining advantage, allowing a Rogue the opportunity to sneak attack in plain sight.
D&D has moved past such easily negated situational class advantages. Why do we want to return to such IMO broken mechanics?
I have issues with Favored Terrain/Enemies to be honest. If you're not in the right place or fighting the right monsters, you get no bonus. 4E's Quarry system allows you the possibility to use the Ranger's mechanic in almost every fight and circumstance.



Agreed.



That is why I said favored terrain/favored enemy should provide a bonus at all times regardless of where you are or what you might be facing.

You favored "X" is basically like a fighting style. You developed fighting style "X" to deal with a particular kind of foe or fight in a specific kind of terrain, but the fighting style is universal in that it can still be used wherever you are or against any foe.

The problem I see with that is you end up either giving normal Fighting Styles exotic names (renaming Archery Mastery into something like Swarm Control) or you still haven't solved the problem of only occasional use. You can't count on a Large creature or a creature with a breath weapon to be in every encounter. Do you balance the Ranger in combat with these abilities, hurting him in combats where they don't get used, or without them, making him overly powerful when he gets to use them? Class abilities need to have the opportunity to be useful in every combat. Just as an entire encounter in a "No magic zone" is unfairly weighted against casters, a "no favored zone" would be weighted against Rangers.Making part of an encounter in a "no magic zone", or making it dependent on a destroyable item is unique encounter design. Allowing a class ability to be fully negated in an encounter is just bad game design. Look at Rogues. In 4E Rogues are given the ability to create moments where they are hidden, even in plain sight, to enable them to use their sneak attack (or whatever it is called in 4E). Similarly in DDN, there are numerous ways of gaining advantage, allowing a Rogue the opportunity to sneak attack in plain sight. D&D has moved past such easily negated situational class advantages. Why do we want to return to such IMO broken mechanics?



I still don't think you are quite understanding what I am getting at with favored "X" abilities. Here are some examples (not balanced or meaningul just off the top of my head).

Favored Terrain Desert - Yourweapon attacks deal additional fire damage equal to your wisdom modifier and advantage on saving throws against illusions or mirages.

Favored Terrain Tundra - You gain advantage to spot hidden enemies and you do not lose your footing on slippery ground. You also gain resistance to cold damage.

Favored Terrain Jungle - Whenever you are hidden and make an attack, you remain hidden if your attack misses. You also gain a climb speed equal to 1/2 your speed.

Favored Terrain Swamp - Your weapon attacks deal additional poison damage equal to your wisdom modifier and you gain gain advantage to saving throws against disease and poison.
I have issues with Favored Terrain/Enemies to be honest. If you're not in the right place or fighting the right monsters, you get no bonus. 4E's Quarry system allows you the possibility to use the Ranger's mechanic in almost every fight and circumstance.



Agreed.



That is why I said favored terrain/favored enemy should provide a bonus at all times regardless of where you are or what you might be facing.

You favored "X" is basically like a fighting style. You developed fighting style "X" to deal with a particular kind of foe or fight in a specific kind of terrain, but the fighting style is universal in that it can still be used wherever you are or against any foe.

The problem I see with that is you end up either giving normal Fighting Styles exotic names (renaming Archery Mastery into something like Swarm Control) or you still haven't solved the problem of only occasional use. You can't count on a Large creature or a creature with a breath weapon to be in every encounter. Do you balance the Ranger in combat with these abilities, hurting him in combats where they don't get used, or without them, making him overly powerful when he gets to use them? Class abilities need to have the opportunity to be useful in every combat. Just as an entire encounter in a "No magic zone" is unfairly weighted against casters, a "no favored zone" would be weighted against Rangers.Making part of an encounter in a "no magic zone", or making it dependent on a destroyable item is unique encounter design. Allowing a class ability to be fully negated in an encounter is just bad game design. Look at Rogues. In 4E Rogues are given the ability to create moments where they are hidden, even in plain sight, to enable them to use their sneak attack (or whatever it is called in 4E). Similarly in DDN, there are numerous ways of gaining advantage, allowing a Rogue the opportunity to sneak attack in plain sight. D&D has moved past such easily negated situational class advantages. Why do we want to return to such IMO broken mechanics?



I still don't think you are quite understanding what I am getting at with favored "X" abilities. Here are some examples (not balanced or meaningul just off the top of my head).

Favored Terrain Desert - Yourweapon attacks deal additional fire damage equal to your wisdom modifier and advantage on saving throws against illusions or mirages.

Favored Terrain Tundra - You gain advantage to spot hidden enemies and you do not lose your footing on slippery ground. You also gain resistance to cold damage.

Favored Terrain Jungle - Whenever you are hidden and make an attack, you remain hidden if your attack misses. You also gain a climb speed equal to 1/2 your speed.

Favored Terrain Swamp - Your weapon attacks deal additional poison damage equal to your wisdom modifier and you gain gain advantage to saving throws against disease and poison.

That is certainly different from what I was thinking, yes.  Although aside from the additional damage ones, they are still in general too situational to be balanced against other classes, leading to the above mentioned issue.
As I said those favored terrain features took me 2 minutes to draft, I'd like final versions to be more generally applicable.

For favored "X" features I want them to be impactful, unique, and provide benefits that are useful in many situations. I want each one to be a flavorful package of abilities that as a whole make sense given the chosen terrain/enemy but not be limited in usefulness as to only work against those enemies or only in those terrains.

Perhaps each can grant:
A trained skill
Something related to movement
Advantage to some rolls
And a bonus to combat
I believe on of the most defining aspects of a ranger is his favored enemies and environments

Also there are was to replicate rangers of editions past in one system.

To me, the main difference between a fighter or rogue and ranger is how they train. Fighters and rogues are more internal and practie their arts fully. Rangers are more external and master their prefered area. Rangers are more metagamers who's personal tweaks are broad enough to work often.

A ranger who is a goblin slayer is used to being unnumbered, assaulted with sneaky attacks, and fighting in the dark. So  the goblin slayer ranger cass see in the dark, can hit multiple enemies at once for big damage, and is trained in spot. A kobold hunter ranger would be similiar but can disarm and detect traps with skills and spells instead of getting detection bonuses.

Whereas a dragon slayer ranger has advantage on Dex and Con saving throws on top of elemental resistance spells and exce;;s at shooting flying or large foes. Etc. Etc.
A

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

I am thinking Favored Enemy (Demons and Devils) are a Paladin flavor of the same thing... ie Paladin and Ranger ARE Fighters... who took a favored enemy and other options mayhaps.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Im ok with the "Favored" aspect so long as it's broad enough in application to be used in many situations. It shouldn't be exclusive in that it only works against a specific enemy (or when your in a specific area).
Honestly the ranger's real defining role to me is his spells. Besides that, he's basically just what a fighter with a woodsman background should be.
Honestly the ranger's real defining role to me is his spells. Besides that, he's basically just what a fighter with a woodsman background should be.



The ranger didnt get more than a handfull of innapropriate flavored mostly useless spells - wizard ones even and not till high level back in the day.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Honestly the ranger's real defining role to me is his spells. Besides that, he's basically just what a fighter with a woodsman background should be.



The ranger didnt get more than a handfull of innapropriate flavored mostly useless spells - wizard ones even and not till high level back in the day.



I know, but spellcasting is what really separates him from a fighter, because he's basically suppsoed to be a fighter/druid hybrid. If they're not going to go with that or feature the spellcasting heavily, then honestly the ranger might as well not exist and should just be a fighter with wilderness skills.


Actually the ranger was always designed to be a warrior with a trump hard for every wilderness obstacle the DM though up. But it did so without straight contolling the wilds like a druid.

"No, we're not poisoned"
"No, we don't have frostbitten toes."
"No, the bear loves me."
"No, I saw that trap."
"No, I found water."
"No, I deal more damage against them"
"No, they can't see me"
"No, I saw them"
"No, I swam out the whirpool."
"No, I punched the shark in the nose and tamed it."
"No, we are not lost"

As the editions went on, the ranger go more and more ways to to Nature and the DM "No" without just dominating everything in the wilderness.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

I would be radical and turn rangers into beastmasters, the beast using the action of the master 4th edition style, the ranger having to choose between his own options or the ones from the beast.
The ranger or the beast would be one-half of the character.
I think the beast is a good justification for rangers being more nature related than fighters or rogues specialized in wilderness surroundings.

I agree with this, or at least the part about making rangers the beastmaster class. The druid is heavily overloaded anyway, and the ranger has traditionally suffered by being very weakly justified either flavorfully or mechanically as distinct from the fighter. Foregrounding the beast is an excellent way to give the ranger a real role. (I don't think it's necessarily best for the system to use the 4e action economy, but it could be.) The rest of the class can be fleshed out with Orzel's ideas for Favored X. Drop fighting styles entirely, as they (particularly TWF) don't feel necessary, and being not naturally proficient in heavy armor encourages dex-based styles in a much more natural and subtle way anyway.

The spellcasting can go too, or at least be reconfigured so that the ranger is a guy with special abilities but isn't a spellcaster per se. Being able to use wands of utility and healing spells (the primary function of the ranger's spellcasting) is really far away from what the archetype wants to be doing. Let the ranger pick up some packages of uncanny herbalism/tracking/survival/first aid/natural empathy abilities instead.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
The wizard is pinned into using spells.  It's much the same.  There exists a niche for a bow-focused class - physical ranged attacks - and Ranger is one that I think would do it well.  Dual wield isn't enough to make a class out of, because "fights in melee (with two weapons)" is still "fights in melee" and not all that different from other melee classes. 

There probably is space to make a bow-focused class, which should be called archer. The problem with using ranger for this is then you need another class for characters who are nature oriented but not archers. Trying to build an archery / nature themed class is building a class around two things, both of which are enough to support a full class.

I'd argue that D&D only needs two classes, thinking like that: Magic-User and Warrior. Everything stems out of those two in some variation. But the system is traditionalist at heart, and Ranger has become a part of the class tradition.

You could build a class that way. All that does is create another layer in the class (ranger isn't a background, specialty but the fighter class types are too low level) that moves a bunch of classes into bigger grouping. Heck, you could do it with one class and make magic use and fighting ablity options that you can pick between. It is the nature of classed games that there are any number of systems that could work, the question is finding the most natural one to actualy use in the game.


I would be radical and turn rangers into beastmasters, the beast using the action of the master 4th edition style, the ranger having to choose between his own options or the ones from the beast.
The ranger or the beast would be one-half of the character.
I think the beast is a good justification for rangers being more nature related than fighters or rogues specialized in wilderness surroundings.

I agree with this, or at least the part about making rangers the beastmaster class.



Yuck! No!

Ahem. Well, the problem I have with this is the "beast" part of "beastmaster". There's just too many missed opportunities by having a dedicated "tamer" class... and limit it to only smelly animals, mundane or otherwise.


I'm just gunna throw it out there no one should be relinquished to usefulness only with a ranged weapon or melee weapon because it is just dumb...any adventurer worth anything will be at least proficient and base line competent with both ranged and melee attacks (of some sort) unless actively attempting to not be prepared for those instances...now if we have that and we say yeah but the ranger is really good at ranged combat I can't precisely argue with that.  That is except to say that the fighter is already pretty excellent with ranged combat so that would offer the ranger restriction without distinction.  While I think weapon based combat is important to the ranger I think pigeon holing them to a certain type of fighting is a little uncalled for.  I mean what stops a ranger from being a staff weilder or a sword and board kind of guy.  Heck maybe even a twohander kind of guy.  A ranger with an axe makes a whole bunch of sense to me.  Maybe he uses a sling or javelins instead of a bow for hunting.  Heck maybe he doesn't even hunt and gets the bulk of his food from fishing, and trapping, and not bow hunting.  Hey maybe he's a straight up vegetarian and doesn't hunt anything in the woods, only killing predators when they try to screw with him.  I don't know restricting to just archery seems needlessly limiting.  I mean I know the classical ranger tropes, but this seems like one of those places where leaving it a little open to the imagination seems cool.


100% with you though Im not even sure if it needs to be a class
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