The rangiest Ranger: unique abilities, utility, and better favored enemy mechanic.

Much of this has been inspired by Orzel's excellent ideas for the new Ranger. I too agree with his dislike of favored enemies, but I have gone into more detail as to some actual class features that offer the great range of customization that seem to be the theme of DnD next, yet giving the ranger his own unique flavor. This is my first draft. I'm hoping to get lots of constructive criticism by more left brained people to bring the actual numbers in line (I'm all right brain creativity). Please tell me what you think and feel free to run with it, modify, and make your own spin on it.

My idea of a ranger is that of a tenacious, gritty, skilled hunter or green beret rather than a crusader of nature.  A person who isnt necessarily concerned with the welfare of the forest (though he can be), but motivated by any number of causes: perhaps they seek the destruction or harvest of particular people or creatures as a personal vendetta, or for monetary gain. They can be guides, navigators, subtle healers and party buffers.

Magic, reverence of nature and animal companionship seems more of the role of a druid. The choice of fighting styles (dual wielding OR bow only) also seemed forced. 

To me, a ranger is more like Grizzly Adams or an army Green Beret or navy Seal. I don't see rangers as being main combatants. Their damage comes not from power or skill like a barbarian, but from technique and knowledge; carefully studying their enemies. Like barbarians, rangers are tough, outdoorsy, and wily, but If barbarians are the muscle, rangers are the brain. They trade some damage for utility and survivability. The ranger should be one of the last to die and has several skills to allow him to do that.

As an alternative to magic and something more "Ranger-ish", I present the ability of "Pharmacopeia": the unique ability of rangers to use various herbs to increase their battle prowess or help their allies.

And instead of forcing a ranger into a battle style, I offer  a list of Cunning skills which are drawn from some of the fighter maneuvers and rogue tricks. He can now choose to be more offensive, defensive, stealthy, ranged, or melee.

Since rangers are technicians, their abilities are driven by skill dice. They have no martial damage dice like fighters. However, they follow the fighter progression in terms of hit dice, damage bonus, and hit bonuses.

For now, lets give them light and medium armor and all simple and martial weapons.

Here are the skills I propose.They are in no particular order.


Note: The numbers next to the skills are just to keep the presentation organized. They are not the proposed levels at which he should get those skills. Some of the skills are clearly very powerful and should be available at later levels. What those later levels are, I don't know. It would be arbitrary at this point. So I'll show you everything I've thought of so you have an idea.  Here's where I'm hoping some of you number crunchers can give some of their feedback.


1. Hunstmanship: The Ranger's repertoire of outdoor skills that allow him to safely reach his objectives.

Adds the skills survival and track, plus two skills from the hunstsmanship list. Adds ranger level to survival and track checks. Every (?) level adds one more hunstsmanship skill.

Ranger skills (huntsmanship):



gather rumors

handle animal






sense motive



use rope

2. Cunning: The Ranger's repertoire of skills that allow him to overcome enemies.

Pick one skill from the cunning list at level 1 and every (?) level. Since this version of the ranger has no martial damage dice, he can use his skill dice to power these skills, or a separate Cunning dice. But skill dice are lower than equivalent levels of martial damage dice.

quick reflexes#

great fortitude#

charm animals#

vanish 7th#

tumble #

detect noise#


precise shot#

rapid shot#


sneak attack#

defensive roll#

3. Weathered. The ranger has spent so much time outdoors that he can now  move normally through rough terrain, and is unnafected by temperature extremes (heat stroke, hypothermia, etc). Also, he has Advantage when making climb, swim, and jump checks. Also, dodge penalty to AC in medium armor is reduced.

4. Camouflage

The ranger can now hide under light obscurity.

5. Hide in plain sight

The ranger is a master of camouflage and can now hide anywhere, even in the middle of an empty room.

6. Vendetta. The ranger is a relentless and unforgiving opponent. If a creature damages the ranger for more than half his hp, his next attack has advantage on hit and damage

7. Find Weakness :

This is what would replace favored enemy. It is now more useful as its based off knowledge, and works with more creatures.

Adds skill die to hit, damage, and save rolls if that creature falls under the ranger's knowledge skill.  (Read the knowledge skills for the types of creatures listed). Humanoid knowledge falls under the Heal skill.

If its a very powerful, rare, or eccentric version of that creature, the dm may require a knowledge check for the ranger to figure out that creature.

8. Stalking: In the absence of prior knowledge, careful observation can reveal his target's weaknesses. The ranger can observe a creature as an action(the ranger can move and make reaction rolls but not standard actions).. Every round of observation allows a wisdom check with a dc of 10 plus the creature level. if successful, the ranger gains the find weakness ability to that creature only. This can be done hidden or while in combat and will obviously benefit rangers who go into stealth.

This skill is in place so as not to punish rangers who do not have the knowledge skills for every single creature. Mostly to help low level rangers. It's trade off is that it only works on one creature at a time and uses up at least one round.

9. Tenacity

: The ranger has become so tough and mentall driven that if he dies, he automatically stabilizes and eventually returns to 1 hp.

10. Wily : The ranger is clever, perceptive, and resourceful.  He is also screwed with stat allocation as rangers need strength or dex, AND wisdom and in most cases constitution to be effective. His animal charms and intimidation are charisma skills. Searching for clues is Int based. Rangers seem to need every stat. Let's loosen the reliance on stats a bit. The Ranger's wisdom and common sense helps him in other ways. Hence:

He can swap his Dexterity bonuses with his Wisdom bonuses for purposes of saves, ranger skill dex checks (sneak, balance), initative bonus, and Dexterity bonus to AC. This helps balance out their stat allocation and especially helps melee rangers.

Also, he can use his wisdom in place of charisma for charisma checks to creatures affected by his Find Weakness skill (bluff, intimidate, persuade, etc) and use Wisdom for search checks.

If he is caught off guard, he can also spend skill die to be unsurprised.

11. Saving throws

Due to their resilient nature, I'm looking for some kind of bonus to saves. So far, I have three ideas:

1. He can spend his skill dice to add to a saving throw.

2. His "weathered" skill adds a bonus or flat damage resistance to fire, frost, lighting, and poison.

3. He can have a saving throw bonus (skill die) to creatures under his Find Weakness ability (similar to Orzel's idea).

12. Pharmacopeia. The signature ranger ability that sets him apart from other classes and gives him his own style and usefulness.

As the ranger goes about his adventures, he picks herbs, mushrooms, roots, scorpion glands, fungi, and other reagents. This is assumed to be automatic.

During a rest, he prepares them the way a wizard prepares spells, concocting preparations to aid him and his allies in the hunt. Like spells, he has slots in which to use those abilities. Perhaps he has one slot at lv 1 and gains a new slot every (?) levels or starts out with all his slots already (?) He can use his herbal abilities a certain number of times per day (like a wizard's spells). I think the abilities match and complement this ranger theme of natural wisdom combined with resilience and determination.

Pharmacopeia abilities:

Envenom: The ranger poisons his weapon, lasting (?) rounds and doing bonus damage equal to his ranger level (or adds skill dice to damage, or 1d6 every 2 levels, or whatever).

Antidote: taken if poisoned. Either clears the poison or grants a bonus to save.

Healing salve: Acts as a healing potion. Scales with level.

Herbal Stimulant (coca leaf?!): Adds an additional attack every round for (?) rounds and perhaps a movement increase.

Pain suppressant: Reduces damage taken and/or allows one to fight past 0 hp until it wears off.

Frenzied concoction: Target is immune or has a bonus to fear and mind affecting effects. 

Blinding powder: Target rolls a save or is blinded.

Sedative: Target rolls a save. If he fails, he is sedated and is more succeptible to charm, persuasion, bluff, etc). Nice synergy w rogues.

Paralyze: Obviously a very high level poison.

Intoxicated: A nauseous poison that grants the intoxicated condition.



I'll have a go at the ranger.

The ranger can be like the rogue -- a fighting class with skills.
The ranger would not have magical powers but rather knowledge of nature, herbs, survival in the wilderness.
Like all rogue-type classes, the ranger prefers leather armor, projectiles, and light fast weapons.

The ranger has the advantage of speed, multiple attacks, attack and hide.

The ranger's speed would be more than other classes and increase as the ranger levels-up.
As the ranger levels-up, the ranger would be awarded more main and off-hand actions than other classes.

Close Quarters Manuever (ranger attacks at advantage, attackers attack at disadvantage)

Thrown or Projectile Weapons Bonus

Sneak Attack Maneuver
Craft Poison Salve
Craft Sleeping Salve

Dodge Reaction
Hide Reaction

Gather Rumors
Knowledge Nature
Knowledge Survival

Cure Wound(Craft Salve)
Neutralize Poison(Craft Potion)

Hide in Shadows(Craft Camo)
Climb/Balance(Use Rope)

Bind Target
Escape Binds

Stalk Target
Ambush Target
Craft Trap
Disable Device

Build Shelter(for a party of 4)
Forage Food(food and water for 1 day for a party of 4)
Handle Animal

My D&D5E JavaScript Roll Tracker


I don't know...  I'm not going to argue about MDD vs skill dice given that those mechanics are being changed, but he still doesn't feel very rangery to me.  He feels more like a rogue with a few fighter maneuvers, plus pharmacopeia and find weakness.  I'm on the fence about whether I think pharmacopeia makes sense as a ranger ability, particularly a mandatory one (Aragorn knew a lot of herblore, but should every ranger?), and I'm not at all a fan of your favored enemy mechanics.  They pretty much force rangers to take training in as many monster knowledge skills as possible, and they're much too powerful (at the very least drop the bonus to hit, probably saves, and require an actual knowledge roll for every monster).  It seems to me that the coolest thing about Orzel's reimagining of favored enemy is not that it was broadened to come up more often, it's that shifting the frame of reference completely changes (and improves) the flavor of the mechanic.  Whether it's bonuses vs elves or humanoids, he still just feels like a racist to me.  He has trained to fight better against X creatures, but what does that mean?  It could mean almost anything, so it means next to nothing.  It's abstract and flavorless.  Orzel's idea was to shift the frame of reference.  Sure, he trained to fight dragons, but he did so by learning to predict their breath weapons so now he has a bonus to saves against those (even those of chimera), and by learning techniques to deal with much larger creatures whose traditional vitals are out of your reach, techniques that are applicable beyond dragons.  It gives a real sense of what it takes to be an expert dragonslayer.  This mechanic doesn't do that.  

I would also replaced weathered with a favored terrain ability that would provide similar sorts of benefits but in a narrower specialty: immunity to hypothermia only for rangers that trained in cold environments, and give them icewalk, and immunity to heatstroke for rangers that grew up in deserts and let them go twice as long without water and such.  After all, the skills for surviving a frozen tundra are almost completely different from the skills for surviving a desert, so why should you get both just for being outdoorsy?  Besides, I think it's much more flavorful and gives space for customization.  Although I think the benefits of each should be sufficiently applicable outside their favorite terrain that you aren't gimped for choosing the wrong one for this campaign.  
Rangers are in a bad place.  They are part rogue, part fighter, and part druid.  The only really unique or defining feature about them is they are good trackers.  So...

Tracker (level 1): You gain advantage on any tracking check.

Spot Weakness (level 1): You can spend an action studing a target.  You then gain advantage on your attacks against that target for 10 minutes.  You can know as many weaknesses as your Int mod (minimum one).

That would be the 2 core features.  You can expand on it, including options for animal companions.

You start with 1 knack, at level x,y,z  choose an extra knack.

Share Weakness: When you spot a weakness, you can tell your allies about it.  They gain advantage against the target as well.
Spot Vulnerability: When you spot a weakness, you can roll your martial damage dice twice.
Spot Resistance: When you spot a weakness, you know any resistance and vulnerability the target has.
Spot Senses: When you spot a weakness, you gain advantage when hiding from your target.
Spot Strenth: When you spot a weakness, the target gains disavantage on melee attacks against you.
Memory for weakness: Your spot weakness last for 8 hour, and you can remember twice the number of weaknesses.
Animal Companion: You can train an animal to be your compainion.
Pack Master: You can train 2 animals to be your companion.
Super Tracker: Maximize your skill dice when tracking.
Herbalist: You can find herbs to make a healing kit in 8 hours.  Your DM may modify this depending on your enviroment. 

5e houserules and tweaks.

Celestial Link Evoking Radiance into Creation

A Party Without Music is Lame: A Bard

Level Dip Guide


4e stuff

List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

The OP ranger feels more like the assassin class than a ranger. Assassins are the "poison experts", which was a key focus in OP. I'd probably scratch the original intent and tweak this to be an assassin rogue scheme.

Magic Dual Color Test
I am White/Green
I am White/Green
Take The Magic Dual Colour Test - Beta today!
Created with Rum and Monkey's Personality Test Generator.
I am both orderly and instinctive. I value community and group identity, defining myself by the social group I am a part of. At best, I'm selfless and strong-willed; at worst, I'm unoriginal and sheepish.
Sign In to post comments