To me, the D&D Next Ranger's design is not ambitious enough

To me, the current D&DN Ranger's design suffers from the flaw of not being ambitious enough. I reported so. What follows mirrors much of the feedback I provided in the DDN survey, but I wanted it to have more visibility.

I've been playing a ranger for a long time. 2nd edition, 3rd edition I touched the class, though the majority of my time with it was on persistent worlds (private campaign servers) in the Neverwinter Night games - periods in which my ranger was not played through sessions, but actively lived in a game world... and I had to roleplay such a life. Mechanically, I found the class had a lot of constraints/lots of ways bringing its advantages to the fore was made difficult.

One thing that jumped to my mind most strongly as being very defining of what kind of wilderness warrior a ranger was came from one of Paul Kidd's Greyhawk books, his ranger character - the Justicar - says the following:

"If you want to fight evil, first study!"

To me, this has defined the ranger in a new light, and one which D&D as a game system failed to adequately deliver.

Currently, the fighter outfights the ranger everywhere the ranger was classically good at (dual wielding, archery), the rogue has better synergy with being stealthy, and the spell-like abilities are very lackluster in comparison to the Druid's, and will bring little that another caster in the party couldn't have had. D&DN Ranger's Favored Enemy feature is a big jump in convenience over what came previously. The implementation appears superior. However, the improvements stop about there, despite the promise.

A glowing example I have in my head of the potential this could have is... sort of like the Dragon Slayer kit in 2nd Edition D&D. Where an extremely skilled warrior knew how to hit a dragon where it would hurt, either by striking the wings to hinder flight, or being able to pull such tricks as striking its gullet to prevent the use of dragonbreath (amongst other things).

When I think of a person whom studies his enemies in order to find the best ways to fight them, mitigate qualities and exploit/create weaknesses, the Dragon Slayer kit stood as a great example. D&DN Ranger comes closer than it ever had before, but still not close enough.

The other problem of the D&DN Ranger is one in which the Ranger has always kind of defied logic: if a ranger knows how to fight against an opponent, why can't he communicate it to the rest of his party?

What is the ranger's ability to know his enemy and better fight him enabled him to competent with the sheer talent at weapon wielding that the Fighter has... but that a ranger next to a fighter becomes a force multiplier for his companion? That the fighter, along with calls and suggestions from his ranger ally, could prove even more devastating to his target?

D&DN Ranger's abilities are in majority purely self-oriented and I strongly feel it should not be so. He ought to be able to do something, perhaps akin to a 4th edition warlord's abilities, to improve how well his companions perform against their opponents. Classically, wisdom matters to notice things and for spellcasting, but just how much is it defining to the ranger... really?

Think of the following:

Since knowing about monsters is tied to knowledge, I would challenge the perception that a ranger "intelligence" score would not be very defining. Is it not tied to monster lore checks? In fact, could mechanical support with lore checks be given regarding fighting favored enemies? The ability to direct his allies mid-fight ("Aim the wings! Ground it!") could also make charisma matter more.

Favored Enemy progression could be more granular over the levels rather than on 1, 2 and 8. Perhaps not establish them as finite and treat them more in the same fashion as wizard spells. Consider short rests as the ideal periods for a ranger to recall the tricks he knows and keep them in mind for the next encounter. In fact, short rest periods or any downtime is the ideal period roleplay-wise for the ranger to gather his allies, and coach them about what they could do in the next fight.

I've heard of people being impressed with features such as taking half-damage from giants, but what if, in communicating that, the ranger could help one of his allies 'dodge' and only take half damage in the same fashion? Not only would that make sense (provided it could be implemented in a balanced fashion) but it would drastically increase the survival of the people under the ranger's watch.

D&D is a game where shared victories are generally the best ones. The rangers may be a resourceful survivalist, but despite that he couldn't do anything on his own. But in the company of an adventuring party, he could guide them to their intended objective and help them accomplish with more ease what would've been more harrowing without him. The ranger's usefulness as an enabler would be unquestioned, and his place in an adventuring party and his competitiveness neither put in doubt.

I very much want the D&D Next Ranger to be more like this. What about you?
I'd also like to see the ranger's abilities expanded. My thoughts upon seeing the favored enemy abilities go something like this: "That's nice, but what else?" I dislike that you are locked into a certain path (at levels 1, 1, 2, 8). I would much rather see favored enemy abilities structured like the old maneuver system, in which you select an ability from a list every few levels.

Additionally, the favored enemy abilities are extremely wordy and overly specific. For example:
  Slayer of the Colossus (2nd Level): If you
damage a creature with an attack but do not
reduce it to 0 hit points or fewer, you deal 1d6
extra damage to that creature the next time you
deal damage to it before the end of your next
turn.


Makes my eyes glaze over. Why not:
  Slayer of the Colossus (2nd Level): You
deal 1d6 extra damage to any creature you have
successfully damaged during the previous round.




Veggiesama : Because that's NOT what SotC does! SotC gives you 1d6 extra damage on your next attacks in the SAME round, if you hit a creature and it's still above 0hp.

But the Devs have said that the Ranger is nowhere near done atm.
Veggiesama : Because that's NOT what SotC does! SotC gives you 1d6 extra damage on your next attacks in the SAME round, if you hit a creature and it's still above 0hp.




Wrong. It clearly states "before the end of your next turn". It's essentially +1d6 damage per turn, as long as you hit the enemy on the previous turn.

Apr 11, 2013 -- 6:38PM, Ashardis wrote:

Veggiesama : Because that's NOT what SotC does! SotC gives you 1d6 extra damage on your next attacks in the SAME round, if you hit a creature and it's still above 0hp.





Wrong. It clearly states "before the end of your next turn". It's essentially +1d6 damage per turn, as long as you hit the enemy on the previous turn.


Sorry, I was wrong
Heh, I think you both are right, actually. If a ranger is doing TWF:

Round one
Main: HIT
Off: HIT + 1d6 dmg

Round two
Main: HIT + 1d6 dmg
Off: HIT + 1d6 dmg

Round three
Main: MISS
Off: HIT + 1d6 dmg

Round four
Main: MISS
Off: MISS

Round five
Main: HIT
Off: HIT + 1d6 dmg, etc.
TWF is a pretty good way of boosting the Ranger's DPS because of that feature alone. And I love your example, it clearly states all possibilities during combat

I do hope they are not done with the class. It feels a little bit lackluster to me, even with this shiny new Favored Enemy. I do hope that, if they choose to keep the Exploration Rules, that the Ranger gains something that relates to them (the ability to take more than one task at a round with no penalty, for example). That sounds very ranger-y to me.
For precision's sake, the direction I was trying to go with this topic wasn't clarification so much as rendering the D&DN Ranger's Favored Enemy capabilities more ambitious. I referenced the "Dragon Slayer kit"... but by it, I didn't mean the current "Dragon Slayer"favored enemy feature we see presently.

What I meant was the Dragon Slayer kit from D&D 2nd edition, which appeared in Council of Wyrms, and one of the 2nd edition monster manual... kits being ways to tweak and specialize certain classes.

The only vestige of that I could find online was the Undead Dragon Slayer, which sadly is a bit too overpowered to stand as a good example... but it does hold a slew of capabilities which were what I was pointing more at. Resistance to Fear, Wing Attack, Breath Stun and Breaching Strike are all abilities I find fairly inspiring and potentially useful against more than one monster. Those are active abilities, which in my mind show far more that the ranger character knows how to deal with his opponents and when used can provide this cinematically appeal as well.

This appeals to me, because in many ways D&D is a game which is about delivering epic moments that we get to remember for a long time. Nothing about simply 'Fearless', 'Slayer of the Colossus' and 'Evasion' say that to me.

I'm also keen on offering the ability to lend party members in the Ranger's party those same advantages. In a sense, giving the ranger the ability within his turn to make someone act, or to be able to confer an ability while out of his turn. Like, using up an opportunity action to yell out "It's about to breathe, take cover!" and wham, you confer Evasion to your friends. Or "Shoot the wings, ground it" to allow an ally to do a Wing attack that'll force the winged creature to always end its fly movement on the ground. "Be brave!" to bolster a friend whom failed his save against fear to get a reroll.

...

I'm only bringing up Dragons because they're a convenient example, but it needn't be only them, or Giants, or Brutes. Some knowledge could concern specific kinds of monsters. Take Kobolds, for example. A ranger about to face kobolds could recall that they're sensitive to light and that they are fond of pack tactics. Said rangers recalling that could very well be able to nullify the pack attack bonus (or confer it to an ally temporarily with a "Look out, they're ganging up on you!") as well as perhaps find ways to use a light source (shove a torch inbetween the kobold and he) to give said kobold the attack disadvantage.

So, what could that entail?

I'm picturing the ranger would have two ways of using such knowledge. The first is in combat - you don't always have the benefit of preparation, even if you know about monsters. The adventurers wander into an ambush and kobolds jump out *gasp* and when it's the ranger's turn to act he makes an attempt to size up one of his opponents with the appropriate dice roll if need be. "You recognize a kobold" the DM goes, explains briefly some background stuff, and outline the two tricks the ranger can use and goes "pick one". After all, the ranger is just remembering this on the fly. PC ranger picks countering against Pack Tactics and it might pay off during that encounter.

After the encounter the ranger can fill in his friends on what kobolds are, and fill them in with advice against kobolds, going on what he remembers from his lore check to end up using more of the tricks he recalls. The number of tricks the ranger would be able to keep in mind could be tied t 'every 4 ranger levels' and/or his intelligence modifier. Maybe he could replace one trick by the ability of doing something like Deadly Strike once per turn - if you know the monster very well, it seems synergetic to be able to hit it where it hurts.

From that point, the party members end up being ready to act on the advice of the ranger, and the ranger can prompt them to do so (in a semi-leader-like fashion) in the next encounters.

If it ends up being another monster than a kobold that shows up (say, a giant spider), the advice he gave his buddies might not apply, and the ranger would need to again 'size up' his opponent on the fly. And after the fight, he'd have to decide on what he wants to be concerned about: is he worried about the kobolds, or more giant spiders?

* * *

Another point I think is worth exploring is the possibility for the ranger to prepare far more ahead of time. Know more tricks, better tricks against monsters he'd study in advance. The Wizard has his spell list, with the ability to scribe scrolls and even spell research... and monster research could very well be an equivalent. As in:

Ranger PC: "This balor is at the root of all of our problems, so, when we're going to face up against him I want to know as much about him as I can."

The DM then can have the ranger pay for his research/study on said monster. Part of it, like wizard spells, could come from level progression. The other part would be an investment. What that might result in could be circumstancial lore check bonuses in the next encounters against Demons. It could involve knowing about the death throes of a Balor and getting the benefits of "no damage on a successful saving throw, half on a failed one". And the ranger player gets to write it on his sheet, just like a wizard would write down a new spell.
I think you are not just describing the ranger, but any well-prepared adventurer with some foresight.
I don't think so.

There's aptitude and talent behind that too. Just a different kind. The fighter hones his skill with arms in his free time. The rogue perfects his abilities - amongst which often includes subterfuge and the skill to pass unnoticed. The cleric trains himself and grows in his faith. The wizard increases his understanding of arcane knowledge.

And the ranger learns how to better deal against danger. He's described as an hunter, so he has the ability to bring down prey (and finds ways to, with dangerous quarries), he's a guide and that implies knowing things others do not, and he's a tracker, which implies being able to find things through the study and understanding of signs.

Being a ranger is very much about knowing things only the ranger as a class archetype means to build his success around knowing. Other classes can try, but few will have his talent, just as few will manage the prowess of casting magic except those truly in the know about it, or wielding a sword as well as a fighter, or hitting at that choice spot as well as the Rogue.

Preparation certainly counts for other adventurers, but it takes other shapes. Loading up with the appropriate gear, carrying/making the right wands and potions, preparing the best spells for the day.  A wizard or a sage could very well also do research to know about something in particular (a monster's nature, a demon's true name, etc...) That's how it tends to show.... by contrast the Ranger could have his own way of dealing with such regarding his own class mechanic. In his own way, he could promoted as being very effective at it.

And the beauty in that also that the ranger could have these benefits, shine for it, and not conflict or take away from another class in doing so.
I agree that this is a good direction for the Ranger. It was bothering me that they had very few active abilites from their class, led to some pretty boring combat. This idea fits in well with the idea of a Ranger being a guide.
Very compelling take on the Ranger, Zoberraz.

  At the risk of starting a Warlord-post-tornado, I'm curious if a background could accomplish what you're suggesting for the Ranger?
  At current, of course, none of the backgrounds could accomplish this, but if the support abilities of the Warlord could somehow be packaged into a background/specialty (meaning all backgrounds would need to be a bit stronger to balance, I suppose), the same (or a similar) background might allow Rangers to share their enemy knowledge in a meaningful way.
  There are far too many 'if's there, I know, but it would be a valid option if executed properly. 
I agree that while the ranger may not be underpowered, it is a bit lackluster.  However, I think that favored enemy as the defining characteristic of the class is wierd.  When I think of a ranger (like Aragorn or Drizzt or even Rambo) I think of a versatile, self-sufficient, gurilla tactics kind of warrior.  I think part of the problem, as was pointed out, is that you can already build this kind of character from a rogue or a fighter.  

My thought was to swap out Favored Enemy for Favored Enviornment like Forest or Icelands or Plaines or Caves.  It would still have some of the same feel, where you get some perminant bonuses no matter what environment you are in.  But if you happen to be in your favored environment then you can do a lot more "one man army" type stuff.
Why not give BOTH favored enemy AND favored environment. It makes a lot of sense. A mountain based Red Dragon has different habits than a swamp based black dragon. You can also tie in a lot of benefits that way. The mountain ranger knows how to climb easier and get above Red Dragons and the swamp ranger knows how to hide even in knee deep sludge to the point of invisibility.

The favored environment should also either give automatic advantage to wisdom/perception checks, or a sizeable bonus. After all, they would be the best to know how to lay traps in these regions.

I would also allow them to gain aditional racial/environment benefits through level progression, maybe one at 7 and 15. You get better at travels.
Why not give BOTH favored enemy AND favored environment. It makes a lot of sense. A mountain based Red Dragon has different habits than a swamp based black dragon. You can also tie in a lot of benefits that way. The mountain ranger knows how to climb easier and get above Red Dragons and the swamp ranger knows how to hide even in knee deep sludge to the point of invisibility.

The favored environment should also either give automatic advantage to wisdom/perception checks, or a sizeable bonus. After all, they would be the best to know how to lay traps in these regions.

I would also allow them to gain aditional racial/environment benefits through level progression, maybe one at 7 and 15. You get better at travels.




That sounds pretty good actually.  It makes sense that there would be some interesting synergies between the two of them.  
The Bounty Hunter and Guide backgrounds contain the necessary skills and traits to gain the feel of a traditional ranger. The separation of skills from class is one factor making the ranger feel like it is missing some thing.
Another dilution of ranger theme is in that -everyone- learns from the monsters they fight.  They might learn different things, but it is still quite easy to pick and choose abilities that thematically reflect the source of your xp.  Which is great, overall.  But a side effect is that the ranger can't -really- claim to be specialized at learning from encounters with nature, monsters, etc.  Everybody else learns from directly from those encounters just as well.
To me, the ranger was always the "metagame" warrior. Pretty good in most situations but the best in a few particular one. They are specifically trained for or have adapted themselves based on knowledge of an particular enemy or terrian.

I would be okay with having multiple favored enemies and environment but I fear how complex that could be.
I sould be fine with them gaining knew konwledge bonuses as they leveled though.

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!

[...]  But a side effect is that the ranger can't -really- claim to be specialized at learning from encounters with nature, monsters, etc.  Everybody else learns from directly from those encounters just as well.



Dungeons & Dragons has faced greater bounds of logic. Anyone can gain levels and learn how to give most convincing peptalks, but the 4E warlord was the only class that was able to give say something inspiring and make the people so bolstered regain a hefty amount of hitpoints.

I would be okay with having multiple favored enemies and environment but I fear how complex that could be.  I would be fine with them gaining knew knowledge bonuses as they leveled though.



Hey Orzel.

I think the situation the developpers wanted to avoid was seeing a ranger not end up being only 'cool' in a select number of opportunities. The way the playtest is leaning, I'd say I like the general direction. I just tihnk it could be pushed further. I'm particularily keen on the 'party usefulness' angle, hence my approach.

The other supposedly significant class feature the ranger has aside from the thematic (though not altogether wow-ing) bits and pieces is its spell list. A very stunted, miserable looking spell list at that. Starting casting those spells earlier is a definite boon, but it doesn't mean the feature has an enduring presence for the class and the usefulness of its role.

Note that I wasn't wild about the 4th edition choice to make Rangers purely martial. I resented the removal of the more obvious ties to nature the ranger had through his spellcasting. Though, I'd honestly ask the question: how often has the ranger's ability to cast spell been a significant class asset to the table? Parties in general will boast equal level dedicated spellcasters whom will greatly overshadow his ability. How often has a ranger's buffs been snobbed in favor of using the wizard's/cleric's/druid's better, more powerful and longer lasting one? Or spells which simply lacked in enough power to gainfully contribute to a high-level encounter by contrast of the actions of his compatriots?

One could argue that everybit helps, but I don't think many ranger players is such situations enjoy being overshadowed so even so there could be clever ways to apply this spell or that. Why couldn't it be more obvious? More vicarously rewarding?

So, despite what I said about my not liking how ranger 'nature power' got squeezed out in 4th edition, I have to say I actually enjoyed the way Utility powers got implemented. The 2nd-level Crucial Advice was one of my big favorites, as it could be a life savior on important skill checks that I happened the share (not to mention it went well with my ideas of ranger's as 'unparalleled' guides too). Later, they started adding primal powers in that utility list and most of my misgivings on the matter went away when I got to raise big leafy walls. My ranger then once again felt like he had strong ties to nature.

So, I bring up this idea: why not ditch the spell list in favor of a series of powers/passive abilities more along the lines of what the Ranger could have in 4E with that mix of martial and primal sources? Then bring into this the thematic flavor of the 'favored environment' notion raised earlier in this thread. Basically, the ranger's nature magic would be the bonus features confered to him through his favored environment, rather than a limited vancian spell list.

That way we could get this ranger whom has mountains as his favored environment. His passive abilities could include ease at climbing, like our friend above suggested (and climbing gets to be potentially useful to the ranger elsewhere, especially if he gets to be able to communicate it in a fashion similar to the crucial advice utility power I pointed at earlier). His ties to mountains could provide other powers whom might ease other dangers like falling, or uncanny ways to get past obstructions. It could include defensive abilities such as resistances to fire (I'm thinking about the red dragon analogy here) and so forth.

Having swamps could involve being able to hide in low cover, and perhaps sneak at a fair pace despite being crouched down/crawling prone. Swamp often being places of rot and diseases, the ranger could have ways to resist, or know of hedgemagic to cleanse someone (or food) from such disease. Perhaps 'freedom of movement' related stuff to not get bogged down in a fashion that'd help a ranger survive getting bogged down (quicksand traps?) and help him and his friends get out. Or have a way to move past dangerously slippery terrain. Certainly some of this is bound to be useful elsewhere too semi-frequently ("Ice bridge over a chasm? Don't worry, we're okay. I have just the nature charm for it - learned it not to fall from slippery rocks, but I bet it'd work for this too.")

Then you get forests, plains, caves... aaannnd as the ranger gains in levels he could possibly gain a suite of passive and active abilities being mechanically closer to the way the monk-class works rather than being a hybrid caster.
I don't think rangers will get the page count for that. This is one of the reasons why they have spells now. They can sell spells with druids, clerics, and wizards. I don't think there is a ranger lover high enough in the design team to get 6+ favored enemies and 6+ favored environments AND detail them to a ranger fans specifications.

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!

Traditionally, D&D classes are designed as spotlight characters. Each class gets to shine at different stage of the game. The last edition switches to a teamwork focused system. Everyone can contribute at most situation.

A group friendly ranger is an excellent fit. However, plenty of players still want to play the solo loner in a supposely group game.
Giving it some thought, I think the biggest way to give rangers their class identity is to have them environment focused and trap focused. Minimize their magic abilities or remove them outright, and have them rely on traps and bonuses to aid them in their environment. Something like favored terrain can really help them greatly and having rangers give bonuses to their team in their favored terrain makes a lot of sense. Now they don't keep from slipping on ice because of magic, but because they hone and train their craft in the snowy tundra. This is, of course, a skill they can pass onto others though momentarily.

This makes even more sense if you let them use traps. Going back to the Red Dragon in the mountains analogy, the Dragon Slaying Ranger knows how to fight dragons not mainly by smacking it really hard in weak spots only he would know, but by being able to lure its target into an area where it can control. Maybe a place where a boulder trap can come by and damage its wings to make it unusable for some time. Or a place with a log used as a spear trap that is coated in a poison that can paralyze dragons. Of course these would be higher level skills (and would probably require multiple people), but thematically it makes a lot of sense and gives the ranger real identity. Leave the magic for Druids, Have rangers basically be the brains of the A-team.

Mechanically, there wouldn't be much change to do this. Something like:

Allow me to throw it out there: The D&D Ranger as the Blue Mage. What if the ranger learned his special powers only after being exposed to them (or otherwise learning how to counter them)?

For instance, after facing the red dragon, he learns how to concoct a brew that mimics the explosive power of the dragon's fire. Or instead learns how to resist the dragon's breath by developing fire resistance.  These powers could be granted through DM fiat (in a similar way to how wizards are granted scrolls) or simply gained by levels and then chosen from a list.

I absolutely despise the idea that a ranger has to "pick a path" at level 1 and consult the table to see what he gets next level. I would rather see something much more variable, fluid, and adaptable, like a system of maneuvers or feats that can be obtained rapidly. I would like to see horizontal progression (more broad skill set) rather than a strictly vertical progression (where every higher level spell is better than lower level spells).
Encounters on DnD don't really support the blue mage system. Many times, you will not see the same boss esque enemy more than once. It really just makes more sense that while spending time in the wild, the ranger learns how to live in said wilderness (favored environment). Also, while surviving in said wilderness, he learned how to survive against the apex predator of his choice from said wilderness (favored enemy).
There's a flaw in that, though. It's irrealistic to have the ranger rise to this kind of potential when the spotlight needs to be shared with other people. Nor will the majority of the encounters at a table fall inside that convenient net.

I won't deny that the trap aspect is laudable. But it's hard to run encounter based on trap-laying when the majority of what adventuring is about actually has a PC party aggressively advance - many encounters have unknowns and are seldom fought with things in favor of the PCs.

That's a normal design element, mind you. DM and encounter design needs ways to challenge player and present adversity which is rewarding to surmount.

Of course, an NPC ranger is a once-off encounter against PCs or an ally whom is assisting them in a rare defensive situation could make a good showing of that... but it can't be the norm for adventuring PCs. Therefore, it's likely not a good class mechanic to consistently rely on.

I'm all for favored environment having a valuable impact. I definitely took a liking to what you suggested in post #14. I'm also not too fond of the ranger's spellcasting list, so I do think the favored environment is a great medium to give the ranger a suite of extraordinary, supernatural and spell-like abilities reinforce both his expertise and his ties with nature - preferably in ways that can still be applied even outside his chosen venue.
The favored environment mechanic alone should be enough to give the ranger spotlight with a team. The trap mechanic is essentially a bonus. Even if aggressive parties never benefit from traps, it's there. More prudent and strategic teams will be able to have this option. The tactic is actually so specific that it doesn't bother balance. It barely helps combat, and can help define specific encounters. The DM can make invovling Ranger rivals, or the entire party can have an event around making traps and defending something. Things like layered defenses where people fall back are possible in defending a town. Similar to stories like robin hood where they whittle away escorts and attackers to give the peasants a chance to survive.

Yes, it is a rare skill, but one that can be used in places like caves and forest too. You can use it to secure an exit. You can use it to whittle a goblin clan's size. You can't use it in actual combat, but if you use the camouflage ability to scout ahead, small traps can be used fairly easily in standard dungeons. Even two goblins that trip and lose their turn having to stand is a sizeable advantage.

Overall, it's nothing but a mechanic that helps those that want to use it, and can be ignored by those who really don't care. I don't see how this is bad. At the very least, this can be the basis of dungeon traps against npcs.

And I'm not saying remove the favored environment for this mechanic. Just give both to them. Environment mechanic does little for actual combat, as does the trap mechanic. But both combined is fairly sizeable for class features on top of everything already included.
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