Probably I'm not the best user to make this handbook, but since Ranger is the only Core-Class that, 7 years after 3.0 come to light, still haven't one, I'd decided to make it by myself.
If you find grammar, orthography or concordance failures in the text (I'm sure there's a lot), please PM me.
Thanks to everyone that is helping to make reality this handbook, with advices, suggestions or simply posting comments: Archerpwr, Bergtann, BlackBladeJimmy, carnivore, cyberpunks, danisheraser, Dictum Mortuum, DrowVampyre, Eldariel, Lael, Ganbor, Khaim, MageOfGeno, Mikron, Nightshade, ninjarabbit, Optimator, OzyBurrfoot, Revan54115110, Shadow_Fox_Deepwood_Arche, Shadow_Viper, SpartanMD, Surreal, TheioVrefos, true_shinken Very special thanks to The_Shaman for his brilliant thoughts about PrC.
Thank you very much to all.
The Ranger Handbook Finished. Last update 12-19-07
1) Ranger pros and cons Pros:
2 Good Saves
6+Int Skill points and a good skill selection
Lack of trapfinding ability (needed to wander in solitaire) and some others skills
Sub-optimal weapon styles
Restricted to only light armour
Stats intensive class
Medium HP (D8)
Some class features comes to late to be useful
2) Ranger archetypes. Everyday I see a lot of threads asking about advice for 2-weapon killing-machines rangers. Let me clarify what a ranger is:
Who is the ranger? The ranger is the lone wolf in the party, the scout, the wild man. He's a warrior, the cool guy with 2 weapons, the I-can-do-by-myself man, the I-hate-you-(put a race here) killer.
Who is not the ranger?
The ranger isn't CoD-zilla. He is not a great spellcaster. He doesn't have destructive spells. He is not a tank. He isnt the guy who stops enemy axes with his chest. He is not the guy ho wake the dragon and say to him "You're gonna die now"
From the 4 core full BAB warriors (fighter, paladin, barbarian and ranger), the last is the most problematic to optimize.
Fighters are supposed to be great warriors with his chosen weapon against any enemy at every moment.(weapon specialization)
Barbarian are supposed to be great warriors with any weapon and vs any enemy at various moments (Rage)
Paladins are supposedly to be great warriors with any weapon against evil enemies, preferable outsiders and undead (aura, Smite, Lay on hands...)
Rangers are supposedly to be great warriors with every weapon at every moment, against certain enemies. (FE)
But in fact, rangers need to choose a weapon, and invest resources on it. Why? Because you must choose a weapon style. 2 weapons is a not optimized fighting style (discussed later) And archery... there's only 4 types of bow, counting composite versions. So, in fact, we get a good warrior with a chosen weapon vs certain enemies... and that's hard to handle. That's why I'm going to rip the ranger into pieces, and discuss them separately.
Those roles are heavily dependant on stats, that's why we discuss them before anything. Physical stats are related to fighting style, and Mental to sub roles. Stats are listed in order of importance.
You can invest most of your money in only one weapon.
The lack of heavier armours is less important, since your not going to be in first line (usually)
The same for HP.
You can buff yourself with spells and the best bow spells are in the ranger spells list.
A few tips.
Ammunition: Most DM doesn't care, but, just in case, invest a few ranks in Craft (bower-arrow making) You don't want to found your quiver empty in the middle of a 12 level dungeon. If you can, buy a bag full of arrow tips (if possible, from different metals). It doesn't weight much, and probably you will need them to make your own arrows (crafting wood in a dungeon is easy, but metal is harder)
Arrange arrows: Codify your ammunition by feather colours AND scratches in his bottom. You don't want to waste by mistake silvered arrows against the golem, and you need to recognise them before drawing.
Versatility: Severe winds, darkness, close distances or narrow corridors can leave you useless. Always carry a backup weapon and a few light (preferibly throwing) weapons, like daggers, axes or light hammers
* Best secondary roles: Spellcasting and skillmonkey * Suggested Stats: Dex, Con, Str,
Can you imagine a Indian-like ranger wielding tomahawks? Sure you can. But there's a problem with characters like this. You must choose a weapon stile. If you want to focus on melee combat, you can choose 2 weapon fighting. But, if you want to focus into ranged combat, can you use the archery tree with ranged weapons? The answer is "NO". Why? Because manyshot. It makes sense that you can use that ability with any ranged weapon (see image for an example of how to use it), but the feat states that you can fire 2 arrows. There's not space for another tipe of weapon.
If you choose this path, you are wasting a bonus feat. But if you are going to take less than 6 levels of ranger, or you can ask your DM to allow other weapons, that can be a cool path to follow.
On the other hand, the only thing that keeps rangers at the level of a fighting class is the full BAB. And the worst problem in damage output that rangers have is to lose attacks per round. With this style, you can attack in melee, and if the enemy falls, you can use your remaining attacks in range. Or simply make a 5' step, to switch mode.
With quickdraw, 2 weapon fighting and rapid shot, at level 2 you can fight at -4 and make 2 melee attacks, make a 5' step, and throw a weapon.
This style can be pursued if you choose either archery or 2 weapon fighting. Simply, you must decide if are going to be most time in melee, or most time in ranged (but check about manyshoot with your DM first)
* Best secondary roles: Since a few ranged spells only work on bows, its suggested to take as sub-role skillmonkey or animal friend. * Suggested Stats: Dex, Con, Str,
Ahhhhh. The difficult path. Be sure about one thing before taking this one.
2 weapon fighting is less powerful than 2 handed
When you are allowed to AoO, you get 1 attack, not one with each hand. The Same when charge. You need 2 keen spells to affect your weapons, or 2 greater magic weapons spells. Damage reduction affects you twice. I you fight with medium weapons, you fight at -4. With power attack and 2HW, fighting at -4 means a +8 to damage. Etc, etc
Said that, 2WF is not an entirely waste. But you need a lot of extra damage, and a lot of feats.
There's a lot of threads about 2WF, so I only going to write some tips.
Use twin weapons. So you apply your feats (Improved critical, weapon focus, etc) to both.
Use light weapons or double weapons. The average damage output from a short sword is 3.5, and a longsword is 4.5. A -2 may be worth it,but -4 is too much penalty for an average +1 to damage.
Don't get mad. Most newbies dreams with making doubles attacks in charge, AoO, standard actions and full attacks. This is an error. You will need 7 feats to make it possible, (3 of them free, though) and you still will be behind a 2HW warrior (even if he doesn't invest the same amount of feats into improve his fighting style) Try to get damage bonus, not double attacks.
Get pounce ability from somewhere (as barbarian 1 in Complete Champion). A 16 level ranger making a charge without pounce makes 1 attack. A 16 level ranger with pounce makes 7 (or more, depending build). This ability is worth it.
Get extra damage. Favoured enemy, Skirmish, sneak attack, ability modifiers to to damage, elemental (flaming weapons...) You will need a lot of that, and ensure that this extra damage will apply against the broader kinds of enemies possible.
Be smart. Flanking bonuses applies to all your attacks. Aid another in attack does not. Place yourself into positions, where you get the most bonuses. Try to use the full attack action as much as possible. Is your enemy dies, make a 5' step, and continue attacking the next
Versatility: If you must invest resources into weapons, make sure that they max the benefits, not only in direct damage output. Morningstars and daggers had 2 different damage types. Daggers, light hammers, throwing axes and tridents can be used in melee or ranged (though with Gloves of Taarnahm the Vigilant (PGtF) you can make that last trick with any weapon)
* Best secondary roles: any, but maybe spellcasting and skillmonkey * Suggested Stats: Con, Dex or Str, depending on feats planed, like weapon finesse.
Most players forget about shields. But since Rangers have a low armour, It is a perfect supplement. With improved shield bash, and spiked shield, you can do the same damage output than if you were using a short sword, but gaining a few points to armour class. And if you face problems to hit some enemies, you can leave 2WF for a while, and fight normally.
At high levels, a shield spell from your wizard buddy, or a animated shield could be a better option, but still is a good option for non conventional rangers.
See above for 2WF hints * Best secondary roles: Since you need a free hand to cast spells, you can't buff yourself into the battle without being effectively disarmed. you must cast after or before the battle, so probably skillmonkey or animal friend are better options * Suggested Stats: Con, Str, Dex.
You don't need 4 arms to use 2 handed weapons with 2WF. There are a lot of weapons that allow you to wield them as off hand weapons (spiked armours, bladed-boots, etc) leaving your both hands free to use a 2 handed weapon and benefit from all the 2 handed tricks (like leap attack, etc)
Also, why not use a reach weapon? With this tactic, you effectively can attack enemies at 5' and 10' (or more). That's great at low levels against spellcasters, since they can't move 5' out of your reach to cast spells.
See above for 2WF hints * Best secondary roles: Any, but may be spellcasting and animal friend * Suggested Stats: Con, Str, Dex
The animal companion utility in combat varies in every encounter. Sure, he has little to do against a the campaign final foe, but against a large number of low level foes, he will shine. You must prepare in advance strategies against diferent kinds of enemies, and teach him how to react. Companions
Don't get blinded by the damage output. Most companions have special attacks (grapple, trip, rake, pounce, etc.) Even if some specific race have a little damage output, the special attacks may improve your damage potential. Some of them also have other capabilities (scent, blindsight, movement speeds, jump, etc)
Every time that a foe attacks your companion, is a hit less against you. Get companions with lots of hit points. But be careful against cleaving enemies.
Prepare strategies. Use your companion to flank against hard enemies. It will improve your hit chances. If you face a huge number of low level enemies, send him to help weak party members, or to disrupt enemy spellcasters, or to protect your back.
Try to improve his AC and saves.
As you gain ranger levels, your companion gain HD (meaning skill points and feats.) Maximize his senses skills (usually listen, spot and survival for scent). You can use spells in case you need to improve his stealth skills (or even potions). And choose wisely his feats (we will discus it later)
Teach your companion to use power attack feat. Against high AC enemies, your companion has little chances to hit unless he rolls a 20. Why not use full power attack?
Don't forget to teach tricks to your companion. Tricks can save your companion life, or your life.
From time to time, your companion will be useless against certain creatures (oozes, for example.) Teach him things to do in those situations (carry the light source, watch for more enemies, help to move away fallen comrades, etc)
This subrole is recommended to melee rangers.
Secondary roles Unless you somehow roll 18 for every stat, you probably will face 1 or 2 bad scores. Where to put them? Everywhere you place it, it would hurt you somehow. So probably, you must choose a subrole, and leave (by the moment) the others.
Listen and spot are vital to prevent ambushes or being surprised.
Hide and move silently are needed to scout (ad if you lack of them, you are wasting 2 useful class features like camuflage and HipS).
if you also want to track and comand your animal companion, you need survival and handle animal.
That make 6 skills that need to be maxed each level. And sure you need at least a few ranks in jump, tumble, concentration, etc.
If you select this subrole, I suggest to use a human, and put a 12 or higher on Int. or any other race and a 14 or more. * Remember that lost skill points are not recoverable. If you need, you can boost your any other mental stat (or even Str) later in your career. Also, if you plan to multi class to another class that give more sp per level, think seriously into choose it at first level
If you are going to leave this subrole...
and you choose archer style, max out hide (to make ambushes) and spot (you can't fire at an enemy that you can't see)
and you choose 2 weapon style, max out move silently and listen. You can cast swift invisibility if you really need it, or buy potions, and for daily scouting, you can hide into cover and cross enemy files when enemies are not looking at your position. (Like the old throw-a-stone trick). Also, listen is usefull whe you face invisible enemies
That will let you a few skill points to allocate freely.
You need at least a 14 to cast your maximum level spells. But since until level 4, you haven't any spellcasting ability, you can be tempted to put a dump stat here, and buy a Periapt of Wisdom later. Since most of your spell doesn't allow saving throws (meaning that the DC are not a problem), that is not a bad idea, but that will hurt your poor will save. Also, note that a 18 into Wis, until level 14, virtually doubles the number of spells per day available.
That subrole is more interesting to archers and for any build that uses 8+ ranger levels. Is also usefull for ocasional archers, who haven't the proper feats to make a good use of bows, but form time to time wants to make a good shoot, and less usefull for low level rangers or builds with 7 or less ranger levels.
It also have other uses. If you use the "summon specific creatures" alternative rule from de DMG, you can summon creatures to scout in advance, and summon then again to ask them (with speak to animals spell) what they found. Summoning a monkey can be a good strategy against doors you suspect that can have traps, or large corridors.
If you select this subrole, I suggest put a moderate score (10-12) to make spells available on the earlier levels, and get the most form your spells. Buy a Periapt, a few pearls of power, a wand of lesser extend, and a get practised spellcaster feat, and buff yourself all day.
If you are going to leave this subrole... put a dump score there, and buy a few levels later a Periapt.
Can't afford any of these options, but still want to cast spells? Take Ilumian as race.With the Krau sigil, you will gain a +2 to caster level, and with the proper other sigil, you can use Str or Dex for determining bonus spells. Also, you can take Sword of the Arcane Order feat (Forgotten realms only) to use Int, and cast arcane spells.
a fast low level adventure without continuation (not every one reaches level 20)...
A multiclassed ranger-paladin or sorcerer...
Take leadership, wild cohort, and/or dragon cohort feat
that subrole can be interesting.
Only handle animal and wild empathy get bonus from Cha. Until level 4 you haven't animal companion, but at low levels, a few war dogs are great bodyguards. At medium or high levels, animals, with his medium BAB and D8 HD, are not so great for fight.
What's the good part of this role? Having a lot of companions with you. If you can change any animal reaction to helpful, a encounter with a dire bear is great. Theres not much high CR animals, but the few available are cool. Have you ever dreamed to pet a tyrannosaurus? The chief use of this subrole, is to get a Marshall cohort (not necessarily humanoid.. can be a pixi, or a faerie dragon, or so) with the minor aura that boost damage when flanking... and be friend a swarm of animals.
Animals, even when they can't hit an opponent, or make some other useful task for you.
A poison snake can poison your arrows for your archer ranger.
A little monkey can retrieve axes or daggers for your thrower character. (Name it quickdraw free)
Any flying creature can carry a light for you to illuminate your enemies at a safe distance, (Name it darkvision) or recover your adamantine axes from inaccessible sites.
the limit is your imagination. Check this for more ideas or tips.
Most of them have LA 0. With any new book appears new races, so I can't list all of them. These races listed here are probably the most interesting for rangers, or the most used.
Azurin:[sup]MoI[/sup] (LA 0) No racial modifiers. Getting some minor abilities for the human racial +1 to skill points per level, Kinda meh if you ask me, but with a feat or two more (and the feat it gets) it can be pretty handy, say if you take Azure Enmity to pump a +2 or so to ALL bonuses you get vs ALL favoured enemies - an imo good feat for all incarnum-using rangers.
Bariaur:[sup]PH[/sup] (LA 1) +2 Str -2 Cha. This centaur-like outsider has spell resistance, dark vision, and some other bonuses. Also has ranger as favoured class.
Catfolk:[sup]RotW[/sup] (LA 1)+4 Dex, +2 Cha. Despite the +1 to LA, they get higher speed, ranger as a favoured class, useful ability modifiers and skills, and access to a great racial feat: catfolk pounce. If you can't afford to make a Barbarian 1 dip to get pounce, to avoid Xp penalty, this race is for you.
Duskling:[sup]MoI[/sup] (LA 0)+2 Con, -2 Int. A bonus to constitution is okay, a penalty to intelligence is sucky, but not such a big problem - think of them as a throwback to the 3.0 rangers with their 4 skill points and d10 hit die. The minor incarnum powers help, as does their racial ability to invest in their movement speed. This allows for some interesting multiclasses with their favourite class, the totemist (arguably the coolest of all incarnum classes, and shares an interest in nature and strange beasts with the ranger). Being fey is okayish imo, but the extraplanar subtype can mean a nasty Banishment spell from time to time.
Dwarves:[sup]PHB[/sup] (LA 0)+2 Con, -2 Cha. Darkvision, some Ac and attack bonuses against certain creatures, stability bonuses against poison and magic, the ability to detect by simply passing at 10' stone traps like a rogue, and some weapons proficiencies. Thats a good choice.
Wild Dwarves:[sup]RoF[/sup] (LA 0)Much like the Dwarves, but small size (+1 to attack and damage) and the Poison use ability.
Goliaths:[sup]PGtF[/sup] (LA 1) + 4 Str, +2 Con, -2 Dex. Powerful build... Do you need more reasons?
Gnomes:[sup]PHB[/sup] (LA 0) -2 Str +2 Con. Probably a bad choice, even with the speak to animals (only burrowing mammals), but the racial ranger levels are not so bad.
Whisper Gnomes:[sup]RoS[/sup] (LA 0) + 2 Dex and Con, -2 Str and Cha. Better than standard gnomes. They are faster, his spell-like abilities are much better, and they have some other bonuses to scouting (including darkvision and low light vision)
Halflings:[sup]PHB and FRCS[/sup] (LA 0) -2 Str +2 Con. Some nice bonuses. Strongheart halflings are really interesting option, due the bonus feat. Also, they make good mounted characters, due the use of animal companion and the halfling outrider PrC. And great for thrower characters
Human:[sup]PHB[/sup] (LA 0) + 1 Feat and +1 SP per level. Great for multi classing.
Ilumians:[sup]RD[/sup] (LA 0)they haven't racial modifiers, but the sigils can be interesting to ranger spellcasters. (RD)
Neraph:[sup]MotP[/sup] (LA 0) They can be a pretty decent ranger. While they tend to be extraplanar on the Prime Material, they can be pretty decent with charging (lion's charge, anyone) or thrown weapons, thanks to their racial camouflage feats. The +2 to natural armor - always cute for a LA 0 race - is also nice, as rangers tend to have poor AC and sometimes do get in combat. Great racial bonuses to useful skills, and a proficiency with a pretty wicked thrown weapon.
Shifters:[sup]RoE[/sup] (LA 0) + 2 Dex, -2 Int and Cha. Ranger as favoured class, shifting, and some cool ranger substitution levels.
Skarn:[sup]MoI[/sup] (LA 0)+2 Str, -2 Dex. Remember that rangers get their bonus feats regardless of the dexterity prerequisite, although of course good dexterity always helps. Still, the bonus to strength can be impressive if the DM allows you to use their spikes as an off-hand weapon in addition to a two-handed weapon you hold. TWF with a two-handed weapon and another weapon (armor spikes, blade boots, tail-based weapon if your character has a tail) is a good way to have your cake and eat it, too.
Tieflings:[sup]PGtF[/sup] (LA 0 variant) + 2 Dex and Int, -2 Cha. You get darkvision and a pair of horns. Not bad, after all, and open you the door to the outsider wings feat.
Wood elves:[sup]RoF[/sup] (LA 0) +2 Str and Des, -2 Con, and Int. They have racial bonus to the some ranger skills, that usually are confronted checks. In the long way, the human +1 SP per level is better, but add to it low-light vision, immunity to sleep, and the ability to detect secret doors. Its a valid option for melee characters, and open the gate to the ranger elven racial sustitution level.
Most of them have LA. Some also have racial HD. The good news is that not every racial HD is a waste. Dragons, monstrous humanoids and outsiders have full BAB and 2 or more good saves, and that, to a melee class, hurt much less than a spellcaster. And some racial abilities are good enough to consider tanking the race. If you want a exotic ranger, check these races.
Avariel:[sup]RoF[/sup] (LA 3)+4 Dex, +2 Int and Cha, -2 Con. Some skill bonuses and keen sight. And wings, of course. If your character start at medium levels and your Dm allow to pay in XP the LA, may be worth. Also can use elven ranger sub-levels.
Centaur:[sup]MM or SS[/sup] (ECL 8 or 0) +8 Str, +4 Dex, Con, +2 Wis -2 Int. Ranger as favoured class, huge stat bonuses, darkvision, natural armour, full racial HD BAB, 2 good saving throws, great base land speed... and a huge LA. Is not as bad for melee characters as it is for spellcasters, so you may want to try one. If you can use races form Savages Species you could avoid most of LA, and still get a lot of cool features.
Draconic template:[sup]DRC[/sup] (LA 1)+2 Str, Con and Cha. ): A boon to all warriors who do not mind the LA, this template is okay for rangers as well. Darkvision, natural weapons, and bonuses to two fairly useful abilities (str and con) as well as charisma make it an okay choice, and you get some minor additional goodies too. It also open you the door for the draconic aura feat.
Lizardfolk:[sup]MM[/sup] (ECL 3) +2 Str and Con -2 Int. TWF rangers might be pleased to know that they can qualify for multiweapon fighting, and that tail can hit something fierce with the right weapon on it (check SS for tail weapons). Plus, they get decent ability modifiers, are good swimmers, and get an impressssive natural armor rating. A pity they get 2 humanoid HDs, though.
Thri-Kreen:[sup]Various[/sup] (ECL 8) +8 Str, +2 Dex, Con, -2 Cha. Detailed in some of the Monster Manuals, Shining South, the XPH, and who knows where else, is fearsome for TWF builds. IIRC, a creature with more than 2 limbs that can make an attack qualifies for multiweapon fighting instead of TWF, so probably this would be valid for thri-kreen rangers as well. With 2 racial HD and LA of 1 (2 for the psionic version), they are still an offensive powerhouse and useful for their various racial abilities.
Favored enemy This is the rangers' main ability. Bonuses to skills and damage against certain enemies.
Try to select enemies that you will face the most. Playing the Dragolance chronicles, FE (dragon) is the best choice, etc.
Don't overspecialise (DM dependant). If your DM feels that you make too much damage against drow, you could find yourself fighting Orcs sorcerers in the middle of Menzoberrazan.
Try to make the list as broader as possible. If you plan to enter Stalker of Karash or any other PrC with FE (evil) (recommended) try to get as previous enemies races not necessarily evil (like constructs or elementals.)
If you plan multiclass into scout with swift hunter feat, choose enemies immune to critical hits, (like undeads, constructs, oozes, elementals or plants) so you can add your skirmish damage against them
The most FE races you get, the better. Even with a small FE (race x) +2 bonus, with a hunting weapon and the Improved FE feat, you will net a +9 to damage per hit.
Track A bonus feat. If you want to get the most from it, you must max your survival skill. Don't forget your animal companion to aid you when tracking (most animals have scent). Also, If you haven't the scent ability, remember that you can buy a "wand of scent" or use your own spells.
Wild empathy This ability is mostly used for flavour. Most animals have a low CR, so, at medium level, they are not a challege and good or neutral aligned rangers probably doesn't want to hurt animals if they can avoid combat. The chief use of this feature is to change the animal (or magical beast) attitude to helpful, and get a large number of companions. By the moment, I don't know any build that maxes the wild empathy, but I'm sure that a Tarrasque helpfull is a great adition to any party.
Combat style Disscused a few lines above.
Endurance Another bonus feat. It's a pity that most DM ignore those situations covered by the feat, but the ability to sleep with the armour is great.
Animal companion Your animal companion comes to help you in your tasks, not to replace you. You are the warrior, not your companion. A druid can let his companion fight for him, but you can't. Face it. The Ranger levels counts as half druid levels for the animal companions purpose (I can't understand why... the animal companions was a 2.0 edition ranger feature, not a druid feature. Why not, at least, level -3?). At level 20, the most that a ranger can aspire to get is a Dire Lion... with CR 5.
However, your companion is a powerful ally. He has poor chances to hit high AC enemies, but he can flank them, boosting your attacks. He can aid you when tracking, detect hidden enemies (by scent), serve you as a messenger with the party when you are scouting in advance, or as a mount.
If you can, try to apply the warbeast[sup]MM2[/sup] template to your companion. He will gain some nice stat bonuses ,1 HD, bonus to skills and armour proficiencies. The only requisite is a 2 months training.
Companions doesn't make "pluff" and appears at your side from the nothing at level 4. Roleplay it. Try to get the Alpha wolf from the pack. It must have better than average stats, or higher than average hit points. If not, at least, you can choose it by his fur colour.
Improve your companion AC and saves. If you can't buy a mitrhil breastplate for your wolf, buy a 1º level pearl of power (1.000 gp). The party wizard can use it to recall the Mage Armor spell and cast it over your four legged buddy. If you can't improve all his ST, try to improve, at least, the reflex save. It's not likely the evil sorcerer think to waste a disintegrate spell on a wolf, if he can aim it to you, and the same for charm spells, but if he can catch you both (and some others) with a empowed fireball, be sure that he would do it.
Share spells. If you cast bull strength it will improve your attacks AND your companion attacks. The effect ends if anyone moves 10' away form the other.
Your companion gain feats. If he takes Adaptable flanker[sup]PHB2[/sup], he can flank without moving 5' away from you. I'm not sure if a companion can qualify to draconic aura[sup]DM[/sup] but if he could, the bonuses are nice. Phynkxkin[sup]DM[/sup] counts as dragon blooded, for stronger aura bonus.
Be carefull. Even if your companion can't hit the enemies, he's at risk. Stupid enemies can ignore him (since he makes no damage, he is not a threat) , but smart enemies can kill him and cleave you. When your companion HP are near to the average damage deal by your enemy, order him to retreat.
If you must buy magical equipment, think in your companion. If you can't buy equipment for him, think if the items that you are buying can be used by your companion. Sooner or later, you will find better items, and instead selling them at half price, give them to your companion. You can also buy at half price the items your party buddies no longer needs.
Remember to make listen and spot checks with your companion when your DM ask you to roll. They have keen senses, and a low growl can alert your entire party from enemy approach.
Spells The PHB ranger spells sucks. You have a poor spellcasting level (half your ranger levels) and the best that you can get from them is the ability to use cure light wounds wands.
But forget them. You have divine spells, meaning that you automatically knows all the ranger spells that appear in any new D&D book. And looks like somebody at Wizards changed his mind about ranger spells, because the new spells are great. Lots of spells with casting time swift action (meaning that they don't provoke AoO) , or with fixed duration (24 hours), or with effects based in your ranger levels, instead caster levels.
Spells will be discussed later, but keep in mind that you will need, at least, the spell compendium to get profit form your spellcasting ability.
Woodland Stride Another flavour feature. It's highly campaign dependant (how many time do you spend in natural environments?). His chief use is to charge and retreat from enemies trough difficult terrain (natural, or magically modified, like by the Plant growth spell). Make ambushes and disappear into the wilderness before enemy reacts.
Swift Tracker Powerfull feature, but DM dependant. You can learn a lot about your enemies and the surrounding space by tracking. Tell your Dm that you are tracking every time unless you say another thing.
* Search in internet tales related with tracking, and ask your DM to read them. It will give hits to your DM about how to use the track feature, andl improve the information given by track checks.
Evasion Little to say about it. Boost your reflex saves.
Take into account that enemy spellcasters usually knows that area spells have little chances to disable you (Humm, a low armour, twin scimitar wielder with a cheetah at his side... I wonder if he's a Paladin...) , so be prepared against spells without save, or with will save.
Camouflage Useful, but it cames to late to be important. At level 13, any wizard can cast improved invisibility on the entire party. But still ig good to have if you uses to scout in advance, or to be alone.
Hide in plain Sight Too much late. At this level, any wizard can cast wishes, and clerics, miracles.
Champion of the wild:[SUP]CC[/SUP] Exchange your spells with 4 feats, but most of the feats listed sucks. If you plan to have less than 8 ranger levels, can be a fair trade, but only if you strongly need some of those feats. Replaces your spellcasting ability
Rival Organization:[SUP]Ci WE[/SUP] Bonuses to AC and to some skills against organizations. Seems a bad trade. Replaces favoured enemy.
Skilled City-Dweller:[SUP]Ci WE[/SUP] If you don't want a mounted warrior, exchange ride with tumble as class skill is a great trade. Even if you want to ride from time to time, a military saddle and a good Wis modifier is more than enough. Useful to flanker warriors. Replaces skills.
Spiritual connection:[SUP]CC[/SUP] Interesting trade, specially if you have low Cha, or if plan to give specific orders to your companion in combat. If not, buy a wand or make one with the help of a caster with the proper feat. Useful to flanker warriors. Replaces wild empathy
Track in water:[SUP]Sto[/SUP] Campaign dependant, but good for aquatic environments. Replaces track and swift tracker
Trap expert:[SUP]Du[/SUP] Campaign dependant, but if you are planning to get the trapfinding ability form some other source, forget this one. If not, you can trade your Track ability, and later, get track with your own feats. But still you are loosing swift tracker. Useful to skillmonkey rangers. Replaces track and swift tracker
Voice of the City:[SUP]Ci WE[/SUP] Campaign dependant, but seems a bad trade. If you want to travel thought the planes, may be interesting, but, in this case, is better to buy a wand of comprehend languages for your wizard. Replaces wild empathy
heat endurance:[SUP]Sa[/SUP] A good trade for hot environments. Replaces standard animal companion
Animal companion:[SUP]Fr[/SUP] A Alternative to standard animal companions. Replaces standard animal companion
Distracting attack:[SUP]PHB2[/SUP] Note that the enemy is only considered flanked against the first attack, and that this feature doesn't improve when you gain levels. Useful to archer-thrower rangers. Replaces animal companion
Phynxkin Companion:[SUP]DM[/SUP] A good alternative to standard animal companions. Pounce, decent stats, and immunity to fear for you both. if only he could somehow qualify for the draconic aura feat, it would be great. Useful to flanker warriors. Replaces standard animal companion
Spiritual guide:[SUP]CC[/SUP] Divine bonuses to perception skills and some others, and comune with nature 1/day. Useful to skillmonkey rangers (or anyone that uses to go forward to exploring). Replaces animal companion
Urban Companion:[SUP]Ci WE[/SUP] If you plan a a build with a few levels in ranger, this is great. Is better than a standard familiar. Remember that animal companions only gain 1 sp per level (due Int modifier penalty), and the familiar is smarter, and have the same skills as you. (meaning that you can check twice to detect enemies, etc) Very good for scouting. Useful to skillmonkey rangers (or anyone that uses to go forward to exploring). Replaces animal companion
Aquatic woodland stride:[SUP]Sto[/SUP] Campaign dependant. A fair trade for aquatic environments. Replaces woodland stride
Sandskimmer:[SUP]Sa[/SUP] Campaign dependant, for desert characters. Replaces woodland stride
Crowd-Walker:[SUP]Ci WE[/SUP] Campaign dependant, but seems a fair trade. Replaces woodland stride
Spell reflection:[SUP]CM[/SUP] It doesn't protect you against spells. You can only redirect them if they missed. Evasion saves you from half damage. This ability, saves you from... nothing. Of course, if in your build appears evasion twice, that feature is better than nothing. Replaces evasion
waste hunter:[SUP]Sa[/SUP] RD is always nice, but gaining another FE is better. Replaces favoured enemy
Hidden Stalker:[SUP]Ci WE[/SUP] Campaign dependant. The bonuses to hide seems good, but the HipS replacement... how many city adventures would you run at level 17? Replaces camouflage and HipS
Elf Ranger [SUP]RotW[/SUP] Good skill points, but bad HD. Still, useful at first level.
1st:Servants of Loth seems a great choice for favoured enemy. And the bonuses, too. Note that the bonuses applies to different from standard skills. Replaces standard FE
4th:Nice trade, since you CAN select a coshee as companion, but is not required.
10th: A weird trade... I prefer to gain another FE. Replaces 10th level FE
Gnome Ranger [SUP]RoS[/SUP] Much like the elven sub-levels, but with the normal amount of skill points per level.
1st:Nice bonuses to non-standard skills against FE. Giants is a very good choice. Replaces standard FE
4th: +3 to your druid level, and speak with animals at will. A very good trade if you are interested for burrowing mammals.
8th: Trade spells from your list. Interesting option. Replaces spells
Half-Elf Ranger [SUP]RoD[/SUP]
1st: Urban tracking again... A bit better than the cityscape urban tracking (see above) Replaces track
4th: Spell replacement. You loses more spells than you gain, but they are much better. Replaces spells
13th: Skill mastery. Seems a fair trade Replaces camouflage
Non-Humanoid Ranger (Fangshield) [SUP]CoV[/SUP] Alternative features for non humanoids in the Forgotten Realms.
2st: Not so bad if you plan a ranger-monk. If not, forget it. Replaces standard combat style
4th: A bump to your druid level for animal companion. Yes, please Replaces standard animal companion progression
5th: Definitively, not. Is much better to get another FE Replaces 5th level favoured enemy.
Planar Ranger [SUP]PlH[/SUP] In fact, this is not a race sub-levels, but is very campaign specific, so I put it here.
4th: Great, because you are allowed to choose a celestial or fiendish animal, but you are not forced to do so. The template will hurt your poor Druid levels, but a celestialor fiendish creature has some resistances, and a Int score of 3... meaning that they are capable to learn languages. (of course, they are not able to speech or write, but capable of understand it.) Its simply great. Now, you can give specific orders to your companion. Its recommended to get the companion with the most HDs possible, and get natural bond feat to improve it.
8th: Campaign dependant. Seems fair. Replaces swift tracker
13th: Campaign dependant. Seems a good trade in a planar campaign. Replaces camouflage
Shifter Ranger [SUP]RoE[/SUP]
1st: Wis to wild empathy. A good trade. Replaces Cha to wild empathy
4th: At low to mid levels, this is a better option. Replaces share spells
9th: Good option if you have a lot of shifter feats. Replaces evasion
Skills: These are the most important skills to a ranger. Note that not all of them are ranger class skills, and of course, you probably haven't enough skill points to take all of them. You must choose what skills you want. I had write some reasons to take it, or to leave it (except the most obvious), and the suggested total bonus or total skill points to max the benefits. Choose wisely.
Balance: You need at least 5 ranks, to maintain your dex bonus over slippery surfaces.
Bluff: Is a cross skill, but 5 ranks gives you a +2 synergy modifier to 4 skills. you invest 10 sp, and gain 13... not so bad. Also, they can be useful to make a distraction to hide. Is a opposed check, but at least, you have a chance.
Climb: Campaign dependant, but, in general, good for archers. A few ranks probably don't hurt you much. If you can't invest sp here, buy a rope or a few spider climb potions, or get a companion with climb speed.
Concentration: Most of your spells have a swift casting time, meaning tat you don't need to cast defensively. But just in case, if you can
Craft: To archers, a few ranks in craft (arrow making) can save some gp, or more important, allow them to make arrows when they can reach a town to buy more. If you plan to take trophy collector[SUP]PHB2[/SUP] feat, it will give you extra gp.
Decipher Script: A single point (or half point) allow you to make the check.
Diplomacy: Unless you trade skills, forget this one.
Disable device: If you get this skill as a class skill AND you have the trapfinding ability, max it. If not, don't bother, and try to evade the traps, or buy a summon nature ally I wand, and summon monkeys to active the trap.
Handle animal: The DC are fixed in most cases. Try to get a +19 total bonus (remember that you have a +4 for checks related with your companion)
Heal: At low levels, may be interesting, but at mid to high levels, a wand of CLW is much better.
Hide: This is a opposed check. Max it, or leave it. You have spells to make yourself invisible, just in case, or you can buy potions. But if you leave it, you are wasting 2 useful class abilities.
Jump: 1 point to count as trained and avoid falling prone is a good idea. 5 points gives you a nice sinergy bonus to tumble. If you face cliffs or pits every day, invest a few more ranks here.
Knowledge: 1 rank allows you to make checks. 5 ranks, if you can afford them, give you some nice bonuses to survival checks. In any case, the best part is make checks to get information about monsters. Buy at least 1 rank in Dungeoneering (aberrations, oozes) nature (for animal, fey, giants, monstrous humanoids, plants, vermin) and half rank in arcana (constructs, dragons, magical beasts) religion (undead) and the planes (outsiders, elementals.)
Listen: Max this one or leave it.
Move silently: Max it or leave it.
Open lock: A single 1 sp (or half point), with a decent Dex, and masterwork thieves tools gives you good chances to open most locks. And you can always take 20 (or sunder the lock, but that makes a lot of noise...)
Ride: If you are a munted character, max it. If not, buy a military saddle. That will be enough.
Search: If you have the trapfinding ability, or you are an elf (for secret doors) or a dwarf (for stonecunning), max it. If not, leave it, and take 20 when you need search something.
Sense motive: A cross class skill with opposed checks. Do not bother with it.
Sleight of hand: Half rank is a good investment (to be trained, just in case).
Speak language: What is the good part of infiltrate in the enemy camp, if you don't understand what they say?
Spellcraft: It's always nice to identify what is casting the enemy. Half rank allows you to make the check. If could afford it, a +14 total bonus gives you high chances to identify most spells.
Spot: Max it or leave it.
Survival: Max it. If you have changed the track feature with some other skill, leave it.
Swim: Have you ever read the drowning rules? Put a few ranks here, just in case.
Tumble: Useful to avoid AoO, half rank allow you to try. You need a total +14 bonus for most benefit. If you don't plan a mounted character, trade this skill with ride (See Skilled City-Dweller, above).
Use magic device: If you have a positive Cha modifier or 0, put half rank here. Its always handy a little chance to use a healing staff.
Use rope: A few ranks don't hurt you much, but it's not very important.
Skill tricks: Some good skill tricks for rangers.They appeared from first time in the Complete Scoundrel.
Back on Your Feet: Stand up from prone as immediate action. Great.
Clarity of Vision: The best trick. Take it.
Collector of Stories: A nice bonus to trained knowledges to get information about monsters.
Conceal Spellcasting: Not so great for a ranger, but still, can be useful.
Corner Perch: Interesting for archers.
Listen to This: Useful if you play a campaign with lots of intrigue.
Nimble Charge: Good for melee rangers.
Nimble Stand: Stand up from prone. Much like Back on Your Feet but note that you can't use twice the same trick in the same encounter... but you can use 2 different tricks with the same effect.
Twisted Charge: Great against summoners or saboteur spellcasters. They can ruin your charge interposing obstacles... and now, with that trick, you can ignore obstacles and go for them.
Walk the Walls: Much like Twisted Charge, with some other applications. Had you ever played Prince of Persia?
7) Feats: Weapon stile apart, rangers have no more than 8 feats to allocate. These are the most interesting feats to chose.
Flanker warrior: Blind-Fight, Combat reflexes, Darkstalker, Leadership, Natural bond
Favoured enemy feats: Extra favoured enemy, Favoured power attack, Foe hunter, Improved favoured enemy, Nemesis
Feats for your animal companion: Adaptable Flanker,Combat reflexes, Draconic aura
Able learner:[SUP]RoD[/SUP] Cross class skills at normal cost. Good for any skilled ranger, and even better if you plan a multiclass build.
Azure enmity:[SUP]MoI[/SUP] Invest essentia to improve your FE bonuses. Good if you have essentia to spend.
Adaptable Flanker:[SUP]PHB2[/SUP] Good feat for melee rangers. That allows you to flank a foe with your companion and remain at 5' to share spells at the same time. What's the great part? Is that the feat can be chose by your companion with his own feats, giving you all the benefits without invest anything.
Blind-Fight:[SUP]PHB[/SUP]If you have lots of attacks, you can miss a lot. Re-roll every concealment miss chance is great. And also allow you to retain your dex against invisible attacks.
Cleave:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Good for 2 handed, but nothing else.
Combat casting:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Unless you gain spells from others classes, that feat is a bad choice. Most of your spells doesn't provoke AoO. And, even in that case, skill focus (concentration) is much better.
Combat expertise:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] A bad choice, but requisite for some other feats.
Combat reflexes:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] A good feat for any melee ranger with good Dex modifier. Also, prerequisite for some others good feats.
Companion Spellbond:[SUP]PHB2[/SUP] Great if you have a strong companion and if you have lots of spells (you can share ANY spell you cast, not only ranger class spells.) If not, Adaptable Flanker can do the same work, but without investing your valuables feats.
Darkstalker:[SUP]LoM[/SUP] Awesome feat. It allows you to hide from enemies with special senses (like tremorsense). It that wasn't enough, also allows you to flank enemies with all around vision... and without prerequisites.
Diehard:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Bad feat. Instead, take a cleric cohort.
Dodge:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] A bad feat, but prerequisite for spring attack and some other feats. If you don't need it as prerequisite to anything else, forget it.
Draconic aura:[SUP]DM[/SUP] Average feat for you, a really good one for your companion (because if free), especially if you choose a dragonblooded creature, like Phynxkin. Recomended auras: resistance, senses, swiftness and toughness.
Exalted companion:[SUP]BoED[/SUP] Much like the planar ranger levels, the exalted companion is a intelligent creature (can learn languages) so you can give him specific orders. Is preferable to take the substitutions levels unless you want a specific creature (note: that will hurt too much your poor druid levels), but pegasus, unicorn and blink dog are good choices.
Extra favoured enemy:[SUP]MotW[/SUP] A 3.0 feat, but still one of the best for rangers. (Note: the 3.5 version appears in the ghostwalk 3.5 update)
Far Shot:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Nice for throwers since ranged weapons has a short range increment.
Favoured power attack:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Much like power attack. Good in combination with FE (evil)
Feral animal companion:[SUP]CR[/SUP] You gain a stronger companion. You must be evil.
Flay/ Pulverize / Skewer foe:[SUP]CR[/SUP] Adds +1D6 damage to subsequent attacks. Very interesting for twin wielders.
Foe hunter:[SUP]CR[/SUP]You gain a favoured enemy form a narrow list. Campaign dependant, but extra favoured enemy looks better
Greater manyshoot:[SUP]XPH[/SUP] Allows you to use manyshoot agaist diferent targets, and the best of, to add precision based damage to each arrow, and all of them can be a critical score. Simply great for ranged characters.
Hidden talent:[SUP]XPH[/SUP] The improved version of the wild talent feat. You must check with your DM about his availability. Also, you need a Char of 11 or higher. You will net 2 pp and 1 psionic power, and the ability to use psionic feats. Your caster level is low, and so the DC, so it's suggested to take powers that buff yourself, like Expansion, force screen, or prescience offensive.
Improved buckler defence:[SUP]CW[/SUP] The Best way to get shield bonuses to armour class for twin wielders or 2 handers.
Improved critical:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Great for twin wielders. You can apply the benefit to both weapons.
Improved favoured enemy:[SUP]CW[/SUP] Good for ranger with lots of favoured enemies.
Improved initiative:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Good for ranged or spellcaster characters, not so good for melee ones (except you had pounce ability) If you moves, you can make only one attack. Its better to let the enemy approaches to you, and full attack him. In the other hand, you always can delay your initiative, or move to a strategic position. If you have feats to spend, this is a good choice.
Improved rapid shoot:[SUP]CW[/SUP] Good to archers, great for throwers (due the manyshoot problem). I Think that greater manyshoot is better than this feat, but that depends on the build.
Improved shield bash:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] required to be a sword and board.
Improved unarmed strike:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] If you want to fight with your fists, take a monk level and Ascetic hunter feat
Improved Trip:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Let your wolf trip enemies for you. He has more bonuses.
Item creation feats:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] forget them. If you need, work with somebody that has the feat needed.
Leadership:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] The best feat in the game. This allow you to get another character. What do you need? Healing? Take a cleric. Need buffs? Take a bard, or a marshall. A full character to work. Probably, your leadership score must be low. Cha is mostly your dump stat, and you have a -2 penalty by your companion. But, even a low level cohort means a great boom. A 5 level cleric has 9 spells per day. Can you think in another feat that will give you that benefit?
Metamagic feats: Unless you are a Gish, forget them. You haven't enough spell slots to make it work properly. If you need, buy a lesser metamagic rod. If you must take one for any reason, extend spell is the best option.
Mobility:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Its simply better to avoid AoO, or try a tumble check, but no so bad if you uses to pass trough enemy threatened areas.
Mounted Archery:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] If You are a mounted ranged char, go for it.
Mounted combat:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Nothing to say. If you aren't a mounted warrior, forget it.
Natural bond[SUP]CAd[/SUP] Improves your companion. A nice feat
Nemesis:[SUP]BoED[/SUP] Sense selected enemies and +1d6 damage against them. The broader the selected enemy class, the better.
Ninph's Kiss:[SUP]BoED[/SUP] The best part of this feat is the extra skill points per level. Take it at the lower lever you can (preferable, 1st level)
Oversized two weapon fighting[SUP]CAd[/SUP] Is better to use light weapons than wasting a feat to lesser penalties. But is not so bad in combination with power attack, or to sword and board characters.
Practiced Spellcaster / Manifester:[SUP]CD[/SUP] This feat has little effect over the new ranger spells (most of them have fixed effect, or based in your ranger levels) But is good to improve your caster level for some others (like the old barbskin) Also, this feat has nice effects if you plan to dip in some other spellcasting / manifester class.
Point Blank Shot:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Good for ranged warriors (specialy throwers, since they uses to be at 30' or less. Also, that feat is a prerequisite for some other feats.
Power attack:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Great for 2 handed rangers, bad for dual wielders. The power attack bonus doesn't apply for light weapons, and your already reduced hit chances will suffer the hit penalty.
Power throw:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Power attack with ranged weapons.
Quick draw:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Required to be a thrower. For other characters, is less useful.
Ranged disarm:[SUP]CW[/SUP] Interesting option for ranged chars. Can be combined with rapid shoot or manyshoot. The bow is a 2 handed weapons, so (I'm not sure about it) archers could get a nice bonus for this feat. Use your companion to pick up the weapon if you win (and don't worry about AoO over him... your enemy is disarmed).
Ranged pin:[SUP]CW[/SUP] A bad feat. You must be too close, your enemy must be against something, and he must wear some soft cloth. There's too many "must" to be useful, and the DC to release is too low.
Ranged sunder:[SUP]CW[/SUP] Sundering enemy weapons is a bad idea. It's better to disarm them, and sell their weapons. Also, archers still do half damage with his arrows. It much better to use specific arrows (like serpentonge, blunts, thunderstone, acid, etc) and save a feat.
Rapid reload:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] If you uses a crossbow, then something is wrong. Take a bow instead.
Shadow blade:[SUP]Bo9S[/SUP] Rangers uses to have a high Dex score, so this is a great addition to melee builds.
Sharp-shooting:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Waste a feat to reduce cover penalties when, at level 11th, you will IGNORE these penalties completely for free? Seems a bad idea.
Shoot on the run:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] The old hit and run trick. Lots of pre-requisites, but is a good feat if you have skirmish damage. Also, can be used to place yourself better in the battlefield (mostly to avoid cover penalties or full cover) and still reach a safe place to avoid counter attacks. If you haven't skirmish, or you can face the cover penalties, avoid this feat.
Spirited Charge:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Great for mounted 2 handed warriors.
Spring Attack:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Good for swift hunters, but is preferable to make a charge.
Superior unarmed strike:[SUP]Bo9S[/SUP] If you had a multiclass ranger-monk , that feat will enhance your damage output. If not, forget it.
Swift and silent:[SUP]PgtF[/SUP] No penalty to hide and move silently for moving at your normal speed. Very good feat
Sword of the arcane order:[SUP]CV[/SUP] Prepare wizard spells? And your FULL ranger level staking with wizard level to determine your wizard caster level? Wow.
Titan figthing:[SUP]RS[/SUP] that feat allows you to use your racial dodge bonuses against any larger enemy than you. Nice.
Two weapon defense:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Very bad feat (and worst feat chain). Take improved buckler defence instead.
Weapon focus:[SUP]PHB[/SUP] Very nice to twin wielders.
Woodland archer:[SUP]RW[/SUP] The moving sniper tactic is very nice to ambushers.
Wow of poverty:[SUP]BoED[/SUP] Not so great for rangers (you need magic equipment), but can be good if you multiclass into monk or some spellcaster class.
Multiclass feats Some feats allows you to multiclass and use your combined level to determine the goodies you gain.
Ascetic hunter[SUP]CAd[/SUP] Ranger-Monks for unarmed attacks.
Devoted tracker[SUP]CAd[/SUP] Ranger-Paladin for mount-animal companion.
Accelerated movement: Improves your mobility. The best use for this spell is cast it to allow you to tumble to avoid AoO at your full move.
Alarm: If you travel alone, take it. If not, is better to let the party spellcaster cast it (or rope trick, or anything else)
Arrow mind: If you are using this spell, something is wrong. You must remain out of enemy reach. It can be interesting to memorize just in case but, for occasional archers, is better to buy a wand or a scroll. Even at caster level 1, it has enough duration for average combats.
Aspect of the wolf: An average spell for combat, but a good one for tracking, hiding, or running.
Bloodhound: Fixed duration. Buy a scroll.
Camouflage: Good for scouting, but the best use for that spell is to enhance your companion hide checks (remember that you can share spells)
Crabwalk: Great for 2 handed or sword and boardmounted rangers, average for any other one.
Deep breath: Campaign dependant. That spell can save your and your companion lifes or you can die from old age without use it a single time.
Detect favoured enemy: Buy a wand if you need, but you can track to get the same results.
Entangle: Great at low levels for archers and throwers.
Hunter's mercy: The best ranger spell for archers. Since it has standard casting time and fixed effects, its better to buy a wand than selectin that spell, but this is up to you.
Ice skate: good duration, even at caster level 1. Good for a scroll.
Jump: That spell can be used to avoid enemies, by jumping out of reach. Good for archers.
Lay of the land: Can be interesting for a scroll, but you can use track or knowledge geography for the same results.
Longstrider: Useful to races with low move rate, or for mobile rangers. Great duration.
Low light vision: Another great spell for humans or an other race without this ability. Cast it at night or within a dungeon.
Primal Hunter: Average spell benefits, but with a great duration (24h). Great if you can cast some other "primal" spell, for the extra benefits.
Raptor's sigtht: Much like hawkeye spell, but with a increased duration. Very useful to archers and throwers.
Resist energy: Your party spellcaster con use it much better than you. Prepare it only if you lacks of other spellcasters in your group.
Rhino's rush: A swift spell. Even with fixed effects, you can't cast it form a scroll. Interesting to mounted or 2 handed rangers.
Snowshoes: Campaign dependant. Good spell for frost environments.
Speak with animals: Great if you have a flying companion. you can send him to take a look, and ask him what he saw. But is better for a wand than for preparing it for the day.
Align fang, mass: Unless you travel with boxers or a circus, forget this spell.
Arrow storm: Your archer ranger is going to prepare it, no matters what can I say. And he's right.
Blade storm: Much like the above, but for melee.
Blade thist: A strange spell. It affects 1 slashing melee weapon... but typical rangers uses a bow or 2 weapons... I don't know what the designer was thinking when he made that spell. Anyway, can be interesting if your character looses his weapons, or for 2 handers but arcane casters can improve your weapons much better (and lasting longer) than that spell.
Bottle of smoke: With tree stride and that spell, you can travel extreme distances in a single day. In combat, may be good for mounted characters due concealment, but that's all.
Triceratops charge: The natural armour enhancement is useful, but as a weapon, that spell is a bit weak. Prepare it only if you need AC, but otherwise, there's better things to do with a 3rd level spell.
Command plants: Long duration even from a scroll with the minimum caster level. Allies are always welcomed, but unless you are near a treants groove, is not very useful.
Cure moderate wounds: You haven't enough slots to be a healer. Buy a wand
Curse of impeding blades, mass: Great because it has no save and average duration. Other spells may serve you better, but this one is worth for a wand.
Darkvision: Good if you haven't darkvision, but may be better to spend some gp into a magic item to get it than spending spell slots.
Decoy image: Fixed duration. May be useful to imaginative players.
Find the gap:Great against high AC foes, but its a bit less useful to twin wielders. Remember to share the spell with your companion.
Forestfold: Useful to stealthily missions. Its a pity that this spell do not cover civilized areas.
Guardian Spirit: Looks like cat's grace, but is a insight bonus, so it stacks. Great duration for a wand.
Heal animal companion: If you have a companion, you need that spell.
Magic fang, greater: With your low spellcaster level, you must choose to imbue all the natural weapons of your companion. Not so useful.
Mark of the hunter: Mmmm. The target must be a favoured enemy, and the spell allows a will save. Not so great
Neutralize poison: If you haven't any cleric or druid in the party, prepare it. If not, buy a wand or a few scrolls. That will be enough.
Phantasmal decoy: 2 will saves allowed... bad spell.
Primal senses: Average spell, but with great duration, and good synergy bonus. Cast it with a lesser extend rod, and save slots for the next day.
Remove disease: Do not prepare it. Your cleric can do better, and, if needed, you can prepare it for the next day.
Safe clearing: Another spell for safe rest. Use it if you need, but wizards can do better.
Tree shape: Great to long duration spying, or to rest safely. Otherwise, forget it.
Animal growth: Sub-optimal for a 4th slot. But may be useful for a scroll.
Aspect of the earth hunter: I think you must do the more damage per round in yor natural form, but the bonuses are awesome.
Comune with nature: Campaign dependant, but useful anyway.
Cure serious wounds: Don't try to make the cleric's work. Buy a wand, just in case.
Deeper darkvision: Great if you travel in the underdark, or if anybody in your party can cast some kind of darkness spell.
Foebane Good, but this spell replaces your weapon aptitudes. Also, has a very short duration.
Freedom of movement: Prepare it even if any other spellcaster already has it.
Land womb: The ranger's Resilient Sphere Can save your life, but it only works over soil...
Magic fang, superior: Great spell but with a damn short duration...
Primal speed: Simply great. Remember to cast all the primal spells to get improved uncanny dodge as extra benefit.
Snakebite: Good to get a free poison source, but as a weapon, is not so great unless you have a huge Str modifier (it uses your full str, not half as normal per secondary weapons)
Summon natures ally IV: At the level you gain that spell, is mostly useless for combat, but is awesome for some other tasks. The unicorn can cast cure light wounds, cure moderate wounds, neutralize poison, detect evil at will and magic circle against evil. No so bad for a 4th level slot. The Minor Xorn is a great scouting partner (all around vision, darkvision 60ft, tremorsense 60ft, and earthglide)
Swamp stride: Not so great for traveling, but still good for hiding or to avoid drowing
Tree stride: Great for travelling, or to hide.
Wild runner Good bonuses, but average stats. But... you can cast it over your companion. Awesome, isn't it?
9) Animal companions: Your companion is a mount, a hunting animal, a guardian, but not your protector. As thumb rule, try to get a companion useful for combat situation and still useful out of combat. And, if possible, try to make him a warbeast (MM2). Remember that your companions gains skill points (only 1, due int penalty...) so if you want a companion for scouting task, take one tat has the maximum ranks possible as base creature. Also, they gain feats. Flyby attack, improved natural attack, track, weapon finesse, draconic aura and adaptable flanker are good choices.
Chordevoc: And improved owl, faster and with blindsense. Non halflings have a -3 penalty to his druid levels, so forget it.
Climbdog: Much like the ridding dog, but smal size, (so you can't use him as a mount) Great stats, damage output and high climb move. Great for underdark adventures.
Eagle:Acute sight and good flight speed. Great for scouting.
Hawk: Mostly useless in combat (reach 0), but otherwise, is likely the eagle. High AC but lesser fly speed than eagle.
Horse: You want a mount? Take a horse. Light horses are faster, but heavy horses have a higher damage output.
Owl: Much like the hawk, but better, due the listen bonus. Great move silently skill, but average fly speed.
Phynxkin: A bit weak for combat (low AC, average stats and 1 hd), but has a nice speed and pounce. Also has climb speed, some stealth ability and, the best of, he can qualify for draconic aura feat (he is a dragonblooded creature), giving you some nice bonuses, and inmunity to fear. Not so bad.
Ridding dog: Probably the best companion. He can track, fight, and hunt for you. If you are small, can serve as a mount (better than a pony). Nice stats, Ac and senses
Swindlespitter: The best flanker. High AC and and attack bonus, awesome skills (+10 to sleight of hand???) darkvision, scent, mobility and poison spray. Just teach him to not target you with his poison.
Wolf: Much like the ridding dog. He has less acute senses and worse AC, but he can trip and has some stealth skills.
Ape: Humanoid creature. He can use humanoid equipment. Good climb speed, 10' reach, and great grappler (give him a spiked armor, for extra damage). A celestial ape will have a Int score of 3, so it may be able to use weapons. A 2 handed ape warrior? Wow. (Check it first with your DM)
Blink dog: If you selected exalted companion, you are allowed to take a blink dog as companion. Is not so great as combat creature (but he improves his BAB as a fighter, instead as a cleric), he has darkvision and he is very smart (int 10), he can learn languages, and he haven't penalty to skill points per level. Also, as stated in the A&EG, if you have a blink ring, you can use you blink dog as a mount. Great for small archers.
Dire bat: Your underdark flying mount. High AC and stats, blindsense and average fly speed. Great for archers.
Cheetah: The fastest mount you can get. Nice skills, scent, trip, pounce and can make hellish long jumps (+188 to jump when sprinting!!!!). Simply great.
Dire Weasel: A weak companion. Blood drain is great, but he put himself at serious risk. Be careful.
Leopard: Much like the cheetah, but with better skills, climb speed. He can't sprint, though.
Fleshraker: 4 attacks, pounce, poison, high AC and high speed. He can track (but he hasn't got any ranks in survival...) and a grat bonus to jump. Great for flanking.
Wolverine A weak companion unless you hare a gnome.
Asperii: Read pegasus and unicorn below. He has a variable fly speed, but has some other useful traits, like telepathy, feather fall, and also, you don't need concentration checks to cast spells while mounted.
Dire ape: A bad choice. Take a normal ape instead.
Dire boar: Huge Str, good HP and good damage output, but low Ac, and the ferocity trait is likely a curse.
Dire phynxkin: Much like the phynxkin, but with greater stats, move and AC.
Drakkensted: Check with your DM first. He is a flying animal, so, by the rules, can be used as companion. But dragon magic only cover him as paladin mount... I can't understand why. He his much like a phynxkin for players who wants a flying mount.
Dire wolf: Great stats, a nice speed, attack bonus and damage output. Also, is a decent tracker and a great tripper. Good skills but low AC.
Lion: Higher AC than tiger, but otherwise, is a worse than him.
Tiger: Rake, pounce, improved grab, high stats and good skills, good damage output but low AC.
Pegasus: Great flying mount. Fighter bab, darkvision, flyby attack, and awesome fly speed. Great for any mounted character.
Unicorn: You must take the exalted companion feat. Great as a mount, he is smart, can detect evil at will, use teleport, and magic circle against evil. He is a decent healer, has fighter BAB and nice inmunities. Also he has good skills.
10th level companions (level -9): Ranger level 20, effective druid level 10. Forget them. They are too large in size to be carried anywhere without magic aid (that you lacks), and they have too much penalties to hide and move silently. Also, due his size, can be targeted easily by your enemies, and they aren't so hard to resist.
Deities: Your characters deity have little impact over your character, but, at least, in the Forgotten Realms setting, there are 3 interesting choices.
Mielikki: Mielikki allows druids to wear metallic armour. Great if you plan to multiclass with druid.
Mystra: Allows you to take the Shooting Stars substitution levels and the Sword of the Arcane Order feat.
Shaundakul: Allows you to take the Shadow Sword substitution levels.
Weapons: As any combat class, your weapon choice define your character role. Think carefully before selecting one. Here are some tips.
Damage die: This is not as important for rangers as is for other classes. Tanks simply run form one battle to the next, but the ranger isn't one of them. You need a versatile weapon, not a huge one.
Critical range and multiplier: This is a important factor to take into count. In general, rangers uses to have lots of attacks per round, but with a penalty. How it affects to your critical chances?
The more penalties you face, the less chances of critical you have. For example, imagine that you have (somehow) a sword with a crit range 10+, but you are unable to hit unless you roll a 19+ (and that happens with your 3rd or later attacks). You are wasting the range between 10 and 19. It would be much better to have a weapon with a critical range 20, but with higher critical multiplier.
On the other hand, your main role is eliminate minions and low armoured foes. Most of them have low HP (they are lots, but weak) and you don't want to waste a x4 critical hit with a 6 hp-remaining-kobold.
Also, if you have extra damage sources, like skirmish or sneak attack, you can pass without critical hits (they don't stack) and you can focus on weapons with other properties.
Damage tipe: There's lot of DR, but the less usual is RD blunt/ piercing/slashing. But, even a small Rd is a huge penalty for 2 weapon fighters, since it affect every hit you made. If you can, try to use weapons with more than one damage type, like daggers, morningstars, etc.
Exotic weapons: If you could afford to invest a feat for a exotic weapon, you could gain much more benefits. Exotic weapons are better than martial weapons, and some of then has especial properties. If you run a medium or high magic campaign, go for exotic.
Suggested exotic weapons: Twin wielders: Dragonsplits (MMIV 151) Sword and board: Dwarven buckler-axe (CW 156) 2 handers: Greathammer (MMIV 101) or spiked chain (PHB), elbow blade (CAdv 110) Archers: Composite greatbow (CW 156) Throwers: Boomerang (CW 156), shurikens (PHB) or Orc throwing weight (A&EG) (Literal translation from Spanish... don't know his English name)
So, in conclusion, is better to have a high multiplier weapon than a broader crit range, but don't get mad with it. Damage types, special properties, and availability in your campaign (how many holy flaming dire flails had you seen?) are equally important.
The bow, my dearest friend Note that every kind of ranger needs a bow. Not necessarily a +8 bow, but get sure that you have one. The bow is not only a weapon. Its also a tool. With an Elhonna quiver (1.800 gp, and takes no body slot) you can carry a lot of different arrows.
Serpentonge arrows[SUP]RW[/SUP] to cut ropes.
Dragonsbreath arrows[SUP]RW[/SUP] to catch in flames
Elven leaf arrows[SUP]A&EG[/SUP] to subdue
Healing arrows[SUP]A&EG[/SUP] to save a companion unreachable.
Faerie arrows[SUP]A&EG[/SUP] to negate miss chance due darkness
Ram arrows to break critical objets.
Adamantite-darkwood arrows to create a climb ladder over a wall
Ranger 1 & 5 & 10 & 15 & 20 Deadgrim 2, 5/5, ecl 7 (Magic of Eberron) - undead only Impure Prince 2 & 6, ecl 7 (Magic of Eberron) - abberations only Leviathan Hunter 2, 4/5, ecl 7, Stormwrack - only against huge or larger... Abolisher 1, 4, 8/10, ecl 7, Lords of Madness - abberations only Slayer 1, ecl 5, Expanded Psionics Handbook - specific type of psionic creature only Darkwood Stalker 1, 4, 7, 10/10, ecl 6, Complete Warrior - orcs only, functionally same, but different name Gnome Giant Slayer 1, 4, 7, 10/10, ecl 6, Complete Warrior - giants only Goliath Liberator 1, 5/5, ecl 8, Races of Stone - giants only Scar Enforcer 1, ecl 6, Races of Destiny - humans and elves Eldeen Ranger 4, ecl 9, Eberron Campaign Setting Paladin 4 (Crescent Moon Knight substitution level), Champions of Valor - lycanthropes only Paladin 4 (Shadow Cloak Knight substitution level), Champions of Valor - humanoid subtype Paladin 1 (Holy Judge substitution level), Champions of Valor - devils only Rogue 2 (Golden Hand of Vergadain substitution level), Champions of Valor Web Enhancement - organization opposed to dwarves Shade Hunter 8, ecl 13, FR: Champions of Ruin - only stacks with existing, vs shades only Foe Hunter ?, ecl ?, Player's Guide to Faerun - depends on region Duraak'ash 4, 9/10, ecl 9, Eberron: Dragonmarked Knight of the Chalice 1, 3, 6, 9/10, ecl 9, Complete Warrior - Fiendslaying: against evil outsiders only Corrupt Avenger 1, 4, 7, 10/10, ecl 7, Heroes of Horror - against a specified single creature type, also gain rage like abilility Fighter 6 (Darksong Knight substitution level), Champions of Valor - Yochlols only Unnatural Enemy, feat, Player's Guide to Eberron (p.86) - extra +2 against abberations, see text Revenant Blade 4, ecl 9, Player's Guide to Eberron - called "Giant Slayer", +4 bonus Stalker of Kharesh 2, ecl 7, Book of Exalted Deeds, evil creatures Swanmay 2, ecl 7, Book of Exalted Deeds, see text
Druid 1 Ranger 4 (elf racial substitution level), Races of the Wild, Elven Hound, advances as animal companion, see text Peregrine Runner 1, ecl 8, Races of Stone Beastmaster 1, ecl 6, Complete Adventurer, also gains extra companions, see text Gatekeeper Mystagogue 1, ecl 6, Player's Guide to Eberron, gains additional bonuses, see text
stacks for animal companion Arcane Heirophant, ecl 8, Races of the Wild Lion of Talisad, ecl 6, Book of Exalted Deeds Wild Plains Outrider, ecl 7, Complete Adventurer Peregrine Runner 1, ecl 8, Races of Stone, peregrine falcon only, otherwise gain extra companion Beastmaster, ecl 6, Complete Adventurer, only stacks for the first one Wavekeeper 2, ecl 7, Stormwrack, stacks at -1 Abolisher, ecl 7, Lords of Madness Vandalis Beastkeeper, ecl 5, Eberron: Dragonmarked Revenant Blade, ecl 6, Player's Guide to Eberron, stacks with ranger only Planar Shepherd, ecl 6, Faiths of Eberron
Special Mention Elemental Companion, druid class variant, Complete Mage, replace animal companion with an elemental (separate advancement table) Natural Bond, feat, Complete Adventurer, add +3 to effective druid level, see text Devoted Tracker, feat, Complete Adventurer, stack benefits of animal companion and mount Beast Heart Adept, ecl 6, Dungeonscape, gain Monstrous Companions, see text Vermin Keeper 3, ecl 8, FR: Underdark, vermin companion, see text Exalted Companion, feat, Book of Exalted Deeds, choose a new companion from list
Druid 1 Druid 1, class variant, Dungeonscape, vermin empathy, replaces wild empathy Spirit Shaman 1, Complete Divine Initiate of Nobanion, feat, Champions of Valor - only useable on felines Animal Lord 1, ecl 6, Complete Adventurer Beastmaster 1, ecl 6, Complete Adventurer Totemist 1, Magic of Incarnum Totem Rager 1, ecl 7, Magic of Incarnum Black Blood Hunter 2, ecl (8?), Player's Guide to Faerun Primeval 1, ecl 9, Frostburn - specific animal only Vandalis Beastkeeper 1, ecl 5, Eberron: Dragonmarked Call of the Beast, least warlock invocation, Complete Mage Natural World, mantle, Complete Psionic Weretouched Master 2, ecl 7, Eberron Campaign Setting Vermin Keeper 1, ecl 6, FR: Underdark, vermin only
Stacks Scorpion Wraith, ecl 6, Eberron: Secrets of Xen'Drik, also treat vermin as magical beasts Swanmay, ecl 6, Book of Exalted Deeds
Fighting classes (full BAB or fighting as main role)Show
The base attack bonus is vital to rangers. They uses to have a lot of attacks per round, and every bit of BAB they get, improves lots of attacks.
The classes with full bab
Barbarian: High HD, 4 sp per level, medium armour proficiency, rage and improved base movement, or better than this, pounce ability. That's a great class to dip if you are a melee or a thrower ranger. Its suggested to take the lion totem alternative feature form Complete Champion. Best levels:
1st (medium armour proficiency, rage 1/day)
2nd (uncanny dodge)
Stop. Unless you need some special feature for a PrC, you don't need more than 2 barbarian level.
Suggested feats: Extra rage (to rage a few more times per day), Shared Fury (Make your companion rage with you)
Duskblade: Medium HD, full BAB, all armour proficiencies, 2 good saves, good spellcasting progresion, but low sp/level. A good class for dipping. From a single level, you gain a lot of spells per day (usable with light armour) including the ever useful true strike. Duskblades may look a bad class to archers, because the arcane chanelling only works over melee weapons, but , on the other hand, they can cast a quickened true strike at level 5. Not so bad.
But, if you plan to multi class into duskblade rather than dipping a pair of levels, you should consider bard as better option. They have a broader spell list, and better spell progresion.
Fighter: High HD, medium and heavy armour proficiency, and feats, but low SP per level. You need feats, and dipping in that class is the easiest way to get them. The other benefits are a bit weak. You can't use heavy armours. You will gain, on average, 1 HP per die, but you will loss 4 sp. Best levels:
1st (medium and heavy armour proficiency, feat)
4th (feat, weapons specialization).
Suggested feats: If you reach level 4, take weapon specialization,
Hexblade:High HD, 2 sp/level, light armour prof, curses, spells and familiar. A sub-optimal class to dip, you can't gain so much from it. Arcane curse, in a multiclass build, is a bit weak but arcane resistance, mettle and dark companion (class feature from PHB2) are good enough to consider it. Best levels:
1st (Hexblade curse)
2nd (arcane resistance)
4th (spells, familiar or dark companion) That's the most you can gain. If you need more spells, it would be better to dip in another class.
Marshal: Medium HD and BAB, 4 sp/level, all armour proficiencies, 2 good saves and auras. Minor auras are keyed to Char mod, so with a 1 level dip, you can gain a good bonus. Mayor auras are level dependant, so they aren't so great. This class is recommended if you have a lot of companions (animal companion, wild cohort, familiar, cohort and party members), but is not suggested to stealthily characters (you must shout orders to your buddies) unless you have some short of telepathy or silent language. Note that you can get the same bonuses if you have a marshal/dragon shaman cohort AND/OR your companion takes the draconic aura feat. Best levels:
1st (armour proficiency, skill focus [diplomacy], minor aura)
2nd (mayor aura)
4th (grant move action, minor aura) Suggested minor auras (art of war, master of tactics, motivate dexterity, over the top) Suggested mayor auras (any)
Martial Adepts (Crusader, Swordsage, Warblade): They area a great addition to any melee build, since your character level counts as half initiator levels. Its suggested to take levels on these classes on the latest levels of your build, to max benefits. Each one is a good class to dip. I list them together simply because you may need any disciplines combination, but may be, Swordsage is the best of them for ranger.
Monk: Medium HD and BAB, 4 sp/level (and good skills), all good saves, lots of attacks per round and some other goodies. Great dip class for twin wielders and throwers (shurikens, baby). Unarmed strike allows you to add your full str modifier to the off hand(s). They are light weapons, but you can use them with power attack and with the ascetic hunter feat, your levels stacks for determining your damage. The flurry attacks per round are keyed to your BAB, and you have spells to improve natural weapons. Also, good news for throwers. Shurikens counts as ammunitions, so they are cheap. On the other hand, you will magic aid to improve your AC (but is not so hard to get) and you can't take barbarian levels (for pounce) Best levels:
1st (feat, flurry of blows, improved unarmed strike)
2nd (feat, evasion)
3rd (still mind, speed bonus)
4th (ki strike, slow fall)
You can go with a single 1st level dip for maximum bonuses for minimum investment. Suggested feats: Ascetic hunter (needed), Superior unarmed strike, wow of poverty.
Knight: Huge HD, good will save (!!??), all armour proficiences, bad skills and low sp. That class is a bad choice for rangers. The knight role is as a tank, and stacks badly with the ranger roles. Also, the knight code is like a curse. May be useful to mounted sword and board chars (but there are other better choices) Best levels:
2nd (mounted combat, shield block)
3rd (bulkward defence)
Paladin: High HD, all armour proficiencies lots of goodies, but low sp/level. This is a great class for mounted (read the supermount thread), 2 handers and sword and board characters with high Cha score. The paladin allow you to use divine feats, smite, and has a very nice spells list. If you have a decent Cha score, is suggested to take the fist 5 levels, but you can go with more or less, that's up to you. Best levels:
Suggested feats: Devoted tracker (needed), any divine feats (and maybe extra turning to feed them), Extra Smiting
Psychic Warrior: Medium HD and bab, 1 good save, and low sp. This class is much like the fighter. If you need feats (but not weapon specialisation), and you can afford to loose a little BAB, this class is much better. I suggest to take up to level 2, for min-maxing, but I don't have much experience with psionic.
Swashbuckler: Good HD and BAB, 4 sp/level (and good skills) 1 good save. Good synergy with twin wielders, but nothing else for any other archetype. The ability to add Int to damage is sweet. Is suggested to take up to level 3, for min-maxing. Best levels:
1st (weapon finesse)
3rd (Insightful strike)
Suggested feats: Able learner.
Skilled classes (With at least, 6 skill points per level)Show
Bard: Average BAB, 2 good saves, nice spells, bardic music, and a nice skill list, but low HD A good class to dip if you plan a skilled character with some arcane magic. Also, is a good class for your cohort. The bardic music feature is much like the marshal auras. The more companions you have, the better. Its suggested to select as perform type something that lets your hands free, like sing, poetry, etc. Best levels:
Rogue: 8 sp per level, average BAB, 1 good save, Low HD, but awesome extra damage. The fastest way to get extra damage. It makes a fantastic combination with your companion, because is needed to be flanking to trigger the sneak attack damage. The bad part is that your animal companion would suffer form your rogue levels. Also, nowadays is easiest to get skirmish damage with a swift hunter build. Best levels:
1st (trapfinding, sneak attack)
any odd level
Ninja: Low DH, 6 sp/level, no armours, 1 good save, and some other stuff. I think that is a bad class for rangers. Sudden strike only works when the enemy has his Dex bonus denied, (hard to get unless you surprise or grapple him). Also, you must be unarmoured. Dipping into monk or scout gives you much more benefits. Anyway, can be useful to archers builds, due the poison use. Best levels:
1st (trapfinding, sudden trike, ki power, )
3rd (sudden strike, poison use)
Spellthief: A very weird class. It looks so weak to me that I think I must be missing something. I prefer to not make comments until I made a extensive review of that class.
Sorcerer: Lowest HD, BAB and sp, 1 good save, familiar and lots of spells It may be a interesting choice to add some magic to your character, but the sorcerer spell progression is slower than wizards. Also, due the sword of the arcane order feat, wizard levels stacks better with the ranger class.
Warlock: Average BAB, low HD, low sp per level, awesome spell like abilities (usables in light armour), DR. Nice class to dip. His best feature is that his invocations are usable at will. the eldritch blast is not so great for a multiclass character (good to have, but not awesome) The damage reduction is very nice (cold iron). Is not recomended to sword and board rangers, unless they can avoid the ASF. Best levels: 1, 2, 4 and 6 seems to be the best levels for min-maxing, but I'm not used to work with warlocks
Wizard: Lowest HD, BAB and sp, 1 good save, familiar and lots of spells If you need arcane magic, this class if for you. The wizard class synergices well with rangers with mid-high Int score. The scribe scroll feat is a good addition to rangers, since they have few spells per day. The familiar improves with your character level, so he will be stronger than average. Also, the specialist variants are full of cool features. Simply, try to use a armour with no ASF, and spells with no save, or fixed effects. And if you are allowed, get the Sword of the arcane order feat. Best levels: Any odd level
If you plans to dip into divine caster, may be interesting to check the prestige ranger. Anyway, you would loose some BAB, but your spellcasting abilities would be much better. Also, if you want to enter a PrC that gives you a full spellcasting level progression, you may want to dip, to use those levels into a better spellcaster class.
Cleric: Average BAB and HD, low sp/level, 2 good saves, all armour proficiencies, spells, turn undead Good class if you need more spells AND turn undead OR domain powers. If not, go for druid. Suggested feats: Any divine feats.
Druid: Average BAB, HD, sp/level, 2 good saves, medium armour proficiency, spells and more. Even greater than cleric. Some class features can be repeated and not stackable in both classes, so check for substitution levels, but otherwise, is great to improve your nature features. If you runs your campaign in the FR, take Mielikki as deity, to lesser the metal restriction.
Favoured soul: Average BAB and HD, low sp/level, all good saves, all armour proficiencies, spells. Much like the cleric, but more spells per day. Depending he build, FS may be a better option.
Animal lord: Easy requirements. A good way to improve your companion and remain at full bab. the best option is wolflord for flankers, or horselord for mounted rangers.
Assassin: Easy requirements. A PrC perfectly suited for stealthy rangers. Skilled, with extra damage, cool features, and a fantastic spell list.
Beastmaster Sub-optimal req. (skill focus (handle animal) The best option for enhance your companion. If you can, try to get level 4 in this PrC for min-maxing. Suggested natural bond feat
Blackguard Medium requirements. A good melee PrC, with some paladin and rogue features. Since this class is the core Anti-paladin, check with your DM about Devoted tracker feat. It can work.
Bloodclaw Master: Easy requirements. Do you want to lesser the 2WF penalties? Take a swordsage level, and then, dip here.
Bloodhound: Easy requirements. This class have some cool features, but most of them are related to the marked creature. I think that this PrC is great for NPC, but a bit weak for PC
Bloodstrom Blade: Easy requirements. Simply the best PrC for throwers and a good one for any other melee ranger. Returning attacks, power throw, weapon attitude, lighting ricochet. I haven't words for this PrC.
Chaotician: Many of the PrCs in that book can be interesting for a ranger, but this one is probably the most fascinating. Anarchic grace is a great ability if you get in trouble, and babble is simply great if you surprise an enemy who can raise an alarm or, even more importantly, cast spells. The other abilities are also useful, particularly for a character with a decent charisma - chaotic contagion even looks as if it can stack with itself.
Consecrated Harrier: Easy requirements. This PrC is much better than blood hound. Most features are a bit weak (for standard campaigns) but it has ranger spells (with faster progression, full spellcaster level and some additions.) and some other features. Is suggested to dip here if you want to follow another PrC which grants divine spellcasting levels, to get a more ranger spells per day.
Dark Hunter: Easy requirements. Good PrC for underdark campaigns. The death attack will be a bit weak, but the stone hue ability looks like a improved camouflage. On the other hand, your companion and spellcasting capabilities will suffer, so, if you want this PrC, exchange them. Darkrunner: Unlike most of the PrCs I've discussed so far, this one improves your outdoorsman role (ok, undergroundsdwarf/drow will likely be more appropriate) at the expense of some of your combat potential. Between a serious insight bonus to many skills, abilities to deal better with aberrations, and other very useful abilities, it is almost worth it. If the party can cover for you in combat and spends a lot of time underground, this is easily one of the better options. It requires (and improves) your darkvision and makes good use of a good intelligence score. Ranger/scouts might want to pay particular attention to this PrC, as can characters who want to add a few more levels to a Dark Hunter build.
Darkwood stalker: Easy requirements. Is better to have a broader favoured enemy list than a narrow but stronger one, but, for some campaigns this PrC can be perfect. Anyway check with your DM if the ancient foe feature can count as a FE for other purposes (like hunting weapons). If not, this PrC is not suggested.
Deepwarden Easy requirements. Great for rangers with low Dex score (rangers doesn't need high Dex to qualify for the weapon stile). Drop Ranger's track feat for trapfinding before entering this PrC.
Deepwood Sniper Easy requirements. This 3.0 PrC is simply awesome for any archer. The first 2 or 3 levels are mandatory.
Dervish Heavy requirements. It can be great for swift hunters or fighters, but not much for standard rangers. The dervish dance is very hard to handle, the AC bonus is a bit weak. The thousands cuts is great, but is once a day, and you can make the same amount of attacks simply casting blade storm.
Dragonstalker (Draconomicon): the value of this PrC, like that of the darkwood staker, depends on how often a particular enemy group come into play. Against dragons, the PrC is quite decent - especially if you can put that sneak attack to good use. Against any other enemies, it is not very good. Still, it has a good reflex/will save and abilities that foil scent and blindsense or allow you to ignore natural AC a few times per day for a guaranteed shot or (favored) power attack goodness.
Dread Commando: Easily one of the better ranger PrCs, all things included. The sudden strike gives you a little more damage in a few situations, and a TWF ranger with weapons having a high critical threat range (i.e. kukri) can make good use of it and the Telling Blow feat. The armored ease and stealthy movement features are both often useful, and the initiative boost is simply great - especially as often applies to your entire party.
Eldeen Ranger: Easy requirements. Simply great for any ranger in Eberron. Gatekeepers, Greensingers and Wardens of the Wood seems the best options.
Exotic Weapon Master: Easy requirements. If you uses a exotic weapon, dipping here almost mandatory.
Eye of Gruumsh (Complete Warrior): while not a ranger PrC by any means, this can be quite useful to orc or half-orc rangers who want to improve their combat potential. The PrC requires two sub-standard feats for entry imo, but at least TWF ranger can find the orc double axe a versatile weapon. In combat, the rage, extra AC, blinding spittle and blindsight abilities are likely to prove very useful. Orc or half-orc only, requires NE, CE or CN alignment.
Geomancer: Medium requirements. Great for multiclass characters. It allows you to cast spells without ASF, with improved caster level, or a greater ability score. Also gives you some other cool nature oriented features.
Justiciar: rangers make damn good bounty hunters, and this is, essentially, what this PrC is. The extra damage (if nonlethal) can be quite useful for TWF rangers, as can the crippling strike feature. You also get some nifty grapple-related features, which a strong ranger can make good use of. Overall an interesting PrC which can be useful if your campaign doesn't require you to kill every enemy you come across - or at least not immediately, as an unconscious enemy one round away from coup-de-grace death. You might want to get merciful weapons, though, or enter the PrC as a monk/ranger with ascetic hunter. Lawful only.
Justice of Weald and Woe: Easy-Medium requirements. Awesome for archers. Levels on this PcR counts as fighter levels, so you can get WS. It has his own spell list (narrow, but great), some sneak attack, poison use, death attack, and more.
Kensai: this is a PrC for rangers who want to focus on their martial prowess and on having a really good weapon regardless of what the DM decides the loot for the campaign is. One of the good options for archer rangers, as a bow is a legitimate kensai weapon (and with enhanced arrows you can get a bucketful of enhancements on each shot); TWF rangers can get some good mileage out of it by choosing a double weapon or the SUS feat/monk levels. The power surge and other abilities are nice if you have a few ranks in concentration. Not an incredible PrC, overall, but a useful one. Beats me why it's not full BAB - whatever the flavor text says, it's not overpowered. Lawful only
Halfling Outrider: Easy requirements. Great for mounted characters, and even more if you have paladin levels with the Devoted tracker feat. Read this for more information.
Harper paragon: Medium (sub-optimal) requirements. Favoured enemy (evil), exalted companion, full spellcasting. Simply great. Suggested to dip into some other spellcasting class before entering.
Horizon Walker Easy requirements. Darkvision, tremorsense, element resistances, dimension door... this PrC is full of cool features. Take a level or two if your campaign is likely to be heavily set in a certain environment or to feature certain creatures, or up to 6 level, for dimension door. It also suggested for epic play.
Hulking Hurler Easy-Medium requirements. A great PrC for large throwers. Catch weapon and throw anything gives them much more flexibility. Check the incubus' Hulking Hurler build for more information.
Master of the Yuirwood Easy requirements. A PrC with decent skills points, full spellcasting levels and some nature features. Can be useful for multiclass rangers.
Master Thrower Easy-Medium requirements. A few free feats, and some good weapon tricks. If you want a versatile thrower, take a look here.
Nentyar Hunter: Easy (sub-optimal) requirements. Lots of spells (good spells, also) in only 5 levels. And your ranger caster level stacks. The remaining features aren't so good for rangers (some are repeated).
Nightsong Enforcer: Easy requirements. Not awesome, but good for melee rangers, and may be great if your party is composed entirely by stealthily characters.
Occult Slayer (Complete Warrior): quite useful to any ranger expecting to face more than a few enemies with magical powers, whether from class levels or racial abilities. The PrC boosts the ranger's single weak save (will), gives you a bonus to saves vs spells, and other useful features in detecting, avoiding, or defeating casters. Great for any ranger who wants to be slightly more useful against casters than the usual warrior. Let's face it - ToB or no ToB, casters are likely to be your biggest problem.
Order of the Bow Initiate: Medium requirements. D8 sneak attack? Every odd level? Wow. Take up to level 5 for max benefits.
Peerless Archer: Medium (sub-optimal) requirements. A bit weak PrC. His best feature is power shoot, (power attack with bow). Until we find another source for power shoot, we must use that one. Take up to level 3-4, and then leave it, or forget it completely.
Pious Templar: Easy requirements. A holy PrC. Mettle, paladin or blackguard spells, DR, smite, weapons specialisation... A good choice for players who wants paly features.
Primeval: Medium requirements. This PrC doen't improve any ranger feature (except wild empathy), but is nature related and is a great choice for wildshaping rangers (In fact, I think a single level dip makes them viable as combat characters)
Shaarian Hunter: Easy-Medium requirements. Not so great, but still good for mounted characters (specially if you like to track mounted)
Shadowblade: Despite the medium BAB progression, this PrC should not be overlooked. Both archers and twf rangers can benefit from a good sudden strike progression, although the unseen weapon ability marks this prestige class as melee-oriented (as if the name wasn't a dead giveaway). Ideally, rangers can use unseen weapon with two weapons or at least a double weapon, and some of the abilities aren't half bad, either - from ignoring concealment (which, as you remember, prevents you from dealing precision damage) to resolving attacks as touch attacks. Bonuses to stealth skills and vision help round out the PrC as a sneaksman's choice, but I can't help but think that it, and not the shadowsmith, was supposed to have 6+int sp/level. That would make it even better
Shadow scout: Easy requirements. Do you need more favoured enemies? Dip here. The the fist level, and then, look for another PrC
Shadowsmith: A good mix of combat and support abilities, and a self-sufficiency that ties in well with ranger levels. Like with the shadowblade, a ranger benefits from some good stealth-related features, but the class' main feature is the ability to create items - including weapons, armor, or tools - from shadow. At higher levels, these weapons and armor can be enchanted, allowing you to quickly come up with the perfect item for the situation. You also get an ability that gives you a deflection bonus to AC and a few low-level mysteries per day. All in all, a pretty amazing PrC for rangers who want something different than the PHB class abilities.
Scorpion Heritor: Easy requirements. A nice class for skilled rangers. Sneak attack, tremorsense (short range), poison, and a limited polymorph ability. Simply cool.
Stalker of Kharash: Easy requirements. Much like Harper Paragon, but easier requirements, and full BAB. I think the other PrC is better, but depends on your capacity to meet the req.
Stonelord: While there is some synergy between the two in terms of prerequisites and skills, the stonelord is more useful to characters only dipping in ranger levels as it doesn't continue most iconic ranger features. If that's okay with you, you get a slew situationally useful abilities. Useful for dwarven rangers with high constitution score; consider pairing it with a few deepwarden levels for a high-constitution, low-dexterity build. If the campaign takes place underground, the PrC can be very useful.
Umbral Disciple: This medium-BAB PrC offers some sneak attack and a selection of interesting abilities to make you a better sneaksman. Abilities such as concealment/HiPS in shadowy environments or blindsight are great for a stealth-oriented ranger, and the prerequisites are easy enough to meet. I'm not sure how good the higher-level abilities are in practice, but on paper they look, well, awesome. Incarnum-wielding rangers should at least consider this prestige class if they're not hell-bent on focusing only on their martial abilities.
Tempest: Medium (sub-optimal) requirements. A PrC for fighters, so is not recommended for rangers, but can be useful for sword and board and 2 hander rangers. Tempest lesser the penalties for 2 weapon fighting, and allow to use feats in both weapons. Also adds some bonuses to AC. If you only want to reduce the 2WF penalties, take oversized 2WF or dip in exotic weapon master.
Warmind: A ranger wanting to boost his combat potential can find this PrC more than useful, especially if taken after a level or two in a psionic class (I recommend psychic warrior for the extra feats) to get the required skills at a lower cost. The abilities and powers can be great for both TWF and archery-oriented rangers. More than most other PrC presented here, however, the warmind will detract from a ranger's outdoorsman/skillmonkey role. If that's okay and your specialization won't hinder the party, then the PrC is a good option. Requires a lawful character with some PP pool (psionic race/class levels or the wild/hidden talent feat)
Wild Plains Outrider: Easy requirements. Simply great. One of the worst problems with mounted characters is what to do with your mount when you need to hide or to move in silent. (you can't diminish her, like a paladin mount). With that PrC, your mount can use your skills. Great for any mounted character.
Wild Runner Easy requirements. Rage that gives you +6 to Dex? Give me, please.
More PrC Please, check the awesome review that The_Shaman has made. I wanted to add it to the main post, but finally, I reached max text limit.
Nature's Warrior: Between good BAB and a choice of several very good passive abilities for your wildshaped forms, this PrC is great for a ranger using wildshape as his primary attack mode.
Warshaper: This is a very specialized PrC, but a very useful one. Despite the medium BAB, the abilities you get for your wildshaped form are amazing - immunity to stun and precision damage, extra strength and constitution (great before the PHB II polymorph/wildshape nerf), extra reach, healing, and eventually the ability to change shapes in the same use of wildshape.
Master of Many Forms: A great way to bypass the wildshaping restrictions of the UA wildshaping ranger variant; compared to druids, rangers have a lot less to lose from this PrC and bring more skills and better fighting abilities to it. When you start getting all extraordinary abilities of your shifted form, your versatility becomes practically unmatched
A&EG Arms and Equipment Guide BFK Barrow of the Forgotten King BB Bastion of Broken Souls BC Book of Challenges: Dungeon Rooms, Puzzles, and Traps BE Book of Exalted Deeds BV Book of Vile Darkness CR Champions of Ruin CV Champions of Valor CiP City of Peril CSW City of Splendors: Waterdeep CSQ City of the Spider Queen Ci Cityscape CAd Complete Adventurer CAr Complete Arcane CC Complete Champion CD Complete Divine CM Complete Mage CP Complete Psionic CS Complete Scoundrel CW Complete Warrior Co Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave DG D&D Gazetteer DH Deep Horizon DF Defenders of the Faith: A Guidebook to Clerics and Paladins DD Deities and Demigods Dr Draconomicon DM Dragon Magic Dra Dragonmarked DCS Dragonlance Campaign Setting DrF Dragons of Faerûn DrU Drow of the Underdark DMG Dungeon Master's Guide v.3.5 DMG2 Dungeon Master's Guide II Du Dungeonscape ECS Eberron Campaign Setting EA Enemies and Allies EL Epic Level Handbook XPH Expanded Psionics Handbook Rav Expedition to Castle Ravenloft EDP Expedition to the Demonweb Pits EU Expedition to Undermountain EH Explorer's Handbook ELQ Eyes of the Lich Queen FP Faiths & Pantheons FE Faiths of Eberron FLFD Fantastic Locations: Fane of the Drow FLFR Fantastic Locations: Fields of Ruin FLHP Fantastic Locations: Hellspike Prison FF Fiend Folio FCI Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss FCI Fiendish Codex II: Tyrants of the Nine Hells Fo Forge of Fury, The FW Forge of War, The FRCS Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Fr Frostburn Gh Ghostwalk GC Grasp of the Emerald Claw HN Heart of Nightfang Spire HBG Hero Builder's Guidebook HB Heroes of Battle HH Heroes of Horror LM Libris Mortis: The Book of the Dead LG Living Greyhawk Gazetteer LF Lord of the Iron Fortress LD Lords of Darkness LoM Lords of Madness LE Lost Empires of Faerûn MIC Magic Item Compendium MoE Magic of Eberron Mag Magic of Faerûn MoI Magic of Incarnum MP Manual of the Planes MW Masters of the Wild: A Guidebook to Barbarians, Druids, and Rangers MH Miniatures Handbook Mon Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn MM5 Monster Manual V MM4 Monster Manual IV MM3 Monster Manual III MM2 Monster Manual II MM Monster Manual v.3.5 Mys Mysteries of the Moonsea OA Oriental Adventures PlH Planar Handbook PE Player's Guide to Eberron PG Player's Guide to Faerûn PH Player's Handbook v.3.5 PH2 Player's Handbook II PF Power of Faerûn RD Races of Destiny RE Races of Eberron Rac Races of Faerûn RS Races of Stone RDr Races of the Dragon RW Races of the Wild RH Red Hand of Doom RT Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil Sa Sandstorm SS Savage Species SoS Secrets of Sarlona SX Secrets of Xen'drik SK Serpent Kingdoms SSL Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land SL Shadows of the Last War Sh Sharn: City of Towers ShG The Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde ShS Shining South SM Silver Marches SiS Sinister Spire, The SaS Song and Silence: A Guidebook to Bards and Rogues SG Sons of Gruumsh SD Speaker in Dreams, The StS Standing Stone, The Sto Stormwrack SB Stronghold Builder's Guidebook SC Sunless Citadel, The SF Sword and Fist: A Guidebook to Monks and Fighters TB Tome and Blood: A Guidebook to Wizards and Sorcerers ToB Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords TM Tome of Magic Una Unapproachable East Und Underdark UA Unearthed Arcana VGD Voyage of the Golden Dragon WB Whispers of the Vampire's Blade
I asked him long ago if I can update his tread. I haven't got any response, but I don't wan to steal his work, so I will leave the link here, and only take the builds that aren't included in his main post. I'll hope that no hurt anybody.
In honour of Mucknuggle's thread, I will maintain his post structure except some changes.
Archers Ranger 20 A great skilled archer with good spellcasting ability.
Important alternative class feature substitutions to note: Arcane hunter (CM). Quite rediculus. Trapfinding (dungeonscape) trade your track feat for trapfinding Distracting Attack (PH2). Get this if you can.
Important note for damage optimization: Swift hunter (CS) Stalker of Karash (BoED) Nemesis (BoED) Greater manyshot (XPH)
I know that you asked to pm you for grammatical errors, but man, they are too many. Unfortunately you need to at least have correct grammar, else it is too tiring for the reader. If you are not familiar with english, don't worry. Many browsers have grammatical error checks. Try to use one.
I can also see some syntax errors, but i think that doesn't has anything to do with the condex.
On the guide:
Rangers are fighters who specialize in the power of hate. To really optimize them you need to hate as broad as possible categories. Favored enemy (arcanists or evil) help this to the extreme.
The two-weapon fighting style may be somewhat sub-optimal, but it actually reduces mad. You no longer require strength to be effective in combat.
Important alternative class feature substitutions to note: Arcane hunter (CM). Quite rediculus. Trapfinding (dungeonscape) trade your track feat for trapfinding Distracting Attack (PH2). Get this if you can.
Important note for damage optimization: Swift hunter (CS) Stalker of Karash (BoED) Nemesis (BoED) Greater manyshot (XPH)
You need to add the Shooting Star-replacement features too, extra spells, increased casterlevel and Weavespeaking are all quite amazing abilities. Especially adding Practiced spellcaster, the Caster Level would be 16 on level 15 and full until 12.
Also, the racial replacement abilities, like Elf's first replacement (which is awesome, btw, great bonuses against Undead and extra skillpoints and still the option to take Arcanists) and Half-Elf's last replacement (skill mastery) along with Shifter's first abilities and such.