Thursday, June 23, 2016

5e Homebrew Rules: Classes - The Ranger (part 1)

Much has been made since the release of 5e that the Ranger class was somehow missing something. I've come across hundreds of blog posts, forum entries and twitter rants on the subject, not to mention a couple of Unearthed Arcana columns partially addressing the topic.

The Ranger has always been a personal favorite of mine, I cut my teeth in 1e many years ago by running Orion the Ranger thru many harrowing adventures in my friend Chris's campaign. Orion eventually reached 15th level and was retired to live out the rest of his days as a Ranger Lord from a keep somewhere on the borderlands.

While I have yet to run a 5e ranger myself, I admit to having a lackluster feeling regarding the class as written. To this end, I've spent countless hours searching the internet for every manner of homebrewed solution I could find. My countless hours of research in other's homebrewed efforts have lead me to the conclusion that if we consider the PHB version of the class to be broken or at least missing something then the host of various internet fixes nearly all error on the side of over-powering the class.

The ranger as written is a fairly solid class, a jack-of-all-trades. Able to hold their own in combat, backed up with utility spellcasting and better than most in the exploration phase of the game, they still lacked a signature power or unique defining characteristic. The Hunter archetype tries to compensate by granting a bevy of options to choose from, some more useful than others but none particularly evocative of what a ranger is. The Beast Master has potential, but the economy of actions seems to put the archetype at a disadvantage.

Of course this leads me to try my own hand at "fixing" the class. My own approach is to simply make a minor alteration or two.

  • Give the Ranger expertise in the SURVIVAL skill at 1st level. Similar to a Rogue's skill expertise. Rangers should be the absolute best at wilderness survival and tracking.
  • Give a small boost to the Favored Enemy ability. In this case, we grant a small combat bonus to damage based upon the Ranger's WIS modifier.
  • Give the Ranger a combat boost by increasing their first strike abilities. We add the AMBUSH ability as described in Unearthed Arcana.
  • We modify Feral Senses and lump into the Primeval Awareness ability.
  • Do away with the Hide in Plain Site and Vanish abilities as they become redundent with the addition of AMBUSH.

I'm in the process of writing this class up in a pretty PDF file, however I'm finding it's harder than expected... and I'm not so good at it. Stay tuned.

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