... now with 35% more arrogance!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ranger

Writing about thieves/tricksters and their surprise bonus made me think about another class that traditionally had a surprise bonus: the ranger. I don't want to use the traditional ranger class directly; it's too power-heavy. Plus, part of the essential nature of the ranger -- wilderness knowledge -- is better handled as a background. Fighter + ranger background is a reasonable replacement for the ranger class. But what if someone wants a ranger feature they consider "iconic"?

Woodland Archer and Favored Creature Opponent are the easiest to implement; just add another background or two (Archer, Humanoid Hunter.)

Dual Weapon Fighting: I've heard people talking about how dual-weapon rangers are iconic, but never played a version of D&D that included them. I'm inclined to interpret using two weapons differently; fighters or those with a Dual Weapon background would get a bonus to their attack roll and could choose the most advantageous weapon to strike with. I might even allow players to pick up simultaneous attack and parry as an individual talent later.

Surprise: Traditional 1e rangers are surprised less often and surprise others more often. The safe way to do this is with a simple +1 bonus if the ranger has more background experience than the opponent. Another option, though, would be a hybrid Fighter/variant Trickster, with the scaled ability changed from a bonus in subtle and sneaky situations to a bonus in wilderness survival and stealth situations. That's a bigger bonus at higher levels, but applies only to wilderness situations.

Animal Companions: If an escalating bonus isn't imperative, rangers can simply take an Animal Trainer background. Beast Masters, either the mundane or supernatural sort, would be much better at this, so a player who wanted to focus on this could just take Hybrid Fighter/Charmer (beasts) or Hybrid Spirit-Worker (beasts)/ Charmer (beasts) with a Ranger background.

Access to Magic: I'm not so attached to this, but I think druidic spirit magic could be handled as spirit intervention for non-spell casters (basically, reaction roll for spirits modified by spell level requested.) Magic-user spells could be limited to individually learned out-of-class spells.

I think the short answer for "how do I play a ranger?" is as a hybrid of Fighter and either the variant Trickster (wilderness survival) or Charmer (beasts) (or a mix of both!) with a Ranger background and, if necessary, additional backgrounds.

1 comment:

  1. I like your thinking.
    Re dual weapons - actually shield and sword is a dual weapon; historically, they were used together - for example, the shield pinning the enemy weapon to create an opening. Conversely, two handed weapons like longsword have considerable advantages in terms of speed and reach... most weapons combos you see in history are optimum, otherwise people would use something else. So, though double weapons are visually cool, I'd put in a vote for not privileging them over other more historically common options.