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The Ranger - "Have Your Cake" Edition
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The Ranger - "Have Your Cake" Edition

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PLEASE BE AWARE that this is NOT a finished product, but a proof-of-concept document. I do NOT expect money in return for creating and providing this document - in fact, the best payment you can give is in the form of high-quality and highly-detailed feedback. If something doesn't work for you, I'd love to hear why it doesn't work for you, and what you would do instead. Feel free to leave a star rating, but it would be very helpful to me if feedback was posted in the discussions area rather than/in addition to the review area, so I can get clarification if needed or continue lines of thought and dialogue.

The quintessential wilderness explorer, the ranger has its roots in the very beginnings of high fantasy through the character of Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings books. The ranger is an iconic fantasy archetype, and is featured prominently in nearly every version of Dungeons & Dragons.

It is unfortunate, then, that the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons - an edition widely well-recieved (and for good reason) - has provided a ranger class that for many players has proven somewhat of a disappointment. In addressing the issue, Wizards of the Coast has nailed the problem down to two key points:

  1. A lack of identity
  2. The Beast Master archetype not having enough design room to have a fully independent beast while remaining balanced

While a number of people have attempted to address these issues (with varying degrees of success), none of them have managed to solve both at the same time; however, after a couple months of thought (and three more of writing and revision), I think I may have found a viable path to solving both issues with the ranger.

By removing spellcasting from the core ranger class, a "power vacuum" of sorts opens up - a vacuum that can be filled with other features that the players choose that best fit their idea of the ranger. Luckily, 5th Edition has provided the perfect mechanic for these features in the form of subclasses.

Offloading the identity and combat power of the ranger into the subclasses and increasing the amount of exploration-based features in the core class (exploration being the one thing that every player can agree should be a focus of the ranger) allows the identity issue of the ranger to become a non-issue, as no one identity has to be balanced alongside another. The Beast Master has room to stretch its proverbial legs, one can make a ranger that truly focuses on spellcasting with the Spellstrider archetype, and the Hunter allows players who want to play the ultimate wilderness survivor without magic mechanics to do so.

Overall, the design approach of this ranger can be summarised with three main goals:

  1. Be flexible enough to potentially cover all identities that players desire from the ranger, either now or through future releases
  2. Mesh seemlessly with the established game role and lore for the ranger as currently stated in the 5th Edition Player's Handbook
  3. Sacrifice none of the overall mechanics and lore from the original ranger - you will always be able to play a spellcasting ranger, for example.

Because of these goals, I'm calling this proof-of-concept the "Have Your Cake" ranger, since I am confident that (with playtesting, feedback, and revision) it can prove a viable alternative to the core Player's Handbook ranger without sacrificing any part of its legacy - ranger players will be able to have their cake and eat it, too.

More details on the design process can be found inside the download. If you have feedback after reading it, I would love to get it - feel free to make a post in the Discussion tabe below. The more details, the better!

UPDATE .27: I've incorporated playtest and online feedback into the document, as well as clarified some visual issues and design decisions. An extensive list of update notes can be found in the back of the PDF. 

As always, this is intended as an alternative to the core Ranger class, not a replacement

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Reviews (3)
Discussions (2)
Customer avatar
David M April 20, 2018 7:51 pm UTC
Hey! I hope to hear that the Author of this Ranger is still around, because I would love to discuss this class and how versions of the XGtE Ranger Archetypes might be worked in to them.
Customer avatar
George H April 21, 2018 3:08 am UTC
I certainly am still around, though it depends entirely on which archetypes you want. Some of them are great, some are... well, lets just say I preferred the Unearthed Arcana versions.
Customer avatar
David M April 23, 2018 9:55 am UTC
...See more
Customer avatar
George H April 10, 2016 9:07 pm UTC
Hey, author here. If you have any feedback for the ranger, please post it here so I can engage with you on the issues you might have! Feedback and iteration are an important part of the development process (and make no mistake, this is an ongoing process), and I can't post responses to reviews if I need clarification or want to take a line of thought further.
Customer avatar
Eid N July 11, 2017 7:02 am UTC
This is my favorite ranger so I'd love to see it updated with some of the ideas in the UA ranger.
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File Last Updated:
May 31, 2016
This title was added to our catalog on April 01, 2016.