For the most part, the world has celebrated the new edition of Dungeons and Dragons. It has brought a lot of changes that remove the min/maxing madness, trap choices, and bloat of 3/3.5 and resolved class imbalance problems that have plagued D&D long before 4th. 5th edition brings power baked right into the class, without a need to acquire magical weapons to stay on-par with casters at later levels. It has the charm and intelligence of a new system, while retaining the best of its earlier iterations.
One thing the collective internet masses cannot seem to agree on, however, is a particular class: the ranger. Even this blog’s first post remarked on the failings of the class.
Well, the fine folks over at reddit have gotten together and agreed upon a new ranger: the “consensus” ranger. (You can find that thread here; the PDF of the class and archetypes is here). Of the people who helped on the re-work, I want to shout-out to, SpiketailDrake, whom I have worked with in the past to help him balance the four Elements Monk. That rework has seen a lot of playtesting and is probably one of the most widely-accepted home-brews not on the DM’s Guild.
The Consensus Ranger Base Class
Out of the gate, this ranger re-work marries expectations of fantasy with class features. This reads more like a sit-down conversation about rangers and what all rangers ought to possess, and then have concrete class features to support those ideas.
For instance, the comment that Rangers are skirmishers is paired with the Skirmisher’s Stealth class feature, which allows the ranger to take hide as a bonus action.
Updated Class Features
- Favored Enemy (1st Level) – At level 14, the ranger can add the wisdom modifier to damage or the attack roll against a favored enemy once/per turn.
- Natural Explorer (1st Level) – At 6th level, you leave no trail and cannot be tracked except by magical means unless you choose to leave a trail.
- Primal Instincts* Primeval Awareness (3rd Level) – No longer takes away a spell slot. Lasts 1 minute. (Shares Primal Instincts uses of 1+Wis mod. per long rest.)
- Primal Instincts* Feral Senses (18th Level) – Spend an action. For the next hour, you cannot be surprised, and you know the location of any invisible creatures within 30′ of you, provided the creature isn’t hidden from you and you aren’t blinded or deafened. (Shares Primal Instincts uses of 1+Wis mod. per long rest.)
- Foe Slayer (20th Level) – When you hit an enemy with an attack, you can choose to deal an additional 5d8 damage and have them make a Constitution saving throw against your spell save DC. If the target fails, you can choose one of the following conditions to inflict upon them: blinded, deafened, frightened, or incapacitated. The creature suffers from this effect until the end of your next turn. If the creature is one of your favored enemies and has fewer than 50 hit points, it dies. Usable once per long rest.
New Class Features
- Natural Healing (1st Level) – At the end of a short rest, if you spend hit dice to heal and any come up a 1 or 2, you can choose to re-roll that die. You can use this feature only 1/2 your Ranger levels (rounded up) per short rest.
- Fighting Style (2nd Level) – The addition of a Mariner fighting style, which gives the ranger a swim and climb speed, and also a +1 to AC
- Primal Instincts* Gut Feeling (10th Level) – Take an action. For the next minute, not being able to see your foe does not impose disadvantage on your attack roll. (Shares Primal Instincts uses of 1+Wis mod. per long rest.)
- Skirmisher’s Stealth (6th Level; Replaces Vanish) – The ranger can now take hide as a bonus action on his turn. If the ranger is hidden when he rolls initiative, making an attack in the first round of combat does not reveal his location, provided he has fulfilled other conditions needed to hide.
The Consensus Hunter Archetype
Updated Archetype Features
- Steel Will (7th Level) – The Ranger is immune to beign frightened.
- Whirlwind Attack (11th Level) – You can use your action to move up to half your speed and make a melee attack against any number of creatures that came within 5 feet of you during this movement. You must make a separate attack roll for each target, and this movement provokes attacks of opportunity as normal.
The Consensus Beastmaster Archetype
Updated Archetype Features
- Ranger’s Companion (3rd Level) – As normal except as follows. Your beast can have increases to 1⁄2 , and at the 15th level your beast can have a maximum of challenge rating 1 and be no larger than Large.Add your proficiency bonus to the beast’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls. The creature’s hit points are equal to that in its stat block or 5 times your ranger level (whichever is higher). Your beast gains proficiency in Wisdom saving throws and the saving throw corresponding to its highest ability score (if it is already proficient in one of these saves, use its second highest ability instead).You can choose to let your beast spend Hit Dice from your pool during a short rest to regain hit points. The beast makes death saving throws following the normal rules. If the beast dies, you can obtain another one by spending 8 hours magically bonding with another that isn’t hostile to you.
- Exceptional Training (3rd Level) – As normal except as follows. Once you have the Extra Attack feature, when you take the Attack action the beast can make a single attack as one of your attacks. If you are incapacitated or absent, the beast acts on its own, focusing on protecting you and itself.
- Share Spells (7th Level) – Now is gained at 7th rather than 15th level.
- Bestial Fury (11th Level) – When you command your beast to take the Attack action, it can attack twice or take the multiattack option if it has it.
- Beastly Coordination (15 level) – Starting at 15th level, when an attacker that you can see hits your beast companion with an attack, you can call out a warning. If your beast companion can hear you, it can use its reaction to halve the attack’s damage against it.
The Consensus Ranger adds a lot of oomph that the ranger needed from both players’ expectations of what a Ranger should be capable of and mechanics that support those expectations.
The Ranger base class still has the odd “spider sense” in a 1-to-6 mile radius about creatures that are nearby, but at least now he doesn’t have to give up a spell slot to discover this information. Still, there could be something better.
The hunter archetype hasn’t changed much, and it’s really only the modification to whirlwind that has me in any way concerned. Being able to move around the battlefield and getting to attack all those foes that the ranger comes into contact with? This is obviously like the dervish of 3.5, but is it too powerful? Those are a lot of potential attacks per round – more than the fighter might get even while using second wind. And on top of that, the ranger gets to move?
The hunter’s whirlwind change is too much. The ranger that wants to abuse the changed ability will still provoke many attacks of opportunity, but how great is the risk of serious consequence when the ranger can also choose to have opportunity attacks against him at disadvantage? When you consider the Mobile feat… this modified whirlwind attack is downright broken.
Beastmaster changes are welcome and provide much needed bumps to the beast’s survivability. One thing I would point out that I do not like in this rework is the lack of magical attacks. Around level 7, the players will begin to encounter foes who routinely have resistance to mundane slashing/piercing/bludgeoning attacks. This is why the monk treats his attacks as magical for the purposes of overcoming resistance. The beastmaster’s companion needs this as well around level 7.
8/10. Has two oversights (one is major and can be horribly abused), and does not resolve some core issues of the Ranger. A slight tweak is needed, but it’s largely okay if you play without feats and do not include the re-worked whirlwind attack. It still needs some form of adjustment to the Primeval Awareness ability.