We’ve all heard it a million times (okay, maybe a bunch of us have heard it a few dozen times), the official 5e Player’s Handbook ranger isn’t so good. Wizards of the Coast even released an Unearthed Arcana article to attempt to redeem the ranger, though they only went as high as 5th level, and many people seem to think that build (as it currently stands), isn’t so good either.
My brother loves the class, and while he doesn’t play it exclusively, he does play it in our weekly Chaos Inc. game, and as the characters were gaining levels, I could see how broken it was. So I’ve been trying to fix it. It’s not easy. After many drafts, I think I’ve come up with something workable. It still needs to be playtested, and may be over-powered (though it seems to be in line with the fighter and rogue, who I sometimes feel might be a little OP themselves).
I’m making it available here for you to check out and play with. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you’ll hate it. Maybe you’ll let me know what those reasons are in the comments, or by tweeting at me @dharmabob, so that I can get some feedback and maybe make it better.
The build in essence:
I had bumped the hit dice up to 2d6. I like the idea of more hit points for the ranger, especially with a higher minimum (for those nasty DM’s who force those 1hp rolls). But decided that the ranger should be as tough as a fighter, but not a barbarian. So, I settled on 1d8 +2. This maintains a higher minimum, since they should be tougher than your average bear, but doesn’t give them barbarian level toughness.
All rangers are hunters, in one way or another. I’ve made the Hunter Archetype features standard ranger features. This doesn’t seem to overpower them, and seems to be in line with fighters and rogues. Once you add in spellcasting though…
I like the whole spellcastsing ranger thing. I do. But with the bump in other features, it seemed to be too much. But my brother also likes the spellcasting. He doesn’t do it a lot, but when he uses a spell, it’s usually a good thing for the party. So, I settled on weakening the spellcasting. This build gains spells and slots more in line with the way a warlock does. There are a few spells that, when the ranger casts only on themselves, do not require use of a spell slot. It seemed a fair trade.
Next up was the archetype features. Easily the hardest. To make life simple, I decided on 3 Paths a ranger could take at 3rd level.
- Path of the Beastmaster: I left Beastmaster pretty much the same as the original archetype. I made some small adjustments to it, removing one feature (Exceptional Training), moving the others down and adding a new feature at 17th level.
- Path of the Primal Spirit: For this, I used the paths in the Unearthed Arcana article, added additional features for levels above 5th, and designed it like the totem spirit path for the barbarian class. At each level where you gain a path feature, you can choose from Guardian, Seeker and Stalker. I tried to keep them balanced with each other and other classes archetypes, and maintain the flavor of the UA build.
- Path of the Skirmisher: This is your fighting ranger. This is your Aragorn. He gains things like Skirmisher’s Strike from the UA build, and gets things like an additional fighting style and an action surge as he advances.
I think I like it. But I would definitely love some feedback. So check it out and let me know what you think.
Edit 3:18pm 2/24/16: In the pdf, under Striker’s Retaliation, the first line should read
As a reaction, when you are hit with a ranged attack, or an ally you can see is hit with a ranged or melee attack, you invoke your primal spirit to instantly carry you to the attacker and make an opportunity attack with Advantage against it.