Rangers are fun alternatives to the standard fighter class in Dungeons & Dragons. They certainly allow for more interesting role-play options.
Unlike a standard fighter, where the toughest decision is what type of weapon the character will use, the ranger requires a little forethought before starting the campaign. The wrong decisions will make the game a lot more difficult, less fun for the player, and lower the chances of the ranger surviving through the campaign.
With the changes to the game that 3rd edition rules introduced (like feats) is has become necessary to plan a character’s progression. Here are ten things players should keep in mind when starting a ranger.
8 Animal Companions
One of the fun parts about playing a ranger is the possibility to have animal companions. These can be a life-saver, but they can also get the party into trouble.
Having a bear or mountain lion as a companion is useful in a fight, but the player needs to be careful upon entering a town with them. The DM might have the townsfolk react in a hostile manner to a large bear walking free among them. Also, if a ranger neglects their animal companions, or deliberately mistreats them, it will be very difficult to attract more.
As with any class, picking the right race is important. The player should choose a race that gives a bonus to at least one of the ranger’s prime abilities.
Is your ranger going to use bows as their main weapon? Then the player might think about running an elf. Perhaps the ranger is meant to be more of a sword-fighter; in which case it might be better to choose the half-orc race.
Some races, if the DM will allow them, were seemingly made to be rangers – shifters and lizardfolk are good examples. A lizardfolk’s natural armor bonus will help counter the armor limitations or the ranger class.
6 Two-Weapon Fighting Style
Starting with the 2nd edition rule-set, rangers have enjoyed far fewer penalties when fighting with a weapon in each hand. The 5th edition rules have lessened this advantage; however, a ranger is still one of the best classes at two-weapon fighting.
Keep in mind that while this fighting style gives many bonuses to a character it also comes with some penalties. The most important of these bonuses is granting an extra attack and improving the character’s armor class. There are feats that will make the ranger even deadlier when using this style. The Dual Wielder and Ambidexterity feats are especially useful for a character using the two-weapon style.
5 Ranger/Cleric Multiclass
One thing for players to think about as they create their ranger character is the possibility of running a multiclass ranger/cleric.
The ranger begins getting spellcasting abilities at 2nd level, but their spellcasting is very limited. A ranger and cleric both use wisdom for their spellcasting, so these two classes work together well. Adding the cleric class can also give a ranger access to heavy armor – if that’s what the player wishes.
Running a multiclass ranger/cleric will also make the character a much more efficient healer than if it is simply a ranger. This combination will also allow the character to make better use of battle related spells such as shillelagh.
4 Finesse Weapons
Since the prime abilities of a ranger include dexterity instead of strength, it might be more advantageous for the player to choose weapons that use finesse. Doing this will allow the use of a ranger’s dexterity bonus for weapon use.
This will also complement the use of two-weapon fighting, and help counter the ranger’s armor restrictions. However, the player must keep in mind that finesse weapons typically do less damage, but adopting the two-weapon style will help overcome this limitation to damage potential. The Defensive Duelist feat also works very well with finesse weapons.
Although skills in 5th edition have become somewhat of an afterthought, it is still important to choose the ones that will complement the role a player wishes their ranger to play.
If the player wishes to run a ranger with numerous animal companions then the animal handling skill should be taken. If the character is going to be more of a rogue-ish type then the player should pick the Stealth skill as one of the three choices. Perception is an option, but rangers get Primeval Awareness at 3rd level; which is like Perception but better – so players should pick a different skill.
2 Plan The Ranger Based On What Archetype You Will Choose
At 3rd level, the player chooses an archetype for their ranger character. The player should pick feats, weapons, and skills that will increase the benefits granted by the archetype. Two examples of a ranger archetype are the Hunter and the Swarm Keeper.
The Hunter specializes in fighting the foes that wish to overrun the civilized areas of the world – like orc, ogres, and giants. The Swarmkeeper specializes in controlling swarms of fey spirits that take the form of swarming animals – like insects or birds. Each of these archetypes gives unique benefits to a ranger, so make sure to plan accordingly.
1 Favored Enemy
Picking the right favored enemy is important; it’s no fun to play through an entire campaign and never encounter the character’s favored enemy. To help with this, ask the DM where the campaign will take place - specifically the world. It would be a waste to choose orcs then discover the campaign takes place on Krynn where there are no orcs.
Choosing a favored enemy is also a great opportunity to add some detail to the ranger’s backstory. Perhaps the master the ranger was training with was killed by what will become the ranger’s favored enemy.
Good choices are undead or fiends since these two enemy types can be incredibly difficult foes. Many of the other choices will not pose much of a challenge when the ranger gets mid-to-high level.