Wednesday, August 31, 2022

D&D Class Breakdown: Ranger

  For new players, it can be hard to choose your first class. For veteran players, it can be hard to choose a class and not fall into stereotypes everyone's seen a thousand times. So now I'm going to deconstruct the 5E Player's Handbook classes (Sorry Artificer, you'll come later) and talk about what works, what doesn't, and some interesting ways to play the classes. 

I won't be going into game mechanics as much as I'll be going into roleplay. 

Let's talk about Rangers! 

What Is A Ranger?

Every culture has someone who is a liaison between civilization and the wilds beyond. Sometimes that's a professional hunter who brings meat back from the woods to share with the village or it can be an expert to call in when a pack of wolves gets too close to people's houses. Today that translates to forest rangers, whose job is to keep the lines between human and wild as clear and defined as possible, no matter how many people want to try to get selfies with buffalo in Yellowstone. 

I have no idea how the Power Rangers come into any of this. 

In The Game

Rangers serve a nearly identical role as they do in reality, just substitute "animal" with "anything not human". Rangers choose an enemy, or enemies, that they are particularly angry against and get bonuses to tracking and fighting said enemy, adding bounty hunter/exterminator to their resumes, but in general are still seen as the ones who handle the owlbear that's made it's home too close to farmer Thunderstone's barn. 

A note on the difference between rangers and druids: Where rangers tend to defend humanity (or elfmanity, or dwarfmanity, or whatevermanity) from the wild, druids try to defend the wilds from humanity. The ranger is on the side of the people where the druid is on the side of the animals. This should put them at odds (Which would honestly make for interesting stories) but usually both parties will settle a problem by putting everyone back where they belong. 

Players usually play the ranger in one of two ways: Either Legolas or Drizzt. They either have a guy who shoots everything ever with arrows or a guy with two swords turning everything into an episode of Hell's Kitchen: Mincing Finals. For races they usually pick an elf, their favored enemy is usually either orcs or dragons, and their animal companions are almost always wolves or large cats. 


Breaking the Trope

The thing about this class is that it could go in so many interesting directions, and 5E has even more flavors to add to the pot that it's a shame that only the two elf boys get ripped off. Let's use some imagination and come up with some fun alternatives to Orlando Bloom and... Well Drizzt. 

Defender of Alternative Biomes
As I said with the druids, people get obsessed with landing the wild classes in the forest when we have so many more interesting places to play, especially in Dungeons and Dragons. What if the ranger was an expert in sea hunting, and yes that's a thing read Moby Dick. Or use something like the underdark, or the feywild, where they know how to track creatures where a basic forest ranger would be beyond lost. 

Half Orc Ranger
Too many people pigeonhole the half-orcs into being idiot meat heads, when while they may not win at Trivial Pursuit they can survive in a tough spot. Even more interesting, what if the ranger was defending their orc village from encroaching humans, who they saw as the same type of beast as they would any invasive species? 

At the turn of the century, expeditions were sent to Africa and South America in droves to research and discover new animals. Sometimes they'd be captured and dragged back to live sad lives in zoos, sometimes their pelts would be brought back and turned into creepy research pieces, either way, these guys had similar skills to the ranger. Arcane magic users don't have to be the only egg-heads in the party if you have a ranger looking to either stock a menagerie or fill a trophy room. 

Bounty Hunter
Rangers can take humanoids as a favored enemy with restrictions to their own race unless they are evil, so why not have a ranger that hunts members of another race that have in some way broken the law? Mean spirited and possibly racist yes but we're talking about fictional races here so let's calm down. I still want the opportunity to have a human ranger to specialize in hunting halflings...

Famous Rangers

Vex'ahlia (Critical Role)
Yup, the usual Matt Mercer darling is here. Vex is the typical bow-focused ranger who has a special taste for dragons. She also has an adorable animal companion in the form of a bear named Trinket, which aids in combat when she remembers that he exists. 

Mando (Mandalorian)
You can substitute this for Boba Fett if you want since in this context they're both the same. Both are trained in survival and how to hunt down prey, and are the bounty hunter type I mentioned above, only these guys do it in space. 

Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Gaston is an example of the historical ranger, since we see him coming in with hunting spoils and he brags about his antler collection in the tavern. The townsfolk love him, in story it's because he's the manliest man to ever man, but historically we can assume that some of his popularity comes from providing meat for the village in leaner times or during the winter, making him a lynch pin to the survival of the village. 


No comments:

Post a Comment