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DnD 5e - The Ranger Handbook

Last Updated: January 10th, 2019


I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

Temporary Note: I am currently waiting to include content from the Wayfarer's Guide to Eberron. According to Dragontalk (the official D&D podcast), it's in a semi-finished state and is still subject to change, which could mean that character options in the book will see major changes before final publication. Once the book is complete, physical copies will be released and I will update to address the new content.


The Ranger is an interesting mix of Druid-style spellcasting, Fighter-style combat capabilities, and Rogue-style skills. The Ranger can fill the role of either a Fighter-equivalent or a Rogue-equivalent (sometimes both), and works well as a Scout and Striker, but can't match the Fighter's capacity as a Defender.

Ranger Class Features

Hit Points: Standard for martial characters, d10 hit points gives you plenty of hp to get through the day..

Saves: Dexterity saves almost exclusively prevent partial damage from AOE effects, and Strength saves are relatively rare.

Proficiencies: Medium armor, shields, and martial weapons are great, but without heavy armor almost every Ranger will go for a Dexterity-based build. Rangers also get three skills, which is unusually high, but since Rangers fall somewhere between a Fighter-equivalent and Rogue-equivalent, it makes sense that they get an extra skill.

Favored Enemy: Situational by nature, and the bonuses you gain against the subject are really minor. The big bonuses come later from features like Foe Slayer.

Natural Explorer: You get three choices over the course of your career, so hopefully your campaign doesn't involve a huge amount of traveling. The bonuses are fairly small, but fit the flavor the class.

Fighting Style: Rangers get a subset of the Fighting Styles available to Fighters, but the ones they get offer plenty of options. Unlike Fighters, Rangers only get one Fighting Style so it's important to pick one that fits your build sincey you won't get to pick a supplemental style.

Spellcasting: Rangers have a really interesting spell list with a lot of unique options exclusive to the Ranger. However, nearly every spell on the list uses Concentration, so it's really hard to use more than one spell at a time.

Ranger Archetype: See "Subclasses - Ranger Archetypes", below.

Primeval Awareness: Situational, and not terribly useful since you can't pinpoint the creatures' locations in the 6 mile radius.

Extra Attack: You're no Fighter, but two attacks is still a considerable boost to your damage output.

Land's Stride: Difficult terrain is very frustrating for melee characters, so this will give you a big advantage in some fights.

Hide in Plain Sight: You don't get to move while using this, but it's very effective.

Vanish: Very helpful for sniping, but not as important for Rangers as Cunning Action is for Rogues since you don't get Sneak Attack. Also note that it doesn't work with Hide in Plain Sight.

Feral Sense: Invisible creatures are hugely problematic, and even knowing what square they are in is a big advantage. Being able to locate and attack them without penalty is a massive bonus.

Foe Slayer: This is at most a +5, but a +5 to an attack roll can be a huge bonus in a game where +11 is the normal maximum.

Subclasses - Ranger Archetypes


Dexterity dominates the Ranger's abilities, but be sure to put points into Wisdom to support your spells..

Str: With light/medium armor you need Dexterity for AC. Since you have Dexterity for AC, you may as well use it for weapons. Since you're using Dexterity for weapons, you can dump Strength. The only exception is if you decide to use a polearm for some reason.

Dex: Dexterity fuels the majority of what the Ranger does.

Con: As a martial character rangers should expect to draw a lot of fire, so you need the hit points to handle it.

Int: A bit for Investigation and Nature might be nice, but you don't really need it.

Wis: Adds to spells and eventually to Foe Slayer.

Cha: Dump.

Point Buy Standard Array
  • Str: 8
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 10
  • Wis: 15
  • Cha: 8
  • Str: 10
  • Dex: 15
  • Con: 14
  • Int: 12
  • Wis: 13
  • Cha: 8


Dexterity bonuses are crucial, and bonuses to Constitution and Wisdom are helpful.

AarakocraEEPC: Bonus Dexterity, Wisdom, and flight. A perfect archery ranger.

AasimarVGTM: Nothing useful for the ranger.

BugbearVGTM: For a martial class limited to medium armor, the +1 Dexterity increase is probably enough to fill out your +2 Dexterity bonus to AC so you can focus on your Strength. Reach is nice, and you get Stealth proficiency for free, making it easier to keep up with other sneaky, skilled classes like the Rogue.

Dwarf: Nice and durable.

DragonbornPHB: Nothing useful for the Ranger.

ElfPHB: Dexterity and free Perception proficiency.

FirbolgVGTM: Decent ability increases and several excellent innate spellcasting options which fit the theme of the ranger very well.

GenasiEEPC: Bonus Constitution is always nice.

Gith: Nothing useful for the ranger.

Gnome: Nothing useful for the Ranger.

GoblinVGTM: Great ability increases, and Nimble Escape gives you the important parts of Cunnin Action.

HobgoblinVGTM: Nothing useful for the ranger.

GoliathEEPC: Nothing useful for the Ranger.

Half-Elf: The Charisma is totally wasted on the Ranger, but the other abilities are great.

Half-OrcPHB: Nothing useful for the Ranger.

HalflingPHB: Bonus Dexterity, and Lucky is absolutely fantastic.

HumanPHB: Versatile and fantastic at everything.

KenkuVGTM: Fantastic ability increases, and the free skills help close the skill gap between rangers and rogues. Be sure to pick up Thieve's Tools proficiency if you're playing your party's Rogue-equivalent.

KoboldVGTM: Pack Tactics is absolutely unfair when you combine it with beast master ranger.

LizardfolkVGTM: Extremely durable, though the lack of a Strength or Dexterity increase means that your damage output will lag a bit until you get some Ability Score increases. Wisdom is helpful for ranger spellcasting, and natural armor will allow you to exceed the AC offered by manufactured armor once you reach 20 Dexterity.

OrcVGTM: Half-orc is objectively better, but neither are great for rangers.

TabaxiVGTM: Kenku is a better option, but the two provide many of the same benefits.

Tiefling: The vanilla Tiefling's ability scores are terrible for a Ranger, but the other abilities are fun, and the Feral variant subrace does a bit better. The biggest issue is that Charisma does very little for the Ranger, and the Charisma increase is one of the Tiefling's biggest benefits.

TortleTP: Tortle natural armor matches the AC cap for medium armor. That means that you get the same AC as other Strength-based rangers without needing to get 14 Dexterity to fill out your armor, allowing you to focus elsewhere. The tortle's ability scores are perfect for a Strength-based ranger, and you even get Survival for free.

TritonVGTM: Not awful, but the triton doesn't complement the ranger's spellcasting ro skills.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGTM: Nothing useful for the Ranger.

Races of Ravnica

CentaurGGTR: Charge conflicts with two-weapon fighting, and rangers do much better with Dexterity than with Strength because they're limited to medium armor.

GoblinGGTR: See above.

LoxodonGGTR: With the Loxodon's natural armor you can match the AC of the best light armor while totally naked. Unfortunately you'll lag offensively without a Strength or Dexterity increase until you pick up some Ability Score Increases.

MinotaurGGTR: Both Goring Rush and Hammering Horns conflict with two-weapon fighting, and rangers rely too heavily on Dexterity because they're limited to medium armor.

Simic HybridGGTR: Fantastic and versatile.

VedalkenGGTR: Nothing useful for the Ranger.



Rangers can get every skill their need with their three class skill choices. If you're acting as your party's Rogue-equivalent, pick up Thieves' Tools proficiency. Otherwise, pick up whatever you want. Many backgrounds will give you bonus languages, but with no social skills the Ranger has no way to make use of them.





1st-Level Spells

2nd-Level Spells

3rd-Level Spells

5th-Level Spells



Can the Beast Master Ranger's companion use Multiattack?

Only once they get Bestial Fury. That means that companions like the Giant Badger don't get multiattack until 11th level.

Does the Beast Master Ranger's companion add the ranger's proficiency bonus to poison damage?

Unclear. RAW, the poison damage is a separate damage roll, but I think that RAI the damage boost should only apply once per attack.