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DnD 5e - The Ranger Handbook

Disclaimer

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.

Introduction

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

Abilities

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

Races

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

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

Dwarf: Nice and durable.

DragonbornPHB: Nothing useful for the Ranger.

ElfPHB: Dexterity and free Perception proficiency.

GenasiEEPC: Bonus Constitution is always nice.

Gnome: 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.

Tiefling: The vanilla Tieflin's ability scores are terrible for a Ranger, but the other abilities are fun, and the Feral variant subrace does a bit better.

Skills

Background

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.

Feats

Weapons

Armor

Spells

This is not a comprehensive guide to every available spell, as that would be an exercise in madness. The following is a brief compilation of the most notable spells available to the class. Spells available via Magic Initiate are also excluded; for suggestions for Magic Initiate, see the "Feats" section, above.

1st-Level Spells

3rd-Level Spells

5th-Level Spells

Multiclassing

FAQ

Can the Beast Master Ranger's companion use Multiattack?

Unclear. According to this tweet. Ranger companions can't make multiple attacks until the Ranger gains Bestial Fury. According to this tweet, ranger companions can use multiattack. Both tweets are from Jeremy Crawford, so I'm not sure which is correct.

Personally, I would allow multiattack because it seems more RAW until there's is a definitive Errata/FAQ answer. The only option affected is the Giant Badger, and even with multiattack it's still not outright better than many other options. Bestial Fury still presents a buff for the Giant Badger because it allows it to use its claw attack twice instead of using the weaker damage on its bite.

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.