Before I do a post-mortem on the variant ranger, I should probably finish the thought I had in the first place. To wit, here is the second archetype I've been working on, the Seeker.
The Seeker is the spellcasting ranger archetype. They are something of a hybrid between fighters and druids, and their theme is being the intermediary between druidic circles and the outside world. It assumes a conceit (which I tend to use in my games) that there is tension between quasi-political druidic organizations and the civilizations that border their territories. Seekers would be the agents they send to do jobs in and near settled lands, as the druids would be uncomfortable at best and outright unwelcome at worst.
They'd get on well enough with Oath of the Ancients paladins, but the two have different skills and aims. Seekers interface very strongly with their Natural Explorer ranger class feature, as outlined in a previous entry. This makes them a little slow to build to their full strength; they have to take at least one rest in their hunting ground to capitalize on some of their powers, at least until 15th level.
SeekerA Seeker is a supernatural guardian of wild places. Some orders of Seekers are bound to a single location, such as an ancient wood, while others wander the world offering their services as guides and intermediaries for druid circles. This close relationship with druids and natural creatures gifts the Seeker with supernatural abilities in the form of ranger spells.
Typically, Seekers exist outside of the hierarchical structures of the druids with which they work, which is both a boon and a curse. Under normal circumstances, a Seeker simply has greater autonomy and can operate where the druids are uncomfortable going, such as near or into larger cities. Unscrupulous druids, seeking greater station, may dispatch an unwitting Seeker to perform a task that causes a superior druid to lose face and thus shift the burden of responsibility onto the ranger.
SpellcastingThe Seeker gains the ability to learn and cast ranger spells. The progression and availability of these spells is identical to the Player's Handbook ranger from 2nd level onward. Wisdom is their spellcasting ability score.
Natural RecoveryA trained Seeker knows how to make natural remedies and curatives from the surrounding wilderness. While in environments to which the Seeker is attuned via the Natural Explorer class feature, the Seeker adds their Wisdom modifier (minimum +1) to each hit die rolled by the ranger or by allies during a short rest. Further, they may remove the poisoned condition from any one person (self included) during this short rest.
I briefly entertained not allowing this to be done in Urban environments, but decided to leave it as is. I remarked to Harbinger that it was a bit weird to have ranger-bums feeding you special snacks from the garbage heap in the alley in order to heal you faster, but you know what? That probably works for some people's campaigns. Have fun with it, right?
One With NatureOnce the Seeker achieves 6th level, they become even more deeply in tune with the natural world. While in any terrain they are currently attuned to via their Natural Explorer class ability, the Seeker can instinctively sense the presence of creatures with the beast, fey, or plant type within 60 feet of their position. They do not know the nature of the creatures they can sense if they cannot otherwise see them, but are aware of them and cannot be surprised in combat by creatures of the listed types if they are within 60 feet at the time initiative is rolled.
Mystical CriticalThe Seeker’s mystical prowess is in many ways reflexive, and upon achieving 11th level they are assisted by natural forces whenever they land telling blows against their enemies. Whenever the Seeker scores a critical hit against a target, they may cast one ranger spell they know with a casting time of one action or one bonus action as a reaction instead. This consumes a spell slot of the relevant level, as normal.
There are a grand total of two ranger spells I could find that had a casting time greater than one action, but I figured this covered bases in case future Weird Stuff is added. I can't imagine a DM would really care if the ranger snap-casted the alarm spell or commune with nature, but it felt like a stretch to not include the caveat.
Rapid AttunementSeekers of 15th level or greater easily adjust to their surroundings, giving them access to their signature abilities sooner. The effects of their Natural Explorer class feature come into effect after spending but an hour in the terrain to which they wish to attune, without the need to conduct a rest of any kind.
Favored GroundThe mightiest Seekers of 20th level become terrors to fight on grounds to which they are attuned. So long as the Seeker is attuned to their location via their Natural Explorer feature, they gain the following bonuses:
- Their AC is increased by a value equal to their Wisdom modifier.
- If the terrain is Unimpeded, the ranger's speed increases by an additional 10 feet and has advantage on saving throws against effects that inflict the paralyzed or restrained conditions.
- If the terrain is Impeded, the ranger has advantage on attack rolls against enemies who are in difficult terrain.
- If the terrain is Close-Quarters, the ranger suffers no damage on a successful saving throw from effects that allow a Dexterity save, and half damage if they fail.
- Enemies that are included in categories you have selected via your Peerless Hunter class ability are at disadvantage on saving throws against any spell you cast with them as a target.
And that's what I've got for Seeker! Next time I'll present the Beast Master archetype, and then go into revisions on what I've done so far based on feedback received.