Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Variant Ranger Archetype: The Seeker

It's unfortunate how quickly the weeks go by as we enter the last few months of the year. I could swear I only wrote the previous entry last week, not way back at the beginning of the month. I've not forgotten my ranger rework! I sense that the Sentinel didn't go over quite so well, and it surely needs some iteration that I'll get to probably never eventually.

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.


A 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.


The 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 Recovery

A 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 Nature

Once 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 Critical

The 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 Attunement

Seekers 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 Ground

The 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.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Variant Ranger Archetype: The Sentinel

Hallo! It's been a bit since my last update, but I haven't abandoned my ranger rework! I've been tapped to plan for and run a game at a small local convention, which has eaten up a lot of my creative free time. On the upswing, it let me explore some fun fantasy-Wild-West campaign options that I may rehash for a future article.
Returning to the ranger, I wanted to present the first of three archetypes I've been working on. This is the one that's closest to a first draft, so I figured I'd toss it up for consumption. It needs an editing pass and probably some rewording in some places, and as always, it's not been playtested yet. Initially, my thoughts are that Elusive Guardian may be too... I dunno, weird? And that Adaptive Defense is too powerful. Anyway, here goes!


The Sentinel is a bastion against threats from the wilderness beyond civilization. It is they who intercept and execute humanoid tribal leaders before they can muster to attack villages, or who hunt and slay rampaging dragons that burn their way through the frontier. They are expert guides and are highly skilled at protecting their wards as they escort them through the dangerous wildernesses of the world.

Combat Training

When the ranger selects this archetype at 2nd level, they gain access to the Fighting Styles of Great Weapon Fighter and Protection (which must be selected normally; this archetype merely broadens the selection). They also gain proficiency in Heavy Armor. Their speed is not reduced while wearing heavy armor of any sort.

Relentless Pursuit

Few possess the single-minded determination of the Sentinel. While intent on their prey, they are nearly impossible to shake from their focus. As a bonus action, the Sentinel may select a target as their prey. Prey status persists until the target is slain or the Sentinel elects a new target with a bonus action.

While a victim is the target of this ability, the Sentinel gains advantage on saving throws against spells or effects that originate from the prey. Additionally, at the end of any turn the ranger takes where they are not restrained, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to act or move, they may move 10 feet directly towards their prey. This movement does not provoke opportunity attacks.

Elusive Guardian

A Sentinel is an expert at maneuvering in combat to get allies out of danger and slip in to deliver killing blows on their hated enemies. Beginning at 6th level, the Sentinel may use this ability up to three times, and regains all uses after taking a long rest. Any time one of the following conditions is met, the Sentinel may use their reaction to expend a use of Elusive Guardian to achieve the corresponding effect. The Sentinel must be awake and not subject to conditions that would otherwise render them helpless.

  • A hostile target enters the threatened area of an ally within 30 feet. The Sentinel may move up to their movement speed towards the hostile target or, if the enemy belongs to a hated type (per the Peerless Hunter class feature) the ranger may make a single ranged or melee attack against that target.
  • An ally is reduced to zero hit points. If the Sentinel may elect to immediately mark the triggering monster as their prey (per the Relentless Pursuit feature) and make a single ranged or melee attack against it.
  • An enemy marked as the Sentinel’s prey scores a critical hit against an ally. The Sentinel makes a single ranged or melee attack against that enemy before damage is rolled and, if it hits, the critical hit is negated (damage is rolled as though it were a normal attack).

Extra Attack

The Sentinel may make a third attack whenever they take the Attack action upon reaching 11th level.

Adaptive Defense

Once the Sentinel achieves 15th level, the ranger may focus their defensive training to shore up weaknesses. After any rest the ranger takes, they may choose become proficient in any saving throw in which they are not already proficient for up to four hours.For example, a Sentinel knows they will be going up against a beguiling fey creature that has tormented a local lumber mill for weeks. The ranger, upon tracking the fey to its lair, risks taking a short rest to become proficient in Wisdom saving throws for four hours; hopefully long enough to root out and dispatch the troublesome enemy.

Last Line of Defense

Upon reaching 20th level, the ranger becomes a bastion of defense that enemies cannot easily move past. Whenever the Sentinel is positioned so that they are the only one between the nearest enemy and the nearest ally, their AC is improved by an amount equal to their Wisdom modifier (minimum of +1) and if they succeed on opportunity attacks caused by enemies leaving their threatened area, that enemy becomes restrained until the end of the ranger’s next turn.