Monday, December 7, 2015

Variant Ranger Recaps and Revisions

This article was originally going to be about the third ranger archetype in my rework, but I wasn't really happy with any of the implementations I had in mind once I started working out the numbers. After considering how it would feel in play, I surmised that it would probably be wiser to simply make some modifications to the way the existing Beast Master archetype integrates into my proposed base ranger class.

Further, in this article I will reword some wonky phrasing from previous entries and tie it all off. I've got a new project I want to show off next week and figure it's time to clear the board of this one.

Pack Tactics

My proposal for this base ranger class ability shares action real estate with Yield Ground, and not in a good way. To save you from navigating to older articles, the ability worked like this:
Once the ranger achieves 10th level, they may elect to use their reaction any time an ally makes an attack against an opponent the ranger attacked during the previous round. This attack gains advantage, and if it hits, the ranger may immediately move up to half their speed without suffering opportunity attacks.
I looked at it again after getting some feedback and scrunched up my nose. Apparently I work with legal documents too much, the kind designed to befuddle readers and leave loopholes. I don't like making the ranger pick between this and Yield Ground for the use of their reaction, so here's my new suggestion:
Any time you successfully strike an enemy (with a melee or ranged weapon attack) that belongs to a category you selected for your Peerless Hunter ranger ability, you may give one ally within 30 feet of the victim advantage on their next attack roll against the same monster.
This method doesn't force the ranger to bank their reaction just in case Yield Ground would be useful, and gives some synergy with melee combatants. A ranger using a bow could act as a sneak attack enabler for a rogue that is otherwise alone against an opponent, or just help the fighter out. It's much broader in functionality than a comparable class ability (such as the wolf-totem barbarian's), but is more focused in that the enemy has to be one of the Peerless Hunter favored enemy types.

Mystical Critical

Harbinger remarked that the Seeker's Mystical Critical ability wasn't a comparable damage boost at 11th level, at least not like the ones other classes get. I would contend that since the ability gets more powerful as the Seeker gets better spells (instant conjure volley on a crit at the top end is disgusting), but as usual, he's got a good point.

The old implementation was thus:
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.
I decided on a complete rework, with an ability now called Mystic Celerity:
Beginning at 11th level, on any round the Seeker casts a ranger spell, they may use their bonus action to make a single weapon attack.
It's a tiny bit weaker compared to the situations in which the previous implementation would be relevant, but encourages the ranger to cast spells more often and then follow them up with a free attack. It's not quite as boring as an Extra Attack, and I was inspired by the Eldritch Knight's War Magic class ability. It might still be too weak though!

The Beast Master

I think this archetype can still work, but it needs adjustments since my variant ranger doesn't cast spells unless you pick Seeker. My idea was less like a ranger that picks only one companion and has them forever, and more like this godawful thing that could get bunches of animals depending on the terrain they were in. So yeah.

As such, my idea is as follows.

Ranger's Companion

As written in the PHB, but this ability becomes available at 2nd level instead.

Empathy with Beasts

Selecting the Beast Master archetype allows the ranger to speak with animals as per the spell, but they may use this ability only once before requiring a short rest.

Exceptional Training

As written in the PHB, but becomes available at 6th level instead.

Bestial Fury

Yet again, identical to the PHB, and is still available at 11th level.

Nimble Companion

Beginning at 15th level, your animal companion has advantage on saving throws against spells and effects that inflict the paralyzed, prone, restrained, or stunned conditions. Furthermore, they suffer only half damage from spell effects that allow a Dexterity saving throw, and suffer none if they succeed.

Undying Companion

Upon achieving 20th level, the ranger may use their action to enter a trance that empowers their animal companion for up to 1 minute. The ranger is treated as though they are concentrating on a spell; thus, if they suffer damage, they must roll to maintain concentration. While the trance holds, the ranger may make a Wisdom saving throw every time the companion would be reduced below zero hit points, with a DC equal to the amount of damage beyond zero the companion would suffer.

If successful, the companion remains at zero hit points and can continue to take actions on the ranger's turn. Should the ranger's concentration break for any reason while the animal companion is at zero hit points, the companion will immediately fall unconscious.


This brings an end to articles involving my variant ranger. Fun exercise, I like tinkering with classes even if they don't always come out right the first time around. Use at your own risk, and if you do, I'd love to hear the results.

I've got a treat for the next few articles, a return to my Disinterred Eldricity series to resurrect another old campaign setting and modernize it for play in 5th Edition. It's been a lot of fun to work on and I hope you'll feel the same.

Till then!

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