The Ultimate Ranger Class Guide for D&D 5E
What is the best Ranger build? Why are Ranger’s under powered in 5e? These are popular questions about these warriors in 5e. While the original class releasesd in the Player’s handbook could be underwhelming, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and Unearthed Arcana released since then has significantly improved them.
In the world of Dungeons and Dragons, some people live in cities or towns. They work, play, and socialize with other people in these locales, mostly oblivious to what goes on beyond the frontiers.
But beyond the peace and security of civilization, there are monsters that threaten the world: vampires, zombies, orcs, goblins, trolls, dragons, and more. The ranger is civilization’s first line of defense against this encroaching horde.
Rangers choose to live away from the rest of society, in forests, mountains, and other deserted places. But unlike the druids, who live amongst nature for religious and cultural reasons, rangers live on the frontier in order to protect the city.
Rangers are sometimes distrusted by urban dwellers. But without the rangers, no urban life would be possible.
If this sounds like a fun character class to play, you might be considering playing a ranger. But you might not know how best to protect your friends and defeat the enemy using ranger skills. This guide will tell you exactly how to do that.
Here are the best tips and tricks for playing a ranger in D&D 5E.
How can a ranger protect his friends and buff them up? Everyone knows rangers are great at combat, but can they stand back and help others as well?
The answer is that rangers are very good at spellcasting, and have a lot of options to help their allies. Cast Jump on your friend to triple his jump distance for the next 60 seconds, then follow it up with Longstrider to make his speed increase by 10ft. for the next hour. If he becomes injured and is within touch distance, get him back into shape with Cure Wounds.
Do you fear your party is running into a trap? Cast Detect Poison and Disease and scan the area around you. It just may save all of your lives.
And if you’ve taken on a challenge too tough to handle, Fog Cloud is your spell of choice. It will mask your getaway and let you live to fight another day.
Ranger's in combat
While protecting your friends can be fun, the real thrill of being a ranger is in directly fighting the enemy. Rangers are tough. They can take a lot of damage without dying, so they excel at melee combat. Rangers are also proficient with bows, making them excellent ranged attackers.
At level 1, cast Hunter’s Mark to mark a single target. For the next hour, you do an extra 1d6 damage to this target every time you hit it with a melee weapon. If you lose sight of the target, you gain advantage on any perception or survival check needed to find it.
A level 2, choose the Archery fighting style if you want to hunt with a bow. If you’d rather meet your opponent face-to-face, choose two-weapon fighting or dueling. If you choose two-weapon fighting, make sure you get the dual wielder feat to go along with it.
At level 3, choose to be either a Hunter Ranger or Beast Master Ranger. If you choose Hunter, take the horde breaker feature to get extra attacks. Colossus Slayer is another option, but it doesn’t scale as well over time.
If you choose Beast Master, you’ll get Ranger’s Companion. Here are a few great options for your companion:
- Flying snake - Does flying poison attacks on your enemies. If the bite doesn’t kill them, the poison eventually will
- Giant poisonous snake - Does great damage, can be mounted by small party members such as gnomes and halflings, and can swim
- Giant wolf spider - Its bite really stings, and it can climb walls and ceilings. This pet is even more useful if a mage in your party knows the “web” spell
Kill your enemies with a bow, a weapon, two weapons, or with a snarling beast pet. Regardless of how you do it, just kill them. After all, you’re a ranger. This is what you were born to do.
Rangers are useful members of a party even when they are not in combat. Your Natural Explorer ability will help prevent your party from slowing down due to bad terrain and will get you twice as much food while foraging.
Use the Stealth skill to sneak past bad guys and spy on them, Perception to find clues, and Insight to determine the true intentions of NPCs you confront along the way.
Ranger abilities, armor, and weapons
Your melee and ranged attacks will depend on Dex, and Dex will also help with AC and Initiative. Put your highest roll into this.
All of your spells will use wisdom, so take your second or third highest roll and put it into your Wis. If you plan on being up in your enemy’s face a lot, Con may be even more important than Wis. After all, you can’t cast spells if your hit points go to zero.
Intelligence and charisma are not very useful to a ranger. Put your worst rolls into these stats.
Rangers can wear light or medium armor. But half-plate, scale mail, or padded leather will give a disadvantage to stealth, so stay away from these. If your Dex is above 19, wear studded leather. If your Dex is 19 -18 or below, wear breastplate or a chain shirt if you're not planning on sneaking around, or studded leather if you're planning to be stealthy.
For weapons, use a bow, swords, axes, or pretty much anything you want.
How to Play a Ranger
There are multiple ways to roleplay a ranger. Maybe you are a lone frontiersman who grew up on the fringes of a nearby Kingdom. Or perhaps you grew up in the city, but the death of a loved one (or some other traumatic event) caused you to leave it all behind.
Maybe you are a part of a larger organization devoted to protecting civilization (think Watchers of the Wall from Game of Thrones). Yet another option is to think of your character as part of an elite, advanced military force that travels deep into enemy territory, where the “enemy” is the massive forces of undead, demons, orcs, and other terrors that lurk where others are afraid to tread.
The bottom line is that there are many different types of rangers. But all of them are united by a belief in defending the world against the monsters out there, in the wilderness. So get your weapons ready, and join the fight.
We’ve gone over how to protect your allies and fight as a ranger, as well as how a ranger can help the party in non-combat situations. We’ve also given tips on abilities, armor, weapons, and roleplaying for rangers.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends. And give us feedback in the comments below. How do you play your ranger? Do you use the same skills and spells that we do? Or do you have a different twist on the class?
**Xanathar's Class Updates**
Gloom Stalker (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
Get a solid swirl of rogue mixed in with your ranger. Gloom stalker is all about hiding in the shadows and ambushes in the dark (with built in super darkvision). It’s still way weaker than its revised ranger equivalent though so I recommend passing on this for “deep stalker” which is essentially the same thing only stronger (see revised ranger).
Horizon Walker (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
You’re a ranger with some planar influence which gives you some fun teleportation and force damage abilities. Horizon walkers are highly mobile, with an extra punch that bypasses most resistances. If you’re not running a revised ranger, I think this is the one I’d recommend the most.
Monster Slayer (Xanathar’s Guide to Everything)
This is the most DPS focused of the ranger archetypes, just get yourself some extra damage and buffs. It does fall short of “the hunter conclave” from the revised ranger, and is very similar, I recommend passing on this for revised version if you have the option.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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