A bear slowly trudges behind a half-elf woman who greedily picks through the dead bodies of her slayed enemies.  A blue scaled Dragonborn, draws his bowstring and releases the arrow that flies and sinks itself into the skull of a prowling werewolf.

Rangers are the hunters of the Dungeons & Dragons world.  Always handy with a longbow and a quiver of arrows, rangers are tied to a certain type of monsters that they have a trained skill in killing that specific type of monster.   

Ranger Features

Favored Enemy – Kill This Type Better Than Most

Rangers have experience doing rangery things such as hunting or tracking specific creatures.  At first level, rangers will choose one of the following monster types to be an enemy they excel at.

  • Aberrations (alien looking monsters)
  • Beasts (lions, tigers, and bears)
  • Celestials (angels?)
  • Constructs (robots … kinda)
  • Dragons (Ya know, breath fire mostly)
  • Elementals (Earth, Wind, and Fire monsters)
  • Fey (fairies and other creepy stuff)
  • Fiends (Satan)
  • Giants (big dudes or dudettes)
  • Monstrosities (just plain out bad)
  • Oozes (slimy messes)
  • Plants (trees, flowers, nothing too horrifying)
  • Undead (dead but not dead, dead)
  • Humanoids (You can choose two races of humanoids like goblins and orcs, sorry for no pun here)

Rangers have advantage in tracking their chosen enemy and know the language spoken by their favored enemy if they have a language.

Natural Explorer – Never Get Lost!

Similar to Favored Enemy, the Natural Explorer feat lets the ranger feel most comfortable in a certain environment.  Whenever the ranger makes an intelligence or wisdom check that is related to their favored terrain, they may double their proficiency bonus. Whenever the ranger is traveling for at least one hour in their favored area they gain some of the following super cool buffs:

  • Know exact number of creatures you are tracking
  • Find double amount of food in that area
  • Can stealth alone without slowing down
  • Always alert to danger while in this area
  • No difficult terrain to slow down the group’s normal travel (doesn’t include combat)
  • Cannot become lost expect by magical means

The options for Natural Explore are:

  • Arctic
  • Coast
  • Desert
  • Forest
  • Grasslands
  • Mountains
  • Swamp
  • Underdark

Primeval Awareness – Smelling The Baddies

Spending a spell slot to use this feature, rangers can “sniff out” certain creatures in a one mile range from them.  While Primeval Awareness doesn’t give an exact location or number of creatures, knowing that their is trouble aloof can be helpful depending on the party’s situation.

Ranger Archetypes

Hunter

A parallel to the witchers in Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, the hunter subclass of ranger hunt down monsters in effort to keep the civilized world safe from those things that go bump in the night.

When taking the hunter subclass, rangers will decide if they would like to deal extra damage to wounded foes, attack a larger monster an additional time, or attack multiple targets at once.

If you are wanting to role-play  Geralt of Rivia or a Doctor Adoulla Makhslood from Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of The Crescent Moon book which I am currently reading and it’s super good) a hunter ranger character may be a solid fit for you.

Beast Master

This subclass choice shows the bonds between the civilized world and the natural world.  With the Beast Master subclass choice, the ranger gains a beast companion.  The beast cannot be larger than the medium size category, an have a challenge rating that is 1/4 or lower.  This creature will be on the ranger’s turn in initiate orders and will follow the ranger’s orders.

At later levels, the ranger can cast sells that target themselves and pass the spell’s affects onto their companion as well.

Some options for a beast companion are:

  • A wolf
  • A giant wolf spider
  • A Fastieth (a dinosaur looking thing from Eberron: Rising From The Last War book)
  • A tresses (Cat with wings)

*As a note, Vex’ahlia who I have referenced in this article a few times has a bear as a beast companion, this is because the D&D live play show Critical Role started off using Pathfinder (a different version of D&D 5E before recording their sessions where they moved to fifth edition.  Also, Dungeons & Dragons is a game of make believe, who cares if your imaginary halfling ranger has a t-rex as a beast companion?  The D&D police won’t arrest you, I promise.

Racial Choices

When building a ranger for your D&D game dexterity is the numero uno in ability scores.  Dexterity decides how well they shoot an arrow, how acrobatic the ranged combatant will be.  Wisdom will be the secondary ability to cast stronger spells.

Elves

Y’all seen Lord of the Rings.  I really shouldn’t have to full expanded on why elves are baller rangers.  But for those who haven’t seen that masterpiece of a trilogy, stop reading this article and go watch those films.  You’ll thank me for it.

But really, all elves have a natural +2 to dexterity which makes them really good at using ranged weapons which is a ranger’s bread and butter.

Halflings

The large foot little dudes (Hobbits) of the Dungeons & Dragons world, these delightful folk, much like elves, have a +2 to dexterity.  They are naturally stealthy and more connected to the natural world which could create a solid ranger.

Role-Playing Ideas

  • A treasure hungry ranger with a trustworthy bear companion
  • A steely hunter that slays monsters to protect the masses
  • A halfling ranger with a T-rex as a beast companion that’s name is Susan because who cares?