From 1d4chan
He looks pretty cool until you notice the lack of bow string.

Rangers are usually nature-loving fellas, wielding either a bow or two swords. They are patterned after a certain copyrighted hero from a certain copyrighted fantasy book. They are warriors that are generally useful for tracking down enemies. They also are usually shitty divine magic users.

It is worth noting that one of the defining features of rangers is that they specialize in hunting down and killing members of specific races. From a pragmatic standpoint, this means they boil down to little more than racist serial killers who target by species (unless one of those species is their own, in which case they're probably some sort of bounty hunter). Being that race wars are one of the cornerstones of D&D, this is unsurprising. They are rendered irrelevant by druidzillas, because rangers just can't compete with a guy who can turn into a giant bear that shoots giant bears out of his eyes while farting lightning and mauling things with its own overpowered pet grizzly bear. Rangers can get a half-assed pet grizzly bear, but because their animal companions are only as good as a druid that has half as many levels as he does, it's half-assed. Pathfinder gave them more fighting style options, made archery actually worth a damn, an animal companion that is only 3 levels behind the druids (which can be fixed with a feat), gave them better survivability and a couple of nifty spells, but the concept remained the same with all the same flaws.

Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

Rangers did not exist until Gygax invented Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The closest thing to them in the mainline was the Halfling, a stealthier Fighter (in contrast to the Dwarf being a tankier Fighter). Christopher Tolkien hadn't told anybody about "Trotter" the woodsy hobbit yet, which his father morphed into Strider in time for Those Books - so the coincidence was accidental. If you wanted to get your Robin Hood on, you pretty much had to do it as a "Thief" and beg your DM to house-rule the shit out of it (d6 hitpoints, maybe in return for losing pickpocketing).

There were plenty of "bandit" and "brigand" humans in the manuals, but these were all NPCs - just more humanoids but without the "-oid", so slightly weaker than a hobgoblin or orc.

For (post-)BECMI, the Dawn of the Emperors box introduced the Forester class. Despite its name this was the human way to play gish rather than having to do so as an elf.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

In the 1st and 2nd editions of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, rangers were not able to sneak or fight properly in chainmail or better, or shields either. Armor was so key in melee under these versions that this led to the popular mocking party cry of "Ranger down!", heard during just about every battle. Rangers were thought to be the inspiration for the "At Death's Door" survival rule, since they would never survive a single session otherwise. They had some unique tricks, but they suffered from being essentially half-assed fighter-druid-thieves without really outshining any of their components all that well unless you were out in the wilderness or engaged in other very-specific situations.

This problem is shared with all outdoors-focused classes, down to the cavalier (if done true to cavalry). D&D has, like, dungeons; and dungeons are indoors.

3rd Edition[edit]

Third edition Ranger was equally useless. Their only class features were Track as a bonus feat, some gimped spellcasting, Favored Enemy (Hating a type so much you did extra damage to them) and the basic parts of dual wielding for free, but in light armor (and one could argue that, per RAW, they don't actually have these feats and can't qualify for anything further). The chassis was OK, gaining full BAB, light and medium armor, 4+int skill points and d10 HD, but if they weren't fighting the enemy they really hated, they were literally worse than an NPC class in combat. Even then they were pretty shit since Favored Enemy granted a whole +1 bonus. At best, it was a one level dip for Rogue to gain martial weapons and be able to activate magic items that used the Ranger spell list. They technically had an animal companion, but this was a function of their spell list and not something they got till level 4. Since it was a function of a spell, anyone with a scroll of Animal Friendship and the ability to use it could technically get one.

Monte Cook apparently saw the mess coming and, as early as 2001, posted "Ranger Revisited" on his site gratis. It didn't catch on although he kept tinkering with the manuscript through 2003. Around the same time White Wolf had the Vigilant as a prestige-class.

3.5 made the Rangers a bit less useless. In exchange for medium armor and downgrading their HD to a d8, they got a good reflex save, 6+int skill points and actual class features. Favored Enemy was now twice as powerful, and the progression twice as fast (though a +2 still isn't that impressive). Animal Companion was now baked into the class progression, but still operated at half power so Druids still got a better animal companion than the ranger, and they could turn that pet into an unstoppable killing machine with buffing magic. They also swapped their bizzare pseudo-dual wielding for being able to select a combat style, either archery or dual wielding, and get some feats for that (though it was slow enough you still needed to spend other feats to do it). Late in 3.5 they got the Swift Hunter feat, which let them gain Scout progression while leveling as ranger and let them apply the scout's skirmish to otherwise immune foes. This made the two mediocre classes into a single solid one, but only if you had the system mastery and other sources to work out how to consistently be able to move and full attack in the same turn.

3.5 Ranger is a Tier 4 class, kinda doing a bit of everything but not particularly well. Pathfinder's buffs would help a lot, but they still weren't good enough at a single thing to reach tier 3. 3.0 ranger could fall even lower.

Through Malhavoc meanwhile, Monte published Wolfgang Baur's Book of Roguish Luck which proposed (at last) a "Bandit" class, for your Robin Hood needs. He should be right up Trotter's alley, as an outdoors burglar. Arcana Unearthed for outdoors-and-eldritch gave up on rangers, simply loading up with various shamans instead (and allowing the Vigilant).

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Classes
Player's Handbook: Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
Player's Handbook II: Beguiler - Dragon Shaman - Duskblade - Knight
Complete Adventurer: Exemplar - Ninja - Scout - Spellthief
Complete Arcane: Warlock - Warmage - Wu jen
Complete Divine: Favored Soul - Shugenja - Spirit Shaman
Complete Psionic: Ardent - Divine Mind - Erudite - Lurk
Complete Warrior: Hexblade - Samurai - Swashbuckler
Dragon Compendium: Battle Dancer - Death Master - Jester
Mountebank - Savant - Sha'ir - Urban Druid
Dragon Magazine: Sha'ir - Deathwalker - Fleshcrafter - Soul Reaper
Dragon Magic: Dragonfire Adept
Dungeonscape: Factotum
Eberron Campaign Setting: Artificer
Heroes of Horror: Archivist - Dread Necromancer
Magic of Incarnum: Incarnate - Soulborn - Totemist
Miniatures Handbook: Favored Soul - Healer - Marshal - Warmage
Ghostwalk: Eidolon (Eidoloncer)
Oriental Adventures: Samurai - Shaman - Shugenja - Sohei - Wu jen
Psionics Handbook: Psion - Psychic Warrior - Soulknife - Wilder
Tome of Battle: Crusader - Swordsage - Warblade
Tome of Magic: Binder - Shadowcaster - Truenamer
War of the Lance: Master
NPC Classes: Adept - Aristocrat - Commoner - Expert - Magewright - Warrior
Second Party: Mariner - Mystic - Noble - Prophet
Class-related things: Favored Class - Gestalt character - Multiclassing
Prestige Class - Variant Classes - Epic Levels - Racial Paragon Classes

4th Edition[edit]

In 4e they get to mark their enemies, making them useful when you're fighting one tough thing and a bit crap against swarms. They can either slaughter one enemy, or irritate several, depending on what the situation calls for. Or they can completely miss with their most powerful once-per-milestone attack, and that's some fun. This edition removed the spellcasting abilities of earlier editions, since they had always been pretty shitty casters anyway and it was mostly a poor attempt to justify some of the more esoteric abilities of the class. The "spellcasting archer" archetype was eventually spun off into its own class, the Seeker.
As each class had ways to specialize their abilities, so too did the ranger with the following:

  • Archer which just grants Defensive Mobility as a bonus feat so they get some extra AC vs Opportunity Attacks, which is decent.
  • Beast Mastery, predictably, grants an animal companion. The issue with this is that it forces the Ranger to relying on either tandem attacking with the pet (Not always ideal for some pets) or focus on archery (Which sucks since all the pet-dependent powers rely on Strength and Prime Shot is gone, though the Horse does offer unbeatable mobility).
  • Hunter emphasizes switch-hitting by granting the Quick Draw feat as well as giving a better AC vs Opportunity attacks for shooting, so have fun using hand-crossbow and sword.
  • Marauder is the speedy two-weapon class with the Two-Weapon Defense feat, thus granting +1 AC/Reflex/Speed for using two weapons.
  • Two Blade is the offensive two-weapon class by only granting Toughness for bonus HP.

The Essentials book Heroes of the Forgotten Lands also provides two simplified Ranger Variant Classes to use: The Hunter, which focuses exclusively on archery, and the Scout, which brings the Ranger back to it's not-quite-Druid roots with actual magic and the ability to dual-wield. These two classes, as with most Essentials classes, severely narrow down the choices available to the class, with most attack powers being mandatory.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Classes
Player's Handbook 1: Cleric - Fighter - Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Warlock - Warlord - Wizard
Player's Handbook 2: Avenger - Barbarian - Bard - Druid - Invoker - Shaman - Sorcerer - Warden
Player's Handbook 3: Ardent - Battlemind - Monk - Psion - Runepriest - Seeker
Heroes of X: Blackguard* - Binder* - Cavalier* - Elementalist* - Hexblade* - Hunter*
Mage* - Knight* - Protector* - Scout* - Sentinel*
Skald* - Slayer* - Sha'ir* - Thief* - Vampire* - Warpriest* - Witch*
Settings Book: Artificer - Bladesinger* - Swordmage
Dragon Magazine: Assassin
Others: Paragon Path - Epic Destiny

*·: Non-AEDU variant classes

5th Edition[edit]

Unfortunately, in 5e, they are generally considered the weakest class in the game for a wide number of extremely good reasons. A ranger isn't useless, but outside of a few niche roles involving tracking things, there is very little they can do that other classes can't do better. And a lot of their abilities are just wretched, with very limited utility (rangers are good at tracking... and that's about it), probably the worst first-level benefits in the game, plenty of "dead levels" with no gains to anything but proficiency bonus and spell levels, and heavy reliance on an extremely-limited selection of spells to even function on par with other martials. They share many of these problems with paladins, but paladins actually have some class abilities that scale naturally as they level and don't need to spend spell slots for some of their class features. Rangers don't, and, humiliatingly, get a cut-down, useless version of the paladin's divine sense at a higher level that eats a spell slot.

And while the decision to remove virtually all combat benefits from preferred enemy and terrain might've been intended to make them less serial killer-ish and prevent the DM from not including any of the ranger's favored enemies in the campaign, in practice it just means there's little benefit to it whatsoever short of picking up a free language if it's a talking kind of enemy. To add insult to injury, the "capstone" level 20 class ability is extremely weak, and contains a combat benefit to preferred enemy that everyone and their mother agrees should've been a part of the class at level 1. They tried to fold it all into the hunter's mark spell... but rangers are absolutely starved for spell slots just to keep up anyway, and a fighter's comparative abilities recharge every short rest. Nobody likes being compelled to burn precious resources and gish when they can so clearly remember not having to. Again, problems largely shared with paladins (the half-casters really got the shaft this edition), but paladins have a few tricks to make their lives easier that rangers don't. Plus, that hunter's mark eats a bonus action, so while they do okay with ranged weapons, good luck trying to two-weapon fight like so many "iconic" D&D rangers have in the past.

And, of course, there's the much-maligned animal companion, available as an archetype benefit, that wanders derpily around unless you burn your own actions to let it use them. Everyone, even the class's defenders, will admit this is at best unnecessarily limiting, given the way spellcasters can throw summons around, and at worst completely nonsensical. In the rules as written, a dying ranger's animal companion will stand around like a statue while its partner bleeds out! (An Ask the Sage article did later specify that a ranger's animal can still use actions when he's incapacitated, restrained, etc., but still!)

Again, they aren't useless... just completely outclassed by many other classes that can do their jobs better than they can.

They regained their spellcasting knack in this edition, although an Unearthed Arcana on the WoTC includes a non-caster Ranger variant/Ranger class option as part of its example on custom-brewing new class stuff for 5e. This version of the Ranger instead gets the ability to cook up herbal healing poultices, resistance to poison (and ability to use a poultice to cure poisoning in a friend), a non-magical ability to persuade local critters to fight for them temporarily, and automatically getting a superiority dice under the right circumstances. Non-spellcasting rangers with animal companions get the ability to halve damage enemies dealt to their pets instead of the ability to share spells. It's... well, it's nice, but not having hunter's mark hurts like a sonofabitch, and those poultices that replace half your spells taking a minute to work is just uncalled for.

A recent Unearthed Arcana based around the ranger addressed player feedback that the ranger felt a bit weak, with many unsatisfying elements. In particular, it mentions that companions in general are a bitch and a half to manage: too strong, and the player effectively gets two characters to play at the same time and, at worst, an unmanageable long-term advantage, but too weak and who gives a shit about that critter you have to burn actions to get moving and attacking? (Potential parallels to long-term, well-known, and well-documented issues regarding casters and summoning spell abuse were, naturally ignored with an almost religious fervor.)

The result was probably considerably more powerful, but a lot less popular, with lame-brained attempts to reflavor the ranger into a kind of nature paladin, while actively poo-poohing the fixes everyone asks for (more low-level combat benefits, either more spells or less-heavy reliance on them, combat attachments to preferred enemy, etc.). It was a decent class, perhaps, but a terrible ranger. Overwhelmingly negative response caused them to halfheartedly mutter some guff about maybe putting the animal companion in further down-level, before skipping past it.

Common wisdom (heh!) is that, whatever their success with the rest of the edition, the 5e designers are hopelessly lost when it comes to the ranger, unhealthily fixated on correcting things that aren't broken while ignoring very basic issues that should require very little effort to resolve. Gentlemen, start your homebrews.

Then, an Unearthed Arcana released the Scout archetype for the Fighter, who basically has the ranger's best-flavor class feature with superior mechanics backing it up. Derp.

Amusingly, even post-rework, they don't make great two-weapon fighters, since they rarely have the bonus action free to hit a bad guy with when they need to activate their class features or spells, a problem they share with the rogue. And this is even though one of their restricted list of Fighting Styles is two-weapon fighting.

Perhaps as an apology for the weak initial class, the first set of new archetypes post-rework (helpfully explaining that both get Extra Attack if using the reworked ranger) are both quite potent. The Horizon Walker is a ranger that battles extraplanar threats to protect the material world, and to that end gains a pile of new spells, free damage-reduction bypass and bonus damage as a bonus action, and the ability to sense portals at level 3. From there, they can become etherial for a turn as a bonus action at level 7, teleport around while attacking at level 11, and get what amounts to Uncanny Dodge with cooler flavor text at level 15, for an archetype that's about on-par with the others.

The other one, the Primeval Guardian, is clearly intended to be the "tanky" ranger, and the adaptation of the Warden class. It can assume a tree-like form as a bonus action, causing it to increase in size and gain reach and a regenerating supply of temporary hitpoints as a bonus action, staying in it until K.O.'d or he ends it as another bonus action, then gains the ability to also increase its HP total by twice its ranger level once per short rest while doing it at 7th level, turn the area within 30 ft of it into difficult terrain for its enemies, and finally giving the whole party regeneration up to half their HP total equal to half its ranger level while in tree form, effectively telling both the Champion, who gets less regeneration at a higher level that only affects himself, and the Banneret, that can only give out that kind of healing to a set number of people during a short rest, to eat shit. The one downside is that being in treeform sets his speed to 5 ft., and even this can be worked around with spells or timing. It also gets a pile of spells and an extra d6 piercing damage from magical thorns on one attack per turn at 3rd level, also no action required.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Classes
Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Warlock - Wizard
Tasha's Cauldron of Everything: Artificer - Expert - Spellcaster - Warrior
Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft: Apprentice - Disciple - Sneak - Squire
Unearthed Arcana: Mystic

Fix It, 5e![edit]

Hoot Hoot, motherfucker.

Never let it be said that WotC doesn't know how to listen for the call of potential money. In September 2016, a whole new "Ranger, Revised" Unearthed Arcana was released. It's a complete revamp from the ground up, basing itself extensively off of a poll about the Ranger's "essential traits" concocted by WotC and with a large prelude explaining that, yes, this may potentially lead to a "Ranger Mk 2" getting a formal release, and no, that won't invalidate the original Ranger if you still want to keep playing it. (what's wrong with you?)

So, what's different about the Revised Ranger? Well...

Natural Explorer is even more awesome than before, no longer limited to a specific terrain type and incorporating many higher-level benefits, like ignoring difficult terrain, right out of the box, along with all the sweet, sweet flavor it always had.

Favored Enemy now grants a +2 damage bonus at level 1 (scaling to +4 damage bonus and advantage on saving throws vs. their attacks at level 6) plus a free language of your choice, with instructions to try to keep it thematic. But you only get to pick twice, once from the "common" enemy types at 1st level, once from a list of "big game" (Aberrations, Celestials, Constructs, Dragons, Elementals, Fiends or Giants).

Extra Attack is gone, but it's a component of every archetype but the Beast Conclave.

Primeval Awareness has gone from a useless joke of a class feature to an extremely powerful one, allowing the Ranger to sense any of his favored enemies and a great deal of information about them within a five-mile radius by spending a minute meditating - no spell-slot required!

Instead of Land's Stride, which is now baked right into Natural Explorer, you gain Fleet of Foot at eighth level, which lets you Dash as a bonus action.

Hide in Plain Sight works about the same, but no longer requires a full minute to set up.

Foe Slayer is still the capstone, and now works on anyone, rather than just Favored Enemies. Still not great, but better.

The Hunter Conclave is literally identical to the Hunter path, with the only difference being that it gets Extra Attack to make up for the base class not getting it.

The Stalker Conclave is about the same as the Deep Stalker, though with a few tweaks. Its 3rd level ability allows it to evade darkvision while hiding rather than giving it the bonus hide action early when it got off an ambush, the mechanics of its own bonus darkvision got heavily tweaked, it gains an extra attack like the Hunter, the language on its Flurry got shifted around a bit, and it can Dodge after seeing whether or not a hit would connect. Otherwise, it is largely exactly the same.

Finally, the reason for like 75% of this whole rework, the Beast Conclave, which is extensively modified from its base version in a number of different ways. For starters, your animal companion is now set (your choice of ape, black bear, boar, giant badger, giant weasel, mule, panther or wolf) rather than being chosen from "any creature with CR 1/4" like in the corebook. It can be restored to life if slain by a ritual that costs 25GP of materials and which takes 8 hours. Although a companion beast loses its Multiattack ablity (something justified in a sidebar as being to avoid making it outshine the party's fighter or barbarian), it finally can strike under its own initiative; you can command what it does, but if you can't directly command it, then it'll work things out for itself. It uses your proficiency bonus, is proficient in two skills of your choice gains in hit dice when you gain levels, and increases its own ability scores when you gain a level-based Ability Score Increase. It also adds its proficiency to a number of non-standard things, like AC and damage.

At 5th level, your Coordinated Attack feature means that your companion can use its reaction to make an attack if it sees you use the Attack action during that turn. Likewise, the 7th level feature, Beast's Defense (companion has advantage on all saving throws) doesn't work unless it can see you. No such weakness applies to its 11th and 15th level features; Storm of Claws and Fangs lets it use its Attack action to dish out a melee strike against every creature within 5 feet of it, whilst Superior Beast's Defense lets it spend its reaction to halve damage from an attack it takes.

UPDATE Unfortunately in a tweet on July 2018 and later videos on Youtube, Jeremy Crawford announced that the Ranger would not be getting a revision, not even an official printing of this UA class. He even suggested that if you didn't like it you should just play a different class.

UPDATE UPDATE Larian Studios-the studio behind Divinity Original Sin I & II-are getting to work on adapting 5e for Baldur's Gate 3. They, like any sane designers, noticed that the ranger was more than a little weak sauce, and have gotten the green light from wizards to try beefing it up some. It sounds like initially they are looking at keeping the base class the same and making/boosting sub classes that are much more powerful, and that these changes will be usable on tabletops as well. Although when you actually look at the interview, you'll notice that Mike Mearls is desperately trying to insist that the class isn't terrible as is and that players are to blame for its reputation because they're not playing the game right.

Take Four: Class Feature Variants[edit]

The November 2019 UA, Class Feature Variants, gave the Ranger YET ANOTHER go around to try and make it a little less awful to play as. Funnily enough, these optional rules are also compatible with Ranger Revised, so you can assemble a Frankenstein's Monster of a class if you take both of them. The Ranger got the most attention out of any class featured in the UA, putting in several key features that make the 5e Ranger much more palatable.

First off, you can choose to replace Favored Enemy with Favored Foe, trading your somewhat niche tracking abilities for the ability to cast Hunter's Mark for free a number of times equal to your WIS modifier without concentration. That marked foe also counts as your Favored Enemy. That is the kind of trade any vanilla Ranger will take in a heartbeat!

Next, a Ranger can replace Natural Explorer with Deft Explorer, which itself has three options that you can eventually get all of:

  • Canny, which gives you proficiency and double prof on Animal Handling, Athletics, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception, Stealth, or Survival checks.
  • Roving, which increases your walking speed by 5 feet and gives you a swimming and a climbing speed equal to your walking speed.
  • Tireless, which gives you temp hit points equal to 1d10+WIS mod, can be used WIS mod times per long rest, and eventually lets all of your short rests reduce your exhaustion by 1.

In addition to all of the other Fighting Styles every class gets, Rangers get a special style which lets you nab any two cantrips from the Druid and use them as your own! They get the same Spell Versatility that Sorcerers get, letting you swap out one spell per long rest, which makes a little more sense for the Ranger.

Remember Primeval Awareness, that useless joke of a class feature? You can now swap that out with Primal Awareness, which gives you a boatload of tracking related spells like Speak to Plants, Detect Magic, Beast Sense, and Commune with Nature, and lets you cast them once a day for free! Another trade that any vanilla Ranger will take in a heartbeat, and it's much more flavorful.

The Beast Master Ranger also gets a few new toys, allowing you to take two additional companion template options: the Beast of the Air and the Beast of the Earth. Most notably, both template options can be controlled as a bonus action, which is something that Beast Rangers have been clamoring for since they saw what the Artificer got.

Finally, they can trade in Hide in Plain Sight for Fade Away. This turns the futzing about with camo and dirt into straight-up magical invisibility as a bonus action once per short or long rest.

All in all, the changes presented in the UA scrapes away most of the useless crap that the vanilla Ranger gets and replaces them with robust options. You might not be the damage-dealing badass you envisioned, but the Ranger is a somewhat respectable class with these changes implemented.

These were all canonized in a way in the splatbook Tasha's Cauldron of Everything. The changes are as follows:

  • Favored Foe scales from 1d4→1d6→1d8 as the ranger levels up rather than the static d6 Hunter's Mark provides.
  • Deft Explorer is no longer something you can pick and choose for progression. The order is locked to Canny→Roving→Tireless. Canny now gives expertise/double proficiency in one skill and the ability to speak two additional languages, while Tireless heals a bit less.
  • The Beast Master gains the ability to summon a Beast of Land, Sea, or Sky (Meaning they effectively have a permanently-cast Summon Beast, a new spell made just for this reason available to both Rangers and Druids), essentially giving more versatility to this feature. The air beast flies, the earth beast charges, and the sea beast swims and grapples when it hits. These pets even scale with the ranger's proficiency bonus.
  • Primal Awareness loses a few spells, but are otherwise identical
  • Fade Away is renamed to Nature's Cloak and now can be used multiple times per day equal to proficiency bonus.

Xanathar's Guide to Everything[edit]

Included in XGtE are three new ranger subclasses. They don't pave over most of the problems caused by the erroneous rules in the PHB and take the class away from the Beastmaster/tracking image of the class presented in the PHB. However, regardless of this, they have still managed to make the Ranger an iconic, diverse and interesting class that can hold its own against most others, and when combined with the UA Revised Ranger or a competent homebrew a well-built XGtE ranger can be a force to be reckoned with.

The first of the three is the Gloom Stalker, a rogue-esque subclass that is considerably more powerful than other ranger archetypes if you're playing in a campaign where you frequently enter dungeons, caves, the Underdark, or other dark places. It also gives you access to Rope Trick at 5th level (giving your party a safe place to take a short rest should never be discounted, especially as this was previously exclusive to wizards) and greater invisibility at 13th level (an amazing option for any stealthy character, and one that makes you stealthy even in light areas). The other spells (disguise self, fear, and seeming) are situational but still useful nonetheless. At 3rd level you can add your wisdom modifier to initiative, gain 60 ft. darkvision (or add 30 ft. if you already have it), on the first turn of combat gain +10 ft. of movement and an extra attack that deals an extra 1d8 damage, and nullify other creatures' darkvision when they try to see you in the dark, essentially making you invisible to most creatures in the monster manual. At 7th you gain proficiency in Wisdom saving throws (or intelligence/charisma if you already have it), can turn a miss into another attack at 11th, and can impose disadvantage on an enemy's attack roll against you whenever it attacks without advantage as at 15th, albeit as your reaction. The 3rd level bonuses alone, especially Umbral Sight, make this subclass terrifying to most monsters.

The second subclass is the Horizon Walker, a less stealthy subclass than the Gloom Stalker, but no less effective. If you want to teleport around in combat and hit stuff, this is the subclass for you. The spells are, almost without exception, fantastic: protection from evil and good at 3rd, misty step at 5th, haste at 9th, banishment at 11th (the only weak link as you likely won't have a high enough wisdom to back up this otherwise great spell with a high enough DC) and teleportation circle at 17th. Your 3rd-level bonuses are more specialist than the Gloom Stalker: gaining the ability to detect the distance and direction to the nearest planar portal within 1 mile (helpful in plane-hopping campaigns) and Planar Warrior, which gives you bonus damage and turns the weapon damage on the affected attack into force damage (which is resisted by almost nothing). It only works once per turn, and uses your bonus action so you may be able to do more damage by investing in two-weapon fighting or taking Crossbow Mastery, but this is free, and it scales on its own at 11th. At 7th, you can cast etherealness once per rest as a bonus action, allowing you to slip past enemies that can see invisibility or that have blindsight, walk through doors and walls, etc. At 11th you gain the ability to teleport 10ft. when you take the Attack action, which is on top of your normal movement, and can make a 3rd attack against a 3rd creature if you've attacked two creatures so far on your turn. If you have two enemies to attack in a small enough area, you can teleport back and forth between the two while attacking. Be sure to caste Haste before you jump into combat. At 15th you can use your reaction when you get hit to give yourself resistance to all the damage of that hit. Couple this with a high AC and you can prevent a large amount of damage as you only have to use it when you are hit.

The final subclass is the Monster Slayer, an improved version of the Hunter subclass from the PHB. Unfortunately it can't compete with the Gloom Stalker's capacity for stealth, or with the Horizon Walker's damage output (at least before 15th); despite this, it is still very powerful in its own right. Its spells are mostly either situational or difficult for you to use given your likely mediocre wisdom, with the exception of protection from good and evil, which you get at 3rd. At 3rd, you gain the ability to discern a creature's damage immunities, resistance or vulnerabilities as an action and can use Slayer's Prey against (i.e. mark) one creature so that it takes 1d6 extra damage on the first attack you hit it with each turn (this stacks with Hunter's Mark but both use a bonus action so do this one first) and lasts until you change the target or finish a rest. At 7th, you can add 1d6 to grapple checks or saving throws against the target of your Slayer's Prey - a bit unreliable but fantastic nonetheless. At 11th you can nullify a spell or teleport by a creature within 60 ft. by forcing them to make a wisdom save against you spell save DC - not quite as good as Counterspell but could still prevent an enemy escaping or casting a spell that would ruin your day. Finally, at 15th you gain the absurdly good ability to use your reaction to counterattack against the target of your Slayer's Prey when they force you to make a saving throw - you attack before making the save, and if the attack hits you also automatically pass the saving throw. There's no limitation on its usage, so if you're fighting a spell caster you'll be able to get free attacks against them every round assuming you're using ranged weapons.

Fizban's Treasury of Dragons[edit]

The 5e Draconomicon has a single new Ranger subclass in it; the Drakewarden is a variant Beastmaster who is able to summon a lesser draconic spirit as a fighting ally and eventual steed.

  • Level 3: Draconic Gift - You gain Thaumaturgy as a bonus cantrip and Draconic as a bonus language.
  • Level 3: Drake Companion - You can summon a Small Dragon; outside of choosing whether it is immune to Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning or Poison, it's basically completely up to you what it looks like. It functions similarly to the Beastmaster's animal companion, but it can bite enemies and it can also add bonus elemental damage (same type as its damage immunity) to the weapon attack of an ally within 30 feet. It can be summoned for free 1/day, but if it gets killed, you can burn a 1st level or higher spell slot to resummon it.
  • Level 7: Bond of Fang and Scale - Your Drake Companion is now Medium sized, you can ride it like a Mount, its Bite does +1d6 elemental damage, and you can choose to summon it with either a Swim speed or a Fly speed (though it can't fly and carry you. Also, when summoned, your Drake Companion gives you Resistance to the same elemental damage it's Immune to.
  • Level 11: Drake's Breath - As an action, either you or your Drake Companion can spew a 30ft cone of Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning or Poison (doesn't have to be the same damage your DC is immune to). You can do this for free 1/day, and recharge it by spending 3rd level or higher spell slots. The attack does 8d6 damage (half on a successful save), which becomes 10d10 at 15th level.
  • 15th Level: Perfected Bond - Your Drake Companion is now Large sized, it can fly with you on its back, its Bite does +2d6 elemental damage, and you can spend a Reaction to give yourself or it Resistance to damage so long as you're within 30 feet.

All in all... it's actually better than the Beastmaster, but that's admittedly not a high bar to clear.

13th Age[edit]

Unfortunately, the Ranger is another class in 13th Age that suffers from being a "simple" class, but Rangers are very unique you see. Why? Because they have NO FEATURES at all, instead relying exclusively on Talents for Options. This means that they can jack spells from the Sorcerer or Cleric, take a favored enemy, get an animal pet, track good or make an extra attack on a natural even result of the die.

The costliest of these options is the ability to take a full-grown animal companion (not to be mistaken with the pet, which just jacks the Wizard's familiar except for the part where it's magical), which technically acts during their owner's Initiative, though the action will only happen before or after the owner's turn depending on typing. With 13th Age's watered-down playstyle, this means that one statline is shared between all pets, with the differences between each type being merely a specific perk (some of which can have feats), and that's a bit flat when you have to spend an entire two fucking talents out of a Ranger's initial three talents (or if you try saving up for one of the talents you get later in your class progression, but that's even stupider because you're wasting an entire 3-to-5 levels on a dead talent). Enter the 13 True Ways splat and the Druid. The Druid can also gain a pet just like the Ranger, but with extra tweaks. The first is the ability to only spend only one talent, letting you call up your pet, but only on every other battle, which can prove to be a drag depending on how you time that cooldown. The second is that spending those two talents for a full-time pet also provides you with a special set of Daily spells that are specifically made to buff your pet and nothing else. Best of all, these were retroactively shared with the Ranger too because even the devs realized how trash it would've been if the Ranger was stuck with the naff version provided by the CRB.


1st Edition[edit]

Harsk, Pathfinder's iconic Ranger

Pathfinder helped the sad-sacks out, but they're still only an OK class instead of a great one. The biggest changes were the ability to use medium armor without penalty and that now both their casting and animal companion progressed at level-3 instead of half level. Their fighting style improved greatly, gaining the ability to ignore prerequisites, coming more frequently and having better options. There's also some archetypes that enabled the ranger to make and use traps - which would be cool in a campaign where you had plenty of prep time to get all the traps ready, but are utterly useless the moment combat rolls around and the traps got all used up or evaded, plus none of the traps were good enough to be worth losing spellcasting over. This is brought up in particular because come the Second Edition, Paizo also opted to scrap casting from the ranger's list of things to focus on being a dual-wielder or crossbow-centric fighter who, with the right feats, became a trapmaker. Eventually they and rogue spawned the Slayer hybrid class, which was really just a Ranger that swapped out spell casting for some sneak attack and Rogue talents.

The Classes of Pathfinder 1st Edition
Core Classes: Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
Player's Guide:
Alchemist - Antipaladin - Cavalier
Inquisitor - Oracle - Summoner - Witch
Class Guide:
Arcanist - Bloodrager - Brawler - Hunter - Investigator
Shaman - Skald - Slayer - Swashbuckler - Warpriest
Kineticist - Medium - Mesmerist
Occultist - Psychic - Spiritualist
Ultimate X: Gunslinger - Magus - Ninja - Samurai - Shifter - Vigilante

2nd Edition[edit]

Reminiscent of 4th Edition, Pathfinder Second Edition did away with the Ranger's casting potential as a core feature. In its place, the Ranger focuses on a special action called "Hunt Prey", a much more flexible variant of 5E's Hunter's Mark spell. This action makes it easier to track the designated enemy and negates some of the range penalties when shooting, but then there's the subclasses - These add a secondary effect for the ranger (reducing the penalty for attacking multiple times in a turn, a bonus to learning about and avoiding your prey or bonus damage for the first hit in the turn - the only way to use crossbows). While not utterly a failure as a skill monkey, their skill utility is limited to Nature (especially for pets), Stealth and Crafting (for those focused on trapmaking) as well as having the best proficiency progression on Perception - especially for scouting.

Aside from these core features, Ranger feats tend to focus on one of three things: Combat (Especially with regard to crossbows, archery or dual-wielding), crafting Snares (which now aren't an obscure and utterly useless nightmare, though still hamstrung by the limitations) and the expected animal companion feat line. The APG, however, aims to resurrect their spellcasting in the form of Focus spells, as is the case for Champions and Monks.

The Classes of Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Core Classes: Alchemist - Barbarian - Bard - Champion - Cleric - Druid
Fighter - Monk - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
Advanced Player's Guide: Investigator - Oracle - Swashbuckler - Witch
Secrets of Magic: Magus - Summoner
Guns and Gears: Gunslinger - Inventor
Dark Archive: Psychic - Thaumaturge
Other: Archetypes
The Archetypes of Pathfinder 2nd Edition
Core Rule Book: Alchemist - Barbarian - Bard - Champion - Cleric - Druid
Fighter - Monk - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
Lost Omens Setting Guide: Crimson Assassin - Duelist - Guild Agent - Hellknight Armiger
Lion Blade - Living Monolith - Magic Warrior - Runescarred - Sentry - Student of Perfection
Lost Omens Character Guide: Hellknight - Hellknight Signifer - Spellmaster - Firebrand Braggart - Lastwall Knights - Halcyon Speaker - Knight Reclaimant - Scrollmaster - Spellmaster - Swordmaster
Lost Omens World Guide: Aldori Duelist - Lastwall Sentry - Knight Vigilant - Pathfinder Agent - Runescarred
Adventure Path Juggler Dedication - Staff Acrobat Archetype - Zephyr Guard Archetype - Mammoth Lord - Mammoth Lord - Nantambu Chime-Ringer - Crystal Keeper - Drow Shootist - Edgewatch Detective - Eldritch Reasercher - Forlklorist - Game Hunter - Ghost Eater - Ghost Hunter - Golden League Xun - Golem Grafter - Gray Gardener - Alkenstar Agent - Animal Trainer - Bellflower Tiller - Bright Lion - Butterfly Blade - Magaambyan Attendant - Juggler - Jalmeri Heavenseeker - Provocator - Red Mantis Assassin - Sixth Pillar - Turpin Rowe Lumberjack
The Slithering OOzemorph
Grand Bazaar Captivator - Spell Trickster - Wrestler
Monsters of Myth Packbound Initiate
Advanced Player's Guide Acrobat - Archaeologist - Archer - Assassin - Bastion - Beastmaster - Blessed One - Bounty Hunter - Cavalier - Celebrity - Dandy - Dual-Weapon Warrior - Duelist - Eldritch Archer - Familiar Master - Gladiator - Herbalist - Horizon Walker - Investigator - Linguist- Loremaster - Marshal -Martial Artist - Mauler - Medic - Oracle - Pirate - Poisoner - Ritualist - Scout - Scroll Trickster - Scourger -Sentinel - Shadowdancer - Snarecrafter -Swashbuckler - Talisman Dabbler - Vigilante - Viking - Weapon Improviser - Witch
Secrets of Magic: Magus - Summoner - Wellspring Mage - Cathartic Mage - Elementalist - Flexible Spellcaster - Geomancer - Shadowcaster - Soulforger - Wellspring Mage
Guns & Gears: Demolitionist - Fireworks Technician - Gunslinger - Inventor - Artillerist - Beast Gunner - Bullet Dancer - Pistol Phenom - Overwatch - Runelord - Sniping Duo - Spellshot - Sterling Dynamo - Trapsmith - Trick Driver - Unexpected Sharpshooter - Vehicle Mechanic
Book of the Dead: Exorcist - Ghoul - Ghost - Hallowed Necromancer - Lich - Mummy - Reanimator - Soul Warden - Undead Master - Undead Slayer - Vampire - Zombie
APG Focus Spells[edit]

Rangers finally got their own version of Focus spells added in the Advanced Player's Guide. Many of these options are designed around aiding teammates and companions. But let's be honest, most rangers are going to take Gravity Weapon and nothing else.

Their new Focus Spells include:

  • Focus 1
    • Gravity Weapon, which adds a status bonus to damage on attacks, depending on damage dice;
    • Heal Companion, which does exactly that;
    • Magic Hide, which gives your animal companion +1 AC (due to how math works in 2e it's much better than it sounds);
    • Snare Hopping, which lets you channel your inner Creed and allows you to teleport a snare to a different unoccupied space;
  • Focus 2
    • Animal Feature, which lets you get cat teeth;
    • Hunter's Luck, which lets you roll at advantage on Recall knowledge checks;
    • Soothing Mist, which gives you a heal that also ends persistent damage, specifically acid, bleed, fire, negative and poison damage;
  • Focus 5
    • Hunter's Vision, which lets you fuck over concealed enemies; and
    • Terrain Transposition, which is a 90 foot teleport to a clear space you can see. You get an additional 90 feet if you have favored terrain and you're at your favored terrain.