Salutations nerds! Today we’re going to be talking about rangers in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Now I don’t know about you but I’ve heard them taking a lot of grief lately for being one of the objectively less powerful classes in 5E D&D, but that wasn’t always the case. I’ve also heard rangers attacked for having less of a class identity as some of the others out there, but I don’t feel like that’s true at all. So let’s delve into the woods. Let’s do some tracking and nature stuff. Let’s walk a couple of miles without it being difficult terrain and see how far out this ranger stuff goes.
What makes rangers so dignified
We can’t take pause to talk about how cool rangers are without acknowledging some of the excellent examples of what cool rangers look like. Yeah, some of you saw this coming from a mile off. Especially those of you who are rangers, am I right? No discussion of rangers would be complete without what I believe to be the first example of the fantasy ranger as we know it, Aragorn son of Arathorn.
Show me a D&D player who didn’t think Strider appearing sitting in the back of the Prancing Pony was low key awesome and I’ll show you a liar. In fact, I’m sure he’s at least in part responsible for the tendency of newer players to start off sitting in the back corner not talking to anybody because Aragorn just made it look so cool. He was skilled at swordsmanship and horsemanship to a crazy degree. This guy lived to be 210 and the man was mostly human. He had the powers of foresight and healing. His senses were supernaturally good due to the drop of elven blood in his veins.
Clearly not every ranger at the gaming table is going to be as awesome as Aragorn, but then again they kind of are. Rangers get access to spells, so there’s foresight and healing covered. Any given adventurer is going to be excellent in terms of combat compared to the layfolk.
There’s this quote, I’m pretty sure I found it on a T-shirt once. I have no idea where it came from and I’m having a huge hard time finding it again so allow me to paraphrase: “If it walks, I can track it. If it does not walk, I’ll find it anyway.”
There’s a certain self-assuredness that comes with this sort of attitude. This is the kind of person who knows these woods are theirs as much as anything else’s. They belong where they are and will always find their way.
Seclusion of the lodge
The cool thing about groups of rangers is they can have spaces in areas most other people wouldn’t be able to reach. Because rangers are wayfinders. They understand wilderness survival better than anyone, so putting their spaces up in the high mountains or in the middle of the densest jungles makes complete sense.
Rangers have a built in and vested interest in guarding the secrets of the wild and making sure those places that still belong to nature remain so. A party of all rangers might be staring down a villain representing progress, or they might have the tried and true issue of handling the orc horde coming through cutting all the trees down. They might also have a vested interest in stopping some kind of planar invasion, because it’s not natural to this plane.
There are a ton of things you can do with an all ranger party. Imagine the clustered terrains you can work with when it isn’t one member of the party helping the others through but all of them able to make their own way when it’s very likely their enemies cannot. Being a ranger is like belonging to some kind of exclusive club.
What the lodge can do for your players
I’d say it’s exceedingly likely in the current climate of 5E D&D at some point you’ll end up running a party without a ranger in it. In this case a lodge of NPC rangers could be incredibly useful for helping your adventuring characters find their way while questing. Imagine having to navigate the mountain pass and how much of a nightmare this could potentially be without a guide to speak of.
In terms of rangers as antagonists we circle back around to the druid debacle. A lodge of rangers is going to be opposed to the adventurers probably, if they represent an overabundance of progress in opposition to nature. They could also be in service to some kind of less than savory forest deity (why yes, those do exist) or just not want people in their forest.
The thing about solitude is it makes you pretty xenophobic. When you never see anything you aren’t used to then the sudden appearance of someone or something like that can be pretty startling, and this could potentially be a good opening to an antagonistic dynamic turned allyship once the party and this group of rangers get to know one another and find out they’re both basically trying to do the right thing.
Assuming their goals line up, anyway.
So that is what I’ve got for you today in terms of 5E D&D rangers! Whose still out here playing them in 2020? Ever taken part in an all ranger party? Just a wee bit salty we went through an entire conversation about rangers and Drizzt didn’t come up once? Please let me know in the comments below, and make sure to stay nerdy!