Unearthed Arcana Breakdown: The Ranger, Revised

In today’s Unearthed Arcana article, Mearls returns to one of the most hotly discussed topics of 5e design: the ranger. This isn’t UA’s first take on an alternate ranger, either – and the blogging/third-party-publishing community has followed suit. That previous article lays out a lot of what WotC sees as The Issues, but the solution they presented was not particularly celebrated in the conversations I saw about it. To be fair, though, the core of the problem is that there’s probably less consensus on the ranger’s identity as a class than any other class in the game. In this article, I’m picking apart what I see in the document.

Unearthed Arcana – Ranger Revised

The new and improved Ranger is here from Wizard of the Coast’s Mike Mearls! After a few cracks at the ranger, we get an 8 page PDF that renames its archetypes to conclaves and they hope will have everyone loving the class again. We also see the re-introduction of the Deep Stalker Conclave who is most at home in the Underdark and was last seen in Unearthed
Arcana: Light, Dark, Underdark!. They basically fixed the base class, left the Hunter alone and fixed the Beast Master.

Dr. Primeval Awareness or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Fey

Beginning at 3rd level, you can use your action and expend one ranger spell slot to focus your awareness on the region around you. For 1 minute per level of the spell slot you expend, you can sense whether the following types of creatures are present within 1 mile of you (or within up to 6 miles if you are in your favored terrain): aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead. This feature doesn’t reveal the creatures’ location or number.”

-Description for Primeval Awareness, 3rd Level Ranger Class Feature

Dungeon & Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook, page 92.

Tribality Publishing – By Flame, Storm, and Thorn


We have a new publication on DriveThruRPG today. This is the third product we’ve released: By Flame, Storm, and Thorn written by Brandes Stoddard. In The Lord of the Rings, a poem describes Aragorn with the lines “Not all those who wander are lost” and “From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring…” These lines inspire the following archetypes for the Ranger class, for characters who travel the wilds without fear – be they watchful guardian or cunning predator. Use the archetypes below to give your secretive wayfarers some tricks up their sleeves. Each offers a playstyle that suits melee or ranged combat, or shifting between the two, equally well.

These archetypes also make worthy and dangerous adversaries. A sinister Lantern-bearer lures travelers to their deaths with the promise of safety. Some Stormcloaks turn back to the destructive ways of the first of their kind. A Thornguard that gets to pick the field of battle is a terrible foe indeed.

You can get a copy through our Publisher’s page or with this direct link: By Flame, Storm, and Thorn. If you’ve been a Patreon with us for a while, we have sent out coupons to our Shaman, Hunter & Warrior supporters. Thanks to everyone that has helped us to this point!


LINKSBy Flame Storm and Thorn cover resize

D&D 5e Character Optimization – Ranger

So a lot of the character optimization posts were deleted when Wizards of the Coast’s closed their community page this week. Fortunately, I saved several of the ones that I liked. What follows is the character optimization for the Ranger from Wizards with additions from Giant in the Playground with my editing, formatting and tweaks. Just like the Barbarian Optimization, this is a living article that will have updates as changes are requested and discussed with readers.

The Ranger Class, Part Eight

After a week off, I’m back to finish off the ranger, like a horror-movie sequel. Throughout the series to date, we’ve seen the ranger transition from a super-fighter with a smattering of mystical abilities and an obligation to travel light and fend for herself, to a lightly-armored skirmishing warrior (with or without spellcasting, depending on edition). As in most things, 5e returns the ranger to an earlier thematic and mechanical place, while preserving as many of the well-learned lessons of 4e as possible. We also have a playtest alternate ranger to explore.

The Ranger Class, Part Seven

This time in History of the Classes, we’re wandering some distance afield of Dungeons & Dragons itself. Dungeon World and 13th Age both look to the dungeon-crawling action of D&D as their spiritual ancestor, though, and they both have a Ranger class. Since they both set out to re-envision D&D, I thought it might be interesting to see how they tackle a class that D&D has had a hard time pinning down.

The Ranger Class, Part Six

Thus far in this series we’ve occasionally seen big shifts in the ranger, as in 2e to 3.0 and 3.0 to 3.5. Those are peanuts compared to the shift to 4e. Every class underwent radical change. Having to strip the ranger down to either Martial or Primal powers forces this kind of change – while there were variant 3.x rangers that dropped spellcasting for other features (the scout, and a lot of third-party publishers), 4e is the only edition in which the core ranger does not cast spells of any kind. As a result, the ranger is a midpoint between the fighter and the rogue, without much focus on nature. WotC later introduced a Primal spellcasting archer (also with a thrown weapon option), the Seeker, in the Player’s Handbook 3 – they always interested me, but I won’t be covering them in this article. The short version is: archery-based Primal controller, and the Primal source does a lot of heavy lifting for rationales.

The Ranger Class, Part Five

The Ranger Class, Part Five

After a week off to write some creepy spells, I’m back to talking about rangers here in History of the Classes. This time around, I’m looking at the Scout class of 3.5’s Complete Adventurer and the ranger class of Pathfinder. The former is a related concept with very different mechanics and combat role, while the latter is a conscious effort to fix the problems of the 3.5 Ranger class, within the mechanically dense Pathfinder design environment.

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five


The Ranger Class, Part Four

In last week’s article, I examined the Ranger class of 2e AD&D, including its expansion content in the Complete Ranger’s Handbook. From OD&D to 2e, we’ve seen the ranger class trend from “warrior with assorted mystic stuff” in OD&D and 1e, to a blend of warrior-druid and light skirmisher in 2e. Even with the conceptual expansion offered in the Complete Ranger’s Handbook, it remains a lesser infinity of character concepts, as compared to the cleric, fighter, magic-user, and thief of that edition. It would still be possible for a party composed entirely of rangers to feel distinct from one another, but it’s harder than some other classes. Let’s see what 3.0 and 3.5 add to the mix.