Sunday, June 7, 2009

Grognard's Grimoire: S&W Ranger

Here's my first stab at a ranger class for use in my Dwimmermount campaign. It's based both on the original class by Joe Fischer from The Strategic Review, as well as the ideas I outlined in my recent post about the ranger. As you will notice, I eliminated the ranger's spellcasting ability, which I felt was both out of place and too paltry to contribute much flavor to the class anyway. The result is something that's a bit more like a "wilderness paladin" and whose abilities are very solidly grounded in the outdoors. I don't think the class would hold much appeal in a dungeon-centric campaign, but I do think it'd be very useful in one with lots of wilderness adventuring.

The material in the quote box below is hereby designated Open Game Content via the Open Game License.
The Ranger

The ranger is a uniquely human vocation, one that attracts hardy individuals who venture into the wilderness in order to learn its ways so as to better defend civilization against its depredations. Rangers are thus paragons of Law who exist outside the human society they have sworn themselves to guard. Rangers belong to a loose fellowship of like-minded individuals, although they generally operate alone or in the company of woodland beings who share their desire to rid the wild places of the earth of evil. Although puissant fighters in their own right, rangers are most effective outdoors and many of their abilities do not function within urban or dungeon environments.

Prime Attribute: Strength 13+ (5% experience)

Hit Dice: 1d6+2/level (Gains 3 hp/level after 9th).

Armor/Shield Permitted: Any

Weapons Permitted: Any

Ranger Advancement

Level

XP


HD


BHB


ST


1


0


2


+0


16


2


2,500


3


+1


15


3


5,000


4


+2


14


4


10,000


5


+2


13


5


20,000


6


+3


12


6


35,000


7


+4


11


7


70,000


8


+4


10


8


140,000


9


+5


9


9


275,000


10


+6


8


10


500,000


10+3


+6


7


Ranger Class Abilities

Associates: No more than two rangers may ever operate together at any given time.

Code of Conduct: A ranger must be of Lawful (Good) alignment and loses all class abilities if he ever willingly commits a Chaotic (Evil) act, becoming an ordinary fighter forever after.

Favored Enemies: When fighting evil humanoids, rangers gain a damage bonus equal to their level. What creatures qualify as “evil humanoids” is up to each referee to determine in his campaign.

Natural Remedies: Each day a ranger with access to beneficial plants can heal a total number of hit points of damage equal to his ranger level x2.

Special Followers: Rangers may not hire henchmen nor do they establish strongholds as do other fighting men. Instead, at 9th level, a ranger gains 2D6 special followers who loyally serve him until either they or the ranger dies. These followers are typically individuals of any intelligent race that shares the ranger's vocation to protect civilization, but may also include extraordinary woodland being of Lawful (Good) alignment. The nature of these special followers is left to the referee's discretion.

Toughness: Because of their experience in braving the hardships of the wilderness, rangers begin with two Hit Dice at 1st level. That is, they roll 2D6+4 to determine their starting hit points.

Tracking: Outdoors, a ranger can attempt to track the path of any creature on a roll of 1-18 on 1D20. This basic chance decreases by 2 for each day that passes after the tracks are made. Indoors, a ranger can attempt to track the path of any creature he has observed no more than 6 turns previously. The chance of successfully doing so varies with the actions of the creature being tracked, as follows:

  • Creature went down normal passage: 1-13

  • Creature went through a normal door: 1-11

  • Creature went through a trap door: 1-10

  • Creature went up/down a chimney: 1-6

  • Creature went through a secret door: 1-6

Wary: A ranger can only be surprised on a roll of 1 on 1D6.

Wealth: Rangers may own no more than they can carry. Any additional goods or wealth they acquire must be given away to a worthy cause.

Wilderness Warrior: When operating in the wilderness, rangers surprise their opponents on a roll of 1-3 on 1D6.

17 comments:

  1. VERY COOL BUT VERY POWERFULL - MAYBE A HIHGER EXPERIANCE POINT REQUIRMENTS???

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  2. I'd consider dropping the extra hit die at 1st level.

    Other than homage to the original class concept, is it really necessary?

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  3. This reminds me of why I used to like D&D.

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  4. I like it, and I agree with removing the spell-casting abilities. I also like giving rangers 2 hit dice at the start (this was a disagreement I had with the Brave Halfling version), and d6+2 better reflects their toughness than 1d8. Your ranger is powerful, but then (in my imagination) a ranger should be more formidable than average, since he often faces grave dangers alone.

    Well done.

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  5. How about making Constitution the Prime Requisite instead of strength? To me that always made more sense, the Ranger having to spend extended time out of doors braving the elements. I prefer that to the extra HD at first level.

    I also like the concept of some form of empathy with wild animals. Later editions have made that a spell like ability, but how about a small bonus to reaction rolls with wild animals?

    Overall, great concept, and I like the removal of spell casting, that never did make sense to me.

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  6. Why don't you have the ability to track things as the same as the ability to hit creatures on attack rolls? This would reflect improvemnet in tracking ability as the ranger advances in levels. There could be a whole lot of ranger abilities like camouflague, hiding in the woods, building traps, spying or observing enemies from a distance etc.

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  7. Grug's suggestion of CON as a prime requisite seems like a good alternative.

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  8. I'm not a huge fan of the animal empathy idea, mostly because this conception of the ranger is built around the idea of a civilized person who ventures into the wild to learn its ways to protect civilization. Animal empathy/companions seem more like the kinds of abilities I'd associate with a character who'd made the wilderness his home out of a deep connection to it rather than as a means to the end of preserving human civilization.

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  9. I like it a lot, though I'd increase the number of Rangers allowed to work together to three. Something just seems right about three.

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  10. A few things if you are going for a true Tolkien-style ranger:

    RE: Number of rangers that work together, I'd change that to include a "Call to Arms" option on the part of the King. After all, the forces in Ithilien under Faramir were also rangers, and they operated in dozens, if not scores.

    RE: Healing, that truly was an ability of Aragorn alone, not of the rangers as a class of beings. Though the ability as you outline is of lesser sort, so maybe this works within the ideals (and needs) of the game.

    Similarly, the cause for arcane spell-casting rangers comes from Faramir, who alone of the rangers of Ithilien possessed an ability not unlike ESP, which he had learned from Gandalf... this was owed not to his ranger training, but to his status as "still mosstly Dunedain." So lack of spell casting is quite appropriate...

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  11. I think its a great idea to come to terms with what a Ranger actually is and does. But if I may quibble with your take on it a bit I'd make a couple of points. One, the Tolkien Ranger, while I agree was protecting Civilization and living in the wilderness tracking the evil creatures doings, it's probably a factor that Aragorn was rightful heir to the throne and would someday become king... what impact would that have on the Ranger class? Who were the other Rangers and what was their objective. My take on Aragorn was "well if I can't be King, then I might as well hide out in the wilderness and track the evil creatures movements and do what I can." He had followers because, well, after all, he was king. Now, of course I'm going to admit that I didn't do any research in the Tolkien Lore - it's just my current impression. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    On the question of Rangers having access to magic... hmm... clerical abilities definitely, but magic? I kind of liked the Ranger is the full combination of the base four classes - Fighter, Thief, Magic User, Cleric. Kind of made the Ranger the Ultra-Class and that was in my book pretty damn cool. It made bothering to be a Ranger worthwhile. For my world rules I even made a Paladinic Ranger as the Ultra-Ultra-Class, but one one to date in 30 years has played one... too hard I guess... However, as a King in the classical Merovingian sense Aragonrn had mystical (if not magical or clerical per se) powers of some sort. I thought he could heal at least, among other things. Maybe not. My memory is foggy at the moment. But it seems to me that Rangers could (and should?) have some mystical powers. Leads me to my last point... other than following orcs and such, I almost get the idea that the Ranger is, as Adherent of Law, going to fight the Creatures of Chaos (againg leading me to the notion they might just need mystical powers of some sort), and this leads my mind in the direction of the battle against the Lords of The Outer Dark (Chtulu type entities?). From that point of view I could see Rangers being the scouts and possible defensive line against the Outer Dark, and then the fact they hide out in the wilderness makes pretty good sense to me. I mean if you're going to fight cthulu in his ancient hidden places then you probably are going to be in the wilderness and you certainly wouldn't want to fight those battles in the middle of a city. Anyway, just some thoughts that came to mind while reading your very enjoyable blog! Thanks!!

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  12. YOU SAID many of their abilities do not function within urban or dungeon environments. WHICH ONE DONOT WORK IN A DUNGEON? MAY BE THE SURPRISINGS POWER?

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  13. I like the idea of removing the ranger's magic. In almost all versions of the game, the spells are more or less useless once the ranger finally has access to them.

    Rather than creating new classes, I've been toying with the idea of creating a very simple skills system that would allow a player to take, say, a fighter and give it the flavor of a ranger by taking a skill that helps the character to track and hunt and basically do the things that a ranger is supposed to know how to do in the woods. There would not be a list of skills to choose from; rather, the player would come to the DM with an idea, and the two would work it out together. Combat-oriented skills would be off limits, as would any skill that would replace role-playing.

    I might give each character two skill points at 1st level, which the player could invest in one skill or divide between two. Each time the character levels up, he/she would gain 1 additional skill point. To use a skill, the player would roll a 3d6 ability check for whatever ability the DM deems appropriate, and add the skill points to the role.

    A system like this could obviate the need for classes that one does not like. A character with a healing skill, for example, could at least partially replace the cleric.

    Sorry if this was a bit off topic. I just wanted to share and see what people thought.

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  14. I appreciate all the suggestions for "perfecting" the class and will probably incorporate at least a few of them into the final version I use in my campaign. I should note, though, that, while the origin of the class is in Tolkien, my intention isn't to reproduce Aragorn or Faramir or any other ranger from Middle-earth, but rather to come up with a class that pays homage to the OD&D original while also incorporating my own pulp fantasy ideas into it.

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  15. I understand that you're working inside a well-established tradition, but how about a specifically Robin Hood ranger? He's there with fighting evil human(oid)s, the forest skills ...and charisma, which is a major departure from what you have here. I'm not sure what one gains exactly by making rangers repel each other, except that it's in the source material you previously quoted.

    And he's proven to work great alongside knights errant and friars...

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  16. one other thought I forgot above: I've always wondered if rangers shouldn't have a restriction on armour (no plate), given their supposedly fast movement and sneakiness.

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  17. http://jdh417.blogspot.com/2009/04/outclassed-ideas-for-demi-human-classes.html

    Somewhat off-topic, I have a few ideas for demi-human classes. James or anyone else is free to comment or expand upon them.

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