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4e ranger
An elven ranger
Ranger
Alignment
LG NG CG
LN N CN
LE NE CE

Rangers are warriors and hunters who excel at exploring the fringes of civilization. Hunters, scouts, trappers, and assassins rangers can be found wherever civilization borders the wilderness.[1] Many rangers use only natural armor and benefit from a closeness to the wild. Nearly all rangers worship a god, and almost always this god is tied in some way to the natural world.

The most famous of all Toril's rangers is by far the legendary drow Drizzt Do'Urden, though Dove Falconhand was also well-known during her lifetime.

CultureEdit

Most at home on the edge, rangers might be assassins, explorers, scouts, or some combination of the above. Rangers are often stereotyped as wild frontiersmen and are thought of as woodland hunters of deadly prey, skilled in wilderness lore. This is not, however, true of all rangers and others are more at home within ancient ruins, vast deserts, caverns of the Underdark, or city sewers. What defines the culture of the rangers is not so much a bond with nature, though many share such an affinity, but rather their attraction to the unknown and the untamed, often to protect it but sometimes to subjugate it or emulate its feral power instead,[2] a drive which inspires rangers to as distant and varying locations as Aglarond, the Chondalwood, Chult, the Cold Lands, the Dalelands, Evermeet, the North, the Hordelands, the Lake of Steam, Rashemen, or the Western Heartlands.[3] Rangers can be useful allies, but they can also be deadly enemies, disappearing into the wilderness after a devastating attack. When in combat, rangers generally rely on evasive hit-and-run tactics, darting in and out of harm's way.[4]

The stereotype is not without merit, however, and many rangers fit the image of cunning hunters and protectors of forests or other wildlands. These rangers see themselves as the enemies of nature's enemies and have a special affinity for barbarians and druids, who often share similar goals. But is important to note that other rangers are more mercenary, fighting for personal glory or wealth. As their aspirations may differ so do rangers' backgrounds, some coming from special military training while others learn under solitary mentors who vest them with lessons on how to survive in places where few of the civilized races care to tread. Whether through military or personal training, all rangers are fairly self-reliant and as much, if not more, at home in the wild as they are in a bustling city.[5]

Rangers are very often motivated by good intentions and have a well-placed sense of right and wrong and are also very often drawn to the unknown as a rejection of civilization's rigidity. For this latter reason and in spite of their often good nature, rangers rarely get along with paladins, even those not of a lawful alignment. Rangers with other motives are not uncommon however, and evil rangers are rightly feared, often taking the role of a savage predator, hunting their victims with cruelty and wicked intent. Similarly, while rangers are often chaotic in mindset, others feel an attraction to law or feel no need to put themselves on either "side."[5] In spite of this, many rangers do align themselves with larger organizations, such as the Harpers or Zhentarim. Regardless of personal ethics, most rangers hold themselves accountable to gods of the wilderness, such as Mielikki or Silvanus.[3]

Among the civilized humanoid races, rangers are most common among the Tel-quessir, whose culture places a high value on the natural world and its exploration and their natural grace also benefits those among them who take on the way of a ranger. Elves in particular are very common, though many eladrin take on the way of the two-blade ranger. Amongst the other races humans, due to the race's physical and mental versatility,[6] and dragonborns are also very common rangers.[7] Half-orcs and half-elves, while less suited, are often attracted to the ranger's ways as well, half-elves particularly through their elven ancestors and half-orcs out of a desire to get away from the ostracizing confines of civilized society or, for that matter, orcish society. Dwarven rangers, while rare, are well-respected and commonly known as "cavers" amongst their people. Halflings are, however, both physically well-suited for a ranger's lifestyle[7] and culturally acclimatized, with the exception of the ghostwise.[3] The rarest of the civilized races to breed rangers are gnomes,[6] except for deep gnomes who value their skills at scouting the Underdark.[3] Among the savage races rangers are far more rare, gnolls being the most common to breed rangers.[6]

AbilitiesEdit

Trained to be nimble and deadly, rangers of all kinds are essentially scouts or assassins who favor hit and run tactics to a straight fight. Some rangers prefer the wilderness of the surface world, while others dwell beneath in the caverns of the Underdark. In either case rangers train their senses to an extremely keen level.[1] Many rangers hone their wilderness survival skills even further through the acquisition of an animal companion, either through a mutual friendship or outright slavery.

All rangers are proficient to some degree in lighter armors and most military-grade weapons and many, but not all, also have some skill in the use of shields. Generally, rangers prefer to be lightly protected, as it allows them more agility and use of their reflexes then heavier armor makes possible.[6] All rangers are skilled in archery and dual weapon melee combat, most often choosing to emphasize one or the other.[7] Rangers who emphasize either style often become members of traditions that further specialize them,[8] such as the High Forest scout[9] or the Impilturan Demonslayers.[10] Rangers of either type are nonetheless skilled in the other style, even though it is to a lesser degree, and all rangers are excellent archers and ambushers.[7]

While magic is not a typical part of ranger training more experienced and wizened rangers sometimes learn to wield primal magic in much the same manner as a druid might, drawing on the power of ancient nature spirits to empower themselves or others. Each day rangers must focus this power within themselves, preparing which evocations they intend to cast. Ranger also frequently obtain a special enmity for a particular kind of creature, focusing their training on learning how to overcome foes of that type.[6]

Ranger traditionsEdit

While all rangers are expert scouts and trackers, their precise methodology and customs differs from individual to individual. Nearly all rangers, however, choose from one of the following three combat styles.

Archer rangerEdit

Archer rangers are masters of the bow or, less commonly, other missile weapons. Unlike other rangers who prefer to take their quarry on in a melee, archer rangers prefer to hunt from afar, resorting only to close combat when ranged attacks are no longer practical. Archer rangers are more nimble than their fellow rangers, focusing on finesse and delicate skill over brutal power in a fight, though most archer rangers are still strong by most standards and like all skilled rangers, a good archer ranger keeps his wits about him.[7] Archer rangers who continue to emphasize skill with missile weapons might, among other choices, take on the path of the battlefield archers[11] or beast stalkers.[12]

Beastmaster rangerEdit

Beastmaster ranger - Adam Gillespie

An eladrin beastmaster ranger.

Beastmaster rangers take their strength from a primal bond with an animal companion, often a bear, boar, cat, lizard, raptor, serpent, spider, or wolf, though rarer and more exotic companions are also sometimes used. Through this bond, the ranger and their beast companion become a formidable team, acting out as extensions of one another. A skilled beastmaster and their companion can carry out flanks and other advanced maneuvers all on their own. As a result, most beastmaster ranger exploits focus on this spirit of coordinated action. In general, beastmaster rangers emphasize their physical strength for the purpose of athletics and melee combat but agility and wisdom remain important as well.[13]

The strong bond between ranger and beast, which is more like two good friends than a master and slave, means that companions generally develop abilities similar to those of a ranger. Like rangers, beast companions are skilled in fighting those nearest to them and have the capability to act as extensions of the ranger's senses. Beast companions learn beside their rangers, improving in capability as the ranger does. When a beastmaster falls, a beast companion will often leap to the ranger's defense, carrying on the fight for them.[14]

The training of a beastmaster does not come without its costs. Though a beastmaster ranger has an edge over their fellow rangers in maneuverability and combat flexibility the effort of coordination means that they cannot act as quickly as most others, dividing their time and focus between themselves and their companion. Likewise, beastmasters cannot take more than one companion at a time and can only gain a new companion when their old one has either left or been killed and new companions are typically difficult to acquire. For this reason, beastmasters are trained in the use of the raise beast companion ritual, which allows them to recall the fallen spirit of their companion.[15] Rangers who become exceptionally close to their companions in mind and spirit might become feral spirits,[16] among other examples.

Two-blade rangerEdit

While many rangers prefer the elegance of the bow or the companionship of a beast, two-blade rangers find more solace in their skill with weapons of steel. These rangers, who are often stronger than their more nimble colleagues, focus on closing in on their prey and engaging them with melee weapons, only to skim away when the combat gets too hot. Like all rangers, two-blade rangers prefer skirmishes to a straight fight, so speed and dexterity remain important to two-blade rangers, but if forced into a standstill they stand a better chance of surviving a melee than most of their kind. Unlike most individuals who train in the use of two melee weapons, two-blade rangers are trained to use two one-handed weapons of any size or type in either hand, giving them a higher potential for damage than most dual-wielding warriors.[17] Rangers who continue to focus on the use of two weapons over other pursuits might take on the paths of either the pathfinder[18] or the stormwarden[19], among other variations.

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 103. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  2. Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 44. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, p. 26. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  4. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 103-104. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 44-45. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (August 2000). Player's Handbook 3rd edition, p. 45. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1551-4.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 104. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  8. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 113-115. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  9. Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, p. 57. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
  10. Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide, p. 58. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
  11. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 113. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  12. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 114. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  13. Rob Heinsoo, David Noonan, Robert J. Schwalb, Chris Sims (November 2008). Martial Power, p. 38-45. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4981-6.
  14. Rob Heinsoo, David Noonan, Robert J. Schwalb, Chris Sims (November 2008). Martial Power, p. 39-42. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4981-6.
  15. Rob Heinsoo, David Noonan, Robert J. Schwalb, Chris Sims (November 2008). Martial Power, p. 39-41. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4981-6.
  16. Rob Heinsoo, David Noonan, Robert J. Schwalb, Chris Sims (November 2008). Martial Power, p. 61. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4981-6.
  17. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 104-105. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  18. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 114-115. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
  19. Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition, p. 115. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-4867-1.

External Links Edit


Character Classes
AvengerBarbarianBardClericDruidFighterInvokerMonkPaladinRangerRogueShamanSorcererSwordmageWardenWarlockWarlordWizard

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