The EPIC One D&D Ranger
Rangers: the punching bag of the 5th edition classes. The butt of the jokes. The class that, compared to all the others, was arguably weakest. And if not weakest, then certainly the least effective at realizing its potential. While the theme was strong, and the fantasy of playing a wild, skilled, rough-and-tumble outdoor survivalist like Aragorn or Lara Croft (at least in the recent games) is exciting, the ranger class just didn't deliver on that idea in 5e. But with a sneak peek at what’s coming for the Ranger in One D&D, that may all change!
Let’s face it, Fighters often made better “rangers” than actual Rangers, getting more attacks, extra actions, and ways of staying in the fight longer, whether at range or in melee. Certain subclasses of Rogue certainly did! When I wanted to play a self-sufficient bow-wielding hunter, I played a Rogue with the Scout archetype. My Halfling paraded all across the island of Chult, having an absolute blast and doing his job flawlessly (even if he didn't always make the best decisions). And when a rogue makes a better “ranger” than a Ranger, you know that you have a problem.
It wasn't until 2020 when Tasha's Cauldron of Everything presented us with new subclass options for the Ranger like the Gloomstalker and the Monster Hunter that Rangers were elevated to a place of practical prominence. They now had things that they did better than any other class, and features that you could not unlock in any other way. But it was too little way too late.
But with One D&D playtest content being released, it seems that Wizards of the Coast has taken great strides to making the Ranger an attractive option from the get-go. In this article we're going to cover a few changes that are strict improvements from the 5th edition Ranger that make us excited to play one in the next edition of the world's greatest role playing game.
Rangers casting spells is nothing new. Their knowledge of nature and their relationship with it gives them access to two rudimentary magical abilities even in 5th edition. But the One DND Ranger is getting a magical upgrade in several significant ways.
First, Rangers will be preparing their spells on a daily basis. In the current edition of D&D, Rangers learn spells as they advance in levels. While they can occasionally exchange one for another, choosing the spells you have access to is a pretty significant decision because those are the spells that will have to carry you through every conceivable situation that you may encounter in the varying landscape of a D&D campaign. Since you will now be able to prepare Spells at the end of each long rest, you’ll be able to adapt to the needs of the campaign more regularly and therefore more effectively. Not likely to get into a fight today? Trade out your healing magic for something with a little more utility. Heading into the big boss fight? Swap out that Locate Creature spell for something more combat effective.
Secondly, when you do prepare these spells, you are preparing them from a much larger list of options than the Ranger has previously had access to. With the exception of evocation spells, a Ranger will have access to the same spell list as a Druid: a full-blown casting class. This is a well of new magical options available to Rangers in One D&D! While even a 20th level Ranger will only have access to spells of 5th level and below, this is a radical step forward from Rangers from previous editions!
Finally, Rangers now get immediate access to spells when they take their first level in the class. Rather than waiting until second level to have access to magic, the One D&D Ranger can cast spells right away! Getting access to spells earlier in your class progression is always a good thing, but having it at the outset is the best! And not only do Rangers get access to leveled spells, but they learn cantrips as well! Though they will never have access to very many at a time, only being able to prepare three even at 20th level, having an endless supply of these entry-level spells will change the way that Rangers are played in a dramatic way! And since they can be prepared like all other spells, they can bring the cantrips they are likely to need on a particular occasion with them or that day without being tied to them forever.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything got his right When they made receiving Expertise as a Ranger an optional class feature. It was much-needed and well-deserved. Making ita core feature of the class rather than an option is even better!
In case, for some reason, you've avoided playing bards and Rogues in 5e, the Expertise class feature makes a character twice as good at a particular skill they are proficient in. Whatever proficiency bonus they would add to that check is doubled, greatly increasing their chance of success. An expert in a particular skill is unlikely to fail, especially at higher levels. It's why you rarely hear of Rogues failing a stealth check, or Bards being unable to talk their way out of a situation. Typically, those characters have elected to be experts in those areas.
Rangers, as stated above, are meant to be survivalists. They hunt, they hide, and are masters of the wilderness and its dangers. It is hard to bring that concept to life when they have woefully few skill proficiencies, and don't have many tools at their disposal to make them more effective in these realms than characters of other classes who opted to be proficient in those same skills. A cleric with a high wisdom is likely to be on par with (or even exceed) the Ranger in Wisdom (Survival) checks in 5e. This class feature gives Rangers the opportunity to really strut their stuff in the areas that they hope to excel in. As they level up, Rangers will have the opportunity to become an expert in four of their skills, which can handily cover the bases of any character concept they are trying to realize. This puts them in the conversation with Bards and Rogues for being the dependable, ever-reliable, consistent performers of the party.
Moving through the level progression, a ranger gets a brand new class feature at 13 level called Nature's Veil. for the low cost of a single spell slot, and costing only a bonus action on their turn, they can become invisible until the end of their next turn.
This is important and impressive for a couple of reasons. While many classes have the opportunity to become invisible through use of spells like invisibility and greater invisibility, those bells cost your action: a more significant part of your turn in a combat. They also require your concentration, limiting your options in terms of what spells you can cast in the near future, and meaning that their longer durations could be cut short by taking some errant damage. Those spells cost 2nd and 4th level spells slots, respectively, and Invisibility can be ended early if you cast a spell or make an attack, severely limiting its usefulness for anything outside of infiltration.
The new ranger is unconcerned by all of these stipulations. This feature can be utilized with a spell slot of any level, meaning that your relatively expendable 1st level slots can fuel this ability. It requires no concentration and does not count as casting a spell, and therefore does not limit your spell casting options nor can it be ended early if you take damage. Furthermore, you are more than free to attack or cast spells while invisible in this way, raining down magic or attacks on your enemies with impunity. Since you can take this bonus action before your action on your turn, you are effectively guaranteed two turns of movement and actions without your enemies knowing your precise location, benefiting from advantage on your attack rolls as an invisible creature before its effect ends.
This is arguably my favorite feature for the Ranger heading into One D&D. Having a tool in your utility belt that makes you both more effective at dealing damage and avoiding damage will turn a high-level Ranger into a devastating force to be reckoned with.
Where Nature's Veil gets you the opportunity to fight your enemies while invisible, Feral Senses removes that same courtesy from your foes. A Ranger of 15 level is so in tune with their surroundings that they gain blindsight to a range of 30 ft. The threat of being ambushed by invisible creatures is entirely removed. The blinded condition will have no effect on them. If you are within 30 ft of a Ranger with this class feature, they know exactly where you are... and they are coming for you.
While this class feature may lack the glitz and glamor of other features a Ranger can get, it is significant in that it is quite rare for a player character to gain access to these special senses. While most of the races in D&D have access to Darkvision, the greater senses like Blindsight, Tremorsense, and Truesight are practically exclusive to monsters in 5th edition.They are typically powerful tools reserved for Dungeon Master's to play with, so having one appear as a class feature at all is quite exceptional!
As discussed in our Bardic Twinspiration podcast episode on the One D&D Ranger and its Hunter subclass, the Ranger is going to feel like playing a monster in the next edition of the game. Multiple attacks, extraordinary senses, the ability to fight invisibly and (as you look at some of the other features not mentioned in this article) really pump out single target damage on their enemies make them… well, monstrous! Add to that their survivalist savvy and almost unerring ability to excel in wild and rural environments, they have doubtlessly risen from their humble beginnings in 5th edition to an effective and truly terrifying asset to any adventuring party. If you’d like to hear us going over these features in greater detail, along with the all the other class features and the Hunter subclass, click HERE!
What stands out to you as the highlights of the new Ranger class? Are you excited to play one in 5e? Comment below, or reach out to us on our socials and share your thoughts!
Rob Franklin (@thedndwannabe) has been a Dungeon Master for many years, and has a deep passion for roleplaying games. He runs the MistyMountainStreaming channel on Twitch, our Misty Mountain Gaming YouTube channel, and is cohost of the Bardic Twinspiration D&D podcast. He also enjoys bourbon, From Software games, and his dog Bigby.