Monday, October 12, 2015

What is a Ranger?

What is a Ranger?
A Crash Course on the Ranger Character Archetype

This is a response to WotC's extended focus on the Ranger character class, and why nobody likes it.

WotC launched its second survey way back in February, where they noted that the first survey told them people are dissatisfied by the Ranger class presented in the PHB.

They then produced a Ranger variant for Unearthed Arcana in September.

In October, they opened another survey, this time focused entirely on the Ranger.

Clearly this annoys them.

I think the answer is simple, really:

People don't like your ranger class because it looks like you have no idea what it is supposed to be, or at least, what you want it to be. I think you guys painted yourselves into a corner when you made the other classes so flexible. (Which isn't an insult, so much as a compliment- the other character classes are just so good that such a thematically restricted class can't compete)

Let's do the emulation test. This is where you try and build several unique iconic characters from popular culture who symbolize a given archetype. Can you do it without the dedicated class?

  1. Want to emulate Aragorn? Play a Human Fighter with feats to fill in the blanks.
  2. Want to emulate Legolas? Play an Elven Rogue. Or an Elven Fighter.
  3. Want to emulate Drizzt? Dark Elven Rogue+Fighter.
  4. Want to emulate the Huntsman? Human Rogue.
  5. Want your ranger to be more mystical? Crossclass into Druid, take the Eldritch Knight or Arcane Trickster archetypes, or take the Magic Initiate or Ritual Caster feats.
  6. Want an animal companion? Go buy, or tame/train one. The DM's just gonna kill it ASAP anyways, why waste a perfectly good feature on something mortal that doesn't scale with your enemies or you? You're probably better off buying packs of mastiffs. (It's kind of like having extra arms equipped with short swords, except you can't fully control them all)

So, given that you can currently build a more powerful and competent "Ranger" without using a dedicated Ranger class, how does one go about building a desirable dedicated Ranger class?

Let's ask Google. Everything below is simply a compilation of text and images gathered from a google search for "Fantasy Ranger". This is just a cursory overview of the public imagination of what a Ranger is. I didn't even dig past the second page of results, and I already have a very clear understanding of what people expect out of this class.

(Let's start with the basics. What does the word actually mean?)




1. forest ranger.

2. one of a body of armed guards who patrol a region.

3. (initial capital letter) a U.S. soldier in World War II specially trained for making surprise raids and attacks in small groups.
Compare commando.

4. a soldier specially trained in the techniques of guerrilla warfare, especially in jungle terrain.

5. a person who ranges or roves.

6. (especially in Texas) a member of the state police.

7. British. a keeper of a royal forest or park.

(I'm sorry. I know D&D has tried to distance itself from Tolkien since the very beginning, but as a work of fantasy that is equally influential, you kind of have no choice but being tied up with it. Tolkein's Rangers were the original inspiration for the character class, and this has been well documented. You cannot discuss or create the class without acknowledging that people will try to make Aragorn. So learn the damn history.)

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Rangers were two secretive, independent groups organized by the Dúnedain of the North (Arnor) and South (Gondor) in the Third Age. Like their Númenórean ancestors, they appeared to possess qualities closely attributed to the Eldar, with their keen senses and ability to understand the language of birds and beasts. They were great trackers and hardy warriors—defending their respective areas from evil forces.

The two groups of Rangers were the Rangers of the North and the Rangers of Ithilien. The two groups were unconnected to each other, though distantly related by blood. (This means Tolkien's Rangers wee actually an ethnic or cultural group; more of a race than a class)

Tolkien's Rangers (and Aragorn in particular) are the primary inspiration for the Dungeons & Dragons character class called "ranger".


In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Dúnedain /ˈduːnɛdaɪn/ (singular: Dúnadan, "man of the west") were a race of Men descended from the Númenóreans who survived the sinking of their island kingdom and came to Eriador in Middle-earth, led by Elendil and his sons, Isildur and Anárion. They are also called the Men of the West and the Men of Westernesse (direct translations of the Sindarin term). They settled mainly in Arnor and Gondor.

The Westron name for Dúnadan was simply Adûn, "westerner", but this name was seldom used. This name was reserved to those Númenóreans who were friendly to the Elves: the other, hostile survivors of the Downfall were known as the Black Númenóreans.

The Dúnedain were descended from the Elf-friends, the few Men of the First Age who sided with the Noldorin Elves in Beleriand. Their original leader was Bëor the Old, a "Vassal" of the Elf lord Finrod. His people settled in Eldar lands, and he was an ancestor of the Lord Elros, a half-Elf. In the Second age, the Valar gave them Númenor, an island-continent to live on. They later created fortress-cities along the western coasts of Middle-earth, which dominated the lesser men of these areas. In time, Númenor was drowned and a small number of the Faithful (led by Elendil) escaped the destruction.

Sauron's spirit fled from Númenor to Middle-earth, and he again raised mighty armies to challenge the new Dúnedain kingdoms, Gondor and Arnor. With the aid of Gil-galad and the Elves, Sauron was defeated, and he vanished into the wild East for many centuries. Gondor and Arnor prospered during this time.

As Sauron began to re-form and gather strength, a series of deadly plagues came from the East. These tended to strike harder in the North than the South, and caused a population decline in Arnor. The chief of the Nine Ringwraiths, known commonly as the Witch-king of Angmar, began assaulting the divided Northern Dúnedain kingdoms from a mountain stronghold (Carn Dûm). Eventually, he succeeded in destroying Arthedain, the last of the Northern kingdoms.

After the fall of Arthedain, a remnant of the northern Dúnedain became the Rangers of the North, doing what they could to keep the peace in the near-empty lands of their Fathers. The surviving Dúnedain population of Arnor retreated to the Angle south of Rivendell, while smaller populations made isolated settlements in far western Eriador.

Over the centuries, the southern Dúnedain of Gondor intermarried more and more with so-called Middle Men. Only in regions such as Dol Amroth did their bloodline remain pure. Their lifespan became shorter with each generation. Eventually, even the Kings of Gondor married non-Dúnedain women occasionally.

In the Fourth Age, the Dúnedain of Gondor and Arnor were reunited under King Aragorn II Elessar (who was also called the Dúnadan). He married Arwen, daughter of Elrond (a cousin removed by sixty-four generations) and reintroduced Elf-blood into his family line.

In addition to the Faithful, there were Dúnedain in the South who manned Númenórean garrisons at places like Umbar. Many of these folk had been turned toward evil by Sauron's teachings, and remained loyal to him after the fall of their homeland. These are referred to as the Black Númenóreans.

Tolkien's Dúnedain are superior to the other men of Middle Earth in nobility of spirit and body, although they were still capable of evil if corrupted, and tended to do more evil in such circumstances. They were tall, with dark hair, pale skin and grey eyes.

In addition, Dúnedain, especially those of high rank, possessed great wisdom and discernment, and occasional prophecy. They benefited from longer life-spans (three times the life of a regular man) than ordinary men and could retain their youth until the very end of their days. Though the reason is not fully explained in the 'Tale of the Years', one factor that almost certainly contributed to their numerical decline was an extremely low birth rate, with many couples having only one child.

Rangers of the North

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Rangers of the North, also known as the Dúnedain of the North, were the descendants of the Dúnedain from the lost kingdom of Arnor. Their menfolk ceaselessly patrolled the boundaries of Eriador and were by necessity skilled with the sword, bow and spear.

The Rangers were grim in life, appearance, and dress, choosing to wear rusty green and brown. The Rangers of the Grey Company (see below) were dressed in dark grey cloaks and openly wore a silver brooch shaped like a pointed star during the War of the Ring. These Rangers rode rough-haired, sturdy horses, were helmeted and carried shields. Their armament included spears and bows.

Like their distant cousins, the Rangers of Ithilien, the Rangers of the North spoke Sindarin (or some variation of it) in preference to the Common Speech. They were led by a Chieftain, whose ancestry could be traced back to Elendil and beyond, to the ancient Kings of Númenor.

During the War of the Ring, the Rangers of the North were led by Aragorn, but the northern Dúnedain were a dwindling and presumably widely scattered folk: when Halbarad received a message to gather as many of the Rangers as he could and lead them south to Aragorn’s aid, only thirty men (the Grey Company) were available at short notice for the journey. The Grey Company met up with Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli at the Fords of Isen in Rohan, and at Pelargir, along with the Dead Men of Dunharrow, they captured the ships of Umbar. The Dead Men then departed and the others continued on to fight in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. There, Halbarad was killed. They are also mentioned as part of the army Aragorn commanded at the Battle of Morannon.

With the exception of Aragorn, the Rangers of the North are virtually omitted in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film series, save for a few mentions in the extended cuts. Arnor itself is mentioned only in one line in the extended edition of The Two Towers, when Aragorn explains to Éowyn that he is a "Dúnedain Ranger", of whom few remain because "the North-kingdom was destroyed". The film calls them "Dúnedain Rangers", perhaps to distinguish them from the Rangers of Ithilien, though Tolkien calls both groups Dúnedain (men of the west).

Jackson's terminology appears in some of the film's merchandise, like the computer and video games by Electronic Arts. In the game The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age there is an original Ranger character called Elegost. In another, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, Dúnedain Rangers are playable units, but they are like the Ithilien Rangers. Halbarad is featured in The Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game and, together with his fellow Rangers, in The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game.

The role of the Rangers of the North has been greatly expanded in The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, which includes numerous Dúnedain spread across the remnants of Arnor. It features several Rangers (including some created expressly for the game) as key characters in the first volume of its story. The Dúnedain in the game have at least two major permanent settlements: Esteldin near the ruins of Fornost and Tinnundir near Annúminas on the shores of Lake Evendim. When the Grey Company rides south, it consists almost entirely of named Rangers with whom players have already interacted. (Aragorn and Halbarad are the only northern Rangers named in the book.)

Rangers of Ithilien

In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, the Rangers of Ithilien, also known as the Rangers of the South and Rangers of Gondor, were an elite group of the Southern Dúnedain warriors who scouted in and guarded the land of Ithilien.

The Rangers were first formed at the end of the twenty-ninth century of the Third Age by a decree of the Ruling Steward of Gondor, for Ithilien was frequently subjected to enemies from Mordor and Minas Morgul. One of their chief bases was Henneth Annûn, the Window of the Sunset.

These Rangers were descendants of those who lived in Ithilien before it was overrun and, more distantly, of the ancient Númenóreans. Like their cousins, the Rangers of the North, they were able to speak Sindarin (or some variation of it), their preferred language as opposed to the Common Speech. Their camouflaging green and brown raiment proved to be a useful asset to their secret activities, which mainly concerned crossing the Anduin to assault the Enemy in a manner much akin to guerilla warfare. They were skilled with swords and bows or spears.

During the Fourth Age, it is presumed that most of these men became a part of the White Company, the guards of Faramir, the first Prince of Ithilien.

Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy has an original Ranger of Ithilien named Madril, played by John Bach. He serves as Faramir's lieutenant. He helps defend Osgiliath, but is fatally injured and is eventually killed by Gothmog by a spear-thrust. New Zealand actor Alistair Browning played Damrod.

The likeness of the actor who portrays Anborn was also used in the 2006 EA video game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II as the portrait of the Men of the West's worker unit, and the Ithilien Rangers are playable archer-like units.

What Wikipedia Has to Say:
(Shockingly, they have a lot to say on this! You should read every section but the one about D&D Rangers. You already know what the Ranger has been in the past, and that basically nobody likes it. Look at what other games and works of fiction have done with the ranger. This is what your game has inspired. This is the public imagination, and it is much bigger than any single edition of D&D. Learn from your descendents.)

A Ranger (also known as Hunter, Archer, Scout, or Tracker) is an archetype found in many fantasy fiction and role-playing games.

Rangers are usually associated with the wisdom of nature. Rangers tend to be wise, cunning, and perceptive in addition to being skilled woodsmen. Many are skilled in stealth, wilderness survival, beast-mastery, herbalism, and tracking. Archery and (often dual-wielding) swordplay are common to rangers, though there are many instances where rangers use a variety of weapons, skills, and sometimes magic or have a resistance to magic.

Ranger skills in books and games can include and are not limited to:

  • Skilled with the bow, usually because they use them so often for the hunting of wild animals.
  • They tend to be well versed in other forms of combat however, most notably dual-wielding short swords or long knives, although rangers prefer using ranged weapons, and their melee combat abilities often pale in comparison to other character classes such as a warrior or barbarian.
  • Throwing knives
  • Stealth
  • Climbing
  • Detecting or laying traps
  • Taming, calming or charming animals
  • Tracking and leaving no trail to be tracked
  • Knowledge of herbs for medical and poisonous uses
  • The art of healing (magical or medical) due to their self-reliance
  • Land and nature related magic and enchantments or the ability to recognize them or resistance to them
  • Ability to move quickly through the forests due to them living amongst them
  • Skilled in speaking the language of all creatures.
  • Skilled in training wild animals.

In Dungeons & Dragons, rangers typically worship a nature god or goddess, and they take a role similar to druids by protecting nature and slaying foul creatures. Rangers gain offensive bonuses against certain creatures through the choosing of a "Favored Enemy" (such as giants, dragons or undead). They may also gain defensive bonuses within certain terrains through the choosing of a "Favored Environment" (such as Desert, Forest or Urban) that stacks with their "Favored Enemy"; this further illustrates their cunning. In addition, rangers have access to divine magic and an animal companion to aid them in battle.

Rangers tend to prefer the company of fellow rangers. They are extensively trained. However, good rangers will often act as the guardians of others - whether appreciated or not - by repelling "evil" forces and protecting the weak.

Some noteworthy fictional rangers are Drizzt Do'Urden and Hank in the Dungeons and Dragons Cartoon.

Rangers have appeared as in various Final Fantasy games, including the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI. Rangers have also appeared in one form or another in other Final Fantasy games often called Archer or Hunter. In Final Fantasy Tactics Advance Hunter is an upgraded class of the basic class, Archer.

Rangers in Guild Wars are sleek looking individuals who primarily use bows, but are allowed to use some of the game's other weapons such as swords, axes, spears. The headgear of rangers is a mask shielding the face (similar to the appearance of "Old West" robbers). Rangers can tame pets, summon nature spirits, set traps, command beasts, use a variety of combat "stances" to evade attacks or run faster, and use powerful marksmanship skills. The ranger class worships Melandru, the Goddess of Earth and Nature. Rangers wear medium armor (higher than spellcaster classes, lower than warriors) and the highest elemental defense in the game.

In the Guild Battle portion of Guild Wars Player versus player rangers are known for their survivability and effectiveness as solo characters, often acting separately from the rest of the team, reflecting the hardy and cunning nature of a ranger.

Rangers in Dark Age of Camelot are an archer class in the realm of Hibernia. The races of Elves, Lurikeen, Celt, and Shar may become rangers. The differ from the archer class of the other realms in that they wield two weapons instead of a sword and shield, or a large spear. The weapon of choice for a Dark Age of Camelot Ranger is the Recurve Bow. Like all archers, they employ spells to augment their abilities as bowmen, and are adept at stealth.

In Fire Emblem units of the Archer class can wield only bows, allowing them to attack most enemy units without receiving a counterattack, but at the same time preventing them from counterattacking enemies who manage to close to melee range. Hunter is a similar class with lower defensive stats, but the ability to move through forest terrain without being slowed. The Hunter's promoted form Horseman is a cavalry unit which can equip both swords and bows, making them extremely flexible; in addition they usually lack some of the normal weaknesses of mounted units, such as vulnerability to anti-cavalry weapons and inability to pass through rough terrain. In some games the Horseman class is instead known as Ranger, and can be promoted from both Mercenary (a balanced class specialising in two-handed swords) and Archer.

In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance the protagonist Ike's initial class is named Ranger, but is otherwise identical to the Mercenary class described above.

The rangers in Heroes of Might and Magic, as usual, were a ranged class (their special class ability was a slight bonus to their ranged skills.) However, they were notable for not having any connection to nature, only to pathfinding, and for being an advanced class of either the barbarian or the thief (neither of which normally become rangers.)

Although there are not definitive classes in RuneScape, Rangers are characters who have decided to invest most of their resources in the Ranged skill and its associated equipment, increasing their ability with bows, crossbows, throwing knives, and all of the games ranged weapons. They show none of the regular attunement to nature and animals, being primarily a distance attacker, though certain items allow the traditional usage of poisons. Like many other Rangers, RuneScape Rangers use lighter, leather armour, placing their defensive ability somewhere between the low-armour magical classes and the high-armour melee classes, Though during PVP they are known to wear Heavy armour helmets and legs if their defence level allows it. A Ranger may also invest in the Mage skill so that they may use restricting spells that can hold the opponent in place while the caster attacks from a distance with Ranged.

In Maplestory the ranger is a third advancement from the bowman base class. Rangers specialize in bows and rapid attacks in contrast to their cousin, the sniper, who specializes with crossbows and power. Although there is not a clear affinity for nature, both Rangers and Snipers can summon a silver hawk and golden eagle respectively, that can aid their caller in battle by stunning a nearby monster.

"Ranger" is a character class in NetHack. Rangers can become skilled or expert with many thrown or fired weapons such as spears, bows, and daggers. Rangers enjoy the ability to be able to skillfully cast "Divination" spells that help them discover monsters, identify objects, map areas, etc. Orcs, Elves, Gnomes and Humans can play ranger, the alignments available to this class are neutral and chaotic.

"Ranger" is a Class in the role-playing game Dragonfable. Zhoom, the master Ranger, is the main NPC in the town the Sandsea. You must complete Zhoom's Quest, The Hard Way, to unlock the armor. The Rangers of DragonFable are described by Zhoom as moving from place to place and calling no one place home. All Rangers have different codes of honor, but they live and die by that code. Zhoom also states that, "Rangers serve no king." Rangers have an affinity for nature as well, and each have an animal that they consider a partner and seen to share a spiritual connection with. Zhoom has a PrideLord named Zixcy, but he teaches the player character Falconry after the player completes the Hudson's Hawk Quest.

In order to Level Up this Class, the player needs to give Zhoom three Ancient Treasures, which can be obtained by completing various Quests throughout the Sandsea. The Class armor consists of leather armor, leather boots, and leather gloves with cloth pants. It carries a bow and arrows, a knife, and the player's equipped weapon, which is displayed hanging from the waist of the armor. While the Ranger's default attack is Melee, most of its attacking Skills involve Ranged damage. Its Skills involve enchanting arrows to cause flashbang and poison effects, using multiple arrows to attack, and using multi-hit attacks that can involve both Melee and Ranged attacks.

In Scions of Fate the Ranger is a slow attacking warrior that uses arrows to attack from far distances. He has relatively low health and defence ability. However he has a very high dodging ability and attack power. The class is not actually called "Ranger". The cycle goes Novice Bowman - Bowman - Silent Strider - Swift Ranger. This class can only be accessed if the Order Faction is selected.

The Ranger of Norrath is a cousin of the Druid, though one that specialises in melee as opposed to magical combat. They are usually referred to as Guardians or Wardens of Nature and many have similar beliefs and principles to Druids; though as their equipment often requires repairs and periodic replacing Rangers tend to be more comfortable socially than their spell casting counterpart. They do still have a similar ability to call upon spirits (of nature) and unseen forces but it is much more limited in its power, as such they are extensively trained in many weapon types and combat abilities, usually to a far greater level of proficiency than any Druid would be expected to reach.

A Rangers combat training focuses on offensive skills, with the defensive side left to an individuals cunning and agility. Many of a Rangers spells can either be used at a distance or allow the Ranger to fight outside their opponents range, archery is one of a Rangers primary weapon skills and when mastered becomes one of the most powerful weapons available to them. Rangers can also slow movement, 'root' a target to the ground and when fighting animals make them flee in fear. They gain some of the Druid 'blast' spells and can transform into a wolf when they reach the required level of power.

While defensively limited, a Ranger does have some defensive boons including the capability to wear chain armour. Their armour class and hit points can be magically raised and they can cast a shield which harms their opponent when they strike the Ranger. In addition Rangers can reduce aggression and 'lull' creatures enough that they wouldn't attack when approached, giving enough distraction to pick groups of them off one by one. Along with the best tracking ability of any profession this means Rangers are often considered the masters of hunting, commonly taking responsibility for scouting ahead or choosing suitable 'prey' for a party.

A Hunter of WoW is a ranger character class that has an animal companion and employs firearms.

Rangers are a Scout Class in the Live action role-playing game, The Vorydian Chronicles. They are more combat oriented than the other two Scout Classes, Rogue or Spy, in order to better survive the wilderness on one's own. Rangers are specialize in wooded environments, able to slip past animals and carnivorous plants unnoticed, track, camouflage one's self, and they are given the ability to dual-wield swords, in addition to the existing Scout Fighting Styles. Their combat skills are generally centered on Marksman (archery and thrown weapons) and gladiator (dual-swords), and they receive fighting style proficiencies, as well as Expert Flanking proficiencies. Defensively, Rangers receive Vaea boosts to their hit points, as well as a threshold soak, up to two chosen element types to take minimal from, and immunity to a poison of choice. At the highest common rank, a Ranger may receive a Spirit Animal. Rangers may achieve any one of the Exemplar lists: Stalker, Ghost, Sniper, or Bounty Hunter.

A young adult fantasy book series based in medieval times revolves around Rangers. They are the "police" of the country and widely feared. Normal people consider them sorcerers of the black arts, but the rangers of Rangers Apprentice do not associate with magic. There are fifty active rangers in the Ranger's corps and all of them are skilled bowmen, trackers, knife fighters and throwers, and are masters in unseen and unheard movements. Only one ranger in the corps, Gilian, knows how to fight with a sword. Every ranger, and any apprentice to a ranger, has their own horse. The horse they have is specially bred and trained to travel for long distances at fast speeds. These horses all have a sort of "password" needed to ride. If a person attempts to ride on the horse and they do not know the password then the horse throws them off. This word is only needed to be spoken into the horse's ear the first time someone attempts to ride. (OMFG, THAT IS SO COOL.) Each certified ranger is required to protect and deal with trouble and laws in their fief, which is similar to a county. The series bases itself around a young orphan named Will who becomes apprentice to a high ranking ranger named Halt. By book five Will completes his apprenticeship and is a certified ranger and is called upon to go on missions. Most of the time on these missions he is accompanied with Horace, a knight who grew up with Will in the orphanage, and Halt.

Rangers in the MMORPG Midgard Rising are masters of Curbing beasts. Curbing is the term used to described taming combat pets. The Ranger and pet are a force to be reconned with in the World of Midgard (WoM). The ranger has a full compliment of ranged skills to choose from. They have a multitude of ranged weapons to choose from including various assortments of bows, guns, and crossbows. The ranger is not limited to ranged weapons; they are just as effective in melee combat as well with the use of varying axes, daggers, and claws. The rangers can melee with two handed weapons or are just as at ease dual wielding as well. Rangers have a large arsenal of skills at their disposal; with skills revolving around tracking, scouting, setting snares, and the use of their combat pets, the rangers are always well equipped. The rangers of WoM are able to wear cloth, leather, or mail armour.The ranger is just as at home in a full party of other players providing ranged or melee dps, or crowd control as they are running solo with their trusty pet companions. They are sort of a Jack of all trades class.

(If you're going to restrict the usage of an animal companion, at least make it halfway decent.)

What TV Tropes Has to Say
(If you want to know anything about pop culture, hit up TV tropes. It is the most awesome kind of horrible.)

No, we aren't talking about the kind fellow at the national park who wears the snazzy uniform.
We're talking about the forest-dwelling recluse who serves as a self-appointed guardian for their ancient and enchanted home. They may wear green in an attempt to blend in to their forest surroundings. They guard their forest with their bow slung across their back, and would rather take your hat off with an arrow than post a polite notice to please put out your campfire before you leave. In a fantasy setting, expect at least one elf to be this trope.

The Forest Ranger may also be a Nature Hero and have similar associating tropes, however, the Forest Ranger is not a hero and may be a member of a large group of forest dwellers, such as elven city, or even be guard to such a city.

The Ranger Class: Other Names: Hunter. Rangers are woodsmen skilled at surviving in the wild. They may be lumped in with Fighters or Rogues (above) but more often than not are a separate tree of classes all their own. Archery is generally their favored skill, although most can fall back on swordplay if necessary. Rangers may also be skilled in some form of wilderness or nature magic. They may be very good at fighting a specific type of enemy, and often take on the role of The Hunter against such foes. Rarely, a Ranger may have access to guns as well as bows.

The Sniper Ranger: This version is totally reliant on archery, but usually does higher damage because of it. May have a variety of status-inflicting arrows to slow or otherwise annoy enemies. Keeps to the back of a battle.

The Archer is a skilled bowman. They're generally independent and used to working alone. This tends to make them practical, a little haughty or arrogant and not the best at following orders especially from those they don't respect. The archer is generally stealthy and graceful and tends to fight at a distance. As a result, they're often portrayed as vulnerable up close unless they switch to a different weapon for close combat.

The archer is most likely to be found in a wild setting and can share traits with the Cold Sniper, most notably an analytical and calculating nature. This archetype tends to be depicted as having a more slender build despite the great upper-body strength required to draw a powerful bow without mechanical assistance. The character is likely to also be The Chick, a Nature Hero, a Forest Ranger, and/or an Elf. This also has the benefit of keeping the delicate female safely out of the bone-crunching melee.

The Pinned to the Wall trope is a common enough tactic by this archetype in comics. Most notably, Hawkeye and Green Arrow.

The Bow and Blade Ranger: A version of the ranger that can handle bladed weapons as well, allowing them to defend themselves against approaching enemies or close in for the kill. The most likely Ranger to overlap with the Fighter archetype.

A character who wields both a bow and sword (this includes crossbows). This is quite common in fiction for a number of reasons:

It makes tactical sense. Even the toughest swordsman or most accurate archer will find their weapons useless when fighting at the wrong range.

It looks damn cool.

It gives the author another tool for their hero to use, allowing for easier writing during action sequences.
Besides these more down-to-earth or aesthetic reasons, using a bow and sword competently takes a lot of training and time; it can symbolise dedication, co-ordination, flexibility of character and perhaps even a certain kind of intelligence. It's certainly the mark of a wary, well prepared character; if you're this well prepared you're either naturally thorough in preparing for circumstances or have been taught the value of said preparations by experience. Characters like this are often royalty or nobility in reduced circumstances; the combination of a bow, a relatively humble weapon, beside a sword or other heraldric arm, a sign of high birth. It might also be a character from a humble background who has come into a more heroic, important role in life.

It can also signify that this character, for all his noble bloodlines, is an amoral person. Be wary of sword and crossbow combinations in particular.

Characters armed this way tend to be rather lightly armoured. This may of course be due to the fact that most archers are lightly armored. (When was the last time you saw or read about a hero in full plate using a bow?) For some reason, the archer element seems to dominate. They tend to either be extremely agile or wily and cunning in order to make up for it. This does make some sense, given that the more weapons you carry, the less weight you can devote to armor.

Of course, it's rather difficult to wield both a bow and a sword at the same time (though some characters with crossbows small enough to be fired one-handed manage) unless you've got more than two hands. The favoured technique for this style is typically to shoot foes with arrows from a distance, and then draw the sword once they get too close for comfort.

The Dual Wielding Ranger: The Dual Wielding Ranger most famously represented by the famed Drow ranger Drizzt Do'Urden, who uses two melee weapons, though it does predate him by quite some time. Very common in Dungeons & Dragons-based material, but less so elsewhere.

This trope refers to wielding two weapons at once. After all, if one weapon is good, then two weapons must be twice as good. The tactics can vary widely. A character might be concerned only with offence, and therefore decides that he wants to kill with both hands rather than just one. More tactical characters might typically use their off-handed weapon for blocking or tricky counter-attacks. Game mechanics often grant additional attacks to characters with two weapons.

The types of weapons used can also be diverse. If the character has one hand dominant, he might wield a long weapon in one hand and a shorter weapon in his off-hand, such as a classic rapier and dagger pairing. Two small weapons is also pretty common, with the idea that smaller, nimbler weapons won't get tangled up with each other. However, some characters will dual-wield long weapons, such as swords or axes, which is generally portrayed as quite a feat. Mary Sue and Munchkin characters stereotypically wield two katanas. A Bifurcated Weapon might allow the character to switch between one- and two-weapon styles on the fly. On the extreme end of the scale, a character might wield a One-Handed Zweihänder in each hand!

Whatever the weapon, you'll probably see a lot of Flynning and Slice-and-Dice Swordsmanship in the choreography. Two crossed weapons are also perfect for a Blade Lock.

Dual wielding appears in various Real Life cultures and combat styles, but it tends to be over-represented in fiction because it's... well... cool.

The Beastmaster Ranger: This class specializes in either taking temporary or permanent control of wild animals, and then allowing their pet to rush to the front lines while they support with healing and long-range attacks.

A type of character who uses the assistance of an animal, force of nature, or just some sort of not-highly-sentient creature (with free will) to help them fight.

There are a few variations to this:

A) The creature in question has befriended the Beastmaster with a lifelong bond, and is always by his/her side, constantly ready for combat and play.

B) The Beastmaster can convince, cajole, or outright force a critter/creature to fight with them via some type of influence or power. Sometimes he is also a Nature Hero.

C) The beast being used is actually mystical in nature, such as an elemental or spirit, typically requiring a pact; and is normally called with magic.

D) The ally is artificial in nature, normally constructed by the master. Is either a Robot Buddy (a Robot Master), or a puppet controlled by either magic or plain-old strings (a Marionette Master).

E) The Beastmaster can grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals or telepathy and convince them or request for them to help. (AQUAMAN!)

F) The Beastmaster can see through the eyes of animals and maybe even control it from the inside with a form of mind control.

In video games, the Beastmaster either has complete control over their ally, an ally that follows the "Monkey-see, monkey-do" mentality and follows the master's actions, or the ally just does what it wants in range of its master. As the AI isn't always very good at doing actions that don't kill everyone, the playerbase may regard the job as unpopular. This will normally not be the case in other forms of fiction, as no computer is directing the ally's actions, that's now the plot's job.

Due to the fact that the ally is, at best, another damage dealer/damage taker, Beastmasters are generally able to do things on their own in an MMORPG environment.

The Trapper Ranger: The Trapper is a character who can lay down various traps in an area that the enemy can walk into, making them vulnerable to ambushes or follow-up attacks.

The Magical Ranger: A version of the ranger who can uses enchanted or Trick Arrow to take advantage of Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors, or slow down and disable enemies with "net arrows" or "freezing arrows" and the like.

So You Want to Be a Ranger?
By Nemo of Calh
(Read this. It doesn't say anything about what a ranger is mechanically, but it gives us something very useful- a deep look into the mind of someone who has spent the better part of a decade living as one)

I have been playing a Ranger in Dagorhir for seven years.  I have been told in the more recent of those years that I have very good Ranger gear, but it was not always that way.  I did not enter into Dagorhir looking as if I stepped out of a movie; it took me five years to refine my garb to the point that, looking back on it, I can at least be satisfied with it now.  Even in the years since, I have not stopped improving my Ranger gear, and I am at the point now where I feel as if, given the right skills, I could live as a Ranger in a fantasy world.

I say this because I want new people to understand that they won't look like me immediately.  It takes years of time, thought and money to develop a well thought out set of gear that blends with a flushed out character.  I hope that the advice I can give in this thread will help Dagorhirrim both old and new who want to portray a Ranger to think in new directions.  I never stop improving my gear, and there is no reason anyone else needs to.

Some of you may have noticed already that I have made a distinction.  For me, "garb" and "gear" are two separate yet overlapping concepts that are both essential to looking like a Ranger.  Garb is what most people think of.  It's just the clothing a Ranger wears.  Gear, on the other hand, is everything from weapons and tools to belts, quivers and even tents.  Some garb items--such as a cloak or a wool doublet--are both Garb and Gear. I say both are essential for portraying a Ranger because of what a Ranger does: he ranges.  Ranging is "mov[ing] around or through a region in all directions," or "rov[ing], roam[ing] or wander[ing]".  More than (to use Dungeons and Dragons terms) a fighter, a rogue, or a bard, Rangers have to travel as much as fight.  As such, a Ranger's gear is as important to his appearance as his garb.

This article will be broken up into three sections, each of which is equally important to the creation of a Ranger's garb and gear.  Being more versatile than many other types of characters--fighting at close and long range, as well as sneaking--Rangers often work alone.  As such, they need to be self-sufficient.  This includes not only often working without the aid of other people, but without the aid of a cart or even a horse--should a fight go poorly, it would work against a Ranger to have to defend something other than himself.  It would be better, instead, to run and live to fight another day.  A Ranger is at one with his environment, so he would disappear and defeat his foes from afar if he could not fight them head-on.  Thus, the three aspects that I feel determine the garb and gear of a Ranger are stealth, combat and travel.


Stealth comes first because it determines the base layers of a Ranger's appearance--his garb.  In modern times, we have camouflage, but most fantasy cultures would not have such.  Instead, those wishing to portray Rangers have to make their own, more basic camouflage clothing.  This does not mean "wear green" as most people would immediately assume.  The forest is not exclusively green, nor is it a uniform green where it is.  Ranger garb should contain some green, but it should predominantly be browns and greys.

Equally as important as the coloring of a Ranger's garb is its silhouette.  Modern camouflage is not only designed to blend in with the colors of its environment, but to break up its wearer's silhouette.  An enemy scanning the trees looking for a Ranger will be looking for a human shape, but if no colors draw his eye, and the patterning of the Ranger's silhouette does not appear immediately human, he will overlook the Ranger.

Animals in the wild do this as well.  Deer, for example, are darker on the top and lighter on the bottom, and this helps to break up their outline and make them more difficult to see for predators.

For this reason, what I recommend for garb are loose garments.

I made the mistake early on of thinking the newbish "black=stealth!" when I bought my most expensive garments.  I should have gone with grey instead.  Nevertheless, wearing this gear during the woods battle last Rag, I was able to successfully hide five feet away from a group of four people who were all looking for a fight.  By crouching and standing absolutely still, I was able to use the patterning of my garb to hide myself.  If some people in the camp I was defending had not charged the group I was watching and had instead let them advance, I would have stayed hidden and been able to come in behind them when the two groups engaged (as it stands, I was forced to try to shoot one of them through the branches of a tree, the arrow bounced off, I killed one of them with my dagger when he rushed me, and I was double teamed by two others and killed).

Wear long vests, a hood, and a cloak.  The cloak is the most important piece of equipment in a Ranger's gear.  Not only does it break up the Ranger's silhouette, but it is an important piece of travel equipment (more on that later).  Wear multiple layers in various shades.  Make sure that there are as few solid colors as possible showing.  There are no straight lines in nature--why should you have any?  My doublet is brown, but only the sleeves show under the black long vest, and there is brown over top of that.  Having no solid colors next to each other will make you appear less human, and thus will allow you to blend into the forest better.

Quote from: Fayne Erving
One thing you didn't stress a lot of importance on is the hood. It also serves to sell the fantasy ranger look, but more importantly, it keeps the sun off the face, the rain off the neck, the wind out of the ears, and helps with stealth! When I used to be in a paintball league, our unit leader taught us when hiding in the woods from enemy units, don't stare directly at them, even if they don't know where you are. Subconsciously, people pick up when someone is staring at them. But if you lower your head a bit, look off to the side and only watch them with your eyes, not your face, their subconscious is much less likely to clue in. A hood does the exact same thing for you. It hides your face, obscuring your (in my case, pasty white basement) skin. If you notice, the first picture Nemo posted is a great example. At first, I thought he was looking at the ground, and my subconscious wouldn't think twice about it. But upon closer inspection, you can see he has one eye trained on the viewer. A ranger without a hood, or at the very least a hat, is like an elf without ears.


I will freely admit that I am not the best fighter on the Dag field, so my advice is not on the best weapon combo to use to win, but the best equipment to carry to appear to be a Ranger.  As I said, Rangers travel often, and they have limited carrying space.  Thus, every weapon a Ranger carries should be a multi-tool.

The bow is, in my opinion, the most important tool in the Ranger's arsenal.  It allows him to silently attack from hiding, constantly harassing his foes until every one of them is dead.  Using a bow, a Ranger could kill any number of men without being seen or heard.  It serves both as a weapon and a hunting tool.  Rangers can use meat from their prey to eat, they can use its hide to patch their clothing, they can use its bones as tools, and they can trade any part of it for much needed coin on their journeys.  I prefer a shorter bow that can be used in dense woods, covered in leather to blend in, but longbows have a storied tradition among Rangers.  Rangers should carry as many arrows as they comfortably can.  Some can be reused after a fight, but many are likely to break, so it is important to have spares.

Melee weapons should be light and compact.  In Tolkien's universe, Rangers carried swords and spears, and Dungeons and Dragons Rangers specialize equally in dual wielding long weapons, but I do not believe that swords are the best weapons for a Ranger to carry with him always.  They are long and heavy, and they can get in the way.  Carrying two compounds the problem.  Everyone is perfectly welcome to carry a sword if they want to, but, in my opinion, the perfect weapon combination for a Ranger is a tomahawk (Otherwise known as the handaxe, the single only verifiably broken weapon in 5e) and a dagger.

Quote from: Fayne Erving
I agree that a ranger's weapons should double as tools, and that carrying a dedicated weapon increases encumbrance, but you did mention if a ranger carries a dedicated weapon, it should be easy to maintain. My ranger is part of the Order, which is essentially a guerrilla-tactic, underground good guy group. As such I change my ranger style just a tad bit. Fayne carries a two handed sword because a single, long blade is easier to maintain when you're far from home base than a sword and a shield or even two swords, and a two-hander is devastating in the right hands. My point is I feel your ranger is more focused on stealth and travel. If anyone reading this is an aspiring ranger, it's perfectly acceptable to focus your ranger on other parts of the trifecta, as long as you don't forgo parts either. It's quite ok to focus on travel and combat, as my ranger is, but also note my garb/gear is stealthy too.

Tomahawks are perfect weapons and multi-tools.  They are light and compact.  If they have a hammer head on the back like mine, they can be used for cutting attacks against unarmored targets or bludgeoning attacks against armored foes.  They have no less reach than a mace, yet they are also balanced enough to be thrown, and can have a devastating effect whether or not they "stick."  They are easy to sharpen, yet the weight in their head makes them nearly as effective blunt as they are sharp.  As I will discuss in the Travel section, they are essential tools as well.

When paired with a dagger, the combination is even more devastating.  Both are small and light.  The dagger can attack faster than the tomahawk, and, since it is not being used as a tool, it can be kept razor sharp until it is needed.  A hunting knife can be substituted as well, should the Ranger want to carry no single-purpose items like a dedicated weapon.

I have found, however, that this combination works poorly in Dagorhir. Combat in Dagorhir takes place over much greater range than it would in real life, and it is not as necessary to commit to attacks.  Thus, short weapons like the tomahawk and dagger are difficult to use alone.  Should combat be more important to a new Ranger than characterization, or the Ranger does not mind the extra burden of a sword, then a long one handed sword or a short two handed sword would likely be a better choice.

Again, as Rangers travel more than other types of characters, armor is most often a poor choice.  I am of the opinion that, if armor does not feel or act like real armor, it should not be worn.  Thus, soft leather armors that most people picture Rangers as wearing are an affront to my eyes.  If a new Ranger is trying to look the part of a real Ranger, they will stay away from "larp armor."  Hardened leather armor can work with a Ranger look, but even that restricts movement and adds additional weight that serves only one purpose.  For the sake of saving energy on the countless miles a Ranger will be walking, he will likely forgo armor in favor of stealth and agility.

Quote from: Fayne Erving
I would venture to say a ranger should never wear soft leather larp armor. Unhardened leather, even setting aside its crappy protection and ahistorical significance, does one thing no ranger ever wants: squeaks. It squeaks when you breath, when you walk, when you blink. I've taken off larp armor and set it in my tent, only to be woken up by its vengeful squeaking late in the night. Hardened leather, however, does provide a bit of protection and if it's wax hardened, easily slides without sound. It also only makes sounds when it's hit.

At the same time, any garb and worn gear should be very comfortable to wear and not restricting in any way.  Rangers fight as much as they travel, and restrictive clothing would be a detriment to both.


The last need for a Ranger in defining his look is the ability to travel.  This aspect is what separates a great Ranger kit from a mediocre Ranger kit.

Personally, I wear the entirety of my gear with me at all times.  This means that, when I am on the battlefield, I am carrying everything I would need to set up camp and survive in the wilderness.  To me, this is essential to being a Ranger, as the Ranger's side could lose a fight, forcing him to flee into the wilderness.  A fighter with a cart full of equipment in camp will be lost without it once the enemy takes it, but a Ranger with his gear on his back will be right at home.  Other opinions may differ, and I am not saying that a Ranger kit cannot be good without pounds of gear on the Ranger's back, but nothing screams "Ranger!" like the look of self-reliance.

With careful planning, it is possible to have all of this equipment on comfortably and not lose significant effectiveness while fighting.  For example, I wear a two part cloak.  The inner layer can be separated from the outer layer and used as a blanket, while the outer layer can be used as a small shelter if it is needed.  Rather than carrying one large pack that move my center of gravity backward, I distribute my gear among many pouches so that, not only is the weight more evenly distributed, but I can easily get any item I need quickly without removing a pack.

The important thing is to learn how to be comfortable with very little.  I only carry one change of clothes that fits in a pouch at the back of my belt (which doubles as a pillow!).  I use my long vest as a ground cloth.  I carry light trail foods.  This past Ragnarok, the only extra things I brought with me were a couple of cans of meat (to simulate hunting), my Dag weapons, a sleeping pad, and a tent in case of emergencies and to store everything out of sight.  I lived for a week with only the items I brought in on my back, and it was not difficult.  I did have portions of some meals my unit made and I bought one or two meals from vendors, but this would not be out of the question for a Ranger on the move.

Everything a Ranger carries should have multiple purposes.  I do not carry a large dedicated weapon because I have my tomahawk, which can not only be used as a weapon but also to hammer tent stakes, split firewood, and even climb trees.  My Cloak doubles as a blanket and a shelter.  My long vest doubles as a ground cloth.  My clothing pouch doubles as a pillow.  Even my garb serves an additional purpose besides looking good and hiding me in the woods.  The linen and wool doublet regulates my body temperature in hot and cold.  The long vest and my boots protect my legs from thorns.  Thought and planning can turn Ranger garb from the mediocre "it looks good," to the amazing "it feels real."

The ideal materials for Ranger garb are leather and a combination of linen and wool.  Linen and wool do an amazing job of regulating body temperature, and leather is very durable and provides protection against light damage such as thorns or abrasions.


The strength of a Ranger is versatility.  He should be able to hide, fight, and travel equally as well.  As such, if you are planning a Ranger character, think hard about every item you add to your kit.  It cannot serve only one purpose.  It cannot stand out in a forest.  It cannot hamper you in a fight.  Though seven years of refining my garb, I have found a balance where I can hide, fight and travel equally, and that, more than the physical appearance of my gear, is what has made me look like a Ranger.  You will not become a great looking Ranger overnight.  It takes work.  Whether you buy your gear or make it, you will need to strongly consider every addition and how it will affect stealth, combat and travel.

I wish you luck, fellow Rangers.  Good hunting.