Ranger (Dungeons & Dragons)

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A Dungeons & Dragons character class
Publication history
First appearanceThe Strategic Review volume 1, number 2
EditionsAll except BD&D
(as an alternate class)OD&D
ImageWizards.com image
StatsOGL stats

The Ranger is one of the standard playable character classes in most editions of the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.[1][page needed] Rangers were hunters and skilled woodsmen, and often lived reclusive lives as hermits.

Publication history[edit]

Creative origins[edit]

The ranger was primarily based on the character Aragorn, and the Rangers of the North of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth mythos, as warriors who use tracking and other wilderness skills to hunt down their enemies.[citation needed] The AD&D second edition handbook mentions several other inspirations from myth and legend, such as Robin Hood, Jack the Giant Killer, the huntress Diana, and the Greek hero Orion.[2] Other notable rangers in the literature of Dungeons & Dragons include Hank from the cartoon series, King Tristan Kendrick from Forgotten Realms, and Ren from Pool of Radiance.[citation needed]

Original Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The ranger was introduced in The Strategic Review volume 1, number 2.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition[edit]

The ranger was one of the standard character-classes available in the original Player's Handbook,[3] one of five subclasses.[4]:145 The first edition rangers were a subtype of the fighters,[5] using any weapon and wearing any armor, but they gained extra attacks at a slower rate than fighters and paladins. Unlike other warriors, the ranger used d8 hit dice instead of d10s, but had a second hit die at 1st level and maxed out at 11 hit dice instead of nine. Rangers also had extensive tracking abilities, based on a percentage score, and were able to surprise opponents on a roll of 1–3 on a d6 (rather than a 1–2) while they themselves could only be surprised on a 1. Rangers gained limited spell use at level 8, acquiring 1st–3rd level druid spells and 1st and 2nd level magic-user spells (two per level maximum). Rangers were most effective when fighting giants and humanoids (such as orcs), gaining a +1 to damage per level against these opponents.

High level rangers gained followers, ranging in type and power from classed player-character races, to creatures such as pegasus mounts, pseudodragons, werebears, copper dragons and storm giants. As a general rule, the fewer followers a ranger gained (based on random dice rolls) the more powerful each individual follower was.[citation needed] Rangers were required to be of good alignment, and were initially limited to humans and half-elves. The only multi-class option open to rangers was the ranger/cleric, allowed to half-elves.

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

The ranger was not available as a character class in the game's "Basic" edition. However, the Best of Dragon Magazine volumes 2–3 contained variant rules for rangers for this version, including spell lists, henchmen, and tracking ability.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition[edit]

Rangers went through several changes in the 2nd edition. Their hit dice were changed to match fighters and paladins. Rangers could still wear any armor, but several of their new abilities required the use of light armor, including the skill to use two weapons without penalty and the thief-like abilities of move-silently and hide-in-shadows. The class retained its tracking abilities but the ability was based on a skill check instead of a percentage roll. Rangers also gained an animal empathy ability which allowed them to calm frightened or hostile animals. Instead of gaining a damage bonus against all giant and humanoid monsters, the ranger focused on a specific creature, which did not have to be of giant or humanoid stock. The class's spell abilities were also limited to 1st–3rd level priest spells from the plant and animal spheres. Higher level rangers could recruit various woodland animals, mythical creatures (such as the treant, pegasus, and pixie), and classed characters including druids, clerics, or other rangers as followers.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit]

The 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons saw more changes to the ranger. The species enemy was now called favored enemy, and the ranger was allowed to select additional enemies during advancement. The class retained its spellcasting ability, but gained it much earlier, and had its own spell list. The nature of the ranger's companions also changed significantly. Instead of gaining multiple followers the ranger gained a single animal companion, and at an earlier level than in previous editions. The race and alignment restrictions of the earlier editions were dropped, allowing evil rangers for the first time.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit]

Rangers in the 4th edition retained their ability to specialize in archery or two weapon fighting. Rangers had the striker role, specializing in single-target damage, as well as mobility. They had the martial power source, and, like all martial classes, their powers were called exploits. Their special abilities made them better suited to hit and run tactics and focusing on a single opponent. Other abilities allowed the ranger to aid his companions with skill checks and avoiding ambushes.

Dungeons & Dragons Essentials[edit]

The Essentials rulebook Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms presented two alternate versions of the ranger, the hunter and the scout. The hunter focused on ranged attacks, while the scout focused on melee attacks.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[edit]

The ranger was included as a character class in the 5th edition Player's Handbook.[6] At third level, players chose from one of two ranger archetypes: the hunter; and the beast master.[citation needed] The hunter archetype was the protector of civilization against the terrors of the wilds, giving the character special abilities in fighting. The beast master archetype forged a connection between civilization and beasts, allowing the character to interact with animals in certain ways including gaining an animal companion to control.[6] Xanathar`s Guide to Everything adds three more ranger archetypes: the Gloom Stalker, Horizon Walker and Monster Slayer.


  1. ^ Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons: An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (2nd ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ISBN 0710094663.
  2. ^ Cook, David "Zed" (1989). Player's Handbook (2nd ed.). Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR. p. 28. ISBN 0880387165.
  3. ^ Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Buffalo: Prometheus Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0879756535.
  4. ^ Ewalt, David M. (2013). Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It. Scribner. ISBN 9781451640526.
  5. ^ Turnbull, Don (December 1978 – January 1979). "Open Box: Players Handbook". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (10): 17.
  6. ^ a b Mearls, Mike (2014-07-28). "Keeping it Classy". Dungeons & Dragons. Retrieved 2017-06-15.

Further reading[edit]

  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition Player's Handbook
  • Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Second Edition Player's Handbook
  • The Complete Fighter's Handbook
  • The Complete Ranger's Handbook
  • Dungeons & Dragons Third Edition Player's Handbook
  • Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Player's Handbook
  • The Quintessential Ranger (Mongoose Publishing)
  • The Quintessential Ranger II: Advanced Tactics (Mongoose Publishing)

External links[edit]