Posted by : David Guyll June 10, 2012
Plenty of people have stated that the paladin could work as a theme, or some combination of cleric and fighter, as otherwise unique features like detecting/smiting evil could be picked up via feats, and to a point I am inclined to agree.
The ranger seems to be in a similar spot, as a lightly-armored warrior and/or rogue with lots of nature-oriented skills could fit the bill fairly well. This is still the area of the game that concerns me: just how different are all these classes going to be? What will a ranger bring to the table that cannot be picked up via another class?
Well...here is what we got so far:
The ranger is a wildnerness hunter and tracker.
This was kind of a big deal in 3rd Edition, because there was a Tracking feat that you had to take for some reason. I think it was that it allowed you to make Spot/Wildnerness Lore checks to find tracks, but it might have just been to notice ones over a specific DC (kind of like how only rogues could find traps with Spot DCs over 20). 4th Edition made no such restriction, allowing anyone to use Nature/Perception to notice tracks.
I am hoping that no one is barred from trying to track things, and instead rangers just gain a bonus instead of being part of an exclusive club. I am happy that it sounds like they are going to use 4th Edition's bonus damage mechanics instead of prior ones.
The ranger is a warrior.
Rangers have pretty much always stuck with light armor for the Dexterity bonus, so no surprises there. They had less hit points than fighters, so I wonder if they will have more than usual or some way to reduce/ignore damage. I do not care for the whole two-weapon/archery bit, but at least it sounds like a theme and not a class feature; trying to qualify for two-weapon fighting was a pain in 3rd Edition, and while 4th Edition made it actually feasible and worthwhile, it still required making a new class feature over and over.
The ranger is a protector.
Huh. I have never known rangers to be the tanking type, so I wonder if this means that they can interrupt attacks or actually get in the way of them. If the latter, I wonder how it will differ (or improve) from the Defender theme. I am guessing that at least they will have some benefit against poisons, foraging, making shelters, and so on.
Rangers are friends with wild creatures.
Good with animals, but animal companions are not assumed. It also sounds like that they can have more than one, and they are better off for it.
These are good goals for evoking the ranger archetype as we know it in D&D, with the sort-of exception of access to druidic magic. I would prefer to see this as a class feature choice, but would also be fine having it be something that can be gained through multiclassing or a feat.
On the surface though I am not seeing much to differentiate it from a fighter with an Archery/Two-Weapon theme and some nature skills, except for the Hunter's Quarry-like class feature. Yeah they get pets, but that sounds like it could (and should) be a background benefit or feat option.