There has always been a bit of controversy surrounding the ranger class in Dungeons & Dragons. The archetype of the “ranger” has a solid foundation in literature as an expert woodsman (or woods-woman) that is skilled with sword or bow, who knows the land better than anyone else and fights for an important cause. The Dungeons & Dragons’ ranger is all of these things but there is one feature which has nagged at gamers since AD&D; the ability to cast spells.
“Aragorn Didn’t Cast Spells”
The ranger found in the Pathfinder RPG can also cast spells and it is a well-built class but there are still those who clamor for a spell-less character. Answering the call to arms Marc Radle has designed a new path for the Pathfinder RPG called The Expanded Spell-less Ranger. This alternate class first appeared in Kobold Quarterly #11 but it has been expanded with new archetypes, feat support and tracking sheets to help you manage the class from level one to twenty.
The ability to cast spells has been stripped from the character but it has been replaced with several new class features.
The first new feature is the Stealth Attack which greatly resembles the rogue’s Sneak Attack class feature although the extra damage progression does not begin until 2nd level (as opposed to 1st level for the rogue).
At 2nd level a Combat Style Feat is selected setting the character on a path down one of two combat styles. As the character levels up they earn bonus feats which are used to enhance their chosen combat style and best of all, these selections ignore normal prerequisite requirements.
The Nature’s Healing ability is an interesting addition to the class. While in favored terrain the ranger can use their specialized skills to provide a bonus to Heal skill checks
At 4th level the ranger chooses between two different types of Hunter’s Bonds. The first option is the ability to provide their favored enemy bonus to their allies against a single target. The second option is to develop a bond with an animal companion. Once this selection has been made it cannot be changed.
The ranger also has access to a number of Ranger Talents (which resemble Rogue Talents) at 4th level. These are unique abilities which can be used to specialize in different areas of the ranger class. This includes options like additional animal companions, bonus feats, increased range and enhanced critical hit ranges.
The New Feats section includes 18 new feats which are geared towards supporting this new version of the ranger. However, most of them would make for excellent choices for the ranger found in the Pathfinder RPG as well.
Two new archetypes are included for the ranger. The first is theDual-Style Ranger and this archetype limits the ranger to a single favored enemy but enhances the accrued bonuses gained against that favored enemy. It also allows the ranger to choose both combat styles making the character equally dangerous in both melee and ranged combat. The second is the Companion-Bound Ranger which replaces the ranger’s Endurance ability which an enhanced animal companion whose selection is not limited by type (akin to the druid’s greater selection) and the animal companion benefits from many of the ranger’s personal abilities. The ranger is also limited to a single favored terrain but the ranger’s favored terrain bonuses increase in potency as the ranger levels up.
Also included in this product is a handy sheet used to keep track of favored enemies and terrains as well as one for the ranger’s animal companion.
This alternate path class is well written and designed. For the player who would rather play a ranger without spells this is an excellent option as it provides a large number of options to not only play a spell-less ranger but play a highly customized character which conforms perfectly with the player’s vision of what the character should be.
You can purchase this PDF product on DriveThruRPG or Paizo.
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