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View Full Version : Balance: Doe this have it? (Ranger changes)



Brom
2009-06-10, 04:39 AM
So, I started this thread in order to ask if some changes I'm making to the ranger are reasonable. Basically, as is, they have some things I like:

- D8 HD - not bad. Not frontline material, but decent for someone willing to do hit and run tactics and attack with brutal force quickly. It stays.
- 6+ Int Modifier for skills/level. It's solid. 2/3rds of your skills go to conventional movement, perception, and stealth skills, 1/3 goes to nice Crafting skills, maybe a little Knowledge, and Handle Animal.
- Martial Weapon Proficiencies: I like it. Lightly armored, but quite possibly with a greatsword as a weapon.
- Hard to replicate skills: Spot, Listen, Search, Survival, the Track Feat, Handle Animal. You can't just cast a spell (or even put on a magic item) and make up for this. (Technically, you can with Planar Binding, but that's higher level, requires the player and DM be willing to track an NPC, and involves possibly upsetting extraplanar entities that generally have a lower bonus and less HP than your party Ranger.)

That's where the list ends, though. Things I don't like?

- Favored enemy. You massacre enemies you are favored against and generally do little against things that you aren't.
- Heavy multiple attribute dependancy. Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, Intelligence. All but Charisma.
- Spells, but gimp. Should I really explain?
- Animal Companion, but gimp. Same as above?
- Hide in Plain Sight at super high level, but only applies in natural terrain.
- No real advantages beyond what anyone attacking with the advantage of surprise and stealth has. I don't know, it seems like the Ranger should have some edge for that.

Changes I am making:

- Studied Enemy (1st level, replaces Favored Enemy): You can observe an enemy for two rounds. You must spend a move action doing such every round. After that, you gain the following bonuses against an enemy for ten minutes/Ranger level: a +2 bonus on Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against creatures of this type. Likewise, he gets a +2 bonus on weapon damage rolls against the studied creature.

- Ranger spell progression starts at first level. I'll probably quicken spells per day memorizable to be more on line with the Bard. Doing the same for Paladin. Rangers should be able to cast their low level spell effects at low levels, while they are still useful. Spell list is being augmented with a better cure progression, enabling Rangers to heal themselves (should they choose to).

- Combat Style (Hunter) or Combat Style (Slayer):

Hunter grants you Sneak Attack +1d6 at 2nd level.
Hunter grants you Sneak Attack +2d6 at 6th level.
Hunter grants you Sneak Attack +3d6 at 11th level.
You gain Bluff, Disguise, and Tumble as class skills, and the Poison Use ability.
You gain a +2 to Initiative at 6th level.

Slayer grants you Rage as a 1st level Barbarian 1/day at 2nd level.
Slayer grants you Mettle as the Hexblade ability at 6th level.
Slayer grants you Defensive Roll as the Rogue special ability at 11th level.
You gain the ability to retain your Ranger class features when fighting in Medium armor at 6th level.
You may treat yourself as a Fighter of your Ranger level for the purpose of qualifying for Feats.


- You pick your Animal Companion as a Druid of your level would.
- Examine Opposition: Your bonuses from Studied Enemy increase to a +4. You may now also study an additional enemy for every additional round you spend studying, up to a number of rounds equal to your level. (5th level Ranger can study for 7 rounds and apply his Studied Enemy bonuses to 6 enemies).

- Critical Examination: Your bonuses from Studied Enemy increase to +6. You may now study two enemies in a single round and an additional enemy for every subsequent round.

That's only up to 10th level. Far as I saw myself going, campaign is starting at 1st level. I just have a player who will be using an Elven Ranger and I have felt the Ranger can do a lot but without crazy stats is going to be a little behind the curve. This offsets the MAD with some (I feel) pretty solid abilities...maybe IMBA abilities?

I leave it to you to decide.

P.S. Please don't link me to premade Ranger fixes. I've seen them all before. Don't remember all of them, necessarily, but I remember not liking them. I'm submitting this based on the merits of my homebrew, even if my homebrew sucks.

Pyrusticia
2009-06-10, 06:28 AM
Things I don't like?

- Favored enemy. You massacre enemies you are favored against and generally do little against things that you aren't.
- Heavy multiple attribute dependancy. Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Wisdom, Intelligence. All but Charisma.
- Spells, but gimp. Should I really explain?
- Animal Companion, but gimp. Same as above?
- Hide in Plain Sight at super high level, but only applies in natural terrain.
- No real advantages beyond what anyone attacking with the advantage of surprise and stealth has. I don't know, it seems like the Ranger should have some edge for that.

I'd agree with most of those complaints, except for the Hide in Plain Sight one. The whole idea of a Ranger is that they're in tune with their environment. Limiting certain abilities to the environment they've trained to work in makes sense.


Changes I am making:

- Studied Enemy (1st level, replaces Favored Enemy): You can observe an enemy for two rounds. You must spend a move action doing such every round. After that, you gain the following bonuses against an enemy for ten minutes/Ranger level: a +2 bonus on Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against creatures of this type. Likewise, he gets a +2 bonus on weapon damage rolls against the studied creature.

That doesn't seem unbalanced.


- Ranger spell progression starts at first level. I'll probably quicken spells per day memorizable to be more on line with the Bard. Doing the same for Paladin. Rangers should be able to cast their low level spell effects at low levels, while they are still useful. Spell list is being augmented with a better cure progression, enabling Rangers to heal themselves (should they choose to).

A full BAB with spells from first level? Better throw in a limiter...maybe make it environmentally dependent, like HiPS. Note that 'environmentally dependent' is not the same as 'wilderness'. I see no reason why you couldn't declare a favored environment at first level, and use it throughout your Ranger career, rather than having to use variants such as the Urban Ranger. Either that or severely limit the number of spells/day.


- Combat Style (Hunter) or Combat Style (Slayer):

Hunter grants you Sneak Attack +1d6 at 2nd level.
Hunter grants you Sneak Attack +2d6 at 6th level.
Hunter grants you Sneak Attack +3d6 at 11th level.
You gain Bluff, Disguise, and Tumble as class skills, and the Poison Use ability.
You gain a +2 to Initiative at 6th level.

I like this path. One question, though...do you get Poison Use at first level? I ask because I'm not familiar with any base class that offers Poison Use at first level. Most of the time when I see it, it's part of a PrC, which means the PC's at least 5th or 6th level before they get it.


Slayer grants you Rage as a 1st level Barbarian 1/day at 2nd level.
Slayer grants you Mettle as the Hexblade ability at 6th level.
Slayer grants you Defensive Roll as the Rogue special ability at 11th level.
You gain the ability to retain your Ranger class features when fighting in Medium armor at 6th level.
You may treat yourself as a Fighter of your Ranger level for the purpose of qualifying for Feats.

I dunno about this path. I like the flavor of it, and most of the abilities seem all right, but qualifying for Fighter feats is a dangerous precedent. Right now Fighters are the only class that gets weapon specialization. That one feat tree is their biggest draw. If this goes in, I know that I would never take a level of fighter again.


- You pick your Animal Companion as a Druid of your level would.

Just, no. I'm drooling at the thought of it (which is a pretty good indicator right there that it's unbalanced). I agree that as it is now, the animal companion is gimped. It's so far below your level that it's more flavour than utilitarian. But giving them a full level companion is too powerful. Maybe if you took the Ranger down to 3/4 BAB, then they could get a full level companion, since that would then represent their primary fighting strength...


- Examine Opposition: Your bonuses from Studied Enemy increase to a +4. You may now also study an additional enemy for every additional round you spend studying, up to a number of rounds equal to your level. (5th level Ranger can study for 7 rounds and apply his Studied Enemy bonuses to 6 enemies).

- Critical Examination: Your bonuses from Studied Enemy increase to +6. You may now study two enemies in a single round and an additional enemy for every subsequent round.

No problems here.

Overall, I agree with your assessment, and like what you're doing to fix it. I look forward to seeing how it develops.

Brom
2009-06-10, 06:46 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I think you're the only one on th eforums right now... LoL.

At least, on this part. You're at least the only person who has responded to any of my threads :P

Hmm. I hear on you the Animal Companion. So how about Ranger level -3?

Most of the Ranger spells ARE pretty situational.

Ranger Spell List

Alarm: Wards an area for 2 hours/level.
Animal Messenger: Sends a Tiny animal to a specific place.
Calm Animals: Calms (2d4 + level) HD of animals.
Charm Animal: Makes one animal your friend.
Delay Poison: Stops poison from harming subject for 1 hour/level.
Detect Animals or Plants: Detects kinds of animals or plants.
Detect Poison: Detects poison in one creature or object.
Detect Snares and Pits: Reveals natural or primitive traps.
Endure Elements: Exist comfortably in hot or cold environments.
Entangle: Plants entangle everyone in 40-ft.-radius circle.
Hide from Animals: Animals canít perceive one subject/level.
Jump: Subject gets bonus on Jump checks.
Longstrider: Increases your speed.
Magic Fang: One natural weapon of subject creature gets +1 on attack and damage rolls.
Pass without Trace: One subject/level leaves no tracks.
Read Magic: Read scrolls and spellbooks.
Resist Energy: Ignores 10 (or more) points of damage/attack from specified energy type.
Speak with Animals: You can communicate with animals.
Summon Natureís Ally I: Calls animal to fight for you.



Alarm, Animal Messenger, Longstrider, Resist Energy, and Summon Nature's Ally 1 are the relatively nonsituational ones. I don't think it terribly impacts balance to have the party Ranger gaining a +10 foot movement speed or being able to communicate or bring out a Summned Ally for 1-5 rounds.

Alarm just about anyone can cast. I always have Alarm for my Wizards. Beautiful utility spell. As written, a 1st level Ranger with a solid Wisdom (16-18) would be able to cast a single one of these spells in a day. With the rest of the stuff I'm adding in, I'm fine with that.

Ninja's get Poison Use at 3rd level. A feat in Drow of the Underdark allows you to use poison at 1st level, if you're willing to drop a feat on it. I just think it encourages the smarter not harder approach.Not hung up on it, though.

Keep commenting, I like the feedback.

Yora
2009-06-10, 07:04 AM
I always handle Animal Companion, that your effective level for this trait is not half your ranger level, but your ranger level -3.

The ranger is basically the nature-variant of the paladin, and the paly gets Turn undead as a cleric with -3 levels would. Just applied that same rule to ranger animal companion.

Brom
2009-06-10, 07:15 AM
Yea. Prety well decided now - ranger level -3 for the companions.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-06-10, 08:21 AM
I think all of your changes look good and balanced; the warblade already gets the "qualify as a fighter" schtick and the duskblade has full BAB and casting at first level, so the ranger getting those shouldn't be a problem. I'd personally go with full level for the animal companion, but if you want to make the paladin comparison that works as well.

Cieyrin
2009-06-10, 09:07 AM
I wouldn't necessarily say Duskblade casting is a full casting progression. Yes, they can cast at first level but they're definitely not full casters. They're more akin to 3/4 casters like bards.

Anyways, on the point of this thread, your fixes seem alright. Changing Favored Enemy over to more of an Assassin-esque ability is a pretty cool idea. I'm not sure about the change of caster powers or combat style progression, though. Yes, half-casters like rangers, paladins and hexblades are not very effective in screwing over the opposition but that's not what it's designed for in half-caster hands. Half-casters are self-buffers primarily, enhancing their own abilities and natural talents, whether that be through their movement and stealth with Longstrider and Hide from Animals or improving their already impressive combat abilities with Hunter's Mercy and Arrowmind. They may do some healing on the side, like the paladin's Heal Mount or with some cure spells but they shouldn't be anywhere near full divine caster healing capabilities. Stabilization, canceling out bleeding effects and some rough healing to allow the skirmishers to keep going, sure, but by no means should they be full healing the party or even themselves from the brink. That just isn't in their mode of operandi.

For the paths, I don't terribly like either. For the Hunter track, it isn't anywhere near as competitive as a rogue or even a ranger/rogue. Why not make it something akin to the Order of the Bow Initiate's Ranged Precision, except instead of requiring Weapon Focus or be at range, require it only be effective against Studied Enemies and get to throw around some d8s instead? For Slayer, it's not very effective as such. It just feels like a bunch of abilities taken from other classes instead of abilities aimed towards making them better slayers (whatever that means), especially with the "Treat as fighter of ranger level for feat purposes," which treads way too easily on Fighter toes. I can see you want to make them more frontline-compatible but it should be of a rangery flavor than "i'm taking this from other classes". Unfortunately, I'm kinda stumped for what to replace it with right now but if I think of something that fits into the wilderness warrior mentality, I'll be back.

I do agree with the assessment of the Ranger Animal Companion being more window dressing then able battle companion. Making it Ranger Level-3 is definitely an improvement, akin to what the Pathfinder Ranger has, so it looks pretty good.

Otherwise, good attempt. Them's my 2 coppers. Take as you will.

Harperfan7
2009-06-10, 12:06 PM
YES!

Animal Companion at -3 is good.
Remember, the fighter feat thing isn't that good for them because they aren't getting any bonus feats. If you were one of these rangers, would you spend 4 feats making you better at a specific weapon?

Hawriel
2009-06-10, 02:08 PM
I'd knock off the poison use personaly. I just dont see a ranger using them. Ok out side an amazon jungle setting.

The studdied target is nice. I'd give it afew more rounds if studdy though. maybe three of direct observation. With some out of combat round time of research. Whether it is studdy while tracking the target or talking to NPCs. Essentialy a knowledge or servival check 10+hit die. This is a tossed spaghetti idea. Essentialy 12 seconds of observation is not a long time.

Give the ranger 5 sneak attack dice in total. With an ability at around 10th (give or take) to use it at 60'. I did this with my spell less ranger it works nicely.

I also agree with the -3 levels on animal companion.

Brom
2009-06-10, 02:28 PM
Anyways, on the point of this thread, your fixes seem alright. Changing Favored Enemy over to more of an Assassin-esque ability is a pretty cool idea. I'm not sure about the change of caster powers or combat style progression, though. Yes, half-casters like rangers, paladins and hexblades are not very effective in screwing over the opposition but that's not what it's designed for in half-caster hands. Half-casters are self-buffers primarily, enhancing their own abilities and natural talents, whether that be through their movement and stealth with Longstrider and Hide from Animals or improving their already impressive combat abilities with Hunter's Mercy and Arrowmind. They may do some healing on the side, like the paladin's Heal Mount or with some cure spells but they shouldn't be anywhere near full divine caster healing capabilities. Stabilization, canceling out bleeding effects and some rough healing to allow the skirmishers to keep going, sure, but by no means should they be full healing the party or even themselves from the brink. That just isn't in their mode of operandi.



They still wouldn't have the sheer volume of spells needed to make them capable of even a single job like healing. I'm not really going to do more than add some cures, but it's still 1st to 4th level casting, the highest it'll get is Cure Critical Wounds. As written, the Ranger gets Cure Serious Wounds at 14th level. Does that not seem pretty useless? I'm only very slightly increasing spells per day (probably to Bard level) and changing it so that 1st level Ranger Spells have Cure Light Wounds, 2nd level ones have Cure Moderate Wounds, etc. It'll be one person that the Cleric can know he won't need to heal. No where near enough to do full healing.

For the paths, I don't terribly like either. For the Hunter track, it isn't anywhere near as competitive as a rogue or even a ranger/rogue. Why not make it something akin to the Order of the Bow Initiate's Ranged Precision, except instead of requiring Weapon Focus or be at range, require it only be effective against Studied Enemies and get to throw around some d8s instead? For Slayer, it's not very effective as such. It just feels like a bunch of abilities taken from other classes instead of abilities aimed towards making them better slayers (whatever that means), especially with the "Treat as fighter of ranger level for feat purposes," which treads way too easily on Fighter toes. I can see you want to make them more frontline-compatible but it should be of a rangery flavor than "I'm taking this from other classes". Unfortunately, I'm kinda stumped for what to replace it with right now but if I think of something that fits into the wilderness warrior mentality, I'll be back.

Sure, your sneak attack isn't as good as a Rogue. Rogues will outshine you in pure sneak attacks. Know what they won't outshine you in? Pure volume of attacks - you have the higher BAB. Should you choose to, you can always get more attacks in. Even with small amounts of dice, a bonus +2d6 on two attacks/round with sneak attack vs +3d6 on a single attack at 6th level on top of the 2d6 you'd get from, say, being able to wield a greatsword as a martial weapon will add up.

The idea isn't to give it comparable sneak attack. That would be imbalanced and make Rogues seem a little weak. It's to give them a combat style emphasizing stealth that was rewarding at a mechanical level past having Concealment and enemies needing to make Spot checks to locate you, + a surprise round.

The Slayer is supposed to be a sort of Ranger who knows how to use stealth and fight a slow (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0270.html), patient battle of attrition, but isn't screwed when stealth isn't an option and knows how to take enemies in out in a short, violent frenzy.

I don't know how well I represented that theme, though. If you have better abilities, do tell.
(http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0439.html)