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View Full Version : So this Ranger thing... 3.5



ghashxx
2010-02-03, 12:45 PM
It's so incredibly difficult getting back into other classes after being a spell caster, so blundering around in the dark wile trying to help out a friend is always inevitable.

So this friend wants the bow ranger, but one who isn't completely useless in melee. Starting at first level and a human so that extra feat will definitely be nice. I've already referred him to th archery handbook on brilliantgameologist.com so that's definitely a help. Woodland archer looks great, and he can't wait to pick up splitting to double his damage potential.

But splitting is late game (huge price tag along with a force bow = +5 price bonus, ouch), so what can he do earlier on if he's indoors for example? He's pretty new to the game so I'm trying to keep multi classing to a minimum, though some fighter could be good.

Any thoughts on how useful the animal companion really is or should he switch that out for some other variant?

Pretty much all books open, though Dragon Mag needs a solid reference to specify the feat etc, generally better to stay away. Also psionics is out, otherwise free game.

Tyndmyr
2010-02-03, 01:06 PM
Archer who is also competent in melee....my first reccomendation would be fighter for low levels. Ranger is...not the strongest of classes, and getting good at archery takes a few feats.

KurtKatze
2010-02-03, 01:07 PM
going into order of the bow initiate for 2 levels gets you a feat to avoid provoking attacks of opportunity for shooting your bow in melee.

But i'd rather say forget about melee and play a scout/ranger with swift hunter and greater manyshot.

Optimystik
2010-02-03, 01:16 PM
I'd say forget about arrows entirely, and be a Soulbow with Zen Archery.

Kylarra
2010-02-03, 01:21 PM
I'd say forget about arrows entirely, and be a Soulbow with Zen Archery.Yay soulbow.

Also plausible is a warlock with eldritch glaive.

ericgrau
2010-02-03, 01:22 PM
If the first two things he says are range and melee, he should be a fighter. All the feats a ranger gets and more, plus heavier armor and a better HD. Rangers are for being able to fight while also having some skills.

Now for the matter of a ranged focus while still being able to handle close quarters situations. When possible he should handle it with range: precise shot and stepping back 5 feet before firing. When that fails, try spell storing weapons, tripping and maybe even disarming for cheap melee options that don't suck.

Sinfire Titan
2010-02-03, 01:31 PM
One option would be a Swift Hunter Archer build, but that's pretty feat-intensive. If he wants, it's possible to have Cleric spellcasting abilities mixed in with this (possibly reducing MAD via Zen Archery, but even more feat-intensive).

Gnaeus
2010-02-03, 01:31 PM
The easiest way to make a Ranger archer who is good in melee involves 1-3 splatbooks.

1. The spell you want is arrowmind. It is a level 1 ranger spell, so you can cast it yourself at level 4. It lets you make attacks of opportunity with your bow and fire arrows while threatened without provoking attacks of opportunity (Casting time: immediate action Duration: min/lev). Then, you just maximize your archery and it works melee or ranged. Arrowmind is in Complete Adventurer and Spell Compendium. If your ranger is 4th level and can cast arrowmind, you CAN skip steps 2-3, by memorizing it every day, and getting a pearl of power to refresh it if necessary (since many combats will not force your ranger into melee).

2. You buy/craft a wand of arrowmind. For this to be useful, you need to be playing with the rule from rules compendium that wands take the same kind of action as the spell that they contain, so that the Arrowmind wand is an immediate action, rather than a standard. This lets you use your ranger spells for other stuff.

3. If possible, you have a wand chamber (dungeonscape) crafted into your bow. Then, you stick that arrowmind wand into it.

Now you are a melee archer.

Edit: Does he WANT an animal companion? If yes, you can make it decent with feats and money. If no, trade it out.

Mark Hall
2010-02-03, 03:13 PM
Personally, I'm a big fan of the ranger (Full BAB skill monkey? May not be ideal, especially in a heavily optimized game, but yes please!), but as others have said, archer is pretty feat intensive. Depending on starting level and race, however:

1st level feat should be Point Blank Shot. It's the foundation of the tree, and still fairly useful (+1 to hit and damage within 30' isn't fantastic, but it's nice, and opens up everything else). If he's a human, he should also take Precise shot; if not, that's his 3rd level feat.

One thing I would suggest, as a DM, is allow him to take Shot on the Run as one of his Combat Style feats, even without Dodge and Mobility. It adds a lot of viability to an archer concept (i.e. "I step from behind cover and shoot them, then step back").

Dusk Eclipse
2010-02-03, 04:09 PM
There is a bow that doubles as sword or spear in an Eberron book and another in Complete scoundrel, so that might be an option, also there is an enchancement in the MIC that lets your bow asume the form of a sword and vice versa.

Os1ris09
2010-02-03, 04:25 PM
There is a bow that doubles as sword or spear in an Eberron book and another in Complete scoundrel, so that might be an option, also there is an enchancement in the MIC that lets your bow asume the form of a sword and vice versa.

Swordbow, Greater from MIC would get him the Longbow (composite maybe but if its not I as the DM would allow it) and a greatsword in one weapon. Put that wand chamber in it and any enchantments that you put on it will act on both weapons if able. Unfortunately I think there is an extra cost to enchant it but cheaper than trying to up two different weapons. Just DO NOT LET IT GET SUNDERED and your good

D-naras
2010-02-03, 04:28 PM
Just have him buy an Elvencraft bow from Races of the Wild, and have his human bonus feat be Power Attack. An elvencraft longbow functions as a quarterstaff so he gets double bonuses from Power Attack, and since effective archery requires strength, he shouldn't have much problems holding out a bit in melee.

Also, for the animal companion, I like the Elven Hound from the same book. Only elf rangers get it, but its a magical beast so it get better BAB than an animal. If you take Wood Elf as a race you get a strength bonus and an inteligence penalty in adition to the normal Elf adjustments.

If you blow two feats on Skill Focus(Handle Animal) and Nature Bond from Complete Adventurer, you can take 6 Ranger levels for your second bonus feat and have a 6 lvl animal companion Elven Hound, then you take 2-3 levels of Beastmaster for another +3 on your hound.

If you can get your DM to let you use the Warbeast template from MM2 on the Hound its going to be an extremely durable and accurate bodyguard for when you melee, plus rapid shot and manyshot. The only problem is you don't get Precise Shot without a flaw. My own Wood Elf ranger 6/Beastmaster 2 has a Warbeast Elven Hound with 9 hit dice and 25 AC unarmored and it deals 1d8+12 damage when not power attacking with an attack bonus of +16. For it's feats I picked Combat Reflexes, Standstill and Power Attack to guard me, and it rocked for the 2 sessions I got to play him...

Pluto
2010-02-06, 04:05 PM
If Dragon magazine is an option at all, I have to recommend Mystic Ranger from issue 336 (also on crystalkeep.com).

It costs you your animal companion and pushes most class abilities back a couple levels, but it gets an actual spell progression (up to level 5 spells by level 10) and enough spell slots to use your list without blowing huge gobs of WBL on wands.

If you have access to the SpC and CoR, this is a good thing. If you have access to Sword of the Arcane Order (CoV?) this is a very good thing.

Mystic Ranger brings Splitting to the table much earlier than the weapon enhancement (Splitting Arrow), turns archery into melee (Arrowmind) and allows much greater versatility with all the SpC spells that you don't have the daily slots for (and that are too circumstancial to buy wands for).

##

If you go the Swift Hunter route, try to arrange your levels to get Greater Manyshot as early as possible. (I'd think this is common sense, but many builds push it off until level 12 or later.) This is vital for being self-sufficient in damage-dealing without daily limits.

##

As far as whether to keep or skip the animal companion, I'd say skip. The companion is weak and doomed to a strictly utility role. Though it is useful to have an owl to be your eyes at a distance or a wolf to help you track, you have Wild Empathy and Handle Animal anyway. These make the Animal Companion ability largely redundant.

If you have access to internet sources, I highly recommend the Urban Companion ACF from the Cityscape Web Enhancement (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20070228a). It functions like a familiar - sharing saves, skills(!), BA, 3/4 of your HP - but it doesn't penalize you when it dies and only takes 24 hours to replace.

Tyrmatt
2010-02-06, 04:14 PM
I've been looking for a good ranger for a while too, reviving my 2E character. It was originally a GURPS ranger but I think the DM has had a bit of a 3.5 nostalgia kick on recently so I'm looking for tips on D&D based ones now.

I've heard rumours of utterly extreme ranged combat with Cragtop Archer (?) and Spellwarp Sniper?

Tinydwarfman
2010-02-06, 04:26 PM
Swift Hunter is the best archery build I've seen so far. Here (http://community.wizards.com/go/thread/view/75882/19872750/The_Swift_Hunters_Handbook_--_2007)is a link to the handbook.

Pluto
2010-02-06, 04:34 PM
I've heard rumours of utterly extreme ranged combat with Cragtop Archer (?) and Spellwarp Sniper?

Cragtop Archer is available at the WotC page (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/iw/20040815b). It's kind-of-sort-of okay for a pretty specific niche (shooting really far from higher ground).

Spellwarp Sniper is a class for Rogue/Wizards. It turns area spells into rays, which can be used to sneak attack.

If you're looking for a good archery PrC, check out some of the old 3.0 material:
Peerless Archer from Silver Marches is incredible (giving sneak attack, full base attack, decent skills, and power attack with arrows).
Order of the Bow Initiate (from Sword and Fist, NOT from Complete Warrior) is pretty good too.
And Deepwood Archer from Masters of the Wild isn't bad, but I'm not sure I'd consider it much of an improvement over straight Ranger levels.


Within the 3.5 books, Assassin is probably the best archery prestige class for non-casters.

Swift Hunters (require Complete Scoundrel and Complete Adventurer) are the easiest and some of the most efficient archery builds. They produce good damage and have fantastic skills, but I have a hard time recommending them; they're just so dull to play.

(Soulbow (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/ex/20060403a&page=2) might deserve mention, but I don't really consider it an archer. It functions like one, but it doesn't actually use a bow. That's sort of a dealbreaker for me when it comes to "archers.")

Unseen Seer and Abjurant Champion (both from Complete Mage) are probably the best 3.5 archery classes because they allow near-full caster progression while significantly increasing ranged weapon damage. Even without casting spells, they're as good as most archery-specialized builds.

(Actually, just about every full-casting class has a case to be made for it as the "best archer." But they all have cases to be made as the best anything, so that kind of goes without saying.)

Father Dale
2010-02-06, 05:01 PM
I'd suggest Swift Hunter Scout/Ranger as well.

I played a Sylvanesti Elf Scout/Ranger in a Dragonlance campaign till about 16th lvl. It was quite fun. He could deal significant damage with the bow, was very fast, and had tons of skills. Also had several skill tricks from Complete Scoundrel. He had favored enemy undead (of course), so he could add his skirmish damage against them. With his ghost touch bow and Greater Manyshot he was one-shotting spectres.

Pechvarry
2010-02-06, 08:23 PM
So this friend wants the bow ranger, but one who isn't completely useless in melee.

Rangers have Martial Weapon Proficiency and a full BAB. Seems "not completely useless" to me. Especially since I expect this isn't a highly optimized game. If anything, weapon finesse and a back up melee weapon. Now he can optimize the rest of his feats/gear/spells towards being a good archer and still decide to smack something if he really needs to.

Perhaps some daggers and/or javelins so he can throw them as well as melee with them (and apply a good deal of his ranged feats to them).

Oh, and hi Gitp-folk.

elonin
2010-02-06, 08:46 PM
I'm also a fan of the swift hunter though I'm biased toward the scout side of things.

Curmudgeon
2010-02-07, 07:53 AM
I played a Sylvanesti Elf Scout/Ranger in a Dragonlance campaign till about 16th lvl.
Silvanesti's favored class is Wizard (inherited from the PH elven racial traits; see Dragonlance Campaign Setting page 20), so this isn't a good option. With Swift Hunter you'll only want 3 (maybe 4) levels of Scout and the rest Ranger. With the multiclassing restrictions of Silvanesti you'll need equal levels. I suggest going with human instead.

Tinydwarfman
2010-02-07, 01:15 PM
Also, grab an energy bow for any archer. Those things are awesome. Just make sure with your DM that you can enchant it w/ splitting:smallbiggrin:

(when I say energy bow, I mean the specific magic item, not just a bow w/ the force enchantment. It's a lot better)

The Big Dice
2010-02-07, 01:30 PM
I played a Ranger from 1st to 21st level. And I can honestly say it's one of my favourite characters from a long time of playing RPGs. Admittedly by optimiser standards he was probably lame, but I had a blast with him.

What I did was a blend of the two styles a Ranger can use. I took the feats for TWF and picked up the class abilities for archery. What I ended up with was a guy who had a fairly respectable damage output in melee, using two shortswords, combined with a reasonable competence at archery courtesy of feats and judiciously chosen spells. This allowed me to switch between melee and missile combat depending on circumstances.

Animal Companions are a bit lame, so don't be afraid to swap it out for an ACF. But the real key is to pick the right Favoured Enemies for the campaign you're in. If you're lucy, the GM migh give you a heads up on what kind of things you'll be fighting, but if not then pick things that have DR vs the kind of damage you'll be dealing out.

Person_Man
2010-02-07, 02:20 PM
Take a level of Harper Paragon or Stalker of Kharesh. Either prestige class will give you Favored Enemy (Evil). There's also a variant in Complete Mage which let's you take Favored Enemy (Arcanist), which applies to anyone or thing that casts arcane spells, spell like abilities, or invocations. Then fill out the rest of your Favored Enemy slots with non-Evil non-casters, such as constructs and magical beasts. Now that your Favored Enemy applies to most things, you need to make it meaningful. Take the following feats:

Nemesis: Deal an extra 1d6 to your Favored Enemy, and allows you to always detect their location (even if Invisible or through walls) within 60 feet.

Favored Power Attack: Improves your Power Attack against Favored Enemy.

Wise to Your Ways: Applies your Favored Enemy bonus to your Saves vs. one Favored Enemy (pick Evil or Arcanist).

Sword of the Arcane Order: Lets you memorize Wizard spells in your Ranger slots.

I also prefer TWF over bow ranger, as you can easily switch between melee and thrown weapons and have an easier time tag teaming with your animal companion, whereas a bow ranger does the exact same thing every round.

Pluto
2010-02-07, 02:25 PM
... With Swift Hunter you'll only want 3 (maybe 4) levels of Scout and the rest Ranger. ...

I'm curious about this and I see it quite often.

Why do Swift Hunter builds so often favor Ranger levels to Scout?

6-8 levels Ranger, I can see: it lets Greater Manyshot come to the table by level 9.

But 9 or more?
Scout offers more feats, more skill points and more special abilities than Ranger.
Ranger offers almost indiscernably higher BA, a weak animal companion (not much better than a Handled Animal) and a hadnful of spell slots (but you're probably going to rely on wands for most spells anyway - the uses/day are just so low).

Is one of these Ranger benefits better than I give credit for?

Edit:

Wise to Your Ways: Applies your Favored Enemy bonus to your Saves vs. one Favored Enemy (pick Evil or Arcanist).
Wow. Good catch. That's an easy book to forget about.

Draz74
2010-02-07, 02:35 PM
I'm curious about this and I see it quite often.

Why do Swift Hunter builds so often favor Ranger levels to Scout?

Spellcasting. Rangers get some wicked awesome spells in Spell Compendium.

sonofzeal
2010-02-07, 02:50 PM
I'm curious about this and I see it quite often.

Why do Swift Hunter builds so often favor Ranger levels to Scout?

6-8 levels Ranger, I can see: it lets Greater Manyshot come to the table by level 9.
Full-BAB is a fairly big draw for someone who's going to be using a lot of attack rolls. Also, good Fort saves. Also, spells. Mostly the spells. You don't get many, but the more you can cast the less you have to lean on expensive consumables for everything, and your DC/CLs are (marginally) higher than from a Wand.

ghashxx
2010-02-08, 01:59 PM
I think my player is officially in love with the sword bow from the MIC (greater version). He saw that and his jaw just about hit the floor. And when I introduced the mystic ranger for advanced spell casting his jaw did hit the floor :smallbiggrin: Yummy arrow mind makes him happy. However, other than the crystal keep short on the mystic ranger, is there a write up of the class since I don't actually have the dragon mags?

The swift hunter build looks amazing. With some advanced spell casting that will help offset the scout multiclassing. Throw all that in with getting skirmish on undead and we've got a ranger/scout with nasty damage potential in mid game, and a splitting force bow will make him brutalize most things late game.

Now this "wise to Your Ways" feat to be used on evil / arcanists, what book is that from? Same thing for Greater Manyshot.