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    Archpaladin Zousha's Avatar

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    Default Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Something I find I do a lot is I look at the units in Total War games, and then inspiration strikes me and I go "I gotta play a character like that!" And most recently that happened by looking at the previews for the units in the upcoming Total War: Three Kingdoms. Specifically, this image here:

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    I posted this image in this thread I made a little while ago, asking how best to represent the lamellar armor worn by the "Fist of the Bandit Queen" on the right. Having gotten some solid answers in that regard, I started wondering about how to build a character based on that image, and that's where we come to switch-hitting. For those unfamiliar with the term, "switch-hitter" comes from baseball, referring to a batter who bats both left and right-handed. In the context of D&D, a switch-hitter is a PC who is equally capable using melee weapons and ranged weapons. In previous editions of D&D, rangers were uniquely suited for this role, as to excel in either requires heavy feat investment, but rangers have the advantage of selecting a ranged or melee-based combat style and gaining its related feats as bonus feats, while investing in the feats of the other style using the ones they gain normally through level up. Fighters can do this too, given the bonus feats they get, but in this instance I think ranger is more appropriate to this concept (a guerrilla warrior who utilizes both a pair of battleaxes and a composite bow, wearing lamellar armor).

    So my question is...can rangers still switch hit effectively in 5e? From what I'm seeing, most classes in 5e are strongly encouraged to specialize in one style of fighting. The only ones who can select more combat techniques than the one they initially choose are fighters of the Champion subclass. Besides that, if the character adopts the Hunter subclass, you're further encouraged to select either dual-wielding or archery with the Multiattack feature at 11th level. That said, Gloom Stalker seems more appropriate for this particular concept, since the weapon choices of this character don't really gel well with the rogue's class features. And besides that, the general vibe I get regarding rangers is that archery is the superior fighting style given spells like swift quiver. So that makes me wonder if I can even play the concept as is (ambush people, set traps, shoot arrows at distant foes and when engaged in melee take out my axes and go to town), or if I have to toss one thing to be good at the other.

    Thank you in advance for the advice.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Will you be as good as a more focused build? No.

    Will you be able to contribute just fine regardless? Probably.

    The only thing I'd have to recommend is to pick Finesse weapons for your melee. While you won't be as good an archer without the Archery style, by staying Dex-SAD (ignoring casting for the moment) you'll be way more effective than trying to split the load between Strength and Dexterity. While that does rule out any use of axes according to the PHB, I hardly think it'd break the game to refluff Shortswords as well-balanced, small axes.
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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    A champion fighter can easily have a 20 in strength and a big sword, and with archery style and a 16 in dexterity its basically as good as a +5 to hit

    In this build I recommend a champion, because any weapon is now useable.

    So I ran a GWM and SS champion.

    I had 20 in strength, 16 dexterity, GWM, SS, resilient wisdom, and I took lucky at the end because my wizard would cast mage armor on me.

    Also I took no dexterity skills.

    Go for it

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Fighters can do this too, given the bonus feats they get, but in this instance I think ranger is more appropriate to this concept (a guerrilla warrior who utilizes both a pair of battleaxes and a composite bow, wearing lamellar armor).
    Fighting styles and feats are not necessary to build this character. Not does ranger gain anything that helps it being a switch hitter. This opens up your options. There's a few caveat though.

    Once you reach level 5, you can make 2 attacks. Usually, you'd have a single battleaxe and use it twice. You can also, at no benefit, have a battleaxe in both hands and attack once with each.
    You could use TWF and make a 3rd attack, but you'd need 2 handaxes or take the feat dual wielder. That would be costly for a switch hitter.

    Battleaxes use Str, while bows use Dex. You'd have to concentrate on Str and pick the archery style to shore up your Dex hit. That leaves you MAD with little points for mental stats.

    I guess your concept has to be human, which removes half-orc and the other Str/Con races from the picks. Same thing for wood elf Dex/Wis ranger pick.


    The first solution is a fighter variant human Str16 Dex14 Con14 Int Wis12 Cha10 with the DW feat and archery style. You can push to Str20 Dex16 by level 8. By level 10, champion can add the TW style for an extra 5 damage with the offhand and leve 11 gives a 4th attack (3 main + 1 bonus). I'm sold to BM and find more gain in maneuvers, and TWF is bad on fighter by then.


    The second solution is ranger 5 / fighter 1, which gives you those 2 styles earlier and adds ranger spells to the build. You can build it the same way as above, but your stats will be lower (fighter 6 has one extra ASI).


    Optimal solution: go all Dex. Get Str12 or something reasonable for your concept, but use Dex for melee and ranged. You'll have to fluff your battleaxe as having the stats of a rapier (or the scimitar).
    Trust but verify. There's usually a reason why I believe you can't do something.

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Its possible not everyone in a bandit army is a ranger

    You might have a rogue scout

    You could have a ranger as a leader

    You could have a champion fighter... as muscle. You are the muscle. The scout and ranger bring you forward and you mess them up.

    I have ran a champion with 20 strength and 16 dex (which is a 20 with archery style)

    And you get half proficiency, which isn't terrible as you are not the lead scout, and the ranger just cast pass without a trace anyhow

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bid View Post
    I guess your concept has to be human, which removes half-orc and the other Str/Con races from the picks. Same thing for wood elf Dex/Wis ranger pick.
    Not necessarily? While I am using the image as inspiration, I wouldn't be opposed to playing something else, though my understanding was that Variant Human rules all (which bugs me, why is it the "variant" option when it's the only version anyone will use?).
    The first solution is a fighter variant human Str16 Dex14 Con14 Int Wis12 Cha10 with the DW feat and archery style. You can push to Str20 Dex16 by level 8. By level 10, champion can add the TW style for an extra 5 damage with the offhand and leve 11 gives a 4th attack (3 main + 1 bonus). I'm sold to BM and find more gain in maneuvers, and TWF is bad on fighter by then.
    That's an option, especially since I can still get Stealth proficiency anyway with the Criminal background...though part of me feels like this would run into the issue that's plagued fighters forever: that outside combat they're pretty useless and mostly stand around waiting while the rogues, bards and wizards do the lock-picking, persuading and everything else. I want to do things like lead ambushes and set traps, intimidate people to stand and deliver, that kind of thing.
    The second solution is ranger 5 / fighter 1, which gives you those 2 styles earlier and adds ranger spells to the build. You can build it the same way as above, but your stats will be lower (fighter 6 has one extra ASI).
    *shrug* I could see myself doing that...It's not like Ranger's capstone is all that exciting anyway, right?
    Optimal solution: go all Dex. Get Str12 or something reasonable for your concept, but use Dex for melee and ranged. You'll have to fluff your battleaxe as having the stats of a rapier (or the scimitar).
    I imagine a lenient DM would agree to this, but at the moment, I have no DM to agree or disagree with it...
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    When you asked for someone who's competent in both melee and ranged, my mind instantly went to Two Weapon Fighting.

    See, most people give TWF a lot of crap because it falls slightly behind heavy weapon options, but the fact is that TWF works seamlessly with ranged attacks, since they both use the same modifier. Where a Strength character is limited to attacking in melee, or losing some damage when attacking out to about 30 feet, the TWF can attack in melee, or at 120 feet, and be comfortable in either situation. As long as your DM actually lets you use your extra range, you'll get an extra round or two of damage more than your melee lineup, and that extra 8+ damage that you have before the thugs in your party will mean that you come out on top in overall damage, despite dealing slightly less average damage per turn.

    My recommendation is the Gloomstalker. Not only does it not interfere with your Bonus Action (so it doesn't get in the way of TWF), but it also grants you an extra attack, which scales well with attack-spamming buffs (Hunter's Mark).

    You'd really be effective at initiating the fight with Hunter's Mark and an attack string with an extra attack, then following up every additional turn with TWF to take advantage of your TWF and Hunter's Mark combo.

    Unlike any other build, you will not have to sacrifice anything to make this all work, and both attack options will provide something to your combo. Heck, the extra mobility from your Gloomstalker feature will also allow you to quickly engage into combat.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-05-20 at 06:35 PM.
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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    When you asked for someone who's competent in both melee and ranged, my mind instantly went to Two Weapon Fighting.

    See, most people give TWF a lot of crap because it falls slightly behind heavy weapon options, but the fact is that TWF works seamlessly with ranged attacks, since they both use the same modifier.
    Huh?
    Dueling style and defense also work "seamlessly", since they also work with Dex.


    No, the problem is that "dual battleaxes" is part of the RP concept.
    Trust but verify. There's usually a reason why I believe you can't do something.

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    That's an option, especially since I can still get Stealth proficiency anyway with the Criminal background...
    Remember that the listed backgrounds are only samples. You can pick and choose anything as explained on p125.

    Your first step should be to pick the background feature that works for you. For instance, outlander's feature: wanderer would allow a pure fighter to gain a ranger flavor. But criminal contact is a really good fit.

    Then, following p125, you pick any 2 skills to complement your class'. And 2 tools / languages, prolly thieves' and some artisan to define your past.
    Trust but verify. There's usually a reason why I believe you can't do something.

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bid View Post
    Remember that the listed backgrounds are only samples. You can pick and choose anything as explained on p125.
    Wait, REALLY?!

    I thought you were just limited to what was there!
    Your first step should be to pick the background feature that works for you. For instance, outlander's feature: wanderer would allow a pure fighter to gain a ranger flavor. But criminal contact is a really good fit.
    That's one of the reasons I was looking at Criminal (besides the obvious name). That criminal contact could be someone who fences stolen livestock and trade goods that my former gang couldn't use for themselves (we'd obviously keep things like food, medicine and money).
    Then, following p125, you pick any 2 skills to complement your class'. And 2 tools / languages, prolly thieves' and some artisan to define your past.
    Woodworking tools, definitely. Then I can make arrows!
    Last edited by Archpaladin Zousha; 2019-05-20 at 11:41 PM.
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Archpaladin Zousha View Post
    Woodworking tools, definitely. Then I can make arrows!
    You may be thinking of Fletcher's Tools.

    Regardless, ask your DM what they think would be an appropriate proficiency for making arrows. Don't want to take Woodworking tools and find out your DM requires all arrows have stone or metal heads, and so won't let woodworking apply.
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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    You may be thinking of Fletcher's Tools.

    Regardless, ask your DM what they think would be an appropriate proficiency for making arrows. Don't want to take Woodworking tools and find out your DM requires all arrows have stone or metal heads, and so won't let woodworking apply.
    From what I'm seeing in the text, there are not Fletcher's Tools, but on the flipside, Woodcarver's Tools specifically note that "Craft Arrows" is something they can be used for (as per Xanathar's Guide to Everything). They can't do EVERYTHING related to making things out of wood though (Carpenter's Tools covers those). At the same time, I just noticed that Thieves' Tools can be used to SET traps as well as disable them.

    Honestly, Woodcarver's Tools, Carpenter's Tools and Thieves' Tools all would be useful for this concept (making arrows for their bow, building shelters in the woods and roadblocks on the road, as well as snares for hunting and traps for travelers on the road).
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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    Default Re: Bandit Ranger Switch-Hitter?

    Okay, I've got some ideas on how to start, but this is probably crude.

    Race: Variant Human (mostly to have Dual-Wielder right out of the box, though again, I'm not married to this choice and can pick it up later if another race like Bugbear or Half-Elf is more interesting)
    Background: Criminal (Proficiency in Stealth, Thieve's Tools and Dice Set)
    Stats:
    15 STR
    14 DEX
    12 CON
    13 WIS
    10 INT
    8 CHA

    Levels: Ranger 1, Fighter 1, Ranger 2, Ranger the rest of the way

    Am I on the right track for this? How many feats should I consider BEYOND Dual-Wielder, since Ranger doesn't have a LOT of ASI's...
    "Reach down into your heart and you'll find many reasons to fight. Survival. Honor. Glory. But what about those who feel it's their duty to protect the innocent? There you'll find a warrior savage enough to match any dragon, and in the end, they'll retain what the others won't. Their humanity."

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