The natural world teems with creatures that are serene until driven into a wild rage: the badger, the bear, the wolverine. The Rage Warden archetype allows you to manifest the fury of these creatures and channel it into the defense of your home, tribe, or clan. Your rage, however, is directed, an icy-cold, focused anger that allows you to cut down your foes with frightening precision in a flurry of motion.
At 3rd level, you gain the ability to harness your anger in defense of your home or allies. As a bonus action, you enter a state of fury.
While in a state of fury, you gain the following benefits if you aren’t wearing heavy armor:
- You have advantage on Dexterity checks and Dexterity saving throws.
- When you make a melee or ranged weapon attack using Dexterity, your damage increases by 2 points. This damage increases by one additional point at 11th level, 15th level, and 20th
- You can use the Dash action as a bonus action, and other creatures have disadvantage on opportunity attack rolls against you.
You can’t cast spells while you are in a state of fury.
Your state of fury lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious or if your turn ends and you haven’t moved or taken damage since your last turn ended. You can end your fury on your turn as a bonus action.
Once you have entered a state of fury twice, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.
At 7th level, once you have entered a state of fury three times, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again. In addition, as part of your bonus action to enter a state of fury, you may choose whether its benefits apply to Dexterity checks, saving throws, and attacks, or to Strength checks, saving throws, and attacks.
At 11th level, your state of fury becomes mightier. While in your state of fury, your weapon damage increases by 1 point, to 3 points. Once you have entered the state of fury 4 times, you must finish a long rest before you can do so again.
Additionally, dim light doesn’t impose disadvantage on your Wisdom (Perception) checks.
At 15th level, you become an unstoppable force of rage. Your state of fury only ends early if you fall unconscious or if you choose to end it.
In addition, while you are in a state of fury, every round after the first that you attack the same creature, the additional damage increases by 1 point. If you attack a different creature with an extra attack or an opportunity attack, or if you do not attack during a round, your additional damage returns to 3 points.
Hacking the Ranger
While there are no “barbarians” in the Summerlands, the feel of a mighty defender of the wild was still important to me. Meanwhile, I think that the archetype options for the ranger leave a little to be desired. This archetype owes a debt to Paizo’s Wild Stalker, cc Ultimate Combat, 2011, but is significantly evolved from that archetype.
So why not call this ability “rage?” It’s in the name of the class, after all. There are a number of reasons. 5th Edition seems to have a design philosophy of using different names as much as possible, and I wanted to emulate that, here. This is particularly true when abilities are slightly different. Nowhere in the Player’s Handbook do we see the phrasing “as the rogue ability, except…,” common in 3rd Edition books. The rage warden ranger’s fury is slightly worse than the barbarian’s rage, doing a little less damage and not protecting against attacks, so it seemed wrong to call it the same thing. Meanwhile, I wanted to emulate the focus that often comes with fury, as opposed to the barbarian’s loss of control, so I traded Strength for Dexterity. This is a white-hot fury that gives the ranger a tunnel vision, down which they can shoot terrible arrows, rather than the red-hot blinding rage of the barbarian.
At the same time, the ranger doesn’t have the barbarian’s increased movement rate, so I wanted to cause the fury to end for different reasons than rage does, while keeping the ranger mobile. At the same time, I wanted to reward the ranger for attacking, rather than punishing by ending the rage.
The rage warden fits in just about anywhere a ranger does. It doesn’t require (or lend itself strongly towards) the tribal society that produces barbarians, while still not taking away from the uniqueness of the barbarian (if you want to do a boat-load of damage with a greataxe, the barbarian is still a better choice).
In the Summerlands, rage-wardens are most common among the wildren, who are already familiar with rage and the grippli, who take advantage of the archetype’s bonuses to ranged weapon damage. They are also found in large numbers among the traditional varanus and the liberated aarakocra. Sea kin are too settled to produce many rangers, and the citiy-states of the reven and tunder don’t lend themselves to this approach (although tunder would be brutal rage wardens, with their bonus to Dexterity and preference for sniping and moving, particularly once they undergo the Ritual of Evolution and gain the ability to fly).
I don’t have a chart of the damage output, here, and I haven’t playtested this class, so I’d be curious what other people thought about it, in comparison with the barbarian (who should be a bit better) and the other ranger archetypes (which should be a little worse).