Summerlands Classes: Rage Warden Ranger Archetype

Rage Warden

male-wilden-druid


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.

Nature’s Fury

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.

Grippli-Hunter

Mighty Fury

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.

Brutal Fury

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. 

Endless Fury

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).

Next time: Weapons of Legend in the Summerlands!

Ranger Archetype: The Robot Hunter

Magnus: Robot Fighter

Magnus, Robot Fighter by Barry Windsor-Smith

You are humanity’s first line of defense against the robot menace, and you use both your ability to control machines and your ability to destroy them to protect the natural world. That means smashing robots and other mechanical creatures better than anyone else, but it also means being able to get inside them and learn how they work. You have learned specialized techniques for dealing with these threats.

In order to take the following features, you must have selected constructs (which includes robots and clockworks) as your favored enemy. These features are gained in addition to the choices from your Hunter archetype. You may only use one feature from each level at one time. When you finish a short or long rest, choose which feature you plan to use. Once you have made a choice, you may not change it until you finish a short or long rest.

Hunter’s Prey
At 3rd level, you gain the following feature.
Reprogram or Recycle: You gain proficiency with Engineer’s Tools, which you can use to shift the attitude of constructs (including robots and clockworks), provided you are not in combat with them, as though making a Charisma (Diplomacy) check. In addition, your attacks do an additional 1d4 points of damage to construct creature (including robots and clockworks).

Defensive Tactics
At 7th level,  you gain the following feature.
Predictable Machines: When constructs (including robots and clockworks) with multiattack use their action to attack you, they have disadvantage on all attacks after the first.

Multiattack
At 11th level, you gain the following feature.
Terminator: When you take the Attack action on your turn, you may make one additional attack for each enemy construct (including robots and clockworks) adjacent to you.  These attacks can be made against the same target, or divided among multiple targets. In addition, your attacks against constructs (including robots and clockworks) are considered critical hits when you roll a 19 or a 20.

Superior Hunter’s Defense
At 15th level, you gain the following feature.
Baffle: You can make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to hide from constructs (including robots and clockworks), even during combat, while they are observing you. If your check succeeds, those creatures can not detect your presence until you make noise or attack. Other creatures can perceive you as normal, regardless of the result of your check.


Hacking the Ranger

The 5th Edition ranger is a strange class. Messages boards are full of posts with titles like “Ranger: The Most Disappointing Class” and “Beastmaster Ranger: Useless or Hilariously Useless,” and I’ve heard more than one reviewer go after it for being much weaker than the other classes. I’ve also seen it argued that the ranger is on par with other classes, when played carefully. It’s a finesse class. Just today, the blog Tribality posted a decent revised Beastmaster (thought I’d make a couple of tweaks).

In previous editions, the ranger was all about the favored enemy and the fighting style. In 5th Edition, other classes get a fighting style, and the favored enemy is less impressive. The ranger now sacrifices damage output for versatility, and it has somewhat less versatility than it once did.

The thing is, it’s still a class with a deep bench: favored enemy and terrain, spells like hunter’s mark, cordon of arrows, and conjure barrage (which, used in the right situation, can do hundreds of points of damage in a round) give it a lot of choices, and the Hunter ranger has a lot going for it, particularly in terms of the options.

In adapting the saboteur ranger archetype to 5th Edition, I considered the versatility of the Hunter ranger, and the fact that the favored enemy class feature no longer has any mechanical effect in combat (until 20th level, that is). If the ranger can choose which Hunter feature to have access to, they can either focus their efforts on their favored enemy or use their abilities more broadly. This represents, I think, the value of preparation. If Magnus, here, knows that he’ll be fighting robots, then he can focus his energies in that way, but his focus makes it harder to call on the precision of the “colossus slayer” feature.

This tweak can be easily adapted to other favored enemies, to make the ranger a little more flavorful, and a little more powerful, in the right circumstances. While the fighter can consistently charge in and do the same damage, the ranger ought to benefit from preparation and scouting.

Next time: More Smashing: The Robot Smasher barbarian archetype!

The Mentalist, Part 2: Tricks and Spells

Last time, I cut the mentalist class short. These are the tricks and spells, many of which will seem familiar if you have read the warlock invocation and spell list. I’m including them here, even though some of the text is in the Player’s Handbook, to demonstrate how just changing a few words here and there can make a class feel completely different. This isn’t the “warlock,” anymore. It may do some of the same things, like “detect magic” at will, but the mentalist is doing it by perfecting their own mind. This means that DMs and players who are uncomfortable with the “pacts with evil entities” flavor aspect of the warlock can avoid that altogether, without sacrificing flavor completely.

It might, instead, look like this:

The Doctor closed his eyes for a moment in the doorway, his allies stopping behind him. “Whadda ya doin’?” Beef asked, barely masking his irritation. “I want to know if there are any magical surprises waiting for us,” The Doctor replied. “I’m accessing some of the 90% of our brain that most people don’t use.”

Beef hefted his axe, “you can see magic like that?”

When The Doctor’s eyes opened, they seemed brighter in the torchlight. “With the right training and enough discipline,” he said, his voice preternaturally calm. “Anyone can see the energies left by magic. Now, don’t step on the rug, unless you want to fight a bear in here.”

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The Mentalist: A Pulp Hero for Your 5E Game

Hacking the Warlock into a Pulp Action Hero

Recently, I was listening to The Mad Adventurers’ Society: Stories from the Fifth Age, which is a solid podcast about the story aspects of 5th Edition games (as opposed to the gaming aspects), and the hosts were talking about the Warlock class. They agreed that the fluff of the class seemed restrictive, and said that they couldn’t imagine playing it any other way but “person who has sold their soul or sanity for great power.” (I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of the conversation.)

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the classes from Paizo’s Occult Adventures, which are based on turn-of-the-century occultism, and play with the idea of “psionics” in interesting ways. I wanted to represent those power sources, and those classes in 5th Edition, , but creating a whole new class is an awful lot of work.

The result of this is The Mentalist, a reskinning of 5th Edition’s Warlock into something like Pathfinder’s Mesmerist. No more dark, tragic, tortured pawn of evil outsiders, this “warlock” is The Shadow, The Spider, Doc Savage, The Phantom. The Mentalist is the hero for all of your pulp action needs. I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of pulp action needs…

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