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Ranger Options: Knacks of Nature (PFRPG) PDF

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The ranger has a strong tradition in fantasy fiction and mythology. In myths and legends, rangers borrow from ancient sources such as the Greek and Roman goddess of Artemis and Diana. Medieval and later tales included the vigilante and guerilla freedom-fighter Robin Hood, the Huntsman of Grimm’s Snow White fairy tale, and even Jack the Giant-Killer. In modern fantasy fiction, the ranger borrows from a wide range of royal-blooded striders, dark elven renegades, and bowler-wearing steampunk bounty hunters. Even real-world modern rangers influence the class, including park rangers, the Texas Rangers, and US Army Rangers.

Despite these extremely varied sources, the ranger of the core rules is surprisingly lacking in customization. While numerous archetypes have been published to somewhat expand a ranger’s options, outside of those the ranger only gets to decide what his areas of specialization are – what kinds of combat feats, what types of terrain, and what favored enemies he is best at defeating. None of these choices have the impact on play style or character focus that a cleric’s choice of domains does, or a sorcerer’s choice of bloodline. Further, a ranger’s customization is often strongly suggested by a campaign’s setting (a game set in the desert near a gnoll empire makes it unlikely a ranger will choose to be at his best against giants in a forest).

But where are the rangers who love plants, but hate (and don’t get along with) animals? How does a player build a ranger focused more on nature magic than combat? Many players aren’t as concerned about their rangers being particularly combat effective (though it’s always helpful), as much as making them feel like something more than a fighter with a few multiclass levels of druid. To help in that regard, Ranger Options: Knacks of Nature presents a number of new ranger-specific abilities (knacks) that can be taken in place of traditional ranger class features to customize, expand, and enhance the way a ranger can be played.

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An absolute MUST-HAVE - Period.


This pdf is 11 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 9 1/3 pages of content, so let's check out what SGG has cooked up for the rangers!

Rangers have often been neglected by the core-rules and, to be honest, never felt that unique to me and favored enemies and terrain always felt rather...boring to me - it is here that the central innovation of this pdf comes in: 19 so-called "knacks" are introduced - essentially, they can be selected instead of just about any of their abilities and this supreme versatility must have been a true challenge to balance. It is the iconicity of them, though, that makes knacks a MUST for any campaign out there: Ever wanted to grab onto a giant or similar large foe and ride along while hacking away? Get the new Attach-knack! Ever wanted a truly awesome animal companion? With the Beast King Animal Companion, your companion becomes a mutation with access to a bonus feat or 1-point evolutions of the eidolon and improved stats! Want to track like the stereotypical native american with an ear to the ground? There's a knack for that! There are also ones for rangers who prefer plants, vermin and elementals, which was kind of what I expected. In fact, there's a mini-knack-tree that lets you transcend into an elemental knight at the 20th level. Even better, extensive advice on how to create new knacks from archetypes with special regard to the skirmisher is provided.

After that, we get 10 new spells, including a ranger's version of explosive runes, spells dealing with scent-based tracking (and thwarting it) and a great spell to become inaudible, which is essentially a hearing-based version of invisibility. Dealing with unfavorable terrain is also covered via spells. All in all a solid selection of new spells, none of which felt overpowered.

The pdf also provides 3 new archetypes that actually deserve to exist: The Explorer is a hybrid of ranger and rogue (including trapfinding and sneak attack against favored enemies or when in favored terrain), while the master herbalist studies more terrain than foes and is rewarded by being able to utilize herbs to get bonuses to skill-checks and even learn a limited amount of extracts and low-level formulae. Finally, the Tercel is essentially the nature-version of the Inquisitor, including an expanded spell-list. All of the 3 archetypes fill their respective roles admirably and can be considered definite winners.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to SGG's 3-column standard and the front cover is so beautiful, I wish we'd get a one page version without the header. The pdf is fully bookmarked, which is another plus. Ranger knacks are a stroke of genius and I wish, oh how I wished there were more of them in this book. Seriously, the options alone are worth the low asking price, even if you're like me and are bored to hell by elemental-ascension abilities/PrCs/whatever. The spells are rock-solid, though I only considered Inaudibility to be truly brilliant. It is with the 3 new archetypes that bridge the gap and redefine what rangers can be that I'm truly at ease with this pdf - while some of the knacks were not absolutely up to the level of others and while not all spells wowed me, the vast majority of content in this pdf is of a quality that puts the bar very high indeed. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't bring myself to rate this any other way but giving it 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - a must-buy for everyone not wholly satisfied with the ranger and for everyone who considered the ideas mentioned even remotely intriguing. Now let's hope for more knacks in the future!

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