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Treantmonk's Guide to Rangers (Optimization)


Advice

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First a note about editing: I can't edit this document a few minutes after posting. However, this document isn't very pretty or easy to read either, not like the fancy "Google Document" that I'm linking right here:

Treantmonk's Guide to Rangers in Pathfinder

Which should be considered the official handbook, and I will update it when changes are warranted.

Please leave me your replies as to what you think.

Treantmonk's Guide to Rangers

Rangers were a class that struggled to find its place in 3rd Edition Dungeons and Dragons. In 3.0 the Ranger was a one level class, the quick way to give your rogue two weapon fighting. In 3.5 the Ranger gathered a bit of dignity, but still tended to have difficulty finding a place where he excelled. Yes, he was sneaky, and could shoot a bow, and spot things, but so could a Fighter/Rogue, and the Fighter/Rogue was the better combatant. The Ranger's spells weren't very good, his animal companion was a complete waste, and even Druids were better trackers.

However, come Pathfinder the Ranger has something exciting, actual options to be effective. The new Ranger is an effective melee combatant, an effective archer, unchallenged as the best tracker in any party, and finally can put aside his nostalgia for 1st and 2nd edition.

The Builds: A Pathfinder Ranger has two mechanical options, the "archery" path and the "Two weapon fighting" path, but when it comes to optimization, this actually aren't your best to build options. I think from an optimization standpoint there are two viable Ranger Styles if you aren't multiclassing, and neither are two weapon fighters. I will also suggest what to do if you are interested in a Two Weapon Fighting build, which in a nutshell, is don't be a straight Ranger.

The Guide to the Guide: In this Guide we will be discussing a lot of options, because Rangers have many choices. Therefore, in order to provide my advice on these choices, I'll be Color-coating and rating them.

ONE STAR * This is a choice I don't recommend - keep clear
TWO STARS ** This option is good, but not great
THREE STARS *** I recommend this option
FOUR STARS **** I highly recommend this option - practically a "must have"

Simple enough, like a movie review. So lets move into the Ranger skills and abilities:

Favored Enemy ***: Now a +2 bonus right from 1st level, also, now gives a bonus to hit (in addition to damage and a few skills). Favored enemy is tougher than ever, but, unfortunately, as always, it is circumstantial. It's very hard to pick what your favored enemy will be, because what you are going to be fighting all the time really depends on the campaign. If you have no idea, then these are the favored enemies I think are pretty safe bets: Humanoid (human), Undead, Outsider (evil), Magical Beast. These are all pretty common enemies, but if your DM will give you a suggestion, take it.

Track **: WOW, Rangers are once again the best trackers in the game. Add half your level to your survival for your tracking rolls, which means, really, nobody else in your party needs even bother taking survival.

Wild Empathy **: Diplomacy for animals. The great thing is you get this (basically maxed out) for free, the bad thing is that it is based on CHA (a dump stat). Nevertheless, it is handy to have, and a great ability to use in conjunction with Charm Animal, allowing you to move the animal from your worst enemy, to your loving companion forever.

Combat Style ****: 5 bonus feats over 18 levels, what's not to like? Much improved in that you can actually CHOOSE which feat to take, in addition, as always, you can avoid prerequisites, which means a Ranger with a moderate Dex score is still quite viable.

Endurance *: The Endurance feat as a bonus feat, yippee. This is the feat that nobody takes unless it's given, but nevertheless, I'll take it when it's given.

Favored Terrain **: A new ability for Rangers (we saw similar abilities in 3.5 Prestige Classes), you get this at 3rd level, and over your career you will get a total of 5. The bonus begins at +2, and like Favored Enemy, increases with each additional favored terrain. The bonus isn't to anything too impressive, but it does add to initiative (which is nice), and some other skills. Rangers leave no trail in favored terrain, but can still be tracked by scent we assume, so Pass Without Trace is still going to be a good spell.

Hunter's Bond ***: Now the Ranger gets a choice whether he wants an animal companion, or the ability to share his favored enemies with his allies. Here's the quick rundown for you. The bond with the companions gives 1/2 his favored enemy bonus against a single target only, as a move action, for as many rounds as his wisdom modifier (so likely 2 rounds). Yuck. The other is to get an animal companion far improved from Rangers of 3.5 (now it's your full level -3 advancement). Get the animal companion. I know, animal companions for Rangers have always sucked before. Not anymore, and the alternative really does suck. Get the animal companion every time.

Woodland Stride **: Move through overgrown terrain (as long as it is natural) at full speed. Very, very circumstantial, but hey, I'll take it. A good way to lose pursuers as well.

Swift Tracker **: Track at higher speeds. If you use track a lot, this is going to be quite helpful, especially if you are tracking something that specifically is trying to get away from you.

Evasion ***: A wonderful ability to have. You have to wait until 9th level, but a very handy ability to have. Enemy wizards love to blast.

Quarry *: Provides a small attack bonus and automatic critical confirming to one enemy per day (at 11th level). If he tries to run, god help him, because you can track him in your sleep. Not a huge ability, but basically an offensive output buff, which is always nice, however, it takes a standard action to activate, which means that quite often, this simply will not pay off in the long run. If your enemy attempts fleeing, slap this on, otherwise, not worth it most of the time.

Camouflage **: Granted at 12th level, this is basically Hide-In-Plain-Sight for all your favored terrains. Obviously this will be trumped when you get the real hide in plain sight, but until then, hide in plain sight is a nice ability to have.

Improved Evasion ***: Wade into fireballs and cones of cold without concern. Even a failed save means you will take reduced damage. If you happen to have Resist Energy up, you are all but immune to wizard blasting.

Hide in Plain Sight ***: Not granted until 17th level, Hide in Plain Sight means you can use stealth anywhere at any time. In an open field in daylight with a horde of guards specifically staring at you? No problem, goodbye.

Improved Quarry ***: You can now use your Quarry ability as a free action, which suddenly makes this ability quite a bit more useful. Also, his bonuses double, and he only has to wait 10 minutes between new quarries, which means probably one quarry for every combat.

Master Hunter ****: In most campaigns you will never see this ability, and in the few campaigns you do, you won't see it until the end. Yes, it's a great ability, as capstone abilities often are, but they are level 20 abilities for a Reason, to give you something you can always look forward to. Once you get this, there's nothing left.

Spells ***: For anybody who gets these, this is a big advantage. Naturally, if you multiclass, you should expect to give up the lion's share of this advantage. You can live without, but, when you do have it, you'll be glad for it. I have a detailed spell section after the builds.

Recommended Skills:

Handle Animal ***: If you get an animal companion, and as mentioned before, you should, handle animal is very necessary for proper training. Furthermore a Ranger who doesn't have Handle Animal simply can't be a Ranger anymore, sorry.

Intimidate **: Not 100% necessary, and based off a dump stat, but you don't have a lot of skills allowing you any advantage when interacting with humanoids, so you may find this useful for that. You can live without it, but nice to have.

Knowledge (nature) ***: Of the knowledge's you have, this will be the most useful. Lots of creatures are identified through the Knowledge (nature) skill. Knowledge (Dungeoneering) should be considered as a secondary option of you have the room.

Perception ****: Simply the most used skill in the game period. Also, what kind of scout doesn't have perception? This is absolutely the most useful skill, the most iconic skill, and your #1 priority. No Ranger should not have perception, are we clear?

Ride **: This is a definite maybe. If you plan on having your Ranger mounted (which is a viable option), then this is necessary, otherwise, it may be occasionally handy, but can be lived without, or with just a couple levels.

Stealth ****: I would max this out every time. Scouting requires you to be sneaky, so you have this as a class skill for a reason.

Survival ****: You use this for tracking, and you are a Ranger. It's also used for survival in the wilderness, and you are a Ranger. A must have.

Climb **: I would never max this out, but taking 1 rank at level 1 will give you a decent chance at modest climbing, a cheap investment for something that may come in handy

Swim **: I would never max this out, but like climb, 1 rank is a good investment. It will give you the ability to swim decently, which normally will be all you need.

Favored Class Bonus: For the archery build, you are probably OK with the extra skill point, but for any build entering melee, you probably want the extra HP.

Animal Companion Choices: Your bond should be an animal companion, here are your choices:

Badger **: Not a terrible combat option, gets Rage for 6 rounds/day. Doesn't have a great Str score, so until you get to 7th level, it will have a pretty light hit. Does get both burrow and climb which can be handy. Also has scent and low light vision, also both handy.

Bird **: The obvious advantage here is the ability to fly. The cost is the ability to fight. Birds are small, so large enough to threaten, which means large enough to flank, and they get 3 attacks per round, so they aren't entirely useless in combat, but without animal growth, you will likely find their hits to be pretty unimpressive. They will eventually have a high enough Str to qualify for Power Attack, this is a must have.

Camel *: Clearly a mount option for specific types of campaigns. Generally a worse choice than a horse, so even in a desert campaign, I would normally choose the latter.

Cheetah/leopard ****: Not any faster than a horse or camel, and the damage is poor. However, has a great Dex which means that you can get weapon finesse for a nice chance to hit. Also the sprint ability gives it short range bursts of speed that will be impressive. Agile maneuvers will allow you to use the dex modifier towards combat maneuvers, and these get a trip attack with a successful bite attack. Specifically an archer might find that handy to keep the enemies at distance. Gets scent as well, which is handy to have.

Dire rat: There aren't stats for the dire rat in the base book because Dire Rats appear to not be an option for Druids. I wouldn't expect much more than a potential disease attack (which tend not to be to great), so probably no big loss.

Dog *: One obvious advantage is that a dog is going to be welcome in pretty much any city, but otherwise this is purely a weaker option than the Cheetah or Leopard.

Horse ***: If you plan to be a mounted Ranger, this is likely your best choice. Horses are actually pretty tough in combat with decent STR scores and large size. At 7th level it will become war trained as well. The horse also has scent, making it just as good at tracking by scent as a dog. Horses, like dogs, are going to be welcome in any city. A good choice.

Pony *: Pretty much worse than the horse in almost every way. If you are small size, you may need a smaller mount, in which case this is an understandable choice, otherwise, there is no reason to go this route.

Shark: Aquatic campaigns only, in an aquatic campaign, it's really the only choice, in a non-aquatic campaign, it's a non-choice.

Snake, constrictor ***: The point of this guy is to grab and constrict, something he won't be doing on medium foes until 7th level, after that, he's OK at it. Note that the snake is also a swimmer, giving you that versatility as well. Snakes get the scent ability too.

Snake, viper *: Like the constrictor, but give up all the combat stuff for a poison bite, which won't cease to let you down. If you want a snake, go for the big one.

Wolf ***: Very iconic choice, and very competitive with the Cheetah/Leopard. Stats are very similar and both have the tripping ability. Both advance similarly at 7th level as well. The Wolf does not have the sprinting ability, and it uses the single attack rather than the triple attack, so in the end, probably slightly weaker.

The Archer Ranger ***

The Archer Ranger is a dedicated archer, and pretty darned Iconic too. He likely owns a melee weapon...somewhere, but make sure to wipe off the dust before you use it, he gave up using it by 3rd level. In reality the archer Ranger has several different weapon options: Enchanted, Cold Iron, Alchemical Silver etc. The Archer Ranger is best to stay out of melee, he doesn't aid the battle tactically, instead he simply fires arrows. If you make a character dedicated to firing arrows, he must deliver damage consistently and reliably, otherwise, he's just a spectator. This build concentrates on ensuring your Ranger does more than fire arrows, this build ensures those arrows are constantly dropping opponents.

Ability Scores:

Dexterity is the primary stat for archers for a reason. A Ranger can avoid several Feat required attribute levels, but Dexterity still determines your "to hit", your AC bonus, and your Initiative, all important. Strength allows you to deliver damage, which with archery, is very important since damage bonuses are a bit harder to get. Wisdom affects your ability to cast spells, as well as the duration on one of your potential abilities, so a bit is needed, Con affects your HP, which are less important since you wont be in melee most of the time, not a dump stat, but not all that important. Int affects your skill points, which is nice, but you have a decent amount of skills already, so not too important. Cha is your only true "dump stat".

Race:

When choosing Race you want something that is going to boost your Dexterity, or at least your Strength or Wisdom. A movement score of 30 is definitely a nice to have, though not primary. Expect to fight at range, so torchlight just won't cut it, making Low Light vision or Darkvision nearly a must have, or at least, a huge bonus. Remember that small size races will be using Shortbows, not the end of the world, but it will reduce both damage and range moderately.

Half Elf ***: The ability bonus can be put in DEX, and low light vision is good to have. The skill focus feat is nice for stealth or perception (if you put it in perception that will stack with the racial +2 bonus). The elven immunities are decent as well. The multiclass bonus may be helpful too depending on your build

Half Orc ***: The ability bonus can be put in DEX, and Darkvision is very helpful (better than low light in dungeons when scouting). Not much else specifically suited to the role, but that alone makes the Half Orc a decent choice.

Elf ***: +2 to Dex is great, while the Int and Con modifiers will likely cancel out. Low Light vision is very helpful, as are the bonuses to Perception and enchantment. The Spellcraft and Spell DC bonuses likely won't have much impact. Overall a strong choice, on par with the Half-elf.

Human ***: +2 goes into DEX, and the bonus feat is very handy, especially at low levels. The extra skill point will come in handy. Having no special vision type hurts, but it isn't the end of the world, eventually you can get spells that will do the job. At very high and very low levels, I think this is the best choice. At mid-later levels, but before you get the darkvision spell, you may find the lack of special vision to be a liability.

Feats:

Well, naturally you are going the archery route, so some of your feats will come from that, but beyond the archery combat style feats, the rest of your feats need to also concentrate on archery. Fortunately, there are plenty of choices:

Point blank Shot **: The obvious first choice. A first level archery Bard needs to be willing to enter melee, but when firing his regular bow, that +1 to hit and damage will be significant.

Rapid Shot ***: Getting 2 arrows in the air is a big deal. Essentially you are doubling your offensive output. Once again, be prepared to draw a sword once everyone enters melee, but until then, twang twang!

Precise Shot ***: Now you are a dedicated archer. Hopefully by this time you are using a mighty composite bow, and now you have no penalties for firing into melee, you should be able to deliver damage steadily and reliably

Deadly Aim ****: This is a great deal, -1 to hit for +2 damage is good, and it gets better as levels increase. Your arrows will be mighty painful at this point. You absolutely need this somewhere down the line. Certainly by 9th level if you haven't taken this yet, get it.

Manyshot ****: You can now put 2 arrows into the air with a standard attack, or at least one extra on a full attack, and they all should be delivering very nice damage.

Weapon Focus **: If you have a weakness in archery, it's all the to hit penalties, so even a +1 is handy

Improved Critical **: You are only improving the threat range by one, but Archery criticals are very nice (and all your bonuses multiply) so this is worth it

Improved Precise Shot ***: Cover bonuses come up all the time in archery (often by the positioning of your own allies), so eliminating them is terrific

Critical Focus *: By itself nothing special, but it opens up all the nice critical options

Staggering critical ***: Staggered is a devastating effect, and it also prevents enemies from charging you.

Other Feats you may want to consider:

Fleet **: Extra movement is good, it helps positioning, and gives you control over range. Even 5 feet is helpful

Mobility **: Allows retreat from adjacent foes with less chance of being pounded.

Mounted Archery **: Prerequisite: Mounted Combat. Mounted Rangers are a definite option, and it's great for maneuverability.

Multiclassing:

The Archer Ranger doesn't need to multiclass, but one option would be to take one level of rogue; That gives you not only a 1d6 sneak attack (for your first round of combat if you win initiative, which you often will), but also gives you the ability to detect traps. This can be a handy skill for a Ranger to have.

Prestige Classes:

The obvious choice is Arcane Archer. In order to qualify you are going to be an elf or half-elf (no problem, good choices anyways), and you are going to need to be able to cast 1st level arcane spells (oh.) Your best bet is to take a single level of Wizard to qualify. If you do this, your original build should favor Int over Wisdom. A 14 starting INT should suffice, and Wisdom of 10 will do you fine.

The Two Weapon Fighter * (Or "Help me make a 2xScimitar Drow Ranger, but he's not a Drizzt clone, his name is Drazzt")

Why the hate for the TWF Ranger? Glad you asked, because he isn't very good, that's why. At least as a single class he isn't. Allow me to explain:

A Ranger has full selection of Martial Weapons. Lets take paired short swords for a hypothetical Ranger, then let's take an Archer Ranger and give him a Greatsword. Lets say each Ranger has a Strength score of 18. Level 2 arrives, and the Two Weapon Fighting Ranger now has the feat. So who is better in melee?

The Two Weapon Fighting Ranger attacks twice per round of full attack. His final attack bonus is +4/+4 (2 BAB, -2 TWF, +4 STR). His damage with his primary weapon is 1d6+4. His damage with his secondary weapon is 1d6+2, if he hits with both, that's 2d6+6, assuming no DR.

The Archer Ranger attacks once per round with full attack. His final attack bonus is +6 (2 BAB, +4 STR). His damage with his primary weapon is 2d6+6 (sound familiar? In this case 2d6 for greatsword, + 1 1/2 Str bonus). So he does just as much damage, but hits more often.

It gets worse if there is movement involved. If a standard attack is taken, the TWF Ranger gets only one attack, while the Archer Ranger also gets one attack, but the Archer Ranger hits just as often and does nearly twice the damage.

Every time the TWF Ranger gets the next level of TWF (improved, greater), it basically gives him one attack with his off hand for every attack he had with his primary hand, at the same chance to hit. The Archer Ranger is still hitting more often, for the same overall damage, consistently. In the end, with all those feats, the TWF Ranger is actually WORSE than the Archer Ranger who took out a Greatsword.

Now Pathfinder has some options to make TWF a bit better. You can now power attack with small weapons, which gives a slight edge on damage to the TWF (+4 damage for every -1 to hit, instead of +3 damage for every -1 to hit.), and Double Slice, which will give you 2x str bonus to damage, rather than the 1.5. However, you are eating up feats like crazy, and considering the 2 handed Ranger didn't need to spend those feats, and had +2 to hit right from the beginning, the TWF Ranger is not faring well in comparison.

Finally, Two Weapon Rend should carry the Two Weapon Fighting Ranger's damage above the 2-handed weapon Archery Ranger. This is only after taking 5 feats to do so. Ugh.

So what do you do if you WANT a TWF Ranger? My suggestion is to multiclass with Rogue. A 1/2 Ranger, 1/2 Rogue TWF gets full sneak attack bonus on both weapons, and counts on that sneak attack for damage. Rogue skills mesh nicely with Ranger skills, so you will find yourself still an effective Ranger-type of character. I'm just going to breeze over this build, since it's not a dedicated Ranger...

If you do this, you can reduce your Wisdom stat requirement, a 12 will do you fine, even long term.

Race: My suggested race would be Half-Elf. Get the your full money's worth out of the multiclassing bonus, and skill focus acrobatics will be of use.

Attributes: I would make Dex the highest priority, followed by Wis, Con and Int. Str can be moderate, as can be CHA.

Feats: Weapon Finesse is a must. Then pump up your two weapon fighting and maneuverability options.

The Switch Hitter **** (Saving the best until last)

This brings me to my highest suggestion for a Pathfinder Ranger build, I was quite excited when I started to play around with some builds, and found to my surprise, "Hey! This actually works!!!". I would NEVER recommend this for a 3.5 build, there are just too few feats to pull this off, but for Pathfinder, this works nicely. The Switch hitter uses the bow at range, then switches to a single melee weapon for melee.

I know, I know, who ever heard of a Ranger doing that? Not what you picture when you think of an Iconic "Ranger"...

Ahh...right. Forgot about him.

The Switch Hitter isn't quite the Archer that the Archer Ranger is, but he's close. Furthermore, the switch hitter is a melee character, ready to wade into melee whenever the chance presents itself. You know those video games where you can switch between archery and melee fighting and be good at both? That's the Switch hitter in a nutshell. A fighter can pull this off too, but wouldn't you rather have all the skills, all the spells, the animal companion, the class abilities, excellence in archery, and excellence in melee? Sound too good to be true? It's not, and I'll prove it.

Tactics: At first level you are just a melee fighter. Grab a greatsword or a longsword and shield if you prefer and bash away. You'll find that high strength melee builds are always optimal at first level, and the switch hitter is no exception.

When you can afford a mighty composite longbow, get one. You should have quick draw early on, so you'll be firing a bow at range, and when the range drops, you drop the bow and draw your melee weapon. At this point don't be using a shield, you just don't have time to get it on. Therefore, your melee weapon at this point should be two handed, beyond that, whatever you like.

When you get to 6th level you will notice that your arrows are really quite deadly. With Deadly aim and manyshot, you can make a full move, then fire two arrows, both of which hit for very respectable damage. When you can make a full attack, use Rapid Shot as well for 4 arrows in one round. Then when you drop your bow and enter melee, you should be having a to hit and damage that rivals pure melee builds. This is in addition to all the skills and the spells you are starting to receive. The animal companion is just gravy in the mix.

By upper levels your arrows will continue to rival a dedicated archer's, and your melee ability should rival a dedicated meleer. The pure fighter will outshine you in melee eventually, and the Paladin will outshine you vs. evil, unless you are fighting a favored enemy, which will tilt the scale in your favor, but you will always be competitive, with the archery ability as a pure bonus.

Combat Style: The combat style of the Switch Hitter is Archery. The Switch Hitter doesn't use TWF, he uses a two handed weapon instead. His skill in archery is gained through the combat style class feature, while his skill in melee is gained through his regular feat selection.

Ability Scores:

Strength is the primary stat for the switch hitter. The Switch hitter doesn't need a high Dex to qualify for Archery Feats because combat style allows you to bypass stat requirements. Strength however will determine the strength of the mighty composite longbow (damage), and determine to hit and damage for a 2 handed weapon (utilizing a 1 and 1/2 bonus to damage on the weapon). Dexterity will affect your to hit with archery, as well as affect your AC. It's not as important as Str, because you've got a great BAB already, so those arrows will have a pretty good to hit anyways. That said, jump on Dex stat bonus items when they become available. Wisdom affects your ability to cast spells, as well as the duration on one of your potential abilities, so a bit is needed, Con affects your HP, which are nice to have, but you have a good base already. Int affects your skill points, which is nice, but you have a decent amount of skills already, so not too important. Cha is your only true "dump stat".

Combat Style Feats to choose:

2nd: Rapid Shot
6th: Manyshot (for a Ranger, this is just better than Rapid Shot)
10th: Improved Precise Shot
14th: Your Choice
18th: Your Choice

Why no precise shot? If you think about it, precise shot is worthless to the switch hitter, because when melee breaks out, he's in it, and you don't need it to qualify for Improved Precise Shot, because you are a Ranger...yay! Why no Point Blank Shot? Because he doesn't need it. Ranger's can avoid prerequisite feats for their combat style bonus feats. The only other archery feat you'll be taking is deadly aim, and Point Blank Shot isn't required for that either.

Regular Feat Selection:

Level 5: At level 5 you will select Deadly Aim. Its the one archery feat you will select with your regular feats, and it's absolutely a necessity, so just do it.

Quickdraw ****: In order to make the switch from Bow to Two Handed Weapon, this is a must. Level 3 at the latest.

Power Attack ****: An excellent deal with two handed weapons, grants +3 damage for -1 to hit. As a Ranger you have a great chance to hit, so this is a great deal

Cleave ***: This has become a nice skirmish feat. Move into position where you threaten two enemies, attack one, and if you hit, make an attack on the other. Nice.

Great Cleave **: Harder to set up than Cleave, but if you can, it's almost like pounce, except you don't need to charge.

Step Up **: A good way to hound archers and spellcasters who use the "5 foot step back and cast or fire arrows" tactic. Force them to give you an attack of opportunity instead.

Improved Sunder **: I like this feat for a two-handed weapon strength build. You have a really nice chance of destroying the weapon.

Lunge **: A handy feat for someone who is a skirmish meleer. Also works nicely with Cleave (to improve the reach for threatening foes).

Dodge **: Nice to have, just for the AC boost.

Heavy Armor Proficiency ***: A good expenditure of a feat so you can wear Mithril Full Plate

Improved Critical (Falchion) ***: Here's where you start to specialize in a specific weapon. The Falchion works very nicely with Improved Critical

Critical Focus (Falchion) **: Obviously just one in the chain...

Blinding Critical (Falchion) ****: Take advantage of the Falchion's nice crit range to blind foes. Rangers have full BAB, and mesh well with the critical feats.

So how does this turn out? Lets take an example build. Say a 10th level Switch Hitter Ranger, how good is he?

Human 15 point stat buy

Str (+2 racial): 18 (10)
Dex: 13 (3)
Con: 13 (3)
Wis: 13 (3)
Int: 10
Cha: 7 (-4)

Raise the Dex at level 4, the Con at level 8, the Wis at level 12, and Str at levels 16 and 20.

Level 1: Feats: Power attack/Cleave: At this level the character is a Greatsword Wielder. With a Breastplate he has a 17 AC, and 12 HP (for first level not too bad). His to hit with his Greatsword is +4, and damage is 2d6+9 (pretty good)

Level 6: Add feats: Great Cleave, Quick Draw, Deadly Aim, Manyshot, Rapid Shot Dex has been increased to 14 at level 4: Equipment: Now the character is using a Greatsword and a Mighty Composite Longbow (+4 str). When enemies are at range, the ranger can take his normal move and fire 2 arrows, each at +9 to hit (1 attack roll, both hit or miss), or take a 5 foot step and attack 3 times, each at +7 to hit. Damage with each is 1d8+8. This is without any magical bonuses. Not bad eh?

The enemies close, he drops his bow, quick draws a greatsword, and in Melee he is now doing 2d6+12 on two attacks, or even on three with a move action if he plans it well. Welcome to the switch hitter.

Keep those feats concentrating on melee, archery will take care of itself now. Rapid shot and Many Shot will ensure you get all kinds of arrows in the air, and Deadly Aim will ensure they hit with a deadly punch. When melee comes, drop the longbow, and switch to a two handed weapon. Eventually a Falchion may be your best bet to take the best advantage of critical feats.

The Switch Hitter and Multiclassing:

Really, the Switch Hitter is a single class character build. A single dip into Rogue is always a decent option for Ranger, but not required. Fighter dips are also possible, but in the long run, you aren't going to see the payoff for what you give up.

Your best Switch Hitter plans on 20 levels of Ranger.

The Switch Hitter and Prestige Classes:

Again, not really the way to go with a switch hitter. Keep him Ranger all the way, use the bonus feats to keep his archery top notch, and his regular feats to ensure his melee ability remains great.

The weaknesses of the build: There is only one that I can see, and only at lower levels. It is the Armor Class. The Switch Hitter needs to concentrate on Strength, which means his AC, considering he wears only a breastplate, will mean a moderately lower AC than a fighter two handed weapon build. Heavy Armor Proficiency plus Mithril Full Plate should eliminate this weakness entirely at higher levels. Otherwise you have a ranged capacity far better than a focused melee build, but aren't facing much disadvantage in melee, you have spells, skills, an animal companion, class special abilities galore, favored enemies, favored terrain...can't complain!

Rangers and Spellcasting:

Spellcasting is an important part of the Ranger package, but it is by no means the most important part. For a Ranger, spellcasting is a convenience, merely an enhancement of his current abilities (and many of the Rangers spells specifically work in this manner). There are a few things to remember when it comes to spellcasting as a Ranger:

1) Rangers no longer use 1/2 their level as their spellcasting level. Instead they use their level -3. This means that defeating SR is no longer an impossibility with a higher level Bard, and many spells you may find useful longer. Overall, this is an important powerup that needs to be considered when memorizing spells.

2) Rangers have no zero level spells, which means all their casting is limited in times/day. Rangers get few spells, even at high levels, so Spellcasting isn't going to be anything you do often

3) Rangers are Wisdom based casters, so you will eventually need a Wisdom of 14 to take advantage of the full spellcasting selection. Also note that Rangers get "0"'s on their spellcasting chart, which means, unless you have bonus spells of that level, you won't be able to cast that level spells. In most cases, that won't prevent 1st or 2nd level casting at the appropriate levels, but it is fairly likely you will be waiting until 11th level for 3rd level spells and 14th level for 4th level spells. This isn't a big deal, certainly not worth putting too many important stat points into Wisdom.

4) Rangers are divine prepared casters, so you can alter your spell selection daily. This means the most circumstantial spells are only a day away when needed.
1st-Level Ranger Spells
Alarm: I like this more for Rangers than for other casters. Who but a Ranger is going to be scouting alone, and need to take a rest without a rotating watch? Level 7 is when you can get a full 8 hours (Thank you new Ranger-caster level mechanics!).

Animal Messenger: I also like this more for Rangers than for other classes. The Animal Messenger spell again works specifically well for a scout getting information back to his allies quickly and efficiently. Also note this is early entry, Druids and Bards get this as a 2nd level spell.

Calm Animals: Rangers sometimes need to be sneaky, and I specifically see this as a helpful way to get past guard dogs quietly. Pretty circumstantial admittedly. Anyone else have handy uses for this one?

Charm Animal: Want a new pet? Maybe that Dire Bear over there...Start with Charm Animals to make it friendly, then Wild Empathy to make it helpful, and now it "woves you fowever". Handy enough? In addition, animals and high will saves just don't go together.

Delay Poison: Delay Poison, which in certain circumstances can be more useful than Neutralize Poison, and early entry as a first level spell. Very handy to have on short notice.

Detect Animals or Plants: Maybe if you're looking for Herb. "HERB! HERB?", I know, your sides are splitting. Sorry, trying to think of a good use for this spell...not succeeding.

Detect Poison: Forget the detecting, memorize Delay Poison instead. This spell is actually LATE entry for the Ranger. (Normally level 0)

Detect Snares and Pits: I'm kind of surprised this spell still exists. It was a way to give a Druid a kind of "natural" alternative to Clerics and Detect Traps. Who wants a spell that detects natural traps only? Seems like only getting half the job done to me.

Endure Elements: Allows you to endure hot or cold climate, but does not provide any energy resistance. Potentially useful in circumstantial circumstances. Good to have on the list, but something you won't want to memorize unless you know you'll need it.

Entangle: Probably the best Druid spell for its level. Not early entry, but still very handy. Excellent battlefield control, and can also be used for a quick getaway when scouting.

Hide from Animals: You can get the whole party past animals with this spell. I don't know how often you need to do that, but, when you do, this spell is on the list.

Jump: Gives a flat bonus to jump checks with acrobatics. Not the kind of bonus that has you leaping in a supernatural manner (you likely won't clear the high wall for example). Honestly, I can't see the point of using a memorization slot for the very off chance you'll need it, and by the time you could memorize it, the need will likely have passed or an alternative found.

Longstrider: Increase your base speed by 10 feet. Mechanically inferior to expeditious retreat? Nope, look at the duration, this is a hour per level kind of buff. Cast this when you begin your day of adventuring, and depending on level, it may last the whole day. By the way, extra movement for scouts and skirmishers is very handy to have.

Magic Fang: Turns one natural weapon magical (+1 enhancement) for 1 min/level. The main use is for your animal companion or a summoned animal to be able to bypass DR/magic. That is pretty circumstantial, but perhaps handy occasionally.

Pass without Trace: Get the whole party through an area without tracks, or even leaving a scent (the most important aspect in my opinion). Probably circumstantial, because lets face it, there's always one guy in the party determined for a head-on fight with anything, but I still think this is handy, and very Ranger-appropriate. Also, this can work for just you to sneak past anything that would normally detect you with a scent ability, not just animals.

Read Magic: Ranger scrolls may not be common, but they do exist, and you need this spell to read them. Fortunately, it's on the list, there if you need it. Don't memorize it regularly though.

Resist Energy: My personal favorite spell for dealing with energy attacks (because it has no limit before it disappears), and not only does the Ranger get it, they get it early entry. In addition, the new mechanics for caster level serve you well here.

Speak with Animals: Allows you to play Dr. Doolittle. Personally, unless you want to ask about the group of orcs that may have passed by the area, direct verbal communication with animals isn't required beyond the handle animal commands.

Summon Nature's Ally I: I do like summoning, but Rangers come too late in the game for this to provide much use in combat. Honestly, a Riding Dog when you are level 4 isn't much value in a fight. There are some utility uses to summoning, but they are reduced with the natures ally line, and more suited to the summon monster line.

2nd-Level Ranger Spells
Barkskin: A decent duration buff that's value will largely depend on the availability of magic items in your campaign. Natural Armor doesn't stack, so if you have magical items that provide the bonus, this isn't much use, if not, it's a valuable AC boost with a decent duration.

Bear's Endurance: I have the same problem with all the stat boost spells. They don't stack with the most common stat boost magic items in the game. If magic is rare in your campaign, these might be handy (but note a limited duration), otherwise they may be useless. Special note about Bear's Endurance is that it can also work as an emergency replacement for healing. Throw 4 points of Con on a wounded ally and they get 2 hp/level. It's not really healing, but it may provide the same benefit in regards to surviving the combat.

Cat's Grace: See Bear's Endurance.

Cure Light Wounds: This is late entry for the Ranger and not recommended for memorization. That said, whether 2nd level or 4th level, it's helpful for this to be on the spell list, because it makes you able to use the very cheap and immensely recommended Cure Light Wounds wands.

Hold Animal: With Animal Empathy, Pass Without Trace, and Charm Animal on the list, why are you still fighting animals? This has to be pretty rarely needed I would think.

Owl's Wisdom: See Bear's Endurance

Protection from Energy: This isn't my favorite energy protection (see Resist Energy above), but it does overlap with the latter for increased protection, and it is early entry.

Snare: Creates a snare trap. The upside is that it is permanent until triggered, therefore having this on your spell list is a boon. The downside is it's pretty circumstantial.

Speak with Plants: Me no likely. As the spell description points out, plants are stupid and have no reason to be friendly with you. Perhaps useful for getting some very basic information, though Speak with animals will probably serve as well for the same purpose.

Spike Growth: Ahhh...now we're talking. Intended as an inconvenient trap spell, in fact, this spell is battlefield control. Choose the squares to be affected, and those moving over make a saving throw or are slowed. Not as good as slowing like the spell slow, but still, halving their movement. There's some minor damage as well. Also, the squares you trap are DC 27 search check to reveal, and unless your enemies are using Search during a battle, that means they won't see what's coming. A good way to slow down fast moving enemies.

Summon Nature's Ally II: Still too weak for the level to be used in combat, but summoning elementals has utility purpose. The Earth Elemental can glide through the wall and let you know what's on the other side. Fire elementals can start fires, while Water elementals can put them out. Air elementals of course fly at perfect, so can be handy scouts as well. The duration isn't long, so small jobs only.

Wind Wall: Wind Wall is an effective battlefield control spell, even for Wizards who get this at 3rd level. However, also note that Wizards use this spell to block conventional weaponry while they fire spells through it. You however rely on conventional weaponry. Instead use this so the wizard doesn't have to, then leap into melee.

3rd-Level Ranger Spells
Command Plants: This is essentially "Charm Plants". Needs of course plant creatures to be effective (and they tend to be not all that common). Probably too circumstantial to ever memorize.

Cure Moderate Wounds: Late entry for one of the less impressive cure spells. Not a cheap wand either, so lacks the "good to have on the list" aspect of cure light wounds.

Darkvision: This is late entry, which hurts (and not sure why?). However, Ranger's can benefit greatly from this spell when scouting pure-darkness environments. The duration is good as well.

Diminish Plants: Very circumstantial. Can be used to dispel nasty plant spells like entangle, or cause a drought (you jerk!), or allow you to pass overgrown plants more easily. I'm not sure that this is worth a 3rd level spell, or even a 2nd level spell.

Magic Fang, Greater: This spell increases the value of the enhancement of Magic Fang, but even more importantly, has 60 times the duration. You probably want to memorize this every day (at least once) for your animal companions natural weaponry.

Neutralize Poison: I still wonder if this spell is actually better than Delay Poison most of the time, and furthermore, Ranger's get Delay Poison early entry, and this one isn't.

Plant Growth: Interesting how Pathfinder nerfed Solid Fog, but left the same mechanic alive with Plant Growth? As a battlefield control (when the plants are handy) this is absolutely amazing, and there is no spell resistance or saving throw.

Reduce Animal: Late entry spell that makes an animal smaller for a long duration. In most cases, making an animal smaller really isn't that useful. Perhaps if it is scouting...but how intelligent do you need to be to scout effectively? Probably smarter than most animals I would think...

Remove Disease: Pretty circumstantial, and not worth a memorization slot, but good to have on the list. Usually curing someone the next day will be good enough.

Repel Vermin: This is early entry for you, but is also circumstantial. If you are going somewhere where vermin are almost certain to be swarming (the sewer for example), then this is a good buff to have up (the duration is pretty decent). Keep in mind that you only repel 1/3 your CL, which means big swarms may just walk on through.

Summon Nature's Ally III: Pretty much all combat forms, and I've explained the problem with Rangers summoning for combat.

Tree Shape: Late entry for Rangers and works as advertised. Congrats...you're a tree. If you are in a forest and looking for a safe way to rest, there could be value in this, otherwise, really, what are you using it for?

Water Walk: Have you and your allies walk on water. The obvious use is to pretend to be Jesus, but beyond that, there is utility value as well.

4th-Level Ranger Spells
Animal Growth: This should not be confused to be "enlarge person" for animals. The bonuses an animal gets with this spell are pretty impressive. It will turn your animal companion from a slight boost to your combat ability, to the main attraction. At one minute/level, this isn't an all day buff, but it will last at least one combat, and maybe a few.

Commune with Nature: This divination spell gives you information about the surrounding natural area, including where there is water, what kind of life exists, etc. You can use this (with reduced range) in natural caverns as well, to find out if the cave in inhabited by Orcs or a Red Dragon. Potentially useful, and early entry for the Ranger.

Cure Serious Wounds: Your "best" healing spell. Late entry, and not worth memorizing in my opinion. Rangers just aren't magical healers beyond the cure light wounds wand.

Freedom of Movement: I'm wary about the wording of this spell, it's vague, and I've had arguments with my GM in the past whether things like an Air Elementals vortex, Gust of Wind, or other factors that technically could be considered to hinder movement. However, the value of this spell is certain regardless of the interpretation just from the examples given in the spell description alone.

Nondetection: I'm not a fan of using spell slots to try to evade scrying. If someone capable of scry wants you spied on, you are going to have trouble stopping them. This spell certainly won't on its own.

Summon Nature's Ally IV: Mephits occasionally have useful SLA's, but by the time you get this, not really. Too little, too late.

Tree Stride: First of all, this spell trumps "Tree Shape" giving you absolutely no reason to use that spell ever. However, the main purpose of this spell it to give you the ability to teleport short ranges. Alone, not all that great, but being able to do it as often as you like for 1 hour/level is all kinds of useful. Travel across the world in a couple days, scout out far distances, make quick escapes, unfortunately, you can't cast this on anyone else, which is the biggest drawback for actual gameplay use.

Equipment Choices for your Ranger:

Armor:

Breastplate: Breastplate may not be full plate but it is a solid armor. Good AC bonus with decent Dex bonus and non-crippling ACP. Masterwork it, then Mithril it.

Mithril Full Plate: The great hope for the Switch Hitter

Animated Shield: You have shield proficiency, but will almost never use one, so an animated shield just means pure win. Get one if you can.

Shadow Armor: +5 competence bonus to stealth checks, a natural plus for Rangers

Shadow, Improved: The +5 becomes +10

Shadow, Greater: Now +15

Celestial Armor: For the Archer Ranger, this has to be pretty much the crown jewel.

Weapons:

Mighty Composite Longbow: The standard of the archer Ranger and the Switch Hitter

Holy: +2d6 damage to the most common enemies

Seeking: avoid concealment miss chance

Energy: Any energy bonus damage is really nice. Get it on the Bow and every arrow bursts for extra damage.

Arrows:

Cold Iron: Dirt cheap, always have them on hand

Silver, Alchemical: Also dirt cheap, no excuse for not having them. You do one less point of damage, but they are SOOO much cheaper than mithril

Adamantium: Super expensive. Buy some, and only use them when needed to bypass DR.

Melee: For the Switch hitter it can be any two handed melee weapon. Greatswords, Greataxes, and Falchions are all good choices.

Dancing: Let it go, quick draw another weapon, go to town

Holy: Most bad guys, are, well, bad.

Mighty Cleaving: Improve on your Cleaving ability. Might be overkill

Speed: An ability made for two handed weapons

Rapier of puncturing: Rapier isn't your weapon of choice, but I only mention this weapon as a warning to DM's. This is broken, broken, broken. Notice that there is no save DC for the Con damage ability? This is clearly an oversight, but I didn't see anything in errata for it either (and I looked). This item needs a DC to avoid the Con bleed, without it this simply shouldn't exist in any campaign...you've been warned.

Wands/Staves/Rods/Scrolls:

Metamagic Rods, lesser: Will enhance all but your 4th level spells. Specifically the extend rod is an excellent deal and very useful for you.

Scrolls: Really only for those spells that you only need once in awhile, but when you need them, you need them: Remove Disease, Repel Vermin, that kind of spell

Wands: Cure light wounds. Super cheap, super good, especially because you don't want to memorize it.

Staves: What, you're a Druid now? Staves are a bit heavy hitting for a recreational caster

Rings:

Protection: Obviously one of your two rings is protection, the more the better.

Mind Shielding: Detect thoughts is a great way to detect the hidden, unless they have this ring

Invisibility: When you are a sneaky scout, sometimes invisibility is just another layer of stealth, but a welcome layer.

Freedom of Movement: An excellent effect to have, and a ring is always there when you need it.

Misc. Magic, minor:

Universal Solvent: One shot item that tends to find itself being very useful somewhere along the line. A cheap investment, get 2.

Feather Token, Tree: Instant ladder, Instant cover, Instant Tree Stride, cheap.

Cloak of Resistance: Kind of a staple...for a reason

Pearl of Power, 1st level: Use this to get extra Delay Poisons, Resist Elements, and they are cheap. A great deal.

Efficient Quiver: Get your Cold Iron arrow when you need a Cold Iron Arrow.

Amulet of Natural Armor: Not super important, as you can cast Barkskin, but, still worth it

Handy Haversack: If you don't know why you want this, you've obviously never played D&D before.

Boots and Cloak of elvenkind: Be sneaky, be real sneaky

Chime of opening: You can't pick locks, so this could be handy when on your own.

Belt, Stat bonus: For the switch hitter, Str is prime, Dex secondary. For the Archer, the reverse.

Headband, Stat bonus: Probably Wisdom is your best choice, for spellcasting, survival, and perception

Slippers of spider climbing: Exceptionally handy exceptionally often, shoot arrows down from a high ceiling for example.

Archery Bracers: Whether greater or lesser, a bonus to hit and damage with your bow is going to be a nice bonus.

Boots of striding and springing: +10 feet to movement is great, but note this does NOT stack with longstrider :(

Boots of Speed: Mainly for the Switch Hitter, all two-handed-weapon fighters should want this unless they have their own personal mage

Boots of Levitation: Mainly for the archer ranger, a great way to stay out of melee

Qadira

Google docs link doesn't seem to work...


PirateDevon wrote:
Google docs link doesn't seem to work...

Whoops, forgot to allow others to share.

Should work now, let me know if it doesn't!

Osirion

Treantmonk wrote:

1) Rangers no longer use 1/2 their level as their spellcasting level. Instead they use their level -3. This means that defeating SR is no longer an impossibility with a higher level Bard, and many spells you may find useful longer. Overall, this is an important powerup that needs to be considered when memorizing spells.

Bit of cut-n-paste snuck in there.

Great stuff, again. A pity that TWF seems to be such a clunker, it would have been neat if there had been three different paths here, as with your Bard recommendations.

Qadira

Set wrote:
Treantmonk wrote:

1) Rangers no longer use 1/2 their level as their spellcasting level. Instead they use their level -3. This means that defeating SR is no longer an impossibility with a higher level Bard, and many spells you may find useful longer. Overall, this is an important powerup that needs to be considered when memorizing spells.

Bit of cut-n-paste snuck in there.

Great stuff, again. A pity that TWF seems to be such a clunker, it would have been neat if there had been three different paths here, as with your Bard recommendations.

Ahhh there we go!

thanks!


PirateDevon wrote:
Set wrote:
Treantmonk wrote:

1) Rangers no longer use 1/2 their level as their spellcasting level. Instead they use their level -3. This means that defeating SR is no longer an impossibility with a higher level Bard, and many spells you may find useful longer. Overall, this is an important powerup that needs to be considered when memorizing spells.

Bit of cut-n-paste snuck in there.

Great stuff, again. A pity that TWF seems to be such a clunker, it would have been neat if there had been three different paths here, as with your Bard recommendations.

Ahhh there we go!

thanks!

LOL - not cut and paste, I must have had Bard's on the brain when I wrote that.

Probably one of those times I was answering posts in the Bard thread and writing the Ranger Guide inbetween.

I'll get that fixed.

Shadow Lodge

PirateDevon wrote:
Google docs link doesn't seem to work...

did you try again because it works for me.


As usual, very good food for thought. One comment on your verdict on Endurance.....this feat does two things that are very nice (To the point that my current PFS level 2 character took it at level 1).

1: Allow you to sleep in medium armor. Sure, it's situational, but having your kick ass armor on when you're woken in the middle of the night=win.

2: Unlock Diehard feat. Admittedly, this one is a bit of a tossup...I happen to love it on my cleric with the healing domain, what with the "I go to negative...I don't drop, on my turn I heal myself, thank you very much". Not sure if it's worth the risk on a ranger, but it's certainly a benefit on some chars.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

For bow enhancements might I suggest Merciful? A +1 for effectively 1d6 extra damage against most creatures with a Con score. Sure it's non-lethal, but that rarely matters in actual combat as the aim is get the enemy down. They can be CdG afterwards (note some wusses might have moral trouble here...), or if sentient they can be interrogated for useful info.

Also Dire Rat stats as a Companion are here. Doesn't get the Filth fever until the 4th level bump.

The Bestiary has the following animal companions, which sdhould be in the PRD:

Ankylosaurus 83
Aurochs 174 (Also covers Bison)
Brachiosaurus 83
Dire bat 30
Dolphin 88
Elasmosaurus 84
Electric eel 119
Elephant 128
Giant frog 135
Giant moray eel 119
Goblin dog 157
Hyena 179
Monitor lizard 194
Octopus 219
Orca 88
Pteranodon 85
Rhinoceros 235
Roc 236
Squid 259
Stegosaurus 85
Triceratops 86
Tyrannosaurus 86


Treantmonk wrote:
Rangers leave no trail in favored terrain, but can still be tracked by scent we assume, so Pass Without Trace is still going to be a good spell.

I assume a ranger would know what kind of (probably disgusting) stuff he should rub himself with in order to blend into his favorite terrain's natural odor. Serious hunters do this kind of stuff all the time, and also know how to position themselves according to the way the wind blows in order to go undetected by their prey (or predators...)


Treantmonk wrote:

LOL - not cut and paste, I must have had Bard's on the brain when I wrote that.

Probably one of those times I was answering posts in the Bard thread and writing the Ranger Guide inbetween.

I'll get that fixed.

Umm, you mentioned bard too under the Point Blank Shot feat in the archery build, but that otherwise seems to be it apart from what I take to be an intended reference under animal messenger which druids and bards get at 2nd level. ;)

Detect Animals & Plants does have some situational use, such as making sure at low levels that you don't step in a Giant Flytrap (Stealth +17 in Undergrowth, CR 10, yikes!) in an area where you know Giant Flytraps may be present, or speeding up the process of finding any wolfsbane in the area if a party member was bitten by a werewolf last night and isn't looking too good today. It's more something I think you'd have 'one of, just in case' on a scroll though, than actually prepped without specific advance warning.

Edit:
You do talk about entangle as a druid spell though, which, whilst it is, surely in this context you meant to be ranger?
Are you sure that you're feeling okay? :-? I know you mentioned recently on another thread a family member had been ill. :(


what about an archery ranger using crossbows for background purposes? Just kinda wondering how Harsk lives up to the guide, and the feat picks would have to change due to adding reload time.. i do agree with most of these ratings though.. I would put Favored Terrain as strong if not stronger than favored enemy though - it's just more universally useful


The Critic wrote:
what about an archery ranger using crossbows for background purposes? Just kinda wondering how Harsk lives up to the guide, and the feat picks would have to change due to adding reload time.. i do agree with most of these ratings though.. I would put Favored Terrain as strong if not stronger than favored enemy though - it's just more universally useful

Simply put, Harsk wouldn't BE an Archery Ranger. Crossbows can't be made composite, ergo it would be unwise to focus on crossbow combat as an archer.

With his dwarven con bonus though, Harsk is fairly well suited to being a switch hitter.


kyrt-ryder wrote:
The Critic wrote:
what about an archery ranger using crossbows for background purposes? Just kinda wondering how Harsk lives up to the guide, and the feat picks would have to change due to adding reload time.. i do agree with most of these ratings though.. I would put Favored Terrain as strong if not stronger than favored enemy though - it's just more universally useful

Simply put, Harsk wouldn't BE an Archery Ranger. Crossbows can't be made composite, ergo it would be unwise to focus on crossbow combat as an archer.

With his dwarven con bonus though, Harsk is fairly well suited to being a switch hitter.

Does Paizo detail Harsk in any of its products? i'd be curious to see how they chose to build him. i'm fairly new to Paizo's adventure paths and such (just started collecting RotRL and have the Core Rules and Beastiary), so i probably missed a 3.5 version of him.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Huan wrote:
kyrt-ryder wrote:
The Critic wrote:
what about an archery ranger using crossbows for background purposes? Just kinda wondering how Harsk lives up to the guide, and the feat picks would have to change due to adding reload time.. i do agree with most of these ratings though.. I would put Favored Terrain as strong if not stronger than favored enemy though - it's just more universally useful

Simply put, Harsk wouldn't BE an Archery Ranger. Crossbows can't be made composite, ergo it would be unwise to focus on crossbow combat as an archer.

With his dwarven con bonus though, Harsk is fairly well suited to being a switch hitter.

Does Paizo detail Harsk in any of its products? i'd be curious to see how they chose to build him. i'm fairly new to Paizo's adventure paths and such (just started collecting RotRL and have the Core Rules and Beastiary), so i probably missed a 3.5 version of him.

Harsk is statted out in PfRPG here. You can also find him at various levels in the backs of Curse of the Crimson Throne AP issues and some modules (don't have them all so can't tell you which) in 3.5 as a pregen.


Great guides, nice angle on the controversial topic of optimization.

For your Archer ranger and Switch hitter, have you considered the Pinpoint targeting feat, available at level 10? Improved precise shot is great, but available at level 6. It thus comes down to a choice between more damage output with Manyshot and more reliable damage against heavily armored opponents. Taking Deadly aim into consideration, Pinpoint targeting could be more interesting than Manyshot. What do you think?

Also, the Switch hitter could probably choose the Cavalier route, using his bonus feats for archery and his feats for mounted combat. His Animal companion would be his mount. I can see him firing while keeping a safe distance, then charging, lance in hand, for devastating damage and, if he gets to Ride-by attack, a sense of relative safety.

Good ideas overall, I'm still not sure about your opinion on the TWF Ranger, but this has been a hot topic on the boards for a long time. I'll see if I can come up with convincing comparisons

(I would add that, because of the absence of prerequisites for TWF et al., the Ranger could possibly make a better TWF than the Fighter, but, as you said, the combination with Rogue adds a lot, but the prerequisites come back...).

DW


Farabor: Like all feats, I hesitate to call endurance "useless", however, I'm not sure sleeping in medium armor is that big a deal. If your camp gets lots of midnight attacks, chain shirt pajamas in the backpack should work well enough. Yes, better to have my breastplate, but not the end of the world, what are we talking about, 2 AC?

Personally, not a big fan of the diehard feat. When my character reaches negative HP, I like to fall down and cease to be a target. Ironically, having the diehard feat I think signficantly increases your chance of actually dying.

Enlight_Bystand: Thanks for all the links! I'll take a look at that stuff and update the guide. I'll take a closer look at "merciful" as well and post here afterwards.

CunningMongoose: I agree with you in principal, but I don't think the rules support us here...why do I keep picturing Arnie in Predator???

Charles_Evans: Yes, the animal messenger reference was intentional, the point blank shot one was an error (fixed). Thanks for the possible use for detect plants and animals. You came up with more than I did.

The Druid reference under Entangle was intentional, but badly worded. I'll change it to read, "Even Druids, with 9 levels of spells, will find this spell potentially the best for its level on their entire list. A great addition to the Ranger spell list..." Which should be more clear.

And my daughter is back to her normal healthy self. Think I got through unscathed. :)

The Critic: I think Crossbows are generally inferior to bows, and especially mighty composite bows. However, if you want your Ranger to use a crossbow, you will need quick-load, and Deadly Aim becomes even MORE important. However, thanks to Deadly Aim (thank you Paizo), the crossbow choice is potentially viable, if somewhat inferior to the other options.

Dreaming Warforged: I did consider Pinpoint targeting, but I am not a fan. You give up way too many attacks to improve chance to hit on one attack, that sounds like a bad deal to me. Also, losing the ability to move when you make a standard action attack is a ripoff. In the end, you get one arrow, for your entire round action, with no damage bonus, so just because you'll likely hit, the effect is less than spectacular. Put 4 arrows in the air instead, probably at least one will hit.

If you come up with a way to make the TWF significantly better than a switch hitter in melee (and not just a moderate damage increase when making a full attack vs. a single opponent at mid-high levels), by all means, let me know. Though the death of the TWF Ranger doesn't bother me all that much ;) As long as Rangers can do melee (and they can), that's what was important to me.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for posting your "guides". They are very interesting to read.


Treantmonk wrote:

Farabor: Like all feats, I hesitate to call endurance "useless", however, I'm not sure sleeping in medium armor is that big a deal. If your camp gets lots of midnight attacks, chain shirt pajamas in the backpack should work well enough. Yes, better to have my breastplate, but not the end of the world, what are we talking about, 2 AC?

Personally, not a big fan of the diehard feat. When my character reaches negative HP, I like to fall down and cease to be a target. Ironically, having the diehard feat I think signficantly increases your chance of actually dying.

As per sleeping in your armor...it starts at 2 AC, then grows as you get better and better armor. 3 AC once you get +1 armor, etc.....unless you're going to invest valuable extra money in more sleeping armor. Not to mention the extra 25lbs of encumbrance for a spare chain shirt.

As for diehard, I agree with you in general. It's just nice on a healing specced healer, because you can immediately use that extra action to get out of danger...especially once you get that healing domain level 6 power. (Empowered cure serious wounds, anyone?) So not very germane to _this_ guide, but you mentioned Endurance being of not much use to anyone.


On the whole TWF -thing. Treantmonk - your reference to twf (oh it's not drizzt, but it is really) everyone seems to miss the point. Now I probably agree that rangers are NOT the best TWF's. You can get far better results going a straight fighter or (as I am currently) a rogue/fighter. TWF is a very viable mechanic, but the cost is VERY high, and maybe not worth it unless you have a crapload of feats.

I would find it hard to think you would advocate that method because as you make fairly plain (via the 'switch hitter') that pursuing TWF pretty much consumes a char's abilty to excel at anything else. A ranger makes a far better switch hitter than TWF.

Just a thought- Now while everyone seems to identify Drizzt as a ranger. We have seen a lot of drizzt themed ranger builds. While I love the char- he is (unfortunately) responsible on this notion that ranger are the best TWF's. Everyone really needs to remember (so I'm gonna shout) DRIZZT IS A FIGHTER!!! Sure he has a few ranger levels (a barbarian one too) but he is more fighter than anything else. In fact all his TWF feats came from fighter levels.

I believe at last 3.5 statting he was something like-
Fgtr 10 (TWF focused)
Barb 1
Ranger 7 (archery combat style)

End of Rant.
Sorry off topic. The Handbook IS an excellent guide.
As a TWF fan I tend to get cheesed off that Drizzt is held as an Iconic TWF ranger when he is mostly fighter (the REAL TWF masters!)

The was a question posted earlier about PF's iconic ranger- how he stacks up the your hanbook. I find that VERY interesting and would be interested in your opinion on ALL of the iconics, from an optimisation POV.

Cheers.


Ardenup wrote:

On the whole TWF -thing. Treantmonk - your reference to twf (oh it's not drizzt, but it is really) everyone seems to miss the point. Now I probably agree that rangers are NOT the best TWF's. You can get far better results going a straight fighter or (as I am currently) a rogue/fighter. TWF is a very viable mechanic, but the cost is VERY high, and maybe not worth it unless you have a crapload of feats.

I would find it hard to think you would advocate that method because as you make fairly plain (via the 'switch hitter') that pursuing TWF pretty much consumes a char's abilty to excel at anything else. A ranger makes a far better switch hitter than TWF.

Just a thought- Now while everyone seems to identify Drizzt as a ranger. We have seen a lot of drizzt themed ranger builds. While I love the char- he is (unfortunately) responsible on this notion that ranger are the best TWF's. Everyone really needs to remember (so I'm gonna shout) DRIZZT IS A FIGHTER!!! Sure he has a few ranger levels (a barbarian one too) but he is more fighter than anything else. In fact all his TWF feats came from fighter levels.

I believe at last 3.5 statting he was something like-
Fgtr 10 (TWF focused)
Barb 1
Ranger 7 (archery combat style)

End of Rant.
Sorry off topic. The Handbook IS an excellent guide.
As a TWF fan I tend to get cheesed off that Drizzt is held as an Iconic TWF ranger when he is mostly fighter (the REAL TWF masters!)

The was a question posted earlier about PF's iconic ranger- how he stacks up the your hanbook. I find that VERY interesting and would be interested in your opinion on ALL of the iconics, from an optimisation POV.

Cheers.

I'm no expert on the Forgotten Realms, but I do know this; originally, Drizzt was a full ranger in 2nd Ed. It's been years since I looked at anything Forgotten Realmsish, including the original 3 novel saga, but if I recall, he was a 16th level ranger (give or take a level). The original novels refer to him as a ranger as well. The 3.5 version of Drizzt, (to our gaming group at least), is considered an abberation.


I think when Drizzt was first introduced it was 1E (Pretty sure, as Artemis Entreri was an Assasin, which was a base class in 1E and gone in 2E). In 1E TWF was best for anyone. Rangers were as good a fighter as any class, including the fighter.

So, yeah, Drizzt is a Ranger, but when 3E came out, Rangers were so much weaker that I don't think they could make Drizzt as a straight Ranger, so they multiclassed the heck out of him.

Anyways, TWF is great for rogues. Fighters can certainly do it better than Rogues, but I don't really like it for them either.

A big part of the problem is of course that the base damage is going to be lower per weapon. Another part of the problem is the lack manouvering room. Standard action attacks when you have two weapons aren't very good.

Feats like Cleave make a 2 handed weapon Ranger a very capable skirmisher...


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Ardenup wrote:


The was a question posted earlier about PF's iconic ranger- how he stacks up the your hanbook. I find that VERY interesting and would be interested in your opinion on ALL of the iconics, from an optimisation POV.
Cheers.

Why? I think it's pretty clear that all the iconics are pretty poor from an optimization point of view. One just has to make one's peace with that. I personally think it's a nice way to publicly say that "optimized characters are explicitly not a requirement to play these APs."


re: Agile Maneuvers Feat (which you bring up re: Animal Companions)
The Weapon Finesse Feat applies to any Maneuvers that use a Finesse Weapon (in place of an attack), including natural attacks, so Trip abilities like a Wolf has qualify. The purpose of Agile Maneuvers is that it isn't subject to the limitations of Weapon Finesse, allowing DEX->CMB for Polearms/non-Finesse Weapons and non-weapon Maneuvers (basically Bull-Rush, Over-Run, and Stand Still(?), though Grapple's relationship with Unarmed Strike is unclear to me so it may well be 'separate' and non-Finessable) ...I could see picking Agile Maneuvers if you have a high DEX/ low STR companion to best use Stand Still (or B-R/O-R/Grapple), but Trip would already work with Weapon Finesse that such a high DEX/ low STR companion like a Cheetah/Leopard would already have.

re: Fleet
I think Nimble Moves should be mentioned here - Allowing 5' Steps in difficult terrain is useful when you need it most. (this goes for most any class, of course) ...Spells/items can take care of movement rate at mid-higher levels, but Nimble Moves can be useful no matter your movement rate or mode.

i take issue with your formula for 2WF damage output:
'main + off hand dmg @-2 penalty = 2 Handed dmg @no penalty :: 2-Handed does same damage, but hits more'
The 2WF is hitting more consistently (at least once, comparing @1st level) because they get more attacks. They also crit more often. Your frame of reference "assume they both have STR 18" also ignores the POINT of the 2WF Ranger: ignoring DEX requirement - meaning in a point-buy scenario, their STR will be higher than a Archery Ranger. Power Attack and Deadly Aim equal out. Yes, 2WF requires constant Feat investment to keep pace with Iteratives, but likewise Archery requires a series of Feats to deal with the penalties of Ranged Combat in a complex battlefield = same difference.

I know you know all of this :-). Basically, I think you should mention the impact of a Double Weapon (2-Handed damage bonus) on a high-STR, not-so-amazing DEX 2WF Ranger, either a Racial Weapon (which impacts Race choice) or thru Exotic Proficiency Feat, accounting that many Double Weapons are NOT Finesse Weapons, and that 2WF Rangers will have a higher STR than DEX. Much of your recommendations for "Switch Hitter" of course apply to "2WF Ranger" with (2-Handed) Double Weapon (Cleave, etc). (is it TOO cheese to enchant both ends of your Orc Double Axe with the Speed quality?)

re: spellcasting
"Rangers no longer use 1/2 their level as their spellcasting level. (...) This means that defeating SR is no longer an impossibility with a higher level Bard" ;-)


Sorry If my FR history is off. I only started playing in early 3E. As for the books, I have the whole Drizzt saga. The Icewind Dale trilogy obviously came first. The legend of Drizzt (the origin's trilogy- written much later) explains his life from birth in Menzoberezzan before he came to icewind dale. Addmittedly this story is probably a 3E after thought.

He was trained at Melee Magethere (school for fighters) -Ftr 10
Lived as a rogue in the underdark (where he discovered the 'hunter' persona)- Barb1
Then went to the surface and Recieved ranger training under Montolio De'breche (who incedently was a 'switcher' type rogue) and made it his new career path, hence when he arrived at Icewind Dale and Cassius asks his profession he states 'I am a ranger'

Gotta say if Ranger's WERE supposed to be the best TWF they could have had one or two class abilites to help them do it.

Automatically gaining TWD and Imp TW Defense and an Ablility like 'Offhand Mastery- you apply any weapon fcs/specialisation related feats to the offhand weapon' would have done it fairly simply.

Cheers.


If there was any doubt that Drizzt was pre-3E, the books make it very clear.

For example, notice in the books how in Menzoberezzan they have a "clock" where they can tell the time based on the heat?

That is because pre-3E there was no Darkvision or Low Light vision, it was all infravision (heat-sensing).

1E and 2E Drow could NOT dual class, and thus could NOT change career progressions, and multiclassing worked significantly different in those editions.

Drizzt was a Ranger.

Also, totally non-optimization, out of nostalgia I happened to be looking at some old D&D stuff, and there was a 2E Ranger Kit called "The Pathfinder" in the Rangers Handbook, means nothing, but I got a chuckle.

Quandary I'll consider your point regarding double weapons.

Point 1) As far as consistant damage output, we're talking averages here...lets consider a 10 round combat at fairly low levels. The enemy has an AC of 20. The Two Handed Ranger has a +10 to strike once (for 2d6+9 damage, average 16). The TWF Ranger has a +8 to strike twice per round (1d6+6/1d6+3, average 9.5 and 6.5).

In that combat, the TWF Ranger should hit an average of 8 times. 1/2 the primary hand, 1/2 the secondary hand. Total damage should average 64

The Two handed weapon Ranger should hit an average of 5 times. Total damage should average 80.

Point 2: As for critical hits, the Greatsword Ranger has the same threat range, a better chance to confirm, and twice the damage, and should be critting more than 1/2 as often, so the criticals actually widen the damage gap, not narrow it.

Point 3:Then there is DR. If they happen to come across DR that they can't bypass, then the DR is effectively doubled against the TWF Ranger, reducing his damage output further. The Gap widens further, perhaps to the point where the TWF becomes completely ineffective.

Point 4:Then there are enchantments. The TWF needs to enchant 2 weapons, so the Greatsword fighter gets a +4 Greatsword for CHEAPER than the TWF gets 2 +3 shortswords for. The gap widens yet FURTHER.

As for the Archery Ranger having a lower STR, I agree, a properly made Archery Ranger shouldn't have an 18 STR. I was using the Archery Ranger as an example how all those TWF feats are NOT increasing your damage output, when you could give the same character MINUS all those feats a two handed weapon and do just as well.

I'm not saying that nobody should ever take a TWF Ranger, and I think you can make one that will be fairly effective in melee, but I don't think he'll do ANY better in melee then the switch-hitter, and I'm not convinced he'll do as well.

Did I convince you???

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Does the twf technique take into account favoured enemies? I would think the numbers look more favourable for Twf if they are included.


Kevin Mack wrote:
Does the twf technique take into account favoured enemies? I would think the numbers look more favourable for Twf if they are included.

Yes they do, and you are correct, fighting a favored enemy, you are then getting the full bonus on every hit, from either hand.

My concern there is that the bonus isn't huge, and it's inconsistant based on your opponent.


What about sword sword and board Rangers? Specially at low and mid leveles (before dancing shields comes up)they have a respectable AC a nice damage output for a stalwart type build.

Hear I present, the DECEIVER:

Dwarf
STR 16 (10)
DEX 12 (2) or 14 (5) if going for PA instead of Expertise
CON 14 (2)
INT 13 (3) or 10 (0)
WIS 14 (2)
CHA 5 (-4)

Feast:
01.- Sheild Bash
02.- TWF
03.- Combat Expertise
05.- Double Slice
06.- Improved TWF
07.- Shield Slam
09.- Heavy Armor Proficiency (because mithral is expensive)
10.- Greater TWF
11.- Sheild Master
13.- ...
14.- Double slice
15.- ...
17.- ...
18.- Two-Weapon Rend
19.- ...

High AC, decent damage and to hit, but not to much feats to spare. You wouldn't guess his class until he starts dodging fireballs.
Opinions?

Humbly,
Yawar


YawarFiesta wrote:

What about sword sword and board Rangers? Specially at low and mid leveles (before dancing shields comes up)they have a respectable AC a nice damage output for a stalwart type build.

Hear I present the DECEIVER:

Spoiler:
Dwarf
STR 16 (10)
DEX 12 (2) or 14 (5) if going for PA instead of Expertise
CON 14 (2)
INT 13 (3) or 10 (0)
WIS 14 (2)
CHA 5 (-4)

Feast:
01.- Sheild Bash
02.- TWF
03.- Combat Expertise
05.- Double Slice
06.- Improved TWF
07.- Shield Slam
09.- Heavy Armor Proficiency (because mithral is expensive)
10.- Greater TWF
11.- Sheild Master
13.- ...
14.- Double slice
15.- ...
17.- ...
18.- Two-Weapon Rend
19.- ...

High AC, decent damage and to hit, but not to much feats to spare. Opinions?

Humbly,
Yawar

I had a long, detailed post much like this written up, but the boards ate it.

Anyway, my own writeup is similar to that:

Str 16
Dex 12
Con 16
Int 10
Wis 14
Cha 5

1: Favored enemy 1, track, wild empathy, feat (shield focus)
2: Combat style feat (two-weapon fighting)
3: Endurance (bonus feat), favored terrain 1, feat (improved shield bash)
4: Hunter's bond, +1 Charisma
5: Favored enemy 2, feat (weapon focus: dwarven waraxe)
6: Combat style feat (double slice)
7: Woodland stride, feat (shield slam)
8: Swift tracker, favored terrain 2, +1 Strength
9: Evasion, feat (oversized two weapon fighting or, if core only, power attack)
10: Favored enemy 3, combat style feat (improved two-weapon fighting)
11: Quarry, feat (shield master)
12: Camouflage, +1 Strength
13: Favored terrain 3, feat (improved critical: dwarven waraxe)
14: Combat style feat (two-weapon rend)
15: Favored enemy 4, feat (heavy armor proficiency)
16: Improved evasion, +1 Strength
17: Hide in plain sight, feat (improved bull rush)
18: Favored terrain 4, combat style feat (greater two-weapon fighting)
19: Improved quarry, feat (greater bull rush)
20: Favored enemy 5, master hunter, +1 Strength

Skills: Handle Animal, Knowledge (dungeoneering/nature), Perception, Stealth, Survival; points sprinkled into Climb, Heal, and Swim.

The build would favor mithral full plate and a bashing spiked heavy shield (or light shield if the attack penalties are too stiff). Without magic, he'd be looking at an AC of 10 + 1 Dex + 9 full plate + 2 heavy shield + 1 Shield Focus = 23. Not too shabby.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Quote:
Improved Evasion ***: Wade into fireballs and cones of cold without concern. Even a failed save means you will take reduced damage. If you happen to have Resist Energy up, you are all but immune to wizard blasting.

I'm gonna get into this guide more, but while I'm here, Improved Evasion is just not that hot.

  • Rangers are high-HP secondary melee or ranged. They are the least likely people in the entire game to take critical HP damage from other sources (other than maybe an optimized high-level arcanist) and the most likely to make their saves.
  • You already have Evasion. Improved Evasion is only useful when you fail your save, which as a good-ref, dex-maxing class you are unlikely to do very often.
  • Save-halves reflex damage is not very scary, especially at level 15. Few things will use it as their main damaging schtick.
  • Likewise, the ability to just ignore allies' save-halves reflex effects is not a big deal because you get this ability at the same time casters are getting their 8th-level spells. If the casters ever did rely on fireball (and if they've ever read TM's other guides they should know better), they stopped using as a staple more than a half-dozen levels ago.
  • Resist Energy and its ilk are easy to get, long-duration, and on about every spell list.

    It's telling that PC rogues never took Improved Evasion very much, and they could get it five levels earlier and used to have two less HP per level.

    Also.

    Quote:
    Point blank Shot **: The obvious first choice. A first level archery Bard needs to be willing to enter melee, but when firing his regular bow, that +1 to hit and damage will be significant.

    Bard?

    And rangers can and should skip this bummer of a feat, unless they have to get into lots of fistfights in phoneboot-er, dungeons. (Ranger combat style feats ignore prereqs!) Go straight to Precise Shot and don't look back, and do your level best to never be within a move-and-attack of anything that's actually dangerous. PBS is a trap to get you to stay in the danger zone.


  • Nice guide. I do have a minor bit of input and random things... I understand the guide is probably for CORE rules*, but here we go.

  • Companions: AxeBeak* from the Bestiary preview.

  • Races: It's really a matter of preference and style/build/party-makeup/location on what races make a GOOD Ranger. You don't need the pre-requisites for your combat-style feats. (ex: TWF - DEX 15)

  • TWF: Rogue makes for some nice extra damage, but Fighter should not be overlooked for 'accelerating feat trees' and possibly gaining a few nifty tricks like weapon & armor training if you decide you need them and can afford to 'dip' into Fighter that long.

  • TWF/Feats: 'Oversized TWF' feat can also help the TWF'er with some extra damage. (ex: Dwarf + 2 Dwarven Waraxes.)

  • RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Daniel Moyer wrote:

    Nice guide. I do have a minor bit of input and random things... I understand the guide is probably for CORE rules*, but here we go.

  • Companions: AxeBeak* from the Bestiary preview.
  • Not the Bestiary preview, but the Bonus Bestiary. Here's an SRD link.

    Quote:
  • TWF/Feats: 'Oversized TWF' feat can also help the TWF'er with some extra damage. (ex: Dwarf + 2 Dwarven Waraxes.)
  • +1 damage on offhand only (shortsword -> longsword) is not a very good use of a feat. If you're a dwarf it's slightly better but even then +2 damage on offhand only is not a very strong feat.


    Yawar/Randall: Let me do some analysis on the Sword and Board build you've both contributed to. If I like the results, with your permission, I will use it as a TWF suggestion in the guide.

    If I have questions/concerns, I will post back here. I should be able to take some time to look at it either today or tomorrow.

    Man In Black: I do know the arguments against Improved Evasion, I admit I'm perhaps just a bit untrusting of the "you are unlikely to fail your Ref save" argument, because, for some reason I seem to buck the odds in that department. Call it peace of mind if you will.

    I admit it is a guilty pleasure to get Improved Evasion. It's like getting the extended warranty on an expensive item. Extra protection you probably didn't need.

    RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Treantmonk wrote:

    Man In Black: I do know the arguments against Improved Evasion, I admit I'm perhaps just a bit untrusting of the "you are unlikely to fail your Ref save" argument, because, for some reason I seem to buck the odds in that department. Call it peace of mind if you will.

    I admit it is a guilty pleasure to get Improved Evasion. It's like getting the extended warranty on an expensive item. Extra protection you probably didn't need.

    You picked on the second bullet point and ignored the others. A DB fireball does about 50-ish damage. An ancient white dragon breathes for 50. A neothelid (probably the nastiest ref save you'll see in core, for the CR) breathes for 70-ish. You have 150-ish HP with a 16 con, and at level 15 you probably have something like a 20-22 con. Even if you fail the save it's less world-shattering than the other things those enemies can do to you. Sometimes cutting 30-ish damage off of a relatively weak way to spend a turn just isn't that big a deal.

    -----

    Anyhoo. Extended review time for the guide.

    First off, why are we color-coding/rating non-options? The only reason I can think of is multiclassing breakpoints, but that's never made clear. You don't really need to rate, say, Woodland Stride. It's not an option; you just get it.

    There's no indication that a ranger can still be tracked with scent. In fact, the ability even says, "A ranger traveling through his favored terrain normally leaves no trail and cannot be tracked". What about that implies that he leaves a scent trail?

    What are the criteria for rating the animal companions? Since there are so many extra animals outside of the PHB, some tips on identifying winners (cats) and bummers (dogs) may be helpful. Also, you know what's awesome? The random and arbitrary limits on which animals rangers can take as companions. That's totally awesome. Of course, Bestiary and such don't actually say which non-core animals can be taken by rangers, just to keep things confusing.

    I can't believe you're suggesting that someone skip Precise Shot for the switch-hitting build. It's just too important to skip, especially since half the reason you'd want to be able to fight at both range and melee is so that you can shoot things you'd rather not engage in a fistfight. The penalties for shooting through allies or into melee are so punitive that I can't see any ranged martial character save a Bloodstorm Blade or something not wanting this feat (and probably still even then). Imp Precise is less important; the -4 for cover sucks just as much but can often be negated through positioning, and negating concealment is more of a rogue archer concern than a ranger one.

    Heavy Armor Proficiency is not super for rangers. You're going to be pushing the Maximum Dex Bonus cap for whatever your armor type is, so you're essentially getting +1 AC out of the feat while wrecking your touch AC. Not a good tradeoff even if it didn't cost a feat. I know you're arguing that the switch-hitter should go high str, buuuuut...

    I don't see how the switch hitter is really getting the job done at range. Yeah, you've got shiny damage numbers, but your level 6 ranger is looking at +9-ish to hit without magic, and he can't afford much because he's got to grab equipment for two combat styles.

    Let me illustrate with an example.

    Let's say the party comes up against an ettin (CR 6), straight fight with room to move, no surprise. An ettin is a blender at this level so Team Player Character wants to draw this fight out at range, right? Mickey the switch-hitting ranger opens up with his full attack...except that he can't really afford to combine Deadly Shot and Rapid Shot, because then he's looking at a +5/+5/+1 attack sequence against AC 18. And he can't have his wolf charge in to slow the ettin down, because then he'd need to hit AC 22 (which he can't reliably do even without his optional feats). So having invested his full combat style and a decent chunk of wealth into the bow, he gets to do 10-ish damage to the ettin...before the ettin covers 30 or so yards and is now threatening a party member.

    Now Mick is in real trouble. Even if Mick does have plate armor on top of his gear for two combat styles, the ettin can afford to Power Attack him, so he can't really charge in. A PA'ed AOO plus a PA'ed full attack means Mick takes approximately 40 damage, yowza. But conversely, Mick's ability to shoot an enemy in melee is rather impaired, since he's limited to rolling 13+ to try and hit with his Multishot (assuming nobody is in the way so he doesn't have to move).

    So Mick's not too hot against even a kind of dumb brute. As long as it isn't something you automatically beat by having a bow and a brain (shambling mounds being the big CR 6 example), he's struggling against the whole lineup of CR 6 foes.

    The switch-hitting ranger sounds like a lot of fun but it needs a lot more synergy between the melee and ranged parts to work, as well as some feat tweaking so you're not skipping Precise Shot. Maybe try Weapon Finesse with either Elven Curve Blade or good old 2h rapier to get some dex synergy going? You lose some damage but you get it back in actually being able to hit in both combat styles.

    Okay, back to general nitpicks, spell edition.

    Rangers do not get "early access" to spells. Sometimes they get them at a lower spell level, but the greatly retarded access to ranger spells means that you're almost always getting them behind a real spellcaster. In fact, if the spell has a save, "early access" is bad for the ranger.

    Also, PWT doesn't seem to imply that you can't be located with smell, just that you can't be tracked with smell. Also, you probably can't cover the whole party with this until about level six or seven (bearing in mind that you don't need to tag yourself).

    Mmkay, I'm tired now, but there should be some grist for the mill.


    Re: "The Deciever": I needed to look into this because I've never made a shield basher. I've got to say, I don't think I've missed much.

    Pros:

    1) You will have a better AC. Not much more at low level (+1 AC), but when Enhanced shields come into play, you'll end up better off. The Greatsword Ranger can get an animated shield to narrow the gap, but can't close it.

    2) I do like the Shield Slam ability. Especially when you can knock an opponent prone with it.

    3) You can up your damage somewhat when you can get a double slice effect.

    Cons:

    1) When it comes to weapony, the shield sucks. I mean SUCKS. Not only are you dealing with crappy damage, but you don't even get your enhancement bonus to hit or damage (or bypassing DR I assume). When you face creatures with DR at all, I'm thinking you will do zero damage with your off hand "weapon". Shield master lets you get an enhancement bonus of +1 with your small shield, enough to get past DR/Magic I suppose...but still really...not great.

    2) See #1

    I could see maybe if you were an arcane caster...then you could take Arcane Strike, which would make that off hand shield a bit better, otherwise...meh.

    OK - what am I missing?

    Qadira

    Just a couple of notes: the reason for Heavy Armor Proficiency was so the ranger could get Mithral Fullplate at some point. You need the proficiency in PRPG of the armor even if it is mithral.
    The Animal Companion would probably be positioned in front of the ranger to keep the Ettin from closing with his ranger buddy who, once the Ettin gets close, would switch to his sword and begin slice and dice maneuvers, using his companion as cover to close with the Ettin.
    If you use really bad combat strategies to make a point you aren't really making a point.

    Qadira

    BTW, once again thanks for the Handbook, Treant. Your take on the ranger is pretty cool and it makes me want to try out a Pathfinder ranger where I really didn't have any thoughts towards that.


    A Man In Black wrote:
    You picked on the second bullet point and ignored the others.

    I didn't ignore any of your points, I read them all and considered them. I can do a point by point response if you wish. I didn't see the point, since for the most part I agree, which is why I gave the more general "guilty pleasure" response, which means, "yes I agree with you, your points are solid, but guiltily I feel better when I have it anyways"

    First off, why are we color-coding/rating non-options? The only reason I can think of is multiclassing breakpoints, but that's never made clear. You don't really need to rate, say, Woodland Stride. It's not an option; you just get it.

    No reason other than to give my opinion of each. Feel free to ignore the color coding on non-options.

    There's no indication that a ranger can still be tracked with scent. In fact, the ability even says, "A ranger traveling through his favored terrain normally leaves no trail and cannot be tracked". What about that implies that he leaves a scent trail?

    "Scent: This special quality allows a creature to detect approaching enemies, sniff out hidden foes, and track by sense of smell."

    Yeah, I gues it foils the last of the three. Now that I read it again, Pass Without Trace would only foil the last of the three either.

    Hmmm...just no way to foil scent? Sucks.

    What are the criteria for rating the animal companions? Since there are so many extra animals outside of the PHB, some tips on identifying winners (cats) and bummers (dogs) may be helpful.

    The Main book says, "A ranger who selects an animal companion can choose from the following list: badger, bird, camel, cat (small), dire rat, dog, horse, pony, snake (viper or constrictor), or wolf. If the campaign takes place wholly or partly in an aquatic environment, the ranger may choose a shark instead."

    Does the Bestairy make some exception to this? I don't own the bestiary, but are we certain the Bestairy animal companion options aren't Druid only?

    Quote:
    I can't believe you're suggesting that someone skip Precise Shot for the switch-hitting build. It's just too important to skip, especially since half the reason you'd want to be able to fight at both range and melee is so that you can shoot things you'd rather not engage in a fistfight.

    If avoiding melee when it's tough is your thing, then you want the Archery Ranger, not the Switch Hitter. The Switch Hitter is a meleer who can use a bow when at range, but is not made to use the bow instead of entering melee.

    Heavy Armor Proficiency is not super for rangers. You're going to be pushing the Maximum Dex Bonus cap for whatever your armor type is, so you're essentially getting +1 AC out of the feat while wrecking your touch AC. Not a good tradeoff even if it didn't cost a feat. I know you're arguing that the switch-hitter should go high str, buuuuut...

    The switch hitter + Mithril Full Plate is a good mix. You shouldn't be wasting any Dex bonus.

    Quote:
    I don't see how the switch hitter is really getting the job done at range. Yeah, you've got shiny damage numbers, but your level 6 ranger is looking at +9-ish to hit without magic, and he can't afford much because he's got to grab equipment for two combat styles.

    The bow is secondary, but won't fall too far behind a dedicated archery build:

    Dex: looking at 2-3 difference at most
    Point Blank Shot: 1 difference at close range only
    Bow enhancement: Probably 1 behind

    That should be about it. Yes, you won't hit as often as a dedicated archer, though most of the time, you are probably looking at 3 or 4 higher d20 target number.

    Your example...is the party level 6?

    P.S.: Early Entry: when I use the term "early entry" I just mean you get the spell as a lower level spell, not necessarily that you get it at an earlier class level. From the latter description, Rangers never have early entry.


    Treantmonk wrote:

    Cons:

    1) When it comes to weapony, the shield sucks. I mean SUCKS. Not only are you dealing with crappy damage, but you don't even get your enhancement bonus to hit or damage (or bypassing DR I assume). When you face creatures with DR at all, I'm thinking you will do zero damage with your off hand "weapon". Shield master lets you get an enhancement bonus of +1 with your small shield, enough to get past DR/Magic I suppose...but still really...not great.

    2) See #1

    I could see maybe if you were an arcane caster...then you could take Arcane Strike, which would make that off hand shield a bit better, otherwise...meh.

    OK - what am I missing?

    The 'Bashing' enhancement played to a spiked shield should reduce the damage gap and and magic to the attack. A +1 bashing spiked light wooden shield is 4163 GPs (4173 in cold iron and 5163 in mithral), it deals 1d6, same as shortsword and should be accessible by 5 or 6 level depending in your luck and the DM.

    Once you get to lvl. 11 you could start stacking abilities in the spikes with te enhancement in the shield, later 'defeniding' could be added to the spikes for an extra untyped AC without an attack penalty, since you are using the enhancement of the shield.

    And finally, the usefulness of any build depends greatly of the rest of the party, this guy would do geat if paired with a barbarian with cleave and a reach weapon or bard, particulary an archer bard.

    It, will always be behind in damage to damage focused melee, not for an awful much. Its main assets aren't in its individual raw power but rather in its sinergy with the rest of the party.

    Humbly,
    Yawar

    PSD: the Bestiary is in Pathfinder RPG Reference Document free to view.

    Andoran

    Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

    Re: Manyshot

    It doesn't work on standard attacks anymore. Its utility has almost entirely been replaced by Deadly Aim/Vital Strike.


    Shisumo wrote:

    Re: Manyshot

    It doesn't work on standard attacks anymore. Its utility has almost entirely been replaced by Deadly Aim/Vital Strike.

    I'm not sure I would relate Manyshot and Deadly Aim.

    Deadly Aim has no 3.5 equivalent, and if it had existed in 3.5, there would have been a lot more dedicated archers!

    I would compare Manyshot more to Rapid Shot. Manyshot is giving you an extra arrow on the full attack like Rapid Shot with the following differences:

    Pros) There is no minus to hit when you use manyshot

    Cons) You can't crit the extra arrow.

    Of course, Rapid shot and Manyshot stack now, so fortunately you don't need to choose which to use, just use both.

    Basically, when using archery, you really need to try to full attack, because the difference between full attack and standard attack is pretty big. However, when full attacking the Manyshot feat just makes you better.


    Hi Treant,

    Related to Heavy Armor Proficiency (re: Mithril Full Plate):
    You're already considering Rogue multi-classing with the Ranger, but the benefits of 3 levels of Fighter seem worth mentioning. Besides the bonus Feats and free Heavy Armor Proficiency, Armor Training +1 *negates Movement penalties in Medium Armor*, which crucially means you can TUMBLE while in "Medium" Armor. Unless you've given up and decided to not max Acrobatics, Tumbling to avoid AoO's is great (certainly if you have a high DEX to help it), and Armor Training means you can do it in Mithril Full Plate (or Adamantine Breastplate) instead of Mithril Breastplaste. A good Acrobatics skill modifier also lets you replicate the (situational) utility of Improved Over-Run, saving one more Feat. This goes for just about every Melee Combat class, of course. Even if 3 levels is too much of a dip, I think 1 Fighter level is a better way to grab Heavy Armor Proficiency than buying the Feat (though you won't be Tumbling).

    re: Skills/Class Skills
    Did you consider non-Ranger Class Skills? PRPG's new approach means that "non-Class Skills" are only -3 off, and even that is easily solved thru "Class Skill-granting" Traits or a 1-level dip in an appropriate Class.

    Re: 2WF
    I'd be interested to see a "DWF" (Double Weapon Fighter) compared: either (Racial) Orc Double-Axe or 2-Bladed Sword would be obvious standards for comparison (dmg/crit-wise). The 2-Handed STR Bonus multiplication make it seem likely to out-damage "Mr. Greatsword" - it's just left a matter of whether you want to dedicate the Feats to it: "Mr. Greatsword" will likely have a Vital Strike Feat or 2 in compensation (and/or better "combat utility"), and non-Full Attacks are a pretty significant part of the game, especially for Melee. For that and other reasons, I wouldn't recommend Greater 2WF.

    The issue with double weapon enchantment cost is completely valid, of course: the mitigation strategies I see factor in applying different properties on each end, i.e. effective vs. some enemies only. "Mr. Greatsword" would either have to get secondary Greatswords for the same effect (and cost) or stack the properties even higher, which will probably be MORE expensive (or roughly equal, with net +1). ...DWF may not be enough to truly be one of your 'recommended builds', but it may be worth mentioning the approaches that make it more viable, as well as things to avoid.


    Quandary wrote:

    Hi Treant,

    Related to Heavy Armor Proficiency (re: Mithril Full Plate):

    The 3 level dip does seem to be the way to go if you want to multiclass in that direction, however, a few things to consider:

    1) Your animal companion will now be 6 levels behind a Druid...so pretty much useless.

    2) Your spellcasting will be 3 levels behind, and your CL will be 6 levels behind.

    3) You also delay progression on all your other goodies, Favored Enemy progression, favored terrain progression, gaining abilities like evasion...etc.

    I would be interested in seeing how a Ranger/Fighter build like this would look against a Fighter/Rogue build that used a similar theme...

    Quote:

    re: Skills/Class Skills

    Did you consider non-Ranger Class Skills? PRPG's new approach means that "non-Class Skills" are only -3 off, and even that is easily solved thru "Class Skill-granting" Traits or a 1-level dip in an appropriate Class.

    I did, though the skills I felt a Ranger really needed were all on the class skill list. What would you suggest?

    Quandary wrote:

    Re: 2WF

    I'd be interested to see a "DWF" (Double Weapon Fighter) compared: either (Racial) Orc Double-Axe or 2-Bladed Sword would be obvious standards for comparison (dmg/crit-wise). The 2-Handed STR Bonus multiplication make it seem likely to out-damage "Mr. Greatsword"

    I would not claim to be ANY kind of expert when it comes to double weaponry...that said, I thought that they used the same mechanic for STR bonus that weilding 2 weapons did (1x STR mod for primary, 1/2 for secondary).

    If you get more than that, that would make a huge difference, but I don't see anywhere where it says that. I see, "A character can fight with both ends of a double weapon as if fighting with two weapons, but he incurs all the normal attack penalties associated with two-weapon combat, just as though the character were wielding a one-handed weapon and a light weapon."

    Am I missing something?

    RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

    Fake Healer wrote:
    Just a couple of notes: the reason for Heavy Armor Proficiency was so the ranger could get Mithral Fullplate at some point. You need the proficiency in PRPG of the armor even if it is mithral.

    Obviously. But it's only one AC better than a mithral breastplate, if you're filling the max dex bonus of the breastplate.

    Quote:

    The Animal Companion would probably be positioned in front of the ranger to keep the Ettin from closing with his ranger buddy who, once the Ettin gets close, would switch to his sword and begin slice and dice maneuvers, using his companion as cover to close with the Ettin.

    If you use really bad combat strategies to make a point you aren't really making a point.

    What bad strategy? That's basically what I assumed he'd do; I was pointing out that he can't use the wolf to keep the ettin at range because he can't really hit someone in melee, so he's forced to close to melee. Sometimes, melee is a lousy place to be, and an ettin is a good example of that.

    Treantmonk wrote:
    Does the Bestairy make some exception to this? I don't own the bestiary, but are we certain the Bestairy animal companion options aren't Druid only?

    I know you don't own Bestiary, but it's also in the PRD, for example here. The problem is that Bestiary and PRD both don't say who can take these animals, near as I can tell.

    Quote:
    If avoiding melee when it's tough is your thing, then you want the Archery Ranger, not the Switch Hitter. The Switch Hitter is a meleer who can use a bow when at range, but is not made to use the bow instead of entering melee.
    Quote:

    The bow is secondary, but won't fall too far behind a dedicated archery build:

    Dex: looking at 2-3 difference at most
    Point Blank Shot: 1 difference at close range only
    Bow enhancement: Probably 1 behind

    I get that, but you're not dealing with the problems he has at range, you're just giving him more damage at range. The switch hitter needs to either come up with more dex (by adopting a dex-friendly melee strategy) or dump damage feats for accuracy feats. Precise Shot is the most glaring, since it's the most powerful accuracy feat in PF core. If you're not giving him decent dex and you're not giving him accuracy feats, he can't even hit level-appropriate AC unless it's a clear shot with no extra damage tricks.

    He's looking to be +3 or +4 behind a real archer. That's the difference between using Rapid Shot and Deadly Shot on level-appropriate foes, or just plinking.

    So I'm saying that your choice of archery feats don't reflect this playstyle. He's got damage-boosting feats he can't use, while skipping accuracy feats he's suffering without.

    TM, if right after the release of 3e or 3.5, I had proposed a fighter 20 who spends his bonus feats on melee feats and his normal feats on ranged feats (while skipping Precise Shot), you'd have laughed me right out of the room. Your switch-hitter ranger is that fighter, only with 6+int skill points and favored enemies.

    It's not an unsalvageable concept, you just need to find some synergy between the two. A dex-friendly melee routine and/or Vital Strike come to mind as two possibilities.


    TM wrote:


    I would not claim to be ANY kind of expert when it comes to double weaponry...that said, I thought that they used the same mechanic for STR bonus that weilding 2 weapons did (1x STR mod for primary, 1/2 for secondary).

    If you get more than that, that would make a huge difference, but I don't see anywhere where it says that. I see, "A character can fight with both ends of a double weapon as if fighting with two weapons, but he incurs all the normal attack penalties associated with two-weapon combat, just as though the character were wielding a one-handed weapon and a light weapon."

    Am I missing something?

    I believe the point being made is that you can use a double weapon as a 2-handed weapon if you don't use it like a one-handed/light pair (I'd quote the rules but I don't have them handy). So a strength-based TWF ranger could get his 1.5x STR bonus and +3 power-attacks on his standard attacks if he was using a double weapon, and have the option of acting like a normal 2-handed fighter for when accuracy counts or he could just 'flip out' when he has the chance to make a full attack routine.

    Qadira

    In the Switch-hitter guide it states that Dex is not important to the build. That said Mithral full plate has Max Dex of +3 which isn't bad considering that the primary ability of the build was strength and that dex was only a consideration afterward. If you wanted to invest more into Dex than Str then you would be the Archer build, not the switch-hitter build.
    The switch hitter is different than the archer and you don't seem to be seeing the differences.


    Treantmonk wrote:

    1) Your animal companion will now be 6 levels behind a Druid...so pretty much useless.

    2) Your spellcasting will be 3 levels behind, and your CL will be 6 levels behind.

    Sure, I just just saw it as an option for a more (melee) combat-focused Ranger who wasn't necessarily as interested in those aspects. If the AC is "useless" :-), the Party Bonus option may look better relatively. It just seems worth mentioning since Tumbling in "Medium" Armor is not happening unless you do this. You're currently not recommending Acrobatics at all - with Armor Training it seems a viable option at the least, especially for Rangers investing in Feats only usable in Melee Range (but good for Archers re-establishing Range as well).

    Quote:

    re: Skills/Class Skills

    ...I felt a Ranger really needed were all on the class skill list. What would you suggest?

    The thought came to me when you mentioned Rangers' lack of ways to deal with Humanoid NPCs (i.e. Social Skills), especially because the Favored Enemy Bonuses in fact apply to Bluff, Sense Motive, and the relevant Knowledge Skills (Local/Humanoid, Religion/Undead, Dungeon/Aberration, Planes/Outsider, etc) useful for knowing weaknesses/abilities, so investing in them enough to at least be relevant WITH the Favored Enemy Bonus seems reasonable to make the most of Favored Enemy (as well as being flavor-consistent). This may well be a good option for a party without, say, a Wizard with all of those Skills maxed, but WITH a Ranger with plenty of Skill Ranks.

    Quote:

    Double Weapons:

    Am I missing something?

    This is what the damage section says (that's relevant):

    "Off-Hand Weapon: When you deal damage with a weapon in your off hand, you add only 1/2 your Strength bonus. If you have a Strength penalty, the entire penalty applies.
    Wielding a Weapon Two-Handed: When you deal damage with a weapon that you are wielding two-handed, you add 1-1/2 times your Strength bonus (Strength penalties are not multiplied). You don't get this higher Strength bonus, however, when using a light weapon with two hands."

    The way 2-Handed bonus is worded just requires you to be "wielding the weapon in 2 hands", which is required to use a Double Weapon. The wording for off-hand damage "ONLY 1/2 your STR bonus" COULD be read as "exclusive" i.e. not 'stacking' with wielding 2-Handed, but THERE IS NO 2WF PENALTY for main-hand damage, so there IS no 2WF penalty to supersede the 2-Handed-wielding STR multiplier for the main-hand.

    In the 2WF section itself:
    "Double Weapons: You can use a double weapon to make an extra attack with the off-hand end of the weapon as if you were fighting with two weapons. The penalties apply as if the off-hand end of the weapon was a light weapon."
    Nothing there negates the fact you're wielding the weapon 2-Handed. It only says you can do this special thing (make extra attack) "as if" (using rules for) 2WF and the penalties (2WF attack penalties, Off-hand damage penalty) are calculated "as if" the off-hand was a Light Weapon: It doesn't even MENTION the main-hand, and as the off-hand end isn't REALLY a Light Weapon, there's no inherent restriction for applying the 2-Handed STR multiplier. (w/ offhand-> 3/4)

    Standard Attacks, AoO's, etc, of course aren't affected at all by 2WF penalties.
    So it seems that it just MAY be worth a Feat for Exotic Proficiency, or an actual Racial benefit (though Double Sword's Crit Range makes it the best Core Dbl Weapon, IMHO)

    re: Bestiary Companions
    From looking at the PRD, I see absolutely nothing restricting any of the new Companions to Druids only. Rangers (and Paladins) simply COUNT AS A DRUID (of lesser levels) for purpose of the Animal Companion Class Feature. The Ranger 'list of Companions' in Core is in fact mirrored by the Animal Companion description in the Druid Class itself: "A druid may begin play with any of the animals listed in Animal Choices.", so if Rangers are restricted to that list, so are Druids.

    I believe the Core rules for Companions is worded that way to facilitate DM fiat in barring Bestiary/other Companions (and it was probably written before the Bestiary), but I expect all those choices WILL be available in most games, including PFS Organized Play. In any case, there is no real dichotomy between Druid/Ranger Animal Companions, other than the -3 Effective Level. If it was intented, the final line "This ability functions like the druid animal companion ability... except that the ranger's effective druid level is equal to his ranger level – 3" would certainly have mentioned that the Ranger is additionally restricted in Companion choice in ways Druids are not. I've PRETTY SURE I've seen James or Jason comment in threads positing dinosaur or tiger or rhinio Paladin mounts and the like without mentioning it's disallowed.


    A Man In Black wrote:
    I know you don't own Bestiary, but it's also in the PRD, for example here. The problem is that Bestiary and PRD both don't say who can take these animals, near as I can tell.

    You're right, it doesn't say, so the Ranger is screwed because of the wording in the main book which suggests that his list is limited to those animals listed, while the Druids animal companion ability wording does not use the same limitation wording.

    Quote:

    you're not dealing with the problems he has at range, you're just giving him more damage at range.

    That is exactly the problem most ranged combatants have. To Hit is often overrated because the ability to hit tends to increase at a higher rate than AC in the long run. However, damaged caused does not increase at the same rate as DR and HP, unless you concentrate on it.

    Quote:
    If you're not giving him decent dex and you're not giving him accuracy feats, he can't even hit level-appropriate AC unless it's a clear shot with no extra damage tricks.

    I would agree if you replaced the bolded "with" with "or". Your statement as written needs some backup. Explain to me how a character with precise shot is hitting and the character without "can't" hit when the shot is clear.

    Quote:
    TM, if right after the release of 3e or 3.5, I had proposed a fighter 20 who spends his bonus feats on melee feats and his normal feats on ranged feats (while skipping Precise Shot), you'd have laughed me right out of the room.

    Yes I would have, but clearly not for the reasons you think.

    If you had proposed a 20th level Fighter who was Dex based and spent all his feats on archery you still would have been laughed out of the room.

    You could post it there today, and using my prescience I can see what would be picked on...

    "How are you solving the damage problem?"

    This is pretty much the best known obsticle of any archery build.

    In 3.0 the fix was the "Peerless Archer" who could use Power Attack with a bow. This is a -1 to hit for +1 damage, yet it was considered well worth it.

    Much harder in 3.5, but the most common way to overcome the obsticle was the Energy Bow - which allowed power attack with archery - same deal as the Peerless archer.

    Allow me to quote the Archery Handbook - direct from the 3.5 optimization boards:

    Quote:

    The largest challenge an archer tends to face is damage. Since archers generally key their damage off a different attribute than their To Hit, they can't solely focus on one or the other, and since Power Attack hasn't been printed within 3.5 rules for ranged weapons (see Energy Bow though, if allowed in your campaign), archers tend to have a lot of difficulty dealing damage comparable to effective melee combatants.

    Since archery generally doesn't lend itself very well to controlling the battlefield, most archers should focus on dealing enough damage to warrant their position in the party (of course, depending on the class, the archer will fill secondary functions like the Divine Caster, the Skill Monkey, the Arcane Caster or such, but generally if you want to do archery, you should do it well enough to actually make shooting arrows worth your time), making the difficulty in dealing damage an important hurdle to overcome. The specific means for pumping up damage will be covered separately in each section, and this is indeed the main point that requires optimization when it comes to archery."

    That's the only general advice the guide gives for setting your entire archery build. It's listed before Race choice, class choice, equipment choice, feat choice. It's the one consideration that needs to direct all your decisions, because if you forget it ever, your archery build will be laughed off the boards.

    Using a dex based melee strategy introduces the same problem in melee that Deadly Aim overcomes at range.

    So basically, I'm unconvinced that "To Hit" is as important a concern as damage at range.

    I'm unconvinced that adopting a Dex based strategy for melee keeps you as an effective melee combatant.

    I'm unconvinced in your Ettin example that after pegging the Ettin at range - the Switch Hitter should have any problem at all entering in melee with the Ettin alongside the fighter, rogue and other melee characters, and definitely unconvinced he won't be effective when doing this.

    Consider your Ettin, you didn't answer my question, so I'm assuming the Ranger is 6th level and has no magic weapons or armor or stat boosters (unlucky Ranger...maybe give him a cure light wounds wand).

    Round 1: Ranger fires with Multishot, Deadly Aim and Rapid Shot. He's got a Dex of 14 (assuming no Dex boosts), a Masterwork bow, and that's it. His "To Hit" is +5(x2)/+5/+1. The Ettin has an AC of 18 at this point, so we expect 1 or 2 hits (2 rolls at 13 to hit, probably one will connect, if the first one does, 2 arrows hit - the +1 roll will probably miss). Damage is 1d8+8 (4 str, 4 deadly aim). Expect damage between 12 and 25. This is a drop of the Ettin's total HP of 65 by 20 or 30% approx.

    Then enter melee, use Power attack and a masterwork Greatsword. Total to hit, +9/+4 (+11/+6 if you can get flanking position), this time expect one hit for damage around the 19 range.

    You've likely dropped his HP by at least 30 singlehandedly, assuming your allies are contributing the ettin is getting one round with which to hit you.

    With a Breastplate (normal) and a 14 Dex, you've got an AC of 18. If the Ettin concentrates entirely on you, he's likely hitting you with 2 of 4 attacks.

    Total damage, 26. Your 6th level Ranger is going to survive. Pull out the Cure Light Wounds wand and blow 3 or 4 charges.

    Heck, you could probably beat him single handed.

    Of course, as levels increase, "To Hit" becomes less and less of an issue as AC simply won't increase at the same rate as "To Hit"


    ZebulonXenos wrote:

    I believe the point being made is that you can use a double weapon as a 2-handed weapon if you don't use it like a one-handed/light pair (I'd quote the rules but I don't have them handy). So a strength-based TWF ranger could get his 1.5x STR bonus and +3 power-attacks on his standard attacks if he was using a double weapon, and have the option of acting like a normal 2-handed fighter for when accuracy counts or he could just 'flip out' when he has the chance to make a full attack routine.

    I'm certain that is NOT what is being suggested, I think it's being suggested that using a double weapon as two weapons does not operate as using two weapons when it comes to adding STR bonus to damage, but instead operates as a two handed weapon/off hand weapon.

    That's the interpretation I'm skeptical of. Your interpretation I would have no problem with, though I would be skeptical how valuable that versatility would be...

    Quandary wrote:
    From looking at the PRD, I see absolutely nothing restricting any of the new Companions to Druids only. Rangers (and Paladins) simply COUNT AS A DRUID (of lesser levels) for purpose of the Animal Companion Class Feature.

    You just lost me on this one, since it's quite clear in the Animal Companion portion of the Ranger description in the Main book that Rangers most certainly DO NOT simply count as a Druid in regards to AC selection. They have a more limited list, and that is worded to be a set restricted list.

    As for the Fighter/Ranger thing - I was just pointing out considerations to be made. Make up a build, take a look at the numbers, if it looks good, post it, I would love to see it.

    I mention the Rogue/Fighter as something you might want to compare it to, since both builds will have a pretty good skill set, so I would be interested in how they compare offensively.

    If the Ranger/Fighter seems to compare well, then I would be very interested in looking into it more.

    Basically, I'm asking you to do the work for me ;)

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