Ranger Class Preview

Monday, July 2, 2018

Rangers have a long tradition in heroic adventure. Whether they're portrayed as lone striders keeping the edges of the wilderness free of the threats that lurch forth from the world's shadows, as hunters tracking down fugitives or beasts, or as skilled archers serving as a scouting force for a local lord or group of village elders, rangers have a special place in our fantastical imagination.

For the Pathfinder Playtest, we decided to cleave closer to the core principles of the ranger—a rough and tumble warrior in the wild, possibly of the wild himself. Because of this, the most significant change we made to the class was that it no longer has spellcasting ability, at least as a default. Of course, this doesn't mean we have to abandon this aspect of the Pathfinder First Edition ranger forever. Because of the way classes are now structured, it would be easy to create a spellcasting build of the ranger later using Spell Points (like the paladin), but for the Playtest, we are trying out a a spell-less ranger.

But enough of what the ranger doesn't have. Let's take a look at what he does.

Ranger Features

First and foremost, the ranger is a hunter. In Pathfinder First Edition, you picked creature types or subtypes that you were skilled at hunting. There are few things more frustrating than playing a ranger who rarely—or worst of all, never—encounters their favored enemies. It also led to some players who tended to play in more human-centric campaigns picking the human subtype, even if their backgrounds may have pointed to better choices for favored enemies.

This time we made the ranger hunting ability a bit more flexible, based on some popular ideas from the guide archetype and the slayer's studied target. At 1st level, rangers gain the Hunt Target feature.

[[A]] Hunt Target

Ranger

Requirements You can see or hear the target.

You designate a single creature within 100 feet as your target and focus your attacks against that creature. While hunting that creature, you gain benefits for focusing your attacks. As long as all your attacks in a round are against the target you're hunting, the multiple attack penalty you take on the second attack is -4 (-3 with an agile weapon) instead of -5, and -8 (-6 with an agile weapon) instead of -10 on the third and any further attacks in the round. You also ignore the penalty for making ranged attacks against the target you're hunting within your second range increment. You also gain a +2 circumstance bonus to Perception checks when you Seek your target and a +2 circumstance bonus to Survival checks when you Track your target.

You can have only one creature designated as the target of your hunt at a time. If you use Hunt Target against a creature when you already have a creature designated, the prior creature loses the designation and the new target gains the designation. In any case, this designation lasts until your next daily preparation.

Illustration by Wayne Reynolds

There are many class feats and some higher-level abilities that augment the ranger's Hunt Target. For example, at 17th level, the masterful hunter feature decreases the ranger's multiple attack penalty to -3 (or -2 with agile weapon) with his second attack and -6 (or -4 with agile weapons) on his third or further attack, and he can ignore the penalty against the target of his hunt in the second or third range increment, assuming that he has at least master proficiency in the weapon he is. Speaking of which, like the fighter, the ranger gains weapon mastery for a group of weapons, though he gains it at 13th level instead of at 3rd level like the fighter. At 19th level, the ranger gains the swift target feature, which allows him to use Hunt Target as a free action triggered before he makes his first Strike each round, so he's never without a target to hunt! The specifics of the Hunt Target ability make the ranger excel at a variety of combat styles, especially his traditional two-weapon fighting (since you can decrease the multiple attack penalty with agile attacks to be incredibly small) and archery (since you eliminate some of the most common ranged increment penalties). Of course, a ranger with a less traditional style, like a greatsword with a reduced multiple attack penalty, works great too!

Other class features allow the ranger to stalk and avoid his foes. At 5th level, he gains trackless step. At 7th level, he gains evasion (followed by improved evasion at 15th level). He gains nature's edge at 9th level, which allows him to treat enemies in natural difficult terrain or in difficult terrain resulting from a snare (more on snares later!) as flat-footed. Come 11th level, he gains the wild stride feature, which allows him to ignore or minimize the effects of difficult terrain.

Ranger Feats

Class feats, of course, determine the flavor of individuals within a class, and the ranger is no different. Specific ranger feats allow him to gain an animal companion at the same progression as a druid's, though potentially with special benefits that only a ranger can obtain. Other feats will enable him to further focus on his weapon choice, including a whole string of feats that allow him to specialize in two-weapon fighting.

Some fun feats allow the ranger to use his knowledge and senses to aid his allies as well as himself. Here are a couple of my favorites.

Monster Hunter Feat 1

Ranger

When you critically succeed to identify a target you're hunting with Recall Knowledge, you (and your allies, if you tell them) gain a +1 circumstance bonus to your next attack roll against it, but not against other creatures of that species. The creature is bolstered.

[[F]] Scout's Warning Feat 4

Ranger

Trigger You are about to roll Perception for initiative.

You audibly or visually warn your allies of danger, granting them a +1 circumstance bonus to their initiative rolls.

Harkening back to the hunter's bond class feature in Pathfinder First Edition, these feats allow the ranger to support the rest of the group with increased flexibility in how he chooses to do so, and these are just a few. The ranger can expand on Monster Hunter to grant even more benefits with a successful Recall Knowledge and even share the benefits of Hunt Target with other PCs (pretty much any martial class will love this benefit). And while flanking-savvy fighters might be a rogue's traditional best friend, the 12th-level Distracting Shot feat allows the ranger who hits a target with two ranged attacks in the same turn to leave that critter flat-footed until the start of the ranger's next turn. This helps fast rogues bring the pain quickly and farther away from more heavily armored support.

Another group of feats allows you to create snares. (Told you I'd get to that!)

Snares

Like alchemy, the ability to create snares is granted by a general feat (Snare Crafting). And like alchemists, rangers have the potential to lift general snare crafting to greater heights.

What are snares? Well, they're small portable hazards, very similar to traps, which can be set up in a short period of time (usually 1 minute). While it's unlikely that you will set up a snare in the midst of combat, they are perfect tools to arrange a battleground to your advantage. For instance, remember the nature's edge class feature that allows you to treat enemies in difficult terrain as flat-footed? Here's the most basic snare that creates difficult terrain.

Slowing Snare Snare 1

Consumable, Mechanical, Snare, Trap

Price 2 gp

A square with this snare becomes difficult terrain when the first creature enters it, and then it is destroyed.

Other snares set off alarms, trip, or deal damage to those entering the area of a snare. Grab some alchemical items, and you can deal even more damage with a snare.

Freezing Snare Snare 8

Cold, Consumable, Mechanical, Snare, Trap

Price 50 gp

You set a trio of liquid ice bombs to explode in unison when a creature enters the freezing snare's square. The target must attempt a DC 22 Reflexsave.

Success The target takes 1d8 cold damage.

Critical Success The target is unaffected.

Failure The target takes 3d8 cold damage and is hampered 10 until the end of its next turn.

Critical Failure The target takes 6d8 cold damage and is hampered 10 until the end of its next turn.

Craft Requirements three vials of liquid ice

Ranger feats that deal with snares allow you to learn more of them as your Crafting rank increases, lets you set them up faster (even in the middle of combat), and increases snares' DCs to match your class DC. Always make sure that your allies know where you hid your snares, or no bonus to attack rolls or initiative that you grant them will make up for the damage and humiliation you might cause.

Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Senior Designer

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Well, we might get something along those lines. They were writing PF2 when they were also writing the Wilderness Exploration rules in Ultimate Wilderness, and those touch on some of what you mean. Bending them a little could pretty easily set up a skill challenge to track a monster through the woods, if that makes sense for the game.

Rangers might wind up the best at that task (certainly an updated Favored Terrain would lend itself well here), but they won't be the only ones able to complete it. With 4-6 players, it's reasonable to assum someone has maxed their Survival. It is less reasonable to assume every group of 4-6 players has a ranger on the team. There's almost as many classes as skills now, and we get a lot more skills.


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N N 959 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, the reason "tracking" has been downplayed in basically every edition is that tracking is not especially interesting- it's a binary pass/fail state in which failure does not result in anything interesting, and involves at most the GM and one player.

That's right. You're 100% right. Tracking has been reduced to simply the ability to follow a creature and Paizo even errat'ed the Track ability to convey less information than originally intended.

So Paizo needs to fix this. A Ranger's use of Survival should convey a lot more information than simply following something's tracks. Why not allow a Ranger to determine extraordinary things, like if it's wounded, tired, armored, how far is it, etc. Mandate that tracks can be found in likely areas, you know, like the cave entrance of where the ogre is living. Allow it to trigger other benefits.

But I 100% agree with you, Tracking has become pointless because it's been reduced to some binary outcome that a GM can't afford to hinge the entire adventure on. So fix it, don't eliminate it.

Part of this is just in shallow adventure design. They could easily arrange for the adventure to continue no matter what by saying, for instance:

* A character trained in Survival automatically finds the tracks they need to follow if they actually take the time to look.
* A character expert in Survival automatically finds the tracks just by being near them, but can then make a check to determine information giving them an advantage, like the stuff you mentioned.
* A party that doesn't find the tracks will find other information allowing them to continue (information removed if they do find the tracks), but then they will be ambushed by their quarry whereas the party that found the tracks can meet the enemy on equal terms or even ambush the enemy.

They just don't put the effort in.


Fuzzypaws wrote:


They just don't put the effort in.

I think they would if it were something dynamic for the players. But it's not. You follow the tracks and so what? You don't follow the tracks and you have to do something else.

Tracking needs to convey benefits for the Ranger. There is a universe of things (well, maybe a gas giant) that Paizo could bestow for successful tracking. But the first thing that has to happen is the Track ability for the class feature has to indicate that it does more than follow tracks. It has to specifically convey these benefits and it has to allow the use of Survival to find tracks in a lot more circumstances.

AnimatedPaper wrote:
With 4-6 players, it's reasonable to assum someone has maxed their Survival.

I'm not talking about Survival. I'm talking about Track as a class feature. Sure, anyone can use Survival to follow tracks. But only Rangers can use Track and roll a Knowledge Check on the tracks. Only Track can allow you to determine how close and the quarry is or how long ago they passed, how fast they were moving, were they carrying anything, what they ate for breakfast, etc.


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N N 959 wrote:
But I 100% agree with you, Tracking has become pointless because it's been reduced to some binary outcome that a GM can't afford to hinge the entire adventure on. So fix it, don't eliminate it.

I don't agree. If you make a mini-game out of tracking, you leave everyone else out of the loop. It's like being a decker in shadowrun: you get to have a nifty adventure online while everyone else has tea and cookies. That's isn't a recipe for fun.

Fuzzypaws wrote:
Part of this is just in shallow adventure design.

I disagree. You can't write an adventure around that hinges around tracking if you can't insure the party has tracker. That means enforcing a ranger in the group or the quest is doomed to failure.


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N N 959 wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
With 4-6 players, it's reasonable to assum someone has maxed their Survival.

I'm not talking about Survival. I'm talking about Track as a class feature. Sure, anyone can use Survival to follow tracks. But only Rangers can use Track and roll a Knowledge Check on the tracks. Only Track can allow you to determine how close and the quarry is or how long ago they passed, how fast they were moving, were they carrying anything, what they ate for breakfast, etc.

I was also talking about tracking. But I was talking about as something more than one class can do (or, really, a player of any class that has the skill ups to spare), even if Rangers can do it better than anyone else.

I know you really want classes to have distinct niches that no one else can touch, as a way of rewarding the players of those classes, but honestly we have 12 classes in the CRB and will likely have north of 20 within a few years. Designing aspects of the game that only one class can participate in is how we get spells like knock.


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I feel nonetheless one important part of adventure design is considering "what do we do if absolutely no one in the party is able to do the specific thing" since that generally shouldn't result in a failure state for the story or for the game to stall/lose dramatic tension.

But while a "sneaky solution" might be replaced by a "diplomatic solution" or even a "violent solution" depending on the party makeup, it's hard to really figure out what slots into the "track them with your wilderness skills" slot in case no one in the group is able to do that.


Sadly, the only sensible option is probably to drop the Ranger altogether - it just isn't distinct enough to justify being a Class.


N N 959 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, the reason "tracking" has been downplayed in basically every edition is that tracking is not especially interesting- it's a binary pass/fail state in which failure does not result in anything interesting, and involves at most the GM and one player.

That's right. You're 100% right. Tracking has been reduced to simply the ability to follow a creature and Paizo even errat'ed the Track ability to convey less information than originally intended.

So Paizo needs to fix this. A Ranger's use of Survival should convey a lot more information than simply following something's tracks. Why not allow a Ranger to determine extraordinary things, like if it's wounded, tired, armored, how far is it, etc. Mandate that tracks can be found in likely areas, you know, like the cave entrance of where the ogre is living. Allow it to trigger other benefits.

But I 100% agree with you, Tracking has become pointless because it's been reduced to some binary outcome that a GM can't afford to hinge the entire adventure on. So fix it, don't eliminate it.

You really aught to be able to predict likely routes and destinations your quarry would take allowing you to cut them off rather than trail them. You may even be able to use those traps if you were able to do something like that.


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graystone wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Part of this is just in shallow adventure design.
I disagree. You can't write an adventure around that hinges around tracking if you can't insure the party has tracker. That means enforcing a ranger in the group or the quest is doomed to failure.

I think you missed the entire rest of my post. TLDR version, you set things up so the adventure can still continue if the party doesn't have a tracker - but having a tracker gives a bonus. Much the same way you don't set up an adventure to fail out and end the campaign if the party is bad at diplomacy, you instead set it up so the party benefits from rocking that social stuff and gets bonuses over the party that doesn't.


graystone wrote:
N N 959 wrote:
But I 100% agree with you, Tracking has become pointless because it's been reduced to some binary outcome that a GM can't afford to hinge the entire adventure on. So fix it, don't eliminate it.
I don't agree. If you make a mini-game out of tracking, you leave everyone else out of the loop. It's like being a decker in shadowrun: you get to have a nifty adventure online while everyone else has tea and cookies. That's isn't a recipe for fun.

Yeah, you're criticism is way off. Fixing Tracking isn't about requiring the PCs to follow tracks, it's about allowing the Track feature to provide information from tracks or convey benefits.


Fuzzypaws wrote:
graystone wrote:
Fuzzypaws wrote:
Part of this is just in shallow adventure design.
I disagree. You can't write an adventure around that hinges around tracking if you can't insure the party has tracker. That means enforcing a ranger in the group or the quest is doomed to failure.
I think you missed the entire rest of my post. TLDR version, you set things up so the adventure can still continue if the party doesn't have a tracker - but having a tracker gives a bonus. Much the same way you don't set up an adventure to fail out and end the campaign if the party is bad at diplomacy, you instead set it up so the party benefits from rocking that social stuff and gets bonuses over the party that doesn't.

Part of what I was replying to was the post you replied to: "Tracking has become pointless because it's been reduced to some binary outcome that a GM can't afford to hinge the entire adventure on." Taking that into account, varying degrees of success doesn't matter if you require tracking and no one has it. [as was N N 959 point was on 'hinging of plots']

I agree with you on having it be a viable alternative is a possibility but that's neither good of bad design, IMO, at least on the ground level. Maybe if you are looking at the entire system as a whole, but nothing is inherently bad about not including anything about tracking in a particular AP or having it be binary. as you say, you can allow for multiple ways to get to the same conclusion.

So I was disagreeing with the premise [can't make adventure hinge on tracking - bad/shallow design]. Tracking being one of several possible ways to figure something out is fine but not having it is also fine.

Shadow Lodge

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Cyouni wrote:
Cat-thulhu wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Just to let you guys know, the designers are all off for a long holiday weekend. I came in for a partial day today specifically to reply to this thread just in case, but I'm not going to be watching it as closely from now on. For all other Pathfinder fans from the USA, have a great Independence day!

EDIT: As typing this I noticed something. [[F]] is a free action, not Focus. Focus is a type of action you can do for mental activated items (and sometimes spellcasting or item activations will be free or reactions, like feather fall, so it's possible to do a Focus free action too).

Aaarrrgg another action type. Too many actionn types guys, way too many

There are three actions and one reaction. Sometimes things cost more than one action. Sometimes things don't cost any.

Or did you get confused in 1E when it said "as a standard action"?

Missed the point. Im not confused over the three actions per round plus reaction. Whats starting to get to me is the huge range of things with an action tag. Off the top of my head we have: Verbal action, Somatic action, Material action, Focus action, Manipulate action, Interact action, command action, operate action. Its too many.

I love the new action economy just not the clunky language, reduce these to just things like “one action to...”.

Sovereign Court

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Cat-thulhu wrote:
I love the new action economy just not the clunky language, reduce these to just things like “one action to...”.

Does that action provoke? How many hands does it take? Do you need to be able to speak? Is an action to melee attack the same a melee attack action?


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I'm quite happy to see the ranger have no spells by default. It's always rubbed me wrong that the party's martial woodsman was forced to be in a mystical relationship with nature even if the character is just supposed to be a woodsman. Most rangers I've played with (or played) chose spell replacement options. Of course I do want to see the old druid lite spells as an option, just not the assumption.

I'm also pleased to see the ranger move away from favored enemies mechanic. The circumstantial effectiveness frustrated me probably more than it should have. Favored enemies are a trope, to be sure, though it seems better suited for class feat(s).


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Cat-thulhu wrote:
Cyouni wrote:
Cat-thulhu wrote:
Mark Seifter wrote:

Just to let you guys know, the designers are all off for a long holiday weekend. I came in for a partial day today specifically to reply to this thread just in case, but I'm not going to be watching it as closely from now on. For all other Pathfinder fans from the USA, have a great Independence day!

EDIT: As typing this I noticed something. [[F]] is a free action, not Focus. Focus is a type of action you can do for mental activated items (and sometimes spellcasting or item activations will be free or reactions, like feather fall, so it's possible to do a Focus free action too).

Aaarrrgg another action type. Too many actionn types guys, way too many

There are three actions and one reaction. Sometimes things cost more than one action. Sometimes things don't cost any.

Or did you get confused in 1E when it said "as a standard action"?

Missed the point. Im not confused over the three actions per round plus reaction. Whats starting to get to me is the huge range of things with an action tag. Off the top of my head we have: Verbal action, Somatic action, Material action, Focus action, Manipulate action, Interact action, command action, operate action. Its too many.

I love the new action economy just not the clunky language, reduce these to just things like “one action to...”.

So then when you remove all the qualifying statements, which spell is usable in silence vs not? When tied up vs not? Same thing with items - which item can be used without speaking? Which item requires you to actually be able to manipulate it?

And while you're at it, you might as well include Strike action, Stride action, and Step action. Also Draw Weapon, Raise Shield, High Jump, Long Jump, Breathe Deep, and Leap.

These are all things that are actually relevant that are immediately lost when you start wanting to distill all of that to one action. (Interact and Operate can probably be combined, though. Possibly Interact's working with something not in your possession, while Operate is for something in your possession, but I'm thinking it's still possible to combine.)


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They probably don't all need to be referred to as "-actions" though. I liked some of the suggestions in the thread about cleaning up action types, including the general suggestion that all action types be some kind of verb instead of a mix of verbs and adjectives.

Now I'm curious, and wonder what the difference between long jump and leap is.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean, the reason "tracking" has been downplayed in basically every edition is that tracking is not especially interesting- it's a binary pass/fail state in which failure does not result in anything interesting, and involves at most the GM and one player.

I don't agree with this opinion, had a scenario once in my 3rd Ed Planescape campaign where the party was taking part in a hunt with the Sidhe, they had to track and kill their own giant boar. So the Ranger began tracking (the rest of the party helping as they can, the spirit shaman also had Survival), found some tracks, but after passing over a large stream, lost the tracks, but were able to find some more tracks, then the party finally tracked one down, and all fought and killed it.

It does seem they have downplayed tracking, starting with 2nd Ed AD&D.


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Chest Rockwell wrote:
had a scenario once in my 3rd Ed Planescape campaign where the party was taking part in a hunt with the Sidhe, they had to track and kill their own giant boar. So the Ranger began tracking, found some tracks, but after passing over a large stream, lost the tracks, but was able to find some more tracks, then the party finally tracked one down, and all fought and killed it.

If I was running a skill challenge for my players, that is close to how I'd describe their initial success, one failure, then next two successes that allowed them to find the boar.


Chest Rockwell wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean, the reason "tracking" has been downplayed in basically every edition is that tracking is not especially interesting- it's a binary pass/fail state in which failure does not result in anything interesting, and involves at most the GM and one player.

I don't agree with this opinion, had a scenario once in my 3rd Ed Planescape campaign where the party was taking part in a hunt with the Sidhe, they had to track and kill their own giant boar. So the Ranger began tracking, found some tracks, but after passing over a large stream, lost the tracks, but was able to find some more tracks, then the party finally tracked one down, and all fought and killed it.

It does seem they have downplayed tracking, starting with 2nd Ed AD&D.

So what would have happened if your Ranger had never succeeded, or if your ranger's player had rolled a Bard instead? In order for tracking to be interesting, it either needs to provide something more than following foot prints, or it needs to always succeed but provide more based on level of success.


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AnimatedPaper wrote:
Chest Rockwell wrote:
had a scenario once in my 3rd Ed Planescape campaign where the party was taking part in a hunt with the Sidhe, they had to track and kill their own giant boar. So the Ranger began tracking, found some tracks, but after passing over a large stream, lost the tracks, but was able to find some more tracks, then the party finally tracked one down, and all fought and killed it.
If I was running a skill challenge for my players, that is close to how I'd describe their initial success, one failure, then next two successes that allowed them to find the boar.

Yeah, it's all in the setup, skill checks do not have to be dull, binary situations, nor a full blown 4th Ed style Skill Challenge, I prefer something in between, hopefully more organic.


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ErichAD wrote:
Chest Rockwell wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I mean, the reason "tracking" has been downplayed in basically every edition is that tracking is not especially interesting- it's a binary pass/fail state in which failure does not result in anything interesting, and involves at most the GM and one player.

I don't agree with this opinion, had a scenario once in my 3rd Ed Planescape campaign where the party was taking part in a hunt with the Sidhe, they had to track and kill their own giant boar. So the Ranger began tracking, found some tracks, but after passing over a large stream, lost the tracks, but was able to find some more tracks, then the party finally tracked one down, and all fought and killed it.

It does seem they have downplayed tracking, starting with 2nd Ed AD&D.

So what would have happened if your Ranger had never succeeded, or if your ranger's player had rolled a Bard instead?

Well, one of the other characters (a spirit shaman) had Survival and spells, or they could try to bring a boar to them, and the psion (seer) could have tried some tricks (clairvoyant lens, etc). Taking part in the hunt was entirely voluntary, if they failed to successfully hunt and slay a boar, all that would have happened is that the Sidhe would not have let the party keep the +1 spear they lent them for the hunt, and the party would have gone down a notch in favour with them.


Excaliburproxy wrote:
Meanwhile, the bonus from scout's warning seems really minimal given that "critically succeeding" on an initiative roll doesn't seem to be a thing. Perhaps there are mechanics in the game that only work if you are going first or beat your opponent's initiative by 10 or more, though? Either way, I still question this feats usefulness.

Maybe this is the new surprise round mechanic?


Chest Rockwell wrote:
Ah, yes, but this is about not liking iconography in rules-text, right? I do not like it in RPGs (fantastic for CCGs), especially, another thing that did not appeal about 4th Ed.

That's one of the oddest criticisms of 4e that I've heard. IIRC, the system has four symbols (vertical sword for melee, angled bow'n'arrow for ranged, dot with three arrows to the right for close, and line with arrows in different directions expanding from one end for area), and even those are only used in the monster stat blocks.


Nightwhisper wrote:
Chest Rockwell wrote:
Ah, yes, but this is about not liking iconography in rules-text, right? I do not like it in RPGs (fantastic for CCGs), especially, another thing that did not appeal about 4th Ed.
That's one of the oddest criticisms of 4e that I've heard. IIRC, the system has four symbols (vertical sword for melee, angled bow'n'arrow for ranged, dot with three arrows to the right for close, and line with arrows in different directions expanding from one end for area), and even those are only used in the monster stat blocks.

Yeah, they look like little annoying universal symbols in cars. I would prefer Close Blast 3.


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I think tracking shouldn't be exclusive to rangers... but they should be damn awesome at it.

I can see investigator-types being able to track similarly well, at least in potentiality. And anyone with survival should be able to track a bit.

But the ranger, being an extraordinary hunter, should be able to catch tracks passively, and examining them should tell them a lot of details about who or what left them - is there blood, how fast, shape of footprints, how loaded, is someone limping, was there a fight, how did it go... you all remember when in The Princess Bride the prince investigates where Westley and Inigo fought and comes up with a bevvy of details, right? More recent and already mentioned, when Aragorn in The Two Towers finds Merry and Pippin's tracks, then those of the orcs who carried them away, and follows them until he finds the tracks of the Ents - and only then he's flummoxed ("wtf are these?").

The ranger should be able to do this better and better as they gain levels, up to actually see how the scene played out in their mind's eye. An investigator should be able to do something similar (Sherlock Holmes inducting info by swift analysis of various combined factors, William of Baskerville in The Name of the Rose, Hannibal with Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs... detective characters generally have this) although tracking *per se* shouldn't be their forte, not as much as the ranger's.

And then there's the rest of the unwashed masses who with the right skills and feats can hunt and can analyze tracks but are nowhere near these levels of brilliance, but can still find and follow a trail and know *something* about what's happening, and particularly observant people can, in fiction at least, get some interesting details from paying attention to small things about someone they're interacting with, or by investigating a scene.

But rangers should be a tier above when it comes to tracking, and investigators when it comes to general awareness and detective skills - a kind of non-supernatural divination ability. So no, an adventure shouldn't skid to a halt because there's no ranger, but a ranger should always be a definite asset when tracking and similar feats are involved.


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Oh, also, of course, Geralt of Rivia, and Aloy from HZD, and... really guys, tracking and investigation can be great in an adventure. And if you don't have Geralt and Aloy, you use divination, if necessary hire a mage or scout, use some magic item, just do what you can without expecting awesome results, whatever - a well-written adventure and a good GM let these kind of characters thrive, and let parties without them carry on at some kind of disadvantage ("Wait, there's more than one?... Dammit").


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Roswynn wrote:
Oh, also, of course, Geralt of Rivia, and Aloy from HZD, and... really guys, tracking and investigation can be great in an adventure. And if you don't have Geralt and Aloy, you use divination, if necessary hire a mage or scout, use some magic item, just do what you can without expecting awesome results, whatever - a well-written adventure and a good GM let these kind of characters thrive, and let parties without them carry on at some kind of disadvantage ("Wait, there's more than one?... Dammit").

I feel like it's worth pointing out that those are characters from single-player games, whereas Pathfinder is a cooperative storytelling game. So as much fun as one player might be having with their awesome thing that they do, if the rest of the table isn't able to be involved it's something I'm going to want to minimize in my games.

If we're going to flesh out, expand, or otherwise enhance subsystems they should either be down-time appropriate, or things that everybody can be involved in. Like I already avoid "there's a spell that does this" sorts of things, so I don't want to do "the rogue rolls to handle the trap" or "the ranger rolls to track the monster" when I could do something that involves the whole party instead.


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Roswynn wrote:

I think tracking shouldn't be exclusive to rangers... but they should be damn awesome at it.

I can see investigator-types being able to track similarly well, at least in potentiality. And anyone with survival should be able to track a bit.

But the ranger, being an extraordinary hunter, should be able to catch tracks passively, and examining them should tell them a lot of details about who or what left them - is there blood, how fast, shape of footprints, how loaded, is someone limping, was there a fight, how did it go... you all remember when in The Princess Bride the prince investigates where Westley and Inigo fought and comes up with a bevvy of details, right? More recent and already mentioned, when Aragorn in The Two Towers finds Merry and Pippin's tracks, then those of the orcs who carried them away, and follows them until he finds the tracks of the Ents - and only then he's flummoxed ("wtf are these?").

The ranger should be able to do this better and better as they gain levels, up to actually see how the scene played out in their mind's eye. An investigator should be able to do something similar (Sherlock Holmes inducting info by swift analysis of various combined factors, William of Baskerville in The Name of the Rose, Hannibal with Clarice in The Silence of the Lambs... detective characters generally have this) although tracking *per se* shouldn't be their forte, not as much as the ranger's.

And then there's the rest of the unwashed masses who with the right skills and feats can hunt and can analyze tracks but are nowhere near these levels of brilliance, but can still find and follow a trail and know *something* about what's happening, and particularly observant people can, in fiction at least, get some interesting details from paying attention to small things about someone they're interacting with, or by investigating a scene.

But rangers should be a tier above when it comes to tracking, and investigators when it comes to general awareness and detective skills - a kind of...

Nice, well said. Also, nothing wrong with a little spotlight for a character, makes the player feel good about investing in something that applies, and nice for the ranger to shine, trust me, the psion and spirit shaman (in a fey-themed campaign) had plenty of times to shine.

Liberty's Edge

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Tracking is almost certainly a Survival option, pretty clearly and per Mark Seifter here Rangers have unique or close to unique Survival options.

Rangers being the best trackers is entirely consistent with the information presented, so can we wait and see how that actually works before arguing about it?


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

Tracking is almost certainly a Survival option, pretty clearly and per Mark Seifter here Rangers have unique or close to unique Survival options.

Rangers being the best trackers is entirely consistent with the information presented, so can we wait and see how that actually works before arguing about it?

I feel like you already know the answer to that question.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:

Tracking is almost certainly a Survival option, pretty clearly and per Mark Seifter here Rangers have unique or close to unique Survival options.

Rangers being the best trackers is entirely consistent with the information presented, so can we wait and see how that actually works before arguing about it?

It's not gotten nasty, just discussion, not really a need for policing, here.

Liberty's Edge

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Chest Rockwell wrote:
It's not gotten nasty, just discussion, not really a need for policing, here.

I was mostly just trying to provide information that some people seem to have missed (ie: Ranger may well be the best possible tracker).

Well, and suggesting that arguing about something before we know whether it's true doesn't accomplish much, I suppose. You're right that it's not nasty, but it's also not super productive, as discussions go.

Also, posting purely to police what you see as someone else's policing seems a tad odd.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
Like I already avoid "there's a spell that does this" sorts of things, so I don't want to do "the rogue rolls to handle the trap" or "the ranger rolls to track the monster" when I could do something that involves the whole party instead.

I agree, having one character doing something while the rest twiddle their thumbs is lame, you can involved the whole party, but sometimes it's nice for one player to shine a bit in the situation more than the others, and also genre appropriate (in book and film), otherwise it can feel too contrived and homogenised, if everyone can pretty much do everything equally.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Chest Rockwell wrote:
It's not gotten nasty, just discussion, not really a need for policing, here.

I was mostly just trying to provide information that some people seem to have missed (ie: Ranger may well be the best possible tracker).

Well, and suggesting that arguing about something before we know whether it's true doesn't accomplish much, I suppose. You're right that it's not nasty, but it's also not super productive, as discussions go.

Also, posting purely to police what you see as someone else's policing seems a tad odd.

It really doesn't, we were having a nice, polite, interesting discussion about tracking, party contribution, and other things in general, and you basically pop in to say, Stop it; not cool.

Anyway, of course Survival (and tracking) are still a thing, and it looks like they might be making it more interesting this time around.

Liberty's Edge

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Chest Rockwell wrote:
It really doesn't, we were having a nice, polite, interesting discussion about tracking, party contribution, and other things in general, and you basically pop in to say, Stop it; not cool.

If I meant that, I'd have said it.

I was just attempting to provide information and noting that the current discussion was theorizing in advance of actual data on the subject.


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Chest Rockwell wrote:
It really doesn't, we were having a nice, polite, interesting discussion about tracking, party contribution, and other things in general, and you basically pop in to say, Stop it; not cool.
If I meant that, I'd have said it.

...dun, dun, dun...

Liberty's Edge

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Chest Rockwell wrote:
...dun, dun, dun...

I edited in further clarification above. I admit that came off a bit harsh in isolation.


I'm going to need you guys to delete your last 8 posts (and then I will of course delete this one.) Mostly because that conversation really didn't go anywhere. (Or don't I don't actually care.) Everyone seems so high strung on the play-test forums. It probably just perception coloring everything.


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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Chest Rockwell wrote:
...dun, dun, dun...
I edited in further clarification above. I admit that came off a bit harsh in isolation.

It's cool, it kind of came off Clint Eastwood, or John Wayne, I'm a fan of both, I like it, the dun, dun, dun was a Carlito's Way reference, when the DA guy is coming down all hard on Sean Penn/David Kleinfeld, Sean takes a puff of his cigarette and says "...dun, dun, dun...", like dramatic background music.


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I'd be pretty annoyed if I was very proficient in Survival but I couldn't track without having some specific feat. That's pretty much the main reason I'd want survival skill in the first place.


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Barathos wrote:
I'd be pretty annoyed if I was very proficient in Survival but I couldn't track without having some specific feat. That's pretty much the main reason I'd want survival skill in the first place.

Yeah, and a Track skill-feat in PF2 could let you be extra good, and then get to Legendary, and be like the aforementioned Prince Humperdink, and track a falcon on a cloudy day, sort of business.

Liberty's Edge

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Barathos wrote:
I'd be pretty annoyed if I was very proficient in Survival but I couldn't track without having some specific feat. That's pretty much the main reason I'd want survival skill in the first place.

It seems almost certain you can do the basics of tracking with just the Skill, but that definitely still leaves room for dedicated Skill Feats to make tracking better and give it the kind of cool stuff people have been talking about beyond the binary 'can you track this thing'.


MysticYeti wrote:

I'm quite happy to see the ranger have no spells by default. It's always rubbed me wrong that the party's martial woodsman was forced to be in a mystical relationship with nature even if the character is just supposed to be a woodsman. Most rangers I've played with (or played) chose spell replacement options. Of course I do want to see the old druid lite spells as an option, just not the assumption.

I'm also pleased to see the ranger move away from favored enemies mechanic. The circumstantial effectiveness frustrated me probably more than it should have. Favored enemies are a trope, to be sure, though it seems better suited for class feat(s).

I'm thinking about ways to keep the trope and avoid the unwieldy metagamey mechanic. No reason to throw the baby with the bathwater.

Knowledge is key. The hunter of X must know everything about their prey - their physiology, habits, culture if sapient, and so on. That calls for some specialized knowledge, a feat more than likely, something that can allow them to gather as much details about their prey as possible.

From that follows, if you know a lot about a certain species, you also know where to hit to really hurt them. So you know their vulnerabilities, what kind of weapons are necessary to wound them, where to procure them or the rough materials to build them, and you can actually craft them if they're simple enough or you have the required talents.

Since most creatures don't have a specific vulnerability but nonetheless do have weak points (a canine's snout for instance), you should be able to crit easier when attacking them, generally speaking. No scaling, just a flat tiny bonus to crit chance.

Relatedly, you know how your quarry attacks, and are either used to or at least prepared to specific modes - a bonus to saves vs its special abilities, a bonus to ac vs all its attacks. Again, a tiny one, to avoid throwing the normal math underlying the game into chaos and making you too capable against a certain enemy, resulting in you wiping them out while the party eats popcorns. Just an advantage, not an "arrow of slaying".

To involve the party more, you can also advise and warn your friends on how to fight. That's partly outright telling them, look, demons can be hurt by cold iron, and partly you see the goristro tensing its muscles and stepping back while lowering its head and snarling, immediately understand it's gonna charge and warn the target to dodge to the side. Tiny bonus to AC. Same thing for attacks. "Aim for its eye!", little extra crit chance (unless in game you can actually aim for a particular monster's body part mechanically, in that case no bonuses, just the knowledge is bonus enough for you to act appropriately and effectively).

A lot of a monster-hunter's competence is simply general level of course. You can fight well, you're skilled, by default, whether by using weapons, spells, bombs, whatever. This is a specialization above all that for the creatures you're an expert at hunting.

The bonus should involve also spotting the type of creature and their tracks and supernatural effects, knowing how to combat their special abilities ("To exorcise the ghost from Seyltiel we need a holy symbol of Pharasma, a cup of powdered nightshade and lit white candles at each corner of the room"). Again, simple knowledge, but in case that won't help because of the obvious limitations of the medium, a tiny bonus to dispel magic or ritual checks might help, for instance.

Even tactics can help. If you study dragons a lot you will know that if you can tear holes in their wings they'll probably have no choice but to land, and maybe you know how to build arrows able to rend large tracts of wing membrane and very powerful bows to actually have a chance to dig into that hard hide. You'll also know the party needs to spread out and avoid being caught in the breath, and you'll want a bard or cleric to counter the terrifying presence, for instance. You might also think of buying or crafting movable ballistae for the fight.

All in all it is quite complex and not a single feat with one bonus to one skill. There is something like upgrading your normal knowledge skill for the related specialization, access to crafting some peculiar equipment (and/or finding it in the wild, having contacts who can provide you with it, and so on), a couple small bonuses to crit chance and ac/saves, the possibility of warning the party/a target which can occasionally give them the same circumstantial bonus for the action you're helping with, a small bonuses to dispel the effects of the creature's abilities or at least access to a ritual intended to alleviate them... that's all.

It feels better for an archetype, imo. An entry feat with some useful stuff, and other feats you can get if you want to delve deeper and really focus on this kind of creature.

Of course this shouldn't be limited to rangers. They're hunters alright, but right now they don't prioritize a prey over all others - they just use their hunting experience in all occasions. This can be good for anyone, be they a fighter, a paladin, a barbarian, even a cleric, very conceivably (Pharasmins hate undead), or hell, anyone who, say, has a grudge against a particular type of creature (the bard whose troupe was kidnapped by faeries, the Hellnight signifer aspirant who studies devils to better defeat them for their test and have the upper hands in future dealings, Shalelu who hunts goblinoids for a living, the Technic League scholar who knows how to deactivate most mecha they meet...).

I didn't mention social interactions, be they intimidation, persuasion or deception, because in theory, if you know dragons are vain and greedy, you'll roleplay your appeals to their base emotions, and the GM should give you an appropriate floating bonus. If you're not into speaking in character you can still say you do it, but that is a little bit too far into the social contract of a particular group, so I'd leave it at that and anyone can solve this how they want. Me, I'd give a nice bonus to anyone who says the right thing at the right time, and I can foresee even dispensing with the roll entirely.

That's my thoughts. Again, nothing the ranger (or anyone) has to grab - feats or archetypes, talk with your GM and fellow players and see if it's something you'd like. I think it'd be feasible.


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Roswynn wrote:
To involve the party more, you can also advise and warn your friends on how to fight. That's partly outright telling them, look, demons can be hurt by cold iron, and partly you see the goristro tensing its muscles and stepping back while lowering its head and snarling, immediately understand it's gonna charge and warn the target to dodge to the side. Tiny bonus to AC. Same thing for attacks. "Aim for its eye!", little extra crit chance (unless in game you can actually aim for a particular monster's body part mechanically, in that case no bonuses, just the knowledge is bonus enough for you to act appropriately and effectively).

Very cool ideas, though actually granting other party members combat benefits seems like a specific sort of archetype, maybe.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
Roswynn wrote:
Oh, also, of course, Geralt of Rivia, and Aloy from HZD, and... really guys, tracking and investigation can be great in an adventure. And if you don't have Geralt and Aloy, you use divination, if necessary hire a mage or scout, use some magic item, just do what you can without expecting awesome results, whatever - a well-written adventure and a good GM let these kind of characters thrive, and let parties without them carry on at some kind of disadvantage ("Wait, there's more than one?... Dammit").

I feel like it's worth pointing out that those are characters from single-player games, whereas Pathfinder is a cooperative storytelling game. So as much fun as one player might be having with their awesome thing that they do, if the rest of the table isn't able to be involved it's something I'm going to want to minimize in my games.

If we're going to flesh out, expand, or otherwise enhance subsystems they should either be down-time appropriate, or things that everybody can be involved in. Like I already avoid "there's a spell that does this" sorts of things, so I don't want to do "the rogue rolls to handle the trap" or "the ranger rolls to track the monster" when I could do something that involves the whole party instead.

I certainly agree we want to avoid the problem of "Hacker's hacking, the rest of the party sits and waits for them to log out".

I also think (and I see others might agree?) that one bit of spotlight once in a while is gonna be alright. We know all classes are equally effective in a fight (or at least that's the intent), but outside of that, of course the bard's gonna be the face, the barbarian will bend bars and cave doors in, the rogue will deactivate traps and pick locks, the wizard will be the loremaster, and the fighter might be either just roleplaying with no real assets to contribute, or perhaps spotting a particularly skilled swordswoman, or checking the quality of the patrons' weapons in an inn - analyzing stuff related to fighting.

I mean, every archetype is gonna shine in different situation. Unless you play classless and furthermore make sure every point-based character has the same areas of competence, it's just the way it is, and thanks the sky for that. But others with overlapping proficiencies can always lend a welcome hand, the bard can inspire (I'd keep an eye on that lest the game becomes a musical - I love musicals, but they need to be intentional, not the usual bard singing every time someone rolls dice), and anyways everyone always has input on decisions, talk among each other to decide the course of action, and all that. The party isn't hurt by specialization, on the contrary, it thrives on many different skillsets, when everyone can contribute significantly in the right circumstances, and everyone is always involved in what's happening.


Deadmanwalking wrote:

Tracking is almost certainly a Survival option, pretty clearly and per Mark Seifter here Rangers have unique or close to unique Survival options.

Rangers being the best trackers is entirely consistent with the information presented, so can we wait and see how that actually works before arguing about it?

I went to the link you put there and loved seeing rangers will have special monster knowledge benefits, I think it's the direction I want favored enemy to go - and also the rest, like additional uses for various skills, among which survival, as you mention. That's great, and I think it will be exactly what I'm talking about.

But I wasn't arguing at all. I'm not angry or "salty"... I was just imagining how I'd like things to go - since we still are getting only tidbits of classes, you know, as opposed to knowing how the whole new edition works. I'm really just all wrapped up in what I'd like classes to be like.

As for waiting to see how it works before arguing... I rarely argue *against* the previews (I actually just don't - I'm really loving most of it), but you do know everyone already has an opinion and is dead set on prolongedly defending it, sometimes even coming to (metaphorical) blows over it. It's the edition wars, Deadmanwalking... I'm sorry and I think you really don't enjoy it (I sure don't) but even if I abstain from it, it's nonetheless inevitable (like a marut... there should be an inevitable of edition wars, now that I think about it...).


Chest Rockwell wrote:
Roswynn wrote:
To involve the party more, you can also advise and warn your friends on how to fight. That's partly outright telling them, look, demons can be hurt by cold iron, and partly you see the goristro tensing its muscles and stepping back while lowering its head and snarling, immediately understand it's gonna charge and warn the target to dodge to the side. Tiny bonus to AC. Same thing for attacks. "Aim for its eye!", little extra crit chance (unless in game you can actually aim for a particular monster's body part mechanically, in that case no bonuses, just the knowledge is bonus enough for you to act appropriately and effectively).
Very cool ideas, though actually granting other party members combat benefits seems like a specific sort of archetype, maybe.

Does it? Are you thinking of 4e's warlord? That'd be nothing like them, though, not as I envision them - the warlord should be able to tactics their way throughout the whole combat in any fight, giving extra actions, debuffing enemies, it was all centered on controlling the battlefield, right? These are just tiny circumstantial bonuses in the scenario I'm imagining, nothing comparable. Bards too would be much more consistent and powerful buffers than this.

Oh, just remembered the ranger has access to Scout's Warning, which could be seen as clashing with other buffing characters... I dunno, Chest, I don't see buffing as the province of only one class or archetype... I think it was Mark who was talking about a player in a game and her "Malboro" fighter who debuffed enemies to a pretty nasty extent. I think the more a class is adaptable to various concepts, the better it is.

So no, I wasn't thinking of going too far into buffing territory with this stuff. But thank you, glad you mostly liked! ;)

Liberty's Edge

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Roswynn wrote:

But I wasn't arguing at all. I'm not angry or "salty"... I was just imagining how I'd like things to go - since we still are getting only tidbits of classes, you know, as opposed to knowing how the whole new edition works. I'm really just all wrapped up in what I'd like classes to be like.

As for waiting to see how it works before arguing... I rarely argue *against* the previews (I actually just don't - I'm really loving most of it), but you do know everyone already has an opinion and is dead set on prolongedly defending it, sometimes even coming to (metaphorical) blows over it. It's the edition wars, Deadmanwalking... I'm sorry and I think you really don't enjoy it (I sure don't) but even if I abstain from it, it's nonetheless inevitable (like a marut... there should be an inevitable of edition wars, now that I think about it...).

Nah, I'm not upset and I didn't really think anyone else was upset either. I just feel like having actual arguments about how tracking should work when we don't even know how it's going to work is not super productive.

I just generally prefer game-related arguments to be about real things that actually effect the game rather than hypotheticals that may never become relevant. :)


Deadmanwalking wrote:
Roswynn wrote:

But I wasn't arguing at all. I'm not angry or "salty"... I was just imagining how I'd like things to go - since we still are getting only tidbits of classes, you know, as opposed to knowing how the whole new edition works. I'm really just all wrapped up in what I'd like classes to be like.

As for waiting to see how it works before arguing... I rarely argue *against* the previews (I actually just don't - I'm really loving most of it), but you do know everyone already has an opinion and is dead set on prolongedly defending it, sometimes even coming to (metaphorical) blows over it. It's the edition wars, Deadmanwalking... I'm sorry and I think you really don't enjoy it (I sure don't) but even if I abstain from it, it's nonetheless inevitable (like a marut... there should be an inevitable of edition wars, now that I think about it...).

Nah, I'm not upset and I didn't really think anyone else was upset either. I just feel like having actual arguments about how tracking should work when we don't even know how it's going to work is not super productive.

I just generally prefer game-related arguments to be about real things that actually effect the game rather than hypotheticals that may never become relevant. :)

Hah! Got it. Okay, no probs, let's talk about concrete data then.

Mmmnothing comes to mind right now, I just like how things are developing.

In other news, and threadjacking a little (but not too much), animal companions today? My body's so ready XD


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Lich's^^^^ don't get upset they find logical proof that they are correct and post it in response!

edit: Ninja'ed but we all know the arrows were meant for deadman.

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