Ranger Options: Knacks of Nature (PFRPG) PDF

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

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

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

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An absolute MUST-HAVE - Period.

5/5

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

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

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

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

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

Endzeitgeist out.


Contributor

Rascally rangers—now with more options, and now available here at Paizo!

Scarab Sages

Rangers Options: Knacks of Nature is available now! Want to play a ranger as more than a fighter who knows how to camp? This product offers new rangers powers (knacks) that let you do things such as borrow fighting techniques from animals, link to the powers of the elements, communicate with other rangers in secret sigils, and lead groups quickly through the wilderness. It also offers nine new ranger spells, from the modestly useful blood scent, to the extremely flexible spell bolt. And finally it offers three new archetypes in the style of the APG -- the Explorer who is more focused on sneakiness and avoiding traps than combat, the Master Herbalist who can use natural materials to create extracts like an alchemist, and the Tercel, who is a mid-step between the druid and the ranger, like a wilderness inquisitor.


Wow, this sounds really interesting.

Liberty's Edge

Interesting indeed ...


Yes, this has piqued my interest. Are there any other base/core class fleshings out SGG has planned that you might want to talk about, Owen?

Scarab Sages

Caedwyr wrote:
Yes, this has piqued my interest. Are there any other base/core class fleshings out SGG has planned that you might want to talk about, Owen?

Interesting question. :D

I've got a personal bard project (which I have talked about on my blog -- http://owenkcstephens.com/) in development, but that's not officially a SGG project (though I will likely get SGG to publish it, perhaps under the tag "Super Genius Presents). But health issues have caused me to back-burner that for the moment.

And of course we've already tackled every class from the APG once (twice for cavaliers), in the Advanced Options line, and the Gunslinger, Magus, Ninja, and Wizard in the Ultimate Options line.

Ranger Options is the second book in what we're currently calling our Player Options line (we also considered calling it Class Options or Core Options... difficult call), and that already includes Sorcerer's Options: Beyond Bloodlines.

So yes, we'll be looking at more Player Options books. Barbarian Options and Fighter Options are both being written, with some core concepts for each in very early playtesting. I've got some material written on Cleric Options, but nothing in playtest (though there are some rules and ideas I originally had for other books in playtest, which might end up in a Cleric Options book), and some things I wrote and playtested early on for Ranger Options got cut, but might return in Druid Options. I have tons of stuff in an out of playtesting that could go in a Monk Options book, but I haven't decided on a theme for that book yet, so I'm not sure what will go in it. And I may wait to see how certain monk-specific rules pan out before I worry about it much.

I expect we'll at least look at doing one for all the classes from the core rulebook. Since so much of Power of the Ninja can be used with rogues, I may tackle Rogue Options last, or skip it, depending on how the ideas flow. And if I do a Paladin Options, I'm going to have a design decision to wrestle with. My preference is to leave paladins as lawful good only, but I suspect a lot of buyers would expect "paladins of other alignment" rules in a book of paladin options. I might go ahead and stick to LG-only and call the Book Paladin Options: The Army of Benevolent Order (or something like that) so my Lawful and Good bias is suggested in the title.

But none of that means any of those books are definitely happening. Both Sorcerer's Options and Ranger Options grew out of my perception of something missing as choices for those classes, specifically alternatives a sorcerer could choose after taking a bloodline (by 2nd level, a sorcerer has few new alternate rule choices), and a lack of nature's-power specific choices for rangers. Neither book stuck exclusively to those themes, but they were the backbone of why I wanted to write and offer up those books.

I'm not sure I feel a similar lack for every core class. Even as I do work on ideas I have, I'm not always sure where they'll end up. So as my schedule allows I'll be considering how I feel about each core class, and see if there is something I want as a gamer that isn't available, and then decide if I want to tackle that idea as a designer. Each SGG product I write, I write because some idea excited me as an extension of my favorite RPG rules. Sometimes I know months in advance that I'm doing such a project. Sometimes it leaps upon me at 4 am and demands to be written.

So, no guarantees, but I'm sure there will be a few more, and I may eventually hit all the core classes.

Anything in particular people would like to see?


What I've found interesting with things like the Beyond Bloodlines or the Exalted Domains books, and possible this book is how they've gone and filled niches I wasn't really aware of existing beforehand, but noticed afterwards.

Looking at the core classes, the ones that seem to be a bit more barebones or less directed than the others are the

  • Fighter - maybe more directed options to replace the bonus feats feature
  • Monk - many of its abilities do not seem to work well together, and could do with a bit more focusing
  • Paladin - maybe play around with the mercies, they seem to be lacking in customization options compared to other classes. Also, you could always combine the Paladin with the Anti-paladin alternate class and give both more customization options.


My OCD tendencies wouldn't allow me to NOT make a Player's Option release for all the core classes. You're a stronger man than I am, Owen K.C. Stevens.

Scarab Sages

Cheapy wrote:
Wow, this sounds really interesting.
Marc Radle wrote:
Interesting indeed ...

I think so, but obviously I'm biased. :D I'd love to hear the opinion of each of you after you've had a chance to look it over.

Sczarni

I can honestly say that even thou the knacks and spells were predictably satisfying, the archetypes (specially the herbalist) left me just ecstatic.


After a quick read through, the herbalist was the one that made my jaw drop to the floor. Plan on looking it through a bit more later.

Explorer combined with Bounty Hunter knack could get a bit ridiculous.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

This looks really cool!

Any chance someone (either from SGG or from the community) will produce a Hero Lab data set for these options?

Scarab Sages

Frerezar wrote:
I can honestly say that even thou the knacks and spells were predictably satisfying, the archetypes (specially the herbalist) left me just ecstatic.

Glad to hear it! The master herbalist was one of the things I really, really wanted to write, probably because of my years in the IFGS.

Scarab Sages

Caedwyr wrote:
What I've found interesting with things like the Beyond Bloodlines or the Exalted Domains books, and possible this book is how they've gone and filled niches I wasn't really aware of existing beforehand, but noticed afterwards.

I take that as high praise!

Caedwyr wrote:

Looking at the core classes, the ones that seem to be a bit more barebones or less directed than the others are the

*Fighter - maybe more directed options to replace the bonus feats feature

I may or may not go that route. Bonus feats are extremely flexible and customizable, and I don't know that I'd be doing the class any favors to suggest they be replaced by something else. I can, of course, create a lot more fighter-only feats, which isn't quite the same thing but would work in a similar manner.

I have thought that it's a bit odd that the fighter, which back in 3.0 was one of the most customizable classes, now has a slew of class features that can't be customized. That's where my first itch to create fighter Options is felt.

Caedwyr wrote:
*Paladin - maybe play around with the mercies, they seem to be lacking in customization options compared to other classes. Also, you could always combine the Paladin with the Anti-paladin alternate class and give both more customization options.

Both interesting ideas I will consider!


Curses Owen!!!! My wallet weeps......WHY DO YOU HAVE TO KEEP PUTTING OUT THINGS I MUST HAVE?!?!?!


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Much like Kolok, Owen implanted a mind-reading device in you. Sit back and enjoy the ride :-D


Cheapy wrote:
Much like Kolok, Owen implanted a mind-reading device in you. Sit back and enjoy the ride :-D

Ya know, I did notice some stitches behind my ear, I was wondering why magnets now stuck to my head....that clears up everything

Scarab Sages

Cheapy wrote:
Much like Kolok, Owen implanted a mind-reading device in you. Sit back and enjoy the ride :-D

Luckily, the cost of doing so is tax-deductible. :)


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cheapy wrote:
Much like Kolok, Owen implanted a mind-reading device in you. Sit back and enjoy the ride :-D

You arent kidding. The ranger in the kingmaker game I am playing in is a relatively new player, and he finds his ranger sort of dull. The knacks offer a whole new breadth of customization possibilities that can be plugged into any ranger character, even if they already exist, and you could potentially add or more knacks at just about every level of ranger.

But in all seriousness, its a sign of good design and good planning. I really feel like the overwhelming majority of SGG material is something I felt was missing from the game at least conceptually. Maybe I dont want to use every option in a product, but I still think it ought to exist. Ear to the ground is a big example of that.

By the way, what exactly does the 10% margin of error mean in ear to the ground. I assume it means roll a % die and on a 1-10 you get wrong information. But how wrong? Some kind of guideline there would have been good (IE wrong direction, right distance, distance off by x, a splash weapon style randomization of the incorrect location? Or is it just saying that if a creature is 5,000 feet away a successful check results in the dm saying 'your quarry is north by northwest at a distance of about [insert distance between 4,500 and 5,500ft].'


The Bounty Hunter Knack--does this apply to Monstrous Humanoids as well, or just plain, garden variety Humanoids?

Scarab Sages

Kolokotroni wrote:
Cheapy wrote:
Much like Kolok, Owen implanted a mind-reading device in you. Sit back and enjoy the ride :-D
You arent kidding. The ranger in the kingmaker game I am playing in is a relatively new player, and he finds his ranger sort of dull. The knacks offer a whole new breadth of customization possibilities that can be plugged into any ranger character, even if they already exist, and you could potentially add or more knacks at just about every level of ranger.

As always, glad to slurp needs from your brains and provide them back as rule-pudding. :D

Kolokotroni wrote:
By the way, what exactly does the 10% margin of error mean in ear to the ground. Or is it just saying that if a creature is 5,000 feet away a successful check results in the dm saying 'your quarry is north by northwest at a distance of about [insert distance between 4,500 and 5,500ft].'

Yeah, it just means your idea of direction and distance can each be as much as 10% off. So if you find your target is 3,300 feet away due north, you know it could actually be anywhere from 3,000 to 3,630 feet away and up to 36 degrees off true north.

Scarab Sages

DungeonmasterCal wrote:
The Bounty Hunter Knack--does this apply to Monstrous Humanoids as well, or just plain, garden variety Humanoids?

Just humanoids.

You can already take monstrous humanoids as a single favored enemy, and it includes all monstrous humanoids.

But to get some kind of bonus against all humanoids, you'd have to select them as more than 11 different favored enemies, since each subtype requires its own pick. That seemed harsh (are each kind of humanoids really more different than each kind of dragon?), and Bounty Hunter is designed to make a humanoid-hunter a viable choice.

Dark Archive

Will take me a long time to figure out what all new books have come out when I get time to roam the site all the time again.

Scarab Sages

Dark_Mistress wrote:
Will take me a long time to figure out what all new books have come out when I get time to roam the site all the time again.

When you do get a chance to catch up, we look forward to your comments. :)


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
Since so much of Power of the Ninja can be used with rogues, I may tackle Rogue Options last, or skip it, depending on how the ideas flow.

I have to say as much as I love Power of the Ninja, one of the things I love it for is the Wolf Head, which lets players have non-Asian ninja. So I'd very much rather see you take up a rogue Options book that looks at missing rogue ideas like you have in your other Option books, rather than just let the Ninja book cover it.

Also, its really exciting to see you covering more base classes! I love all the SGG work on the Advanced and Ultimate material, and I appreciate having it in a timely manner, when such classes have fewer official options. But Sorcerer Options was one of my favorit SGG books, and Ranger Options is now a close second.

The Master Herbalist and Tercel, in particular, are pure genius!

Also, you mentioned you wrote the master herbalist because of "your years in the IFGS." What's that?


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
Also, you mentioned you wrote the master herbalist because of "your years in the IFGS." What's that?

I imagine it's the International Fantasy Gaming Society.

Scarab Sages

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
I have to say as much as I love Power of the Ninja, one of the things I love it for is the Wolf Head, which lets players have non-Asian ninja. So I'd very much rather see you take up a rogue Options book that looks at missing rogue ideas like you have in your other Option books, rather than just let the Ninja book cover it.

Duly noted. :)

Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
Also, its really exciting to see you covering more base classes! I love all the SGG work on the Advanced and Ultimate material, and I appreciate having it in a timely manner, when such classes have fewer official options. But Sorcerer Options was one of my favorit SGG books, and Ranger Options is now a close second.

Glad you're enjoying it!

Scarab Sages

Alzrius wrote:
Dungeon Grrrl wrote:
Also, you mentioned you wrote the master herbalist because of "your years in the IFGS." What's that?
I imagine it's the International Fantasy Gaming Society.

Yes, exactly that. I got involved in IFGS in the late 1980s, and even wrote and produced a few games with them.

The relevant point being that in IFGS Fantasy Rules, rangers make potions.

Scarab Sages

Tamago wrote:
This looks really cool!

I'm glad you think so!

Tamago wrote:
Any chance someone (either from SGG or from the community) will produce a Hero Lab data set for these options?

We're still working on our HL options, but it's certainly possible... eventually...


Great "book"!!! More class are in need of this kind of thing, good to hear you plan on more. But I have ? about the second benefit if the Beast King Companion:
"Additionally, for every 2 ranger levels you possess, you may choose one trick (as defined in the handle Animal skill) which you may instruct your animal companion to perform as a swift action, as long as it can see and hear you."
What is the Benefit??? Rangers & Druids can use Handle Animal as a free action. Does this ability let them do 2 "Tricks" a round or am I miss reading something?


Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. It's books like this that make me love SGG!

Super Genius Games

Thanks End! :D

Scarab Sages

Endzeitgeist wrote:
Reviewed here, on DTRPG and sent to GMS magazine. It's books like this that make me love SGG!

I'm really glad you enjoyed it. Especially since I wrote it because you asked for more "options" books for other classes, and several other people (DM included) backed up their interest in such books.

It's nice to know that listening to your patrons works. :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is one of my absolute favorite option-books. "Attach" alone is worth the price. And yeah, I'm STOKED to see not only that you listen (I already knew that), but at the quality - even among SGG-pdfs, this is a STAR. :D

Scarab Sages

Endzeitgeist wrote:
This is one of my absolute favorite option-books. "Attach" alone is worth the price. And yeah, I'm STOKED to see not only that you listen (I already knew that), but at the quality - even among SGG-pdfs, this is a STAR. :D

I'm really pleased to hear it both professionally (because that means it should continue to sell well), and as a gamer (because that means I've added to the total available amount of RPG awesome).

Now I can start neurotically worrying about who the next Options book will be received. :)


One thing that piques my curiosity is this bit from "adding new knacks":

"...as nearly anything that replaces a single choice of favored enemy,
favored terrain, or hunter’s bond is likely a good choice to be a balanced knack."

Would this mean that the vanilla hunter's bond ability could be a feasible knack, and you could have more than one? Let me give an example:

Say you're using knacks and picked the Master Herbalist "Mystic Herbalism" as your hunter bond. Would it be viable to include the other hunter's bond choices, animal companion and hunting companions bonus, as knacks? Obviously you shouldn't be able to get more than one animal companion, and you should only be able to select it if you're at say lv. 8 or higher.

Comments?

Scarab Sages Contributor; Developer, Super Genius Games

TheDisgaean wrote:
Would this mean that the vanilla hunter's bond ability could be a feasible knack, and you could have more than one?

Noting that I haven't playtested the idea yet (and given how I suspect I'll be linking this book with the Talented Ranger book I will eventually get to, I suspect I'll have a more thoroughly-tested answer in 9-12 months), it looks to me like that should work. You'd want to make sure you didn't give out hunters bonds earlier than a class or archetype normally gets them, and there may be combos that should be limited (so reality-check any suggested build), but I honestly don't think having mystic herbalism, an animal companion, and a companion bond in place of other ranger class abilities is going to be unbalancing.

But you're right -- don't let anyone talk you into multiple animal companions. :)

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