DM question about Ranger's favored enemy


I'm new to these forums and couldn't find a topic like this (if there is one, accept my apologies and give me a link please).

So, my group of two (not including myself) is starting a new game this weekend, and one is going to be a Ranger. I typically do more urban, orc/goblin-centric campaigns, but the other player asked if we could do something different (he's playing a druid, so I think he's wanting more nature-centric adventures).

With what I'm planning, they'll be facing more aquatic humanoids and elves, both of which I've never really used as common enemies before, with some undead included, and I was wanting it to be something of a surprise, but I would hate for the Ranger's favored enemy to go to waste (they will be level 6 so he'll have two). I feel like he'll naturally choose orc and goblin, and aside from a few early encounters, those enemies won't really show up in any significant way.

How much should I warn the players about the choice of monsters, or should I? I feel like the druid will be able to adapt easily enough.


Starfinder Superscriber

Let the party know the basic style enemies they'll be facing, like I would say Oh it's all elves, but say it's not orc/goblin enemies.

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Maybe allow retraining of favored enemies per Ultimate Campaign?

Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think the retraining idea is your best bet, so that you don't have to ruin the surprise but the ranger can still adapt and remain effective.

Another option is some sort of "divine clue" like having the PCs subjected to a Harrow reading or having a seer catch a glimpse of the PC's or PCs' future(s).

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

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The Player's Guides for all of the Paizo APs give clear guidance to classes, such as Rangers, about choices like this. I suggest you do the same.

Maybe suggest the guide archetype.

Scarab Sages

Maybe allow the Ranger to take the Freebooter Archetype, so the Favored Enemy bonus is changed into Freebooter's Bane, giving the entire Party a smaller bonus that is usable on any enemy.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Rangers, more than any other class, can be impacted unintentionally in this way. For our adventure paths, we pretty much lay out the best 3 to 5 favored enemy and favored terrain choices. There's a certain amount of "spoiler" factor there, yes, but less than you get in a typical movie preview.

In fact, a certain amount of spoilers can go a LONG way toward not only getting your players interested and excited about your game, but can help them in making appropriate characters for what you have planned. It's MUCH better to have players who are happy with their characters, since a player who becomes frustrated with a character is more likely to miss sessions or just leave the game.

So yeah. Come right out and tell the whole group "you'll be facing a lot of aquatic humanoids, magical beasts, animals, and outsiders with the water subtype (or whatever) in this game, so plan accordingly." It's even fine to get more detailed and say "sahuagin, sharks, and water elementals are big themes in what I've got planned!"

Dark Archive

I totally understand why you might want to keep the enemies secret but you should probably give him some idea about possible enemies if you want him to enjoy the game and think that having a primary class ability be mostly useless would upset him, it would be something like letting someone play a cavalier and the game being mostly underground caves for example. Player enjoying his character the whole campaign > keeping a cool reveal from them for a little while imo.

Silver Crusade

If you truly want to keep an enemy type a secret you could let one of his enemy choices be "undefined" until the reveal and let him select it then. Could be fluffed as an old enemy type that he has not encountered in some time so the relevant knowledge simply has not come up... but he remembers.

Favored enemy bonus is a major part of the rangers class features. Once he can cast Instant Enemy it is less of an issue, but Instant Enemy is a 3rd level ranger spell which he doesn't get till level 10. Although he can use a wand of it, it will cost him almost 16,000 gp to get one. Which is a pretty significant portion of wealth until level 13/14, and unobtainable before level 7 (and then all your wealth would have to go towards it).

You should tell him either the most common types of enemies expected to be present, which is what published Adventure Paths do for instance. Yes, it gives away a little. The cat is out of the bag. But, if you don't his class features will likely be a waste until level 13 or 14.

The other option is to encourage him to try the Freebooter archetype. It gives a reduced bonus +1 instead of +2, and increases by 1 at 5th level and every by levels. This bonus also applies to allies within 30ft of the freebooter when activated, but requires a move action to designate a target. This is called freeboter's bane and replaces the normal Favored Enemy.

There is a slight problem in that some class features like Quarry and Improved Quarry don't technically work without Favored Enemy, which the Freebooter doesn't have. However, since this is a home game the quickest and most reasonable method to fix that is to say that anything that functions based on a Favored Enemy can instead funciton if the freebooter uses his bane ability on it.

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I will gladly jump on the 'favored enemy shouldnt be allowed to go to wasted' bandwagon. You can either do this by telling him the most common enemies to come OR you can do this by allowing him to change it after the big reveal that X are the real bad guys. Either way its basically a requirement for the ranger to get to use his favored enemy fairly frequently, or else the class is really kind of meh.

If you really dont like either of those options, there is a 3rd party product, knacks of nature that let you customize your ranger by trading out specific abilities for different 'knacks'. One of the things you can trade out is favored enemy. If you dont want to give away the coming enemies you could strongly encourage the ranger to replace favored enemy with something more universally useful.

The Exchange

If you want the mountain to come to Mohammed, there was an aquatic goblinoid in AD&D that didn't make it to 3rd edition - the koalinth. Slap (Aquatic) and 'Swim 30' on a hobgoblin, give him a piercing weapon, and you're ready to rock.

Point him to the Guide archetype maybe? You trade away favored enemy for a smite-like ability.

Players need to know the basic premise for a campaign to make a viable character. If I make a character that really wants to get vengeance against orcs and the DM doesn't give us any orcs to fight my character would be really out of place.

The Exchange

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Ranger: I have dedicated my life to wiping every last bandersnatch from the face of the world! I have spent years in intensive training, in laborious study, in...
Paladin (to Bard): I guess he hasn't heard...
Bard: Dude, bandersnatches are extinct.
Ranger: Wh... What? Since when?
Bard: Last April. Bardic knowledge.
Ranger: Oh. (considers for a moment) Then my work is done!
Paladin: Lucky you!

You should tell the ranger's player about the enemies they are going to be facing.

leo1925 wrote:
You should tell the ranger's player about the enemies they are going to be facing.

I will also agree with this. It's a significant class feature, and really.. the character lives in the campaign world, he should have some idea of what enemies are common anyway. You can wait till a later level to "reveal" the best one if you must; as long as the one he picks at level 1 is still fairly common, it's not going to waste. If you wait till beyond level 5 to let him discover the most common type of enemy, he'll no longer have a chance to max out that particular favored enemy (at 5th level you get a new one and can add +2 to either the old one or the new one; all FE choices past 5th level miss this +2 so it's impossible for them to ever reach the highest FE bonus you can get w/o retraining).

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