Just A Little More Class


Ever since Wizards of the Coast released their Third Edition of the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons, I have always been a big fan of the ranger. I love the great mix of stealth and strength, but after a few levels the class lost most of its luster. Sure, at level one you got both the ambidexterity and two weapon fighting feats free of charge, (given you wore light or no armor of course). But after that, there was really no need to advance in the class other than for purely role-playing reasons. Sure you got favored enemies, but what good is a plus one to attack at 16th level, while your wizard friend gets meteor swarm and power word kill spells? And the spells you did get you were so far behind the power curve they were almost useless. So what is one to do?

Ever since Wizards of the Coast released their Third Edition of the ever-popular Dungeons & Dragons, I have always been a big fan of the ranger. I love the great mix of stealth and strength, but after a few levels the class lost most of its luster. Sure, at level one you got both the ambidexterity and two weapon fighting feats free of charge, (given you wore light or no armor of course). But after that, there was really no need to advance in the class other than for purely role-playing reasons. Sure you got favored enemies, but what good is a plus one to attack at 16th level, while your wizard friend gets meteor swarm and power word kill spells? And the spells you did get you were so far behind the power curve they were almost useless. So what is one to do?

Well my fellow ranger enthusiasts, our problems are over. Wizards of the Coast have just recently finished what is called, as most of you know, Dungeons & Dragons Version 3.5. Just to get it out of the way: this is not a new game, simply a revision of things Wizards felt needing revamping, and most of the changes are a result of player feedback.

While I find all of the revisions excellent, I primarily enjoyed the new class layouts, (especially the ranger). And so I am going to give all of you some insight into the new ranger class.

Let's start at the beginning, Level One, the birth of your ranger. Rangers are still proficient with all simple and martial weapons, light armor, and shields. The only exception is the tower shield, which now requires a separate feat to gain proficiency.

The ranger class now receives 6 base skill points each level, which is a great addition in my book. The only real downside is their hit die is only a d8 now, but the new special abilities make up for those lost hit points.

Speaking of abilities, here they come. At 1st level you still receive your 1st favored enemy. The favored enemy list has been redone and is a little more detailed. Your ranger still receives track as well. A new addition to the line up is a special ability called wild empathy. As you may have guessed, this is just like the animal empathy skill in the original 3.0, using a diplomacy-like check against animals to change their attitude towards you. And by the way, there are no ambidexterity and two-weapon fighting feats at first level. Oh yes, you heard me.

2nd level is now really unique for the ranger. This is where you pick the combat style your ranger will follow. You have the choice of being an archer, or a dual-weapon fighter, and depending on which you choose, you will gain bonus feats at 2nd, 6th, and 11th levels.

The 3rd level offers the Endurance feat, which is the same as before.

4th level is the ultimate addition to the ranger class. You receive your animal companion. . .yes, that's animal companion. I did a flip when I saw this for myself. Spells are also available on this level, as before. Although spells are still not as progressive or powerful as every other class, there are still a few new ones to choose from.

Level 5 offers your second favored enemy, and a chance to boost one of your favorite enemy modifiers. In v.3.5, each time you gain the ability to choose a new favored enemy, you can also pick one of your already selected favored enemies, (including the one you just chose), and boost the modifiers by +2. So, let's say at first level you chose orcs as your favored enemy, then at level 5, you pick undead. Now you can also add +2 to either one, giving one a +4 modifier against that enemy.

At level 7 you receive woodland stride, just as before.

Swift Tracker is a new special ability offered at level 8, and allows the ranger to move faster while tracking (go figure).

A Level 9 ranger receives the evasion ability, which I feel is a great ability for rangers to have.

Level 10 lets you chose your 3rd favored enemy.

A new addition comes at 13th level as a special ability called camouflage, which allows you to hide in any natural terrain, regardless of cover or concealment.

Favored enemy number four comes at 15th level.

A 17th level ranger gains the ability to Hide in Plain Sight.

And last but not least, at 20th level is your 5th Favored Enemy.

I hope you gained a little insight into some of the new revisions, and to all you ranger buffs out there, I hope you are excited about the new class as I am.

The real question is: why haven't we done away with the "class" system forever?

"The real question is: why haven't we done away with the "class" system forever?"

Because it wouldn't be D&D then.

Because there are people who happen to like that system.

Because it is easier for new people to think of their characters as "a wizard" instead of this here guy with 7 points in the Arcane Magic perk, 3 points in the Arcane Knowledge perk, 4 points in... (ad nauseum)

For those reasons I'd say.

"This is a cool sig."


EnWorlders need to stick together. ;) Yeah, what he said.

By the way, after three years, can we please stop hearing about the ranger? I am willing to pay to have the pain end.


It's just that the class system is so limiting. Say I want a magically active char. with an interest in other things? What then?

If you want different abilities, you can always multiclass. I know that doesn't give you the ultimate power to do everything, but that's what great about D&D and the class system is that it keeps the players fairly equal to each other, instead of power-leveling and tweaking every character to be a badass at 2nd level.
If you really think about it, how could a character study magic, weapons training, and thieving skills all at one time without being 80 before he starts his first real adventure.

Multiclassing? Please. It isn't worth the headaches.

I bet, if it wasn't owned by such a monolith, DnD would've been relegated to history by now. C'mon, even with 3rd. Ed, it's so outdated; the bellbottoms of the RPG world.

I hate classes and levels, myself. I think they're completely bogus.

However, D&D is a classic game. It's one of the few systems where I can tolerate classes and levels as a concept, and where I think that the concept works.

potter said:

"I bet, if it wasn't owned by such a monolith, DnD would've been relegated to history by now. C'mon, even with 3rd. Ed, it's so outdated; the bellbottoms of the RPG world."

Well, as you may know, 'what if' questions as they pertain to history are almost meaningless. D&D is owned by a monolith; it holds nostalgic value for many players (such as myself) who have played it since the '70s; and, whether individuals agree or not, 3d Ed/d20 has given it a reputation for being easy to learn and easy to play.

I remember, deep in the days of the 2nd Ed period, thinking that D&D really had become obsolete. I don't have that perception anymore!

It's not just the classes and levels that bug me:

How do you assign exp. points(which I also think suck) to something other than killing stuff?

I have experimented with alternate forms of XP awards in 3d Ed. My favorite so far is the 'story award,' for which PCs get XP for completing quests and so forth.

Of course, I have a mixed table (some role-players, some 'roll-players,' if you know what I mean), so I also usually give awards for killing stuff. It seems to be part of the D&D experience.

Oh, as for the details:

The formula I used, if I recall correctly, was (1,000 * Average Party Level) for a major quest and (1,000 * Avg. Party Level)/2 for a minor one. And I'd throw in little bonuses here and there.

You're not supposed to mix story awards with combat awards because it makes the characters level really quickly. I did it anyway. I was pretty pleased with the progression, but I noticed that some of the levels seemed to whiz by.

Other posters on this site seem to have played some good games of reasonable power level by playing the system "by the book." For myself, I'm tired of high-powered campaigns with commonplace magic items lying around everywhere...so I'm developing a low-tech, low-mana setting for GURPS. =)

Oh, heh, back to the original article: I did like this article and was interested in it. I don't plan on shelling out for the 3.5 rules anytime soon, so I'm glad to get a glimpse of the "improved" rule set.

IMO, the Ranger class needed fixing desperately. When the Ranger got two-weapon fighting and ambidexterity for free at 1st level, the class was wide open for abuse.

See...GURPS, there you go: that's what a game system should be! Shadowrun, Traveller...they all have the right idea!

Refer to the 3rd. Ed. is Magic article to know what I'm talking about.

"The real question is: why haven't we done away with the "class" system forever?"


"It's just that the class system is so limiting. Say I want a magically active char. with an interest in other things? What then?"

Because, and I know people hate hearing this, a balanced system is only possible when players are limited in their choices.

The more choices, the less balance.

"The more choices, the less balance."

Case in point: Big Eyes, Small Mouth.

As for the 3.5 thing, I downloaded the booklet that Wizards has on their website that outlines the changes they made. While they aren't specific about the changes in the core rulebooks, they do give tables (pages and pages of tables) about the stuff they changed in Fiend Folio, Epic Handbook, Savage Species, and other such splat books.

I don't know if this means that my group will shell out money for the core books or not.

That's another thing: 3rd ed is a money pit. There's a book for wiping your chars ass, I'll bet ya.

The updated 3.5 ruleset can be found here

Though there still seem to be a large number of problems, as is evidenced here

Hey Potter,
you're on the wrong board!

Go peddle your bullshit on "the demise of D&D" or "WoC sucks" and "3rd edition is Magic", that's were you can discuss your issues against D&D and WoC in general.

We're discusing the Ranger, not D&D and WoC in general.

That being said.

The 3.5 ranger is even better than Monty Cook's Ranger.
What's more, the ranger is now a poor choice for certain munchkins who take a level of each class to min-max their PC's. Since it get's its good abilities gradually, the ranger class is now a good long-term choice, instead of a short term power boost to your PC.

The D8 brings the ranger closer to what it was in 1st edition.

The way racial enemy works, now makes it sensible for a ranger to pick weaker foes at 1st level (orcs, goblins, what have you) and then pick something increasingly stronger at levels 5, 10, 15 and 20.

Honestly, almost 100% of the class changes were an improvement (the Bard and Sorcerer are much better now).

The Changes made to familiars are also good.

I'm still getting surprised by some spell changes (usually I'm glad, at others I'm left a scratching my head).

Course I'm talking about the ranger: The whole idea of "ranger" is obsolete in the first place.


Ever heard the term.... "troll."


I agree with Sam that the ranger is better now.
WOTC obviously responded to everyone taking one level only.
Still not sure why they want to force you to choose a shooty ranger or a rootin tootin ranger at 2nd lev. Or if they do, why the inducement isn't better.
Still think they have to do something about thieves to make it worth taking tho'.
After all, if you take thief first level for all those nice skill points, followed by fighter for a couple of levels & track as a feat, you get more than rangers and the same hp on average.

This - of course - is a problem with thieves, not rangers.
I still wonder if the game designers don't design with the fact they run a thief in an on-going campaign in mind.

Agree on spell changes. It would be nice if WOTC could just decide what a long time is.
eg. cat's grace goes from hours to mins. Other spells stay at turns.
Why can't 'long' spells all be turns per level? A lot less looking up, and a lot more playability.

Still can't figure out why barbarians come off so badly compared to rangers. Commonsense says they should track better.
- Grey

When it comes to rogues, two words......sneak attack. Doing an extra 10d6 damage is always nice, but I do understand what you mean about just going fighter/rogue instead of ranger. I like roleplaying rangers. Something about the mysterious guy who lives in the woods and talks to animals. Cocytus, thank you for the kind words about the article, and Potter I find your posts very informative, even you if you do bash WoC. :)

Seriously, you guys, DnD is holding us back from true roleplaying greatness. We could so much better. Come, my brothers, a greater place awaits us!

We'll change the world, I tell ya.

I'm drunk.

Hi everyone,
The URL below is worth following:

Previous experts thoughts on the 3.5 Ed

- Grey

Hello Potter,

I like you. I really do. I just think you need to take a wider look at your subject. D&D is by no means a limiting system. If you read the designers notes from Gygax onwards, they always say to use the rules as a base and interpret them flexibly as you require. The Class systen is there to stop characters all looking the same with the same powers, same weapons, kind of like the old Runequest system. Also it helps ensure balanced characters (as Cadfan says above).If you want variation, then customize a few rules, or use the secondary skills system, or as a last resort, get your DM to design a class specifically to your taste.

To link my remarks above to the subject of rangers. I have never been fond of the ranger class. Its a bit cliche, too close to Tolkiens Aragorn. When I play a ranger, I prefer not to have spelluse, so I take a standard fighter, get my DM to let him have a range of outdoor and tracking secondary skills, and some sort of advantage to using light armour. This works for me.

To summarize, D&D is a great system that gives you a strong framework of classes that you can interpret flexibly to suit yourself.

Feh. Sounds like the new ranger comes straight out of EQ...

If you're looking for neat stuff to do with the ranger class you should go get yourself the Mercenaries sourcebook by AEG. The coolest variant Ranger classes EVAR are in that book, along with a bunch of other great stuff. The group I play with only uses two books for most of the stuff we do, the players' handbook and the Mercenaries book. That's how useful it is...

Wow, it's deja-vu all over again!


I'm with David: Who do I have to pay?

I think I'll name my next ranger EVAR the Wanderer.

Personally I think rangers are fine. The tough bit comes with either commiting development points to the weapon skills and categories or really going nuts and developing the closed channeling lists. As with any semi-spell user it's realy hard to be a decent fighter and a spell caster.

One of my favorite NPC's is a ranger with a Mute background penalty and a Throwing God background bonus. He can throw darn near any weapon. Keeps him out of the toe-to-toe combat (Good cuz he rarely has the points to develop hits) and saves most of his Power points for the post-fight cleanup spells (waiting for that broken leg to natually mend just takes waaaaayyy too long).

Oh, for anyone confused by Steve's post he is talking about the Rolemaster version of the Ranger not the D20 one...

Um, potter. Man, I'm not sure if you know. Hmm, how do I put it?


Ok, I'm better. Seriously, the level based system as put in 2nd Ed and Palladium is total crap next to wonders like GURPS, Shadowrun and White Wolf. With the advent of 3rd Ed and the whole d20 System it think they brought the fell of D&D to 21st century role-playing. They made it more realistic and less limiting. Myself and my friends had given up on D&D for close to 5 years before we gave d20 a try, now we love it.

My point is that I just disagree with your point potter, I like d20.

As far as the point of the article I agree that the Ranger does suck after a bit and there isn't much point in going past a certian level. I havn't seen any of the 3.5 stuff yet and I am not going to go out of my way to do so, 3.0 works fine for me.

I was happy to see all the in between spell casters(ranger, bard, palidine, druid) got some nice upgrades. Many of these were needed espically in the ranger. When I first saw the changes, my mouth was almost watering as my brain spun around the possibilities. This adds buff to make the ranger the combatant it was meant to be.


really, I actually found that the while it is true that the ranger now fights better (a big plus I'll say) what I found most interesting is the added skill points and the bonus feats. Now that leaves you all your "regular" feats to become the "ultimate" scout, hunter, survivalist or combatant. The diminished HP's mean that now more than ever the ranger has to be played with more subtelty than the fighter.

I like it, lots.

I have yet to play 3.5

I was always annoyed that a ranger could hunt but had to separately learn about setting, avoiding and disarming TRAPS.

Is there any changes to this in 3.5?


Actually the whole hunting, trapping, fishing, foraging is now under survival. One skill to rule them all and in the wilderness bind them.

smashing, baby

I used to think that classes in D&D were a horrible limitation. Why should I be horribly penalized if I start out as a fighter and want to pick up some other skills here and there? Why must all wizards be frail wimps who only know how to fight with knives? What if I want to go back to Tolkien and play a wizard who can whip out a sword if he needs to? (Granted, Gandalf is arguably either very high level or simply a demigod, but that's not the point and I think you know it!)

It was this belief that made me appreciate GURPS so much.. and I would still say that GURPS is my favorite system.

But over time I've learned some tolerance towards the notion of D&D as a "game" rather than a be-all life sim.. and perhaps more importantly, WoC has learned how to implement classes in such a way that they represent skill/ability "packages" rather than immutable, identical plastic action figures cranked out by the thousands in some dystopian thought factory.

I can live with packages.

I always disliked how you start-off in a class of character but you're practically CRAP at fighting, you're CRAP at magic, and your skills are all CRAP. It takes levels for you to build up enough XP to be decent at ANYTHING.

I think it would be cool for a PC to be GOOD at something right off the bat.


heheheh...well...try a different system. ;) I know that we GURPS enthusiasts like to tout our pet system, but it is a prime example of a system where your character *can* start out being quite good at something. It's just a matter of spending the points.

That's true,

But when making the PC at first-level, the better he/she is at something, the WORSE they are at something else.

Some of the people I game with like to 'dick' on some of their stats to improve other things. But it always seems to come back to haunt them...

Actually some character concepts can be really good at the begining.

The sneak (rogue/monk/ranger that has from +5 to +10 in hide and move silently.

The survivalist (great saves, lotsa survival)

The perceptive (spots and hears everything)

The diplomat

The bluffer

Sure there will always be people better that your character. But even in GURPS (especially fantasy, cyberpunk, supers and/or psionics) there are many NPC's better than you. Even if you build an "idiot savant" who knows all there is to know about hacking, he/she will be completely inept at everything else, so there will always be another hacker who is better at: finding black market software and hardware, hiding, shooting, etc.

And remember, first level characters are much more powerfull than most of the humanoïd population, which measn they are good at what they do.

At 2nd or 3rd level characters are very powerfull compared to most regular militias.

At 6th level they would be elite shock troops in most armies.

At 9th+ level they are one person strike forces.


they're like GLITTERBOYS!


Glitter boys as in the chromies who always take the cosmetic enhancement and buy nice clothes and go to parties instead of stocking up on weapons, ammo and spare parts (for the hard and the wetware)


and their duties to the Coalition prevented them from joining the FAB-5...


*looks around*

uhh...gee...I didn't know the word 'faboo' could turn everyone in the discussion to stone.

My buddy says it all the time, "tres fabu" and wonders why everyone thinks he is gay.


uh...what are we talking about?


character classes are cool...

Oh, looks like my old buddy, NEPHANDUS went off topic for a bit there, let's grill him about it...

Neph, it's disrespectful to go off topic. Neph, you are a perpetrator of spam. Neph, you're being a prick. Neph, clean your room. Neph, pay attention. Neph, change gear. Neph, scratch your ass. Neph, sit still you will spill your drink down my cherise setee. Neph, I'm leaving you. Neph, all you do is talk about D&D online with your friends. Neph, stop following me. Neph, if I see you at my house again, I'm going to call the cops. Neph, you're frightening the children...


Hey, he was on topic...

1-person strike force, glitterboys, fab-5, faboo...

RIGHT on target

Wait... was Wakko gay?


Wakko? Wakko as in, The Animaniacs?

No, he wasn't gay...he was just British...and hungry all the time.

Wakko was a Liverpudlian, if I remember. Which was odd, considering Yakko was clearly American.

Ah, nostalgia...

I guess it depends entirely on who their daddies were...

Their mama could've been a skank and had many...uhh...partners.

But that would make them half-brothers! And it couldn't have been the Warner half-brothers, and the Warner half-sister. It just wouldn't have worked.

[Sighs] Animaniacs. They just don't make cartoons like that any more.

[Sighs] Animaniacs. They just don't make cartoons like that any more.

[Sighs] Animaniacs. They just don't make cartoons like that any more.

I miss the great Wakkorotti...

By the way, their skank-ass mama could've just kept it a secret.

Whoa! I sighed three times there. I'm all sighed out!

I'm off to the shops, to buy Cocytus some eggs for all that spam we've got. And perhaps pick up the latest copy of Battle Games In Middle-Earth, as well...

Ta-ra for a bit.

[Exits, singing Sophie Ellis Bextor songs] And if you're feeling like it's all messed up, just remember it's a messed up world, and if it's feeling like it's just too tough, just remember you're a real tough girl...


Yep, looks that way.

Yep, looks that way.

And all this time I thought british accent=gay. Hmm, I stand corrected.



*wishing that was NOT said*

ANY foreign accent is a plus. When its a woman...well, except for Indian...it gets no bonuses...or penalties (C.Y.A.)

RUSSIAN is the best (meow)

If I could get Mandy Moore to learn a Russian accent...

*sudden hormone surge*

uhh...I'll be right back...

Mandy Moore??? Nasty. Yuk. She's allmost as ugly as Christina Aguleira.

::sudden stomach surge::

ugh.. be right back..

*drying hands*

...Oh, you poor pitiful soul...

I know its hard for you to understand ANY sexuality beyond necrophilia.


that was me...that was me up there.

So? Just 'cause my girl's dead? Does that mean were's supposed to break up or something? So she doesn't talk so much anymore, that doesn't mean she's not fresh! That doesn't mean she's not fun to be around! I know what it is. You're pregidist. You're pregidist against dead people.

*slaps forehead*

Damn, do YOU have a distorted perspective. Its like your religious or something...

I am a sick bastard.
I know this.
I really do need help.

Help is right here...

*pulls out hypodermic full of strange, glowing purple fluid*

Don't kill eater of the dead.

British accent doen't make a man gay, bnut a good lot of british rock stars turned out that way and most of the other rock stars/actors/writers ended up seeming like it. It's mostly becauxd tyhey have more dignity and propriety than we do in the U.S.....

I must apologize for the poor spelling and for forgetting my signature. Whooopsiees....

Apologetically yours,

Yeah yeah...apologize...blah blah...

Just hurry up and post the "correct-spelling" version so we can understand what the HELL you were saying.

thats kl ave u got n e dead people for us?? we r so lonely u sound kl so dus ure bird