In 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons, the subclass structure of classes is where you’ll find a lot of the variety that helps make a class your own. As it stands, between released products, there are around 2 to 4 subclasses per class, not including the 8 or so domains and traditions given to Clerics and Wizards. It is clear that these subclasses will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to defining these classes in the context of campaign worlds, as well as fulfilling certain character builds from past editions.
The Warlock patron and pact item of my last post inspired me to look at the subclasses we have so far and try to come up with some solid ones for classes that are lacking. The Ranger is one class that is sorely lacking in a good variety of archetypes, so I decided to ruminate and try to come up with a couple that I found interesting. Hopefully you will too!
The following subclasses are works in progress, thoroughly not playtested and more than likely overpowered. The reason for this is that I prefer to scale back then forward. I will be updating this post as I have been the Shamanic Warlock one as I get feedback and am able to test them. (A special shout out to those on Reddit who helped me with your generous feedback!)
The Manhunter is a ranger archetype that focuses around grappling and incapacitating creatures. The One of the Ancient Order is a more mystical style ranger, getting a couple of rituals and a druid cantrip that they can use once per rest. Hopefully I can work these into good subclasses for a class that is sadly lacking those at the moment.
A ranger is a person skilled at both arms and tracking, usually at home in the wilderness. They are used to less than comfortable environments, and usually are skilled in the lore of nature, herbs, and beasts. Most rangers are used to working alone, but are welcome and valuable members of adventuring groups. Their attunement with nature also manifests in minor glamours and spells.
The following subclasses can be chosen at 3rd level as an Archetype by a Ranger character.
Some rangers are hunters of not beasts, but men. These bounty hunters are often sent from civilization to find outlaws who have fled the laws of the cities and towns into the wilderness. Either for a personal sense of justice or the draw of coin, the manhunter stalks his prey through the wilderness, usually engaging in melee combat to grapple and bind them for turning into the authorities.
Those who take this path find it useful to be skilled in the art of intimidation, and usually avoid killing their foes outright. After all, a living mark is worth more than a dead one.
The Most Dangerous Game
At 3rd Level, you gain the following features:
You gain two humanoid races as favored enemies.
You gain proficiency with manacles and rope.
Against small or medium creatures, you gain advantage on grapple checks against them. If the creature is a humanoid of a race that is your favored enemy, you may roll a d4 and add that to your grapple check roll.
On your turn, if you are still grappling a creature from last turn, if you successfully maintain the grapple this turn you may as a bonus action attempt to bind the creature with manacles or rope using a Strength or Dexterity contest against the creature’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics). On success, the creature is incapacitated and cannot succeed against your grapple checks. If you let go of the creature, it becomes prone.
To break the bonds, the creature must as an action make a successful Strength (Athletics) check against a DC 15. If the creature is Small or Medium, it has disadvantage on this check.
Force of Will
Starting at 7th Level, you may as a bonus action attempt to psychologically intimidate a creature that is within melee range of you. To do so, roll a Charisma (Intimidation) check. The creature must make a Wisdom Saving Throw using the result of your check as the DC. On failure, that creature gains disadvantage on all attack rolls and saving throws against you for one hour. The creature must be sentient.
Starting at 11th Level, as a reaction, if you have successfully grappled a creature on your turn and if you or someone adjacent to you is attacked, you may replace the target of that attack with the creature you are grappling. If the attacker is within melee range of you, you may then choose to either push the creature into the attacker, giving it disadvantage on it’s next attack roll, or make an opportunity attack on the attacker with a one handed weapon.
Move On Over
Starting at 15th Level you may use your reaction to switch places with any creature adjacent to you when you are targeted by or are in the area of effect of an attack or spell. To do so you must make a Grapple check against the creature unless they are willing, however you cannot maintain the grapple after the attack ends.
One of the Ancient Order
Though most rangers come from settlements and stalk the wilderness as scouts or hunters, some are members of ancient orders. These orders are bound by oaths or rites to protect the primeval wilderness, and are far more in tune with the natural energies of the world. Their motivations in the wilderness are usually to guard sacred natural places or to make pilgrimages to find such places. Most likely this group of rangers was among the first to be called such.
Those who take this path are usually those who seek a mystical connection with the wilderness through ranging, and often must seek out an ancient order or someone who can pass on the correct rites to them.
Starting at 3rd level, you gain the ability cast rituals. In addition you gain two 1st level spells from the Druid spell list that can be cast as rituals. These spells may only ever be cast as rituals.
You also may choose 1 druid cantrip from the druid spell list. Upon using the cantrip, you cannot cast it again until you have completed a short or long rest.
Starting at 7th level, if the party is resting in an area with access to vegetation of some sort, you may forgo using your Hit Dice to prepare the herbs for the rest of the party. Doing so allows them to recover additional hit points equal to 1d8 + your proficiency bonus.
Strike of Nature’s Rage
Starting at 11th level, you may invoke the power of nature to imbue one of your weapon attacks. The attack is considered poison, and so the damage it deals is poison damage. If the attack hits the target, the target must make a Constitution Saving Throw against a DC 15. On failure, they take an additional d6 damage and are poisoned (save ends, Constitution Saving Throw DC 15).
Rite of the Veil
Starting at 15th level, the natural energies of the world sometimes permeate around you like a veil. The first attack against you in a round is given disadvantage. If the attacker misses, you gain advantage on your next attack if it is against that creature.