[D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

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[D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Havard » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:08 am

Interesting article about the different versions of the Ranger Class in different editions:

Part 1

Part 2


Do you prefer your Rangers to be more like Aragorn, Drizz't, Tarzan, Ulysses or Jack?

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Last edited by Havard on Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by talsine » Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:01 am

I don't really feel that Tarzan was a big influence, but other than that, it was a really interesting article.

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:28 am

I would not consider Ulysses to be a ranger.

I've been hearing this argument since 2E came out. I've never been convinced that it holds up, and has always seemed more a counter-reaction to Drizzt's popularity than having any real basis in anything.

As the author notes, Salvatore built Drizz't in conformance with 1E regs*, and dual wielding was a dark elf trait. Further (again, as he notes) Drizzt's development by the author was occurring at/around the same time as the development of 2E, when dual wielding became a standard feature of the ranger as a whole, and was unlikely to have influenced the class' development in that system (indeed, the lead designer, David 'Zeb' Cook, has specifically pointed this out when asked about it.) Any character could fight with two weapons (with penalty) even in 1E.

The animal companion feature was always a part of the class since 1E, as gaining a monstrous or animal companion was always a possibility for a high level ranger as laid out in the 1E DMG (where notably none of the other classes that could gain followers had that potential). This was retained in 2E, and only became an early level feature with the advent of 3E. Well after the appearance of Drizz't, and I since it didn't actually appear until the 2nd iteration of 3E (3.5 PHB), I find it hard to swallow that it was "all because of Drizz't."

*As a side note, I feel compelled to point out that Salvatore was originally going to use Daryth of Calimshan, from the Moonshae Trilogy for his book, before he created Drizz't. Yet for all that Salvatore himself has credited Daryth as inspiring Drizz't, I rarely hear anyone complaining that the current version of the ranger can be blamed on Daryth, a character who wielded a scimitar (albeit only one, although I have vague recollections of him using a scimitar and dagger simultaneously at some point; maybe in Darkwell? Haven't read it in years) and was noted for his animal companion (albeit he was a thief and not a ranger!)
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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Havard » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:10 am

Part 2 is out now.

This part has some interesting thoughts on Hargrave's Forester Class from the Arduin series.

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Havard » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:11 am

talsine wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:01 am
I don't really feel that Tarzan was a big influence, but other than that, it was a really interesting article.
I guess not, but he is a guy who hangs out in nature alot and has a few animal companions. :)

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Havard » Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:19 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:28 am
I would not consider Ulysses to be a ranger.
What class do you see him as? I guess I never really even thought about maritime types as a possible option for Rangers, but with favored terrain: sea and a water based animal companion or perhaps a parrot, you could have a kick-ass Pirate :)

Was Argus the dog, Ulysses' animal companion?
I've been hearing this argument since 2E came out. I've never been convinced that it holds up, and has always seemed more a counter-reaction to Drizzt's popularity than having any real basis in anything.
Good point. I didn't sense this from the article, but I am very tired of the anti-Drizz't parade.

Still, it is interesting to see that Drizz't may have eventually come to define the Ranger Class. I would not be surprised if WotC consciously wanted to remove the archetype from Aragorn for instance, continuing TSR's old silly insistence that "D&D has nothing to do with Tolkien" since the time they were sued for blatantly inserting Tolkien's IP all over OD&D.
As the author notes, Salvatore built Drizz't in conformance with 1E regs*, and dual wielding was a dark elf trait. Further (again, as he notes) Drizzt's development by the author was occurring at/around the same time as the development of 2E, when dual wielding became a standard feature of the ranger as a whole, and was unlikely to have influenced the class' development in that system (indeed, the lead designer, David 'Zeb' Cook, has specifically pointed this out when asked about it.) Any character could fight with two weapons (with penalty) even in 1E.
I didn't realize dual wielding was a dark elf trait in 1E.
The animal companion feature was always a part of the class since 1E, as gaining a monstrous or animal companion was always a possibility for a high level ranger as laid out in the 1E DMG (where notably none of the other classes that could gain followers had that potential). This was retained in 2E, and only became an early level feature with the advent of 3E. Well after the appearance of Drizz't, and I since it didn't actually appear until the 2nd iteration of 3E (3.5 PHB), I find it hard to swallow that it was "all because of Drizz't."
Good points.
*As a side note, I feel compelled to point out that Salvatore was originally going to use Daryth of Calimshan, from the Moonshae Trilogy for his book, before he created Drizz't. Yet for all that Salvatore himself has credited Daryth as inspiring Drizz't, I rarely hear anyone complaining that the current version of the ranger can be blamed on Daryth, a character who wielded a scimitar (albeit only one, although I have vague recollections of him using a scimitar and dagger simultaneously at some point; maybe in Darkwell? Haven't read it in years) and was noted for his animal companion (albeit he was a thief and not a ranger!)
I didn't know that! Thanks for sharing! :)

-Havard
Last edited by Havard on Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Illuminatus » Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:57 pm

Another interesting thing about the evolution of the ranger is that you’re much more likely these days to find youngsters who assume that the “range” in “ranger” refers to skill with ranged weapons. I wonder if Everquest played a role in that. Rangers in EQ could dual-wield but were also excellent archers.

At least archery skills make more sense for an outdoorsman class than two-weapon fighting. I’m always reminded of a scene I read somewhere of two rangers meeting in a bar:

“YOU can wield two weapons without penalty? *I* can wield two weapons without penalty! How weird is that!?”

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by torkill13 » Sat Jul 13, 2019 2:44 pm

Illuminatus wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 1:57 pm
Another interesting thing about the evolution of the ranger is that you’re much more likely these days to find youngsters who assume that the “range” in “ranger” refers to skill with ranged weapons. I wonder if Everquest played a role in that. Rangers in EQ could dual-wield but were also excellent archers.
While the ranged archetype has been around much longer than Everquest, I do agree that video games have definitely shaped the role of a ranger to be more of a ranged-DPS type. Many video games are based on a heavy tank on the front line soaking up damage while the high DPS folks (rangers, rogues, wizards) decimate the enemy, typically from afar (or behind for the rogue). The 5e ranger class trends this way as well, where 1e rangers was pretty bad ass and could handle the front line as well as any fighter, maybe better with typically more HP and a few spells at their disposal.

1e Fighter - 1d10 HD, any armor, any weapon
1e Ranger - 2d8 HD first level, 1d8 HD each level after 1st, any armor, any weapon
5e Ranger - 1d10 HD, medium armor, any weapon
5e Fighter - 1d10 HD, any armor, any weapon

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Dread Delgath » Sat Jul 13, 2019 4:41 pm

I've always depicted Rangers in my World of Greyhawk campaign as troubleshooters that looked after the borders of a realm or kingdom, for the sake of the kingdom and it's peoples. They were almost always mounted on horseback, but just as capable of tracking and chasing enemies on foot, but mostly trained in the art of concealing themselves in the terrain, whether it be forest, plains, mountains, swamps, rivers, etc.

Yes, a fantasy/medieval version of the Texas Ranger, to be exact. (only without the silly powder blue uniform and the mask) ;)
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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:25 pm

Havard wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:19 am
Cthulhudrew wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 7:28 am
I would not consider Ulysses to be a ranger.
What class do you see him as? I guess I never really even thought about maritime types as a possible option for Rangers, but with favored terrain: sea and a water based animal companion or perhaps a parrot, you could have a kick-ass Pirate :)
To be honest, I never really thought about it much until now, just that reading the suggestion my first reaction was not "Ulysses, a ranger, of course." I guess as just more of a fighter, or a fighter/thief.

[quoteI didn't know that! Thanks for sharing! :)[/quote]

Yeah, Salvatore discusses it in the foreword to one of the Dark Elf novels, that he originally pitched a Moonshae story with Wulfgar, because his only exposure to the Realms at the time was the Moonshae trilogy. He was going to use Daryth to introduce Wulfgar as a character. Then he is told he doesn't have to use the Moonshae Isles and at that point comes up with Drizzt as a sidekick. He mentions in an article in Dragon at one point that he envisioned Drizzt as a cross between Daryth and Aragorn. (Sidenote, I really liked Daryth and the first Moonshae trilogy. I always thought he should have become more prominent than he was, but Doug Niles killed him off in the third book. :( [Spoilers for a decades old novel?])
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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by talsine » Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:40 pm

Havard wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 11:11 am
talsine wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 6:01 am
I don't really feel that Tarzan was a big influence, but other than that, it was a really interesting article.
I guess not, but he is a guy who hangs out in nature alot and has a few animal companions. :)

-Havard
Tarzan actually really doesn't have that many animal "companions", that's mostly an artifact of the early films about him. There are a few novels where he travels with them, and he certainly can communicate and, to some extent, command them, but its less of an animal companion type roll and more of a Noble ruler kind of thing. the 1E ranger who can have a retinue of animals that serve him is much much closer is that respect than anything since. I would honestly argue Tarzan is much more of a barbarian or even monk like character than a ranger. In fact, if i was going to make him as a character using a modern system, i would probably start with one of those classes before I ever looked at a Ranger.

The follow up article trying to make an argument for John Carter of Mars being a ranger makes me wonder if he has a real understanding of the source material he is referencing. Carter may have had a pet, but he is very much a military man and about as far from a ranger as I can imagine. The Phantom isn't a bad pick i suppose, as his dog and horse certainly fit the tropes better but i've never felt D&D handles anything with guns very well and so he just doesn't work for me either, he's very much a pulp hero, and they don't fit into fantasy tropes very well.

It does, however, almost make me what to make a list of my favorite Pulp heros and try to break them down by fantasy trope / archetype. But I'm not nearly that motivated.

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by Cthulhudrew » Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:19 am

talsine wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:40 pm
The follow up article trying to make an argument for John Carter of Mars being a ranger makes me wonder if he has a real understanding of the source material he is referencing.
Agreed. It seems like he is just focusing on finding fantasy figures with animal companions and positing that they might potentially be rangers based on that characteristic alone. The Lone Ranger because he has a horse as a possible ranger (oh, and he has "ranger" in his title, I suppose). Couldn't he just as easily- and possibly more appropriately- be a paladin? :?:

The second article seems to be veering off course of the original intent of the article, first by speculating on classes based on a single characteristic (animal companion) that is only a feature in later versions of the class, and then by taking a deep dive less into the origins of the class and more into the group/people that originally created it in the 70s. I found it a bit hard to even finish reading this second blog.
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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by talsine » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:35 am

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 1:19 am
talsine wrote:
Sat Jul 13, 2019 8:40 pm
The follow up article trying to make an argument for John Carter of Mars being a ranger makes me wonder if he has a real understanding of the source material he is referencing.
Agreed. It seems like he is just focusing on finding fantasy figures with animal companions and positing that they might potentially be rangers based on that characteristic alone. The Lone Ranger because he has a horse as a possible ranger (oh, and he has "ranger" in his title, I suppose). Couldn't he just as easily- and possibly more appropriately- be a paladin? :?:

The second article seems to be veering off course of the original intent of the article, first by speculating on classes based on a single characteristic (animal companion) that is only a feature in later versions of the class, and then by taking a deep dive less into the origins of the class and more into the group/people that originally created it in the 70s. I found it a bit hard to even finish reading this second blog.
I would defiantly call The Lone Ranger a Paly over a Ranger, especially in this context. Honestly, The Phantom could be called a Paly too, though he would be empowered by a some what less than LG god, he still has a very specific code he sticks to when murdering people.

The second article definitely fell flat for me as well, though the info on Aurduin was interesting enough, that's a part of D&D's history that never really grabbed me. I'm honestly not a huge fan of OD&D in general, so other than as the root of the hobby i love, i'm not super interested in it. I would rather have seen him move forward and maybe talk to a 3E designer to see what they felt where the influences the class was based on, or even talk about some of the other Rangers from D&D fiction around the same time like Tanis Half Elven or, whoever else, I didn't read anything other than Dragonlance to be honest.

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by paladinn » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:16 pm

I believe the ranger as a class suffers from an identity crisis. Not just how/if its based on literary and historical examples, but the very reason for its existence. With the right choices of skills and weapons, Any fighter or thief/rogue can be considered a "ranger." What exactly makes the class unique or special? What can it do that other classes really can't? Is a ranger a junior druid, a fighter/thief hybrid, or something else? What is the ranger's "thing"?

In OD&D, I think the idea of giving the ranger cleric spells had to do with Aragorn's small skill with natural healing (there were no druids before Grayhawk), and possibly with his ability to fight ringwraiths. There really was nothing of a magic-user about him. But outside of animal handling and the afore-mentioned natural healing, there was really nothing druidic about Aragorn either. Essentially, Aragorn's "special abilities" were animal handling, some natural healing, advantage vs. being surprised, ability to hide/vanish, tracking, and possibility his effectiveness against orcs. He really didn't dual-wield and wasn't much of an archer. After confronting the Oathbreakers, one could say he started going full-on paladin. But before then, there was little he could do that couldn't be duplicated with general skills.

While BECMI had no "official" ranger class, there were some attempts like the forester (a human with elf abilities) and the druidic knight (a paladin who uses druid spells). If there Has to be an actual ranger class, I would think the druidic knight would be a good example. But then, that really depends on using the BECMI version of the paladin, on which I have mixed feelings. The original paladin didn't cast spells.

Note: It's interesting that Arduin had a ranger-type called the "forrester". Guess it wasn't original with BECMI:)

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Re: [D&D] The Ranger Through The Ages

Post by pawsplay » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:32 am

The Lone Ranger to me seems most like a cavalier.

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