Hello all and welcome to Ranger Week! We’re going to be trying something a little different today, focusing on multiclassing into and out of the Ranger class. The Ranger plays well with other classes, so let’s just go ahead and get right into it!
While the Ranger isn’t necessarily a good class on its own if we’re just looking at the Basic Rules, it has gotten some solid upgrades with Unearthed Arcana and Xanathar’s Guide. To start things off, let’s look at a few things to consider before multiclassing:
- Class Features offered within the first few levels
- Class Features offered within the last few levels
- Spellcasting and Ability Scores
Let’s take a look at a few of these bullet points, break them down, and then look at some of the multiclass opportunities presented to the Ranger! For the sake of this article, I WILL NOT be using any Unearthed Arcana! If you will be using the Revised Ranger or the recent Class Features UA, consider that a direct upgrade. Only good things can come from it.
The First Few Levels
Often times I feel like players won’t dip into Ranger. For those of you who don’t know, a dip is taking a break from your main class to take anywhere between one and three levels into a secondary class. Taking one level into Ranger nets you all weapon proficiencies, light/medium armor and shields, and a skill from the class’s skill list. Perhaps the greatest boon from this is the proficiency in martial weapons, since access to a longbow is probably going to be something you’ll appreciate for a character that’d consider dipping into ranger. You’ll also receive Favored Enemy, granting you advantage on Survival checks to track a specific enemy and Intelligence checks to recall information on them. This also grants you a free language! You also gain Natural Explorer, choosing a favored terrain and gaining expertise on Intelligence or Wisdom checks related to the terrain as well as a slew of new abilities that you gain when traveling in your favored terrain. Quite frankly, the first level into Ranger kind of sucks unless you find yourself in a wide exploration campaign. Think something like Out of the Abyss and choosing say, the Underdark as your terrain. In that case you’ll almost always have expertise in your checks, you’ll never fall prey to difficult terrain, etc. However, if you find that you’re mostly in a meat grinder sort of campaign, this first level of Ranger is going to set you back pretty decently for that level.
Level two brings you a Fighting Style and Spellcasting. Rangers use Wisdom for their Spellcasting and are half-casters. Unlike Paladins, they don’t have an effective ability that uses their spell slots akin to Divine Smite, but they get access to some great spells such as Hunter’s Mark, Ensnaring Strike, and Zephyr Strike. Even if you just use the spell slots for Hunter’s Mark in combat, you’ll still find some nice use out of the Spellcasting. Fighting Styles are always welcome and help to define what your character will be doing. If you’re a sharpshooting Rogue dipping into Ranger, pick up Archery. If you’re a Rogue that uses a shortsword and dagger, you can pick up Two-Weapon Fighting to increase your damage by a noticeable amount. Overall, the second level into Ranger isn’t bad, but I wouldn’t call it remarkable.
Level three brings your Ranger Archetype and Primeval Awareness. I did mention earlier that you don’t gain an effective ability that uses your spell slots, but I may have… kind of lied? Primeval Awareness detects if there’s any aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead within a mile of you. It doesn’t reveal their number nor location, just pings you and throws an exclamation point above your head. Really the only situation I see this being used is before a long rest so that the spellcasters can prepare spells that can help to fight those creatures. However, in every game of DnD I’ve played, I think every single Ranger has forgotten that they have Primeval Awareness. So… there’s that…. Anyway, your Ranger Archetype! Nearly every Ranger subclass’s first ability will grant you a way to deal extra damage or make an extra attack. Some of them give you extra spells, while the Beast Master is a whole ‘nother beast…. heh. In general though, these Archetypes will give you a nice spike to your damage output and action economy!
All in all, I don’t think the Ranger is a very good class to Multiclass into. The abilities are relatively weak unless you’re in an adventuring campaign that involves long walks on the beach or long walks in the mountains. You’ll be able to add a few extra d6s of damage here and there, but there’s a very specific class that lets you roll every d6 at the table when you hit with an attack… Onto bigger and better things!
The Last Few Levels
Fortunately this will be a lot more abstract and shorter since there’s really only two abilities you miss out on. Feral Senses at level 18 allows you to attack creatures you can’t see without suffering disadvantage! You can also pinpoint any invisible creature within 30 feet of you, provided it isn’t hidden from you and you aren’t blinded or deafened. I think thematically it’s a really cool ability, but with how Invisibility works in DnD it’s not the best level 18 ability. If you have even a general idea of where an invisible enemy is, your casters could just launch an AoE ability there. I won’t say this ability is bad, I just think that it comes a bit late for what it does.
The Ranger capstone is Foe Slayer. Once on each of your turns, you can add your Wisdom Modifier to the attack roll or damage roll of an attack against one of your favored enemies. Now look, adding a +5 (In an ideal world, realistically it’ll probably be a +4 at most) to a roll isn’t bad at all. That (almost) completely compensates for Sharpshooter, or gives you an extra 5 (4) damage on your hits. The real kicker here is… you can ONLY use this on your FAVORED ENEMY. Now while most campaigns will have a fairly typical set of enemies, whether it’s dragons, fiends, etc, there will end up being combats where this ability can NEVER BE USED. A capstone ability… that has the potential to never be used… it makes me sad to even think about it.
Just looking at those two abilities, it’s pretty easy to say that three or so levels into a different class might not be a bad idea. So with that, we decide that while the Ranger is pretty bad to multiclass into, it’s nice to multiclass out of it. Many of the Ranger’s abilities play well with each other and allow you to become a flurry of steel or barrage of arrows. I also feel like many of the Ranger’s best abilities and strengths manifest in the mid game, around levels 5-10.
So if you’ve been paying attention in class, you would know that we did cover a really good multiclass in the Rogue/Ranger. Taking just a few levels into Rogue really bolsters the Ranger’s options, giving them expertise in areas outside of their favored terrain, some extra on hit damage, and an unrivaled bonus action economy.
Another strange multiclass you could pull off is a Ranger/Druid. This one is certainly thematic, as you’d probably start in Ranger and through the story and understanding of the Old Ways and the natural cycle, you’d pick up some druidic secrets and training. Both classes rely on Wisdom, are Primal classes, and you get a nice boost to your spellcasting and utility with Druid.
You can also take a few levels into fighter, because who doesn’t benefit from a few fighter levels? Getting another Fighting Style is welcome and Second Wind will give you a nice heal if you can’t afford to use Cure Wounds. Another level gets you Action Surge which can net you a ton of attacks in one turn, playing into that theme of a barrage of attacks. Fighter subclasses are also some of the best in the game, often being front loaded with great abilities such as the Samurai’s Fighting Spirit, Battle Master’s Superiority Die, or even something as simple as the Champion’s Improved Critical. You’ll be attacking often, so doubling your crit chance is a huge boon.
Now that we’re at the end of the article, let me reiterate; the Ranger class is one that gains many, many benefits from Unearthed Arcana revisions and additional source books. While I think that it’s a difficult class to multiclass into, it’s definitely one of the best ones to branch out of. It has abilities that play nice with other class features while still having flaws that can quickly be covered up by a few levels into different classes.
Alright folks, that’s it! The first series of Class on Multiclassing is concluded! We’ll continue articles in this style after a two week break, so if at any time you have some feedback or requests, let us know on our twitter or instagram! We’re always happy to listen to you folks! With that, class is dismissed and I hope you all have an excellent Spring Break 🙂