I hope everyone is enjoying ranger week so far. As part of ranger week, I’ve decided to do a double feature of Aragorn and Legolas, two characters that are wildly different from one another but still both strong inspirations for building your ranger.
Lets start with Legolas. What do your elf eyes see? They see that Legolas is in many ways, the archetypal ranger. A master of the longbow and equally masterful at tracking.
The son of an elven king in a secluded forest, Legolas is a Wood Elf. There are two backgrounds that are both strong candidates for Legolas. The first is Outlander, because the benefits you get from it strongly correspond to many of Legolas’ strengths. The second is Noble, because he is the son of a king. For this example, I’ll be going with Outlander, as I believe it to be a better match.
Using the standard array, our ability scores will be as follows:
Being a ranger gives us proficiency in simple and martial weapons, along with light and medium armor and shields. We get proficiency in perception, athletics, and survival from our race and background and three more from our class. Animal handling and stealth are the most fitting for Legolas and we’ll also pick up nature. It’s a shame we don’t have access to acrobatics, as it is a very strong fit.
We’ll take leather armor, two shortswords, an explorer’s pack, and a bow, in addition to all the equipment granted by our background.
At 1st level we choose a favored enemy. We are going to go with Orcs and Goblins, as choosing a humanoid race lets you choose two, and Orcs and Goblins are the main enemies that Legolas fought throughout the films, not including Uruk Hai, which aren’t in the game (unless you want them to be). We also pick up natural explorer, which is a nice bonus to travel. (No wonder Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli were able to travel so quickly, two rangers!)
2nd level gives a fighting style and spells. Archery is the best pick for Legolas, but two-weapon fighting is a strong second, if you’d rather play a melee-focused character.
As for spells, it’s a good idea to pick spells that will help with our archery skills. For now I’d go with Hail of Thorns and Hunter’s Mark. At later levels, Pass Without Trace, Conjure Barrage, and Conjure Volley are all good candidates, but feel free to mix it up.
3rd level gets us our Ranger Archetype, and we’ll be going with Hunter. At 3rd level we get to customize our Hunter, getting a choice between Colossus Slayer, Giant Killer, and Horde Breaker. Colossus Slayer is probably the strongest mechanically, but how many times have we seen Legolas loosing arrow after arrow taking out a new goblin with each shot. Horde Breaker definitely suits Legolas the best, so that’s what we are going with.
At higher levels we get more options to customize our Hunter. At 7th level, all of the options are good choices to increase your survivability. At 11th level Volley is definitely the more suitable option, letting us shoot even more goblins every turn. Finally 15th level gives us another defensive boon where we get to choose between Evasion, Stand Against the Tide, and Uncanny Dodge. Once again all are good options. It’s better just to take 7 levels of rogue instead and you get two of the three of those and you also get a bunch of other useful abilities instead of the disappointing Ranger capstone, but I digress.
Anyway that does it for everyone’s favorite elven archer, now it’s time to move on to everyone’s favorite forgotten king. Aragorn is a very different kind of ranger to Legolas, while Aragorn definitely can use a bow, he usually opts to use his two handed sword instead.
We’ll go ahead and choose Human for Aragorn. For his background there are once again two good options, Outlander and Noble. Outlander fits him because of his state just before he joins the group of hobbits. Noble fits him because he is the heir to the throne of Gondor. For this, we’ll be going with Noble because he actually ends up making something of his titles by the end of the story.
Stats with standard array:
We get all the same armor and weapon proficiencies as before, but this time we get History and Persuasion from our background for free. From our class we’ll be going with Athletics, Perception, and Survival.
We’ll take scale mail, and then we are immediately going to ignore the starting equipment options and take a longsword instead (fight me), then we’ll follow the options again and take an explorer’s pack and a longbow.
1st level gives us a favored enemy, we’ll once again be going with goblins and orcs. And of course natural explorer.
2nd level gives us our fighting style. Now, this is where we are going to break the rules a little bit. The fact that ranger’s aren’t allowed to have great weapon fighting like fighters and paladins are is, to put it lightly, really stupid and restrictive. It’s overpowered to take that fighting style instead and it fits Aragorn much better than any of the default ranger options, so that’s what we are going to do. But if you don’t want to do that or your dungeon master won’t let you, defense works fine as well.
We also get spells at 2nd level. We don’t need spells to buff our archery like with Legolas so you have a lot of freedom in what you choose. I’m gonna go with Hunter’s Mark, because it still works with melee and is just too good to pass up, as well as Cure Wounds.
3rd level gives us our archetype. And if the below picture doesn’t scream Gloom Stalker then I don’t know what does.
Dread Ambusher and Umbral Sight are both great abilities. Another attack is always welcome, and Umbral Sight is especially useful since we are a human and don’t have natural darkvision.
There you have it. Two very strong ranger characters the wildly differ from one another. It just goes to show how versatile the archetype of ranger is, it also shows how not-versatile the class of ranger is, since we had to fudge the rules on Aragorn’s fighting style. I may not be the biggest fan of rangers, but I do love these characters.
That’ll conclude our article for Ranger Week! Have you tried out this class? What’s your experience with it? Let us know on our twitter or on our instagram, or even in our forums! Thank you all for taking the time to read your article, we truly appreciate it!