Sample 5e Character – 6th Level Ranger (Hunter)

This one’s a day late, because last night I got back to martial arts training for the first time in well over a year. Not a huge deal for anyone but me, but a big deal for me.

Anyway, for this guy, I decided to go the Variant Human route. I like this for archery-based characters because it makes the Sharpshooter feat available right out of the gate, and between the Archery fighting style, a high DEX, and the proficiency bonus, it makes it so that you can suck up that -5 to hit in exchange for +10 damage with roughly the same odds as the second-rank guys have for their main attacks.

So obviously I’m doing Ranger/Hunter, and I put the best scores in DEX, CON, and STR in that order, leaving the 11 for CHA. That allowed me to boost DEX to 17 at 1st level along with CON to 16 for the HP boost. For the 4th level attribute advancement, I push DEX to 18 and . . . hmm. I push WIS to 14 to get the bonus to Perception, which is something I habitually push higher if I can. 
STR 14 (+2); DEX 18 (+4); CON 16 (+3); INT 13 (+1); WIS 14 (+2); CHA 11 (+0)
Saving Throws: STR +5; DEX +7; CON +3; INT +1; +2; CHA +0

Six boosted skills due to being a variant human, plus background (Folk Hero). I boost Animal Handling (+5), Arcana (+4), Nature (+4), Perception (+5), Stealth (+7), and Survival (+5). 
DEX-based skills are “naturally” +4 without the proficiency bonus.
Between stats and skills, targeting the Feat means I am looking at no (yet) spectacular stats/skills. Picking one of the elvish races (+2 to DEX) and pushing DEX again with the level boost would be a way to get to DEX 20 right out of the gate, but I’m playing a bit of “good at a bunch of things, spectacular at archery,” so he can be out there as a scout, on point – a role he’ll be able to excel at given his Stealth bonus. 

Rangers are tough, since you want them mobile and sneaky. This tends to push AC down, since you’ll either be in Studded Leather (base AC 12 +4 for the DEX) or a breastplate, which is 14, max DEX boost of +2. In either case he’s “only” AC 16, so he’s not going to stand on the front line if he can help it. Magical help will be required to boost his natural AC, be it magical items or handy buffing spells.
The Hunter’s focus is Archery, and with two attacks and the Archery Fighting style, our Ranger is rocking out at 1d20+9 for 1d8+4 piercing each one. With sharpshooter, the option of 1d20+4 for 1d8+14 exists as well. That’s a 25% reduction in hit rate for a 117% increase in damage, so that’s likely an option that you’ll take a lot.
Oh, and of course we throw down with Hunter’s Mark and Colossus Slayer. That second one is huge, and a good reason to make your first arrow attack at max chance to hit. Because the second one gets an extra 1d8. So that means your first arrow is 1d8+4, but your second can be 2d8+14, for an average of 23 points per hit. Sharpshooter after that is 1d8+14 and 2d8+14. 31-52 points if you can successfully hit twice. That even beats out a Champion dual-weapon fighter.

Toss in Hunter’s Mark for 1d6 for each one, and you’re boosting those totals by 7 per two attacks. 

This guy is a serious player, though again, you’re rolling at 1d20+4 to do that much damage output, so mostly useful on low-AC foes, where as the Champion is rolling at 1d20+8 and has double the chance of a critical hit.

With melee weapons, you’re “meh.” 1d20+5 to hit, but 1d10+2 with a longsword, since you’ll use it in two hands if you use it at all. 

Rangers use WIS for spellcasting, and that calls into question the direction I took the character, which was to focus on bow damage. This character has four spells, 2 at 1st level and 2 at 2nd level. One of these just has to be Hunter’s Mark. The other three are Alarm (because warnings can be good), Spike Growth, and Cordon of Arrows.

The Full Monte

Some of the Race

RACE: Variant Human
• Two different ability scores of your choice increase by 1
• Gain proficiency in one skill of your choice
• Gain one feat of your choice
• Size: Medium
• Speed: 30ft
• Languages: Common, one additional language

• Feature: Rustic Hospitality Since you come from the ranks of the common folk, you fit in among them with ease.
• Defining Event: Recruited into a lord’s army, I rose to leadership and was commended for my heroism.
• Skills: Animal Handling, Survival
• Tools: One type of artisan’s tools, vehicles (land)
• Languages: none

CLASS: Ranger
• Armor: Light & medium armor, shields
• Weapons: Simple and martial weapons
• Tools: none
• Saves: Strength, Dexterity
• Skills: Choose 3 from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival
• Favored Enemy Enemies: fey, monstrosities Advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track favored enemy and Intelligence checks to recall information about them
• Natural Explorer Favored Terrain: Grassland, Underdark When making an Intelligence or Wisdom check related to favored terrain, your proficiency bonus is doubled if you are using a skill that you’re proficient in. While traveling for an hour or more in favored terrain, gain the following benefits:
   – Difficult terrain doesn’t slow your group’s travel 
   – Your group can’t become lost except by magical means 
   – Even when you are engaged in another activity while traveling, you remain alert to danger 
   – If you are traveling alone, you can move stealthily at a normal pace 
   – When you forage, you find twice as much food as you normally would 
   – While tracking other creatures, you learn their exact number, sizes and how long ago they passed through the area
• Spellcasting When gaining a level in this class, you can choose one of the ranger spells you know and replace it with another spell from the ranger spell list, which must be of a level for which you have spell slots
• Fighting Style (Archery) Gain +2 bonus to attack rolls made with ranged weapons
• Primeval Awareness As an action expend one ranger spell slot to focus your awareness on the region around you. For 1 min per level of the spell slot expended, sense whether creatures (aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead) are present within 1 mile (or 6 miles in favored terrain). This feature doesn’t reveal the creatures’ location or number
• Ranger Archetype (Hunter)
• Ranger Archetype Feature (Hunter’s Prey/Colossus Slayer) When you hit a creature with a weapon attack, it takes an extra 1d8 damage if it’s below its hit point maximum. You can deal this extra damage only once per turn
• Ability Score Improvement / Feat: Level 4
Extra Attack

• Sharpshooter – Human – Level 1 
    – Attacking at long range doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls
    – Your ranged weapon attacks ignore half cover and three-quarters cover 
    – Before making an attack with a ranged weapon that you are proficient with, you can choose to take a -5 penalty to the attack roll. If the attack hits, add +10 to the attack’s damage

• Ability Score Improvement x 2 – Level 4, – Increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or increase two ability scores of your choice by 1

Parting Shot

A quality scout and an ability to turn a foe into a pincushion at range up to 200 yards, twice per turn. If you can catch regular humans or humanoids in the open at 600′, you will have 10 turns (assuming they dash at 60′) to more or less strike with impunity, which happens to be the length of Hunter’s Mark. Even forgoing the damage boost you can opt into for Sharpshooter, he will hit AC 14 (Studded leather and +2 from DEX) 80% of the time, for 12 points per hit. For low-level guys, that’s in the one hit, one kill range. So alone, he can handle something like a band of 16 mookish foes.

If he can catch them from a distance. 

Even in a closer-range battle, this guy will lay down some serious hurt. +Daniel McEntee‘s Ranger, Keyar, is one of the more consistent threats in our Majestic Wilderlands campaign, and can be counted on to either really whittle down on a large foe, or act as crowd control on smaller ones.

As a point-man and scout par excellence, he can’t be beat. Not-awful HP either – a fighter’s 58 HP for that level with CON 16. 

Wood Elf Option

If you can live without Sharpshooter (the 120′ usual range for a longbow is nothing to sneeze at anyway), you can throw down with a Wood Elf instead, and work with 

STR 13 (+1); DEX 20 (+5); CON 14 (+2); INT 13 (+1); WIS 16 (+3); CHA 11 (+0)
Saving Throws: STR +4; DEX +8; CON +2; INT +1; +2; CHA +0

HP drop to 52 from 58. Hit rolls go to 1d20+10, damage to 1d8+5, Initiative to +5, Stealth to +8 and Perception, Survival, and Animal Handling to +6

This makes for a better guide and scout, and the loss of the +10 damage makes him less of a bruiser in a pinch, but a bit more likely to recon a target. 

In either case, the high DEX save means that ranged combat spells will be at half-damage a reasonable amount of the time (more than half the time, in all likelihood).

The Sharpshooter Ranger/Hunter is a pretty brutal potential damage machine. His high-end capability is on the order of 58 HP per two hits, but against AC 16 (decent AC for an above-average foe), the 1d20+4 die roll hurts, succeeding only 45% of the time. Our Champion is succeeding 65% of the time, and can max out at about 40 (52 with an action surge), meaning he’s about the same without the surge, and with it he’s still better off.

Of course, our Ranger can do this from 600′. So his goal is to stay fray-adjacent or more or less “in the next county over” if he can do it. And if he can, he’s the equivalent of a machine-gun nest. The other characters can count on a significant reduction in the odds against them each turn they can bring the Ranger’s arrows to bear.

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