Monday, January 23, 2017

Unearthed Arcana: Ranger & Rogue

So Wizards of the Coast pulled a switcheroo on us for the first Unearthed Arcana for 2017.  Last week, we got the Artificer base class, and while it’s a box load of fun, it did throw off our schedule for UA material and our current plan to cover the base classes from the Player’s Handbook.  Today we’re going to hop back on the wagon and catch on the features for the Ranger and the Rogue.  2017 is shaping up to be another interesting year for Dungeons and Dragons, so let’s dive into the new Ranger and the new Rogue


Rangers have always been the militant guardians of nature.  They are absolute masters of their chosen terrain, and terrible foes to the sworn enemies.  These wilderness warriors combine martial skill and woodcraft in a deadly combination.  The Unearthed Arcana for this week adds two new options for Ranger Archetypes, the Horizon Walker, and the Primeval Guardian.  The Archetypes add new spells to the ranger spell list at 3rd level, and additional abilities at 3rd, 7th, 11th, and 15th level.  Let’s take a closer look at these new choices, and dive in.

Note 1:  You can use these choices for the Unearthed Arcana: Ranger from earlier last year, the only change is to make sure that you note you have the Extra Attack ability at 5th level.

The Conclave of the Horizon Walkers

The Horizon Walkers watch over the places in the wild where other planes overlap with this one. Natural portals link our world to others, and the Horizon Walkers keep both sides of these portals safe.  This is a Ranger that embraces a broader definition of the natural world and they sometimes wander across the planes, keeping them safe.

Planar Magic

At 3rd level, the Horizon Walker learns a new spell that is added to his or her ranger spell list.  This doesn’t count against the number of spells a Horizon Walker knows.  The Horizon Walker learns additional spells at the levels indicated

3rd Level: protection from evil and good
5th Level: alter self
9th Level: protection from energy
13th Level: banishment
17th Level: teleportation circle

Portal Lore

At 3rd level, the Horizon Walker gains the ability to locate Portals.  As an action, the Horizon Walker can detect the direction and distance to any portal within 1,000 feet.  The Horizon Walker also knows which plane the portal leads to, unless otherwise hidden by magic.  This ability needs to be recharged with a short or long rest, or the Horizon Walker can activate it again by expending a spell slot of 2nd level or higher.  
Note: I kind of like the idea of being able to recharge abilities like this by burning spell slots.  

Ethereal Step

At 7th level, the Horizon Walker can momentarily step into another plane of existence. As a bonus action, the Horizon Walker can cast the etherealness spell with this feature, but the spell ends at the end of the current turn.  This feature recharges at the end of a short or long rest.  

Distant Strike

At 11th level, the Horizon Walker can step between Planes in the blink of an eye.  When using the Attack action, the Horizon Walker can teleport up to 10 feet before making each attack.  If the Horizon Walker attacks two different creatures, they can make a third attack against a different creature.

Spectral Defense

At 15h level, the Horizon Walker is much more in tune with the boundaries between planes.  As a reaction, the Horizon Walker can halve the damage taken because they’ve slipped into a planar boundary to reduce the harm.  


I like the Horizon Walker.  This is another example of a prestige class from an older edition being reworked as an Archetype.  It’s very flavorful and keeps its abilities tightly with the theme.  I like that the Horizon Walker can’t actually use the Plane Shift ability, which thematically makes sense, because they use the naturally occurring or found portals.  Neat Class, it’s something i would consider building for a character class.  

The Conclave of the Primeval Guardians

The Conclave of Primeval Guardians represent a deeper connection to druidic power.  The Primeval Guardians draw their power from ancient connections to the land, the plants, and the animals.  With a deeply divine connection to the natural world, these Rangers are tied more closely to the natural world than most other adventurers.  

Guardian Magic

At 3rd level, the Primeval Guardian learns a new spell that is added to his or her ranger spell list.  This doesn’t count against the number of spells a Primeval Guardian knows.  The Primeval Guardian learns additional spells at the levels indicated

3rd Level: entangle
5th Level: enhance ability
9th Level: conjure animals
13th Level: giant insect
17th Level: insect plague

Guardian Soul

At 3rd level, the Primeval Guardian gains the ability to turn into a tree/person hybrid.  Sort of like a plant elemental from a DC comic book that involves swamps… This ability has a number of effects detailed below.  Turning the ability on is a bonus action, and lasts until turned off as another bonus action, or the Primeval Guardian is incapacitated.
  • Large and in Charge:  The Primeval Guardian becomes size Large, unless already bigger
  • Slow and Steady:  Any Speed the Primeval Guardian has is set to 5 feet, unless it was slower.
  • Long Limbed:  The Primeval Guardian’s reach increases by 5 feet.
  • Healing Factor:  The Primeval Guardian gains a number of temporary hit points equal to half its ranger level at the beginning of each of its turns.  When the form ends, these temporary hit points are lost.  

Note: This could be potentially interesting with an archery focused ranger.  The slow speed isn’t a detriment when you’re flinging arrows at stuff, and being bigger and naturally healing seems like fun.  I’d need to play with this to see what happens.  

Piercing Thorns

At 3rd  level, the Primeval Guardian gains  the ability to use his or her plant body in a more offensive manner.  Once during each of the Primeval Guardian’s turns it can deal an additional 1D6 piercing damage to 1 creature hit by a weapon attack.

Ancient Fortitude

At 7th level, the Primeval Guardian becomes hardier, and much more resilient to damage.  When shifted into Guardian form, the Primeval Guardian’s maximum and current hit points increase by 2 per ranger level.  At the basic level this ability is gained at, this is an additional 14 hit points.   When returning to normal form, the maximum hit points drop back to their normal value, but the current hit points remain where they are, unless they exceed the normal maximum.  

Rooted Defense

At 11th level, the Primeval Guardian has a grander presence on the battlefield.  While in Guardian form (Trying hard to not crack a Robotech joke here) enemies treat the 30 feet radius around the Primeval Guardian as difficult ground.  

Guardian Aura

At 15th level, the Primeval Guardian gains an aura ability.  When allies start their turns within 30 feet of the Primeval Guardian, they regain lost hit points equal to half the Primeval Guardian’s Ranger level.  This can not raise them above half their maximum hit point value.  
Note:  This ability seems like it could be overpowered, but it has a couple of issues.  First, the Aura doesn’t affect the Guardian, which means they are going to draw a lot of fire if the other guys realize what’s going on.  Second, the ability only works if your allies are below half their maximum HP.  It’s a neat ability, and can certainly help a more dedicated healer keep the party alive, i don’t think it’s the final word in healing on the battlefield.  


The Primeval Guardian is an interesting blend of taking the basic ranger and then sort of monsterizing it.  It’s got some interesting abilities, a neat thematic array of abilities, and it works well in a group of players.  I doubt Guardian Soul makes it through the playtest without at least one change (like a maximum duration, or a limit to the number of times it can be used before needing to recharge) but overall it’s a neat take on the ranger.  


Rogues in Dungeons and Dragons are traditionally highly skilled operatives that work at finding the weak points in a security system (whether it’s guards, the structure of the building, or a host of other potential access points).  That’s not the only way to look at the Rogue however.  The Scout takes this expertise and proficiency and adapts it to the wilderness.  Applying their focus on natural surroundings and keeping an eye on the bad guys, the Scout is a welcome addition to a wilderness focused party.  The Scout gains abilities at 3rd, 9th, 13th, and 17th level.  


The Scout gains proficiency in Nature and Survival.  Further, the Scout doubles their proficiency bonus on both of those skills.


Scouts don’t like being near enemies.  As a reaction to an enemy ending it’s movement within 5 feet, the Scout can immediately move a distance equal to half their speed.  This movement does not provoke opportunity swings.

Superior Mobility

The Scout’s walking speed increases by 10 feet.  If they have alternative means of movement, these also increase by 10 feet.

Ambush Master

At 13th level, the Scout is pretty good at setting up ambushes.  If any of the Scout’s foes are surprised, the Scout can use a bonus action on the first turn of combat to give each of its allies a +5 bonus to initiative (provided they can see the Scout).  If this would bump the ally’s initiative above the Scout’s, it sets it to the same value.  Additionally, allies gain a +10 foot bonus to their movement until the end of that ally’s turn.

Sudden Strike

At 17th level, the Scout gains the ability to decisively end fights quickly.  If the Scout takes an Attack action on its turn, it can make an additional attack as a bonus action.  The additional attack benefits from Sneak Attack even if it’s been used this turn provided the Scout is attacking the same target with both attacks.  


This is return of a base class from an earlier edition, and i think it’s an interesting way of looking at what you can do with a Rogue.  The theme works well together and none of the abilities stand out as being out of place or in the wrong spot.  It’s a highly mobile expert that uses speed and maneuverability to control the battlefield in its immediate vicinity.  At higher levels it extends speed and initiative boosts to its allies, and finally gains the ability to sneak attack a target twice.  I like the combination and it feels like it’s in the right spot as a Rogue Archetype.

All right Game Fans, we’re actually caught up with the current Unearthed Arcana rules updates for character classes.  So, no energy bow this time around, and if memory serves we should be up for some Sorcerer love next week, unless we get another sudden addition to the field.  

Game On, Game Fans

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