Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Rangers
Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything was released late last year, I’ve been gradually reading through all of the new player class options. This time I’m looking at the new ranger archetypes.
The gloom stalker is a ranger who is particularly good at hiding in shadows. This archetype gives a player character a number of abilities that will protect or hide them from monsters … like the Xanathar. Xanathar’s dismissive annotation about this subclass says,
‘You sneak around in the dark? You know most everything but humans can see in the dark, right? We all see you. Tiptoeing doesn’t turn you invisible.’
This shows that the Xanathar may not be as informed as he thinks he is … One of the gloomstalker’s most basic abilities allows them to avoid detection by darkvision, meaning that the actually could remain undetected by beholders, orcs or drow while in darkness.
When I first started playing Dungeons & Dragons I found it hard to get my head around what a ranger was. They seemed to have traits of all the basic classes (fighter, rogue, cleric and wizard) and it was hard for me to work out what their focus was. Now I would say that a ranger is someone who patrols the boundaries between wilds and civilisation, bringing some form of law and order to the frontier. (I suppose you could also say that they patrol the boundaries between the basic classes.)
The horizon walker archetype takes this concept and raises it to a planar level, patrolling the boundaries between the planes and protecting folks from extraplanar threats, kind of like how The Doctor protects Earth from alien threats in Doctor Who.
I think having a party that includes a horizon walker really opens up the possibilities for planar adventures, with their ability to detect nearby planar portals. This subclass also allows a character to momentarily travel to other planes in order to create the effect of teleporting during combat or in order to avoid damage from opponents’ attacks. (It’s not clear with every feature which plane is travelled through, so I guess that’s up to the player’s and/or dungeon master’s choice?)
The monster slayer is a ranger who hunts down monsters and evil magic-users. A lot of the monster slayer’s unique abilities involve their ability to focus in on one opponent, increasing the damage that opponent takes from attacks. At higher levels, this feature can also provide protection for the monster slayer from the opponent they’re focussed on or to respond to saving throws with an extra attack.