Excerpts Archive | 10/20/2008
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Excerpts: Beastmaster Ranger
Martial Power

In today’s Martial Power preview, we introduce you to the basics of the ranger's chapter, as well as a new build: the Beastmaster.

The Ranger

“Keeping a pet lets me bring the wild with me wherever I go. I like it. Keeps me warm inside. Oh, and the wild packs one hell of a bite.”

Rangers are people of the wild frontier. They are bold wanderers who face the dangers that keep common folk living within walled cities and traveling along well-used roads. Every ranger is also a killer who uses terrain, keen senses, and hunt-honed strikes to end threats quickly. Where rangers differ is in their execution.

Blade and bow are typical ranger tools, but a few rangers forge a deeper alliance with the wilderness. Such a ranger calls a beast as a friend and a weapon. The affinity for a beast might grow from one of many roots. Legend speaks of those raised among wild animals, as well as of those with a supernatural affinity for wild creatures. For enigmatic reasons, Melora blesses a few with such a connection to animals. More often, however, a young would-be ranger befriends a beast or raises it from pup to warrior.

This chapter presents and supports such rangers. It also provides other sorts of rangers with ways to shape their capabilities. In it, you’ll find the following:

  • New Ranger Build: The beastmaster ranger build lets you bring to life the fantasy archetype of hero and pet as a fighting unit.

  • New Class Feature: Every beastmaster needs, well, a beast to master, and that’s what the Beast Mastery class feature is all about. You can choose a beast companion from one of eight categories designed to fit the style of your character.

  • New Ranger Powers: With a specialized build such as the beastmaster, a whole new assortment of exploits is required. Rangers who favor the blade or the bow have new power options in this chapter, too.

  • New Paragon Paths: Focus your training in one of a dozen ways, even shoring up quirky ranger techniques such as throwing or using a crossbow. Focus on slaying a particular sort of enemy, absorb the magic of the lands you walk, or run with the pack.

Beastmaster Ranger

A deadly hunter, you specialize in double-teaming your enemies with the aid of a beast companion. Your beast is an extension of you, and thereby it is an invaluable member of your group. No other is needed to help you flank your quarry. Melee combat with the aid of your beast is your focus, so you favor Strength.

You count on Dexterity for your AC and occasional ranged attacks, so your secondary focus is on that ability score. Wisdom, your tertiary ability score, makes you better at the Perception skill and gives you an edge with many ranger powers. The Beast Mastery class feature is designed to complement this build.

Suggested Feat: Lethal Hunter (Human feat: Improved Initiative)
Suggested Skills: Athletics, Heal, Nature, Perception, Stealth
Suggested At-Will Powers: circling strike,* predator strike*
Suggested Encounter Power: synchronized strike*
Suggested Daily Power: partnered savaging*
*New option presented in Martial Power

New Class Feature

The Beast Mastery class feature is available to any ranger who wishes to gain a loyal beast companion. To select this class feature, you must give up the Prime Shot class feature, and you do not select either the Archer Fighting Style or the Two-Blade Fighting Style.

Beast Mastery: You gain a beast companion, chosen from one of these categories: bear, boar, cat, lizard, raptor, serpent, spider, or wolf. These categories do not describe specific animals, but rather groups of similarly themed creatures in the D&D world. You decide the creature’s relevant details—its species, physical details, and so forth—making sure they are appropriate for its category and the campaign.

For example, if your character hails from a swampy region, your lizard companion might be a crocodile. The lizard companion of a ranger from a different region might be a giant monitor lizard or a drake. A beast companion’s species doesn’t affect its game statistics, which are based on its category and level.

You and your beast companion work so well together that the creature is almost an extension of you. Using your actions in combat, you control your beast companion by issuing it commands (see “Commanding a Beast Companion”).

Beast Mastery also alters your Hunter’s Quarry class feature. When you use Hunter’s Quarry, your quarry can be either the enemy nearest to you that you can see or the enemy nearest to your beast companion that you can see. You or your beast companion can deal the extra damage from Hunter’s Quarry, but only one of you can deal this extra damage per round.

Your beast companion is considered a creature and an ally and can be affected by powers. A cleric can heal it with healing word, a warlord can give it a melee basic attack with commander’s strike, and so forth. You and your beast companion are treated as separate creatures.

You can have only one beast companion at a time. You can dismiss your beast companion at any time, but gaining a new one isn’t a simple task (see “Gaining a New Companion”). The link between a ranger and his or her beast companion is not one of master and servant but of two close friends.

As part of the training you underwent that allowed you to form a close bond with a beast, you learned the Raise Beast Companion ritual, which allows you to raise your companion from the dead, even if you are otherwise unable to master and perform rituals.

Level 1 At-Will Exploits

Predator Strike
Ranger Attack 1
Your enemy focuses its attention on you, allowing your beast to attack.
At-Will Beast, Martial
Standard Action Melee beast 1
Target: One creature adjacent to you
Attack: Beast’s attack bonus vs. AC
Hit: 1[B] + beast’s Strength modifier + your Wisdom modifier damage.
Increase damage to 2[B] + beast’s Strength modifier + your Wisdom modifier at 21st level.

Level 1 Encounter Exploits

Enclose the Prey
Ranger Attack 1
Your beast companion circles your quarry, gaining a better position just before you strike.
Encounter Beast, Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon (beast 1)
Target: One creature designated as your quarry
Effect: Before the attack, both you and your beast companion can shift 2 squares.
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Strength modifier damage.
Beast: If your companion is a cat, a spider, or a wolf, the attack deals extra damage equal to your Wisdom modifier.

Level 1 Daily Exploits

Driving the Quarry
Ranger Attack 1
You fiercely assault your quarry, and your beast companion compels that same foe forward.
Daily Beast, Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Melee weapon (beast 1)
Target: One creature
Attack: Strength vs. AC
Hit: 2[W] + Strength modifier damage.
Miss: Half damage.
Effect: If the target is your quarry, you slide it 2 squares and slide your beast companion 2 squares, ending its movement adjacent to the target. If the target is your quarry and is also bloodied, you instead slide the beast 4 squares.
Beast: If your companion is a cat, a raptor, a spider, or a wolf, you can slide it to any square adjacent to the target.
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