Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Original Ranger class

So I had occasion to go back and look at The Strategic Review #2, at the original Ranger class by Joe Fischer. Boy of boy, is that an uber class. They were toned down later, but not by a lot - even in 1st edition AD&D the Ranger was a major league heavy hitter at low levels and a one-man party at high levels.

The original ranger had:

- 2d8 HP at 1st level.

- Earned 4 xp for every 3 until 8th level. (! - a +33% bonus to earned xp)

- Surprised only a 1, not a 1-2.

- Tracking.

- + versus giant class creatures (Kobold-Giant, it says).

- 2-24 followers, the least of which is at least 2nd level.

- cleric spells at 9th level.

- magic-user spells at 10th level.

- not a terribly steep XP load to level (2500 for level 2, aka 1875 thanks to their bonus - less than a Fighting Man)

- at high levels they can use all magic items that enable scrying or telepathy or telekinesis or teleportation, including scrolls.

Even their "disadvantages" were really hidden advantages or non-disadvantage color:

- limited henchmen . . . but those henchmen were always special characters (and some with special powers.) They can't hire any mercenaries . . . until they're above 8th level (see below), when they can replace killed mercenaries but not their automatic special followers.

- can't own more than they can carry - in other words, spend it or lose it treasure. Not a big deal, really, because you already got the XP for it (and then some.)

- Strength as a Prime Requisite, but no prime requisite bonuses, instead you got that +33% I mentioned above.

- "- Only two of the class may operate together" - In other words, only one of my friends can make up a ranger. No one else can come and upstage our coolness. Your PC choice restricts the choice of others, but your choice is not restricted.

Even the wording of those disadvantages was vague, because it says

"Until they attain the 8th level (Ranger-Knight) characters in the Ranger class are relatively weak, for they have a number of restrictions placed upon them,"

. . . which implies the restrictions might not actually last past attaining 8th level. I'd choose to read them as an example of their weakness, not a "until 8th level," but hey, maybe I'm wrong. After all, you can clearly hire mercs at 8th level and above.

Oh yeah, and you have to be Lawful. Not a terrible restriction, I'd say. It is if you're a murder hobo, but if you're a stalwart monster slayer type, the (original) Ranger is a bit crazy. Like I said, it got toned down (before it was beefed back up a wee bit come Unearthed Arcana, thanks to Weapon Specialization). But it sure needed it.


  1. Rangers has always been one of my favorite classes. Never saw the one in Strategic Review. But it seems like it was a beefed up class.

  2. Paladins, Bards, and Rangers have long been my three favorite classes. It's nice to see that things other than Clerics, Wizards, and Monks have been ubers.


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