D&D 5e: Dragonborn Ranger Guide
There are few names as imposing as those that evoke the image of a dragon, and D&D’s dragonborn are no exception, the Player’s Handbook even noting that it’s easy to assume one is a monster. They’re counted as a rare, somewhat exotic race in the Forgotten Realms setting, and while they resemble dragons in many ways, they lack the signature wings and tails one would expect (although the tails are a debated topic, ask your DM how he/she interprets dragonborn). Regardless, your draconic ancestry, breath weapon, and elemental resistance arguably make you a force of nature, which gives us a good foundation for building a ranger.
How to Make a Dragonborn Ranger
Rangers in general rely on dexterity for both their attacks and defense, so that should be your primary priority, with wisdom second as your spells and some features may depend on it. After that, it’s up to you, however, you may consider a strength-based melee ranger, building on that natural dragonborn strength instead of dexterity.
Some of the ranger archetypes (subclasses) may seem outright more appealing given your already imposing nature, such as the Beast Master with either ranger’s or primal companion, taking the form of a loyal beast that fights by your side. Alternatively, the Gloom Stalker option is rather powerful, and the supernatural undertones associated with the archetype fit a dragonborn nicely. Ultimately, any of these options would be good for your character, but try to think of which ones would set up scenarios to use your strengths to the best of your ability.
How to Play a Dragonborn Ranger
Given that your ranger is a dragonborn, one must not forget the dragonborn breath weapon in combat. It recharges after only a short rest and the damage scales with your level. Depending on the type of dragonborn you are, it’ll either be a 15ft cone, or a line that extends 30ft and is 5ft wide. You’ll want to position yourself so that you can use this in combat without hitting your allies, so consider which spells could grant you mobility.
Depending on whether you focus on melee or ranged fighting may help you decide which breath weapon to choose. The 15ft cone has a wider area for when you are surrounded by groups of enemies while the long and narrow 30ft breath weapons may lend better to staying back and out of the fray.
The combination of spells available to you, along with your natural elemental resistance and breath weapon means that you’ll be split for choices and can decide whether you’ll want to use ranged attacks more often and get in close when needed, or if you want to hold the frontline more often instead.
How to Roleplay as a Dragonborn Ranger
As has already been stated, dragonborn are somewhat exotic. This doesn’t usually mean that people will run at the sight of you but expect your character to be seen with a mix of curiosity, fear, and possible reverence depending on the setting and place they end up in. While we make each character truly our own in D&D, it is fun to consider the culture they come from and how it might have shaped the way they interact with others.
Consider which sort of clan your dragonborn is from, who they might have known, what rivals they may have had, and what goals they strive towards. How has this past influenced their journey as a ranger? The Player’s Handbook tells us that dragonborn value skill and excellence. Which skills then does yours value most? Practice your best low growl, and consider how Xanathar’s Guide’s racial feats such as Dragon Fear and Dragon Hide could form a part of your character.