D&D 5e: Dwarf Ranger Guide
Dwarves are seen as many things in popular fiction. They’re depicted as great smiths, mighty warriors, and incredible architects. Fantastic miners, proficient drinkers, and keepers of the most majestic beards. Seldom, however, do dwarves seem to be depicted as great thinkers, either in touch with nature or the world around them. It may seem odd then that a dwarven ranger might be a rather interesting character to play, so let’s see how they turn out!
How to Make a Dwarf Ranger
Rangers rely on Wisdom and Dexterity as their two main statistics. It’s unwise to play a strength-based ranger because you’re not likely to be using heavy armor, meaning you’ll welcome a dexterity bonus, and because of the versatility of being able to switch between finesse melee weapons and ranged weapons will be a valuable tool.
If you insist on playing a strength-based ranger regardless, and it’s doable, I’d suggest playing as a Gray Dwarf (Duergar) as they do get a bonus to strength in addition to the standard dwarven +2 bonus to constitution. Otherwise consider a Hill Dwarf, as they are granted a bonus to wisdom and have access to dwarven toughness, granting you extra hit points.
The rest of your stats are up to choice, though I would advise that charisma is likely your least important statistic as a ranger (unless you require it for roleplay).
As far as ranger archetypes go, they’re all pretty good, so let’s instead consider what fits the dwarven theme nicely for this character. Beast Master is always a fantastic option, evoking the image of a wise dwarf fighting alongside his or her trusty companion. Monster Slayer or Hunter are two others that fit the toughness theme pretty well. If you chose a Duergar, consider the Gloom Stalker, their entire theme is darkness and you start with superior darkvision (which will now be upgraded further), and some natural magic.
How to Play a Dwarf Ranger
Rangers don’t have a once-per-turn nuke like rogues do (sneak attack), nor the number of attacks per attack action that a fighter gets, nor even heavily damaging spells like dedicated casters have access to. You do however have ways to augment your attacks or control the battlefield, and you still get Extra Attack at 5th level, so you want to be using that frequently, meaning you’ll have to think ahead which spells you want to use and what is the best use of your bonus action.
Try to get the most out of your particular fighting style and rather than raw power, use strategy to gain the upper hand in battle, because if there’s one thing you have available, it’s options. Concentration spells are a good choice for most first turns, or 2nd turns if your first turn in combat is particularly important for attacking (as it is for Gloomstalkers thanks to Dread Ambusher)
How to Roleplay as a Dwarf Ranger
Rangers aren’t necessarily the sort of nature lovers you’d expect druids to be, but they KNOW the land, and they know it well. They know the beasts who live there, where they shelter or nest, and what threats they face.
Consider where your ranger comes from, especially if you’ve chosen a Duergar that lives deep underground. How different are the ecosystems down there? Does your ranger act normally among the surface world, or do strange things that would only be considered normal down there?
If you’re more of a mountain/surface-dwelling dwarf, consider how to roleplay in a way that conveys the wisdom your character has. It may be difficult to break the dwarven stereotypes I mentioned in the introduction, but it’s doable and rewarding. Imagine your character sitting in front of a fire at the tavern with a map laid on the table in front of them, explaining to the party the best route they ought to take through the land on their latest adventure, and what they might need to prepare.