D&D 5e: Fey Wanderer Ranger Guide
Role in the Party
The Fey Wanderer is a tricksy sort of ranger with features centered around beguiling and frightening enemies, as well as other useful abilities; the source of their power varies, but this ranger is mechanically and thematically tied to the Feywild.
The Fey Wanderer is on the stronger side of rangers, having both the fine core ranger damage options and a wide array of useful magical abilities. In general, your role will be to shoot people with a ranged weapon (you can use a dexterity melee weapon, or try and do a strength build, but bows and crossbows are probably just outright better for most builds), interact socially with NPCs, and occasionally use some spooky magic on a creature. You also have excellent versatility from your ranger spell list, decently abundant half casting spell slots, and miscellaneous ranger features.
Fey Wanderer Ranger Features
At 3rd level, you can augment your weapon strikes with mind-scarring magic, drawn from the gloomy hollows of the Feywild. When you hit a creature with a weapon, you can deal an extra 1d4 psychic damage to the target, which can take this extra damage only once per turn.
The extra damage increases to 1d6 when you reach 11th level in this class.
Most rangers have a feature that gives them an extra die of damage; sometimes it’s infrequent, like the Gloom Stalker’s extra 1d8, and sometimes it costs something, like the bonus action cost of the Horizon Walker’s 1d8 or the opportunity cost associated with the Hunter’s 1d8. This is just free, and you have two other features at this level to go with it.
The damage is only a d4 and eventually a d6, and it’s once per target. Unless you spread out your damage, which is a bad idea most of the time, this is an extra 2.5 or 3.5 damage on one hit a round. But still, it’s free damage! I’ll never say no to free damage.
Fey Wanderer Magic
Also at 3rd level, you learn an additional spell when you reach certain levels in this class, as shown in the Fey Wanderer Spells table. Each spell counts as a ranger spell for you, but it doesn’t count against the number of ranger spells you know.
3rd: Rangers don’t normally have access to Charm Person. It’s a fine spell that does something unique.
5th: Misty Step is great; again, rangers normally can’t access it.
9th: Dispel Magic is a good spell, but it’s inherently situational. Unusually enough, rangers are the only casting class in the game that doesn’t have this spell on their spell list.
13th: Dimension Door is a good spell and an excellent emergency teleport: move a long distance instantly or get yourself or an ally out of danger. This is Meh because it’s redundant with your level 15 feature, but you could find a circumstance to use this.
17th: Mislead is kind of meh; it’s fun to make an illusory duplicate and send it into a dangerous place to talk smack to a bad guy or attempt to persuade them without risking your life, but it’s a high-level spell and there aren’t a ton of practical uses for it.
Additionally, at 3rd level, your fey qualities give you a supernatural charm. As a result, whenever you make a Charisma check, you gain a bonus to the check equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of +1).
In addition, you gain proficiency in one of the following skills of your choice: Deception, Performance, or Persuasion.
This feature turns you into an instant social expert. You’ll probably be about as good at these checks as the Paladin, maybe the Sorcerer or Warlock. I wouldn’t recommend maxing out both your charisma and wisdom to get a base +10 contribution to all charisma checks from your ability scores, but you could if you were doing a very strange kind of build. I would probably just have a non-terrible charisma and then a good wisdom score.
Notably, this works on all charisma checks, not just checks using a skill like Persuasion; if you had Counterspell and charisma was your spellcasting ability modifier for it, you could add your wisdom modifier to the total. Almost no builds can take advantage of it, but the option is out there.
Beginning at 7th level, the magic of the Feywild guards your mind. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed or frightened.
In addition, whenever you or a creature you can see within 120 feet of you succeeds on a saving throw against being charmed or frightened, you can use your reaction to force a different creature you can see within 120 feet of you to make a Wisdom saving throw against your spell save DC. If the save fails, the target is charmed or frightened by you (your choice) for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a successful save.
Advantage against being charmed and frightened is good, but the second paragraph is even better. Whenever anyone anywhere on the battlefield succeeds on a save against these conditions, including you, your allies, and your enemies, you can use your reaction to make someone else charmed or frightened by you. The best part? This ability can trigger off itself, so the saving throw every round isn’t even that bad. You can even multiclass and use this with other frightening/charming abilities to trigger this all the time. Some enemies are immune to these conditions, but they’re not super common.
At 11th level, the royal courts of the Feywild have blessed you with the assistance of fey beings: you know the spell Summon Fey. It doesn’t count against the number of ranger spells you know, and you can cast it without a material component. You can also cast it once without using a spell slot, and you regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest.
Whenever you start casting the spell, you can modify it so that it doesn’t require concentration. If you do so, the spell’s duration becomes 1 minute for that casting.
Summon Fey is a good spell. Conjure Animals does more damage, but Conjure Animals is sort of a problem spell that a lot of tables don’t want to use. Anyway, a free use of Summon Fey is good; being able to ignore the expensive material component is also convenient, and lastly, concentration-free summoning is incredibly powerful; nobody else in the game can do this. However, be warned; giving up an action to cast a spell in combat hurts.
When you reach 15th level, you can slip in and out of the Feywild to move in a blink of an eye: you can cast Misty Step without expending a spell slot. You can do so a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.
In addition, whenever you cast Misty Step, you can bring along one willing creature you can see within 5 feet of you. That creature teleports to an unoccupied space of your choice within 5 feet of your destination space.
Dimension Door is useful for its ability to teleport you and your allies around, but the problem is that it’s expensive This lets you do that with Misty Step, and you also have free uses of Misty Step. Nice.
Every feature you get at every level is useful, and you can do things that most other rangers can’t do, like social checks and teleportation and charming and frightening and even concentration-free summoning. You’re an extremely well-rounded character in general.
You also need decent wisdom if you want to benefit from a lot of your features, so you can’t dump it like some rangers can. Your skill proficiencies will also be somewhat stretched, and you’re incentivized to do ranged combat, so no barbarian dips for most Fey Wanderers.
Best Race Options
Changelings can change their appearance at will, have extra skill proficiencies, and are somewhat fey themed, so you can tack on extra social versatility.
Want extra defense and the ability to read minds? The Githzerai are ideal since at higher levels you’ll have a lot of low-level spell slots and not a ton of things to use on every round.
An extra spooky Fey Wanderer will want to consider the Hexblood race. Hex Magic and Eerie Token are both useful.
Choosing the Right Skills
Almost every skill in the game could conceivably be useful to you and fit with your character. You want Perception for sure, but almost everything else is appealing. Athletics and/or Acrobatics for grapples and physical activity, the various charisma skills to make use of your Otherworldly Glamour bonuses, Nature and Survival because you’re a ranger, Arcana because you’re a spellcaster, Stealth and Sleight of Hand to fill a sneaky trickster role, Religion if you worship an archfey… yeah, almost everything could be useful and/or thematic for you.
Because you’re not one of the ranger subclasses with a dedicated bonus action, outside of the occasional spell, you’re well-suited for the classic Crossbow Expert/Sharpshooter combo. I’d take Crossbow Expert first at level 4 or 1 if you’re a variant human/custom lineage character, then Sharpshooter next.
Alert is a broadly useful feat that will let you attack or cast a powerful spell before enemies can do anything.
Strixhaven Initiate is a great way to access the Shield spell at mid to high levels; Quandrix is probably your best pick since Guidance is on the cantrip list.
Characters who spent extensive time in the Feywild should strongly consider the Feylost background; it gives you a few more minor Feywild-themed features, and it’s by far the best thematic pick.
Your skill proficiencies will be painful to distribute, because you’ll want both typical ranger things and a bunch of social skills. Why not take the Urchin background if you want a plausible reason to not take Nature and/or Survival? The only plants you’ll learn about are the moss and weeds growing in alleyways.
For cheeky minmaxers that have permissive dungeon masters, the powerful setting-specific Lorehold Student background will powerfully enhance your spell list and give you a free feat you can use to acquire the Shield spell.
Your level 7 feature is best when creatures in the fight are being charmed or frightened all the time; one level of Undead Warlock for Form of Dread will let you attempt to frighten a creature and then attempt to frighten a different creature if they succeed. This is an exceedingly powerful option and one of the best builds for a character who wants to be an absolute terror machine.
One level of Twilight Cleric vastly boosts your initiative, gives heavy armor proficiency, and provides 300 feet of darkvision and useful cleric spells.
Shepherd Druid is a fine way to spend the rest of your levels if you want to multiclass out of ranger after level 5 but before level 11, since it’s an extremely powerful druid subclass that specializes in summoning, and Conjure Animals is a great upcasting candidate.
Would I recommend playing a Fey Wanderer Ranger?
This is one of my strongest recommendations; the Fey Wanderer is powerful enough to work at any table without overshadowing allies, versatile enough to let you be effective in almost every scenario and useful at all levels. The unique features are also a barrel of fun, and there’s a ton of multiclassing potential, especially with one level of Undead Warlock.