D&D 5e: Warforged Ranger Guide

A wooden warforged ranger petting a fawn.

D&D 5e: Warforged Ranger Guide

Combine a class that’s self sufficient and happy in almost any environment with a race that’s built for war and operates on essentially zero resources and what do you get? 

A tireless and superlative hunter, that’s what. Warforged can make for a very effective Ranger, as long as you know how to build them. This guide explains the best ways to do that, as well as a few tips on how to play the character. Let’s get started:

How to Make a Warforged Ranger

The Ranger is a solid, relatively easy-to-build class if you’re going the traditional path. Many of their specialties; including archery, two-weapon fighting, and stealth, all build from Dexterity, and this is the stat that you should be looking to max as quickly as possible. 

Rangers also need Wisdom, which governs their spellcasting, and many of the essential Ranger skills, like Survival and Perception, and Constitution, which governs the all-important ability to not be dead. But these are both secondary considerations, and can comfortably hover between 14-16 at character generation, and into mid-range levels. 

While we’re touching on stats, it is possible to make an effective Strength-based Ranger, but for beginners or those without a specific build in mind, it’s often not worth it, so this guide will avoid the subject for now.  

Warforged make excellent Rangers, both thematically and mechanically. The biggest boon to the class is the innate +1 to Armor Class that the Warforged gains. Rangers typically have an AC in the mid-ranges, so any boost that makes you harder to hit is greatly appreciated, especially when it’s permanent, like this one. 

The Warforged race also offers a suite of minor defensive buffs, including resistance to poison, immunity to disease, and not needing to eat, breathe, or sleep. For many characters, these are simple ribbons that add a little bit of flavor. But for a character that might trek hundreds of miles or head willingly into inhospitable environments where food is scarce, it’s a nice little bonus. 

Also on offer are skill proficiency, tool proficiency, and a language, all of which can be freely chosen, and offer a lot to a class that has good stats for skill use, but generally very limited options. 

A male warforged ranger with an impressive longbow.

How to Play a Warforged Ranger

Rangers are generalists. They don’t do anything better than other classes, but they’re flexible and varied enough to comfortably take on multiple situations, even without building toward them. 

Your standard Ranger is as comfortable at ranged combat as they are in melee, especially once they’re at a high enough level to add spellcasting to the mix. Still, in 5e, specialization is king, so it’s best to lean into a particular fighting style and build towards that with feats and class abilities. 

The Ranger’s spell list has some real gems, but the class is very limited in both spell slots and spells known. (A level 5 Ranger knows 4 spells. 4!) This means you should make sure that every spell choice is something you’re going to use, and often. It’s normally worth taking a spread of spells that cover both in-combat and out-of-combat scenarios, and if you want more spell power, splashing Feats or multiclassing into another Wisdom-based caster like the Cleric or Druid. 

Outside of combat, the Ranger’s list of skills, spells, and class abilities push them towards acting as an effective scout and information gatherer, as well as giving the character probably the highest chance to spot hidden secrets in the party.  

In terms of subclasses, the Ranger has a solid spread, with a few that should be avoided. In general, it’s best not to pick any of the subclasses from the original Player’s Handbook (PHB) as they’re not as strong as later content. 

For straight, simple combat strength, consider the Gloom Warden, which has stealth and massive front-loaded burst damage, or the Monster Hunter, which offers consistent round-by-round damage and information gathering. 

The Swarmkeeper subclass is an interesting utility piece that works at range and up close, and if you’re looking for the traditional Ranger + Companion, the Drakewarden comes with a dragon-themed pet that scales well with levels and encourages flavoring of its appearance right there in the subclass text. 

One last thing. It’s worth talking to your GM before you roll up a Ranger to make sure that you can use the variant class abilities, many of which are much stronger than their equivalents. If you can, great. If not, playing the Ranger might feel a little bare bones and possibly even unsatisfying. 

How to Roleplay as a Warforged Ranger

We’ve already touched on how a Warforged can make a great Ranger. After all, the ability to march through deserts without needing food or clean air, and the fact that you don’t sleep so nights are spent safely sitting, still and silent as a watchful sentinel, both play into the wandering stranger archetype. 

As created beings designed to fight, the skills of the Ranger probably come naturally to a Warforged. Considering many of them have seen direct combat and now struggle to find a place in the world, wandering from place to place, either to find somewhere to fit in, or to understand a world that isn’t natural to them, is also a strong motivation. 

It’s also worth taking a moment to think about what your character actually does in the world, day to day. The Ranger class encompasses a ton of design space, from the traditional Lord of the Rings bow and sword nature warden, through caravan guards and monster hunters, and even to places like urban bounty hunting. 

Finally, look at the skills and tools you’ve chosen for your character, especially if you’ve picked things specifically to add flavor. Everything on your character sheet is an opportunity to add another layer to your roleplaying, and your party will second-guess themselves when the strong, silent warrior accurately appraises a piece of fine art out of nowhere, and will no doubt ask where that knowledge came from. And that’s your cue for a backstory!

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