The Urban Ranger For D&D 5th Edition

This is part of my look back at the source books from 3rd edition to see what we can use in D&D 5th edition.

Back in 3rd edition there were four source books released which covered each of the classes in more detail and gave even more options.

They were:

  • Defenders of the Faith (covering Clerics, Paladins)
  • Masters of the Wild (covering Barbarians, Druids, and Rangers)
  • Song & Silence (covering Bards & Rogues)
  • Sword & Fist (covering Fighters & Monks)

Each of these books had new options and abilities that allowed players to grow their characters.

Today I want to look at the Masters of the Wild, and more specifically, the Urban Ranger, which they mention in the book.

For a book all about the wild, the mention of the Urban Ranger was a little out of place, but I really liked the concept so I am glad it made the cut.

In this post I want to convert the 3rd edition Urban Ranger into 5th edition.

Instead of the Urban Ranger being a new class in 3rd (or a Prestige Class) they simply showed you how to swap out or tweak some of the tradition Ranger’s powers and skills to give them a more urban feel.

I like this idea and think the same can be done for 5th edition.

Before I get into this however, I should mention this conversion is for the PHB’s version of the Ranger – in my campaign world, Aythia, this is the version used by elves. Humans use a non-spell casting version.

Urban Ranger (5th Edition)

Everything stays the same as per the PHB, except the following:

Skills: Choose three from Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Persuasion, and Stealth.

Favoured Enemy

As the Master of the Wild source book states: “Take an organization or culture rather than a creature type as a favored enemy.”

Basically, instead of taking undead as your favoured enemy, you would take the “Knights of the Hart” and you would get your advantages against any member of that organisation, no matter what race they were.

Natural Explorer

This feature is replaced by Urban Explorer:

Urban Explorer

You are particularly familiar with the urban environment and are adept at travelling and surviving in this environment.

When you make an Intelligence or Wisdom check in cities, towns or other urban environments, your proficiency bonus is doubled if you are using a skill that you’re proficient in.

After being immersed for an hour or more in a particular city or town, you gain the following benefits:

  • Difficult terrain doesn’t slow your group’s travel. Your group can’t become lost except by magical means.
  • Even when you are engaged in another activity while travelling (such as foraging, navigating, or tracking), you remain alert to danger.
  • If you are travelling alone, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.
  • When you forage, you find twice as much food as you normally would.
  • While tracking other creatures, you also learn their exact number, their sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.

Ranger Archetype

The two choices in the PHB will still work well for the Urban Ranger with slight tweaking.

The Hunter becomes Bounty Hunter (see below), and the poorly-named Beast Master can stay as is, with the limit that the Ranger should choose an animal which would be at home in an urban area. This may differ depending on your campaign, but a dog, bird, cat, etc would all be acceptable. A bear, maybe not.

Primeval Awareness

This power works the same but instead of being able to detect monster types you can detect members of various organisations (like thieves or assassin guild members), members or orders, members of factions, and similar groups.

This would work for the entire town or city.

Land’s Stride

This is replaced by Urban Knowledge

Urban Knowledge

Starting at 8th leveI, you can move through a town or city freely, instinctively knowing where you are going. You can also move through crowds without being slowed by them and without taking damage from them if they are rioting, are an angry mob, or similar hazard. In addition, you have advantage on saving throws against creatures that are magically created or spells that impede movement, such those created by the spike stone spell.

Spell Selection

A few of the spells Rangers have access to needs to change for the Urban Ranger.

Masters of the Wild suggests “swap[ping] out a few ranger spells for bard spells of equal level.

With this in mind, Speak with Animal could be replaced by Unseen Servant, Speak with Plants be replaced with Speak with Dead, Locate Creature can replace Conjure Woodland Being, Commune with Nature is replaced by Dominate Person.

But feel free to choose your own replacements.

Also, don’t be shy in re-imagining some of the spells’ look and feel. For example, the Ensnaring Strike spell is described as such:

The next time you hit a creature with a weapon attack before this spell ends, a writhing mass of thorny vines appears at the point of impact…

Instead of vines, you could make it rope, a net, or something similar.

Bounty Hunter

You search and capture or kill an enemy for money, taking the person (or body) back to whoever created the bounty for payment. You use your keen sense and wits to not only track and capture your target, but to stay alive while doing so.

To create this archetype quickly, you could use the Hunter as is and just choose the appropriate features at each level.

To me, the selection of Colossus Slayer, Multiattack Defence, Whirlwind Attack, and Uncanny Dodge would be a good selection.

If you want to have more of a bounty hunter feel, you could try Hackslashmaster’s Bounty Hunter variant, although I would change a few things he has (like the suggestions in the comments to replace the armour class bonus with a speed increase), but it’s a nice start.

Over to You

As you can see you can create a nice Urban Ranger from the standard Ranger in the PHB with a few tweaks to get a better fit and feel.

Would you create an Urban Ranger for a campaign?

While You’re Here…

Since 2021 I have been publishing d12 Monthly, a monthly zine, which has a ton of articles for any edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

Printed copies are available in my store. The PDF is available on DriveThruRPG and you can get both, plus support my work, via my Patreon.

I will also be releasing some more products in the near future.

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