How much damage can a ranger deal in a typical combat encounter?

I want to know the damage (as well as how such a thing would be worked out – show your working please – I want to learn how to do this by myself for the future, since I’m also interested in Tiers 3 and 4) that a ranger, well optimised for a DPR party role, can deal in a typical combat encounter (meaning, one that lasts the average number of rounds that combat tends to last in D&D; according to this, that means five rounds). I’m interested in Tier 2 levels (specifically between levels 7 to 10).

The restrictions:

  • Assume standard array stats, but assume the race to be Wood Elf for that +2 DEX and +1 WIS (or a similar race well suited to this role; I’m just suggesting Wood Elf because that’s what I’d choose, I’m not married to it).
  • No spells; let’s assume this ranger used up all their spell slots healing up after the previous encounter.
  • No multiclassing; this must be a ranger and nothing else.
  • No magic items or buffs from others; I want this damage to be derived from the ranger’s own class features and feats, etc, rather than magic items or other party members’ spells.
  • You can assume every attack hits, but I’m not interested in critical hits; we’re lucky, but not that lucky.
  • You can also assume that, if using a ranged weapon, that we have more than enough ammo for this encounter.
  • Let’s assume there’s, say, a raging grapple-based barbarian who’s soaking up the enemy’s aggro and keeping the enemy pinned so that the ranger can ignore defense and focus solely on DPR.

I was originally going to ask for a Gloom Stalker Ranger, because it’s popularly considered one of the strongest ranger archetypes, but then realised that some of its features aren’t relevant, such as being invisible in darkness, if we’re assuming that every attack hits and they don’t need to worry about defense, so I’m leaving the archetype open for answerers to decide.

Is this homebrew Dragon Rider ranger archetype balanced? [Version 2]


Introduction

This is a follow up question to: Is this homebrew Dragon Rider ranger archetype balanced?

If you are not familiar with that question, I’d recommend reading it before this one, since this question won’t make much sense otherwise (and I don’t want to repeat loads of it here, since this post is long enough already).

From Weaveworker89’s answer to my previous question, I can see that the damage output of my previous version was too high, largely owing to the fact that the dragon companion can make its attacks using your bonus action, and that the dragon can start making two attacks/Multiattack after you reach level 11 (which also means that a Dragon Rider ranger would never use their bonus action for anything else ever again, which reflects bad design on my part).

Changes

The changes I plan on making are to adjust Draconic Bond from this:

You can use your bonus action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Help action.

to this:

You can use your action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Help action. Once you have the Extra Attack feature, you can make one weapon attack yourself when you command your dragon to take the Attack action.

Basically, the same as the RAW Beastmaster (PHB, p. 94). For the context of this question, assume that the Dragon Rider archetype from my previous question includes the above change (almost like “errata”, I guess).

Problem

However, I imagine the damage output will still be too high, even with this change, but I’m reluctant to drop the Draconic Fury feature (which is the same as the Beastmaster’s “Bestial Fury” feature). Instead, I’d rather take a look at weakening the dragon itself so that before and after reaching level 11 and getting Draconic Fury, it’s damage output is still within reason.

I’m happy enough with the damage output of the pseudodragon that you get between levels 3 and 6, it’s the wyrmling that you get between levels 7-14 and the young dragon you get at levels 15+ that I’m concerned with. I’m also generally happy enough with the rest of my archetype, which is why I’m focusing on the dragon’s CR as the thing to bring the damage output down, and therefore the whole archtype into balance.

Question

What CR wyrmling/young dragon stats should I pick such that the damage output (bearing in mind that it is not triggered from a bonus action anymore, but rather sacrifices one of your attacks) is on par with, say, a Gloom Stalker ranger? I’d like answers to consider the damage output of my archetype at levels 7-10 (Wyrmling, one attack), levels 11-14 (Wyrmling, two attacks) and 15+ (Young Dragon with Multiattack).

Note that, in my previous version, I outlined that each variation of wyrmling/young dragon are essentially all homoginised into the same CR creature, based on the stats of one specific dragon (i.e. a Blue Dragon Wyrmling and a Young Red Dragon), but with minor tweaks such as different elemental damage resistance, different breath weapon damage, and different speeds and other minor features such as Amphibious or Ice Walk, as befits the chosen dragon’s colour.

So what I’m really looking for is a specific statblock of a specific Wyrmling/Young Dragon (ideally chromatic, so that we don’t have to worry about extra breath weapons, but I can work with metallic dragon statblocks and just explicitly exclude any extra breath weapons), which I can then swap some elemental damage and speeds around to match the flavour of the chosen dragon colour, such that its damage output is balanced for this archetype.

Is this homebrew Dragon Rider ranger archetype balanced?

Firstly, this was inspired by these recent questions:

  • Is this homebrew Dragon Rider class balanced compared to the other official classes?
  • Is this Revised Dragon Rider homebrew class balanced compared to the official classes?

I really like the flavour of these classes, and you should definitely check them out.

However, I personally thought that there was a lot of crossover with existing half-caster classes, specifically it reminded me of the Beastmaster ranger, and furthermore I prefer the idea of just using the existing spell slot rules rather than the introduction of mana points, so I’ve decided to have a go at coming up with my own Dragon Rider, but as a ranger archetype instead of a whole new class.

I’ve used the feedback from guildsbounty’s answer on the first question linked above, as well as considering the Beastmaster ranger (which is know is considered underpowered). Below I will list each of my proposed class features for my Dragon Rider archetype, but with sections of italicised text within nested quote formatting–which is my commentary on why I made certain decisions–that is not part of the class feature description.

Dragon Rider

Dragon Rider Magic. Starting at 3rd level, you learn an additional spell when you reach certain levels in this class, as shown in the Dragon Rider Spells table. The spell counts as a ranger spell for you, but it doesn’t count against the number of ranger spells you know.

Dragon Rider Spells $ $ \begin{array}{c|l} \textbf{Ranger Level}& \textbf{Spell} \ \hline \text{3rd} & \textit{absorb elements} \ \text{5th} & \textit{dragon’s breath} \ \text{9th} & \textit{fear} \ \text{13th} & \textit{elemental bane} \ \text{17th} & \textit{control winds} \end{array} $ $

This follows after the XGtE ranger archetypes, where you get an extra spell per spell level. I’ve tried to pick spells that suit the theme of dragons (such as fear, to resemble a dragon’s Fearsome Presence) and elements, but not specific elements (e.g. fireball), since it wouldn’t fit with, say, if you’d picked a blue dragon, which has lightning breath, not fire breath. I’m also aware that absorb elements is on the ranger spell list already, but I couldn’t think of anything else that was thematic.

Draconic Affinity. At 3rd level, you can speak, read, and write Draconic. Additionally, whenever you make a Charisma check when interacting with dragons, your proficiency bonus is doubled if it applies to the check.

This is essentially just the Dragon Ancestor of the Draconic Bloodline sorcerer; arguably the second part is slightly weaker because Charisma isn’t often an important ability for rangers, whereas it’s the most important for sorcerers. I added it largely just to fit the theme.

Draconic Bond. At 3rd level, you gain a pseudodragon companion that accompanies you on your adventures and is trained to fight alongside you. Choose a colour for your psuedodragon, the statistics of which are as follows:

(As a shorthand, rather than describing this here, I’ll just refer you to my recent question; despite the accepted answer there stating that it is more powerful than a RAW pseudodragon, I feel that adding extra HP and AC and such, as per the below, just like a Beastmaster ranger’s companion, means that it’s probably fine as presented in that question for the purposes of this.)

Add your proficiency bonus to the pseudodragon’s AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any skills it is proficient in. Its hit point maximum equals four times your ranger level.

The pseudodragon obeys you commands as best as it can. It takes its turn on your initiative, though it doesn’t take an action unless you command it to. On your turn, you can verbally command the pseudodragon where to move (no action required by you). You can use your bonus action to verbally command it to take the Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge or Help action.

Like any creature, the pseudodragon can spend Hit Dice during a short rest. If you are incapacitated or absent, the pseudodragon acts on its own, focusing on protecting you and itself. It never requires your commend to use its reaction, such as when making an opportunity attack.

When travelling through your favored terrain with only the pseudodragon, you can move stealthily at a normal pace.

If the pseudodragon dies, you can obtain another one by spending 8 hours magically bonding with another pseudodragon that isn’t hostile to you, either the same colour pseudodragon as before or a different one.

This is the “main” feature of the archetype, which is where you get your pet dragon. It’s basically the Ranger’s Companion feature of the Beastmaster archetype. By using the pseudodragons from my recent question (yes, this is what that was for), it has a breath weapon and damage resistance, which foreshadows the creature “growing up” via later class features.

My decision to have it attack as a bonus action was based on this Q&A, and my experience (see accepted answer), with house-ruling this for Beastmaster rangers, so I thought I’d just make that explicit here. However, if this makes this archetype too strong, given that dragons are stronger than typical Beastmaster beasts, this can be changed to using your action, same as the RAW Beastmaster.

Draconic Growth. By 7th level, your bond with your pseudodragon accelerates its growth. It transforms into a wyrmling of the same colour, although it’s statistics are as follows:

(Again, somewhat of a shorthand; basically it’s the stats of a CR 3 Blue Dragon Wyrmling, but with the correct elemental for the damage resistance and breath weapon, although the damage is the same as the Blue Dragon Wyrmling, no “additional” breath weapon for metallic wyrmlings, and the correct speeds, and also the Amphibious feature (i.e. for black, green, gold, bronze wyrmlings) being absent or present depending on the colour you picked.)

The wyrmling behaves exactly as your pseudodragon did, including that you must still use your bonus action to issue commands, but you no longer add your proficiency bonus to its AC, attack rolls, damage rolls, or skill checks. Its maximum hit points are no longer based on your ranger level, but rather on the statistics given.

You have also trained this wyrmling to act as your mount, training that your bond with it has accelerated. This wyrmling counts as one size larger than you for the purposes of serving as your mount.

This is where the pseudodragon becomes a wyrmling, but with its CR fixed, and you no longer add your proficiency bonus like you did with your pseudodragon (i.e. like Beastmaster ranger’s companions do). This is based on statements from guildsbounty’s answer such as “At a rough ballpark based on experience, a CR 3 monster is roughly the equivalent of a 4th to 5th level character in combat.” and “So, the wyrmlings usefulness has gradually been tapering off and keeping it alive has gotten hard.” I’m hoping that by having this happen at level 7 instead of level 5, it should be balanced, especially by fixing the stats of the wyrmling to a set CR so that min-maxers don’t all pick the CR 4 Red Dragon Wyrmling.

As for overriding the mount creature size requirements, I felt like since the archetype is called “Dragon Rider“, you should be able to ride it, and I didn’t want this archetype to favour Small PCs such as halflings and gnomes, so I just thought I’d let anyone ride it. By anyone, I mean the ranger PC, but of any race; not other party members or NPCs (I’m hoping that by saying “your mount”, that is clear, although I can add something to make that even more explicit). If this is a bit much, would reducing the wyrmling’s stats down to a CR 2 companion, or even CR 1, help to make this balanced? I’m not at all attached to the Blue Dragon Wyrmling’s stats and would be happy with a CR 1 or CR 2 wyrmling’s stats instead.

Draconic Fury. At 11th level, your wyrmling companion can make two Bite attacks when you command it to use the Attack action. When it later gains the Multiattack action, it can use that action when you command it to use the Attack action.

This is the same as what Beastmaster rangers get at 11th level. I did also consider lifting the restriction on breath weapons, so that a Copper Dragon Wyrmling can use Slowing Breath again, for example, but then considered that this clearly favours using metallic dragons over chromatic dragons, so I decided against it.

Draconic Synergy. Also at 11th level, your bond with your dragon becomes deeper, allowing you to benefit from its affinity to its elemental. You gain resistance to the damage type that your dragon is resistance to.

This is just so that you, the ranger, get something as well, since otherwise it’s just your pet that keeps getting stronger. However, if this is too strong for 11th level, this feature can be dropped entirely (this is the main reason I separated it out into its own feature).

Draconic Mastery. When you reach 15th level, your bond with your wyrmling accelerates its growth even further. It transforms into a young dragon of the same colour, although it’s statistics are as follows:

(As with the wyrmling, somewhat of a shorthand; basically it’s the stats of a CR 10 Young Red Dragon, but with the correct elemental for the damage resistance and breath weapon, although the damage is the same as the Young Red Dragon, no “additional” breath weapon for metallic wyrmlings, and the correct speeds, and also the Amphibious feature (i.e. for black, green, gold, bronze wyrmlings) being absent or present depending on the colour you picked; also Ice Walk if it’s a Young White Dragon.)

This is where it becomes a young dragon. Again, the feedback from guildsbounty’s answer saying that “based on experience, I ballpark that a CR 10 monster is at least on-par with a level 14 PC”, I figured that this would be balanced at level 15, and it still consumes your bonus action for it to do anything. Also, I’m still fixing its CR so that Red and Gold aren’t the optimal choices, so this CR can be lowered still if this is unbalanced but reducing the CR would balance it; I’m not at all attached to the Young Red Dragon’s stats and would be happy with even a Young White Dragon’s stats if that would help to balance it.

Is this ranger archetype balanced when compared to the other ranger archetypes (probably the Gloom Stalker, since I think that’s considered the strongest ranger archetype; this is obviously more powerful than the Beastmaster archetype, but that’s intentional)? If not, would any of the proposed changes I mention in some of the italicised text above help to balance it (i.e. it uses your action instead of your bonus action, reduce the CR of the wyrmling/young dragon, etc)?

PS: Also yes, I know that I’ve been overusing the word “Draconic”…

Is Two-Weapon Fighting the only way for a Horizon Walker ranger to use the Distant Strike feature to attack two different creatures?

It says under the description for Distant Strike:

At 11th level, you gain the ability to pass between the planes in a blink of an eye. When you use the Attack action, you can teleport up to 10 feet before each attack to an unoccupied space you can see.

If you attack at least two different creatures with the action, you can make one additional attack with it against a third creature.

Would the only way to attack two different creatures be Two-Weapon Fighting?

How does the Ranger Whirlwind Attack feature compare to the Volley feature?

The goal of this question is to compare both Ranger level 11 features Whirlwind Attack & Volley and examine their comparative strengths and weaknesses for Rangers.

Whirlwind Attack

You can use your action to make a melee attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, with a separate attack roll for each target.

Volley

You can use your action to make a ranged attack against any number of creatures within 10 feet of a point you can see within your weapon’s range. You must have ammunition for each target, as normal, and you make a separate attack roll for each target.

At level 11 you would have two attacks available during a normal action so you would need to have at least three enemies within 5 feet of you to make Whirlwind Attack viable from a pure damage output standpoint. The way I see it, you need to have good positioning, a number of enemies clustered, and be willing to sacrifice the utility of focused fire. I have trouble seeing this as being more useful than Volley.

Is there something that makes this choice mechanically competitive besides being in a campaign where you are frequently engaging hoards of swarming melee combatants?

As a rough surface calculation I am looking at volley as ranged AoE which can effectively hit 16 squares, while Whirlwind is a melee attack that can hit 8. The only direct advantage’s to melee attacks that a melee focused ranger could have is a +2 to damage with every attack, or an additional melee attack as a bonus action. So if Whirlwind attacks and hits all 8 squares it can do 16 extra damage on a melee focused build. Or if we went with two weapon fighting one extra attack that would probably max out at slightly less than 16.

At a bare minimum if I could add one single target with volley to an ideal whirlwind I would getting almost the same exact damage spread.

If I were already surrounded by 8 opponents obviously WW is better, but chances are I don’t actually want that to happen in the first place.

What is the current status of the UA Revised Ranger?

14 months ago, an Unearthed Arcana supplement was published that discussed how the ranger described in the Player’s Handbook was under powered. These rules reimagined the ranger’s abilities, and suggested that an official version would be released later.

Finally, we come to implementation. If this iteration of the ranger, or a future revision of it, grades high enough, our plan is to present it as a revised ranger in a future D&D sourcebook.

Does that Sourcebook exist yet? If not, have the devs given an update or told us their intentions?

Would a slow effect block a hunter ranger from using volley or whirlwind attack?

The Slow spell includes this rule for any creature affected by it:

Regardless of the creature’s Abilities or Magic Items, it can’t make more than one melee or ranged Attack during its turn.

A Ranger who is followed the hunter archetype gets access to volley and whirlwind attack at level 7:

Volley:

You can use your action to make a ranged Attack against any number of creatures within 10 feet of a point you can see within your weapon’s range. You must have Ammunition for each target, as normal, and you make a separate Attack roll for each target.

Whirlwind Attack:

You can use your action to make a melee Attack against any number of creatures within 5 feet of you, with a separate Attack roll for each target.

As I understand it, both of these abilities are considered to be a single attack, albeit with multiple attack rolls. Does that mean the slow spell would not prevent a ranger from using either ability if they were under it’s influence?

If a Ranger chooses “fey” as their Favored Enemy, what languages can they choose from?

The ranger’s Favored Enemy feature description says:

When you gain this feature, you also learn one language of your choice that is spoken by your favored enemies, if they speak one at all

I am confused. What language options does the PHB give you to choose from?

Are you supposed to choose a respective language from the Languages table (PHB, p. 123)? Or can you pick any language that at least one type of your favored enemies speaks?

For instance, for Fey, do you have to pick Sylvan, or can you choose the Blink Dog language (since Blink Dogs are fey), Aquan or Giant (Sea Hags are fey too), Elvish (since Dryads speak Elvish), etc.?

On the one hand, Aquan/Giant/Elvish are definitely languages “spoken by your favored enemies”. On the other hand, the Languages table specifies Fey as the “typical speakers” of the Sylvan language. Also, the latter doesn’t work well with the “language of your choice” part, turning the “choice” into a moot point.

Does the Sky Stalker Ranger lose Favored Terrain for Level 2 or not?

In the Ranger Archetype Tableon the d20 site, it shows that a Sky Stalker ranger loses Level 2 Favored Terrain. On the Sky Stalker class page it does not state that it does, however it does state that the Level 2 Ranger Combat Style list adds the Monstrous Mount feat.

Does the Sky Stalker actually lose Favored Terrain for Level 2, or is this a typo on the site?

Ranger Dread Ambusher and Hail of Thorns

Can Hail of thorns be cast as a bonus Action prior to taking an Attack Action as a Dread Ambusher with a longbow followed up by a second shot as the second attack with the Hail of Thorns extra damage being applied to both attacks in addition to the extra d8 of the second attack, and how many die rolls will have to be made to hit (3)? with damage being (if everything hits) 1d8+mod x2 +1d10 x2 +1d8 with crit rules applying to only 2 to hit rolls or all 3.