Nano's Build Guide: The Dread Hunter

Nano's Build Guide: The Dread Hunter

Written by IyeNano

Header art by Max Kostin

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“I am that which the dreadful fear.”

Ever since the fall of the Giant Lords, the clan of the Northlands, the Sunderwolves have been preparing for the next threat that might befall their home. Night creatures have been plaguing homes too far off the beaten path, taking opportunity of what seems like the Above and the Below preparing for war. One Orc decides to wield the power of the colossus threat, bearing their runes and wielding weapons of monstrous size. This orc walks among the dread, cleaving that which goes bump in the night with colossal strength. But will might alone be enough to protect the North?

Goals

I would just like to start off by apologizing for unexpectedly disappearing from this blog. I enjoy making these as it gives me the opportunity to throw out some ideas jumping around in my head without impulsively retiring characters in the Living Erenel campaign every month. However, real life situations had hit both me and Brews at inopportune times. That meant the free time I could spend towards all of this had to be temporarily put towards helping setting up and starting Season 4 without too many hitches.

The plus side is that Season 4 kicked off with a 5th new faction (Go Ascended!) and a whole new faction diplomacy system that we were all excited to sink our teeth into. With that in mind, thank you for your patience. Back to your regularly scheduled HARDCORE POWERGAMER blog posts.

If you believe that to solve a really big problem, you need a really big solution, this build is for you. We’re tackling one way you could go about making the ever-divisive STR-based Ranger by mixing arguably in the best part of the Monster Hunter series: really big weapons. Introduced with the Giants theme, oversized weapons are a way to pump out a good amount of damage in exchange for a bit of accuracy. However, I think with a bit of feat trickery and Ranger stuff, we can make up for that accuracy loss while keeping to a similar amount of damage.

  • Float like a Butterfly

Although we’re going to be focusing STR and CON for this build, being able to move fast and quiet is still the modus operandi of Rangers overall. To make up for a less than stellar DEX score, proficiency in Stealth as well as the Pass Without Trace spell means that we can sneak up on distracted or slumbering beasts without too much hassle. Additionally, we’ll be taking the Deft Explorer optional class feature from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything to give us extra movement speed regardless of if we are walking, climbing, or swimming. Mix that in with Furious Assault from our chosen Orc subrace and that’s a potential 70 ft of movement we can use to get in the enemy’s face.

  • Sting like a Bee

Mixed with the Full Blade (or whatever oversized weapon you choose), you hit hard. However, the -5 you take to your total attack roll to use such a weapon can be detrimental against high AC enemies. We do have a way to get that accuracy back, though, with the Oversized Weapon Master feat. One of the benefits of this feat is that you roll your attack rolls without any penalty but subtract 10 to the damage roll (minimum of 1 damage total). Now that may seem like a terrible tradeoff, but we can supplement that lost damage from the plethora of damage boosts Ranger has such as Favored Foe (another optional class feature from TCoE), Hunter’s Mark, and Slayer’s Prey from the Monster Slayer archetype. Provided a round or two to set up, you could have your cake and eat it too in hard encounters, or just ignore using the feat entirely if your enemy has a lower AC.

  • Walk like a Giant

Additionally, we’ll be putting a solid split into Fighter to pick up an ASI and the Rune Knight martial archetype. Alongside being another source of supplemental damage to make up for the Oversized Weapon Master penalty, Giant’s Might increases our size and gives us advantage on STR checks and saving throws. Deft Explorer also gives us expertise in one skill we are proficient with so having expertise in Athletics means we’ll never be grappled for too long even if we roll low initially.

Starting Stats and Proficiencies

Starting Race: Honor Bound Orc

Starting Faction: Sunderwolves

Alignment: Any

STR: 15 + 2
DEX: 12
CON: 13 + 1
INT: 10
WIS: 14
CHA: 8

Armor: Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields

Weapons: Simple Weapons, Martial Weapons

Tools: Runecarver’s Tools

Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity

Languages: Common, Dwarvish, Orc

Skills: Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Stealth, Survival

Starting Equipment

  • Scale Mail
  • Two Simple Weapons (Handaxe, Spear)
  • A Longbow and a Quiver of 20 arrows
  • An Explorer’s Pack
  • Traveler’s clothes, runecarver’s tools, hunting trap, 1-slot satchel, and a pouch with 10 gold

Note: Purchase a Full Blade when you gain proficiency with it and Breastplate when possible. Purchase a component pouch to use for material components ASAP.

Level Progression

Level 1: Ranger 1

  • Optional Class Feature: Favored Foe (1d4)
  • Optional Class Feature: Deft Explorer
    • Canny: Expertise in Athletics, Deep Speech and Infernal Languages

Note: For the sake of opening this build to other campaigns, we will be using official PHB Ranger for class features and subclass progression.

Level 2: Ranger 2

  • Fighting Style: Defense
  • Spellcasting (Access to 1st Level Ranger Spells)

Level 3: Ranger 3

  • Ranger Archetype: Monster Slayer
    • Monster Hunter Magic (Protection from Evil and Good)
    • Hunter’s Sense
    • Slayer’s Prey
  • Primeval Awareness

Level 4: Ranger 4

  • Feat: Oversized Weapon Master
    • +1 STR to 18
    • Proficiency with the Full Blade

Level 5: Ranger 5

  • Extra Attack
  • Spellcasting (Access to 2nd Level Ranger Spells)
  • Monster Slayer Spells (Zone of Truth)

Level 6: Ranger 6

  • Favored Foe Improvement (1d6)
  • Deft Explorer Improvement
    • Roving

Level 7: Ranger 6/Fighter 1

  • Fighting Style: Great Weapon Fighting
  • Second Wind

Level 8: Ranger 6/Fighter 2

  • Action Surge

Level 9: Ranger 6/Fighter 3

  • Martial Archetype: Rune Knight
    • Rune Carver (Fire Rune, Stone Rune)
    • Giant’s Might

Level 10: Ranger 6/Fighter 4

  • Ability Score Improvement: +2 CON to 16

Level 11: Ranger 7/Fighter 4

  • Monster Slayer Feature: Supernatural Defense

Level 12: Ranger 8/Fighter 4

  • Ability Score Improvement: +2 STR to 20
  • Land’s Stride

Level 13: Ranger 9/Fighter 4

  • Spellcasting (Access to 3rd Level Ranger Spells)
  • Monster Slayer Spells (Magic Circle)

Level 14: Ranger 10/Fighter 4

  • Deft Explorer Improvement
    • Tireless
  • Hide in Plain Sight

Level 15: Ranger 11/Fighter 4

  • Monster Slayer Feature: Magic-User’s Nemesis

Level 16: Ranger 12/Fighter 4

  • Ability Score Improvement: +2 CON to 18

Level 17: Ranger 13/Fighter 4

  • Spellcasting (Access to 4th Level Ranger Spells)
  • Monster Slayer Spells (Banishment)

Level 18: Ranger 14/Fighter 4

  • Favored Foe Improvement (1d8)
  • Vanish

Level 19: Ranger 15/Fighter 4

  • Monster Slayer Feature: Slayer’s Counter

Level 20: Ranger 16/Fighter 4

  • Ability Score Improvement: +2 CON to 20

Finalized Spell List

Ranger

1st Level: Cure Wounds, Hunter’s Mark, Jump, Protection from Evil and Good, Zephyr Strike

2nd Level: Pass Without Trace, Protection from Poison, Zone of Truth

3rd Level: Daylight, Magic Circle, Water Breathing

4th Level: Banishment, Freedom of Movement

Final Thoughts

Pros: Very mobile with options close the gap in almost any environment, able to pump out a lot of damage, stealthy under the right circumstances

Cons: Somewhat low AC for a front liner unless you sacrifice stealth, DEX modifier is fairly weak, the build doesn’t open up entirely until Tier 2

Personally, I never had an issue with STRangers. It’s an interesting way to build a class that was predominately designed to use bows and arrows. Because Ranger is seen as one of the weakest classes in 5e Dungeons & Dragons, a lot of the more vocal optimizers and number crunchers tell new players to stick to the weapons and traits they are stereo typically known for or, “just play Fighter with a bow.” I’m always open to new and creative solutions that opens up classes to be more than what people expect. In the very least, I’m open to players trying something that isn’t the typical Dark Elf Beast Master Ranger with a panther animal companion and dual-wielding scimitars.

…Seriously, the first book was published in 1988 and there are still too many Drizzt clones.

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