Roleplaying a ranger in DnD is actually quite hard for most people. They stop relying on the ranger aspect and in a few levels are surprised to remember that they are indeed a ranger.
Roleplaying a ranger in DnD requires you to understand what a ranger is, why they are who they are, and what your personality is.
Most people gloss over what rangers are in DnD and that is why they don’t roleplay the ranger aspect. That is why we are going to explore what a ranger is, and how it can help you shape your character.
What is a ranger?
A ranger is a fighter who can duel wield, use a bow, or likes to track right? That is what most people think of a ranger when thinking about the class. They do not consider the roleplay aspect like a person would with a warlock or cleric. Instead, they focus on the mechanical implications.
When you are roleplaying a ranger in DnD you need to know what a ranger is. Are they just woodsmen who like to be alone? If so why not play a druid or something else?
Rangers are more than just woodsmen. They are more than just loaners. Rangers are the frontline of defense for civilization against all forms of evil.
People don’t consider this aspect since it is an unsung part of what the ranger does. If there are no songs, praise, glory, or even remembrance they will still do their job.
Rangers are the unsung heroes that will stop an evil beast from ever coming close to a town. They are those who fight off beasts in the wild in order to preserve civilization, and they are there to do a job that needs to be done.
Due to their reclusive nature most people distrust rangers. They don’t know or understand what a ranger is or does. That makes rangers have a complex view of civilization that will need to be explored.
Rangers will do their jobs without an organization to back them up, and some love the aspect of the hunt. It might be that your ranger is someone who enjoys hunting monsters for trophies, but in the end, all rangers have the same purpose.
All rangers deal with monsters before they ever become a threat to society. They are possibly more important than adventurers for the salvation of civilization and are an interesting person to roleplay.
With all of these aspects to a ranger, you need to answer the most important question. Why is your character a ranger?
Why be a ranger?
Being a ranger seems like a thankless job, and it is. If it is required, people will still do it though. Just look at how we view superheroes. They are individuals who at times don’t get thanked for their work and just do it to help people. These people are vigilantes and that is a great way to be roleplaying a ranger in DnD.
Conversely, you can be someone who wants to do this for personal reasons. You might end up enjoying the hunt more than anything else. The thrill of hunting monsters in a life or death situation is what you want out of life. The biggest game isn’t necessarily a humanoid in this world, so it is time for you to chase the biggest game! It is the same motivation that people have with ‘the hunt’ in our world.
Revenge is another powerful motivator. You could have lost your family to orcs and decided that no one else will lose their family as you did. Or you can just go about killing orcs because of your personal grudge. Whatever reason you choose to hunt, revenge can be a powerful tool to inspire and shape your character.
Being born into the role is another option. A ranger might get lonely on the outskirts after 20 years and find a companion. This companion could be a 1 night stand or a spouse. Your upbringing is your choice, but you could have been raised from a young age how to hunt, kill beasts, and actually enjoy it. Or hate it. The choice is up to you.
You have probably realized from these 4 examples that there are many ways why your character could choose this type of life. Your choice will help shape your character and give you an idea of who they are.
1 of these important decisions is how your ranger views civilization.
Views on civilization
You are the predator of the jungle. You are the hunter that is the strongest being out there. In the wild that is true, but what about in civilization?
Roleplaying a ranger in DnD is a thankless job. You are alone all the time and end up killing monsters almost weekly. No one pays you to do what you do, and you might end up in town to re-supply. If you do, don’t expect the people to understand you. In fact, be ready for them to be afraid of you.
People fear what they do not understand. This is a basic principle in our daily lives. You constantly deal with what they don’t understand and come into town disheveled, dirty, and possibly with a bit of blood on your clothing. People might shun you or even try to drive you out of town. Some might realize what you do and thank you.
With this in mind, how does your character view the civilization that they defend?
You could, of course, have the bleak outlook that everything you do is for people who don’t deserve it, but you don’t need to be a stoic or boring ranger.
You are protecting civilization. The frontline against all forms of evil to defend these people, so wouldn’t you view them with some form of positive feelings?
Civilization could be a fascinating jewel to your ranger. They could be enamored and enjoy civilization and like to view what they are protecting. This doesn’t mean that rangers are at home in cities.
A ranger in a city might be like a poor person who attends a rich party. They are fascinated with how these people live and think it is lavish but nice. After a time though, they get uncomfortable and want to leave.
Your ranger might want to leave because they don’t want to develop negative feelings toward the people they protect. Getting chased out of a city will make you question why you are saving these people. You might also just be uncomfortable and get back to your normal life.
A ranger’s view of civilization will shape who they are and why they are a ranger. You can play a wide-eyed ranger that loves all aspects of civilization and have a great time.
This does not mean that your ranger fits into society.
Most people who have encountered others roleplaying a ranger in DnD have had to deal with some type of loner. They could be good-natured or the lord of edginess that causes everyone to cringe a little bit inside.
There is a reason why players gravitate towards this type of roleplay. Rangers are loaners and are a little bit awkward in society, but that is because of their job.
If you went without human contact for a month, wouldn’t it be weird to interact with another person? Now imagine that the majority of your life is without human contact, or at least has only minimal human contact. Wouldn’t you be a little socially awkward?
Being socially awkward as a ranger is fine, but it doesn’t need to come out as a stoic sense of reservation. For someone who isn’t trained in deception or understands how people function, you might choose to be someone who is a bit naive.
Being naive makes your prone to being taken advantage of or just fascinated with how things work. A ranger could act as a wizard, but towards how cloth is spun. Rangers might know about it in theory, but they haven’t seen a spindle, loom, or anything of the sort.
A ranger can act almost childlike at times and have a sense of wonder that is lost on most adults. They can also be hurt fairly easily, and might not have their emotions in check like a normal person would.
However, you want to roleplay the awkwardness that would stem from being alone for most of your life, try to make it interesting. If the other players do not enjoy playing with a character there will be a problem so make your ranger fit the group’s dynamic.
With this in mind, go back to your reason why you are a ranger. What creatures do you hunt, and why do you have a sworn enemy?
Roleplaying a ranger in DnD with a favored enemy does not have to involve revenge. You do not need to hate orcs because they killed your mother and hate ogres a little bit less because they killed your father. You didn’t like him as much as your mom, so they are the second hated enemy.
This is a way to acquire a favored enemy, but rangers are hunters. They have to study, track and understand their prey. Your favored enemy could be something that you have encountered a lot.
It would make sense that you favor fighting orcs if they are the main creatures that you fight on the border. Through experience, you would favor them over other enemies because you know them. You know what they do for patrols, their culture, and what their next move will be. It is easier to hunt and kill these creatures through experience, and that might be the best way to roleplay your favored enemy.
This comes from experience and training. Training is another important part to consider as a ranger. It impacts who you will become, what you hunt, and how you hunt.
Your training can be from an old blind person or a capable mentor who died to goblins. Whoever it may be is mostly unimportant. How they trained you what you are trained to fight is.
Each ranger has their own archetype and you should keep this in mind for the future. When roleplaying a ranger in DnD your path will dictate a little bit of who you are. If you are a hunter, that makes sense. A beastmaster is someone who has bonded with animals for some form of companionship, and a monster slayer is a person who specializes in killing big prey.
But what about gloomstalker and horizon walker? How are you trained for that?
A gloomstalker could fight creatures underneath a city and was abandoned as a child. They were picked up by the blind old man we mentioned earlier and understands how to fight in the dark. They, therefore, prefer to fight other creatures of a subterranean nature.
For horizon walkers, it can be a little weirder. You can be part of an organization or have something more interesting. The cube was made because of a person wanting to be a horizon walker in our party. Their city was destroyed, and they wanted to study and deal with otherworldly beings in order to gain revenge and make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.
If you are interested in the cube, check it out here. It is an awesome addition to your campaign, especially if there is a horizon walker in your party.
We need to cover 1 last thing before we have a full character. 1 last part of your ranger that can play a big part in who they are.
You have spent most of your time in 1 type of environment. If it is the forest you might be more focused on the task at hand. Killing the creatures that threaten civilization.
If your favored terrain is the arctic, you really need to think of why. Why are you killing creatures in the arctic environments, and why are you living there? What could have possessed you to live in this area?
A favored terrain that is not a forest has to have some impact on you. Forests are the typical start for a ranger. They give access to civilization and let you visit towns or even cities. Furthermore, they have plentiful food, resources, and more.
For those rangers who are crazy enough to live anywhere else and consider it a favored terrain through experience, why are you living/hunting there? What is it doing to you as a person?
Roleplay a ranger in DnD will make you consider every part of who you are and your origen. If you a ranger who likes the desert, first figure out why and then figure out how that would impact your personality.
Are you stingy with water? Food? Do you value these items more than others? What about other resources like wood? You might value it more if you didn’t have access to it and were a bow ranger. Lastly, you might want to take care of your equipment more than others. If your equipment gets bad, you might die and there is no easy replacement.
Your favored terrain will affect who you are as a person and is something to consider when roleplaying a ranger in DnD.
Roleplaying a ranger in DnD involves a lot of concepts that most people do not consider. Why you are a ranger is something that most people think of, but they don’t think of the further implications.
What is a ranger? This is a question that almost no one asks. They have seen Lord of the Rings. A ranger is a stoic badass who is always awesome and a great person to play out your power fantasy right? So, so very wrong.
Learn what a ranger is and how it shapes them. If they protect civilization, what is their view on it? Why do they protect it, and how does their daily life affect the ranger?
These are a lot of things to consider when roleplaying a ranger in DnD, and I hope that I was able to help you get an amazing character set up! Now go play a ranger that not many people have ever seen before, and be someone that people will love to play with.
Also, if you want to check out our other guides on how to roleplay different classes then check out our theory blogs here!
This has been Wizo and keep rolling!