View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Arcane archer subclass for Ranger

2018-11-24, 09:24 AM
I really like the theme and flavor of the arcane archer fighter subclass, but I generally think its a bit subpar and I do not like way it scales. First of all having 2 shots/short rest for the entire game and having no damage progression from 3rd level up until 18th level is harsh. Futhermore, I think that the arcane archer would suit very nicely as a ranger subclass option rather than a fighter.

Because of this I've tried to convert the subclass to be an available option to the Ranger instead. The idea is to keep the original features as is: Arcane archer lore (3), arcane shot (3), magic arrow (7), curving shot (7) and ever ready shot (15).

While also adding the two new features.

Arcane conversion
At 3rd level, as a bonus action, you can expend a spell slot to regain a use of your arcane shot. Once you use this feature you must wait 1 minute before you can use it again.

Improved arcane shot
By 11th level, whenever you hit a creature with an arrow, it takes an extra d8 force damage.

In addition, whenever you use your arcane shot feature, you increase the damage roll by an additional d6. The damage roll of your arcane shot is further increased by an additional d6 damage at your 15th level.

The original damage increase at 18th level is removed and instead scales more steadily from the new "improved arcane shot" feature at 11th level. Additionally, the ranger does not have any feature at their 18th level, so the final damage increase is achieved at their 15th level rather than their 18th. Furthermore, the ranger subclasses generally benefits from powerful features at 11th level, like Stalker's Flurry, Distant Strike and Multi-attack, so I think it would be balanced to have an overall damage increase of d8 force damage per shot (similar to the paladin's improved divine smite).

Futhermore, the arcane conversion is added to keep the flavor of the original arcane archer (2 shots per short rest), while also adding options for converting spell slots to more shots (this makes the subclass scale well into the lategame as you'll have more shots per rest the higher level you are). I've added a limit of 1 shot per minute to not let this feature be spammable during a short boss encounter.

As a final note: The Ranger subclass is overall stronger than the fighter subclass. Having said that, the designer's intention was to have fighter base class be stronger than ranger base class, while ranger subclasses be stronger than the fighter subclasses. To balance this, I do believe it is important to actually make the ranger subclass slightly stronger than the fighter to avoid making it overall too underpowered

For discussion on this topic, see link: https://rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/108345/would-allowing-a-ranger-to-take-the-arcane-archer-archetype-be-op-up?rq=1

What do you guys think? would this be balanced? Is it something you would enjoy playing?

2018-11-26, 10:22 AM
I think it's a good idea, but you should use the paladin's "Divine Smite" model with the Arcane Shots - You sacrifice spell slots to gauge how much damage each arcane shot does.

Arcane Shot
Starting at 3rd level, when you gain this feature, you learn two arcane shots of your choice. Once per turn, when you fire an arrow or otherwise expend ammunition from a ranged weapon as part of the attack action, you can apply one of your arcane shot options to that arrow. You decide to use the option when the arrow hits a creature, unless the option doesn't involve an attack roll. When you do, you expend one spell slot to deal damage to the target, in addition to the weapon’s damage. The extra damage depends on the arcane shot selected, plus an additional damage die for each spell slot level higher than 1st.

You can use this feature twice. You regain expended uses when you finish a short or long rest. You gain an additional Arcane Shot option of your choice when you reach 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th levels in this class. Each time you gain a level in this class, you can also replace one shot you know with a different one.

At 11 you'd get something similar:

Improved Arcane Shot
By 11th level, you are so suffused with raw power that all your ranged weapon strikes carry arcane power with them. Whenever you hit a creature with a melee weapon, the creature takes an extra 1d8 force damage. If you also use your Arcane Shot with an attack, you add this damage to the extra damage of your Arcane Shot.

So you'd get the following:

3 - Arcane Shots & cantrips
7 - Magic Arrow & Curved Arrow
11 - Improved Arcane Shot
15 - Ever-Ready Shot *& another feature*

Arcane Shots options are get 2 at level 3, then 1 more at 7, 10, 15, & 18

Ever-ready shot is too weak for a 15th level feature by itself, so You could add a:

Horde Breaker effect for more attacks in niche situations
Grit-style shenanigans, such as retrieving Arcane Shots on Crit
Called-shot-esque effects to target hands, weapons, eyes, throat, feet, wings, chandeliers, or unattended objects.
Increased the number of Arcane Shots per rest to 3

If you look at my Deadeye class (in the signature) I have a list of called shots, although that class was based on a marriage of a mundane Arcane Archer and Battlemaster, so you'll see some overlap there.

2018-11-26, 11:50 AM
Overall good, but I'd clarify one thing. "Flavor" is not a game mechanic. Flavor is a style, a narrative description, a thematic representation. So the flavor of the arcane archer is "can enchant arrows with magical effects." It is not "is restricted to two magical arrows per short rest." So if you feel that the mechanical restriction of 2 arrows per short rest is bad design, you can increase it to 3 or 4, make it class level per long rest, add a recharge mechanic -- do whatever seems fit to you. Mechanical descriptions of abilities are not flavor.

Regarding the 1/minute restriction to prevent spamming -- why? Members of almost every other class can spam their abilities when they want to. Why not the ranger?

2018-11-27, 12:18 AM
Its missing a couple free spells like what The Xans subclasses provide.
Otherwise, thumbs up!

2018-11-27, 08:39 AM
Its missing a couple free spells like what The Xans subclasses provide.
Otherwise, thumbs up!

That's a good point. Probably something like

Spell Level

Magic Missile


Phantom Steed

Elemental Bane

Hold Monster