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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    Hi there,
    The Ranger is one of my favourite archetypes in fantasy tropes, and I am sure I am not the only one.
    There are quite a few topics about the possibility of Strength-based Rangers (a.k.a. Strangers), but it’s not easy to find detailed post about optimising one.
    Recently, I have purchased and painted this awesome miniature which gave me inspiration for this build. I mean, look at it: light armour, reach weapon, poetry in motion, beard. Is there anything more badass?
    I thought to myself “which class embodies this concept in 5e?”, and after answering “none” at first, I came up with a less than obvious answer.
    Here is how to make the build not only viable, but quite effective and fun.

    Abbreviations used in this guide:
    Spoiler
    Show

    • DPR: Damage per Round
    • AoO: Attack of Opportunity
    • PAM: Polearm Master
    • HM: Hunter's Mark
    • CS: Colossus Slayer
    • ZS: Zephyr Strike
    • ASI: Ability Score Improvement
    • BAA: Bonus Action Attack
    • lvl: Level, duh



    Pros and Cons of this build
    Pros:
    - Offers one of the highest DPR at least until lvl 11, especially with HM on;
    - The AoO from the PAM feat synergises with HM and the Hunter’s CS;
    - Encourages abusing your mobility options (ZS, Escape the Horde), which makes for interesting combat choices;
    - Arguably more durable than most builds;
    - It's not your usual cliché build.

    Cons:
    - If you want to multiclass your character, you may need to invest ASIs in Wisdom;
    - Arguably worse Saving Throws than Dexterity-based builds;
    - Depending on situation and play style, you might not get a BAA each turn, therefore reducing your DPR quite considerably;
    - Only one option for fighting style (Defence), albeit a good one;
    - A lower Wisdom score may push you towards non-offensive spells;
    - Can be quite taxing on your spell slots.

    Race choice
    The best choice is probably Variant Human, which lets you choose PAM at level 1 and gives you a free skill proficiency; with it you will reach Strength 20 at lvl 8 and can focus on other feats from lvl 12.
    Second best, right behind it, is Half-Orc: Savage Attacks is roughly a 5% DPR increase, Relentless Endurance and the chance to start at CON 16 make you sturdier than puny humans and Darkvision is always good to have. Plus you’re the best race ever. #HaflOrcsMasterRace
    Goliath is also a good choice due to the stat bonuses and Stone’s Endurance, for when you can’t use your reaction for an AoO. It doesn’t give you as much as Half-Orc does though.

    Combat Tactics
    Get to 10ft from your target, attack, move away. Rinse and repeat.
    Cast Longstrider on yourself before combat if you can.
    Use ZS to make yourself immune to AoO before lvl 7.
    Use HM if you don’t expect the need to move away (i.e. when behind a meat shield); if you have to choose between moving your HM or using your BAA, HM barely pulls ahead if you have a damage bonus modifier less than +5 (i.e less than 20 Str, or 18 Str and +1 weapon).
    Drop the Glaive/Halberd and pick up Quarterstaff + Shield if you expect to tank, you give up 4 DPR and reach for +2 AC.
    Never, ever use Primordial Awareness.

    Ability Scores at lvl 1, assuming point buy
    Variant Humans should start with:
    Str 16,
    Dex 14,
    Con 14,
    Int 8 or 10,
    Wis 12,
    Cha 10 or 8.

    Hal-Orcs and Goliaths should start with :
    Str 16,
    Dex 14,
    Con 16,
    Int 8,
    Wis 12,
    Cha 8

    or

    Str 16,
    Dex 14,
    Con 14,
    Int 9 or 10,
    Wis 12 or 13,
    Cha 8 or 10.

    Spell choices
    You should definitely take HM and ZS (at least until you pick up Escape the Horde).
    I like Longstrider for extra mobility. Absorb Elements, Alarm and Pass Without Trace are all solid options. Conjure Animals can increase your DPR considerably depending on your DM.

    Archetypes
    Hunter makes the best archetype for the build, hands down. CS is the whole point of the build, and Escape the Horde at lvl 7 is a solid choice which may free your concentration from ZS – although Multiattack Defence is also good. Both lvl 11 options suck and Evasion is probably the only worthwhile choice for lvl 15.
    Horizon Walker is a bit of a trap due to Planar Warrior, which requires a Bonus action every turn and it’s not worth is DPR-wise; Gloom Stalker and Monster Hunter can work, however Hunter has simply more synergy.

    Other feats
    The only feat you really need is obviously PAM.
    Other feats you I would recommend, in no particular order, are Resilient: Wisdom, Sentinel, Mobile, Alert, Resilient: Constitution, Great Weapon Master.

    What about the Revised Ranger?
    The revised Ranger doesn't exist. If it existed, it would work just as fine if not better.

    There you have it, feel free to post your comments/suggestions/insults below!
    Last edited by TheBirba; 2018-08-30 at 01:08 AM.
    I wrote a lil' guide on how to build an archer in D&D 5e here (WIP).
    How to build your Polearm Master Ranger.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    McSkrag's Avatar

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    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    That's a really interesting build. Sounds fun to play.

    A couple other ideas for races. Maybe not as optimized as Vuman, Goliath, or Half-Orc, but they should work.

    Mountain Dwarf -- I can see this one in an underground campaign
    16 STR | 14 DEX | 17 CON | 8 INT | 12 WIS | 8 CHA | Take Resilient: CON at some point

    Firbolg -- Just seems like it would make cool Glaive wielding Ranger
    16 STR | 14 DEX | 14 CON | 8 INT | 14 WIS | 8 CHA

    Trading off STR for WIS means focusing on spells that do not depend on a spell attack or save. It would be good to flesh out the spell recommendations a bit more.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    Quote Originally Posted by McSkrag View Post
    That's a really interesting build. Sounds fun to play.

    A couple other ideas for races. Maybe not as optimized as Vuman, Goliath, or Half-Orc, but they should work.

    Mountain Dwarf -- I can see this one in an underground campaign
    16 STR | 14 DEX | 17 CON | 8 INT | 12 WIS | 8 CHA | Take Resilient: CON at some point

    Firbolg -- Just seems like it would make cool Glaive wielding Ranger
    16 STR | 14 DEX | 14 CON | 8 INT | 14 WIS | 8 CHA

    Trading off STR for WIS means focusing on spells that do not depend on a spell attack or save. It would be good to flesh out the spell recommendations a bit more.
    Good points, I always forget Dwarfs are a thing. 😛
    I wrote a lil' guide on how to build an archer in D&D 5e here (WIP).
    How to build your Polearm Master Ranger.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBirba View Post
    Recently, I have purchased and painted this awesome miniature which gave me inspiration for this build. I mean, look at it: light armour, reach weapon, poetry in motion, beard. Is there anything more badass?
    I thought to myself “which class embodies this concept in 5e?”
    Barbarian.
    The question would more be who can use a heavy strength weapon but cannot use heavy armor. XD

    Could go tortle for your build in general. Probably best str ranger.

    What about ranger beast master revised (dual weilding fighting style)
    On a mule (which some dms rule a medium can ride) tortle race, dual weilder feat, mounted combatant feat
    Ride your mount into combat with two lances.
    Last edited by MagneticKitty; 2018-08-29 at 06:44 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ettin in the Playground
    Join Date
    May 2015
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    Massachusetts

    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    I played a beastmaster strength based with PAM and sentinel.

    For some reason everyone likes to attack the wolf, and I just soaked up oodles of reaction attacks. You just found a new beast if the old one died.

    Or you could fashion this as "John Little " or Little John and use a quarterstaff.

    You can always dip a level of fighter or cleric, at 1st level for save purposes or heavy armor.

    Looks fun

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    HalflingRogueGuy

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    Feb 2018

    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    Another Pro for this build is that you can make "STRanger Danger" your catchphrase.

    OR

    *Drag on cigarette, exhale*

    "Didn't your mother ever tell you..."

    *Flicks away cigarette*

    "...never talk to STRangers."

    *Glaive to the face.*

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    In my mind PAM has always been the best of the Strength Ranger builds. It has such great built in action economy, and has less direct conflict with Hunter's Mark than GWM does.

    I think it would work well as a Gloomstalker too. If you can get withing 10ft of your foe in the first round of combat you can unload some big d10 attacks with HM bonus damage, then backing up a step and wait for them to enter your reach to provoke that sweet AoO.

    Pretty cool all around.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Troll in the Playground
     
    stoutstien's Avatar

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    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    Whirlwind attack and a polearm then mount a large animal and commence to have a 30-foot Cyclone of death especially if you can get any on hit riders such of the flame tongue.
    what is the point of living if you can't deadlift?

    All credit to the amazing avatar goes to thoroughlyS

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    Quote Originally Posted by BreaktheStatue View Post
    Another Pro for this build is that you can make "STRanger Danger" your catchphrase.

    OR

    *Drag on cigarette, exhale*

    "Didn't your mother ever tell you..."

    *Flicks away cigarette*

    "...never talk to STRangers."

    *Glaive to the face.*
    I love it.

    Quote Originally Posted by stoutstien View Post
    Whirlwind attack and a polearm then mount a large animal and commence to have a 30-foot Cyclone of death especially if you can get any on hit riders such of the flame tongue.
    Unfortunately you can’t move during Whirlwind Attack and you can only target creatures within 5 feet.
    I wrote a lil' guide on how to build an archer in D&D 5e here (WIP).
    How to build your Polearm Master Ranger.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
    stoutstien's Avatar

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    Default Re: Unusual builds: The Polearm Master STRanger

    Eww forgot about the 5 foot rule with wirlwind attack. Id remove that at my table in a heartbeat. On the note of Hunter ranger is it just me or is Gaint killer useless bc of the same unnecessary 5 foot restriction. I mean large and larger mobs tend to have quite a long reach
    what is the point of living if you can't deadlift?

    All credit to the amazing avatar goes to thoroughlyS

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