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- Join Date
- Jan 2018
- Arizona Circle
Hunter/Beast Master spells to comply with Tasha's Optional Features
This is a project I've been meaning to tackle for a while now, considering that every subclass of the ranger gets a free spell per level now with the exception of the two PHB choices, I think it's overdue that they receive them. I enjoyed Tasha's (with a couple glaring exceptions), and I'm glad we finally got some decent ranger tweaks. I plan on running a Hunter in our upcoming Curse of Strahd run, and so it finally gave me a deadline to come up with this list. I am a little bit disappointed that WOTC didn't patch this along with all the other tweaks we got (would one more paragraph been that hard to fit in?), and I'm also disappointed that they didn't give the Sorcerer some extra loving, but that's another topic altogether. Without further ado, here's my criteria:
-This is meant to work with the Tasha's features, and since Primal Awareness gives us a heap of spells once a day for free, those five are off the table.
-Theme is the priority here, not shoring up any weaknesses of the subclass per se. I'm not going to slap Spiritual Weapon on the Hunter to make up for DPR deficiencies compared to a white room munchking ranged fighter.
-Priority is on PHB spells, since adding Xanathar spells feels inappropriate, though if something truly fits, I'm not above it.
-No Hunter's Mark for Hunter. Though it feels like a natural fit, it clashes to heavily with the new Favored Foe feature, though of course a Hunter is still free to take it if they wish to.
So let's define our theme: I feel the subclasses are at opposite sides of the Ranger coin. What is a Ranger? We could talk about that in length, and indeed there are many topics doing just that. In my limited experience, the Ranger is one of the most tweaked classes in 5e, and every time someone begins the process, they ask this very question, which usually gets into quite a lengthy and contentious process. In simple terms, a Ranger is an archetype defined more by characters claiming the title than by longstanding literary definition. It instantly conveys the idea of Aragorn and Geralt. But more importantly, who, or what, a Ranger is, is defined by how your character interacts with the class. To circle back to what I said in the beginning, I believe a Ranger is more defined by its subclass than most of the other subclasses. In character, the personality and physical fighting style of a Champion, Samurai, or Battlemaster may be completely interchangeable to a casual observer, but the Hunter and Beastmaster represent completely dichotic ideas.
A hunter believes that nature is something to be suppressed. They may love the wild, and certainly feel uncomfortable in civilization, but ultimately they stalk to wilds to make them safer and in a way tamer. Rangers being half-druidic casters is discordant with this idea, but there are limits to the system that must be utilized.
By comparison, a Beastmaster revels and reveres in nature and it wildness. Its companion is an equal, a friend, a thing prized and treasured. Though ultimately specific feelings lie in the realm of PC decision, the nature of a Beastmaster implies equanimity with nature, not as something to be suppressed.
I admit bias in this analysis, and it's entirely subjective. The Ranger I've played in the past was very much a Druid by any other name, a worshipper and follower of the wild places. I can see, and indeed would be interested to see, an aggressively pragmatic Beastmaster character who sees their companion as an expendable tool. However, for the purpose of this exercise, we need some form of baseline, and this is the parameters I have chosen. From this framework we can conclude:
-Hunters should not have excessively Druidic tones in their spell list, no mastery of elements or a deep connection to all things natural. They should focus on striking harder or protecting themselves, acting more as a solo striker than a team player. The spell list should inform this by not stealing too generously from the Druid list, though a commendable list it is. Their spells should also be ultimately practical and low in magical wow factor, focusing on cold precision over flair.
-Beast masters are more in touch with nature, specifically, beasts over fey or plants. They are team players and should focus more on support, or bolstering their own connection with nature. They also should not focus much on elemental mastery, as their magic is more, literally, down to earth.
With those themes informing us, here's the pool of spells to pick from, after scouring all spells of 1st-5th level from all lists:
Spoiler: Hunter Pool
*indicates XGTE or TCE spell
1st: Absorb Elements*, Alarm, Bane, Ensnaring Strike, Entangle, Expeditious Retreat, Hail of Thorns, Snare*, Zephyr Strike*
2nd: Alter Self, Cloud of Daggers, Cordon of Arrows, Enhance Ability, Spike Growth
3rd: Conjure Barrage, Lightning Arrow, Plant Growth
4th: Arcane Eye, Freedom of Movement, Guardian of Nature, Hallucinatory Terrain
5th: Steel Wind Strike, Swift Quiver
Spoiler: Beastmaster Pool
*indicates XGTE or TCE spell
1st: Animal Friendship, Beast Bond*, Command, Sanctuary
2nd: Alter Self, Animal Messenger, Enhance Ability, Summon Beast*,
3rd: Plant Growth, Water Walking, Water Breathing
4th: Charm Monster*, Death Ward, Dominate Beast, Giant Insect,
We have some easy choices to make, and some hard ones. Notably, there are very, very few spells that seem to fit our thematic choices at 3rd level for the Beastmaster. I won't talk through every decision that leads me to this list, but keep in mind I'm trying to exclude non-PHB spells, so they get less priority. I will however include a brief note on why I've settled on a particular choice:
Spoiler: Proposed Hunter List
1st: Alarm: This spell feels truly hunteresque, allowing them rest comfortably and be on their toes even alone in the wilds. Plus, some of the other spells on this list are heavy hitters, so I though I'd tame some choice down.
2nd: Cloud of Daggers: This feels so iconically rangeresque I was surprised it wasn't already on their list. I like the feel this conveys, and a little area control is something the Ranger doens't currently have much of.
3rd: Conjure Barrage: No question here.
4th: Hallucinatory Terrain: Not much to say, this feels right, perfect for ambushes or getting something off your tail. Also wanted something not so aggressively combat oriented.
5th: Swift Quiver: I really wanted something else here, but nothing felt like a better fit.
Spoiler: Proposed Beastmaster List
*indicates XGTE or TCE spell
1st: Animal Frienship: Really almost went with Beast Bond, but since I break the PHB only list later on, and I wanted to tone down this list, this felt right.
2nd: Summon Beast*: Really debating this. It feels like a big power bump, but it also feels appropriate.
3rd: Water Breathing: Really not a lot of choices here. This feels like an nice little buff for humanoid and beast friend alike.
4th: Dominate Beast: Debated between this and Giant Insect, but honestly, what could possibly fit better?
5th: Awaken: Literally nothing else makes sense here. The entire campaign has been building to you awakening your beast buddy. You deserve it.
All thoughts and suggestions appreciated.
Last edited by KOLE; 2021-01-13 at 01:07 PM.
- Join Date
- Aug 2013
Re: Hunter/Beast Master spells to comply the Tasha's Optional Features
I would give Beast Master Find Familiar, actually. The iconic beastmaster (from the cheesy Beastmaster movies) had a falcon, ferrets, and a tiger, so having Find Familiar to represent the falcon or ferrets in their functions as scouts and key-ring-fetchers would be appropriate. Animal Messenger makes more sense than Summon Beast; Summon Beast is pretty redundant, as the Beast Master's bonus action is usually going to be used to command his regular beast anyway. I would give them Conjure Animals at third; the spell is on their list anyway, so no concern about a power jump really, and unlike Summon Beast, Conjure Animals doesn't require any action to command them so it's actually something they can use well. I agree with Dominate Beast and Awaken as the 4th and 5th level options.
For the Hunter, in its role as the "most generic ranger possible" I would stick to options that feel low-magic, and would stick to out-of-combat utility spells, so no blasting. So Cloud of Daggers and Conjure Barrage are right out IMO. Alarm is a perfect fit. Instead of Cloud of Daggers, Locate Plants and Animals is a perfect thematic match at 2nd level. At third level Waterbreathing is fine, I guess. I would prefer to see Feign Death for reasons I'm not sure I can articulate. Something about pretending to be dead feels very Rangery to me, but maybe I'm insane. At fourth level Freedom of Movement is perfect. Swift Quiver is bleh at 5th, especially since hunters don't have to be a ranged class at all; I'd rather give them Greater Restoration here: not a great fit, but it's better.