This short guide will instruct you on how to create the best Ranger possible in Baldurs Gate 3 (early access). Why would you want to use this particular ranger build over others? Quite simply: this guide shows you how to build a wood elf ranger, maximizing the use of race-specific traits and matching them with the various class-specific specializations a ranger can take. This isn’t a guide that advocates using unusual techniques, it does not rely on acquiring specific items, and it produces (arguably) the best hunter-ranger character setup up to level 4. Most other ranger build guides on steam are ripped directly off of other websites and originally published around the time of the early-access release. The steam authors of these guides offer terrible advice and don’t seem to understand the game very well. With this guide, at least, you’ll find the essential character setup for a hunter-ranger based on my own experiences and my deep, borderline pornographic, understanding of the game and how it works.
To be clear: the target audience of this guide is players new to rangers and/or new to 5e. This guide shows you how to build the archetypal Hunter Ranger up to level 4. It is not for anyone else. If you’re not new to rangers and/or new to 5e, stop reading and go away.
Who Are You?
You are a wood elf.
Why wood elf? Because their entire racial subclass is tailored to making great rangers. Everything that makes them unique also makes them better at being a ranger than any other race or racial subclass.
What wood elves get:
- +2 Dexterity (important for armor and several other reasons)
- +1 Wisdom (important for spells and skills)
- They can move farther, unmodified, than anyone else during combat
- They get the Perceptionproficiency for free
- They get the Sneakproficiency for free
- Immune to sleep spells
- They can see pretty well in the dark
- They are proficient with Long Bows and Short Bows
- They are proficient with Long Swords and Short Swords
- Folk Hero.
You want folk hero because of the animal handling and survival proficiency it grants. You could also choose the survivalist (i think it’s called survivalist) background. The one that grants athletics and survival proficiency. As far as the proficiency bonuses go, either way, you will end up with the same skills at the end of character creation. It MAY have an impact on some dialog options during early access. One would hope that in the full game the background you choose will be more significant.
This guide will set you down the path of the Hunter Ranger archetype. It’s a nice, well-rounded, class. Kind of like the way I take my coffee. (cold, black, and bitter).
- Bounty Hunter
(it doesn’t say in the description, but choosing “bounty hunter” makes Ensnaring Strike stronger which means for the mighty pre release ranger, this is a wise decision).
- Beast Tamer.
This gives you the ability to summon a helpful animal that will follow you around. As a ritual, you can cast it for free outsideof combat. So yeah, just do that daily or whenever it’s lost in battle, or whatever. Frogs, crows (crows can reach some otherwise inaccessible places, and they can fly in into combat to deal damage and then fly out of harms way each combat turn btw), crabs (it’s considered very edgy and cool to have a crab that follows you around these days. it’s also easy to forget you cast crab so when battle ensues you get a pleasant surprise when your crab suddenly out of nowhere delivers a well-timed shot directly where it hurts the most), cats (cats are kind of lame), or rat. rats should be reserved for parties that include Shadowheart because she’s an absolutely hateful person, and we suspect she’s afraid of rats.
Yeah, i know, the beasts you can summon are not as good as the Imps warlocks can summon (sweet invisible flying imps), but they’re better than the other passives andeventually, when the full game is released and you can level your character beyond level 4, these options should expand to include some pretty awesome pets (like fierce panthers and stuff). Besides, look at the other choices: reduced damage? pffft. that assumes anything will be capable of actually dealing damage to the pre release ranger. ok, Minotaurs will be capable of dealing damage. who cares? seriously? ugh, fine. if you’re going to whine about being a beast tamer, then pick up the boringwasteland wanderer: poisonoption. ice you definitely don’t need. fire, yeah, there’s lots of fire, but poison is generally more difficult to manage.
under no circumstances should you choose the urban tracksuit option. i feel like i shouldn’t even have to say this, but i will because maybe you’re just that kind of person. the kind of person who needs to be told that the best rangers do not pick locks or commit petty theft. the dismissive and nonchalant pre-release ranger leaves boring and mundane tasks for rogues. For that reason, you need to recruit Astarionto your party to do the petty, mindless, mundane work required of rogues. be sure to scorn him and make him feel bad every chance you get. he’s a rogue. the fact you choose to even acknowledge his existence in the first place should be reward enough.
Your racial benefits, subracial benefits, background, and class benefits have already given you so many skills because, as I said, this is a great ranger build. And yet, here you can choose three more skills to acquire. Lucky for us, we have chosen everything so wisely that there are only three additional skills available to actually acquire. If you went with the folk hero background, we’re getting:
Because that’s all there is, champion. If you went with the survivalist background then you will pick up animal handling, insight, and nature.
Distribute your points so that you have the following:
- STR: 12
- DEX: 17
- CON: 14
- INT: 8
- WIS: 15
- CHA: 8
It’s good to know at this point that ascending even-numbers above 10 will grant +1 to ability checks. So 10 gets +0. 12 gets +1. 14 gets +2. 16 gets +3. 18 gets +4. 20 gets +5. It works the other way too. So 8 gets -1, 6 gets -2, and so on. Keep that in mind if you get hit by a spell that reduces an ability. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your ability points quite regularly as you go about your business. Remember, we are setting things up for the wise (but maybe not so smart) pre-release ranger to have -1 applied to intellect checks. This is really quite alright for rangers, but you probably don’t want to use the ranger to go around poking hands into unknown things. That’s what wizards are for. Let them stick their hand into the strange dark hole emitting faint gurgling sounds. The too-school-for-cool pre-release ranger is bored by such things anyway.
The reason you are setting DEX and WIS to 17 and 15 respectively during character creation is because when you reach Level 4, you will choose Ability Improvement and improve DEX to 18 and WIS to 16. In the full game, you would increase DEX to 20 at level 8 and then at level 12 you would really start getting serious about specialization.
We just did Level 1 and it’s character creation. If you ever see a nerd with a child of his or her own you may have seen their child running around with a T-shirt that says “Level 1 Human” on it. But if you do see something like that then you’re clearly dealing with a nerd that isn’t very smart (so, technically, a geek in that case). A young human like a child is nowhere close to a Level 1 human. If d&d was real life, most people wouldn’t reach “Level 1” human until they were between 18 and 24 years old. And that’s only if they trained for a long time. Babies with “Level 1 human” shirts have stupid geek parents that don’t know what a level 1 human actually IS (not a baby that’s for sure).
If you want, you can administer a quick roundhouse kick to the so-called level 1 human as a simple test to see if it really is a Level 1 human. I think it’s pretty reasonable to say that any Level 1 human (even those with 9 dexterity) should be capable of dodging a simple roundhouse kick or at the very least they would cast firebolt on you. and then you’d know.
You can choose two spells. Choose wisely. (choose these)
- Hail of Thorns
- Ensnaring Strike
You also get to choose a fighting style. Choose Archery. Why? Because you’re a hunter, dammit. You must choose archery hereor you will not be utilizing the full potential of your abilities as a wood elf ranger. and because you will be forgoing your full potential, then you might as well be making a customized special build of some kind. and what’s the point of doing that if you can only level your character up to level 4? seems like a bunch of nonsense to me. It’s archery or bust.
You can choose another spell. I would suggest you recruit that obnoxious wizard to your party and keep him around. This way you don’t have to pick up the “speak to animals” spell. Let that self-obsessed and expensive wizard talk to animals. animals usually don’t have anything interesting to say anyway. The most use you’ll get out of speak to animals is when you talk to the sleeping bear blocking the outdoor elevator in druid’s grove.
For the introspective and stoic Ranger, the best spell to acquire at level 3 is Hunter’s Mark.
Additionally at Level 3 you get another choice. Specialization. This one is easy. Choose HUNTER
And by choosing Hunter, you can pick a passive skill. For your passive, choose Colossus Slayer. You’ll get more use out of it than you’d expect, and during combat, even heavy combat, enemies are never grouped together enough for Horde Breaker to work.
This is where you take dexterity and wisdom to the max. Choose Ability Improvement and improve Dexterity to 18 and Wisdom to 16.
Equipment and How to Use It
Always equip this ranger with the best ranged weapons you can find or afford. Ultimately you’ll end up with a +1 Longbow of some variety. Heavy crossbows are nice too but who wants to haul around heavy crossbows? The confident and self-respecting ranger has no use for heavy crossbows. +1 Longbows all the way yes please and thank you. Crossbows are for useless and weak characters. And virgins. The vivacious Pre Release Ranger is most certainly *NOT* a virgin.
Of course, the adventurous Ranger does not consign himself (or herself) to timidly hanging back and firing arrows like a dingleberry. No, my friends, indeed not. In fact, it is the unexpected melee prowess that makes this Ranger such a badass. But how do we bring this latent talent to the fore?
What I will tell you here is some of the wisdom you just won’t find anywhere else. It’s not widely known or understood, but, the dexterity on this ranger is just so gosh darn HIGH that she will deal more damage, hit through stronger armor, and hit more reliably using lightweightfinesse weapons than any other ranger builds. If you see someone suggest that you invest points in a weapon specialty (like dual wielding for heavy weapons) then you can laugh, confidently, in their face because this ranger will outclass anything they could possibly throw at you.
The formula for being a formidable melee fighter, as a ranger, is as follows:
- Have the dexterity of a god.
- In any hand, equip a lightweight finesse weapon
- In any other hand, equip another lightweight finesse weapon
this concludes the training session for kung fu: weapons and mastery.
What do we do with this new knowledge? after kicking Morpheus’ a*s in the matrix simulator?
It’s simple. We dual wield +1 scimitars.
Good luck finding two +1 scimitars. You’ll probably have to buy at least one of them. Due to the extreme shortage of +1 scimitars in the game, this adaptive and resilient ranger can make due by dual wielding finesse weapons of any kind. The key is making sure the weapon is classified as “finesse” and “light”. Lightweight means it can be dual wielded by default and “finesse” means the character’s dexterity points will be added to the attack chance to hit AND attack damage rolls. With a dexterity of 18 that gives the ranger an impressive +4 to both attack hit and damage rolls. after applying the default +2 proficiency bonus, any weapon bonuses (like +1 for the +1 scimitars) and bonuses from other equipment, scrolls, friendly spells, etc., you could be looking at +10 or higher to attack and damage. If your chance-to-hit has +10 applied to it, and say you’re facing an enemy with an armor class of 14, then you’d only need to roll a 4 or higher on the 20-sided die. That’s 85% hit probability on armor class of 14 at level 4. That’s pretty good. And honestly you will probably be able to exceed +10 at level 4. I just chose that number because it is reasonably attainable.
This pleases the unstoppable ranger.
Armor class is boosted by a character’s dexterity. Because the Pre Release Ranger does not concern himself (or plausibly herself) with silly nonsense like sneaking around, it is advisable to equip this ranger with the best medium armor around. Some people would suggest taking the Githyanki armor from Lae’zel at the beginning of the game. I would advise against this because I think Lae’zel is the best companion in the game and she will need that armor more than the evasive and athletic pre-release ranger. Also, chances are pretty high that if you steal her armor, she will find reason to take offense at the fact you’re a wood elf wearing Githyanki armor. Then, you guessed it, she’s going to murder you in your sleep. Actually, strike that. She’s going to murder you in broad daylight. She’ll probably also make you eat an old dog turd too. It is true she can be a bit touchy about things, but she’s not as bad as the rest of your stupid companions. In fact, she’s almost always correct. And she has good instincts. Best keep her happy at the expense of everyone else at camp. because everyone else is just trash anyway. Will is probably alright but he cares way to much about helping others. Plus keeping him alive in combat is usually more work than its worth. (Keeping that wizard alive, on the other hand, is always worth it. seriously, do not let that one die).
Right, anyway, armor. get medium armor. the best in your inventory at any given time.
Scale armor, preferably +1 scale armor, is a good and easy set to acquire. There’s another medium armor set that’s better than scale +1 and the githyanki medium armor. telling you what it is would ruin the surprise. it does exists. find it. equip it. voila.
This part is unnecessary except to tell you what not to do. Don’t give the pre release ranger the amulet that grants misty step. I know it’s tempting to give your main character all the best gear, but the self-sufficient pre release ranger just doesn’t need it. this ranger is MORE than effective at ANY range. it doesn’t need to bother finding ideal terrain (generally speaking of course). wherever the ranger is, that is usually good enough. Don’t spend an entire turn of combat trying to get the high ground. Move as far as you must, but always at least get one shot off if possible. If you’re seeking higher ground, you should be doing so to improve your chances with ensnaring strike or another one of your special abilities. Give the misty step necklace to Lae’zel. She deals lots of damage and, more importantly, absorbs damage that otherwise may have hit something important. like your ranger. You could consider another character for the misty step amulet, but the only other character who would need it is Shadowheart, and she’s a jerk so why would we give her nice things?
Also, don’t give the intelligence-boosting thinking cap to the ranger. yeah, it would be super cool to have lvl 18 intelligence on your ranger but for what? a few dialogue checks that don’t even matter? you don’t have many intelligence-based proficiencies anyway. Give the thinking cap to Gale the Needy and Hungry Wizard. Then, when he reaches level 4, you can choose something other than ability improvement. Something new and interesting. Go all out, comrade! I mean, surely Gale the Human Dumpster deserves to be spoiled even more than he already demands. Ugh. Gale is so annoying. If you could recruit a ranger it would be better to play as a wizard and ignore Gale entirely. I mean don’t even invite him to camp. He’s a walking dumpster fire holding a box of TNT all contained beneath a veneer of calm. Don’t be fooled by his easy-going nature and moral compass that points true north. He is bad news. But we can’t recruit a ranger which is why we play as one. And we kind of need a wizard so we just have to suck it up and deal with him.
The Use of Weapons
The endlessly complex Pre Release Ranger can and will impose his (or perhaps her) will upon the world. Dual wielding finesse weapons and sporting a +1 longbow gives you, the glorious player, the freedom and tools to do whatever you want whenever you want. You don’t need me to tell you to stick the enemies with the pointy end.
Behold, the Pre Release Ranger cometh.
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