Guide to Building a Ranger Hunter: DnD 5e

In Dungeons and Dragons 5e, ranger hunters are trackers, professional adventurers and stealthy monster slayers.  These characters are highly martial, blending ranger spells with skilled blade or bow work, but are deeply connected with the wild forces of nature.

Consider these elements when building a ranger hunter in DnD 5e.

Focus on Dexterity and Wisdom

A ranger works off Dexterity and Wisdom.  Dexterity gives me defensive capabilities, weapon damage with bows and short swords, attack accuracy, Initiative and dodging ability.  That’s quite a lot.  Plus, it’s perfect for my role in the group.

On the other hand, Wisdom is used for my ranger spells, perception, intuition and defense against certain spells.  This will be my second highest score, as Dexterity will be my main function with martial prowess and reflex speed.

Therefore, consider races such as wood elf, tabaxi, goblin, aarakocra or kenku for high Dexterity bonuses and unique abilities.

Choose Perception, Survival and Stealth proficiencies

First, let’s think about what skills the Hunter should use.  As a hunter, I won’t just be battling monsters.  I’ll need the ability to use my woodsman prowess in other situations—such as finding food, tracking, sneaking and noticing details of a scene.  As the party ranger, I want to be able to come in clutch with my ranger skills.

Perception and Stealth have obvious benefits.  However, Survival can be confusing, as it is used for tracking and hunting skills—not just surviving dire situations.

Favored Enemy, Deft Explorer

Other ranger classics I would use for this character is Favored Enemy and Deft Explorer.  Favored Enemy gives me advantage on tracking certain types of monsters (undead, fiend, beast, monstrosity, etc.).  Plus, I get to learn connected languages (infernal, abyssal).

Deft Explorer comes from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything—giving me several unique abilities and extra languages.  I’ll gain increased speed, including swimming and climbing speeds.  Also, I’ll learn extra languages.  Ultimately, I’ll be able to use this ability to gain temporary hit points, so it’s quite multifaceted.

Archery Fighting Style

As far as fighting styles go (Dueling, Archery, Defense, Two-Weapon), I’m going with Archery.  The Archery Fighting Style gives me +2 to attack rolls with my bow, which helps me with consistent accuracy.  I’ll increase damage with further features, but now is a great time to increase my accuracy.

As a hunter, I’ll be able to take on larger, more dangerous monsters.  I’m not built to tank, so I’ll let my tougher teammates handle that job.  I should be able to utilize my Stealth, maneuverability and ranged ability to whittle enemy monsters down.

Hunter’s Prey- Colossus Slayer

When I reach level 3 and choose the Hunter archetype, I’ll get to choose my first ability-Hunter’s Prey.

Hunter’s Prey gives me 3 abilities to choose from: Colossus Slayer, Giant Killer and Horde Breaker.

I’ll choose Colossus Slayer to add an extra 1d8 damage to enemies below their maximum health.  In other words—if they’ve been hit, I do extra damage.  I can only do this once per turn, so the future secondary attack ranger feature won’t add this twice.  However, it matches the Archery Fighting style well—adding extra damage to complement the +2 accuracy.

Now, I can more effectively thin the herd of minions and add effective damage to stronger monsters.

Defensive Tactics- Escape the Horde

My next hunter feature, Defensive Tactics, starts at level 7.

I’ll be able to choose from Escape the Horde, Multiattack Defense and Steel Will.

Escape the Horde gives disadvantage to attacks of opportunity against me.  Multiattack Defense would be a good second choice, giving me +4 AC against a second or third attack.  Steel Will gives me advantage against being frightened.

I’m a bit of a glass canon, though my high Dexterity actually grants me a decent AC.  However, I want to stay at a range and really utilize my archery skills.  Therefore, Escape the Horde will give me added advantage on escapes when enemies close in on me.

Multiattack – Volley

At level 11, I’ll gain my Multiattack feature.  My choices are between Whirlwind Attack and Volley.  In short, Whirlwind Attack gives me the ability to hit multiple enemies in melee range.  Naturally, I’ll choose Volley as an archer.

Volley gives me the ability to attack multiple enemies within 10 feet of a target.  I’ll need to make a separate attack roll for each target, but that’s okay.  I’m extremely accurate at this point with my Archery fighting style and +4 or 5 Dexterity bonus.  Groups of enemies that fail to separate will pay a heavy price.

Superior Hunter’s Defense – Uncanny Dodge

My final ability, Superior Hunter’s Defense, comes at level 15.

Now, I can choose between Uncanny Dodge, Evasion and Stand Against the Tide.

Uncanny Dodge allows me to half damage dealt to me.  Obviously, that’s an insanely cool ability.  Evasion reduces or negates area damage like dragon breath, and Stand Against the Tide forces creatures to attack their allies if they miss me.  However, I don’t plan on being too close for these kinds of shenanigans.  Therefore, I’ll take the all-around half damage ability.

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Ranger spells: Hunter’s Mark, Cure Wounds +

My spell list will need to complement my hunter ranger style, including survival, exploration and damage.  Therefore, let’s find spells that help support our ranged attacks and allies.

Go-to level 1 spells

  • Hunter’s Mark: magically place a marker on an enemy, gain 1d6 damage on successful attacks.
  • Cure Wounds: Add 1d8 (per spell level cast) + Wisdom modifier HP.
  • Detect Magic: Detect where magic is coming from and what school it is. 30-foot radius.
  • Entangle: Conjure 200 square feet of plant life, making difficult terrain. Creatures caught inside must make a Strength save or be restrained.  Each subsequent turn will need a Strength check.

Level 2

  • Find Traps: Sense the presence of a trap within 120 feet.
  • Lesser Restoration: Cure blinded, deafened, paralyzed or poisoned target.
  • Pass Without Trace: Add +10 to Stealth checks for me and friends within 30 feet of me.

Level 3

  • Water Breathing: Breath underwater for 24 hours.
  • Conjure Barrage: Conjure a 60-foot cone of projectiles around myself.  Each creature in range must make a Dexterity save or take 3d8 piercing damage.

Before we dive, you can play your ranger character in an original pirate adventure.  Click here or below to learn more.

Deadman's Tale an Island Pirate Adventure DnD 5e friendly 3rd party campaign