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posted by gradenko_2000 Original SA post

Because I'm still in a "comparator" mood, I wanted to do a little one-shot F&F, this time of Monte Cook's Revised Ranger.

There isn't a date on this PDF, but the inclusion of Ambidexterity means that this was supposed to be an alternative to the 3.0 PHB's version of the Ranger, and before 3.5 was released.

The primary issue with the 3.0 Ranger was that it didn't really do anything. At level 1, they would get the ability to act as if they had the Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting feats as long as they were wearing light armor and wielded two weapons, and then they'd also get Ranger spells, but beyond that, they had the same BAB as a Fighter, the same Hit Dice, and Favored Enemies, but that was it. Not only would "more feats" be arguably more useful, but the front-loading of their class abilities meant that they'd often be taken as a 1-level dip for the proficiencies and the two-weapon fighting ability, but never taken as a full class.

The 3.5 iteration would try to fix these issues, but before that ever came around, apparently Monte Cook took a stab at it himself:

* Same full BAB across both the 3.0 and the Cook version

* Where the 3.0 Ranger has a good Fort save and poor Ref and Will saves ...
... Cook's version has good Fort and Ref saves

* Where the 3.0 Ranger has a d10 hit die...
... Cook's version has a d8 (which he specifically says he did to "balance out" all the "good stuff" that he gave his version of the Ranger)

* Same Class skills across both versions

* Where the 3.0 Ranger gets 4 skill points per level ...
... Cook's version gets 6 skill points per level

* At level 1, the 3.0 Ranger gets Track as a bonus feat, Favored Enemy as an ability, and the special ability to act as if they have the Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting feats as long as they're weapon light armor and wielding two weapons ...

... Cook's version gets a bonus combat feat, Track as a bonus feat on top of that, and Favored Enemy as an ability

* Favored Enemy doesn't actually change: the Ranger selects a single broad category of enemies, and they get a +1 bonus to damage rolls, Bluff checks, Listen checks, Sense Motive checks, Spot checks, and Wilderness Lore checks against that enemy. They select a new category every 5th level, and then the bonus goes up by +1 for every previously selected category (so they end at level 20 with a +4 bonus to the first Favored Enemy that they selected)

* For the rest of the level progression, the 3.0 Ranger only just gets more Favored Enemies (as I mentioned every 5 levels), spellcasting starting at class level 4, and then at class level 9, they can take the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat even if they don't meet the prerequisites. Note that this doesn't give them the feat for free - they still have to spend the feat slot, they just don't need the prerequisites (which would be the Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting that they technically don't have, just act like they do).

... Cook's version gets those, and bonus feats at class levels 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, and 19.

* The spell progression on Cook's Ranger is a little better: they both get 1st-level spells at class level 4, but 2nd-level spells are acquired at class level 7, 3rd-level spells are acquired at class level 10, and 4th-level spells are acquired at class level 13.

In these latter three cases, those are 1 class level earlier than when the 3.0 version gets them. And Cook's Ranger gets one more 1st-level spell slot at class level 20.

* Cook throws in two new feats: the first gives you 1d6 more damage if you hit a Favored Enemy, and the other is 1d10 more damage if you crit a Favored Enemy. It bears noting that this latter feat's extra damage is only 44% larger than the former feat's extra damage, but crits are significantly less likely to happen.

* Cook lets their new Ranger learn some new spells from the Druid list: Barkskin, Commune with Nature, and Wall of Thorns

* Cook also creates three new spells:
Blight Enemy is a 2nd-level spell that deals xd6 damage per caster level, up to 5d6, but can only be cast against Favored Enemies.
Wild Stealth is a 3rd-level spell that gives you a +10 bonus to Move Silently and Hide checks, but only if you are outdoors, above ground, and in a non-urban environment
Unite Allies is a 4th-level spell that gives all your allies a +1 damage bonus against all your Favored Enemies

Let's recap:

Cook's Ranger gains 2 skill points per level, a good Ref save, 7 bonus feats, a single 1st-level spell slot at level 20, access to 2nd-, 3rd-, and 4th-level spells one class level earlier, two possible feats that only work against Favored Enemies, two new spells that only work against Favored Enemies, a stealth spell that only works in a nature setting, and three Druid spells.

As a trade-off, it goes from a d10 hit die, to a d8 hit die.

I think it's safe to say that this was a very unambitious revision that didn't really address the key problems of the class. In the event, the 3.5 revision would be much better, even just by looking at the Ranger getting a permanent animal companion, and even if that would be a crippled version of the Druid's ability.