Thursday, June 2, 2011

Holmes & Cook: Rangers

Yesterday, J.B. of B/X Blackrazor reacted to my recasting of the Holmesian Thief in context of Bilbo Baggins by reminding me of his previous post, How Bilbo Baggins Ruined Everything. In his latest post, he is Hating on Rangers. Therefore, I though it apropos to propose the optional Ranger class for a Holmes & Cook amalgam.

Please note: I am not trying to start some kind of war of words with J.B. who actually makes some very compelling arguments (if a little crude at times). He tends to be a B/X partisan and as such I greatly sympathize with him because I, too, feel it is one of the best versions of the game; however, I also greatly enjoy tinkering. And this whole thought experiment is exactly about that — framing a tinkering project within the confines of Holmes and Cook. Therefore, I am merely sending some gentle ribbing J.B.'s way…

The Holmesian Ranger

Rangers are specialized fighting-men who concentrate on missile combat. They are hunters, scouts, skirmishers and/or outriders. They become expert marksmen at the expense of other kinds of combat. As such, they may only use Missile Weapons or Thrown Weapons. This specialization, however, allows rangers to have the following advantages in missile combat:
  • Unlike other classes, rangers do not need to fire in volleys. When firing into a group, they need not randomly determine their target. Rather, they can shoot at a specific target.
  • As a result, they are able to fire into melee where friendlies are involved and not risk shooting one of their own party.
They are also better at tracking and at spotting things in an outdoor environment than other classes. They begin with a chance of 2 in 6 and increase this in the same progression as a Thief (aka Burglar) has with hear noise.

Like other fighting-men, rangers may wear any kind of armor; however, wearing heavy armor negates their targeting abilities (they may only fire in volleys).

They use the same XP progression and saving throws as other fighting-men.

Question: I am curious if there is any opinion out there as to whether or not to have a Dex requirement of 13 or to allow certain demi-humans to be rangers (personally, I am considering elves and halflings, but not dwarves).


  1. Aside from the tracking ability, isn't this more accurately an Archer? Why would a Dwarf not be able to be a Ranger/Archer if you would allow a Hobbit to be one?

  2. @Stuart
    Aside from the tracking ability, isn't this more accurately an Archer?

    I don't think so. In battle, archers send massive volleys of arrows at a general area where there are enemy troops. This is the model for normal missile fire as I understand it in Holmes. The guys who would live and die by being marksmen are not archers, but rather hunters, skirmishers, etc.

    My current thinking on the Dwarf/Hobbit issue is as follows: I can easily picture a halfling being a marksman with a sling. Dwarves, on the other hand, are born and bred tunnel fighters. Their fighting style and environment aren't really conducive for producing ranger-types.

  3. @ Fr. Dave: Rib all you want, man! I enjoy discourse (crude or not-so-much).

    Your "ranger" is quite interesting...I think this is the first time I've ever seen a character class restricted to missile weapons! Very Holmsian indeed, and well-balanced against the standard fighting-man (do you want to be a brawler or a marksman). I would be interesting in seeing how it plays in practice (do they get mauled to death when cornered in melee?).

    Regardless, I much prefer YOUR ranger to the AD&D uber-class.
    : )

  4. It's an interesting take, but too extreme for me. Robin Hood was no slouch with a sword. ;)

  5. @JB
    I am glad you like...though those Thrown Weapons can be used in melee, they just aren't as good as some of the options a regular fighting-man has. Thus, they wouldn't get mauled, but they probably would appreciate having a brawler around.

    Robin Hood was no slouch with a sword.
    ...and so was Galdalf...;)