Ranger: Beast Master

Wizards of the Coast recently stated that they have no intention of releasing an official reworking of the Ranger class, and I (mostly) agree with them. The ranger has a notorious reputation for being the most underwhelming class in 5th edition, and this is (again, mostly) an exaggeration. I think the main problem is that the ranger is not quite a fighter, not quite a rogue, and not quite a paladin. These 3 classes are all better at doing what the ranger can do, but the ranger is more versatile, like a bard, and can do what all 3 can.

This brings me to the beast master. The main problems I see with the beast master is that the ranger needs to use an Action to command the beast to attack and the power of the beast master tapers off at mid to high level play. I know Wizards did this to downplay the animal companion in lieu of the ranger character, but they did not give the ranger itself enough power to make up for this. Here’s how to fix the beast master.

Level 3 Features
Ranger’s Animal Companion
Leave this feature as-is.

Level 7 Features
Exceptional Training
Leave this feature as-is.

Heart of the Wild (new feature)
Beginning at 7th level, your animal companion becomes more powerful. Select one of the following bonuses for your animal companion:

Your animal companion adds half of your Wisdom modifier (rounded up) as a bonus to its attack rolls and damage rolls.

Master Trainer
You can use a bonus action to command your animal companion to take the Attack action.

Spirit Bond
Your animal companion’s hit points are equal to its normal hit point maximum or 7 times your ranger level, whichever is higher.

Level 11 Features
Bestial Fury
Leave this feature as-is.

Level 15 Features
Share Spells
Leave this feature as-is.

Beast of the Wild (new feature)
At 15th level, your heart of the wild ability is enhanced. You gain the following benefit based on your heart of the wild selection.

The bonus to your animal companion’s attack rolls and damage rolls increases to your full Wisdom modifier.
     Also, if a creature within 5 ft. of your animal companion dies, you can use your reaction to command your animal companion to take an Attack action against another creature within 10 ft. of your animal companion. If your animal companion is the one who killed the creature, it has advantage with attacks made using this Attack action. Your animal companion can move, at most, 5 ft. as part of this action.

Master Trainer
The challenge rating of any beast you can bond into an animal companion increases to 1, and it can be of size large or smaller.

Spirit Bond
When you are within 30 ft. of your animal companion and you are both alive and not unconscious, at the start of your turn, you and your animal companion gain temporary hit points equal to double your Wisdom modifier.

Summary of Changes

  • Once the ranger reaches 7th level, they are able to enhance their animal companion, including having the ability to command it to attack as a bonus action.
  • At 15th level, the ranger gains a significant upgrade to their heart of the wild ability based on their previous selection.
  • The Ferocity option gives the ranger a way to grant a significant damage boost to their animal companion.
  • The Master Trainer option acts as a more generic bonus to their animal companion.
  • The Spirit Bond option gives the animal companion and eventually ranger a nice bonus to their survivability.

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