Indiana Jones, James T. Kirk, Lara Croft, Doc Savage, The Doctor (who?). These names are familiar to most people who play D&D and embody the combination of curiosity and knowledge with bold tactics and a reliance on luck. This type of daring but intellectual hero can be represented in many ways, but today we present a Ranger archetype designed to capture the essence of such a character. The Ranger’s combination of skill, martial prowess, and survival-oriented class features make it perfect for someone who wants to play a well-rounded explorer that seeks out new life and new civilizations, or plumbs the depths of dungeons for the relics of old. It can be used in either a standard D&D game as presented, or adapted for a Science-Fantasy campaign with the notes found at the end.
Adventuring Scientist – Ranger Archetype
You are a consummate explorer, willing to venture far and wide for the advancement of academic knowledge, or simply for the sake of your own insatiable curiosity. You find that relying on your guile and wits usually pays off, and you have a knack for getting out of scrapes where it seems like the odds are against you.
Wit and Wisdom
Your sharp mind is the key to your success. When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you may use the higher of your Intelligence or Wisdom modifier for any Ranger class feature that is normally based on your Wisdom modifier alone, including setting your spell save DC’s and spellcasting. You also add your Intelligence modifier to Wisdom (Survival) and Wisdom (Medicine) rolls.
Knack for Repairs
A life in the field means you can’t rely on replacing damaged gear. When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you learn the mending cantrip and can cast it at will
You are willing to try tactics that most people would regard as foolhardy, and they don’t always work, but you consider it a calculated risk.
At 3rd level, you gain a number of Audacity dice equal to your Intelligence modifier, which are d8’s (minimum of one). If your Intelligence modifier increases, your base number of dice increases as well. When you or an ally you can see within 60 feet makes an attack roll or ability check, after the die is rolled but before the DM tells you if the roll succeeded or failed, you can roll one Audacity die. If the number rolled on the die is even, add it to the d20 roll and the die is expended. If the number rolled is odd, there is no effect, and the die remains available to you. You may only roll one Audacity die per turn. You regain any expended Audacity dice (up to your Intelligence modifier) when you finish a long rest.
Skin of your Teeth
Starting at 7th level, you can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to any saving throw that doesn’t already include your proficiency bonus.
At 11th level, your Audacity dice become d10’s. You may now use Audacity dice to add to a damage roll made by yourself or an ally against a single target. You may still only use one Audacity die per turn.
Use Magic Device
You are familiar with ancient and alien artifacts, and can puzzle out how to use them. Beginning at 11th level, you ignore all class, race, and level requirements for the use of magic items.
Even the Odds
Beginning at 15th level, when you roll an odd number on an Audacity die, you may choose to expend the die and add +2 to the roll (as if the die had been a 2). Additionally, if you roll initiative and have no Audacity dice remaining, you gain 1 Audacity die.
Through the use of magic or science, or maybe a fish in your ear, you have enhanced your mind to make travel to exotic locations simpler. Starting at 15th level, you can understand all languages and be understood as if you were permanently under the effect of a tongues spell.
Notes: Adapting the Ranger to a Science Fantasy setting
You can add “Void” to the Ranger’s available Favored Terrains, encompassing the vacuum of space as well as places like Earth’s moon where there is no atmosphere.
I recommend leaving the Ranger’s spellcasting intact, but using the advice from our Monthly Theme article to refluff the spells as the clever use of sci-fi gadgets. Preternatural Awareness becomes a life-signs sensor, Cordon of Arrows becomes a trap built with micro-missiles or lasers, Animal Messenger becomes a tiny robot you dispatch, etc.