Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer - Ranger Guide

By: DonJarlaxle
10/17/2007
Version 2.02
Game Version 1.10

====================

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

I. Introduction
II. Selecting Your Race
III. Deciding to Shoot Twigs or Hold Two Pointy Objects
IV. Drawing That Stat Line
V. Skills, Skills, SKills
VI. Two Minutes Hate: Choosing Favored Enemies 
VII. Feat Selection: A Feat of its Own
VIII. Picking a Pet
IX. How Do You Spell, Er, Spells?
X. Multiclassing: Because You Just Can't Spell
XI. Single-class Ranger Examples
    A. Dual-wielding Brute
    B. Dedicated Archer
XII. Multiclass Ranger Sample Builds
    A. Silence and Fury
XIII. Contact Info
XIV. Version History
XV. Permissions and Copyright

====================

I. Introduction

Let's not mince words: The Ranger in the D&D 3.0-based Neverwinter Nights 1 was
simply worthless. I fault absolutely no one for ignoring it in that game.

Fortunately, D&D 3.5 revamped the class into something quite studly, and since
NWN2 is based on the 3.5 revision, it is natural that the new and vastly 
improved Ranger make an appearance.

First, let's get the negative out of the way: The new Ranger only gets a d8 hit
die instead of a d10. Boo. Hiss.

Now onto the positives, which I might as well start with a "whatever" response 
to the negative I mentioned above. Yeah, that's right, the reduction to a d8 
really makes no difference even worth mentioning.

Especially when compared to: 2 extra skill points per level (reducing the 
Ranger's reliance on Intelligence in the process), better Favored Enemy 
mechanics, better combat style selections, some nice bonus feats, Swift Tracker,
Evasion, a high Reflex save, Camouflage, and, yes, Hide in Plain Sight.

Of course, just like anything else, good building technique is necessary to make
sure that a Ranger, well, doesn't die, and stuff. And that is what this guide is
for: to make sure that you have as much fun as I did playing this now very much
worth it rendition of the cunning stalker and warrior of the wilds.

Some notes, though. This FAQ assumes that you've already read the manual and
have at least a base understanding of the way character creation and levelling
works. It also assumes that you at least have a base knowledge of how the skills
work, how the feats work, and the benefits of each character race. If you don't
have such basic knowledge, read the manual, read another FAQ (such as a
beginner's guide or walkthrough), or just play the game some and learn that way.

====================

II. Selecting Your Race

In general, you want to take races that have bonuses to either STR, WIS, or DEX,
or even a combination of two or more of the above. At the very least, you don't
want a penalty to any of those stats. Also, if you're playing a powerful race,
keep in mind the level adjustment and gauge if the ECL is worth it.

Best Ranger Races:

- Wood Elf: +2 to both STR and DEX is absolutely huge, helping on both offense
and defense. -2 CON actually isn't too bad, as I will get into later. -2 INT 
isn't that bad, either, since you can easily get his INT to a respectable enough
score (plus Rangers get a lot of skill points to begin with). And on top of all
that, there is no ECL adjustment. And Ranger is the favored class for this race,
making even multiclassing a snap. Perfect.

- Human: No stat bonuses, but no penalties, either, and an extra skill point per
level (and 4 extra at 1st level) plus a bonus feat at 1st level never hurt any
character. Humans also multiclass more easily than other races.

Other Solid Ranger Races:

- Moon Elf: Not quite as good as a Wood Elf, but +2 to DEX still helps defense
and marksmanship. They also have no INT penalty and make perfect Arcane Archers.

- Wild Elf: Basically a Wood Elf without the STR bonus and the CON penalty.
Favored class is Sorceror, which is not a synergetic multiclassing option for
a Ranger.

- Shield Dwarf: +2 to CON is always nice, and their racial bonuses against Orcs
and Giants complements the Ranger's Favored Enemies nicely. -2 CHA is not a big
deal. Favored class of Fighter allows for some solid multiclass builds with no
experience penalties.

- Tiefling: +2 to DEX is always nice for defense and archery, +2 to INT helps
skill points, and, again, -2 to CHA is inconsequential. Favored class is Rogue,
which is a common multiclassing option for a Ranger. An ECL of 1 doesn't hurt
too bad, with the resistances and racial spells providing enough gravy to
compensate.

Avoid At All Costs:

- Deep Gnome: ECL of +3 is not good, and the abilities he gets in return are so
not worth it.

- Half-Elf: Other than being ugly in this game, they're Humans without the extra
feat and skill points, and they're Elves without the useful ability bonuses and 
constant Active Search. Half-Elves suck in general.

- Air Genasi: -2 to WIS.

- Earth Genasi: Also -2 to WIS.

====================

III. Deciding to Shoot Twigs or Hold Two Pointy Objects

Before you pick stats, you should first be aware that at Lv. 2, you will have to
choose whether your Ranger will take the Archery Combat Style or the Two-Weapon
Style. Second, you should know that there are essentially three types of Ranger
builds. Every build, no matter how esoteric it seems, falls into one of these 
three types:

1) Dual-Wielder: Takes the TWF style at Lv. 2. More than likely boosts STR 
instead of DEX, unless the Ranger decides to multiclass with Rogue or Assassin.
The one nice deal that dual-wielding Rangers get is that they don't have to 
boost DEX to high numbers to get Improved and Greater Two-Weapon Fighting, 
thus allowing focus on STR.

***EPIC NOTE*** In epic levels, this advantage becomes even more pronounced,
as Rangers who take TWF style get Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting for free with
21 class levels. It sets the number for off-hand attacks equal to main-hand 
attacks. And with the new way Epic BAB progression goes (continuing the regular
pattern), this means that a 30th-level Ranger build can get 6 main-hand attacks
and 6 off-hand attacks for a total of 12 attacks per round. Perfect TWF 
normally has the exorbitant DEX 25 requirement, so for a Ranger to boost STR
all the way while getting this regardless of DEX is quite an advantage. Namely,
it makes a character with 21 Ranger levels the only worthwhile dual-wielder
without either a Sneak Attack or self-buffs out the yin-yang.

2) Single-Weapon Melee Artist (Aragorn style): Yes, it's actually viable in
NWN2, without being utterly wasteful of class features. At 2nd level, you take
the Archery path, since you've decided that dual-wielding is for chumps and
you'd rather have an extra tactical option up your sleeve in case you'll need
it. Basically, you take Power Attack, Cleave, etc. and focus on smacking things
up close and personal. You focus on increasing your STR instead of your DEX. If
you take Weapon Focus and Improved Critical, you take it in a melee weapon,
obviously. You might play with one of those big two-handed weapons such as a
scythe, greatsword, greataxe or falchion, or you might instead opt for a
non-finessable one-hander such as a scimitar,longsword, or warhammer, which you
can still wield in two hands for the 1.5x STR bonus and the 2x Power Attack
damage bonus if you're not using a shield. 

3) Dedicated Archer (Legolas style): Like above, you take the Archery path at
Lv. 2. Unlike above, you actually decide to use it as your main mode of offense,
rather than a tactical fallback. You focus on increasing your DEX instead of
STR, and then you take feats that flesh out what you're already getting for
free, such as Point Blank Shot and Weapon Focus and Improved Critical in 
longbows.

NOTE: Even with the expansion, archery is still screwed. NWN2 decided to carry
over NWN1's ridiculous half-baked treatment of bow and arrow attack and damage 
bonuses. Which still means no true enhancement bonuses. Which means no piercing 
x/magic damage reduction. Also, you can't craft arrows out of special metals, 
which means no penetrating damage reduction there, either. You can't enhance 
weapons and arrows in crafting, either, which means no penetrating DR against 
good, chaos, lawful or evil.

So until those glaring issues are dealt with (if they even will be), dedication
to archery is not a very good choice. 'Tis a shame, because I love archery.

***EPIC NOTE*** A Ranger who selected Archery style gets the feat One Shot for
free with 21 class levels, regardless of metting any prerequisites. One Shot,
which normally requires a maddening 27 DEX, is a bow attack that ignores all
concealment and cannot be deflected. If it hits, it deals maximum damage and
inflicts a critical hit ... *even if the target is normally immune to crits.*
One Shot has a cooldown period of 60 seconds (or 10 rounds). For Aragorn-types
and dedicated archers alike, this is at the very least a great way to start
out a battle, especially if you're at a good distance from the enemy.



====================

IV. Drawing That Stat Line

Rangers are a MAD (multi-ability dependent) class. They need Strength to do
damage, Dexterity to help armor class, since they wear light armor only, and
Wisdom for tracking and spells. Rangers aren't quite as constricted as
Paladins and Bards, though, since Rangers do get one genuine dump stat.

Here's more details on each stat, and what it means for the different types
of Rangers:

Strength: The most important stat for Aragorn-style Rangers and STR-based
dual-wielders, who should start with no less than a 14 in this stat (and
preferably with something higher) and then increase this as exclusively as
possible when when levelling up. It's somewhat important for dedicated archers,
as well, since Mighty bows add a STR modifier to damage. In any case, it should
be no less than 14.

Dexterity: You need it, since you'll wear nothing but light armor the whole
time, and some of your key class skills are governed by it. The question
becomes: how much do you need? If you're an Aragorn-type or a STR-based
dual-wielder, if you really, REALLY have to, you can leave it at 14 without
making survival in combat too difficult. Try to get it to 16 if you can, though
(and a race with a DEX bonus has no excuse not to). A true archer or a Ranger
who plans on taking Rogue or Assassin levels will want to take this even higher.

Constitution: You don't want a negative modifier at all, and you want a positive
modifier of some sort if you can spare it at all. That said, a 12 in CON is
typically adequate. The benefits of a CON higher than that are slightly
overrated and not worth giving up stat points in other key areas. Although if
you find yourself able to take this to the highest score you can in a 1-for-1
point buy (14 for most races), with everything else satisfied, go right ahead.

Intelligence: You NEVER want a negative modifier in this stat. Period. There is
always a use for more skill points. A 10 INT is typically fine, since Rangers
do get a lot of skill points, but if you can get this higher, even better (but
not at the expense of STR, DEX, and to a lesser extent, CON).

Wisdom: I assume you're going pure here, in which case, WIS should be 14. No
more, no less. It's all you need to get 4th level spells. If I'm wrong about you
and you plan to multiclass, read further. If you plan on taking Ranger levels to
12 or higher, or leaving them at 8 or 9, WIS should still be 14. If you leave
Ranger levels at 8 or 9 in a multiclass build, WIS 14 gets you a bonus Lv. 2
spell slot, which is the only way to cast a Lv. 2 spell at Ranger 8 or 9. Other
Ranger level configurations (Ranger 11, for example) can leave WIS at 12.

Charisma: If you don't want to be particularly ugly or uncouth, leave this at
10. If you don't care about image, leave it at 8 (or lower depending on your
race) without any guilt whatsoever. CHA is the Ranger's dump stat and means
nothing to the class.

Here are some sample starting stat lines. Obviously, you can adjust these to
taste and necessity, but these typically follow the principles I outlined above:

Wood Elf: STR 17, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 8
Human: STR 15, DEX 16, CON 12, INT 12, WIS 14, CHA 8

===================

V. Skills, Skills, Skills

The Ranger gets 6 skill points per level in D&D 3.5, and by extension, NWN2.
It's two more than he had in 3.0/NWN1, and enough to make him far less dependent
on his Intelligence score. Only the Rogue gets more skill points than him, and
only the Bard gets as many. After the Rogue and Bard, the Ranger's class skill
list is also the most extensive. But, of course, some skills are a lot more
important than others, but at least in this game the Ranger can choose a healthy
array of them.

Absolutely essential skills:

- Hide and Move Silently: I put these together because one without the other is
pointless. Stealth is one of the Ranger's key advantages over the other warrior
classes, and a couple of his unique class features and even spells have
something to do with stealth.

- Survival: Your Tracking feature (and Swift Tracker) won't be of much use
without this pumped up.

- Spot: Your defense against Feint-happy Rogues. Unlike other warrior classes,
you have it as a class skill. So max it. Also good for revealing stealth
characters in hiding.

Very useful skills:

- Concentration: The Ranger didn't get a whole lot of his Compendium spells,
but he got one set that's pretty good: Curse of Impending Blades and its
Mass brother. It must be cast in the middle of combat, so this skill gained
some importance with the expansion.

- Set Trap: Excellent tactical skill in combination with stealthed scouting and
tracking. Find out where the enemies are in front of you, set a few traps, turn
on Rapid Shot or Manyshot, fire some shots out, watch them run at you right into
your little minefield. Finish them off in melee if you have to. Fun stuff.

- Craft Trap: If you use Set Trap a lot, this skill will allow you to expand
your arsenal easily and cheaply.

- Heal: Not so important for the Original Campaign, but it could be flat out
essential for modules that don't have easy access to healing potions,
unrestricted resting, and helpful clerics everywhere you turn.

- Listen: Works along with Spot to reveal stealthed enemies.

Somewhat useful skills:

- Craft Alchemy: Good to have in combination with Craft Trap, as you can cheaply
make the ingredients you need for Craft Trap.

- Craft Armor/Weapon: Always nice to have.

- Search: Not as useful to take as if you were a Rogue with his Trapfinding
class feature, but handy to have up to a point (say, 10 ranks or so).

- Lore: Identifying items for free is always a plus, and you might even get
extra conversation options.

Cross-class skills you might consider:

- Diplomacy (or Bluff, or Intimidate): To help you in conversations.

- Tumble: Avoid Attacks of Opportunity and get a couple of extra AC points.

- Spellcraft: Four ranks will qualify you for Practiced Spellcaster.

- Use Magic Device: Always nice to have.

====================

VI. Two Minutes Hate: Choosing Favored Enemies

Your choice of Favored Enemies is going to depend on what module or persistent
world you will play, whether you plan to do extensive player-vs-player combat,
and so forth.

Obviously, a PvP-er will select the player character races, such as Humans,
Elves, Dwarves, Half-Orcs, etc.

As for a more typical player-vs-enemy campaign, the selection may vary more. If
you're downloading an adventure or module, read up on it as much as possible to
try getting an idea of what the most prolific or powerful creature types are in
it. For example, if planar travel is being mentioned, Outsiders should be
the first thing that comes to mind. Underdark, think Elves (which works against
Drow) and Aberrations (Beholders and Mind Flayers).

If all else fails, though, and you just have to take that blind plunge, you
typically can't go wrong with selecting Humans, Undead and Outsiders (which,
probably not coincidentally, are the three best choices for the OC, and also
great choices for MotB). All three of those enemy types feature some of the
toughest and most numerous battles in most campaigns.

Other great universal choices include Elementals and Constructs. Both, like
Undead, are crit-immune creatures that can get quite dangerous. Elementals,
especially, is a fine choice for MotB.

Fey is also a great MotB-specific choice. In fact, I'd recommend taking Fey at
Lv. 15 for a Ranger going through the expansion campaign. Just a hint.

Also remember that with 30 levels in MotB you have two extra Favored Enemy
selections to play with, so you can space your selections out accordingly.

Dragons are kind of on the fringe. They're a powerful enemy, no doubt, but you
usually don't fight enough of them to make it worth a selection. If MotB is
your concern, definitely skip it.

====================

VII. Feat Selection: A Feat of its Own

Feat selection is a little more complicated for Rangers than most other classes.
Fighters have it easy due to the sheer number they get, and Paladins and
Barbarians pretty much have what feats they're going to select to an invariable
science. As do the caster classes.

For Rangers, it depends on which of the three types of builds they're going to
be, and even after that, there is a lot of room for variation. Now, some feats
are essential or very useful for any Ranger. These include:

- Luck of Heroes: Can only take at 1st level. This is THE defensive feat to
take. Period. If you're going to take ANY defense-boosting feat at all,
make it this one. And really, you should take it.

- Blind Fight: Absolutely essential for any warrior character. Just read what it
does and you'll see why. A flat-out lifesaver of a feat against Rogues, mages,
and anything dangerous that can hide or cast invisibility.

- Extend Spell: The only metamagic feat a Ranger should consider. Good for
Camoflauge, Entangle, animal buffs and (Mass) Curse of Impending Blades. Just
a hint ... Extended Mass Curses of Impending Blades are probably the best
use of your Lv. 4 spell slots.

- Practiced Spellcaster: This feat helps some of your spells last longer and 
makes them more difficult to dispel by virtue of a +4 to your caster level.
Remember that Ranger caster level is as it is in PnP now, a la half your Ranger
level. The +4 from this feat, however, is not divided by two; thus, a Lv. 30
Ranger with this feat casts his spells at a caster level of 19. Which means,
for example, that Entangle lasts an additional 4 rounds. Or that you'll 
effectively have a +4 to beat Spell Resistance (good if you're casting 
Curse of Impending Blades). Must dip 4 ranks into Spellcraft to unlock this.

- Weapon Focus: It's not super-essential, but every little bit of AB always 
helps. Take if you can fit it in.

And in Epic levels:

- Bane of Enemies: Otherwise known as the one feat that made people even bother
to look the Ranger's way in Hordes of the Underdark. In any case, it's as good 
as ever in NWN2, adding +2 to attack and damage, and on top of that, +2d6 to 
damage per hit against all Favored Enemies on the Ranger's list. Somewhat makes
up for Obsidian not implementing Improved Favored Enemy and Favored Power Attack
correctly. It's available as soon as a Ranger gets 21 class levels. Now if only
its follow-up, Death of Enemies were in ...

- Epic Prowess: Cheap, easy, permanent +1 to all attack rolls. Why not? Plus
it opens up ...

- Expose Weakness: You're good for this feat since you get Evasion at Lv. 9.
You make one attack as a full-round action, giving up your other attacks. If it
hits, the target automatically takes damage equal to your Dexterity modifier
every round for 5 rounds. This damage ignores all DR and immunities. This feat
is a no-brainer for a dedicated archer or a finesse dual-wielder. But it's
still valuable even for a STR-based Ranger, because (a) you can always wear
Bracers of Dexterity to do extra damage with this feat, and (b) the feat also
reduces the target's Armor Class by 3 while in effect. It's especially great to
pull out when you're fighting something that you're only likely to hit on your
first one or two attacks in the round, anyway.

- Epic Toughness: You get Toughness for free at 3rd level, so you're qualified
to take it as soon as you hit Lv. 21. The +30 HP is nice, but a bigger deal is
that it opens the door for ...

- Epic Resilience: Never worry about that dreaded 1 on a saving throw again.

- Great Strength/Dexterity: Great filler feats for when you have nothing
else to take. Since Rangers don't have capstones with super-high ability
score requirements as many other classes do, you can literally delay
acquiring these until you get everything else you want.

Background Trait Feats (for 1st level):

- Wild Child: You ain't much of a book learner, but those skill bonuses sure
come in handy and are a perfect fit for a Ranger. Take one cross-class skill
rank in Tumble to take full advantage of it.

- Farmer: More conservative bonuses to Survival and Spot and balancing penalty
to Lore than Wild Child.

--------------------

Then there are those feats that vary in usefulness depending on which type of 
Ranger you are. Now we will go over each type of Ranger and check out what feats
he should select and what feats he might select.

Feats for Dual-wielders:

- Improved Critical (small weapon): Depends on your situation. If you're 
travelling with a Wizard who can cast Keen Edge, you can dump this in favor of
something else you might like. If not, this feat is quite handy. True, you can
easily make a Keen weapon, and in this game, Improved Critical and Keen don't
stack, but Keen also takes up one of a weapon's enchantment slots, which are
limited in number in crafting. On the flip side, against enemies that are immune
to crits this feat is not going to help at all.

- Power Attack, Cleave and Great Cleave: If you're doing the optimal
dual-wielding setup, taking Weapon Focus and (perhaps) Improved Crit in a
small weapon that you will wield two of, one in each hand, then Power Attack
itself will be a wash, as the damage bonus does not apply to small weapons. You
take Power Attack simply to qualify for Cleave and Great Cleave. Cleave and 
Great Cleave are not as essential as some will have you believe, but far from as
worthless as others will have you believe. It's in the middle. Also, some
misunderstand how Great Cleave works. It does not necessarily require
you to kill every enemy in one hit to get any use out of it. It simply removes
the once-per-round limitation of Cleave. Say, you are a Lv. 16 Ranger with 7
attacks per round (4 main-hand, 3 off-hand). On your first hit, you kill an
enemy, so you Great Cleave an adjacent foe. You do not kill that foe with the
Great Cleave, but you kill him with the second attack in your normal routine,
which follows. You get to Great Cleave again. If you didn't have Great Cleave,
you would not get another Cleave Attack after you killed that second enemy. As
is evident, the hits can add up over time and make some battles against rather
dangerous enemies easier.

***MOTB CAMPAIGN NOTE*** If the expansion campaign is your primary concern,
I'll go ahead and tell you that, unless you're going for Frenzied Berserker,
Cleave and Great Cleave are not worth it. The significance of these feats
diminishes severely when even the "scrubs" can survive flurries of hits doing
35-40 points of damage each. For dual-wielders specifically, this means Power
Attack also is not worth it.

- Weapon Finesse: Mostly of consequence if you're multiclassing with Rogue or
Assassin, in which case you'd actually have a good reason to go DEX-based dual-
wielding.

- Two-Weapon Defense: Don't take this and NOT take Luck of Heroes. This is
a filler feat, but one you can take once you've gotten everything else you
want.

Aragorn-type Essentials:

- Power Attack: When going two-handed, this is the best way to get cheap extra
damage. Also opens the door for Cleave and Great Cleave, should you be going
for those.

Other Feats for Aragorn-Types:

- Improved Critical (non-finessable melee weapon): Same notes as for the
dual-wielders.

- Cleave and Great Cleave: Same as under dual-wielding.

- Improved Power Attack: Unless you're taking Frenzied Berserker levels, in
which case you'll get a fantastic AB for damage payoff, this feat really isn't
worth giving up other feats for.

- Favored Power Attack: First of all, like Improved Favored Enemy, this feat
was not implemented correctly from its PnP form -- it's supposed to (but in NWN2
does not) apply to ALL enemies on a Ranger's list. Second, if using regular 
Power Attack, this feat gives the same bonus to overall damage as Improved 
Favored Enemy. Except Improved Favored Enemy is always on and this is not.
And finally, it's unlikely that you'll fit both this and IFE into a build with 
enough feats remaining to be effective against enemies that aren't on your FE 
list. So this feat really isn't worth it unless you took Improved Power Attack,
and remember what I said about that feat? Oh the other hand, an IPA + FPA 
Ranger/Frenzied Berserker is quite scary ... more on that later.

Dedicated Archer Essentials:

- Point Blank Shot: If a bow is your main method of offense, there's no reason
not to take this feat. It is very beneficial within 15 feet, where enemies will
inevitably crowd you.

- Improved Critical (longbow): Improved Crit is more essential for an archer
than for a melee warrior. First, your Wizard buddy won't have a spell that Keens
arrows. Second, crafting is currently wonky for missile weapons, and you can't
add Keen to arrows in that fashion, either. Third, with the feats your Ranger is
getting for free related to archery, you have plenty of room to take this.

- Power Critical (longbow): Even a pure Ranger devoted to archery should have
enough feats to spare on this. It's a handy feat that allows you to score more
criticals on enemies that might be hard to even hit in the first place. Must
take Weapon Focus (longbow) to qualify.

--------------------

Some feats should be avoided or taken with caution on any and all Ranger
builds. These are:

- Improved Favored Enemy: First, I should note that this feat doesn't work as
in pen-and-paper. It's supposed to apply to all Favored Enemies on a Ranger's 
list with one selection. Obsidian got it wrong. Combine that fact with the
return of Bane of Enemies -- which DOES rightly affect all Favored Enemies on
a Ranger's list -- and the wrongly selective +5 bonus just isn't nearly
as sexy as it was before the expansion.

***NOTE*** Apparently, this feat awards an extra +5 to the favored enemy
damage, rather than +3 as the description says (and what it should be in
pen-and-paper form). This makes it slightly more useful, but it's still
too wrongly restrictive to justify a selection overall.

- Armor Skin: Permanent +1 natural armor bonus to AC. Weak for an epic feat,
especially when Luck of Heroes can be taken at 1st level and does a lot more.
It stacks with Luck of Heroes, true, but there are many better epic feats to
get. And since it's a natural armor bonus (unlike Luck of Heroes), it actually
reduces the bonus from the Ranger's Barkskin by 1, as armor bonuses of the same
type do not stack.

Iffy (for STR-based characters):

- Knockdown and Improved Knockdown: These feats were once hideously broken.
Now, with the expansion, they're barely even worth considering anymore. I
suppose that's a good thing, though. The expansion versions of these feats
require an attack roll, and moreover, have a cooldown timer of 12 seconds
(2 rounds) between uses. These feats have nothing on Expose Weakness. Again,
that's a good thing.

Shun, like cooties:

- Overwhelming Critical: Formerly known as the stepping stone to the
(thankfully) now-defunct Devastating Critical. Now known as a waste of a feat.
Even with a scythe you're only doing 10.5 extra damage on average on top of a
critical (and only a critical). What is that on top of the 150+ points you're
already getting off a scythe crit? Just not worth it. There's a lot of other
epic feats actually worth your attention.

Dual-wielders Should Avoid This Feat Like the Plague:

- Monkey Grip: Sure, go ahead and dual-wield two scythes and take a -6 penalty
to attack simply because you think it looks cool, then feel inadequate when the
single-weapon-wielding Frenzied Berserker next to you is taking that same 
penalty but doing a million times more damage than you.

====================

VIII. Picking a Pet

At 4th level, the Ranger gets to select an Animal Companion, which will look
more like a miniature version of whatever animal you selected. Yeah, the Bear
will look like some plush teddy following you around.

But anyway, let's get the useless out of the way. Namely, the Badger, which is
weak at everything. And the spider is also rather mediocre, often dying too
fast to do anything useful. The Panther, restored with MotB, doesn't sneak
attack like he did in NWN1, which was the whole point of selecting the Panther
in the first place.

Then there is the "useful at the beginning, crap late" animal, which would be
the Wolf. The Wolf knocks down, so it's like having a free Knockdown feat. But
the Wolf's STR is also rather low, and at higher levels not nearly as effective
as giving yourself Knockdown. Even Bull's Strength cast on the Wolf doesn't
help its case at that level.

So that leaves the Boar and the Bear. The Boar is good for a tank, doing
relatively (and I do mean relatively) decent damage in combat as far as Animal
Companions go, and it's as durable as Animal Companions get. It's good for
archery and assistance for the party Rogue.

The Bear does noticeably more damage in combat than the Boar, but isn't quite
as durable. I'm not sure which is better, but I'd say the Boar and Bear are the
only two worth considering.

====================

IX. How Do You Spell, Er, Spells?

First thing to note: The proper D&D method of calculating Ranger caster level
is in NWN2. Meaning, caster level is now half your Ranger level, as opposed to
the full Ranger level a la NWN1.

With that factored in, I'll be quite brutally honest here: With a few notable
exceptions, Ranger spells suck in NWN2. The big reason is they got completely
cheated out of the spells they get in the Spell Compendium (the same book that
full casters, on the other hand, got awarded a total bonanza from, grrr...).
Which means no Arrowstorm, no Blade Thirst, no Bladestorm, no Foebane, no 
Find the Gap, no Arrowmind, no etc., etc., etc., etc. Even one of a Ranger's
key CORE spells, Nondetection, didn't make it (although to be fair it didn't
make it for the arcane casters, either). Other than Curse of Impending Blades,
the expansion did little to solve this problem.

Hopefully, Obsidian gives the Ranger (and the Paladin as well) his better spells
in a future patch or an expansion. But until then, this part of the guide will
address how to cope with the Ranger's limited divine arsenal, most of which is
redundant with the Druid's spell list, by spell level.

If you don't have a Druid in the party, you may actually get some use out of
these.

1st Level spells worth a mention:

- Camoflauge: Helps stealth by granting a +10 Hide bonus. Can be useful. Of 
course, the Druid can cast it.

- Entangle: This is actually a pretty good spell. Seriously. Even if the enemy
succeeds on the save and doesn't get stopped in their tracks, their movement
is reduced by half. Cast it in front of you -- or let the Druid, who will have
a better chance to stop the enemy, cast it. Fire some arrows, back off, and
let them charge in. Pelt with arrows while they're slowed or stopped.

- Magic Fang: Useful until you get Greater Magic Fang. But the Druid can do a
better job at helping your Animal Companion by getting Greater Magic Fang at a
much earlier level.

2nd Level spells worth a mention:

- Barkskin: Actually not terribly behind the Druid's (still better) version.
Great as long as you're not wearing an Amulet of Natural Armor. Of course, just
casting this (or letting the Druid cast it on you) and wearing something else on
your neck is a more efficient use of resources in that case.

- Curse of Impending Blades: Finally, a spell Druids can't cast! But Wizards
can. Damn. Anyhoo, this spell, new for MotB, is actually a great spell even in
a Ranger's hands. It inflicts the enemy with a -2 penalty to Armor Class, and
there is no save against it. Because it's a curse, it cannot be removed by
Dispel Magic. It can only be removed by a Remove Curse spell. In epic levels,
follow up with Expose Weakness for more fun. Spell Resistance still affects
it, though, so you might want to leave the casting up to the Wizard in a
fight against, say, a dragon.

- Cat's Grace: Good as long as (a) you're not wearing a Bracer of Dexterity of
+4 or better (since enhancements don't stack), or (b) another caster isn't with
you. The chances of both incidents happening at the same time is very slim.

- Owl's Wisdom: Good for mooching a couple points of DC out of Entangle. Until
you get a Periapt of Wisdom, that is.

- Mass Camoflauge: Okay, but the Druid can cast it better (notice a pattern
here?).

- Protection from Energy: If you're a loner, 30/- resistance to elemental damage
is actually worth a look. If you're not a loner, well, yeah, it sucks.

3rd Level spells worth a mention:

- Mass Curse of Impending Blades: Same effect as its single-target brother,
but affecting multiple enemies. Again, one of the few truly valuable spells
Rangers get, even if the Bard, Sorceror and Wizard can cast it as well.

- Heal Animal Companion: Well, it's the equivalent of a Heal spell on your
Animal Companion. Good for keeping your meatshield alive.

- Greater Magic Fang: Good for your Animal Companion, but the Druid ... well,
you know the rest.

4th Level spells worth a mention:

- Freedom of Movement: Good spell. But redundant with the Druid, the Cleric, the
Sorceror, the Wizard, the Bard, and heck, even the Paladin for good measure.
Sadly, it's the only spell at this level worth a mention. So excuse me while I
go cry in a corner over the fact that Foebane, Aspect of the Earth Hunter, and
Wild Runner aren't in NWN2.

- NOTE: If you have Extend Spell, you should probably fill this level with
Extended Mass Curses of Impending Blades.

====================

X. Multiclassing: Because You Just Can't Spell

Rangers still have some incentive to go pure or close to pure. Hide in Plain 
Sight, Camouflage, extra Favored Enemies and bonuses to such, getting One Shot
or Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting without the outrageous DEX scores, and Bane
of Enemies are all quality high-level perks of staying on the Ranger's path.

***EPIC NOTE*** Pure Rangers get bonus feats at Lv. 23, 26 and 29. This
is on top of the already accelerated Epic feat progression (one every two
levels beginning with character level 21). And moreover, unlike NWN1, these
pure-class bonus feats are *NOT* restricted to a limited list. They can be
used in the same manner as the general feats.

Certain classes, both core and prestige, do have something to offer for a
Ranger, and some multiclassed builds involving Ranger are quite powerful, with
loss of spells obviously not much of an issue.

Core classes with something to offer a Ranger are:

- Barbarian: Fast movement and Rage complement an Aragorn-style Ranger well, as
do common feat selections.

- Fighter: Extra feats and Weapon Specialization are nice perks. Even as few as
four Fighter levels can make a Ranger more flexible in combat, and only at the
expense of Hide in Plain Sight and a few Lv. 3 and 4 spell slots.

- Rogue: Classic choice here. Rogue gives even more skill points and skills that
complement the Ranger class. Plus some Sneak Attacking for the Ranger that
chooses DEX-based two-weapon fighting for some reason. Even three levels of
Rogue is a big help with its +2d6 Sneak Attack damage, and you can still get
Hide in Plain Sight.

Presige classes that fit a Ranger:

- Arcane Archer: Pretty obvious choice here, and this time around Rangers with
the Archery tree selected actually have the feats to make it work quite well.

- Assassin: Death Attack is nice for a DEX-based Ranger, and you can still get
Hide in Plain Sight. You get some decent free spells, too. A drawback is
fewer skill points to play with.

- Divine Champion: With low CHA you won't get any use out of Divine Wrath, but
the free selections of Blind Fight (an essential feat for any warrior) and
Improved Critical, plus the free save bonuses make this PrC well worth the
investment overall.

- Frenzied Berserker: 5 levels of FB for Enhanced Power Attack can mix with 
Improved Power Attack and Favored Power Attack for some serious ouch factor
against some Favored Enemies.

====================

XI. Single-class Ranger Examples

A. Dual-wielding Brute

Race: Wood Elf

Starting Stats:

STR 17 (+7 level-ups, +2 Great Strengths)
DEX 16
CON 12
INT 12
WIS 14
CHA 8

Skills: Hide, Move Silently, Survival, Spot, Set Traps, Craft Traps,
Heal, Spellcraft (4 ranks)

Background: Wild Child

Level progression (all Ranger):

1) Favored Enemy (Humans), Luck of Heroes
2) Two-Weapon Fighting Combat Style
3) Blind-Fight
4) STR +1 (18)
5) Favored Enemy (Undead)
6) Weapon Focus (kukri, shortsword, or handaxe)
7)
8) STR +1 (19)
9) Improved Critical (kukri, shortsword, or handaxe)
10) Favored Enemy (Outsiders)
11)
12) Practiced Spellcaster, STR +1 (20)
13)
14)
15) Favored Enemy (Fey), Extend Spell
16) STR +1 (21)
17)
18) (Dealer's choice here. Recommended: Two-Weapon Defense,
    or maybe one pick of Improved Favored Enemy)
19)
20) Favored Enemy (Elementals), STR +1 (22)
21) Bane of Enemies
22) 
23) Epic Prowess, Expose Weakness (bonus)
24) STR +1 (23)
25) Favored Enemy (Constructs), Epic Toughness
26) Epic Resilience
27) Great Strength (24)
28) STR +1 (25)
29) Great Strength (26), (then whatever for the bonus feat)
30) Favored Enemy (whatever at this point)

NOTE: You can easily turn this Ranger into an Aragorn-type. Just replace
the Two-Weapon Style with the Archery Combat Style (for the extra tactical
oomph), and if you take Weapon Focus and Improved Critical, take it in
something that you can use in two hands (good choices here are scythe,
falchion, greataxe, greatsword or longsword). And definitely take Power
Attack, in that case (even taking it when you'd take Weapon Focus with the
dual-wielder at Lv. 6, and delay Weapon Focus until later).

Final stats:

STR 26
DEX 16
CON 12
INT 12
WIS 14
CHA 8

Saves (no gear/buffs): F 19, R 21, W 13

AB (w/ non-enchanted focused weapons, no buffs): 38/38/33/33/28/28/
						 23/23/18/18/13/13

(Aragorn-type variant AB: 40/35/30/25/20/15)

HP (no gear/buffs): 330

--------------------

B. Dedicated Archer

Race: Wood Elf

Starting Stats:

STR 16
DEX 17 (+7 level-ups, +2 Great Dexterities)
CON 12
INT 12
WIS 14
CHA 8

Skills: Hide, Move Silently, Survival, Spot, Set Traps, Craft Traps,
Heal, Spellcraft (4 ranks)

Background: Wild Child

Level progression (all Ranger):

1) Favored Enemy (Humans), Luck of Heroes
2) Archery Combat Style
3) Point Blank Shot
4) DEX +1 (18)
5) Favored Enemy (Undead)
6) Blind-Fight
7)
8) DEX +1 (19)
9) Improved Critical (Longbow)
10) Favored Enemy (Outsiders)
11)
12) Weapon Focus (Longbow), DEX +1 (20)
13)
14)
15) Favored Enemy (Fey), Power Critical (Longbow)
16) DEX +1 (21)
17)
18) Extend Spell
19)
20) Favored Enemy (Elementals), DEX +1 (22)
21) Bane of Enemies
22) 
23) Epic Prowess, Expose Weakness (bonus)
24) DEX +1 (23)
25) Favored Enemy (Constructs), Practiced Spellcaster
26) Epic Toughness (bonus)
27) Epic Resilience
28) DEX +1 (24)
29) Great Dexterity x2 (25, 26) (regular + bonus)
30) Favored Enemy (whatever at this point)

Final stats:

STR 16
DEX 26
CON 12
INT 12
WIS 14
CHA 8

Saves (no gear/buffs): F 19, R 26, W 13

AB (w/ non-enchanted longbow, no buffs): 40/35/30/25/20/15

HP (no gear/buffs): 330

====================

XII. Multiclass Ranger Sample Builds

A. Silence and Fury: Ranger 23/Fighter 2/Frenzied Berserker 5

Race: Wood Elf

Starting stats:

STR 17 (+7 level-ups, +2 Great Strength)
DEX 16
CON 12
INT 12
WIS 14
CHA 8


Skills: Hide, Move Silently, Survival, Spot, Set Traps, Craft Traps, Heal

Make sure that when you're taking Fighter or Frenzied Berserker levels to save
your skill points, so you don't cripple your Ranger skills too bad. Frenzied
Berserker has Survival as a class skill, so that helps.

Also, I made this a Wood Elf for best stats. You could easily make this Human,
and adjust stats accordingly, for an extra feat, namely an extra Favored Power
Attack. (NOTE: A female Human with this build and specializing in the greataxe
makes the quintessential Amazon).

The idea behind delaying Berserker levels until epic is to get Bane of Enemies
as soon as possible, which doesn't need Power Attack to work its magic.

Background: Wild Child

Level Progression:

1) Rgr 1 - Favored Enemy (Humans), Luck of Heroes
2) Ftr 1 - Blind-Fight
3) Rgr 2 - Archery Combat Style, Power Attack
4) Ftr 2 - Cleave, STR +1 (18)
5) Rgr 3
6) Rgr 4 - Great Cleave
7) Rgr 5 - Favored Enemy (Undead)
8) Rgr 6 - STR +1 (19)
9) Rgr 7 - Improved Critical: scimitar, scythe, greatsword, or greataxe
10) Rgr 8
11) Rgr 9
12) Rgr 10 - Favored Enemy (Outsiders), Improved Power Attack, STR +1 (20)
13) Rgr 11
14) Rgr 12
15) Rgr 13 - Favored Power Attack (Undead)
16) Rgr 14 - STR +1 (21)
17) Rgr 15 - Favored Enemy (Fey)
18) Rgr 16 - Favored Power Attack (Outsiders)
19) Rgr 17
20) Rgr 18 - STR +1 (22)
21) Rgr 19 - Epic Prowess
22) Rgr 20 - Favored Enemy (Elementals)
23) Rgr 21 - Bane of Enemies
24) FB 1 - STR +1 (23)
25) FB 2 - Expose Weakness
26) Rgr 22
27) FB 3 - Favored Power Attack (Elementals, Fey or Humans)
28) FB 4 - STR +1 (24)
29) FB 5 - Great Strength (25)
30) Rgr 23 - Great Strength (26) (bonus)

Final stats:

STR 26
DEX 16
CON 12
INT 12
WIS 14
CHA 8

Saves (no gear/buffs): F 22, R 18, W 11

AB (w/ non-enchanted weapon, no buffs): 39/34/29/24/19/14

HP (no gear/buffs): 324

Alternatively, you could replace the two Great Strength feats with Epic
Toughness and Epic Resilience, but since you're relying on Power Attack to
do your heaviest damage, it's better for this particular build to increase
your strength so you can hit more often.

--------------------

(More to come in the future)

====================

XIII. Contact Info

E-mail: elbrigadier@comcast.net. Suggestions, rebuttals, etc. to this FAQ should
be titled, "ATTN: NWN2 Ranger FAQ."

====================

XIV. Version History

Version 2.02 - Updated info on Knockdown and Improved Knockdown, and Improved
	       Favored Enemy.
	     - Rearranged the Ranger types a little (yeah, I'm sold on
	       dual-wielding Rangers now).

Version 2.01 - Minor typo fixes.

Version 2.00 - Bumping up a full number for all MotB-compatible editions.
	     - Added a few notes here and there.

Version 1.00 (MotB) - First full MotB-compatible edition.

Version 1.04 - Moved Version History to the end. Why? Because I don't think
	       too many people care to read it.
	     - Updated for game patch 1.04.

Version 1.03 - Added commentary about Knockdown and Improved Knockdown to
	       Feats section
             - Edited the builds

Version 1.02 - Edited "Silence and Fury" build
	     - Fixed a couple of typos
	     - Rewrote or rearranged a couple of blurbs
             - Added examples of single-class Rangers
             - Gave multiclass builds their own secion
             - Added an extra multiclass build
             - Added section on Animal Companions

Version 1.01 - Added a Sample Ranger-based Builds section
             - Rearranged Stat Line section
             - Edited Spells section, made it a little more descriptive
             - Added Permissions and Copyright
             - Fixed a couple of typos

Version 1.00 - First edition of the Ranger Guide.

====================

XV. Permissions and Copyright

This FAQ will be hosted on the following sites:

GameFAQs
1up.com
MyCheats.com

Permission to reproduce this FAQ must be granted by me, and will be granted on
a case-for-case basis.

(c) Drew Garcia, 2006, 2007