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 Neverwinter Nights - Ranger Character Guide

 
   
 
 
Neverwinter Nights - Ranger Character Guide


===============================================================================
Neverwinter Nights Ranger Character Guide v1.0 (14-Nov-2003)
by Michael "Cironir" Vondung, cironir@furcadia.com
===============================================================================



===============================================================================
0.0 TABLE OF CONTENTS
===============================================================================

 1.0 PREFACE
     An overview of the Ranger class and its pros and cons in NWN.
         1.1 Why play a Ranger?
         1.2 Ranger Types

 2,0 RACES
     A discussion of the various classes from a Ranger's point of view.

 3.0 ABILITY SCORES
     Which attributes are important for Rangers, and which can be neglected?
         3.1 Starting and Final Attributes

 4.0 SKILLS
     Rangers do not have many skill points, so spend the few wisely.
         4.1 Recommended Skills
         4.2 So-and-So Skills
         4.3 Almost Useless Skills

 5.0 FEATS
     The right choice of feats shapes and forms your Ranger character.
         5.1 Feats that Rangers get automatically
         5.2 General Feats
         5.3 Type-specfic Feats

 6.0 MULTICLASSING
     A few levels from another class might improve your Ranger, if you insist.
         6,1 Notes on Multiclassing
         6.2 Multiclassing Combinations

 7.0 ANIMAL COMPANIONS
     In this section you meet the Ranger's faithful pets.
         7.1 Thoughts on Animal Companions
         7.2 Introduction of the Animal Companions
         7.3 Which Animal Companion to Pick?

 8.0 SPELLS
     Here you learn everything about the Ranger's magical abilities.
         8.1 Thoughts on Ranger Spells
         8.2 Spell Slots and Memorizing
         8.3 Ranger Spells in Detail

 9.0 EQUIPMENT
     Brief discussion of what to wear and look for.
         9.1 Stuff for Archers
         9.2 Stuff for Assassins
         9.3 Stuff for Battle Rangers

10.0 STRATEGY
     Helpful advice and additional information for playing a Ranger.
        10.1 Tips for Rangers
        10.2 Information on Dual-Wielding

11.0 MISCELANEOUS
     Everything else that needs to be said or didn't fit anywhere else.
        11.1 Copyright Notice
        11.2 Credits and Thanks
        11,3 Revision History
        11.4 Ranger Guide Locations


===============================================================================
1.0 PREFACE
===============================================================================

Occasionally NWN players voice the opinion that Rangers are amongst the worst
classes, and that dual-weapon fighting is far worse than the weapon/shield
style, and thus the Ranger's free feats are not an actual advantage. The
purpose of this Guide is to introduce the reader to all aspects of the Ranger
character and make suggestions on how to play a Ranger efficiently. Even though
there are plenty of references to the Official Campaign (the module that ships
with the stock game), most of what is said here applies to player-created
modules as well. The author has put an effort into verifying the accuracy of
the provided information. As always with Guides, there can be no guarantee that
everything said in this document is correct or the best possible approach. It
is hoped that this Ranger Guide will provide answers to common questions, and
rouse some interest in this often overlooked class.

I apologise for the penetrant use of British spelling throughout this guide. :)
My thanks goes to the authors of the excellent Rogue and Monk Character Guides
at GameFAQs, whose base structure was the example for this document.

If you have comments, corrections or questions, feel free to contact me via e-
mail at cironir@furcadia.com. As time permits, this guide will be updated with
current information and additional material.


1.1 WHY PLAY A RANGER?
----------------------
Rangers are a versatile class. Now, what exactly does "versatile" mean? In case
of NWN this means that Rangers are flexible characters that can deal
competently with a wide range of situations that they are confronted with. They
do not possess the arsenal of spells that Clerics or Druids feature, and they
do not get as many feats as Fighters, but with their favoured enemies, an
Animal Companion and their unique combination of class skills, they make
welcome additions to all parties, and are equally attractive to the dedicated
solo-hunter. Below is a list of pro and cons of Rangers:

Pros:

- Rangers get an Animal Companion.
- Rangers have a d10 hit die, like Fighters.
- Rangers receive feats for two-weapon fighting for free.
- Rangers get four circles of spells.
- Rangers can cast spells with armour on.
- Rangers are proficient with martial weapons.
- Rangers can choose favoured enemies.

Cons:

- Rangers do not get weapon specialization.
- Rangers' two-weapon fighting feats work only with light armour.
- Rangers do not get their Animal Companion before level 6.
- Rangers' Animal Companions are weaker than those of Druids.
- Rangers get only a few useful spells.
- Rangers get their spells relatively late (1st level at level 6),


1.2 RANGER TYPES
----------------
As with all characters, you can "customize" your Ranger's focus and shape her
or him in a way to fit your playing style or the role that you have in mind for
your character. This section of the Ranger Guide introduces the three "base
types" of Rangers:

ASSASSIN
Disciplined, experienced killer, cold and always focused on his prey, the
Assassin rarely misses his mark. Unlike a Rogue, he can face crowds as well as
individual targets, and thanks to the Ranger's d10 hit die, he has sufficient
hit points to go toe to toe with even strong opponents. The dexterous combat
artist usually wields two sharp blades, but doesn't hesitate to switch to a
shield and weapon combination, and even carries a longbow for situations where
he prefers to hang back. Flexibility is the key to success, as is his keen
knowledge of weapons, armour and foes. He actively uses the terrain, that he
evaluates in mere moments, to his advantage and never runs unprepared into
unfamiliar situations. Never does he wear anything heavier than light armour,
mortally afraid of losing his best advantages: speed and quickness. This is the
Ranger type that this guide recommends, and that the author views as ultimate
Ranger. Humans are the best choice for an Assassin.

ARCHER
Equipped with a mighty long bow, the light-armoured Archer is a silent hunter,
roaming the woods, ready to pluck arrows into any enemy that might cross his
narrow path. Many players, even those not familiar with DnD, associate this
type of character with Rangers. As you'll see later, bows are not actually the
best and certainly not the only way to play a Ranger. Archers are solid
characters, plenty of fun and quite a force solo or in multiplayer. They are
arguably the second best bow-users after a multi classed Fighter/Rogue. Elves
make great Archers because of their racial DEX bonus.

BATTLE RANGER
This Ranger type prefers heavy armour and a heavy-hitting weapon. He does not
care about stealth or strategy (and wouldn't be good at it due to the skill
penalties from the heavy armour), he focuses on killing an opponent fast and
without much talk. Dead enemies don't hurt you, after all. In many ways, this
is your typical fanatic, out to kill the creatures he loathes mercilessly.
While this Ranger type is efficient and can be lots of fun, a Fighter or even a
crazed Cleric might be a better choice for this kind of character. However, the
Animal Companion (that can be healed without spells, unlike a summoned pet)
makes this a unique build. Dwarves make good Battle Rangers.

OTHER TYPES
There are other character builds for Rangers that are not covered in the
current version of this Ranger guide. An example would be a Zookeeper that uses
a shield/weapon combination and relies on an Animal Companion and "picked up"
wildlife animals.



===============================================================================
2.0 RACES
===============================================================================

In NWN, not all races are equally suited for the various classes. In this
section, we'll look at the alternatives and try to find out which races work
well with the Ranger class.

HUMANS
They are the average, common inhabitants of the realm. They don't sport any
sweeping advantages, but don't suffer any significant penalties either. Their
benefits are an extra skill point per level (four at creation), allowing the
player to pick up an additional skill. They also receive a bonus feat when the
character is born. Humans are probably the best class for the Assassin type of
Rangers. All Rangers get the martial weapons proficiency feat (which includes
rapiers and longbows), so this advantage usually typical of elves is countered.
Assassin Rangers, who fight close up with opponents, require the additional
feat that humans get to pick up the knockdown feats later on.

ELF
Elves are dexterous and resistant to mind affecting spells, yet fragile when it
comes to physical attacks. They make ideal archers as they can start with high
dexterity. If Rangers didn't get martial weapon profiency as class bonus, elves
would be the perfect choice for even the Assassin type. However, they still do
make the best archers, by far. So, if you are going to play a ranged Ranger
(oh, the wit!), then you should be an elf.

DWARF
Interestingly enough, Dwarves are not only a viable option for the Battle
Ranger, but the arguably best choice -- thanks to their hardiness and the STR
bonus. The Charisma blow is not necessarily a problem (none if you aren't going
to play the Official Campaign). They are not suited for Archer or Assassin
builds. But if you play a Battle Ranger, you'll love the plenty of useful
racial bonuses that Dwarves offer: resistance against poison, various spells, a
+4 AC bonus against Giants, and more. Only consider them if you are interested
in a Battle Ranger

HALF-ELF
A hybrid of humans and elves, these handsome fellows offer some advantages of
their elven relatives, without suffering their disadvantages. But since they do
not get the human benefits (extra skill point and feat), they are only an
average choice for a Ranger. Unless you wish to roleplay an half-elf, you
should go with a human or an elf.

GNOME
Gnomes are small, sturdy creatures with a talent for the arcane arts. Although
the +2 CON racial bonus is welcome for all Ranger types, the -2 STR penalty is
a clear drawback. More importantly, Gnomes are small-sized creatures, which
means that medium weapons (such as rapiers) are large weapons to them and must
be wielded with two hands, and large weapons (such as longbows) cannot be used
by small-sized creatures at all. Although a Kukri/dagger combination would be
quite interesting to play, Gnomes just make better Wizards than Rangers.

HALFLING
Halflings are the traditional rogues of the realm (not necessarily the best
choice in all cases, but old habits die hard). The bonus to Move Silently
benefits a Ranger as well as the DEX bonus, however, like Gnomes, Halflings are
small-sized creatures. The concerns about weapon size in regard to the size of
Gnomes (see above) apply to Halflings as well. With some imagination I could
see a PvP oriented, enchanted Kukri/dagger wielding Assassin-Ranger, but
really, a Rogue is probably the better choice here.

HALF-ORC
Much of what was said about the Dwarf applies to the Half-Orc as well. The INT
and CHA penalty means that your ugly Half-Orc would not only be incredibly
uncharming, but he'd also be just a bit brighter than a rock. In NWN terms this
means that you'd sacrifice a skill, which is not a great idea -- there are
already not enough skill points for enough flexibility. Half-Orcs make much
better Fighters and Barbarians.



===============================================================================
3.0 ABILITY SCORES
===============================================================================

The distribution of the ability/stat points at character creation determines
the future of your character. The importance of carefully planning your
character before you start playing her or him can't be stressed enough. If you
blunder here, you'll suffer disadvantages later on, and there's not much you
can do about it at that point. In this section, we are going to look at the
significance of the various attributes for Rangers.

STRENGTH (STR)
Your strength determines how much weight you can carry, how much extra damage
your weapons do and is the base for your attack rolls. That said, there's an
exception: The attack roll for ranged weapon is based on DEX, and if you get
the Weapon Finesse feat *and* use a "finessable" weapon (we'll cover this in
detail later), strength has no impact on your attack roll whatsoever. For
Battle Rangers, STR is the most important attribute. You want at least 16 here
when you create the character, and pump all five extra attribute points into
STR. Archers and Assassins can neglect STR, but only to some degree. Assassins,
who usually use two blades and occasionally fall back on a longbow variant,
should go with a 14 here. The off-hand weapon gets a STR bonus of 0.5, so 12
STR would give you no bonus at all, and 14 gives you +1. In addition, the
requirement for the Cleave feat is 13, so you don't have any choice anyway. Get
14 STR if you play an Assassin. Archers need to make up their mind what's more
important to them: accuracy or an added bonus. The choice here is between 10
and 14, so 12 might be the happy medium.

DEXTERITY (DEX)
Dexterity is important for reflex saves, accuracy of ranged weapons, and the
attack roll if you are a finesse fighter (which you are, if you play an
Assassin). It's also important if you wear light armour (you will, as Archer
and Assassin). Several of your skills are DEX-based also. Now, if you are a
heavy-armour wearing Battle Ranger, you can neglect dexterity. 12 DEX is what
you want, and then ignore it for the rest of the game. Your reflex saves will
be lower, so take that into account when you buy equipment. Archers and
Assassins need DEX. No, not only need, but without the hint of a doubt MUST
have DEX. Start an Assassin with 16 DEX, and consider an 18 if you are an elven
Archer (which you probably should be) and can squeeze it in. Assassins don't
really need more than 16 here, and can't afford it anyway. Archers and
Assassins both put all of their additional five attribute points into DEX.

CONSTITUTION (CON)
Constitution does two things for you: It gives you hitpoints and it is the base
for the calculation of your fortitude saving throws. Every character desires
high CON, but obviously not all can squeeze enough points into it. Archers
should start their character with 12 CON and leave it there (you can consider a
10 here, but I don't recommend it), and Battle Rangers and Assassins want a 14
here. Dwarven Battle Rangers should get a CON of 16. Assassins are happy with
14, however.

INTELLIGENCE (INT)
Skill points are important, but not crucial. So, you can afford to be of
average intelligence. I know, it's a bit awkward to play a not overly bright
character, and it can really conflict with roleplaying aspects, but regardless
of the Ranger type you play, an INT of 10 is sufficient. I wouldn't go lower,
however. Just put 10 points here and be happy with it.

WISDOM (WIS)
Ranger spells are of divine nature and thus based on WIS. The saving throw that
is rolled against mind-affecting spells is based on this very attribute. And
who doesn't find it incredibly annoying to be dazed? You need 11 WIS to be able
to cast any of your spells (the first level) and +1 for every additional level.
Rangers have four spell levels, so what you want here is 14. If you think you
can go with less, play a Barbarian or Fighter. Your spells are not great, far
from it, but if you don't care about them at all, you miss the point of playing
a Ranger. So, put 14 here and leave it at that. More points would give you
additional spell slots (plus better will saves), but it's not needed or
recommended. We'll get back to this in the Spells section.

CHARISMA (CHA)
One of the other class guides said, "You don't need Charisma if you can kill
people.". This is more bluntly expressed than I'd put it, but it's accurate. If
it helps you to justify the very low 8 in CHA, just imagine that your Ranger
character is an outdoors person. She or he doesn't interact often with other
civilized and communicative individuals, so her or his social skills are poorly
developed. One thing, however: The Official Campaign makes heavy use of the
Persuade skill, and that one is based on CHA: The good news is that you don't
*need* to persuade anyone to win the game, and there are, at this point in
time, extremely few player-created modules where Persuade has an impact at all.
Furthermore, you won't have enough points to get the Persuade skill, which, to
make it worse, isn't even a class skill for Rangers. So forget about being
charming and just be deadly, mhmm?


3.1 STARTING AND FINAL ATTRIBUTES
---------------------------------
Here's a summary of the explanations above, broken down into the three Ranger
types that this guide introduces.


ASSASSIN (HUMAN)
Creation: 14 STR, 16 DEX, 14 CON, 14 WIS, 10 INT, 8 CHA
At Lvl20: 14 STR, 21 DEX, 14 CON, 14 WIS, 10 INT, 8 CHA (unmodified)

ARCHER (ELVEN)
Creation: 14 STR, 18 DEX, 12 CON, 14 WIS, 10 INT, 8 CHA
At Lvl20: 12 STR, 23 DEX, 12 CON, 14 WIS, 10 INT, 8 CHA (unmodified)

BATTLE RANGER (DWARF)
Creation: 16 STR, 12 DEX, 16 CON, 14 WIS, 10 INT, 8 CHA
At Lvl20: 21 STR, 12 DEX, 16 CON, 14 WIS, 10 INT, 8 CHA (unmodified)

If you are tempted to go with lower WIS, you might be happier with a Fighter
than with a Ranger. You aren't going to get a lot of spells, but they do help
and give you more options. If you absolutely do not wish to use any of the
Ranger spells, a 10 WIS will be sufficient. Assassins would put the spare
points into STR or DEX, Archers into CON or STR, and Battle Rangers into STR.
But try to stick to the Ranger theme, it's a roleplaying game after all. Plus,
casting the long-lasting Cat's Grace (a Ranger spell) gives you 1-4 DEX.



===============================================================================
4.0 SKILLS
===============================================================================

Rangers with an INT of 10 get 16 skill points at character creation, and 4
skill points per level up. Humans get an extra four points at creation and one
extra point at level up. If you follow my recommendations, you can choose four
or five skills. This is fairly average, but at least you do better than Clerics
who get to pick two or three skills (unless they dump points in INT). In this
section of the guide, we are going to look at the available skills and discuss
if, and to what degree, they are suited for our Ranger builds. We'll start with
the set of skills that are recommended for Rangers.


4,1 RECOMMENDED SKILLS
----------------------

DISCIPLINE (STR)
Ironically enough, the first skill I recommend for Battle Rangers and Assassins
is not a class skill. I do wish this was a class skill, but we'll have to live
with it being a 2-points-for-1 type of skill. Why get Discipline? Simple:
Because it's highly annoying and sometimes deadly to get knocked down by
opponents. Nobody wants to lie helplessly in the dirt while a foe is happily
sticking sharp blades into their body, and getting bashed with a blunt weapon
isn't any more pleasant. Though you will never have more than a mediocre skill
level in Discipline, it will still help, especially since you get a small bonus
from STR. Archers can skip this.

HIDE (DEX) / MOVE SILENTLY (DEX)
I'm discussing these two skills together as there is no point in getting either
one without the other. Archers and Assassins (especially the latter) often
depend on being in the right position when they launch an attack, and there are
situations when it is necessary to get to a specific foe before its friends
swarm you. Enemy mages are good examples for such "must knock out first"
enemies. High dexterity of the aforementioned types directly benefits the
character's ability to move around undetected, and get out of tough situations
(or in the middle of them). Battle Rangers, who wear heavy armour, can skip
these two skills. Everyone else: get them.

HEALING (WIS)
This skill has been discussed to death on various message boards and in other
guides. I'll make it quick and simple say: It's a must-have skill. Okay, now
you ask, "Why?". Okay, the deal is this: In the Official Campaign, you can
easily rest almost whenever you want, and if you need to be cured from poison
or diseases, you can use the Stone of Recall to get back to the temple.
However, it's still fairly annoying, costs some gold, and it's a bit of a game-
stopper when you are on a roll. Healing kits drop frequently and are cheaper
than heal potions. Your decent WIS attribute benefits your Healing skill, so
you do heal quite a few HPs. Another aspect is that in many NWN persistent
worlds (PWs) and multiplayer adventures, the resting frequency is limited
and/or there are no Stone of Recalls. All in all, there's no good reason not to
get Healing. What are you waiting for?

SET TRAPS (DEX)
Are you surprised to see this skill listed here? Rangers are, besides Rogues,
the only other class that have Set Traps as a class skill. Granted, in the
Official Campaign, there is no real need for this skill (amazing how many
skills are not very needed in the OC, isn't it?), but it's a lot of fun and
gives you an alternate option to soften up (or blast into eternity) crowds. It
requires strategy and a bit of testing before you get the routine down, but if
you're like me and interested in a versatile playstyle, Set Traps is a welcome
addition to your character. As a Ranger, you'll find traps fairly often. Unlike
Rogues, you cannot easily disable and "recycle" traps laid by the game or other
players. Battle Rangers can skip this skill if they insist, but for Archers and
Assassins it is almost a must. All right, not a must, but why would you want to
skip a perfectly cool and almost unique skill?


4.2 SO-AND-SO SKILLS
--------------------

ANIMAL EMPATHY (CHA)
I'm sure you have wondered why this skill is not listed in the recommended
section. The reason for this is that Animal Empathy isn't overly useful. You
are not a zookeeper (leave that profession to Druids), and if you ever need
reinforcement, you can call your Animal Companion and summon an additional
helper. For roleplaying purposes, this skill is definitely worth looking into,
and I would even go so far to mildly recommend it for Archers. Battle Rangers
and Assassins most certainly don't need it. In fact, for Assassins it's even a
hindrance to have any "helpers" if you want to move around unnoticed. Hard to
do if your pets attract hordes of hostile critters, isn't it? Plus, and this
should crush most of your hopes, this skill is based on Charisma. And you have
the charisma of a loaf of bread, remember? I'll say, though, that it is more
useful if you play in Persistant Worlds that have large wilderness (or other)
areas with many animals. In such places you can simply "pick up" an animal
helper whenever you need one.

LORE (INT)
Every NPC vendor will be happy to identify your mysterious loot for a small fee
of 100 gold. Lore is a "nice skill", and that's it. It helps to be able to
identify objects "on the fly", especially if your strength is low (it's not
likely to be) and you play without a Stone of Recall or rejoice in dungeon
crawls. However, you don't have the skill points for it (unless you are a
Battle Ranger) and if you run out of room, just use magic bags of holding. Lore
is an option for Battle Rangers that have spare skill points.

SPOT (WIS)
This skills helps you to "spot" hidden creatures, and -- to some degree -- look
behind closed doors. It's nifty and useful in modules where creatures tend to
go invisible on you, or for adventures where the DM is awfully creative to your
disadvantage. In the Official Campaign, this skill is utterly useless. Not a
bad skill, but not really necessary, either. You get a bonus from WIS if you
take it.

OPEN LOCKS (DEX)
Rangers are not Rogues, even though they have some aspects in common (both can
set traps, both often rely on their ability to move unseen in the shadows).
Archers and Assassins have very high DEX (and can cast Cat's Grace to further
increase it), so even though Open Locks is not a class skill, it is an
acceptable choice -- thanks to the DEX bonus. Then again, many locks can be
bashed open.

DISARM TRAPS (DEX)
While you can place traps competently, disarming them is not a class skill. Of
course, that doesn't make much sense, since in order to build a trap, you need
the same knowledge that's required to make them unusable. Alas, I didn't make
the rules. If you decide to get this skill anyway, you get a bonus from your
high DEX (if you are an Assassin or an Archer) and can expect to be able to
disable most floor traps that you encounter (examine them first!). Traps on
doors and containers can be a different issue, however. Note that you'll need
Search for Disarm Traps to make much sense, and you are slowly running out of
skill points.

SEARCH (INT)
If you want to find traps on your own, to either avoid or disarm them, you need
this skill to find them. It is actually a class skill (surprise, surprise), but
INT based, and your Ranger just isn't going to be the brightest adventurer in
the woods, so you get no bonus here. If you are going to pick up Disarm Traps,
this skill is worth considering, otherwise don't bother.


4.3 ALMOST USELSS SKILLS
------------------------
All skills that are not listed above, Simple, eh? Actually, I don't really like
the word "useless", because there are also situations or original character
builds where unusual skills can have a use and even be the focus of a
character's life. Average Persuade can be helpful on the Official Campaign,
Spellcraft might be useful for the passive bonus to saving throws against
spells, Parry might improve your defence, but drags battles into length and
just isn't overly helpful. But all in all, the skills that fall in this
category are "special interest" choices -- and if you go with them, I assume
that you know what you do.



===============================================================================
5.0 FEATS
===============================================================================
┤

A Ranger's strength lies in the right choice of weapons and strategies, the
tactical skill of the player and the intimate knowledge of foes and
environments. The feats add special abilities to the character, and a good
player puts thought in the wise selection of these attributes. In this section
of the guide, we'll look at the Ranger-specific feats first, and then discuss
recommended feats for the various Ranger builds. The end of this section forms
a list of general feats that may be worth considering, depending on your
preferences and your playstyle.


5.1 FEATS THAT RANGERS GET AUTOMATICALLY
----------------------------------------

TRACKLESS STEP (LEVEL 1)
This feat is gained by all Rangers at the first Ranger level, usually at
character creation. It gives the Ranger a +4 bonus to Hide and Move Silently
when sneaking around in outdoor/wooded areas. It's particularly nice for
Assassins and Archers, who make use of these two skills nearly in all phases of
an adventure. Rangers share this feat with Druids, who gain it at level 3.

DUAL-WIELD (LEVEL 1)
This is the very feat that is the reason for plenty of players thinking that
dual-weapon fighting with Rangers is not worthwhile. It is widely assumed that
Rangers get the feats Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting feats for free, but
that's only half the truth. Yes, Dual-Wield consists of these two feats,
however, they are "light versions", and only work if you wear light armour. If
you wear medium or heavy armour, you lose their benefits instantly. If you
played another class and picked Ambidexterity and Two-Weapon Fighting, you'd be
able to use them even when wearing heavier armour, but the Ranger-specific
Dual-Wield feat only works with light armour. The Dual-Wield benefits are only
of use to the Assassin: Ambidexterity reduces the attack roll penalty for the
off-hand weapon by 4, and Two-Weapon Fighting reduces the attack roll penalty
for both hands by 2 each.

WEAPON PROFIENCY MARTIAL (LEVEL 1)
Rangers get this feat for free at level 1, and it grants you access to the
following weapons: Battleaxe, greatsword, halberd, handaxe, heavy flail, light
flail, light hammer, longbow, longsword, rapier, scimitar, short sword,
shortbow, throwing axe and warhammer. Take note that both long bow and rapier
fall in this category, giving you the freedom to choose another race besides
Elf for an Assassin or Archer build, should you decide so. The rapier in
particular is of special interest to Assassins, as it is "finessable" without
being a "light" weapon.

WEAPON PROFIENCY SIMPLE (LEVEL 1)
This feat allows you to equip simple weapons, including: dagger, mace, club,
sickle, spear, morningstar, quarterstaff, light crossbow, dart, sling and heavy
crossbow. Some of these weapons are "finessable", the dagger and short sword in
particular, and are suited off-hand weapons for Assassins.

ARMOUR PROFIENCY LIGHT / MEDIUM (LEVEL 1)
Both feats are default for Rangers, and are gained at level 1. Light armour is
a must for Assassins, and makes a good choice for Archers also. Battle Rangers
don't get enough protection from light and medium armour (due to their
relatively low dex) and will need to get the heavy armour feat.

SHIELD PROFIENCY (LEVEL 1)
Like most combat-oriented classes, Rangers receive the Shield feat for free. It
allows you to equip a shield. Not useful for Archers, but handy for Battle
Rangers and Assassins, who sometimes face situations where a shield/weapon
combination is more desirable than dual weapons or a large heavy-hitter. Such
situation include scenarios where you *need* defence (AC from shield)  more
than damage potential. It is certainly true that a dead enemy can't hit you,
but you also need to stay alive in order to kill something.

ANIMAL COMPANION (LEVEL 6)
At level 6, Rangers finally get their animal companion. We'll discuss the
various types a bit later, but as with many other aspects of playing and
creating a character, the choice of your pet depends on your preferences and
your style. In contradiction to the misleading display of stats for animal
companions when you select them (as of 1.26, the displayed information do not
reflect the actual statistics of the companion), the pets are weaker than the
identically named critters of Druids, and they are also less powerful than the
familiars of wizards and sorcerers. As rule of thumb, the highest level Ranger
companion is the Dire Wolf, and it is always two levels below your own, You can
summon your pet once every gaming day, and it'll stay with you until you level
up or it gets killed. There is more information on animal companions further
down in this guide.

IMPROVED TWO-WEAPON FIGHTNING (LEVEL 9)
To the best of my knowledge, this is the "regular" version of this feat, and
not a "light version". Rangers receive it for free at the 9th level. It gives
you a second attack for your off-hand weapon, but at a -5 penalty. Since
Assassins are going to have a fairly high attack roll, you have a fair chance
to land that extra attack, if you are following my advice and play a finesse
assassin (more on this later). Battle Rangers and Archers have no use for this
feat.

FAVOURED ENEMY (LEVELS 1, 5, 10, 15, 20)
At levels 1, 5, 10, 15 and 20, Rangers can select a "favoured enemy". Those are
foes that the Ranger is specially trained for. In DnD and NWN terms this means
that you get a +1 damage (per  every five levels) bonus against your favoured
enemies. Here's an example: Let's say you pick Undeads as your first favoured
enemy at level 1. If you face a skeleton, you'll do one point extra damage to
it. At level 5 you get to choose another favoured enemy, and you choose humans.
Now you'll do +2 extra damage to undeads and humans. So, every five levels,
your extra damage to each of your favoured enemies increases by one point. At
level 20, you'll do extra damage of 5 points to all of your five favoured
enemies. In addition you get a +1 bonus (per every five levels) to Listen, Spot
and Taunt checks against your favoured enemies, which is increasing exactly
like the damage bonus. (An attack roll bonus instead would have been far
nicer!) Which you choose here is really up to you, and highly depends on where
or what module you play. For the Official Campaign, I'd recommend Humans,
Undead, Giants, Dragons and Elementals, in this order. The fifth choice
especially is really up to you.


5.2 GENERAL FEATS
-----------------
In this section I'll briefly introduce and discuss feats that are not gained
automatically by Rangers. If you do not find the feat that you are looking for,
please search for it in the previous section where the automatically gained
Ranger feats are listed. If you still can't find it, it's likely to be specific
for another class, such as EXTRA TURNING, which is only available to Clerics
and Paladins.


ALERTNESS
This feat gives your character a +2 to the Listen and Spot skills. Neat, but
far from being needed.

ARMOUR PROFIENCY HEAVY
Needed for Battle Rangers who put points in STR rather than DEX. Assassins or
Archers do not need this feat.

CALLED SHOT
This is actually a good feat for especially Assassins. If you land an attack of
this kind on the target's legs, the opponent is slowed by 20% and his DEX is
reduced by 2. If you hit the arms, the opponent suffers a -2 penalty on his
attack rolls. Knockdown does a better job, however, so this feat can be
skipped, unless you are partial to it.

COMBAT CASTING
This feat removes the -4 to Concentration penalty for casting when too close to
an attacker. You are not going to cast your few spells in the middle of battle,
so there is really no need to get this feat (not to mention that you don't have
the Concentration skill!).

CLEAVE
An excellent feat for Battle Rangers and Assassins. Even more so for the
latter. It you slay an enemy in melee combat and there's another within range,
you get a free attack that is automatically performed. This does not work with
ranged weapons such as bows.

DEFLECT ARROWS
Helps to avoid getting hit by arrows and bolts, however, IMPROVED UNARMED
STRIKE is a pre-requisite for this feat. The good news is that you need neither
of them.

DISARM
If you have this feat, you can try to disarm an opponent in the middle of the
fight. There are two problems with this: First, attempting this provokes
attacks of opportunity, and second, it requires an INT of 13, which you do not
have.

DODGE
It's a good feat. An excellent one, in fact, and clearly every Ranger build
would benefit from the +1 to your AC against attacks from your current target.
However, it has a DEX requirement of 13, and so it's not an option for low-DEX
Battle Rangers. Archers get it anyway since it is a pre-requisite for MOBILITY.
Assassins are already hard pressed for feats.

EMPOWER SPELL
You are not a spellcaster (really, you are not!).

EXTEND SPELL
You are still not a mage.

GREAT FORTITUDE
This is a nice feat, giving you a +2 your Fortitude saving throws (CON based).
Dwarven Battle Rangers have no real need for this feat, and well, the others
wouldn't mind it, but there are better feats to pick.

IMPROVED CRITICAL
A wonderful feat that doubles your chance to get in a critical hit with the
weapon of your choice. It's a must-have feat for all Ranger builds. Get it as
soon as it becomes available!

IMPROVED DISARM
See DISARM, no need for this feat.

IMPROVED KNOCKDOWN
Same as KNOCKDOWN (see there), but your IMPROVED KNOCKDOWN attacks are
performed as if your character was a size larger (letting you knockdown even
larger monster). Highly recommended feat for Assassins and Battle Rangers.

IMPROVED PARRY
See PARRY, no need for this feat for most builds.

IMPROVED POWERATTACK
The only reason the Assassin and Battle Ranger take POWERATTACK is because it
is a pre-requisite for the insanely useful CLEAVE feat. It also helps with
bashing chests open in the early game. There is no need to take IMPROVED
POWERATTACK, though it might work with the Battle Ranger.

IMPROVED UNARMED STRIKE
You aren't going to fight without weapon, so this feat is not needed for any
Ranger build.

IRON WILL
This feat is quite nice. It increases your Will saving throws by 2. Will saves
shouldn't be your weakest point since you have decent WIS. Elven Rangers
definitely don't need this feat because of their racial bonuses.

KNOCKDOWN
Great feat for Assassins and Battle Rangers. This combat action is performed
with a -4 penalty to your attack roll, but if successful, you literally knock
down your opponent, who not only cannot hit back while being knocked down, but
also suffers a -4 penalty to their AC, See also IMPROVED KNOCKDOWN.

LIGHTNING REFLEXES
This feat gives you a +2 bonus to your Reflex saving throws. Archers and
Assassins have high DEX and thus above average reflexes. It's a nice feat for
Battle Rangers, but they still have better feats to choose from.

MAXIMIZE SPELL
No, you really don't need any of the meta-magic feats.

MOBILITY
This feat gives you a +4 AC dodge bonus against attacks of opportunities. It's
particularly useful for Archers as they tend to move around a lot more than the
other Ranger types, and thus provoke more attacks of opportunity. It is not
absolutely required, but I recommend it. Assassins and especially Battle
Rangers can skip it.

POINT BLANK SHOT
A sweet feat for Archers, and possibly Assassins who plan on using their bow a
lot (not recommended). Not only does it negate the -4 penalty to the attack
roll if a target is within melee range (in other words, right in front of you),
it also gives a +1 bonus to attack and damage(!) if a target is within 15 feet
of the character. This feat is a must for Archers. Useless for Battle Rangers.

POWER ATTACK
Useful for Assassins and Battle Rangers early in the game, mostly to bash
chests. It gives a -5 penalty to the attack roll, but adds +5 damage if the
character does hit. For low-damage weapons this feat is the only way to destroy
chests that have higher damage reduction. The reason why Assassins and Battle
Rangers take this feat, however, is because it is a pre-requisite for CLEAVE.

QUICKEN SPELL
Only for full-time spell casters.

RAPID SHOT
This feat gives the character an extra ranged attack (bow, crossbow, sling) per
round, though at the cost of a -2 penalty to the attack roll. At medium/high
levels, this is not very bad, so Archers can and should make heavy use of this
feat. If this feat didn't have POINT BLANK SHOT as pre-requisite, it would be
quite handy for Assassins also.

SKILL FOCUS
This feat gives a +3 bonus to a skill of your choice. This is "neat", but feat
slots are way too precious to spend one of them for this feat. (Ironically
enough, if you use the "recommended" button when playing a Ranger, the game
will use this feat on the Animal Empathy skill.)

SPELL FOCUS
For mages that wish to give certain spells more punch. Useless for Rangers.

SPELL PENETRATION
Useless for Rangers.

STILL SPELL
Like all Metamagic feats, this one is useless for Rangers.

STUNNING FIST
This feat is awesome for Monks, who not only get it for free, but can also use
it more often than other characters. It does look good on the paper, but Battle
Rangers don't have the required 13 DEX, and Assassins simply don't have room
for this feat. KNOCKDOWN and IMPROVED KNOCKDOWN get the job done.

TOUGHNESS
This feat gives your character one extra hitpoint per level. If you get it at
level 9, you'd still get an extra HP for all previous levels, too. Every
character wants this feat, but often there's not always room for it. If you are
ever out of ideas for feats to get, pick up this one. You can't go wrong with
TOUGHNESS.

TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING
Rangers get a "light" version of this feat at level 1, as part of the DUAL
WIELD feat. Don't pick this one up.

WEAPON FINESSE
This is the "key feat" for Assassins. In fact, it's the very feat that the
Assassin Ranger build depends on. This is what it does: If your character uses
a "finessable" weapon (such as the rapier), the attack roll is based on DEX
instead of STR. Normally, the attack is determined by STR. So, if you use a
rapier and wear light armour (or another "finessable" weapon), the attack roll
(accuracy) and AC (protection) is based on DEX. In addition, DEX is used to
calculate the attack for ranged weapons, which means Assassins can easily fall
back on their bow if need arises. Note that only the following weapons work
with this feat: rapier, shortsword, dagger, handaxe, kama, kukri, light
crossbow, light hammer, mace, shruiken, sickle, sling and throwing axe.
Assassins must have this feat, and Archers can consider it for backup purposes
if they desire this.

WEAPON FOCUS
This feat gives you a +1 attack bonus when using the weapon of your choice. All
Ranger builds benefit from it, and especially Assassins as it helps to "make
up" a little for the attack roll penalty for using two weapons. Rangers with
very high DEX can afford to go without this feat, though it really doesn't hurt
to have it. Battle Rangers should strongly consider taking the feat.

WEAPON PROFIENCY EXOTIC
If your character has this feat, she can use the following weapons: dire mace,
double axe, kama, katana, kukri, scythe, shuriken and the two-bladed sword. If
katanas were finessable, this feat would be a requirement for Assassins. But
since it isn't, there is no real need to take this additional feat. If you play
a small-sized Assassin (who cannot dual wield the medium-classed rapier), it's
worth considering to pick up this feat and use two kukris. The double-weapons
would be awesome for a Battle Ranger, but you just aren't likely to have many
spare feats, unless you are willing to sacrifice other feats or take Fighter
levels (in this case you should seriously think about using a double-weapon).

WEAPON SPECIALIZATION
This feat is not available to Rangers, as it is restricted to the Fighter
class. However, it's listed here because this is the feat that makes multi-
classing with Fighter an interesting option. If picked up this feat (if you
also get Fighter levels, check the Multiclassing section for more details), you
get a +2 damage bonus for the weapon of your choice. This is a significant
boost, regardless of the type of Ranger you are playing.


5.3 TYPE-SPECIFIC FEATS
-----------------------
This section lists recommended feats for the various Ranger builds. These are
suggestions, and  you are encouraged to consider swapping individual feats for
possible choices from the general feats list (further down). Feats in brackets
are optional, whereas the other feats are highly recommended for the particular
build. All recommended feats are covered in the general feat list also.

ASSASSINS
Feats: WEAPON FINESSE, POWER ATTACK, CLEAVE, KNOCKDOWN, IMPROVED KNOCKDOWN,
IMPROVED CRITICAL (RAPIER), WEAPON FOCUS (RAPIER), (TOUGHNESS). If you wonder
why I listed eight feats, remember that I recommend to use humans for
Assassins, because of this very extra feat. You can customize a little, if you
wish. POWER ATTACK is a pre-requisite for CLEAVE, so it's either both or none.
CLEAVE is incredibly useful when fighting more than one foe, for the extra
attack it gives you when you slay one of the enemies. KNOCKDOWN and IMPROVED
KNOCKDOWN are not everyone's cup of tea, however, I have always found them
incredibly useful, simply because enemies that lay helplessly on the ground
will not hit you (and are easier to hit). If you don't like this "move", you
could get another IMPROVE CRITICAL and WEAPON FOCUS for your off-hand weapon (I
actually recommend to use two rapiers at higher levels. Take a look at the
strategy section of this guide for more information). Getting one or two of the
saving throws feats is also worth considering, if you find yourself lacking in
these areas. Magic feats are of no interest for Assassins, or any other Ranger
builds. WEAPON FINESSE is *critical* for this build! If you have it, then the
attack roll for certain weapons (such as the rapier) will be based on DEX
instead of STR. THIS feat is what makes you a truly skilled Assassin. It is a
requirement for this build! TOUGHNESS is optional and you can get another feat
instead, DODGE for example.

ARCHERS
Feats: POINT BLANK SHOT, RAPID SHOT, IMPROVED CRITICAL (LONGBOW), WEAPON FOCUS
(LONGBOW), MOBILITY, DODGE, (TOUGHNESS). The last feat is not crucial and
depends on your playstyle. Other options here would be WEAPON FINESSE, to give
you a backup weapon (Rapier) if you fight in tight quarters and find your bow
too cumbersome. GREATER FORTITUDE is also a worthwhile feat for higher level
characters. Do not bother with any magical feats as you only have very few
spells and they are not worth being empowered, extended or maximized -- and you
will only very rarely find yourself casting in the middle of combat, If you
multiclass with Fighter, getting the WEAPON SPECIALIZATION feat for longbows is
a must. MOBILITY (which has DODGE as pre-requisite) is useful to you because as
ranged attacker, you'll find yourself often trying to get out of the middle of
mobs, which frequently provokes attacks of opportunity (against you). As the
Rogue guide expresses it, "don't get married to a spot".

BATTLE RANGERS
Feats: ARMOR PROFIENCY HEAVY, POWER ATTACK, CLEAVE, KNOCKDOWN, IMPROVED
KNOCKDOOWN, IMPROVED CRITICAL, WEAPON FOCUS. It can be argued wether the
seventh feat should be replaced for TOUGHNESS, however, I feel that WEAPON
FOCUS is the better choice. The other six feats are more or less required for a
Battle Ranger, giving you all essential abilities to deal with most foes that
you'll encounter on your adventures. Choose the IMPROVED CRITICAL and WEAPON
FOCUS for the weapon of your choice. Unless you are set on playing a pure
Ranger, you are strongly encouraged to take a few FIGHTER levels for the extra
feats and especially WEAPON SPECIALIZATION, for which you'd need WEAPON FOCUS.



===============================================================================
6.0 MULTICLASSING
===============================================================================

When planning the content for the Ranger guide, this section was the one that I
dreaded the most. The reason for this is that I am one of those players who
enjoy playing "pure" characters, even though it is not always the best route to
take. In this version of the guide, I will cover the various multiclassing
options for Rangers. If you have gathered positive (or even negative)
experience with multiclassing ranger combinations, please drop me an e-mail.
I'll be happy to include your experiences in future releases of the guide, and
give full credit.


5.1 NOTES ON MULTICLASSING
--------------------------
Unless your character is human or you multiclass with a class that is favoured
by your character's race, you are going to face an XP penalty. Dwarves have
Fighter as their favoured class, and Elves favour the Wizard class. Rangers
gain an additional favoured enemy every fifth level and the level of their
Animal Companion increases with each Ranger level. Other than these, Rangers
get the IMPROVED TWO-WEAPON-FIGHTING feat at their 9th level. There are no
"real" benefits of playing a level 20 Ranger, such as damage reduction as Monks
get at that level. So, multiclassing is a definite option. *grinds his teeth*


5.2 MULTICLASSING COMBINATIONS
------------------------------
Below follows a discussion of multiclassing options for Rangers with other
classes. The "compatibility" list is in alphabetical order.

BARBARIAN
Multiclassing your Ranger with Barbarian does not give you any real benefits.
The small movement increase of 10% makes no huge difference, and while the
increasingly improving UNCANNY feat that Barbarians get would be quite handy,
it is far from being a "must-have" feat. This is particularly true for
Assassins and Archers who already have decent reflex saving throws. The
Barbarian's damage reduction, though not impressive, is more attractive, but it
takes entirely too many Barbarian levels to get this.

BARD
Bard spells, while "better" than the Ranger's spell assortment, are based on
Charisma. All three Ranger builds that are featured in this guide have a CHA of
8, meaning that you won't get to use any of the Bard spells. Bards have the
Discipline skill as class skill, which is a definite plus. Every player likes
to have a Bard around, because her music improves saving throws, damage, AC,
attack rolls and even hitpoints, but few actually want to play a Bard. If you
took three Bard levels, you could sing the Bard song three times per day, each
song lasting for six rounds. The benefits from this, while under the influence
of the song, would be  +1 to attack roll, +2 to damage, +1 will saves, +1 to
fortitude saves for yourself and your allies. The duration is not very long,
keep this in mind. If this option sounds good to you (it might, if you are an
Archer), don't forget to put points in the Perform skill.

CLERIC
The Cleric is one of the better multiclassing options for Rangers. Like
Rangers, they use divine magic (based on WIS), and get plenty of low level
spells, some of which are attractive.  With your 14 WIS, that I recommend for
all Ranger builds, you could cast spells from the first four Cleric spell
levels. For this you'd need to take seven Cleric levels, and would be rewarded
with six cantrip spells, four first level spells, three second level spells,
two third level spells and one fourth level spell. The Cleric's TURN ┘NDEAD
ability is not very useful for a Ranger because it is Charisma based. And you
are not very charming! If you enjoy casting spells or if there's a Cleric
Domain whose benefits you'd like to reap (decent are the domains Animal,
Healing, Strength and War) then this is worth considering.

DRUID
The Druids are the brothers of Rangers. They share a special feat, some spells
and the Animal Companion with Rangers. Their spells are also based on WIS, and
can be cast without failure while wearing armour. Druid is not a bad
multiclassing option, and the Druid feat NATURE sense, that gives you a +2
bonus to attack rolls when fighting in wilderness areas, is attractive.
WOODLAND STRIDE, gained at the second Druid level, that makes the character
immune to entangling and grease spells or effects, is also nice to have. The
Ranger's 14 WIS allow to cast spells of the four lowest Druid spell levels, if
you take seven levels of Druid. You'd then be able to memorize six cantrip
spells, four first level spells, three second level spells, two third level
spells and one fourth level spell. If you were to get seven Druid levels (it's
either two or seven, nothing else makes much sense), you'd also gain the RESIST
NATURE'S LURE feat (+2 bonus to saving throws against fear) and the ability to
shift into an animal form (the shapes improve with Druid levels, so you'd be
fairly weak later on). You cannot have two Animal Companions. Note that Rangers
must have a neutral alignment in order to gain Druid levels.

FIGHTER
Multiclassing with Fighter is the only option I'd personally consider, and for
no other reason than the extra feats this would bring. In fact, it's an
excellent idea to get a few Fighter levels, and unless you are not a "must-
play-pure-characters-no-matter-what" player like me, then you should strongly
consider multiclassing with Fighter. It is a good idea for all three Ranger
types that this guide features, and especially for the Battle Ranger because
Fighters gain heavy armour profiency, so this would mean one feat less that you
need to pick. What all Ranger types are after is the WEAPON SPECIALIZATION feat
that gives you a +2 damage bonus for your chosen weapon. This is a massive
bonus, in particular for Assassins whose weapons do relatively little base
damage. How many Fighter levels you should take mainly depends on how many
extra feats you want. If you take one Fighter level, you gain the heavy armour
feat plus an extra one. Note that you can only take WEAPON SPECIALIZATION if
you already have WEAPON FOCUS for the same weapon, and +4 attack (so don't
multiclass at second level, wait until you have a +4 attack). For every two
Fighter levels, you gain an extra feat from the combat feats list. This in
addition of the feats all characters get at the appropriate levels. Fighters
only get two skill points (at 10 INT) per level, which is one of the two
drawbacks of multiclassing with Fighter. The second disadvantage is that your
Animal Companion's level depends on your Ranger level, not on your character
level. So if you are a 19/1 Ranger/Fighter, your dire wolf will be only level
17. A level 20 Ranger's dire wolf would be level 18. Anyway, Battle Rangers
really should take at least one Fighter level, and Archers and Assassins should
at least ponder the idea.

MONK
Multiclassing with Monks would bring the EVASION feat (level 1) and PURITY OF
BODY (basically immunity to diseases). All other interesting Monk-specific
feats are either gained at higher Monk levels or only work with kamas or fists.
Monks also get CLEAVE at level 1, and KNOCKDOWN as well as IMPROVED KNOCKDOWN
at level 6. Assassins who can handle being lawful, would actually benefit from
one Monk level: This would give them the handy EVASION feat and CLEAVE for
free, without having to take POWER ATTACK as CLEAVE prerequisite. That would
free up two feat slots for the Assassin, which is an interesting advantage and
worth considering And if an Assassin were to get six Monk levels, they'd also
get the two knockdown feats for free. Monks only have a d8 hit die, so that's
two hitpoints less for every Monk level (but with one Monk level you'd save two
feats, one of which you could use for TOUGHNESS, which would more than make up
for the two sacrificed hitpoints).

PALADIN
Paladins don't multiclass all that well, and the only reason you, as Ranger,
should consider multiclassing with Paladin is because of the immunity to
diseases which the Paladin gains at the first level and the immunity to all
fear spells and effects. The Charisma bonus to all saving throws wouldn't help
you since your Ranger character's CHA score is lower than ten (makes me wonder
whether you'd get a penalty!).

ROGUE
This is an interesting multiclassing option for Rangers, especially Assassins.
At first level, Rogues gain the increasingly improving SNEAK ATTACK feat. If
you successfully attack an opponent that does not see you (if you are hidden or
stealthing), is flat-footed (attack of opportunity) or is engaged with another
creature and has turned their back to you, you perform a sneak attack that adds
extra damage to your attack. At the first Rogue level this is 1d6 and increases
by another 1d6 every two levels (2d6 with three Rogue levels). Sneak attacks
greatly benefit fighting with two weapons, and if you play an Assassin who
makes heavy use of hide/move silently, a few Rogue levels would increase your
damage output (and add another fun activity). UNCANNY DODGE I (retaining DEX
bonus to AC even when caught flat-footed) at the third Rogue level is also
useful. Rogues have a small hit die (d6), so you don't want too many Rogue
levels, even if the sneak attacks are desirable.

SORCERER
Even if I stress my imagination, I cannot see how a Ranger/Sorcerer could
possibly work. The spells of Sorcerers are based on Charisma, the by far least
important attribute for Rangers, and they get no feats that Rangers don't get
or even want. The Familiar is nice and you can actually have an Animal
Companion *and* a Familiar at the same time, but a weak Familiar just wouldn't
make a difference.

WIZARD
What I said about multiclassing with the Sorcerer applies to this option also.
The Ranger types that this guide features only have 10 INT, and that means you
wouldn't be able to cast any Wizard spells at all. The spell levels available
to a character depend on the "real" points in the INT attribute. INT bonuses
from items only affect the number of spell slots, but not the available spell
levels.



===============================================================================
7.0 ANIMAL COMPANIONS
===============================================================================

This section is concerned with the Animal Companion of the Ranger. I'll share
some general ideas on the topic and then introduce each of the available pets
including their relevant statistics to you.


7.1 THOUGHTS ON ANIMAL COMPANIONS
---------------------------------
While Druids, Sorcerers and Wizards get their pet at the first level, the
Ranger is joined by her or his Animal Companion at level 6. This means that a
young Ranger is left to her or his own devices when starting out. But this
isn't a huge problem, since all builds of Rangers are capable of holding their
own. New Archers will probably miss the pet the most, since they benefit from a
"tank", but honestly, it's do-able solo. Anyway, an Animal Companion is a nice
addition, although I think that you should always make sure that you can take
care of your own and do not overly rely on pets, summons, henchmen or even
other players. If all else fails (and it often will), you are going to be
alone, and unless you know how to deal with these not-so-rare situations, you
will face defeat.

The real downside of an Animal Companion, especially for Archers and Assassins,
is that they tend to trigger nearby monsters -- and that you can't sneak around
if everything spots your clearly visible pet. On the flipside, it's kind of
"cool" to have a loyal helper that deals some damage and, more importantly,
soaks up damage. Every point of damage that your pet takes is one point less
damage that you might have taken if you were on your own. In the end, it's a
trade-off. You do not "have" to have your companion "out" at all times, so try
to play by ear and see how well you do on your own, and fall back on your pet
when you need help. As always, the route you choose depends on your personal
preferences and experiences.

Note that NWN (current version as of writing this guide is 1.26) displays
incorrect attributes and levels for companions in the selection screen. The
actual levels, attributes and hitpoints are lower than what you see in the menu
where you can select your companion. I do not know if the display is incorrect
(I believe so) or if the Animal Companions are spawned with too low levels,
stats and hitpoints. Perhaps future versions of NWN will address this problem.


7.2 INTRODUCTION OF THE ANIMAL COMPANIONS
-----------------------------------------
You can only have one Animal Companion at a time, and are given the choice to
select one every time you level up. You cannot change the type of animal
between two level-ups, so choose wisely. Below you find a brief description of
each of the available companions. Included are the relevant statistics for each
pet when your Ranger character is at level 6 (when you can first summon them),
level 12 (when things often get tougher) and level 20 (when you will need to
decide which pet you wish to use for the rest of your Ranger adventures). The
stats are based on the actual numbers of the spawned animals, not on the
different information in the selection screen. "clvl" is the "character level"
of your character, "lvl" is the level the Animal Companion will be at. "AB" is
"Attack Bonus".

BADGER
He makes a cute pet, but unfortunately, he is too fragile and does almost no
damage. The badger is generally five levels lower than your character. At its
highest level, the badger has a spot skill of 6, which isn't particularly
helpful when you are going to be level 20.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 01, AC: 16, HP:  08, Dmg: 1-2/-1,  AB: none
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 07, AC: 16, HP:  45, Dmg: 1-2/-1,  AB: +4
Stats at clvl 20 -- Lvl: 15, AC: 16, HP:  97, Dmg: 1-2/-1,  AB: +10/+5/+0

WOLF
Of all the Animal Companions, the wolf is certainly the most "in character"
choice, since he fits so well in the "forest theme" that is traditionally
associated with a Ranger. In NWN, he's not really a good choice, if you don't
take the cute, furry look into account. The wolf is generally four levels below
your own. His best skills at his highest level (16) are hide and move silently
(10 and 11), but he does not use these.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 02, AC: 13, HP:  11, Dmg: 1-3/+1,  AB: +2
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 08, AC: 16, HP:  44, Dmg: 1-3/+1,  AB: +7/+2
Stats at clvl 20 -- Lvl: 16, AC: 20, HP:  88, Dmg: 1-3/+1,  AB: +13/+8/+3

BROWN BEAR
The big teddy is an inhabitant of the woods, but can be trained to be a loyal
pet. In NWN, the brown bear is always two levels lower than your Ranger
character's. He gains the Discipline skill which will be at 10 when the bear
hits his maximum skill of 18. This is actually useful since he'll be able to
resist at least some knockdown attacks.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 04, AC: 16, HP:  34, Dmg: 1-3/+3,  AB: +6
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 10, AC: 16, HP:  85, Dmg: 1-3/+6,  AB: +13/+8
Stats at clvl 20 -- Lvl: 18, AC: 16, HP: 153, Dmg: 1-3/+13, AB: +23/+18/+13

BOAR
Known to many players as the first useful summon at low levels, the boar makes
an average animal companion (though better than the summoned variant). The
boar's level is always three levels below your Ranger's level. Noteworthy
skills are Discipline and Spot, both around 10. Discipline is a generally
useful skill, for pets and player characters alike.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 03, AC: 16, HP:  19, Dmg: 1-3/+1,  AB: +3
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 09, AC: 16, HP:  58, Dmg: 1-3/+4,  AB: +10/+5
Stats at clvl 20 -- Lvl: 17, AC: 16, HP: 110, Dmg: 1-3/+8,  AB: +20/+15/+10

HAWK
A pretty cool looking pet is the Hawk, He flies above you, keeping a keen eye
on the surroundings. The hawk's level is always five levels lower than your
own. The pet gains the Disarm and Mobility feats, but Disarm is not used by the
bird. With a Search skill of only 2, he does not find but the easiest traps.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 01, AC: 20, HP:  09, Dmg: 1-2,  AB: +3
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 07, AC: 20, HP:  36, Dmg: 1-2,  AB: +8
Stats at clvl 20 -- Lvl: 15, AC: 20, HP:  72, Dmg, 1-2,  AB: +14/+9/+4

PANTHER
A sleek, dark panther by your side, the dream of many a Ranger. The big cat is
always three levels below your character. Absolutely noteworthy is that the
Panther gains the sneak attack feat, which means that his sneak attack at his
highest level (17) will be 9d6. This is 9-54 points of extra damage when the
panther gets a sneak attack in. He also gains the Uncanny Dodge V feat, helping
his already good reflex saves when he steps into a trap (which he won't see,
with a negative Search skill of -4). His Hiding/Move Silently skills are at 13,
but he does not use them actively.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 03, AC: 15, HP:  16, Dmg: 1-3/+3,  AB: +6
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 09, AC: 15, HP:  49, Dmg: 1-3/+3,  AB: +10/+5
Stats at clvl 13 -- Lvl: 17, AC: 15, HP:  93, Dmg: 1-3/+3,  AB: +16/+11/+6

GIANT SPIDER
Usually an enemy of dungeon-crawling Rangers, the giant spider can also become
a faithful companion of your character. She is five levels lower than your
Ranger character. As trade-off for the relatively low hitpoints, the giant
spider gains spell immunity and immunity to mind-affecting spells. She also has
the Darkvision feat, though this is of no importance.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 01, AC: 15, HP:  04, Dmg: 1-3/+2,  AB: +2
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 07, AC: 15, HP:  31, Dmg: 1-3/+2,  AB: +7
Stats at clvl 20 -- Lvl: 15, AC: 15, HP:  67, Dmg: 1-3/+2,  AB: +13/+8/+3

DIRE WOLF
The more savage version of the cuddly wolf is not as cute looking, but he's
stronger and dishes out more damage. The dire wolf is always two levels lower
than your Ranger character. He does not have any noteworthy skills or feats.
Stats at clvl 06 -- Lvl: 04, AC: 15, HP:  26, Dmg: 1-3/+4,  AB: +7
Stats at clvl 12 -- Lvl: 10, AC: 18, HP:  65, Dmg: 1-3/+4,  AB: +11/+6
Stats at clvl 20 -- Lvl: 18, AC: 22, HP: 117, Dmg: 1-3/+4,  AB: +17/+12/+7


7.3 WHICH ANIMAL COMPANION TO PICK?
-----------------------------------
One of the most frequently asked questions is which of the Animal Companions
the Ranger should choose. Which is the best? I believe that this is a personal
decision that every Ranger player needs to make for herself or himself. I've
written down the relevant stats for each of the Animal Companions, and with
these numbers you should be able to pick the pet that appeals the most to you.

The two wolves are the only pets whose AC increases as they level up. The brown
bear has by far the most hitpoints, does the most reliable damage, but his AC
is relatively low. The panther has a comparable low AC and his paws do only
mediocre damage -- but when he manages to land a sneak attack, the damage is
significant. The giant spider is fragile, but is immune to spells, making her a
good choice when fighting spellcasters. Badger, Boar and Hawk are pets for
Rangers who want to be original.

I really would like you to make your own decision based on the listed numbers
and your own playstyle, but since this is a guide after all, I'll make some
recommendations. For an archer, I recommend the brown bear, because of his good
life pool. He'll be a good tank for archers who usually feel more comfortable
if monsters remain in some distance. Battle rangers will do well with the
panther, as the panther is most efficient if he has a tank that attracts
attention (that's you!), so that he can sneak attack. Assassins can be more
flexible and brown  bear, dire wolf and panther offer equally interesting
potential. Panther is nice if it fits the "cat-like" theme of your character (I
assume I'm not the only lover of smoothly moving felines), the dire wolf is a
reliable companion, and the bear tanks well, soaks up damage well, and even
dishes out a nice amount of damage.



===============================================================================
8.0 SPELLS
===============================================================================

In this section, we'll ponder Ranger spells in general and discuss the various
spells. We'll also see in which situations they might be of assistance to you.
I highly recommend that you do not just adopt what I say here, but try out the
spells for yourself.


8.1 THOUGHTS ON RANGER SPELLS
-----------------------------
Rangers get four levels of spells. Provided the character has sufficient
Wisdom, these spell groups become available at levels 6, 10, 12 and 15. It is
often said and repeated that Ranger spells suck and make little difference.
Certainly, a Ranger is not a spell-caster, and no one who has felt a Ranger's
blade slicing their throat will confuse her with someone who dabbles in the
Arcane arts. However, a smart Ranger knows his spells, and uses the potential
they offer to the fullest -- and to her advantage. No, I am not saying that any
of the handful of Ranger spells will cause havoc among foes, far from it. But
if wisely used, the spells will help you prevail in tough battles and give you
that extra punch that might just make the small difference that you need to
survive. And you want to be the best you can be, young Ranger, don't you? I
thought so!


8.2 SPELL SLOTS AND MEMORIZING
------------------------------
Not only do you get relatively few spells, but unless you pump WIS (no, you do
not want to do this), you only get a small number of spell slots. With 14 WIS,
you'll be able to memorize four first level, four second level, three third
level and four fourth level spells, at level 20. This means you can't afford to
memorize spells you don't really need, and each of the fourth circles contains
useful spells that are worth having memorized in certain situations. I'll
discuss this in detail below. If you haven't played a divine spell caster
before, here are quick instructions on how to memorize spells: Hit the "B" key
on your keyboard and move the spells of your choice to the slots on the right.
Then you need to rest to memorize the spells. In order to cast a spell, you
need to assign them to one of the quick slots. That's all. When you reach level
6, 10, 12 and 15, you automatically gain all available spells and only have to
memorize the ones you want to use. Rangers do not get "Cantrips" (level 0
spells) that Wizards, Sorcerers, Druids, Clerics and Bards get.


8.3 RANGER SPELLS IN DETAIL
---------------------------

FIRST LEVEL RANGER SPELLS (gained at level 6)

* CURE LIGHT WOUNDS: This heals 1d8 points plus one point per character level.
So, at level 10, this will heal between 11 and 18 points. Not a whole lot, but
still helpful by the time you get this level.

* ENTANGLE: This spells causes "plants" to grow out of the ground which will
hinder your enemies. A helpful spell when confronted with a large group of
weaker monsters that you want to occupy a little before they step on your toes.

* GREASE: This spell has much the same application as Entangle. With some luck,
enemies "slip" on the greasy ground and get knocked down. This potential (don't
expect this to work every time) makes it more useful than Entangle.

* SUMMON CREATURE I: Even with my positive attitude towards the Ranger spells,
this one has a very limited usefulness by the time you get it. The dire badger
dies quickly against enemies that you are likely to face at level 6, so it's
use is reserved for "last ressort" situations and to set off traps.


SECOND LEVEL RANGER SPELLS (gained at level 10)

* CAT'S GRACE: This is it, your probably most useful, most frequently used
spell. In fact, it's so handy that you might want to just fill all your
(meager) 2nd level spell slots with Cat's Grace. Why is it so good? Cat's Grace
increases the DEX of the target (for example, your own character) by 1d4. So,
in the worst case you get +1 DEX (recast it), and in the best case your DEX
increases by 4 points. A whooping four points that lasts one hour per level. A
game hour is two real life minutes. So, since level 10 is the earliest time you
can cast it, the minimum duration of Cat's Grace is twenty real minutes.
Archers and Assassins both depend on their DEX to hit with their weapon, and
get bonuses to their defence (AC).I know, I know, if you usually play
spellcasters, you'll mildly smile at this excitement about a lowly spell such
as Cat's Grace, but you need to look at this from a Ranger's perspective, not
from that of an experienced magery specialist. So, use it, praise it, and live
longer -- will ya? (And Cat's Grace potions are not as common in all modules as
they are in the Official Campaign!)

* HOLD ANIMAL: This spell paralyzes an animal. Not every opponent, only
animals. Unless a module has high-level animal foes, you should be able to
easily deal with any animal by the time you get this spell. So, all in all,
it's not a very useful spell.

* PROTECTION FROM ELEMENTS: If you (or another friendly creature, including
fellow players) are under the influence of this spell, 30 points of elemental
damage is absorbed. The spell lasts for 24 game hours (48 minutes) or until 30
points are absorbed. The duration is awesome, and if you play in areas where
elemental damage is a problem, memorize this spell a couple of time.

* RESIST ELEMENTS: This spell is listed in the NWN manual, however, it's not in
the game. It wouldn't make much sense either, since it does what Protection
from Elements does, just to a lesser degree (20 points absorbation). Anyway,
you cannot use this spell.

* SLEEP: If you cast this spell on a hoard of creatures, some of them might
fall asleep. Or not, since it is easily resisted. If a sleeping creature is
hit, it immediately wakes up and continues to attack you. Now, this is not
utterly useless, especially if you use a bow: the arrow that functions as alarm
clock might just be the nail of the creature's coffin. Not overly useful, but
experiment a little with it before you dismiss it.

* SUMMON CREATURE II: This summons a dire boar. While it's a bit a more useful
than the dire badger, the boar will be level 7 and have 33 hitpoints. You will
be level 10 when you can summon it, so it's suited as momentary distraction,
and it might even do some damage, but other than this, there are really more
useful spells in this group.


THIRD LEVEL RANGER SPELLS (gained at level 12)

* AID: This spell increases the target's saving throws against fear by one,
gives you a +1 bonus to your attack roll and 1d8 extra hitpoints. You'll have
about 140-150 hitpoints at level 12, so the health boost is not all that
exciting. It also only lasts for one round/turn per level, so Aid is good for
one encounter, and that's it. If you are about to face a dragon or a Balor
Lord, then yes, you want to cast Aid on yourself, because it -will- "aid" you
in that particular fight. It's useful for these situations, but it's not a
spell you'd just cast all the time.

* CURE MODERATE WOUNDS: This spell heals 2d8 + one point per character level of
damage. At level 12, it'll heal between 14 and 28 damage. No, it's not awesome,
but if you or a fellow player is about to die, every restored point of life
makes a difference. This is particularly true for modules and persistent worlds
where health points and healing kits are expensive or hard to find.

* INVISIBILITY PURGE: With this spell, you can reveal all invisible creatures
or items that are nearby. "Nearby" here means "your entire screen". It's useful
in modules with annoyingly invisible critters all over the place, but in the
Official Campaign there is practically no application for this spell.

* NEUTRALIZE POISON: If you aren't a Dwarf and have no items that make you
immune to poison, poison is one of the most annoying curses in the game. If you
can't just teleport to the next temple, being poisoned can be dangerous, too.
Have this spell memorized when you venture to areas with spiders, poison-arrow
using foes, etc.

* REMOVE DISEASE: Much like poison, diseases are an annoyance that can damage
you and reduce your chances to get alive out of dangerous situation. If you are
going to fight mummies and the like, don't neglect to memorize this spell. When
I say in other places of this guide that Rangers need to be knowledgeable, this
is the kind of stuff I mean: it's essential that you have an idea of what to
expect when you go to certain places.

* SUMMON CREATURE III: You'd think that a summoned helper that you get at level
12 will be useful. Well, no, it's not really. The summoned dire wolf will be
level 6 (that's at least six levels lower than your character) and have 56
hitpoints, and an AC of 21. It might live for a few rounds, but compare this to
your Animal Companion: If you choose a Dire Wolf as your Animal Companion
(which looks exactly like the summoned version) and call it, it will be two
levels lower than you, not 6 to 14 levels lower! So, obviously, this spell has
limited use, too. But really, as Ranger you should be able to take care of
yourself.


FOURTH LEVEL RANGER SPELLS (gained at level 15)

* CURE SERIOUS WOUNDS: This spell heals 3d8 + one point per character level of
damage. At level 15, when you get this spell, this will be 18 to 39 points of
damage. With some luck, this is actually decent.

* FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT: The manual says that this spell "makes immune to
paralysis". Now, what this really means is that it makes you immune to all
kinds of effects and spells that reduce your movement. This includes entangle
spells, (spider) webs and similar things. The spell lasts for one round per
character level, so it's good for a battle. It has a pretty spell effect,
though. Not as impressive as spell mantels, but one has gotta be grateful for
small favours. Memorize this spell when you think you'll need it.

* POLYMORPH SELF: This spell is without doubt the one with the highest coolness
factor in your arsenal, but that doesn't make it particularly useful. If cast
on yourself, you can morph into a pixie (fey), troll, timber hulk, giant spider
or a zombie. Morphing will not grand you additional skills (besides bonuses),
but your relevant attributes (STR, DEX, CON) will be modified when you turn
into another creature. You'll also gain creature-specific abilities, such as
immunity to spells or entanglement. However, your equipment will not have any
effects, which probably means significant less AC and much lower damage. The
only real advantage is that you will, for example in troll shape, have
significant more hitpoints. And besides impressing newer players and friends,
or just to kill some time, that's the only use: If for some reason you need to
cross an area where you take damage every step, it might be worth considering
to morph into one of the forms with increased hitpoints. Other than that, I
have found no uses for this spell. If you have, please drop me a note.

* SUMMON CREATURE IV: Your "best" summon spell. I've put "best" in quotation
marks, because the Dire Spider is not really awesome, considering you'll be
level 15 when you can summon her. Then again, she is level 10, has 54 life and
is immune to spells. This immunity makes her useful against spellcasters, and
can be a minor annoyance that works in your favour. If you are going to use a
summon, use this one.



===============================================================================
9.0 EQUIPMENT
===============================================================================

There are too many good items in the Official Campaign that is shipped together
with the game. Not to mention the unique and specific armour, weapons, jewelry
and other items that player-created modules and persistent worlds offer. Not
everything found in the official module also appears in modules and worlds, and
vice versa. For these reasons, I'm only giving very general, very broad advice
for the equipment of each of the major Ranger builds,


9.1 STUFF FOR ARCHERS
---------------------
Needless to say, an Archer's most valued piece of equipment is a good bow. Try
to get ahold of a longbow (or its improved version, the composite bow) as soon
as possible. Look closely at the stats -- you are looking for enhancements that
fill gaps in your current equipment. Bows with the Might modifier add a
strength bonus to your damage. A strength enhancing item (to get to use Might
+3) may be worth considering if your dex is sufficient. Archers wear light
armour to take advantage of their high DEX and want nothing more than a hazed
item (boots of speed). More DEX rarely hurts, so keep looking for +DEX items
and additionally for AC modifiers.


9.2 STUFF FOR ASSASSINS
-----------------------
Assassins are after good blades that match the type that they have the Improved
Critical and Weapon Focus feats for (or intend to get for). Usually this is a
rapier. The Official Campaign offers plenty of excellent choices and you can
even craft your own rapier in chapter 1 and later. The off-hand weapon should
be a size smaller if you want the best possible attack roll (daggers or short
swords are recommended). Make sure that you choose a weapon that is
"finessable". It is a worthwhile strategy, especially at medium and higher
levels, to use the same weapon type in both hands (two rapiers under certain
conditions if you follow the recommendations made in this guide) to make
optimal use of the Improved Critical feat. You get a small penalty if you do
this, but the extra damage might make it worth. Try it out for yourself and see
how it goes. Assassins are flexible, and a longbow or composite bow should
always be in their inventory. Take a look at the Strategy section for more
details on why this is a good idea. When choosing weapons, especially if you go
with smaller ones, don't look only at the base damage, but keep an eye out for
blades with good bonuses, such as elemental damage. I highly recommend to also
carry a shield in your inventory, so that you can fall back on the
rapier+shield combination when you need protection (AC) more than fast damage
output. DEX and STR enhancing items are always wanted, as is "something" that
provides haze (boots of speed). Only wear light armour to benefit from the
Assassin's high DEX, and if the body armour offers a feat like Evasion, then
this is even better.


9.3 STUFF FOR BATTLE RANGERS
----------------------------
Battle Rangers are the tanks among the woodlanders. They need to decide between
battleaxe, greatsword or even a two-bladed sword and try to find the best (high
damage, enhancements) weapon for the chosen class. Since this build is based on
high STR, Battle Rangers want to wear heavy armour. There are scenarios where a
medium armour might be better (if it has enhancements that you want), but in
general you want to wear full plate. Everything that increases your STR is
desired, and a haze item (boots of speed) makes every Battle Ranger smile, too.
Items that improve your AC are also of interest, so do some swapping around and
testing to find the best combination for your character. A Ring of Power, if
available in the module that you play, is the icing of a good equipment
selection.



===============================================================================
10.0 STRATEGY
===============================================================================

This section currently contains various tips for playing a Ranger. It will be
"extended" in future releases of this guide and perhaps, at some point, include
material specific to the Official Campaign. However, at this point I do not
feel that this is necessary as the available Walkthroughs cover everything that
there is to know about the Official Campaign and its difficult spots.


10.1 TIPS FOR RANGERS
---------------------

- You can instantly heal your Animal Companion by clicking on the pet (as if
you were going to talk to it) and select the "feed" option. This will restore
all of the animal's hitpoints, without requiring you to cast a spell. It only
costs you one mouse-click.

- Assassins live and die by their weapon choice. Especially at low levels, when
their dexterity is still low, Use a longbow to soften up enemies before they
reach you (with some luck you'll land two hits) and then switch to either two
blades or a blade and shield. If you need the AC, or because you miss too much,
use the shield/rapier combination.

- Archers and Assassins alike should always make use of their ability to
stealth (hide/move silently) to get themselves in a good position. Move far
away from an enemy, so that you have more time between initial attack and the
"arrival" of the foe in front of you. This also helps to pick individual
enemies: if a pack of mobs is at the edge of your viewing area (this works best
with top-down camera) and you attack one critter, only this one monster will
run to you or start shooting/casting. This strategy requires that you are
either not using your animal companion or have the pet "parked". If "parked",
use a shortcut to call it ("follow") as needed. In general, especially if
playing in Persistent Worlds, scout out areas without your pet, and then make a
plan how to best approach the situation. Don't just run blindly in a new area.

- Assassins and Archers require strategical playing. Much like sorcerers or
wizards, you must make quick decisions and evaluate situations before you act.
It can be much like playing tabletop RPG. For this reason, the top-down camera
is the most suited. Also, I highly recommend using a mouse with a "mouse
wheel". This allows you to quickly zoom in and out. I've tried playing with a
device without a mouse wheel, and it was a pain in the rear and very
cumbersome. Even no-name mice for a handful of Dollars/Euro come with wheels
these days. Get one, and use it.

- All Rangers are expected to know their foes. A fighter or other brute force
characters need much less knowledge about enemies. Examine enemies before
attacking, make sure you use weapons that are most efficient. Don't wait till
you are already engaged with an opponent, or you might find yourself wasting a
round or two. It is a bit "powergaming'ish", but if you have the opportunity,
try to learn more about the common enemies that you are going to encounter in a
module or in a persistent world, and choose the appropriate favoured enemy
feats.

- Speaking of favoured enemies: This is very clearly one of the Ranger's
benefits. At level 20, you'll do five extra points of physical damage to your
favoured enemies. Easily enough to turn a difficult battle in your favour. Take
advantage of this and don't choose favoured enemy feats carelessly because you
think that just point more damage doesn't make a difference. It does -- and
it's one point every five levels (1, 5, 10, 15, 20).

- Archers who find themselves with an additional feat that they don't need,
might want to consider taking the Weapon Finesse feat, and carry a very good
dagger or an excellent light hammer as backup weapon. You'll have  plenty of
DEX, as an archer, so with this feat you can hit accurately with a "finessable"
weapon, too. Since all Rangers get the feats required for dual-wielding
automatically, you can even consider two weapons. Why would you do this,
considering that you have the Point Blank feat? Bow damage is "piercing"
damage, and will do no damage to creatures that are immune to that kind of
damage. Daggers do "slashing" damage and light hammers do "bludgeoning" (blunt)
damage, so this would give you an alternate type of damage. Don't consider this
option before you have all feats that you want, and only if there are no
special arrows available.

- Assassins in particular need to be clever about their choice of weapon.
Normally, they'll use rapiers, but if you find a pair of awesome daggers with
additional, high elemental damage, keep them and use them when fighting
opponents that are resistant or immune to physical or piercing damage. Poison
is particularly nice and well within the Assassin theme. While it seems silly
to carry around multiple weapons, the smart Assassin has the best weapon for
any given situation within reach or knows where to get one.

- In the Official Campaign and in some player-created modules, there are
special arrows. Carry a few stacks of different kinds with you around so that
you can quickly switch to the most efficient ammo and greatly increase the
damage you dish out. The enhanced arrows are fairly expensive, so use them only
when you want to finish fights quickly -- at least until you find yourself
carrying around more gold than you need (in the Official Campaign, that'll be
the case in the middle of the second chapter), then just use them all the time.

- If you are an Archer (or an Assassin), check if you carry enough arrows
before you leave town. This sounds obvious, but in persistent worlds or modules
without a "Stone of Recall", it's easy to neglect this aspect. There's nothing
worse (and embarrassing, if you are partied up with others!) than running out
of arrows in the middle of a battle. There's nothing wrong with having 500
arrows in your inventory, they weight very little and don't take up a lot of
space.

- If you decide to hunt together with an Animal Companion, I recommend to give
it the "Guard Me" command. This way your pet will stay with you and only attack
monsters if they get close to you. This prevents (unless the AI fails) that
your helper runs across the entire screen and possibly attracts too many
monsters.


10.2 INFORMATION ON DUAL-WIELDING
---------------------------------
Fighting with two weapons is a controversial combat style. In the various
sections of this guide, different aspects of this topic have already been
tackled. Here, we'll look into the art of two-weapon fighting a bit more.

First off, if you have none of the two-weapon-fighting related feats and use
two medium-sized weapons in both hands, you get an attack penalty of -6 for
your main weapon and -10 for the blade in the off-hand (the right hand). That's
pretty hefty. Now, if you use a light weapon in your off-hand, the penalties
are already reduced to -4/-8. To clarify this, a light weapon is a weapon that
is one size smaller than your character's racial size. If you are a Gnome or a
Halfling, then "tiny" weapons are "light" for your character, and if you are
any other race, "small" weapons are "light" for you. Check the table in the NWN
manual to see which weapons fall in these categories (appendix).

If your character has the AMBIDEXTERITY feat, the penalty for the off-hand
weapon is reduced by -4. So, if the off-hand weapon is light, and you have this
feat, the penalty is now -4/-4. Now, if you also add the TWO-WEAPON-FIGHTING,
the attack penalty for both hands is further reduced by -2, giving us a final
penalty of -2/-2. Assassins whose main attribute is DEX and have the WEAPON
FINESSE feat (which means their attack roll is based on DEX instead of STR),
have an excellent attack score and can afford this relatively small penalty.

Unless you happen to find a nicely enchanted dagger or short sword, or a kukri
if you have the feat for exotic weapons, you'll point out that the off-hand
weapon does fairly low damage. This is true. What makes this worse is that you
don't have enough feat slots to get IMPROVED CRITICAL (and WEAPON FOCUS) for
both the weapon in the main hand and the off-hand.

So, is dual-weapons inferior to the shield/weapon combination? Could you do
more damage with a heavy-hitting two-hander? Yes and no. If properly built and
with the right feats (the above mentioned ones plus IMPROVED TWO-WEAPON
FIGHTING), a dual-wielding character lands a larger number of hits over time,
each of them doing less damage than a longsword/etc. hit would do.

Note that IMPROVED TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING gives you an extra attack for your off-
hand, so your character will do four attacks (with attack penalty) while a
Ranger who wields a greatsword will do two. IMPROVED TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING gives
you an additional attack penalty of -5 to the off-hand weapon (for the
additional attack). You need this feat as an Assassin, because you live and die
by your high number of attacks, but it also means you must maintain a high
attack roll or you miss too much.

How can you make this work if you have an overall lower attack bonus than a
one-weapon wielder and your weapons usually have relatively low base damage?
Simple answer: Look for and use weapons with good enhancements. Not only added
physical damage, but especially elemental (sonic, fire, ice) or poison damage.
Since you hit more frequently over time (despite the penalties) than a one-
weapon wielding character, you also apply more "charges" of this added damage.
The extra damage adds up quickly. This bonus damage is one of the keys to
successful two-weapon fighting. In fact, it's at least as important, if not
more important, than the relatively puny base damage of the weapons you are
probably going to use (rapiers, short swords, daggers, kukris).

The second option you should spend thought on is using the SAME weapon type for
both hands. Let's say your primary weapon is a rapier (which is your best
choice if you are a finesse fighter). This means you'll get the IMPROVED
CRITICAL and WEAPON FOCUS feats for the rapier. You cannot get these feats for
the off-hand weapon too, you just don't have enough feat slots. If you can
afford the penalty, seriously consider using a second rapier in your off-hand.
This will increase your damage output over time, especially since you will
perform significantly more critical hits over time. This is not an option for
early in the game where your off-hand weapon should be light (rapiers are
medium for all races except Gnomes and Halflings) so that the penalty is
minimized when you start out. If you multiclass with Fighter and get the WEAPON
SPECIALIZATION feat, using the same weapon type is even more recommended.



===============================================================================
11.0 MISCELLANEOUS
===============================================================================

11.1 COPYRIGHT NOTICE
---------------------
The Ranger Guide is the intellectual property of Michael "Cironir" Vondung
(cironir@furcadia.com). You may not distribute it (in parts or whole) in any
form or on any medium without express permission from the author. If you'd like
to distribute it, drop me a note and we can talk. All trademarks used
throughout this document belong to their respective owners.


11.2 CREDITS AND THANKS
-----------------------
Thanks goes to ...

Tax/Vihrae, who is not only my gaming partner, but partner for life. Her
patience is unmatched, and she's been tireless target for my game-related
ramblings.

Karena, for proof-reading and editing this guide as well as numerous articles
and letters.

Dr. Cat (programmer of Ultima IV) and Emerald Flame (producer of furcadia.com)
for being so much more than just employers.

The regulars of alt.games.neverwinter-nights for countless quality discussions.
Cavebear, Matthew Miller and John Twernbold deserving special mention for
clarifying numerous DnD issues.

The regulars of GameFAQs' NWN message board for the entertainment and insights.
Slayn, despite his bluntness, knowledgeably and competently provided ideas and
food for thought.

Guy Fullerton for his insightful DnD essay "Analysis of Attacking with Two
Weapons" (2001).


11.3 REVISION HISTORY
---------------------
2002-Nov-14, v1.0 -- initial release


11.4 RANGER GUIDE LOCATIONS
---------------------------
New releases of this guide are sent to:

GameFAQs -- http://www.gamefaqs.com

The latest "in-progress" version is located at:
http://www.felinism.com/nwn/ranger-guide.txt


Thank you for reading!

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

 

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