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In 2nd Edition D&D, it mentions in the Player's Handbook that Half-Elves can multiclass as Ranger/Druid. This is a contradiction with the alignment rules, stating that a Ranger must be Good and a Druid must be True Neutral. The book never elaborates on this further, leaving the reader to wonder if this was a typo, or whether certain special exceptions occur.

Is it possible that such a character can exist as either True Neutral or Neutral Good? Perhaps they are the precursors to the Druids of 3rd Edition, who are allowed to be any Non-Corner Alignment, thus allowing for Neutral Good to be the only acceptable option? Perhaps it's just a mistake in the book, and this class combination is completely bogus?

Edit: After some consideration, I would like to keep this question open. A major facet of the question is the original intent behind this text. Separate of the eventual ruling, whether made by errata, retcon, or supplemental material, the question still remains on whether this was a typo at the time of the printing of the PHB. While this might be difficult to determine, the presence, or lack thereof, of references to the race/class combination or of similar characters from around the time that 2nd Edition began may serve as proof in either direction.

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3 Answers 3

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Not A Typo, Gary Said So

Gary Gygax wrote an article in Dragon magazine #96 about the Ranger/Druid multi-class ("New jobs for demi-humans - Dwarven clerics, elven rangers, and that's not all...", April 1985), and Frank Mentzer wrote a follow-up ("All about the druid/ranger - A classy explanation, better late than never", Dragon #100). As AD&D 2e was then published in 1989, I think it's clear that the ranger/druid therein was not a "typo" but was derived specifically from the ideas of those venerable authors. Perhaps @ExTSR can elaborate for us?

Anyway, Gary establishes the appropriate alignment of a Druid/Ranger as Neutral Good therein: "Though the druid/ranger is permitted in the AD&D game rules, an alignment conflict is obviously present. But the combination is equally obviously logical; both classes are woodland-oriented. Then again, why should high-level rangers gain druid spells, even when their alignments are radically different from those of the deities who grant such spells? First, allow this multi-class combination only for characters of the Neutral Good alignment."

Followup info: The Complete Ranger’s Handbook, p. 79, gives guidelines for playing such characters: A Nature deity of good alignment must exist whose specialty priests are all druids. This priesthood must ally with a group of rangers. Any half-elf druid/ranger must obey the level limits for demihumans (DMG, p. 15), making it unlikely for the character to compete for high levels of druidic power. The druid/ranger’s multiple interests antagonize conservative druids, and the character usually suffers from divided loyalties.

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I can't check on it from work, but this post (about Baldur's Gate, of all things...) seems to confirm that, although the PHB does technically allow ranger/druids, it was only in the Complete expansions that the alignment conflict was corrected. The post also implies this requires a Neutral Good alignment.

Turns out the information about this combination is on p79 of the Complete Ranger's Handbook, in a sidebar - it's an optional rule.

Looking through my 2nd ed PHB (1989), the alignment restriction of the druid is not as clear as it could be. On p37, under Ethos, it says, right at the bottom 'Given this view of things, the druid must be neutral in alignment.' Now, I think this is a direct copy from AD&D1, but the thing is...there is no such thing as a Neutral alignment in 2e. There is a True Neutral alignment, and a Neutral Good, Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral. The fluff text above the last statement seems to imply that good and evil are immaterial to the Druid, but the last sentence is a little ambiguous.

Looking through a compilation of errata that I saved at the time, dated from 1992, there is no mention of any change or alteration to either the alignment of classes, or the multiclass options available for Half Elves. There IS a change to the options available for Gnomes, adding a number of options involving Cleric.

Looking at the Player's Option : Skills and Powers book (from 1995, the Range still has the restriction on alignment (i.e. must be good), but strangely, there is no mention at all of alignment restrictions in the Druid entry. Perhaps this is an indication that it had been decided to remove the restriction, or perhaps it was just missed in the translation.

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This answers the question about whether or not it is allowed in the most recent version of 2nd Edition rules (by including supplemental books), but not the original intent. Was it a typo that was later retconned, or was it always intended and the ruling regarding it was left out? Although it may be impossible to ever truly know the original intent of the authors in this way, I'd like to at least know if there is any evidence to either argument. –  Southpaw Hare Jan 17 '13 at 0:34
    
I'll check out the sidebar in more detail tonight - I seem to recall it using the language of 'although the combination is technically allowed, the alignment combination prevents it. Here is a way to allow it.' –  YogoZuno Jan 18 '13 at 2:31
    
The first sentence says 'Generally, a ranger/druid combination is not possible, due to the conflicting alignments of the classes.' To me, this indicates the original PHB entry was a mistake. –  YogoZuno Jan 18 '13 at 6:51
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The god Mielikki, from the Forgotten Realms setting, allows her priests to be Ranger/Druids of Neutral Good alignment (see Mielikki entry in the 2nd ed. AD&D book Faiths and Avatars, page 114–5). Her Druids are still required to be True Neutral, and her Rangers Neutral Good, but the multiclassed Druid/Ranger of Mielikki is Neutral Good. (Notably, the text stresses that these priests of Mielikki "are the only known exception in Faerûn to the rule that druids must be neutral", emphasis original.)

It is hard to find out the original intent, but I believe the rule was created to allow individual settings to implement this class combination, as in the Forgotten Realms example above.

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