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I'm DM-ing a game in which one of the players wants to take two ranger archetypes as if multiclassing as a ranger/ranger.

The two archetypes would be treated as if they were separate classes and they would take new levels in one archetype or the other. So for example, at character level 7 they would have everything a level 7 ranger has regardless of archetype and, say they were hunter 4/beast master 3, they would have the features of a level 4 hunter and a level 3 beast master.

Would it break the game to allow them to do this?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How exactly would this work? would he gain the features of both archetypes at level 3 or would he need to have Hunter Ranger 3/ Beast Master Ranger/3 (so level 6, supposing the two archetypes are Hunter and BEast Master) to gain both features? \$\endgroup\$ – LordHieros Jan 9 '18 at 8:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ The two archetypes would be treated as if they were separate classes and they would take new levels in one archetype or the other. So for example, at character level 7 they would have everything a level 7 ranger has regardless of archetype and, say they were hunter 4/beast master 3, they would have the features of a level 4 hunter and a level 3 beast master. \$\endgroup\$ – J4m0nT045t Jan 9 '18 at 8:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited this important part into the question, I hope it is ok. \$\endgroup\$ – András Jan 9 '18 at 12:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would recommend that you confine the question to "mixing two archetypes" as you provide in your example, though your title indicates an interest in 'mixing from any possible Ranger' archetype. That latter seems a little too broad, and at least not as answerable as the former. Also, please define what you mean by "break the game" as your concern on that score is pretty broad. For example, how far do you expect this game to go: level 7, level 11, level 15, level 20? Most campaigns don't make it to level 20. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 9 '18 at 16:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ related: can you multiclass into the same class twice...?. I know this question's asking "if we allowed it how would it work;" the related is the RAW that one can't without houseruling. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jan 9 '18 at 17:44
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It will be fine for Rangers

Rangers are arguably the weakest class in the game. It has virtually no chance to be overpowered, but could end up underpowered.

Is it overpowered?

The strongest combination I was able to find for level 20 is this:

  • Gloom Stalker 11, Stalker's Fury: Reroll one attack roll
  • Gloom Stalker 3, Dread Ambusher for an extra attack on the first turn
  • Hunter 3, Colossus Slayer for 1d8 damage on one of the attacks
  • Horizon Walker 3, Planar Warrior for 1d8 extra damage on one of the attacks
  • Monster Slayer 3, Slayer's Prey for 1d6 extra damage on one of the attacks

So in the first turn he makes 3 attacks (Extra Attack + Dread Ambusher) +1d8 + 1d6 damage, and 2 attacks for the rest of the encounter with 2d8 + 1d6. He also rerolls one attack. Except for the first turn this is less than the 11th level Fighter without any archetypes. If we add that, it easily compensates for the first turn.

Is it underpowered?

If he does not select Beastmaster as one of his archetypes, he will be a valid character.
Beastmaster is the weakest archetype, delaying its features further could make him seriously behind other characters.

Other classes

It all comes down to how powerful the archetype features are, and how early you get them. You have to examine every combination.
If you reach the level where the final archetype feature normally comes you should probably stop, as any future features would make you stronger than any of the single archetypes. But as the Ranger above shows, some classes are weak enough to cross even this limitation without getting overpowered.

Clerics for example get great things from their domains even on level one, so for them this would be definitely overpowered.
Bards on the other hand would probably become weaker without sticking to any one archetype until level 14. After that any new archetype features would be net gain, because you get the last archetype feature on level 14 normally.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ As a bard you get your last bard college feature at level 14, and you get features at lvl 3 and 6. So using that houserule Bards would be better, because they would get two additional Bard College features at no cost. \$\endgroup\$ – LordHieros Jan 9 '18 at 13:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is the better answer, in terms of addressing the question as asked. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 10 '18 at 3:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Specific Beastmaster builds can get good DPR as long as the enemies attack neither their animal companion nor the familiar they gain through the Magic Initiate feat. They tend to involve animal companions with Reach to minimise the risk of enemy retaliation. \$\endgroup\$ – nick012000 May 22 at 2:09
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Yes, at higher levels specially

Short answer: This option would, simply, make Ranger (and every other class with access to this option) stronger by allowing them to take extra features at no cost.

Long answer: I've had this problem when trying to combine different monk archetypes, and also on sorcerer. Your option would be ok at lower levels for ranger, but at lvl 20 it would mean extra features at no cost. What's more, some specific classes could get two features with excessively good synergy and be a bit broken, or simply be too weird to combine (two sorcery origins would be difficult to explain, and since they grant strong features at level one a sorcerer with 5 origins at lvl 5 would be really overpowered). Opening the door to this would make some classes vastly outclass others due to the sheer amount of features they get and their synergy. And restricting it to only ranger would be seen, most likely, as favouritism.

In the ranger example you could get at level 18 "any ranger archetype 15 / another ranger archetype 3" and get an additional archetype feature while losing nothing, since the last archetype feature you get is at level 15 and the first at level 3. Giving features for free isn't balanced (if done for all classes most likely it still wouldn't be balanced due to archetye features timing, but that's a different question).

So, instead, I'd recommend creating your own combined archetype, with features from both. The easiest way would be to choose one feature from one of both archetypes at each level where you get a feature, but that's a bit boring and might be exploitable. Making a brand new custom-tailored archetype is the best way to prevent weird unforseen combos. That way you can get what you want while following the rules and preventing exploitation. Work with the player to make the archetype he wants, make sure it's balanced and not only will you have his gratitudo for taking the time to tailor an archetype for him, you'll also have a little homebrew you can reuse on other campaigns.

Also, maybe your table doesn't care having a little (more) imbalance between classes, or won't get to a high level, or simply want the characters to be more powerful in general. In any of those cases your rule could work, though I'd still consider giving specific bonuses instead to avoid excessive min/maxing, and maybe simply letting players get the full benefits from two different archetypes would be simpler and preserve a bit better the balance between classes (albeit being an even more overpowered houserule).

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    \$\begingroup\$ It will make the Ranger stronger, I agree. But would it make it overpowered? I think now, it would take a whole lot more just to bring it to the level of the Fighter \$\endgroup\$ – András Jan 10 '18 at 14:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ I personally don't thik the Ranger should be balanced against the Fighter (I'd leave to the Barbarian, for example, to compete for that position of "main warrior"). He provides much more OOC utility, specially on the wilderness. I think a good class to compare with would be the Rogue, since he also has a good fighting potential (also situational, though he need to hide instead of fighting a favoured enemy) and many OOC utility features. Plus, class balance is a really tricky subject, deserving its own questions (in my opinion), so I'd say it's OP compared to the PHB Ranger and leave it at that \$\endgroup\$ – LordHieros Jan 11 '18 at 7:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ How would this change if the non-archetype features were awarded according to max(same class levels) not sum(same class levels)? This should make it more similar to regular multiclassing in terms of costs of lost features. \$\endgroup\$ – Michał Politowski Jan 22 '18 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ In this case you would end with an even weaker ranger. In order to get an archetype feature you need three levels, so you would lose the last three "generic" ranger features: an asi(19), feral senses(18) and foe slayer(20). That is, without doubt, infinitely better than any archetype feature. In order to get two feature you would need at lest six levels (if from two archetypes, seven if from the same) so you'd be losing another ASI and, most importantly, the last archetype feature you get at level 15 (since you'd be capped at 14). In all honesty, you'd be simply making a weaker Ranger. \$\endgroup\$ – LordHieros Jan 23 '18 at 8:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can use those spells to keep up short term, but Dex saves v.s. Con saves, less healing, and a need for long rests really hurts the Ranger in terms of wilderness survival v.s. a fighter. The ranger's Dex saves and 1/day abilities are nice when operating out of an inn or city or something with stuff to protect you while you sleep and manufactured traps and AoE effects to dodge, but wilderness means lots of Con-resisted effects, lots of encounters, and a risk of getting interrupted while you sleep. Fighters are way better at all of that. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil May 21 at 23:56

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