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Background

As a follow up to this question: What are the impacts of allowing Rangers to cast Arcane spells?

If we assume that my DM is fine with letting the Ranger use the Wizard spell list instead of the Ranger spell list (since that's what the other question is about; let's also assume that our party's Wizard is cool with it), then I think it would also make sense that the spellcasting ability should be INT, not WIS. WIS is typically associated with Clerics and Druids for casting divine spells (which includes druidic spells, at least I think that was the case in 3.5e anyway), not arcane spells.

Also, I personally think that, even if we gave the Ranger a different arcane spell list like the Warlock or Sorcerer spell list (since the Wizard spell list was picked arbitrarily as an "arcane" spell list), it still wouldn't be something the Ranger would control through force of willpower (which is what CHA represents for Warlocks and Sorcerers), but rather something they would learn via INT (similar to Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters). Anyway, that's enough of my opinions... on to the question.

Question

If I wanted to change the spellcasting ability of the Ranger from WIS to INT, what are the impacts of making this change? Is spellcasting the only (mechanical) reason why a Ranger would care about having a high WIS, or are there any other unintended side effects of making WIS less important for a Ranger?

Here are some reasons I can think of that the Ranger might care about WIS besides spellcasting:

  • Foe Slayer, the Ranger's capstone ability, uses your WIS modifier (though I doubt this campaign will see us to level 20);
  • Most of the skill proficiencies available for that class are WIS skills (Animal Handling, Insight, Perception, Survival) vs. INT (Investigation, Nature);
  • A Gloom Stalker's Dread Ambusher class feature uses WIS (XGtE, pg. 42);*
  • A Monster Hunter's Hunter's Sense class features uses WIS (XGtE, pg. 43);*

However, none of these seem like a huge deal to me, since I wouldn't want Animal Handling or even Survival for a non-nature-y Ranger (I would rather him have Arcana, for example). Is there anything else I'm overlooking that might actually affect my character concept (from a mechanical perspective)?

[*] Note that I'm interested in making a Horizon Walker, so these don't concern me for my current character concept.

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Spellcasting is not the only reason for a ranger to care about WIS.

Is spellcasting the only (mechanical) reason why a Ranger would care about having a high WIS

Wisdom is a Thematic Match for Hunters. Rangers are depicted and designed as hunters of various sorts. Perception and insight are wisdom based and are skills relied upon for spotting and intuiting the actions of quarry.

Potential mechanical side effects of favoring INT over WIS for a ranger

are there any other unintended side effects of making WIS less important for a Ranger?

  • Favored Enemy ability: You have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks to track your favored enemies
  • Foe Slayer: add your Wisdom modifier to the Attack roll

Interestingly the saving throw proficiency is not affected by favoring INT over WIS.

Other Considerations

Spell School Restriction

Swapping arcane for ranger spells on a horizon walker ranger is an interesting take, but seems like it is stepping on the toes of both the eldritch knight and arcane trickster. Both of those classes have the spells they can learn restricted to two schools.

Arcane Versatility

Neither arcane trickster nor eldritch knight can select any spell from their potential list at casting time. Both must select a limited set of spells when they level. Does the modification you're proposing include limiting the spells that can be selected from at casting time in a similar way?

Wizards and sorcerers are more versatile in the selection of spells that can be chosen at casting time, but these classes do not have the martial prowess of the ranger. Allowing an expanded list to be selected from at casting time might be overstepping relative balance with these classes as well.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I had considered taking both Perception and Insight for this character, even though I'm not interested in the other WIS skills, so that's a fair point; also, although I don't care about Foe Slayer, your point about Favoured Enemy is interesting, since having advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks would be something I'd potentially be squandering by ignoring the Survival skill. As for the second half of your answer, this is more to do with my other question, but school restrictions would be down to the DM, although I'd suggest the Abjuration and Conjuration schools for a Horizon Walker Ranger. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 2 '18 at 15:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ To add to your first paragraph, there are not many Intelligence-based skills available to a ranger compared to Wisdom-based options \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Aug 2 '18 at 16:57
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Rangers are outdoor explorers who traverse the wilderness.

They often use survival (wisdom), perception (wisdom) and animal handling (wisdom) to get things done, be it tracking goblins through the forest, taming a wolf, or just noticing that you are walking into am ambush.

By changing your spell stat to intelligence, your ranger will most likely not be good at tracking, perception, etc.. which means he is no longer really a ranger of the wilds.

You are changing the theme of the ranger and are really creating a new class based on the ranger.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you might be missing my point. My goal here is specifically to move away from the archetypal nature-y Ranger (i.e. your first paragraph); my other question (linked at the top of my question) goes into this in more detail. My point is, for a Horizon Walker Ranger (or at least, the character I have in mind) who deals more with portals and extraplanar threats, he wouldn't necessarily have any experience with animals of the wilderness, etc. In other words, your last paragraph is effectively what I'm trying to do intentionally. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Aug 5 '18 at 10:54

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