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In D&D 5e, the Ranger can choose at first level to have a Favored Enemy of a single broad type (i.e. fiends, giants, aberrations, etc.) or of two different specific humanoids (such as orcs and gnolls). They gain additional Favored Enemies at 6th and 14th level.

At each of those levels, could they opt to pick two humanoid races? Or would the choice be between one type and one specific humanoid?

Relevant text:

Choose a type of favored enemy: aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, or undead. Alternatively, you can select two races of humanoid (such as gnolls and orcs) as favored enemies.

And:

You choose one additional favored enemy, as well as an associated language, at 6th and 14th level.

(Both quotes from PHB, pg 91.)

Specifically, I'm wondering whether "one additional favored enemy" means one absolutely, or whether the "Alternatively..." sentence means that two humanoid races can be substituted for one type whenever you select a favored enemy.

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In this case I would consider the term "Favored Enemy" (from the phrase "one additional favored enemy") as referring to the class feature itself, with the text:

Choose a type of favored enemy: aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, or undead. Alternatively, you can select two races of humanoid (such as gnolls and orcs) as favored enemies.

So when you gain that class feature again you would gain exactly what it says, every time you gain it; unless the feature says otherwise, of course (e.g. you may not choose the same favored enemy twice).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I've made a slight adjustment to the wording, because it wasn't that clear to me the first time I read it. I think my edit is consistent with your intentions, but if I'm wrong, please roll back my edit. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 8 at 10:05
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You can only choose one additional creature type or one additional humanoid at later levels

Largely just to present an alternative take to the one presented by the most upvoted answer, if we focus on the terms used, it says:

Choose a type of favored enemy: aberrations, beasts, celestials, constructs, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, giants, monstrosities, oozes, plants, or undead. Alternatively, you can select two races of humanoid (such as gnolls and orcs) as favored enemies.

You choose one additional favored enemy, as well as an associated language, at 6th and 14th level.

It first defines what a "favored enemy" is, including referring to two humanoids as "enemies" (plural). It then goes on to say that you gain one additional "favoured enemy" (singular).

From this, it is clear to me that, RAW at least, you can only pick one humanoid (if you want to pick humanoids over the other creature types) rather than two, at later levels, even though you are allowed to pick two when you first gain this feature at level 1. So if you want two humanoids instead of one creature type, it's best to pick these humanoids at level 1.


Of course, I don't think it would be at all unbalanced for a DM to allow you to pick two humanoids at level 6 or 14, because the level 6/14 ranger who picked two humanoids at level 6 and a creature type at level 1 would have exactly the same number of favoured enemies vs. if they'd picked the two humanoids at level 1 instead.

Of course, such a houserule allows for, say, a level 6 ranger to have four humanoid favoured enemies, which it seems wasn't intended, but unless you're playing in a very humanoid-centric campaign, the broadness of (some of) the creature types make them more attractive than a specific set of humanoids anyway.

For example, choosing humans and elves would allow you to track any human or elf, which is probably a lot of NPCs, and a lot of enemies (in a humanoid-centric game), but the monstrosity type includes being able to track half the Monster Manual (since monstrosity is the "everything else bucket" creature type), so I think it balances out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why the downvote? I thought I'd made a good argument here... \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 8 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I believe it's because you didn't take into account the weight of "Alternatively". "You may choose 1 favored enemy from this list OR two humanoids. "Two humanoids" is considered an extra item on the Favored Enemy list. It never restricts, explicitly, from picking that extra item. I don't think a downvote is necessarily fair, either way. \$\endgroup\$ – Tsugihagi Jan 8 at 12:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ But it refers to two humanoids as "enemies" (plural), not "enemy" (singular). \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 8 at 12:50

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