For the first time in many years, I am jumping back into Dungeons and Dragons. With EarthNerd Adkins leading as Dungeon Master, I will be a part of a campaign with a few friends for the first time in a long time.
So this week, I did some reading and decided to build out a D&D 5e Goliath Ranger. Here is how and why I took this approach and what has happened as I have carried him up to level 3.
D&D 5e Goliath Ranger: A Look at the Race
Why a Goliath? I tend to play characters that are loners and the Goliath fits into that quite well.
In addition, especially at lower levels, it is good to have some size. I also knew that our party might not have a “tank” type character to take on loads and loads of damage. That made Goliath appealing because of a couple traits: a goliath build gets +1 to strength and +1 to constitution, which guarantees a little sturdier character.
Plus, the goliath has a special ability to focus and absorb 1d12 plus constitution modifier of damage with stone’s endurance. At early levels, that ability may be the difference you need to make it to level 2 and beyond; and it definitely saved my hide in a battle where I was getting hit for massive amounts of damage until I could create some separation.
D&D 5e Goliath Ranger: A Look at the Class
Why a ranger? We are going to be running a small party of 3-4 characters, so I felt like we needed someone who could be a good warrior in both close combat and with distance.
The ranger class allows my character to have skills with a longbow and a short sword until I can upgrade to something stronger and more powerful. By dual wielding short swords, I could do a fair amount of damage up-close, which was only heightened when I chose that as my speciality at level 2.
But my ranged attack longbow also has proven useful, especially when I pair it with the spell Hail of Thorns. The double impact of those thorns and an arrow meant I could whittle away damage from far off and not have to be in a deep melee battle.
That combination has given my party some real flexibility, which would have been missing if I had gone all the way into one style of fighting only. Rangers can be very deadly specialists or warriors across the board. I picked the across the board approach and don’t regret it.
One of the odd things I chose to do with this combination of race and class was to de-emphasize his strength. Rangers need Dexterity and Wisdom, so I ramped those two statistics up. I then put a premium on constitution for sturdiness sakes and then strength.
With picking up an extra strength point from my race, it makes my strength okay and not a hinderance, but not my strongest aspect either. This has made for an odd combination: I am playing a very stealthy mountain of a humanoid who is very perceptive, especially since I am playing with studded leather armor. (That lower AC has meant being too quick to be a damage sponge occasionally.)
And I like the idea of being a runt goliath. It entertains me to be the fantasy’s world largest example of a Napoleonic complex.
D&D 5e Goliath Ranger: Role Playing
In terms of role playing, I wanted to weave a comprehensive story for my character that reflects all of this. So the backstory of my character is that as a child, in a particularly harsh winter, he was abandoned by the others in his tribe, who saw him as the weakest of the liter, so to speak.
He was then found by an Elven wizard, and raised as a hermit as part of a monastic group. So he has a strong streak of being a survivalist but also of defending the weak.
In our very first adventure, Arken, my Goliath ranger, ran headlong into a very haunted house that we almost didn’t survive because he thought there was a chance to save a small child.
And alongside of Arken is his fellow hermit from the same monastic community, a Dragonborn Paladin. They play off each other almost in a buddy cop fashion that is amusing for everyone but the beasts they kill. And it makes our party interesting because if it comes down to it, they will always choose to save each other first and foremost. At least until their bonds with the rest of the party grow just as deep.