Game: Unorthodox Rangers
Publisher: The Le
Review Dated: 13th, October 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 8
Average Score: 4.00
Unorthodox Rangers is a 25 paged PDF from The Le games. It’ll set you back a massive US $2.00. I know; you can’t possibly afford that! (I know sarcasm is the lowest form of humour) The most annoying thing about the price is that it’s too low to for RPGNow’s minimum checkout value and if you’re not buying many Unorthodox sets together then you’ll have to put it with something else.
There are cheap and rough PDFs and there are cheap but glossy PDFs. The former tend to be someone’s Word file printed to a PDF file. Art? You wish. The latter are kinder on the eye and will have pretty formatting and professional illustrations. Unorthodox Rangers has professional illustrations – often of lovely ladies, but not exclusively so. A nose around The Le Games’ website suggests a predilection for the lovely ladies. Okay, so what about the Rangers?
Unorthodox Rangers works by giving us five full variations on the standard core Ranger class which we can use instead or as well as. That’s twenty full levels with class specials for each Ranger variant. Five classes in 25 pages; the maths is simple enough, 5 pages per class and even when you assume there’s some intro and exit text we’re still safely in the region of 4 pages per class. That’s good.
The first Unorthodox Ranger is the Beast Lord. As it typical in roleplaying terminology Beast Lord is gender non-specific. Female characters can use the name Beast Lord or Beast Lady. In actual fact, the character is unlikely to care as such things wouldn’t bother an animal. The Beast Lord is virtually an animal, concerned with surviving in the wildest and most remote places. In fact, as the Beast Lord grows in experience, she can change her type to “animal”. Spells that effect people won’t work but magic that effects animals will effect her.
Then there’s the Hunter. These are precise warriors who pick off their targets carefully. Their class specials map directly on to that with the likes of “Precise attack” and yet another “Favoured enemy” ability. One of my favourite easy targets in D&D is the Ranger’s Favoured Enemy. It’s great fun to mock backgrounds where a raid of X monsters killed the Rangers’ parents and/or whole village. The Hunter will struggle to find reasons why she now likes killing Monster Z and later also likes tracking Monster W so much as well.
Then there’s the Outdoorsman; perhaps not the most inspiring name. The Outdoorsman (or women) is a survivalist. This is taken literarily by the class special abilities and the Outdoorsman begins to improve his metabolism. In some ways the development makes more sense than the Ranger mysteriously learning magic.
The Partisan is my favourite of the alternative classes as it is the most alternative. These guys are Guerrillas, the unorthodox fighters which seem so appropriate for the PDF’s title (providing we don’t play the synonym game with the word ‘fighter’). Unusually for a d20 product the “hero portrait” for the Partisan is one ugly git! I’ve got to say all these years of reading RPG supplements have trained me to assume “villain!” when I see such a thing.
The Trapper isn’t villainous. She’s a lovely lady and therefore likely to be good. In fact and as with all the unorthodox rangers the character class information argues the case for either good or evil trappers. The Trapper is similar to the Hunter except, we’re told, more intellectual. I suppose the point is that the Hunter is reactionary whereas the Trapper is pre-emptive.
Typically, in the Unorthodox series you’ll find class variations which magnify certain aspects of the core class. This is why there’s a bit of an overlap with Rangers. The ooh-suddenly magical shtick never worked, I think, and whereas the Ranger redux is much better there are fewer angles to caricature.
I quite like Unorthodox Rangers. I think its value for money and imaginative enough to be worth a read. It’s quite hard (ranging to impossible) to come up with an entirely new approach for any core D&D class but The Le have tried hard. My biggest gripe is with rather dull class specials. Hunter-gather 4 thrills me only slightly less than Hunter-gather 6. A 4th favoured enemy can be seen as rather embarrassing. A plus 5 to natural defence might appeal to some munchkin combinations but it’s no substitute for coffee.
Unorthodox Rangers is cheap enough to be inspiration material. Buy the PDF for ideas. It’s good enough to be useable too. Bonus.