“An ordinary archer practices until he gets it right. A ranger practices until he never gets it wrong.”
-John Flanagan, The Kings of Clonmel
The Ranger is one of the best combination classes in Pathfinder, a class that has been passed down through fantasy gaming ever since the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien.
While some editions of fantasy gaming have done my favorite class dirty (like the 5th edition of a game whose initials are D and D), the Pathfinder iterations have gone much better.
For those who play Ranger, there is a drive to seriously push to squeeze all the combat potential out of these noble and stealthy hunters. Your choice of feats, skills, and spells are all important.
While those above choices have been discussed to death, there still seems to be a discussion of the choices for ideal traits for Rangers.
That is what we are here for today. Here we are going to list our choices for the best traits for Ranger characters.
What Are Traits?
We’ve already discussed how the trait system works in Pathfinder, and you can find that article right here.
However, in short, traits are a system of selectable bonuses a character can take that are not typically tied to their character class or race. They offer small bonuses that can further define a character’s outlook, personality, or even upbringing.
Typically, PCs can only start the game with one trait, but they can gain more by taking the Additional Traits feat. This is up to the GM, though, as they may not want players to be able to take more than one trait.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition and Traits
Pathfinder 2nd Edition uses traits differently than as a system of further customizing your character. In 2e, traits are used on EVERYTHING; they are like keywords that can designate what a particular ability, rule, feat, class ability, item, or spell can do in a shorthand method.
As such, we really are not going to go into detail on Pathfinder 2e traits and rather focus on the actual trait system in Pathfinder 1e.
Top Traits for Ranger Characters
Below are our top five traits for Ranger characters. They are rated on a scale of power and applicability. They are in no real particular order of power or usefulness.
You were raised, either wholly or in part, by a magical creature, either after it found you abandoned in the woods or because your parents often left you in the care of a magical minion. This constant exposure to magic has made its mysteries easy for you to understand, even when you turn your mind to other devotions and tasks.
Benefit: Pick a class when you gain this trait — your caster level in that class gains a +2 trait bonus as long as this bonus doesn’t raise your caster level above your current Hit Dice.
Probably one of the best and stand-out options for most half-casters in Pathfinder, this trait does some serious leg work when it comes to strengthening a Ranger’s abilities.
Rather than taking the normal -3 penalty on your caster Level, this buffs it to only a -1. This will make your spellcasting scale better with your damage and mean that you don’t have to do more complicated maths.
When you watch and wait before attacking, your strike is true.
Benefit: You gain a +1 trait bonus on attack rolls against your favored enemies when you make such attacks as part of a readied action.
This trait is tailor-made for Rangers and is great if you are not worried about casting spells, want to capitalize more on your abilities when it comes to direct combat, and want to get even more bonuses if you have chosen your favored enemies correctly. Never look a gift bonus in the mouth.
You have a tendency for rash behavior, often disregarding your own safety as you move across the battlefield.
Benefits: You gain a +1 bonus on Acrobatics checks, and Acrobatics is always a class skill for you.
A good option if you find yourself needing to take a tumble or a jump in your dungeon delving, this trait gives the Ranger access to a skill they really should have had from the get-go.
If you are playing a character who likes to get into the thick of things, having a good acrobatics skills to tumble through threatened squares is a godsend. Not to mention, this is going to help with all the other jumping and climbing you may have to do.
Why didn’t Ranger get Acrobatics….
Tracker of the Society (Ranger, Society)
Thanks to your time as a society member, you’ve mastered the art of tracking.
Benefit: You gain a +1 trait bonus on Initiative checks and a +2 trait bonus on Survival skill checks made while traveling through any of your favored terrains. This is in addition to any bonuses you receive from your Favored Terrain class ability.
This one requires somewhat of an explanation — if you are playing in the Pathfinder Society, you need to make sure your character is a part of the Rangers Society to gain this trait. Otherwise, GMs should just make this a part of something in their own campaigns.
The benefits of this trait really need no explanation. Having a bonus to initiative is always good. The Survival bonus is also nice, but it’s not something that is going to come up all too much. Just make sure you choose a type of terrain you know the campaign is going to spend some time in, or this trait is as good as useless.
You have worn armor as long as you can remember, either as part of your training to become a knight’s squire or simply because you were seeking to emulate a hero. Your childhood armor wasn’t the real thing as far as protection, but it did encumber you as much as real armor would have, and you’ve grown used to moving in such suits with relative grace.
Benefit: When you wear armor of any sort, reduce that suit’s armor check penalty by 1 to a minimum check penalty of 0.
Our final trait here, this trait is amazingly good for any dexterity-based combat character, whether it be in melee or ranged.
Armor Check Penalties are the bane of any Dex-based fighter’s build. Making sure you have the armor that is going to not get in your way and yet provide the best protection is always one of the greatest push vs. pull aspects of Pathfinder.
This trait is going to be a huge help in making sure you are protected and the armor isn’t hindering you in all the ways it could. Maybe it’s not as good as some of the other choices on this list, but it is still great for the bonus it gives.
Keep it natural, Pathfinder.