In D&D 5e, there is a concept called the multiverse. Many planes of existence comprise a single crystal sphere, and beyond that, millions of crystal spheres exist, full of life, magic, and more. Life on the material plane, where the majority of adventures take place, may seem full of danger, but it’s nothing compared to what lies beyond a portal to other worlds.
Luckily, there are heroes sworn to protect the material plane from these unspeakable threats. From demons of the lower planes to aberrations from the depths of space, a group of Rangers has sworn their lives to defend against anything that would seek to ravage the mortal realm.
Today, we’re looking at the Horizon Walker Conclave, the subclass of Rangers with training in everything from portal detection to short-range teleportation. This is a subclass that values quick movement, powerful attacks, and complete domination of extraplanar threats.
In this guide, we’re going to be diving into each and every ability offered by this subclass, but we’ll also be going further, looking at the best way to build a character who uses all of these abilities effectively. From your race choices to multiclassing potential, spells, and feats, this guide is covering everything you could be looking for in a Horizon Walker.
- High Mobility and Teleportation
- Reinforced Attacks
- Highly Focused Subclass Spell List
The Horizon Walker is built for a campaign centered around extraplanar threats and a lot of portal jumping. That’s what it’s built for, and that’s where it will perform the best, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t an excellent subclass in other types of campaigns.
Few of the abilities are so narrowly defined that you can’t use them to deal with run-of-the-mill combat encounters and exploration hazards. This is perhaps most evident when we look at the big focus of the subclass as a whole.
If we look at the spells and the features, we see that being mobile is paramount to a Horizon Walker’s success. Misty Step and Haste, two of the best mobility spells in 5e, are paired up with the 11th-level feature Distant Strike, which allows you to teleport up to 10 feet before each attack you make.
There’s a bit of a nightcrawler-esque feel to this character when you look at all of these abilities. I mean, just one of these would be enough to create a formidable character who’s hard to catch up with. All three make a Ranger that is seemingly stepping between worlds.
We also get access to the spell Etherealness once a day through our 7th-level feature, aptly titled Ethereal Step. It is a bit underpowered since we can only use it for a single round, but that doesn’t mean we can’t see a lot of value from stepping into the Ethereal Plane.
Now, most of these abilities aren’t introduced to us in the early levels of play. We won’t see our first mobility boost, Misty Step, until 5th level, so we’ll have to focus on mobility in other areas of our build to sustain us until we reach these important points of our build.
Once we’re to 11th level though, everything will feel fully online for us. With our concentration on Haste, we can get six attacks off with just about every turn. That’s because Haste gives us an additional action, and Distant Strike allows us to make a third attack if we’ve used our first two to attack different creatures.
You can picture it, our Ranger just bamfing from one point to another in rapid succession, unleashing a volley of arrows on our enemies and sending them back to wherever they came from.
So what do we do before we get these huge mobility boosts? Well, aside from some clever use of feats and racial choices, we can rely on the 3rd-level feature Planar Warrior to do some heavy lifting for us.
This introductory subclass feature lets us use a bonus action to mark an enemy within 30 feet of us. The next time we attack them this turn, our attack deals force damage in place of its normal damage type, and we deal an extra 1d8 of damage to boot (or 2d8 at 11th level).
Now, for you Ranger fanatics out there, this might sound kind of similar. We already have a bonus action centered on damage-increasing ability: the spell Hunter’s Mark. This concentration spell, which is a Ranger staple, lets you focus on a target and deal an extra 1d6 damage to them each time you attack them.
This lasts until your concentration ends or until they die, at which point you can use a bonus action to hone in on a new target.
Just running the raw numbers, Hunter’s Mark definitely takes the cake. However, you can use these together; you just have to plan it out a bit. Throwing your mark up on round one of combat is going to net you a couple extra d6 of damage. Then on the following rounds, you can continue to use your bonus action for an additional d8.
That means a single attack could have an extra 14 damage with some fancy rolling. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be too fancy; it’ll just take some time. After a certain point, max damage is a statistical inevitability.
You will have to stagger yourself for a round whenever you take down a target, but you’ll still get some bonus damage no matter what is happening. As a Horizon Walker, you never have to worry about just rolling one die’s worth of damage.
The recent Ranger subclasses have been kind enough to provide us with a set of subclass-specific spells, much like you might receive if you were to take the Paladin class. For the Horizon Walker, most of these spells are nicely focused on the main drive of this subclass — dealing with extraplanar threats.
We’ve already covered Misty Step and Haste, two excellent mobility-focused spells that will help us in combat. Misty Step does have outside uses as well since it simply allows us to teleport up to 30 feet on a bonus action. This is by no means restricted to combat, so we can easily use it to traverse or completely ignore obstacles in our path.
On top of those two, we get Protection from Evil and Good, Banishment, and Teleportation Circle, all of which are excellent if we plan on going up against monsters from other planes.
The Protection spell gives a target creature of our choice protection from aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead. Those creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls against the target, and the target can’t be charmed, frightened, or possessed by them.
These are huge benefits, and we can choose to bestow them on an ally or ourselves. Of course, this is a concentration spell, which means we’ll have to forgo our Hunter’s Mark or other more combat-focused uses of our concentration if we want to put up a bit of a shield.
Options are nice to have, and the ability to be a sword or a shield, depending on the circumstance, is very fitting for a protector of mortal realms.
Much later on, we’ll get access to Banishment, allowing us to send creatures back to whatever plane they came from. After that, we’ll hopefully get a lot of use out of Teleportation Circle, a spell that sets up portals to other planes so we can take the battle to our enemies.
This is a great cast of spells, and they don’t even include our once-a-rest use of Etherealness or any of the spells offered to the Ranger in general. As a Horizon Walker, we’re perhaps one of the most justified Ranger subclasses to be pulling out impressive magic since we’ll need it to take down the many varieties of foes we’ll be facing.
This subclass can easily suffer from too much concentration in more ways than one. The collection of features, spells, and general Ranger mechanics can work incredibly well, but they won’t always. This is very much a subclass that suffers because it was built for one type of build in one type of campaign.
The first bit of concentration we have to worry about is that of the spells in our arsenal. Horizon Walkers will have to choose their spells with incredible care for the situation they’re in. If not, they’ll end up wasting spell slots, a commodity that Rangers can’t afford to lose.
The big problem is that so many of our best spells rely on concentration, and as you know, you can only concentrate on one spell at once. Just looking at the basics of this subclass, we’ll have to choose between Hunter’s Mark, Protection from Evil and Good, and, eventually, Haste.
That doesn’t even bring into consideration other excellent options to receive our concentration as we level up and learn more spells. This is a much bigger dilemma for newer players, but even experienced adventurers may end up regretting their choices in a critical moment.
It’s not just concentration that our abilities are vying for either; we also have several moving parts that rely on a bonus action. Sure, we’ve “solved” the conflict between Hunter’s Mark and Planar Warrior above, but that doesn’t bring into consideration the Misty Step spell that we’re so fortunate to receive.
Most characters will have a few bonus action abilities that they can use from time to time to gain the upper hand. Horizon Walkers have a wealth of bonus action abilities that they’ll rely upon to get the job done. It’s to the point that you will, almost without a doubt, be using a bonus action every turn, and deciding what that’s going to be will be tough.
This is a bit of a philosophical debate. Is it better to have more options competing for dominance or only a few options that work together synergistically? Personally, I favor the latter as some good synergy easily outweighs the stress of making the wrong choice in the heat of a battle.
As much as all of these options are widely spread out, the subclass itself is extremely narrow minded. After all, its focus is to fight extraplanar threats.
The first feature you get, which I’ve neglected to mention up to this point, lets you detect the distance and direction to the closest planar portal within 1 mile of you. This is amazing! Well, it is if you’re in a campaign where portals are popping up left and right.
For most campaigns, you may see this ability achieve some effectiveness once or not at all. It’s a bit sad because it could be a really cool feature in the right setting.
That’s kind of the whole of this subclass. It’s excellent in the right settings. You simply can’t create a melee Ranger with this build because your movement will be wasted and you’ll just end up standing in front of your extraplanar enemies waiting to be struck down while you contemplate which spell to concentrate on and how to use your bonus actions effectively.
Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System
Color and Tier ranking is very helpful when you’re trying to digest a lot of information. In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color-rating scheme:
- Red – C Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful and might make for an interesting narrative choice but are largely less effective than other tiers.
- Green – B Tier. Solid but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or Green can be very good but only in very specific situations.
- Blue – A Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective.
- Purple – S Tier. The top of our rankings. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are worth strongly considering when you create your character.
Our goal here is to provide scannable but comprehensive guides for you as you develop your character.
While we might sometimes make reference to unofficial or homebrew content to illustrate a point (or just because it’s too cool not to talk about), every option we suggest is legal in the official rules for D&D 5e as published by Wizards of the Coast.
Now we come to a choice that you may have already made — deciding on a race for your character. If you have already chosen your race, rock on. I firmly believe that you should play exactly the character you want to play. However, if you’re looking for an optimized character, you’ll want to read on to select a race that fits this subclass well.
For starters, races offer a few things. The first bit we need to pay attention to is the racial modifiers to our ability scores. After that, we can look at the various racial traits or features, and see how well they synergize with the character we’re trying to build.
Typically, we would only be looking at the races that can offer us a +2 in Dexterity and a +1 in Wisdom since these are paramount to a Ranger’s success (the order can be reversed for a slightly different build). However, things have been changing in 5e, and we’re living in a different world than we once occupied.
In recent years, there has been a huge shift by WotC to create and revise races with custom Ability Score increases. That means you can pick a race based on how cool they are and what features they offer, and then just plug in the Ability Score bonuses you need the most.
In this section, our recommendations are still mostly based on the way races have worked in 5e for the last decade, but talk to your DM about how custom lineages work at their table. If custom ability scores are allowed for any, or even a few, races, feel free to ignore this bit of advice and choose a race that you think is cool.
Naturally, when it comes down to it, you want the race that can synergize the best with your character. The selections we’ve presented below do that, so you can either use one of them or use them as a reference point for choosing a race that you’re more interested in.
Wood Elf – +2 Dex, +1 Wis. The wood elf is an excellent go-to for Rangers, and it remains a good option for this subclass. Fey ancestry will give you advantage on saving throws against being charmed, meaning you can rely a bit less on your Protection from Evil and Good and a bit more on your natural talents.
On top of that, this subrace gets a bit of a higher base walking speed (35 instead of 30), and they can hide when they’re only lightly obscured. Better movement and the ability to easily hide mean that even if your enemies can keep up with you, they just might not be able to find you.
Hawk-Headed Aven – +2 Dex, +2 Wis. This race might not be legal at every table, but it is WotC official, straight out of the Amonkhet Plane Shift. It has the perfect bonuses for this subclass, a flying speed of 30 on top of a base walking speed of 25, and the ability Hawkeyed, which is the bread and butter of this option.
Hawkeyed gives you proficiency in the Perception skill, a modest bonus. It also prevents long-range attacks from imposing disadvantage on your ranged weapon attack rolls. This is gorgeous since it means you can stay far away (or teleport far away) from your enemies while still getting the drop on them every time.
Harengon – Custom Ability Score Increase (+2 in one stat and +1 in another or +1 in three separate stats). Of the races with ASI, I actually think the rabbitfolk race, Harengon, is one of the best options for this subclass. They add their proficiency bonus to initiative rolls, and this build definitely wants to use all of their speed to move faster than their opponents.
They also get a unique feature known as Rabbit Hop, which allows them to jump a number of feet equal to five times their proficiency bonus without provoking opportunity attacks so long as their movement speed is greater than 0. This is functionally an additional teleportation ability, allowing us to gain height or jump out of a dangerous situation.
A good turn for a Harengon Horizon Walker would be using their bonus action to mark a target with either Hunter’s Mark or Planar Warrior, teleporting to an opportune location to attack them, teleporting once more a bit further away to attack the next enemy, and then possibly doing so again. After that, we can jump and use any remaining movement to get a good 45 feet or so in the right direction.
Realistically, your Harengon should always be able to get exactly where they need to be, no matter what the battlefield looks like.
After that, there are definitely some other great options in the midst of races that offer us custom Ability Score increases, but there are few static bonus races that offer us what we need in all departments.
If you’re going for a support build, the Hobgoblin is a great option with Aasimar also being a solid go-to. In fact, a celestial descendant makes a very intriguing character for a Horizon Walker to be built upon.
For mobility, the Shadar-kai and Eladrin offer up features similar to Misty Step with some boosted abilities. Or, if you’re looking for raw speed, the Swiftstride Shifter gets to increase their movement speed by 10 feet when they are in their shifted form and has a unique reaction that allows them to move 10 feet if an enemy ends their turn within 5 feet of you.
Additional ranged attack features are hard to come by, but features like the kobold’s Draconic Cry, which give blanket advantage to attack rolls, are definitely an option.
So, generally speaking, you want a race that can boost your dexterity and wisdom. After that, we’re looking for features that give us mobility, synergistic spellcasting, or solid protection from the enemies we’re most likely to go up against.
We should avoid, for the most part, features reliant on bonus actions or spells that require concentration since we’re already oversaturated on those fronts.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is that you choose a class you are excited to play. It doesn’t matter how optimized a race is; if you aren’t interested in their culture or general design, you won’t feel comfortable roleplaying them, and all that optimization flies right out the window.
We tend to choose these based on our highest stats, further enforcing our ability to succeed on the things we’re already good at. Of course, there is the other school of that: taking proficiencies in the skills associated with our worst stats so that we can cover our bases.
It’s really down to preference, and it also depends on what kind of a game you expect to be playing. Some DMs rarely do more than a few perception checks in a session, and other DMs litter their adventures with opportunities for you to roll as many dice as possible.
All I can really do is tell you how the skills offered to the Ranger work and how well they synergize, thematically and mechanically, with the kind of character we’re building here today.
With that, the Ranger class is given the ability to choose three skills from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival.
Animal Handling (WIS) – Animal handling is a very niche skill, obviously focused on the handling of various beasts you might encounter. That’s really just going to be as many as you want or as many as your setting pops up. Generally, this is a pretty useless proficiency to grab, but in certain scenarios, it could be great.
Athletics (STR) – Athletics is a useful skill for someone who plans to do things like climbing, stunt jumping, and various activities that don’t quite count as acrobatics. It’s not the best skill out there, but if you plan on using your agility to pull off some crazy stunts and can’t get your hands on proficiency in acrobatics, go for it.
Insight (WIS) – Understanding something’s motives isn’t super important to this subclass, but it’s still a very useful skill to have. You might not be the face of the party, but as a defender of the mortal realms, discernment makes a lot of sense.
Investigation (INT) – If you plan on doing some tracking, this can be helpful. Tracking isn’t just for beasts; you can pick up the trail of a beholder just as well as you can pick up the trail of a deer.
Nature (INT) – I would pass on this one, especially with this subclass that’s far more focused on the supernatural rather than the natural.
Perception (WIS) – 100% take this proficiency. With a high wisdom and your proficiency bonus, you should always be able to know what’s going on.
Stealth (DEX) – Stealth is just one of those skills that are always good, almost regardless of your build. With a Ranger who might need to sneak up on powerful extraplanar threats, this definitely makes a lot of sense. Plus, you have the dexterity to boost it as well.
Survival (WIS) – Rangers are already the best at survival through their class features. If you need to rely on this skill, you’re not playing a Ranger right. Still, that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful at times.
When we look for a background, we want to find some skills that synergize well with our ability scores, but that’s not all. We’re also looking to find the start of a backstory that gives us a good reason to put our lives on the line fighting extraplanar threats.
Realistically, you can do this however you see fit. There are no right or wrong answers, which is one of the best parts of the character-creation process.
The options I’ve put below are just examples of some choices with good synergy that can easily be made to fit the character we’re building.
Gladiator – Proficiency in Acrobatics and Performance. Acrobatics is a nice skill to grab, allowing you to turn your mobile Ranger into almost a parkour specialist, which is also supported a bit by the performance skill.
As a gladiator, it’s possible you fought captured creatures from beyond the material plane. Going toe to toe with these would’ve been more than enough reason to develop a deep concern, knowing that those creatures are at only a fraction of their power while you fight them in a sedated state.
Sailor – Proficiency in Athletics and Perception. There are many portals deep in the sea, and while Tritons watch many of them, there are still more unguarded ones that unleash terrifying beasts into this world of ours.
Sailors have every right to fear creatures from other worlds, and a particularly honorable one might seek to defend our world from their likes.
City Watch – Proficiency in Athletics and Insight. It isn’t a far step from being a member of the city watch to being a protector of the material plane — well, not for someone with an adventurous spirit at least.
It’s not uncommon for cities to meet great peril at the hands of creatures from other planes. Even a city watchman from Waterdeep might’ve built up an ire for the extraplanar in their dealings with Xanathar’s organization.
Regardless, this is an excellent precursor to a Horizon Walker since all the requisite heroics are basically baked right in. You don’t even need to build some traumatic backstory; you can just say that one day your character had enough and decided it was time to do more.
Horizon Walker Conclave Ranger Progression
Features that you automatically obtain through the Ranger class will appear in Yellow and features that you gain through the Horizon Walker subclass will appear in Gray.
Filling Out the Character Sheet (Level 0)
- Hit Dice: 1d10 per Ranger level
- Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + your Constitution modifier
- Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per Ranger level after 1st
- Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
- Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons
- Tools: None
- Saving Throws: Strength, Dexterity
- Skills: Choose three skills from Animal Handling, Athletics, Insight, Investigation, Nature, Perception, Stealth, and Survival.
You start with the following equipment in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) scale mail or (b) leather armor
- (a) two shortswords or (b) two simple melee weapons
- (a) a dungeoneer’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
- A longbow and a quiver of 20 arrows
Choose a type of favored enemy: Aberrations, Beasts, Celestials, Constructs, Dragons, Elementals, Fey, Fiends, Giants, Monstrosities, Oozes, Plants, or two races of humanoid
You have advantage on survival checks to track your favored enemy and on any intelligence checks to recall information about them. You also learn a language spoken by them if they speak any languages.
You choose additional favored enemies at 6th and 14th level in this class, and it’s a wise idea to choose favored enemies that you’ve frequently encountered in the campaign.
This is actually a great option if you know you’re going to be in a specific type of campaign devoted to extraplanar threats. Dealing with a lot of fiends? Choose fiends. Is this more of a spellplague adventure? Aberrations will be your choice.
If you don’t have a clear expectation though, go with favored foe instead, which will at least save you some spell slots because you’ll be using Hunter’s Mark a lot less.
Choose one type of favored terrain: Arctic, coast, desert, forest, grassland, mountain, swamp, or the Underdark
When you make intelligence or wisdom checks related to your favored terrain, your proficiency bonus is doubled. Additionally, you gain a slew of bonuses when traveling for an hour in your favored terrain as follows:
- Difficult terrain doesn’t slow your group’s travel
- Your group can’t become lost except by magical means.
- Even when you are performing other activities while traveling, you remain alert to danger.
- If you are traveling alone, you can move stealthily at normal pace.
- When you forage for food, you find twice as much as normal.
- While tracking other creatures, you learn their exact number, sizes, and how long ago they passed through the area.
You choose an additional terrain at 6th and 10th levels.
Again, this is better replaced with the variant feature unless you have a clear understanding of which type of terrain your campaign will be focused on. Realistically, most campaigns move around, so it’s better avoided altogether. This subclass is already needlessly focused; no need to exacerbate the issue.
Favored Foe (Optional, Replaces Favored Enemy):
When you hit a creature with an attack, you can mark them as your favored enemy for 1 minute or until you lose concentration. You increase your damage dealt to the creature by 1d4 on your first hit against the creature on each of your turns. This extra damage increases to 1d6 at 8th level and 1d8 at 14th level.
You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses on a long rest.
Yes, this is basically just Hunter’s Mark, but instead of a spell with a static damage output, it’s a feature that scales with your level. Additionally, this doesn’t rely on your bonus action, meaning you can trigger it and Planar Warrior in the same turn. It does still use concentration, but that’s something we can easily live with.
Deft Explorer (Optional, Replaces Natural Explorer):
This feature is actually split into three abilities, one each at 1st, 6th, and 10th levels.
- Canny (1st Level) – Choose one of your skill proficiencies to be doubled whenever you make the check. You also learn two additional languages.
- Roving (6th Level) – Your walking speed increases by 5, and you gain a climbing and swimming speed equal to your walking speed.
- Tireless (10th Level) – You can gain temporary HP equal to1d8 + your Wisdom modifier a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. You regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest. Additionally, if you have any exhaustion levels, you now drop 1 whenever you take a short rest or long rest.
While Rangers don’t get quite as many fighting styles as the Fighter, they still get a nice range of options to choose from. Check out our article on fighting styles to learn more, but the list of options is as follows:
- Druidic Warrior
- Thrown Weapon Fighting
- Two-Weapon Fighting
Of these, I’d say the best bet is archery, which nets you a +2 bonus on attack rolls you make with ranged weapons. Since that should be the focus of this build, there’s no real reason to go anywhere else.
Alternatively, you could take druidic warrior for access to Druid cantrips, but there aren’t many that really support a ranged attacker such as yourself — at least, not as well as the archery fighting style already does.
Rangers use wisdom as their spellcasting ability, so your Spell Save DC is 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier, and your Spell Attack modifier is your proficiency bonus + your Wisdom modifier.
Rangers know a number of spells listed on the Ranger table above. Whenever you learn a new spell, it must be of a spell level that you have slots for, which seems pretty obvious right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to cast it. Fortunately, whenever you gain a level in Ranger, you can replace a spell you know with a new one.
In the build guide, we’ll be suggesting spells at the appropriate levels
You can expend a spell slot as an action to heighten your awareness for a number of minutes equal to the level of the slot you choose. While your awareness is heightened, you sense whether or not any of the following creature types are present within 1 mile of you (or 6 miles if you’re in your favored terrain… if you have a favored terrain): aberrations, celestials, dragons, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead.
This feature doesn’t reveal the creatures’ location or number.
Personally, I wouldn’t waste a spell slot on this unless tracking was absolutely necessary. It’s a nice feature, but it’s very niche, and we’re already hurting for spell slots as a half caster.
Primal Awareness (Optional, Replaces Primeval Awareness):
Instead of a tracking feature, this ability heightens your focus by giving you access to more spells when you reach the following levels. These spells don’t count against your spells known.
- 3rd: Speak with Animals
- 5th: Beast Sense
- 9th: Speak with Plants
- 13th: Locate Creature
- 17th: Commune with Nature
So, your options are to burn spell slots on finding creatures related to your subclass’s focus or burn spell slots on actual spells that aren’t quite as useful in this context. For the Horizon Walker, I’d actually suggest going with Primal Awareness, just so long as you don’t use it constantly.
Horizon Walker Magic:
You gain access to additional spells when you reach certain levels in this class. The spells count as Ranger spells for you, but they don’t count against the number of Ranger spells you know.
- 3rd: Protection from Evil and Good
- 5th: Misty Step
- 9th: Haste
- 13th: Banishment
- 17th: Teleportation Circle
As an action, you detect the distance and direction of the closest planar portal within 1 mile of you. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Listen, if you get to see this feature come to fruition, congratulations. Outside of very niche campaigns, you won’t be dealing with a lot of portals — at least, not portals that you don’t already know the whereabouts of.
Still, in the right campaign, this can be paramount to your party’s success.
As a bonus action, choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The next time you hit that creature on this turn with a weapon attack, all damage dealt by the attack becomes force damage, and the creature takes an extra 1d8 force damage from the attack. When you reach 11th level in this class, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
We’ve discussed this, and it’s definitely going to be the bread and butter of your build. Remember, this is the main focus of your bonus actions, faltering only to make sure Hunter’s Mark or another important spell is online.
You can either increase one ability by 2 points or two abilities by 1. Alternatively, you can choose a feature — if you already have great stats, this is a great choice.
Martial Versatility (Optional):
You can choose to switch out your fighting style for a different one. You probably shouldn’t if you chose Archery, but you can.
Rangers get to make a second attack whenever they take the Attack action as a part of their turn. Remember though, that your Planar Warrior bonus damage only matters the first time you attack the target of your choice each turn. The second attack will be normal (or Hunter’s Marked) damage.
As a bonus action on your turn, you can cast the Etherealness spell with this feature without expending a spell slot, but the spell ends at the end of the current turn. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
The bit that sucks here is that Etherealness is normally a spell that can last up to 8 hours. You get to use it for about 6 seconds. Sure, it’s without a spell slot, and it can be very useful to move around the battlefield unhurt, but it still feels like salt in the wound knowing what we could’ve had.
Nonmagical difficult terrain doesn’t cost you any extra movement, nor do any plants that have thorns, spines, or other similar barb-like protrusions. Additionally, you are immune to damage from any such plants.
You also have advantage against the effects of any magically created plants designed to impede movement.
Hide in Plain Sight:
You can spend one minute creating camouflage for yourself if you have access to the appropriate natural materials.
The rest of this feature’s language is kind of strange. It states that “you can try to hide by pressing yourself up against a solid surface, such as a tree or wall, that is at least as tall and wide as you are.” To me, this suggests that you can’t hide in a bush, in the canopy of a tree, or basically anywhere else that I can actually picture a Ranger hiding.
While I’d highly suggest giving yourself some more options for hiding, specifically by talking to your DM about how much they’ll allow, the feature does still give you a bonus to stealth. As long as you’re not moving in your hiding place, you’ll be picking up a very healthy +10 bonus.
Weirdly enough, once you take an action or reaction, you have to go through the entire process of hiding yourself to receive the bonus again.
Nature’s Veil (Optional):
As a bonus action, you can magically turn yourself invisible until the beginning of your next turn. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus and regain all expended uses on a long rest.
This is a great feature replacement for Hide in Plain Sight. While this is limited in how many times a day you can use it, it’s not limited to very oddly specific places, and it’s something that you can use effectively in combat.
You’ll rely much more on just zipping around the battlefield, but if you need to hide, you have this as an excellent option.
When you use the Attack action, you can teleport up to 10 feet before each attack to an unoccupied space you can see. If you attack at least two different creatures with the action, you can make one additional attack with it against a third creature.
This feature really pulls the subclass together. It even lets you get off additional attacks each turn, putting you, at least dps-wise, on level with the Fighter.
The important thing to remember is your teleportation has to be before you attack, meaning you can’t use this to jump out of dodge after an attack. The best way to use this effectively is to make sure you’re within 30 feet of your most important target to mark them with Planar Warrior and then teleport further away before you actually attack.
From there, zip around as needed to stay out of short range, and use your remaining movement at the end of turn to get to a safe position. Then, just wash, rinse, and repeat.
You can take the Hide action as a bonus action. You also can not be tracked except for by magical means or when you choose to leave a trail.
When you take damage from an attack, you can use your reaction to give yourself resistance to all of that attack’s damage on this turn.
This is a pretty substantial boost to your defenses as it’s basically resistance from all damage once per round. As long as you aren’t the focus of all your enemies, which you shouldn’t be, you should be resisting most incoming damage once you hit level 15.
Lack of sight doesn’t impose disadvantage on your attacks. Additionally, as long as you aren’t blinded or deafened, you know the location of any invisible creature within 30 feet of you that isn’t actively hidden from you.
Once on each of your turns, you can add your wisdom modifier to your attack or damage rolls that you make against your favored enemy or favored foe if you opted for that feat.
Feats are how we’re going to cover our bases. Realistically, we can do this in a couple of ways. We can either lean further into our strong areas, or we can fortify the places we’re weak.
For the Horizon Walker, it’s a bit hard to fortify our weak areas because there’s no way to easily gain additional bonus actions on a turn or double up on concentration. So, we lean into our mobility, pick up some feats to increase our offensive standing, and anything else supplemental that works well.
Mobile – The big draw here is increasing your movement speed by 10 feet, allowing you to flit around the battlefield at a pace few can keep up with. Once you get Haste, fugget about it.
Sure, you also get protection from opportunity attacks concerning creatures you’ve attacked this turn, but you’ll be at a range, so that isn’t that important. And, you’ll get to ignore difficult terrain whenever you use the dash action — also nice, but you can probably just teleport past most difficult terrain.
Sharpshooter – Attacking at long range doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attack rolls, your ranged attacks ignore half and three-quarters cover, and you can increase your ranged damage if you take a -5 penalty to your shots.
This feature is incredible for a ranged-focus combatant, and it means that with all of your speed and teleportation, you can stay as far away from the actual fight as possible while still being one of the biggest threats there is.
Sure, you’ll want to be at least within 30 feet of an enemy on most turns, but you don’t have to start or end your turn there. Run in, mark ‘em, and zip on out.
Alert – Extraplanar threats are tricky, so prevention from being surprised while you are conscious and preventing creatures from gaining advantage on attack rolls against you when you can’t see them is a very fitting set of bonuses to have. You also get a +5 to initiative, excellent for a character who wants to get moving and set up as fast as possible in combat.
Horizon Walker Ranger Build
For the following example build, we’ve used the standard set of scores provided in the PHB (15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8) when deciding ability scores. The only levels mentioned for the purpose of these builds are those when you will have the opportunity to make a decision on how your adventurer grows.
- Race: Wood Elf
- Background: Gladiator
- Ability Scores: Str 10, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 12, Wis 16, Cha 8
- Skill Proficiencies: Acrobatics, Performance, Perception, Stealth, Insight
- Language Proficiencies: Elven, Common
- Tool Proficiencies: Disguise Kit, Lute
- Equipment: A unique bow, the favor of an admirer (love letter, lock of hair, or trinket), a costume, a pouch containing 15gp, leather armor, a quarterstaff, a light crossbow, an explorer’s pack, a longbow, a quiver of 20 arrows.
We’ll be taking Favored Foe and Deft Explorer unless we know exactly what to expect in our campaign.
Fighting Style: We’ll be taking archery for this archer build.
Hunter’s Mark – This is basically a staple of the Ranger class. It lets you deal an extra 1d6 damage to a selected target. It does rely on bonus action to set up, so remember to balance this and Planar Warrior. Unfortunately, this doesn’t stack with Favored Foe because both require concentration. You’ll want to use Hunter’s Mark until Favored Foe increases to 1d6 at 6th level at which point you can replace Hunter’s Mark with something new.
Absorb Elements – This is a great reaction that gives you resistance to incoming elemental damage (acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder) and then lets you deal 1d6 of that damage type on the first attack of your next turn. Already at 2nd level, you could be dealing an extra 2d6 + 1d8 of damage on the first attack you make against a creature if you have the right setup going for you. Roll well, and you’ve struck down an enemy in one hit.
Longstrider – This spell has a lasting effect and doesn’t require concentration. Hurrah! Synergy! This gives a creature (you) an increase of 10 feet to their base movement speed.
We’ll probably go with Primeval here, as we may be tracking certain types of monsters with decent frequency.
ASI: Let’s start it off with Mobile so we can get even closer to running circles around our enemies.
Cordon of Arrows – This is a ridiculously cool Ranger spell that essentially lets you set up a trap or defensive circle by placing four arrows into the ground. These now magical arrows will trigger when unwanted creatures come within 30 feet of them and then fly up, dealing 1d6 piercing damage if the creature fails a dex save.
Each arrow triggers individually, so you’re dealing up to 24 damage with this excellently themed Ranger spell.
Sure, you probably won’t be staying within the pocket of this trap, but you can easily teleport back there by the end of your turn.
ASI: Time to take Sharpshooter and really complete the basics of our build. After this, we can use ASIs to increase our stats or bring in another feat if we want to start specializing a bit more.
Most 3rd-level Ranger spells require concentration or don’t actually let you do all that much. These are the only two I would recommend adding to your known-spells list.
Conjure Barrage: You either throw a nonmagical weapon or fire a piece of ammunition into the air and watch as a cone of identical objects comes down as a swarm upon all your foes in a 60-foot cone. This spell deals 3d8 to each creature that fails its saving throw, perfect if you need to deal with multiple foes at once.
Lightning Arrow: Although this is a concentration spell, it only has to last until the next time you make a ranged weapon attack. If you hit, your target takes 4d8 lightning damage, and whether or not you hit, creatures within 10 feet of your target take 2d8 on a failed dex save. If you miss your attack, your target still takes half damage, and surrounding targets take half damage if they succeed on their saving throws.
This is actually a perfect spell to start combat with while most of the enemies are still grouped together. Then, your normal Favored Foe and Planar Warrior combo can turn on in round 2.
Almost every 4th-level Ranger spell is concentration. Yawn. Take what you want, and use it sparingly. Beyond that, use your 4th-level slots to upcast your more relevant spells.
Conjure Volley: This is essentially an upcasted Conjure Barrage that deals a whopping 8d8 to each creature in a 20-foot high cylinder with a radius of 40 feet that fails their saving throw. Yes, you will be using this as often as you can. Yes, your enemies shall suffer.