This pdf is 5 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 3 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This pdf kicks off with a bang, quite literally, by providing 3 new combat styles for use with the ranger base-class: If you’re confused about this particular wording of mine: One of them is the Firearm combat style, which enables you to create an old shatterhand-style ranger without resorting to multiclassing with the gunslinger class. The others are no less impressive/well-wrought: The Beast Tamer combat style is one for all the rangers who wanted to play a tricky combatant – it specializes on using both whip and net, two woefully underrated weapons – the former being especially tempting when taking the lasher-feat, also by abandoned arts. Nice! And then, there’s the Guerilla Warfare combat style – one for all the rangers that feel more at home in an urban environment or who want to focus more on fighting like e.g. elven guerillas fighting against an incursion of hostile humanoids: With bonus feats like the dirty-trick tree or the ganging and teaming up-options, this ranger feels distinctly dirty, but potentially quite satisfying to play: All around well-made combat styles with no balance-concerns of mine. Well done!
Now let’s take a look at the other new options, which come in the guise of 15 new feats, specifically designed for the ranger-class. Aberrant quarry is a mechanically interesting feat that improves your quarry-style class features and stacks with the improved ones to make you an especially efficient hunter of all things tentacle and slimy – per se a nice feat, though I have a minor gripe here: I had to read the feat-text twice to get its intention, i.e. the text is not as clear as it could be. That being said, the text is ok and not convoluted or anything. The second feat, Crack Construct, is a bit problematic for my tastes – one of the crit-dependant feats, it automatically lets you confirm all crits against a given construct once you’ve crited it once and makes the creatures susceptible to shatter-spells. I’m not a big fan of crit-dependant feats and even less so one of feats that essentially make a critical hit more devastating than it already is. That being said, the requirement of scoring a crit in the first place seems like way to balance the benefits – until you try to build a multiple hit-crit character, who then can take down golems in one flurry of attacks. I guess the limitation to a creature-type still makes this work, though personally, I wouldn’t allow this feat in a low magic campaign.
Now, a feat that is pure genius, at least to me, is dragonslayer: By readying a ranged attack for a dragon’s bite or breath weapon, you can shoot the dragon and ignore his/her natural armor class – the balance of readying and the ranged-only restriction balance this one quite nicely, while the benefit makes logical sense : My players have attempted this before and I houseruled it just like this feat. Great and kudos!
Fiend Warden is another feat that can be considered pure genius: With it, you can track teleportations of evil outsiders! Awesome storytelling potential and makes the ranger a valuable asset to tracking down the denizens of the lower planes, in spite of their nasty teleporting habits. Genius, concise rules and new potential for storytelling – track the demon that is desperately teleporting all over the world before the trail runs cold – can you see the excitement?
More o the low fantasy end, but nevertheless iconic is the game hunter feat, which increases your foraging skills and makes your traps more lethal for animals as well as the knowledgeable tracker-feat, which lets you identify creatures and their weaknesses by looking at their tracks – though the latter has no hard rules. I really like that the particulars are left to the DM’s fiat here, though some people might miss a table of e.g. sample DCs.
Monster Hunter is quite cool: The feat grants you your favored enemy (magical animals)-bonus on saves and if you successfully save, you can instruct your allies, also granting hem bonuses – now that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a wise and knowledgeable ranger should be able to do – I approve! Special mention does the signature ranger trap-feat warrant – with it, you can enhance the so far rather neglected ranger trap rules from the APG. I wished we had gotten further enhancements, perhaps with a second or third feat, though!
Staunch enemy takes the trope of a noble feud between a ranger and his quarry and amps it up by enabling you to declare a foe a staunch enemy – the designated foe gets a bonus equal to your favored enemy bonus against you, but if you defeat the foe, you get the bonus on just about all d20-rolls for 1 turn. A cool concept, though depending on the creature-type, I think this feat could use some additional benefit.
In the rather nice, but nothing too awesome-section, we have a feat that lest you topple giants much easier and deal minimal falling damage to them by triping them and a feat that lets you demoralize prey that can’t see you – the latter feat is awesome, though I wish there were additional feats to further enhance the terror or add new tactical options to hunting prey frightened by this ability.
There’s also a feat for vile stalkers that enhance their powers against good outsiders as well as a feat that makes you the bane of deadly flora and one that grants you the scent-quality against a selection of favored enemies. These are ok, though not all up with the best of the feats.
Editing and formatting are good – with the notable exception of “Abberant Quarry[sic!]” (which is btw. Written with one “b” and two “r”s…), the feats are concisely presented. Layout adheres to a 2-column, no-frills standard and there are no bookmarks or artworks, but neither are particularly necessary.
The three combat styles are awesome and Fiend Warden, Dragon Slayer and e.g. Monster Hunter are plain awesome. Crack Construct, as mentioned, has some potential to be abused, but is limited in its focus. I’m happy to report that none of the feats felt overpowered to me and, apart from the rather weak staunch enemy and the knowledgeable tracker feat, which could use some hard mechanics for DMs who don’t enjoy handwaving information, I did not find any particular piece of content I had problems with and even these two fall into my “minor-blemish”-category. That being said, while surely not perfect, one has to take the bang-for-buck-ratio into account and realize that the amount of great crunch we get for less than a buck will be hard to beat indeed. That, and, well – some pieces of new content herein are simply absolutely awesome, iconic and could have been written by SGG’s Owen K.C. Stephens. Not all, but some of them. Overall, this pdf is very close to being top-tier and thus, I’ll rate it accordingly – 4.5 stars, which, due to the great content I’ll round up to 5 in spite of the aforementioned minor blemishes. Fans of rangers should definitely take a look at this very cheap pdf.