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The Yellow Wizard » The Bar » Bloggards » Quark's thoughts on the Hunter

Quark's thoughts on the Hunter

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Great Adventurer
Great Adventurer
Well, continuing my exploration of the hybrid classes from the atrocious Advanced Class Guide, I think I'll approach another of the not quite so immediately noxious ones: the Hunter. This is an interesting one to compare, since it combines a fairly competent Martial and a fairly competent caster.


HD, Skills, BAB, Saves: You get the druid BAB and HD, but ranger saves. Seems fair enough. You basically also get ranger skills, which seems fair thus far.

Proficiencies: You've got ranger proficiencies, which is to say, martial weapons and medium armour. It's about the same between both things, but you're not tied to non-metal stuff.

Spells: Sweet, spontaneous spells, and 2nd degree casting. You take spells from both lists, and treat it in the most favourable way. Fortunately, this is mostly pretty well balanced, and you just end up getting the easier ranger spells at about the same time druid gets them anyway. Prepared would make more sense given the basis, but there's not a huge difference.

Animal Companion: Taking a leaf out of summoner's book, you have your animal companion as a druid, but can swap it for long lasting summon nature's allies. Slightly more balanced though, since you don't get the higher level ones. Feeling like you're one up on the druid thus far.

Animal Focus: Permanent buff to animal companion, or yourself if it's dead. Can also temporarily boost yourself as a swift with lots of flexibility. Best ones are clearly the enhancement bonus to Con/Dex/Str, but there's also evasion, darkvision/blindsense and scent. Low level definitely one up on either, regardless of whether animal companion is there or not.

Nature Training: Count as ranger and druid for feats. Can't think of many offhand, so this is probably just a precaution in case it happens?

Wild Empathy: Something both ranger and druid get at this point. Only to be expected you get his.

Precise Companion: Outflank (shared with your companion) or precise shot. Both are super nifty for an animal companion, whether you shoot or slash.

Track: Blah ranger ability. Who cares?

Hunter Tactics: Give all teamwork feats to your companion without it needing to meet prereqs. Sweet, and comparable to ranger's combat style, I guess.

Teamwork Feat: Free teamwork feat every 3 levels, and can swap them as a standard action. Part of the thing above, but oof, that's good to be that flexible.

Improved Empathic Link: And apparently your animal companion is now an amazing spy.

Woodland Stride: Get this halfway between when druid and ranger get it. Fair enough.

Bonus Tricks: Well, makes sense, given your focus on the animal companion. Seems kind of redundant, considering how many you get anyway.

Second Animal Focus: Buff your companion even further, or yourself even further. Increasingly nifty on both the economy front and the power front.

Swift Tracker: Track much faster. Ranger ability that's kind of blah anyway.

Raise Animal Companion: Makes sense, but wow, this can save you so much money, since it's a spell-like. Others don't get it since they're not so focused on this, but it's beginning to feel like ranger's starting to get outstripped.

Speak with Master: Makes sense, and is pretty useful. At this point you're usually happy for any new class features.

Greater Empathic Link: Even better spy, and now you can talk telepathically.

One with the Wild: Easy to stop things from attacking you at all. Shame animals aren't really threatening by level 17 mostly, but nonetheless nifty.

Master Hunter: What an underwhelming capstone. Track better. And also keep an animal focus on yourself all the time. Nifty, but again, semi-underwhelming.

So, somewhat to my surprise, this actually seems not too bad. Compared to the investigator, anyway. Feels like a pretty decent mid-way point, maybe. Less martially capable, but your companion is a little more so. At low levels you're potentially stronger than the ranger, but ultimately at the mid to high levels your power drops off. But, let's see what you don't get.

Ranger gets favoured enemy and favoured terrain, and there's nothing quite like that at all. Hunter's bond kind of slots in well with the style feats, which equates to the teamwork feats. Evasion is completely redundant by animal focus, but surprisingly there's nothing to even start to compare with camouflage or hide in plain sight on the druid list, so magic's not filling a gap there. Quarry is kind of blah, so no loss there.

Druid gets the blah Nature Sense and resist nature's lure abilities, so no great loss there. They also get more and better spells more quickly. They are immune to poison and getting old, and can change their body into animals or other humanoids at will.

So ultimately, there's not actually a whole lot of toe treading here; Rangers are still better at hitting things and Druids are still better at magic. Somehow, they fill a kind of nebulous niche of wilderness person who's friends with animals in a way that doesn't involve hating things or being super hippy. Why they felt this merited a whole class as opposed to just an archetype of some kind I'm not sure, but at least it's a distinct entity mechanically, if not flavour wise.


I'll put these in for some completeness, and this might change how it rates overall. Using the normal system of good, reasonable, blah.

Blight Scout: Be good against demons and in corrupted terrain in place of animal spy type abilities, one with the wild and raise companion. Losing raise companion isn't worth the trade off at all. Skip.

Courtly Hunter: You've got good spy abilities normally, and this makes it easier to pull off. Your companion's much smarter, too. Sadly, your animal focus is much less good combat wise. Otherwise, it'd be a good default.

Divine Hunter: Lose teamwork stuff for a domain, simple template for your companion and some extra spells known. Ultimately better if you do ranged combat, but if you're in melee it's trash, mostly because teamwork feats tend to work only in melee or being near each other. Or if you don't like teamwork feats it's okay.

Feral Hunter: Lose animal companion and related for Wild Shape, give all your summoned creatures all your teamwork feats. End up being stronger yourself, but debatable whether it ends up being stronger than plain druid just because the spells aren't all there.

Packmaster: Get multiple companions. Amusingly, there's no obligation to actually do so, and so you can take this and have everything remain completely unchanged if you decide to never use more than one.

Patient Ambusher: Get ranger traps and can throw them in place of teamwork stuff. Spells and traps is definitely a niche ranger can't reach. Of course, they're not hugely fabulous, but hey, you're still one up over ranger.

Primal Companion Hunter: Well, because this comes along before Unchained, this gives you and your companion access to the good eidolon evolutions in place of animal focus. It's not constant, sadly, but more flexible. Thankfully, it's been errata'd, because before that it was stupidly strong.

Roof Runner: Better if you're going to be in town more often than not, but you do lose medium armour and shields. That is all.

Scarab Stalker: Be slightly better in desert and get a weakened animal focus. Skip.

Urban Hunter: Less option with companions, but bonus to sense motive and vs mind-affecting in place of woodland stride and a collection of manoeuvre feats in place of teamwork feats (companion gets these too). Depends what you're doing if this is actually useful, but it's worthwhile considering as a default option.

Verminous Hunter: Immunity to swarms in place of woodland stride, and different animal focus. Some good things, some bad things. Get a vermin companion as well. Seems pretty reasonable.

And so, that is all. Aside from the (pre-errata) Primal Companion Hunter, it actually seems kind of balanced, to my surprise. Patient ambusher maybe makes ranger feel like it's getting the short end of the stick a little, but then to an extent, Feral Hunter does the same kind of thing to druid. Not completely though.

Like many of the hybrid classes though, it really does lack... flavour. Can't help but feel like there aren't many characters that you'd go 'This needs to be a Hunter' instead of a druid or ranger archetype.

Anyway, hoping that's helpful. If you have any further thoughts, please drop them in the comments. I'm going to look at the last two that look like they might have some merit to them in the next two discussions: Warpriest and Skald (Because swashbuckler really ought to be a gunslinger archetype, really.)

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