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Every Ranger gets free training to be effective both with a bow, and with paired melee weapons, although most choose to concentrate on one of the two specialties using one of the two powerful Ranger enhancements.
The Ranger Tempest's training in using two weapons at once, progressively reduces the normal handicaps for this style, and eventually ensures that the off hand is attacking 100% of the time. The Arcane Archer learns dedicated archery skills, and in particular the ability to generate magically imbued arrows.
However, even an Arcane Archer knows when to pull out a pair of swords when when their enemies are too close, while the meanest Ranger Tempest can still be relied on to target a distant boss or enemy casters with some well placed arrows when required.
See the "Final Comments" section below for playing tips on your new Ranger.
 Minimum recommended stats
Rangers get all of their class feats, even if they don't meet the Dexterity requirements. However, there are optional feats (and enhancements requiring feats) that do have minimum requirements. The only way to meet these requirements are by starting with the required characteristics or by increasing them with Tomes and level up bonuses to increase characteristics. Items, spells and enchantments NEVER count for satisfying Feat prerequisites.
Skills can vary greatly for a ranger as they are a very flexible class capable of specializing in a number of different directions.
 Important Skills
In alphabetical order, these should be maxed out when possible:
It should be noted that ranger has great synergy with rogue. Tempest rangers are strongly encouraged to start with a level of rogue, then fit in a level of fighter or monk, or even a deeper splash with only 12-15 levels of ranger. This opens up a few more skills:
 Secondary Skills
In alphabetical order, improve these skills when you can:
(*) The spells Pass Without Trace and Camouflage give up to +20 bonuses to Move Silently and Hide skills, so after first level, you may want to ignore these skills entirely. This is especially true since by mid to late game, the vast majority of mobs have some combination of Tremor Sense, See Invisible or True Seeing, rendering these skills moot.
 Favored Enemies
Possible Favored Enemy choices; you get to choose one at level 1 and an additional one at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20 for five total.
It is worth noting that not all Favored Enemies appear in equal numbers, or have the same "bang for the buck." For example, there are only 2 monsters in Reptilian (Kobold and Troglodyte) but there are hordes of these monsters all through-out every level of the game (including end-game content and Challenges.) Similarly, some groups have large numbers of included enemies (Animal, Magical Beast) but show in smaller numbers and are relatively weak opponents.
As a jumping off point, consider (in order): Undead, Reptilian, Giant, Evil Outsider and Aberration. Adjust to taste and experience.
Rarely taken are: Animal, Chaotic Outsider, Dragon, Dwarf (includes Duergar), Elf (includes Drow), Gnoll, Halfling, Human, Lawful Outsider, Magical Beast, Monstrous Humanoid, Ooze, Orc, Plant, Vermin
This section lists only a subset of ranger spells. The full list is available here.
Rangers don't have a flashy capstone and they are a rather front-loaded class, thus they are suitable for multiclassing.
Other classes might decide to dip in ranger. Rangers offer decent chassis: average HP, two good saves, full BAB and lot of skills. Useful break points are:
 General Tempest Tips
Tempests need high Strength for melee attacks, but also need Dexterity for the Ranger Tempest prestige enhancement line. This is because Tempest requires Spring Attack, Mobility and Dodge; and dodge requires a Dexterity of 13. Rounding up to 14 might make sense (you only get benefits on the even numbers, and long term it is usually easier to wind up with an even value if you start with one) but new players are often tempted to increase dexterity for AC, archery, or even more foolishly the finesse feat. A human, dwarf, half-elf, or even half-orc or warforged has to pay 2 points each point of dexterity beyond 14. You need those points to keep your strength and constitution up.
Regarding weapons - Khopeshes are the obvious first choice as soon as you get the proficiency feat, but scimitars or longswords will do in a pinch, if you don't have any good khopesh available. For ranged weapon - no good ranger should use a crossbow because the free Bow Strength feat applies the ranger's strength bonus to their damage rolls with a longbow or shortbow, and negates the crossbow's higher damage class.
Managing weapons to bypass the various DRs of the enemies you're going to be facing is also an important part of being a Tempest. Bludgeoning weapons for skeletons is a must for a couple of lower level quests. If you can find a Metalline weapon of Pure Good or Metalline Flametouched weapon, it can bypass DR of not only constructs, vampires and various aberrations as normal metalline weapon does, but also demons and devils which need combination of good + cold iron or silver respectively. Your bow can also be a good way to bypass DRs as its damage type stacks with your arrows' damage type so Good type bow and Cold Iron arrows can bypass demons' DR. Don't forget that with at least first rank of House Deneith favor, you can buy arrows of every material in large quantities.
 Tempest Ranger Build (Pure Class)
Stats (28 pb)
 Tempest Ranger (Multiclass)
The multiclassed tempest understands that the capstone is for archers, and there are better ways to spend those last two (or more, Tempest III is underpowered as of update 12) levels. This build emphasizes ranger utility and flexibility, giving the player even more options then usual.
Note, this is not a pure ranger build.
 Building an Archer
The Archer is an agile and skilled scout with minor spellcasting abilities. With his keen senses he can detect traps, secret doors or enemies before anyone else. Once combat starts the archer usually stays behind to support the party with his bow, but even in melee he has learned to wield two weapons with deadly precision. The archer wears only light armor but is quick in his movement and can sneak past enemies when necessary.
This specialization is recommended to those players who prefer smiting enemies from a distance rather than close up. Even so, any ranger can fight effectively with two weapons, so melee fighting is always an alternative when your enemies are within striking distance. Once Manyshot has run out, Rangers often do more damage with two weapon fighting than using a bow, even if they have gained the Point Blank Shot feat.
Archers need high Dexterity to hit with ranged attacks, and might be tempted to take the Weapon Finesse feat to enable attacks with rapiers and shortswords to enjoy the same bonus. However, well-built rangers should keep their strength up as well, because it improves the damage; making Weapon Finesse a bad choice.
The Arcane Archer has dedicated archery skills, and in particular the ability to generate arrows with special effects.
No ranger should use a crossbow because the free Bow Strength feat applies the ranger's strength bonus to their damage rolls with a longbow or shortbow, and negates the crossbow's higher damage class.
 Archer sample build
Human Ranger (28 pb)
Bonus ability points into strength. Use class enhancements to increase dexterity.
 Archer Fighting Tips
Other fighting classes can hide behind their heavy armor and extra hit points but Archers need to play smart.
The point of using arrows is not usually damage, which over time is usually less than melee damage, but the enormous advantage of being able to hit enemies who cannot hit back at you because you are out of reach. Pick off vulnerable foes one by one to minimize damage from return fire, unless you are using a paralyzing bow, in which case spread the affect around.
Remember though--as a Ranger--your bow damage comes from three different factors: your strength (through Bow Strength), your bow's attributes (various pluses and effects), and your arrows. By selecting an appropriate bow and appropriate ammunition, you can often better match your damage with what's required for an enemy. For example, if you are fighting an enemy using the Stoneskin spell, switch to a Metalline bow to overcome the damage reduction. If you are hunting fire elementals, you can switch to frost arrows for double damage. Unlike melee weapons, a bow and arrow combination let's you use up to 6 different prefixes, suffixes, and/or pluses at once toward an enemy. (Highest plus between bow or arrow, bow prefix/suffix/material, arrow material/suffix).
There are also explicit situations where the ability to hit the enemy from a distance means more than safety. The most obvious is in returning fire to ranged mobs standing out of reach, but even more useful is the ability to grab the 'aggro' of enemy casters or the boss from a distance. You may be able to destroy them from afar with manyshot, but if not, have a good plan for how to deal with them afterward.
The combination of Improved Precise Shot with Manyshot can be like a machine gun on a group of vulnerable foes. The technique needs practice, as you have to get the timing right, have them nicely lined up, and target the one at the back.
Lastly, don't forget those Two Weapon Fighting feats that you get for free. Consider leaping over the frontline fighters to attack high priority targets like casters, or the enemy archers standing at the back.
 Kite wisely!
Kiting is getting a monster to chase you, while you run backwards firing at it. This is a common tactic for solo archers, and can work well in groups if you can kite them through a firewall, a blade barrier or a waiting group of your fellows. But careless kiting in a group will anger your fellow players since they will typically not be able to hit a monster while running after it and you. Tell them what you are planning, and if you are in trouble, run towards your friends, not away from them.
 How to Keep the Arrows Flowing
Dedicate one inventory slot to Arrows. Put your equiped Quiver on Auto Gather. As you shoot the arrows will fill your quiver. I also keep 10 Quivers 250 arrows. This gives 25 X 100 Arrows + 250 Per Quiver (add Magic Arrows to fill up even more).
Additionally, if you have a high-plus bow and the money to do so, you can get additional general use arrows by buying and carrying base arrows, +1 arrows, and masterwork arrows in the same quiver. With a +1 or higher bow, these arrows are functionally the same and will allow you to have 1200 arrows in a regular thin quiver that will sequentially load for general use. This way, for specialized arrows like "Undead Bane" or "Arrows of Lesser Dwarf Bane", you can slot those into a wide quiver and switch them out during lulls in battles when you need that something special. Carrying 4 thin quivers filled this way and two wide quivers allows you 4800 general purpose "spamming" arrows and up to 200 each of 12 specialized types.
For specialized arrow types and quivers, seek favor with House Deneith or indulge in crafting. Although the Deneith quivers are Bind to Character, if you load one with Bind to Account ammunition (such as Cannith crafted arrows/bolts), it will change to Bind to Account allowing you to transfer it via a shared bank. By Deconstructing items you find, you can accumulate essences and use them to create elemental or bane arrows in stacks of 100.
 Final Comments
One of the more common traps Ranger players fall into is the "all or Nothing" thinking. If they are a Tempest they ONLY do Melee, and if they're an Archer, they ONLY do ranged.
This is a tragic, rookie mistake.
The Ranger is a GENERALIST. To quote the character creation page:
"Rangers are extremely versatile combatants... Rangers switch between bow and melee combat, shooting until the enemy closes to melee range, then switching weapons. They are the best class at two-weapon fighting, using a weapon in each hand. In addition, they can make very good scouts, sneaking ahead of the party and gathering information on enemies."
In short, don't be "Pure" Archer or "Pure" Melee. To maximize returns, you will need to do both effectively. Tempests will need to ensure their ranged damage is passable, and Archer builds will need to maintain their melee damage output to be effective.
Archers will use ManyShot to destroy enemies from a distance, mopping up the survivors with melee while on cooldown.
Tempests will "cherry-pick" with ranged, drawing out enemies one at a time or in small groups, then demolishing them with Melee DPS.
Also note: Two-Weapon Fighting strategy doesn't operate like Two-Handed fighting strategy. You are dealing in VOLUME of attacks, not damage-per-swing animation. With this in mind, and knowing that Rangers are the ONLY class with 100% off-hand attacks and 0-penalties to dual-wielding, weapon choice becomes crucial.
Vorpal, Banishing, Smiting, "On Hit/ On Crit/ Stacking Damage/ Destruction/ Curse Spewing" and similar weapons become much more valuable than the equivalent two-handed weapon, since their are MORE attacks happening (and with Tempest III, 10% double-strike with the main-hand weapon.)
Vorpal is worth noting again, since as of Update 17, Vorpal weapons add +0.5 to base weapon damage, in addition to their Death Effect on a Natural 20 roll. (ie. A Vorpal longsword does 1.5[1d8] base damage, instead of the normal [1d8].)
In short, you want to swamp your enemies with the largest number of dangerous weapon prefixes and suffixes you can possibly combine.
Know Your Role: RANGERS DO NOT TANK RAID BOSSES.
Most Rangers simply do not have the AC, PRR or HP to endure the punishment of a Raid Boss, especially on Elite, at level (even with Evasion.) The role of a Ranger in most raids is to control/ kite "trash mobs" away from the "heavy" melees (Barbarians, Fighters, Paladins) that are in close, or away from the Healers and Casters in the back row supporting them. As a self-sufficient class, Rangers are ideal for this purpose. When there are few or no trash mobs to kill, switch to ManyShot and support with Ranged damage. It's not glamourous, but it helps the groups run much more smoothly.
It is hoped you will enjoy playing a Ranger in the future, as well as dissolving the stereotype image that Rangers as mere archery specialists. The majority of the warriors you will party with will often marvel at how quickly a Ranger can mow through hordes of mobs taking little to no damage, while spellcasters are often thankful when you suddenly leap over monsters to their rescue.
Equipped and played properly, Rangers can easily lead any party in kills (and thus drive Barbarians crazy.)