Ranger

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The ranger is one of the player roles in NetHack. Rangers can be either neutral or chaotic, and can be humans, elves, gnomes, or orcs.

Rangers can get expert in dagger, sling, dart, boomerang, javelin, bow and crossbow, and also in divination spells. Rangers cannot use two-weapon combat.

The guidebook entry for the ranger has this to say about them:

Rangers are most at home in the woods, and some say slightly
         out of place in a dungeon.  They are, however, experts in archery
         as well as tracking and stealthy movement.

Strategy

  • Rangers can get extra shots when using stackable ranged weapons except daggers.
  • Rangers can throw or fire up to 4 ranged weapons at once giving them on an average 2.5 times the damage as the same weapon in melee. Unskilled or Basic skill can randomly hurl up to 1 extra weapon, 2 extra for Skilled and 3 for Expert. See multishot for details.
  • Use your +2 arrows first; not only do they do more damage, but they are less likely to break. Note that while arrows are made of metal (which can corrode), elven arrows are made of wood, so regardless of strategy, it's a good idea to keep a few elven arrows to dispatch acidic monsters and rust monsters. Elven rangers have the advantage of having such arrows from the start of the game.
  • It is important to remember that enchanted arrows and arrows which have been blessed break less often than other arrows. Luck plays a factor as well so a blessed luckstone is essential for long term arrow use. (With maximum luck and blessed arrows enchanted to +2 or higher, arrows break only very rarely.)
  • Consider poisoning your arrows by dipping them in a potion of sickness. This will cause d6 damage and will instantly kill 10% of the time if your target is not poison resistant. Some will become unpoisoned, however, giving you two stacks of arrows, some poisoned and some not. Use the unpoisoned arrows when attacking targets which are not vulnerable to poison. When you intend to enchant your arrows further (or most of your arrows have become unpoisoned), poison the unpoisoned arrows and put them back into the quiver. Note that getting potions of sickness is not difficult; 1/4 of random alchemy results become sickness, so dipping a couple of random potions together should get you a potion of sickness.
  • Arrows can be acquired off of dead bodies or by untrapping arrow traps. If you're a procrastinator, you can get several hundred arrows from the first level of the Ranger quest off of dead centaurs and untrapping the two arrow traps before the quest boss' lair. Also, the Ranger quest artifact, The Longbow of Diana, can be invoked to summon arrows of its corresponding blessed/cursed status.
  • A good strategy is to maintain a distance from opponents. Humans, Gnomes and Orcs start with a cloak of displacement which helps with this strategy.
  • Elbereth can't be kept from smudging: Levitating while firing your arrows or daggers will make you fire only one missile. Also, you are paralyzed when you hurtle in the opposite direction from your shot; this lasts at least as long as you would take walking, so this is a dangerous way to run away.
  • Should you require extra AC, a small shield gives +1 AC and doesn't impede your Divination spells too much once you've trained. A shield of reflection can also be useful for its extrinsic, opening up your amulet slot for life-saving (or ESP, but ESP is granted by your quest artifact). There's no weapon a Ranger should use that requires two hands; bows can be held and fired with one hand, your backup dagger or spear (or saber or broadsword if you're gifted them by a god) are one-handed, and Rangers cannot two-weapon.
  • Wishing for Magicbane (even if you're not neutral) is a good idea as well because daggers are one of the few weapons rangers can get expert in. Uncursed athames (including Magicbane) may also be used to engrave Elbereth on the ground without dulling the blade. In addition to decent damage, it also dispenses useful magical effects on opponents (cancel, probe, stun, and scare).
  • In the late game, having a silver backup weapon such as a silver dagger or silver spear is a good idea. While Rangers can't use silver sabers without penalty (unless they are gifted Werebane by their god, unrestricting it), silver daggers and spears can be thrown at incoming silver vulnerable creatures to soften them up. Silver arrows are precious and should be used only on especially nasty creatures; however, blessed silver arrows enchanted to +2 will last you a long time if you have high luck.
  • Because so many things need to be enchanted (e.g., melee weapon(s), arrows, silver arrows, silver dagger/spear etc), scrolls of enchant weapon are at a premium. Consider putting magic markers and wands of polymorph high on your list of priorities. (Enchanting bows is usually a waste; it only helps your to-hit calculations, not damage, and most players hit every round anyway by the time they get around to enchanting things.)

Starting equipment

Elven and orcish rangers start with racial equipment (elven dagger or orcish dagger instead of dagger, etc.). Elves get an elven cloak instead of a cloak of displacement and lembas wafers in the place of cram rations. Orcish rangers get orcish bow and orcish arrows but still get a cloak of displacement. Chaotic rangers also have a 1% chance of their starting arrow stacks being generated poisoned. Gnomish rangers start with a crossbow and crossbow bolts instead of a bow and arrows.

Because elven rangers begin with an elven dagger, they are able to create Sting immediately, with all the advantages and disadvantages that entails.

Intrinsics

Spellcasting

Rangers can become powerful spellcasters later in the game when they learn some of the divination spells. Although other types won't be as easy to cast, divination has a lot to offer. Some of the best spells in the game are magic mapping, identify and detect unseen. A good spell to practice with is light as it's easy to cast and does not take up a lot of power. Below is a table of all possible spells a Ranger can get at least Basic at.

Rangers use intelligence as their spellcasting stat.

Skill Spells
Basic healing, cure blindness, cure sickness, extra healing, stone to flesh, restore ability, jumping, haste self, invisibility, levitation, teleport away
Expert detect monsters, light, detect food, detect unseen, clairvoyance, identify, detect treasure, magic mapping

Quest

Main article: Ranger quest

The quest sees you fighting for The Longbow of Diana, the artifact bow that creates arrows when invoked and grants ESP when carried. It also provides reflection when wielded. The Ranger quest is arguably one of the harder ones since centaurs are very fast and use projectiles. In addition to that, all of the quest levels are full of traps. It is advised to have speed boots when going on the quest so that the centaurs don't hit you as much per turn. Be sure to also have reflection (centaurs are intelligent enough to use wands), having magic resistance also helps a whole lot. The quest is full of items, however. You will probably find lots of scrolls and plenty of potions as well.

The easiest way to fight centaurs is using ranged attacks. Poisoned arrows work extremely well, even unenchanted ones. Keep your distance away from enemies, only switching to your melee weapon when fighting wimpy monsters (such as scorpions or bats).

Once in Scorpius' cavern, you might want to burn "Elbereth" on the stairs, then wake him up. Race back to the staircase as fast as you can and fight from there. He is weak enough that a good spray of arrows may finish him off after he teleports to the stairs; consider checking the maximum range you can fire before entering the cavern. Be sure to remember to cure the sickness after you kill him!

Rank titles

The status line shows you to be one of the following ranks when you reach the specified experience level:

  • XL 1-2: Tenderfoot
  • XL 3-5: Lookout
  • XL 6-9: Trailblazer
  • XL 10-13: Reconnoiterer/Reconnoiteress
  • XL 14-17: Scout
  • XL 18-21: Arbalester
  • XL 22-25: Archer
  • XL 26-29: Sharpshooter
  • XL 30: Marksman/Markswoman

Skills

Ranger skills
Max Skills
Basic
Skilled
Expert

Rangers start with Basic skill in Dagger and the category of their starting launcher (either Bow or Crossbow).

SLASH'EM

In SLASH'EM, Rangers can be doppelgangers, drow, elves, gnomes, hobbits, humans, lycanthropes, and orcs. Elves, gnomes, and hobbits are always neutral, drow, lycanthropes, and orcs are always chaotic, and doppelgangers and humans can be either.

Starting equipment

A Ranger begins with the following equipment:

Skills

Ranger skills
Max Skills
Basic
Skilled
Expert

Techniques

Level Technique
1 Missile flurry

Strategy

As in Vanilla, Rangers are weak in melee but very strong in ranged combat. In the early game it is critical to acquire new missile weapons, enchant them, and max out your luck as quickly as possible so that you don't run out of ammunition. Arrows, darts, and daggers are all good candidates for an early ranger to invest in. Elven rangers will have a distinct advantage in the early game because SLASH'EM gives additional multishot benefits for the elven bow and elven arrows. An elven ranger can have a chance of firing a volley of up to six arrows at a time from his second turn (if he wields his bow on his first turn). Additionally, SLASH'EM gives additional multishot benefits for enchanted bows.

A chaotic ranger has an advantage in sacrifice weapons, having access to powerful gifts like Bat from Hell, Doomblade, Serpent's Tongue, and Stormbringer. A neutral ranger will have a more difficult time finding a decent melee weapon, as only Magicbane, Mjollnir, and Cleaver are worth their salt as a main melee weapon of the neutral sacrifice gifts. Thus, a ranger should focus on training bow and either dagger or dart skills and building up a stack of blessed, enchanted arrows and daggers/darts, and use them as his primary weapon until he gets a better alternative such as a crysknife (much improved over Vanilla). As such, it may be worth going straight for the luckstone at Mine's End before trying sokoban, and any clear potions costing 100 zorkmids should be altar-tested at Minetown and, if blessed, used to bless your main stack of arrows.

Once the ranger has a decent weapon from the midgame on, a ranger plays much like any other role but should continue to rely on ranged attacks. It is better to enchant a stack of (preferably elven) arrows to +7 than to spend the enchantment on a melee weapon, as you will be able to fire up to 6 shots per round with a +7 bow (9 if you are an elf firing elven arrows with a +7 elven bow), with an average damage of 10.5 per hit (double if firing silver arrows at silver-haters) plus any applicable strength and skill bonuses. To put this in perspective, an elven ranger, expert in bow, firing +7 elven arrows from a +7 elven bow will fire 4.3 arrows per round, for an average of 3.5 base damage + 7 enchantment bonus + 2 skill bonus = 54 damage per turn. If firing blessed +7 silver arrows from a +7 elven bow at Demogorgon will fire an average of 3.7 arrows per turn, for an average of 3.5 base damage + 7 enchantment bonus + 2 skill bonus + 2.5 blessed bonus + 10.5 silver damage = 93.5 damage per turn. This is comparable with the damage that can be achieved with firearms.

Encyclopedia entry

"Lonely men are we, Rangers of the wild, hunters -- but hunters
ever of the servants of the Enemy; for they are found in many
places, not in Mordor only.
If Gondor, Boromir, has been a stalwart tower, we have played
another part. Many evil things there are that your strong walls
and bright swords do not stay. You know little of the lands
beyond your bounds. Peace and freedom, do you say? The North
would have known them little but for us. Fear would have
destroyed them. But when dark things come from the houseless
hills, or creep from sunless woods, they fly from us. What
roads would any dare to tread, what safety would there be in
quiet lands, or in the homes of simple men at night, if the
Dunedain were asleep, or were all gone into the grave?"

[ The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien ]

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