by Darcena Wolf-Valslayer

Welcome to the results of the 2020 GemStone IV TownCrier Ranger Survey! The intent of this survey was to gather detailed information on player satisfaction in regards to all aspects of the ranger class in the game GemStone IV.

Class Satisfaction

This section is intended to provide some broad views on playing a ranger before delving into specifics. Questions asked how participants described rangers, how satisfied they were with playing a ranger, how flexible they felt training paths were, how unique they felt rangers could be within the chosen training path, any specific problems they were having, and any general ideas they might want implemented for their class.

Describing the Ranger Class

Respondents were asked to “describe what you think the class of rangers should be about in only two sentences” and were given the example: “Rangers are the vanguard of organized settlement, the connection between the frontier and civilization. As such, they are equipped to function self-sufficiently away from support and excel at scouting, foraging, general knowledge of the wilds, and when needed, stealth and recon.”

48 participants answered the question asking them to describe the ranger class. I searched all the short answer responses for themes and categorized the answers within those themes. Answers could be coded into more than one theme. Leafiara then reviewed my work, adding themes and answers to themes as necessary. We then discussed discrepancies.

 

  • 25 gave an answer that included nature or outdoorsmanship
  • 19 mentioned magic in some form
  • 16 discussed self-sufficiency or independence
  • 9 discussed skill with weapons or melee combat; 9 discussed being versatile and adaptable or “jack of all trades.”
  • 8 included rangers as survivalists or as individuals who create from the natural resources around them
  • 8 mentioned scouting or reconaissance
  • 7 included being skilled with or knowledgeable about animals
  • 5 discussed a connection or link provided by the ranger between civilization and the wilds; 5 mentioned archery speficially
  • 4 included that rangers are knowledgeable about plants; 4 discussed rangers having a protective or caretaking role, whether that is of the lands itself or the people within it
  • 2 mentioned some sort of duality betwen life and death or creation and destruction; 2 mentioned stealth specifically; 2 mentioned being a team player

The ranger is a hunter and woodsman who lives by their wits, fiercely independent, and communal with nature. They are intended to be entirely self-sufficient with their ability to scout, forage, skin, fletch, fight, conjure, and track. While some rangers focus on physical prowess, others hone their magical abilities to commune with nature and creatures around them. [Leifa, 100]

Rangers are scouts and wilderness experts, guides through the dangers of the environmental lands outside of town. Highly attuned to nature, Rangers have a wide range of useful skills and utilities making them adaptable and self-sufficient through long stretches alone in the wild. [Aeith, 72]

As survivalist, the first wave of adventurers – and some times just a lone ‘wolf’, rangers provide a guide through the wilds for those wishing to explore, learn, and fall in love with the surrounds of every town, city, and metropolis. I’ve spent the better part of over a decade refining the ins and outs of the balance between civilized and naturalised RP. [Lunaryna, 75]

Rangers should be nature-based trackers, hunters and foragers who have a bond with plants and/or animals; they should be good at stealth, but most specifically in a nature-based environment as opposed to an urban invironment. I think the case could be made that ranger magic would actually be based in elemental magic, rather than spiritual, but this isn’t how GS has chosen to do it. [Nyqa, 17]

Satisfaction with Playing a Ranger

  • 30% of respondents (18) reported they were very satisfied with playing their ranger at 6/6 on the scale.
  • 36.7% of respondents (22) reported they were at 5/6 on the scale.
  • 20.0% of respondents (12) reported they were at 4/6 on the scale.
  • 10.0% of respondents (6) reported they were at 3/6 on the scale.
  • 3.3% of respondents (2) reported they were at 2/6 on the scale.
  • No respondents reported they were very unsatisfied at 1/6 on the scale.

86.7% of the respondents were above the halfway mark (denoting satisfaction) between very unsatisfied and very satisfied. The eight (13.3%) who were below that line were at a variety of levels, reporting the following:

 

  • Level 29 playing less than one year 
  • Level 58 rarely playing
  • Level 16 playing less than a year 
  • Level 22 playing less than a year 
  • Level 35 rarely playing 
  • Level 43 playing less than a year 
  • Level 100 paying 2-3 years 
  • Level 100 playing more than 5 years 

Perceived Flexiblity of and Uniqueness Within Training Paths

When comparing individuals’ responses about flexibility of choosing different training paths and rangers’ uniqueness from each other within training paths, it’s clear to see that most people (74% above the halfway mark) felt that rangers have flexible options for varied training paths, but they perceived rangers were less unique within training paths. Even with 63% above the halfway mark regarding uniqueness, the respondents were weighted more towards being similar than being unique in comparison to the flexibility of training paths.

This question specifically asked how flexible respondents thought ranger training paths are (i.e., do they feel that there are many different viable builds and training paths).

 

  • 25% of participants (15) perceived ranger training paths as being very flexible on the scale of 6/6.
  • 27% (16) perceived ranger training paths as 5/6.
  • 22% (13) perceived ranger training paths as 4/6.
  • 13% (8) perceived ranger training paths as 3/6.
  • 10% (6) perceived ranger training paths as 2/6.
  • 3% (2) perceived ranger training pathas as very inflexible at 1/6.

This question asked how unique respondents thought rangers could be within their chosen training path (i.e., do they feel that within a specific build, rangers are able to be very flexible and unique).

  • 20% of respondents (12) perceived their ranger was able to very unique at 6/6.
  • 18% (11) perceived the ability to be unique at 5/6.
  • 25% (15) perceived the ability to be unique at 4/6.
  • 20% (12) perceived the ability to be unique at 3/6.
  • 13% (8) perceived the ability to be unique at 2/6.
  • 3% (2) perceived that rangers were very similar within their training paths at 1/6.

Specific Problems

54 participants answered the question asking them to identify specific problems they were having with their ranger. I searched all the short answer responses for themes and categorized the answers within those themes. Answers could be coded into more than one theme. Leafiara then reviewed my work, adding themes and answers to themes as necessary. We then discussed discrepancies.

 

  • 12 reported no problems
  • 9 mentioned ammo management or other archery complaints
  • 8 mentioned builds that were too constrained or TPs were too expensive
  • 6 each mentioned insufficient companions, low TD, lackluster spells, and low AS
  • 4 each mentioned lack of CMANs or shield maneuvers, physical RT woes, feeling too middle-of-the-road or underwhelmed with the class
  • 3 each mentioned no guild skills, low mana or mana regen, unimpressive 650
  • 2 each mentioned it being hard to take down mobs quickly, hiding is ineffective, armor resistances are not meaningful, and the need to rely on others for success
  • 1 each mentioned low profability, stagnant class development, low defense against CMANs or shield maneuvers, and feeling too one-note in group hunting

Ideas to Implement

Ideas were included here if they were specific. People were glomped together on an idea even if they only had one facet of the idea, so not all facets of each idea apply to each individual cited for it. Quotes below were not included in the bullet-point snippets. 

More implementation ideas will be discussed throughout all the report, but this section is notable because it is what people were thinking about before they were prompted by any of the questions later in the survey. This was one of the first questions they were asked, so these answers reflect what was on the top of their minds.

Physical combat:

  • Expanded combat maneuvers and/or ranger-only maneuvers; add shield mans [Seomanthe, 39; Rouste, 100; Radeek, 100; Diria, 58, Name Withheld, 18]
  • Ability identical to or analogous to rogues’ shadow dance maneuver that works with melee and ranged [Lanzerik, 100]
  • Improve archery and rangers’ abilities with same [Valdarrow, 100; Erek, 75; Shantin, 80; Qili, 75; Amerek, 100]
  • Better capabilities to handle ambush, open combat, or archery [Direthorn, 58]
  • Light Armor Mastery [Name Withheld, 19]

Magical combat and utility:

  • Transform Natural Colors (601) to have Mass Colors (611) on evoke [Nroth, 34]
  • Increase low-level magic use capability – one idea is by adding damage to Resist Elements (602) on evoke [Name Withheld, 24; Maodan, 86]
  • Combine Foraging (603) and Skinning (604) and create a mana-efficient magical damage spell [Maodan, 86]
  • Refresh spell list to add effects for channeling or evoking Sounds (607), Sun Burst (609), and Breeze (612) with dichotomous effects similar to Heal/Harm (1101) [Seomanthe, 39]
  • Increase AS by adding scaling to Phoen’s Strength (606) based upon Ranger Spell Circle ranks [Leafiara, 100; Name Withheld, 100]
  • Add area of effect to Sounds (607) [Name Withheld, 100]
  • Make Camouflage (608) useful with Shadow Mastery [Amerek, 100]
  • Replace Mass Colors (611) with something else [Nroth, 34]
  • Tweak Call Swarm (615) to be usable with Breeze (612); add area of effect ability where animals respond and stampede through [Puptilian, 100; Meliot, 43]
  • Update Resist Nature (620) such as to remove acid in the Sanctum [Name Withheld, 100]
  • Replace Nature’s Touch (625) [Name Withheld, 100]
  • Improve Assume Aspect (650) – one idea was with lore to make it more usable (i.e., longer duration), another was to add RT-reduction ability [Name Withheld, 100; Shantin, 80; Alisaire; Amerek, 100]
  • Higher self-cast ranged attack strength [Erykk, 100]
  • TD spell [Redpaw, 43]

Companions:

  • Update companions [Nroth, 34; Shern, 91]
  • Update companions with roleplay options [Nehor, 38; Name Withheld, 96; Twofists, 100]
  • Update companions with better combat options including to hit harder or faster [Pukk, 35; Rouste, 100; Dhairn, 16; Shantin, 80; Twofists, 100]
  • Update companions to be an innate ability instead of a spell slot [T. Aelo’tyn, 35]
  • Allow multiple companion types [Alisaire]

Utility:

  • Ability to forage more than five items per room [Puptilian, 100
  • Add guild abilities and quests – suggestions included a way to break out of round time, ability to create traps or snares, improvements to ranged abiities, create own armor potions [Name Withheld, 92; Selvan, 49; Sreka, 16; Bluehawk, 44; Noldi, 96; A Ranger, 100; Silverthorne, 100; Lanzerik, 100; Lunaryna Talviel, 75; Goldtree, 76; Silvynn, 100; Rasson, 78; Morofinwe, 35]
  • Incease significance of skinning and foraging [Name Withheld, 92]
  • Increase non-magical nature skills [A Ranger, 100]
  • Increase group utility and group hunting – one suggestion was through in-group buffs [Kreigh, 100; Morofinwe, 35]

Training:

  • Decrease training points for spells [Pukk, 35]
  • Increased limits on physical skills [Silverthorne, 100]
  • Increase druidic/spellcaster training path capability [Valdarrow, 100; Shantin, 80; Finnlebec, 44]
  • Improve lores (“currently very little choice”) [Name Withheld, 100]

Silvers generation:

  • Permanent elemental armor resistance that works similar to Ensorcell (735) [Felstump, 29; Stormfleet, 100]
  • Create character-attuned persistent ranger rods [Leafiara, 100]

Other:

  • Increase differentiation from other classes – something to set rangers apart; increase versatility from other semis [Kreigh, 100]

I went with open archer mainly due to the nature of 608/Camouflage- the idea behind the open archer is to strike first and not have the opportunity to be attacked, whereas unfortunately with 608 as a sniping build, you lose your AS bonus while moving. While it can be mitigated through Shadow Mastery, and 8 mana isn’t precisely a lot of mana at the point sniping becomes feasible, CM training comes as a hefty premium and ammo management/looting always causes you to drop from hiding. That and with the nature of hunting these days, wherein one no longer can really feasibly ‘camp’ a room and wait, makes me *wish* I could go to a sniping build, but stick with open for the more flexible TP cost and convenience of not spamming a bunch of macros and scripts (moreso than I already am) after each mob. [Kedsie, 61]

Perhaps, at level 20, a ranger can start calling upon nature to have a animal friend who does very little, and as the ranger progesses, the animal friend also progress, getting more powerful (and doing more things). For example, at level 20, the animal friend is just that, a friend… it doesn’t have any commands, but can be fed, played with, etc. At level 30, the friend turns into a companion, and starts to actively work with it’s ranger friend… at this point it starts to become more like current companions are, with certain commands. At level 40-50, the companion will start actively hunting with and protecting it’s ranger mate. At later levels, maybe they could have even more commands than they currently do, possibly becoming a bit wiz. familiar-like. [T. Aelo’tyn, 35]

I would like to see the ranger armor resistance system reconsidered. The rare spawn mushroom is frustrating enough (being that I am a ranger and have NEVER found one!) but then the training required to create meaningful resistances is not feasible with all ranger builds. I would like to see this system revised entirely to be more like ensorcellment or wizard enchantments. I would also love it if you could consider the spell that I put forth at Simucon 2015 and won the spell design contest! It was called Ground Swell or something like it. It was a self-cast temporary conjuring of earth to become a platform. This would increase melee defense and ranged attack, while creating vulnerability to flying attacks. More spells are fun! Better spells/skills are even better. [Leifa, 100]

The three biggest things I’d love to see for ranger development are (in my order of preference):

1.) More interactions, verbs, and commands for animal companions. Animal companions are one of the greatest things in the game, and I love how they feel like individual creatures full of personality (unlike a wizard familiar which is more akin to an empty shell to command through). But I’d love even more personality, and I’d love ways to be able to send them commands to interact with other people as well. People will comment on my companion or pet them, and I wish I could make it respond to them better. I also dearly wish I could sense what my companion sees or senses in rooms when they are away from me (this is an area where wizard familiars really shine). I also wish I could interact with my companion while dead, which would be very useful in getting help (go Lassie go! Tell them Aeith fell down a well!), or even have the larger companions be able to drag a ranger’s corpse. To summarize, more ways to interact with the companions, more ways for the companions to interact with others, and more ways for the companions to show off their personalities and feel unique and alive.

2.) Getting a ranger guild that actually does something. I find it really sad we have guilds that have no features or benefits, they are just… there. Every week on guild-night I’m reminded that rangers have a guild that seemed to be started then abandoned and it legitimately makes me sad. I’d love to be able to have guild skills or some kind of system where we can progress through unique ranger skills, learn more utilities, create things, work on infusing resistances, and have something else we can progress through. At this point I’ve mastered Voln, the Adventurer’s Guild is nice but the same-old same-old, I’d love to have SOMETHING I can continue to progress through aside from just exp and hunting, and I’d love a reason to actually visit the ranger’s guild halls more often and build a community there.

3.) More class-specific skills. I have no complaints about the magic side, the Ranger spell circle is amazing, I love the unique-ness and variety of magics and it all feels so special. However their skills are lacking this same type of feeling. I love that we get a variety of different skills and flexible builds we can create from that, but I’d love more ranger-specific CMANS, or in general some other skills that can make the non-magic parts of being a ranger feel more unique and special. Things like weapon-bonding or warrior tricks or shield-maneuvers can make classes like Warriors and Paladins feel really special, I’d love something like that for the Ranger class as well. [Aeith, 72]

The one idea I’ve had rolling around in my head since Gemstone III was giving rangers the ability to make poisons out of rare, foraged herbs via the ranger guild. These poisons could be applied to ranged or smaller weapons and occupy the flare slot (almost like a poison flaring eblade.) Once Wall of Thorns was released and Tangleweed absorbed the functionality of Killer Weed, I realized the stamina draining poison would be a perfect addition to my idea (and the coding for the poison effects already exist in game.) I concede, the idea of poisons seems much more suited for rogues, but the idea of exotic / rare herbs being turned into poisons already exists in game lore: with Forest Gnomes. Who, arguably, seem much closer to rangers than rogues. [Anarquendi Aldudil, 100]
I would selfishly like to see a Ki’Tyesteron developed as a group for Sylvan rangers in a similar vein as the Ta’Vaalor Legion or the Palestra for the Faendryl. [Silvynn, 100]
I’d like to see more specific skills implemented using the survival skill.  Rangers should also know alchemy of a sort.  Perhaps making them over fires in the wilderness.  Like to see environment specific ranger options like being able to climb a tree in an area. Then being able to see three rooms and shoot at things in all three rooms because of the vantage point of being in the tree.  The two or so additional rooms would have reduced AS because of the distance.  Of course sniper could be a CMAN specializing in distance shooting.  [Olojor, 22]

I would like a spell review. Rangers have a lot of spells that have been surpassed by other spells that are close to effect (610 vs 709) for example. One is cheaper, and an AoE. To bring 610 in line I would like to see it go after multiple targets based on lore.

609 is worthless as a CS spell. I’m tired of seeing 616 rangers call themselves “weedmages”. I get druid builds, but lets give them a single target CS spell like a, “druidic assault” either add 607 effect to 615 and throw it there (at 607)  or maybe even combine 603 and 604 to some kind of survival spell to free up a slot.

I was also wanting to see 608 stack like other spells and just take effect when hidden, so rangers could take advantage of reduced set-up time with things like shadow mastery. The autohide part of 608 should still remain for younger rangers or those who rely on it for that reason.

Casting 5 things before a single attack gets old fast, but rangers have a weak AS w/o all that in many cases. I’d like it smoothed out or sped up.

I am also wanting an armor and shield skill, just one each. Light armor, and small shield. Nothing else would make sense anyway, but rangers could sensibly use a buckler and there’s just no reason to though due to lack of any skills surrounding them. Rangers would be absolute masters of light armor as they have to move as undetected as possible in it for life, be it simply hunting or serving a larger role. This is true in both lore and RL.

I can go on all day, I’m not thrilled with 620 either. [Arshwikk Aralock Ardenai, 100]

I would like to see the higher end spells made more useful. 630 has been improved and is a great RP tool. 619 does nothing, everything shakes it. 625 is kind of redundant. 620 has seen some improvements but it’s very niche. 650 has very little use except for niche cases. It has a lot of potential. Assuming an aspect as a potential stun breaker, assuming an aspect for a free mstrike, lots of potential but not very good now. [Ascelon, 91]
Qafziel Nalfein

Qafziel Nalfein

Qafziel Nalfein, scholar and political devotee, travels Elanith learning more about the relationships between notable parties. His focus is on the Cooperative Houses of Elanthia and Meeting Hall Organizations and their liaisons, but he’s also known to pop into a town meeting on a whim or congratulate someone on reaching the pinnacle of their studies whether it be in warfare or sorcery or something else entirely. Qaf is always on the lookout for ways to connect individuals and organizations both with each other, with adventurers, and with the TownCrier for the betterment of our society. He maintains a network of informants who assist him in his tasks.