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-Specific Attributes

This section is intended to provide specifics on how players of rangers view their class-specific skills. Questions asked about: the importance of a variety of specific class attributes and asked if the respondent had begun a ranger for that attribute or still played a ranger because of that attribute, amount of satisfaction with the combat effectiveness of animal companions, and implementation ideas to boost animal companions’ combat effectiveness.

Importance of Class-Specific Attributes

The next two questions asked the respondents, “If the main reasons you made your ranger are different from the main reasons you play your ranger now, why? Alternatively, if you no longer *do* play your ranger, why?” and “If you’d like to elaborate on any of your answers and/or discuss other ranger-specific characteristics that weren’t listed above, please do so here.”

If it weren’t for ranged weapon skills, and choosing to join voln alongside brawling early on – I would’ve given up on my ranger long ago. Undead is far too commonplace, and far too detrimental to standard ranger utility (610, 615, 619). 

All classes need a capstone skill/spell that identifies them, and the rest should be available to all with costs adjusted accordingly. Rangers lack access to important CMans, and their “capstones” 650, and 630, need reworked. Also, having a spell slot so high up the list in 625 that ONLY bypasses an archaic class hindrance is completely in bad form. [Dhairn, 16]

I try to play my ranger but without a group, it is hard to stay alive. Since I use arrows, gathering arrows is very time consuming and cumbersome. There are times when you have to “search” for some of the arrows, there is times when you have to “wait” for a arrow to be available to be gathered and there are times when the arrows are lost. Time and money lost. How would players or other weapon types feel if their weapon could get lost permanently or you had to constantly make new weapons to replace the lost ones…losing an arrow to the environs is frustrating. [Pukk, 35]

I no longer play because it seems at around the mid 60’s range its very difficult to hunt, I’ve switched styles several times both OHE/Board, TWC, Ranged and just have plain difficulty hunting.

a class that uses spells that seem to have little implication (625 is required due to a RP mechanic that makes spell casting difficult at best) 608 might be good against ambushers, but there aren’t many at this point…other then bandits [Direthorn, 58]

I wanted to play a ranger to be a class with access to both weapons and magic, flavor and personality, and of course an animal companion (one of the best things in the game). And all of the things that made me sign up still make playing enjoyable 72 levels later. I really love this class, and I love being a ranger.

If anything, I feel that because rangers were so strong when they were built is one of the reasons the class feels so stagnant right now. It’s all good, but it feels very stale and like it hasn’t been updated or tweaked in ages and ages. Which is fine, it’s like eating your favorite food, there is a reason it’s your favorite and it’s delicious. But when you look around and see other people getting new menu items or strange new toppings to try out it makes you a little sad that your own dish hasn’t been updated in a while. I’d love guilds, new skills, or any other kind of bonus enhancements (looking at the development recently for Rouges has been really inspiring).

But overall I feel rangers are a strong and well-designed class, which is what drew me to them originally and keeps me playing one now! [Aeith, 72]

The ‘versatility’ of their training is fairly non-existent. I’ve spent many fixskills and years debating how to train my girl and have come to a very sobering fact : Rangers really are built for Ranged Weapons in general, and it is extremely limiting. I am enjoying my UAC, but without outside spells, my ability to hunt and interact alone is very damaging – in a loss of life sort of way. [Lunaryna Talviel, 75]

just a really fun class. Doesn’t blast thru like some classes but steady as can be. [Shern, 91]

635 was a major pleasant surprise, as it eventually grows to be even more powerful than it looked from an outside perspective. 614 is also far easier to use than I expected and is fantastic when Duskruin rolls around–and I’m saying this as someone who, for example, has no clue how scroll infusion works and whose eyes glaze over trying to understand the wiki page on it.

Other than that, I pretty much knew what I was getting into–a profession that’s a powerhouse of RP because of the companions, but not so much mechanically. [Leafiara, 100]

My main reasons for making a ranger are the same for why I’ve continued to play her – I wanted my character to be in touch with nature, highly self-sufficient, and have an animal companion. The idea of ranged weapons also appealed to me initially (still does) though I never really explored that route much, and ended up going TWC which I’ve also greatly enjoyed the entire time I was leveling. I’ve been told that made my training more difficult (limited TP, etc) but not knowing anything else/having much else to compare it to – it never really bothered me. Having capped, I feel like there’s still so much more I can train in, though the cost does feel steep. [Name Withheld, 100]

The game is very different now than it was when I started playing, the playerbase is different, and I’m also very different than I was then. However, I do believe that the primary reasons for me choosing to play a ranger all those years ago have been preserved: I am a nature-lover at heart and I love the in-game connection to nature and the roleplayability it brings. I love my tiger, and I love being an honorary tiger. In addition, the class remains strong, unique, and blessed with abilities desired by other classes.

I think that a lot of people assume that most rangers hunt with ranged, meaning either a bow or a crossbow. I don’t think that bothers me, but it does baffle me. I don’t expect that the developers would ever bias rangers towards a ranged hunting style, but that’s something that would make me very angry. [Lanzerik, 100]

I remain dismayed at how ineffective ACs are in combat. I even have one of the more versatile types – avians can actually hit flying things – but the reality is that they’re better off unsummoned so you can save 30 mana. [Alisaire]

Ranger Companions in Combat

Respondents were asked what they would add to their animal companions in order to boost combat effectiveness.

  • 15 wanted companions to attack and react faster which included lowering RT in some suggestions
  • 7 wanted to be able to tell the companion what type of attack to make or where to target

Some other ideas:

As someone who plays characters that can be very empathic and wanting to make sure everyone and everything around them are healthy, the fact that only the ranger and their group can feed healing herbs to the companion is quite a bit annoying. Empaths and people outside the ranger’s group should be able to help the companion get healthy!

Other then that, and the fact that I think animal companions should be innate, instead of a spell slot, I think they’re awesome. [T. Aelo’tyn, 35]

Perhaps the ability to boost the effectiveness of ranger offensive spells by their presence. Or the different classes of companions could inflict different effects at certain intervals– Avians can distract and cause a lowered EPB. Canines/felines can cause a sheer fear effect. Rodents can cause a trip effect. [Seomanthe, 39]

I primarily enjoy my companion for roleplaying, but I’m very glad they have combat mechanics and benefits too. I love whenever my companion attacks or kills something (especially when I’m incapacitated). And I also love how sometimes they will double strike or have the potential to knock something down. I do wish there was more variety in the types of attacks they make or status updates they could create, but overall I’m pretty happy. My only real complaint is that I wish companions could enter the Arena and Heist in Duskruin with me, I do feel my combat build as a ranger is negatively modified without them, it would be like a pure going in without access to one of their basic spells.

I also love how I can tell my companion to guard and I get a DS bonus, that is also a really cool mechanic. I just wish I could tell my companion to guard others though, and have it do the protective mechanics on them instead of me if I so choose. [Aeith, 72]

I would like to be able to determine HOW the creature attacks, i.e. do I want them to disable? To try and provide more damage? Try and distract? etc. [Erek, 75]

More unique combat options, more responsiveness. Be able to upgrade them, improve over time, and increase their effectiveness. [Goldtree, 76]

Flares. Either via equipment they can use, or as a function of my character’s attack (i.e. some chance that my companion joins in for a given attack command and hits the same location) [Maodan, 86]

use the type of companion you have to set where they would be attacking. ie using birds to attack face or cats to trip. [Shern, 91]

Let us actually command them to attack or guard. Make it a toggle so I dont have to constantly command them. Honestly, I don’t expect much to be done about companions. [Amerek, 100]

I’d like if companions could grant temporary boosts to the ranger, similar to Coup de Grace kills. Maybe an especially good roll on the companion attack creates a window of opportunity for +30 AS on the ranger’s strike because they’re so talented at fighting as a team, for example. It’s not a major boost, but I don’t think companions need major boosts–minor ones are fine. [Leafiara, 100]

I’d like to be able to send my companion ahead, to other rooms, etc. There’s also a bug that drives me nuts. Due to some recent change, whenever he attacks a creature, it reads as though he’s attacking me. I’ve tried sending him away and calling him back (630) but the issue persists. [Name Withheld, 100]

I have a canine. And though it is supposed to be a skill of the canine I have never seen it disarm an opponent. If it could disarm Vvrael Destroyers in the Scatter that might be useful. 🙂 But I understand that companions do not like to go there. [Silvynn, 100]

The ranger should get credit for the animal companion’s kills. The animal companion should be quicker to defend. The animal companion should be able to pull a ranger out of round time. [Silverthorne, 100]

multi opponent ability as an add on to mirror your MOC. [Kreigh, 100]

I would like to see some method for rangers to customize the combat ability of their companions. It could perhaps take the form of bonuses imparted by companion wearables that already exist in-game (do I hear flaring or weighted paw-wraps?); or, I could imagine some method for making use of some kind of experience that your companion accrues to train them in combat skills of your choosing. There’s all kinds of ways to do it, but I think the end goal would be to make your companion seem less cookie-cutter, and therefore more like an extension of your character. The act of training your companion is an amazing opportunity for roleplay.

Going in a completely different direction, there are currently hunting areas where companions refuse to enter. While it’s mostly for roleplay reasons, that doesn’t seem very realistic. A truly bonded companion isn’t going to let their ranger go into combat without them no matter what the circumstances are. [Lanzerik, 100

They could use a boost in rt and consistent reaction speed. They seem to have a reasonable “per strike” crit rate, and adding too much damage would probably be OP, but maybe not some boost. It IS a level 30 spell. OR, maybe add some actual point of casting it more than for summoning, like it also imbues your companion with some of your own skills and stacks on them? I don’t mean like archery, mind you, lol, but maybe some additional defense or translation of skills or lore you train into augmenting their offense too. There’s a lot here one could do. [Arshwikk, 100]

Their combat effectiveness is extremely poor. Give options to improve it via items, i.e. unicorn horn helmet to charge, steel claws, let us ride the tigers into combat. Improve their combat ability via spells/lores. Make them more like a henchman (i.e. animates can be given weapons, can spell you up, etc). Give them more abilities like they can ambush from hiding to distract and lower critter DS. [Name Withheld]

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.