Rangers are their best when exploring uncharted regions. The Horizon Walker Ranger takes this to a whole new level as they venture to other planes of existence protecting life and dealing with otherworldly threats.
It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!
Harnessing the energy of the multiverse and teleporting around the battlefield, these Rangers are quite a sight to behold. However, they hold true to their duty as defenders of the Material Plane.
If you’ve got what it takes to stand against threats from your home plane and those beyond, this is for you!
This is the full guide to the Horizon Walker Ranger in D&D 5e!
What is the Horizon Walker Ranger in D&D 5e?
The planes of the multiverse are connected together by portals. Horizon Walker Rangers seek out these portals and keep close eyes on those who use them.
Friendly beings using these portals are met graciously, though those who wish to bring harm are dealt with swiftly and severely.
While Horizon Walker Rangers will certainly have special care for their own plane, their call of duty extends beyond just one world!
Because of their knowledge of the planes and those that inhabit other worlds, the Horizon Walker is possibly the most unique of the Ranger subclasses. They bring a certain, dare I say, mystical element to the table.
Role in the Party
The Horizon Walker Ranger is an excellent combatant that boosts their (or their allies’) performance with magic. While they can certainly put out respectable damage, their biggest focus is on mobility.
Being able to teleport around the battlefield means that enemies will never know where the Horizon Walker Ranger is going to come from next!
Though, these characters also make for good scouts or infiltrators.
While Rangers are already good in these roles, Horizon Walkers take it a bit further. They get the benefit of their spells and features which can be used in some truly creative ways.
Lastly, Horizon Walkers offer some handy utility in an adventure that features plenty of visitors from other planes.
In such a campaign, being able to find portals and have knowledge about what kind of beings might cross through them can be incredibly important!
Horizon Walker Ranger Features 5e
While most Rangers tend to stay as ranged combatants, the Horizon Walker lends itself more towards a frontline melee combatant.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still be a ranged combat character and benefit from this subclass’s features. However, you won’t really get the full effect of what the features are capable of which does complicate things a bit.
Planar Warrior lets you put out extra damage and get around pesky damage resistances at an early level. However, you’ll still want to be within 30 feet of your enemy to use that.
The features the Horizon Walker Ranger gains at levels 7, 11, and 15 are where it really starts to play towards the theme of teleporting around the battlefield. You’ll be elusive and able to outmaneuver your enemies while “poof-ing” around the map.
Does it make actually make a “poof” sound?
I guess that’s up to you, but I immediately think of Nightcrawler from X-Men when I envision these Rangers in combat.
But that might just be me.
Anyhow… Let’s get into the specifics!
Horizon Walker Magic (Level 3)
Choosing the Horizon Walker Ranger subclass gives you access to more spells as you reach certain levels.
These spells count as Ranger spells for you and do not count against the number of Ranger spells that you know. As with your other Ranger spells, Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these.
|Protection From Evil and Good
Can we just take a moment to admire how amazing this spell list is?
Protection From Evil and Good is an excellent defensive buff. It protects you from a wide variety of creature types, most of which might be extraplanar visitors. It’s also a great way to get around enemies that like to charm, frighten, or possess others!
But as good as that is, Misty Step and Haste are the real MVPs here.
A quick, short-range teleport as a bonus action from Misty Step is ALWAYS nice to have. It’s perfect for getting into or out of situations as you need.
Meanwhile, Haste is one of the best buffs in the entire game. A +2 bonus to your Armor Class, advantage on Dexterity saves, and an extra action on each of your turns? Sign me up!
In the right situation, Banishment can be incredibly helpful.
The spell itself is great, but it will be relying on your Wisdom modifier for the spell save DC. If you’re investing in your Wisdom and fighting plenty of extraplanar enemies, you’ll likely get some great use out of it.
And, of course, Teleportation Circle is great for getting you and your party where they need to go quickly. Well before you reach level 17, make sure you’re taking notes on friendly locations you’ll be able to teleport to once you get this!
Detect Portal (Level 3)
Since Horizon Walker Rangers are all about finding and watching over portals between the planes, it helps to be able to find those portals in the first place!
Thankfully, you’re able to magically sense nearby portals to investigate.
As an action, you detect the distance and direction to the closest planar portal within 1 mile of you.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Depending on what themes your campaign is exploring, this might be fantastically useful or it might be forgettable. If jumping from plane to plane is part of the adventure, you’ll get a ton of use out of this!
Make sure to get clarification in your group’s Session Zero so that you know what you’re working with.
While an adventure that is heavily based on finding and closing portals that are being opened by some malevolent group or entity would be fun, it’s not always going to be a central focus of the adventure.
Thankfully, you’ve also got another feature at level 3 that you’ll be getting much more use out of regardless of what kind of campaign you’re playing!
Planar Warrior (Level 3)
Few characters have the same knowledge of the multiverse’s energies as the Horizon Walker Ranger. Drawing on that energy, you can make your attacks hit even harder!
As a bonus action, choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you.
The next time you hit that creature on this turn with a weapon attack, all damage dealt by the attack becomes force damage, and the creature takes an extra 1d8 force damage from the attack.
When you reach 11th level in this class, the extra damage increases to 2d8.
You’ll be getting a lot of use out of this feature.
The extra damage is definitely nice and it’s good that it will get stronger when you reach level 11 in this subclass.
It’s made even better by turning the damage you deal with that first hit into force damage which means you’ll be able to get around most enemy damage resistances with ease.
Especially in the early game, this damage boost (and dealing force damage) will be very helpful. It gives you a reliable way of dealing with creatures like Specters and Werewolves that otherwise resist nonmagical damage.
Just note that Planar Warrior does require your bonus action. That means you won’t stand to gain the same benefit from popular ranger feats like Two-Weapon Fighting and Crossbow Expert.
While you could probably get slightly better damage output with one of those feats, Planar Warrior is still a very solid feature.
So why not consider wielding a shield in that off-hand to gain some extra armor class? If you’re going to be fighting on the front lines (which this subclass really leans towards), it will come in handy!
Ethereal Step (Level 7)
When you really need to quickly get into or out of trouble, why not take a quick trip to the Ethereal Plane?
As a bonus action, you can cast the Etherealness spell with this feature without expending a spell slot, but the spell ends at the end of the current turn.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
The (very) short version of the Etherealness spell is that you can move through objects and can’t be perceived by enemies who aren’t on the Ethereal Plane (unless they have some other ability that would otherwise let them do so.) You can only affect or be affected by other creatures that are also on the Ethereal Plane with you.
Typically, the spell lasts 8 hours. However, the price of being able to cast this as a bonus action and without using a spell slot is that it lasts one turn for you.
It’s easy to roll your eyes at this feature. I get it.
But don’t underestimate this!
First things first, this is a level 7 spell and you’re getting a version of it WAY earlier than anyone else would.
Secondly, that’s one round where you are virtually undetectable by most other beings.
If you use your action to Dash, you can very quickly move to where you need to be without worrying about things like enemies, obstacles, or walls.
Heck, you can even move straight up and down (though it does cost extra movement)!
This is a quick and reliable way to scout, get out of deadly situations/effects, catch an enemy by surprise, or completely get around a frustrating puzzle.
If you’re clever and can work quickly, one round is all you need!
Distant Strike (Level 11)
Level 11 is when the Horizon Walker Ranger really comes alive.
Not only does your Planar Warrior feature get an improvement, but you also gain the Distant Strike feature.
And, oh yeah, this is where it gets REALLY good!
When you take the Attack action, you can teleport up to 10 feet before each attack to an unoccupied space you can see.
If you attack at least two different creatures with the action, you can make one additional attack with it against a third creature.
You were already a good skirmisher, but this just takes it to the next level.
That extra 10 feet of teleportation PER ATTACK is happening IN ADDITION TO your normal movement speed.
Related: Movement in D&D 5e Explained
While it’s generally frowned upon to spread damage around instead of focusing on one enemy at a time, that’s where the teamwork aspect really comes in.
The Horizon Walker is poof-ing around the battlefield and any enemies that they don’t drop will be much easier for the rest of the team to follow up on.
Just pay special attention to the wording of this feature.
The attacks must be with your Attack action (which means a bonus action attack wouldn’t count) and you have to attack (though not necessarily hit) two different creatures to get the third attack. That third attack is against a third creature.
Needless to say, casting Haste on yourself makes this feature even crazier! That’s even more movement speed and even more attacks which means even more teleportation!
Without Haste, you’ll reliably be making three attacks and teleporting a total of 30 feet per round in most combats. With Haste, that bumps up to four attacks and 40 feet of teleportation!
Oh, and, because you’re teleporting around, you don’t have to worry about getting smacked with an opportunity attack since you aren’t using your regular movement to get away.
Spectral Defense (Level 15)
The Horizon Walker Ranger’s capstone feature gives the one thing we haven’t got much of just yet: extra defense!
When you take damage from an attack, you can use your reaction to give yourself resistance to all of that attack’s damage on this turn.
Gaining resistance to half the damage you take for the cost of a reaction is a great deal.
Don’t believe me? Just ask the Rogue who has no doubt come to love and appreciate Uncanny Dodge (which does pretty much the same thing.)
Unlike Rogues, however, Rangers tend to be more on the hardy side. You’ve got a d8 hit die and are likely wearing medium armor (and possibly even have a shield too.)
With all of those factors combined, the hope is that you won’t need to use this feature very often.
However, taking a quick/partial trip to the Ethereal Plane to reduce the damage of a particularly punishing attack can be a lifesaver!
Just be mindful that resistance doesn’t stack. If you already have resistance to fire damage, for example, Spectral Defense wouldn’t give you “double resistance” and would therefore not be worth using if a red dragon decides to breathe fire at you.
Additionally, choose when you use this wisely. You only have one reaction and this is only giving you resistance to the damage from one attack.
If there are multiple enemies or if an enemy has multiple attacks (and they almost certainly will), you’ll want to choose which one you use this feature on carefully!
Fortunately, unlike Uncanny Dodge, you don’t have to necessarily see the attack to activate Spectral Defense. If the enemy is invisible or catching you by surprise, you’ll still have a way to reduce the damage you’re taking!
Traveling from plane to plane means a Horizon Walker Ranger can really fit into virtually any adventure easily.
Plus, there is no shortage of creature types to include in an adventure that would warrant the attention of a Horizon Walker.
Fiends, Fey, Aberrations… Many of these “outsiders” are already very commonly included in adventures!
Why wouldn’t a Horizon Walker take interest in stopping a cult that is trying to open a gateway for fiends to enter the Material Plane?
If there are signs of Mind Flayer activity in or around a city, you can bet Horizon Walkers would be quick to begin investigating!
Such adventure hooks would be especially compelling and might strike a friendship between the Horizon Walker Ranger and an Oath of the Watchers Paladin.
Thematically, I could see a Horizon Walker Ranger fitting in especially well in something like Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel or in a Spelljammer campaign.
Of course, it could also be fun to turn the theme of the Horizon Walker on its head a bit…
I love the Men in Black movies and it could be fun to make a Horizon Walker who is part of an organization meant to keep tabs on alien life that comes to their world.
But whether your Horizon Walker is part of a larger organization or is more of a free agent, you can bet they’ve got some stories!
How did they come to learn about the relationship between other planes and their own? What have their interactions with these other beings been like?
Are they viewed with respect by those who study such things or are they viewed as a “tin foil hat” wearing crazy person?
Is the Horizon Walker Ranger Good?
The Horizon Walker Ranger is a seriously cool and painfully underrated subclass.
The visual of a character teleporting around the battlefield smacking enemies is incredibly cool. Of course, there’s also the mechanical benefit of having so much extra mobility.
It’s not that it’s impossible to make a Ranger that does reasonably well in melee combat, but the Horizon Walker is an especially good choice if you like an “up close and personal” approach.
Whether up close or at a distance, Horizon Walker Rangers have what it takes to take control of the battlefield!
But I just have to reinforce how good the spell list you get with Horizon Walker Magic is. Every spell is truly great and it’s quite possibly the best spell list available to Rangers.
Horizon Walkers are most useful in a campaign that features plenty of interplanar travel or themes.
But even if those aren’t a prominent part of the adventure, the Horizon Walker is still a fun and useful addition to the party!
Having said all of that though, this is a subclass that takes some time to hit its stride. Distant Strike is the real standout feature for the Horizon Walker Ranger, but you don’t get that until level 11.
That’s not a terrible thing, but it is something to be aware of if your adventure won’t be going up to that level.
Horizon Walkers might not be the hardest hitters of the Ranger subclasses, but they are far from boring or useless!
Conclusion – Horizon Walker Ranger in D&D 5e
I hope you’ve found this guide to the Horizon Walker Ranger helpful!
There’s a lot to love about this subclass’s theme and they do bring a lot to the party. It could very well be one of the most misunderstood/underrated subclasses in all of 5e.
Personally, I’ve wanted to play one of these for quite a while now. Next time we start up a campaign and I’m on the other side of the DM screen, I might finally play one.
I’m especially latching onto the idea of playing one based on Tommy Lee Jones’s character in MIB. If nothing else, that might at least make for an interesting NPC in the campaign I’m currently running.
But I’m rambling at this point…
What are your thoughts on the Horizon Walker Ranger? Got questions or a fun concept for one of these characters? Let’s chat in the comments!
Don’t forget to sign up for the Tabletop Joab newsletter! It’s the best way to get all the latest player guides, DM Tips, news, reviews, and more for D&D 5e right to your inbox!
If you found this article helpful and want to support the site, you can buy me a coffee here! (It’s not expected, but very appreciated!)