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an additional -2 penalty to anyone trying to track the ranger through his primary terrain. On the other hand, the terrain-specialized ranger has a -2 penalty in all terrains except the one in which he is specialized. This specialization in terrain does not cost any proficiency slots. The ranger cannot specialize in more than one type of terrain.

Regardless of whether they're wardens of private game reserves, arctic explorers, or freelance monster hunters, all rangers share a set of special abilities that distinguish them from other character classes. Just as wizards have an innate aptitude for casting spells and thieves have a natural talent for picking pockets, rangers have the inborn ability to track other creatures, hide in shadows and move silently in outdoor settings, react to specific enemies, empathize with animals, understand the complexities of nature, survive in extreme conditions, build strongholds, and acquire followers. Quite a list--but that's what makes the ranger such an exceptional character.

We'll spend this chapter examining each of the ranger's abilities in detail, looking at their applications and special rules. The ranger's ability to attract followers--a topic complex enough to merit special attention--will be saved for the next chapter.

Thanks to his keen senses and thorough understanding of animal behavior, the ranger is an expert tracker. He reads an impression in the mud or a bend in a twig like words on a printed page. He can determine the identity of his quarry and how fast it was traveling by the depth of a footprint. He can tell the size of a slug from the trail of slime it left behind. He can track an orc in the darkest forest, a rabbit though the thickest jungle, an escaped convict across the most desolate mountain range.

A ranger's tracking skills apply to characters as well as creatures, and to underground and interior settings as well as all types of outdoor environments. His tracking skills are inherent; that is, he receives the Tracking nonweapon proficiency automatically at the outset of his career, expending no proficiency slots.

A ranger can't just track anything, any time he likes. In order to track a particular quarry, the following conditions must be met:

Elements of a trail may include footprints, bent twigs, waste matter, or any other physical signs that a ranger can follow. Certain categories of creatures--including swimming and lying creatures, small insects, and ghosts and other non-corporeal creatures--seldom leave physical evidence of their passage. In most cases, such creatures can't be tracked. However, since tracking involves all the senses, not just sight, it's possible that the aroma of burning metal might linger after the passage of a particular spectre, or a ghost might reveal itself by its eerie voice, heard faintly in the distance. Still, only the most skilled rangers are capable of following trails devoid of physical evidence, and the DM should allow such tracking in only the rarest of circumstances.

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