So now that we've established my identity as a radical anti-Vancer, let's talk about the 5e homebrewing I've done so far. I'll just quickly point to the Hierophant and the Mystic: apart from observing that they are both attempts at non-Vancian variants of core classes, I'll hold off and say more about them later. Today let's look at the Quarry Ranger.
Now, "Ranger Variant" is almost a punchline in the 5e homebrew world, because there are so many of the darn things floating around. But the reason for that is exactly what you might think: the 5e Ranger is just an unsatisfying class. Chris Delvo goes into detail as to why in a very worthwhile read, but there are basically two reasons: it has way to many situational powers, and it doesn't quite seem to know what it's supposed to be. The former means powers like Favored Enemy, where you get benefits related to attacking certain enemy types; it's utility is obviously contingent on whether your DM sends that sort of monster at you, and useless if he doesn't. As for the latter: the ranger is obviously nature-guy, but what does that mean for the class' design? Does he fight like a Fighter, sneak like a Rogue, cast nature spells like the Druid? The 5e designers, in their well-intentioned desire to please everyone, seem to have decided on a little bit of all of the above, and the result is a bit of a mess.
Of course, the 3e ranger, which 5e harkens back to, had a lot of the same problems, but it's a little disappointing that they weren't fully addressed in the new edition. Hence the spate of homebrew designs. So what was my approach? I didn't want to redesign the class from the ground up; Chris' post shows that the 5e folks got a lot about the ranger right but missed in just a few areas. At the same time, the class' identity crisis really needs to be addressed.
That means getting rid of spellcasting—a polarizing choice, but I simply don't see the core ranger concept as having anything to do with magic, and it means we can focus the ranger's identity more easily. That identity, it seems, should focus strongly on exploration and survival. That lets us reconcile the more Fighter-like and Roguish aspects of the Ranger by giving them a common area of focus. Getting rid of spells means we can beef up power in other areas, allowing us to address the other problem of situational powers a little more flexibly. It also leaves us with room for new powers, which should focus on and enhance the Ranger's explorer theme.
That's the general approach. What follows below the fold is what I'm sure will be a too-long design diary, going over the new or enhanced features in detail. If you don't read it, I understand! I'll still appreciate any thoughts or questions you want to share.