dnd 5e – Which one is the “true” ranger and which subclasses are officially available?


I stopped playing D&D over a year ago. Back then I was really obsessed with unofficial (but not quiet yet homebrew) material. Unearted Arcana stuff, third party books from people working with WotC and so on. I had this huge document of official and unofficial (sub)races, (sub)classes, feats and other options. Mixing and matching all those things was really fun and led to some cool (and sometimes wonky) characters.

Now I started a new game with lots of beginners and I realized that the plethora of options often lead me to analysis paralysis and powergaming tendencies. So now I go back to the basics and walk the purist way. Problem is, I have forgotten which sources are actually official and which are not. Especially when it comes to the ranger class.

As far as I remember, the ranger was considered the weakest class in the Player’s Handbook. And then there was an Unearted Arcana presenting a revised ranger class. But that one was too good. Then there were some subclasses for both ranger versions and some class options as well. And Jeremy Crawford (and other WOtC people) also had some opinions on Twitter about the whole thing.

So now I am confused which one is the “real” ranger. The one that is officially endorsed by WotC. Which subclasses can be chosen by this ranger? And are there any other class options that are accepted to use. Any updates to the initial class? (I haven’t played in the Adventurers League, but maybe that’s as close I can get to “official”? I don’t know).

Obviously, there is the base class in the Player’s Handbook with two subclasses: Hunter and Beast Master. Then Gloom Stalker, Horizon Walker and Monster Slayer in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. I ask this question before Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is out. I assume there will be more subclasses and maybe other stuff in there.

Am I missing something? Who is the real ranger? Who are the imposters among us?