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I've asked several homebrew-review questions in the past, and it's been pointed out to me that there are several guides on RPG.SE for these type of questions, I used this one and this one. However, my latest homebrew review question did not get any answer; the best it got is a more-than-a-comment non-answer. The question I am asking about is this one: "How much does this Favored Foe tweak for the Ranger's class feature from TCoE buffs the Rangers when compared to other martial classes?". I would prefer that the scope of this meta question is to be a case study of this specific question, what are the problems and how can I improve it.

This is strange to me, because my homebrew review questions prior to this one gets more answers, even though they're not as good, according to the guides. Not to toot my own horn, but even a user in the question commented that it's rare to see such a well-stated homebrew review question. Maybe it's because that comment set up my expectations so I can't help but feel disappointed when I didn't get an answer (that's on me, I'm not blaming the commenter). Following the guides, here are the steps I took when asking this question:

Present your problems, not your solution

I opened the question by giving my opinion on the new Favored Foe class feature, and my problems with it. I even added an alternative solution outside of my homebrew tweak that I had problems with too.

Present your efforts; state what you want to achieve and why you want a review

After describing the homebrew I made, I explicitly stated what this aims to fix in four paragraphs, covering my current analysis on it, how the changes impact the class, but also that I'm afraid that altering a concentration-based mechanic will overpower the Ranger, which is why I want a review from people in RPG.SE who has more experience and expertise than I do.


Going back to the question, why is my homebrew review question not getting answers, and how can I improve it? Is it the length? Should I just bounty it? Is the title too long? Did I post it at a low-traffic time? Does that even matter that much? I want to know so that I can better improve my homebrew review questions in the future.

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Homebrew review questions are not the most popular type here

They are 100% welcome and you should always feel free to post one. But they seem to draw the attention of fewer users who are interested in writing answers. No matter how well-written, it may simply take extra time before someone comes across the question and is in the mood to answer it. So take heart-- a delay may have nothing to do with the question itself. The flip side of that is that even if you can improve a homebrew review question, it may still take time to draw any answers.

I think that this particular question could be better organized

It contains a lot of the information that makes for a solid homebrew review question, so well done on that front. But at the same time, it is long enough to be a block-of-text post. That's also okay, but those take more effort to read and tend to get less attention as a result.

It also lacks organizational structure(s) which would make it easier to read and reference. I personally like things like line breaks and descriptive section headings, but those are just examples (I'm not sure I would hold up my style here as a model for anyone). This question has headings, but they are not very descriptive of your specific items. That's often fine, but the lack of conciseness below the headings is problematic: I find it hard to extract the salient information from your "what this aims to fix" section, for example.

Finally, it includes information which, while relevant, doesn't add much to the question (in my view): the citations to a Reddit post are evidence that at least some other people feel as you do, but that adds nothing you would not have if you replaced it with a single line like "I want more incentive to take more levels in the Ranger class". If, in your campaign, you are intending to take a level of Rogue, that's all well and good, but it's harder for me to see the significance of that in evaluating a homebrewed Ranger class feature. Are you intending builds that take this homebrewed feature to do the same, meaning that answerers should assume multiclassing (into Rogue, or anything else) when considering the feature itself?

An issue closely related to the above is that it's harder to extract relevant information from the question because of its length, conversational extra information and exposition, and the relative lack of clear organization highlighting the most relevant details. I found it difficult to sift information about your issue, proposed solution, and stated goals/concerns from the rest of the text. A question that is harder to grasp and takes more effort to properly answer is a question that will attract fewer answers.


Specific recommendations for this question

The sections above are more general, but I will suggest a few items for this particular question. The overall thrust of these suggestions are to make the question more concise while also highlighting the most important and useful elements. These are my personal opinions on improvements, so please don't give them more weight than they deserve:

  • Consider changing the name of the homebrewed feature in some way so that it isn't the same as an existing feature. I found this confusing when tracking changes. Even something like Improved Hunter's Mark would help make it clear when we're discussing the original spell or the proposed feature
  • Remove irrelevant points, especially in the beginning. A feature you find unsatisfactory, and intend to change, having a perceived synergy with Feats Rangers may or may not take is not important to evaluating the new version of the feature
  • Cut the Reddit citations entirely. That you have a specific goal for your homebrewed changes is enough reason to include that goal
  • Remove the changelog section or remove the quoted prose describing the proposed feature. They are redundant and double the length of that section
  • The longer a question is, the more it tends to benefit from having more sections, each relatively short and focused. The current headings, and content beneath them, are not convenient for readers to navigate. I consider this to be the highest-impact change you could introduce to the question
  • Providing a succinct summary of a section can be helpful, especially if that section is long or contains lots of asides or conditional cases. If you do offer a summary, it needs to actually summarize the information it addresses: something like tl;dr: here is the changelog is a heading, not a summary-- it contains no information itself, but indicates where information might be found
  • Your general attitudes on the relevant topics are clear, but your specific problems, goals, and methods are harder to tease out. As best I can tell, it seems that your main goal in revising Favored Foe is to provide incentives to take more levels in Ranger, but connections to that goal (or another) are hard to find in the question itself

How I might write this question

I'm hesitant to make sweeping edits to others' questions, especially if I'm not highly confident that I understand all the nuances. But as an example of how I might try to apply these suggestions, the question may look something like this:

Mid- and high-level Ranger play seems underwhelming, and the Favored Foe feature from TCoE seems to continue that

Favored Foe seems generally worse than Hunter's Mark to me: it doesn't offer much that Hunter's Mark lacks until the level 20 feature Foe Slayer. Most games don't reach that level, and even when they do Rangers will spend a lot more play time with Favored Foe lacking that enhancement than they will with it. I'd like to revise the feature to make it more useful, and to encourage taking more levels in Ranger by providing more options for mid- and high-level play as a Ranger.

Here is my proposed homebrew feature:

Improved Hunter's Mark

1st-level ranger feature, which replaces the Favored Enemy feature and works with the Foe Slayer feature. Furthermore, Hunter's Mark is removed from your spell list.

When you hit a creature with an attack roll, you can call on your mystical bond with nature to mark the target as your favored enemy for 1 hour or until you lose your concentration (as if you were concentrating on a spell). Until your concentration ends, you deal an extra 1d4 damage to the target whenever you hit it with an attack, and you have advantage on any Wisdom (Perception) or Wisdom (Survival) check you make to find it.

You can use this feature to mark a favored enemy a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all expended uses when you finish a short or long rest. This feature's extra damage increases when you reach certain levels in this class: to 1d6 at 6th level and to 1d8 at 14th level. Furthermore, once you have reached 11th level in this class, this feature no longer requires concentration.

What I am trying to fix with this homebrewed feature

Play is largely unchanged up to level 11, I think. It's a bit less versatile than the PHB version of Hunter's Mark since it can't be moved when a target reaches 0 hp, but frees up spell slots as it's now a uses-per-rest feature. It otherwise has a lot of the same tradeoffs as Hunter's Mark.

From level 11 and beyond, I think that removing the Concentration piece of the feature allows for more variety by keeping the benefit of extra damage while also allowing free access to other spells, especially those that require Concentration. It also enhances subclass features gained at level 11. So in all it represents a significant increase in power for the Ranger, but I think that is suitable for entering a higher tier of play.

My main worry is that removing the Concentration requirement is overpowered relative to other martial classes. I think it might be fine as it seems similar to the Paladin's Improved Divine Smite feature, which is a direct damage buff and also becomes available at level 11.

Overall, does my proposed Improved Hunter's Mark Ranger class feature make Rangers overpowered relative to other martial classes at level 11 or higher?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure if this type of comment is allowed but, this is really, really, REALLY helpful! I see now that it takes skill and experience to ask great questions, so thank you for sharing yours! You even went above and beyond to give me and example based on my question, which I'll definitely use for reference in the future. \$\endgroup\$ – field158 Jan 26 at 17:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @field158: A comment is a fine place to put that sort of feedback on the answer :) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Mod Jan 26 at 23:45
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It's impossible to know exactly why a question has gone unanswered

Ok, for a lot of questions it would be because we haven't many, or any, users with the system expertise to answer, but that shouldn't be the case here.

My guess is that there's two, connected causes. The first is that it slipped through the net of attention. Falling of the front pages means it stops getting the eyes of potential answerers and then falls out of mind. This happens from time to time even on RPG.SE, bumping it on attention in some way (community user bump, edit, bounty, mentioning it in chat or on meta I suppose) usually helps that.

Then the second reason is that good homebrew is much harder to answer, or at least answer fully and with the support expected here. Or maybe put another way, the easy homebrew review questions are the ones where the problems (be they balance, mechanical, spotlight, whatever) are obvious. Once things are subtle it's hard to give an analytical answer that isn't just "Yeah, probably good. Go playtest it". Of course, you're then looking at a good answer supporting itself with experience, but unless someone has tried something similar enough to be applicable, that would mean playtesting the optional rule, and ideally over the course of an entire campaign. That's a monumental ask (and would take a long time anyway). (It being hard to answer would also mean it slips of attention.)

To the specific of modifying the optional rule for Rangers, the original is still fairly new and so folks haven't digested how much it does to empower the class, and where it might be hampered or reigned in, and whether this would tip the balance too far. That takes time and campaigns.

So coming back to opening, it may well be unanswered because none has the specific expertise to answer it yet. So what could you do? Well, playtest it yourself and come back with the expertise and self-answer it.

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