I plan on starting a new session of DnD 5e with some friends. Yesterday I worked out the character with one of the PCs, and he decided he wanted to play a rock gnome.

We came up with the Idea of him fighting with little remote controlled drones instead of traditional weapons, so I tried to come up with some mechanics for it.

The class of my player is a rogue, as this came closest to what he imagined his character to be, compared to the other classes defined in the Players Handbook.

Is the following system for drone fighting viable in DnD5e, is it balanced or are there any possible flaws/room for improvement?

In detail:

  • Is the following concept a fair alternative to typical weaponry available for level 1 characters? Is it too powerful? Too weak?
  • Are the presented mechanics comprehensive and logical? Are there loopholes or issues with the definition?
  • Does the concept fit within the general rules of DnD5e? Do the rules contradict other mechanics?

Drones are considered a non-magical ranged weapon, though I roughly based my concept on a mixture of a magic spell and bows/crossbows. Characters can be proficient in drone-flight if trained.

The drones are little remote controlled flying machines. They come in two different flavors:

Melee drone:  
AC: 8 
HP: 2
Damage: 1d8 slashing

Ranged drone:
AC: 10
HP: 2
Ammunition: 3
Ranged damage: 1d8 piercing
Melee damage (in case Ammo runs out): 1d4 piercing

The drones are controlled using a remote control. The skill used to hit is Intelligence (piloting skill with the remote); no additional hit roll is required for the drone's melee/ranged attack. Attacks using a drone require a visual connection and an action. A drone can attack for multiple rounds, as long as the character decides to stay focused on controlling it, similar to an ongoing spell. The connection range for the remote control is 30ft.

Only one drone can be controlled at a time, losing or ending focus will cause the drone to crash.

Parts for building more drones can be bought in larger cities for about 1 gp per 10 drones (twice the price of arrows as per the Player's Handbook). The parts need to be assembled using Tinker's Tools during a short rest. As for their size and delicateness, the player can only ever carry a maximum of 12 drones - the type of drone does not matter. The price of a new remote control is 25 gp (the price of a light crossbow) plus it takes the effort of a long rest to assemble.

The player can try and salvage any used drones during a fight, gaining a percentage of used parts depending on a d100 with disadvantage.

I am open for any critique on balancing and mechanics or hints on possible issues.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is a fine question (also, welcome to the site :) ) , but I want to make sure this is really all the information you currently have on the drones before answering; there's a lot of stuff that looks like it's missing and I'm willing to go through and detail what's missing and why it's a problem/how to fill it in, but it would be annoying if you had just neglected to include things in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Apr 11 '18 at 6:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks! The concept was created over a bunch of ciders yesterday evening, so I don't really know anything I might be missing. But if you tell me what you are missing I will add my thoughts to the question. \$\endgroup\$ – T3 H40 Apr 11 '18 at 6:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, this site doesn't really do back and forth discussion well. If you are looking to work out an idea in progress, e.g. with the expectation that people would point out problems and then you'd fix them and then they'd point out more problems, you may find a forum a better fit. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Apr 11 '18 at 9:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is a homebrew, of course it does not fit the ruleset. That is the point. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Apr 11 '18 at 10:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ While the question is too broad for a proper answer, I think it might be helpful to point out that a popular way (and tangentially alluded to in the Equipment section of the Players Guide when discussing custom weapons) to do this sort of thing is to simply make it function mechanically like an existing weapon and only differentiate it cosmetically. So the ranged drone would just be treated as a crossbow, but described as a drone making the attack at the player's direction. Something similar was done in the Force Grey Season 1 stream with the spells of Ashley Johnson's character, Dagny Halvor. \$\endgroup\$ – cpcodes Apr 12 '18 at 20:11

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