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Is this revision of the homebrew Dragon Rider class balanced compared to the other official classes in 5e?

Note that all the spells I've put on the Rider spell list require concentration.


The class:

Dragon Rider

Dragons terrify most adventurers, but for you, one very small dragon decided to bond with you, giving you the gift of magic as well. Why did the dragon choose you? Did your country or city test every citizen for a bond? Did you find your dragon still in an egg while exploring a abandoned dragon cave far greater adventurers cleared years before? Did you stumble upon it in the woods one day while hunting? Are the dragon's parents or a military looking for it?

Quick Build:

Dexterity should be your highest score as a Rider, followed by Constitution or Intelligence. Get starting equipment (c) and choose the spells Faerie Fire, Hunter's Mark, Arcane Weapon, and Thunderous Smite.

Dragon Rider Spell List

1st-level

Arcane Weapon
Ensnaring Strike
Entangle
Expeditious Retreat
Faerie Fire
Fog Cloud
Hail of Thorns
Hunter's Mark
Searing Smite
Thunderous Smite
Wrathful Smite
Zephyr Strike

2nd-level

Alter Self
Blur
Branding Smite
Earthbind
Magic Weapon
Silence
Skywrite
Warding Wind

3rd-level

Blinding Smite
Call Lightning
Crusader's Mantle
Elemental Weapon
Flame Arrows
Lightning Arrow
Protection from Energy
Vampiric Touch

4th-level

Elemental Bane
Grasping Vine
Greater Invisibility
Staggering Smite
Storm Sphere

5th-level

Animate Objects
Antilife Shell
Circle of Power
Control Winds
Far Step
Immolation
Telekinesis

Class Features

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Dragon Rider level
Hit Points at 1st level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier for each Dragon Rider level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: Light Armor, Medium Armor, and Shields
Weapons: Simple and Martial Weapons
Saving Throws: Intelligence and Constitution
Skills: Choose 3 skills from Perception, Arcana, Nature, Medicine, History, Animal Handling, and Acrobatics.
Tools: Leatherworker's Tools, Dragonchess Set

Equipment

You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a greatsword, 6 Javelins, and Chain Shirt; Or
  • (b) a longsword, 6 Javelins, a Chain Shirt and a shield; or
  • (c) a rapier, Leather Armor, a shield, and 10 darts

and
a longbow, a quiver with 20 arrows, an explorer's pack, and a leatherworker's kit.

Dragon Bond

When you take you first level in this class, you gain a pseudodragon companion with a permanent telepathic bond to you. You always know the location of your dragon as long as it is in the same plane as you. You and this dragon can read and speak Draconic, and you can communicate with each other at a distance of a number of miles equal to your level. As an action, you can see through your dragon's eyes.

If your dragon is killed, you suffer one level of exhaustion from the stress of having your telepathic bond severed. You can spend a long rest to bring it back to life. If you do this, you end your long rest with 0 mana points.

Dragon Magic

Unlike other spellcasters, your magic comes from the power your dragon bestowed on you when you met it; thus, you have no spell slots. Instead, you have a maximum amount of mana equal to your Rider level. You regain all expended mana on a long rest. Whenever you cast a spell, you can spend 1 additional mana to cast it as if you were in your dragon's location.

Intelligence is your spellcasting modifier for Rider spells. You know 4 Rider spells from the Rider spell list and learn 1 more whenever you gain a level in this class.

When you cast a Rider spell, you spend mana according to the table below. If you do not have enough mana, you cannot cast the spell.

\begin{array}{cl} \textbf{Spell Level} & \textbf{Mana Cost} \\ \text{1st} & \text{1 Mana}\\ \text{2nd} & \text{3 Mana}\\ \text{3rd} & \text{5 Mana}\\ \text{4th} & \text{8 Mana}\\ \text{5th} & \text{10 Mana} \end{array}

Fighting Style

At level 2, choose between the Two-Weapon Fighting, Archery, Defense, Great Weapon Fighting, Dueling, or Mariner fighting styles. You can't benefit from the same fighting style more than once.

Mastery

At level 3, choose between the Spell Master and Weapon Master subclasses.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can’t increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Using the optional feats rule, you can forgo taking this feature to take a feat of your choice instead.

Draconic Growth

At level 5, pick a color for your pseudodragon- green, copper, blue, white, brass, black, or silver. Once per long rest, your can use your action to make your pseudodragon temporarily grow into a wrymling of its color. This transformation ends after 10 minutes, or if your dragon is reduced to 0 hitpoints. No creature, including you, can ride your dragon, and it can only use its breath weapon twice during this transformation (this replaces the Recharge feature).

Improved Bond

At level 6, once per short rest, whenever you take damage, you can use your reaction to have your dragon take the damage instead. Additionally, once per short rest, your dragon can use its reaction whenever it takes damage for you to take the damage instead. Transferred damage cannot be reduced in any way.

Additionally, you automatically succeed on any saving throw against your dragon's breath weapon.

Draconic Tendencies

At level 9, your bond with your dragon begins to influence you. Choose either the Survival and Nature proficiencies. You gain proficiency in that skill if you do not already, and you add double your proficiency bonus to any checks that use that skill. Your eyes continuously glow the color of your dragon, and you learn the Thaumaturgy cantrip.

Draconic Growth

At level 10, your dragon permanently grows into a Wrymling of its color. It can only use its breath weapon twice per long rest, and no creature, including you, can ride your dragon while it is in flight. Two small or one medium creature can ride your dragon while it is on the ground or in water.

Extra Attack

Beginning at 11th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Riding Master

At level 13, you have advantage on saving throws you make to stay on your dragon.

Greater Bond

At level 15, when a creature fails a saving throw to your dragon's breath weapon, and is not immune to the damage type of the breath weapon, that creature has disadvantage on saving throws against your spells until the end of your next turn. You, and only you, can now ride your dragon while it is in flight, as long as your size is medium or smaller.

Increased Draconic Tendencies

At level 17, you stop aging and can't be aged magically. You are immune to disease.

Draconic Growth

At level 20, your dragon grows into an young dragon of its color. 2 Medium or 4 Small creatures can now ride it at a time, and it is no longer is limited in uses of its breath weapon.


Subclasses

Weapon Master

At level 3, when your dragon makes a critical hit on a creature, you have advantage on attacks against that creature until the end of your next turn.

At level 7, when you take the dodge action, you have advantage on saving throws to maintain concentration on a spell until the start of your next turn. In addition, if a creature does damage do your dragon, for the next minute the first weapon attack you make against that creature does additional force damage equal to your intelligence modifier.

At level 18, your ranged attacks are made at advantage while you are riding your dragon. In addition, whenever your dragon hit a creature with an attack of opportunity, you can use your reaction to make make a ranged weapon attack against that creature.

Spell Master

Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can now choose one of the following spells instead of one from the Dragon Rider spell list, these spells count as Rider spells for you:
Feather Fall, Heat Metal, Darkvision, Invisibility, Shatter, Fireball, Fire Shield, Elemental Bane, Skill Empowerment, Transmute Rock.

At level 3, you regain mana points equal to your proficiency bonus whenever you complete a short rest.

At level 7, you can use an action to spend mana points and restore to yourself and your dragon hit points equal to the 5 times the mana points you spend.

At level 18, you learn one 6th level spell from the sorcerer spell list, and can cast it once per long rest.

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  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ For reference, the previous version is here: Is this homebrew Dragon Rider class balanced compared to the other official classes? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Dec 8 '19 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is there and aspect of balance that you are particularly concerned of? If not, you should play test instead of asking for a second review. A second review will be much less informative than play testing. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Dec 9 '19 at 1:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are details missing that would be necessary to judge this appropriately. Does the dragon act all on its own, on its own initiative? Or do you spend an action to command it? What are the limitations on spell levels and when you learn them? (I.E. are you prevented from learning 4th level spells until you have 8 mana?). Can the 3rd level Spell Master feature allow you to go beyond your Rider level in terms of available mana? Is the 7th level Spell Master feature temporary hit points, or a heal? Why is Dexterity suggested as a primary stat? \$\endgroup\$ – Zigmata Dec 9 '19 at 23:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @qazwsx It appears I've put you in a defensive posture regarding your design, my intent is only to clarify. I recommend editing the question with these details so that it is more clearly answerable. The reason for the heal question is one of verbiage; typically heals state you "gain" HP as opposed to the feature "giving yourself" HP, which sounds more like an increase of maximum or an award of temporary HP. I'd advise against snarky replies to comments seeking to improve the question and help out. The Dex question is due to no features really using it, and a greatsword as a starting option. \$\endgroup\$ – Zigmata Dec 9 '19 at 23:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @zigmata. For the record. The main stat was something that was raised in the previous question due to the lack of heavy armor and not-full-caster status. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Dec 10 '19 at 0:21
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Here be Dragons!

I enjoyed reading your Homebrew class. It is interesting and I think on the whole it is closer to being balanced. I think it needs further tweaking and definitely some play-testing. It is good to see you have already modified some of the greater aspects from the previous thread.

Main and secondary ability I agree with Dexterity being the main stat, as it will help with AC, attack rolls and damage. This has great synergy with ranged and finesse weapons, too. I would have the secondary stat be Wisdom (instead of intelligence), mainly because it fits with other skills and the general flavour of the spells.

You have not suggested a "background" for this class. I would add into your quick build: "Second, choose the Folk Hero background" (PHB 131). This has great synergy with the class: you get proficiency in Animal Handling, Survival as well as an artisan's tool of your choice. Also, the common folk will be often on your side (Rustic Hospitality) - they might just help you hide a dragon if you are in dire need.

Saving Throws I would replace Wisdom for Intelligence; keep Constitution.

The armour and weapons seem appropriate and balanced.

Skills

I would offer Survival and Insight, instead of Arcana and History, for the reasons above.

I would say the Dragon Rider ought to get to choose only two skills like the majority of other classes, as opposed to three. If a player really wants a particular skill, this may be accessible through their background instead.

The Fighting Style options seem to be appropriate as there is the threads of a Ranger/Paladin in the composition of the Dragon Rider.

You have not added a section on "Spellcasting Ability". Here my suggestion:

"Spellcasting Ability

Wisdom is your Spellcasting Ability for your Dragon Rider spell-like abilities, since your magic draws from the bond you share with your Dragon companion. You use your Wisdom whenever a spell refers to your Spellcasting Ability. In addition, you use your Wisdom modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a Dragon Rider spell-like ability you cast and when Making an Attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your Proficiency Bonus + your Wisdom modifier

Spell Attack modifier = your Proficiency Bonus + your Wisdom modifier"

Now onto the other Dragon Rider features.

Dragon Bond, Improved Bond and Greater Bond

It would help if you made it explicit how your Dragon Companion behaves. Does it have your initiative? Does it act on its own accord, do you use your bonus action to command/ask it to do something, or do you need to forgo an attack as a Warlock would need to?

From the flavour of the class it seems like the dragon companion would be able to attack alongside you. It is an intelligent companion rather than a pet. To keep things simple for the player and DM, I would use elements from the Beast Master sub-class, as in "it takes its turn on your initiative" (PHB p.93).

In using an action to see through you dragon companion's eyes, I would add the tag that while you do this you are blind yourself. Then this ability will be in line with other similar spells/abilities. Otherwise you could be seeing both through your eyes and your dragon's simultaneously. I would use the text from the "Find Familiar" spell (PHB p. 240):

"While your [dragon companion] is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically. Additionally, as an action, you can see through your [dragon companion]’s eyes and hear what it hears until the start of your next turn, gaining the benefits of any special senses that the familiar has. During this time, you are deaf and blind with regard to your own senses."

I think the distance of the telepathic bond and far sight is quite imbalanced: "you can communicate with each other at a distance of a number of miles equal to your level". I would change this to be in line with the familiar spell. Possibly extend this in the upgrades of the Draconic Bond if you want, e.g. 200 feet for Improved Bond (at Level 6) and 300 feet for Greater bond. I can see why you had this far-reaching telepathy in that if your dragon flew off somewhere on an errand or scouting. This is imbalanced. It is a intelligent creature. I would suggest that your dragon companion has its own level of agency in that if you send it to scout a few miles out, it will come back. You don't need to be telepathically bonded at that distance or be able to see what it sees. It will come back and tell you what's what. :) If if pops it's "dragon clogs", well you'll get a level of exhaustion and know that he/she is no more for today.

Improved Bond: The damage reduction seems pointless. A Pseudodragon has only 7 HP so by level 10 if you redirect any damage, it's likely to be marmelise your dragon. I would consider a different mechanic, maybe allowing the Dragon Rider to cast a Warding Bond spell-effect instead (PHB p. 287), twice per long rest, as an action from Level 1. This can only be used with your dragon companion. This will mitigate the damage your dragon receives considerably, while you share half of the damage. I would improve this with progression, e.g. three instances per long rest for Improved Bond, and then at will with Greater Bond.

Greater Bond: I would maybe add a mechanic similar to Guiding Bolt instead (PHB p. 248). If a target failed its saving throw against your dragon's dragon breath ability, your next attack roll you make against the target before the end of your next turn has advantage. I feel this would have a better dynamic, but up to you. :)

Out of curiosity, why not Red, Bronze and Gold dragons? Personally, I would put them all in.

One thing that is missing is mentioning the Alignment of the dragon. I would suggest that the dragon is either the same alignment for the sake of simplicity, or that it has a similar alignment to the Dragon Rider's, e.g. the character is NG, so the dragon could be any good alignment; if the character true neutral, the dragon is also true neutral; if character is evil, then dragon could be any evil alignment. This slight variance in alignment might give the campaign an interesting flavour. For instance, you are playing a LG Dragon Rider and you decide you must save all the Flumphs from the Kobolds but there is not much time so you do it in order "Hey Dragon Bite save the baby Flumphs first". Your dragon looks around and says "Nope, I'm saving the oldies - they know more stuff." Side note: for the White Dragon versions, have an INT of 10. Otherwise, it is going to be an absolute plank of companion - and you might just need a 20 mile radius telepathic bond.

As regards to the Pseudodragon, I would maybe replace this with a "Hatchling Dragon" for various reasons. The Pseudodragon (MM p. 254) is a different species of dragon with quite different stats and it also has Magic Resistance and a sting attack, so nope (in my opinion). I used a mix of information on creating a monster from the DMG (pp. 273-279) as well as the general trend in stats from Dragons in the MM (pp. 86-118). I have taken the averages for the ability scores and reduced the equivalent of a wyrmling's stats by 2 or by 4 points depending on the stat.

Chromatic/Metallic Dragon Hatchling

Small dragon

Armour Class 13 (natural armour)

Hit Points 15 (3d6 +3)

Speed 30 ft., fly 30 ft. (swim 30 ft., if it is a Black, Green, Bronze or Gold Dragon)

STR 12 (+1) / DEX 10 (+0) / CON 12 (+1)

INT 10 (+0) / WIS 11 (+0) / CHA 10 (+0)

Saving Throws Dex +2, Con +3, Wis +2, Cha +2

Skills Perception +4, Stealth +2

Damage Immunities (depends on dragon type)

Senses Blindsight 10 ft., Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages Draconic

Challenge 1/2

(Amphibious: The dragon can breathe air and water, if it is a Black, Green, Bronze or Gold Dragon)

ACTIONS

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6 +1)

No breath weapon.

DRAGON MAGIC

This still seems a bit imbalanced and not versatile enough. For instance, at L10 a Ranger would have access to x4 1st-level spell slots, x3 2nd-level and x2 3rd-level slots. The Dragon Rider would be able to cast one 5th-level spell and that is it. On the other hand, the Dragon Rider would seem imbalanced to me at L10 because they would get access to L5 spells (a Ranger or Paladin does not get this feature till L17!). On top of that the Dragon Rider's companion becomes a Wyrmling (extra damage; breath weapon and stats). This seems a massive boost to damage especially considering that soon after, at L11 you are also getting an extra attack as well. For those reasons I think it would be best if you use the spell progression of a Ranger; it will make the class much more versatile and fun to work with, too - without making the class overpowered. Also, I think that having a spell slot limit is essential for this class to be balanced.

Some suggestions for the Dragon Rider spell list

I think the fact that all require Concentration is a good thing of how you have limited the use of Dragon Magic.

You seem to have a mixture of spells mostly available to Rangers, Paladins and a couple that from the UA Artificer class. Yet there are some Wizard/Sorcerer- and Druid-specific ones as well. I would replace certain spells as they seem out of sync with the other spells and themes of the Dragon Rider. It feels overpowered to have such access, when a multi-classing Wizard-Druid-Cleric would struggle to have access to quite that variety of signature spells by level 10.

Here are some suggestions to re-balance this and have more consistent thread:

Level 1

remove: Entangle

add: Compelled Duel, Feather Fall (not concentration, but it makes total sense as a Dragon Rider)

Level 2

remove Earthbind, Warding Wind

add: Locate Object, Pass Without Trace

Level 3

remove: Call Lightning, Crusader's Mantle, Vampiric Touch

add: Wind Wall; Water Breathing (not concentration, but a fair replacement)

Level 4

remove: Elemental Bane, Greater Invisibility, Storm Sphere

add: Banishment, Freedom of Movement, Locate Creature, Stoneskin

Level 5

remove: Antilife Shell, Circle of Power, Control Winds, Far Step, Immolation, Telekinesis

add: Banishing Smite, Conjure Volley, Geas, Swift Quiver

Draconic Growth

Maybe add descriptors such as Draconic Growth (Hatchling), (Wyrmling) and (Young) to differentiate them. I would keep the same texts for Draconic Growth at levels 5 and 10 with regards to the Breath Weapon, i.e. only two uses per long rest.

Extra Attack This seems balanced, similar to Ranger progression.

Increased Draconic Tendencies

I am not sure why this is here. It seems a random Druid-like enhancement. It's nice but I don't think it fits well with the Dragon Rider's main theme. You could add possibly a damage resistance instead, depending on the Dragon type instead: "Bond of Resistance: you are resistant to X damage type." - depending on the dragon type.

Weapon Master

L7 - I would scrap this part: "In addition, if a creature does damage to your dragon, for the next minute the first weapon attack you make against that creature does additional force damage equal to your intelligence modifier." It is unnecessary, the Dragon Rider already has additional damage because of its companion.

L18 - I would limit this 3 uses per long rest. It seem overpowered otherwise. You will already have a dragon aiding you in battle, you do not need advantage on all ranged attacks. If anything I would say you don't have disadvantage with your ranged attacks as you will be attacking from the back of a moving dragon. My suggestion is:

"At level 18, you do not have disadvantage while making ranged attacks while you are on the back of your dragon companion. In addition, you can become keenly aware of your dragon's responses and movements and can gain advantage on any ranged attacks you make for one minute. You can use this feature up to three times per long rest."

Since you have an extra attack by this point, you could get 12 shots with advantage per use and get a 10% chance to crit (instead of 5%).

Spell Master

I really don't think you need to add more spell power to this class, so I would scrap the idea of the list, but maybe add some more definition into the features.

L3 - I would make this similar to a Wizard's Arcane Recovery (PHB p. 115), only tapered down to match what spell-level access a Ranger/Paladin has by L10. My suggestion would be:

"Dragon Magic Recovery: You have learned to regain some of your magical energy by communing with your dragon companion. Once per day when you finish a Short Rest, you can choose expended Spell Slots to recover. The Spell Slots can have a combined level that is equal to or less than half your Dragon Rider's level (rounded up), and none of the slots can be 4th level or higher. For example, if you’re a 4th-level Dragon Rider, you can recover up to two levels worth of Spell Slots. You can recover either a 2nd-level spell slot or two 1st-level Spell Slots."

L7 - This is more powerful than Domain of Life Cleric's channel divinity feature (PHB p. 60). So, I would nerf this a little but make it more adaptable at the same time.

"Draconic Symbiosis. Starting at 7th Level, you can use your Dragon Magic to heal yourself and your dragon companion. As an action, you place your hand on your dragon and evoke healing energy that can restore a number of Hit Points equal to five times your Dragon Rider level. You can choose to divide those Hit Points between you and your dragon companion as you wish. This feature can restore a creature to no more than half of its hit point maximum. You can use this ability once per long rest."

L18 - This seems quite random. I would use more the Ranger/Paladin synergy here. My suggestion would be a modified version of the Share Spells feature from Beast Master sub-class (PHB p. 93). It is a lovely link into your concentration spells as well. So, maybe something like this:

"Sharing the Horde. Beginning at L18, when you cast a spell targeting yourself, you can also affect your dragon companion with the spell, if your companion is within 30 feet of you. The effect lasts for one minute and you can use this ability 3 times per long rest."

This would bring great synergy with the range of smite spells or Stoneskin.

I hope this helps to re-balance the Dragon Rider's class and brings more discussion to the table. The main streams in my thinking were to follow a clearer path which is parallel to other fighter/caster classes, without providing access to Level 6-9 spells. Also, to add a bit more Dragon flavour to it.

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