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I would like to play a "green witch"- or "hedge witch"-type character in an upcoming D&D 5e campaign, so my DM is letting me homebrew a Druid-themed Warlock patron (similar to how the official Celestial patron is Cleric-themed).

(I intend for the patron itself to be a powerful natural spirit, such as Nobanion.)

Is this patron balanced compared to official material?

Full disclosure: I'm likely to be the main healer in the party, so I've made sure to include healing staples (in-combat heal, restorations, a resurrection option) among the patron abilities.

Expanded Spell List

The following spells are added to your spell list:

Level 1: Entangle, Goodberry
Level 2: Animal Messenger, Spike Growth
Level 3: Call Lightning, Conjure Animals
Level 4: Dominate Beast, Freedom of Movement
Level 5: Greater Restoration, Reincarnate

Earth Friend

At 1st level, you gain the ability to telepathically understand the thoughts of beasts and plants. Targets with low intelligence might exhibit only simple memories or emotions.

I'm hoping mind reading will not be too disruptive to the DM / story since beasts and plants typically don't know much.

Nature's Aid

At 1st level, you can channel your patron's energy to aid you and your allies. You have a pool of d4s of size equal to your Warlock level + 1, which is replenished after every long rest.

You may use your bonus action to heal a creature. Touch a creature and spend some number of dice from the pool, up to your Charisma modifier. Roll these dice and add them together; you restore a number of hit points equal to the total.

Alternatively, you may use your bonus action to empower a minion - any celestial, fey, fiend, elemental or beast that you command, such as a familiar or summon - within 60 ft of you to heal a creature. Roll dice from the pool as above, but also roll and add a die of the same type as your minion's hit dice. On your minion's next turn, it may use its bonus action to touch a creature and restore a number of hit points equal to the total. If unused, the bonus action and dice are wasted.

My intention here is to provide weaker healing than the Celestial patron (since this patron has a broader focus), which can be brought closer to parity using Druid-y summons.

Improved Nature's Aid

At 6th level, your Nature's Aid ability becomes more versatile. You gain the following options.

You may improve your allies' attacks. As a bonus action, spend some number of dice from the pool and select that many creatures within 60 ft of you. For the next 3 turns, weapon or natural weapon attacks by those creatures deal an extra 1d4 radiant or necrotic damage (your choice) and are considered magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

You may remove an ally's disease or affliction. As an action, spend 1 die from the pool and touch a creature. You cast Lesser Restoration on them without expending a spell slot.

The first option is inspired by the Circle of the Shepherd Druid subclass, whose summons remain useful later-game because they have magical attacks.

The second option is mainly included since I will be a primary healer.

Regrowth

At 10th level, you have resistance to poison. If you are dealt poison damage against your will and do not have a full pool of Nature's Aid dice, you regain one die.

The "against your will" caveat is intended to prevent abuse (e.g. allies dealing minor poison damage to you out of combat), and has precedent in the Circle of the Shepherd's 14th level ability.

Earth Shaper

At 14th level, you may cast one of the following spells at 7th level without using a spell slot or material components: Wall of Water, Wind Wall, Wall of Fire, Wall of Stone, Wall of Thorns. You must finish a long rest before using this feature again.

Thanks for your feedback!

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is not a balance thing, but how'd you come to Radiant and Necrotic damage for Improved Nature's Aid? Those are not generally types associated with druids, those are more Clericy in nature. Druids tend to be associated with fire and lightning for their magical damage more. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Jan 7 at 8:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Theik I wanted to give options for both good- and evil-aligned characters, but I didn't realise radiant and necrotic were more Cleric than Druid. I think fire / lightning is a good suggestion, thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – mjmartis Jan 7 at 9:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just to challenge the premise of the question somewhat, is there a reason you don't want your hedge witch character to just be a druid? If I was going to make a hedge witch character myself, I'd turn to druid before warlock (I know the term "warlock" is often used to describe male witches, but it means a different thing in D&D). If you wanted to go the "warlock with a patron" route anyway, what is your patron? Nature itself? Because that's literally a druid. Alternative to that, have you considered the Archfey patron? Since hags are fey, a powerful hag (or coven of hags) could be your patron. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jan 7 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mjmartis is there a reason why you didn't use cure wounds as an expanded spell? Or add it in other ways like an Eldritch Invocation for this patron? Like, this Invocation let you know cure wounds and two cantrips from the druid spell list, this does not count against your spell known. I asked because of the "main healer" part of your question. \$\endgroup\$ – Chepelink Jan 7 at 12:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NathanS good comments, thanks. For "why not druid": I'm keen to explore the tension between nature magic and the darker side of witchcraft, which I wouldn't get from a druid alone. There's an argument for druid / warlock multiclass, but my DM agrees that a new patron works well. Archfey is a good suggestion, but it seems to focus on whimsy / mischief whereas I'm looking for power over nature / animals. For "what would the patron be": I was thinking a powerful natual spirit, rather than nature itself. From a quick search, I found e.g. forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Nobanion \$\endgroup\$ – mjmartis Jan 7 at 13:19
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It seems balanced, but...

At first glance it seems balanced. It does not have anything particular worrisome or that it may break the class or abuse the system in any way. But, when I looked at the patron a bit closer I found some glaring problems.

The easiest one is the first two abilities "Nature's Aid" and "Earth Friend". Usually, when designing a class or subclass, you have to be sure that a feature should be usable from the level that it was gained. If not, the penalty that was in place seems unnecessary. In this case, this part is the one I'm talking about, emphasise mine:

Nature's Aid: ... Alternatively, you may use your bonus action to empower a minion - any celestial, fey, fiend, elemental or beast that you command, such as a familiar or summon

As you can see, for this feature to be useful, it needs a minion. Unless I'm not aware of another warlock spell, the lowest summoning spell that a Warlock could get is "Find Familiar" with the "Pact of the Chain" boon, followed by "Summon lesser Demon" (a 3rd level spell). If the warlock chooses not to get any summoning options like those previously mentioned, that section punishes the player. This is where "Earth Friend" might help. This is just one of many options that you could use to improve the situation. That is, it is just an advice. Change "Earth Friend" for something similar to:

Earth Friend:

At 1st level, you gain the ability to cast "Find Familiar" as a ritual. If later you gain the boon "Pact of the Chain" you can change "Find Familiar" for one ritual spell from the Druid's spell list of level one and cast it as ritual.

Moreover, if at any moment you choose the "Beast Speech" Eldritch Invocation, you can speak with beasts and plants telepathically when using that feature.

Why the change? First, it make it possible for the player to fully utilise "Nature's Aid" since now the player has the chance to have a minion. The next part was put there to not diminish in power the "Pact of the Chain" boon. Swapping for a similar level ritual spell do not seem to have unintended consequences, at least for now. The last part is also to keep your idea kind of intact AND the old "Earth Friend" feature seemed a bit redundant given that "Beast Speech"'s Eldritch Invocation exist.

As an example for this type of changes, the "Hexblade" patron has a clause similar to this, emphasis mine.

Hex Warrior: If you later gain the Pact of the Blade feature, this benefit extends to every pact weapon you conjure with that feature, no matter the weapon's type

And this include and also extends the Eldritch Pact "Improved Pact Weapon".

Improved Pact Weapon: Finally, the weapon you conjure can be a shortbow, longbow, light crossbow, or heavy crossbow.

Wall of Elements

Considering the most damaging Patron feature "Hurl Through Hell" does a 10d10 psychic damage with no save and make the target disappear for one turn (given that an attack hits), some of the damage options of the Walls are a bit over the top. A creative use of the wall can, potentially, make one or more creatures useless for more than one turn, making it a better option in comparison to other Patron features of the same level. However, it is a spell, can be counter-spelled, and limited by concentration. Furthermore, the other options of this Patron, are on the weak side (2.5 of damage on average per attack per 3 turns is not that powerful). I'd just lower the walls to 6th level and call it a day.

Cure wounds

The second biggest problem I found is that it does not have cure wounds. Now, it might not seem like a problem becase there exist other options: Multiclass and feats. But, those are optional rules. Thus, I evaluate the lack of this considering these facts. I understand that you are probably safe, but I find that not adding this section won't make my answer complete.

"Nature's Aid" uses a pool of 1d4 heals to heal a target. The limit on the number of 1d4 that you can use are set by the Charisma modifier. Given a +5 modifier, at worst it heals 5 HP and, at best, 20 (with an average of 12.5 HP). A bit worse than the Celestial counterpart (minimum: 5, maximum: 30 and average: 17.5). Because of the limit given by the charisma modifier, it scale terribly in combat at higher levels. "Cure wounds" scale better in combat (Using a 5 level spell slot, "Cure wounds" minimum heals for 10 HP, a maximum of 45 and an average of 27.5, with a +5 modifier).

As a (possible) main healer, loosing this might hurt in the long run. And if you want a more Druid alternative, "Healing spirit" is a really good one (a 2nd level spell). It is better than cure wounds, but adding arguably on of the best healing spells might consider too powerful for a Patron spell.

Conclusions

For the most part, it is balanced, in particular considering other Patrons. The only major issue I saw was the "Nature's Aid" problem and a bit of redundancy with "Earth Friend". The walls might be a problem as a free cast, but there are ways to deal with them and the other features balance the walls nicely.

The "Cure Wounds" problem is only bad if you consider that Multiclass and feats are optional rules, and that you might be the main healer. Aside from this, it is a solid Patron.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your detailed reply. I think Find Familiar + 6th level Wall of Elements are both smart changes that I will make. My intention with the beast / plant telepathy was to give a passive "nature connection" buff - do you think advantage (or "double your proficiency bonus") for Charisma-based skill checks on beasts / plants would be overpowered? \$\endgroup\$ – mjmartis Jan 8 at 13:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Re healing: I did think about Healing Spirit but was worried about how powerful it is. In the past I've seen DMs rule that a reaction must be used to heal with the spirit - do you think it's a balanced patron spell with that change? \$\endgroup\$ – mjmartis Jan 8 at 13:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mjmartis would it be OP? It's niche enough to be borderline fine. It totally depends on the style of your DM to be sincere. Some DM would think that interacting with something with an intelligence a bit higher than a potato is irrelevant and roll it just for the fun. For highly intelligent cabbages and other beast, that is another matter, altogether. But, again, it depends on the DM. For your second comment. That, in itself, is worth posting a new question. But, my DMing style would allow it without changes. Opening the possibility for my own creatures to use it. Evil grin \$\endgroup\$ – Chepelink Jan 8 at 15:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually agree with pretty much everything you've said here. This is quite well thought out. \$\endgroup\$ – RevenantBacon Jan 10 at 21:55

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