Is this homebrew Farmer class balanced so far?

My players helped an old farmer out, and he wants his son to travel with them as an NPC/PC. The boy has lots of potential, and yearns to see the world. I control the character out of combat, and a player controls him in combat. I wanted to create a custom class for this, and this is what I have so far.

I have created weapons for this class as well, the pitchfork and the scythe. You can comment on these as well if you like, but I'm more interested on the class features at the moment. I can always substitute them for copies of weapons straight from the handbook if I need to.

What are your thoughts? Is this balanced, when compared to other core martial classes? What adjustments should I make? I only have levels 1-9 planned out so far.

To clarify, I am not looking for feedback on the implications of having a companion NPC for the party or a DMPC, but rather feedback on the balance of the class itself. For example:

• How do the level 5 class options compare to most other martial classes getting Extra Attack? What about level 7, where most classes get a significant improvement to their subclass or core abilities? Other levels as well, if applicable.
• Level to level, does this class stack up to other martial classes?
• Which feats mesh well with the class, including potential racial feats. Which feats could cause the class to become overpowered or broken?
• What races/backgrounds compliment the class? What is the most viable option for a build?

The Farmer Class

The Farmer Table

$$\\begin{array}{|c|c|l|} \hline \textbf{Level} & \textbf{PB} & \textbf{Features} \\ \hline \text{1st} & +2 & \text{Unarmored Defense, Farmer's Weapons, Farmer Die, Strong as an Ox} \\ \text{2nd} & +2 & \text{Tend the Herd, Reapin' and Sowin'} \\ \text{3rd} & +2 & \text{Stubborn as a Mule} \\ \text{4th} & +2 & \text{Ability Score Improvement} \\ \text{5th} & +3 & \text{Farmer's Spirit} \\ \text{6th} & +3 & \text{Bountiful Harvest} \\ \text{7th} & +3 & \text{Farmer Die improvement} \\ \text{8th} & +3 & \text{Ability Score Improvement} \\ \text{9th} & +4 & \text{Scarecrow} \\ \hline \end{array} \$$

Class Features

Hit Points

• Hit Dice: 1d12
• Hit Points at 1st Level: 12 + your Constitution modifier
• Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d12 (or 7) + your Constitution modifier per Farmer level after 1st

Proficiencies

• Armor: none
• Weapons: sickle, hatchet, pitchfork, scythe
• Tools: none
• Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
• Skills: Choose 3 from Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Athletics, Medicine, Nature, Perception, and Survival

Starting Equipment

• (a) a pitchfork or (b) a scythe
• (a) a hatchet or (b) a sickle
• An explorer's pack

Note: The pitchfork deals 1d8 piercing damage and has the two-handed and reach properties. The scythe deals 2d4 damage, and has the finesse and special properties. It has -2 to hit, but its crit range is 19-20, and a crit deals 5d4 damage instead of 4d4. The hatchet is identical to the handaxe, but is called a "hatchet" for flavor reasons. If anyone without the "Farmer Weapons" class feature attempts to use the tools, they count as improvised weapons.

Unarmored Defense

While you are not wearing any armor, your Armor⁠ Class equals 10 + your Dexterity modifier + your Constitution modifier. You cannot use a shield and gain this benefit.

Farmer's Weapons

You are proficient in farmer's weapons. These are the sickle, hatchet, pitchfork and scythe. The sickle has the finesse property for you.

Farmer Die

When you take this class at 1st level, you have a number of d4s, which you can use in a variety of ways. The number of farmer dice equals your Str or Dex modifier + your Con modifier. When you finish a short rest, you regain 1d4 expended farmer dice, and when you finish a long rest you regain all of your expended farmer dice.

Strong as an Ox

When you miss an attack roll with a farmer's weapon, you can choose to roll a farmer die and add the total to the attack roll.

Tend The Herd

Starting at 2nd Level, you gain proficiency in the Animal Handling skill. If you already have this proficiency, you instead gain expertise with that skill, which means your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make with it.

Reapin' And Sowin'

Starting at 2nd level, when you attack with a farmer's weapon, you can apply special techniques used during times of harvest.

When you score a critical hit with a farmer's weapon or reduce a creature to 0 hit points with one, you can spend a farmer die to roll it and regain a number of hit points equal to the total.

Stubborn as a Mule

Starting at 3rd level, when you are reduced to 0 hit points (and aren't killed outright) and have at least 1 farmer die remaining, you can make a Constitution saving throw. The DC equals the damage you took. Before making the Constitution saving throw, spend at least one farmer die and add the total to the roll. On a success, you regain a number of hit points equal to the total of the farmer die you rolled. You can use this feature only once per short rest.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 4th 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.

Farmer's Spirit

When you reach 5th level, you may pick a Farmer's Spirit, which enhances your abilities or grants new ones. You can choose one of the following options:

Spirit of the Mule

The spirit of a hearty mule helps you endure through difficult times.

When you roll a farmer die for the Reapin' and Sowin' feature, you can add your Constitution modifier to the roll to determine how many hit points you regain. Additionally, when you make a Constitution saving throw as part of the Stubborn as a Mule feature, you have advantage on the roll.

Spirit of the Ox

The spirit of a mighty ox grants you strength when you need it most.

All of your Strength-based attacks deal 1 additional point of damage. When you roll a farmer die for the Strong as an Ox feature, you also add the roll to the damage of the attack if it hits. Additionally, if your attack hits after using the Strong as an Ox feature, you may make one additional attack as a bonus action on the same turn.

Spirit of the Beekeeper

The spirits of a hive of bees allows you to better support your allies.

You gain one additional farmer die. Additionally, after a short or long rest, you can expend any number of farmer dice without rolling them to obtain an equal number of honey chunks from your bee spirits. A creature can consume a honey chunk as an action to restore hit points equal to 1d4 + your farmer die. The chunks lose their healing properties if they are not consumed within 24 hours of being obtained, or if you use this feature again.

Bountiful Harvest

Starting at level 6, when you roll Hit Dice to recover HP, the amount of HP you recover is increased by 2. Additionally, when you recover spent Hit Dice at the end of a long rest, you recover 1 more Hit Die than normal.

Farmer Die Improvement

When you reach 7th level, your Farmer Die becomes a d6.

Ability Score Improvement

When you reach 8th 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.

Scarecrow

At level 9, you can divert enemies away from your allies. You know how to intimidate crows away from your crops, and you can attempt to do the same in combat.

As an action, roll a farmer die and choose one creature within 30 feet of you. That creature has disadvantage on attacks against other creatures you designate for 1 minute, while that creature or its target is within 30 feet of you. You can designate a number of creatures equal to the roll of your farmer die, but you cannot include yourself, and the creatures you designate must be within 30 feet of you when you designate them.

The farmer die is spent, and you can only use this ability once per short rest.

• Yeah that makes sense. Is the Farmer's Spirit feature a sort of fifth-level subclass? Would there be later features that are similar / are there "proper" subclasses? You may want to explain what your goals were with this class, and any specific things you're wondering about. Here's a question that you may find helpful as well: "How can I ask a good homebrew review question?" – Medix2 Mar 14 '20 at 0:39
• @Medix2 The 5th level feature isn't so much a subclass as it is a customization option. My plan is to have the 5th, 11th and 17th levels have a customization option choice as a pseudo-subclass. I think this would ultimately add variety to the class without specifically needing to make subclasses for it. Think of it like the Barbarian Totem Warrior subclass. Essentially, you can choose any option at 5th, 11th and 17th level regardless of what you picked for the last customization option. – Akira_Kurusu Mar 14 '20 at 1:44
• @Medix2 As for my goals with this class, I wanted it to feel driven by resource management to symbolize farming. That's where the farmer die come in. I've done a bit of playtesting with friends, and it works pretty well. The player needs to consider when to use the farmer die and on which abilities. Do you save one for Stubborn as a Mule, or do you try to take down the enemy by increasing your attack roll via Strong as an Ox? etc. – Akira_Kurusu Mar 14 '20 at 1:46
• @pllpnakjlx I appreciate the feedback! The players actually love the character and class, and I'm asking about the balance of the class compared to other martial classes, not the implications of an NPC companion. We all have fun with this character, so that isn't the topic of discussion at this time. There are only two party members, and having companions is part of the game for them. (They pick and choose who to hire or take with them, and they chose to take this character.) – Akira_Kurusu Mar 19 '20 at 16:20
• @StopBeingEvil Thank you for your feedback. Please take a look at the comment above, as that applies to your comment as well. – Akira_Kurusu Mar 19 '20 at 16:21

My assessments are largely based of comparisons with the Barbarian class, which this class seems to emulate most closely.

Hit Points and Proficiencies:

Aligns relatively closely to the Barbarian, but is weaker due to the lack of shield proficiency. The AC difference will be felt for the entirety of the game.

Additionally, the lack of armor proficiency and the addition of Unarmored Defense guarantees that any sane Farmer player will be forced into a Dexterity-based build, as a Strength-based Farmer would have a maximum AC of... 10.

I'm not going to address the special farmer weapons, as those are complicated enough that they merit an entire question of their own.

Strong as an Ox

Essentially a more situational, somewhat weaker version of Bardic Inspiration, but it doesn't require a bonus action. It's resource-limited and relatively low in value with a maximum of +4 to hit, so I think that this is probably balanced.

Tend the Herd

Similar to the UA Class Features Ranger's Canny feature. Nothing crazy here. Not a skill that's often used. Good for flavor.

Reapin' and Sowin'

Similar to the Barbarian's 9th level Brutal Critical if you see healing as negative damage. Despite this feature coming significantly earlier at 2nd Level, once again, it's resource-limited and relatively low with a maximum of 4 points regained. Provides significantly less utility than the Barbarian's Danger sense. This seems balanced to me.

Stubborn as a Mule

Unfortunately, some significant problems here. It's very similar to the Barbarian's 11th level Relentless Rage feature, but it doesn't require Rage. Due to the way damage scales, the DC will be way too low at early levels and likely too high at higher levels. As a result, this will be overpowered early and underpowered late.

I don't think this kind of "Undead Fortitude" feature is necessarily broken by definition, however. With a bit of tweaking it could make for an interesting feature. My main suggestion is that the DC should be reworked to use the same pattern used for Concentration saves; i.e. the higher value of 10 or half the damage taken.

Farmer's Spirit

The only way that I can see this class being a viable martial class is if, instead of using extra attacks, this class was adapted to focus on singular, heavy-hitting attacks.

With that under consideration, I think that the only option that would make a modicum of sense to take is the Spirit of the Ox. With the added bonus to damage rolls, this is the only option that will let the Farmer remain competitive with the other martial classes.

The rest of this analysis operates under the assumption that Spirit of the Ox is the only option here.

Bountiful Harvest

5e tends to avoid flat increases to values, so the +2 bonus to Hit Die healing is somewhat inconsistent with the style of the other classes. Otherwise, not much to say here.

Farmer Die Improvement

Again, operating under the assumption that Spirit of the Ox is the only option for Farmer's Spirit, this is a nice overall improvement to the Farmer's combat capabilities.

Scarecrow

Similar to the Swashbuckler Rogues 9th level Panache ability, however this ability has no save DC and fewer conditions. On the flip side, it can only be used once per short-rest and imposes disadvantage on attacks against a limited number of creatures.

Without a repeatable save DC, this feature is blatantly overturned. Otherwise it seems reasonably balanced.

Despite some balance issues, I do think that you have a compelling thematic in this class. Drawing on the themes of various farm animals makes for a fun and, more importantly, highly unusual and unique class.

My final thoughts, however, are the same for this class as for almost every homebrew class I've ever seen. This class is probably better off being a subclass for the Barbarian. This class seems largely modeled after it and I think that a lot of what you're trying to achieve could be better accomplished by tweaking something that exists, rather than trying to build a full class from the ground-up.

If you do choose to continue along the path of this being a distinct class, keep in mind that, regardless of any advice given here, it will require extensive playtesting before it's ready for use. The good thing is that you're using it for an NPC, which, all things considered, is probably a best case, as you can easily tune encounters and difficulty in response to any balance issues that arise.