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Ranger: Pact Keeper Some rangers stand as a gateway between humanity and the chaotic presence of the feywild, and some fey stand with them. You’ve made a pact with an organization upholding safety for your kind, while maintaining good ties with the fey. Pact keepers embrace the chaos that comes along with fairy magic while seeking to give it guidance and purpose. Your bond with your familiar allows for great feats of heroism, and magic.

Fey Familiar Starting at 3rd level, in accordance with your pact, a fey being joins forces with you to stave off unfriendly beings of the wild. Your familiar is a tiny humanoid-like being, that cannot be targeted.

At the start of each of your turns, you can position your familiar in any space at any point within 30 feet of you, ignoring difficult terrain.

Each time you finish a long rest -and when you take this subclass- your familiar gains a list of cantrips and spells. To determine the cantrips on your familiar’s list, roll four d20s, and add the cantrip corresponding to the roll number from the Fairy Cantrip list below. Reroll any duplicates. To determine the spells on your familiar’s list, roll two d12s and the spells from the Fairy Spells list below.

You can use a bonus action on your turn to communicate with your familiar to cast one of its cantrips, or a spell. If you choose to use a cantrip, you can choose any cantrip from your familiar’s list. If you choose to attempt to cast a spell, roll a d6 (or a d8 at 11th level) and your familiar casts the spell or cantrip corresponding to the number rolled. In either case, the spell originates from your familiar and you can choose its target. You use your spell save DC for your familiar’s spellcasting. You can attempt to cast a spell a number of times per day equal to your ranger level plus your Wisdom modifier.

d20 Fairy Cantrips d12 Fairy Spells
1 Ray of Frost 1 Ice Knife
2 Dancing Lights 2 Magic Missile
3 Message 3 Witch Bolt
4 Druidcraft 4 Faerie Fire
5 Eldritch Blast 5 Healing Word
6 Fire Bolt 6 Mage Armor
7 Vicious Mockery 7 Spike Growth
8 Guidance 8 Guiding Bolt
9 Light 9 Cause Fear
10 Minor Illusion 10 Bless
11 Prestidigitation 11 Sleep
12 Produce Flame 12 Chromatic Orb
13 Resistance
14 Sacred Flame
15 Shocking Grasp
16 Thaumaturgy
17 Mage Hand
18 Acid Splash
19 Chill Touch
20 Mending

Familiar Fey At 7th level, you can choose one of the cantrips in the Fairy Cantrips table to appear in its spell list when you roll for your spell list. Additionally, as a bonus action on your turn, you can order your familiar to distract or deceive the next creature that attacks you, imposing disadvantage on the attack roll.

Controlled Chaos At 11th level, you’ve learned to control and channel your pact. Your familiar gains one additional spell and one additional cantrip, so that your spell list contains 8 spells each day. When you roll a d8 to determine which spell your familiar casts, you can roll the d8 twice and choose between the two. Additionally, your familiar begins casting its cantrips as a 5th level spellcaster, and begins casting its spells using 2nd level spell slots.

Fey Shield At 15th level, your cohesion with your familiar has grown such that you have an innate understanding of the power caused by your pact. You can choose two of the spells that appear on your fairy’s spell list and two of the cantrips.

On your turn, you can pull from your familiar’s pool of magic to bolster your defenses against magical attacks. Roll 1d8, and remove the spell corresponding to the number rolled from your familiar’s spell list. This position in your fairy’s spell list no longer corresponds to a spell, and your bonus action is wasted if you attempt to cast it. Until the start of your next turn, you gain resistance to all damage except bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. You can additionally use this feature as a reaction to taking that damage.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Any critique on the subject matter is useful and would be much appreciated. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Nick
    Jul 8, 2022 at 5:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Can you add a tag for the game this homebrew is for? It looks like a D&D 5th edition subclass, but it helps to be sure. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Jul 8, 2022 at 6:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah hey sorry it is in fact 5e. Hope you have some good input for me! lol. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Nick
    Jul 8, 2022 at 7:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Someone asked about a dragon pet ranger recently (or it was active recently?) that would be relevant to link as a lot of the suggestions were what I'd suggest here, however I can't find it \$\endgroup\$
    – Cassie
    Jul 8, 2022 at 8:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ We may be able to get you even better responses, if you give us a description of your goals for this? Are there specific things/tropes/archetypes you're trying to emulate or specific functions you want this ranger to fill? In particular for complicated or otherwise strange features it would be very useful to know why you made them that way? Specific things you wanted to achieve or limit? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Jul 8, 2022 at 9:30

3 Answers 3

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Extremely strong probably overpowered but randomness will burn some players, and needs some clarifications


Balance

Balance-wise I'm not entirely sure how I'd go about fixing it however it has far to good a bonus action use permanently and far to many casts, the amount of randomisation makes it hard enough that I'll leave those calculations to someone else. However, from a glance it seems to strong.

First off, your familiar doesn't seem to be able to be targeted? That's extremely unusual for D&D 5e and I'd suggest giving it a health bar so that it can be killed like all the other summon classes.

Comparing it to beast master, where you have to give up your action to make your summon attack, the ability to cast a spell as a bonus action seems extremely strong even if it is random as the list are very good spells. The fact at level 7 with 18 wisdom you can cast a spell with this feature the same amount a wizard can cast total in a day is also excessive since you also have your classes' casts. Following this with the ability to cast cantrips as a bonus action that some classes use as their primary attack (vicious mockery, ray of frost etc) will give you an insane bonus action usage which will be hard to beat. Also Spike Growth is on your level 1 spell list, despite being a level 2 spell.

The level 7 ability seems to be strong, however as it's between "next attack against you has disadvantage" and "cast a level 1 spell/cantrip" this will never be used barring very niche circumstances especially since you'll likely be in the backline.

The level 11 ability, presuming you have 18 wisdom, gives you 15 level 2 spell casts every day that take a bonus action to cast, at level 17 a wizard has 15 that usually take an action. The fact that you have more control over it also increases its power dramatically but there aren't many things on the list that wouldn't be a good thing to cast.

The level 15 ability is interesting, selecting the spells you get on your list is also a massive buff. The ability to burn part of your casting for defences seems like it would be useful in very niche circumstances, however those circumstances you do use it are likely ones that would kill you. That being said when other archetypes have

Beastmaster when you cast a spell targeting yourself, you can also affect your beast companion with the spell if the beast is within 30 feet of you.

Fey Wandereryou can cast Misty Step without expending a spell slot. You can do so a number of times equal to your Wisdom modifier (minimum of once), and you regain all expended uses when you finish a long rest.

In addition, whenever you cast Misty Step, you can bring along one willing creature you can see within 5 feet of you. That creature teleports to an unoccupied space of your choice within 5 feet of your destination space

Your ability is far too versatile (when if you use it once you can always dodge its effect with the level 11 ability).


Clarifications

Fey Familiar Starting at 3rd level, in accordance with your pact, a fey being joins forces with you to stave off unfriendly beings of the wild. Your familiar is a tiny humanoid-like being, or any tiny creature.

At the moment you can select a Dracolich as your familiar, rather than "creature" you may want to specify "Beast" or "Fae" or specify a list like spells like Find Familiar do.

At the start of each of your turns, you can position your familiar in any space at any point within 30 feet of you, ignoring difficult terrain.

Is it teleporting or does it have to move? I'd specify one way or the other, teleporting doesn't care about difficult terrain nor does flying however you didn't give it a move speed.

the rest of fey familiar

You likely want to reword this or format it in a nicer manner, it's a massive chunk of text that most peoples' eyes will slide over.

You can attempt to cast a spell a number of times per day equal to your ranger level plus your Wisdom modifier.

I read this as only applying to the spell portion, however the other two answers presume that cantrips fall into this which it doesn't specify so it needs clarification.

Controlled Chaos At 11th level, you’ve learned to control and channel your pact. Your familiar gains one additional spell and one additional cantrip, so that your spell list contains 8 spells each day. When you roll a d8 to determine which spell your familiar casts, you can roll the d8 twice and choose between the two. Additionally, your familiar begins casting its cantrips as a 5th level spellcaster, and begins casting its spells using 2nd level spell slots.

This implies you have the option to not do so, which seems like a weird option to give, I'd specify that you roll 2 regardless.

Fey Shield At 15th level...

On your turn, you can pull from your familiar’s pool of magic to bolster your defenses against magical attacks. Roll 1d8, and remove the spell corresponding to the number rolled from your familiar’s spell list. This position in your fairy’s spell list no longer corresponds to a spell, and your bonus action is wasted if you attempt to cast it. Until the start of your next turn, you gain resistance to all damage except bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage. You can additionally use this feature as a reaction to taking that damage.

The player has no reason to ever cast this as not a reaction but wording implies you can cast it during your turn, turn it into only a reaction if you keep it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for taking the time to help with so much detail I intend to take it to heart! Tonnes of things i overlooked here! After posting I changed the amount of spell slots to half ranger level, because like you said waaaaaaayyyy too many casts. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Nick
    Jul 8, 2022 at 19:12
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This subclass is probably overpowered

Removing all the "fey familiar" fluff (because that's all it is), this subclass reads:

You get to cast a lot more spells and cantrips than any other ranger.

  • Without expending a spell slot
  • As a bonus action regardless of the normal cast time
  • Originating from a point of your choice within 30 ft of you (basically +30ft range)
  • PB + WIS mod times per day
  • Using your spell save DC
  • Unclear: Material components?
  • Unclear: Spell attack bonus? (assumed your own)

this effectively triples the spells you can cast per day (from 3 to 9 at 3rd level). Also cantrips kinda function like spells because you can cast them only limited times

The spells and cantrips come from a pretty potent list, but are chosen at random (at first). Half of the time this will be incredibly broken (bonus action eldritch blasts for example) but it will be balanced out by the fact that half of the time it will be incredibly useless. However, balancing OP features with drawbacks is bad design in my opinion because a) it's frustrating and b) players will find a way to get around the restrictions and break the feature. Higher level features also give you more control over which spells to choose.

The spell list looks also very haphazardly thrown together, with quite some spells that do not fit the flavor of rangers or fey at all. Power and usefulness of the spells also varies wildly.

My advice for balancing this subclass:

  1. Have a look at other ranger subclasses that get additional spells. Usually they get one thematic spell at 3rd, 5th, 9th, 13th and 17th level (spell levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Make a list of spells like this to choose from.

  2. Give the ranger one or maybe two thematic cantrips that fit the theme of the sublcass, or let them choose from a predetermined list, but make the cantrips always available. The druid spell list is usually a good way to start for rangers.

  3. Make the familiar an actual creature. Design a stat-block with a limited number of (thematic) spells the familiar can cast. Have a look at the Drakewarden, Beast Master, or Swarm Keeper subclasses if you need inspiration on how to make a ranger pet.

  4. Design some features of what the ranger can do with the familiar (some of which you have already), how it is summoned by the ranger, what happens if the familiar dies, etc.

  5. If you insist on randomized spellcasting, you could take inspiration from the Mizzium Apparatus, basically turning your familiar into one (maybe tweak the spell list)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ A lot of the flavour question you posed are really good, and I have them answered in the texts for the game this class is in I just didnt want to lore dump all over this post lol. Cheers for all the great advice though! \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Nick
    Jul 8, 2022 at 19:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worse than you make it out to be. Your summary says they can cast PB + Wis mod times per day, but the OP's post says "You can attempt to cast a spell a number of times per day equal to your ranger level plus your Wisdom modifier." (emphasis added) On the one hand, this makes it less dip-worthy (PB scaling means you'd go from 2 to 6 uses as you level, even if you stop at Ranger 3), but if you stay a Ranger, it means you go from 3+Wis mod to 20+Wis mod as you level, progressing at >3x as fast as Prof Bonus increases. And they're all cast with second level slots (as of 11th level). \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2022 at 19:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I actually changed it after posting to half ranger level plus wis mod. Otherwise its wayyyyy too many casts like you said. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Nick
    Jul 8, 2022 at 20:19
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This seems pretty underwhelming at this point. It's also a little mechanically unclear what your "familiar" really is; I'm going to assume at this time that it's mechanically an untargetable non-creature effect, and that calling it a "familiar" is just to explain the lore of how it works. If the familiar is supposed to be an actual creature (something that can think, speak, be targeted by spells, etc) you should really clarify. It would change the power of the class a lot, probably further downward (but depending on specifics).

Basically the whole class revolves around casting random spells, and those spells aren't very good. Casting as a bonus action is nice, gives the Ranger something to do with their bonus action (other than two-weapon fighting) but the odds of getting much out of that bonus action aren't great.

At low levels, where the spells are somewhat meaningful, you have limited uses. Probably around 5 attempts at level 3, going up to about 7 at level 5. This lets you cast a few extra Cantrips at enemies with your Bonus Action, which will do, so that's nice. You could gamble for an extra 1st level spell, which is nice, but there's also a good chance it does nothing useful. There's a lot of spells on the random roll that do nothing useful in combat (half the cantrips have no combat applications) and a bunch of 1st level spells that are situational (mage armor probably does nothing for a Ranger, sleep is situational, healing word is usually not very useful).

Whether you'd want to do make that gamble mostly seems to depend on your rolls at the start of the day, if you happen to get all general purpose spells then gambling is nice, but if you end up with 3 non-combat Cantrips, Sleep and Mage Armor you'll probably only cast the one fighting Cantrip every time.

At higher levels, you'll get a little more control and more opportunities, but the impact drops sharply. The odds of using Sleep at 11th level are very low, and a Cantrip, even cast at 5th level, isn't going to accomplish much against creatures with 150+hp. You do however, get so many uses that you'll probably be using the ability on every turn in combat unless you're in a very combat heavy campaign. This is going to add a lot of rolling dice, most of which won't contribute much to winning the battle. That's probably not a good thing.

Thematically, the idea seems nice. But I'd consider changing the mechanic to something that has fewer uses, but makes each use more meaningful. That limits the amount of time the abilities take up at the table, and increases the impact they have. Makes your familiar into a useful little chaos agent instead of a mostly ineffective one.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I disagree that the damage cantrips will not be useful a higher levels. Many of them are fantastic to begin with, have fantastic scaling and doing it all as a bonus action in addition to whatever the ranger does with their action is also quite fantastic. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2022 at 9:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Slaves_of_the_Coast they don't scale though. The familiar casts them at 1st level until the Ranger is level 10 and at 5th level after. \$\endgroup\$
    – Erik
    Jul 8, 2022 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ you are right! This is a truly confusing subclass \$\endgroup\$ Jul 8, 2022 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hahaha thank you for so much input I intend to put it to good use. I do understand its a convoluted class without the context of the world but youve given me a tonne to look through thank you! \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick Nick
    Jul 8, 2022 at 19:12

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