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My player wants to make a custom class for my upcoming Dungeons of Drakkenheim campaign, is it balanced?

The class is supposed to be a rogue/paladin hybrid.

Black Knight

Homebrew Features

Heightened Senses (lvl 1 class feature; modified Divine Sense): You are able to use your heightened senses and experience to listen to the lightest footsteps, heartbeats, and even breaths coming from any creature that makes these noises. The radius is 35ft, it lasts for 10 minutes, and can be cast a number of times equal to your “casting” modifier + 1

In my opinion, it's extremely powerful. As written, it detects everything in a 35 feet radius around the caster for a whopping 10 minutes. That means that no monsters can hide from this player, ruining any element of surprise.

Unseen Attack (lvl 1 class feature; modified Sneak Attack): you can add 1d8 to your first attack and any attack where the enemy is unaware of your presence or you have advantage. If a Nat 20 is rolled on the stealth check, your attack can immediately dispatch, mortally wound, or sever a limb, according to the creature and DM’s discretion. You gain +1d8 to this attack at levels 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15. At level 20 your stealth is unrivaled and the number of dice can be determined by your DM

  • 1d8 instead of 1d6 compared to sneak attack, but harder to actually use it compared to sneak attack?

From Sneak Attack:

You don’t need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn’t incapacitated, and you don’t have disadvantage on the attac⁠k roll.

In my campaign, flanking grants a +2 to attack rolls rather than advantage.

Instantly gibbing an enemy seems too strong, even if it's rare, like imagine killing a legendary boss, KEKW. Compare this feature to assassin's level 17 feature:

Death Strike Starting at 17th level, you become a master of instant death. When you attack and hit a creature that is surprised, it must make a Constitution saving throw (DC 8 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus). On a failed save, double the damage of your attack against the creature.

I would remove sever limbs because if they can do it to enemies, enemies can do it to them.

Quick Reflexes/Natural Warrior (Lv. 2 Class Feature; modified Cunning Action): inspired by the Cunning Action feature, you may use your bonus action on your turn to perform a powerful unarmed strike, as long as it was preceded by an attack. You deal 1d4 + your STR modifier of Force damage by delivering a kick, elbow strike, or headbutt. A kick has the ability to knock a creature prone if it is the same size as you and it fails a strength saving throw; if it succeeds on the save then your foot makes solid contact to deal damage, but you are the one who is knocked prone. An elbow strike will only deal the damage with no other effect and no repercussions. A headbutt has the ability to blind the creature for 1d4 turns in addition to the damage; roll 1d6 to determine if you are also blinded (even number means you are safe, and an odd number means you are also blinded for 1d4 turns)** **

I think knocking yourself prone is just silly and can potentially lead to some serious damage from the enemy in the wrong circumstances. Blinding is situational and potentially a source of headaches for me as the DM, specially if they are fighting eldritch creatures with no discernible heads or eyes. Free damage on bonus action seems a bit strong?

Empowered Strike (Lv. 2 Class Feature; modified Divine Smite), you can use your bonus action on your turn to deliver an exceptionally powerful strike to your enemy, harnessing your rage and inner might, and add 2d8 to the damage roll. The damage increases by 1d8 at levels 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15. At level 20 your stealth is unrivaled and the number of dice can be determined by your DM. This can be used 2 times at 2nd level, and one additional time at higher levels (so at level 5 you would have 5 uses) and

First of all, I don't think subclasses are supposed to get 2 class features at level 2. That being said, this seems to be a way to counteract the fact that he's not getting spell slots, but the fact is he always gets the max damage smite seems a bit overpowered, despite the limitedu uses.

Resilience - similar to the Divine Health feature, you have resistance to poison, diseases, and natural elements, as you have lived a rough and tumble life and know how to tough something out, or at least delay it. You have advantage on CON saving throws

Divine Health is basically useless, whereas his Resilience as written would be incredibly useful in comparison without giving anything away

His Skill Vanilla Skill Type
Heightened Senses Divine Sense Lv. 1 Class Feature
Unseen Attack Sneak Attack Level 1. Class Feature
Quick Reflexes/Natural Warrior Cunnin Action Lv. 2 Class Feature
Empowered Strike Divine Smite Lv.2 Class Feature
Resilience Divine Health Lv3 Class Feature
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    \$\begingroup\$ I went ahead and added the [dnd-5e] tag, since this very much looks like 5th edition to me. Feel free to change it if I'm wrong. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Apr 3 at 11:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ That is correct, thank you \$\endgroup\$
    – edoreld
    Commented Apr 3 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ You say its a rogue/paladin hybrid subclass, but you can only be one class. So is this a Rogue subclass that adds Paladin features or a Paladin subclass that adds Rogue features? At the moment, its actually neither because no subclass adds features at 1st, 2nd and 3rd level like you have here! \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Apr 3 at 13:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this is answerable at present. @edoreld you need to clarify with the player which class this subclass is supposed to belong to, in which case it should give subclass features at the same levels as other subclasses for that class (and you can compare other subclasses for a rough idea of 'power level'). Currently this is actually looking like an entirely new class (one which gives all the power of both rogues AND paladins and more besides). \$\endgroup\$
    – PJRZ
    Commented Apr 3 at 14:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ My advice given how poorly thought out this is: make your player stick to the existing classes, otherwise you are going to run into problems. They are seeking to be powerful, there is no other reason for writing features like this, nip it in the bud. Say no. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Commented Apr 3 at 16:40

1 Answer 1

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This is not actually a subclass 1. This is the start of a whole new class.

...which can be a lot harder to create and balance. (This proposal, for example, is not balanced. It tries for too much.)

If it were properly a subclass, it would tell you which of the 'hybrid' class parts forms the base class skeleton you're building on: either Rogue, in which case the subclass should have paladin elements, or Paladin, in which case the subclass should have rogue elements. Instead, it throws base class features from both classes together in a blender.

Your player should go back to basics and pick a base class to then write a subclass for that brings in opposing elements. That alone will provide quite a bit of balancing, since he'll have to restrict himself to using one set of base class features and using established subclass levels to add in opposing elements.

It might be worth talking through with him to see which bits he's most drawn to from each class--both mechanically and in class fantasy. Whichever one he talks the most about is probably the base class you should go with for this. It might help you, too, as DM to know how he's seeing this character and the functions he wants it to serve mechanically, and you can help guide the result to be of a power level you're comfortable with.

I see several issues with the new features as presented as well, but frankly, until you get an actual subclass build, they're not worth evaluating as they may not carry through to the final product. (You have good instincts, though; your qualms about having too many features at a given level, or having free damage on a bonus action, are also mine.)

1: Answer written when question described homebrew as "subclass" throughout.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ yeah, sorry, he actually did say "class" so i guess he had that idea \$\endgroup\$
    – edoreld
    Commented Apr 3 at 16:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @edoreld If he's trying for a full class, that's a lot harder to get right in terms of balance and will need the full workup to analyze properly. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3 at 18:34

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