View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next College of Dragons

2018-10-14, 06:49 AM
This Bardic College got created after trying and failing to make a 5E character who'd be a charisma-based caster who would mostly fight in melee, and eventually be capable of turning into a dragon. The latter was only really about appearance, not power: I didn't want them to look lik a humanoid dragon, but instead like a proper one. How much power they gained from it didn't matter that much - the attacks with claw and bite didn't have to be better than regular weapon attacks, the breath weapon didn't have to be better than normal blasting spells, and so on.
So I just decided to homebrew an option for one of the Charisma-based class, and it looked like what I wanted would most easily fit into Bard. So here's the results.

Critique is most welcome, and you will find my design notes for each ability in the spoilers below it.

College of Dragons
Bards of the College of Dragons find their calling with the stories of those mightiest of monsters. Whether they seek to emulate the joyful spirit of the Copper Dragon, the majestic grace of a Gold Dragon, or even the cruel confidence of a Red Dragon, Bards can find themselves drawn to this college for all sorts of reasons. Some are indeed inspired by stories, others speculate about draconic ancestries, and some even find an almost divine calling.

The Bards of this college are renowned for their proficiency in battle. Their weapons wreathed in flame, ice, or acid, they are almost always found on the frontlines of a fight - for it is the best place to use the same breath weapons as their namesakes. But their most feared power is to outright emulate the form of a dragon, and many a Bard has used this ability to fool whole regions by making use of the reputations of the mighty monsters.

Draconic Inspiration
When you join the College of Dragons at 3rd level, choose one type of dragon (see table: Draconic Ancestry). The damage type assosciated with each dragon is used by features you gain from this college.
As a bonus action, you can expend one use of Bardic Inspiration to cause the attacks of one ally within 60 feet to deal extra damage until the beginning of your next turn. The damage equals the number you roll on your Bardic Inspiration die, and is of your assosciated damage type.

In addition, you add Burning Hands to your spells known. It counts as a Bard spell for you, and is included in the number in the Spells Known column of the Bard table. Whenever you cast Burning Hands, it always deals the damage type assosciated with your chosen dragon, and you add your Charisma modifier to the damage you deal with it. If you cast it using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, it's cone extends to 30 feet.
So first this locks you into one damage- and dragon-type, which is pretty self-explanatory.

The Bardic Inspiration draws inspiration from Dragonfire Inspiration :smalltongue: and is best compared to Swords Blade Flourises, or Whispers Psychic Blades. Compared to the former, it can do more damage because the effect can hit multiple times (potentially a lot, if you put this on someone with haste, bonus-action attacks, or on a fighter) - but it also takes a bonus action, and has no secondary effect. Compared to the latter, you have to use it ahead of time (before the attack lands), it takes your bonus action, and unless you have a hasted two-weapon-fighting Fighter it's going to deal less damage most of the time. So the main advantage is really that you can use it when you don't attack yourself - and this is a martial subclass, even if it does get blasting-options, so you'll attack frequently anyway.

Now the Burning Hands is a way to cram in a Breath Weapon without giving the subclass more than others by comparison. Do note that this takes up a spell known, unlike Additional Magical Secrets You get one thing from this - area blasting. And while adding Charisma to damage seems great, that's really only there to keep Burning Hands competetive with higher-level blasting spells. The smae goes for the cone size increase.

Bonus Proficiencies
Also at 3rd level, you gain proficiency with medium armor and martial weapons.
This is pretty self-explanatory. This is a martially-oriented character, so you get better armor and weapons. I decided against handing out a shield, since it didn't quite fit the theme I wanted - and to free up some room down the line.

Extra Attack
Starting at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take an Attack action on your turn.
Also self-explanatory. Martial sub-class, so it needs Extra Attack to keep up.

Draconic Form
At 6th level, you learn how to fully transform into a dragon. As an action, you can transform into a medium-sized dragon of the type you chose at 3rd level. Your appearance while transformed is unique to you. Unlike other transformations, this transformation does not change your game statistics or hit points, other than the effects noted below. This ability lasts for a number of hourse equal to your Bard level, or until you end it as an action. You can use this feature twice, and regain uses on a long rest. While you are transformed, the following rules apply:
- Your armor and weapons merge into your new form, and do not have any effect while you are transformed. You can use neither armor nor weapons while you are transformed. You can choose whether your other equipment falls to the ground, or is still worn by your new form, magically adjusting itself as necessary. Your DM decides whether you can make use of any given piece of equipment.
- You can still cast spells, and use all your other abilities
- Your Armor Class equals 16 + your Dexterity modifier (maximum 2), and can be further modified by magical items
- You have resistance to your assosciated damage type
- You have Darkvision with a range of 60 feet
- You have a Bite attack (1D10 piercing damage), two Claw attacks (1D8 slashing damage) and a Tail attack (1D8 bludgeoning damage, reach). Each attack deals 1 points of damage of your assosciated damage type, and is considered magical. You can only make one attack with each of these attacks per turn.

In addition, you add Fly to your spells known. It counts as a Bard spell for you, and is included in the number in the Spells Known column of the Bard table. Whenever you cast Fly on only yourself, and no other targets, you can choose to have it manifest as two draconic wings (if your current form already has wings, this does not alter your appearance). If you do, you can ignore the maximum duration of the spell.
So this is the reason I wrote this subclass. And it seems like a lot, doesn't it? But look at it, and notice how the transformation doesn't actually do that much.
What does it actually give you? AC equal to +1 Half Plate, some martial weapons that deal 1 extra point of damage and are magical, the ability to attack at reach and not at the same time, and resistance to one energy type. That's actually it - so if you already had +1 Half Plate, and a +1 Pike, you'd barely gain anything if you consider sheer mechanics.

And that's why I felt comfortable giving out an ability like this at 6th level, in addition to Extra Attack. It doesn't do much, intentionally so. The main advantage will be roleplay-related - if a clever player can take advantage of looking like a medium-sized Dragon (which are almost always Wyrmlings), it's theirs to have. Other than that, this is for the sheer enjoyment of "I can be a dragon!"
Originally, this sub-class was very centered around this feature, only getting Extra Attack while in this transformation, but I decided to split things up so that you don't have to use the transformation.

The Fly-spell follows the same logic as the Burning Hands spell - it gives something the class needs without taking up much more real estate. The ability to ignore the maximum duration struck me as a good way to give the transformation flight without it being free - you still need a spell slot and concentration.

Draconic Glory
At 14th level, you can channel the fully glory of a dragon. As an action, you can excude a 60-foot aura that lasts for one hour or until you are incapacitated. While this aura is active, you grow in size and presence, appearing larger and much more commanding than you actually are, which grants you advantage on all Charisma (Intimidation) and Charisma (Persuasion) checks.
While the aura is active, as a bonus action you can expend one use of your Bardic Inspiration to force any number of creatures within your aura to make a Will saving throw against your spell save DC. On a failed save, they become either charmed by you or frightened of you (your choice). A charmed creature remains charmed for one hour, or until it is harmed. A frightened creature remains frightened for as long as it stays in the aura. On a successful save, they become immune to the effects of your aura for the rest of the day.
Once you have used this feature, you can not do so again until you have finished a long rest.
So this is how you become a larger dragon, at least seemingly so.
It's a good social feature (hour-long advantage, possibly charm a lot of people), but it's also fairly strong in combat, possibly charming or frightening a whole room of enemies (you can even choose per creature). Still, it shouldn't be overpowered - it doesn't do anything you couldn't already do, it still allows saves as usual and once you save you're immune, and both the fright and the charm can be broken.

Obviously comments are welcome. Is anything here too strong, too weak, or maybe just too much? Obviously casually turning into a dragon isn't for every campaign, even if it's mechanically balanced, but at least I wanted to get the mechanics right. So feedback on the mechanics is welcome - but if you don't have any, anything else would be nice as well, even just telling me that you like this idea.