Dragon Ryder, Variant (5e Class)

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This content deviates from 5th Edition standards. Its use could dramatically alter campaigns, take extreme care. DesignDisclaimer.png
Caution - Here there be monsters!
This content intends to provide a different experience, or goes beyond the scope of the anticipated subjects and situations, than the 5th Edition rules were intended to handle. Some portions of the content below may not be what you expect from traditional game content. When implementing this content, DMs and Players should read over all the information carefully, and consider the following specific notes of interest:
  • Warning! This class has a dragon which is effectively another player character. It is limited in terms of what it can do, but you may still find this to be over powered for your game, or too much time dedicated to a single player each session.
  • Warning! This class uses spellcasting which does not follow the usual conventions.

Dragon Ryder[edit]

The tiefling smirked at the small group of men that surrounded him. They believed they could kill him. They were quite wrong. He raised his blade, giving a mighty battle cry. The battle cry was unnecessary, but it did cause the humans to focus on him rather than his dragon, which rose from its hiding place beneath the desert sands. The men gave cries in panic as they were assaulted from both sides. And they fell with startling ease. Save for one, who attempted to stab the tiefling in hope to kill it. The tiefling wasn't having it as his movements seemed to blur. He escaped what seemed like a perfect hit, only hit his own attacks once, then twice, felling the human. The tiefling and dragon stood in the bloodbath, victorious.

A gnome scowled, glaring at the book in his hand while his draconic companion lounged nearby. Turning his head, he called the dragon over, showing the book to her. After a moment, she pointed out a line he hadn't noticed. Extracting a gemstone from his robes and began muttering, waving his hands around. And promptly dumped a load of water all over his head. The gnome grumbled as the dragon broke out in laughter before providing a weak flame to dry off the absolutely soaked gnome. And the sun beamed down upon the two, peaceful resting until another adventure comes calling.

The hordes were endless. The human swung her blade in huge arcs, hoping to make some space. Yet, no matter how fast she swung, no matter how large the swings, no space could be found. Nearby, the dragon who was her only, and greatest, friend struggled in a situation that mirrored her own. And then it happened. A goblin's knife tore across her back, and the world vanished. The world collapsed into darkness for a immeasurable amount of time. Then, light. She woke to see her friend, still besieged, standing beside her, urging her to her feet. She rose and together they fought on, each fighting only for the other.

Dragon ryders are an elite group of warriors who fight alongside, and often on the back of, dragons. Yet, they are more. The dragons who stand by them are more than mounts or allies in battle. They are companions, friends, and family. They are the one who stand beside the ryder, when no one else will. As for the ryder, they are both warriors and mages. A unique magic dances at their fingertips, the blade sings in their hands, these are their paths. Still, there are those who choose to stand beside the one who would stand beside them. Dragon and ryder.

Creating a Dragon Ryder[edit]

You can make a Dragon Ryder quickly by following these suggestions. First, Strength should be your highest ability score, followed by Charisma. Second, choose the Folk Hero background. Third, choose a martial melee weapon, a short bow with a quiver of 20 arrows, and an explorers pack. Be sure to pick a color of dragon with your DM.

Class Features

As a Dragon Ryder you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d8 per Dragon Ryder level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + Constitution modifier per Dragon Ryder level after 1st


Armor: light armor and shields
Weapons: simple weapons and martial weapons
Tools: none
Saving Throws: Strength, Intelligence
Skills: choose two from: Acrobatics, Animal Handling, Arcana, Athletics, Intimidation, History, Perception, Persuasion, and Survival


You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

  • (a) a martial melee weapon or (b) two simple melee weapons
  • an exotic saddle (dragon)
  • (a) a short bow and a quiver with 20 arrows or (b) 3 Javelins
  • (a) a Dungeoneer's Pack or (b) an Explorer's Pack

Table: The Dragon Ryder

Level Proficiency
Energy Features
1st +2 2 Bonded Dragon, Strained Bond
2nd +2 3 Dragon Casting
3rd +2 5 Ryder's Bond
4th +2 6 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 7 Dragon Prowess
6th +3 9 Draconic Senses
7th +3 10 Ryder's Bond Feature
8th +3 12 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 13 Adept ryder
10th +4 15 Ryder's Bond Feature
11th +4 16 Ageless
12th +4 18 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 19 Stalwart Ryder
14th +5 21 Skilled ryder
15th +5 22 Ryder's Bond Feature
16th +5 24 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 25 Master Ryder
18th +6 27 Ryder's Bond Feature
19th +6 28 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 30 Dragon Tutelage

Bonded Dragon[edit]

At 1st level, you have a dragon whose alignment can differ by one from your own, either on the lawful/chaotic axis, or the good/evil axis. You and your dragon can communicate telepathically with each other up to a distance of one mile. You also have a lifespan equal to your dragon's and you age at half the normal rate for your race (if you age at all). If you or your dragon start making death saving throws, the other is distracted over concern for their partner. They have disadvantage on all checks, saving throws, and attack rolls not attempted to help their partner until their partner is either stabilized or dead. If either you or your dragon dies, the remaining one makes an Intelligence saving throw (DC = 8 + your dragon ryder level), if they succeed, they retain sanity, if failed, they become permanently insane (permanent madness) until their partner is resurrected. They cannot be cured of this madness through any other means except Divine intervention.

Your dragon begins as a pseudodragon, always having a number of hit dice equal to your own. It becomes a wyrmling at 5th level, allowing you to re-roll your dragon's ability scores. It's maximum for any score is 20, and any time you get an ability score increase, you may also increase one of your dragon's ability scores by 2, or two of its ability scores by 1, up to its current maximum. Your dragon also gains Change Shape (See Adult Dragon) because of your bond with it.

At 10th level, it becomes a young dragon, gaining traits, actions, and size (in dragon form). You may increase one of its ability scores by 2, or two of its ability scores by 1. It's maximum for any score increases to 22 while in dragon form.

At 15th level, it becomes an adult dragon, gaining traits, actions, and size (in dragon form). You may increase one of its ability scores by 2, or two of its ability scores by 1. It's maximum for any score increases to 24 while in dragon form.

Finally, at 20th level, it becomes an ancient dragon, gaining traits, actions, and size (in dragon form). You may increase one of its ability scores by 2, or two of its ability scores by 1. It's maximum for any score increases to 26 while in dragon form.

Your dragon grants you 1 flex action which can be used during combat. At any point during the round, you may declare that you want to change a flex action into another type of action. A flex action can become: One Movement, One Action, One Bonus Action, or One Reaction. Your dragon shares an initiative position with you. It also consumes your actions; it doesn't have actions of it's own. When your dragon uses an action to use a breath weapon or other special ability, it costs an energy in addition to spending one of your actions. Each creature you control (including your character) may not take more than one movement each round, and may not take the same action or bonus action more than once each round.

After reaching 5th level, when your dragon shifts into a humanoid form, it may have a class and racial bonuses, but it's maximum for strength, dexterity, and constitution becomes 20. It gains class levels equal to half its level (this does not include Hit Dice). If your dragon’s class allows it to cast spells, it gains access to the spell list appropriate for it’s class, but it uses it’s energy instead of spells per day, has access to the entire class spell list, and metamagic. This casting works exactly like your own. If an ability refers to your dragon's level, it's level is it's class level in this form, although it does retain your proficiency bonus.

Strained Bond[edit]

Beginning at 1st level, the new bond between you and your dragon has formed, but has unexpected side effects. Your dragon has an energy total equal to your own, as noted on the dragon ryder table. Using special abilities such as its breath weapon cost your dragon 1 energy.

You and your dragon regain all spent energy after finishing a long rest.

Dragon Casting[edit]

At level 2, you find that you can draw on your own strength and that of your dragon to manifest magical effects.

You can use your energy to cast spells, and have access to the entire sorcerer spell list. Each spell costs energy equal to its level. Your dragon can transfer energy to you as long as you are within 30 feet of each other. As a bonus action, your dragon may choose to lose any amount of energy and you gain it, up to your energy maximum.

You gain a level of exhaustion any time you use energy equal to twice your level or more, at a rate of one exhaustion level per multiple of your level, after the first.

Your spell threshold is equal to the highest level of spell that a sorcerer of your level could cast. Each time you cast a spell of a level above that, you gain a level of exhaustion for each spell level above your threshold.

You normally use only verbal and somatic components to cast spells. When casting a spell which requires an item of a specific gold value, you may spend energy to temporarily create the required focus. This costs 1 energy for each 1,000 gp it would be worth (minimum of 1 energy).

Beginning at level 2, you may also use any of the sorcerer’s metamagic options, using energy instead of sorcery points. You may use any number of metamagic options when you cast a spell, and many may be used more than once each. Options which double an aspect of your spell do not continue to double when you use them more than once, they simply add the base number again.

The following metamagic options work a bit differently for you.

Distant Spell

If you increase the range of a touch spell, each use increases the range of the spell by 30 feet.

Extended Spell

You may spend energy equal to the level of a spell squared (minimum of 2), in order to cast it and grant a limited permanence. If you do so, the spell drains energy from you each day at dawn equal to it's casting cost (minimum of 1) until it is dispelled, dismissed, or you do not have the energy to maintain it. If you are maintaining a spell but don't have enough energy to maintain it at dawn, you spend all of your energy, losing an equal number of hit points and you stop maintaining all spells. Any creature effected by an extended spell may make a saving throw to end the spell's effects at each interval of its original duration.

Limitations and notes are as follows:

  • A spell must have a duration greater than instantaneous to become permanent.
  • You may only maintain spells BELOW your threshold.
  • You may still only have a single concentration spell active at once.
  • If you stop maintaining a spell, it is dispelled/dismissed immediately.
Quickened Spell

You may also use this on rituals to reduce their casting time to 1 minute. If used on a spell with a casting time of 1 minute (including a ritual already reduced to 1 minute), the casting time is reduced to 1 action, and can be further reduced to a bonus action. If you cast a spell as a ritual, it costs only the energy for the metamagic, but if you reduce the casting time of a ritual to 1 action or less, you must pay energy for the spell's level as normal.

You may not use this metamagic option on spells with a casting time greater than 10 minutes.

Twinned Spell

You may spend energy equal to any spell's total energy cost (after other metamagic options are applied) in order to cast it again. You may only use Twinned Spell once each time you cast a spell.

Ryder's Bond[edit]

At level 3, choose your Archetype from Dragon Knight, Dragon Mage, or Dragon Friend. You gain additional features and traits at 3rd level and at higher levels based on your choice.

Ability Score Increase[edit]

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th 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.

Dragon Prowess[edit]

At 5th level, your speed increases by 10.

Draconic Senses[edit]

At 6th level, your bond with your dragon has given you draconic senses. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks.

Adept ryder[edit]

At 9th level, you gain the ability to store Energy in gemstones. During a short rest, you may spend any amount of energy to store that energy in a gemstone. As long as you are holding it, you may spend energy from it as though from yourself. You can't fill any gemstone with more energy than your current energy maximum. You must attune to a gemstone in order to store or use energy from it.


Once you reach 11th level, your bond with your dragon seems to keep you young.

You do not age. Your appearance does not change because of age and you do not grow weaker due to age. This does not stop you from dying at your normal time (this does not stop the long life you have from being a Dragon ryder).

Stalwart Ryder[edit]

Once you reach 13th level, it usually doesn't even phase you when dragons roar in battle.

You gain advantage vs the frightened condition.

Skilled ryder[edit]

Once you reach 14th level, you have resistance to the same damage type as your dragon’s breath weapon.

Master ryder[edit]

Once you reach 17th level, and as an action, you may spend 5 energy to manifest your dragon’s breath weapon.

Dragon Tutelage[edit]

At 20th level, the bond between you and your dragon has grown and you have learned much from your dragon.

You have a legendary action which you can use each round as a movement, an action, or a bonus action.

(Legendary actions are taken after an enemy creature’s turn.)

Ryder's Bond[edit]

Dragon Knight[edit]

You have chosen to revel in the physical might of dragons. Few can hope to match a Dragon Knight.

Draconic Strength[edit]

At level 3, you already can feel the strength of dragons. Increase your Strength score by 2, to a maximum of 20. You also gain proficiency with medium armor.

Extra Attack[edit]

Once you reach 7th level, you may make an additional attack each time you take the attack action on your turn.


At level 10, you can force your body to move impossibly fast.

When an enemy hits you with a melee attack, you may use your reaction to roll an Acrobatics check vs. your opponent's attack roll. If you succeed, you dodge the attack entirely. You may not use this when you are surprised or unaware of your opponent. You must complete a short rest before you can use this ability again.


At level 15, you discover that when you get going, almost nothing can stop you.

You have advantage on rolls vs movement impairing effects, including defensive grapple checks.

Master of War[edit]

After reaching 18th level, you have learned to hit hard, usually where it will do the most damage.

Increase your critical threat range to 19-20.

Dragon Mage[edit]

The power of magic flowing through you is too great to ignore. The might of Dragon Mages is legendary, after all.

Awakened Mind[edit]

At level 3, your mind awakens and expands as you let energy flow through you. You gain proficiency in arcana. If you are already proficient in arcana, you gain expertise. You also gain 2 cantrips from the sorcerer spell list.

Magic Blade[edit]

At level 7, you have learned to pour energy into your weapons.

Whenever you attack with a weapon, you may spend an amount of energy (up to your Charisma modifier) to add damage to your weapon attack. On a hit, each energy spent adds 1d4 damage of the same type as your dragon's breath weapon. If you miss, the energy is still spent.

Deadly Power[edit]

At level 10, you may convert hit points into energy.

As a bonus action, you may spend a number of Hit Dice up to your Charisma modifier, losing hit points equal to the total rolled. You gain energy equal to the number of hit points lost this way, up to your maximum energy.

If you are holding a gemstone you have attuned, you may store additional energy (once you have reached your maximum) in the gem.

Energy Siphon[edit]

At level 15, you realize that it is possible to draw energy from others.

As an action, you can pull energy from a target within 30 feet. The creature must succeed on a Constitution saving throw vs your spell save DC or roll a number of Hit Dice equal to your Charisma modifier, losing hit points equal to the total rolled, while you gain that much energy, up to your energy maximum.

If you are holding a gemstone you have attuned, you may store additional energy (once you have reached your maximum) in the gem.

True Magic[edit]

At level 18, you are a true master of magic.

You may spend energy to maintain concentration on a spell. By spending energy equal to half the casting cost of the spell (minimum of 1 energy), you maintain concentration with no roll required.

Dragon Friend[edit]

You have chosen not to follow the normal paths of power, instead choosing that of your dragon and your shared bond. Very few Dragon Friends are known or liked.

Dragon Scales[edit]

At level 3, you grow a thin layer of scales.

Your base AC is 13 when not wearing armor. (AC = 13 + Dexterity modifier)

Great Charge[edit]

At level 7, you know that sometimes a brazen fool's charge is all that is needed.

Whenever you travel at least 20 feet in a straight line and take the Dash action, you may make a regular attack on the enemy directly in front of you. That enemy makes a Strength save contested by your Strength check, if they fail, they are knocked prone, taking bonus bludgeoning damage equal to your Strength modifier.

Glory's Roar[edit]

At level 10, you know that every fight might be the last.

Using your action, you make a mighty cry that reminds your allies of the glory of the fight.

You and your allies within 120 feet gain advantage on attack rolls made against enemies with a Challenge Rating (CR) greater than their level or CR. This lasts a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1). You cannot use this again until you finish a short rest.

Frightful Presence[edit]

Once you reach 15th level, you gain your dragon’s frightful presence. A creature that has saved against your dragon’s frightful presence is still affected by yours, and vice versa, until they have saved against both.

Last Stand[edit]

Once you reach 18th level, if you or your dragon are reduced to 0 hit points, you (or your dragon) automatically succeed on your first saving throw vs death.

The conscious party (you or your dragon) may use a bonus action to touch the unconscious partner and grant them advantage on their next saving throw vs death.


Multiclassing Effects. If you multiclass to another class that has spellcasting, reduce your energy to 1/Dragon Ryder level, and your dragon's with it.

Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the Dragon ryder class, you must meet these prerequisites: Charisma score of 13

Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the Dragon ryder class, you gain the following proficiencies:none

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