Tough Commoner (5e Class)

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Design Note: This class is for NPCs and is designed to be less powerful than other characters of the same level. Its purpose is to make notable commoners less vulnerable and fragile.

The Yeoman Robin Hood Credit: Wikipedia

Tough Commoner[edit]

Not all commoners are 1 hit die wimps. Some by virtue of the danger they live with, gain experience with fighting difficult threats. They are not fighters, they have not made their career as combatants or characters of any sort. They are still mainly farmers, or merchants, or sailors or field researchers or something, but they have had to deal with combat and know something about it. They can be tough and callous by virtue of experience, or very protective and gentle. Yet they are ready and able to resort to force and violence if necessary.


Tough commoners are generally known by their Subclasses rather than by the tough commoner class.


This class is for NPCs and is designed to be less powerful than other characters of the same level. It is a class designed to make some commoners less vulnerable and fragile.

Creating a Tough Commoner[edit]

Are you a farmer, and have to deal with raiders once in a while? Are you a sailor and need to fight sea monsters or pirates at times? Did you grow up in or live in a very rough neighborhood? Any number of things can push you toward needing to learn how to fight.

Quick Build

You can make a tough commoner quickly by following these suggestions.

  • First, choose the the character's subclass carefully. For this class, the subclass is the most important part.
  • Second, roll all abilities using straight 3d6 each. Each subclass has 2 abilities that are most important to it. Make sure these use the highest.
  • Third, choose the background assigned to that subclass.
  • Fourth, choose a simple melee weapon, and a set of tools that fits the tough commoner's subclass.

Class Features

As a Tough Commoner you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d6 per Tough Commoner level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 6 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d6 (or 4) + Constitution modifier per Tough Commoner level after 1st


Armor: light armor
Weapons: simple melee weapons
Tools: any toolkit
Saving Throws: str, int
Skills: Choose any three


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

  • (a) dagger or (b) handaxe or (c) mace or (d) sickle

Table: The Tough Commoner

Level Proficiency
1st +2 Domestic Ability Improvement, Subclasses
2nd +2 Subclass Features
3rd +2 Domestic Ability Improvement
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 Subclass Features
6th +3 Surprise Attack
7th +3 Domestic Ability Improvement
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 Subclass Features
10th +4 Extra Attack
11th +4 Domestic Ability Improvement
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 Remarkable Athlete
14th +5 Domestic Ability Improvement
15th +5 Subclass Features
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 Domestic Ability Improvement
18th +6 Brutal Attack
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 Domestic Ability Improvement

Domestic Ability Improvement[edit]

At 1st, 3rd, 7th, 11th, 13th, 17th, and 20th level you get better at whatever your non-adventuring career is. For example if you are a farmer, you get better at farming. If you are an official, you get promoted etc.

Subclass Features[edit]

At 2nd level, 5th, level, 9th level, and 15th level, you gain features or improvements specific to your subclass.

Ability Score Improvement[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.

Surprise Attack[edit]

Beginning at 6th level, you are deadly when you get the drop on your enemies. You have advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn't taken a turn in the combat yet.

Extra Attack[edit]

Beginning at 10th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

Remarkable Athlete[edit]

Starting at 13th level, you can add half your proficiency bonus (rounded down) to any strength, dexterity or constitution check you make that does not already use your proficiency bonus.

Brutal Attack[edit]

Starting at 18th level, you can roll one additional weapon damage die when determining the extra damage for a critical hit with a melee attack.


At first level you pick, or have already picked a subclass of tough commoner below.

d20 Subclass 2nd Level Feature 5th Level Feature 9th Level Feature 15th Level Feature Main Abilities
1 Animal Trainer War Dog Attack War Horse 3-14 War Animals up to 40 War Animals Strength, Wisdom
2 Brawler Enraged Brawling Tough Guy Really Tough Guy Challenge Bout Strength, Constitution
3 Cavalier Charge +1d6 Charge +2d6 Charge +3d6 Charge +4d6 Strength, Dexterity
4 Courier Fast Rider, Keen Memory Fast Rider, Keen Memory Fast Rider, Keen Memory Fast Rider, Keen Memory Dexterity, Intelligence
5 TBD Strength, Strength
6 Field Researcher Attentive advantage Perception advantage 2nd skill advantage Third skill advantage Intelligence, Wisdom
7 Guard Unarmored Defense Unarmored Defense +1 Unarmored Defense +2 Unarmored Defense +3 Dexterity, Wisdom
8 Hermit Strength, Strength
9 Heroic Scholar 2 specialties 5 specialties 9 specialties 15 specialties Intelligence, Wisdom
10 Hoodlum Thieves' Cant Back Stabbing +1d6 Back Stabbing +2d6 Back Stabbing +3d6 Dexterity, Charisma
11 Hunter Ranged attack +1 Ranged attack +2 Ranged attack +3 Ranged attack +4 Intelligence, Wisdom
12 Indigent Unnoticed Place, Hide Unnoticed Move, stealth buff Begging Mastery 3d20 SP Begging Mastery 3d6 GP Constitution, Wisdom
13 Lawman Inquisitive Senses Brilliant Reaction dex Brilliant Reaction chr Brilliant Reaction str & con Dexterity, Wisdom
14 TBD Strength, Strength
15 Official Legal Action Level 1 Legal Action Level 2 Legal Action Level 3 Legal Action Level 4 Intelligence, Wisdom
16 Outdoorsman Animal Toleration Animal Friendship Animal Companion Great Man of the Woods Constitution, Wisdom
17 TBD Strength, Strength
18 Seafarer Climbing Skill I Danger At Sea 1 hour Climbing Skill II Danger At Sea 24 hours Dexterity, Constitution
19 Trader Detect Rogue Detect Rogue subclass Detect Class Detect Class & Subclass Intelligence, Wisdom
20 Yeoman Yeoman Volley +1 Yeoman Melee +2 Yeoman Volley +3 Yeoman Melee +4 Strength, Dexterity

Animal Trainer[edit]

  • Your main abilities are strength and wisdom.
  • You train horses and dogs, and sometimes more exotic animals. Before they are trained, these animals can be dangerous, and you have learned how to handle yourself.
  • You have double proficiency on your animal handling skill.
War Dog Attack
Starting at 2nd level, at any given time you have 1d4+1 trained war dogs with you. As an action you can command them to attack and they will follow your orders. Each has AC 12, 11 HP, 40 ft. move, Pack tactics advantage, +4 to hit, and 2d4+2 piercing bite.
War Horse
Starting at 5th level, you will usually have a warhorse with you. As an action you can mount the horse and charge. It has AC 11, 19 HP, 60 ft. move, +6 to hit, 2d6+4 bludgeoning hooves, DC 14 trample on charge (Strength save), on target fail add 1d6 damage to the hooves.
Protective War Animals
Starting at 9th level, you have 2d4 war dogs and 1d6 horses. Your animals will automatically attack any creature that attempts to harm you. They will not kill unless you tell them to. At 15th level this increases to a pack of 20 dogs and a herd of 20 horses.


  • Your main abilities are strength and constitution.
  • You like to spend Saturday nights brawling and drinking in the local pub.
Enraged Brawling
Starting at 2nd level, on your turn you can become enraged as a bonus action. While enraged, you have advantage on strength checks and strength saving throws, and your unarmed strikes can deal 1d6 + your Strength modifier bludgeoning damage.
Tough Guy
Starting at 5th level you have resistance to bludgeoning.
Really Tough Guy
Starting at 9th level you have resistance to piercing and slashing attacks.
Challenge Bout
Starting at 15th level, you may use an action to challenge any humanoid enemy your size or smaller that understands any language you can speak to a 1-on-1 bout. Make a Charisma Intimidation check and the enemy must make a Wisdom saving throw. If they fail, the targeted enemy will only attack you and the bout ends when one combatant is Incapacitated, Surrenders, or attacks another enemy.


  • Your main abilities are strength and dexterity.
  • As a noble or aristocrat you have been exposed to a fair amount of fighting and jousting, and you have been part of dangerous equestrian hunts.
  • You can ride a warhorse, and use a lance, a shield, and any sword. You may also wear light, medium, or heavy armor.
  • You have the Noble or the Knight background.
  • You almost always have one or more guard(s) and/or squire(s) nearby that can protect you.
You are adept at charging the enemy on horse or on foot and striking before they can react. At 2nd level, your melee attacks deal an additional damage die if you have moved at least 15 feet before attacking on foot or 30 feet on horseback. This effect increases to two additional damage dice at 5th level, three additional damage dice at 9th level, and four additional damage dice at 15th level.
Magic Items
Should you get a hold of some magic weapons or armor, you know how to use them.


  • Your main abilities are dexterity and intelligence.
  • Your job is to take messages from place to place, sometimes to dangerous neighborhoods in town and sometimes over land through dangerous environments.
  • You have the Soldier or the Jockey background.
Fast Rider
Starting at 2nd level you are able to goad a horse to run at a speed of 65 ft. per round, at 5th level 70 ft. at 9th level 75 ft., at 15th level 80 ft per round if you succeed on a DC 10 dexterity check for the day. You can do this because your riding style puts progressively less and less strain on the horse. Even if you do not succeed the Dexterity check, you can still goad the horse up to these speeds for 10 minutes when needed. You may goad the horse again after a short rest. After goading the horse it requires plenty of food and water when it rests.
Keen Memory
Starting at 2nd level you are able to memorize a message of 200 words and 10 images, at 5th 500 words and 20 images, at 9th 900 words and 50 images, and at 15th 1500 words and 90 images after hearing or reading it once. You make a DC 10 intelligence check to repeat the message exactly. You have advantage on the check if the message is shorter than the maximum you can memorize.


Field Researcher[edit]

  • Your main abilities are wisdom and intelligence.
  • The study of the world has taken you to many remote and dangerous places. You have been in quite a number of close scrapes.
  • You have the Archaeologist or the Sage background.
  • You have writing materials and paper.
Starting at 2nd level, you have a knack for telling when something's off. You have advantage on Perception and Investigation checks for noticing abnormal noises, details, smells, and the like, such as distant and quiet noises and speech, false walls and hidden doors, the faint odor of alchemical remnants and so on. If you succeed on any of these checks, you begin to feel dread if there is a threat, or a "pull" toward areas with clues, as if you have a "gut feeling" about some danger or something important. At 5th level, your advantage extends to all Perception And Investigation checks.
Skill Advantage
At 9th level you gain advantage on one more skill. At 15th level you get advantage on yet one more skill.


  • Your main abilities are dexterity and wisdom.
  • You serve others by keeping them safe. Sometimes that means repelling violent or dangerous people in order to protect them.
  • You may use a shield and light or medium armor.
  • You have the Bodyguard or City Guard background.
Beginning at 2nd level, while you are wearing armor or wielding a shield, you gain a +1 bonus to AC. This bonus increases to +2 at 5th level, +3 at 9th level, and +4 at 15th level.
Beginning at 5th level, while you and a friendly guard, knight, soldier or similar are both next to a hostile creature, you have advantage on attempts against that creature to initiate a shove or grapple, and to maintain a grapple. At 9th level, while you and a friendly guard, knight, soldier or similar are both next to a hostile creature, that creature has disadvantage when trying to escape bindings, manacles, or restraints you put them in. At 15th level, while you and a friendly guard, knight, soldier or similar are both next to a hostile creature, and you have it grappled, the creature is restrained.


Heroic Scholar[edit]

  • Your main abilities are intelligence and wisdom.
  • You have the Archaeologist or the Sage background.
  • You may have a whip and a cool hat. You're renowned for contributing to historical research in a cool way. Maybe you deciphered a magical gate. You may have rescued the last copy of a great book from a terrible fire. Maybe you had an epic chase to stop an ancient doomsday artifact.
At second level you have 2 specialties, at 5th level you have 5, at 9th 9, at 15th 15. Your specialties are from among this list: Aberrations, Alchemy, Arcana, Architecture, Artifacts, Astronomy, Barbarians, Beasts, Celestials, Constructs, Dragonbourne, Dragons, Druidism, Dwarves, Elementals, Elves, Equipment, Feats, Fey, Fiends, Fighting, Geology/Geography, Giants, Gnomes, Halflings, Half-species, History, Humanoids, Humans, Local history, Magic items, Maritime lore, Medicine, Monks, Monstrosities, Music, Nature, Oozes, Paladins, Performance, Plants, Politics, Rangers, Religion, Rogues, Sorcery, Tieflings, Undead, the Underdeep, Warlocks, Water Bodies, Wizardry. You have advantage on checks regarding your specialties.


  • Your main abilities are dexterity and charisma.
  • You have been drawn into a life of crime. Perhaps you are member of a gang. Perhaps you go solo. Either way you have had to fight yourself out of tough situations.
  • You have the criminal background.
  • You have proficiency with Thieves' Picks and Tools.
Thieves' Cant
Starting at 2nd level you can speak and understand thieves' cant. In addition you understand a set of secret signs and symbols used to convey short simple messages.
Starting at 5th level you know how to exploit a foe's distraction and attack them unexpectedly. You add 2d6 damage to an attack you make if you have advantage or if your foe has at least 2 more adjacent enemies. This increases to 3d6 at 9th level, and to 4d6 at 15th level.


  • Your main abilities are dexterity, wisdom and intelligence.
  • You hunt the wilds for food for your village, sometimes setting traps, sometimes shooting with a bow.
  • You can use a short bow or a long bow. Pick one.
  • You have the Outlander background.
Starting at level 2, you gain a +1 to attack rolls you make with a ranged weapon. You also have +2 at 5th level, +3 at 9th level, and +4 at 15th level.


You have been on the street so long that you have learned a thing or two about survival. You can give as good as you take in a fight, although you prefer hiding and running. Your have the Beggar background.

Unnoticed Places
Starting at 2nd level, you can find hidden little traveled and forgotten places in a city or town, like ledges under bridges, unused buildings, forgotten cellars etc., and live in them. Regular common folk never seem to notice these places. You have advantage using the hide action.
Unnoticed Movement
Starting at 5th level, you are expert at not being noticed. If you do not have it, you gain proficiency in the Stealth skill. If you do, your proficiency bonus doubles for ability checks using the Stealth skill.
Begging Mastery
Starting at 9th level, you are well respected by all of the downtrodden community, and you can stake out all of the best places to beg in a city or town. You make 3d12 SP per day begging. Starting at 15th level you make 3d6 GP per day begging.


  • your main abilities are wisdom and dexterity.
  • Your duty is to enforce the law. Sometimes this means you need to resort to violence to arrest or capture a suspect. You have learned how to handle weapons and danger.
  • You know how to use one martial weapon.
  • You have the Marshal background.
Inquisitive Senses
You have developed a knack for picking up when things aren't as they seem. Starting at 2nd level, you gain advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks to determine whether a creature is lying or not; you gain advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks to spot hidden creatures, objects, or doors; and you gain advantage on Intelligence (Investigation) checks when searching for clues.
Brilliant Reactions
You can apply your intelligence or wisdom modifiers to dangerous situations. At 5th level, you may add your modifier to Dexterity saving throws. Additionally, at 9th level, you may add your modifier to Charisma saving throws; at 15th level, you may add your modifier to Strength and Constitution saving throws.



  • Your main abilities are intelligence and wisdom.
  • You are an official of a government. You have an official office and responsibilities. Sometimes those responsibilities require you to visit places that are seedy and dangerous.

You have proficiency with either:

  • cartographer's tools
  • the forgery kit, although come to think of it, the documents you prepare are usually legitimate rather than forgeries. You can detect a forgery with a DC 15 perception roll.
Legal Action
Starting at 2nd level you may indict, arrest, or serve a sentient creature. Sufficient force to arrest or serve that creature will arrive at a place they are within 24 hours. The arresting party will have a number of lawmen at certain levels: two level 1 Lawman at 2nd level, five level 2 Lawman at 5th level, nine level 3 Lawman at 9th level, and fifteen level 4 Lawman at 15th level.


  • Your top abilities are constitution and wisdom.
  • You are a backwoodsman, living on the frontier, or in a sparsely settled region. You fish, trap game, and generally live alone eschewing civilized society and its phonyness.
  • You have the 'hermit' background.
  • You can also hunt, fish, and gather wild food.
Animal Toleration
Starting at 2nd level, Animals tolerate your presence, and do not run away unless you are hunting.
Animal Friendship
Starting at 5th level, Animals are friendly with you, and do not run away unless you are hunting.
Animal Companion
Starting at 9th level, You gain an animal companion which is a large carnivore such as a bear, tiger, lion, wolf etc.
Great Man of the Woods
Starting at 15th level, You are renowned far and wide by both animals and sentients and they consider you 'part of nature'.



  • Your main abilities are constitution and dexterity.

You are a sailor who has had their fair share of run-ins with pirates and sea monsters. You have the Sailor background.

Climbing Skill
Starting at 2nd level, you have the ability to climb rigging, trees, ropes, fences, trellises etc. without having to make rolls for success. You have advantage on rolls to climb walls and buildings. Starting at 9th level you can climb walls and buildings without making rolls for success.
Danger At Sea
Starting at 5th level, you can use your passive perception to smell the presence of danger while at sea up to 1 hour before it is encountered. At 15th level you can smell danger up to 24 hours before it is encountered.


  • your main abilities are wisdom and intelligence.
  • As a merchant who has traveled dangerous roads and byways, you have learned how to handle hiwaymen. Thieves are everywhere and you need to protect your goods.
  • You have the 'family business' background.
  • You have the insight skill.
Detect Rogue
Starting at 2nd level, you can detect who is a rogue and who is not upon interacting with them for one minute using insight skill. At fifth level, you can detect the subclass of a rogue using insight. At 9th level you can detect the class of any creature, and at 15th level you can detect the subclass of any creature upon interacting with them for one minute using insight.


  • your main abilities are strength and dexterity:
  • As a farmer in dangerous environs, you have responsibility to protect your own lands and join with other farmers to protect the community. You have the Farmer background.
  • You have expertise with the long bow, as well as the short sword. Given the opportunity, you will also don light armor and carry a shield.
  • you own at least one horse, donkey, or mule and at least 100 acres of land, but not more than 4 horses, 6 donkeys, or 8 mules and no more than 400 acres of land.
Yeoman Volley
Starting at 2nd level, when firing an arrow with at least six other tough commoners, you each gain +1 on the shot. At 9th level you each gain +3 on the shot.
Yeoman Melee
Starting at 5th level when fighting with a short sword with at least six other tough commoners, you each gain +2 to attack. At 15th level you each gain +4 to attack.


Version 3.5 has an NPC Commoner class. This is to some extent a detailed update for 5e.


Multiclassing To a Tough Commoner
When it comes to multiclassing into a tough commoner, you probably don't want to. It is a class designed to be weaker than the 'adventuring classes'. One case in which you might want to multiclass into tough common is if you have years of downtime ahead of you and maybe you want to become a farmer for that period. When you multiclass as a tough commoner, you gain level 1 immediately and then gain a level every seven years. So for example, if the rest of your party bounced forward 18 years for some reason, and you have to take the long way to the future, you would gain 3 levels as a tough commoner by the time you catch up with them.
  • Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the tough commoner class, you must meet these prerequisites: 9 Strength, and 9 Dexterity
  • Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the tough commoner class, you gain the following proficiencies: light armor, one new toolkit, one new skill, any skill.
Converting Tough Commoner Subclasses to Regular Classes
Many of the sub classes in tough commoner relate to regular adventuring classes. If you multiclass into the related class, you go up two levels in that class, and lose one level in tough commoner. Every time you go up in level this happens, until all your tough commoner levels are used up.
  • To perform a multiclass conversion to barbarian, you must have been a Outdoorsman.
  • To perform a multiclass conversion to paladin, you must have been a Cavalier.
  • To perform a multiclass conversion to ranger subclass hunter, you must have been a Hunter.
  • To perform a multiclass conversion to ranger subclass beastmaster, you must have been an Animal Trainer.
  • To perform a multiclass conversion to rogue, you must have been a Hoodlum.
  • To perform a multiclass conversion to fighter, you could have been any tough commoner subclass.
(one vote)

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