I wanted to play a necromancer, but I wasn’t all that thrilled by my options. Wizards obviously make great necromancer, but I was drawn in another direction. A charismatic puppet master, that was my goal. I think you can make a decent Necro-Bard with the College of Lore, but I wanted something that’s more specialized. So I drew some inspiration from online sources and created my own Bard College. I tried to analyze the colleges officially released by WotC in order to guide me and came up with this homebrew:
College of Midnight
(aka College of the Necrodancer)
When you join the College of Midnight at 3rd level, you learn the Toll the Dead cantrip, which counts as a bard cantrip for you, but not towards your cantrips known. You also gain proficiency in the Arcana skill.
Additionally, when your Spellcasting feature lets you learn or replace a bard cantrip or bard spell of 1st level or higher, you can instead learn or replace it with a necromancy spell of your choice, and it becomes a bard spell for you if it isn’t already. You must otherwise obey all the restrictions for selecting spells, and you cannot choose spells this way that return creatures to life.
Also at 3rd level, you gain resistance to necrotic damage, and have advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Dance of the Dead
Starting at 6th level, while an undead creature under your control has an Inspiration Die from you, it gains the following benefits:
- The creature’s hit point maximum is increased by an amount equal to your bard level + your Charisma modifier.
- The creature adds your proficiency bonus to its attack rolls, damage rolls, and saving throws.
- You may heal them with your spells and class features, ignoring any rules that would usually prevent the healing of undead creatures. Likewise, they always count as “willing” for your spells and class features.
This Inspiration Die lasts indefinitely, compared to the usual expenditure period of 10 minutes, but you lose 1 use of your Bardic Inspiration feature for every Inspiration Die used on undead this way.
Additionally, you learn one of the following spells of your choice: Animate Dead, Speak with Dead, or Vampiric Touch. This spell doesn’t count against the number of spells you know, and you can’t replace it.
Rule the Still Heart
At 14th level, you become a master of commanding the dead with your music. As an action, choose one undead you can see within 60 feet of you that can hear you. That creature must make a Charisma saving throw against your bard spell save DC. If it fails, it becomes friendly to you and obeys your commands until you use this feature again.
Undead with an CR greater than half your bard level (rounded down) have advantage on the saving throw and can repeat it at the end of every turn.
Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
I’m playtesting this subclass right now. We started the campaign at 3rd level and we’ve reached level 6 so far. Toll the Dead is my go-to damaging cantrip and I have picked up Inflict Wounds and Ray of Enfeeblement from the get-go. Neither the necrotic resistance, nor the advantage on saves against fear has come up yet. At level 5 I started to animate some dead and before level 6, all my bardic inspiration was utilized to inspire my party. Now that I’m level 6, more and more bardic inspiration gets invested in buffing undead minions.
I have never played a bard before, so I’m not sure if any of these homebrew features make sense or are over-/underpowered. So I came here to ask:
Is this homebrew Bard College balanced, compared to officially published subclasses?
If not, how can I bring it in line with other Bard Colleges?