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D&D 5E WotC Ranger: Drakewarden released at D&D Celebration

As currently written, a Small creature could ride your flying drake, but you couldn't, at level 7. So, at level 7 two Small drakewardens (Small Harengon, Fairies, Goblins, Kobolds, etc) could summon their medium drakes that can fly, and switch with each other to be able to ride a drake and fly at that level.

So, yes, other people could ride your flying drake at level 7, so long as they're small.

It's just weirdly written
I'm curious what the designers would say about this if approached with this situation. I imagine this is not what they intended with this, and I agree that this is just strangely written. I'd actually go with not having the drake sprout their wings until they reach the level where their Ash can actually fly around on them.
it gating you from doing the one thing you're known for for no apparent reason.
Except it's not? "Dragon Rider" is what some people want this to be, but they were very careful in the description to clarify that that concept isn't what this is.
In Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, there's an encounter that is with a Frost Giant (which are Huge) that's mounted on a Mammoth (which is also Huge). This breaks the PHB's rules for mounting, but it's not a big deal, because it's cool.
PCs are literally the only entities in the game beholden to the rules in the PHB. ;)

A frost giant riding a mammoth is cool. I'm not entirely convinced that it would scale down quite as well, but to each their own.
Here's the thing; those aren't for balance reasons. I don't see any reason why having a flying mount at level 7 for a subclass feature would be mechanically broken.
And you're certainly welcome to your opinion. :) I disagree with that notion, of course, and am more in agreement with, say, a paladin, who at 13th level gets to cast Find Greater Steed to get a flying mount with stats decidedly worse than the Drake Warden's companion. Thus, 11th level would be the earliest I'd consider it for a ranger subclass, but I don't have a major issue with the Drake Warden as it is.
There's clearly more broken things that certain subclasses get access to (again, Twilight Cleric comes to mind, or the Echo Knight being able to summon levitating echoes that can pick them up and move them wherever they want at level 3).
Twilight Cleric in general is unbalanced — which is why you see posts from DMs banning it (and heck even the one player I had who went for it dropped the character because they felt it was too strong — and Echo Knight is a questionable one as well since it was more Matt Mercer's class with just a bit of input from the D&D team and, again, I don't believe that the scenario you're describing is one that was intended in the design (I certainly wouldn't allow it myself).
Uh, by having the drake deal more damage, get access to breath weapons, more movement speeds, magical damage, blindsight (because it is a dragon), an ability to heal itself using its hit dice, or similar abilities. You can easily give impressive capstones and have the subclass be balanced while letting a Dragon Rider ride their dragon (and fly) before late Tier 3 of the campaign.
The drake already deals more damage with the capstone as-is, and it already has a breath weapon (albeit one shared with you). I can see where maybe you add in a feature at a higher level that grants the companion a use of the breath weapon that doesn't have to be shared with you, but that and the extra damage just feel boring, conceptually -- they're incremental rather than evolutionary updates. The drake sprouting wings seems like an exciting later-game milestone to me.

I definitely hear the concerns with having to wait until 15th level for this, but when I think "dragon rider" I think of someone legendary and experienced like Huma from Dragonlance, who wasn't soaring through the skies on the back of a silver dragon at 7th level. I think something you work your way up to as your character evolves through the course of a campaign rather than at a point where other rangers are getting Wisdom saving throw proficiencies or cunning action for their animal buddies.

My homebrew campaign setting isn't epic fantasy like a Dragonlance, though, so maybe that's where some of the disparity in opinions is coming from. In my opinion, the epic level stuff comes in the later tiers of the game rather than the 1st and 2nd tiers. If the concept of a "dragon rider" was something that would be in one of my games, I'd be more inclined for it to come about in a sort of sidekick/NPC sort of relationship that evolves as the character and the campaign does: they'd be riding an actual dragon instead of a fun size Halloween candy bar alternative to one.
 

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Again, the solution has nothing to do with rider size.

This isn't a standard dragon. Just give it Beast of Burden like the Mule.
I don't think this would work? Beast of Burden just means that the creature is considered Large for the purposes of carrying capacity. Weight isn't the reason why a Medium creature can't ride another Medium creature.
 

I was curious whether this debate came up way back when the subclass was first released as UA so I did a quick search and found this old thread from back then. Interesting read for sure, and a lot of the thoughts people had then align with the changes Wizards actually made to the final subclass. I definitely saw this as more of a Drizz't with a drake pal instead of a panther sort of concept rather than Huma on a silver dragon, and that's the concept I went with when building a "boss" in one of my campaigns based off the subclass.
 


Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Wizards won't errata for changing abilities because they don't want to invalidate existing charagers. How to we let them know right now to errata the mounted flight on this becuase they screwed up but badly. The book is out, at this moment they are free from their wish not to change existing characters. Admit their mistake and fix it before it's ever a problem.

How do we get word to them?
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What do you folks think?

Your connection to the natural world takes the form of a draconic spirit, which can manifest in physical form as a drake. As your powers grow, your drake grows as well, blossoming from a small four-legged companion to a majestic winged creature large and strong enough for you to ride. Along the way, you gain an increasing share of the awe-inspiring power of dragons. Consider the source of the draconic spirit you have bonded with. The Drakewarden Origin table offers examples

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So, I think what I’d do here is lean into the fact that (IME) most players who want a dragon friend want to ride them into battle, in the sky.

At level 3 it’s medium but can carry you as a rider on land even if you’re medium. It can also fly, but it isn’t a strong flyer yet. Without a rider it can fly for an hour at a time, and has to rest for at least an hour. With a rider, it can fly for 10 minutes, but still has to rest for an hour.

At level 7, it’s large and it can fly by itself as long as a flying PC could (ie up to the DM if they eventually require con saves or whatever against exhaustion), and can fly up to your wisdom mod in hours with a rider.

At level 15, it has wholly unlimited flight, and can carry two creatures in flight, and counts as huge for carrying stuff.


Then I’d also give the Ranger Enlarge/Reduce as an extra spell, no concentration when used on the drake, and basically make it so you can bring it into the dungeon even when it’s large.

Or, give it the ability to grow and shrink x/day, going from small to large, and eventually at high levels from tiny to huge. It’s a magical draconic spirit, after all.
 



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