Warlock – Overview

Sorry for the great delay, Christmas and other stuff kept going on and on and on and so I was pretty unmotivated to do the blog. Even though I played a lot of D&D in this time and in the end have a lot of experience to share. I won’t have much free time (at least without decreasing my time playing D&D), but at least I’ll try at least one per week.

This was definitely a really big piece of work, since I had no idea how I could make it even remotely viable. But now it’s done! Wohoo, only one more to go, even though it’ll be a lot of subclasses there… dammit. As always my personal opinion and somehow I think an overview isn’t too accurate here, since the warlock class is much harder to grasp than most other classes, since there are way more ways to customize it.

This is an overview, so I’ll just categorize each class in certain categories to see how it cuts and give a personal grading. The end-grading won’t count the multiclass-strength in (for obvious reasons) and is more like an overall impression than a mathematical derivation.

Any feature in italic is from a subclass and a abbreviation will say which one (in the warlock’s case AF for the Archfey, FI for the Fiend and GO for the Great Old One). And red features means there is a flaw or a minus in said category.

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Multiclass-Strength:

  • Brings Pact Magic, which is pretty useful for high class warlocks with some levels in another spellcasting class
  • Invocations can bring some pretty nice basic effects, which will enhance the warlockish experience even with few levels up to the high tier
  • since the warlock’s features lacks in focused power and excels in power over time, you can easily balance the focused power out by taking another class
  • good combinations with every class
  • the capstone isn’t to sneer at, but you won’t find it too sad not to have it until you’re in a lengthy and really difficult dungeon crawl

Offensive:

  • Pact Magic: Some offensive potential here and depending on pact much more incoming. Especially the Eldritch Blast cantrip will be useful in that department.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Agonizing Blast: Obviously more damage.
    • Devil’s Sight: Increases the chances to make damage, especially after making it harder for a lot of enemies.
    • Eldritch Spear: Increased range means more chances to make damage.
    • Lifedrinker: Obviously more damage.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Well, sometimes you really want claws, I think.
    • Minions of Chaos: More guys to make your damage.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Become something to increase your offense.
    • Thirsting Blade: More attacks means more damage.
    • Witch Sight: Counters these annoying illusion defensive spells, like invisibility in any form.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: The more powerful familiars can be pretty nice, if you’re still on low-levels and cornering one guy and don’t want to waste more resources than needed. But in the end they’re still not combat material, but at least they share the functions of a normal familiar, too, like touching enemies for you.
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Blade: Warlocks aren’t good melee characters, but this pact make them decent, like a bard. It’s less about making yourself a great combatant and more about making you more diverse. And as long as you don’t have a magical weapon as a pact weapon, you can choose the right weapon at the right time and use it, regardless of what it is.
  • Expanded Spell-list (FI): More offensive spells can make you a spell-slinger for a couple of turns. And if you know you have time for a short rest afterwards, you will make your wizard-buddy look at you with envy in terms of damage.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): It’s like another offensive Mystic Arcanum. Only needs to hit with an attack, so any spell with an attack roll is fair game, too.

Resource-Management:

  • Pact Magic: Spell slots which will be regained after every short rest! Cool!
  • Mystic Arcanum: These don’t use up your spell slots, even though they’re powerful. A nice exception of the rule.
  • Eldritch Master: Nice to have, since it shortens the time to regain spell slots once a day.
  • Pact Features (AF, FI, GO): Most of them are regained at a short rest or at-will, so you can use them without too much worry.
  • Pact Magic: Too less spell slots for situations, when you want to cast as much great spells as possible. And even with regaining those slots after a short rest, it’ll slow down the exploration phases, if you’re the only caster with utility spells, which consumes the resource ‘time’.
  • Mystic Arcanum: This red is only compared to other main-spellcasters, since you end up with less high-level spells and can’t use higher spell slots to empower them.

Support:

  • Pact Magic: Not the best spell list for this kind of work, even though the Archfey brings some neat spells and invocations can bring others.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Bewitching Whispers: Less enemies to worry about and more allies for all kind of usage.
    • Chains of Carcer: Lessen the enemies (even though only special types) for a round or two.
    • Dreadful Word: Another one which will decrease your enemies.
    • Mire the Mind: A genuine debuff.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Increasing your jumping distance is a standard way in dungeons to get these hovering bastards, like Flameskulls.
    • Repelling Blast: Push those enemies to the tank, which will save your back line some trouble.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Make one enemy into a beaver, so he won’t do much until the spell ends.
    • Sign of Ill Omen: Debuff are as good as buffs and with less enemies even better.
    • Thief of Five Fates: Another debuff.
    • Witch Sight: Even if your allies can’t use it, you can at least tell them.
  • Expanded Spell-list (AF): The Archfey makes it possible to learn some support and avoiding fights entirely with the Sleep spell at low levels.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Sometimes an enemy brings a mean aura or another nasty effect. With this you can at least get one round of breather.

Survivability:

  • Pact Magic: Some defensive buffs and temporary hit points here, plus some debuffs. Nothing too directly and some of the greatest defenive buffs are missing in this spell list.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Armor of Shadows: Mage armor without spell slots on yourself? Be prepared 24/7!
    • Ascendant Step: Good for melee only opponents which can’t reach that high.
    • Bewitching Whispers: Make one enemy into a friend.
    • Chains of Carceri: Hold that one fiend, fey or celestial which want to slam you.
    • Eldritch Spear: Keep your distance to the danger as long as possible.
    • Fiendish Vigor: Gives you practically additional hp.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Sometimes your best bet is to take the form of an enemy, like a city guard, to survive.
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Aquatic adaptation safes lifes. And of course the ‘look like an enemy’ thing.
    • Minions of Chaos: Have something between you and your doom.
    • Mire the Mind: The slower the opponent, the faster you get away.
    • One with Shadows: Vanish if you’re not needed and there are shadows nearby, which is pretty often the case.
    • Otherwordly Leap: If you can jump over something the enemy can’t, you win. And of course you can position yourself in the first place somewhere much harder to attack.
    • Repelling Blast: Especially useful with multiple Eldritch Blasts: Push them back and move back afterwards for maximum use.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Be either a spider, rat or bird to run away or beef up as a T-Rex!
    • Sign or Ill Omen: Disadvantage with attack rolls against you? Bought!
    • Thief of Five Fates: At least some protection… even though it’s minor.
    • Witch Sight: Those invisible ambushers will have a harder time to ambush. Invisible.
  • Fey Presence (AF): Even though charm and frightened aren’t the best debuffs, you can count on it to keep you safe versus a lot of trouble. Except undead and dragons.
  • Misty Escape (AF): Get damage once, be sure to survive afterwards. Teleport and invisible at the same time are two great ways to mitigate further damage.
  • Beguiling Defenses (AF): While you love to charm, you hate being charmed. And not only being immune to it but to redirect it back to the sender is a very nice thing to do.
  • Dark Delirium (AF): Only one opponent and again it becomes charmed/frightened, but in this version, the enemy is practically out of combat until it breaks.
  • Dark One’s Blessing (FI): Killing stuff and getting temporary hit points. Since temporary hit points are as good as normal hit points when taking damage, you’ll like them.
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): Since it only applies to ability checks and saving throws, you will most likely use it in life-threatening situations.
  • Fiendish Resilience (FI): Since you can choose the type, you can practically prepare after every short rest for the next fights. Oh, there is a green dragon out there? I should better take a poison resistance. And even for bludgeoning, piercing or slashing damage it’s great, since silver or magic weapons aren’t too common.
  • Hurl Through Hell (FI): Use it to single out the most annoying enemy and send it away for a round.
  • Entropic Ward (GO): Even though it gives you advantage on one attack roll if it succeeds, the warlock doesn’t have a real damaging spell, which relies on an attack roll. So just use it for the disadvantage for one enemy attack.
  • Thought Shield (GO): If you ever find yourself in the Underdark, you will love this ability. Resistance to psychic damage and to share the rest is a great way to combat aberrations on an even ground and of course illusions will hurt less.
  • Armor Proficiency: Only light armor, which is better than no armor, but since Dexterity isn’t a main ability, you’ll feel the difference in AC.

Utility:

  • Pact Magic: A decent amount of utility spells in this list and the pacts adds some more. It misses the sheer amount of the wizard, but brings some overall useful stuff. And misses long range teleportation spells entirely.
  • Eldritch Invocations:
    • Ascendant Step: Levitate to places you won’t reach otherwise.
    • Beast Speech: Talk to pets and other animals to gather information.
    • Beguiling Influence: More Skill Proficiencies!
    • Bewitching Whispers: Compulsion can do that much.
    • Book of Ancient Secrets: Make your average warlock to a above average dungeon crawler by adding rituals to the mix. From any list.
    • Devil’s Sight: The better darkvision will make you a great scout… at least that’s what your party will think.
    • Eldritch Sight: At will Detect Magic without using 10 minutes for a ritual cast. You will love it.
    • Eyes of the Rune Keeper: Your DM will hate you for this, since ancient writings aren’t supposed to be read. But at least you can read any message your enemy left behind. At least unless the bloody mess made it unreadable.
    • Gaze of Two Minds: Scout ahead with two people… kinda. And of course to make an ambush and time it just right, while hiding somewhere your enemy will never see you.
    • Mask of Many Faces: Look like any humanoid you want. Like the townmaster!
    • Master of Myriad Forms: Be any humanoid you want. Like the king, after kidnapping him.
    • Misty Visions: Minor illusion for maximum usage outside of combat.
    • One with Shadows: Infiltration succeeds.
    • Otherwordly Leap: Jump to places you won’t reach without using resources.
    • Repelling Blast: You can push objects around and that makes it useful.
    • Sculptor of Flesh: Polymorph Shenanigans makes great exploration experience.
    • Visions of the Distant Realms: Like Eldritch Sight, only better. And the need for a higher warlock level.
    • Voice of the Chain Master: If you want to talk with someone without being there.
    • Whisper of the Grave: Dead people can tell you a lot. Especially concerning their deads.
    • Witch Sight: This is not the king, but a shapeshifter!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Chain: With a familiar with several special abilities, dungeoneering and some urban strategies becomes much easier. Having an imp go invisible to follow a goon back to headquarters to get the whole band? Easy!
  • Pact Boon – Pact of the Tome: Of course it depends partly on the cantrips, but since most cantrips are meant to be useful, I didn’t saw the need to put it in other categories. But the real power of this feature is due the Book of Ancient Secrets Invocation, which enhances your utility tenfold.
  • Fey Presence (AF): You know, you can choose the effect to make a conversation go more smoothly?
  • Dark Delirium (AF): If you want to let a guard being less on guard, don’t use drugs but dreams!
  • Dark One’s Own Luck (FI): If you have that one ability check which would fail otherwise, you can use this feature after seeing the result to correct it. If you’re lucky enough.
  • Expanded Spell-list (GO): Even though the new spell selection is very versatile, the most interesting options are in the utility-department, like detect thoughts.
  • Awakened Mind (GO): Telepathy at-will, even if you don’t share a language. Great ability, which have a lot of possibilities, the best part is the fact, that you can organize the party in a silent manner. Or use it to deceive someone or at least get the attention.
  • Create Thrall (GO): Only for humanoid targets, but if you ever need a spy, you can simply make you one. But only charmed, so it’s still less than a total control.

Grading:

Multiclass: Fantastic
Offense: Good to Great (FI)
Resource Management: Great
Support: Bad
Survivability: Decent to Good (AF, FI)
Utility: Good to Great (GO)

Overall: Good

Multiclass warlocks are pretty common in the forums, mostly because you can grasp some really nice features with only a few warlock levels when focusing on another class or instead take a few level in another class, to enhance your warlock build. This is possible, since the warlock class is much more customizable than your average class, so the customize option ‘multiclass’ just add to that strength.

One of the strengths of the warlock are the Invocations, which enhances any category you feel is lacking, but at the same time every warlock have one problem: The power of the moment. Without short rests a warlock lacks a lot of power, since he have less resources but it’s easier to regain those. So for short and hard encounters the warlock loses out against every other class, while on a long adventuring day with the common 3 short rests, he will be at least reliable and at the end have more spells left than the other arcane casters.

But first you need to get to this point, since other classes lacks the means to regain resources early in the game and you don’t want to go on an adventure, while your companions hit rock bottom of their power.  So at the start you will be underwhelming, then you become reliable and in the end it all comes down how well you build up your warlock.

I suggest the warlock class for everyone who likes having options and not too specialized. For those who wants options and be specialized, I suggest a warlock-multiclassing, which are very common these days as ideas on the forums. You can combine the warlock with any other class to make it work better in one department.

 

The wizard’s overview will have to wait, since I never got the chance to speak about the other books and want to finish the game reports of the Tyranny of Dragons campaign I’m mastering. Even though we didn’t get that far there, sadly.

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