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DnD 5e - The Warlock Handbook

Last Updated: January 4th, 2019


I will use the color coding scheme which has become common among Pathfinder build handbooks, which is simple to understand and easy to read at a glance.

I will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, even if it is my own, because I can't assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. I also won't cover Unearthed Arcana content because it's not finalized, and I can't guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

Temporary Note: I am currently waiting to include content from the Wayfarer's Guide to Eberron. According to Dragontalk (the official D&D podcast), it's in a semi-finished state and is still subject to change, which could mean that character options in the book will see major changes before final publication. Once the book is complete, physical copies will be released and I will update to address the new content.


The Warlock is likely the easiest of any spellcaster to play. You get only a handful of spell slots at a time, and never have to juggle multiple spell slot levels. Warlocks have a list of spells known, so you don't need to worry about changing your spells on a daily basis. Warlocks also get the most powerful damage cantrip in the game, giving them a solid, reliable option for violence in between your big spells.

The Warlock typically fills the party's Wizard-equivalent requirement, offering options as a Controller and Striker, and with some minor investments the Warlock can also serve as the party's Face. The Warlock falls a bit short in terms of Utility spell options, but that can be mitigated with Pact of the Tome and a few Invocation choices if your party can't compensate for that shortcoming.

Warlock Class Features

Hit Points: d8 is pretty good for a dedicated spellcaster.

Saves: Wisdom and Charisma saves are great for resisting things like mind control and paralysis which might subdue you, but Warlocks will have lots of issues with effects that affect their bodies.

Proficiencies: Light armor and simple weapons are fine since you definitely won't use weapons, but the skill list is frustrating. You get two skills and access to a couple of Face skills, but most of your non-Face skills are Intelligence-based.

Otherworldly Patron: See "Subclasses - Otherworldly Patrons", below.

Pact Magic: Warlocks have a completely unique form of magic. Unlike other spellcasters your spell slots are all the same, and you only get a handful of them, but they recharge on a short rest. This means that you will need to rely much more heavily on cantrips, and use your slotted spells when they can be the most effective. Because Pact Magic works different from other spellcasting, be sure to double-check the Multiclassing rules before you look at other spellcasting classes.

Eldritch Invocations: You get a total of 8 invocations over the course of 20 Warlock levels. You can't get everything, so stick to options which solve problems which your party can't solver otherwise or to options which you can apply frequently.

  • (Requires Pact Boon)
  • 5th-Level:
  • 7th-Level:
  • 9th-Level:
  • 12th-Level:
  • 15th-Level:
  • Pact Boon: Where Otherwordly Patron defines where you get your powers, Pact Boon defines how to apply them. Pact Boon offers several options which all offer very different abilities.

    Mystic Arcanum: Pick your favorite spells. Remember that the spell slots for these spells don't scale, so it's fine to pick spells which won't scale with spell slot level.

    Eldritch Master: This essentially doubles your total number of spell slots per day.

    Subclasses - Otherworldly Patrons


    Charisma is all you need unless you're going for Pact of the Blade and not also taking Hexblade for some reason.

    Str: Dump. Melee Warlocks might want a bit to resist grapples and similar issues. If you take a class dip to pick up heavy armor, melee Warlocks can emphasize Strength, but with Hexblade it's still easier to focus on Charisma.

    Dex: Melee Warlocks need 14 Dexterity to pad their AC, but Hexblades use Charisma for attack and damage. Other Warlocks still need some for AC.

    Con: Everyone needs hit points. You don't need a ton because you can depend on Fiendish Vigor for an easy hp boost, but you still don't want to skimp on Constitution.

    Int: A bit for Knowledge skills is nice, but if you don't have any you can dump it.

    Wis: Only needed for saves.

    Cha: Spells.

    Chain/Tome Blade
    Point Buy Standard Array Point Buy Standard Array
    • Str: 8
    • Dex: 14
    • Con: 14
    • Int: 10
    • Wis: 10
    • Cha: 15
    • Str: 8
    • Dex: 13
    • Con: 14
    • Int: 12
    • Wis: 10
    • Cha: 15
    • Str: 10
    • Dex: 15
    • Con: 14
    • Int: 8
    • Wis: 8
    • Cha: 15
    • Str: 10
    • Dex: 14
    • Con: 13
    • Int: 12
    • Wis: 8
    • Cha: 15


    Charisma bonuses are crucial. Blade pact Warlocks will also want a bonus to Dexterity.

    AarakocraEEPC: Flight is fantastic, but the Aarackocra's abilities don't do anything for the Warlock.

    AasimarVGTM: The charisma increase and damage resistances are fantastic.

    BugbearVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    Dwarf: Nothing useful for the Warlock.

    DragonbornPHB: A possible option for a Blade Pact Warlock. The breath weapon helps to supplement your limited spell slots.

    ElfPHB: Dexterity is helpful for Blade Pact Warlocks, and Perception is always nice. Drow and Eladrin both make fine choices, but options which provide larger Charisma increases may be better.

    FirbolgVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    GenasiEEPC: Nothing useful for the Warlock.

    Gith: Nothing useful for the Warlock.

    Gnome: Nothing useful for the Warlock.

    GoblinVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    GoliathEEPC: Nothing useful for the Warlock.

    Half-Elf: Bonuses to all of the Warlock's useful abilities, Darkvision, and a great selection of options from the variant half-elves.

    Half-OrcPHB: Nothing useful for the Warlock.

    HalflingPHB: Dexterity is helpful for Blade Pact Warlocks, and everyone loves Lucky.

    HobgoblinVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    Human: Versatile and fantastic at everything.

    KenkuVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    KoboldVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    LizardfolkVGTM: The Lizardfolk's natural durability could be appealing for Hexblade warlocks, but their lack of a Charisma increase means that both your spellcasting and your weapon usage will lag until you've picked up some ability score increases

    OrcVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    TabaxiVGTM: An excellent option for a blade pact warlock. Dexterity boosts your AC (and possibly your weapon attacks depending on your ability scores), and Charisma boosts your spells.

    Tiefling: Bonus Charisma and some useful spells. The Flames of Phlegethos feat is tempting for Infernal pact warlocks, but it may not be worth the feat with the Warlock's limited pool of spell slots.

    TortleTP: Despite the lack of a Charisma increase, Tortles can be a great choice for a Pact of the Blade Warlock. 17 natural armor means that your AC is as good as a comparable warlock with 20 Dexterity, allowing you to focus on quickly raising your Charisma instead without worrying about your AC.

    TritonVGTM: A fantastic option for blade pact warlocks. Good ability score increases, and the innate spellcasting provides some good utility options.

    Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGTM: Good Charisma, some innate spellcasting, Magic Resistance, and Poison Immunity.

    Races of Ravnica

    CentaurGGTR: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    GoblinGGTR: See above.

    LoxodonGGTR: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    MinotaurGGTR: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    Simic HybridGGTR: The constitution increase is helpful, especially if you're considering Hexblade. Animal Enhancement offers several excellent options as you gain levels, and saves you the trouble of getting those effects from your limited number of spell slots.

    VedalkenGGTR: Bad ability spread.



    Since Warlocks already have high Charisma and access to two Face skills, look for Persusasion, bonus languages, and possibly Insight. If you have high Dexterity, you could also pick up some Rogue skills and Thieves' Tools proficiency.



    Only Blade Pact Warlocks actually need weapons, which means that only Hexblades should be using them. Your choice of weapon matters fairly little, and Pact of the Blade allows you to change your weapon easily (unless you've bound a magic weapon), so you can easily choose a weapon to suit the situation. Hexblades get proficiency with shields, and since warlocks have relatively low hit dice and hexblades still only get medium armor I think a shield is a good idea most of the time.



    This is not a comprehensive guide to every available spell, as that would be an exercise in madness. The following is a brief compilation of the most notable spells available to the class. Spells available via Magic Initiate are also excluded; for suggestions for Magic Initiate, see the "Feats" section, above.