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DnD 5e - The Warlock Handbook

Disclaimer

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.

Introduction

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 Controler 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

    Abilities

    Charisma is all you need unless you're going for Pact of the Blade.

    Str: Dump. Blade Pact Warlocks might want a bit to resist grapples and similar issues. If you take a class dip to pick up heavy armor, Blade Warlocks should emphasize Strength over Dexterity.

    Dex: Blade Warlocks need Dexterity for their weapon attacks, but other Warlocks still need it 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

    Races

    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.

    FirbolgVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    GenasiEEPC: 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: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    OrcVGTM: Nothing useful for warlocks.

    TabaxiVGTM: An excellent option for a blade pactg warlock.

    Tiefling: Bonus Charisma and some useful spells.

    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.

    Skills

    Background

    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.

    Feats

    Weapons

    Only Blade Pact Warlocks actually need weapons.

    Armor

    Spells

    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.

    Cantrips

    Multiclassing