DnD 5e Great Old One Warlock Handbook


An eclectic mix of options, the Great Old One focuses on drawing power from something unknowable and being appropriately crazy. Some of the abilities are very potent, but just as many are situational and won’t see much use. The end result is that the Great Old One Warlock (Often shortened to “GooLock”) feels a lot like an Enchanter Wizard, but more spooky than the Fey Warlock.

It’s hard to say which warlock subclass is the most emblematic of the Warlock as a class, but I think the Great Old One might be it. The spells are a good mix of options, the features provide some excellent tools to handle a diverse set of challenges, and overall the spooky, cultish feel of getting power from an elder being just feels right for the Warlock. At the same time, the subclass isn’t especially complex, so it’s approachable for new players but satisfying for experienced players without being exceptionally powerful. Mechanically, it’s not a combat monster, but it can thrive in a variety of situations and fall back on core Warlock features in combat.

Playing a Great Old One Warlock requires more abstract thinking than your typical Eldritch Blast build. The subclass spells aren’t big offensive options, and the subclass features have little function in combat. Instead, you’ll find that you can approach problems less directly, often diffusing or subverting them before combat starts. Then at high levels you get to build an army of thralls. And who doesn’t love raising an army?

Table of Contents


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

  • Red: Bad, useless options, or options which are extremely situational. Nearly never useful.
  • Orange: OK options, or useful options that only apply in rare circumstances. Useful sometimes.
  • Green: Good options. Useful often.
  • Blue: Fantastic options, often essential to the function of your character. Useful very frequently.

We will not include 3rd-party content, including content from DMs Guild, in handbooks for official content because we can’t assume that your game will allow 3rd-party content or homebrew. We also won’t cover Unearthed Arcana content because it’s not finalized, and we can’t guarantee that it will be available to you in your games.

The advice offered below is based on the current State of the Character Optimization Meta as of when the article was last updated. Keep in mind that the state of the meta periodically changes as new source materials are released, and the article will be updated accordingly as time allows.

Great Old One Warlock Features

  1. Expanded Spell List: A really diverse mix of debuffs, area control spells, and utilities. Weirdly, the only spells that benefit from upcasting are Dominate Beast at 4th level and both 5th-level spells, so the spell list gains almost no benefit from Pact Magic’s unique scaling.
    • 1st-level Spells: Two great single-target control effects, but they will become obsolete beyond low levels since they don’t scale with upcasting.
    • 2nd-level Spells: Both options are situational, but can be extremely potent if you’re clever.
    • 3rd-level Spells: Clairvoyance is a fantastic scouting option if you have a normal number of spell slots like literally any other spellcaster, but Warlocks really need to save their spell slots for something more significant and impactful. Sending is very situational, and you likely can’t justify using it on a day when you’re adventuring unless your party is willing to give you a short rest.
    • 4th-level Spells: Dominate Beast is very situational, especially since you won’t be running into many beasts by the time you can cast 4th-level spells. Black Tentacles is one of the best area control spells, but may not be as encounter-ending as Hunger of Hadar.
    • 5th-level Spells: Dominate Person is among the best single-target control/debuff spells in the game, but it’s only situationally useful because humanoids are a small minority of the enemies that you’ll face in most campaigns. Telekinesis is a great utility, and you can use it to hoist melee-only enemies into mid-air.
  2. Awakened Mind: This is basically free permanent Tongues combined with Telepathic Link. With high Charisma and access to Face skills, you can use this a lot.
  3. Entropic Ward: Not as reliable as other mechanics which respond to being attacked such as the Shield spell, but imposing Disadvantage makes you mathematically immune to critical hits, and, since your AC will likely exceed that of similar spellcasters like the Sorcerer and the Wizard, you’re more likely to cause attacks against you to miss.

    Advantage on your next attack is nice, but, since it’s only on one attack, it’s minimally useful with Eldritch Blast, and there are very few spell attacks beyond cantrips in the Warlock’s repertoire. You might consider learning another attack cantrip like Fire Bolt specifically for use with Entropic Ward, but, unless you go Pact of the Tome it’s hard to justify spending one of your few cantrips known on a combo that you can use once per Short or Long Rest.

  4. Thought Shield: Both effects are situational. Psychic damage is extremely uncommon, but if you run into mind flayers you’re going to have a lot of fun.
  5. Create Thrall: This can be hard to use. Your best bet is to affect the target while they’re sleeping. Once you make the target Charmed, the Charmed condition gives you Advantage on ability checks to “interact socially” with the creature, and, with a permanent telepathic connection to the creature, you can easily talk it into doing nearly whatever you want.

    This isn’t a “dominate” effect, so you can’t precisely control the creature’s actions, but you can talk it into taking specific courses of action (bring me that thing, tell me what you see, spy on your allies, release the prisoners, feed my dog, water my plants, kill the king, check the mail, etc.).

    Remember to ask permission to use this on your allies. Imposing a Charmed effect could lead to problematic interactions within the party, but you will all benefit from having easy telepathic connections to each other.

Great Old One Warlock Ability Scores

No different from a typical warlock.

Great Old One Warlock Races

No different from a typical warlock.

Great Old One Warlock Feats

No different from a typical warlock.

Great Old One Warlock Weapons

No different from a typical warlock.

Great Old One Warlock Armor

No different from a typical warlock.

Great Old One Warlock Multiclassing

No different from a typical warlock.

Example Build – Mind Games

The Great Old One is not a combat subclass. This is not a hexblade seeking to stack big damage numbers or swing a magic sword. This is not The Fiend seeking to cast Fireball, then mop up survivors. The Great Old One offers more utility outside of combat, but very little that will help you survive fights. Instead, you should look to win fights before initiative is rolled.

Instead of a combat monster, we’re going to build a sneaky, deceitful Face that you can use to confuse and mislead other creatures, dominating social situations and sometimes mitigating combat situations by disrupting possible enemies before violence occurs. In combat we’ll need to fall back on core Warlock features, but outside of combat we’ll be terrifying.

Keep in mind that this build will require buy-in from your DM. If your DM isn’t inclined to let you telepathically convince guards to walk away or to convince ogres to bicker amongst themselves, this build will be incredibly frustrating. At the same time, if your DM is willing to play along, try not to abuse things too much. If you can solve every problem by telepathically harassing other creatures, the game stops being a challenge pretty quickly. You should also strongly consider using safety tools.

Ability Scores

We’ll put our racial +2 into Charisma and our +1 into Dexterity. Basically standard for Warlocks. We don’t want to dump Wisdom because Insight will be helpful.



Kenku. We’re going to lean into tricky shenanigans, and being able to perfectly mimic sounds is thematically excellent and just a ton of fun to play with at the table. We also get two skills, which is fantastic. We’ll take Deception and Stealth.

Sadly, mimicry won’t work with our telepathy. According to Jeremy Crawford, you sound like yourself when speaking telepathically, but that doesn’t matter if your target has never heard your real voice because you exclusively speak via mimicry the rest of the time.


Charlatan. Perfectly on theme. Deception will be redundant with our racial skill proficiency, so trade it for Insight since we can’t get that from our class. Sleight of Hand isn’t especially useful, so you might swap that for something like Perception.

You might see Forgery Kit on the list of proficiencies and think “redundant”, but double check the wording of the Kenku’s Expert Forgery trait. Expert Forgery gives you Advantage on checks, but doesn’t mention proficiency. Having both will make forgery very effective.

Regardless, you might trade one of the tool proficiencies for Thieves’ Tools if your party doesn’t have a Rogue. We’re going to have a lot of sneaky capabilities anyway, so filling in for a Rogue is on the table.

Skills and Tools

We’ll take Arcana and Intimidation from our Warlock skills. That gives us Arcana, Deception, Insight, Intimidation, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth. We also get proficiency in Disguise Kits and in Forgery Kits.

We’re going to take Skill Expert at level 4, which will get us Proficiency in Persuasion plus Expertise in Deception.


At 4 we take Skill Expert. Proficiency in Persuasion, Expertise in Deception, +1 Charisma to stay on the Fundamental Math.

At 8 we take Telekinetic. It’s a great utility with no visible connection between you and the effect, further adding to the tricky nonsense that we can accomplish. It also gets us +1 Charisma.

At 12 we’ll take Guile of the Cloud Giant, offering a defensive Reaction and another +1 Charisma to get us to 20.

At 16 and 19 we have open feat slots. Staples like Inspiring Leader and Lucky work great here.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Otherworldly Patron: Great Old One
Awakened Mind
Pact Magic
Spells Known:
– Dissonant Whispers
– Hex
Cantrips Known:
– Eldritch Blast
– Minor Illusion
For starting gear, take the light crossbow, an arcane focus, either pack, leather armor, and three daggers. With 16 Dexterity, a Light Crossbow is very briefly your best combat option.

For the most part, we’re a very normal Warlock at this level. Awakened Mind is great for social situations where there’s a language barrier.

That said, we can also use it for sneaky shenanigans. You can telepathically speak to any creature that you can see within 30 feet of you. This doesn’t require you to move or give yourself away, and telepathy doesn’t automatically give the target any idea who they’re hearing. Tell them that their shoe is untied. If you need to make a Deception check, consider hitting them with Hex to impose Disadvantage on Wisdom checks, which applies a -5 to Passive Insight.

We’re taking Eldritch Blast and Hex because Eldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast+Hex is our go-to option in combat. It’s not super exciting, but it works well.
2Eldritch Invocations
– Agonizing Blast
– Mask of Many Faces
New Spell Known:
– Any
Agonizing Blast for the damage. Mask of Many Faces so that we can perform our telepathic shenanigans up close without arousing suspicion.
3Pact Boon: Pact of the Tome
New Cantrips Known:
– Friends
– Guidance
– Mind Sliver
New Spell Known:
– Invisibility
We’re leaning hard into utility and non-combat options, and Pact of the Tome is an amazing utility option. We only get cantrips from the basic Pact benefits, but the Invocations will give us ritual casting and other benefits.

Invisibility lets us get into a place unnoticed, then start whispering forbidden truths to enemies before our friends kick in the door to capitalize on their disordered state of mind.
4Feat: Skill Expert
– Charisma 17 -> 18
– Proficiency: Perception
– Expertise: Deception
New Cantrip Known:
– Any
New Spell Known:
– Suggestion
Proficiency in Perception gets us the last missing Face skill. Expertise in Deception lets us much more effectively mislead other creatures by telepathically whispering to them. There are warm cookies in the kitchen. If you don’t eat them, someone else will eat them all before you get any.

Suggestion overlaps with our sneaky whispering, but sometimes a Deception check isn’t enough to do the job.
5New Invocation:
– Book of Ancient Secrets
New Spell Known:
– Enemies Abound
Retrain Spell:
– Dissonant Whispers -> Hunger of Hadar
Welcome to the magical world of Ritual Casting! With no restriction on spell list, Book of Ancient Secrets makes the Warlock the most effective ritual caster in the game. Start collecting rituals immediately. You get two 1st-level rituals for free. I recommend Comprehend Languages and Detect Magic.

By this level our 1st-level spells from our subclass spell list look ineffective compared to higher-level spells, so now is a good time to start retraining them.
6Entropic Ward
New Spell Known:
– Hypnotic Pattern
Entropic Ward is the Great Old One’s best combat feature, but it’s not enough to win a fight for you.

You may be tempted to use something other than Eldritch Blast with the free Advantage from Entropic Ward. Fire Bolt sure looks tempting. But the DPR of that single Fire Bolt with Advantage is worse than two shots from Eldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast without advantage. Stick to Eldritch Blast.
7New Invocation:
– Ghostly Gaze
New Spell Known:
Summon Aberration
Awakened Mind requires you to see the target. Ghostly Gaze lets you see through walls. Together, you can see through walls and telepathically harass other creatures. I saw that. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Summon Aberration feels thematically appropriate, and it’s also a very solid summon spell.
8Feat: Telekinetic (Cha 18 -> 19)
New Spell Known:
– Evard’s Black Tentacles
Yes, you can use Ghostly Gaze and Telekinetic at the same time. Yes, that means that you can effectively haunt things up to 30 feet away with a solid wall between you and your target. You can also do normal combat things like moving enemies into area control effects.
9New Invocation:
– Gift of the Protectors
New Spell Known:
– Telekinesis
Gift of the Protectors is like Relentless Endurance or Death Ward, but you get one use per long rest shared between every creature whose name you add to the page.

Remember how we’re telekinetic? Now we’re extra super telekinetic. If moving an enemy 5 feet isn’t quite enough, bring up Telekinesis and start lifting your problems and putting them on high shelves where you can forget about them.
10Thought Shield
New Spell Known:
– Synaptic Static
Thought Shield is spicy resistance to psychic damage. Go find a mind flayer to disagree with.

Also, psychic fireball.
11Mystic Arcanum: Mental Prison
New Spell Known:
– Any
New Cantrip Known:
– Any
No big changes here.
12Feat: Guile of the Cloud Giant (Cha 19 -> 20)
New Invocation:
– Any
Max Charisma and add a cool new defensive option in combat.

There are’t any must-have invocation options here. Maybe Repelling Blast to go with our shiny new third ray from Eldritch Blast.
13Mystic Arcanum: Plane Shift
New Spell Known:
– Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
Plane Shift to go meet your patron face to face for the first time. Regret your choices. Ask to crash on the couch for a Long Rest. Plane Shift home. Regret your life choices.

We’re adding Tasha’s Hideous Laughter at this level solely for use with Create Threall. See below.
14Create ThrallYou say “Thrall”, but I say “future mental spam call recipient”. Obvious recipients are your party for utility purposes, but any humanoid who you find who is incapacitated can become a thrall. It might never be useful, but maybe some time you’re trapped in a dungeon and need to call for reinforcements.

Remember that the Charmed condition is not mind control. You get Advantage on Charisma checks to “interact socially” with the creature. This is great for social skills, and, between Advantage and Expertise, you can use Deception to convince your thralls of nearly anything. The dungeon outside of town is full of treasure. All you need is a picnic lunch and the Warlock’s 10-foot pole that they forgot.

Pay special attention to the wording of the feature. Where Awakened Mind says “speak to“, Create Thrall says “communicate telepathically with“. I’m not totally certain, but this may mean that Awakened Mind is one-way, but Create Thrall is two-way. I haven’t found any discussion from WotC folks on the subject, so check with your DM.

Because Create Thrall targets Incapacitated creatures, take a long look at your spell list and look for anything that makes targets Incapacitated, such as Tasha’s Hideous Laughter or Hypnotic Pattern. Unfortunately, Warlocks don’t get many options, but Tasha’s works for single creatures, while Hypnotic Pattern works for crowds. Raulothim’s Psychic Lance makes targets Incapacitated, but the spell’s duration ends at the beginning of your next turn, so the action economy doesn’t work unless you take two levels in Fighter for Action Surge.

At this point, your life is all about creating thralls. If you see an opportunity, you take it. The more thralls you have, the better.
15Mystic Arcanum: Glibness
New Spell Known:
– Any
New Invocation:
– Shroud of Shadow
Cast Glibness. You have one hour to talk to all of your thralls and get 15 or better on the d20 roll. Time to turn your thralls into an army.

Turn invisible. Walk around causing trouble both telepathically and telekinetically.
16Feat: Any
17Mystic Arcanum: Psychic Scream
New Spell Known:
– Any
Stunned makes the affected creature Incapacitated. Psychic Scream makes your targets Stunned. Create Thrall requires your target to be Incapacitated. Scream, then spend the next several turns high-fiving Stunned creatures to make them into Thralls. You have now turned a high-CR encounter into a collection of new friends.
18New Invocation:
– Visions of Distant Realms
My favorite scouting option, and, if you can get the eye around corners, you can use it with Awakened Mind to target them with spells or to telepathically speak to other creatures without spending Ghostly Gaze.
19Feat: Any
New Spell Known:
– Any
It’s weird for level 19 to not change anything for us. Pick a cool feat.
20Eldritch MasterLiterally always a disappointing capstone.