A light sprinkling of DnD 5e Hexblade Warlock
Saltblade? Hexbae?


Hexblade warlocks are an interesting subclass: they can easily be a trap because their apparent versatility can leave you wanting to have many tools at your disposal only to discover that none of them quite satisfy the way that the more specialized subclasses can. That said, with a little work you can fill your niche as a primary damage dealer in the front lines while staying reasonably safe thanks to your spells and later parts of your kit.

EDIT: This was the first article I ever wrote for RPGBOT, long enough ago that it was published on the old version of the site. More importantly, it was written before Tasha’s was published. That means that a lot of work went into the Races section (which has largely been made irrelevant, though feel free to give it a read), and one of the single most important optimization options hadn’t been introduced yet: Elven Accuracy. This is a cornerstone of modern Warlock optimization for obvious reasons, and means that I need to redo the example build. Even if you’ve read this guide before, I recommend taking another thorough look at the table presented at the end.

This guide is specifically for the Hexblade Warlock, and omits sections of my typical class handbooks when those sections aren’t meaningfully different from other members of the class. For more information on the Warlock, see our Warlock Handbook. I also strongly recommend reading our Warlock Eldritch Invocation Breakdown and Warlock Spell List Breakdown.

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.

Hexblade Subclass Features

  • Expanded Spell List: While several options on this list are very good, many of them require Concentration. In particular, even though all the smites are Bonus Actions (good for your action economy), they require Concentration to ensure that you’re able to actually get the effect off as long as you hit sometime during the next minute, but this prevents you from running other excellent Concentration buffs like Blur and Elemental Weapon from the very same expanded list. Furthermore, since the smite spells don’t scale well (if they scale at all), they’re often a poor use of your limited Warlock spell slots. Consider using them for a level or two when you first get them, but replace them after that when better spells become available (even if it’s just the next smite spell).
    • 1st-level Spells: Shield is fantastic… on any other spellcasting class. It costs a precious spell slot, and offers no benefits for upcasting, so it’s only helpful until you get access to 2nd-level slots for Armor of Agathys. If you aren’t running another Concentration spell, Wrathful Smite into Booming Blade is staggeringly good damage at low levels, assuming the target moves and triggers the secondary damage. The Wisdom save for fear is a nice touch, though your defenses aren’t really turned on yet so maintaining Concentration can be a challenge in melee. To summarize: tempting options at low levels, but you’ll abandon them in favor of other options almost immediately.
    • 2nd-level Spells: Blur is just a superb spell. Turn it on if you have more than one thing attacking you and/or your Armor of Agathys doesn’t look up to the job. Branding smite fills some excellent niches, but is not otherwise overly helpful. It’s probably the only way you’re going to be able to deal radiant damage (you’ll be very grateful if you ever come across zombies) and it also prevents invisibility if your party can’t cast Faerie Fire, Invisibility Purge, or something else along those lines.
    • 3rd-level Spells: Blink would be interesting if it wasn’t random in the fashion it is. Elemental weapon’s primary benefit is making a weapon magical if for some reason you aren’t running Pact of the Blade, and I’m not sure why you would skip Pact of the Blade (and the Invocations which require it like Thirsting Blade) and still use a weapon. It still runs into the Concentration problem, interfering with smites and defensive buffs, but it adds a small amount of extra damage (which will increase when your spell slot levels increase). Keep in mind that the Pact Weapon granted by Pact of the Blade counts as a magic weapon for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance and immunity. It’s technically not a magic weapon unless you bind a specific magic weapon, so you can use your Pact Weapon with Elemental Weapon.
    • 4th-level Spells: Phantasmal Killer is still an excellent spell, although the fact that it never scales past 5th level for warlocks is disappointing at higher levels. Staggering Smite would be much better if the effect lasted more than one round. Both spells cause the creature to suffer Disadvantage on attack rolls, but Phantasmal Killer works at range and lasts longer.
    • 5th-level Spells: Banishing Smite is a big pile of damage on a Bonus Action and the rider effect doesn’t allow a saving throw. 50 hit points is a reasonably large window, and banishing the target could dramatically affect the outcome of an encounter. Cone of Cold is a helpful way for you to do area of effect damage, but apart from being a big pile of damage does little else for you.
  • Hexblade’s Curse: Are you ready to confuse literally every new player by being the only thing that gets proficiency to damage? Then Hexblade is for you. Note that you can both Curse and Hex someone if you like to track several effects at the same time. In all seriousness though, this is a fantastic ability.

    You only get this once per Short or Long Rest, so be sure to use it where it will matter. You want to make as many attack rolls as possible while this is running, so at high levels this will frequently work best when combined with Eldritch Blast since Warlocks can’t get more than three attacks (assuming Thirsting Blade and either two-weapon fighting or Crossbow Expert). However, since this only works once per Short or Long Rest, remember that you may still have better results focusing on other parts of your build, and focusing on being effective with weapons is often a better choice for the Hexblade than Eldritch Blast even though you may get fewer attacks.

    Since this comes in at 1st level and scales based on your proficiency bonus, it’s very tempting for class dips into Warlock, totally disregarding how good Hex Warrior is.

  • Hex Warrior: This is probably why you picked the subclass. You get medium armor and shields so that you’re able to exist in the front line without dying immediately, but far more importantly you get to be a melee character and still have Str and Dex be dump stats. You do still need enough Dexterity to fill out Half Plate’s Dexterity cap, but that’s not hard.

    Using your Charisma for attack and damage rolls in place of Strength is crazy powerful. Not only does it make Pact of the Blade considerably easier for the Warlock, it makes Paladin/Warlock multiclass builds massively more effective. Keep in mind that by default Hex Warrior’s weapon effect works on a weapon which you touch at the end of a long rest, but if you later take Pact of the Blade the effect extends to that weapon too, so you can affect have two weapons with which to attack using Charisma. This is important if you plan to explore two-weapon fighting or if you want a backup weapon or something.

  • Accursed Specter: Not only does it have to be a humanoid, but you personally have to get the killing blow. That said, if you can get one, Specters are a phenomenal companion to have with you. They are effective in combat (although they never scalebeyond the tiny amount of temporary hit points and the attack bonus which you give them) and, while they can’t speak, they will follow your verbal commands allowing a creative person to use one for scouting and have it report back. However, they have no ability to speak, to their ability to report their findings is limited to gestures like nodding, pointing, and pantomime.
  • Armor of Hexes: Take the already excellent Hexblade’s Curse and put an astonishing and unique defensive buff on it. Somewhere, a 40k player is wondering how 4-up saves got into their D&D. This is a 50% miss chance on top of whatever other defenses you might have running (Blur or Shadow of Moil, for example),
  • Master of Hexes: The only problem with Hexblade’s Curse was that it could feel wasted if you used it on something and then ran into something more threatening before your next rest. That is now slightly mitigated by allowing you to chain it through a whole fight. You do need to be able to see a new target creature when you move Hexblade’s Curse, so if you’re facing hidden or invisible enemies you may need to keep that in mind before you finish off your current target.

    Clever players might try to move the effect to an angry rat which you keep in a sack (the old “bag of rats” trick) to allow you to carry one use of Hexblade’s Curse all day, but wise DM’s should explicitly disallow such shenanigans.

Hexblade Ability Scores

Unlike other Warlocks, you will need to invest some into Dexterity to make best use of that medium armor you’re now allowed to wear and boy will you need it. Otherwise, focus on Charisma.

Str: You can’t afford to have high ability scores in four abilities, and Strength simply isn’t useful enough.

Dex: Warlocks have notoriously poor AC, and anything you can do to address that will still require some Dexterity unless you multiclass or something to get heavy armor.

Con: Being in melee means you want hit points and a better chance of passing Con saves when targeted by things you’re making angry.

Int: Dump.

Wis: Dump.

Cha: You are powered by Charisma.

Point BuyStandard Array

Hexblade Races

Ability scores are crucial for the Hexblade Warlock, but also easy to achieve. Look for some combination of Charisma and either Dexterity and Constitution in most cases, but you only need 14 Dexterity if you’re happy in medium armor. Beyond that, innate spellcasting or things that improve your durability are great options.

The list of races and subraces below is intentionally reduced to those options which I think make an effective Hexblade Warlock or which offer traits which are illustrative of what you should look for in other races, and it does not address the Customizing Your Origin optional rules. These are by no means the only viable options (especially with the custom origin optional rules in place), and I encourage you to explore other options not listed below.

For full race coverage (including discussion of options which work well for the Hexblade), please see our Warlock Races Breakdown, which includes the full range of available races.

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.

  • DrowPHB: Bonus Charisma and some Charisma-based innate spellcasting, but Sunlight Sensitivity can be a pain.
  • EladrinMToF: Dexterity and Charisma are a great spread for warlocks, and free teleportation on a short rest means that you don’t need to spend one of your spell slots to do it.
  • High Elf: A Wizard Cantrip gets you access to a lot of useful options, including Booming Blade which doesn’t care about a poor Intelligence score. But most of those options are already available to us.

Half-ElfPHB: The abilities work great, and bonus skills are always nice, but Variant Human is likely better. You could argue that Darkvision is appealing, but that’s what Devil’s Sight is for.

  • DrowSCAG: With a very limited number of spell slots, innate spells provide fantastic utility.
  • High/Moon/SunSCAG: Wizard cantrips are great for utility, but you already have the best damage cantrips. Consider Booming Blade since it doesn’t care about your spellcasting modifier.

HumanPHB: Versatile and fantastic at everything.

  • Variant: You still get a crucial bonus to your Charisma, and you can get an awesome feat at level 1.

Tiefling: Bonus Charisma and Charisma-based innate spellcasting.

  • AsmodeusPHB/MToF: A perfectly fine option, but the Intelligence is wasted and you can find better spells from other subraces.
  • BaalzebulMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, but access to Thaumaturgy could be nice.
  • DispaterMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • FiernaMToF: The Wisdom is largely wasted, but the spells are great for a Face.
  • GlasyaMToF: Dexterity means better AC, and the spells are great if you want to be sneaky or tricky.
  • LevistusMToF: Constitution means more hit points, and the spells offer a nice mix of defensive, offensive, and utility options.
  • MammonMToF: The Intelligence is wasted, and the leveled spells are highly situational.
  • MephistophelesMToF: Flame Blade will be worse than just using your weapon.
  • ZarielMToF: Strength is wasted and you already get the smite spells.
  • Variant: FeralSCAG: Dexterity is normally fine for a melee build, but for Warlocks you’ll be using your Charisma thanks to Hexblade.
  • Variant: Devil’s TongueSCAG: Good options for a standard Warlock but doesn’t help a Hexblade.
  • Variant: HellfireSCAG: Burning Hands is about as good for the Warlock as Hellish Rebuke, but doesn’t require you to be hit to use it.
  • Variant: WingedSCAG: Flight is fantastic even if you’re built for melee because it offers you a way to engage enemies trying to use flight to stay out of reach.

TortleTP: The natural armor is decent and won’t require 14 Dexterity, but your access to medium armor and shields already allows you to reach these numbers.

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

VerdanAcInc: Constitution and Charisma is a perfect combination for a Charisma-based spellcaster, and getting Persuasion for free is great. You’ll almost certainly be your party’s Face, and the Verdan’s Telepathic Insight can go a long way to address language barriers despite its limited capability.

Yuan-Ti PurebloodVGTM / MotM: Good Charisma, some innate spellcasting, Magic Resistance, and Poison Immunity (resistance with the updated version).

Setting-specific races are address below. Not every setting allows every race, and while most races presented in the core rules and in content for the Forgotten Realms can be used in other settings, races specific to settings like Ravnica aren’t typically allowed in other settings. Talk to your DM about what races are allowed in your game. 

Races of Eberron

KalashtarERLW: A Charisma increase, and you’ll be really good at Wisdom saving throws despite not being proficient. The Kalashtar doesn’t support any specific part of being a warlock, but it’s a fine starting point for a warlock of any kind.

WarforgedERLW: The flexible ability increase goes into Charisma, and the Warforged’s other traits will make you more durable than a typical sorcerer before considering spells. A warforged with Mage Armor would have an AC of 14+Dex totally unequipped, allowing you to meet the AC of characters in light armor and a shield. A warforged hexblade can do even better: half-plate, a shield, and 14 Dexterity brings you to 20 AC with very little effort.


While the design intent for Dragonmarks was that they would offer some innate spellcasting for everyone, every dragonmark includes an expanded spell list which is arguably a more significant benefit than most of the provided racial traits. Because the expanded spell options are such an important part of the dragonmarks, if you’re not playing a spellcaster you’re giving up a huge part of your racial traits, which makes it exceptionally difficult to justify playing a dragonmark character who can’t cast spells.

Dragonmarks are uniquely helpful for the Warlock. Any amount of extra spellcasting can significantly improve your capabilities since your spell slots are so limited. Because your spell slots work differently from other spellcasters, spells which scale when they’re cast with a higher-level spell slot can often be good options even though other spells on a specific dragonmark’s spell list aren’t interesting.

Dragonmarked DwarfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Warding: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked ElfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Shadow: The ability score increases are great, the innate spellcasting is good, and there are several dragonmark spells which warlocks can normally only get from specific patrons.

Dragonmarked GnomeERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Scribing: The ability score increases work, and several of the dragonmark spells are new to the Warlock’s spell list, but most of the spells aren’t very good.

Dragonmarked Half-ElfERLW: Dragonmark traits replace some of your normal racial traits, as described in the entry for each Dragonmark.

  • Mark of Detection: The ability score increases work, and with the exception of two spells available to great old one warlocks, every spell provided by Mark of Detection is new to the Walock spell list. Many of the spells are powerful divination options, offering great utility and scouting options.
  • Mark of Storm: The ability score increases work, and while most of the spells aren’t very good they’re quickly replaced by better options as you gain levels, and easy to replace spells known, and several of the better spells aren’t on the Warlock’s spell list.

Dragonmarked Half-OrcERLW: Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

  • Mark of Finding: Bad ability spread.

Dragonmarked HalflingERLW: Dragonmark traits replace your subrace.

  • Mark of Healing: Bad ability spread.
  • Mark of Hospitality: The ability score increases work well, and the spellcasting is surprisingly good for the Warlock. The innate spellcasting offers useful utility options, and the low-level spells include great options that scale well with spell level.

Dragonmarked HumanERLW: Dragonmark traits replace ALL of your racial traits.

  • Mark of Finding: See Mark of Finding under Dragonmarked Half-Orc, above. Mechanically, the final racial traits are identical.
  • Mark of Handling: The ability score increases can work, but many of the racial traits depend on you always having Animal Friendship and Speak With Animals prepared, and neither of them scale as you gain levels. Spending a 5th-level spell slot on a mediocre 1st-level spell feels terrible, and it’s rarely useful as you reach mid-level.
  • Mark of Making: The ability score increases can work, but the spellcasting isn’t especially useful. Magic Weapon won’t work on pact weapons, hexblades already get elemental weapon, and there aren’t enough other good options on the spell list to make up for how many options aren’t useful for you.
  • Mark of Passage: Dexterity and Charisma are great, free Misty Step is excellent, and nearly every one of the dragonmark spells is new to the Warlock’s spell list.
  • Mark of Sentinel: Bad ability spread.

Races of Ravnica

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.

Races of Theros

SatyrMOoT: Dexterity for you AC, Charisma for your spells, Magic Resistance to keep you alive, and two free skills to help you serve as your party’s Face.

Races of Wildemount

Dragonborn: Wildemount presents two new Dragonborn variants, each replacing the standard Dragonborn’s ability score increases and damage resistance.

  • DraconbloodEGtW: Roughly equivalent to the standard Dragonborn, but if you’re playing your party’s Face you might enjoy Forceful Presence. Getting Darkvision is usually great, but it’s less important thanks to Devil’s Sight.


Our Warlock Handbook details advice for warlock feats in general, but a selection of feats which many Hexblades enjoy are presented below.

  • Crossbow ExpertPHB: Hexblades can abolutely make Crossbow Expert work. Hex and Hexblade’s Curse both benefit greatly from additional attacks, and even Eldritch Blast+Agonizing Blast can’t keep up with Crossbow Expert, especially once you add Lifedrinker. However, this requires your Bonus Action for two rounds to set up, and in that time other warlocks are happily doing other things which don’t require resources that need a short rest to recharge. Since combats generally last around three rounds, in most cases you can except to get your combo set up and start using the Bonus Action attack from Crossbow Expert an average of once per encounter.
  • Elven AccuracyPHB: This is practically tailor-made for Warlocks, and Hexblades will be able to make great use of it, especially if you follow the melee build detailed below. Triple advantage on a Greatsword makes you very likely to proc Great Weapon Master’s bonus attack, and you have several ways to get that going like casting Darkness on a piece of your clothing and using the Devil’s Sight Invocation or just using Shadow of Moil as written which we discuss in this article.
  • Great Weapon MasterPHB: Hexblades can make effective use of two-handed weapons, which makes this a possibility. Hexblade’s curse allows you to score a critical hit against the target on a 19-20, which makes it more likely that you can trigger the first portion of the feat. If you use Darkness with the Devil’s Sight invocation you can easily get Advantage, making the second half of the feat a safe and reliable option. However, the weapon which you touch with Hex Warrior can’t have the Heavy property, and all two-handed weapons have the Heavy property so you can’t use Great Weapon Master with that weapon. Once you gain Pact of the Blade, your Pact Weapon can be two-handed, and Hex Warrior extends to your Pact Weapon.
  • Heavily ArmoredPHB: Tempting for a Hexblade, but the Strength requirements for full plate make heavy armor unappealing.
  • Medium Armor MasterPHB: Heavy armor isn’t appealing for Hexblades because of the Strength requirements to wear it, so medium armor master can allow you to match heavy armor AC without caring about Strength. That’s nice, but it’s also only a difference of +1 AC. A feat is too precious for so little.
  • Polearm MasterPHB: Hexblades can make effective use of polearms. I would probably stick to a quarterstaff or spear (spear was added in errata in 2018) so that you can use a shield to compensate for the Warlock’s relatively poor AC and low hitpoints, but maybe you’re braver than I am. The total damage output roughly matches that of a Crossbow Expert build and will have higher AC, but you give up the advantage of range.
  • ResilientPHB: Proficiency in Constitution saves really helps with Concentration, not to mention how common Consitution saves are. If you care primarily about Concentration it’s easy to compare this to War Caster. Advantage works out to a little more than +3, so once your Proficiency Bonus hits +4 Resilient becomes the more effective option of the two.
  • SharpshooterPHB: Warlocks don’t use ranged weapons with the possible exception of Hexblades, but even then Crossbow Expert is a better choice.
  • War CasterPHB: If you’re a Hexblade, you want this. Juggling your weapon to cast spells is annoying, but the ability to reliably maintain Concentration when you take damage means that you can reliably maintain Concentration even while drawing a lot of attacks. For other subclasses, consider Resilient (Constitution) instead because mathematically it’s more effective than Advantage as your Proficiency Bonus increases.


Only Blade Pact Warlocks actually need weapons, which generally 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.

Also keep in mind that Hex Warrior doesn’t allow your touched weapon to have the Two-Handed property, so if you want to use a two-handed weapon you’ll definitely need Pact of the Blade. Versatile weapons still work, though, and the difference between a longsword and a greatsword isn’t huge.

  • Crossbow, Hand: The go-to for Crossbow Expert builds.
  • Crossbow, Heavy: A good ranged option until you get Crossbow Expert and/or Extra Attack.
  • Glaive / Halberd: Great for two-handed melee builds, it has reach, and it works with Polearm Master.
  • Greatsword: Your go-to for two-handed melee builds unless you want reach and or intend to take Polearm Master.
  • Longbow: A decent ranged weapon, but it can’t come close to the damage output of a Crossbow Expert build so it’s not a good primary weapon. If you’re built for melee, the Longbow will be a good ranged option once you pick up Extra Attack.
  • Longsword / Rapier: Interchangeable if you’re using Hex Warrior. A good go-to for sword-and-board builds unless you want the reach from a whip.
  • Spear / Quarterstaff: Want to combine the durability of sword-and-board with the number of attacks (and therefore the damage output) of Crossbow Expert or two-weapon fighting? Grab a spear or a staff and pick up Polearm Master.
  • Whip: One-handed and reach mean that you don’t need to be in enemies’ reach to attack, and you can still hold a shield in your other hand. The damage difference of 1d4 vs. 1d8 from something like a longsword seems significant, but when you consider the flat bonuses added by your various class features, the difference of 2 damage on average is negligible.


  • Leather: The Warlock’s starting armor unless you take the 100 gp starting equipment variant. The Warlock’s starting gear was written long before the Hexblade, and it doesn’t account for the possibility of medium armor proficiency.
  • Scale Mail: Take the 100 gp starting equipment variant so that you can start with scale mail or you’ll be pinching coppers until you can afford decent armor before you can risk diving into melee.
  • Half Plate: Your permanent armor.
  • Shield: Great since you’re in medium armor with d8 hit dice, but many hexblades go for two-handed weapons or Crossbow Expert so they’re force to give up a shield.

Hexblade Warlock Spellcasting

The Hexblade Warlock likely needs to keep a melee weapon in-hand both for attacking on their own turn and for making opportunity attacks. They also probably have a shield. Unfortunately, that means that you’ll need to constantly draw/store your weapon to get a free hand with which to cast spells unless you’re using a two-handed weapon or a hand crossbow, or if you have Pact Weapon.

If you need to draw a Spellcasting Focus or Material Components, it could require you to spend your item interaction on two successive turns to switch from a weapon to a focus or from a focus to a weapon. Because this can be a problem and will often leave you empty-handed between turns, try to use spells that lack Material and Somatic components whenever possible until you can pick up Improved Pact Weapon, which conveniently allows your Pact Weapon to serve as a spellcasting focus.

The Warlock Spell List Breakdown already includes notes about Hexblade/Pact of the Blade uses for spells but let me just plug Armor of Agathys again here. It has some of the best scaling in the game. When you get access to 5th-level spell slots, even if something hits you twice for 24 damage each time, it’s still going to take 50 damage and you’re only taking 23 of the 48 you could have been taking.

Example Build – High-Elf Warlock

I traded my soul for the ability to stab things really hard. Seems fair.

This build leans into the Hexblade’s ability to use weapons more effectively than your typical warlock. Using spells like Armor of Agathys and Shadows of Moil to improve our durability, plus weapon-focused Eldritch Invocations and the Great Weapon Master feat, we create a durable melee threat with incredible damage output and Warlock spellcasting to fall back on for utility.

Hexblade warlock Geroforge miniature
Example warlock miniature from our friends at Heroforge. (affiliate link)


We will assume the point buy abilities suggested above. Half High Elf gives us +2 Charisma, +1 Dexterity, and +1 Constitution.



Half High Elf gives us easy access to the Booming Blade Cantrip, meaning we can walk out with that, Sword Burst, and Eldritch Blast, guaranteeing our capacity to do optimal damage in any situation. It also qualifies us as an Elf for the purposes of feat prerequisites and gives us a great ability spread.


Take Faction Agent to get proficiency in Insight and trade Intimidation for Persuasion. Keep one campaign-appropriate language and turn the other into Thieves’ Tools proficiency. With a Dex this high, you could also make a viable Scout if your party doesn’t have one. If you want to lean harder into Scout, drop Insight, hope your DM doesn’t feel like lying to you very much, pick up Stealth, and wear a Breastplate.

Skills and Tools

Take Deception and Intimidation from Warlock. We get Insight, Persuasion, and a language from our background, giving us the full compliment of Face skills.


At 4 we take Elven Accuracy and immediately start abusing it. This also lets us raise Charisma to 18.

At 8 we take Great Weapon Master.

At 12 we finish capping Charisma.

At 16 we take War Caster.

At 19 we take an ASI in Constitution.


LevelFeat(s) and FeaturesNotes and Tactics
1Otherworldly Patron (The Hexblade)
Hexblade’s Curse
Hex Warrior
Pact Magic
Spells Known:
– Wrathful Smite
– Hex
– Booming Blade
– Eldritch Blast
– Sword Burst (Racial)
For your starting equipment, take the money instead of the regular starting equipment and buy yourself scale mail, a longsword, and a shield.

Your AC is already up to 18 and you want to get into melee as quickly as possible to start dishing out those Booming Blade or Green-Flame Blade hits.

At this level, you’ve got one spell slot and you’ve got Hexblade’s Curse, and managing those two resources until you reach a short rest is crucial. With your spell slot, you need to decide if Wrathful Smite or Hex is a better choice. Wrathful Smite only works on one hit, but you don’t need to worry about maintaining Concentration for very long and the fear effect may be very helpful.

Hex will deal more damage in total and the other effects can be useful, but it may be hard to maintain Concentration and it can be redundant with Hexblade’s curse since the damage boosts are similar. Hexblade’s Curse only works on one target and can’t be moved, so save it for something which you know will take a lot of damage to bring down.

Eldritch Blast is still your primary ranged attack and will be forever since we’re focusing on melee for this build. You could technically change your pact weapon to a bow temporarily, but usually you won’t use it long enough to justify the actions to change weapons.
2– Eldritch Invocation:
– Fiendish Vigor
– Devil’s Sight
– New Spell Known:
– Protection from Evil and Good
False Life is great for temporary hit points until Armor of Agathys starts scaling, so we’ll use Fiendish Vigor for now. Devil’s sight allows for excellent shenanigans later on.
3Pact Boon (Pact of the Blade)
New Spell Known:
– Armor of Agathys
Retrain Fiendish Vigor ->Improved Pact Weapon.
Retrain Spell:
– Protection from Evil and Good -> Blur
Remember that part where spellcasting in melee was a chore? Not any more as Improved Pact Weapon not only increases your chance to hit and damage but also turns whatever weapon you use into a focus, meaning life is much easier on the front lines. Our spell slots also reach 2nd level, which means that our new spell gives us 10 temp hp and does 10 cold damage to attackers a minimum of once.

Blur loses some of the niche protections against the handful of creature types covered but you really want that disadvantage on being attacked to apply to everything. It’s also one minute instead of 10, but that will rarely matter.
4Feat: Elven Accuracy (Cha 17 -> 18)
New Cantrip:
Mage Hand
New Spell Known:
– Darkness
Cast Darkness on your clothes, then Booming Blade an enemy with super advantage and watch them take damage as they try to escape to a place where they can see. Take your Reaction to attack them with Advantage as they leave. It’s a good time.

While you’re slightly below target DPR at this level with melee attacks, if the target moves from your Booming Blade to somewhere it isn’t in magical darkness, we go from 20% under target to 20% over target with an additional 80% of target coming in the form of an Opportunity Attack.
5New Eldritch Invocation:
– Thirsting Blade
New Spell Known:
– Fly
Flying is always good, even if you’re primarily a melee character. Thirsting Blade is going to do some real good work for you later on when we transition to a two-hander and it’s pretty good already, bringing us up to 45% over target DPR.
6Accursed Specter
New Spell Known:
– Counterspell
Nothing interesting at this level, but Counterspell is an excellent way of shutting down casters trying to keep your sword away from them.
7New Eldritch Invocation:
– Eldritch Smite
New Spell Known:
– Phantasmal Killer
Phantasmal Killer is a great choice for locking down something you expect to fail the save. Make it afraid of you and leave it in the corner.

So, we currently crit once on 26% of turns assuming we can get advantage from a source like Darkness. If we save our second slot for Eldritch Smite, that will be +10d8 of damage 26% of the time, leading to an additional ~2.5d8 of damage into the calculation or ~10 total DPR, bringing us up over 30 which sticks us into High DPR territory, all while maintaining a reasonably high AC and having Darkness permanently on us. But these numbers are on any target, not something with Curse on it. Let’s check that out at next level.
8Feat: Great Weapon Master
New Spell Known:
– Shadow of Moil
So now your playstyle radically changes. You have the tools available to protect yourself enough that a shield is no longer necessary and you can transition to having two swings of a greatsword as your Action. This is enormous damage, particularly if the target is remaining stationary trying to hit us back.

Shadow of Moil is truly one of the best things that ever happened to us. Reactive damage is the gravy on top of having Advantage on all attacks and Disadvantage to your attackers. It also makes it so we’re not blinding our party to make use of our obscuring shenanigans. The only issue is the expensive material component, but we were waiting to take this and a feat at the same time for the tactics change anyway.

Since we’re leaning into alternative defensive measures, trading away the now-relatively-small number of temp HP for more damage when we can’t get into melee is the icing on this level’s cake.

Let’s see what this finally works out to on a target you’ve Cursed. Assuming you have advantage from Shadow of Moil and the target is Cursed, you’re hitting 54.4 DPR, less than 15% shy of the “Dude Stop” value for this level. Admittedly that takes a turn of setup, but even two turns of that is 20% over High DPR and you’re doing it while largely invisible. If you do crit, that’s a bonus action for another 15 DPR from our new feat, bringing us fully into Dude Stop territory on that turn.

If we actually turn the power attack portion on, we’re instead looking at 63 DPR and over 100 on a turn we crit. This is enough to kill many things single-handedly, although you’re going to be very bursty as it all relies on critting.
9New Eldritch Invocation:
– Agonizing Blast
New Spell Known:
– Banishing Smite
Retrain Spell:
– Wrathful Smite -> Cone of Cold
Pact Magic means that having more than one smite spell is fairly useless, so just take the best one. Sure, Frightened was a little cute, but if you really want something Frightened on a spell slot, you have Phantasmal Killer anyway.

We take Cone of Cold for Area of Effect damage because it’s the one thing we can’t really do right now.

Agonizing Blast lets us keep up decent damage if we can’t find a melee target.
10Armor of Hexes
New Cantrip:
– Green-Flame Blade / Booming Blade
Your curse target now has an even harder time hitting you on top of whatever magical defenses you’re wearing.

I would personally wait this long to pick up Green-Flame Blade because more things resist fire than thunder and Booming Blade might make things stay next to you, which you often want.
11Mystic Arcanum:
Conjure Fey
New Spell Known:
– Any
You don’t have much utility, and having a once per day anything from a huge flying snake to carry yourself and a friend for an hour to getting a legend lore and/or scrying out of your summoned dusk hag is a pretty great deal.
12Ability Score Improvement: Charisma 18 -> 20
New Eldritch Invocation:
– Life Drinker
We cap Charisma and get the final invocation we’re likely to care about, adding our newly bumped charisma modifier to damage… again. If we take the penalty to hit from Great Weapon Master, with the current spell slot level factored into Smiting, we’re looking at Dude Stop DPR numbers, even without the bonus attack from GWM.

This is, unfortunately, the last time they really go up except for the Smite and Curse numbers getting slightly larger, but a) many campaigns don’t even get to this level, much less far beyond and b) even at level 20, the amount of damage we’re dealing now is still 35% over High DPR.
13Mystic Arcanum:
– Force Cage
New Spell Known:
– Any
Force Cage is still good for all the same reasons. Trap a big scary thing in it while you cleave through all its friends and then go back to finish it off last.
14Master of HexesIgnore the ability name, start Hexblade’s Cursing things more often. It’ll now spread through fights, although you don’t get the heal if you make it jump to a new person. At this level, though, that’s another +5 damage per weapon hit, which will help you cleave through hordes.
15New Eldritch Invocation:
– Visions of Distant Realms
Mystic Arcanum:
– Dominate Monster
New Spell Known:
– Any
You are now also the nearly the best scout in existence. Cast Arcane Eye and send it wherever you need. Between this and your summoned fey, you have a surprising amount of utility for someone who swings a big heckin sword.

For this level’s Mystic Arcanum, we’ll take Dominate Monster. It allows us to non-lethally remove a problematic creature, but it gives you more direct control over the target. If you do it right, you can dominate one monster and walk it into the next encounter or two like an extra party member.
16Feat: WarcasterIs it a little late? Yes. Is it better than never? Also yes. Now you can attack someone on your turn and still booming blade them if they try to walk away. Advantage on Concentration is also very nice.
17Mystic Arcanum:
– Foresight
New Spell Known:
– Any
What if the best parts of Shadow of Moil lasted 8 hours and didn’t consume your Concentration? Foresight.
18New Eldritch Invocation:
– Witch Sight
Witch sight? This one, of course.
19Ability Score Improvement: Con 16 -> 18
New Spell Known:
– Any
Nothing notable here, but you’re even more durable than you were before.
20Eldritch Master20th level is a bit dry, unfortunately. Eldritch Master lets you ask for your spell slots back once per day without completing a short rest, which saves you 59 minutes once a day.