For these three people, the answer to “Should I play a warlock?” is a resounding YES.
Oh the Warlock Character Class… constantly taking little naps and talking to horrific beings from other dimensions… how we love you so.
Easily the most unique class in Dungeons and Dragons, these slick-talking arcane masters are ideally suited for the three types of players.
Read on for a brief beginners guide to DnD 5e Warlocks.
Players Who Want Their Character to Have a “Boss”
Before we discuss anything about the warlock, we need to address their signature class feature: the “Warlock Patron”.
And while they do tell you what to do… calling them a “boss” is a stretch. The relationship is more beneficial and dreadful. Think guardian, partnership, sponsor, or “oath bound allies”... someone the warlock made a DEAL with.
You see, Warlocks do not study (wizard), pray (cleric), nor were they born into magic (sorcerer). Instead, they strike a bargain with a higher power, promising to provide “services” and ”things” in exchange for a blessing of magical power. Its just those “services” can range from collecting dirt to murdering holy men… and those “things” range from gold to slain souls. It all depends on the patron!
It’s for this reason that the Warlock uses Charisma as their casting ability score. Their magic is inherently relational, depending on their ability to navigate the relationship with the “master” they serve/manipulate.
(Psssst! For this reason warlock's highest ability score is almost always Charisma, making them excellent classes for players who prefer fun role playing!)
Types of Warlock Patrons
As you can already tell, what patron you choose to sponsor your warlock will have a huge impact on what kind of character you create, so it’s important you choose your sponsor (character subclass) well:
The Archfey: You fell hopelessly in love with the unimaginably beautiful archfey. In return, they find you kinda cute or fun… or something I dunno fey are REALLY weird. But now you can teleport, charm, and cast illusions.
The Celestial: A guardian angel from on high has blessed you to be a saint upon the earth. Heal wounded friends, destroy enemies with radiant damage, and bring light into darkness.
The Fathomless: They say we know more about the stars than the depths of our oceans… this patron shows exactly why that is TERRIFYING. Gain a number of abilities that help you fight in water: swim speed, underwater breathing, cold damage/resistance… and of course… whacking people with tentacles.
The Fiend: You make a literal deal with the devil… or a demon if you crave chaos. On top of gaining devastating fire spells, your infernal soul can cheat death, fate, and enemies. Oh… and at 14th level you can send people directly to hell.
The Genie: The most complex of the warlocks, because there are 4 types of genies (kept in a vessel of your choosing), and each one gives you different elemental bonuses. Sadly, none of them are like Robin Williams.
The Great Old Ones: You gazed into the abyss and the abyss gazed back, setting you on a path of madness. Cthulu (and others like him) may not even know you exist, but their power is beyond understanding and comprehension, allowing you not only gaze into others minds, but bend them to your will.
The Hexblade: Most warlocks are blasting spellcasters lingering in the back of a fight. Hexblades, on the other hand, get right in the middle of the action, giving you medium armor, enhanced critical hits, higher damage, and some defense. How? The goddess of death, the Raven Queen, speaks to you through your sentient, Shadowfell weapon.
The Undead: You passed from life into death… but your patron has sent you back in a necrotic shell of your former self to do their bidding. Do tons of necrotic damage and make everyone fear your rotting flesh.
The Undying: Your patron is a former mortal that has unlocked the secret to days unending. They will help you avoid any damage or saving throw that brings the Grim Reaper to your doorstep. It doesn't hurt that you constantly regain HP.
You can dive deeper into the pros/cons of the Warlock Subclasses here at RPGBOT.net.
Players That Want a Simple Spellcaster
Not every brand new player wants to start their D&D experience as a grungy, sword swinging ranger like Aragorn or Geralt.
Most do… but not all.
Instead, some beginners want to jump straight into the action; if they don’t cast a spell before sunrise of day 1, then they will be disappointed.
However, despite their enthusiasm, it isn’t a good idea to hand them something as complex as a wizard or druid. The rules are going to be overwhelming, so you still want to eeeeeease them into it.
And the warlock is a perfect option for these magic-eager players.
For starters, they have a limited number of spells they know. So new players won’t have to worry about cycling through their binders of warlock spell options.
But even more importantly, warlocks have VERY limited spell slots. Spell slots in D&D 5e are how many times your caster can cast a spell. Run out… no more casting. And the Warlock has a tiny fraction of the spell slots other classes have.
This sounds crappy (and it kinda is…) but the class compensates this in 3 ways:
You ALWAYS cast a spell at its highest level…
You regain ALL your spells with a short rest (rather than a long rest)
And when all else fails, you can always eldritch BLAST!!!
Seriously, take Eldritch Blast as one of your cantrips. Combined with the Agonizing Blast invocation, it is the strongest cantrip in the game. Speaking of which…
Players That Like to Customize
There are two mechanics that are essential to the D&D 5e warlock: “Pact Boons” and “Invocations”.
Pact Boons are magical objects given by a patron to a warlock, each with their own small magical bonuses:
Pact of the Blade: Create any weapon in your hand in an instant.
Pact of the Chain: Can cast the Find Familiar spell for free (gain a little buddy)
Pact of the Tome: Gain additional cantrips.
Pact of the Talisman: Gain a lucky charm that lets you add a d4 to rolls.
Eldritch Invocations are magical abilities you gain depending on your warlock level. They range from enhancing certain spells essential to your warlock (make eldritch blast move enemies), to allowing you to cast spells for free (without using a slot), to magical abilities (let you read minds).
Long story short, there are A LOT of options you can mix and match.
It is for this same reason that the warlock is popular for multiclassing. A multiclass D&D character is one that is a combination of two characters. And since it is so easy to customize your warlock, you can also easily adapt them to a preexisting character.
This aspect of the warlock clashes directly with the “simple spellcaster” thing. Yes, they are simple to play, but with so many options they are NOT simple to build.
So if you choose this as your first character, be sure to have the DM help you out with all the character creation. You can customize your warlock to be whoever you want… yes… but that doesn’t mean they’ll be any good in a fight!
And don't forget to snag one of our returning Adventurer's Collection candles while supplies last!
The Pact-Sworn candle was inspired by the Warlock class. This candle features seductive notes of exotic florals and fragrant incense on top of a deep, woody base, representative of the ancient secrets and dark magic warlocks draw on from their patrons.
Liked this blog, but not sure if the warlock is for you? Check out some of our other posts on the D&D spell casting character classes:
The Ever-Pious Cleric Class
The Whimsical, Musical Bard Class
And don’t leave without trying our fantasy candle sampler pack.
It’s our free gift to you… all you need to pay for is shipping!
Based out of Spokane, Riley is a freelance copywriter that combines his love of reading, writing, and people into something useful! He is thankful to be applying his passion for imaginative role-playing to help DnD related businesses communicate their value in the best way possible. He's kinda like a bard giving inspiration, except without the annoying pop covers!