3.5 3.5: newb needs a little help with Hellfire Warlock build

Particle_Man

Explorer
WotC's own examples for feats for Warlocks include such things as Maximum Spell-Like Ability (Eldritch Blast) and Quicken Spell-Like Ability (Eldritch Blast). Page 214, Players Handbook II. Btw, they also have Ability Focus (Eldritch Blast).

Also, Complete Arcane pp. 71-2 says "Warlocks and other creatures with spell-like abilities might find the following feats useful . . . Creatures with Spell-Like abilities at a high enough level will find sudden metamagic feats less useful than the dedicated feats Empower Spell-Like Ability and Quicken Spell-Like Ability (see page 303 of the Monster Manual), as well as the Maximize Spell-Like Ability feat introduced in this chapter." under the section "Invocations and Spell-Like Abilities".

Complete Mage has examples of Warlocks with the feat Maximize Spell-Like Ability (Eldritch Blast) for two of the three "warlock prestige class" characters in that book (p. 57, p. 60).

So it is clear that Spell-Like ability feats can be and are used for Eldritch Blast. Pergentile is incorrect to say that "It is specifically stated that metamagic feats (even ones for SLA's) can't improve a warlock's eldritch blast, the only exception being the sudden metamagic feats."
 

irdeggman

Visitor
Please dont let this thread become a discussion about this specific work around for the hellfire "cost"! Its off limits for me anyways because: no Magic of Incarnum
Actually I think this question is answered in this specific case (or it will be as soon as I have a talk to my GM about how we could handle things).

Right now I'm more concerned about spending my feats in a good way, especially this for example:


DOES eldritch blast always count as a lvl1 invocation?

Base - no with essence or shapes applied - yes.
 

irdeggman

Visitor
Ok, scrap that. I just found out I'd need to be lvl 16 to quicken that specific ability since its level 4 and quicken spelllike ability works only on abilities that are caster level /2 -4 (in my case 12/2 -4 = 2)
Check the errata to Complete Arcane

"Page 7: Eldritch Blast
Second paragraph of the Eldritch Blast ability
description:
Change “An eldritch blast is the equivalent of a spell
whose level is equal to one-half the warlock’s class
level (round down), with a minimum spell level of 1st
and a maximum of 9th when the warlock reaches 18th
level or higher” to “An eldritch blast is the equivalent
of a 1st-level spell. If you apply a blast shape or eldritch
essence invocation to your eldritch blast (see page 130),
your eldritch blast uses the level equivalent of the shape
or essence.”
Any other references to eldritch blast being something
other than the equivalent of a 1st-level spell should be
disregarded.
Any other references claiming that eldritch blast is not
an invocation should be disregarded.
A warlock can use eldritch blast at will.

Page 8: Invocations and Eldritch Blast
Change this section as follows:
Invocations and Eldritch Blast: Eldritch blast is an
invocation. Other invocations provide a warlock with
the ability to modify his eldritch blast or add new
eldritch attacks."
 

irdeggman

Visitor
Hmmmm I may have to look into those heritages more closely. Just from what you've written I gotta say though: I dont really use invocations that allow a save so at first glance it looks like I wouldnt benefit much from it... You may be right about point blank shot and precise shot of course. Gotta look into that more, too

They also increase CL (Caster Level) of invocations. This helps with overcoming Spell Resistance (which works against EB) and any invocations that duplicate spells that have level based effects.
 

Particle_Man

Explorer
Overcoming Spell Resistance is a good point. If you use the essence Hellfire Blast then you presumably can't simultaneously use the essence Vitriolic Blast (the acid one that ignores SR) so you have to take SR into account. And if you take a level of Binder, that is -1 warlock caster level right there. You might want to look into the feats Spell Penetration and Greater Spell Penetration. There is also a feat called Arcane Mastery in Complete Arcane that lets you "take 10" on caster level checks, and another feat called Practiced Spellcaster (also in Complete Arcane) that lets you add four to your caster level (but does not let you exceed your HD in caster level -- it is for multi-classers and "half-casters" mainly). Alas, that is a lot of feats, and you don't gain many.
 

Dandu

Visitor
Overcoming Spell Resistance is a good point. If you use the essence Hellfire Blast then you presumably can't simultaneously use the essence Vitriolic Blast (the acid one that ignores SR) so you have to take SR into account.
Actually, Hellfire Blast isn't a blast essence. You can use Vitrolic Blast along with it, turning your Eldritch Blasts into napalm.

Hellfire Blast (Sp): Whenever you use your eldritch blast ability, you can change your eldritch blast into a hellfire blast. A hellfire blast deals your normal eldritch blast damage plus an extra 2d6 points of damage per class level. If your blast hits multiple targets (for example, the eldritch chain or eldritch cone blast shape invocations), each target takes the extra damage. This damage is not fire damage. Hellfire burns hotter than any normal fire, as described in the sidebar on page 119.
Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage. Because the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power, if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability.
 

Particle_Man

Explorer
Wait. I can see three possible interpretations here, but one doesn't make sense to me:

a) the vitriolic hellfire blast means xd6 acid stuff (based on the warlock class) and 2-6d6 hellfire stuff (only the added 2 to 6d6 being hellfire, and thus it being subject to sr but not the acid stuff. This would make it a little like a cleric's flame strike.

b) the hellfire blast "changes the eldritch blast" and that means it changes the virtriolic blast to hellfire (or any other essence) all the way through, but that means the vitriolic part is lost, so no auto-SR penetration.

c) The vitriolic hellfire blast is 100% acid and 100% hellfire at the same time, all the way through. Full damage, full SR penetration. Very Happy Warock. :)

That last option doesn't make sense to me. That's like having an attack that is vitriolic and brimstone at the same time, all the way through. I could see something that transforms some of an essence type of damage into something else, or something that transforms all of an essence type of damage and something else, but not something that keeps its essence type while also being something else all the way through.

My interpretation of the rules is that hellfire blast acts to change the eldritch blast, and if it changes, then it loses any other eldritch essence it would have in order to become hellfire.

I favour interpretation b as the correct one.

Mind you if there is a feat somewhere that would let a warlock have two essences at the same time, I would allow a warlock with that feat to also have hellfire at the same time as another essence.
 

Dandu

Visitor
Now, I may not be intepreting your options correclty, but it seems like you've left out option d) all hellfire+eldritch blast damage is now acid. This means you still get the bonus damage from the hellfire blast, but it is now assigned the [Acid] energy type. This is the one I favor.

That last option doesn't make sense to me. That's like having an attack that is vitriolic and brimstone at the same time, all the way through. I could see something that transforms some of an essence type of damage into something else, or something that transforms all of an essence type of damage and something else, but not something that keeps its essence type while also being something else all the way through.
Don't ever take a class on quantum mechanics, Particle Man.
 
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Particle_Man

Explorer
Now, I may not be intepreting your options correclty, but it seems like you've left out option d) all hellfire+eldritch blast damage is now acid. This means you still get the bonus damage from the hellfire blast, but it is now assigned the [Acid] energy type. This is the one I favor.

Don't ever take a class on quantum mechanics, Particle Man.
Your option d is my option c. I am claiming that hellfire/acid doesn't make sense in the context of the game, which is not, as far as I can tell, a game the recognizes the quantum mechanics at work in our universe. Therefore, I am claiming that the game designers either did not take classes in quantum mechanics or made the deliberate decision not to introduce such into their hellfire mechanics. After all, if they wanted that sort of thing they could also have allowed for a warlock to have two essences at the same time, and they never did, as far as I know. It would be weird to allow it only for hellfire and never for anything else, and besides, the word "change" to me indicates, well, "change". They could have specified "add to" instead of "change" if they had wished and they didn't.
 

Dandu

Visitor
Your option d is my option c.
To clarify: Option C is that it deals the bonus hellfire damage, but the energy type is [Acid]?

As written, I see it functioning thusly:

1. Hellfire Blast changes your Eldritch Blast to a Hellfire Blast. This is not an essence, but a change to the actual Eldritch Blast ability. You deal Elditch Blast damage + bonus Hellfire Blast damage. The damage type is [Hellfire]
2. The Vitrolic Blast Essence is added to this Hellfire Blast. The [Hellfire] damage type is changed to [Acid], and there is additional acid damage dealt in the following rounds.
 
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Particle_Man

Explorer
To clarify: Option C is that it deals the bonus hellfire damage, but the energy type is [Acid]?

As written, I see it functioning thusly:

1. Hellfire Blast changes your Eldritch Blast to a Hellfire Blast. This is not an essence, but a change to the actual Eldritch Blast ability. You deal Elditch Blast damage + bonus Hellfire Blast damage. The damage type is [Hellfire]
2. The Vitrolic Blast Essence is added to this Hellfire Blast. The [Hellfire] damage type is changed to [Acid], and there is additional acid damage dealt in the following rounds.
I would argue that if the Hellfire is changed to Acid, then it is no longer hellfire and no longer does the bonus damage. If the Acid is changed to Hellfire, then it is no longer acid and no longer auto-penetrates SR.

As slightly more evidence I note that, despite gaining "new invocations known, increased damage with eldritch blast, and an increase in invoker level as if you had also gained a level in the warlock class", the hellfire warlock "offers great power at the expense of versatility". Since the loss of Con does not by itself mean a loss of versatility, my assumption is that the loss of versatility means you can't use an essence at the same time as you use hellfire blast. Indeed, the naming convention (changing Eldritch to Vitriolic, Brimstome, etc.) of essences applied to eldritch blast seems to be followed by the changing of the name of Eldritch Blast to Hellfire Blast.

I suppose if one wants to be really picky one can say that the text that states "you can change your eldritch blast into a hellfire blast" does not state that "you can change your vitriolic blast into an eldritch blast" and in Complete Arcane essences are said to apply to eldritch blasts, not to hellfire blasts. I interpret hellfire as having the functional equivalent of eldritch essence status. I don't think the rules say my interpretation of the rules is incorrect although I can see there is room for alternate interpretations.

I don't believe there are other cases of something "mixing types" like a fireball that also deals acid damage. The closest I found was the feat "energy admixture" but even there the fireball does not do (for example) 6d6 fire/acid, but 6d6 fire and 6d6 acid.

Under its own description hellfire is described as an energy (p. 120, knowledge arcana), so I don't see it being compatible with other forms of energy. Otherwise, hellfire would logically also be fire and deal fire damage, but it isn't and doesn't, according to the rules (fire resistance/immunity doesn't work against it, it works vs. objects, etc.)

However, all of this is beside the point, as far as the OP is concerned. I would suggest the OP check with your DM to see if you are allowed to have a vitriolic hellfire blast. If so, go for it. If not, apply some means of overcoming SR (via feats, items, etc.) when you use a hellfire blast.
 

Dandu

Visitor
As slightly more evidence I note that, despite gaining "new invocations known, increased damage with eldritch blast, and an increase in invoker level as if you had also gained a level in the warlock class", the hellfire warlock "offers great power at the expense of versatility". Since the loss of Con does not by itself mean a loss of versatility, my assumption is that the loss of versatility means you can't use an essence at the same time as you use hellfire blast. Indeed, the naming convention (changing Eldritch to Vitriolic, Brimstome, etc.) of essences applied to eldritch blast seems to be followed by the changing of the name of Eldritch Blast to Hellfire Blast.
For all we know the "loss of versatility" statement applies to the loss of warlock class features such as Deceive Item, which allows a warlock to craft magical items, a very versatile class feature.

I suppose if one wants to be really picky one can say that the text that states "you can change your eldritch blast into a hellfire blast" does not state that "you can change your vitriolic blast into an eldritch blast" and in Complete Arcane essences are said to apply to eldritch blasts, not to hellfire blasts. I interpret hellfire as having the functional equivalent of eldritch essence status. I don't think the rules say my interpretation of the rules is incorrect although I can see there is room for alternate interpretations.
If you check the text of the Hellfire Blast description, you'll notice that it says "If your blast hits multiple targets (for example, the eldritch chain or eldritch cone blast shape invocations), each target takes the extra damage."

Since Eldritch Chain and Eldritch Cone are blast shape invocations, they can only be applied to Eldritch Blast. If they can be applied to a Hellfire Blast as well, that would argue that a Hellfire Blast counts as an Eldritch Blast for the purposes of invocations that modify an Eldritch Blast.

I don't believe there are other cases of something "mixing types" like a fireball that also deals acid damage. The closest I found was the feat "energy admixture" but even there the fireball does not do (for example) 6d6 fire/acid, but 6d6 fire and 6d6 acid.
Lacking precedent isn't really evidence that it can't be done, only that it hasn't been done.

Under its own description hellfire is described as an energy (p. 120, knowledge arcana), so I don't see it being compatible with other forms of energy. Otherwise, hellfire would logically also be fire and deal fire damage, but it isn't and doesn't, according to the rules (fire resistance/immunity doesn't work against it, it works vs. objects, etc.)
Just because it is of one energy type does not mean it is incomparable with other energy types; as you yourself pointed out, there is a feat that allows two essences to be used together.
 

Particle_Man

Explorer
For all we know the "loss of versatility" statement applies to the loss of warlock class features such as Deceive Item, which allows a warlock to craft magical items, a very versatile class feature.
Not Deceive item. A Hellfire Warlock cannot have less than 6 Warlock levels due to the Warlock Invocation prerequisite. The Hellfire Warlock will thus definitely have Deceive Item (the ability to "Take 10" on UMD) already, since the Warlock gains that at level 4.

If you mean Imbue Item, a 12th Warlock/3rd Hellfire Warlock would have this ability. At worst the Warlock is delaying it by three levels. Also, since it is a high level ability, the 6th warlock/3rd hellfire warlock has not lost it vs. the 9th warlock, who doesn't have it yet. Fiendish Resiliance (a minor healing power) doesn't seem to cut it in the versatility department. Eldritch essences, however, are versatile. That would make more sense to be given up, and thus fit the text description of "at the expense of versatility."

If you check the text of the Hellfire Blast description, you'll notice that it says "If your blast hits multiple targets (for example, the eldritch chain or eldritch cone blast shape invocations), each target takes the extra damage."

Since Eldritch Chain and Eldritch Cone are blast shape invocations, they can only be applied to Eldritch Blast. If they can be applied to a Hellfire Blast as well, that would argue that a Hellfire Blast counts as an Eldritch Blast for the purposes of invocations that modify an Eldritch Blast.
But it is interesting that it only mentions shapes, which can mix with essences, as mixing with Hellfire. It never speaks of what happens with, for example, the extra damage from vitriolic blast if it were to be hellfire vitriolic blast (just 2d6 acid in subsequent rounds? just 2d6 hellfire? 4d6 - 8d6 hellfire?).

Lacking precedent isn't really evidence that it can't be done, only that it hasn't been done.
True, but it does give me a reason to treat it like other things have been treated. Like essences, for example, rather than as something sui generis. In any case, the rules don't rule out my position (in fact, I think my position is correct, but I don't need to argue that, I am only saying that there is enough of a case for my position that it is not definitively wrong by RAW, and thus the OP should check with the DM on this).

Just because it is of one energy type does not mean it is incomparable with other energy types; as you yourself pointed out, there is a feat that allows two essences to be used together.
Actually, the example I give with that feat is closer to my option a, where you would have xd6 acid damage + 2d6 to 4d6 hellfire damage. That I suppose is an option (like Flame Strike) but it doesn't seem to match the text description of changing the eldritch blast, and it certainly is not the example that supports your view. That would require the feat to change the fireball to acid (all the way through) and fire (all the way through) which it does not do according to the feat description. Rather it is like a fireball for some damage and an acid ball for some, separate, damage, going off together, like 2 separate spells. Heck, we already have that with a magic sword with shocking, flaming and frost on it. A creature immune to cold would not take frost damage from that sword but would still be subject to the flaming and shocking part.
 
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Pergentile

Explorer
@ Particle_Man
Technically "It is specifically stated that metamagic feats (even ones for SLA's) can't improve a warlock's eldritch blast, the only exception being the sudden metamagic feats." IS a correct statement, but it is irrelevant because the stated feats are not metamagic feats, and there are no metamagic feats for SLA's. XD
Yeah, for some reason I thought SLA feats were metamagic feats. They are not, and so can be applied to Eldritch Blast.
Good arguments though. ^^ And thanks for them, because they made me realize my error.
 

Dandu

Visitor
If you mean Imbue Item, a 12th Warlock/3rd Hellfire Warlock would have this ability.
Yeah, that's what I meant.

At worst the Warlock is delaying it by three levels. Also, since it is a high level ability, the 6th warlock/3rd hellfire warlock has not lost it vs. the 9th warlock, who doesn't have it yet.
You can't be a Warlock 6/Hellfire Warlock 3, as Hellfire Warlock requires you to have 12 ranks in K. Planes.

A Warlock 9/Hellfire Warlock 3 has lost Imbue Item vs a Warlock 12.

Fiendish Resiliance (a minor healing power) doesn't seem to cut it in the versatility department.
Being able to heal yourself does make you more versatile than someone who is unable to do so. Not much more versatile, but still.

Eldritch essences, however, are versatile. That would make more sense to be given up, and thus fit the text description of "at the expense of versatility."
You're trying to divine the intent of the author from the fluff text. While you can interpret it that way, it's not hard evidence that you can't stack Blast Essences and Hellfire Blast.

I personally wouldn't pay too much attention to the fluff of prestige classes. They tend to be buggy. Remember the part of the Sorcerer's class description where it says that "A sorcerer casts arcane spells which are drawn primarily from the sorcerer/wizard spell list"? This implies, if you read it a certain way, that a sorcerer can learn spells off of another class's spell list. This is neither explicitly stated in the rules nor supported anywhere else. It's a throwaway line that only comes up once. Pure fluff.

But it is interesting that it only mentions shapes, which can mix with essences, as mixing with Hellfire.
Not mentioning Essences as mixing does not exclude essences from mixing. In any case, things that will work on an Eldritch Blast (and only on an Eldritch Blast) can modify a Hellfire Blast. Presumiably an Essence invocation can do it as well, as the only thing that would prevent an Essence from working is if another Essence was being applied, which is not the case here.

It never speaks of what happens with, for example, the extra damage from vitriolic blast if it were to be hellfire vitriolic blast (just 2d6 acid in subsequent rounds? just 2d6 hellfire? 4d6 - 8d6 hellfire?).
It never speaks of what happens if you apply Utterdark Blast to it either, but I have no reason to assume that you can't level drain someone with a Hellfire Utterdark Blast.

One of your objections to this seems to be that you cannot conceive of something being both a) very hot and b) vitriolic. I shall attempt to remedy this.

Chlorine is a highly oxidizing substance, though not an acid in and of itself, which is something of a flaw in this example. A plasma is ionized gas. Plasma arc wielders can reach temperatures in the range of 25,000 Celsius. Normal fire burns at a temperature of 1000 Celsius. 2000 in the case of an oxyhydrogen flame. I think it's safe to say that if there was ever a real world equivalent of hellfire, high temperature plasma would be it.

If you used chlorine as the gas of the plasma arc wielder, you'd get a plasma that was hotter than any normal fire, and which would then start to corrode the target. (Chlorine plasmas are in fact used for etching from what I can tell.)

Granted, as I said before, it's not an acid, but I'm working with physics here and not magic...
 
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Particle_Man

Explorer
I doubt that the two of us will convince each other, and I don't even know if the OP is still reading this thread. For what it is worth, I sent off a question about it to Robin D. Laws (one of the names on the cover of the book in which the Hellfire Warlock appears) to see if one can derive authorial intent. At this point I think the rules are simply incomplete and one could interpret them multiple ways. In the absence of an FAQ or errata from WotC, there is no ultimate authority to appeal to except the most local one, which is why I recommend that the OP check with the DM.

I think I remember a 1st ed AD&D artcile in Dragon about, well, dragons (yellow? orange?) described as breathing something like chlorine gas. I think the complaint of the readers was that this got too much physics in their magical fantasy game.

I can agree that in real life things can mix so (chlorine, quantum physics, etc.), but the game seems to have in most other areas taken great pains not to mix things in that way, so I would be surprised if this was one of (perhaps the only) areas in which this happened. It is not impossible, but it would seem unusual to me.
 

Hexer

Visitor
I AM still reading this thread, I just was out of town and without internet for the weekend. Now I'm back... and surprised (but in a happy way) how many replies this got! :)

Right now I'm too tired to think through all of this and draw my own conclusions but I definitally will re-read it all and talk to my GM about things.

If you have anything else to add, please do so of course!
Thank you all! :)
 

Hexer

Visitor
I have another question about hellfire warlock, another point where the rules-text doesnt seem to be clear to me.
Its about how the ability Hellfire Shield works. Here is the Books description:

Hellfire Shield (Sp): Starting at 3rd level, you can call up hellfire to surround yourself with a protective barrier. Whenever someone directs a melee attack against you, you can, as an immediate action, aim a blast of hellfire at that creature. This blast deals damage equal to your eldritch blast (including bonus damage from the hellfire blast ability). This blast automatically strikes the target, which can attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage (DC 10 + 1/2 your character level + your Cha modifier).

Each time you use this ability, you take 1 point of Constitution damage. Because the diabolical forces behind the power of hellfire demand part of your essence in exchange for this granted power, if you do not have a Constitution score or are somehow immune to Constitution damage, you cannot use this ability.​


Does this work like

1: I call up hellfire to surround myself, take 1 point of CON damage for using the ability and enter combat. Everytime someone melee-attacks me, I can hit them with a full hellfire blast (eldritch blast damage plus hellfire bonus damage (6d6 at 3rd level)). In this case: how long does the shield last?

or

2: I call up hellfire to surround myself, take no damage yet and enter combat. Everytime someone melee-attacks me, I get to decide if a hellfire blast (eldritch blast damage plus hellfire bonus damage (6d6 at 3rd level)) hits them (It say "you CAN aim a blast at them"), taking 1 point of con damage for each of said blasts and the shield lasts until I decide to drop it.

?

GM decision? Or is there something in the rules that clears this up?​
 

Particle_Man

Explorer
I think the idea is that you (call up the hellfire barrier and use it) all in the same immediate action in response to an attack, taking the 1 con damage then.

Note that you can only take one immediate action a round, so if you are attacked more than once per round you are out of luck (which is why you don't worry about the kobold hitting you first and don't activate your hellfire shield then, but DO worry about the frost giant hitting you) :)
 

Hexer

Visitor
Ooooookay, finally had a talk about it all with my GM so the char is slowly nearing completion now.

The following decisions were made (the people to discuss it being the GM, another one of the experienced players and myself):

- Hellfire Blast is treated in the same way as a warlocks eldritch essences, it can be mixed with blast shapes but not with other essences

- Hellfire Blast is considered lvl1, just like eldritch blast

- Hellfire Shield does not do any CON damage upon being called up but does its 1 point of CON damage each time I use one of the blasts it can cause (hey, this also gives me the cool ability to play around with engulfing my body in hellfire without taking damage as long as I dont blast:devil:)

- I am allowed to use Abyssal Heritage feats since they go so well with the idea behind the warlock class (I'll probably take 2 or 3 and will also probably drop point blank shot and precise shot to free up feats for other stuff)

I guess other GMs might have decided differently on some points but its fine for me and I'm happy to finally be able and pretty much finish my build (took me long enough for something relatively straight ;) )
 

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