D&D 5E Companion thread to 5E Survivor - Subclasses (Part XIII: Warlock)

"Rust" is a mold that infects wheat, so I'd say more on the order of weeks than seasons, but okay. I'm not saying the character shouldn't have immediate offensive capability. However, the warlock is designed to focus on that. If your warlock character wants to take the subtle approach, they can, sure. However, a bunch of invocations are designed to focus on eldritch blast; if you choose to focus your warlock on other abilities, there is less mechanical aid.
A season is approximately three months. "Weeks" is pretty clearly a significant portion of a season, and if "rust" refers to a grain blight, all the more reason to think in seasonal terms since that's literally about growing seasons and a harvest failure that won't manifest until...well, harvest time.

In any case, you can certainly play your character any way you wish, but telling someone, "Your character doesn't really seem like a player character," is a little bit of a judgement.
D&D's rules just don't support effects on the timeline of multiple weeks or longer, and a class built exclusively around such effects would be extremely difficult if not impossible to play in the vast majority of content. A class not built exclusively around that...would get features approximately equivalent in impact to things like eldritch blast.

That is why I said what I said. You are either proposing a character class that lives and works at a time scale that doesn't fit into the mechanical structure of D&D (and probably never has, even back into the logistics-and-heisting old school style), or you are proposing something that the Warlock already does reasonably well, especially if you choose to play Pact of the Tome and take Book of Ancient Secrets. Indeed, the BoAS Tomelock is uniquely suited to being an excellent ritualist because, unlike any other class in 5e, it doesn't have a limit to its ritual learning: ALL rituals can be scribed into the Book of Shadows, regardless of class, so long as you can find a copy.

A class built exclusively around effects that take even weeks to truly manifest is simply not something that D&D is designed for, and one that is not built exclusively for that will already find a home among the extant classes. Doubly so if you go Tomelock and focus all of your Invocations on utility effects rather than combat; you don't even have to take eldritch blast if you don't want to, and Tome gives you three cantrips from any list you like. Take, for example, shillelagh or primal savagery (melee option), message, and druidcraft to create a classical "witchy" type character, or sacred flame, guidance, and spare the dying to be a medicine-man type healer-seer (with mage hand and your choice of other baseline Warlock cantrip, probably prestidigitation.)

Invocation choices could be something like (in order taken): Book of Ancient Secrets and Beguiling Influence, One With Shadows (upgrading to Shroud of Shadow at 15), Devil's Sight, Whispers of the Grave, Ascendant Step, Master of Myriad Forms, Visions of Distant Realms. This produces a character replete with "subtle" effects, powerful at-will magic (especially once you hit level 15), and an emphasis on social and investigative things rather than offense.
 

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Undrave

Hero
"Rust" is a mold that infects wheat, so I'd say more on the order of weeks than seasons, but okay. I'm not saying the character shouldn't have immediate offensive capability. However, the warlock is designed to focus on that. If your warlock character wants to take the subtle approach, they can, sure. However, a bunch of invocations are designed to focus on eldritch blast; if you choose to focus your warlock on other abilities, there is less mechanical aid.

In any case, you can certainly play your character any way you wish, but telling someone, "Your character doesn't really seem like a player character," is a little bit of a judgement.

That is why I said what I said. You are either proposing a character class that lives and works at a time scale that doesn't fit into the mechanical structure of D&D (and probably never has, even back into the logistics-and-heisting old school style),

What Ezekiel said. The timescale you are proposing just doesn't work for a player character.

And even if it existed, time is meaningless in D&D and you get into the hacker/infiltration solo adventure problem where a player gets to play a completely different game 1 on 1 with the DM while everybody watches as their central concept?
 

Even better, the Warlock I just described is Patron-agnostic. So you could go with Fathomless (perhaps taking shape water instead of druidcraft) and be a water-witch, Celestial if you want a blaster-healer holy-person type, Undead or Undying for an "ageless wisdom" angle, or Genie for a borderline artificer feel.

And if doing damage actually becomes a concern, you can always grab eldritch blast and swap out an invocation for Agonizing Blast. Or grab an extra invocation via Eldritch Adept, if you don't want to give up your other invocations. The damage boost is probably worth the feat, especially once you have +5 Cha. (It works out to something like a 40% increase when crits are factored in.)
 
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RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph
I feel like my approach of, maybe, casting charm person on one jail guard to get someone out and your approach of eldritch blasting every guard in the guardhouse are both equally valid. But, please continue to tell me I'm playing D&D wrong, and that my strategy of using my hat of disguise and friends cantrip are "not D&D."

EDIT: Maybe it's the specific examples I put in my first post about the witch, which are folklore examples (although, you can absolutely do them in D&D with bestow curse and similar). I just want a character class that supports "subtle" magical approaches, that is not an Arcane Trickster or a Bard.
 
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CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
sales pitch: make a pact with an otherworldly power! very edgy and cool!
actual gameplay: mobile turret
But what does the artificer's Eldritch Cannon have to do with this?

Oh wait, you meant the Laser Cleric.

No, sorry, you were talking about the Elfish Accuracy/Sharpshooter Ranger, right? No?

The Kensei Monk with a longbow? The Quickened Sharpshooter Sorcerer?

Still no? How about...


(Seriously, every single character concept that involves a ranged attack can be Turned Up to ElevenTM until it is little more than a walking machine-gun. I'm not saying it's the "best" way to do it, or the "right" way, or even the "fun" way...but I've seen it done countless times and the warlock is hardly the top offender.)
 
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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I see that the GOO is fairing poorly compared to the fiend and...

I love the GOO concept - but the execution is a bit underwhelming isn't it?
 

OB1

Jedi Master
@CleverNickName hoping for your help here. I LOVE Hexblade mechanically, but feel like it's the least interesting of all the patrons story wise, which is what makes Warlocks so fun to play (for me). It feels like the lore wants the sword to really just be an extension of it's creator's will (as the subclass suggests and as seen in CritRole S2) but then there is this odd disconnect between what is supposed to be the actual source of your power and the entity that you are interacting with. I don't know, I want to upvote this subclass, but when I can choose to be tormented by a powerful archfey or devil or archlich, being tormented by a sword just doesn't quite rise to that level.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
@CleverNickName hoping for your help here. I LOVE Hexblade mechanically, but feel like it's the least interesting of all the patrons story wise, which is what makes Warlocks so fun to play (for me). It feels like the lore wants the sword to really just be an extension of it's creator's will (as the subclass suggests and as seen in CritRole S2) but then there is this odd disconnect between what is supposed to be the actual source of your power and the entity that you are interacting with. I don't know, I want to upvote this subclass, but when I can choose to be tormented by a powerful archfey or devil or archlich, being tormented by a sword just doesn't quite rise to that level.
I'm not sure I'm the right person to help you, but I can tell you all about my hexblade. His name was Malachi, and he wasn't really all that focused on the weapon. More than anything else, he was a vampire hunter.

He was once a wealthy landowner, who controlled a huge collection of fields and vineyards outside of Yartar, in the Desserin River Valley. He had a wife and three beautiful children, a spacious manor house, and a brewery that sold ale, wine, and mead from Waterdeep to Neverwinter. He had an enviable life until his oldest child died suddenly of a strange illness. Weeks later, his youngest child died as well, and whispers of plague began to spread among the workers. And when his wife also fell ill, the whole estate was put under quarantine.

Three nights after her funeral, he learned the truth about the illness: a vampire had infiltrated his manor house, in the guise of one of the housekeepers. That vampire had Turned all of his family and half his staff, and now it had come to claim him as well. Bitten and dying, and terrified of what fate awaited him in the thrall of a vampire, he cried out to the gods for strength and mercy. And the Raven Queen answered.

She struck a bargain with Malachi: in exchange for his soul, she would give him power over shadow and death, and he would use that power to destroy the vampires that had ruined his life. With the Raven Queen's power, he could weave powerful weapons from wisps of shadow. He could tear away the shadows of creatures he had slain and command them to fight for him. Darkness no longer had power over him; he could see normally even in magical darkness. (And so on. We basically just reskinned everything to be all about shadow and mutual hatred of the undead.)

Malachi used his new powers to destroy the vampires that had taken his family from him and ruined his fortune. And when that grim task had been finished, he expected the bargain to be fulfilled and the Raven Queen would claim his soul. But she had bigger plans in store for him...he would be her instrument on earth, to root out all vampires and destroy them. And Malachi dared not to disobey her, for he knew what he would become if she withdrew her powers.

My advice? Ignore or change the lore as you wish. I basically made mine into an Amish Van Helsing, with elements from Fullmetal Alchemist (except he used shadowstuff instead of metal). He was the bane of vampires everywhere, but the Raven Queen made certain he understood that he was on her leash.
 
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Aldarc

Legend
@CleverNickName hoping for your help here. I LOVE Hexblade mechanically, but feel like it's the least interesting of all the patrons story wise, which is what makes Warlocks so fun to play (for me). It feels like the lore wants the sword to really just be an extension of it's creator's will (as the subclass suggests and as seen in CritRole S2) but then there is this odd disconnect between what is supposed to be the actual source of your power and the entity that you are interacting with. I don't know, I want to upvote this subclass, but when I can choose to be tormented by a powerful archfey or devil or archlich, being tormented by a sword just doesn't quite rise to that level.
The Sword is implied to come from the Shadowfell, possibly from the Raven Queen. So you are a effectively a harvester of souls for the Raven Queen's dominion.
 


CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
While hexblade might be a good subclass it is not what I want for the iconic warlock, parts of it really should of been the basis of an errata for the pact of the blade.

Also @Aldarc i’d prefer if I didn’t continue to get a sad react on my every downvote of said hexblade.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Honestly, I thought Pact of the Undead was a pretty good subclass for Warlock...

Flavor:
It reminds me a lot of the necromancers of "Gideon the Ninth," by Tamsin Muir. The part about thanaturgy being a type of magic in the world, the mysterious Emperor and his dread powers, the whole bit about binding one's soul to The Tomb, etc. I think it could be very interesting in a gothic campaign setting as well, for a cabal of necromancers who are trying to restore a powerful lich (or mummy lord, if your campaign setting is inspired by Egyptian lore).

Mechanics:
  • Expanded Spell List: Good mix of debuffs and utility spells.
  • Form of Dread: especially good for Pact of the Blade, but also good for Tome (when combined with Grave Touched, below). Gain temporary HP, and thin out mobs of low-level creatures with fear? Excellent.
  • Grave Touched: Any attack you make can now do necrotic damage if you want. Meshes with Form of Dread, above, to deal extra damage as well. Your Eldritch Blasts are now Necro-blasts that deal more damage.
  • Mortal Husk: resistance or immunity to necrotic damage, and instead of falling unconscious when you reach 0 hp, you instead do a burst of necrotic damage then revive with 1 HP. My only issue with this ability is that you can't use it again until you finish multiple long rests, which is a weird mechanic. Since you're already getting a point of exhaustion, I'd let it recharge on a Long or Short Rest....but minor quibble.
  • Spirit Projection: your spirit leaves your body. Then it kicks ass for an hour: it's resistant to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage, spells don't require components, it can fly through creatures and solid objects, and it heals itself when it deals necrotic damage.
I mean, it's no Hexblade or Fathomless, but I think it's pretty cool. I'd put it on the same shelf as Genie and Fiend at any rate.
 
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Undrave

Hero
Aside from the UA ones who failed to make it to books, I don't think there's any BAD Warlock subclass, it's all down to which one you find fun or not. Some just have better flavour integration (GOO is functional but boring in practice, for exemple, Fiend is a little basic but a classic concept)

Speaking of UA... Anybody else think the Seeker Patron was actually supposed to be a Planeswalker Patron for a MTG book? Like how the Invention Wizard was meant for Ravnica but they didn’t want to spoil its actual theme?
Honestly, I thought Pact of the Undead was a pretty good subclass for Warlock...
I think people didn't feel it felt like it was on the same 'level' of power as a patron?
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Aside from the UA ones who failed to make it to books, I don't think there's any BAD Warlock subclass, it's all down to which one you find fun or not. Some just have better flavour integration (GOO is functional but boring in practice, for exemple, Fiend is a little basic but a classic concept)

Speaking of UA... Anybody else think the Seeker Patron was actually supposed to be a Planeswalker Patron for a MTG book? Like how the Invention Wizard was meant for Ravnica but they didn’t want to spoil its actual theme?

I think people didn't feel it felt like it was on the same 'level' of power as a patron?

seeing that Celestian is directly called out as a diety reverred by Planewalkers, thats probably a good guess. Maybe they werent willing to explicitly link MTG to DnD cosmology yet

as to Undead I dont think its a power level thing, afterall Acerak et al is comparible to Vecna and the Raven Queen.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
What Ezekiel said. The timescale you are proposing just doesn't work for a player character.

And even if it existed, time is meaningless in D&D and you get into the hacker/infiltration solo adventure problem where a player gets to play a completely different game 1 on 1 with the DM while everybody watches as their central concept?
That timescale can work for certain campaign types, though. If you're playing a campaign that is centered on a town or village as where the party adventures from(for a length of time anyway), then the witch character could give the evil eye to the farmer than insulted him/her causing his crops to be diseased and die over a span of weeks.

The game doesn't stop or center on the witch character after the evil eye is given, rather it continues on with the party doing what they were, and as they come back and head out over a period of weeks, they see and hear about the effects of the hex. The farmer complaining to some fellows about the unnatural disease hitting his corn crop that he can't fix. He's tried cutting out the infected sections, but it keeps reappearing.

Maybe the farmer connects the dots and maybe not. If the witch keeps causing issues and enough people talk about things, it becomes more likely to find out who the culprit is. A lot of good roleplaying could be done by the entire group over what is happening, including an unscrupulous party being hired to "find out" who did it and making coin off of it.

It's an ability that can work for some types of games, and for the ones that it doesn't work for you don't pick a witch to play.
 
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Undrave

Hero
That timescale can work for certain campaign types, though. If you're playing a campaign that is centered on a town or village as where the party adventures from(for a length of time anyway), then the witch character could give the evil eye to the farmer than insulted him/her causing his crops to be diseased and die over a span of weeks.

The game doesn't stop or center on the witch character after the evil eye is given, rather it continues on with the party doing what they were, and as they come back and head out over a period of weeks, they see and hear about the effects of the hex. The farmer complaining to some fellows about the unnatural disease hitting his corn crop that he can't fix. He's tried cutting out the infected sections, but it keeps reappearing.

Maybe the farmer connects the dots and maybe not. If the witch keeps causing issues and enough people talk about things, it becomes more likely to find out who the culprit is. A lot of good roleplaying could be done by the entire group over what is happening, including an unscrupulous party being hired to "find out" who did it and making coin off of it.

It's an ability that can work for some types of games, and for the ones that it doesn't work for you don't pick a witch to play.
There's also the issue that long winded curses and hexes like that feel a little too evil for a PC option to me.

And even if you use it on a VILLAIN, waiting around a couple weeks for the bad guy to keel over from an evil eye feels really inefficient compared to a good ol’ stabbin’
 

Aldarc

Legend
Aside from the UA ones who failed to make it to books, I don't think there's any BAD Warlock subclass, it's all down to which one you find fun or not. Some just have better flavour integration (GOO is functional but boring in practice, for exemple, Fiend is a little basic but a classic concept)
Undying.
 


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