D&D 5E [GUIDE] Pacts, Patrons, and Power, a Warlock guide


Warlocks sit somewhere between a fighter and wizard, with a touch of rogue and illusionist. They have good at-will damage, good control, and a number of unique tricks up their sleeves. This makes them possibly the most well-rounded class.

[sblock=Color Code]
Goldenrod: You pretty much always take.
Deepskyblue: Usually the most optimal choice.
Blue: A good choice.
Black (no color): Passible, but not special.
Darkviolet: Situation, most of the time you should pass on this, but there are corner cases that can really make this good.
Red: Grade F, avoid. You just wasted your choice, or worse. [/sblock]

Short Rests
The game expectation is 2 short rests per long rest, and warlock (and monks) power is based on that. It's fine for them to have strong days and weak days, but if your campaign consistently avoids or allows short rests, it can be an issue. If your group doesn't come close to the expected short rest my suggested houserule is twice per long rest, anyone can use an action to take a short rest, spending their hit dice and recharging short rest things. Even allowing it mid-battle.

Str: Dump it.
Con: Not only HP, but warlocks have some good spells to concentrate on.
Dex: Light armor or medium armor means you want some points here.
Int: Dump it.
Wis: Not used, but it's an important save so any remaining points can go here.
Cha: The casting stat. There are enough Cha independent spells that you don't need this but you'd still be gimped without it..

Warlocks have access to devils sight making darkvision less of a priority. This makes variant humans as the general top choice, though consider your party and campaign. Winged Tiefling or other mobile races options can be nice to keep you out of melee if you don't have a good front line, Half-Elfs + Elven Accuracy + Spells for advantage gives you the most damage. Mountain Dwarfs can also get you armor if you are going to be on the front line, and halflings lucky works with eldrich blast, skills, and saves giving a nice all round bump.

Note that unlike clerics, you don't automatically get the patron spells. They compete for space with the basic warlocks spells. It's also important to keep in mind how they scale since your slots do.

© = concentration

Archfey: Adds some good control spells and features which can be used both in or out of combat. Blades are only interested in the greater invisibility as there are plenty of saving throws here. Greater invisibility is a big draw.
©Faerie Fire: A good spell at level 1, but doesn't scale.
Sleep: Not as strong as the numbers might seem at first glance due to rounding errors, but strong control and bypasses saves and legendary resistances, though some things (elves) are immune to sleep. Scales well.

Calm Emotions: Possible to shut down a battle, but only if all the enemies fail their save. Replace with hypnotic pattern at level 5. Could have some out of combat uses too.
©Phantasmal Force: One of the few Int based saves in the game making it useful just for that. Add some creativity, and you can accomplish a lot, both in and out of combat.

Blink: You have a 50% chance to be untargetable each turn and it doesn't even take concentration. It also allows you to go through thin walls.
Plant Growth: Big penalty to mobility allowing you to kill melee with ease. Also a great way to help some farmers.

©Dominate Beast: Powerful, but short lived. Though animals tend to have weak wisdom saves so your likely to get several turns for it.
©Greater Invisibility: It's like darkness + devils sight, but castable on allies.

©Dominate Person: Powerful, but short lived. Unlike animals, there's a lot of saves here that make it easy to waste your slot.
Seeming: Disguise your party for 8 hours, no concentration.

Fey Presence: A way to protect yourself in battle, or to help you convince someone to do something.
Misty Escape: Another way to protect yourself in battle. Improves slightly as enemy multi-attack comes online.
Beguiling Defenses: PC's aren't usually targeted by charm, but Immunity is still immunity.
©Dark Delerium: Being charmed means it can't attack you, and it can't see anyone else to attack either, so you can take an enemy out of battle. Note that the spell ends if the target is damaged, but that still leaves them open to other kinds of spells. It's also on a short rest recharge.

Fiend: Lots of THP and damage spells.
Burning hands: Even at low levels you need a bunch of very weak monsters in a tight group for this to be worth using. And it scales poorly.
Command: A strong control spell without concentration, which can be used for both in and out of combat. Flee can make them provoke opportunity attacks, grovel can give advantage to your melee allies, plus any creative way you can come up with. Scales into mass command.

Blindness/deafness: Weak control, with a save every turn, but no concentration. Scales into mass blind.
Scorching Ray: Slightly more damage than Eldritch Blast. Which generally isn't worth a slot.

Fireball: Fantastic when you get it, but fades a bit over levels. Can still be useful against hordes. Scales poorly.
©Stinking Cloud: Generally worse then hypnotic pattern since it's a save every turn, and Con is generally a higher than Wis, but not always. Especially with repelling blast to shove creatures back into the cloud.

Fire Shield: Fairly low damage (9 vs 20 - 25 for Armor of Agathy) that requires you to be hit, though good duration without concentration. It will make you immune to a horde of rats thanks to the THP you'll get from killing them.
©Wall of Fire: Almost as much damage as a fireball, with better targeting, but requires concentration. Combo's with repelling blast.

Flame Strike: A weaker, smaller fireball.
Hallow: Adventurers usually don't have lairs to protect, but you have some good choices. Vulnerability to force or fire damage are good options.

Dark One's Blessing: Warlocks should be doing your share of killing, so this will add a lot of toughness. Note that you can KO a creature with a melee attack, so carry a bag of rats and just knock them out as needed. Be careful about replacing Armor of Agathys THP.
Dark One's Own Luck: Good for saving against hold person, and for making stealth checks, but only 1 die and it's a maybe.
Fiendish Resilence: Resistance is good, but only 1 type means it's not going to be effective unless you know what you're facing. Piercing is probably the best default, Slashing for bladelocks.
Hurl Through Hell: Instant control that you can't waste, plus some damage. Just note that it's after your next turn.

Great old one. Out of combat utility, that's great for intrigue campaigns.
Dissonant Whispers: Enemies who run will provoke OA's making this great for low levels, but it doesn't scale, and neither do most OA's.
©Tasha's hideous laughter: The best level 1 control spell, but it get's replaced quickly.

Detect Thoughts: Good utility. Try and capture some enemies.
©Phantasmal Force: One of the few Int based saves in the game making it useful just for that. Add some creativity, and you can accomplish a lot, both in and out of combat.

©Clairvoyance: A good way to spy and gather information.
Sending: Long range secret communications is another good spy feature.

©Dominate Beast: Powerful, but short lived. Though animals tend to have weak wisdom saves so your likely to get several turns for it.
©Evard’s Black Tentacles: A decent zone of control with a little damage. Better with repelling blast to shove creatures back inside.

©Dominate Person: Powerful, but short lived. There's a lot of saves here that make it easy to waste your slot.
©Telekinesis: Rarely useful in combat given that most melee creatures are strength based, and ranged wouldn't be bothered by being up in the air unless you drop them off a cliff. Out of combat mage hand can cover most of the use cases, though 1000lbs is big lifting power and it has twice the range.

Awakened Mind: Secretly talk to people nearby, and in any language.
Entropic Ward: A small boost to defense. Note that your advantage is 1 attack, not 1 turn, so just 1 of the Eldrich Blasts rays.
Thought Shield: Even in an intrigue based game, there're very few enemies that will attempt to read your thoughts or deal psychic damage.
Create Thrall: No save charm. Note that unconscious, stunned, petrified, paralyzed, and hypnotic pattern all work. Plus all the fun spy stuff you can do.

Undying: Self-healing and some support at level 9. Better in undead campaigns.
false life: Just worse than Armor of Agathys
Ray of Sickness: Worse damage than eldrich blast, weak effect that requires a second save and scales poorly. Not to mention the large number of creatures immune to poison.

blindness/deafness: Weak control but it doesn't take concentration.
©silence: some utility and some combat application, but casters can generally just walk away and you risk silenceing yourself as well.

feign death: I don't see any good use for this.
speak with dead: Can really short cut some campaigns, less useful in others. Also can be gotten at-will with an invocation.

©aura of life: As long as your up, so are your allies. Though that makes you a big target and you won't have darkness to hide in. Consider bladeward or dodge.
death ward: A great use of any extra spell slots you have left before a short rest.

contagion: most battle will be over before this applies. Chain can use their familiar to sneak in and cast this ahead of time.
legend lore: A good way to gather information.

Among the Dead: Nice sanctuary effect a not terribly uncommon enemy. Plus a weak cantrip.
Defy Death: Death saves are at the start of your turn, so you might not miss a turn after being knocked down. You might also want to carry a rat with you to knock out and heal if you havn't used this before a short rest. The HP doesn't scale though.
Undying Nature: Good for going underwater.
Indestructable Life: A lot of healing for you.

Celestial: Adds some healing, including revivify and greater restoration.
cure wounds: Could be a good use of any extra spell slots you have before a short rest.
guiding bolt: Nice at first level, but doesn't scale well.

©flamingsphere: Good bonus action damage.
lesser restoration: These effects tend to fade by themselves before you can touch someone.

daylight: you have light as a cantrip. And you probably don't want to dispell darkness.
revivify: Can be a real lifesaver. Literally.

guardian of faith: You rarely need to protect a space. But could be good for tight dungeons.
©wall of fire: Nice damage. Combo's extremely well with repelling blast.

flame strike: Stick with wall of fire.
greater restoration: This can be a campaign changer.

Bonus Cantrips: Sacred flame is a nice backup if you have disadvantage, and light is a useful cantrip. But generally you'll stick with Eldrich Blast + Agonizing Blast.
Healing Light: A great way to get someone off the ground. You generally only want to use 1 die at a time.
Radiant Soul: A little extra damage with sacred flame and wall of fire. But still generally better to use Eldrich Blast.
Celestial Radiance: Nice scaling THP for the party. This really pushed the Inspiring leader feat down a few notches.
Searing Vengence: Nice emergency heal exactly when you want it, plus some piddly damage. Note that death saves are at the start of your turn, so you don't miss a turn, but it also means that the blind is only for your turn. Still, you can move away and get advantage on Eldrich Blast. It's even ally friendly.

Hexblade: Adds Numbers (AC, damage, health). Despite the name, you may completely ignore weapons. The ratings are based on a melee blade. Eldrich blasters / bowlocks shouldn't take the smite spells for instance, the short range of the curse makes reduces your range advantage, get's even less out of armor of hexes, and doesn't benefit from AC as much when hiding behind allies.
shield: A good defensive spell, even in 5th level slots.
©wrathful smite: A nice control effect that can keep this going at higher levels, even though the damage doesn't scale.

©blur: A decent defense, but completely outclassed by darkness + devils sight, which is both longer duration, and adds offense.
©branding smite: non-scaling damage with a very niche application.

blink: A good defensive without concentration.
©elemental weapon: Less damage and defense compared to darkness+devils sight, but last longer. At level 17+ foresight, this becomes the go-to buff for weapon users. Eldrich Blaster's might still want this for an allyfighter.

©phantasmal killer: Good combo of control and damage.
©staggering smite: Low damage and a weak effect.

©banishing smite: good combo of control and damage.
cone of cold: I have no idea what this has to do with hexes or blades, but it's nice to have an AoE.

Hexblades Curse: Hex + cure wounds in a single non-concentration bonus spell. Though a bit short on the range. Scales well with both levels and multi-attack / multi-rays.
Hex Warrior: +5 AC for eldrich blasters, +3 AC and getting to ignore Str for bladelocks. Sword and board can also work, though not as well.
Accursed Specter: CR 1 isn't going to be much use for combat, and it can't speak, and won't understand you if you don't pick the right corpse. However, since it can fly through walls, it makes a great scout, so you should have at least 1 battle where you know when to pre-cast darkness. Consider taking the tongues spell.
Armor of Hexes: Only works on your cures target, and takes your reaction, which can compete with OA's and polearm reasons. Still worth using if it comes up.
Master of Hexes: Now you can enjoy the bonus damage all battle long. It doesn't even take an action to switch targets, letting you keep your bonus attack for crossbow expertise/polearm master.

Blade (without hexblade): No armor, multiple attributes, spending 3 invocations, to deal the same damage you could do with eldrich blast. Not to mention, all warlocks can grab booming blade for a melee option.
Blade (with Hexblade): Hexblade adds the missing pieces of armor and let's you focus on a single stat. There are several options of setups to go with. Also, keep in mind, you can switch weapons, just in case if you need bludgeoning damage.
Polearm + Great Weapon + Advantage: Assuming reaction attacks half the time, you can do Double damage over eldritch blast, but at a hefty cost of your warlock's spells (darkness+devils sight/shadows of moil/foresight+elemental weapon), 2 feats, and 3 invocations (possibly skipping agonizing blast). Great weapon master without advantage doesn't really add any damage. Polearm Master is still a strong no matter what.
Sharpshooter + Advantage + Archery Style: About 50% more damage then eldrich blast, while keeping the advantages of range, but still a bit of an investment. If you find a magic crossbow, you can add Crossbow Expertise to boost it to almost double damage of EB.
Featless Without weapon feats, your spending 3 invocations to deal the same amount of damage as eldritch blast, just in melee.
TWF, don't get anything. Life drinker and improved pact weapon only works with 1 weapon, so it's ever going to be 1d6 damage.

Blade Invocations:
Thirsting Blade: Your basic multi-attack. If you don't take this, there's no reason to be blade.
Lifedrinker: Your next damage bump. If you don't take this, there's no reason to be blade.
Improved Pact Weapon: +1 to hit and damage is hard to pass up. Required for bowlocks. Though trade it out if you find a magic weapon.
Eldrich Smite: There are usually better uses for your spell slots (darkness). But prone can be worth it if you the right allies to take advantage of it. Note that you can only use warlock spell slots. Confirmed as intentional.
Eldritch Smite works with warlock spell slots only—the ones you get from Pact Magic. #DnD

Chain: You get an improved familiar, all of which fly, most are invisible. Note that their invisibility only breaks when attacking or taking damage, meaning all other actions, including help action, pickpocketing, and casting a touch spell through them (except sprite) are fair game. You can change familiars as the situation needs at the cost of a little gold, including into any of the normal familiars.
Imp: Invisibility, Magic Resist, Devils Sight, Shape Change, and immunity to poison and fire. Toughest of the bunch with the most resistances and highest HP, it's got a decent chance to survive a hit, just not 2.
Pseudodragon: Magic Resist, Blindsight, Advantage on Perception, Limited Telepathy 100. NO Invisibility, but it's the fastest flyer. Note that you have telepathy 100 to your familiars so this might be bit redundant, but it could be used as a translator.
Quasit: Invisible, Magic Resist, Shape Change, Immunity to Poison, Scare. Scare is 1/day, 1 target, with a save every turn, so it's unlikely to have much impact.
Sprite: Invisibility, Ranged Attack, and Heart Sight. NO magic resist, but highest stealth. Familiars can't attack unless you spend an action for them, but it can still be helpful if you sent it ahead. Still flying ranged attackers can auto-win some battles, even if it takes an hour of game time. Heart Sight won't break Invisible, and it's also the only feature in the game that lets you see someone's alignment.

Chain Invocations:
Chains of Carceri: A 5th level spell at-will is powerful, and those are the types of enemies you tend to face at a higher level. Could be a nice security if you summon demons.
Gift of the Ever-Living Ones: With just hit dice, this comes out to an additional 1.75 HP per level, a bit less than +2 Con. But warlocks tend to rely on THP or staying away. Better if your celestial or are tanking for a friendly cleric.
Voice of the Chain Master: You can already telepathically talk to your familiar and see though its senses at 100', so this just extends the range and lets you talk. It's unlikely you'll need more range in most campaigns, though you could potentially send out your sprite to clear a rat nest while you sit in a tavern.

Tome: 3 extra cantrips from any class, considering you get 2-4, that's a big increase. Warlocks already have the best attack cantrip in the game (eldritch blast), so use this to expand your utility a lot. Some good ones include guidance, toll the dead (ignores disadvantage), shillelagh + booming blade/green flame blade, light, and vicious mockery (V only), mage hand, minor illusion, friends, and prestidigitation.

Tome Invocations:
Book of Ancient Secrets: You can collect every ritual spell in the game. Though this is somewhat dependent on your DM to drop them. Comprehend Languages, Illusory Script, Unseen Servant, and Contact other planes are on the warlock spell list and can be learned that way. Identify, Detect Magic, Find Familiar, Detect Poison and Disease, Speak with Animals, Alarm, Tenser's Floating Disk, Find Familiar, and Purify Food and Drink are your other starting options.
Aspect of the Moon: Warlocks aren't the best at spotting things, but some eyes are better than none.

[sblock=DPR comparisons at level 12]
Assuming +5 Cha gives 65% chance to hit.
*Crits not included, but would only add a point or 2.

A blade lock without hexblade would have the same 18 or 20 Str (same to-hit and bonus damage), but only have 16 Cha for lifedrinker. And be -1 or -2 damage, for 2 or 3 attacks.
~ -3 damage. (not to mention the lack of armor).

Keep in mind, spells like hold person can deal far more damage then darkness or hex, particularly if you have damaging allies. Or perhaps casting synaptic shock if you're against a group.

Eldrich Blast, 20 Cha, Agonizing Blast, 1 free feat (31.5 damage, .65 to hit)
= 20.475
+advantage (.8775)
= 27.64125
+Elven accuracy (.957125 to hit)
= 30.1494375
+ hex (42 damage).
= 27.3

Booming Blade 20 Dex or Str or Cha (hexblade), 1-handed, 1 free feat (18.5 damage / 32 if they move, .65 to hit)
base / if they move.
= 12.025 / 20.8
+ avantage (.8775)
= 16.23375 / 28.08
+ elven accuracy (.957125 to hit)
= 17.7068125 / 30.628

HexBlade and Board
, 20 Cha, thirsting blade, life drinker, improved pact weapon, 1 free feat (31 damage, .7 to hit)
= 21.7
+ advantage (.91 to hit)
= 28.21
+ elven accuracy (.973 to hit)
= 30.163
+ hex (37 damage)
= 26.6

HexBlade Polearm Master, 18 Cha, great weapon master, thirsting blade, life drinker, and improved pact weapon. (70.5 damage .40 to hit)
= 28.2
-great weapon master, +2 Cha (46.5 damage, .7 to hit)
= 32.55
+ advantage (0.64 to hit)
= 45.12
+ polearm's reaction attack half the time (85 damage)
= 34
+ polearm's reaction half the time, and advantage (85 damage, .64 to hit)
= 54.4
+ polearm's reaction half the time, and elven accuracy (85 damage, 0.784 to hit)
= 66.64

HexBlade Sharpshooter, 20 Cha, thirsting blade, life drinker, improved pact weapon, fighter 1 for archery style (level 13). (51 damage, .55 to hit)
= 28.05
+ advantage (0.7975 to hit).
= 40.6725
+ elven accuaracy (.908875 to hit)
= 46.352625
+ crossbow expertise (magic handbow), 18 Cha(67.5 damage, .875 to hit).
= 59.0625
+ crossbow expertise (magic handbow), 18 Cha, elven accuracy(67.5, .908875 to hit).
= 61.3490625

Fighter, 20 dex, crossbow expertise, sharpshooter, archery style. (74 damage, .5 to hit)
= 37
+ Advantage* (.75 to hit)
= 55.5
+ Elven Accuracy* (.875 to hit)
= 64.75
*Advantage is much harder to get for the fighter, also get action surge, sublcass features, and an extra feat.
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© = concentration

Eldritch Blast: The strongest attack cantrip in the game. Even blades want this to have some ranged options.

Booming Blade: A weapon cantrip that allows Dex based Warlocks to deal decent damage. Works superb with warcaster to have a nasty OA. Also works well with darkness + devils sight, since you need to see the enemy in or order to OA, you can hit and run, making them trigger the secondary damage.
Minor Illusion: Massive amount of utility here. Even just putting up a 5' wall to hide behind helps.

Green Flameblade: The other weapon cantrip with nice anti-horde ability. Though it's generally slightly harder to get enemies within 5' of each other. You can take both and use them in different situations.
Mage Hand: Try to make a habit of using this to opening doors and chest from a distance.
Prestidigitation: Some good utility here.
Thunder Step: Utility and damage in one.
Toll the Dead: A decent backup if you find yourself with disadvantage (in melee).

©Bonfire: Concentration competes with too many other things, though with repelling blast and some coordination it's possible to get good damage from this.
©Friends: Advantage on a few checks is probably not worth pissing someone off. Better with mask of many faces, which can turn the downside into a plus.
Lighting Lure: Short range and short pull, though it's a strength save and V only which has it's uses.
Magic Stones: If you have any allies who don't have ranged attacks (barbarian, paladin), this can help. Can also give it to your familiar, though it takes you an action to cast it. No reason to use it yourself.
Poison Spray: A backup if you are caught in melee.
Sword Burst: A backup if you are caught in melee against a horde. V only is nice.

Blade Ward: Usually a little better than dodge (stacks with disavantage) which could be good if your concentration on something important.
Frostbite: Low Con creatures probably aren't making weapon attacks. It also fails to scale with multi-attack.
Infestation: Funny, but repelling blast is much better control.
©Thunderclap: Use poison spray if your looking for melee ranged options.

Chill TouchI don't think there's any creature that regenerates fast enough to be worth the loss of damage.
©True Strike: You're better off using your action to attack, then get advantage on 1 attack the next round. And to add insult to injury, it even takes concentration.

[sblock=level 1 spells]
Armor of Agathys: A nice chunk of THP and damage. Best used against hordes so the damage will last for more hits.
Cause Fear: A nice control spell that keeps enemies at bay. Scales well.
©Expeditious Retreat: With some room, you can hit and run away from enemies until they die, particularly with repelling blast. Though if you use this trick a lot, multi-class rogue. This also doesn't scale.
©Hex: A good default way to improve your damage. Improves both with duration allowing 1 cast to last all day, as well scaling with Eldritch Blast's multi-attack so it stays a solid option when combined with non-concentration spells. Note that it has less range than eldritch blast. It also has a few out of combat uses.

Comprehend Languages: It's good to know what the enemy is talking about.
Hellish Rebuke: Low damage, but you don't have many competing reactions. Combines nicely with hex as it leaves your bonus action and concentration free.
©Protection from Evil and Good: Decent in the right campaign. Though you tend to fight those creatures more at higher levels.
Unseen Servant: A longer duration mage hand. Comprehend Languages: It's good to know what the enemy is talking about.

Arms of Hadar: Low damage, low range, and bad scaling. Though it's one of your few AoE spells.
Charm Person: Friends cantrip will cover most of the situations, and without a save.
Illusory Script: There are a few ways to use this for an intrigue game.

©Witch Bolt: Low damage and easy to disrupt. I houserule that the extra damage also increases.

[sblock=level 2 spells]
©Suggestion: So many uses both in and out of combat. "Bring me your leader's weapon" or "assassinate the king" for instance. Some DM's may dampen this a bit.

©Darkness+Devils Sight: You have advantage on all your attacks and enemies have disadvantage to hit you. This adds roughly the same damage as hex does for eldrich blast, great much better defense, but less duration. For hexblade (Sharpshooter/ GWM) it adds much more damage. Consider scouting abilities, so you can cast it before battle. Everyone without special senses fights normally, with disadvantage from not being able to see the target canceling advantage of not being seen by the target. Barbarians, Samarui, and shield masters may not appreciate it, as 1 disadvantage cancels out all advantages.

©Cloud of Daggers: Good automatic damage even blade can use, but it's a pretty small area. Works better with repelling blast and other movement control things.
©Crown of Madness: When 2 enemies are standing next to each other, cast this on the one that goes next. Also remember that charmed enemies can't attack you. Drop it if you can't get any use out of it. Doesn't scale.
©Hold Person: This allows you and allies to crit. Humanoids aren't rare targets.
©Invisibility: Good way to sneak around. Improves into mass invisibility.
©Shadow Blade: +1d8 damage is already better than hex, but it also comes with possible advantage. Scales well.

Mirror Image: This can absorb several attacks without needing concentration. Tends to get slightly worse as you level as creatures gain multi-attack and higher to-hit.
Misty Step: Never bad to have on hand.
Shatter: The best AoE spell of this level.
Spider Climb: Has its uses. Though look at ascendant step for an alternative.

©Earthbind: Stunning a creature with Tasha's hideous laughter or hypnotic pattern will make it fall down faster and more painfully. Though this does have impressive range.
©Ray of Enfeeblement: Other control spells tend to be better.
©Mind Spike: Low damage that takes concentration for seemingly no reason.

Darkness (without devils sight): Cancels out everyone's advantage and disadvantage. More likely to do harm then good.
Enthrall: Poor in pretty much every circumstance.

[sblock=level 3 spells]
©Hypnotic Pattern: The go-to mass control spell.
©Fear: Better control than hypnotic pattern, but harder to target. It can also make enemies provoke OA's.

Counterspell: A nice off-action way to save your party from a fireball. Though your spell slots are a bit more limited then other casters.
Dispel Magic: Good when you need it.
©Hunger of Hadar: A nice zone of control. Works great with devils sight and repelling blast. Though the damage doesn't scale at all.
©Fly: Good utility here.
©Summon Lesser Demon: What could go wrong with uncontrollable killing machines? Best if you cast it into a room (take advantage of the 60' range) and shut the door behind them. Don't forget that you can end concentration at any time. Upgrade to Summon Greater Demon later. Chains of Carceri work as insurance. Less good if your allies rush in.

©Enemies Abound: Best to cast and run away. Doesn't scale.
©Major Image: Nice utility, though direct control is usually better than indirect control. Too bad you can't get it to it's 6th level slot.
Remove Curse: Not something you'd spend a lot of slots on, but it's good to have it when you need it.
Thunder Step: Low damage, but it can help get you out of a sticky situation.
Tongues: A way to make use of your Charisma.
©Vampiric Touch: Low damage and low healing. You can usually end up with more HP by killing things faster. Though it can use out of combat in conjunction with fiendish vigor, trading in your extra THP for real HP. Though cure wounds would heal just as much.

©Gaseous Form: I can't think of many good reasons why you would want to slowly move around. Maybe put it on a cleric with spiritual guardian, or concentrating on some other important spell.

Magic Circle: This casts too slow and doesn't last long enough to be of any use outside of manufactured circumstances.

[sblock=level 4 spells]
©Banishment: Charisma saves are extremely rare making this good for that alone, but it also has a good control effect. Remember you can end concentration at any time.
©Summon Greater Demon: You get at least 1 good command, plus the 60' range, so you send it into the enemy room while you wait outside. Barlugura has -1 to Cha saves and no magic resistance, making the default choice. Less good if your allies rush in.

Dimension Door: Escape from a dungeon, rescue an ally from a jail, all sorts of good stuff.
©Shadow of Moil: A partial upgrade to Darkness that doesn't require devils sight, and some other minor benefits. However, it's a much shorter duration and takes an expensive component, so you might not want it.
Sickening Radiance: A big damage zone. Though exhaustion takes a few levels to do anything noticable in a big battle, and there is no half damage. Stick with wall of fire if you can get it. Better with repelling blast.

Blight: Enough damage over eldritch blast to make it worthwhile before level 17.
Charm Monster: You have an hour to get what you want.

Elemental Bane: Hex is better for you in every way, but this does have some possible use with certain allies. Like conjuring 8 minor elementals.
Hallucinatory Terrain: It's a bit hard to come up with any good uses for this except maybe making an ambush spot or a place to hide.

[sblock=level 5 spells]
Synaptic Static: It's not quite fireball, but it's the best AoE default warlocks get.

Contact Other Plane: Without Int saves, you want to be careful and cast this before a long rest in a safe place. But it's still a good way to get information during your downtime.
©Far Step: A good way to hit and run, or just run fast out of combat.
©Hold Monster: Another good control spell.
©Scrying: A nice spy tool.
Negative energy flood: Good damage when you get it, and a free zombie can distract enemies. Eldrich Blast wins at higher levels.

©Dance Macabre: You need to have available corpses, but 5 is enough for a bit of damage and to absorb a few hits. Just be careful of an enemy with an AoE.
Dream: Long range communications, or slowly assassinate someone. Remember you can do this per short rest, so you can make plenty of attempts each time they sleep to ensure they never get their rest.

©Enervation: Damage and healing could be good, and 60' is long enough that the enemy has to take a turn to run away, but simply running behind a pillar and back out will break the connection. Better for hexblades with warcaster, who can threaten the enemy with an OA if they try and escape (you can still hit with your reaction), but still not good.
©Infernal Calling: Unfortunately, the only devil at this level has good insight. Better if you get expertise and perhaps a friendly cleric's guidance or bards inspiration.

©Wall of light: You have better zones, and higher damage.
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Magic Arcanum are not spell slots. They are just a single spell that you can cast 1/day. You can only choose from the ones provided.
Therefore you want one that is likely to see use every day, and not ones that are good only in a few situations.

© = concentration

[sblock=level 6 spells]
Mass suggestion: All the great things you like about suggestion, but more so, and without concentration.
©Mental Prison: Auto-damage and a good chance of taking someone out of the fight.

©Investiture of stone : Both a good defensive buff, and utility.
©Investiture of Wind: Rain down blasts while protecting yourself is a good combo.
Soul Cage: A versatile spell for both RP or healing. On par with a cleric's heal, and much better with gift of the ever-living one invocation.

©Conjure Fey: Hard to rate this one since it depends on what the DM chooses. Improves if you can choose yourself You also ned to be careful about losing concentration.
Create Undead: Fairly weak creature and cost some money each time. Though it does have good duration and can be used both in and out of combat.

Arcane Gate: Not a bad spell by itself, but not something you'll use every day.
Eyebite: This takes too many actions to use. Stick with hypnotic pattern or fear.
Scatter: If you can see the space, you can probably walk there. Generally not worth your 6th level slot.
True Seeing: Another decent spell that you won't use every day.

Flesh to Stone: Save, save, save, and wait, or die. Hold monster and eldrich blasts would be just as fast. Plus it prevents the enemy from attacking.
©Investiture of flame: Less damage than poison spray.
©Investiture of ice: Less damage than poison spray.

[sblock=level 7 spells]
Forcecage: No save, no concentration control. Use the one with bars and just eldritch blast whatever's inside, or put it around yourself and shoot out. Use a solid one to cage a dangerous ranged opponent while you clean up his allies or take a short rest.

Finger of Death: Good damage and you can get a permanent minion even on save. Works well with magic stones cantrip to give your minion a ranged attack.

Crown of Stars: A high amount of damage, but spread out over 7 turns. Better if you get advantage, as this does nothing on a miss.
Plane Shift: Cast twice to get anywhere in your own plane. Its combat use lets you use it on non-travel days, and can be delivered via your familiar.
Etherealness: 8 hours makes a safe place to take a long rest, plus any travel and spy stuff you want to do.

Power Word Pain: One guaranteed round of disadvantage isn't very good at this level.

[sblock=level 8 spells]
©Dominate Monster: Full control with a nice long duration, and less saves then dominate person. Just don't take a monster from one battle to the next and lose control of it.
Glibness: "The boss is moving on to bigger places and only want's the strongest of you. Last minions standing get's to go."

©Maddening Darkness: Huge, decent damage zone. Though it's size also makes it unwieldy to cast. As with all zones, improves with repelling blast.

Feeblemind: Nearly a save-or-die against casters and 30 day duration. But half the casters have good Int, and it's useless against non-casters.

Demiplane: Secure storage is unlikely to be something you'll access every day. Combo's with plane shift.
Power Word Stun: There are a good number of high level creatures with less than 150HP that can be nicely shut down with this spell. The issue is knowing which ones making it very easy to waste. Improved if you know the enemy HP.

[sblock=level 9 spells]
Foresight: Strong buff for a long duration, works with eldritch blast, hexblade, or an ally.
True Polymorph: A very versatile spell but requires some monster knowledge to make the most of. Mostly you want to turn inanimate objects into creatures. Turn a rock into a Wearwolves for immune to non-magical-non-silver weapons, a Courtal for greater restoration, a Unicorn for teleporting, an Efreet for Plane Shift, etc.... Allies can be turned into dragons for all their combat stuff, purple worms to make a tunnel, mummy lord to animate some dead, pit fiends for at-will fireballs, etc... You can also turn rats into gold, expensive spell component, dagger for the rouge, etc... Plenty of options.

Psychic Scream: Wide area friendly stun. And a little damage.

Imprisonment: Pretty plot specific spell that takes too long to cast in battle. If only you could willingly fail a save then you could use it as a place to sleep.

Power Word Kill: Has all the problems of power word stun, but much smaller HP limit. Improved if you know the enemy HP.
Astral Projection: Use true polymorph to turn a rock into an Efreet, and have it cast plane shift.
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The pact specific ones are rated abve, with their pact.

© = concentration

Eldritch Blast.
Agonizing Blast: This is what makes eldritch blast the most powerful cantrip in the game and your default action in combat, though you could wait until level 5 to get it. Melee Blade can still make good use of this as a back up option.

Repelling Blast: This is somewhat party dependant. If you have a melee allies, they might not appreciate you pushing the enemies away. Ranged or caster allies would appreciate some extra distance, and clumping up enemies for fireballs or shoving them into a zone. It's generally good for you since warlocks are ranged casters. The push scales with multi-beams and has no size limit, meaning you can push a Tarasque 40' away (if they all hit). Also not that it's "can push up to", so you don't need to shove if you don't want to.

Grasp of Hadar: Pulling is not as useful as pushing. But controlling where the enemy has it's uses. Can be combined with repelling blast to push and pull someone out and back into a zone (cloud of daggers, firewall), immediately dealing damage a second time.
Lance of Lethargy: Reducing speed is similar to pushing away in most cases, but only 1/turn.

Eldritch Spear (Eldritch Blast): Most battles take place at too short of a range to make use of this, though it's great to have when needed.

Maddening Hex (level 5) You need your bonus action to cast hex, meaning this is a second turn thing, and the damage is pretty low. Could be fun with MC sorcerer and subtle.

Relentless Hex
(level 7): More bad action economy prevents this from being too useful. Particularly since you have a good ranged attack, and bladelocks are strapped for invocations anyways.

Devil's Sight: Not only do you get superior 120' darkvision, but you can use this in combination with Darkness to stay out of sight from your enemies and get advantage on attacks.

Witch Sight (level 15): Not quite true sight but still good to have. The Invisibility spells is an illusion, but most monster abilities are not.
Cloak of Flies: For melee types. Given there is no duration (except being knocked out), this is effectively a passive. And while the damage is low, it's automatic, so you just need to walk up to the enemy (and away from allies). Still ok for ranged types, if just for the skill advantage.

Beguiling Influence: Skills you are likely to use.
Eyes of the Rune Keeper: An alternative to comprehend languages.

Gift of the Depths (level 5) Useful in the right campaign, a waste in others.

Ghostly Gaze (level 7) A great scouting tool, though you probably want to switch to Vision of a Distant Realm later.
Tomb of Levistus (level 5) Losing a turn is much better than losing your life.

Mask of Many Faces (disguise self): A great way to confuse enemies. Combos with friend cantrip.
©Shoud of Shadows (invisibility): Unless you're trying to keep hex running, this will give you advantage on the first round of every battle, or let you scout so you know when to cast darkness. Not to mention out of combat utility.
Visions of Distant Realms (arcane eye, level 15): A great way to scout.

©Ascendant Step (levitate, level 9): Good for both exploration, and for avoiding melee.
Fiendish Vigor (False life): This is a huge amount of THP at level 2, but doesn't scale. Though even at high levels it can help take the sting out of a fireball. If you have time, keep casting it until you roll an 8. Can be combined with vampiric touch to heal yourself for real HP if your desperate.
©Master of Myriad Forms (alter self, level 15): An alternative to mask of many faces but takes concentration and needs clothes. As a bonus, it also comes with water breathing. Which you can keep recasting indefinitely.
©Misty Visions: Creating fake walls for you and your allies to hide behind and other tricks. Combo's with minor illusion to add sounds.

One with Shadows: Reminder that invisibility does not mean hidden. So you need to take the hide action first, and then turn invisible. That makes this good for ambushes or just being safe while you rest. Better if your DM's definition of 'move' does not include mounts or allies moving you, allowing you to be moved while invisible. Combo's with minor illusion or just a blanket to get some darkness. Upgrade to Shroud of Shadows at 15.
Beast Speech (speak with animals): Not a bad way to get some intel.
©Eldritch Sight (detect magic): Now you don't have to worry about bypassing a magic item.
Gaze of Two Minds: Hard to use well without cooperation, though a well-placed suggestion can give you some good idea of what's inside a place. Consider upgrading to visions of a distant realm at 15.

Armor of Shadows (mage armor): +1 AC over light armor isn't much.
Otherworldly Leap (jump, level 9): Jump distanes are pretty small, so even 3x isn't going to get you very far.
Whispers of the Grave (speak with the dead, level 9): Can really short cut some campaigns, less useful in others.

1/day: Most of these are just a waste of an invocation slot since you have equivalent or better spells ((hypnotic pattern) on your list already. I houserule the red ones onto the warlock list, and the other's don't expend a slot.

Trickster's Escape (7th, freedom of movement): This one officially doesn't take a spell slot. Seems WoTC agrees.
Sculptor of Flesh (7th, polymorph): Turn an ally into a mammoth for a big boost to THP. Also some good utility like turning into a bird.
Minions of Chaos (9th, conjure elemental): A strong ally to send in front. Careful not to lose concentration.

Bewitching Whispers (7th compulsion)
Dreadful Word (7th confusion)
Mire the Mind (5th slow)
Sign of Ill Omen (5th bestow curse)
Thief of Five Fates (bane)

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Elven Accuracy (half-elf): With an odd Cha score (example: 9 str, 13+1 Con, 13+1 Dex, 8 Int, 14 Wis, 15+2 Cha). Warlocks have good ways to get advantage (darkness + devils sight / shadows of moil / foresight). On top of advantage, this will add about +2.5 (including the Cha boost ) to-hit with eldritch blast, and +3.5 with great weapon master/sharpshooter. This doesn't mean all warlocks should be half-elfs, but if you are one then take this feat. If you have even Cha, it's still a pretty good feat and you should try to work it in (example: elven accuracy, +1Cha/+1Con, resilient Con). Also, take scouting spells/invocations, so you don't waste your first turn casting darkness.

Top Feats

+2 Cha: Your casting stat.
Actor: With odd Cha. Great RP option that works wonderfully with mask of many faces and friends.
Crossbow Expert: Blade with improved pact weapon. It also allows eldrich blast in melee.
Flames of Phlegethos (tiefling): If you have odd Cha and are going infernal. Useless for other pacts.
Healer: Costs a little money, but adds a lot of HP for you and the party. Worse if your DM makes healing potions readily available.
Inspiring Leader: A little less than healer, but being proactive makes it more valuable. Just note that THP won't stack with Armor of Agathys or Fiend Pact, but your meat shields will appreciate it.
Moderately Armored: +4 or +5 to AC. (not for hexblade) Its value depends on how many meat shields you have to take attacks for you.
Polearm Master: Blade only.
Resilient (Con): Warlocks have some great spells to concentrate on, even if you're just using hex.
Second Chance (halfling): With odd Cha, negating an attack each combat is nice.
Warcaster: Extra concentration is defiantly helpful, and OA with booming blade are nasty. Even an OA with disadvantage on eldritch blast is still better than a dagger attack.

Good Feats
+2 Con: For HP and concentration saves.
+2 Dex: Boost AC and let's non-hex use booming blade/greenflame blade.
Alert: Warlocks have some good control and damage options to capitalize on going first. They also can be a bit squishy if caught surprised.
Defensive Duelist: Easy enough to carry a dagger in your off hand. Though not worth it until level 8+ for a higher bonus.
Great Weapon Master: You need Blade, advantage spells (darkness + devils sight / shadows of moil / foresight), scouting (so as not to waste your first turn buffing), and polearm master for extra attacks first. Then this adds a ton of damage. Get improved pact weapon as well.
Heavy Armor Mastery: Assuming you get Heavy armor from multiclassing, this is amazing at low levels and only a bit worse than +2 Con at high level. Not worth spending 2-3 feats on.
Lucky: Slightly weak, but very versatile. If you can't choose, pick this.
Sharpshooter: You need Blade, advantage spells (darkness + devils sight / shadows of moil / foresight), scouting (so as not to waste your first turn buffing), improved pact weapon, and crossbow expertise for extra attacks first. Then this adds a ton of damage. can also be taken a little bit further with by dipping for archery style.

OK feats:
Bountiful Luck (halfling): If you have a lot of allies, with a lot of attacks (fighter), your bound to see 1's semi-regularly. Not as great if you have few allies who make few attacks.
Mobile: Good with booming blade, or just keeping away. Though darkness can often be used in its place.
Skilled: For your less combat intensive games.
Ritual Caster: Adds some utility. Tome can get more rituals though.
Spell Sniper: Big distance with eldritch blast. Firebolt (sorcerer) can be good for an alternative damage type, or you could potentially take eldritch blast this way and use your warlock cantrips for something else.

Situational options
Mage Slayer: If your DM likes mages, you can use darkness to stand next to them. Point 2 works with any damage, including eldrich blasts.
Sentinel: You can be pretty tanky, particularly with darkness.
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Some good levels to multi-class.

1: (Hexblade). Armor, Cha to-hit, 1/short rest shield, and booming blade let's you be competent (not good) in melee no matter what else you take.
2: 100% more spells, Eldritch Blast + Agonizing Blast let's you be decent at ranged attacks. Plus another invocation.
3: Darkvision + Devils Sight works for anyone making attack rolls. Plus pact boons.
5: Hypnotic Pattern and other good 3rd level spell, plus an extra invocation.
11: 50% more spells, and mass suggestion.
17: 33% more spells, and foresight/true polymorph.

There's not a compelling reason to stick with warlock past 17. Except maybe that last feat.

Barbarian: Rage prevents you from casting or concentrating on spells, but armor of agathya can be cast first and extended with resistance. Warlock can also give barbarian some out of combat utility.

Bard: Support and skills compliment warlocks damage and control, making a very well rounded character, especially for a social game. Though there's some overlap in control spells.

Cleric: Wrong stat and you can get most of the same spells from bard. 1 level for armor works.

Druid: Wrong stats and overlapping control. Go bard instead.

Fighter: Start fighter 1 for armor, defensive style, and Con saves, is a healthy choice for any warlock. Battlemaster 3 level can add some helpful stuff for blade, or fighter dipping warlock 3 for darkness+devils sight. EK 7 works nicely with booming blade and doesn't mind a few more slots to cast shield with.

Monk: Monks are pretty MAD without adding Cha, but devils sight can certainly help shadow monks, plus spells like armor of agathya's.

Paladin: Warlocks brings ranged, control, and utility, paladin bring melee, support, and defense, and hexblade can make it all Cha based. A very well rounded character.

Ranger: Stats don't mix, but short rest slots can do well with some ranger spells and invocations can supplement ranger utility. Hunter 3 can really help out if you manage a pact-bow.

Rogue: Sneak attack combo's with booming blade/green flame blade, and warlock spells (archfey's greater invisibility, mask of many faces, friends, etc...) combine nicely with rogue skills and cunning action to enabling all sorts of trickery.

Sorcerer: Quicken + darkness can ensure you get advantage without losing your first round of damage. Or if you go heavy on the sorcerer side, quicken + eldritch blast gives you cheap damage.

Wizard: Wrong stats, and you sacrifice your high-level spells. Though divination or warmagic 2 is tempting, taking utility spells and shield.
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Voice of the Chain Master is actionless, whereas the ability provided by Find Familiar requires your action. Which means that you can use your familiar to see with even in combat- especially useful if you cast Darkness on yourself and don't want to spend an innvocation on Devil's Sight, but it also means that the blinded condition and its ilk means nothing to you unless both you and your familiar suffer.


Voice of the Chain Master is actionless, whereas the ability provided by Find Familiar requires your action. Which means that you can use your familiar to see with even in combat- especially useful if you cast Darkness on yourself and don't want to spend an innvocation on Devil's Sight, but it also means that the blinded condition and its ilk means nothing to you unless both you and your familiar suffer.
It could be read that way, but it could also be read it as only modifying the distance....

Want to tweet JC and see if you can get an official ruling?


Possibly a Idiot.
I've noticed you didn't do a write up for the SCAG options. Booming Blade, Green-Flame Blade, Lighting Lure, and Sword Burst are all intended to be default cantrip options for warlocks (mostly to give Bladelocks a bone, I presume) but you don't have to waste your Tome features in picking them up, if you don't want to.
The Undying patron is some kind of pseudo-healer who can prevent the party from bleeding out or dropping below 0 hps (almost as good as raw healing imo), but lacks access to restoration abilities.

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