D&D 5E HexLore Build

Sorry this is long. Been building a character for a 5-20 campaign and needed advice.

Current:
Autumn Eladrin Elf.

3 Lore Bard/1 Hexblade Warlock

10 Str, 14 Dex, 14 Con, 10 Int, 10 Wis, 17 Cha

Cantrips: Eldritch Blast, Mage Hand, Mind Sliver, Minor Illusion

Spells: Comprehend Language, Dissonant Whispers, Faerie Fire, Shield, Sleep, Hideous Laughter, Invisibility, Lesser Restoration.

Party comp: Alchemist Artificer, Eldritch Knight Fighter, Oath Breaker Paladin, Spores Druid, Life Cleric, Fiend Warlock, HexLoreBard (me)

Started this character with the intent of playing a really utility focused Bard, while taking a dip of Hexblade for the Medium Armor and the ability to not completely suck at melee if enemies get up close. Been using eldritch blast from afar unless we are fighting undead, in which case I’ve been using mind sliver for creatures with super low intelligence like undead and beasts for an almost guaranteed hit. It’s been working well combined with my party member’s saving throw style spells (spores druid spore damage saves, web, entangle, catapult, etc).

However I have recently decided I want to be a gish. Our party is about to finish Lost Mines and we are going to move into Dungeon of the Mad Mage, which is a 5-20 campaign. Knowing I could be playing the same character for a year or two, I wanted something I thought would be super fun. Hence, I want to build a Greatsword wielding HexBard that can cast spells but also deal damage up close. I don’t really care too much about not receiving 9th level spells. Below is what I have planned. It seems really unconventional, but after looking at all of the options I would be losing when not playing a full bard, I just couldn’t pass up being able to take the extra levels in Hexblade. Only flaw I can see is I am pushing Magical Secrets and my higher level spell slots to way later levels, but I figured with such a diverse and large party, I may be ok. Pushing 4th level spells all the way to level 12th seems kinda bad, but idk.

I have never played above 5th level so I do not know what to expect at each level. I want so badly to make this work because the idea of casting something like Shadow of Moil or Darkness or something and fey stepping around the battlefield, playing guitar and busting heads with a greatsword sounds amazingly fun. I just don’t know if I’m planning ahead well in order of what I need to to make an effective character. Pretty stuck on 5 levels of Hexblade and 15 Lore.


Level Planning

5th level:
Bard Level 4 Feat choice – Elvish Accuracy (gives a +1 to Charisma to take me to 18)

6th level:
Bard level 5 Font of inspiration - +3 proficiency bonus – 3rd level spells (Hypnotic Pattern, Tiny Hut)

7th level:
Warlock level 2 – Agonizing Blast and Eldritch Mind or Devils Sight and Eldritch Mind (swap comprehend language for Hex or something)

8th level:
Warlock level 3 – Pact of the Blade - +1 to a weapon attack, can use GreatSword, +4 Proficiency Bonus Warlock level 2 spells… Darkness)

9th level:
Warlock level 4 – ASI Charisma to 20

10th level:
Warlock level 5 – Warlock 3rd level spells (Counterspell and Spirit Shroud), Thirsting Blade invocation for Extra Attack

11th level:
Bard level 6 – Magical Secrets Fireball and Spirit Guardians

12th level:
Bard level 7 – 4th level spells

13th level:
Bard level 8 – ASI Great Weapon Master +5 Proficiency Bonus

14th level:
Bard level 9 – 5th level spells

15th level:
Bard level 10 – Magical Secrets Wall of Force and Shadow of Moil– Expertise Slight of Hand and Deception

16th level:
Bard level 11 – 6th level spells

17th level:
Bard level 12 – Feat Lucky +6 Proficiency bonus

18th level:
Bard level 13 – 7th level spells

19th level:
Bard level 14 Magical Secrets – Simulacrum and Tenser’s Transformation

20th level
Bard level 15 – 8th level spells
 

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As a general rule, it is advisable to avoid too much blending if at all possible. You're definitely going to feel the impact of delaying things on both sides here. E.g., you're still going to be casting 3rd level spells at character level 10, and won't be getting a 4th level spell until nearly twice the usual level.

Is there any reason you couldn't trim Warlock down (skipping Thirsting Blade) and instead play a Valor or Swords Bard? That is, greatswords are a relatively slim damage boost compared to various alternatives, and come at the cost of being rather low AC, especially since you will have neither sky-high Dex nor the Str (or proficiency) to wear heavy armor. For example, let's say you take Swords Bard and just two levels of Warlock. That free fighting style from Swords would go to Duelling, making your preferred choice of weapon (presumably rapier or longsword, but really any 1d8 weapon works) 1d8+2 base damage, for a total of 6.5. Your base damage with a greatsword would be...7. Unusually, you'll actually have higher minimum base damage (3 vs 2) but also lower max base damage (10 vs 12). And Swords Bard gives you the extra attack you're wanting without spending an invocation on it, letting you spend one of your two Invocations on Beguiling Whispers to make up for the lost Lore Bard skills.

Doing things this way, you skip out on three Warlock levels, allowing you to get all worthwhile Bard features (the Bard capstone is trash) by 20th level, while delaying important features (like Extra Attack and higher-level spells) as little as possible. The only things you really pay for this are 1 invocation (which was being spent on Thirsting Blade anyway, so it's not much of a loss), 1 skill proficiency, Cutting Words (which is nice, but not essential) and the 2 early Magical Secrets spells from Lore. In exchange, though, you get Blade Flourish (which will be very helpful for survivability), and eventually you can save your inspiration dice for helping others, using "free" d6 dice for Blade Flourish uses. Also! Even though you'll technically get Magical Secrets 1 level later with this Swords build, you won't actually lose any, because your Bard 15/Warlock 5 build misses out on the level 18 Magical Secrets anyway. So you'll still be able to get all those spells if you want them, it will just be very slightly delayed compared to your current plan.

I genuinely think you could pull off Sword Bard 3/Warlock 2/Sword Bard 15 and end up with something very nearly identical, and yet paying a much, much lower price tag.
 

Not getting extra attack until lvl 10 is going to really cramp your gish-style. With only 1 attack it might feel like a waste to take the Attack action, so you might find yourself sliding into the role as a standard caster rather than gish.
 

As a general rule, it is advisable to avoid too much blending if at all possible. You're definitely going to feel the impact of delaying things on both sides here. E.g., you're still going to be casting 3rd level spells at character level 10, and won't be getting a 4th level spell until nearly twice the usual level.

Is there any reason you couldn't trim Warlock down (skipping Thirsting Blade) and instead play a Valor or Swords Bard? That is, greatswords are a relatively slim damage boost compared to various alternatives, and come at the cost of being rather low AC, especially since you will have neither sky-high Dex nor the Str (or proficiency) to wear heavy armor. For example, let's say you take Swords Bard and just two levels of Warlock. That free fighting style from Swords would go to Duelling, making your preferred choice of weapon (presumably rapier or longsword, but really any 1d8 weapon works) 1d8+2 base damage, for a total of 6.5. Your base damage with a greatsword would be...7. Unusually, you'll actually have higher minimum base damage (3 vs 2) but also lower max base damage (10 vs 12). And Swords Bard gives you the extra attack you're wanting without spending an invocation on it, letting you spend one of your two Invocations on Beguiling Whispers to make up for the lost Lore Bard skills.

Doing things this way, you skip out on three Warlock levels, allowing you to get all worthwhile Bard features (the Bard capstone is trash) by 20th level, while delaying important features (like Extra Attack and higher-level spells) as little as possible. The only things you really pay for this are 1 invocation (which was being spent on Thirsting Blade anyway, so it's not much of a loss), 1 skill proficiency, Cutting Words (which is nice, but not essential) and the 2 early Magical Secrets spells from Lore. In exchange, though, you get Blade Flourish (which will be very helpful for survivability), and eventually you can save your inspiration dice for helping others, using "free" d6 dice for Blade Flourish uses. Also! Even though you'll technically get Magical Secrets 1 level later with this Swords build, you won't actually lose any, because your Bard 15/Warlock 5 build misses out on the level 18 Magical Secrets anyway. So you'll still be able to get all those spells if you want them, it will just be very slightly delayed compared to your current plan.

I genuinely think you could pull off Sword Bard 3/Warlock 2/Sword Bard 15 and end up with something very nearly identical, and yet paying a much, much lower price tag.
I’ve already been playing the character since February so I’m locked into Lore Bard and can’t switch.

I’ve read responses to my build on here and another forum and after reading them I realized I probably want to do the Hexblade thing more than the bard thing. You and others pointed out my build is far too implausible and although I wanted magical secrets, I’d rather have the melee with the rest of the warlock casting. So although I’ll be behind 3 levels I think I’m just going to go straight Hexblade from where I’m at, ending at 3Bard/17Warlock.

I don’t feel the 3 levels will be that wasted considering I’ll have 4 level one slots to protect myself with shield and by the endgame 5 cutting words per long rest for more protection, not to mention I can feystep out if things get really rough.

Still fits my character’s backstory as a musician that makes a deal with a cursed guitar for power and incredible musical talent. He will just be corrupted more and more over time as he uses the guitar’s magic to power his savagery in battle rather than musical prowess.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
You would have been far better as a college of sword bard - it has a few weaknesses, and one level of hexblade "fixes" it. I'm not sure a lore bard gish is really a functional build - multiclassing has a heavy cost (moreso than initially apparent), and badly paired classes is one of the few way to really mess up your character in 5e.

I see 2 ways forward:

1: Talk to your DM about switching to college of sword - the influence of the patron has "warped" the PC a bit, transforming it - having a patron is a big deal!

2: "reflavor" the gish concept a bit. So take either one level of hexblade and a feat to get an invocation, or 2 levels of hexblade (for the invocations and the 2nd spell slot). Then use eldrich blast, which can be described as your sword magically extending and hitting people at a distance.
 


I usually allow subclass respecs if the narrative supports it.
For myself, I'd also allow a respec if the current character just isn't doing what it's supposed to so long as the goal wasn't munchkinry in the first place. That can mean a build issue or just not being able to capture the flavor you wanted, or even the occasional situation where the character in-play unfolded as a different person than you initially planned. (ie my devotion paladin is really acting more like an ancients paladin)

Since this isn't a power build either way, I'd probably let OP respec to a cleaner version based on swords bard.
 

Each character class involves the choice of a subclass at 1st, 2nd, or 3rd level. A subclass represents an area of specialization and offers different class features as you level up. With your DM’s approval, you can change your subclass when you would normally gain a new subclass feature. If you decide to make this change, choose another subclass that belongs to your class and replace all your old subclass features with the features of the new subclass that are for your new level and lower.
-Tasha's​
 

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