D&D 5E Homebrew Ideas For Warlock Recharge (+)

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, I have been wondering how close to fully at-will you could get a Warlock in 5e with variant features that hew pretty close to the original. Like, compatible with existing subclasses close. (+thread because I am not here to argue about whether this is a good goal to pursue, or anything like that. Just the ideas, please. No edition sniping, no complaining about wotc, just a positive thread about an alt take on the warlock)

So far, I've got two main ideas.

Variable Recharge Spell Slots - Something has to happen in order to get a spell slot back. Two examples are Warlock's Curse and Warp The Weave.
  • Warlock's Curse - Whenever you place a creature under any curse, such as from the Hex or Bane spells or from a class feature such as Hexblade's Curse, that creature is Cursed by you. When an enemy under your curse is reduced to 0HP or otherwise made to be incapacitated, you can regain a spell slot. (also opens up more mechanics to key off cursing enemies)
  • Murcurial Nature - When you roll initiative, you roll a d6. If it shows a 6, you regain a spell slot.
Spell Slots Are For Wizards - You don't use spell slots at all, you just have at-will abilities, and abilities that recharge along idiosyncratic lines. Hex is replaced with a feature like Warlock's Curse. You curse a target, and you have a single use of this ability, but regain the ability to do so when something happens. Maybe it's when you kill an enemy, maybe it's when you roll a natural 20, maybe it's just the above recharge roll on a d6. But it should come back fairly often, making it just shy of at-will.
Then, you have invocations, and boons. As for spells, I genuinely don't know. maybe drop most spellcasting, or otherwise use neither slots nor spell points, and use something different than the refresh mechanic of your Warlock's Curse.

How you handle spell slots and spells would definitely create some work with regard to the patrons and their bonus spells. You'd need to be able to learn some spells, basically, otherwise the existing patrons just don't work.

THis is certainly half-baked, so don't take any one element too seriously, I just want to know if anyone else has thought about any of this?
 

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My half-baked idea based off your half-baked ideas:
  • Some invocations already grant at-will spellcasting so let's add some more. Obviously, we can gate them by level, pact boon, and/or patron using the ones we already have as guidelines.
    • Remove pact magic and increase the number of invocations at each level. Make sure there is enough so that you could go no spells at all, mix it up, or a plethora of at-will spells.
  • Mystic Arcanum can still be 1/LR for those level 6+ spells. Those are probably too powerful to be at-will. If you want purely at-will then you probably have to ditch it entirely and replace with something else.
  • Let's have Hex and Curse as class abilities.
    • Hex is the class feature that adds 1d6 necrotic to damage from your attacks and uses concentration.
      • A target under the effect of Hex can be effected by standard Eldritch Blast effects like push, pull, reduce speed, extended range of EB, if you have the invocations. Agonizing Blast would be the only Hex agnostic invocation. Why? Because I wrote it out and liked the way it sounded.
    • Curse is the class feature that grants disadvantage on ability checks to one attribute and uses concentration.
      • A target under the effect of Curse can switch the normal effect for a spell effect based on patron. This is where you get to use those patron specific spells. Once the spell ends your Curse also ends and cannot be used again until you recharge it. Like dragon breath it could start as 5-6 on a d6 and maybe increases to 4-6 or 3-6 at higher levels.
This gives you potential at-will casting from invocations and more powerful spells with Curse. But you can't spam them due to recharge and requiring a cursed target. Additionally, the Curse spells would have to be spells that target one or more creatures and should be negative so that players won't curse their friends and spam positive effects.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
sort of?

I've been giving thoughts about this kind of stuff for a long time. How to balance spells and powers differently. Some disjointed ideas:

Perhaps a slot can be replenished by a ritual, and the ritual is dependent on the spell you cast. You want a slot and the last spell you cast was was greater restoration? Perhaps you need to sacrifice a ton of pure silver to got/entity X? If it's a patron spell, then the patron itself must be appeased

I'll note that in Troika! one could restore's one Luck score (a sort of "catch all" saving thrown/advantage stat that would get drain by one each time it was used - you could "run out of luck") by using a "pocket god", a small amulet of some power. These were readily available in a suitable shop and reasonably affordable.

IN dragon warriors, sorcerers had spell points and monks/mystics had a "test". If the spell was the same level as the monk (in this system, a level 7 mystic would have access to level 7 spell), the dc would be 13 on a naked d20, but it became easier if the spell was lower level than the caster. If you failed, the spell still worked, but your mental/mystical energies had been exhausted. I think a d20 always worked. Something like this could be addapted?

I've always wanted to have an alchemist class be a "consumable" class, not dependent on spell slots, but that is a pain to balance properly. Strangely enough, because in Troika! luck is universal to all characters, it's not hard to balance at all.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Spell Slots Are For Wizards - You don't use spell slots at all, you just have at-will abilities, and abilities that recharge along idiosyncratic lines. Hex is replaced with a feature like Warlock's Curse. You curse a target, and you have a single use of this ability, but regain the ability to do so when something happens. Maybe it's when you kill an enemy, maybe it's when you roll a natural 20, maybe it's just the above recharge roll on a d6. But it should come back fairly often, making it just shy of at-will.
I like this a lot. How about something like…

Warlock’s Curse
You can use a bonus action to cast the Hex spell once with this ability. When you do so, you don’t have to concentrate on it; it lasts for its full duration or until you use another bonus action to end it early. You regain the ability to cast Hex in this way when the spell ends.

This way, you basically always either have Hex active or available, but switching the hex to a new target without killing the original target has a one-round opportunity cost (since ending it and recasting it both take a bonus action, and you only get one of those per round). Having it maintainable without concentration might be a bit strong, but I figure if it’s safe for the Ranger to do with Hunter’s Mark, it’s safe for the Warlock to do with Hex. If that feels too strong, maybe remove the bit about ending it early as a bonus action and just say you regain the ability to cast it when the spell ends (and you can end it with no action by willingly dropping concentration).

Then, you have invocations, and boons. As for spells, I genuinely don't know. maybe drop most spellcasting, or otherwise use neither slots nor spell points, and use something different than the refresh mechanic of your Warlock's Curse.
I’m assuming the Invocations that let you cast a spell once per day by spending a Warlock spell slot become straight once per day? That’d be a much-needed buff to those invocations in my opinion. As for what to give in place of the Warlock spell slots, I could see just granting a few more Invocations instead. Heck, you could even make the above Warlock’s Curse ability an invocation so players who want to go a different route than Hex and Eldritch Blast spam can spend that character resource on something else.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Think I gave my players an option to replace short rest abilities with times per day equal to proficiency bonus.

Then one asked about Warlock spell slots. Hmmn.

Doubling or tripling the spellslots and making them long rest was another idea.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Rather than luck, why not make it the Warlock has to focus to regather their abilities.

Refocus (Action). The warlock regains a spell level. The warlock cannot regain spell levels in excess of their proficiency bonus.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Level Up uses spell points for warlocks, and doesn't require warlocks to always cast at the highest level. This means that, technically speaking, LU warlocks could cast a lot more low-level spells than their 5e counterparts.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I like this a lot.
Thanks!
How about something like…

Warlock’s Curse
You can use a bonus action to cast the Hex spell once with this ability. When you do so, you don’t have to concentrate on it; it lasts for its full duration or until you use another bonus action to end it early. You regain the ability to cast Hex in this way when the spell ends.
Action economy instead of resource limited. I like that.

I’m now a bit torn between this and a feature that boosts any ability which lays a curse on the target, similar to the Maddening Hex invocation.
This way, you basically always either have Hex active or available, but switching the hex to a new target without killing the original target has a one-round opportunity cost (since ending it and recasting it both take a bonus action, and you only get one of those per round). Having it maintainable without concentration might be a bit strong, but I figure if it’s safe for the Ranger to do with Hunter’s Mark, it’s safe for the Warlock to do with Hex. If that feels too strong, maybe remove the bit about ending it early as a bonus action and just say you regain the ability to cast it when the spell ends (and you can end it with no action by willingly dropping concentration).


I’m assuming the Invocations that let you cast a spell once per day by spending a Warlock spell slot become straight once per day? That’d be a much-needed buff to those invocations in my opinion.
Yeah definitely.
As for what to give in place of the Warlock spell slots, I could see just granting a few more Invocations instead.
Absolutely. And/expanding on the Boons and adding 1/day or whatever spells to them.

Way back in like 2015 I proposed a Pact of The Mantle (may have called it the cloak), which gave a new AC calculation and access to some other stuff that commonly goes into cloak type magic items.

I also proposed the Pact of The Bells, which was straight Abhorsen ripoff with new names for the bells, and had Mastery of [name of bell] invocations that gave new spells and new stats for the bells as a Spellcasting focus.

Could add stuff like that in, rebalance existing boons to match, and grant every boon at least one spell they can cast either at will or regain every time they rest or roll initiative or do some other thing.

I’ll write out my replacement pact of the blade in a spoiler to save space.

Basically, you can use Eldritch blast as a melee spell attack, and if wielding a weapon you can instead use the damage die of the weapon, and gain any benefits you normally would when attacking with a magic weapon.

This means that pretty much all EB invocations just work for the blade warlock, you don’t have to have an invocation just to gain extra attack, but you still don’t get to use the attack action as such. Now, the Hexblade is still good, as it further focuses you toward melee combat efficacy, but it isn’t needed as a patch.
I’d also possibly upgrade the chain pact to allow the familiar to attack, tbh. Either that or give the warlock a bonus to spell save DCs or some kind of extra bonus when it uses the Help Action.
Heck, you could even make the above Warlock’s Curse ability an invocation so players who want to go a different route than Hex and Eldritch Blast spam can spend that character resource on something else.
I think you could just devise the Curse to not necessitate the EB+Hex spam in the first place. Perhaps a list of the 3 Curses that do different things and make different basic strategies more effective?
Rather than luck, why not make it the Warlock has to focus to regather their abilities.

Refocus (Action). The warlock regains a spell level. The warlock cannot regain spell levels in excess of their proficiency bonus.
Maybe, yeah. I want to do basically that with monks and ki, though.

What about recharge when you finish a rest or roll initiative? I wonder if any warlock spells would be broken on that basis…
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
FWIW, I think removing spell slots from Warlocks and allowing them to focus on Eldritch Invocations and other at-will abilities would go a long way towards improving them.
I agree. I think it’d be really fun to lean into the dynamic that they are basically the rogue of the “mages”, and the idea that they do magic wrong, that there is transgression inherent to what they do.

That’s a thing I’ve struggled to showcase in my own system.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Level Up uses spell points for warlocks, and doesn't require warlocks to always cast at the highest level. This means that, technically speaking, LU warlocks could cast a lot more low-level spells than their 5e counterparts.
Yes, that is certainly true. I…strongly dislike that. In fact, the level up warlock is one of the things I dislike the most in level up. Even more than I dislike the weird “herald” stuff they did with the Paladin, and the fact they kept spells as this unique siloed thing that can’t mix with techniques or manuvers or whatever, when they could have run them all on “exertion” and allowed any gish to just smoothly mix them, and to have abilities that blur the line between them.

To me, making martial moves into “powers” like that is almost pointless if they are siloed off from the other “powers” in the system.

But anyway yeah, I really dislike the warlock in LU. I have never liked spell points in TTRPGs, and like them least in any game where a level 6 spell doesn’t just cost 6 spell points. I mean, 133 spell points at level 20!? Who on Earth wants to track 133 spell points!?

lol sorry /rant
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I agree. I think it’d be really fun to lean into the dynamic that they are basically the rogue of the “mages”, and the idea that they do magic wrong, that there is transgression inherent to what they do.

That’s a thing I’ve struggled to showcase in my own system.
I mean, I've always seen Warlocks as "cheating" the system. They don't have the academic capacity of a wizard, nor do they have the "bloodline" for sorcery so... what to do? They aren't pious enough to be a cleric or druid, buuuuuut .... because they are cheating they can get their slots back quickly, but because they don't actually "have what it takes" they can only "hold" a few slots at a time.
 

Uncanny Reservoir (level 1)
You have great power, but can only access it efficiently in small doses. With a ten-minute ritual, during which you concentrate on an activity which connects you and your Patron, you can regain all of your expended Warlock slots. This feature does not affect your Eldritch Arcana spells. You can perform this ritual a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and regain all uses when you complete a long rest. This ritual can be performed as part of taking a short rest, if you wish.

Supernatural Spring (level 11)
You can, as a bonus action, call upon your Patron to honor the pact between you. You regain any spell slots you have used, without needing the ten-minute ritual of Uncanny Reservoir. You can use this feature once, and regain use of it after you have completed a long rest.

Between these two, you get a Warlock that has bursts of power but which are finite in number and can't be directly spammed, and the once-a-day ability to go HAM on someone (or to skip over the formalities, as it were, if you get jumped or were too occupied.)

Edit: Keep in mind, I literally wrote these just now, and slapped a random appropriate-seeming level on the second. If you have balance critique, consider this a 100% spitball suggestion, not a carefully-reasoned proposed solution. I also considered adding either "this counts as one of your uses of Uncanny Reservoir" to Supernatural Spring, or adding a "if you've already used up all your uses of Uncanny Reservoir, your patron my refuse your request; roll 1d20, on a 1 your patron refuses to help" limiter. But frankly the Warlock is already on the weaker side overall, so I don't think there's any harm in a small power boost here.
 

Pauln6

Adventurer
It's controversial but I really dislike agonising blast and the fact that so many warlock invocations are tied to eldritch blast.

Could a less spammy way to do agonising blast be to say that once per round when you hit you can decide to burn more uses of eldritch blast in one more powerful blast plus your ability modifier?
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Yes, that is certainly true. I…strongly dislike that. In fact, the level up warlock is one of the things I dislike the most in level up. Even more than I dislike the weird “herald” stuff they did with the Paladin, and the fact they kept spells as this unique siloed thing that can’t mix with techniques or manuvers or whatever, when they could have run them all on “exertion” and allowed any gish to just smoothly mix them, and to have abilities that blur the line between them.

To me, making martial moves into “powers” like that is almost pointless if they are siloed off from the other “powers” in the system.

But anyway yeah, I really dislike the warlock in LU. I have never liked spell points in TTRPGs, and like them least in any game where a level 6 spell doesn’t just cost 6 spell points. I mean, 133 spell points at level 20!? Who on Earth wants to track 133 spell points!?

lol sorry /rant
Fair enough. It's a huge difference and I haven't seen it in play yet to know how annoying it will be.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I mean, I've always seen Warlocks as "cheating" the system. They don't have the academic capacity of a wizard, nor do they have the "bloodline" for sorcery so... what to do? They aren't pious enough to be a cleric or druid, buuuuuut .... because they are cheating they can get their slots back quickly, but because they don't actually "have what it takes" they can only "hold" a few slots at a time.
That works, yeah. Cheating is certainly transgressional.

I do wish the class wasn’t quite so heavily invested in the patron, though. A Warlock that has stolen power through various forbidden rituals, who uses the same power as her enemies, an Eldritch “hacker” who has learnt the math of the weave and instead of continuing to study has instead become an expert in shortcuts, are all valid warlocks, IMO.
Uncanny Reservoir (level 1)
You have great power, but can only access it efficiently in small doses. With a ten-minute ritual, during which you concentrate on an activity which connects you and your Patron, you can regain all of your expended Warlock slots. This feature does not affect your Eldritch Arcana spells. You can perform this ritual a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and regain all uses when you complete a long rest. This ritual can be performed as part of taking a short rest, if you wish.

Supernatural Spring (level 11)
You can, as a bonus action, call upon your Patron to honor the pact between you. You regain any spell slots you have used, without needing the ten-minute ritual of Uncanny Reservoir. You can use this feature once, and regain use of it after you have completed a long rest.

Between these two, you get a Warlock that has bursts of power but which are finite in number and can't be directly spammed, and the once-a-day ability to go HAM on someone (or to skip over the formalities, as it were, if you get jumped or were too occupied.)

Edit: Keep in mind, I literally wrote these just now, and slapped a random appropriate-seeming level on the second. If you have balance critique, consider this a 100% spitball suggestion, not a carefully-reasoned proposed solution. I also considered adding either "this counts as one of your uses of Uncanny Reservoir" to Supernatural Spring, or adding a "if you've already used up all your uses of Uncanny Reservoir, your patron my refuse your request; roll 1d20, on a 1 your patron refuses to help" limiter. But frankly the Warlock is already on the weaker side overall, so I don't think there's any harm in a small power boost here.
I think there something good there for the “get slots back by strange means” warlock.
It's controversial but I really dislike agonising blast and the fact that so many warlock invocations are tied to eldritch blast.

Could a less spammy way to do agonising blast be to say that once per round when you hit you can decide to burn more uses of eldritch blast in one more powerful blast plus your ability modifier?
I’m not sure that would be less spammy. I think Instead I’d look at adding the damage to any cantrip, or something like that. Perhaps something where if you use EB it’s as written, but if you use Chill Touch you can make them move half speed until they succeed on a save, which they can try 1/round as the hand continues to grasp them and sap thier strength, etc.
Fair enough. It's a huge difference and I haven't seen it in play yet to know how annoying it will be.
Yeah I also don’t like how they did Eldritch blast as a class feature, tbh. Feels half baked, to me. I’m probably overly critical though due to it being one of my favorite class concepts.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
That works, yeah. Cheating is certainly transgressional.

I do wish the class wasn’t quite so heavily invested in the patron, though. A Warlock that has stolen power through various forbidden rituals, who uses the same power as her enemies, an Eldritch “hacker” who has learnt the math of the weave and instead of continuing to study has instead become an expert in shortcuts, are all valid warlocks, IMO.

.
I have been thinking about this "polyestic" warlock, where each spell, power etc is potentially from a different patron....
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I have been thinking about this "polyestic" warlock, where each spell, power etc is potentially from a different patron....
Hell yeah. My Binder homebrew class is a bit like that. An invocation and evocation specialist in the RL Hermetic occultism sense of the terms, and a ritualist who has no actual spell power of their own but uses knowledge and ritual technology to bind and direct power nonetheless.
 


You could also do something along the lines of "if you reduce an enemy to 0 hp's using your pact weapon, attack from your familiar (pact of the chain only), or a cantrip gained from your tome of shadows, then you regain a spell slot."
 

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