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How to remove spell slot from warlocks?


Jewel of the North
Hey people,

I'm currently reworking most of the classes to fit the playstyle of my group while preparing for our next campaign in the fall.

For now, the sorcerer uses spellpoints and the wizard only scribe 1 new spells per level instead of the usual 2, and the first pick of a new spell level must be of the chosen school.

Now, I would like to create somekind of slot-less spellcaster with the warlock, offering no spells but more invocations instead.

The question: how much Invocations should I give this class if I wanted to remove the spell slots* altogether?

*Old ''cast a spell once per day'' that also require a spell slot would be changed to just ''once per day, cast X''.

** Hex and Eldritch blast become features at level 1 instead.
IMO, no amount of invocations would make up for losing spellcasting. You'd have to add New, more powerful invocations to make up for it, not just increase the number a warlock can select.

Hawk Diesel

I agree with [MENTION=6854936]Sorcerers Apprentice[/MENTION]. I actually started trying to do this myself, but it is really tough. Invocations are great, but the warlock needs more than more invocations. Also, I don't think invocations like "Cast X once per day" would be good invocations to keep, otherwise why not just keep spell slots and mystic arcanum?

I also agree that Hex and Eldritch Blast should be class features rather tan spells.

A spell slot-less warlock seems akin to a modular rogue (given invocations would make each warlock more unique or specialized) so perhaps looking at rogue mechanics and adapting them for warlocks may be a good starting point.


I tend to agree that the invocations as written do not pack the umphhh to replace both cantrip and slot loss.

So, I would be looking at giving more patron and pact powers to make up the diff - on top of a little more invocations.

But you are effectively redesigning the class power focus from scratch - so this would be a major effort with a lot of playtest and revision expected before it gets close to working. Fall? That seems very optimistic to see actual play across several tiers.

Good luck.


Jewel of the North
Thanks. Its indeed a lot of work. I thought at first that tweaking with the druid's wildshape would require a lot of work, but its nothing compared to this one.

I'll probably try with 12 or 15 invocations and remove Mystic Arcanum to add more powerful class/archetype features.

Or maybe I could remove cantrips, give Hex and Eldritch blast as features, keep the slots and replace Arcanum with something a little cooler.

Tony Vargas

A Warlock able to use hex every encounter & EB every round should be contributing pretty significantly. It won't be wildly out if whack compared to a dedicated archer, for instance.
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You might be able to get something done if you give the Warlock access to more invocations, with some key spells appearing there, and also adding a ritual spell casting component to the class which can be gated in a variety of ways to balance the lack of slots involved. He's still casting, but doing so without spell slots. It would also take some serious thought to balance not just the loss of spell slots but the generally high level of those spell slots. Keep in mind the Warlock has access to about the same spell slots worth of casting per day if he gets two shorts, just in less slots. There's a lot of class oomph to make up if you take that away.


Jewel of the North
My take for the moment (been working on it for less than an hour; gotta finish the druid first)

1: Eldritch Blast, Hex (Cha/long rest), Patron (1 new patron feature to replace Bonus Spell)
2: Invocation (2)
3: Boon
4: ASI
5: Hex (Cha/short rest)
6: Patron feature
7: Eldritch Emissary: 2 language, advantage on Cha check against Fiend, Celestial and Fey
Shadow Walk: AoO against you have disadvantage. Can hide in Dim light.
8: ASI
9: Nightmare Ritualist: Cast Commune, Contact other plane or Dream for free as ritual after a long rest (ala dream druid)
10: Patron feature
11: Unspeakable bond: As a reaction when damaged, transfer damage to a willing ally within 15'. Ally has advantage on next roll until the end of its next turn.
12: ASI
13: Perilous Bargain (1/use): Next roll is a nat 20, but Vulnerable to damage until start of next turn. 1/ Long rest.
14: Patron feature
15: Greater Hex: You can Hex as a reaction enemies that attack you.
16: ASI
17: Summon Patron (1/week Planar Ally for free)
18: Perilous Bargain (2 uses)
19: ASI
20: Patron feature

lvl 2: 2
3: 3
4: 4
5: 5
6: 5
7: 6
8: 7
9: 7
10: 8
11: 9
12: 9
13: 10
14: 11
15: 11
16: 12
17: 13
18: 13
19: 14
20: 15

New Invocations

Beshadowed Blast (Requires Eldritch Blast, Warlock level 9)
Once per turn, one creature hit by a blast is unable to see beyond 15 feet away until the start of your next turn.

Breath of Night (Requires Warlock level 5)
You can cast Fog Cloud at-will.

Brimstone Blast (Requires Eldritch Blast)
You can change the force damage from your Eldritch Blast to fire damage. If you do so, the damage increases to 2d6.

Eldritch Chain (Requires Eldritch Blast, Warlock level 7)
When you roll a critical hit with Eldritch Blast, you can deal the spell damage to another creature within 15 feet of the initial target.

Eldritch Line (Require Eldritch Blast, Warlock level 9)
As an action, a line 30 feet long and 10 feet wide blasts out from you in a direction you choose. Each creature in the line must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 2d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Eldritch Doom (Requires Eldritch Blast, Warlock level 15)
As an action, you can cast Eldritch Blast targeting all creatures in a 10 feet radius sphere within 60 feet. All creatures in the sphere must succeed at a Dexterity saving throw or take 4d10 force damage.

Flee the Scene (Requires Warlock level 7)
You can cast Mislead and Misty Step as part of the same action once per long rest without expending a spell slot.

Hellrime Blast (Requires Eldritch Blast)
Your Eldritch Blast deals cold damage instead of force damage. Once per turn, one creature hit by a blast can't take reactions until the start of its next turn.

Hideous Blow (Requires Eldritch Blast)
You can cast Eldritch Blast as a melee spell attack.

Ignore the Pyre (Requires Warlock level 7)
As an action, you can grant yourself resistance to Fire, Cold, Acid or Necrotic damage until your next rest. Once you use this feature, you can't use it again until you take a short rest.

Miasmic Cloud (Requires Warlock level 15)
You can cast Cloudkill and Stinking Cloud as part of the same action without using a spellslot. You are considered as concentrating on both of them at the same time and a failed concentration check loses both spells. You cannot use this feature again until you take a long rest.


Interesting idea. It shouldn't be too hard to make a magic fighter or a magic rogue out of the warlocks parts. If you're still getting Cha to Eldritch Blast damage, then they're already comparable to the fighter and their extra attack. If you can consistently put hex on choice targets, you're going up to 1d10+5+1d6 per tier, which is better than a Greatsword with Great Weapon Fighter.

Not a comment on your draft, because I'll have to digest it, but the 3E warlock should offer inspiration.


I am making a few assumptions about your game in order to "port" my very home brew game into a more standardized form.

If you have your players roll 4d6 dropping the lowest for their attributes, a warlock would choose a number of attributes where he would only roll 3d6. This represents a weakness of some sort and a reason to make a deal with a power. Suppose your warlock chose str, con, and dex to only roll 3d6. He would then have 3 dice to roll. Assume he rolls a 12. This gives him 12 points to spend on spells that he can at will. He might choose 4 level 1 and 2 level 4 spells, or 4 level 3 spells. Or whatever combination he decided upon.

Each spell chosen for a pact would cause a 1 squared centimeter per level of spell glowing mark to appear on his body. A first level spell would be 1 square centimeter, a second level spell 4 square centimeters, and so on.

If you desired a cost for using the power, you could give percentile chance per spell level for each use, or to be harder a cumulative chance per use.
A couple of the NPC warlocks have 4e-style transformation abilities. Instead of transforming into a lot of different things like the druid, it turns into one thing that gets stronger as the warlock levels up. There are no shortage of fiends, abberations (for the GOOlock), and maybe a yeth hound for the feylock that the forms could be based on...

I would base the damage on the barbarian (but using cha instead of strength ala the hexblade). Invocations for out of combat abilities make up for the nontransformed warlock being squishier then the non-raging barbarian (maybe make the transformation take an action).


Jewel of the North
OK, what if instead of removing the warlock spellcasting, I went with a warlock with the same spell progression and casting mechanic as other casters? I would only require to remove Arcanum and add something else.

This would:
- Remove short rest dependency on a caster
- Partially remove the paralysis that comes with few high-level spell slots (at my table, YMMV)


Jewel of the North
OK. New option: full casting warlock (based on the bard template)

1: Spellcasting, Patron
2: Invocation
3: Boon
4: ASI
5: -
6: Patron feature
7: -
8: ASI
9: Perilous Bargain (1/use): Next roll is a nat 20, but disadvantage on all rolls till fail one roll. 1/ short rest.
10: Patron feature
11: -
12: ASI
13: Unspeakable bond: as a reaction when damaged, transfer damage to a willing ally within 15'. Ally Has advantage on next roll on its turn.
14: Patron feature
15: -
16: ASI
17: -
18: Sacrificial Casting: Can pay spellslot with HP (3x slot level, max level 5), reduce current and max hp till long rest. Every use after first increase the cost per 5 hp.
19: ASI
20: Eternal Agent: need 4 failed saves to die. If you die, roll a d20. On a 10 or higher, you discorporate with 0 hit points, instead of dying, and you fall unconscious. You and your gear disappear. You appear at a spot of your choice 1d3 days later on the plane of existence where you died, with full health but 3 levels of exhaustion.
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Off the top of my head, I would take some of the warlock only spells (Agathys, Hadar, etc) and turn them into 'once per short rest' Invocations. You could do this with a lot of spells really.

Would you have these Invocations get more powerful as the warlock advanced in levels (as if casting with a higher slot)?


Jewel of the North
Off the top of my head, I would take some of the warlock only spells (Agathys, Hadar, etc) and turn them into 'once per short rest' Invocations. You could do this with a lot of spells really.

Would you have these Invocations get more powerful as the warlock advanced in levels (as if casting with a higher slot)?
That's the problem with my idea of an ''at-will'' warlock. If you start to add a bunch of invocations that add 1/sr or 1/lr spells, you just recreated a spellcaster with many different timers and you are back square one. Its even worse when you think about it: you double the number of invocations, only to have them replicate what the warlock already did with spell slots!

That's why I think its better to go all the way in the other direction: make warlocks use the same spellcasting table as the other casters.


[MENTION=6871653]vincegetorix[/MENTION] I think your original idea of removing spell slots from the warlock has merit and would be a refreshing twist on the 'caster' It just might need some fine tuning to get it 'play-ready'