Playtest (A5E) Level Up Playtest Document #14: Warlock

Welcome to the 14th Level Up playtest document. This playtest contains a candidate for the first 10 levels of the game’s warlock class.


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This really does nothing for me, really. Instead of costing a cantrip, Eldritch Blast is now a class feature and you only get one cantrip. Fine. But extra blast is featured as a level gain, when it is just the natural scaling of the cantrip. Why? Makes the level seem empty (though there are other small gains).
At the same time, the mandatory invocation to add Stat modifier to damage is not a class feature. Why? Seems inconsistent and just half thought through.
I feel the use of spell points is just there to be different, without really adding anything. The warlock's spellcasting was already different from other casters. Why not just keep that, if the only difference is spell points?

Overall, this has been the least impressive offering so far from Level Up, IMO.


Uncomfortably diegetic
Slightly deeper dive:

1) Spell points feel good, and are a meaningful buff to the class.
2) Eldritch Ray feels a little better than the other 2 choices, particularly Spasm. I saw the invocations which have the different types of Eldritch Blast, but they didn't seem to provide a lot of meaningful differentiation.
3) Moving a lot of the utility invocations to Knacks is very clever. I'd like to see a few more knacks at the cost of invocations, maybe 4 invocations, 3 knacks instead of 5/2.
4) I'm assuming that "any" invocation means that [Court] and [Eldritch] invocations are fair game? I see the difference between the types of invocations thematically, but I'm not quite sure why they need to be siloed.
5) Pacts are fine, I think. Looks like Lifedrinker moved down in level, which helps Pact of the Blade keep up in damage. I'd like to see a higher level invocation that lets me replace Eldritch Blast attacks with Pact Blade attacks, rather than just granting Extra Attack. Maybe limit to 2 Pact Blade attacks, so it isn't stepping on Fighter's turf.
6) I'm not a fan of the spell-granting invocations being long rest limited (not a fan of it in O5E either). I'd rather see them grant a spell known, OR just be a 1/long rest free casting.
7) The new invocations all look nice. I wouldn't mind seeing some more utility invocations in the vein of Misty Visions and Mask of Many Faces, at-will spells are fun.


I really like the shift in the class' flavortext writeup in how it evokes the character taking action & pushes the player to consider relevant details beyond o5e "I'm a warlock because eldritch blast".
  • I noticed in the equipment suggestions "arcane focus (grimoire)" oooOOoooOOooo clues.
  • Otherworldly Patron: The flavortext shift moving the patrons away from feeling like an office worker that takes whoever fills out the form for a warlock in o5e to something that may or may not be so clearcut or even understandable.
  • Spellpoints: I like the shift but not sure about something. in spellpoints on page 5 it says "The maximum spell level you can cast is shown in the Spell Level column of the Warlock table." but the only place I see that is in the pg5 table where it shows spell slot spellpoint costs... Does that mean a 5th level warlock with 7 spellpoints can cast a5th level burning hands & then take a short rest to do it again?
  • What level spells can they learn by level? The only place I see that suggests what level spells a warlock can pick is on page 5 where it says you could learn a first or second level spell at third level.
  • int/wis/cha: Having this flip to picking one given the lore fluff & how the archetypes spread across the spectrum feels fitting for warlocks & opens up the option of a dark bargain the gm doesn't need to completely homebrew onto non-warlock classes for casters other than charisma based ones so I like this.
  • Eldritch blast: I love having this going to a class feature scaling with character level over a cantrip scaling with character level. The eldritch ray seems objectively better than the other two like @TwoSix mentioned I was initially confused but eldritch breath/ingot/severance/etc being linked to specific choices makes the differences obvious & just "ohh... wooow...."* I can't wait to see my players whip these out"
  • Court/eldritch tag based build your class features as a concept. This is neat on a conceptual level. It feels like they will add an interesting layer of depth to warlocks and viscerally differentiate from eldritch blast turret 42 from turret 402 in play much better than the o5e grab bag that feels kinda like a rough draft of that still munchkiny homebrew the player found somewhere.
  • The pacts look pretty similar & I didn't notice anything that made me say "hmm that's new/different from o5e" but with the eldritch blast scythe I'm even more confused after reading blade pact & not seeing changes
  • [eldritch] invocations. I was going to go through & give thoughts on each eldritch/court ability but... wow.. I love these

*I actually said it when it clicked 😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈😈 I'm really impressed & feel like going feature by feature wouldn't do it justice as the focus on awesome eldritch blast & flexible class building from invocations+court/eldritch trio has a lot more depth than the o5e "pick the best ones as soon a possible" design


Minor goof: There is no indication, on the chart, as to spell level access. I assume it's as per most full spellcasting classes.

Aside from that obvious problem... To be honest, I'm feeling kind of on the fence about this one. I mean, it's not bad, but I didn't see anything that really excites me, as compared to the normal class.

I'm not sure about giving up a cantrip to get Eldritch Blast, automatically. Yes, most warlocks do that, in 5e, but it isn't normally mandatory. Now, it is. I thought Level Up was supposed to be adding choices, not taking them away...?

The spell points seem a bit off, around 5th - 6th level. Traditionally, a warlock can cast two 3rd level spells at 5th, i.e. 10 spell points. But they get only 7 at 5th and 8 at 6th - much weaker. I get that their spell points tend to be a bit lower, to make up for the versatility, but the difference is less extreme at every other level. It also makes for a sudden leap between 6th and 7th. In every way, wouldn't it make more sense to get around 8 at 5th and 9 or 10 at 6th?

In general, I'm a bit unsure about the whole spell point thing. I don't hate it, but, combined with the fact that their spells are no longer automatically boosted to the maximum for their caster level (kind of a signature feature, in stock 5e), it makes them feel a bit too much like sorcerers who just have less spell points but get them back faster. Versatility at the cost of flavor and uniqueness.

Speaking of flavor, none of this addresses something I had hoped Level Up would look at, i.e. the fact that, in stock 5e, the two-way nature of the pact is just meaningless (and often ignored) fluff, with no mechanical teeth.

So, I don't know... I hate to say it, but: meh.


Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Lots of faff in the article. Someone on the team really wants every warlock PC to be a deeply edgy edgelord from Edgetown. Do, I began reading the mechanics with somewhat low expectations for what has been one of my top 3 classes in all three editions it's been in.

That aside, lets get into it.

Eldritch Blast - Okay, fine, EB as a class feature. It may seem nitpicky, but don't rename the proper blast into something else. Make that what Eldritch Blast is, and then then let the player pick from 3 upgrades.
  • Eldritch Spear increases range, replacing Ray
  • Eldritch Scythe is fine I guess, but 100% not what I want from a melee EB
  • Eldritch Spasm is fine for Warlocks who are going down the body horror path, I guess? It's mechanically boring, though.
  • Edritch Chain could be a reach melee attack with forced movement
  • Eldritch Blade could be a single target strike. Simple. It's EB, but melee.
Pact of The Blade is redundant with Eldritch Scythe. Rather than allowing you to do what you can already do, let it instead upgrade melee attacks in some way.

Pact of The Chain is great.

Pact of The Tome is perhaps even better than it is in the PHB, since you can't choose not to have EB in this version of the Warlock. (yes, people choose not to use EB. It's a thing that happens) How good it really is will depend on invocations, of course.

Invocations... This is perhaps the weak point of the document. So many of these are unnecessarily restricted and silo'd. Scythe should just be able to be used any time you could do a melee weapon attack. There shouldn't need to be an invocation for that. At most, make that part of the pact of the blade. But making it an invocation that you can only choose at, what, a single level? Wildly over-restricted.
Thirsting Blade is incredibly bad. It's literally just worse than just using Eldritch Scythe.

Knacks are the only siloing in this class that makes sense and make the class more fun. COmpletely lose the Court and Eldritch tags on invocations, make Scythe and Blade Pact actually work together, with both being worth taking on their own, and you've got an improvement on the phb warlock.

As it is, overall, I'd rather just use the PHB warlock.

Also, the spell points are less interesting than pact magic. Include a way to regain a slot between short rests, or something, or IDK what, but ditching pact magic is a hard pass for me.

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