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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.

warlock_-_Guilherme_Sommermeyer.jpg



And when you're ready, please take the playtest survey to give us feedback!

 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey


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Faolyn

(she/her)
So I decided to make a character, an 8th-level warlock. Tomatha was raised by the fey from a young age to be their liaison to the mortal realms. While she's not a priest per se, her purpose is to perform the rituals needed to keep the gates between the Fae Realms and the Mortal World open, and to keep the faeries mollified so they don't harm humans. I cheated a bit with the Origin, reskinning Forest Gnome as "Fey Forest Dweller." I

Now, this might be an issue. With a spell point system and no requirement to cast spells at the highest possible level, I can cast six 1st-level spells or four second-level spells between rests. That's a lot more than the standard two slots per rest and it can outpace most other casters. For those of you who are more mathematically inclined, how (un)balanced is this?

Would it be better to say you get back a die roll's worth of SP at each short rest, and all of them at a long rest?

Also, since you wrote that a Pact of the Chain individual can have any tiny creature of CR 1/2 or lower as a familiar, I took a chwinga. Because they are utterly adorable and I love them.

Tomátha Balényth

Lineage: Elf
Gift: Preternatural Awareness
Origin: “Fey Forest” (Forest Gnome)
Background: Acolyte
Class: Warlock 8 (Archfey)
Str 10 (+0), Dex 14 (+1), Con 11 (+0), Int 11 (+1), Wis 18 (+4), Cha 14 (+2)
Hit Points: 43 (8d8)
Speed: 30 ft.
Skills: Arcana +4, Deception +5, History +4, Religion +6, Persuasion +5
Weapons and Armor: light armor, simple weapons
Saves: Wis +6, Cha +4
Weapons: Sling 1d4+1 bludgeoning, or 1d6+4 w/magic stone, range 30/120. Spear 1d6+1 piercing, 1d8+1 if wielded in two hands, range 20/60.

Traits
Darkvision 60 ft. (Lineage)

Languages: Common, Gnome, Elven, Sylvan

Eldritch Spasm: 1 or 2 creatures within 60 feet must make a Wis save or take 1d10 force damage. (Class)

Fey Ancestry. I have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put me to sleep. (Lineage)

Fey Presence (1/rest): As an action, I can cause each creature in a 10-foot cube centered on me to make a Wisd save or are either charmed or frightened by me (my choice) until the end of my next turn. (Archetype)

Invocations: Courts of the Outer Realms. I am familiar with fey society and politics. I have advantage on checks made to interact with them or recall lore about them. I am proficient in History. Eldritch Ingot (1/rest or until I spend 5 SP). I can use my EB against all creatures in 20-foot diameter cube originating at a point within 60 feet. Each creature in the area takes 1d10 × 3 force damage. Mire the Mind. Misty Visions (Class)

Knacks: Mirror, Mirror. I can commune with my patron via a reflective surface during a short or long rest. I can also cast augury 1/rest through a reflective surface. Portants & Portals. I can sense whenever I am within 1 mile of a portal or gateway to another plane. I have advantage on checks made to locate this portal, and gain an expertise die on any checks made to stabilize, activate, or open it. (Class)

Misty Escape (1/rest). When I take damage, I can use my reaction to turn invisible until the end of my next turn or until attack or cast a spell. and teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space I can see. (Archetype)

Ordination. I am expected to perform the rituals of the fey. In exchange, my companions and I will be provided with food, lodging, and a modest lifestyle. (Background)

Pact of the Chain: I have a chwinga as a familiar.

Prophetic Instincts. I add my Wisdom modifier to Initiative rolls, and can’t be surprised while conscious, including during my Trance. (Gift)

Small Beast Speech: I can communicate simple thoughts and ideas with Small or smaller beasts.

Trance. I don’t sleep, but must meditate for four hours. (Lineage)

Spells
Spell Save DC 15, +7 to hit with spell attacks (Wis)

Spell Points: 12. I regain all expended SP after a short or long rest.

At will: infestation, magic stone, minor illusion (Int; Origin), prestidigitation,

1/day: augury (Knack), entangle (Int; Origin; save DC 13), barksin (Int; Origin), silent image (Wis, Invoc), slow 5 SP (Wis, Invoc).

Spells Known: blink (5 SP), charm monster (6 SP), crown of madness (3 SP), dominate beast (6 SP), enemies abound (5 SP), faerie fire (2 SP), flock of familiars (3 SP), mind spike (3 SP), phantasmal force (3 SP)
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
An opposite bard mockery.

If they fail the save, the next attack on them has advantage, and this stacks until the end of your next turn.

The spasm makes it hard for them to defend themselves.
Ah. You phrased it oddly. Thanks for clearing it up.
 



Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
First glances

Stuff I like
Choosable Spellcasting Ability
Putting the utility invocations into their own slot with the knacks.
Court Invocations is a great name.
Spell point is a greatway to add complexity and keep the core idea.

Stuff I don't like
Eldritch Blast options are unbalanced.
Eldritch Blast has no non-damage control option
There is no future proofing displayed for post level 10 warlock invocations

Stuff I've rename or change
Eldritch Spasm is too Warhammery. Eldritch Jinx is better.
Add Constitution as a Spellcasting option.
Too many Eldritches. I'd go Any, Court, Great, and Dark
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Now, this might be an issue. With a spell point system and no requirement to cast spells at the highest possible level, I can cast six 1st-level spells or four second-level spells between rests. That's a lot more than the standard two slots per rest and it can outpace most other casters. For those of you who are more mathematically inclined, how (un)balanced is this?
It's certainly a buff over the O5E warlock. Having more spell options is always going to be better than having less, after all. It doesn't make them better than the other casters, though; having a larger pool of resources on a longer recharge time is generally better than a small pool of resources on a short recharge time, unless you can really abuse the amount of recharges. And it's pretty hard in 5e to take 4 or more short rests before a long rest (which is where you'd have to be before I'd say a short-rest class is definitely ahead of a long-rest class.)
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
It's certainly a buff over the O5E warlock. Having more spell options is always going to be better than having less, after all. It doesn't make them better than the other casters, though; having a larger pool of resources on a longer recharge time is generally better than a small pool of resources on a short recharge time, unless you can really abuse the amount of recharges. And it's pretty hard in 5e to take 4 or more short rests before a long rest (which is where you'd have to be before I'd say a short-rest class is definitely ahead of a long-rest class.)
No, it's not spell options, it's spell points. Spell options would be knowing more spells. This is raw casting power.

Imagine that you're limited to a logical two short rests in between long rests. At 8th level and 12 SP, I can cast the second-level (for 3 SP) mind spike 12 times in one day (each time doing 3d8 psychic damage). In o5e, I can cast it 6 times (each time doing 5d8 damage).

I mean, I do get that it's casting at the lowest level, and if you upcast everything to the max allowed it comes out about the same, but if you don't mind not upcasting you get a huge benefit. Is it too much of one?
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
No, it's not spell options, it's spell points. Spell options would be knowing more spells. This is raw casting power.

Imagine that you're limited to a logical two short rests in between long rests. At 8th level and 12 SP, I can cast the second-level (for 3 SP) mind spike 12 times in one day (each time doing 3d8 psychic damage). In o5e, I can cast it 6 times (each time doing 5d8 damage).

I mean, I do get that it's casting at the lowest level, and if you upcast everything to the max allowed it comes out about the same, but if you don't mind not upcasting you get a huge benefit. Is it too much of one?
No, it's still options. Being able to cast 6 1st level spells is an option, just like being to be able to cast 2 4th level spells is an option. An O5E warlock can do one of those options, a spell points warlock has many options. (2 4th, a 4th and 3 1st, 4 2nd, a 3rd, a 2nd, and 2 1st, etc, etc)

Believe me, I'm not confused about it. :)

Is it too much of a buff compared to an O5E warlock? Maybe. We'll have to let the surveys sort that out. My gut says probably, spell points generally allow the caster to use too many low level utility spells that really shouldn't be spammed. But it's not as bad with a caster with a smaller point of spell points, like warlock has.
 

Staffan

Legend
No, it's not spell options, it's spell points. Spell options would be knowing more spells. This is raw casting power.

Imagine that you're limited to a logical two short rests in between long rests. At 8th level and 12 SP, I can cast the second-level (for 3 SP) mind spike 12 times in one day (each time doing 3d8 psychic damage). In o5e, I can cast it 6 times (each time doing 5d8 damage).

I mean, I do get that it's casting at the lowest level, and if you upcast everything to the max allowed it comes out about the same, but if you don't mind not upcasting you get a huge benefit. Is it too much of one?
But do you, really? You also have to consider what you're doing when you're not casting Mind Spike*. For example, you could be using Eldritch Spasm for 2x(1d10+5**). That's 22 points if both saves fail, which is more than the 13.5 Mind Spike does.

Assuming the foe will succeed on their save about 1/3 of the time, Eldritch spasm will do an average of 22 * 2/3 = ~15 points, and a 2nd level Mind Spike will deal an average of 13.5 * 2/3 + (13.5/2) * 1/3 = 13.5 * 5/6 = ~11 points. So why waste time with 2nd level Mind Spikes?

The main advantage in spell points is that it lets you cast multiple lower-level spells that don't get all that much benefit out of being cast at a higher level. For example, if you can recast Hex as a 1st level spell for 2 SP if you lose concentration, and still have enough juice for a 2nd level spell and a 4th level spell instead of just the 4th level spell, that's a nice bonus.

* A spell I don't believe will be in A5e since it's from Xanathar's, but let's roll with it.
** I'm assuming you start with a 16 and boost Charisma at 4th and 8th level, and that you take Agonizing Blast.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
As I said, @Steffan, I am not that sort of mathematically inclined, so I do appreciate this, and anyone else who wants to look at the hard numbers. It just feels like I can cast a lot more than seems "fair," in comparison to the regular warlock.

(To be fair, Mind Spike does allow you to know where the target is for an hour, to the point of negating stealth and invisibility, so even with less damage it's quite useful.)
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
As I said, @Steffan, I am not that sort of mathematically inclined, so I do appreciate this, and anyone else who wants to look at the hard numbers. It just feels like I can cast a lot more than seems "fair," in comparison to the regular warlock.
It's too complicated to do anything more than just go with a general feeling on if it's fair. I mean, I think we all agree that a 4th level slot is better than a 1st level slot. But is it better than 2 1st level slots? Is it better than 3? Got me. That's why spell point systems are hard, especially putting them into a system that wasn't designed for them.
 

Tinker-TDC

Explorer
My big thing on the spell points isn't the balance of things (which should obviously be paid proper attention, of course) but that it's the Warlock who had a unique way of spellcasting before. Maybe give it to the artificer (I know LU isn't doing an artificer)/bard/cleric/druid/paladin/ranger/sorcerer/wizard who all already have identical systems! (I'd vote sorcerer since spell points and sorcery points play so well together.)
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
As I said, @Steffan, I am not that sort of mathematically inclined, so I do appreciate this, and anyone else who wants to look at the hard numbers. It just feels like I can cast a lot more than seems "fair," in comparison to the regular warlock.

(To be fair, Mind Spike does allow you to know where the target is for an hour, to the point of negating stealth and invisibility, so even with less damage it's quite useful.)
Here are the o5e spell point costs per slot level
dmg 1st-9th
1617049213114.png

phb sorc flexible casting 1st-5th
1617049262561.png

every other level goes up by 2 rather than 1 after starting with 2 at level 1 spells & at least in theory higher level spells are much better.
On the math front, this might help with some ballparking
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
My big thing on the spell points isn't the balance of things (which should obviously be paid proper attention, of course) but that it's the Warlock who had a unique way of spellcasting before. Maybe give it to the artificer (I know LU isn't doing an artificer)/bard/cleric/druid/paladin/ranger/sorcerer/wizard who all already have identical systems! (I'd vote sorcerer since spell points and sorcery points play so well together.)
It's especially weird that the sorcerer doesn't use SP exclusively. I mean, that would be annoying because the numbers would get especially high, but yeah, I could definitely go for an all-SP sorcerer. (Yes, I know that was always an option, but it was kind of a crammed into the back of the book option.)
 


Norade

Villager
Why not go fully unique with the Warlock's casting and have them make a scaling skill check based on the level of spells cast that day. This represents the struggle to pull more power from their patron than the patron wants to give. When you fail that last spell still casts, but you take xd6 damage (x is the level of the spell that caused you to fail) untyped damage and that's your casting done until you appease your master during a long rest.

This means you can be pretty free with lower-level spells as they don't raise the check very much but the bigger stuff gets risky. It also means you always have a risky ace up your sleeve unless you're truly out of juice.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
A very minor complaint:

Eldritch Spasm just seems weird, conceptually. The Wisdom save vs d10 is just fine, but making dimensional energy appear inside of someone else doesn't really scream "Warlock" for me in the way that Eldritch Blast or Scythe might.

Instead, I would suggest renaming and re-conceptualizing it as a Curse. Something that Warlocks of Legend commonly wielded. Still a Wisdom Save, Still a d10. But rename it "Eldritch Affliction" and describe it as a Curse.

I know that's what I'll be doing at my table. But it might be a nice baseline conceit.

Heck, if you wanna be really crazy with it: Make it a d8 and a Debuff. Or a d6 that afflicts the target for 3 rounds with a Wisdom save each round to end it, and the ability to stack multiple curses on the same target.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
A very minor complaint:

Eldritch Spasm just seems weird, conceptually. The Wisdom save vs d10 is just fine, but making dimensional energy appear inside of someone else doesn't really scream "Warlock" for me in the way that Eldritch Blast or Scythe might.

Instead, I would suggest renaming and re-conceptualizing it as a Curse. Something that Warlocks of Legend commonly wielded. Still a Wisdom Save, Still a d10. But rename it "Eldritch Affliction" and describe it as a Curse.

I know that's what I'll be doing at my table. But it might be a nice baseline conceit.

Heck, if you wanna be really crazy with it: Make it a d8 and a Debuff. Or a d6 that afflicts the target for 3 rounds with a Wisdom save each round to end it, and the ability to stack multiple curses on the same target.
 

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