Shadow Sorcerer vs Hexblade Warlock vs Grave Cleric

Burnside

Explorer
I'm working on a new character, and this is what I know about him:

He is a halfling vagrant, driven from town to town, subsisting on begging and odd jobs. One night he takes shelter for the night in a graveyard, and is forced to hide in a mausoleum when undead rise from their graves. They undead besiege the mausoleum but he is protected by something inside - either a deity, a patron, or a force or artifact from the Shadowfell/tbd nether-realm.

Looking at my options, it seems that there are several classes and sub-classes that would fit my general concept. Because I think any of these would work, I'm looking for feedback on which is the most fun to play. Also: in the three plus years I've been playing 5E, I've never seen a campaign pass level 9, so I don't really care much about tiers 3 or 4.

Shadow Sorcerer - I'm leaning towards this because I don't see them played very much at all, and the class offers a lot of leeway on where exactly the power is coming from - could be accidental Shadowfell contamination from a portal or artifact, divine intervention, or even some form of possession. Mechanically, I like the 120' darkvision (halflings usually get none) and the Strength of the Grave feature. Hound of Ill Omen seems just okay. I see chill touch as my go-to attack cantrip. My main concern is that I often see players who play sorcerers wishing they had played wizards instead. Lightfoot halflings get the +2 dex, +1 cha which seems good for this; combined with luck and hiding and having darkvision through the class and I think it's very good.

Hexblade - I would run him as a hexblade tomelock. The flavor of hexblade obviously fits my concept well as do some of the mechanics (hexblade's curse, accursed spector). I don't see this character in melee much, though, so tomelock gets him book of shadows, more cantrips, and ritual casting. He also gets medium armor, shields, and martial weapons which is nice but doesn't really fit my concept. My concern is that I often see warlock players frustrated by lack of spell slots. I think the extra cantrips and ritual spells would mitigate this, but maybe not fully. I do think I might get a bit bored eldritch blasting every round of combat.

Grave Cleric - Obviously the flavor here is an obvious fit. Spare the dying as a free, ranged, bonus action cantrip is pretty sweet at low levels. Circle of Mortality and Eyes of the Grave are very situational but the flavor is right. Path to the Grave is probably on the weaker end of Channel Divinity powers as you really have to work to set it up and even then it could end up being a dud. Sentinel at Death's Door and Potent Spellcasting are great. My main concern is that in practice this character might play like a pretty generic cleric, as opportunities to use the abilities that define the character concept might come up a little less regularly than with the other two.

Thoughts & opinions welcome - especially if you've played one of these or seen them a a table.
 
Initial thoughts:

1. Spirit Guardians would really fit this concept (but it's already a typical cleric staple)
2. Hexblade mechanically works well. The bigger problem with warlock than the slots is the spell selection - you get so few level 3, 4 and 5 spells in your list.
3. Sorcerer doesn't seem like it has the spells to fully support your theme.

I think cleric will do the best - especially if you focus on necro damage more than healing.

I think hexblade will be strong but pretty boring. Your biggest decisions in fight are nearly already known. You either will use hex or something like hypnotic pattern. Then you will eldritch blast (possibly using booming blade if they come close. In some ways that's nice because it can give you freedom to stop thinking and focus on roleplaying. Have you considered level 5 warlock / level X sorcerer - especially if you don't expect to hit level 11.
 

Esker

Hero
Hexblade 1 / Divine Soul sorcerer might be worth consideration also. "Favored by the Gods" fits with your backstory, and then you can cherry pick your spells between the cleric and sorcerer lists to fit your theme. You can still get spirit guardians, but it doesn't have to be your automatic go-to if you also pick up things like Fear/Hypnotic Pattern, etc., giving you perhaps a bit more variety (despite fewer spells known) than playing a cleric which will wind up playing like most every cleric. I'd start with sorc for CON saves, then probably pick up a level of Hexblade (for AC and a short rest refresh on Shield), and go from there. You could pick up a second lvl of Hexblade for Devil's Sight and another thematic invocation, and a third if you want rituals. If you're only expecting to go to 9th or so, you don't want to delay 3rd level spells too much, but 4th are much less exciting.
 
Hexblade 1 / Divine Soul sorcerer might be worth consideration also. "Favored by the Gods" fits with your backstory, and then you can cherry pick your spells between the cleric and sorcerer lists to fit your theme. You can still get spirit guardians, but it doesn't have to be your automatic go-to if you also pick up things like Fear/Hypnotic Pattern, etc., giving you perhaps a bit more variety (despite fewer spells known) than playing a cleric which will wind up playing like most every cleric. I'd start with sorc for CON saves, then probably pick up a level of Hexblade (for AC and a short rest refresh on Shield), and go from there. You could pick up a second lvl of Hexblade for Devil's Sight and another thematic invocation, and a third if you want rituals. If you're only expecting to go to 9th or so, you don't want to delay 3rd level spells too much, but 4th are much less exciting.
With 9th level being the max I wouldn't even delay 3rd level spells by a level. Though after 5th level I'd probably multiclass.
 
I've been playing a Human Hexblade Bladelock and we're up to 11th level. The biggest limiter to me is that it's only at this level that he has 3 spells per rest. Not very many, but I've found in play that in a 5th level slot Invisibility is gold, Eldritch smite is worthwhile as a damage nova, and the much maligned summonings of demons and infernal calling are actually quite usable. summon something disruptive and close the door or put up a wall of some kind or hide and let it take it all out on the bad guys. Not powerful enough to win a level appropriate battle but plenty to soften them up or as a distraction. and lots of fun. My guy's mantra, 'Mother always wanted me to be a paladin.' Not a great AC but with invisibility and shield available, not a huge issue usually.
 

BacchusNL

Explorer
Sounds like the story could lend itself pretty well for a Sorc/ Hexblade warlock build.

Step 1; Think up a story for a sentient artifact powerful enough to be a patron that resides within the tomb.
Step 2; Think up a sorceror background that connects the artifact with your bloodline

I think the rest should line up pretty well from there. I'm playing a Sorc-Lock myself in Storm Kings Thunder atm (lvl 7) and its very fun tbh, you have all the punch of a warlock blaster mixed with the burst and versatility of sorc metamagic. Also lots of spell slots and sorc points. If it sounds interesting and you want tips on levelling progression/ spell choices ect lmk!
 

BacchusNL

Explorer
Keep in mind that the Hexblade's ritual to change the form of his pact weapon specifies that it doesn't work on Intelligent weapons.
That's relevant for Pact of the Blade warlocks, not for Hexblades with a Tome pact. I also don't think many DM's will give out a fully powered sentient artifact out to their PC's on level one. That weapon is your boss.
 

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