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5E Should the Hexblade Patron be Banned?

Should the Hexblade Patron be Banned?


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    140
  • Poll closed .

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NotAYakk

Legend
So, because I like spewing rules, here are some.

Greater Hex:
Starting at level 1, Warlock can cast a Greater Hex on a creature without expending a spell slot. Before you transfer it to a 2nd target it does not require concentration and the damage hex deals is increased by your proficiency bonus. A Warlock can do this once before completing a long or short rest.

Eldritch Blast: This cantrip now does 1d10 damage, increasing to 2d10 at level 5, 3d10 at level 11 and 4d10 at level 17. (yes, one attack. But see below.)

Agonizing Blast: Gone. Replaced with a new class feature:

Eldritch Agony: Starting at level 2, you can add your Charisma damage whenever you hit a creature with a spell attack that comes from a cantrip.

Pact Boon: All 3 are made more substantial before invocations.

Pact of the Chain: You can expend a bonus action to order your familiar to attack with its reaction. Your familiar gains 3 HP for every warlock class level, and gets a bonus to its attack, damage rolls, AC and Saves equal to your proficiency bonus.

Pact of of the Tome: You gain all spells from your patron's expanded spell list as extra spells known. Once per day you can cast a warlock spell from your spell list of 5th level or below while holding and reading from your tome of secrets as if you had cast it using a spell slot of half your level (round down, no higher than 9).

Pact of the Blade: When you would make an ranged spell attack while holding your Pact Weapon, you can instead make a melee spell attack. If you do so you may add 1/2 of your strength modifier (round up) to the damage; if your Pact Weapon is a finesse weapon, you can instead add 1/2 of your dexterity modifier (round up). This counts as hitting a creature with your pact weapon for the purpose of invocations.

Eldritch Conduit: Starting at level 5, when a warlock makes a spell attack from a cantip as an action, they can instead make multiple spell attacks. Split the dice from the cantrip; at least 1 die must be assigned to each attack. The attacks can be on one creature or multiple. If they instead cast a cantrip that targets a single creature and requires a save, they can add new targets to the cantrip. Again, split the dice; each target must be assigned at least 1 die. In this case, you cannot target the same creature more than once.

Hexblade's Curse: No longer adds your proficiency modifier to damage.

Hex Warrior: The weapon you touch gains a bonus to damage rolls in your hand equal to 1/2 of your charisma bonus, round up. If the weapon was not magical, it gains a bonus to attack rolls equal to 1/2 of your charisma bonus, round up; if it was magical, it gains a +1 bonus to attack rolls.

Master of Hexes: Hexblades starting at 14th level they can transfer both Greater Hex and Hexblade's Curse to a new creature they can see within 30' whenever the old target dies. For Greater Hex, this only applies to the first minute of its use. In addition, during the first minute of hits use, Greater Hex always deals the proficiency bonus damage and does not require concentration, regardless of it being on the first target or not.

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The goal here is a few fold.

1) The Pact Boons give you a substantial meaty ability from the get go. Chain gets a combat-capable familiar, Tome gets an extra spell slot per day (from the entire Warlock spell list) and an expanded spell list, Blade gets the ability effectively attack in melee.

2) I let the Warlock do the "split beams" thing with any attack cantrip, but you have to have 5 warlock levels to do it. I also granted the +cha to damage for free at level 2, instead of an invocation tax. Warlocks are balanced presuming they take it honestly, I'd rather not have a trap.

3) I moved the +proficiency to hit from Hexblade to a baseline feature. This opens up non-Hexblade dips yes, but it also weakens Hexblade's curse.

4) Hex Warrior no longer lets you completely dump Str/Dex. It does, however, give you competence.

So a fiend pact can use fire bolt instead of EB.

---

Dips are still strong, but no longer make your str/dex irrelevant. A 5 level Warlock dip lets you split cantrip attacks to your heart's content; instead of a 2 level dip.

At melee range, Warlock cantrip damage outpaces ranged damage with pact of the blade. So being in melee range no longer feels pointless.
 
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From what I recall, the Hexblade patron is one of the Subclasses that can be affiliated with The Raven Queen, instead of it being Blackrazor or the Cursed Masamune sword or whatever Curse Item the Hexblade flavors itself to be in its description. Even though the Blackrazor connection implies that it was something created by the Raven Queen. Hence how you can do the Shadowfell affiliation if need be.

There's actually a number of what I like to call Shadar-Kai subclasses since they seem like a number of them could make sense for being affiliated with The Raven Queen
 

Azuresun

Explorer
Optimization is quite fun for many people. If my player is having fun, and not making things uncomfortable for anyone else, I'm going to let her do it. As a bonus prize, most optimization can make sense for the character.

Agreed, with the proviso that "anyone else" includes the DM. And fluffwise, Warlock dips probably make the least sense of any class--"I made a fell and terrible bargain for power with an otherworldly entity, but then I got bored of it and decided to become a holy warrior or suddenly realise I actually had innate magical powers all along--but my patron doesn't mind any of that and still gives me power."

(And I know someone's about to post how their player totally has an elaborate backstory to justify their Sorpalahexadin, but I think we all kind of know the primary reason they went for that exact combo and why it keeps coming up over and over. ;) )
 

The only real issue with it is the 1 level dip problem, and that's an issue for many classes. Even then, looking at the other classes that focus on Cha: Bard, Sorcerer, and Paladin to a lesser extent, only certain builds would even want to do so. Melee based bards might want to do so in order to reduce dependency on Dex. Same with the Paladin for Str (or Dex). I've played a melee based Sorcerer, and found that even if you get armor... you're still very, very squishy.

As for the "everyone will play hexblade," yes it is one of the most popular patrons. So what? People play what they want to play, and if I ever played a warlock (I generally dislike the class overall), I'd probably play Archfey or Celestial.
 

Dausuul

Legend
I don't think 5 levels can be considered a "dip" any more. :)
Agreed, with the proviso that "anyone else" includes the DM. And fluffwise, Warlock dips probably make the least sense of any class--"I made a fell and terrible bargain for power with an otherworldly entity, but then I got bored of it and decided to become a holy warrior or suddenly realise I actually had innate magical powers all along--but my patron doesn't mind any of that and still gives me power."
Why would your patron object? Warlocks aren't clerics. As long as you hold up your end of the bargain, there's no reason your patron should care if you also get power elsewhere. That's less power the patron has to grant you, and you still pay full price.

Dipping warlock means you are cutting a deal with some dangerous entity as a shortcut to power. It's baked into the flavor of the class.

Now, if your main class is cleric or paladin, you have some explaining to do about why your god is cool with this arrangement. But your patron is highly unlikely to care.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Like @Li Shenron said, the biggest problem with the Hexblade is multiclassing. So if you ignore that optional rule, you will "fix" the Hexblade (and several other problems.)

Or you can try to fix multiclassing.

The easiest fix I can think of would be to rule that all classes must be within 1 level of each other, which eliminates the "level dip" problem that some folks mentioned above. You have to decide whether or not you are going to multiclass before you reach 3rd level, and you have to spread your level-ups out among the classes you choose.

Another fix would be to rule that character classes with the Spellcasting feature cannot multiclass with other classes that have the Spellcasting feature. This doesn't stop the "level dip" phenomenon, but it does curb the cherry-picking of spells.

Or, if you feel that is too harsh: you could rule that if you already have the Spellcasting feature, you cannot gain the Spellcasting feature again from another class. Your sorcerer can take levels of druid, but she will always only ever know sorcerer spells, and will only gain more spell slots when she takes levels of sorcerer. She still benefits from the better equipment, wild shape, and other abilities of the druid class.

There are other fixes out there, of varying levels of complexity. But these are the ones I would use if I wanted to allow multiclassing, while avoiding some balance issues of the Hexblade.
 
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Iry

Hero
Agreed, with the proviso that "anyone else" includes the DM.
I definitely agree that the DM should also be having fun. Of course, the reason why anyone is not having fun can have different impacts on everyone else. I've seen everything from "I don't know, it just feels off" to "it doesn't fit in my setting" to "she trivializes my encounters" to "he keeps hitting on my girlfriend" to "this will teach him a lesson" to "that's a satanic class" to "I don't let black people play warlocks. It promotes an offensive stereotype."

I silently judge each of those answers differently. :unsure:
 

Gadget

Adventurer
Well, as far as 'banning' or 'nerfing' I'm not sure, but I will say that at many tables, Hexblade makes the other patrons seem somewhat second class, and that's the problem I have with it. Due to WOTC's aversion to patching, Hexblade seems to be a clear upgrade pointed at the blade pact boon that in the process works very well with the other pact boons to boot; especially when you throw multi-classing into the mix. A level dip into Hexblade can be very tempting.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
I don’t really like the Hexblade, it’s a kludgy attempt to fix the pact of the blade with no clear narrative element that ends up being more beneficial to warlock's with non-blade pacts anyway. But I don’t think it should be banned.
 

Immoralkickass

Explorer
I once played in a party where almost everyone had a level or two in warlock. I myself played one, but stayed single class all the way to level 13.

The easy fix is to move Hex Warrior to Pact of the Blade. And also make Eldritch Blast a class feature that scales with warlock levels.
 

I think Hexblade has a pretty clear narrative. It's Elric of Melniboné, Arthas Menethil, Minsc and Lilarcor. The main issue is that Pact of the Blade was already supposed to be those things. But it wasn't, not really, since Pact of the Blade has no specific narrative about cursed sentient weapons.

That said, Hex Warrior should definitely be moved to Pact of the Blade.
 

I once played in a party where almost everyone had a level or two in warlock. I myself played one, but stayed single class all the way to level 13.

The easy fix is to move Hex Warrior to Pact of the Blade. And also make Eldritch Blast a class feature that scales with warlock levels.
Don´t allow pact magic slots to fuel smites. The multiclass rules can be read in that way. The cross usage is explicitely stated for casting spells, not more. That alone makes the dip a loss less attractive.
Hex warrior on its own is not too great. Even for a paladin, having less than 15 Str makes him slow as hell in plate armor, so the most you get out of it is a +3 bonus later on. If you consider, that hex warrior does not work with two handed weapons without pact of the blade, GWM can´t be used with it. So you need 3 levels instead of 1 anyway. Also eldritch blast is not that great without agonizing blast and the Hex spell! At that point, we are speaking about level 7 when you first notice the benefit when you get your aura. At level 8 you lost a feat, so the difference is lower again. At level 9 both can use great weapons, but the hexadin still has no GWM and also no level 3 spells. Then, finally at level 10, if you took another level of warlock, you finally have GWM, at the cost of level 3 spells and higher paladin level abilities. At level 11 the single class paladin gets improved smites. At that point, The hexadin is better served raising warlock to 5, getting another invocation and level 3 spells, where Paladin and warlock levels are balanced.

At that point, you can ask yourself, what character is stronger. I guess, if you pick smite spells (which are quite undervalued), I guess Hexadin will be about as strong as the straight up paladin, but not more. Most probably there are levels, where one is slightly ahead and levels where it is the other way round.
 

Dragonsbane777

Explorer
Hex Warrior gets to dump Strength and Dexterity and use Charisma to attack. This is a really good thing for the Hexblade, but I didn’t one level dip.

If you don't allow 1 level dips this problem along with many others go away. Personally, I have a requirement of trying to aquire 5 levels minimum in any class you take, and you must go up evenly or catch up fully.

I do give feat/ab increase at total levels, same with channel divinity and extra attacks, so the even level requirement isn't as big a deal, but long ago I got rid of min/max dips and their absurd RP reasons that would follow.

I have a hexblade in my current group, hexblade/paladin in fact lol. He is Pal1/Hex2 so next level must be pally.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Supporter
And I know someone's about to post how their player totally has an elaborate backstory to justify their Sorpalahexadin, but I think we all kind of know the primary reason they went for that exact combo and why it keeps coming up over and over. ;)
That's because there's nothing wrong with making a choice for mechanical reasons and then creating a narrative to justify it.

Hell, I'd argue people that do that are overall better players because they're engaging with both the mechanical layer AND narrative layer of the game. (I know I'm throwing out red meat for people to fight me. :) )
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The fifth reason is that it isn't a very good pact of the blade patch. A non-multiclasses hexblade is still probably better off with a non-pact-of-the-blade pact! Hexblade's curse works better with EB than it does with a blade, because EB scales to 4 taps.

The fact that the Tome Hexblade with EB+AG works better than a hexblade using a weapon bothers me a fair bit. If you want to go weapon-based single class hexblade (with blade pact and all that), you end up pouring all your warlock resources (spells, invocations etc) into it and you loose a lot of the versatility of the warlock class. (it annoys me so much I started a thread about it: 5E - Single class Hexblade - missing something? )
 

Hexblade is a fix to the Pact of the Blade - and there is a definite place for it. Pact of the blade is awesome ... in theory, but doesn't work in practice. (If I want melee from a warlock I start with Pact of the Tome and start raiding swordmage cantrips; the best combo I've found is shileighleigh, Green-flame blade, and the Celestial Pact).

If you took the "Use charisma on melee attacks" off the Hexblade and gave it to the Pact of the Blade then IMO Hexblade would be fine. Pact of the Blade then needs to get Thirsting Blade (two attacks with Pact Weapon) at level 5 for free rather than burning an invocation to be in the game you've already burned your pact to be in.

The only real problem with hexblade (other than blandness - and some bland options to build on are good) is single level dips using optional multiclassing rules. It's a little OP as an attempted fix for the Pact of the Blade not doing what it's supposed to.
 

Iry

Hero
Hell, I'd argue people that do that are overall better players because they're engaging with both the mechanical layer AND narrative layer of the game. (I know I'm throwing out red meat for people to fight me. :) )
No fight here. I can make a compelling narrative out of almost anything (probably because I DM most of the time). So what's left? Compelling mechanics! That's coincidentally a positive thing, since I'm a powergamer who love optimizing my characters for the sheer enjoyment of it. It's like building a toy out of legos, and also getting to zoom around in it with childish glee.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Optimization is quite fun for many people. If my player is having fun, and not making things uncomfortable for anyone else, I'm going to let her do it. As a bonus prize, most optimization can make sense for the character.

Well..... I don't want to tell people how to have fun. And the character creation minigame can be enjoyable! But there are people more interested in character builds than actually playing the game.

It's a bit like a photographer who's more interested in cameras than photography. It happens btw. For them, the photo is just a way to show off/prove that their camera is ze awesome, instead of focusing on creating great imagery.

So if we come back to tabletop RPG, what can happen is that the player is more invested in testing/proving their awesome PC build than actually playing the game. This can be problematic and even disruptive. If the PC is optimized for one thing (say archery), they will try steer the game towards situations where they can use their archery, and be upset, or disengage, when the game is not suitable to demonstrate their cool super-archer (or whatever their build is built for). The player may feel uninterested in the story/events. They may get bored of their PC quickly - they have "proven" that their build works (or failed) and now they want to try something else.

5e offers a decent amount of character options, but far less than 3.5 or PF1. I see this as a feature, not a bug.
 


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