D&D 5E The warlock is a "better" wizard than a wizard


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cbwjm

Legend
If I was to play a Basic 5e with only the 4 core classes, this is exactly how I'd create the ''wizard''.

That and having the cleric choose their domain which only affect their extra spell lists and their special Channel Divinity. The archetypes would be HOW you ''cleric'': warpriest, exorcist, miracle worker, spirit talker etc

So you could be a warpriest of the nature domain, or an exorcist with the forge domain, whatever!
Oh damn, I'm not the only one! I alternate between working on a new cleric and a fighter/mage class.

For the cleric, I have archetypes like crusader, mystic, avenger, invoker, shaman. The domains grant the following abilities: bonus spells from level 1, channel divinity at level 2, a blessing at level 10, and a greater bonus at level 20 (I don't like the divine intervention ability part of the cleric either).
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
The three extra cantrips from any spell list can offset that quite a bit. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, though.
Honestly, if I were doing warlocks as the only (arcane) spellcasters in a setting, I'd give them more cantrips to begin with, and let them pick cantrips from any spell list.

I might also be tempted to say that warlocks get three slots at 5th level, four at 11th level, and five at 17th level.
 

TheSword

Legend
The three extra cantrips from any spell list can offset that quite a bit. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea, though.
Cantrips are certainly ok, and better than firing a crossbow but at 5th level if I’m falling back on a cantrip as my most common spells once you get past 4th level then I think the class can’t really call itself anything more than wizard-like.

If your warlock is casting a spell before combat then they are down to 1 spell. If they want to keep something in the bag like an escape spell they’re down to 1 spell. Worse if a short rest can happen once every 2 fights or so.

There are plenty of easy ways of getting cantrips. I’m not sure why you’d stay longer than 3rd level in the warlock class. It reminds me of the old Birthright magician which was a kind of poor mans wizard intended more as an NPC.

It feels like this thread is an attack on wizards for being “no flavor” @EzekielRaiden which seems like a very nebulous dig. Not to mention something I think a lot of people would disagree with. A wizard is researching continuously, they are a Int based caster with a book of spells and they write more out as they get more experienced.

Rather than saying how great a warlock is, most of the arguments seem to be that wizards are too powerful, Warlocks are less effective which is better… followed up with lots of suggestions for how a warlock could be made more powerful. 🙄
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
It's not just the quantity of the cantrips, but the variety as well: the pact of the tome will let you choose three cantrips from any spellcaster's list. Depending on your playstyle, that can be a big deal. (Not every cantrip needs to be a weapon, after all.)
In fact, with Eldritch Blast dealing one of the least resisted damage types and having lots of avenues for enhancement, I would argue it’s usually better not to take attack cantrips with those other slots. 90% of the time EB will be the only attack cantrip you need, may as well get some good utility out of the rest.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
The modern day magician is best seen in Harry Potter and the MCU. In the MCU especially you have mages who have a constant stream of low-level magic and can sometimes really amplify their efforts to cast something particularly powerful.

Gandalf is cool, and Merlin is cool too, but neither one has ever been a model or any spellcaster in D&D. So if D&D wants to emulate mainstream popfiction, the best example is MCU right now, since its hit critical mass, is including a lot more magic in its recent shows, and its next phase is movies is dealing with a lot of magic.

All this to say, the best class that represents this idea is the Warlock. A Warlock could be the MCU version of the Scarlet Witch or Loki pretty easily if you take a step back in terms of abstraction.

So, I agree. The wizard takes up too much magical space anyway. I for one think don't have wizards at my tables anymore, because it was really naughty word with my worldbuilding and my views on magic.

MCU?

Ah. Marvel Comics Universe.
 

Pauln6

Adventurer
Quite true. Though we need to respect that Invocations are few and precious, your right that if your truly going for the "warlock as wizard" this is a way to do it.
I think Tome Warlock needs some invocations to slightly expand spells known, maybe like Bard magical secrets or possibly an expanded patron related list e.g. you learn three additional spells which you may choose from your Patron list or the following spells.... Or maybe give them a choice of two spells for their mystic arcana.
 


Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
Personally... I'd like to see a massive new list of cantrips created that cover a gamut of functions. Not just the occasional small illusion or "This person becomes my friend for one round" but stuff like Leomund's secret pocket to store small things in, limited area denial of movement or battlefield control, and things of that nature.

Make Warlock cantrips more flexible than a wizard or cleric or druid or bard's and give them a bunch that become the class's unique flavor of bread and butter.

Lots of little effects, a few big ones per short rest, plus invocations? They'd be pretty cool.
 

Personally... I'd like to see a massive new list of cantrips created that cover a gamut of functions. Not just the occasional small illusion or "This person becomes my friend for one round" but stuff like Leomund's secret pocket to store small things in, limited area denial of movement or battlefield control, and things of that nature.

Make Warlock cantrips more flexible than a wizard or cleric or druid or bard's and give them a bunch that become the class's unique flavor of bread and butter.

Lots of little effects, a few big ones per short rest, plus invocations? They'd be pretty cool.
I could see it. A bag of tricks, rather than magic artillery. You have a few powerful tricks, but you mostly use your ol' reliables.
 

I played a Warlock to 20th level, Pact of the Chain, in an infernal campaign and it was a lot of fun. This was way before any of the new books were released too, so I was limited to the PHB for spells and invocations. I chose invocation spells I could cast at will or repeatedly, and lots of Save or Suck spells. It was like being a Wizard, which was kindof my plan: to be a summoner. We had to change my Patron Spell List a little bit but it worked great. I'd cast Wizard spells, summon creatures, and be a general nuisance. With the new supplements you can easily emulate a Wizard.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Cantrips are certainly ok, and better than firing a crossbow but at 5th level if I’m falling back on a cantrip as my most common spells once you get past 4th level then I think the class can’t really call itself anything more than wizard-like.

If your warlock is casting a spell before combat then they are down to 1 spell. If they want to keep something in the bag like an escape spell they’re down to 1 spell. Worse if a short rest can happen once every 2 fights or so.

There are plenty of easy ways of getting cantrips. I’m not sure why you’d stay longer than 3rd level in the warlock class. It reminds me of the old Birthright magician which was a kind of poor mans wizard intended more as an NPC.

It feels like this thread is an attack on wizards for being “no flavor” @EzekielRaiden which seems like a very nebulous dig. Not to mention something I think a lot of people would disagree with. A wizard is researching continuously, they are a Int based caster with a book of spells and they write more out as they get more experienced.

Rather than saying how great a warlock is, most of the arguments seem to be that wizards are too powerful, Warlocks are less effective which is better… followed up with lots of suggestions for how a warlock could be made more powerful. 🙄
About casting spells and the limited number of slots:

1: It certainly makes using those slots more of an interesting choice. As a wizard (... or any full spell caster really) the only slots you really worry about are your highest level ones. Do I cast fly? I might need dispel magic later... buuut the same wizard won't really worry about casting a 2nd level spell if it's needed. As a warlock, you have this tension all the time. So you will resort to guile and "tricks" if you can.

2: This limit not only makes it more interesting (although it could be more frustrating) but it also reflects how mages in several fantasy settings preserve their magic carefully (look how rarely Gandalf used a powerful spell), and in a number of games too, where casting has a cost/risk. Apart from D&D, what other tabletop fantasy RPG have you played?

About: "Not sure why to stay in the warlock class for more than 3 levels"

Well if the path of wizardry is not available (more on that), it makes a lot of sense - how are you going to get those high level slots otherwise?
Why would the path of wizardry not be available? Well, 2 reasons. 1: you could be in a game where the GM liked my thread so much that the class isn't available. 2: If your character could take another path to magical power, why on earth would they have made a pact with some entity?

I agree with you that wizards do have flavor, and I also agree that making warlocks more powerful isn't the goal.
 


Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Hello

Now before we start, I should state that I don't mean that the warlock is better at being a wizard than the wizard. At the very birth of D&D there were only 2 classes - the fighting man and the magic user. As more and more magic using classes appeared, even today the wizard remains the best D&D magic user, no doubt about it.

However, I'm starting to feel that from a narrative and balance, the warlock - specifically the tome warlock - is a better depiction of a generic "fantasy mage" (which is not the same as a D&D wizard!).

I came to this realization watching the Dungeon Dudes 's game on youtube. In their current campaign, their party mage is a warlock (GOO, tome). This warlock is from a family of wizards, he joined the academy etc and... sucked. He just didn't have the talent, at all. So his parents made some arrangements for him to find a certain ancient text and ... voila, he's now a "mage!". (this is background stuff, not in the actual campaign).

Because of this, the character is really trying his hardest to "be a wizard", but his toolset is limited. Only a few slots available at any given time. A lot of "shenanigans" to compensate. BUT he's still an effective mage, which some really clutch moments.

And I realized, watching him, that apart from the numerous reference to his patron (Bruce, who looks like a cat), a Tome Warlock is much more like a generic fantasy wizard, or how a wizard is in several other games. They can't fix every problem with a spell (because they don't know that many), the tome aspect makes them "bookish" a bit, they have to rely on wits, guile and luck to fix other problems etc... not at all like the swiss army knife, spell for any situation wizard. This makes them more balanced too! The only change you might need is changing the main stat from cha to int and perhaps tweak the skill selection a bit...

Am I on to something? does this make any sense?
I don't agree with your premise but I did want to mention that I've long thought the Warlock should be intelligence based rather than charisma based. There are far too many charisma casters in this game, and you know the folks clever enough to gain power from an otherworldly being are likely to be the smarties in the room but not necessarily the charmers.
 

All this to say, the best class that represents this idea is the Warlock. A Warlock could be the MCU version of the Scarlet Witch or Loki pretty easily if you take a step back in terms of abstraction.
I felt the Scarlet witch, especially in her own tv show, would be best represented by a sorcerer. Loads of power that she doesn’t fully understand, and a foil…

who has greater variety in magic and a greater knowledge of it, and therefore can get more out of the magic they do know.

It’s a shame that this distinction isn’t really reflected in the mechanics of the two classes.
 

Yes, there certainly are.

But the "better" wizard comment is not only about some fantasy archetypes, it's also about game balance. The wizards are astounding problem solvers as they go up in level, and this feature is not universal in all games. In multiple systems I've played in, the spellcasters don't have this wide array of magical tricks at their command. Either their magic is themed (fire magic - fire doesn't fix everything!) or simply limited - a "good" mage might know 5-6 spells.
To me, this is the problem with the wizard chassis. On the one hand, it is the best chassis for a focused spellcaster because its spell list is so broad and it could do everything (except heal) with only moderate refluffing.

On the other hand, the class itself draws its power from its versatility and its ability to cast more (and different) spells over the day than any other class. If you include rituals that are cast over a typical adventuring day, a 7th level wizard could easily cast 14 different spells in a day, which undermines the “focussed spellcaster” concept.
 

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