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D&D 5E Warlocks Should Get Unique Features Combining Their Pact Boons and Subclass

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
The title pretty much says it, but I'll give an example of what I mean and the only official version of this in 5e.

Basically, IMO, warlocks should get special features from their subclass at level 3 dependent on whatever pact boon they choose. There's already an example of this in 5e, the Hexblade's Hex Warrior feature automatically applying to any weapons summoned by the Pact of the Blade feature. It's a useful feature, but is a relatively small mechanical benefit overall.

I want more of these. Preferably, there would be a feature for every subclass for every Pact Boon. These would also be fairly small mechanical bonuses, but IMO, it would help make your character's combination of these two choices feel more connected and help roleplay your Warlock's choices. (I already have brainstormed a few options already, like if an Archfey Warlock that has the Pact of the Chain has their familiar in the form of a Sprite, the saving throw against the sleep-poison would be your Warlock spell save DC instead of DC 10.)

Any thoughts on this? Any ideas for possible features for the different Warlock subclasses like this?
 

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The only problems I have with this proposal--which I support, to be clear--are that it unfortunately implies some combinatoric explosion, and that it's going to be a lot harder to balance the class as a result.

That is, we had 3 pacts and 3 patrons to start with. That means 9 unique features from day 1. Every time you add a new patron, you need to add as many features as there are existing pacts, and vice-versa. Even if we only consider the official 5e pacts and patrons thus far, that's 7 patrons and 4 pacts for a total of 28 unique features. If we add in the Star Chain pact and (say) 3 of the UA patrons just to represent the rolling "this is an idea we have, it might not happen," you're looking at 50 distinct features overall. Any time anyone wants to draft a homebrew pact, it'll need at least 7 extra patron-unique features, and any time you make a patron it needs at least 4 pact-unique features.

And as the number of these features rises, the possibility of some of them being (or becoming) garbage or overpowered rises.

Again, I don't say this because I oppose it, exactly the reverse in fact. Instead, I say it because if you want to go about this, you'll want to set down rules in advance for how potent and/or far-reaching these features are permitted to be. If we're using the Hexblade/Blade Pact interaction, this is something that can be build-defining, but which isn't necessarily a huge power boost. That is, the difference between a longsword and a greatsword is 1d8+CHA vs. 2d6+CHA, a difference of only 2.5 average damage.

The trickier part is going to be making sure that the things you introduce are reasonable, but not weak.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
The only problems I have with this proposal--which I support, to be clear--are that it unfortunately implies some combinatoric explosion, and that it's going to be a lot harder to balance the class as a result.

That is, we had 3 pacts and 3 patrons to start with. That means 9 unique features from day 1. Every time you add a new patron, you need to add as many features as there are existing pacts, and vice-versa. Even if we only consider the official 5e pacts and patrons thus far, that's 7 patrons and 4 pacts for a total of 28 unique features. If we add in the Star Chain pact and (say) 3 of the UA patrons just to represent the rolling "this is an idea we have, it might not happen," you're looking at 50 distinct features overall. Any time anyone wants to draft a homebrew pact, it'll need at least 7 extra patron-unique features, and any time you make a patron it needs at least 4 pact-unique features.

And as the number of these features rises, the possibility of some of them being (or becoming) garbage or overpowered rises.

Again, I don't say this because I oppose it, exactly the reverse in fact. Instead, I say it because if you want to go about this, you'll want to set down rules in advance for how potent and/or far-reaching these features are permitted to be. If we're using the Hexblade/Blade Pact interaction, this is something that can be build-defining, but which isn't necessarily a huge power boost. That is, the difference between a longsword and a greatsword is 1d8+CHA vs. 2d6+CHA, a difference of only 2.5 average damage.

The trickier part is going to be making sure that the things you introduce are reasonable, but not weak.
I am aware of this issue. I have my own homebrew Pact (Pact of the Helm, which gives you a magical helmet that lets you summon armor and immediately don/doff it as an action), and use the Pact of the Talisman in my campaigns and have a few homebrew Warlock subclasses, which makes there be a lot of work for implementing this. It is fairly difficult to balance, and it is a bit of creep-up in power for the Warlock class, but I feel that if the features remain relatively minor it won't be a real issue.

I didn't include the Unearthed Arcana or Undying Warlock sucbclasses, though, as the UA Warlock subclasses that haven't been officialized in any 5e book have been abandoned, and the Undying Warlock subclass is more or less invalidated by the far superior Undead Warlock subclass.
 

I am aware of this issue. I have my own homebrew Pact (Pact of the Helm, which gives you a magical helmet that lets you summon armor and immediately don/doff it as an action), and use the Pact of the Talisman in my campaigns and have a few homebrew Warlock subclasses, which makes there be a lot of work for implementing this. It is fairly difficult to balance, and it is a bit of creep-up in power for the Warlock class, but I feel that if the features remain relatively minor it won't be a real issue.

I didn't include the Unearthed Arcana or Undying Warlock sucbclasses, though, as the UA Warlock subclasses that haven't been officialized in any 5e book have been abandoned, and the Undying Warlock subclass is more or less invalidated by the far superior Undead Warlock subclass.
All fair. One useful thing IMO is that you can leverage the Invocations to make a small starting feature better if the player wishes to. E.g. your Pact of the Helm could be expanded to include a bound shield (say, half your Proficiency modifier as an AC bonus) using an Invocation. That way, you can tweak the power of any of these pact/patron interactions to start relatively mild, but allow potent thematic growth with further investment.

Another approach could be to make a uniform structure either for each pact or each patron (the former would be easier but the latter would make more sense given the Hexblade's text), so that you're trimming down the explosion and reducing the chance of undesirable interactions/comparisons. So, for example, maybe the Hexblade always gives some kind of equipment-related benefit which changes depending on pact. Blade we know; Hex/Chain could be whip-based, to reflect "monster tamer" type ideas; Hex/Tome could make using your book of secrets a combat-useful thing. Not sure what I'd do with Talisman but I'm sure there's something, perhaps bound ranged weapons instead of melee? Then do similar thematics for the others, e.g. GOO is tied with madness and fear, Infernal is fire and torment and imprisonment, Archfey is glamours and tricks and mixed blessings, etc.
 

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