Will Pact Magic survive?

To be honest, I've usually treated warlocks closer to magical rogues: you have a few neat tricks you can do at will, but more or less do the same thing every round. (Sneak attack vs eldritch blast).
I mean I consider them as simple (or as close as we have) to the two martial classes (fighter and rouge)
They aren't true spellcasters and shouldn't be considered equivalent to them.
they still get enough versatility and the flavor of being a spell caster... they are the easy caster to play.
As stated, there are just so many little headaches that exist in pact magic: your spell slots per day can be 2, 4, or 6, depending on how stingy your DM/group is with short rests.
I have never seen that as a flaw... since the spell slots to me seem to be bonus add on not needed.... INfact I ran over 2 full levels useing my cantrips and other at wills (speak with animals, the low level illusion, and mage armor) not useing my spell slots, not cause I didn't have access, but because between toll the dead for range and primal savagery for melee I didn't need much else.
The interaction with abilities that are fueled by spell slots, the fact that utility magic is wasted (for example, casting shield as a hexblade is a trap since it doesn't scale with spell level).
I have never seen a player turn a hit into a miss and complain about the cost... especially on a short rest resource.
And now that every other caster is being standardized, it just seems bad to have 7 classes all use the same magic rules and one that doesn't.
to this I agree... we need more variation though not more of the same.
Honestly, if backwards compatibility wasn't a factor,
this may be the only time that I call this back compatibility good... this is something I don't want them making less fun for me and my tables.
Eldritch blast should be a class feature
agreed
So idk, but I just hate pact magic as written. Either make warlocks casters or make them weird pseudo magical like monks, but the spell slots per short rest has got to go.
I would rather see cleric, bard, sorcerer and wizard all rewritten to have 2 scaling spell slots per short rest then see the warlock gutted
 

log in or register to remove this ad

* Yes, someone at your table picked a warlock as their first class and did great -- it's still the most complex class in the PHB by a large margin.
I'm sorry but compared to druid, cleric, wizard and bard????
this seems like a joke it is the least complex caster in the game.


I had to go back and look it up... you pick 2 cantrips and 2 1st level spells and your patron... that's it... wizard has to choose more 1st level spells then you do total options.

edit: at 2nd level you have 2 cantrips 3 1st level spells and 2 invocatons... at 1st level the wizard has to pick 6 first level spells and 3 cantrips... so if we count subclass/patron for warlock that is at level 2 8 choices, for wizard at level 1 it's 9 choices all from longer lists with more varried effects... and as you add more books to give the warlock more choices the wizard gains more still... and when the wizard goes up to level 2 it has to pick a subclass and 2 more 1st level spells to know....

edit 2 I forgot wizards prep so the wizard not only has 6 first lvel and 3 cantrips known but then preps int mosd (lets say 3) plus level spells... so at level 1 that is 4 more choices, some to be made daily, and at level 2 you get another prep spell... oh and wizards and clerics can ritual cast out the gate
 
Last edited:


Remathilis

Legend
I'm sorry but compared to druid, cleric, wizard and bard????
this seems like a joke it is the least complex caster in the game.


I had to go back and look it up... you pick 2 cantrips and 2 1st level spells and your patron... that's it... wizard has to choose more 1st level spells then you do total options.

edit: at 2nd level you have 2 cantrips 3 1st level spells and 2 invocatons... at 1st level the wizard has to pick 6 first level spells and 3 cantrips... so if we count subclass/patron for warlock that is at level 2 8 choices, for wizard at level 1 it's 9 choices all from longer lists with more varried effects... and as you add more books to give the warlock more choices the wizard gains more still... and when the wizard goes up to level 2 it has to pick a subclass and 2 more 1st level spells to know....

edit 2 I forgot wizards prep so the wizard not only has 6 first lvel and 3 cantrips known but then preps int mosd (lets say 3) plus level spells... so at level 1 that is 4 more choices, some to be made daily, and at level 2 you get another prep spell... oh and wizards and clerics can ritual cast out the gate
Warlocks are easy to play, but they are highly complicated to build. A warlock's play style is defined by their pact, their patron, their invocations and their spell selection. In theory, that should make them versatile, but in reality, there are really only two builds: eldritch blaster or hexblade. You don't have enough spells (or reliable access to them) to really do anything else. Which is why in my experience, hexblades tend to slide into paladin while blasters eventually opt for levels in sorcerer.

Which is a shame; warlocks should be akin to the other casters. There is definitely room for a spooky caster class. They should be on par with bards and druids in versatilty. But for all their seeming options, they are stuck just doing the same action over and over again. There are just a lot of choices in that class that ultimately boil down to being a melee skirmisher or ranged blaster. Almost everything else is designed to just make you less effective at those two rolls.
 

Remathilis

Legend
How the heck is it the most complex???
Because of almost all the classes, it's the one where you have to plan your character out ahead of time. You have to build into the blaster or the hexblade with the right patrons, pacts, invocations and spells. That's fine if you're an optimizer who likes to plan your character out several levels in advance, but it's brutal if you are making it up as you go. For example, if you plan to play a melee warlock, you must pick hexblade, blade pact, thirsting blade, etc or you will suck at it (and I don't mean not optimal, I mean fail at your role). A player who doesn't plan ahead can easily fall into trap options or miss key components. Like druid, it expects a certain amount of homework to play effectively, only in this case it's figuring out synergies between the major systems a warlock uses.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I'm sorry but compared to druid, cleric, wizard and bard????
When you're making any of those classes, you make a small handful of choices compared to a warlock.

In play, a warlock is less complicated ("I cast Eldritch Blast"), but when you're first making the character, especially as a newbie (see my original post)? There's a ton more choices for warlocks.

That's what I was specifically addressing.
 



I suspect it will survive because changing pact magic would be the biggest change to any of the classes. While I, and many others, may rant and rave about the changes they are making, overall the changes are probably too conservative to rethink a class that thoroughly. And if they were rethinking a class that thoroughly they probably would have introduced it in playtest by now to be able to get feedback and backpedal as necessary.

If you were to use the Spell Points variant rule and assume 2 short rests per long rests, then the points value of the warlocks spell slots comes out to about 1 level behind what a normal full caster would have.

I think the real problem with the pact magic system is that many spells don't benefit from upcasting and even most spells that benefit from upcasting don't upcast very effectively. So even if, as a matter of math, the Warlock is doing fine on slots, they often struggle to capture the full value of what they get, or if they do capture the full value it is because they focus on a handful of spells that do so, and thus sacrifice versatility.

So an alternative way to improve the Warlock would be to rewrite spells to be more upcasting friendly.
 

Shiroiken

Legend
Maybe what they could do is have the recharge mechanic of Warlock spell slots be rest-independent and more akin to a quick ritual? Like “you take 5 minutes to contact your Patron and recharge your mystical energies, recovering your spell slots. You can use this ability a number of times equal to your Proficiency bonus and all expended us are restored when you finish a long rest.”
I suspect this will be the change to the Warlock, since they are trying to make the game backwards compatible. If this was an entirely new edition, I'd assume a massive overhaul to the class instead.
 



Dausuul

Legend
When you're making any of those classes, you make a small handful of choices compared to a warlock.

In play, a warlock is less complicated ("I cast Eldritch Blast"), but when you're first making the character, especially as a newbie (see my original post)? There's a ton more choices for warlocks.

That's what I was specifically addressing.
That is true, but much of it could be fixed simply by turning the "essential picks" into core features. Agonizing Blast and eldritch blast, for example, should be hardwired into the class*. Hexblade and Thirsting Blade should be merged into Pact of the Blade. Et cetera. I will be very surprised if those things don't happen, regardless of what happens to pact magic.

As far as pact magic itself, there are two main issues. First is the high variation in short rests between tables (such that at many tables you might not even get one most days); second is the lack of scaling for many of the spells on the warlock list. The first will cease to be an issue if warlocks follow the general trend of changing short-rest abilities to "prof bonus times per day" ones. The second requires more work to add scaling options to spells, but doing so would benefit all classes and improve the game generally.

They really don't need to get rid of pact magic... which doesn't mean they won't. While I appreciate many of 1D&D's changes, they are pushing very hard on homogenizing the design. I hope this is just a stage in the evolution of the final game, and they will restore some flavor and variation once they've nailed down the core of the system.

*Assuming they want to keep eldritch blast as the single universal warlock ranged attack. Personally, I'd like to see some more variety. But EB is the safe, simple choice.
 

How does one balance around 5 minute short rests? Presumably that just makes those ability useable once per fight or at-will out of combat?
I mostly agree, but I guess if we are okay with a given ability being once per encounter and (effectively) at-will out of combat then I prefer the narrative of it being tied to short rests to the gamier "per encounter" concept.

But you highlight the basic problem with a 5 minute short rest, which is that it makes anything useful out of combat almost impossible to balance around a once per short rest limitation, which closes a lot of design space. Whether or not that is design space WotC is using or really needs is a different question. Whether they should embrace "per encounter" abilities for some of the per short rest abilities is yet another question.
 

Remathilis

Legend
As far as pact magic itself, there are two main issues. First is the high variation in short rests between tables (such that at many tables you might not even get one most days); second is the lack of scaling for many of the spells on the warlock list. The first will cease to be an issue if warlocks follow the general trend of changing short-rest abilities to "prof bonus times per day" ones. The second requires more work to add scaling options to spells, but doing so would benefit all classes and improve the game generally.

I mean, the OTHER thing that fixes both of those problems is the standard 9-level spell progression. That way, you have a fixed, higher number of spells per day without worrying about midday recharge mechanics, and you have slots of every level to cast spells that don't benefit from upcasting. It's really the Occam's Razor solution, plus it plays nicely with multi-classing and is beginner friendly. And while it is a larger change, I don't see it as any more disruptive than the changes to bards and rangers becoming prep casters or druids having fixed wild shape stat blocks.

I mean, we can create all manner of patches, exceptions and corner case mechanics to fix pact magic's multitude of problems, but the easy answer is right there.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I suspect this will be the change to the Warlock, since they are trying to make the game backwards compatible. If this was an entirely new edition, I'd assume a massive overhaul to the class instead.
I don't see that change being much bigger than the current change to spellcasting. I mean rangers get two first level spells and two cantrips and can pick their spells from the druid (er primal) list. That is a pretty large change from the 5e ranger, even factoring in Tasha's. Having also seen what they did with wild shape, holy orders and the bard spell list, I don't really feel Pact magic is incredibly sacrosanct.

I just don't know how you fix it without making it even more complicated.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
How does one balance around 5 minute short rests? Presumably that just makes those abilities useable once per fight or at-will out of combat?
The way we do it in my game is that short rests can be taken twice, but then you need a long rest to recharge them. They're also a character specific resource, one character can take a short rest without everyone else taking one.
 

Dausuul

Legend
That way, you have a fixed, higher number of spells per day without worrying about midday recharge mechanics, and you have slots of every level to cast spells that don't benefit from upcasting. It's really the Occam's Razor solution...
No, the Occam's Razor solution is to scrap the entire class. Scrap all caster classes except one, call it the magic-user, and make it serve all concepts equally. Pick your casting stat, pick your spell list, and you're good to go.

And I mean that in all seriousness. There is a very substantial cost to having so many classes -- both in needless complexity, and in concepts that can't be built. Why do we need a Wild Shape feature when we have alter self and polymorph? Why shouldn't Turn Undead and Bardic Inspiration be spells too? Why should the scholar-spellcaster be forbidden access to healing magic? Sweep away the cruft and focus all the designers' efforts on making one polished, balanced, versatile caster class that can be whatever you want it to be.

If 1D&D is indeed moving to prepared spells for everyone (gutting the sorcerer's raison d'etre, which was already on life support), the warlock is the only caster class left whose mechanics are distinct enough to justify standing on its own. Maybe that's not a good enough reason to keep it; but in that case, let's not waste designer time or page count on yet another 9-level caster with a coat of black paint.
 


Undrave

Legend
That is true, but much of it could be fixed simply by turning the "essential picks" into core features. Agonizing Blast and eldritch blast, for example, should be hardwired into the class*. Hexblade and Thirsting Blade should be merged into Pact of the Blade. Et cetera. I will be very surprised if those things don't happen, regardless of what happens to pact magic.
I think Eldritch Blast as a class feature would make sense, make it channeling your patron's raw energy and have your patron affect its damage type.

As I suggested above, rename the Warlock's spell slots to 'Eldritch Charges' and then give the Eldtrich Blast feature extra damage (or something) when used while you have Eldritch Charges left, it'd make for some fun space to explore IMO.
I mean, the OTHER thing that fixes both of those problems is the standard 9-level spell progression. That way, you have a fixed, higher number of spells per day without worrying about midday recharge mechanics, and you have slots of every level to cast spells that don't benefit from upcasting. It's really the Occam's Razor solution, plus it plays nicely with multi-classing and is beginner friendly. And while it is a larger change, I don't see it as any more disruptive than the changes to bards and rangers becoming prep casters or druids having fixed wild shape stat blocks.

I mean, we can create all manner of patches, exceptions and corner case mechanics to fix pact magic's multitude of problems, but the easy answer is right there.
You mean the BORING solution. (Also: Screw level-based multiclassing.)
 

Epic Threats

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top