The Dungeons & Dragons warlock is usually your classic Lovecraft character. They have begun to be intertwined with a being not from this plane. Now they are plagued by feverish dreams, have strange powers they never knew they had, and maybe even a voice in their head telling them what to do. The class is rich in flavor, to say the least, leaving a lot of variability and role-play before you even create your character’s personality.
Now that I have your attention, let’s go into detail. Your warlock, for better or worse, is tied to a powerful entity. Now this entity could be anything ranging from a demon all the way to an angelic being. Now I won’t judge on why you decided to form a contract with them, maybe you were dying and wanted to live for a little longer and sold your soul to eternal damnation as a result? Or perhaps you didn’t know and took a pendant from an ancient ruin thus sealing a pact to work with a being who just wants to pull practical jokes on the world? Honestly, your backstory is yours on why or how you joined with them. However, now you need to live with it and figure out what is going to happen to you.
How Did This Happen?
The first thing you might think, is “why did this happen to me?”. Well, actually you can usually figure out these things looking at yourself. For instance, these higher beings, we will call them patrons, usually look for those who are highly charismatic and are the ones that can persuade the stingiest of merchants to give them the item for free. So be warned! If you think your extremely charming and charismatic a patron might have his eyes set on you.
But that is not all to make you subject to becoming a warlock. Usually, you need to seek out their power for means such as survival, a thirst to defeat all who oppose you, or just doing something with no understanding of what you are doing. Much like getting a student loan now that I think about it. Once these are considered, you may have a patron come knocking on your brain and form a contract with you in exchange for something; be it your soul, an item, or just for kicks. It’s really up to them as you don’t usually get a lot of say. Now though, you’re in the deep end and will notice a few things happen to you.
Access to Magic!
The first thing you will notice, is you know the verbal components necessary to cast spells! Congratulations! Now maybe you could already cast spells via other means so this is nothing new to you. However, what is new, is that you can cast these spells much more often than any other spells. You see, all other spell casters have a limit on the number of spells they can cast each day/long rest.
However, a Dungeons & Dragons Warlock regains their ability to cast spells every time they do a short rest. It’s a unique ability that no other class has. For instance, A level 1 Cleric, can cast two-level one spells a day, while a level 1 warlock, can cast one level one spell each time after they rest. Doing so means you can brawl to your heart’s content using everything in your arsenal, then rest an hour and be ready to slug it out with the toughest foes again.
Another thing you will notice is you have cantrips that you can cast at will without expending a spell slot. These are useful for both combat and situational experiences depending on the ones you decide to take from your patron. A favorite for many a Dungeons & Dragons warlock is Eldritch blast as it does the best damage for any cantrip and has unique abilities that you can gain for it later in the class.
Another all-around favorite is minor illusion as it can be used both in combat or outside of combat depending on how you flavor it or use it. That said, maybe your patron didn’t gift these to you in the deal and gave you one of the numerous other cantrips that better suit their style, such as a being from the Fey wanting to play tricks, gave you the ability to mess with people from afar with the cantrip mage hand. But what you have is between you and your patron.
What Use Are Spells?
Now your next question you may ask is, “how useful are these for me?” To which I would respond, “Great question!” Cantrips and spells usefulness depend on many factors such as situations, location, and how charismatic you are. That’s right, your ability to talk changes how effective your spells are. For instance, let’s say you have a 14 out of 20 charisma for your character. That means your modifier is a +2 since every even number above 10 increases your modifier by 1. Then because your patron gave you proficiency in being able to cast spells you need to look at your proficiency. This is determined by your level. Which at level one will be a +2. From there, if you are attacking someone with a cantrip like eldritch blast, you roll a D20 and then add your charisma modifier and proficiency modifier netting you a +4 to your roll.
This also changes on spells you cast as well. For example, say you try to charm someone with the spell charm person. Once cast your target must make a save against your spell save DC. This is determined by taking your charisma modifier, proficiency bonus, and adding 8 to it. This means the enemy will need to match or beat a 12 with their roll to render your spell useless. Now if you were a warlock with an 8 in charisma, you have a minus 1 to your ability modifier which means your spell attack modifier is only a +1 and your spell save DC is a 9. These lower numbers make your spells much less likely to be effective or hit someone. So, therefore, it is usually better to work on being more charismatic as time goes on to increase the effectiveness of your spells.
Dungeons & Dragons Warlock level 2
So, you finally have gone and done an adventure on behalf of your patron, or maybe just for fun. Now you will notice yourself feeling a little more powerful and instead of being able to cast one level 1 spell per short rest, you can now cast two level 1 spells per short rest. This means you have doubled the number of spells you can cast short rest meaning you now have to worry even less than you might have already been knowing using one doesn’t mean you are going to be out of spells for this combat.
It is always good to have at least one spell ready to cast that is situational and another for combat. I always like using the spellbook arcane cards to guide me since they are really simple to read and great when you have to think on your feet. Because whether or not you like it, you are usually the face of the party with your high charisma.
Another thing you will notice is your patron has bestowed upon you two unique abilities that you get to choose. These are your Warlock invocations. Your invocations all have unique abilities that can greatly change how your character interacts with the world. These vary from being additional spells you can cast at will or once a rest, to increase the damage or range of your cantrips, or even making you skilled. The options are left for you to decide on to better fit your playstyle or background.
For instance, maybe your patron is a water elemental from the plane of water. As such maybe the invocation you choose is the ability to breathe underwater so you don’t have to worry about drowning. Perhaps, your patron is a devil looking for you to kill all who oppose him, thus causing your cantrip eldritch blast to deal more damage for each hit. Now, this said, sometimes you aren’t ready for some invocations and cannot handle the power they wield. Therefore, you are going to need to continue adventuring and leveling up to be able to wield these blessings.
After pleasing your patron, you have been granted three levels in Warlock and are left with a choice. To take a servant of your patron to help you in your deeds, take a book that holds mysterious words of power granting you access to even more spells than what was already at hand, or to gain the power to fight with a weapon in hand using spells and weapons alike to slay all who oppose you. These are your patron pacts and named: Pact of the chain, Pact of the tome, and Pact of the Blade. This is one of your final big decisions to determine your play style and how your patron will help you.
For example, The Pact of the chain are for those who wish to use a familiar to aid them both in combat and out of combat. The Pact of the tome are for those who wish to read the secrets to unlock the world we don’t see and maybe understand their patron better. Finally, Pact of the blade are for those that desire to take matters in their own hands and use their new-found abilities to better aid them in fighting hand to hand with enemies.
Dungeons and Dragons Warlock: Conclusion
The possibilities for a Warlock are truly endless as in only three levels you can greatly change the way to play a character by selecting from a myriad of possibilities. Just choose your patron at level one, decide your invocations at level two, and figure out your pact at level three and be ready to begin your life of servitude to your patron in exchange for these awesome powers. For a chart that details the full Dungeons & Dragons warlock progression click here. Then, once you are ready to start a life of servitude, click here to go to a DnD stats calculator.