A matter of weeks had passed since you found the shrine hidden behind the waterfall, the twisted visage of some infernal creature you couldn’t even pronounce the name of at the time. An hour later you left that secluded cave, a few drops of your blood remained on that altar to seal the pact you made with that creature, and something new burned within your body. Now, in a muddy field outside of some backwater town, a group of brigands are bearing down on you and your companions on horseback. A cocky smile pulls at the corners of your mouth as you step forward, raising your hands and releasing a portion of the heat you received that day. The brigands didn’t even have time to scream, the field was still steaming as you left.
You finally got your contract delivered by an otherworldly courier and you’re excited about the employee benefits on offer, such as the ability to shoot beams of destructive force from your hands, and a cute tiny dragon. Understandably, this can be a daunting prospect; the Warlock class has many choices within it and you don’t want to go wrong–that’s why you’re here.
In this guide we’ll take you through all the options available to the Warlock, and supportive choices you can make to build your character to achieve what you want. Whilst reading through this guide, you may find this article on jargon and this list of books (and their common abbreviations) helpful.
This guide will evaluate each option for the Warlock on a scale of 1-5– this is a rating of the abilities’ potency and overall usefulness, primarily focusing on combat. That said, I will still evaluate everything. This can aid you weigh any choices you might be considering at a glance, helping you know what to expect and make changes accordingly, if desired. The rating scheme is:
1 – Usually a bad choice, to be avoided
2 – Below average, this can apply to abilities that are powerful but very niche
3 – Average to Good, you won’t go wrong with it
4 – Very good
5 – Amazing, a must-have if there is such a thing
Disclaimer – This rating system exists to best help you understand the effectiveness of all the options available to the Monk for you to build and enjoy your character. Remember though, your fun comes first; it’s actually very difficult to build a character that is entirely bad in 5E, so if you have a concept that doesn’t rate highly, you might still have fun playing it. This is a guide, not a contract written by Asmodeus. Let it advise you and not force you away from your own ideas.
It’s recommended to have your book/PDF/DnD Beyond page open to reference and follow along with the guide.
Note: All invocations and Pact options will be reviewed together, although technically the Pact of the Talisman and any invocations from TCoE are optional class features.
- Warlock Class Abilities
- Eldritch Invocations
- Optional Class Features (TCoE)
- Stats for Warlocks
- Otherworldly Patrons (Subclasses)
- Recommended Spells
- Race Choices
- Multiclassing Your Warlock
Warlock Class Abilities
Hit Dice (4) – A d8 is pretty good for a caster, assuming the average Warlock isn’t on the frontlines.
Armor (2) – Light Armor is better than no armor, but not by much. Thankfully the class has ways to mediate this.
Weapons (3) – Simple Weapons are better than having a limited selection, as long as you can hit someone with a staff or whip out a dagger when needed, you’ll be covered. If you need more you’ll likely get it from the class later on.
Tools (1) – You don’t get any, Herbalism or Alchemist’s kits would have been a nice inclusion.
Saving Throws (3) – Wisdom can be a terrible save to fail, but it only really becomes commonly useful in late tier 2, Charisma is rarely targeted.
Skills (2) – Two skills is fairly standard, but the only notable inclusions on the list are Arcana and Investigation.
Pact Magic (4) – Your bread and butter and what sets you apart from other full casters, only rated as a 4 due to the restriction and learning curve of having so few spell slots at once.
Eldritch Invocations (5) – As a concept, fantastic. It provides the customizability to make your Warlock your own and the power you need to supplement the lack of spell slots. The effectiveness in play depends highly on the invocations you choose, which we will go into in depth later.
Pact Boon (4) – Another point of customisation for your Warlock, arguably with bigger play differences than most of the Otherworldly Patrons.
Pact of the Chain (4) [Chainlock]- You not only get access to the Find Familiar spell, but you also get to choose from a more powerful selection of familiars. Great for scouting, roleplay, and some combat strategies. The Imp is usually the most functional choice here, but the Pseudodragon is the cutest choice.
Pact of the Blade (4) [Bladelock]- Never be without your weapon and gain access to all you need to be a very effective gish. What’s not to love?
Pact of the Tome (5) [Tomelock]- This pact is for the Warlock more interested in magic, being able to grab Guidance and Shillelagh is great and the invocations available to you with this pact are generally very good to great.
Pact of the Talisman (2) [Talismanlock] – An overly limited version of Guidance, the invocations are okayish, making a pact with a powerful creature to hand over what you get from it is the cherry on this very flavourless cake.
Mystic Arcanum (4) – Gaining access to higher level spells, 6th through 9th, allows you to claim the title of full caster despite the oddities of Pact Magic. Only rated at 4 due to being slightly behind other full casters at extremely high levels.
Eldritch Master (5) – Getting up to four 5th level slots back for the cost of a minute? That’s a great capstone and allows a 20th level Warlock to throw around spells once a day to make even a Wizard blush.
The contents in the following list of invocations are arranged alphabetically but divided by the books they are found in, to make it easy to see what you can choose from if certain sources are not allowed at your table. If an invocation has a prerequisite it is denoted in [brackets].
Agonizing Blast (5) [Eldritch Blast cantrip] – This is the invocation that makes Warlocks famous for Eldritch Blast (EB), Cha to every attack from EB is a huge damage boost.
Armor of Shadows (5) – Mage Armor is better than your standard light armor, and being at will means you can afford to permanently be under its protection, even whilst you sleep!
Ascendent Step (3) [9th level] – Levitate at will is nice; a devastating debuff in combat against a melee heavy opponent and allows you to mostly ignore terrain challenges. Only a 3 as it’s a pretty decent invocation, but there’s heavy competition.
Beast Speech (2) – Purely a roleplay choice, but maybe your character concept is a take on Dr. Dolittle?
Beguiling Influence (4) – Picking up two skills is pretty good value for a single invocation, freeing up your class skill choices and giving you what you need to be a capable party face.
Bewitching Whispers (1) [7th level] – Compulsion is not a good spell and an invocation to get a restricted use spell known is a terrible trade.
Book of Ancient Secrets (4) [Pact of the Tome] – Being able to ritual cast is a huge boost of casting and utility to a Warlock, especially as you can gather more rituals on your adventure (say, from a Wizard party member perhaps). Find Familiar is a great ritual to choose with this.
Chains of Carceri (3) [15th level, Pact of the Chain] – Hold Monster is a fantastic spell, being able to cast it at will against different creatures is even better. The restriction to only against celestial, fiend, or elemental is the reason this only gets a 3, if your campaign is heavy on those types, like Descent into Avernus, then this easily becomes a 4 or 5.
Devil’s Sight (5) – Being able to see normally in normal and magical darkness within 120 feet is fantastic, it more than patches a weakness on races without Darkvision and allows you to take advantage of spells like Darkness for advantage and protection. Note: This is not Darkvision, you are seeing normally in the dark, so you won’t be at disadvantage on Perception checks in the dark like those relying on Darkvision.
Dreadful Word (2) [7th level] – Confusion isn’t a bad spell, but none of these restricted spell known invocations are worth it.
Eldritch Sight (4) – Detect Magic can be invaluable, and being able to cast it at will without burning an additional ten minutes each time to ritually cast like other classes is a huge boon.
Eldritch Spear (1) [Eldritch Blast cantrip] – Very niche, the normal 120ft range of Eldritch Blast is normally enough, getting regular use out of this invocation would be incredibly campaign-dependent, especially since a lot of classes can’t do much, if anything, at 300ft.
Eyes of the Rune Keeper (2) – A fun choice, but more roleplay material than utility for most games.
Fiendish Vigor (4) – At will temp hp will do wonders to increase your survivability. With this, you should start all combats with some temp hp. This allows melee Warlocks to compete with the durability of larger Hit Die classes like Fighters and Paladins.
Gaze of Two Minds (2) – This invocation basically turns a party member into a familiar, which can be good for scouting or infiltration missions, but is pretty niche and leaves you a little vulnerable.
Lifedrinker (4) [12th level, Pact of the Blade] – The damage bump a bladelock needs to stay competitive in Tier 3 and beyond, necrotic isn’t the best damage type, but should be applicable most of the time.
Mask of Many Faces (5) – Disguise Self at will is a terrific tool for roleplay and infiltration; this is not only a useful invocation, it’s also a very fun one too.
Master of Myriad Forms (2) [15th level] – Alter Self is a useful spell, but concentration makes it compete against your limited spell slot casting, and 15th level feels like very late to pick this up.
Minions of Chaos (2) [9th level] – Conjure Elemental? Good. Limited spell known invocation? Still bad.
Mire of the Mind (2) [5th level] – I think you can see a pattern by no. Slow’s good, but not good enough to be worth the invocation and spell slot.
Misty Visions (3) – I can only rate this at a 3 as how useful this is will greatly depend on how your DM handles illusions. That said, if you want to play an illusionist this is a fantastic way to do it.
One with Shadows (2) [5th level] – This sounds cool on the surface, but requires too much from you. If you could stay invisible whilst moving it would be much better, but, as it stands, too niche.
Otherworldly Leap (2) [9th level] – A really fun invocation, but more fun than useful unfortunately, and a high level requirement for what it is.
Repelling Blast (4) [Eldritch Blast cantrip] – A great addition to EB to give it some control elements and make it more fun than just damage. Can be combined with hazards like Spike Growth to great effect.
Sculptor of Flesh (2) [7th level] – Say it with me, these invocations aren’t worth it.
Sign of Ill Omen (2) [5th level] – Still not recommending you take this kind of invocation.
Thief of Five Fates (1) – Restricting 1st level spells is a new low.
Thirsting Blade (5) [5th level, Pact of the Blade] – The Bladelock equivalent of Extra Attack, necessary for keeping up as a Bladelock without relying on certain cantrips. Unlike gish subclasses on other full casters, you get your second attack at the same level as martials like the Fighter and Barbarian.
Visions of Distant Realms (2) [15th level] – Arcane Eye is a good scouting spell, but it’s concentration and 15th level is a bit late for a 4th level spell, even if it is at will. If you’re playing a dungeon heavy game, the rating for this would be at least a 3.
Voice of the Chain Master (4) [Pact of the Chain] – A great and thematic upgrade to a chainlock’s familiar, making their scouting ability nearly unparalleled. The ability to speak through the familiar allows it to be used as a telephone as well as being just plain cool.
Whispers of the Grave (2) [9th level] – A bit niche, but if your DM lets you get useful information from the slain, this can be a great source of information for your party.
Witch Sight (2) [15th level] – This is actually a good ability, it’s just very very niche and a very high level. Worth noting spells like Invisibility wouldn’t work against this invocation, and you’re less likely to make a deal with a hag! Although if a hag is your patron, this may be too little too late to help you.
Aspect of the Moon (2) [Pact of the Tome] – A nice roleplay ability and defense against uncommon attacks like the Sleep spell and drow poison, also known as permanent guard duty.
Cloak of Flies (3) [5th level] – A great aura ability for a bladelock or other melee range Warlock, poison is a fairly commonly resisted/immune to damage type on monsters unfortunately, but the addition of this as a short rest resource is great.
Eldritch Smite (4) [5th level, Pact of the Blade] – A great source of burst damage, you don’t have the same number of spell slots to keep up with a Paladin, but as a fullcaster you’ll hit harder for most levels. Force damage is a great damage type and the ability to knock a Huge or smaller creature prone without a save is a nice debuff to give yourself and melee party members advantage.
Ghostly Gaze (2) [7th level] – On the surface this sounds like a great exploration style ability, but lasting only one minute and requiring concentration is very restrictive and ends up making this ability pretty niche.
Gift of the Depths (2) [5th level] – Limited by how much water is in your campaign. If you’re playing a seafaring game, or one that is frequently around lakes and rivers, then this is a top tier invocation that allows you to make your entire party somewhat aquatic.
Gift of the Ever-Living Ones (5) [Pact of the Chain] – A huge buff towards your own survivability; not only do you get the most out of healing from others, but you get the most out of your Hit Dice on short rests, and if you’re a Celestial Warlock you can heal yourself in combat very effectively. The restriction of needing your familiar within 100ft of you isn’t much of a risk if you have an invisible familiar like an Imp or Sprite.
Grasp of Hadar (3) [Eldritch Blast cantrip] – Adding control to EB is great, this is only a 3 because typically pushing enemies away is going to be better than bringing them closer.
Improved Pact Weapon (5) [Pact of the Blade] – Making your pact weapon a +1 weapon is great, being able to use it as a focus for your spells is gravy. The hidden gem here is the ability to be a switch between melee and ranged combat as you like (assuming you prioritised Dex or are a Hexblade Warlock) by creating a bow or crossbow.
Lance of Lethargy (4) [Eldritch Blast cantrip] – Again, control on EB is great, reducing your enemy’s speed can work great with one of the other invocations to keep them where you want them, be it near you or far away from you.
Maddening Hex (4) [5th level, Hex or a Warlock feature that curses] – Enhancing Hex makes it far more appealing to keep casting it at higher levels with higher level spell slots. The automatic damage can be useful for challenging the concentration of enemy casters and even a weak AOE effect.
Relentless Hex (2) [7th level, Hex or a Warlock feature that curses] – Enhancing Hex is still nice, but chasing the target of your Hex in melee range is pretty niche. Even if you’re a bladelock or other melee build, often your movement will be adequate to keep up.
Shroud of Shadow (3) [15th level] – Invisibility at will is a great ability, but it’s still going to require your concentration, which can interfere with your limited slot-based casting, and 15th level is a little late to get a 2nd level spell at will for a limited number of invocations.
Tomb of Levistus (2) [5th level] – This is your panic button, 10 temp hp per Warlock level is a large amount that should protect you from death (if not going down) in most instances. Where this falls short is the limited use and high costs. You’re a sitting duck and will lose any concentration spells and a lot of ongoing effects, such as the above Cloak of Flies. Better than dying, sure, but if you’re finding regular use for this invocation then there’s a larger underlying problem and we need to have a conversation.
Trickster’s Escape (3) [7th level] – Now this is the kind of spell invocation you want, a once per day casting of a 4th level spell without needing to spend one of your slots like normal. Freedom of Movement is a little niche, but Paralyzed is a condition that can quickly lead to death and Grappled is often a precursor condition to worse things, like a Vampire’s bite or Behir’s swallow.
Bond of the Talisman (2) [12th level, Pact of the Talisman] – Teleportation anywhere on the plane is certainly nice, but you’re likely giving your talisman to someone in your party so how relevant will that be? A very niche invocation, would be better rated if it only took a bonus action to use.
Eldritch Mind (5) – Concentration is incredibly important to a Warlock due to their limited slots, getting advantage to maintain it for an invocation is a great ability at a relative bargain.
Far Scribe (5) [5th level, Pact of the Tome] – At will use of Sending to a select number of people? This is a fantastic invocation which scales with overall level and comes online relatively early for its power.
Gift of the Protectors (4) [9th level, Pact of the Tome] – This is like a party-wide version of the half orc’s Relentless Endurance ability, this won’t protect a PC against instant death, but it will certainly make TPKs very unlikely!
Investment of the Chain Master (5) [Pact of the Chain] – An essential invocation for chainlocks who want to use their familiars in combat. Besides the added mobility, the combat upgrades are enough to make an Imp a serious threat in combat in earlier levels, with the Sprite and Pseudodragon potentially able to knock enemies out completely with their poisons now keying off of your spell save DC. The ability to grant resistance to damage helps to ensure that your familiar will also be able to endure taking some attacks for its new found effectiveness.
Protection of the Talisman (3) [7th level, Pact of the Talisman] – Adding a d4 to saves without needing a reaction is nice and this will stack with other benefits like Bless or the Divine Soul’s Favored by the Gods. The level restriction feels unnecessary, and the limited uses make this a questionable choice versus non-pact restricted choices.
Undying Servitude (4) [5th level] – A free casting of animate dead once per day is a great value for an invocation and gives Warlock’s access to this spell when they can’t get it from their class otherwise. The only downside here is the potential roleplay consequences of creating an undead sidekick!
Optional Class Features (TCoE)
The optional features presented in TCoE gave the Warlock new invocation choices and a new pact, both covered above. In addition, the Warlock also gains access to spells not previously included on its list and a new feature:
Additional Warlock Spells (2) – Not a bad addition, lots of new summoning spells but this list is largely just spells that are presented or reprinted within TCoE, with the majority of the cantrips in particular already being Warlock spells added in the SCAG.
Eldritch Versatility (4) – This isn’t an exciting new ability, but it gives you a RAW way to change some pretty significant class choices without relying on your DM allowing it entirely on their own. Bear in mind, this is still an optional feature and requires DM approval.
Stats for Warlocks
It’s important to go through how pertinent each stat is for a Warlock before we get into the nitty gritty of the subclasses. This part of the guide will rate the stats in the game based on how good they are for a Warlock; you may decide to use a build that relies on a stat rated lowly here, but that doesn’t mean your concept can’t work!
Strength (2) – There’s no real need for Str on a Warlock, unless you’re a bladelock looking to use heavy weapons.
Dexterity (3) – Always a powerful stat in general, Dex is the major deciding factor for a Warlock’s AC, as well as the preferred stat for bladelocks. This should be as high as you can afford without sacrificing Charisma, aim for at least a +3.
Constitution (3) – Everyone needs some Con, especially a Warlock as you don’t get proficiency in Con saving throws, but rely fairly heavily on concentration for a lot of your spells. Ideally go for a +3 here, but try to not go lower than a +2.
Intelligence (1) – If you had a use for book smarts you wouldn’t have sold your soul, now would you? If you want to be good at a particular skill, feel free to have this positive, personally I recommend a +0 here, but you can happily use a -1 if you’re stretched for stats.
Wisdom (3) – Generally useful for Perception and Wisdom saving throws, not as important as Dex or Con though. +1 or +2 is more than adequate here.
Charisma (5) – You’re a Charisma caster, so this should be your main focus. Try and max Cha as quickly as you can, if you’re taking a feat with an ASI, try and get Cha to +4 first. Bladelocks who focus on weapon attacks can afford to prioritise Dex over Cha, but I’d always recommend at least a +3, preferably from the start.
Otherworldly Patrons (Subclasses)
What subclass you choose can greatly change how you play your Warlock, unlike other classes the Warlock’s limited amount of spell slots means every additional ability and resource is important. In my opinion, your choice of pact has a larger impact on overall playstyle, but some patron abilities and expanded spell options can open up play styles and roles previously unavailable to the Warlock.
A Warlock with a strong emphasis on affecting the minds and emotions of others, this patron offers a lot of roleplay fodder but is near bottom for its combat effectiveness.
Expanded Spell list (3) – Overall, a theme appropriate list whilst still being useful. Standouts here are Sleep (which upcasts well with your Pact Magic) and Greater Invisibility.
Fey Presence (3) – The choice of Charmed or Frightened gives this ability some versatility, though the limited range hampers it greatly. You’re putting yourself practically in melee range to attempt to use it, with potentially disastrous consequences if the creature(s) succeed their save(s).
Misty Escape (4) – A nice get out of jail free card; needing to take damage is unfortunate and I’d prefer if the invisibility lasted until the end of your next turn. That said, being able to put yourself at distance as a reaction is valuable for a class that prefers to be ranged for the most part.
Beguiling Defenses (3) – This is both powerful and fairly niche, if this ability is relevant for your Warlock, it has likely saved you from something pretty nasty.
Dark Delirium (2) – This ability is potentially very powerful, but charm and fear are fairly common immunities amongst higher CR creatures.
This patron is much more combat focused. Originally, the standout choice for a combat orientated Warlock, although much more competitive options have been published since. Still a solid choice with the classic ‘sold your soul to
the a devil’ flavour.
Expanded Spell List (4) – Excellent mix of thematic fire damage and other effects. Best to avoid Burning Hands at level 3 and above, but besides that, a strong showing. Everyone loves Fireball right?
Dark One’s Blessing (2) – A good temp hp formula that will scale well as you level, but the trigger of needing to get the killing blow is too unpredictable for my liking. unless you’re one of the/are the primary damage dealer in the party.
Dark One’s Own Luck (3) – Being able to add the d10 to an ability check or saving throw is nice, this is only a 3 as a single d10 is very swingy, a couple of smaller dice would be preferable. A tip, you can add this on to your initiative roll!
Fiendish Resilience (4) – Choose your own damage resistance, which you can change after any rest to match the environment you’re in? Fantastic ability.
Hurl Through Hell (5) – This is like a one round version of Banishment, but triggering on an attack and likely doing 10d10 psychic damage, devastatingly good and can turn the tide of a losing fight.
The Great Old One
Also affectionately known as a GOO Warlock, this patron is largely utility and roleplay, as well as one of the easiest (and earliest) ways to get telepathy in the game.
Expanded Spell List (3) – Some very thematic spells here, keeping with a theme of mental manipulation and skirting the psionic. Standouts include Dissonant Whispers and Sending.
Awakened Mind (3) – Of limited use in combat, but great for roleplay, stealth, and can act as a translator between your party and a creature with a language you don’t speak.
Entropic Ward (4) – Disadvantage can be a powerful defensive tool, especially if you’ve invested in a higher AC or are benefitting from cover. At the very least, it can make you very hard to get a critical hit against. The potential benefit of advantage on your next attack is a nice bonus. Solid additional resource.
Thought Shield (2) – A good ability, but very niche in scope. If the main enemy of your campaign is a colony of Mind Flayers, this is obviously much higher.
Create Thrall (1) – This is a very thematic power, sadly it isn’t fit for purpose as the charmed condition is far from making someone into a thrall.
A Warlock who has made a pact with a powerful undead being, like a notable lich; this patron is often forgotten as it was printed in the SCAG and not reprinted in any subsequent books. If playing in an undead heavy campaign, this patron can actually be pretty useful, but is not really recommended otherwise.
Expanded Spell List (2) – Blindness/Deafness and Death Ward are great spells here, but others fall flat such as False Life (you could just take the Fiendish Vigor invocation) and multiple spells that don’t upcast at all.
Among the Dead (3) – Despite being niche there’s enough here that I have to rate this at a 3. This ability amounts to permanent Sanctuary on the Warlock targeting only undead, but isn’t negated by the Warlock attacking. Spare the Dying is usually a cantrip to be passed over, but for free it’s okay and enhanced later to be more meaningful.
Defy Death (2) – This ability was nearly rated as a 1, but it deserves at least a 2 for how difficult to kill it makes this Warlock. Hopefully someone going down is a pretty rare scenario. This ability would be rated much higher if it wasn’t restricted to only once per long rest.
Undying Nature (1) – This is entirely a roleplay ability, one that can be found to some degree in various races and an invocation.
Indestructible Life (2) – Bonus action healing is nice; being restricted to doing so once per rest for such a small amount of hp at such a high level is not so nice.
Potentially a less nefarious kind of deal, this Warlock has made a pact with a celestial creature of significant power such as a Solar or Unicorn. This is an excellent example of a patron having a significant impact on a Warlock’s playstyle, as it unlocks the healer role as well as potentially allowing the Warlock to tank hits effectively by healing themselves.
Expanded Spell List (5) – A good mixture of healing spells and fire based spells, allowing this Warlock to function well as both a healer and a blaster. Notably both Cure Wounds and Guiding Bolt upcast to work well with Pact Magic.
Bonus Cantrips (5) – Free cantrips are always nice, Light is a great utility cantrip and Sacred Flame gives access to radiant and save based damage. Part of this rating is based on Healing Light being a great ability on its own, making the cantrips even better by being the cherry on top.
Healing Light (5) – Ranged, bonus action healing that doesn’t consume a spell slot and isn’t a spell itself, so doesn’t interfere with your casting. The amount of d6s you get for this ability is enough to make it useful and the flexibility of how many you can spend means you can use this to just pick someone up, or heal them for a chunk of hp. Combining this ability with the Gift of the Ever Living Ones invocation can create an incredibly hard to kill Warlock.
Radiant Soul (4) – Radiant resistance is a bit niche, but being able to add damage to some of your offensive spells is a nice damage bump. Some spells that can take advantage of this include Guiding Bolt, Sacred Flame, and Green Flame Blade.
Celestial Radiance (5) – Gives you a large amount of temp hp every rest and a significant amount of temp hp to your party; this is almost the Inspiring Leader feat as a subclass feature, a bit less temp hp for the party but also no 10 minute speech needed.
Searing Vengeance (4) – The only reason this is not a 5 is because it requires you to go down to use it. This is an outstanding tanking ability if that is the role you prefer, or generally just makes your Warlock incredibly difficult to kill unless an instant death, or death on 0hp effect is used.
A Warlock of questionable theming, as you’ve made a deal with a powerful sentient weapon yet you don’t actually wield it, but notable for its power and widespread effect on Charisma based multiclassing.
Expanded Spell List (3) – There are some good spells in general on this list, but a considerable number of spells that won’t be worth casting as the Warlock levels up. Shield in this instance is only really useful in a do or die situation, due to the Warlock’s limited slots.
Hexblade’s Curse (5) – In some ways, this is like a buffed up version of Hex, giving you scaling extra damage, an expanded crit range and potentially a decent heal. This allows you to save the slot you would have used on Hex, or combine this with Hex for tougher opponents. This ability also allows you to qualify for a couple of invocations discussed above.
Hex Warrior (5) – Proficiency with medium armor and shields is a huge AC boost for a Warlock (though bear in mind neither are starting equipment for a Warlock) and the ability to use Cha for a weapon makes you a competent and SAD gish. Notably, this allows a bladelock to leave their Dex at +2 for medium armor and max out their Cha, making them excellent at casting and martial attacks without having to compromise.
Accursed Specter (3) – This is potentially a useful companion, but it won’t age well in higher levels and is very situational in creating it to begin with, needing both a killing blow and a humanoid.
Armor of Hexes (3) – This is a great defensive ability when it applies, meaning the creature has to get past your AC and then succeed a 50/50 dice roll on top of that. This only makes a 3 as it only works on your cursed target, which leaves you open for plenty of other attacks throughout the adventuring day.
Master of Hexes (3) – This lets you get some extra use out of your curse, however, you need to sacrifice a benefit of the curse to do so. If this was purely additive it would be rated a 4.
If you don’t want to make a deal with a tentacle creature from space, how about a tentacle creature from the depths of the ocean? This is a combat orientated Warlock, with some utility features sprinkled in.
Expanded Spell List (3) – This isn’t a bad list but it isn’t particularly good either; the higher level spells are nice if you hit those levels.
Tentacle of the Deeps (5) – This is the love child of Ray of Frost and Spiritual Weapon, giving you a significant boost of damage with some control mixed in. Did I mention it is only a bonus action? Combining this ability with the Lance of Lethargy invocation will allow you to severely hinder the movement of enemies.
Gift of the Sea (4) – This is very niche, but I’m rating it a 4 due to being on top of another great ability and offering a superior swim speed than these types of features usually do.
Oceanic Soul (3) – Damage resistance is always nice, though cold isn’t the most common of types, the communication aspect is a nice ribbon.
Guardian Coil (3) – Improving the already good tentacle is great, making this Warlock more and more of an all rounder. I would have really preferred to see a better reduction formula than just 1d8 initially though.
Grasping Tentacles (5) – This not only gives you Evard’s Black Tentacles as a spell and lets you cast it once a day for free, a great boon for a Warlock, but more importantly, it makes it impossible to lose concentration on the spell from damage. The sheer power of not losing concentration to damage on top of a free casting of a 4th level control spell makes this a great ability.
Had a crush on Genie from Aladdin growing up? Well now you can get close to a genie of your own, though in a somewhat reversal of the typical arrangement. This Warlock has a large utility function, though it does get a damage boost.
Expanded Spell List (5) – The actual spells you get to choose can be varied based on what kind of genie your patron is, there are numerous good spells on this list. This has to be a 5 based solely on giving you Wish as an option for your 9th level Mystic Arcanum Spell!
Genie’s Vessel (5) – This feature actually collects two good abilities under its umbrella: Bottled Respite gives you a good tool for infiltration (say, getting a familiar to carry your vessel with you inside), as well as a limited form of extra dimensional storage, and safe way to get in a short rest if the rest of your party wants to push on. Genie’s Wrath gives you a small damage bump which can help keep your Warlock competitive as a damage dealer.
Elemental Gift (5) – Damage resistance is nice, particularly in this case as you can potentially get resistance to all bludgeoning damage. The real gem here is the ability to give yourself a flight speed without concentration multiple times a day, great for utility as well as making yourself harder to hit in combat, or taking the fight to a flying enemy. Style points if you flavour this as conjuring a magic carpet of course.
Sanctuary Vessel (5) – You’re now able to bring your party with you when you retreat into your vessel, giving a safer short rest and letting your poor familiar carry all of you. The biggest function here is granting everyone inside a short rest after just ten minutes, similar to the Cat Nap spell, and then throwing additional hp recovered on top!
Limited Wish (5) – A more restricted version of the spell imitating power of Wish, this is a very powerful feature that has the benefit of not actually casting any spell, so it cannot be stopped with Counter Spell. This ability has a potentially long recharge, but that seems appropriate given its sheer power.
This may sound similar to the Undying, because in theme they largely are the same. You’ve made a deal with a powerful undead being but you decided you wanted a better deal than those Undying chumps. This Warlock focuses on combat, mixing resilience with control and damage.
Expanded Spell List (2) – The spells here aren’t necessarily bad, but most of them don’t upcast and those that do you may not want to use at all.
Form of Dread (3) – The temp hp is nice and should scale adequately, being immune to frightened can come in handy, though is a little niche. The prize here is making another creature frightened and the debuffs which come with that. This is only rated as a 3 because immunity to frightened isn’t so uncommon for monsters to have. Additionally, this does compete with using something like Hex on your first turn, too.
Grave Touched (4) – This is a nice damage bump, allowing you to improve the damage type of some attacks and gaining an extra damage die. Note turning Eldritch Blast from force to necrotic is a bit of a downgrade, the d10 should compensate for that. The not needing to eat, breathe, sleep ribbon is thematic, if largely useless.
Necrotic Husk (2) – Resistance, and sometimes immunity, to necrotic damage can come in handy but as always is niche. The ability to drop to 1 hp instead of 0 whilst damaging enemies around you is very nice. However, the penalty for this is so severe I have to rate it only a 2. Exhaustion is a heavy penalty and it’s combined with a variable but long recharge time–this ability isn’t that good.
Spirit Projection (3) – There’s a lot of good here, resistance to BPS damage, subtle casting on necromancy and conjuration spells, and Vampiric Touch style healing. This only gets a 3 because leaving your body vulnerable is a risk and complication to deal with. This can be great for scouting or some ghost like combat, and would pair well if there was also a Genie Warlock in the party to protect your body in their vessel.
The list of spells available to you can seem intimidating to even seasoned players, so this section will go through some spells that are great for most, if not all Warlocks:
Eldritch Blast [Cantrip] – This is a go to damage option for Warlocks, the range is excellent, the damage is a great type and large die size. Most importantly, there are several invocations you can use to customise and enhance it, from more damage to different types of control. Eldritch Blast scales by giving you additional attacks, which pairs excellently with the Agonizing Blast invocation and Hex spell.
Armor of Agathys [1st level Spell] – A double duty spell, AoA offers you protection in the form of temp hp and deals damage to anyone who hits you with a melee attack. This spell upcasts well with your Pact Magic slots, keeping it relevant throughout your entire career. Something to keep in mind, although the amount of damage is the same as the number of temp hp gained, you do the same amount of damage no matter how many temp hp you have left. For example, if you only have one temp hp left, a creature hitting you would still take the full five damage.
Hex [1st level Spell] – Another iconic Warlock spell, Hex allows you to add damage to each attack hit you make be it with a spell or weapon allowing your damage to scale as you get more attacks. As it lasts an hour and the duration scales up with higher level spell slots, it allows you to get a lot of value from your slots which is a significant factor for any Warlock spell choice. You can read more about this spell here.
Invisibility [2nd level Spell] – Great for scouting, sneaking into places and even setting up ambushes to gain advantage from being unseen, or even surprising the enemy. Every spell level above 2nd adds an additional target to the spell, making it age very well as you level up.
Major Image [3rd level Spell] – A very versatile spell you can get very creative with, this doesn’t have an upcasting option usable for a Warlock, but the lack of a saving throw makes up for that.
Dimension Door [4th level Spell] – Not only does this teleportation spell have a large range (500ft) compared to the lower levels options, you also don’t require line of sight like others, and can even take a willing party member with you. In some ways, Warlocks are the best class for this spell, as it’s relatively high level but the Warlock can cast it several times a day if they like. This can allow you to get around some hazards, completely avoid encounters altogether, or set up your own pincer movement by teleporting behind the enemy with an ally.
In this section, I’ll review all of the racial options based on how well they compliment the Warlock, commenting where certain features may benefit certain subclasses. Races are good places to pick up abilities for certain character concepts, so if you’re thinking about playing a certain Warlock but that race isn’t rated well here, it doesn’t mean your particular combination wouldn’t work or be fun to play. Like I said, it’s actually pretty difficult to make a truly bad character in 5e.
A race which provides additional casting will be rated well generally, unless the spells provided are particularly niche or bad. This is because of the relative benefit the Warlock gains compared to other casters, racial casting can save limited Pact Magic slots, or give access to spells a Warlock may not have valued enough to cast otherwise.
Subraces and variants will be listed under the central race rating, indented to the right and noted by italics.
If your DM allows the TCoE optional rules for reassigning racial stat bumps, then every race becomes a minimum rating of 3 and you should decide entirely based on the other benefits they give. The only exceptions to this, are races that give more points to stats than is typical, like the Half Elf or Mountain Dwarf.
Aarakocra (3) – The bump to Dex is nice for your AC, some Wis is always valuable. This rating is carried by the crazy high flight speed, allowing you to take your Eldritch Blast spam into the third dimension. This race is much lower for a Hexblade as the flight is only light armor compatible.
Aasimar (4) – +2 to Cha is great for you, the bonus damage goes well with your EB or melee attacks, and the small pool of healing can come in handy in general, but is a great boost to the role of a Celestial Warlock.
Protector (2) – +1 to Wisdom isn’t the worst secondary stat you could have gotten, but it’s still sub par and a flight speed can come in handy.
Scourge (2) – +1 to Con is always nice, the aura damage works best on a melee Warlock.
Fallen (1) – Frightened isn’t a bad condition, but you can hit your party members with it and Str is of little value to you.
Bugbear (1) – The stats are pretty bad in general, if you’re a melee lock this goes up to a 2 or 3 as you can benefit from Long Limbed, but for the average Warlock this is a hard pass.
Centaur (1) –There’s nothing really here for you, this goes up to at least a 2 if you’re playing a Str based melee Warlock, largely due to the high movement speed.
Changeling (4) – Great stats, a couple of skills, and Shapechanger can let you skip Mask of Many Faces in favour of a different invocation. Worth noting, however, that whilst Mask can change what your clothes look like, the Changeling ability can’t.
Dhampir (3) – The stats can be whatever you want them to be, enhanced movement is always nice, but the bite is likely going to be RP fodder at best for you.
Dragonborn (2) – Not bad for a Str based melee Warlock, there’s some Cha at least and an AOE option which doesn’t consume a limited spell slot, even if it is a bit weak. The star here is the resistance, though.
Draconblood (2) – Even worse stats, but you get Darkvision and a face ability, given your high Cha and potential proficiency this ability can make you a great face character.
Ravenite (1) – If you’re playing a Str melee Warlock then this is a 2, otherwise this choice should be avoided.
Dwarf (3) – Poison resistance and Darkvision are good, Con bump is good for your hp and maintaining concentration. The weapon options are nice, and if you pick up proficiency in heavy armor from somewhere, you won’t need Str.
Hill (2) – Extra hp can be great, especially for a bladelock, but the Wis bump isn’t ideal.
Mountain (2) – Medium armor is a nice upgrade from light, the Str is mostly useless to you, however.
Duergar (2) – Arguably one of the better Dwarf choices for a Warlock, the free casting of Enlarge and Invisibility can come in handy, still below average though.
Mark of Warding (1) – Very niche; the +1 Int is useless to you, the more notable added spell is Armor of Agathys, which is already a Warlock spell. If you’re going to use Mage Armor, you’d be better off with the Armor of Shadows invocation.
Elf (3) – Dex bump is solid for your AC and initiative. Fey Ancestry and Trance are nice traits, with elves, however, the subrace is the most important deciding factor.
High Elf (1) – If you want a non-stat dependent Wizard cantrip then maybe, but the Int bump and weapon proficiencies are of no interest to you.
Wood Elf (2) – A higher movement speed is always useful, Wis is a good tertiary stat but nothing really compelling here.
Drow (4) – Charisma is exactly what you’re looking for, the racial casting on offer here works well with the Warlock. If you pick up Devil’s Sight, the free casting of Darkness will be very useful to you.
Eladrin (4) – Charisma and a bonus action teleport ability with useful riders, that even recharges on a short rest? This is a fantastic choice for any budding Warlock.
Sea (1) – The Con is still useful, but there’s so many better ways for a Warlock to swim and breathe underwater.
Shadar-kai (3) – +1 Con is useful, the necrotic resistance is good, and short rest teleporting that gives you resistance to all damage is excellent. This is less valuable for an Undead Warlock as both offer necrotic resistance.
Mark of Shadow (4) – Good stats, boost to some skills, and some Cha based racial casting, this is a strong option, especially for a Warlock that wants to be sneaky.
Pallid (3) – The additional casting is carrying this option, if the spells don’t appeal to you, there’s better elven options for you.
Firbolg (2) – The actual abilities the Firbolg has are quite nice for most characters, just a shame the stats aren’t useful for most Warlocks. An Archfey Firbolg would both be very thematic and have multiple invisibility-based features.
Genasi (2) – +2 Con is okay for a Warlock, but all the features are in the subraces.
Air (2) – Dex is a useful secondary stat. Unfortunately, the features are entirely lackluster.
Earth (2) –Str is mostly useless, but Pass without Trace is a fantastic spell that might be worth it depending on your build and priorities.
Fire (1) – Int isn’t useful to you, Produce Flame isn’t bad (especially for Celestials) but Con based casting isn’t appealing at all.
Water (2) – Wis isn’t the worst stat, if the Acid Resistance and casting appeals to you then maybe it’s worth it. Shape Water is a fun cantrip, at least.
Gith (1) – +1 Int is pretty useless, but like Genasi, the meat is in the subraces.
Githyanki (1) – Misty Step is nice, but the stats are terrible here.
Githzerai (2) – Slightly better stats, Shield can save your neck on occasion, recommended only for roleplay reasons.
Gnome (1) – +2 Int is terrible for Warlocks, Gnome Cunning can be a good defense, but is too niche for the other benefits. The reduced speed is just the final nail in the coffin.
Forest (1) – You can use Dex, but an Int based Minor Illusion is not worth all the negatives.
Rock (1) – +1 Con is the only thing for you here.
Deep (2) – Much the same as Forest, if you want 120ft Darkvision I’d recommend you just take the Devil’s Sight invocation, you’ll be better off.
Mark of Scribing (3) – A +1 to Cha is a good start, the racial casting is really the thing you want here. Message is a great cantrip, usually unavailable to Warlocks. Comprehend Languages and Magic Mouth are nice utility spells you might not normally take or spend slots on as a Warlock.
Goblin (3) – Sadly no Cha, but Dex and Con have their uses for you; the Goblin’s abilities are broadly useful enough that every class would work well as one. This allows you to Hide as a bonus action before popping out to Eldritch Blast, and you get to throw some bonus damage on top once per rest too!
Goliath (2) – Nothing exceptional for a Warlock here; Stone’s Endurance can help maintain concentration on your limited spells, and resistance to cold damage could come in handy.
Half Elf (5) – +2 Cha, with floating +1s to bump your Dex and Con, or any flavour stats you want. Fey Ancestry and two skills of your choice are just the cherry on top of those great stats.
Aquatic Descent (1) – Unless you’re in an underwater/seafaring campaign, otherwise, a strict downgrade from vanilla Half Elf.
Drow Descent (4) – If you want to take advantage of Devil’s Sight, this can be a great source of Darkness.
Moon/Sun Descent (3) – This really depends on what cantrip you want to pick up, anything that relies on the casting mod is going to use Int. Could be a nice way of getting a utility cantrip.
Wood Descent (2) – Two skills are almost always going to be more useful than an extra 5ft of movement, if you have a speed dependent build in mind then this is a good way to get a boost.
Mark of Detection (2) – You’d have to really want the Deductive Intuition and racial casting in order to downgrade your stat bumps so much. Would be a good choice if you were looking to multiclass into a Wisdom-based class.
Mark of the Storm (4) – Good stats, lightning resistance, and some free spells–overall, a pretty good package.
Half Orc (2) – Relentless Endurance is such a good ability that it’s difficult to rate Half Orc a 1 for any class, especially since everyone needs some Con. Best for Str based bladelocks, otherwise you should look elsewhere unless you’re looking for roleplay reasons.
Mark of Finding (1) – Wis is alright, but you don’t need Hunter’s Mark with Hex on your list; I find the normal Half Orc package more compelling.
Halfling (3) – +2 Dex is good, being extremely unlikely to roll a 1 your barrage of Eldritch Blasts, and advantage against Frightened (a fairly common monster given condition) is the sweet icing on a nicely baked cake. Halfling Nimbleness also allows you greater use of your mobility, making up for starting with a slower speed.
Lightfoot (3) – Good stats, you likely won’t have a need for Naturally Stealthy though.
Stout (2) – Con isn’t as good as Cha obviously. If you think poison damage will be prevalent in your game then this is a great choice of subrace.
Ghostwise (2) – If you want telepathy but don’t want to be a Great Old One Warlock, this is a decent alternative given how good the overall Halfling package is.
Mark of Healing (2) – This Dragonmark can make any Warlock a healer; if you’re looking to add more healing onto a Celestial, this is a decent option. I would caution against thinking this is enough to be a good healer on any other Warlock, as you won’t have
enough spell slots to do more than occasional healing. Worth noting the free castingof Cure Wounds also uses Wisdom, not your Charisma.
Mark of Hospitality (3) – The Cha you need, and some good utility spells to boot. Who needs Darkvision when you have an Unseen Servant carrying your lantern?
Hexblood (4) – The stats are what you want them to be, the free casting of Hex can save you a valuable spell slot, and the Eerie Token feature adds some useful out of combat utility. The flavour of this race choice is very strong for Warlocks as well.
Hobgoblin (1) – There’s Con for you here but that’s about it: you already have light armor proficiency and have no use for an Int bump. Saving Face is potentially valuable, but is very dependent on your party size and positioning, slightly more valuable for a chainlock as the familiar will count as an ally.
Human (1) – If you rolled an array that’s mostly odd numbers, or have a really MAD character idea, then go for it. Otherwise, you may as well choose a variant option if you want to play a human.
Variant Human PHB (5) – Two +1s and a skill of your choice are a good start, but the real prize here is the feat. ASIs are so limited for most classes that some builds often have to compromise or wait for feats. This allows you to grab what you want immediately. A notable choice here might be Metamagic Adept to get more out of your slots, or Eldritch Adept to get even more invocations!
Mark of Finding (1) – The same as the Half Orc Mark of Finding above.
Mark of Handling (2) – Unless you really want to go for a nature theme I’d pass on this. Being able to bump your Cha saves this from being a 1.
Mark of Passage (3) – Good stats, an increased movement speed, and free Misty Step. If the free Misty Step recharged on a short rest like the Eladrin and Shadar Kai abilities, this would easily be a 4.
Mark of Sentinel (2) – Shield is nice but this is a pretty niche set of abilities overall, a bladelock could use Guardian’s Shield to get more damage from Armor of Agathys however.
Kalashtar (2) – A more versatile form of telepathy, advantage on all Wis saves, and resistance to the rarer psychic damage. A better package for later level games, a shame the +2 is in Wis not a more useful stat, but still a viable choice.
Kenku (1) – Dex is usable, but this is strictly a roleplay choice.
Kobold (2) – Very dependent on how often direct sunlight will come up in your game, if it doesn’t come up often and you have party members that like to be in melee, Pact Tactics can give you advantage on all of your Eldritch Blast attacks!
Leonin (1) – Not really a good fit for a Warlock, keep prowling.
Lizardfolk (2) – The stats are far from great, but the Natural Armor trait is like having permanent Mage Armor, without needing to spend an invocation, which carries this from a 1 to a 2.
Locathah (1) – Bad stats, worse AC than the above Lizardfolk and the ability to suffocate on a sunny day. There’s better fish in the sea.
Loxodon (1) – Lackluster stats and no stand out abilities for a Warlock, pure roleplay pick.
Minotaur (1) – Better suited to a martial class, if you expect a lot of synergy here you might end up getting the horns.
Orc (1) – A Str based bladelock might get some use out of Aggressive, but most Warlocks should just avoid.
Reborn (3) – Whatever stats you want, resistance to poison and a decent skill buff, but there doesn’t feel like there’s enough here for anything more than a roleplay pick. That said with choose your own stats and a broadly applicable ability I can’t rate this lower than a 3.
Satyr (5) – Good stats, 35ft movement speed, and the potentially very powerful Magic Resistance. This is a strong race for Warlocks with a lot to offer, if magical effects or enemy spell casters are rare in your game, this can bump down to a 4.
Beasthide Shifter (1) – Not really suited to being a Warlock, unless you’re looking to make a tanky bladelock.
Longtooth Shifter (1) – Slightly worse than the Beasthide, maybe a little too long in the tooth.
Swiftstride Shifter (4) – Good stats and a shifting ability that helps you stay out of melee range if you’re a ranged Warlock.
Wildhunt Shifter (2) – The stats aren’t ideal, but the ability to deny advantage on attacks against you is potentially a very strong defense.
Simic Hybrid (4) – Con and a floating +1 make for good enough stats. The variety of Animal Enhancement choices allows you a lot of customisation, the standout here being the +1 to your AC.
Tabaxi (4) – Good stats, good skills, and enhanced mobility that will let you get where you need to go in short order. If there was something here to help with your casting, the Tabaxi would easily break into being a 5.
Tiefling (PHB aka Asmodeus) (4) – That +1 Int is a bit of a waste, but the rest of the racial package is so strong and thematic that it still commands a 4, in my opinion. Fire is a common damage type, so a good resistance to have, a free cantrip (not on the Warlock list) is nice, but the free upcasting of Hellish Rebuke and Darkness add a meaningful increase to a Warlock’s casting, whilst keying off of Cha.
Baalzebul (3) – Mostly the same as above, but I think that Ray of Sickness and Crown of Madness are a bit of a downgrade compared to the PHB/Asmodeus layout.
Dispater (4) – The spells are more niche, but the +1 Dex makes for a perfect stat array.
Fierna (3) – Wis is better than Int that’s for sure, but the spells are unfortunately more niche than the default.
Glasya (4) – +1 Dex and a free casting of invisibility can make for an interesting offering.
Levistus (5) – No hang up of Int as on the PHB Tiefling,but with a good offensive cantrip and a free upcasted Armor of Agathys this option easily earns its rating .
Mammon (3) – An overall downgrade of spells in my opinion whilst maintaining the + 1 Int.
Mephistopheles (3) – Burning Hands won’t age well and Flame Blade is a very niche spell, as it doesn’t seem to work with the blade cantrips or the attack action.
Zariel (3) – Overall a significant downgrade in terms of spells offered, however this would make an excellent Str based bladelock.
Tortle (2) – The stats are bad here, but a flat 17AC that works with a shield is a very strong ability.
Triton (2) – Some Cha and Con make the stats workable; the spells are niche enough that I don’t think this warrants a 3, in light of races that offer more relevant features or slightly better stats..
Vedalken (1) – Vedalken Dispassion is a better version of the Gnome ability, so I have a hard time saying this is a flat 1, more 1.5, but the rest is so niche or not helpful for Warlocks that it doesn’t justify a 2.
Warforged (4) – Con and a floating +1 (likely Cha for Warlocks) is a good start, the +1 AC is very welcome on a Warlock, which mostly lacks the Shield spell unlike Sorcerers and Wizards. The poison resistance, skill, and other benefits are nice fringe benefits to compliment the main class.
Yuan-Ti Pureblood (4) – Int is a shame, but the +2 Cha is more than enough to compensate. The potentially powerful Magic Resistance is followed up with some additional Cha based casting and full blown poison immunity! If the Int was a more relevant stat, like Dex or Con this would easily be a 5.
Feats can be a fantastic way to build out the toolkit of the Warlock, giving them additional resources and spell casting to round out and compensate for their limited number of Pact Magic spell slots. Where possible, I would advise choosing feats in a way that don’t interfere much with your Charisma progression, such as half feats that give +1 Cha, or getting your Cha to 18 first.
The contents in the following list of feats are arranged alphabetically, but divided by the books they are found in to make it easy to see what you can choose from if certain sources are not allowed at your table. If a feat has a race prerequisite, it is denoted in [brackets]. Other prerequisites may apply, such as minimum stats, or the ability to cast a spell so be sure to check the book text when choosing feats.
Alert (3) – A good feat for pretty much everyone; a high initiative allows a Warlock to cast some potentially combat changing spells before the enemy has a chance to act or spread out.
Athlete (1) – I wouldn’t really advise this for any Warlock as the benefits are just too niche to be worth anything and there’s better ways to round out an odd Dex.
Actor (3) – A fun feat for a face character Warlock; allows you to progress your Charisma whilst picking up some nice RP abilities. This pairs very well with the Mask of Many Faces invocation.
Charger (1) – There’s potentially some very niche builds and scenarios this would be helpful, the general advice is stay well clear of this one however.
Crossbow Expert (2) – This has some surprising value, as it prevents disadvantage on ranged spell attacks if you have a hostile within 5ft, a situation which can normally drastically hamper an Eldritch Blast build. If you’re a bladelock using a crossbow, this is needed to make more than one attack with the Thirsting Blade invocation.
Defensive Duelist (2) – This can be a relatively niche feat, especially if you try to keep your Warlock at range. This would be a good option for a Dex based bladelock, however, all Warlocks could benefit from this just by holding a dagger in their off hand. The at will boost to your AC is a nice alternative to Shield.
Dual Wielder (1) – There’s no really compelling cases to grab this on a single classed Warlock.
Dungeon Delver (2) – Very niche; if you’re in a lot of dungeon environments then this is pretty great.
Durable (1) – Generally, I’d suggest you look at other feats; Durable becomes more appealing in games with more restrictive healing or resting rules, like the DMG Gritty Realism variant.
Elemental Adept (2) – Very dependent on your spell choices, a very niche feat but can be very advantageous to Celestial and Tiefling Warlocks.
Grappler (1) – A bad feat that requires Str you don’t need and probably won’t want.
Great Weapon Master (1) – Maybe if you’re a Str based bladelock, but that’s too niche to rate any higher.
Healer (2) – Great source of, or boost to, healing in any party and enough to make a Celestial Warlock a pretty great healing character. It doesn’t enhance the average Warlock’s role or abilities, so it’s hard to rate higher than a 2, but is still a strong feat.
Heavily Armored (1) – You could get use out of this, but it would be so costly that it isn’t worth it.
Heavy Armor Master (1) – Same as above, the value of this feat is completely overshadowed by the costs.
Inspiring Leader (5) – A fantastic feat for a high Cha character, the amount of durability it adds to you and your party over the course of the day is significant. This has extra value for chainlocks as your familiar can also benefit from the temp hp.
Keen Mind (1) – Nifty ribbon abilities, but you’ve no need for Int.
Lightly Armored (1) – You’re already proficient in light armor.
Linguist (1) – Still no need for Int, the extra languages might be useful but you can gain magic to help with any language barriers.
Lucky (3) – Although Lucky is a powerful feat every character would be able to use, I would only take it on a Warlock once any more relevant feats or stat bumps have been taken.
Mage Slayer (1) – This is a bit too niche to be a 2, you need to both be fighting a lot of enemy spellcasters and be within 5ft of them for most of the feat’s benefits.
Magic Initiate (3) – Two cantrips and a casting of a 1st level spell once a day can be a significant increase in spell casting for the average Warlock. It’s generally best to choose a Cha based class for this feat; choosing Warlock would allow you to cast the spell you choose with Pact Magic slots.
Martial Adept (2) – If you’re a bladelock this might be of use to you. Every Warlock could make use of Parry as a short rest defense.
Medium Armor Master (2) – This is a noticeable upgrade for medium armor users, only applicable to Hexblades and certain other builds, so pretty niche.
Mobile (2) – Not much use for most Warlocks, best for bladelocks.
Moderately Armored (3) – Upgrading to medium armor and shields is a significant AC boost for most Warlocks. Whilst this is a perfectly viable feat, I would recommend grabbing those proficiencies from a one level dip into another class if you’re able and willing, it’ll yield far more benefits for a minor delay in your Warlock progression.
Mounted Combatant (1) – Warlocks aren’t particularly good cavalry; if you have a mount you really care about, then this is a must.
Observant (1) – A decent feat, but Wis is low priority and the benefits are too niche and minor to be worth it otherwise.
Polearm Master (2) – Bladelocks and tomelocks using Shillelagh could get some good use out of this, the bonus action attack does compete with Hex unfortunately.
Resilient (3) – Choosing Con is a great way of keeping concentration on your precious and few spells.
Ritual Caster (1) – The prerequisite makes this too unappealing. If you want to grab some ritual casting on a Warlock, the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation for tomelocks is a far superior method.
Savage Attacker (1) – This will always be a bad feat, but even worse if you don’t regularly make melee weapon attacks.
Sentinel (2) – Best for melee bladelocks, other Warlocks are probably best avoiding this.
Sharpshooter (1) – If you’re a bladelock that uses a ranged weapon then this could be nice, but that’s a niche within a niche.
Shield Master (1) – Maybe if you’re a Hexblade, but there’s more competitive feat choices.
Skilled (2) – A good feat if you want to be a skill monkey, something to consider when you have all the things you really want.
Skulker (1) – If you want to play a sneaky archer Warlock then this might be for you, though so might be a Rogue multiclass.
Spell Sniper (2) – There’s a certain novelty to being able Eldritch Blast someone hundreds of feet away, the main benefit to this feat is ignoring most cover and gaining an extra attack cantrip.
Tavern Brawler (1) – There isn’t really much in the Warlock to make this more than a fun bit of roleplay combat for you.
Tough (2) – Who doesn’t love more hit points? If you’re looking to tank, this is a good choice.
War Caster (4) – Advantage on saves to maintain concentration is a huge benefit. Being able to use spells for attacks of opportunity can add a lot of damage to your turns depending on your party.
Weapon Master (1) – This is bad, and you don’t want to feel bad about choosing it.
Bountiful Luck [Halfling] (1) – The restriction of not being able to use your Lucky trait yourself until the end of your next turn is too much of a trade off.
Dragon Fear [Dragonborn] (4) – A nice way to bump your Charisma and convert your breath weapon into a fear based debuff, the short rest recharge pairs well with your spell slots.
Dragon Hide [Dragonborn] (3) – Maintain your Cha progression whilst grabbing an always on, non-magical armor solution saving you an invocation. The claws are really a ribbon here, always having a fallback weapon isn’t a bad thing.
Drow High Magic [Drow] (3) – If you can fit this feat in, it provides a lot of casting value; the Detect Magic at will is worth an invocation on it’s own, and a free casting of a 2nd and 3rd level spell is a lot of bonus casting. The nice thing about this is the spells involved tend to age well as you level up, perhaps actually becoming more valuable as magic becomes more common.
Dwarven Fortitude [Dwarf] (1) – Con is nice, but you have no way of dodging as a bonus action. If you find a regular need for this feat as a Warlock something is wrong, and yes, we’re going to need to have a talk.
Elven Accuracy [Elf or Half-Elf] (5) – Cha bump and super advantage? This feat is a no-brainer if you’re eligible for it. The amount of attacks you’ll be making with either eldritch Blast or Thirsting Blade can really get use of this feat.
Fade Away [Gnome] (2) – A short rest defensive ability is nice. If you have an odd Dex, this is an okay choice in later levels once you’ve picked up better options.
Fey Teleportation [High Elf] (5) – If you’re a high elf Warlock, this is a great feat. Cha bump and free Misty Step once per short rest. That’s a significant increase to your mobility, allowing you to get away from trouble, into trouble, and even around trouble.
Flames of Phlegethos [Tiefling] (3) – This is pretty niche, but the Cha bump means you can’t really go wrong. This feat is best used by any build which regularly uses Green Flame Blade, allowing you to reroll damage and leverage the d4 damage often.
Infernal Constitution [Tiefling] (3) – Con will help your hp and your concentration saving throws, but I mostly just find it hard to rate a half feat that increases your number of resistances to three, lower than a 3.
Orcish Fury [Half-Orc] (1) – Maybe for a bladelock, but there’s so much better to do with your ASIs.
Prodigy [Half-Orc, Half-Elf, Human] (2) – Not a bad feat at all, very dependent on the type of character you want to play as it won’t enhance your general Warlock-y-ness (yes, it’s a word).
Second Chance [Halfling] (4) – Bump your Cha and get a once per encounter defensive ability? That’s a pretty great option, especially since it allows you to get around enemies with advantage against you.
Squat Nimbleness [Dwarf] (1) – If you have an odd Dex then maybe, but there’s just so many better ways to round out your Dex and so many better feats than this. Trust me, you’re better than this.
Wood Elf Magic [Wood Elf] (3) – This is quite a bit of additional casting; Pass without Trace is a fantastic spell on its own. I recommend Guidance as the Druid cantrip, as it won’t require your Wisdom modifier.
Eberron: RftLW feats
Aberrant Dragonmark [non dragonmarked race] (2) – Rounding out an odd Con and getting some spells is nice, however, those spells relying on your Con for casting is not so great.
Revenant Blade [Elf] (2) – If you’re a double-bladed scimitar wielding bladelock, this is pretty great, though there’s no real reason for any other Warlock to pick one of those up.
Artificer Initiate (2) – This isn’t a bad way to get a mix of spells, like Guidance and Shield from a single feat. If there’s something you really want, go for it, but the other spellcasting feats are more powerful.
Chef (2) – This is a great one for roleplay and campaigns with variant healing rules or high difficulty. Best taken as a feat on a V.Human or after you’ve bumped your Cha.
Crusher (1) – The restriction to bludgeoning damage is so niche, I don’t think this warrants a 2 overall for the Warlock. This would be good for a Dao Genie Warlock, as they’re able to add bludgeoning to any attack roll.
Eldritch Adept (3) – This can be a fantastic way to get all of the invocations you want without having to gain extra invocations from your class first. If you have access to a feat at first level, this can allow you access to invocations before you’d normally gain them.
Fey Touched (5) – Grab a great spell, bump your Cha and still get to choose another spell? You can choose Hex as your second spell, freeing up both your spells known and Pact Magic slots.
Fighting Initiate (1) – Picking up a fighting style can be great for most Warlocks, be it Defense for AC or Dueling for more damage on a Bladelock. The problem here is that the only kind of Warlock who qualifies for this feat is the Hexblade, unless you grab a martial weapon proficiency from your race.
Gunner (2) – Not as bad as you’d think, you can round out an odd Dex and like Crossbow Expert it can allow you to use Eldritch Blast without disadvantage in melee range.
Metamagic Adept (3) – Not many Sorcery Points to last an entire day, but it can allow you to make the most of your spells when it matters. Highlights include casting Eldritch Blast twice in one turn, or using Twinned Spell to get double the value out of spells like Hold Person and Fly.
Piercer (2) – Only really useful for Bladelocks using piercing weapons, however the ability to bump Dex does make it appealing for those Warlocks.
Poisoner (1) – Not really enough here for a Warlock, it would bypass poison resistance for any spells that use poison as the damage type, but worth staying away in general.
Shadow Touched (4) – More free spells and a Cha bump, what’s not to love? This is rated slightly lower than Fey Touched just because I rate Misty Step as a more versatile spell and the ability to grab a free casting of Hex is very nice.
Skill Expert (3) – Bump whatever stat you like and gain both a skill and an Expertise. If you’re looking to up your skill game, this is a really nice feat that won’t slow your Cha progression.
Slasher (2) – Pretty much the same story here as Piercer.
Telekinetic (4) – A superior version of Mage Hand, a Cha bump, and an at will control ability that can save your party members (and yourself) from melee range or can be used to push enemies into hazards like Spike Growth..
Telepathic (3) – Similar to Telekinetic, but much more of a RP choice rather than universally helpful.
Multiclassing Your Warlock
In this section, we’ll review each class in terms of how good of a multiclass it is for a Warlock, mentioning how many levels and what subclass (if any) would work best. The ratings take multiclassing prerequisites into consideration; if a multiclass will require you to have a 13 in a stat other than Cha or Dex, then it may receive a lower score but this isn’t as severe for Wis requirements as it’s a useful stat to have a +2 in if you can afford it. If it can be avoided try to not just have a 13 in a prerequisite stat, an odd number is a dead number.
General multiclass tips for the Warlock:
- With how limited your spell casting is, I recommend getting to, at minimum, Warlock level 2 before dipping. This will give you two spell slots per short rest and your invocations.
- Warlock spellcasting doesn’t multiclass in the same way as other spellcasters, instead of adding to your spellcasting level you instead keep your Pact Magic slots separate from your multiclass. For example, if a level 2 Sorcerer took one level of Bard, they would be a 3rd level spellcaster and have four 1st level slots and two 2nd level slots. However, a level 2 Warlock who takes a level of Sorcerer would have two 1st level Pact Magic spell slots, that recharge on a short or long rest, and two 1st level spells that recharge only on a long rest. Despite the spell slots being kept separately, you can cast spells you know from either class with any spell slot you have.
- Consider why you want to multiclass. If it is to gain a mechanical benefit, perhaps look at races and feats to see if you can achieve the same thing without slowing your Warlock progression.
- Due to the sparsity of Pact Magic spell slots, gaining extra resources from multiclasses can be extremely valuable. Short rest resources, like a Fighter’s Second Wind and Action Surge, will naturally be intuitive for you to ration and will allow you to ‘nova’ fairly regularly. Conversely, long rest resources can be more powerful or plentiful, but you may take some time to get used to balancing their use versus your normal short rest recharging spell slots.
Artificer (2) – Int is a hurdle with this multiclass, but the diverse nature of the Artificer spell list combined with them using prepared instead of known spells makes this a decent choice for certain builds. Two levels will also allow you access to your own magic items, great for campaigns where magic items are few and far between. If you take three levels then the Alchemist would allow you to convert any unused Pact Magic slots into Experimental Elixirs before you take a short rest.
Barbarian (1) – Str as a prerequisite and a main feature that shuts down casting and concentration make this a definite avoid for most Warlocks. You could make this work on some very niche builds, like a bladelock that doesn’t cast spells but uses their slots for Eldritch Smite, which would work whilst Raging.
Bard (5) – There’s a lot of great stuff in the Bard class, and as it’s a Cha based class there is perfect stat synergy between it and the Warlock class. Dipping into Bard can allow you to grab a lot of utility and support spells, ritual casting, Bardic Inspiration dice (which use your Cha modifier), and Jack of All trades as a fantastic all round skill and initiative bump. There’s even a skill and instrument proficiency to be had!
Cleric (3) – Wisdom is a good stat to have a 14 in, which makes multiclassing into Cleric not as troublesome as other non-Cha stats (this also applies to the Druid). Access to the additional spell slots and spells you wouldn’t normally get access to is nice, but the real lure of dipping into Cleric is gaining medium armor and shield proficiencies and the domain abilities. Which domain to choose really depends on your build, you may want the initiative boost of the Twilight Cleric or the magic item of the Forge domain. If you take this to two levels, Channel Divinity becomes a potentially potent short rest resource depending on the domain.
Druid (4) – This is a pretty high rating and that’s driven primarily by the Wild Shape ability, which not only offers utility but with newer Druid circles offers you potent short rest abilities, in addition to the extra spell casting. Standouts here are the Circle of Stars and Wildfire for combat power, or the Circle of the Shepherd for support. Like Cleric this also offers medium armor and shields, though would restrict you to non metal versions.
Fighter (4) – Fighter is good for pretty much every class: the prerequisites are flexible and common, and the opening levels are very rewarding. Second Wind offers you an in-combat self heal, the armor proficiencies are a meaningful AC upgrade for most Warlocks, and there’s a Fighting Style for every build. If you go two levels in, Action Surge allows you to cast two leveled spells in a single turn, though you will likely be out of slots doing so. If you go to 3rd level, Eldritch Knight can offer increased spell casting, and Battle Master provides an additional short rest resource.
Monk (1) – Monk is a hard multiclass for Warlock to make work; there’s nothing really inherent to improve your spell casting, unless you grab a subclass, and the overall class is too dependent on Ki and having at least a decent Wisdom. Unless you have a build idea that relies on a Monk mechanic, you should just pass this up.
Paladin (4) – This multiclass is very popular and referred to as a Padlock/Palock. The Str prerequisite isn’t great, but the potential is there for a great dip. If you want to dip Paladin, then really you should go a minimum of two levels in, one will only give you a little Lay on Hands and some proficiencies. However, taking that second level will unlock a fighting style, more Cha based spellcasting, and Divine Smite which works well with your short rest spell slots. The Vengeance Paladin’s Vow of Enmity can be useful for a Warlock; gaining advantage on attacks for Eldritch Blast or a leveled spell is very potent.
Ranger (2) – Unfortunately, there isn’t much here for Warlocks; the Wis prerequisite seems steep when all you’re getting are the armor proficiencies. You’d have to go to second level for additional spellcasting and a fighting style, but the spells will use Wisdom and there’s better ways to get the ones you may be interested in. I would suggest a single level in Fighter and Cleric, over taking two levels of Ranger. If you go to three levels, the Gloomstalker offers a nice mix of abilities–best for weapon-using Warlocks.
Rogue (3) – Unfortunately for most Warlocks, Sneak Attack will go to waste, if you’re playing a bladelock who uses a finesse or ranged weapon, this would be a 4. Expertise and Thieves’ Tools are great utility and Cunning Action represents a nice set of at will bonus action abilities.
Sorcerer (5) – Similar to the Bard, but better in some ways as you only need to dip one level to get a subclass. A single level can give you access to some nice abilities, like the Divine Soul’s Favored by the Gods which recharges on a short rest, as well as some long rest spell slots. If you go to two levels of Sorcerer, you’ll gain the ability to make an additional 1st level slot once a day, and if you take your dip to 3rd level you get the Metamagic ability, which is a huge boon to your spellcasting. This multiclass is very popular and commonly referred to as a Sorlock, it is also the basis for the coffeelock build principle.
Wizard (2) – Being Intelligence based for both, the multiclass and the spellcasting, greatly limits the usefulness of this dip. This can still be a useful dip if you focus on spells that don’t use your casting modifier, like Shield, and make use of the ritual casting feature. Arcane recovery gives you one more spell slot than any other single level dip, and if you go to second level Wizard there’s a few different schools that could be useful. I recommend the Divination and War Wizard for useful abilities, the latter especially as it will give you an at will defensive option that pairs well with Eldritch Blast.
Hopefully this guide has helped you understand the fine print of the contract from your next Warlock patron, and you’re looking forward to starting your freelance job. If you’re unsure about how to go about leveling up your Warlock, check out this article here. Good luck to your DMs monsters, you’re about to become the thing that goes bump in the night… well, as long as you took Devil’s Sight.