The Warlord went wide-eyed when the party burst through the doors into his private chambers. As he reached for his sword and charged to his feet he paused for a moment, almost as if his leg cramped. The brief delay was enough to give the first strike to the party, the muscle-bound Fighter swinging an impossibly large axe, a studious-looking fellow mumbling words of power, and a slight tiefling woman sending blasts of brilliant energy in his direction. Everyone’s blows landed, gashing open an arm that looked like it belonged on an Ettin and throwing the Warlord back into his own throne–but it was the tiefling’s blasts that struck hardest. Every bolt of energy seemed to linger after it hit, the Warlord’s skin decaying where each hit landed until he crumpled over, defeated after decades of tyranny. That night, the tiefling drank for free as her companions praised her idea to stalk the Warlord and place a Hex upon his dexterity before striking.
What is Hex?
Hex is a 1st level spell on the Warlock spell list, it takes a bonus action to cast and lasts for an hour as long as you concentrate on it. If you cast it using a spell slot of 3rd or 4th level, it can instead last for 8 hours or a full 24 hours if cast using a 5th level slot, just don’t lose that concentration! If your target dies before the spell ends, you can use a bonus action to move it to another target on a subsequent turn.
As for what it does, well, the core reason people cast it is to get an additional 1d6 of necrotic damage whenever they hit the hexed target with an attack. Neat, huh? The attack can be a spell or weapon, but it must be an attack roll, not a saving throw. I know, I know: that oozing juicy necrotic damage is already worth it. If you like that, this next bit will make Hex a nat 20 in your books.
Not only do you get to add all that extra damage per hit, when you cast it, you can also choose an ability score to then force all ability checks that creature makes with it to be at disadvantage. This is specific to checks, so you can’t give disadvantage on saving throws, but you can still make good use of it: In our example at the beginning of the article, the Warlord had his Dexterity hexed, meaning he had disadvantage on his initiative roll. You can also Hex Strength or Dexterity to make grappling a creature easier, or hex their Wisdom so they have a harder time finding you if you’re trying to be sneaky. When you think about the different checks that might be made you really can get creative with your hexes to help your party out.
Is Hex a good spell?
A solid yes! Hex synergises well with the Warlock; unlike other cantrips, Eldritch Blast (another Warlock exclusive) gets additional attacks instead of additional damage dice. This means that you can trigger the additional damage from Hex multiple times from a single casting. For Warlocks choosing Pact of the Blade and the Thirsting Blade invocation (which gives you two attacks with your pact weapon) Hex represents a nice damage bump to help keep them competitive with the other martials in the party. As Hex has a duration that scales with spell slot level, the limitation on the Warlock of only having two spells of a fixed level to cast with isn’t wasted either. Told you it was neat!
Hex is a concentration spell, which means you may not be able to use other spells you wanted to and you’ll have to be careful not to take too much damage to avoid those Constitution saving throws, in order to maintain your concentration. With this in mind, a starting level in a class that gives you Con save proficiency would be helpful, as would taking Resilient (Constitution), or just generally making sure you have a fairly high Con mod (hugging your local Paladin is also an option, but as always ask if they want to be hugged first!).
How else can you get Hex?
Hex may only be on the Warlock’s spell list, but where there’s Dice Cove there’s a way! Here are all the other ways you can grab this great spell:
Take a dip into Warlock -Now I’m only asking you to dip your toe, not go diving! In my defense, it’s a great class to dip into for Charisma-based casters, so whilst you’re there you may as well sample all on offer, right?
Magic Initiate (feat) – With this feat you’ll be able to choose two cantrips from the Warlock spell list, as well as one spell that you can cast once per long rest without needing a spell slot (RAW you cannot cast the spell with your own slots unless you have at least one level in Warlock).
Fey Touched (feat) – A newer feat from TCoE, this will allow you to increase one mental stat of your choice by 1, as well as giving you Misty Step and one first level divination or enchantment spell of your choice. You can cast each spell once without a spell slot per long rest. Unlike Magic Initiate, however, you can cast them with your own spell slots. Why have I rambled on about this feat? Because Hex is a 1st level divination spell you can get from it, of course!
Aberrant Mind (Sorcerer subclass) – This subclass gives you additional spells known at certain levels, and if you’re familiar with the class, you might be thinking, ‘but Hex isn’t one of them’ and you’d be right. That said, when you level up, you can trade out one of those given spells for any other spell that’s either divination or enchantment, and can be from the Sorcerer, Wizard, or Warlock spell list. This allows you to combine Hex with Metamagic options, such as using Subtle Spell to Hex a target discretely out of combat.
Now you’re well-informed on the fringe benefits of selling your soul for power, why not check out this article so you know how to keep concentration on what matters. I hope that this has proven to be a bewitching read. And to all you budding Warlocks out there: Hex responsibly!