The DnD 5e Warlock Guide

Published on March 12, 2020, Last modified on October 4th, 2021

In this post, we will be examining the Warlock’s Class Features and how you can optimize your Warlock through choosing your Race, Ability Score, Spells, Feats, etc.

What is this guide?

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e Warlock. For a quick overview of the Warlock Class, see our breakdown of the DnD 5e Classes.

The color code below has been implemented to help you identify, at a glance, how good that option will be for your Warlock. This color-coding isn’t a hard and fast rule; there are plenty of sub-optimized options out there that will be viable to your party and will be fun to play.

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all
  • Orange is an OK option
  • Green is a good option
  • Blue is a great option, you should strongly consider this option for your character
  • Sky Blue is an amazing option. If you do not take this option your character would not be optimized

So if you’re ready, give some props to your Patron and prepare for a lot of Eldritch Blasting.

Did you know?

D&D Beyond can help create your characters by making choices using a step-by-step approach. Full customization and control of your character, none of the flipping through hundreds of pages to reference obscure rules.

D&D 5e Warlock Overview

Level Proficiency Bonus Features Cantrips Known Spells Known Spell Slots Slot Level Invocations
Known
1st +2 Otherworldly Patron, Pact Magic 2 2 1 1st
2nd +2 Eldritch Invocations 2 3 2 1st 2
3rd +2 Pact Boon 2 4 2 2nd 2
4th +2 Ability Score Improvement 3 5 2 2nd 2
5th +3 3 6 2 3rd 3
6th +3 Otherworldly Patron feature 3 7 2 3rd 3
7th +3 3 8 2 4th 4
8th +3 Ability Score Improvement 3 9 2 4th 4
9th +4 3 10 2 5th 5
10th +4 Otherworldly Patron feature 4 10 2 5th 5
11th +4 Mystic Arcanum (6th level) 4 11 3 5th 5
12th +4 Ability Score Improvement 4 11 3 5th 6
13th +5 Mystic Arcanum (7th level) 4 12 3 5th 6
14th +5 Otherworldly Patron feature 4 12 3 5th 6
15th +5 Mystic Arcanum (8th level) 4 13 3 5th 7
16th +5 Ability Score Improvement 4 13 3 5th 7
17th +6 Mystic Arcanum (9th level) 4 14 4 5th 7
18th +6 4 14 4 5th 8
19th +6 Ability Score Improvement 4 15 4 5th 8
20th +6 Eldritch Master 4 15 4 5th 8

Playstyle

Warlocks get their powers by dedicating themselves to an Eldritch Being. These Beings tend to be on the dark side, so your character might have a tough time getting along with a party’s lawful good Paladin or religious Cleric. This devotion to an Eldritch Being comes with a fair share of issues, so you may find yourself in tough situations where your party is wanting to do one thing but your Eldritch Patron wants another.

Warlocks are not area of effect blasters like the evoker Wizard or a Sorcerer. Instead, they have a few major defining aspects – Eldritch Blasts, Curses, and Mind Control.

Strengths

The Warlock is a half-caster class, meaning they only learn up to 5th level spells, with the exception of their Mystic Arcanum. Unlike the other half caster classes, they are built entirely around casting spells and have a couple of quirks about their spell caster that makes them a very unique caster.

First of all, Warlocks are CHA-based casters. Secondly, they have a very reduced number of spell slots and can only ever cast spells at their highest level. This means that all of your spells are going to pack one hell of a punch with the caveat that you will run out of spells slots quite easily.

One good thing to note about this is that Warlocks regain all of their spells slots with a short rest, so with as little as one hour of downtime Warlocks can be back at full offensive strength.

Warlocks also have a number of passive abilities called Invocations. A staple Invocation called Agonizing Blast allows Warlocks to add the CHA modifier to their best damage Cantrip, Eldritch Blast. This allows Warlocks to always put out a fair amount of damage, even if they run out of their meager spell slots.

Weaknesses

A Warlock’s spell slots are its biggest weakness. Up until 10th-level they only have two spell slots per short rest, and only ever get up to four spell slots at the 20th-level. This means that Warlocks can wind up without any spells very quickly if your party runs into trouble.

This, combined with the fact that Warlocks don’t get a ton of other combat-focused abilities (outside of the Hexblade subclass), means that a Warlock’s resources can get used up pretty quick and they become very reliant on cantrips.

Before You Start

Standard Races

Dragonborn: The +1 CHA bonus is nice, but the +2 STR will go to waste. The breath weapon can help with limited spells.

Dwarf: No CHA is tough and the Warlock won’t be tanking any time soon, even if they choose Pact of the Blade. Additional hitpoints are always helpful.

  • Hill: A bonus to WIS can occasionally help with Wisdom saves, but additional hitpoints aren’t useful.
  • Mountain: STR on a Warlock? Not very useful.

Elf: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the AC of a Warlock. Proficiency in Perception and having Darkvision is useful.

  • Drow Elf: A +1 to CHA is just what you’re looking for, and so is the flavor. Just don’t go out in sunlight!
  • High Elf: High Elves get an INT boost and a free Wizard cantrip of your choice. The INT bonus will be wasted but an extra cantrip is always welcome. If you are playing a Hexblade, grab Booming Blade or Green Fire Sword.  
  • Wood Elf: Nothing here is beneficial as a Warlock.

Gnome: You don’t need a bonus to INT as a Warlock.

  • Forest: Nothing here is beneficial as a Warlock.
  • Rock: Nothing here is beneficial as a Warlock.

Half-Elf: The +2 CHA, ASI, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for the Warlock class. 

Half-Orc: STR and CON bonuses, let’s move on.

Halfling: The DEX bonus again marginally helps with AC problems and the Lucky trait is always nice to have.

  • Lightfoot: +1 to CHA, in addition to the bonus to DEX and Lucky from the Halfling traits is pretty nice.
  • Stout: Let your beefy party members worry about CON. 

Human: Humans are always decent.

  • Vanilla: A middle-of-the-road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1. Warlocks definitely don’t need the full array of ability scores as much as they need +2 CHA and +1 to DEX or CON .
  • Variant: Getting bonus CHA plus a proficiency and a feat at first level is typically pretty good. Feats aren’t great for Warlocks that aren’t going to run with Hexblade, which makes this choice a bit less appealing if you do not plan on going for that option.

TieflingTieflings get a +2 boost to CHA, a free cantrip, and free spells at higher levels making them the best class choice for a Warlock.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra: The only beneficial thing here is flight.
Aasimar: Any of the subraces will work for Warlock. Fallen and Protector are the best for sure.
Changelings: +2 CHA is the best stat boost for a pure CHA caster, and the free ability score increase can be used on either DEX or CON depending on your needs. Since they have access to so many spells, a Warlock could use Shapechanger in combination with a whole host of Illusion spells to make a pretty sly character.

Half-Elf

  • Mark of Storm: Certainly a tempting subrace because it offers a number of spells while keeping with a solid ability mod bonus.
Kalashtar: Because the Kalashtar’s racial traits are so good, having only +1 to CHA is acceptable.
Simic Hybrids: CHA is your only reasonable option for the flexible ability score. Carapace is a good choice for the squishier caster classes.
Shifter: The only subrace that hosts a CHA increase is the Swiftstride Shifter, although it is only +1. A melee Hexblade Warlock could be an interesting build here as the Swiftstride has a way of avoiding opportunity attacks and grants a sizeable DEX boost.
Tabaxi: DEX makes the class less squishy and CHA is the most important ability score for Warlock. The rest of the racial traits are very movement-focused, with some solid proficiencies thrown in.

Tiefling:

  • Bloodline of Asmodeus: Good spell list but the ASI to INT will likely go to waste.
  • Bloodline of Dispater: DEX is a good ASI to help AC, stealth, etc. and the spell list is alright.
  • Bloodline of Glasya: DEX ASI and some great spells.
  • Bloodline of Levistus: CON ASIs are always welcome as they mean more HP. The spells are solid as well.
Tritons: CON and CHA are really the only two ability scores that Warlocks need to worry about outside of a little bit of DEX. Control Air and Water gives you a few more spells to play with.
Warforged: Warforged Warlocks do best when built with melee combat in mind. Consider a Hexblade Warlock if you want to use this race and raise your CHA with the ASI boost.

Yuan-ti Purebloods: Yuan-ti Purebloods have everything a Warlock could want: +2 to CHA, innate spells, and some fantastic defensive traits to keep you alive.

 

Ability Scores

Ability Score Increases (ASI) at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level.

Warlocks need CHA and nothing else is critically important.

STR: Just no.

DEX: Warlocks get proficiency in light armor so pumping DEX is the best way to increase AC.

CON: More hitpoints and better CON saves make the Warlock less squishy.

INT: Dump this stat for sure.

WIS: Can help with WIS saves and Perception.

CHA: This is the most important stat for the Warlock, pump this as high as you can.

Best Backgrounds for Warlocks

  • Charlatan: Deception to go with the great CHA and sleight of hand can always be useful
  • Criminal: Deception and one of the most important skills in 5e, Stealth.
  • Guild Artisan: Insight is always great, even if you have a low WIS. Persuasion is a super useful skill here.
  • Sailor: Perception is the most important skill in the game, taking this background can help balance out the low WIS modifier
  • Urchin: If you don’t have a Rogue, grabbing proficiencies in Sleight of Hand and Stealth can help your party’s chance of staying sneaky.

Warlock Class Progression

1st Level

Hit Points: A d8 hit dice, lack of healing spells, and low AC make the Warlock’s survivability something to be desired.

Saves: CHA saves are only really present at higher levels. A proficiency in WIS saves helps mitigate the fact that WIS is a dump stat for most Warlock builds.

Weapon/Armour Proficiencies: Light Armour and Simple Weapons is likely good enough for your Warlock. Pact of the Blade gives you automatic proficiency with the weapon you conjure and the Hexblade Patron gives you medium armor and shields.

SkillsUnfortunately the Warlock only gets to pick two skills from their not-so-good Skill pool:

  • Arcana (INT): You will probably be leaving this up to other party members. If you have no other casters in your party it might be worth a take but dumping INT will make this tough.
  • Deception (CHA): Probably the best Skill in your pool and plays nice with the Warlock’s propensity to stack CHA.
  • History (INT): Same as the other INT skills.
  • Intimidation (CHA): Honestly, Deception is way better.
  • Investigation (INT): Again, hopefully somebody else is stacking INT.
  • Nature (INT): Same as the other INT skills.
  • Religion (INT): Same as the other INT skills.

Pact Magic: Pact Magic is a totally unique mechanic for Warlocks. Essentially you have a very limited pool of spell slots and you can only cast spells at their highest level (For example, a Level 5 Warlock has 2 Spell Slots and always casts them at 3rd level). The good news is that your very limited spell slots recharge on a short rest, the bad news is that if you don’t get short rests very often you will become reliant on cantrips.

Otherworldly Patron: Like Clerics and Sorcerers, Warlocks get to choose their subclass at 1st-level.

The Archfey

The Archfey Warlock focuses on using the glamor and magic of the fey to ensnare the senses of enemies.

  • 1st Level
    • Archfey Expanded Spells
      • 1st Level
        • Sleep: Sleep is a very good 1st level spell slot. It can easily end encounters at lower levels. By the time you reach level 5 it will be pretty useless unless you want a semi-consistent way of none lethal damage.
        • Faerie Fire: Faerie Fire is a better spell overall than Sleep because it scales and is a great way to deal with pesky invisibility.
      • 2nd Level
        • Calm Emotions: Not a good spell. If any of the hostile creatures make their CHA saves, you will still be in for a bad time. Also, only a 20ft radius and it’s concentration.
        • Phantasmal Force: There are extreme situations where this could be useful, but it is simply not a good spell.
      • 3rd Level
        • Blink: 50% chance of completely avoiding any damage for a turn is more consistent over a long period than Mirror Image.
        • Plant Growth: Could be useful in certain circumstances when you need to control the battlefield.
      • 4th Level
        • Dominate Beast: Not many Beasts are going to be worth your 4th level spell to Dominate. If you’re fighting a CR8 T-Rex you’ll wish you had this spell.
        • Greater Invisibility: Great spell to avoid damage in combat while also getting advantage on your attacks. Also, you can give it to a melee teammate for a very potent, hard to hit damage dealer.
      • 5th Level
        • Dominate Person: Amazing spell, can be useful in combat and RP scenarios.
        • Seeming: Neat out of combat spell.
    • Fey Presence: Forcing WIS saves on everything in a 10ft cube or be charmed/frightened is akin to the Fear spell, which is great value especially at such a low level. Can help you get out of combat or for RP purposes.
  • 6th Level
    • Misty Escape: Similar to a combination of Misty Step and Invisibility that can be activated as a reaction. Very strong effect but can only be used once per short/long rest. Save this for when the consequences are especially dire.
  • 10th Level
    • Beguiling Defenses: Charmed is one of the more common features, especially in the higher tier of play. The immunity is great but being able to charm the enemy back is great value. It’s a situational feature that can end up really paying off a couple of times over the course of a campaign.
  • 14th Level
    • Dark Delirium: Pretty decent way to remove a creature from combat but it requires concentration. This is less effective than just banishing the creature because the effect ends if the target takes any damage. The upside is this is more powerful in RP scenarios.  Very “Mysterio” from Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The Celestial

Channel the power of an entity of the Upper Planes into divine healing energy.

  • 1st Level
    • Celestial Expanded Spells
    • 1st
      • Cure Wounds: A staple healing spell that is very unusual for Warlocks to possess. Unfortunately, it’s touch and costs a full action. Scales well with levels.
      • Guiding Bolt: Fantastic damage early on, and if the creature didn’t die the next attack against it gets advantage which should do the trick.
    • 2nd
      • Flaming Sphere: Not the best damage, but AoE and the ability to move the sphere and continually cause damage as a bonus action makes this a good use of resources. Especially so if you are up against a horde of weak enemies. Damage scales well with Warlock spell levels.
      • Lesser Restoration: Diseases and conditions do come up from time to time, so you’ll be happy to have this when they do. This spell doesn’t scale with levels so Warlocks won’t want to use it much after 5th-level
    • 3rd
      • Daylight: The Light cantrip on steroids. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful. Doesn’t scale well with Warlock spell levels.
      • Revivify: Bringing allies back from the dead is extremely valuable. Doesn’t scale with levels but there are few uses of a spell slot that are more important than bringing back a dead ally.
    • 4th
      • Guardian of Faith: A decent way to get some extra damage in if you know that a fight will take place in a specific location. Guardian of Faith can also be used as a sort of alarm when taking a long rest in a dangerous place. Doesn’t scale with Warlock spell levels.
      • Wall of Fire: Amazing battlefield control option to divide enemies and deal massive damage.
    • 5th
      • Flame Strike: Not particularly exciting when you compare it with Fireball but seeing as the Celestial Warlock doesn’t get Fireball this is as good as your AoE will get.
      • Greater Restoration: Great spell to have that can get you or party members out of very tricky situations.
    • Bonus Cantrips
      • Light: Useful, but you can probably go without it.
      • Sacred Flame: Good ranged damage option early on but not as good as Eldritch Blast. Scales well as a source of radiant damage and works with Radiant Soul.
    • Healing Light: This option provides a really solid amount of bonus action, ranged healing. Because the pool of d6s scales with your Warlock level, this is as strong as the Paladin’s Lay on Hands feature even if the pool ends up being a bit smaller. This is very important for a Warlock-based healing class, so they won’t have to use their meager spell slots healing their party. Unlike most Warlock features, this only recovers on a long rest.
  • 6th Level
    • Radiant Soul: Resistance to radiant damage won’t come up all that often unless you’re in very specific circumstances. The addition of your CHA to one dice of fire and radiant damage is all well and good, but seeing as your spell slots are so limited you will likely end up relying on cantrips. The Agonizing Blast Invocation combined with Eldritch Blast will still put out more damage than Sacred Flame and be more versatile.
  • 10th Level
    • Celestial Resilience: This is a lot of free temp hp at no cost (other than completing a short/long rest) for both you and your party.
  • 14th Level
    • Searing Vengeance: Once per long rest you can completely avoid making death saves and auto-heal to half hp. On top of that, you get to deal AoE radiant damage and blindness so it will be easier for you to get away from your assailants. Keep in mind this doesn’t work if you are killed outright. This allows you to focus your healing capabilities on other party members until you’ve burnt your use of Searing Vengeance each long rest.

The Fathomless

Draw power from the crushing, dark cold of the deepest oceans.

  • 1st Level
    • Fathomless Expanded Spells
      • 1st
        • Create or Destroy Water: Being able to conjure 10gal of water isn’t particularly effective unless you are dying of thirst in a desert.
        • Thunderwave: One of your few options to knock opponents back if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Damage isn’t bad either but it’s a CON save.
      • 2nd
        • Gust of Wind: This spell is usually useless unless you find yourself in a rare situation where you can use it to push multiple enemies off of a cliff.
        • Silence: Silence is a niche spell with a high ceiling. It can be used in stealth scenarios but it’s most powerful usage is if you can target a caster who won’t be able to cast spells requiring a verbal component. Of course, it’s only a 20ft radius so you will either need to be fighting in close quarters or will need to find a way to prevent the caster from moving.
      • 3rd
        • Lightning Bolt: Just as powerful as Fireball but has a less effective AoE because it’s a line rather than a circle.
        • Sleet Storm: Messes with enemy concentration, can extinguish flames, and has the potential to knock enemies prone.
      • 4th
        • Control Water: A very effective spell, but only if you’re around water
        • Summon Elemental (water only): Unfortunately, the water elemental is by far the weakest summon because it has the worst damage resistance and movement buff. That said, it is still effective and scales with higher spell slots.
      • 5th
        • Bigby’s Hand: Bigby’s Hand truly does it all. It can do repeat damage, help you escape, and hold down a baddy, all while increasing your action economy because it only uses a bonus action to command. Warlock’s usually want to keep their bonus action open for Hex, but the utility that Bigby’s Hand provides is well worth it.
        • Cone of Cold: Not quite as potent as Fireball or Lightning  Bolt for the resource of a 5th Level spell slot and it targets CON saves which are a common proficiency in monsters.
    • Tentacle of the Deeps: This functions a lot like the Cleric’s Spiritual Weapon but it doesn’t require a spell slot. This feature can provide tons of damage and action economy over an encounter. The fact that the tentacle sticks around without needing concentration, is a bonus action to summon, has an effective damage type, works with Hex, and has a small debuff on hit makes it extremely effective.
    • Gift of the Sea: Both a swimming speed and being able to breathe underwater are effective in the case that you need to go underwater. Whether that happens a lot your campaign is completely based on the environments encounter.
  • 6th Level
    • Oceanic Soul: Cold damage is a nice resistance but the ability to communicate with other submerged creatures is very niche.
    • Guardian Coil: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This feature should be reducing 1d8 (2d8 at higher levels) damage per turn, effectively healing for that amount every turn as long as you’ve placed the tentacle correctly (usually beside your melee party members).
  • 10th Level
    • Grasping Tentacles: Evard’s Black Tentacles is crowd control that grants the Restrained condition and continuous damage depending on if you can keep enemies in the area. This is made even more effective by the temp hp equal to your level every time you cast it and the lack of concentration requirement. Because of these two benefits, it will usually be worth it to cast Evard’s Black Tentacles even though you’ll be spending a 5th-level slot for a 4th-level spell.
  • 14th Level
    • Fathomless Plunge: Teleportation is always a good thing to have. Unfortunately, this teleportation is particularly limited. First, the distance can only be up to one mile. Second, you have to appear next to a pool of water that you’ve seen.

The Fiend

Summon the power of the Nine Hells to smite your enemies with fiery dark energy.

  • 1st Level
    • The Fiend Expanded Spells
      • 1st Level
        • Burning Hands: Great AoE and guaranteed half damage.
        • Command: Solid spell that can be used in and out of combat.
      • 2nd Level
        • Blindness/Deafness: Very effective debuff that doesn’t require concentration. The only downside is that it targets CON.
        • Scorching Ray: A potential 6d6 focused damage at a 2nd-level spell slot, can target multiple opponents, and has crit potential. Combines especially well with Hex.
      • 3rd Level
        • Fireball: It’s fireball. It’s great.
        • Stinking Cloud: Used in the right circumstances this can be effective, but it is a tough spell to nail.
      • 4th Level
        • Fire Shield: Likely not a great option unless you are caught in combat.
        • Wall of Fire: Amazing battlefield control option to divide enemies and deal massive damage.
      • 5th Level
        • Flame Strike: Not particularly exciting when you compare it with Fireball.
        • Hallow: More of a DM spell than a player spell. It has an extremely long casting time and no particularly potent effects.
    • Dark One’s Blessing: A relatively solid amount of self-healing which is rare for Warlocks. Keep in mind that temp hp doesn’t stack.
  • 6th Level
    • Dark One’s Own Luck: Essentially a pseudo Bardic inspiration. What really holds this feature back from being effective is the inability to add it to attack rolls. Keep this handy for those really important saving throws.
  • 10th Level
    • Fiendish Resilience: Gaining resistance to a specific damage type for free is a huge advantage. Choose your damage type wisely based on what you think you’ll be encountering that day but keep in mind this can be changed at the end of a short rest if needed.
  • 14th Level
    • Hurl Through Hell: Take an opponent out of the fight for a full round and they take extra damage with no opportunity to save. 10d10 is a lot of damage and its damage type is psychic which isn’t a particularly common resistance.

The Genie

Make a deal with a genie to gain access to elemental abilities and the genie’s infamous wish-granting powers.

  • 1st Level
    • Genie Expanded Spells: Each Genie subtype gives you access to different spells related to their element at each of the Warlock’s spells slots.
      • Genie Spells: Nothing truly amazing from this spell list other than Wish, which you can now pick up with your Mystic Arcanum.
      • Dao Spells: Some battlefield control options but nothing spectacular.
      • Djinni Spells: Thunderwave, Greater Invisibility, and Seeming are all worthwhile spells to have.
      • Efreeti Spells: Easily the best spell list. You get access to all of the damage-dealing classics.
      • Marid Spells: All of these spells are decent pickups. Good mix of utility, battlefield control, and AoE damage.
    • Genie’s Vessel: The Bottled Respite feature is essentially a mobile demi-plane. It can be used to take a safe short/long rest,  carry extremely large objects around without having to deal with their weight, and it can be used for infiltration if you combine it with Find Familiar. The additional damage equal to your proficiency bonus is a solid amount of damage to add to each attack.
  • 6th Level
    • Elemental Gift: A damage resistance and the ability to fly is a great passive bonus to pick up. Seeing as it doesn’t specify non-magical bludgeoning, this is likely the best pickup, followed closely by fire resistance.
  • 10th Level
    • Sanctuary Vessel: Now you can bring up to 5 friends to party in your magic lamp! The best feature here is obviously the ability to take a short rest in only 10 minutes, which will fully recharge your spell slots in 1/6th the time.
  • 14th Level
    • Limited Wish: Getting access to any spell from any class as long as it’s 6th-level or less and has the casting time of one action is incredibly powerful, especially because you don’t burn that spell slot or need any material components. Of course, this is limited from being an insanely powerful feature by the long cooldown time of 1d4 long rests.

The Great Old One

Draw upon the unfathomable power of Eldritch beings to drive your enemies insane.

  • 1st Level
    • The Great Old One Expanded Spells
      • 1st Level
        • Dissonant WhispersOne of the best 1st level spells in the game. Uncommon damage type and can grant an attack of opportunity on a failed save. If used correctly, this is one hell of a damage dealer as well as effective battlefield control.
        • Tasha’s Hideous Laughter: Poor man’s Hold Person. Still a great spell but the fact that they get to make saves after each time they take damage drastically reduces its effectiveness.
      • 2nd Level
        • Detect Thoughts: Situational spell that can be used effectively if you’re clever.
        • Phantasmal Force: There are extreme situations where this could be useful, but it is straight-up not a good spell.
      • 3rd Level
        • Clairvoyance: Situational but good for planning/avoiding an ambush.
        • Sending: Again, situational but it’s a nice utility spell. Hopefully, you don’t have to waste your precious spell slots on it but if you need to make a long-distance call right before taking a short rest it can prove useful.
      • 4th Level
        • Dominate Beast: Not many Beasts are going to be worth your 4th level spell to Dominate. If you’re fighting a CR8 T-Rex you’ll wish you had this spell.
        • Evard’s Black Tentacles: Extremely good area control spell, almost as good as Wall of Fire.
      • 5th Level
        • Dominate Person: Amazing spell, can be useful in combat and RP scenarios.
        • Telekinesis: Great in combat and out of combat utility spell.
    • Awakened Mind: Great for RP purposes.
  • 6th Level
    • Entropic Ward: Consistent way to avoid getting hit. Will be significantly more useful if you have a somewhat decent AC.
  • 10th Level
    • Thought Shield: Cool idea but psychic damage is quite uncommon.
  • 14th Level
    • Create Thrall: Create thrall is a great RP opportunity and allows your Warlock to influence just about any NPC in the game.  The incapacitated condition is fairly easy to achieve through other conditions (Paralyzed, Stunned, Unconscious) or using other spells (Sleep, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Hypnotic Pattern, or a Hold). Once established, it does not allow for any type of save and the target can be communicated with as long as you’re on the same plane.

The Hexblade

Channel your powers through a weapon summoned from the plane of shadows.

Check out our Hexblade Guide.

The Undead

Break free from the circle of life and death by channeling the power of a patron who exists beyond death’s veil.

  • 1st Level
    • Undead Expanded Spells
      • 1st Level
        • Bane: A simple and effective low-level debuff. Scales well with Warlock spell slots.
        • False Life: A good way to get temp hp, but you will be given a better way to do this in your Form of Dread feature. Still, one-hour duration and no concentration can make this a worthwhile way to heal after your Form HP have run out.
      • 2nd Level
        • Blindness/Deafness: Very effective debuff that doesn’t require concentration. Only downside is that is targets CON.
        • Phantasmal Force: There are extreme situations where this could be useful, but it is simply not a good spell.
      • 3rd Level
        • Phantom Steed: Situational. If you need to do any serious traveling, this spell means you won’t need to buy a horse but only lasts for one hour and Warlocks DO NOT want to be spending their precious spell slots on this.
        • Speak With Dead: Get some interesting lore, help solve a mystery, or get advice on how to proceed through a dungeon.
      • 4th Level
        • Death Ward: This spell is decent enough, but really isn’t the kind of spell a Warlock wants to spend one of their precious spell slots on. Seeing as this has an 8-hour duration and doesn’t require concentration, it can be effective to cast the spell at the beginning of the day then take a short rest to get the spell slot back.
        • Greater Invisibility: Probably the best buff in the game, tied with Haste. Attack with advantage and enemies attack you with disadvantage.
      • 5th Level
        • Antilife Shell: Great option if you find yourself in trouble in melee combat. It will also hedge out your allies.
        • Cloudkill: Not great in an open field but if you can get the drop on an enemy or contain a group of enemies within the spell it can be very effective because it deals damage turn after turn, as long as the caster keeps concentration. It can also be effective to block off a vantage point used by ranged enemies.
    • Form of Dread: The temp HP are great and scale with level. The free Frightened effect once per turn is an amazing addition to your Eldritch Blasts. The only downside is the effect automatically ends, as opposed to continuing until the creature saves.
  • 6th Level
    • Grave Touched: Not needing to eat or drink can be helpful in some survival situations but not needing to breathe is effective in all sorts of different scenarios. The ability to switch out your damage for necrotic damage isn’t particularly worthwhile for Warlocks, who will be doing the majority of their damage via force damage from Eldritch Blast. The real magic happens when you can roll an additional damage dice while in your form of dread once per turn. An extra d10 of damage per turn really stacks up over the course of an encounter.
  • 10th Level
    • Necrotic Husk: You now have resistance to necrotic damage most of the time and immunity when you’re in your form of dread. Necrotic damage is a great immunity in the late tier of the game because it’s when casters will start to target you with Finger of Death and the like. Additionally, you get a feature that allows you to resist death and instead deliver an AoE attack at the cost of 1 level of exhaustion.
  • 14th Level
    • Spirit Projection: There is a lot to unpack in this feature. First off, you can pick up more damage resistances from bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing. Second, you gain a flying speed and can move through objects and walls. This combined with the fact that you can teleport your body to your spirit gives you one of the most effective infiltration features in 5e. Third, if you combine this with your Form of Dread you can turn any attack’s damage to necrotic, get to roll an additional damage dice, then heal half that damage. The biggest caveat to this feature is that your body remains and can be attacked. While this is fine for exploration and infiltration, if you want to use this feature in battle consistently the answer could be as easy as sticking yourself in a bag of holding seeing as you don’t need to breathe.

The Undying

Gain mastery over death with the help of an unnaturally immortal patron.

  • 1st Level
    • Undying Expanded Spells
      • 1st Level
        • False Life: A good way to self heal as a Warlock is hard to come by.
        • Ray of Sickness: Damage isn’t great but Poisoned is a nasty condition. Unfortunately, the save targets CON which is a common proficient saving throw, and immunity to the Poisoned condition is also fairly common. Don’t try to cast this at constructs, undead, fiends, or elementals.
      • 2nd Level
        • Blindness/Deafness: Very effective debuff that doesn’t require concentration. Only downside is that is targets CON.
        • Silence: Silence is a niche spell with a high ceiling. It can be used in stealth scenarios but it’s most powerful usage is if you can target a caster who won’t be able to cast spells requiring a verbal component. Of course, it’s only a 20ft radius so you will either need to be fighting in close quarters or will need to find a way to prevent the caster from moving.
      • 3rd Level
        • Feign Death: Extremely niche. Could be useful if you are attempting to recreate Romeo and Juliet.
        • Speak With Dead: Get some interesting lore, help solve a mystery, or get advice on how to proceed through a dungeon.
      • 4th Level
        • Aura of Life:  Protection from hit point maximum reduction is very situational, although resistance to necrotic damage is handy when facing the undead. Bringing up all downed allies within the radius at the start of their turn sounds useful, but you will need to maintain your concentration until then for this to have an effect.
        • Death Ward: This spell is decent enough, but really isn’t the kind of spell a Warlock wants to spend one of their precious spell slots on. Seeing as this has an 8-hour duration and doesn’t require concentration, it can be effective to cast the spell at the beginning of the day then take a short rest to get the spell slot back.
      • 5th Level
        • Contagion: The poisoned condition is a pretty strong one and this spell grants the condition on-hit for at least 3 turns. You get the potential for more turns under the poisoned condition and a lasting effect which are both quite strong. Make sure to avoid casting this on constructs, undead, fiends, or elementals.
        • Legend Lore: Gain some knowledge on things of legendary importance. While cool, it doesn’t do much most of the time.
      • Among the Dead: Spare the dying isn’t the most effective cantrip, and diseases are particularly prevelant in the world of D&D. Also, the Sanctuary-esque effect is only against attacks from undead which may or may not be common in your campaign.
  • 6th Level
    • Defy Death: Automatically pop up with 1d8 + CHA mod HP whenever you succeed on a death saving throw or turn your Spare the Dying cantrip into a cure wounds but only for downed allies. While this isn’t great to start, you can only use it once per long rest.
  • 10th Level
    • Undying Nature: You don’t need to eat, breathe, or sleep but you still need to rest. Also, you age slower. Really not much here.
  • 14th Level
    • Indestructible Life: Restore 1d8 + Warlock level HP as a bonus action once per long rest. Also, you can reattached severed limbs. The healing is nice but this just isn’t much for a capstone ability.

3rd Level

Pact Boon: The Warlock’s Pact Boon is a versatile feature that allows you to choose a build-defining trait. This type of class feature, that allows choice between core class features, is quite unique to the Warlock.

  • Pact of the Chain: The imp is an absolutely amazing scout. It gets shape-shifting, flight, invisibility, and the poison attack can come in handy. Combine this with Voice of the Chain Master Invocation and annoy your party and DM by ruining all surprises!
  • Pact of the Blade: Blade Warlock’s struggle a lot with Ability Scores and damage per round unless you are going to go with the Hexblade Patron.
  • Pact of the Tome: Really solid seeing as you can pick up Guidance, Vicious Mockery, and Minor Illusion. Three cantrips that don’t do a ton of damage (Eldritch Blast has you covered) but will massively increase your utility.
  • Pact of the Talisman: Ability checks are a common occurrence in 5e but won’t be as dire as saving throws or attack rolls. Only being able to use the additional d4 on ability checks drastically limits the power of this feature.

4th Level

Eldritch Versatility: Each of the TCoE “Versatility” options allows the ability to switch out core class features that were otherwise locked in place. The Warlock’s Eldritch Versatility allows for a lot more customization as it allows the Warlock to switch out cantrips, Invocations, and Mystic Arcanum choices.

11th Level

Mystic Arcanum: Nice way to boost the spell slots your Warlock has access to. Choose a spell that doesn’t scale with levels. See the Spells section to get suggestions on good Mystic Arcanum spells.

You get a 7th level spell at 13th Level, 8th level spell at 15th Level,  and 9th level spell at 17th Level.

20th Level

Eldritch Master: A minute is 10 rounds of combat so this isn’t useful if you’re in a fight. If you can find a minute between fights, you can usually find 60 minutes to do a short rest. This is a disappointing capstone ability.

Eldritch Invocations

At 2nd-level, Warlocks gain access to a feature called Eldritch Invocations. These features provide small benefits that help customize your Warlock build. Invocations usually come in the form of a passive ability, an activated ability that allows you to cast a low-level spell without burning a spell slot, or the ability to learn a non-Warlock spell and cast it with a Warlock spell slot.

These Invocations are essentially “Warlock centric feats”, and play a huge role in building a unique, effective Warlock.
At the 2nd-level, you gain access to two of the following Invocations. You pick up additional Invocations at 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th 15th, and 18th levels. Additional Invocations are available at higher levels, some require prerequisites in order to take.

  • Agonizing Blast: This is one of the best Invocations out there. The damage increase on the Warlock’s favorite cantrip is too good to give up.
  • Armor of Shadows: Assuming you have studded leather armor, this is a consistent +1 to your AC.
  • Beast Speech: This is not going to help your Warlock. Be a Druid if you want to chat with your animal buddies.
  • Beguiling Influence: You already have the option to choose Deception from your class proficiency. Don’t waste an Invocation on getting Persuasion.
  • Devil’s Sight: Pairing this Invocation with the Darkness spell can give you a massive advantage in combat and stealth. Remember that your party probably can’t see in magical darkness.
  • Book of Ancient Secrets: Ritual casting is a big deal to help with the Warlock’s meager spell slots. That being said, there aren’t many 1st level Rituals that are particularly good.  If you have a Wizard in your party, skip this.
  • Eldritch Sight:If you want this, pick up Book of Ancient Secrets. Grab Detect Magic and another ritual while you’re at it.
  • Eldritch Spear: This could be fun if you want to be a cheesy, long-range spellcaster.
  • Eyes of the Rune Keeper: If you want this, pick up Book of Ancient Secrets. Grab Comprehend Languages and another ritual while you’re at it.
  • Fiendish Vigor: This is helpful at lower levels but an average 6hp doesn’t make a huge difference once you get past 5th-level.
  • Gaze of Two Minds: Cool flavor, very situational.
  • Mask of Many Faces: Solid ability to help with your proficiency in Deception, especially in stealthy or political situations.
  • Misty Visions: Minor Illusion is a cantrip Warlocks can pick up that will likely get more mileage than Silent Image.
  • Repelling Blast: Great effect that you could use to get out of melee range and not have to disengage. There isn’t any save on the push effect so it can be deadly around cliffs.
  • Thief of Five Fates: Bane is a solid debuff and not something that Warlocks typically have access to. Because this is cast with a Warlock spell slot, make sure there are enough enemies based on the level of the spell.
  • Voice of the Chain Master: This can turn your Familiar into an amazing option for a scout, especially if you chose the imp.

5th Level

  • Mire the Mind: Slow is another solid debuff. Unfortunately, it doesn’t scale with your spell slots.
  • One with Shadows: This can help you avoid damage and get advantage on attacks but really shines when you are outside of combat. Free, unlimited, concentration-free invisibility as long as you are within dim light or darkness.
  • Sign of Ill Omen: Bestow Curse is another solid debuff but the scaling with spell slots isn’t exactly worth it.
  • Thirsting Blade: This is required if you are going Pact of the Blade + Hexblade. It is imperitive to allow your melee damage to scale with Eldritch Blast damage.

7th Level

  • Bewitching Whispers: With Compulsion, you can make creatures safely walk in a general direction. Not sure it’s worth it.
  • Dreadful Word: Confusion isn’t a great debuff and doesn’t scale well with levels.
  • Sculptor of Flesh: Polymorph is a great spell, but doesn’t scale with levels. If you have somebody else in your party that knows it I would skip this.

9th Level

  • Ascendant Step: Levitate is an alright self-buff that can get you out of melee range, it can also be an effective method of locking down enemies without a ranged option. Casting at will without using a spell slot allows you to control the battlefield readily and use it outside of combat often, but the concentration requirement hampers its effectiveness.
  • Minions of Chaos: Elementals are good summons that can help soak damage and get the upperhand on action economy. Conjure Elementals also scales well with the Warlock’s spell slots which helps this invocation’s effectiveness.
  • Leap: Jump is a bad self-buff.
  • Whispers of the Grave: Speak with Dead is a situational spell. Devoting an entire Invocation to it, even though you can cast it at will, is a bit unnessecary.

12th Level

  • Lifedrinker: Awesome damage buff for any Pact of the Blade Warlock.

15th Level

  • Chains of Carceri: At 15th level, you will likely be running into Celestials and Fiends. Being able to cast this at will is wonderful value, the only caveat is you can’t target the same creature twice (without short/long resting in between).  This is a must if you are in a campaign that frequents the specified creature types.
  • Master of Myriad Forms: Not necessary with Mask of Many Faces available since 2nd-level.
  • Visions of Distant Realms: Arcane Eye is a great scouting option. If you took Pact of the Chain and grabbed the imp, you do not need this as a scouting tool.
  • Witch Sight: Seeing through illusions and transmutation is certainly a neat trick but is situational at best. This will be extremely effective in Feywild campaigns.

Best Feats for Warlocks

Many feats aren’t suited to the Warlock Class, but we will go over the ones that you may consider.

  • Actor: This is a nifty half-feat to pick up if you are going to be leaning into the Mask of Many Faces Invocation. Being able to mimic the voice of the person you are impersonating, will make your disguise that much more effective. Plus, you get advantage on your CHA checks to remain undercover.
  • Alert: Being up higher in the initiative order can be very valuable for a Warlock.
  • Eldritch Adept: Warlocks get access to plenty of invocations.
  • Elemental Adept: The bonus damage is negligible but if most of your damage comes from one element then go for it.
  • Fey Touched: Misty Step is a great spell and an extra 2nd-level spell goes a long way because of the Warlock’s reduced spell slots. Plus, you get to increase your CHA. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd CHA score after character creation.
  • Flames of Phlegethos: Tieflings make great Warlocks but Warlock’s don’t get access to a ton of fire damage spells. This feat allows you to pump your CHA and create some protection against melee attacks, but you won’t get a lot of value from rerolling 1’s on damage dice for fire attacks.
  • Great Weapon Master: Only worthwhile for Pact of the Blade/Hexblades
  • Inspiring Leader: As a Warlock, you’ll have plenty of CHA to go around. Consider this after you’ve maxed your CHA for some extra party support.
  • Lucky: Lucky is a feat that is useful to any character.
  • Metamagic Adept: There are some pretty awesome choices in the Sorcerers’ metamagic options. Only getting 2 sorcery points and the Warlock’s limited spell slots are the main limiting factor here.
  • Shadow Touched: Invisibility is a great spell and an extra 2nd-level spell goes a long way because of the Warlock’s reduced spell list. Plus, you get to increase your CHA. This is a go-to option if you end up with an odd CHA score after character creation.
  • Spell Sniper: Increased range and ignoring cover on spell attacks is fantastic.
  • Telekinetic: The Mage Hand, even with the shove buff, isn’t as good as either Misty Step from Fey Touched or Invisibility from Shadow Touched.
  • Telepathic: The Detect Thoughts, even with the shove buff, isn’t as good as either Misty Step from Fey Touched or Invisibility from Shadow Touched.
  • War Caster: Advantage on CON saves and casting spells as opportunity attacks are both beneficial components of this feat. If you are a Pact of the Blade Warlock this is necessary.

Spells

Warlocks have access to a lot of spells. Therefore, we think it would be the most beneficial to only talk about our favorite spells at each level, and which ones to avoid. Just remember that this doesn’t mean the ones we don’t mention are necessarily bad or don’t have a purpose.

Cantrips

  • Booming Blade: Not effective for Warlocks unless you are going for a Hexblade/Pact of the Blade build.
  • Chill Touch: With Eldritch Blast at your disposal you don’t need any other damage-dealing cantrips.
  • Create Bonfire: Good damage and battlefield control.
  • Eldritch Blast: This is your bread and butter as a Warlock. d10 force damage and scales with level so that the Warlock can deal damage like any melee fighter. Make sure to pick up the Agonizing Blast Invocation.
  • Green-Flame Blade: Not effective for Warlocks unless you are going for a Hexblade/Pact of the Blade build.
  • Lightning Lure: Warlocks don’t really want to be pulling creatures closer to them. This has some useful situations, like pulling a creature that is grappling one of your party members or pulling enemies into a hazard.
  • Mind Sliver: INT saves aren’t common proficiencies and psychic damage isn’t a common resistance. Sure, the damage isn’t as appealing as something like firebolt, but the d4 reduction from the next saving throw is effective in lower tiers of play.
  • Minor Illusion: Easily the most versatile spell in the game. A great choice for a cantrip.
  • Mage Hand: Can be a very useful cantrip if used right.
  • Poison Spray: With Eldritch Blast at your disposal you don’t need any other damage-dealing cantrips.
  • Prestidigitation: A bit less useful than Minor Illusion but still solid.
  • Sword Burst: Good AoE damage if you get surrounded.
  • Thunderclap: Good AoE damage but targets a common save and can’t be used while stealthing.

1st Level Spells

  • Armor of Agathys: Great self-buff that can provide some temporary HP and does damage if you get hit. If you’re a Pact of the Blade Warlock you definitely want this. Scales with your level.
  • Arms of Hadar: Decent AoE and allows you to escape on a failed save. Only take this if you are a Pact of the Blade Warlock.
  • Cause Fear: Frightened is a decent condition and it scales with levels. Keep in mind that creatures have to be within 30ft of one another when you upcast.
  • Hellish Rebuke: Awesome use for your reaction. Scales with levels.
  • Hex: This is the Warlock equivalent of Hunters Mark, making it a really, really good spell. Takes your concentration slot.
  • Protection From Evil and Good: Amazing protective spell against many creatures types you face in D&D 5e. Doesn’t scale with levels so don’t take this if you have another caster.
  • Witch Bolt: Underwhelming damage when compared with your Eldritch Blast and Agonizing Blast, requires your action and concentration, and can be thwarted by simply stepping out of range.

2nd Level Spells

  • Cloud of daggers: If you can find a funnel point or can have your melee fighters push creatures into the cloud it can do mega damage. Scales with levels.
  • Crown of Madness: This spell has a lot of crippling limitations because of it’s powerful effect at such a small level. Skip this until you can Dominate Monsters.
  • Darkness: Combos great with Devil’s Sight.
  • Earthbind: If you need to lock down a flying creature and don’t have a way of making it fall prone this is a good option. Useful in very narrow circumstances.
  • Enthrall: Not a good spell.
  • Hold Person: This can be encounter-breaking against humanoids. Scales well with levels.
  • Invisibility: Certainly a good spell but blowing a higher-level spell slot on situations where you don’t need to make more than one thing invisible isn’t great.
  • Mind Spike: Not great damage but has an interesting tracking effect tied to it. Could be useful for attack an enemy who is looking to escape.
  • Mirror Image: Good self-buff but doesn’t scale with levels.
  • Misty Step: Good option to get out of tough situations, if you’re looking for a late pickup this could be a good choice. Doesn’t scale with levels.
  • Shadow Blade: Typical Warlocks don’t want any part of melee combat and this doesn’t work with Hexblade builds because the Hex Warrior trait so you won’t be able to attack with CHA.

3rd Level Spells

  • Counterspell: You don’t necessarily want your Warlock to be blowing spell slots on Counterspell, but if nobody else has it you need to take it.
  • Dispel Magic: Same as Counterspell.
  • Enemies Abound: Enemies abound only works in fights with more than one enemy, if your allies are willing to ignore that enemy, and if the enemy isn’t immune to being frightened. Really only useful for causing a stir from a hidden position.
  • Fear: Amazing crowd control spell. Particularly good because they don’t get to retry the save until they break line of sight.
  • Fly: Decent self-buff but not something you want to be wasting spell slots on.
  • Hunger of Hadar: Decent crowd control option, solid damage if you can keep baddies in there or cast it at a choke point. It has been confirmed by Jeremy Crawford that the Devil’s Sight Invocation cannot see into the spell’s area. It doesn’t stack with spell levels which makes it less viable for a Warlock long term.
  • Hypnotic Pattern: Another great crowd control spell, take this or Fear based on your flavor.
  • Intellect Fortress: Only useful in very specific circumstances. Say, for example, when wandering into a den of Mind Flayers.
  • Spirit Shroud: Most Warlocks don’t want to be within 10ft for their enemies. This is decent for Hexblade builds but they don’t get a second attack until 12th level. This will be an underwhelming use of a 3rd level spell slot and concentration.
  • Summon Fey: Easily one of the best Summon options from TCoE. Teleportation every round accompanied with advantage on at least one attack per round and decent damage. This one is actually worth upcasting in certain circumstances. 
  • Summon Lesser Demons: Seeing as these demons are hostile to all creatures, the spell is very circumstantial. 
  • Summon Shadowspawn: The Shadowspawn gets a 1/day ability that is pretty much the same as the Fear spell. This means that if you’re going to use that spell, this nets an extra body that gets advantage on attacks against Frightened creatures out of the deal.
  • Summon Undead: Doesn’t put out as much damage as the Fey summons but is more versatile in combat. The Putrid form is effective for hoards, the Skeletal form is a good ranged option, and the Ghastly option is good for infiltration.
  • Thunder Step: Great spell in case you are surrounded and need to retreat. You get to damage the enemies and carry a friend with you.
  • Vampiric Touch: Gives you a 3d6 melee weapon with life drain as long as you can concentrate but those concentration checks are going to kill you. You essentially need War Caster to make this worth it.

4th Level Spells

  • Banishment: Solid spell to take a creature or two out of the fight.
  • Blight: 4th level single-target spell that targets a common save. It barely out damages 4th-level fireball and flat-out doesn’t work on some common creature types. SKIP.
  • Charm Monster: Charm Person, just for any creature. Great for avoiding fights with potentially hostile monsters.
  • Dimension Door: Decent spell but doesn’t exactly do much for Warlocks.
  • Elemental Bane: If you need to remove a resistance to a certain damage type, get the Elemental Adept feat so you don’t have to waste a turn and 4th-level spell whenever you run into a creature that has a resistance to your damage type.
  • Shadow of Moil: Give your assailants disadvantage, get resistance to radiant damage, and damage any creature that manages to land an attack. This is a niche choice for regular casts but very good for Hexblades. Keep in mind that it doesn’t spell doesn’t scale with level.
  • Sickening Radiance: Giving creatures levels of exhaustion seems good on paper but you need at least two failures for this spell to really kick in. Radiance damage is great for getting around a resistance but this spell also targets CON (common save for monsters) and requires concentration.
  • Summon Aberration: Not much here is strictly better than any of the 3rd-level summons. The best option is sticking the Star Spawn in a group of enemies for the AoE damage.
  • Summon Greater Demon: The notion that you can lose control of the demon makes this spell a massive gamble.

5th Level Spells

  • Contact Other Plane: Very niche.
  • Danse Macabre: Situationally useful because you need five Small or Medium corpses. If you already carry them around with you, this is great for action economy.
  • Dream: Low key one of the best spells in the Warlock’s arsenal. This can really mess with the BBEG of the campaign.
  • Enervation: What happens when you cross Witch Bolt with Vampric Touch and make them actually good? The upgraded range is a huge upgrade and being able to damage creatures while healing yourself is twice the value.
  • Far Step: Typically a single Misty Step will work best for Warlocks who won’t be using this ability on each turn to teleport around the battlefield, using their movement to close in and attack creatures teleporting out of danger.
  • Hold Monster: Spell that can take a creature out of the fight. Allows for a save after each turn which makes it worse than Banishment for consistently keeping a monster out of the fight, but the monster can be attacked with advantage which will make quick work of it after it fails a save or two.
  • Infernal Calling: You can try to instruct the demon what to do, but it doesn’t need to listen to your commands. Very situational spell.
  • Negative Energy Flood: Nothing can turn the tide on a battle more than turning the enemy’s lackies into your own. If you’re battling a horde of weaker creatures, this is an amazing spell.
  • Scrying: Useful but niche.
  • Synaptic Static: Fireball damage and a debuff rolled into one. Be careful using it on beasts as they are likely to have an INT 2 or less.
  • Wall of Light: Radiant is a great damage type, but 4d8 on a 5th level spell isn’t amazing. The Blinded condition is nice, but is only activated when the spell first appears and doesn’t discriminate between friend and foe. The lasers that you can shoot each following turn use your action and shrink the wall.

6th Level Spells

  • Circle of Death: If you can pick up fireball, you don`t need this at all. Necrotic is a semi-popular damage resistance as well.
  • Conjure Fey: There are only Feys up to CR3 in the MM (Green Hag). The only Beast you can use is Mammoth. If you are playing with more services you can make it more worth it.
  • Eyebite: There are much better crowd control options for lower spell slots.
  • Investiture of Flame: Damage immunities and resistances are fine but the passive effect has terrible range and the AoE effect is mediocre damage. The biggest issue here is that, if you are using the fire immunity it’s very likely that your enemies are immune to fire damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use the AoE feature.
  • Investiture of Ice: Damage immunities and resistances are fine but the passive effect has terrible range and is even less effective than the IoF and the AoE effect is mediocre damage. The biggest issue here is that, if you are using the ice immunity it’s very likely that your enemies are immune to ice damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use the AoE feature.
  • Investiture of Stone: The resistance to bludgeoning, slashing, and piercing are pretty useless in Tier 3 because most creatures will have magical weapons. The passive effect allows you to move through the earth but ejects you if you end your turn there so you can’t travel far distances. The action effect is terrible, it doesn’t even do damage. Also, requires concentration so you can cast the spell, and lose it before you’re able to use any features.
  • Investiture of Wind: One of the better Investitures, but it’s really only effective as a defensive buff. The flight is a great movement buff, and ranged attacks have disadvantage. The action can’t even compete with cantrip damage at this point. 
  • Mass Suggestion: This is a ridiculous spell that could easily swing encounters in your favor.
  • Mental Prison: There are plenty of ways to take single creatures out of the fight, but this provides a way to do some damage while also locking down a creature. Nothing crazy for a 6th-level spell but it’s decent.
  • Scatter: It has uses, but none that are particularly worth a 6th-level spell.
  • Soul Cage: As you can only cast this 6th-level spell slot once per long rest, this burns your 6th-level slot but lasts for the entire day. The best option here is definitely healing 2d8 as a bonus action 6 times, but the other options can be useful (depending on whose soul you suck up).
  • Summon Fiend: Unfortunately, you can’t cast Darkness and Summon Fiend in order to take advantage of the Devil’s ability to see in magical darkness. Otherwise, the Fiend’s magical resistance helps make this an especially tanky summon.
  • Tasha’s Otherworldly Guise: Bonus action to gain +2 to AC, damage immunities, and flight make this a solid defensive spell. Even though the spell grants the ability to make attacks with CHA and allows you to attack twice, you will rarely use these features as a ranged Warlock and the Hexblade already gets access to these features.

7th Level Spells

  • Crown of Stars: Great bonus action damage, long duration, no concentration. Up and down a great spell.
  • Dream of the Blue Veil: This spell has more campaign-derailing, shenanigan potential than just about any other spell short of Wish. Do your DM a favor and let them know your plans before casting this spell. Because this is more of a plot-based spell, it will not receive a rating.
  • Finger of Death: Very nice damage with the potential to make a little zombie buddy!
  • Forcecage: No save and no way to get out once you get put in. This spell is a great way to contain a scary melee creature.
  • Plane Shift: Good utility to run away from a fight that has turned south, or force a CHA save to avoid getting banished.
  • Power Word Pain: You can likely do 100 damage with a 7th-level spell, really only useful if you want to Crucio someone outside of combat.

8th Level Spells

  • Demiplane: Good utility spell, if you have a strong buddy or good persuasion spells you can create your own demi-prison system.
  • Dominate Monster: Extremely good option to help swing the tides of battle in your favor
  • Feeblemind: Encounter ending debuff if you hit a spellcaster with it. Usually, spellcasters at this level will have a very strong INT save or Legendary Resistance.
  • Glibness: A seemingly small effect for such a high-level spell, although it can be useful in niche circumstances.
  • Maddening Darkness: Huge radius, good damage, and can be combined with the Devil’s Sight invocation. The biggest issue here is that your party members won’t be able to see anything happening in the radius.
  • Power Word StunYou can auto-stun a creature that has less than 150hp, but they get to make a save at the end of each of their turns.

9th Level Spells

  • Astral Projection: Niche and you will probably have some other reason for getting to the Astral Plane if you need to be there.
  • Blade of Disaster: This is a solid, bonus action, multiturn damage spell that can pay off big time with a couple of crits.
  • Foresight: Insane Buff and Debuff and it’s not concentration.
  • Imprisonment: There are other ways to permanently dispose of those big baddies.
  • Power Word Kill: Very mechanically interesting spell. Essentially, you can auto-kill a creature if they have less than 100hp. Now, as a player, we do not know how much HP a monster has, but an Investigation or Insight check might allow some clues as to whether or not they’re close.
  • Psychic Scream: Great damage, targets an uncommon save (INT), and stuns on a failed save.
  • True Polymorph: If you manage to concentrate successfully for an hour, the effect can be permanent. The added flexibility of turning a creature into an object, or vice-versa, is really powerful.

Best Multiclass Options for Warlocks

Multiclassing is always an opportunity cost, you have to determine if taking a level of another class is worth what you will lose from the original class. Many factors come into this decision, with the main factor being how long your campaign will run and, ultimately, what level you will be playing until. Warlocks are notoriously good options for multiclassing. They get their subclass features at 1st-level, get access to spell slots that recharge on a short rest, have a common spellcasting modifier, and their invocations and pact boon can be very helpful for a number of builds.

Paladin: The Bladelock is a notoriously broken multiclass option. If you dip 1 level into Warlock and put the rest into Paladin you will be able to take the Hexblade subclass and attack using your CHA modifier. This means allows you to make your Paladin a lot less Multi-Ability Dependant as you can take 13 in STR to get heavy armor, max your CHA, and put the rest into CON.

Sorcerer: A three-level dip into Sorcerer gets you access to metamagic which will allow you to quicken, guiding bolt, or twin your Eldritch Blasts, which will net a ton of damage.

Bard: Three levels in Bard will get you Bardic Inspiration, Jack of All Trades, and the starting features of a College of your choice. The best Bard subclasses to choose would be Eloquence for better CHA-based ability checks and a buffed Bardic Inspiration, Lore for extra proficiencies and Cutting Words, and Valor for medium armor/shields and the ability to add Bardic Inspiration to weapon attack damage rolls.  The good news with the Bard multiclass is that your spell slot progression isn’t hindered in the least when you do this, and Bards have access to stellar early-level spells like Vicious Mockery and Dissonant Whispers.

Fighter: Getting access to all armor and shields will help with the Warlock’s lackluster AC. The Fighting Style helps boost AC even further and Second Wind is decent healing. Most Warlocks can stop there, but Hexblades can continue all the way to a three level dip to get access to Action Surge, and a Martial Archetype. Thematically and mechanically, the Echo Knight is the way to go, but the Battle Master, Psi Warrior, Samurai, and Rune Knight are all good choices.

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. Outside of writing for Arcane Eye, Mike spends most of his time playing games, hiking with his girlfriend, and tending the veritable jungle of houseplants that have invaded his house. He is the author of Escape from Mt. Balefor and The Heroes of Karatheon. Mike specializes in character creation guides for players, homebrewed mechanics and tips for DMs, and one-shots with unique settings and scenarios. Follow Mike on Twitter.

22 thoughts on “The DnD 5e Warlock Guide

  1. Hi!

    Great guide, it was really helpfull. The only thing I had to research a bit deeper on is the combination of Devil’s Sight and Hunger of Hadar. (mentioned at the 3rd level spells: Hunger of Hadar)

    After reading many opposing opinions on this, I did see Jeremy Crawford make a twitter statement opposing the idea that Devil’s Sight can see through Hunger of Hadar, even when on the outside: https://twitter.com/JeremyECrawford/status/704828756616044544

  2. Hey man thanks! Found each and everything in this article i was looking for. From Warlock cantrips details to each and every patrons discussion. Very well explained content, sure looking at other post to gain more information about dungeons and dragons, as i am a newbie to this game i will be learning as many thing possible. And make this sensation more familiar in my region, thatswhy i also started blog on warlock to get my people interest in this game, i hope you will like it.

  3. In general, I enjoyed this. But I want to make a few critiques.
    Mountain Dwarves do make good Hexblades and can have great flavor as Dwarven society outcasts.

    Warlocks are expected to be casters, and unless you’re a blade pact, I find not having INT to be really bad pragmatically, even if you’re not the only caster. So much is driven from Arcana and Religion checks.

    I play an Archfey pact of the tome, and I love Phantasmal force. It’s a 2nd level spell that can nerf low intelligence creatures. We had a recent adventure where we had a giant monstrous underwater creature. Unlike hypnotic pattern, a phantasm isn’t disturbed when the target takes damage. I held the phantasm, everyone else went in for the kill, and voila… it’s sushi night!

    Finally, Eldritch Sight is incredibly useful. Ritual cast can replace things like Eyes of the Runekeeper, but being able to see magic, including items or illusions at will has proven to be my most used invocation, hands down. In combat, or other situations requiring quick action, you can’t whip out a book and read for 10 minutes. Being able to see the nature of magic around you is just a great advantage.

    1. Thanks for reading Rich!

      The best part about D&D (especially 5e) is most builds are viable and fun and, depending on the DM and party, different things are going to be more useful than others.

      These guides are meant to be more of an “at a glance, how are Warlock’s supposed to work?”, which is why we focus on CHA based casting and spells/invocations that can support the Warlock’s lack of spell slots.

      Thanks again!

  4. Why does no one consider the usefulness of Armor of Shadows as a *support* option? Give every unarmored party member Mage armor for free.

    1. Hi Lozerette!

      Armor of Shadows only allows you to cast Mage Armor on yourself 🙂

      “You can cast Mage Armor on yourself at will, without expending a spell slot or material components.”

  5. This is a great guide, but I should point out that warlocks do not get an Ability Score Increase at 6th or 14th level.

  6. I know that this is more at-a-glance quick builds, but I just want to say that if you’re a pact of the blade warlock, strength can be a very viable stat. My Fallen aasimar PotB warlock summons a maul and goes on a rampage with it. He was one-shotting every enemy in his path with his higher STR stat. But it is definitely a situational viability

    1. Hey ZigZak, thanks for writing in! The beauty of 5e is so many class options are fun and viable. You nailed it when you mentioned that these are “at-a-glance” guides that talk in general about what a class may want to be doing, there’s too many variables out there to make sure everything is covered!

      Have fun crushing heads with your buff Warlock 🙂

  7. Could you help me adjust my character. I just turned level six as a teifling warlock and all I use is eldritch blast with agonizing and repelling blast. For some reason I have zero spell slots for all levels except 3rd level. Is that really all I’m good at? I’ve just started playing D&D a couple of months ago so I’m ignorant in a lot of what I can do. My DM is somewhat helpful but I feel he’s not letting me know about all the things I really can do. Any help would be appreciated!

    1. Hey Djmoore96,

      D&D 5e Warlocks can feel cantripy for sure. Unfortunately, the Warlock only gets spells slots in the highest level they can cast and they get very limited spell slots compared to other casters. On the plus side, they recharge all of their spell slots on a short rest!

      My best suggestion is to make sure you read the entire section for the Warlocks class in the Player’s Handbook, as well as wherever you have chosen your subclass from. Once you understand what the class can and can’t do, you could always ask your DM to switch your class 🙂

  8. Hi! I just stumbled upon this guide when I was searching through the internet and I’m really loving this resourceful guide. If it is possible, I would also like to see the new subclasses of Warlock in this guide, specifically the Celestial Patron. Thank you! I’ll be really swinging by this guide more often now to learn more.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Rojel! We are actively updating and improving the guides, the Celestial Patron (and the other patrons) are on the to-do list 😉

  9. I am somewhat surprised that you dont even mention Actor in the feat list despite the great combo with the Mask of Many Faces. With the Mask, one can be anybody anytime, and will never be uncovered thanks to Actor (except if somebody becomes that suspicious he pats you down or casts Dispel Magic)

    1. Actor would be a great choice for a build that makes the most of Mask of Many Faces. Thanks for pointing that out!

  10. Do you think you’ll post a multi class list for Warlocks like you did with Sorcerers? I think Warlocks have some of the most interesting potential for multiclassing with they’re fast recovering spell slots and invocations. I have a level 1 fighter level 4 Warlock(hex blade obviously) who tanks with armor of Agathys. Anyway I think there’s probably a lot of potential options I haven’t even thought of that would be great

  11. Thanks for putting the multi class guide there! Though it may not be as good as the combos you mentioned, I think it would be worth mentioning the rogue since there are specific invocations that I think were made for rogue type feature, mask of many faces, one with the shadows. Anyone using that combo would probably want to take the pact of the chain

    1. I think a Rogue looking for invocations would be best off choosing the Eldritch Adept feats. That said, I think a Hexblade/Swashbuckler combo would be particularly potent!

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