D&D Warlock 5e Guide

Published on August 16, 2021, Last modified on March 6th, 2023

In this post, we will be examining the warlock’s class features and how you can optimize your warlock through choosing your race, background, ability scores, subclass, feats, and spells.

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Warlock 5e Guide Rating Scheme

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the DnD 5e warlock. For a quick overview of other 5e classes, check out our Guide to 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

D&D 5e Warlock Overview

Level Proficiency Bonus Features Cantrips Known Spells Known Spell Slots Slot Level Invocations
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


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.


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 Eldritch Invocations. A staple invocation called Agonizing Blast allows warlocks to add the CHA modifier to their best damage cantrip, eldritch blast. These invocations make warlocks one of the most customizable classes out there and provide a number of different playstyles.


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.

Best Races for Warlock

Standard Races

  • Gem: The flight can help you keep out of reach while you eldritch blast your enemies. The resistance and Breath Weapon can help if you get caught in melee range.
  • Standard: Not terrible due to the +1 CHA, but besides the damage resistance there isn't much else here that is interesting to a warlock.
  • Draconblood: Only +1 CHA but Forceful Presence can assist with social skill checks.
Dwarf: No CHA is tough and the warlock won’t be tanking any time soon, even if they choose Pact of the Blade. Additional hit points are always helpful.
  • Hill: A bonus to WIS can occasionally help with Wisdom saves, additional hit points are useful.
  • Mountain: STR won't help but light and medium armor proficiency is always nice for casters.
Elf: Elves get a DEX bonus which can somewhat help the AC of a Warlock. Proficiency in Perception and having Darkvision is useful.
  • Eladrin: DEX for AC and CHA for spellcasting makes the eladrin's array a solid start for a warlock. The free casting of misty step and it's bonus effect will be excellent utility and will help stretch the warlock's measly spell slots.
  • Mark of Shadow: DEX and CHA bonuses are both exactly what warlocks are looking for. The free minor illusion and invisibility go a long way to help with  the warlock's meager spell slots. The expanded spell list isn't ideal because most options can't be upcasted.
Gnome: Warlocks need CHA to be effective, of which there is only one subrace.
Half-Elf: The +2 CHA, ASI, and skill versatility make this is one of the better races for the Sorcerer class. The Half-Elf Drow subrace is great because it provides a couple of useful Warlock spells and won't make you burn any of your precious slots for them.
Half-Orc: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Halfling: Only a +1 to CHA will make Halflings a tough choice for Warlocks.
  • Standard: A middle of the road pick because they increase all their ability scores by 1.
  • Variant: Getting CHA plus a proficiency and a feat at 1st-level is typically really good. Picking up Shadow Touched or Fey Touched is a great way to get extra spells at 1st-level.
Tiefling: Warlocks excel with CHA, so any of the subraces will do fine.
  • Bloodline of Asmodeus: +2 CHA and solid spells.
  • Bloodline of Baalzebul: +2 CHA like other subraces, but with less effective spells.
  • Bloodline of Dispater: CHA for spellcasting and DEX for AC is perfect for a warlock, plus the spells offer good utility for stealthiness.
  • Bloodline of Fierna: +2 CHA and good spells for a persuasive character.
  • Bloodline of Glasya: CHA for spellcasting and DEX for AC is perfect for a warlock, plus the spells offer good utility for stealthiness.
  • Bloodline of Levistus: CHA for spellcasting, CON for hit points, and defensive spells to keep you alive.
  • Bloodline of Mammon: +1 INT like other subraces, but with less effective spells.
  • Bloodline of Mephistopheles: +2 CHA, good spells, and useful racial traits.
  • Variant – Devil’s Tongue: +2 CHA and an excellent subset of spells for a warlock.
  • Variant – Winged: Having flight is amazing, and you get to keep the +2 CHA.

Non-Standard Races

Aarakocra: The only beneficial thing here is flight.
  • Updated: 1st level, concentrationless flight, an extra spell, and a beneficial ASI array make this an extremely attractive option for warlocks.
Aasimar: Any of these subraces will work for warlocks. Fallen and Protector are the best for sure.
Air Genasi: While you may not use shocking grasp in favor of eldritch blast, the extra spells and spell slots can help stretch you warlock's limited spellcasting. Feather fall, and levitate are also useful spells not normally found on the warlock's spell list. The extra movement speed, Darkvision, and damage resistance are all additional benefits.
Astral Elf: Sacred flame isn't going to get much use when you have access to eldritch blast but the free castings of misty step via Starlight Step means you don't have to devote precious spell slots to getting out of trouble. On top of this, you get a proficiency in Perception, which you normally wouldn't as a warlock, a floating skill/tool proficiency, advantage against charmed, and you can't be put to sleep with magic.
Auto Gnome: The AC boost is on par with mage armor, which could allow you to spend your warlock invocations on other options as opposed to Armor of Shadows. But, the tool proficiencies and survivability options don't apply as much to your warlock, who will mainly be on the fringes of combat. The biggest boons warlocks get from auto gnomes are they can self heal with mending, but seeing as it's not combat-ready healing, it doesn't make that much of a difference, and Built for Success can apply to eldritch blast.
Bugbear: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Updated: Bugbear warlocks can now take CHA, and the new Surprise Attack can be very effective with spell attacks that deliver multiple hits. Eldritch Blast only gets better with Surprise Attack as you level up and gain additional attacks for each cast.
Centaur: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Updated: Nothing here for a warlock.
Changeling: +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. Shapechanger is also a nice alternative for achieving goals without the use of magic as Warlocks have very few spell slots available to them.
  • Updated: Not much changes for the changeling warlock as they will still take CHA. The racial traits are slightly improved, making the updated changeling an upgrade over the original.
Deep Gnome: With the Mask of Many Face invocation available, there's almost no reason to choose a deep gnome for your warlock, beyond the limited magic resistance.
Duergar: The free castings of invisibility and enlarge/reduce, can help with your limited spell slots and spells known. Unfortunately,  enlarge/reduce doesn't scale with level and invisibility can be annoying to use if you only have 3rd-level spell slots to use. Still, the free casting is nice. The survivability isn't a huge deal as you shouldn't be up front to tank these effects for your party, but is useful nonetheless.
Earth Genasi: Nothing really here for a warlock, unfortunately.
Eladrin: Misty step is already available to warlocks but, seeing as they are severely strapped for spell slots, being able to cast it for free using Fey Step is a welcomed bonus. Seeing as warlocks also recharge spell slots on a short rest, you can use Trance to your advantage by waking up before your party, casting a spell with a long duration like hex or mage armor (or both) and short resting to get the spell slots back.
Fairy: The flight is nice, but the spells won't be particularly impressive on a warlock because they don't scale with levels.
Firbolg: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
  • Updated: With flexible ASIs, the firbolg's free spell casts are excellent for warlocks due to their extremely limited number of spell slots.
Fire Genasi: The spells aren't that exciting, but getting an extra casting of burning hands can be nice because of your limited spell slots. Unfortunately, the cantrip and flame blade will be pretty useless most of the time. The fire resistance is a solid way to increase survivability.
Genasi: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Giff: Nothing here for a warlock.
Gith: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Goblin: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
  • Updated: Now that goblins can choose CHA they are a solid pick for a warlock. Fury of the Small will add damage to all of your spells and Nimble Escape is a great failsafe to get out of harms way if you find yourself within melee range. Goblins are also now a strong choice for Hexblades for boosted weapon damage and more maneuverability on the battlefield.
Goliath: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
  • Updated: Goliaths are an excellent pick for any Hexblade warlock since they can really struggle with durability. Stone's Endurance and to a lesser degree Mountain Born should help there. If playing any other subclass goliaths aren't the best pick because ideally your warlock won't be taking lots of damage to begin with.
Hadozee: A bit of damage reduction, a climbing speed, and the ability to negate falling damage isn't particularly exciting for a warlock.
Harengon: While all these abilities are "nice to haves", there is nothing here is particularly exciting for an warlock.
Hobgoblin: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
  • Updated: Hexblades could use Fey Gift in combat, but other subclasses are far too squishy as they would need to be close to an ally to provide the Help action. Still, Fortune from the Many is useful to have as a failsafe for saving throws.
Kalashtar: Because the kalashtar’s racial traits are so good, having only +1 to CHA is acceptable.
Kender: The kender's Taunt may compete with hex because they are both bonus actions. This, combined with their measly hit dice and lack of armor, means kender just aren't cut out for warlocks.
Kenku: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Kobold: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
  • Updated: Hexblades won't mind the melee requirement of Draconic Cry as much as other subclasses. The cantrips from Draconic Sorcery won't be needed, so you'd be better off taking Craftiness or Defiance to round out your character.
Leonin: The +2 CON is okay for hit points and concentration checks, but not getting a CHA or even DEX bonus really hurts. The Daunting Roar ability can help pad your meager spell slots by giving you some additional combat resources but, with a 10-foot radius, won't be effective unless you're playing a Hexblade or find yourself surrounded.
  • Hexblood: The free spells and free castings are solid for warlocks, who will likely want to stock and cast disguise self  and hex anyways. The utility offered by Eerie Token can also help due to your restricted spell list.
Lizardfolk: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Loxodon: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Minotaur: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Orc: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Plasmoid: Beyond the resistance to poison and acid and against being poisoned, there isn't much here for the warlock. Especially because the pseudopod is essentially a strictly worse mage hand, despite its ability to deliver touch spells from range.
Satyr: Perfect ASI array, face skill proficiencies, extra movement, and Magic Resistance make this an ideal class for the warlock.
Shadar-kai: Misty step is already available to warlocks but, seeing as they are severely strapped for spell slots, being able to cast it for free using Blessing of the Raven Queen is a welcomed bonus. Seeing as warlocks also recharge spell slots on a short rest, you can use Trance to your advantage by waking up before your party, casting a spell with a long duration like hex or mage armor (or both) and short resting to get the spell slots back.
  • Swiftstride 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 DEX boost.
Simic Hybrid: CHA is your only reasonable option for the flexible ability score. Carapace is a good choice for the squishier caster classes.
Tabaxi: DEX makes the class less squishy and CHA is the most important ability score for warlocks. The rest of the racial traits are very movement-focused, with some solid proficiencies thrown in.
Thri-kreen: Even though you can get free castings of mage armor with an invocation, going with the thri-kreen can allow you to take a different, more beneficial invocation. The thri-kreen's armor also gives free advantage on Stealth checks and they get Darkvision and telepathy, which can be quite beneficial. Unfortunately, the Secondary Arms feature has little to no benefit here.
Tortle: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
Triton: Warlocks are probably the most relieved to get the triton’s innate spells because they can’t cast too many spells per short rest. Warlocks mostly worry about CON and CHA, which is covered by the triton.
Vedalken: Warlocks need CHA to be effective.
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.
Water Genasi: Nothing here for a warlock.
Yuan-ti Pureblood: Yuan-ti purebloods have everything a warlock could want: +2 to CHA, innate spells, and some fantastic defensive traits to keep you alive.

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.

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 hit points 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.

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 armor 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 5th-level 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.


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

Check out our Hexblade Warlock 5e Guide for build optimization tips.

The Archfey

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

  • 1st level
    • The Archfey 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 5th-level  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 for the Archfey warlock because it scales and is a great way to deal with pesky invisibility.
      • 2nd level
        • Calm Emotions: The fact that this spell has two different use cases makes it decent, even if those events may not come up too often. Enemies often have effects that charm or frighten in an area of effect, so being able to suppress those effects also in an area of your choosing could save your whole party. When used on enemies, you can make them non-hostile for a whole minute, giving you enough time to escape. The main issue with this spell is the concentration and the relatively small radius.
        • 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 and better for builds with lower ACs than blur. Plus, it isn’t concentration.
        • Plant Growth: Slows down pesky enemies moving around a lot or trying to escape, but not particularly good at either. Also cool for story beats to restore nature that has been devastated by war.
      • 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: Being able to attack or cast spells while invisible is a huge upgrade from regular invisibility. Give it to a melee party member and watch them get advantage on every attack and disadvantage on attacks against them, bonus points if it’s a paladin or rogue for extra crit + Divine Smite / Sneak Attack potential.
      • 5th level
        • Dominate Person: Amazing spell when fighting humanoids. Taking over the mind of an enemy can completely swing the direction of the encounter. While spells like hold person can take an enemy of the fight, dominate person can make that enemy into an ally essentially creating a two for one. If you are fighting against humanoids a lot in the late game, this is a simply outstanding spell.
        • 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 conditions, 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
    • The Celestial spells:
      • Cantrip
        • Light: Useful, but there are plenty of ways around having to pick up this spell. As long as your not underwater, simple torch could save you a slot for another cantrip.
        • 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.
      • 1st level
        • 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 doesn’t die the next attack against it gets advantage which should do the trick.
      • 2nd level
        • 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.
      • 3rd level
        • Daylight: The light cantrip on steroids. The biggest downside of this spell is the misleading name which causes people to think that this spell actually produces daylight, which can be helpful when fighting creatures with Sunlight Sensitivity. Dispelling darkness could be situationally useful.
        • Revivify: Every party needs a party member with revivify. The nature of D&D is such that PC deaths happen fairly easily, so your friends will be looking to you to save them from that fate. Because each round of combat is 6 seconds, a party member that dies during combat can typically be revived within 1 minute. Make sure you’ve got diamonds worth 300 gp on you if you’re planning on stocking this spell.
      • 4th level
        • 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 level
        • 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.
    • 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
    • The Fathomless spells:
      • 1st level
        • Create or Destroy Water: Being able to conjure 10 gallons of water isn’t particularly effective unless you are dying of thirst in a desert.
        • Thunderwave: A fantastic, low-level way to knock opponents back if you find yourself in a sticky situation. Damage isn’t bad either but it targets CON saves.
      • 2nd level
        • 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 level
        • Lightning Bolt: Does as much damage 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 level
        • Control Water: A very effective spell, but only if you’re around water.
        • Summon Elemental: 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 level
        • Bigby’s Hand: Bigby’s hand truly does it all. It can do turn after turn damage, help you escape dangerous situations, hold down a baddy, and allow you to fly 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 spells:
      • 1st level
        • Burning Hands: One of the better AoE damage spells you can get at 1st-level but there are better direct damage spells and better mass effect spells. This filler spell can be great if you catch a group of enemies close together.
        • Command: Very effective charm spell that can be very versatile in combat, you can lock down opponents, cause them to drop important items, and so on. Make sure the target can understand your language before casting. Unfortunately, it only lasts one round so using it out of combat is pretty tricky.
      • 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: The gold standard for damage spells in 5e. This spell was intentionally designed to be overpowered for a 3rd-level slot, making it the most optimal choice when looking to lay the hurt down.
        • Stinking Cloud: Used in the right circumstances, like locking enemies in a room then casting this into the locked room or when an enemy has to funnel through a “choke” point (heh). Outside of these specific situations, it’s quite mediocre.
      • 4th level
        • Fire Shield: Fire shield is a decent buff for martial casters but casters that prefer to maintain a distance likely won’t find much use for it. The fact that it provides resistances to two different damage types can make it especially potent for builds looking to tank for their party.
        • Wall of Fire: Amazing battlefield control option to divide enemies and deal massive damage.
      • 5th level
        • Flame Strike: Not particularly exciting when compared to fireball. It does the same amount of damage but has a better damage type (half radiant/half fire) and has a slightly larger radius. The “improved” damage type doesn’t mean much because it still does half of it’s damage as fire damage. So, if you’re looking to work around fire resistance, this won’t be a worthwhile choice.
        • 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 spells:
      • 1st level
        • Dissonant Whispers: One of the best 1st-level spells in the game. Verbal only components, good range, psychic damage, and can cause an enemy to move away from an ally. Not only does this provide support on the battlefield, but it can also cause an opportunity attack which makes the spell even more powerful.
        • 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. If you can, save this for non-humanoids and use hold person on humanoids.
      • 2nd level
        • Detect Thoughts: Useful spell for interrogations, or to determine if there are any hidden creatures near your location.
        • Phantasmal Force: There are extreme situations where this could be useful, but it is simply not a good spell.
      • 3rd level
        • Clairvoyance: Not many situations will call for this spell but it can be useful for scouting.
        • Sending: 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: Crowd control that grants the Restrained condition and continuous damage depending on if you can keep enemies in the area.
      • 5th level
        • Dominate Person: Amazing spell when fighting humanoids. Taking over the mind of an enemy can completely swing the direction of the encounter. While spells like hold person can take an enemy of the fight, dominate person can make that enemy into an ally essentially creating a two for one. If you are fighting against humanoids a lot in the late game, this is a simply outstanding spell.
        • Telekinesis: This is a great spell to have perpetually stocked. Toss enemies around the battlefield or crush your enemies with a giant rock.
    • 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 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
    • The Undead 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. The only downside is that it 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.
        • 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: Has an 8-hour duration and doesn’t require concentration so it could be a good spell to cast pre-emptively if you have the ability to regain spell slots during a short rest.
        • Greater Invisibility: Being able to attack or cast spells while invisible is a huge upgrade from regular invisibility. Give it to a melee party member and watch them get advantage on every attack and disadvantage on attacks against them, bonus points if it’s a paladin or rogue for extra crit + Divine Smite / Sneak Attack potential.
      • 5th level
        • Antilife Shell: Great option if you find yourself in trouble in melee combat. It will also hedge out your allies so keep that in mind.
        • 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
    • The Undying spells:
      • 1st level
        • False Life: Temporary hit points are always useful, especially at very low levels where characters can be taken out in a single hit.
        • Ray of Sickness: Damage isn’t great but Poisoned is a nasty condition. Unfortunately, the save targets CON, a common proficient saving throw, and immunity to the Poisoned condition is also fairly common. Don’t try to cast this at Constructs, Fiends, or Undead at the very least.
      • 2nd level
        • Blindness/Deafness: Very effective debuff that doesn’t require concentration. The only downside is that it 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: Has an 8-hour duration and doesn’t require concentration so it could be a good spell to cast pre-emptively if you have the ability to regain spell slots during a short rest.
      • 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 aren’t particularly prevalent 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.

Best Eldritch Invocations for Warlocks

Check out our guide to Eldritch Invocations.

Best Feats for Warlock

  • 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.
  • Agent of Order: Great debuff that can be dealt at range and tacked onto your spells (including AoE spells). Plus, you can boost your Charisma, which is always a bonus.
  • Alert: Being up higher in the initiative order can be very valuable for a warlock as they have access to great crowd control spells like hypnotic pattern.
  • Athlete: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Baleful Scion: This a very "warlock" effect and is an excellent accompaniment to their other damage/healing abilities.
  • Chef: Nothing about this class screams "I'm also a chef”. The Con bonus is nice, but overall you're going to want to skip this. There's no flavor here for spellcasters.
  • Cohort of Chaos: Unfortunately, this is too unpredictable to be a efficient use of a feat.
  • Crossbow Expert: Warlocks can skip this. Hexblades are the exception to the rule as it allows them to use eldritch blast in melee ranged, but it’s still only a minor benefit compared to other classes.
  • Crusher: Absolutely not worth it, as they never want to be in melee range. This feat is for martial classes. Hexblades can use bludgeoning weapons, which works well with booming blade, for some fun damage opportunities, but it isn’t an essential feat by any means.
  • Defensive Duelist: Again, no need to be in melee range too often. However, Hexblades can work well as a DEX build, which can benefit from this feat.
  • Divinely Favored: More spells and free castings are always beneficial for warlocks. Make sure you choose a spell that scales, so that you can use it with your warlock spell slots. The holy symbol doesn't matter much, except for Hexblades, who are going for the sword-and-board.
  • Dual Wielder: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Durable: Nothing particularly exciting here for a warlock.
  • Eldritch Adept: Warlocks get access to plenty of invocations, the only time a warlock would choose this feat would be when they plan on multiclassing but still need access to a particular invocation for their build.
  • Elemental Adept: Warlocks aren’t casting much more than eldritch blast most of the time, which isn’t affected by this feat. It’s a safe skip.
  • Elven Accuracy: If you wanna sling eldritch blast with triple advantage, you might want this. The best way to do this is by picking Pact of the Chain and using your familiar to give you the Help action every turn, so you always have advantage. Keep in mind, this will only get you advantage on the first beam you shoot, not any subsequent beams.
  • Ember of the Fire Giant: The typical warlock won’t want this feature, but it could be decent for Hexblades who are martially-inclined.
  • Fade Away: The ASIs aren't great, but you could still potentially boost your Stealth and AC through increasing Dexterity. In most cases, warlocks are out of combat enough that they'd rather take Shadow Touched and get access to the invisibility spell, rather than Fade Away's reaction.
  • Fey Teleportation: You don’t get much out of this aside from the +1 CHA, and you can already learn misty step as a spell. Fey Touched is better overall, since this feat/race combo is a waste of stats for warlocks. DEX and INT from high elf don’t benefit you in any way, regardless of your build.
  • 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. As for 1st-level spells to grab, you're looking for something that can be upcast so you can use your warlock spells to cast it after the once-a-day use. Command  and dissonant whispers seem to be the best candidates that fit the bill. Though, if you want to be a pragmatic warlock, you could also grab hex and use it for a free once-a-day 1st-level casting.
  • Fighting Initiate: Only Hexblades can acquire this feat, and even so, there are better feats to choose from that make a Hexblade far more powerful.
  • Flames of Phlegethos: Tieflings make great warlocks but warlocks 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.
  • Fury of the Frost Giant: Seeing as you likely won't have the spell slots to be a counterspell machine, this could help pad your limited spell slots so you don't have to burn them on hellish rebuke. This is probably only worth it for Hexblades, who will be in combat more often than their ranged-counterparts.
  • Gift of the Chromatic Dragon: Warlocks don't attack with weapons nearly enough to make this feat worth it.
  • Gift of the Gem Dragon: Boost Charisma and gain a nice reaction-based ability that can buy you space from enemies.
  • Gift of the Metallic Dragon: Warlocks don't normally learn shield or cure wounds, so this is a solid way to stretch their limited resources. Even when you take the Hexblade patron, you don't really want to be spending spell slots over 1st level on shield if you can help it.
  • Grappler: Warlocks can skip this feat.
  • Great Weapon Master: Most warlocks want nothing to do with Great Weapon Master. Some melee Hexblade builds can make use of this feat, the details of which can be found on our Hexblade 5e Guide.
  • Guile of the Cloud Giant: Misty step doesn't scale well with upcasted spell slots, so it's pretty useless to warlocks who only have access to 3rd level or above spells. This is a good way to boost defensive capabilities while also improving mobility.
  • Gunner: You don't need a gun, you’ve got magic.
  • Healer: Warlocks are better off leaving healing to other party members while they focus on outputting damage. Plus, they're glass cannons that want to stay on the outside of combat, not run into it.
  • Heavily Armored: Getting up to a 15 Strength for warlocks is a tough ask, but the AC boost is undoubtedly handy. If you really want a heavy armor sorcerer, grab the dwarf race so you don't need to meet the heavy armor Strength requirements.
  • Heavy Armor Master: Warlocks don't get proficiency with heavy armor.
  • 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.
  • Keen Mind: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Keenness of the Stone Giant: If you have a high enough Constitution, this can be a decent way to stretch your damage and battlefield control abilities.  Hex may get in the way of using Stone Throw all the time, but the combination of the two is potent enough for the investment to be worth it. This also combos extremely well with the magic stone cantrip.
  • Lightly Armored: Already has access to light armor at the start.
  • Linguist: Warlocks won't get much out of the languages or Intelligence boost.
  • Lucky: While Lucky is usually less good for casters, warlocks will be making plenty of attack rolls with eldritch blast. This can ensure you land your hits and net more crits.
  • Mage Slayer: Most warlocks are going to want to skip this. The only exception is hexblades, which can sneak in some extra damage, but I wouldn’t call it essential.
  • Magic Initiate: For warlocks, this feat is pure utility. They don’t get a lot of damage from this as Warlocks already come with all the damage they need. This feat is only essential for those with specific builds in mind or for multiclassing.
  • Martial Adept: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Medium Armor Master: Warlocks don't get proficiency in medium armor.
  • Metamagic Adept: Grabbing this feat as a warlock is kind of a mixed bag. Because warlocks don't have control over what spell slot they cast their spells with, only having access to two sorcery points limits some of the awesome metamagic features like Twinned Spell to the 10th-level. If you're planning on playing in a campaign that goes beyond the 10th-level, Metamagic Adept can still offer some versatility in the forms of Subtle Spell and Careful Spell.
  • Mobile: Like wizards, you can safely skip this in most cases. However, Hexblades with access to booming blade should look into picking this up.
  • Mounted Combatant: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Observant: Warlocks simply don’t care for this feat. They don’t need either stat and aren’t usually the ones investigating rooms. This is a pass unless you need it for RP reasons.
  • Orcish Fury: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Outlands Envoy: While an ASI and a free casting of misty step and tongues isn't terrible for warlocks, Fey Touched is going to provide more value.
  • Piercer: While you might gain access to some piercing spells, this feat is still a skip. The damage increase from this feat is minuscule when you can only cast one spell a turn.
  • Planar Wanderer: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Poisoner: Nothing in the warlock subclasses meshes well. Hexblades who don’t want to multiclass to paladin for a smite can use this, but that's the best use case.
  • Polearm Master: Typical warlock builds will want to give Polearm Master a pass. Hexblade warlocks, on the other hand, can make quite good use of Polearm Masters features.
  • Resilient: Proficiency with CON saving throws (which includes concentration checks) and +1 CON isn’t anything to turn your nose up at, especially if you’re going for a Hexblade build. That said, they will likely get more value out of War Caster because it allows them to cast spells as opportunity attacks.
  • Revanent Blade: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Righteous Heritor: If your warlock is using counterspell to disrupt their enemies from casting big damage spells, you likely already have a better use for your reaction than Soothe Pain. Otherwise, this is a decent way to support your party.
  • Ritual Caster: Warlocks won't want to invest the Intelligence or Wisdom necessary to take this feat when they could just take Magic Initiate.
  • Rune Shaper: This can be an interesting option to help pad your warlock's limited spell slots. That said, they already get access to the best of these spells and sometimes have an even better version through invocations.
  • Savage Attacker: Skip this feat.
  • Scion of the Outer Planes: Warlocks already have the best damage cantrip in the game, which outputs force damage, so they usually won't have to work around resistances. With that in mind, picking up one of the utility cantrips and a damage resistance will still be solid value. I'd probably go with Lawful Outer Plane for force damage and guidance.
  • Second Chance: Good way to get Charisma and a defensive ability. Make sure to save your reaction for counterspell if you're battling a caster, cause they'll likely hit you harder than avoiding an enemy landing with a single attack.
  • Sentinel: Most warlocks don't want anything to do with melee combat so this feat provides no value. Hexblade warlocks can get some value because of the extra damage from hex but feats like Great Weapon Master will provide more value.
  • Shadow Touched: Invisibility is a great spell for casters that need to get out of dodge. The free casting of invisibility and another 1st-level spell goes a long way because of the warlock's lack of 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.
  • Sharpshooter: Typical warlocks want nothing to do with Sharpshooter as their eldritch blast gives them all the ranged damage they could ever need. Hexblades, on the other hand, can make a ranged weapon-focused build work with Hex Warrior and Pact of the Blade's features and will need the Sharpshooter feat to output comparable damage to an eldritch blast  build.
  • Shield Master: Warlocks don't have a shield proficiency and usually have their bonus action locked up with hex anyways. Even for the melee-focused Hexblade that provides a shield proficiency, between hex and Hexblade's Curse, it's better to choose a feat that's going to provide more value.
  • Skill Expert: Warlocks should look at feats that give them extra ways to cast spells or to make their cast spells more useful as they have very limited spell slots.
  • Skulker: Unfortunately, eldritch blast just doesn't jive with stealth because only the first beam is rolled with advantage.
  • Slasher: Warlocks, like wizards, won’t find anything helpful from this feat unless they’re a Hexblade, where the higher crit chance makes it even more useful.
  • Soul of the Storm Giant: Typical warlocks will want nothing to do with this feat. Though, it could work for Hexblades who want a bit more survivability.
  • Spell Sniper: Increased range and ignoring cover on spell attacks can be stellar for all of your eldritch blasting. Go for chill touchfire bolt, or ray of frost off the sorcerer spell list depending on which spell you don't already have access to.
  • Squat Nimbleness: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Strike of the Giants: Most warlocks won't be making melee weapon attacks nor will be they be stacked into Strength or Constitution so they can skip this feat. Hexblades might want to take Fire Strike to boost their weapon damage, which can lead into another good feat in Ember of the Fire Giant at 4th level.
  • Tavern Brawler: Nothing here for a warlock.
  • Telekinetic: Warlocks are on the lower end when it comes to the number of cantrips they learn. Mage hand is always useful, as is the ASI to CHA. When it comes down to combat, hex will be much more important to use than the bonus action Shove, but when you've already got your hex on a target, the Shove can offer some good battlefield control.
  • Telepathic: Even though warlocks don't usually get detect thoughts,  adding this spell to your repertoire isn’t as good as either misty step from Fey Touched or invisibility from Shadow Touched.
  • Tough: Warlocks have a d8 hit dice but still struggle with AC, so Tough might be worth it to increase your survivability.
  • Vigor of the Hill Giant: Warlocks usually push for short rests to get their spell slots back, so this can help heal you up more effectively as well. Still, it's probably not worth it because the ASI and resisting movement effects are worthless.
  • War Caster: Before Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, this was necessary for melee Hexblade builds that want to keep hex up as long as possible. Now, with the Eldritch Mind invocation available, this feat seems like a waste of ASIs due to the reasonable number of invocations warlocks get, compared to the meager number of ASIs they are given.
  • Weapon Master: Warlocks have no need for weapon proficiencies.

Best Spells for Warlock

As they only get a maximum of 4 spell slots at 20th level, warlocks are feast and famine spellcasters. If they aren’t able to short rest between encounters, they will quickly have to resort to eldritch blasting their opponents. This might not feel bad from a damage output perspective because eldritch blast is the most powerful cantrip in the game. That said, it can certainly make for dull gameplay when you’re just using the same cantrip turn after turn. Luckily, there are some magic items that can somewhat help with spell slots, like the rod of the pact keeper.


  • Blade Ward: The only time this is worth it is if you know for a fact you're going to be taking bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing from a weapon in the next turn which isn't a common occurrence. Otherwise, if you find yourself in a tricky situation and need to mitigate damage for a turn, take the Dodge action.
  • 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: Eldritch blast is easily the best damage cantrip in the game and is your bread and butter as a warlock. The range is amazing, it has a d10 damage dice, it does force damage, works really well with hex, can target multiple targets at higher levels, can critical hit, and it scales like any other cantrip. Make sure to pick up the Agonizing Blast invocation which will allow you to add your CHA modifier to the damage.
  • Friends: Give yourself advantage on CHA checks, but after a minute the target will become hostile. This certainly has its uses, like interrogation or doing a very quick deal with a shopkeeper. Otherwise, the cons outweigh the pros.
  • Frostbite: Frostbite has a very interesting secondary effect (giving disadvantage on target’s next attack). The problem is that it requires a CON save which many monsters are very good at.
  • Green-Flame Blade: Good option for martial spellcasters as long as the enemy their attacking has allies nearby. Scales relatively well with levels, but depending on the amount of extra attacks you get this may or may not be worth it. Definitely a good option for builds that have picked up War Caster.
  • Mage Hand: Mage hand provides a lot of utility for a caster, allowing them to extend the range they can grab or interact with objects, with little combat benefit.
  • Magic Stone: If you have an spellcasting modifier of at least +3, this is a better option to use than fire bolt from 1st-4th levels because of the higher average damage. Once you hit 5th level, change this out for fire bolt if you can.
  • Mind Sliver: This spell isn't quite the damage output you're looking for when compared to eldritch blast. That said, it can help debuff enemies for a big spell cast by an ally or on your next turn.
  • Minor Illusion: If used creatively, this cantrip can be the most flexible tool in a spellcaster arsenal.
  • Poison Spray: Bad range, a common save to avoid all damage, and a commonly resisted damage type. Pass.
  • Prestidigitation: Extremely versatile, even if the effects are small this cantrip can do a lot.
  • 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.
  • Toll the Dead: Good damage, rarely resisted damage type, and solid range. Obviously, it's best to use on an enemy that has already been damaged.
  • True Strike: Wasting a whole turn just to gain advantage on a single creature the next turn is not what you want to be doing.

1st level

  • 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 with a short-range that will allow you to escape a group of enemies if they fail their save. This is a spell you don’t want to have to use.
  • 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.
  • Charm Person: One of the better options for dealing with NPCs outside of combat. Good for quick interactions, but the biggest caveat to this spell is the target knows it was charmed by you once the effect ends.
  • Comprehend Languages: Been able to read and understand any language will have its uses at some point. Is it worth it to keep the spell stocked for your whole campaign? Probably not. Is it worth it to stock when you're heading into ancient ruins? Probably.
  • Expeditious Retreat: This spell could come in handy for characters that value high movement and may have no real use for their bonus action, like a Bladesinger.
  • Hellish Rebuke: Awesome use for your reaction. Scales with levels.
  • Hex: Deal an extra 1d6 of necrotic damage when you hit a creature with an attack. This is the spell of choice for casters that will be making spell attacks more often than not, like the warlock with their eldritch blast. Similar to hunter's mark in effect but it does necrotic instead of additional weapon damage and can be used on any type of attack, not just weapon attacks. The main downside of hex over hunter's mark is that it requires VSM components, which can be difficult to manage if you have your hands full and don't have the War Caster feat.
  • Illusory Script: Much more of a DM, story-based spell than a player-focused one. Pick it up if you need to write a secret message that you can't relay telepathically using message or sending.
  • Protection from Evil and Good: You love to see this spell in any party, the buffs this can provide are extremely useful in any combat scenario. The creature types this affects are very common so this spell will likely be useful in your campaign.
  • Unseen Servant: Not really much more effective than a mage hand at the end of the day.
  • Witch Bolt: Underwhelming damage, requires your action and concentration, and can be thwarted by simply stepping out of range.

2nd level

  • Borrowed Knowledge: If your party is lacking a critically important skill, getting time limited proficiency can come in handy.
  • Cloud of Daggers: If you can get this into a chokepoint you can do amazing damage.
  • Crown of Madness: This spell has a lot of crippling limitations because of its powerful effect at such a low level.
  • Darkness: Darkness + the Devil's Sight invocation is a nasty combo. Keep in mind, your party won't be able to see in the magical darkness.
  • 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: This is 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: The damage isn't great, but it allows you to track an enemy. Can be helpful if you're up against invisible or retreating enemies, but you have to be able to see the creature before you can target them with the spell.
  • 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.
  • Ray of Enfeeblement: Concentration, 1 minute duration, only affects STR weapon attacks, and CON saves for the enemy to escape. Most STR-based enemies you target with this spell will have great CON saves, which makes this a very clunky spell.
  • 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.
  • Shatter: Decent AoE that can be super effective against specific creatures. Also good for destroying inanimate objects.
  • Spider Climb: A useful movement option if you want to get away from a combatant or sneak into a hostile area. Seeing as your hands are free, you're still able to attack and cast spells while climbing. Will also allow you to live out your Spider-Man fantasy.
  • Suggestion: Never underestimate the power of suggesting a course of action to an NPC. Yes, Mr. Scary Guard, why don’t you give us the keys to your king’s treasure vault?

3rd level

  • Counterspell: You don’t necessarily want your warlock to be blowing spell slots on counterspell because you can't control which level you're going to cast it at. But if nobody else has it you, need to take it.
  • Dispel Magic: You don’t necessarily want your warlock to be blowing spell slots on dispel magic because you can't control which level you're going to cast it at. But if nobody else has it you, need to take it.
  • 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: Extremely useful movement option. Being able to fly opens up a whole new world and can overcome many obstacles. Be cautious about the concentration component when flying to lofty heights.
  • Gaseous Form: This spell can honestly vie for the top “infiltration” spell over invisibility. Being able to fly and move through tiny cracks as an inconspicuous cloud can make getting into any heavily defended fortress a cinch.
  • 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: Good range, good AoE, and its effect are potent. Incapacitating multiple enemies is a fantastic tactic to passively flee from the situation or do massive damage with automatic crits. The effect can be ended by a friendly creature taking an action to wake the affected creature from its stupor, but that will eat up a lot of action economy. Either way you slice it, hypnotic pattern is one of the best crowd control spells at this level.
  • Intellect Fortress: Only useful in very specific circumstances. Say, for example, when wandering into a den of Mind Flayers.
  • Magic Circle: While celestials, elementals, fey, fiends, and undead are quite common, this spell provides a very lackluster effect against them. As the creatures can still attack inside the cylinder and can still teleport out using a CHA save, it's not very effective at containing, nor protecting from, these creatures.
  • Major Image: Much like silent imagemajor image is really only limited by your imagination. A 20ft cube is quite the space to play around in and fit just about any creature (within reason).
  • Remove Curse: Cursed items can be absolutely brutal. This is an excellent way to make sure your party member isn't possessed by a demon after the put on a locket they found in a haunted house.
  • Spirit Shroud: Most warlocks don’t want to be within 10ft for their enemies. This is decent for Hexblade builds but the damage doesn’t outpace hex by that much and can’t be used at range. 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 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 summon fey options 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.
  • Summon Undead: This is a solid spell because you don't need a corpse already available to bring an ally into a battle. It is also significantly more powerful than a single zombie or skeleton. Unfortunately, it only lasts for 1 hour, so you can't create an army of the dead with it, like you can with animate dead.
  • 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.
  • Tongues: Most of the time, it will be tough to justify a 3rd-level spell for the effect this produces. Of course, understanding a creature and allowing it to understand you could have the potential to stop a terrible situation unfolding. This is a spell that would be worthwhile to prepare for specific situations, but is too niche to consider stocking all the time.
  • 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

  • Banishment: Get rid of creatures from another plane, or take out a big threat for most of the combat. One of the better save or suck spells out there. Keep in mind that, unless the creature is natively from another plane, they will return after the spell ends.
  • 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: Teleport, with a friend, over a much longer distance than misty step. Unfortunately, it’s two spell slots higher than misty step and a full action to cast. Still, this spell can save your bacon is a tight circumstance.
  • 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.
  • Hallucinatory Terrain: This is more of a DM-spell than a player-focused on. Particularly creative players will be able to find a use, but most of the time this is unnecessary.
  • 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: Great summon option with a good amount of versatility. The Beholderkin provides flight and ranged attacks, Slaad can tank and has decent melee damage, and Star Spawn provides psychic damage and AoE.
  • Summon Greater Demon: The notion that you can lose control of the demon makes this spell a massive gamble.

5th level

  • Contact Other Plane: This powerful effect is tarnished by the huge downside associated with failing the save. Seeing as no WIS-based casters can access to this spell, even a DC 15 save is a gamble to pass. Unless you have a cleric standing by with a greater restoration this spell is too risky to cast.
  • 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: While it may not look like much, dream is an insanely powerful spell. First of all, it can target a creature no matter how far away they are, as long as you know the creature and the creature has to sleep. Second, you're able to stay in that creature's dream for up to 8 hours, which can allow a ton of time to communicate with the creature for long periods without being attacked. Last, and most importantly, you can negate the effects of a long rest AND do damage. This might not be an issue for a high level enemy with legendary resistances, but can definitely cause issues for less powerful foes. This spell is definitely a slow burn type of spell but can have massive ramifications in the long run.
  • Enervation: What happens when you cross witch bolt with vampiric touch and make them actually good? The increased 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 spellcasters 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.
  • 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. Otherwise, the damage isn't great and it only targets on creature.
  • 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, shrink the wall, and provide some solid turn-over-turn damage.

6th level

  • Arcane Gate: Allows you to open a portal between two locations that you can see. Fairly similar effect to dimension door except as many creatures as you like can move through the portal in a 10 minute time span. Useful for getting more than one companion out of dodge, but it's quite a high spell slot for the effect.
  • Circle of Death: Fireball type effect, but has a much wider radius. Necrotic damage, isn't enough to make this 6th level spell worth it, especially because it targets a CON save.
  • Conjure Fey: There are some nasty fey creatures out there that you could summon with this spell. Unfortunately,  the risk that you'd lose control over that creature makes this spell too much of a gamble in most circumstances.
  • Create Undead: You can create stronger undead than with animate dead but main downside is the higher spell slot required. Create undead isn't usually worth it when creating a troop of undead servants to follow you around, because it will require too many spell slots to maintain.
  • Eyebite: Clunky spell with powerful effects. Essentially, as long as you maintain concentration, you can use your action to imbue a powerful debuff. Unfortunately, casting something like fear or hypnotic pattern will likely allow you to impose conditions on more enemies, for less action economy, for a lower spell slot.
  • Flesh to Stone: This is a relatively low-level way to permanently take a baddie out of the fight. Can be especially useful if the villains of your campaign have a way to bring their minions back from the dead. Of course, the target needs to fail four CON saves to be petrified but that could be feasible if you have some way to make them roll their checks with disadvantage. All in all, this is a moderately effective debuff that has a lot of potential for upsides.
  • 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: Amazing charm effect. No saving throws, target up to twelve creatures, and a duration of 24 hours.
  • 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 in conjunction with 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 spellcasting modifier and allows you to attack twice, you will rarely use these features as a unless your a martial spellcaster.
  • True Seeing: Gain the abilities of truesight, spotting secret doors, and seeing into the ethereal plane, all without concentration. This will be effective at some point but a 6th level spell is steep.

7th level

  • 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.
  • Etherealness: This spell allows you to fly or move through solid objects, while not being affected or able to affect creatures not on the Ethereal Plane. You can only target yourself but there is no concentration. Pretty middle of the road all around.
  • Finger of Death: It’s a CON save, but they still take half damage on a success. If you want some huge single target damage, it’s not a bad pick.
  • 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: As long as the target has less than 100hp, they don't get to make a save to resist the effect. This makes it a decent choice when targeting a creature with Legendary Resistance. The debuff is quite potent, it provides disadvantage on attacks, ability checks, and saving throws, and casting spells becomes more difficult. Unfortunately, the effect can be ended with a successful CON saving throw so there's a good chance the effect only lasts one round. For a 7th-level spell, this is rarely worth it.

8th level

  • Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting: Essentially just an upcast fireball. Don’t bother unless you fight a lot of plants.
  • Demiplane: Good utility spell, if you have a strong buddy or good charm spells you can create your own demi-prison system.
  • Dominate Monster: Extremely good option to help swing the tides of battle in your favor. If you manage to dominate one of your enemies, you're 2-for-1ing the opponent by adding an ally to your side while subtracting an enemy from your enemy's side.
  • 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 Stun: You 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

  • 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 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. Still, Meteor Swarm can do, on average, 140 damage (70 on a save), and can hit multiple creatures so this might not be that worth it.
  • Psychic Scream: Great damage, targets an uncommon save (INT), stuns on a failed save, and explodes your targets head if they die from the damage.
  • True Polymorph: This can be a crazy buff, or an extremely effective way to permanently get rid of a creature. For the buff portion, you can turn a creature into another creature whose challenge rating is equal to or less than the target's. If the creature you're transforming is a player character, the CR matches the character's level. Seeing as challenge rating is meant to match a party of four to five players of that level, you can get a huge power boost by turning into a creature that has a CR equal to your level. For example, a 20th-level character can be turned into an ancient dragon, which would typically take a party of 20th-level adventurers to defeat. On the other hand, if you target an enemy and manage to concentrate successfully for an hour, the effect can be permanent. Therefore you could turn the big bad into a rock or something. Forever.

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 Ssrcerer gets you access to metamagic which will allow you to Quicken or Twin your eldritch blasts, which will net a ton of damage. Unfortunately, you can’t Twin your eldritch blasts beyond 5th level, but Quickening will allow you to cast a leveled spell and eldritch blast in one turn.

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.  Bards also 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.

Sources Used in This Guide

  • BR: Basic Rules
  • GotG: Bigby Presents: Glory of the Giants
  • SotDQ: Dragonlance: Shadow of the Dragon Queen
  • ERLW: Eberron: Rising from the Last War
  • EEPC: Elemental Evil Player’s Companion
  • EGtW: Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount
  • FToD: Fizban's Treasury of Dragon
  • GGtR: Guildmasters' Guide to Ravnica
  • MotM: Monsters of the Multiverse
  • MToF: Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes
  • MOoT: Mythic Odyessys of Theros
  • PAitM: Planescape: Adventures in the Multiverse
  • PHB: Player's Handbook
  • SAiS: Spelljammer: Adventures in Space
  • SCoC: Strixhaven: A Curriculum of Chaos
  • SCAG: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide
  • TCoE: Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
  • TTP: The Tortle Package
  • WBtW: The Wild Beyond The Witchlight
  • VRGtR: Van Richten's Guide to Ravenloft
  • VGtM: Volo's Guide to Monsters
  • XGtE: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything

Other Warlock Guides

Mike Bernier

Mike Bernier is the lead content writer and founder of Arcane Eye. He is a Adamantine best-selling author of Strixhaven: A Syllabus of Sorcery on DMs Guild and is a contributing author at D&D Beyond. Follow Mike on Twitter.

25 thoughts on “Warlock

  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!

  12. Your comment on Spirit Shroud in the Warlock Guide says “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.”

    I keep seeing this as I reference the spell list when I look this over, but a Pact of the Blade Warlock will have two melee attacks at Level 5 with the Thirsting Blade Invocation and Eldritch Blast will also have two beams starting at level 5 as well. Am I missing something? Those both seem like second attacks so figured I should reach out.

    1. Thirsting blade is one thing, but committing to eldritch blasting creatures within 10ft is quite the gamble as it will result in attacking with disadvantage most of the time.

  13. If you wanted the ultimate martial spell caster you could be a hexblade, multiclass into paladin, take war caster, have a shield and a weapon, and put the holy symbol on the shield. That way, you could cast spells without any somatic or material components, have proficiency in constitution saves to help with concentration, and you can use a weapon and shield on top of all that! I think that you can really rain down the fire that way.

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