The Great Old One Warlock

Published on May 14, 2024

Embrace madness with your Great Old One patron, a terrifying elder god who exists beyond the fabric of reality and whose powers are able to destroy the minds of any who dare to oppose you.

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Quick Links
The Great Old One Warlock Overview
The Great Old One Warlock Subclass Features
How to Play an The Great Old One Warlock
Ability Scores for The Great Old One Warlocks
The Great Old One Warlock Races
The Great Old One Warlock Feats
The Great Old One Warlock 5e Build Example

If you’ve ever dreamed of summoning the Great Cthulhu or one of his eldritch brethren to the mortal plane, then wait no longer! The Great Old One Warlock is here to bring your reality-tearing fantasies to life (in game). Drive enemies to the brink of insanity with the power of an elder god, chained beyond the boundaries of creations and now ready to be unleashed.

Whether by chance encounter or dedicated study, your character has unraveled the secrets of an eldritch being, a Great Old One, and is able to channel its power. This subclass specializes in distorting reality, summoning beings from other planes, and then laughing at the chaos they are creating!


While the Great Old One (GOO) Warlock does have access to powerful, early-game battlefield abilities (plus a cool overall flavour), the main strength of this subclass is what it can do out of combat. The GOO Warlock’s psychic and telepathic abilities offer a huge amount of creative potential in roleplay situations, allowing a clever player to manipulate encounters to their advantage through the use of features like Awakened Mind and Create Thrall.


Although the GOO Warlock has a couple of great 1st-level spells, the rest of the subclass offerings are a bit lacklustre until you get to late-game. Indeed, this subclass goes through a bit of a power trough in the middle levels, which might make it an unappealing option if you’re not satisfied with the core Warlock tools.

Subclass Guide Rating Scheme

This guide is meant as a deep dive into the Great Old One Warlock subclass. For a full overview of the Warlock class, check out our Warlock 5e Guide.

For our class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:

  • Red isn’t going to contribute to the effectiveness of your character build at all.
  • Orange Situationally good, but a below-average option otherwise.
  • 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.

The Great Old One Warlock Spells (Pact Magic)

The pact struck with your The Great Old One patron gives you access to the power of the Upper Planes, offering divine healing energy and spells with radiant or fire damage.

  • 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.

The Great Old One Warlock Subclass Features

As a Great Old One Warlock in DnD 5e, your subclass features grant you the ability to communicate telepathically, shield yourself from foes, and enthrall lesser beings when they are incapacitated. These psychic talents will assist you in manipulating encounters to your advantage, if you’re cunning in how you approach them.

1st Level

Awakened Mind

Starting at 1st level, your alien knowledge gives you the ability to touch the minds of other creatures. You can telepathically speak to any creature you can see within 30 feet of you. You don’t need to share a language with the creature for it to understand your telepathic utterances, but the creature must be able to understand at least one language.

Simple telepathy seems like a powerful ability for a basic feature, but it doesn’t typically have a ton of value in combat situations. More often you’ll be using it in roleplay to diffuse situations or confuse opponents to buy you some extra time. Plus the limited range means this can’t work as a long-distance hack for party communication.

It’s worth noting that creatures also have to speak at least one language for this feature to work, so you can’t use this to talk to animals or other wild monsters that you might encounter on your travels. This does limit its effectiveness.

6th Level

Entropic Ward

At 6th level, you learn to magically ward yourself against attack and to turn an enemy’s failed strike into good luck for yourself. When a creature makes an attack roll against you, you can use your reaction to impose disadvantage on that roll. If the attack misses you, your next attack roll against the creature has advantage if you make it before the end of your next turn.

Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

Since Warlocks generally want to avoid getting it in the first place, this feature plays well into your class strengths. Imposing disadvantage on an opponent is useful and the potential upside of getting advantage in return is a solid bonus. Nonetheless, the cooldown on this feature makes it feel a bit underpowered and you’ll need to have a decent AC to get value out of it.

10th Level

Thought Shield

Starting at 10th level, your thoughts can’t be read by telepathy or other means unless you allow it. You also have resistance to psychic damage, and whenever a creature deals psychic damage to you, that creature takes the same amount of damage that you do.

Immunity to telepathy is a decent passive ability that will mainly be valuable in roleplay situations. The resistance to psychic damage and passive ability to reflect any psychic damage sounds cool, but the reality is that psychic damage is quite uncommon in DnD. This sadly makes this 10th Level feature feel like a bit of a dud. It might feel good in specific encounters where the enemy is reliant on psychic damage, but these will be rare.

14th Level

Create Thrall

At 14th level, you gain the ability to infect a humanoid’s mind with the alien magic of your patron. You can use your action to touch an incapacitated humanoid. That creature is then charmed by you until a remove curse spell is cast on it, the charmed condition is removed from it, or you use this feature again.

You can communicate telepathically with the charmed creature as long as the two of you are on the same plane of existence.

A charm effect with no time limit is a cool ultimate feature for the Great Old One Warlock, which has a ton of utility in roleplay situations, but is less potent in combat. Establishing the charm and infecting the target is fairly simple with a number of different Warlock spells, so you shouldn’t have any difficulty activating this feature (especially in RP).

What prevents this ability from being great is that charmed is not a particularly strong condition modifier in combat. Charmed creatures are only prevented from attacking you, not your allies, and any damage disrupts the effect, so you probably won’t want to use this in the middle of a fight — it will likely feel quite underwhelming.

How to Play Great Old One Warlock

If there is any Warlock subclass that plays like ‘vanilla Warlock’, it is arguably the Great Old One (GOO) subclass. GOO Warlocks have a few consistent early-game combat tools that scale well and a bunch of utility, especially in roleplay scenarios, which make it a great starting point for new Warlock players.

Strong Basic Spells

One of the best reasons to play a GOO Warlock is getting access to one of the strongest damage spells in the early game: dissonant whispers. Alongside Tasha’s hideous laughter, this subclass combo packs a powerful punch at the 1st Level and allows you to do serious work in terms of controlling the flow of fights.

Augmented by your Eldritch Blast and later core Warlock spells like hex and hypnotic pattern, this subclass does have a strong play pattern in combat. Most players will want to opt for the Agonizing Blast eldritch invocation build to optimize their damage output and keep hitting enemies while they’re running away frightened.

Strong Late-Game Bombs

Once you’ve unlocked 4th and 5th Level spells, your GOO Warlock build will come fully online. You’ll be able to use powerful spells like dominate person and Evard’s black tentacles to take enemies out of fights, in addition to your core Warlock tools.

You may find that sticking to your basic spell rotation makes combat situations a little dull, and might be unappealing for some players. Due to their limited spell slots, Warlocks don’t have the opportunity to unleash huge spell salvos every turn, but you do get some massive bombs once you reach the later levels and that’s tempting enough to make this subclass an appealing choice — especially if you’re new to the Warlock class.

Telepathy and Mind-Reading Unlocks Roleplaying Fun

Another big draw for the Great Old One subclass is the ability to use your psychic powers in roleplay situations. Even your basic feature in Awakened Mind can be super fun for simple encounters with NPCs, letting you play out situations in very creative ways.

The potential of the GOO Warlock only ramps up when you get access to powerful late-game features like Create Thrall. You can supplement these with some useful tools in the expanded spell list like detect thoughts and even class staples, such as suggestion and major image. By putting these tools together, you’ll offer a lot of utility in stealth or social situations.

As with other Warlock classes, these abilities can make the GOO Warlock a natural choice as the face of your adventuring party. Just make sure that you don’t get carried away or your psychic hijinks might end up driving your DM insane as well!

Ability Scores for Great Old One Warlock

Like with any other warlocks, Charisma is the most important ability score for The Great Old One Warlocks as it serves as the spellcasting modifier. Dexterity and Constitution will improve your overall durability and assist in ranged attack rolls, so both are valuable. Wisdom is helpful with saving throws and social interactions.

If you’re using point buy, a recommended starting stat distribution could be:

  • Strength: 8 (-1)
  • Dexterity: 14 (+2)
  • Constitution: 14 (+2)
  • Intelligence: 8 (-1)
  • Wisdom: 12 (+1)
  • Charisma: 15 (+2)

If using another ability score generation method, just follow the color coding above.

Great Old One Warlock Races

Any race that makes a good warlock will make a good Great Old One Warlock. See our suggestion for warlock races here.

Great Old One Warlock Feats

Any feat that works for a normal warlock will work for a Great Old One Warlock. See our suggestion for warlock feats here.

The Great Old One 5e Build Example

This build example gives a few extra tools to the Great Old One Warlock and focuses on its core strengths, by leaning into the powerful basic spells available to the subclass.


We will choose the Tiefling Bloodline of Glasya as our Infernal Descent, which unlocks access to a few illusion spells. This Bloodline gives an ASI to Dexterity, but there are other good options for both Tieflings and races in general. Check out our guide to best Warlock races for more.


The Great Old One Warlock is a strong choice for the face of the party, so you want to choose a background with skills that will best utilize your high Charisma. This makes Guild Artisan a solid choice, although there are other options available.

Pact Boon

For this build example, we will select Pact of the Chain to assist with scouting and general trickery using our telepathy abilities. The best familiar is usually the imp, but feel free to get creative with your own choices. To optimize this build, you want to choose powerful invocations like Investment of the Chain Master to get the most value out of your familiar.

Eldritch Invocations

As you’re selecting Eldritch Invocations for this subclass, you want to pick the powerful options unlocked by your Pact selection. For example, the late-game Chains of the Carceri (15th Level) or Investment of the Chain Master (3rd Level).

The other choice that is a must-have for this build example is Agonizing Blast, which enables the basic Eldritch Blast damage build. This will be your bread-and-butter damage ability with the GOO Warlock, so it’s an essential pick-up.

Mystic Arcanum

When choosing your Mystic Arcanum spells, we recommend picking up the most powerful late-game tools available. You can check our Warlock Spell Guide for more details on the best spell choices for your Mystic Arcanum.

1st level
  • Race: Tiefling - Bloodline of Glasya
    • Ability Score Increase: +2 Charisma, +1 Dexterity
    • Darkvision
    • Hellish Resistance
    • Infernal Legacy - Minor Illusion, Disguise Self, Invisibility
  • Class: Warlock
    • Armor Proficiency: Light
    • Weapon Proficiency: Simple
    • Skill Proficiencies: Deception, Intimidation
  • Ability Scores (Point Buy)
    • Base: STR 8 (-1) DEX 14 (+2) CON 14 (+2) INT 8 (-1) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 15 (+2)
    • With Improvements: STR 8 (-1) DEX 15 (+2) CON 14 (+2) INT 8 (-1) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 17 (+3)
  • Background: Guild Artisan
    • Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion
  • Otherworldly Patron: Great Old One
    • Expanded Spell List
    • Bonus Cantrips
    • Awakened Mind
2nd level
  • Eldritch Invocation
    • Fiendish Vigor
    • Eldritch Mind
3rd level
  • Pact Boon - Pact of the Chain
    • Imp
  • Eldritch Invocation: Investment of the Chain Master
4th level
  • ASI: +1 to Charisma 18 (+4), +1 to Dexterity 15 (+3)
5th level
  • Eldritch Invocation: One with Shadows
6th level
  • Great Old One Patron Feature: Entropic Ward
7th level
  • Eldritch Invocation: Sculptor of Flesh
8th level
  • Feat: Fey Touched
    • +1 to Charisma 19 (+4)
9th level
  • Eldritch Invocation: Minions of Chaos
10th level
  • Great Old One Patron Feature: Thought Shield
11th level
  • Mystic Arcanum (6th level): Mass Suggestion
12th level
  • Feat: War Caster
  • Eldritch Invocation: N/A
13th level
  • Mystic Arcanum (7th level): Forcecage
14th level
  • Great Old One Patron Feature: Create Thrall
15th level
  • Mystic Arcanum (8th level): Dominate Monster
  • Eldritch Invocation: Chains of Carceri
16th level
  • ASI: +1 to Charisma 20 (+5), +1 to Constitution 15 (+2)
17th level
  • Mystic Arcanum (9th level): True Polymorph
19th level
  • ASI: +1 to Constitution 16 (+3), +1 to Any Other
20th level
  • Eldritch Master

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.

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