Welcome to another installment of the Play with Class series where we will give you solid steps to run each class for the world’s greatest roleplaying game! This week, we’re talking about the edgiest of the spell-slinging classes: the warlock.
Warlock has seen many design changes since its initial debut, but it has remained one of the most beloved classes through them all. Warlocks get to spam the best damage cantrip in the game, and they get a whole bunch of extra flavor mechanics to sprinkle on top. Warlocks can be super simple to play if you build them that way or more complicated if you’re interested in playing around with the massive number of option combinations you can select. For this reason, warlocks aren’t the optimal choice for new players, but if you’re willing to read through all the options carefully, you’ll do just fine.
Role of the Warlock
Warlocks are a little odd compared to the rest of the arcane casters. They have very few spell slots and very few spells known. What they lack in diversity is made up for in their cantrips, though, because they have eldritch blast, which is the best damage-dealing cantrip in the game. So warlocks always have a way to do solid damage in combat. Other than that primary purpose, warlocks can serve various party roles, depending on what class options they pick. Different combinations of features can make warlocks function like a wizard, heal like a cleric, and even tank like a fighter. Your role as a warlock is highly customizable, which is why so many players, both new and veteran, love this class.
Reasons to Play A Warlock
- You have many options for building your character, and no two warlocks ever feel quite the same.
- No matter how spent your resources are, you can always come out on top by firing an eldritch blast.
- Roleplaying your connection to the patron who fuels your power can be so much fun.
Combat Crash Course
Once you’ve done the hard part and selected your warlock features, you should have a pretty good idea of where you fit in combat.
Go to the Shooting Range
Unless you have abilities that work otherwise, you are best suited to standing as far away as you can get from enemies while remaining within shooting range. The average warlock can take a few punches with their d8 hit dice and armor proficiencies, but that is a stance better left untested. Most turns, you will be firing away with your blast, reserving your precious spell slots to use in case of emergency. So stand in the back and get blasting!
Utility Spells Only
Warlocks have a limited spell list and the fewest number of spell slots of any casting class. This means you have to be incredibly picky about what spells you learn. When you choose your spells, only grab the ones that will serve in a practical way. What I mean is don’t pick up any spells that just do damage. You can dish out plenty of damage with your sweet cantrip list, so shop for the spells that will get you or your allies out of trouble when an encounter starts to go south. Better yet, plan out what invocations you will take for all your future levels, so you know which spells to take that will compliment your growing abilities. You don’t have the wiggle room to learn spells you don’t actually need.
As I’ve mentioned above, warlocks have so very many choices to make as they level up. This volume can make growing as a warlock a little daunting, so the best strategy is to plan ahead. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when crafting your eldritch superstar.
Get the Most Out of Your Blast
Eldritch blast is the cornerstone of the Warlock class, so make sure you have an excellent way to use it. You almost always want to choose at least one invocation that maximizes the ability of your eldritch blast. It is such a good ability, so don’t ignore it!
Warlocks have many micro choices they have to make, including choosing spells, invocations, and mystic arcanum spells at a higher level. It’s easy to get lost in all these choices. To make sure you have a well-rounded warlock with enough options, it behooves you to plan ahead. Whenever you level, think about what you’re going to pick up at the next couple levels too. Thinking toward the future helps you lock in the synergy that can be easy to miss with this class.
- If you want to see what other patrons are willing to trade a soul for a pact, check out the Genie Lord and the Sibyl (see Deep Magic).
- Don’t be afraid to roleplay! Working with your GM to create a meaningful story around your relationship with your warlock patron is an extremely satisfying part of playing a warlock.