5e: Designing Warlock Patrons

With the impending release of Book of Heroes: Heroic Fighter Archetypes, I am setting up the framework for the next few installments. One if them is warlocks, because I love warlocks. It’s a solid class mechanically, and it has a back story built right in. My first 5e character (post playtest) was a warlock—Sir Tim von Daggerdale. He’s fun. I haven’t played him in years, but I enjoyed the fun times I had with him.

From the point of view of the in-game characters that choose to be a warlock, let’s moment and analyze the biggest choice for the character: the otherworldly patron. The PHB has 3 in there: the Fiend and let’s just call them Fey and Great Old One. Specifically, I am only looking at flavor reasons why a character would choose to make a deal with these; I’m not looking at the game mechanics.

Warlock

First just being a warlock means a number of things. You made a deal with a being for power. So you lacked the patience to study to become a wizard, the innate ability to become a sorcerer, the faith and devotion of a cleric or a paladin or any of the other prerequisites for the other classes. This deal is or power plain and simple. Without that deal you believe you would be simply average. The real question is, “Is that true or is the deal holding you back from what you are meant to be?”

Fiend

The deal you make with a fiend is never what you expect. Even if you think you found all the loop holes, you haven’t. This deal always benefits the fiend far more than it benefits you. So what does it say about a person that reaches out to a demon or a devil for power? It could say you are ambitious and are willing to make sacrifices to see that ambition come to fruition. It could say you desire to rule over others, stopping conflicts by making others see what is obvious to you. One could even choose the fiend pact out of a desire to preserve life, believing that taking such power is required to make others hear what you have to say. No matter what the reason, choosing the fiend pact is a far more complex option than simply believing that the devils have it right.

Fey

Harry Dresden made a deal with Queen Mab for power after he broke his back. She pursued him for a long time but it refused until he felt he had no option left except a deal with her. So what does it say about him and–back to the main topic–any character that makes a deal with Mab or some other great and powerful fey? First off unlike the other two you stand for life. Fiends and Cthulhu want the character’s soul (or the souls of others) while fey promote the natural world. So if you choose the Fey as your patron, you promote life not death. You may promote the life of animals and other non-intelligent creatures over humans but it is still life. You may find something appealing about civilization becoming a less potent force in the world. Perhaps you just enjoy being a force for chaos or a trickster.

Great Old One

While the cultist that is a true believer and wants to see the world end in fire or drown in water is the stereotype, it is far from the only kind of character that would make a deal with a Great Old One. I prefer a passage from the Roger Zelazny book A Night in the Lonesome October.

“I hunted rats and ate out of dustbins and saw my kittens killed and was hung by my tail and abused by wicked urchins,” Graymalk said suddenly, “before the mistress found me. She was an orphan who’d lived on the streets. Her life had been even worse.”

Here, Greymalk the cat is telling Snuff the dog why they support opening the gate and the Great Old Ones destroying the world. Greymalk and her mistress had terrible lives and the two want their own pain to stop, want the pain for others in their situation to stop and to make all those that inflict such pain to pay for their crimes. While a character in a 5e game might not want to go to such lengths, those in a position to be recruited by a Great Old One frequently have had something bad happen to them and it stayed bad for a very long time. Someone who has made a deal with an otherworldly being that wants to destroy the world wants to lash out, particularly at anyone causing pain. Those who take the power offered by Cthulhu and others of his kind may very well be good people willing to do bad things to bad people because of the pain inflicted upon them. So what does a deal with a Great Old One say about your warlock, that you’ve been hurt. Hurt quite a bit.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments below.

Help us produce more great articles like this by downloading our 5e PDFs like the Book of Magic: 10 Warlock Invocations at the JBE Shop, the Open Gaming Store, and DriveThruRPG.

5e: Unleash New Warlock Invocations

Grow In Your Patron’s Power Like Never Before

Warlocks broker deals for power, gaining invocations which manifest that power in unique ways. These ten invocations offer new variations in the way you can wield what you’ve bargained for— changing your eldritch blast, casting spells other warlocks cannot, or casting your existing spells in new and different ways.

Book of Magic: 10 Warlock Invocations is a great resource for any warlock character. This short supplement features:

  • 3 Spell-Granting Invocations—invocations granting you access to spells like confusion and hideous laughter
  • 3 Spell-Altering Invocations—invocations that change the way you can cast
  • 2 Eldritch Blast Invocations—invocations that make your eldritch blast deal different kinds of damage
  • 2 New Ability Invocations—invocations that grant you whole new abilities

Make Your Enemies Tremble When You Display Your Power!

Download Book of Magic Warlock Invocations for your Fifth Edition game at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, the OpenGamingStore and Paizo.com.

5e: 3 Imaginative Invocations

To date, we at Jon Brazer Enterprises have limited out involvement with Fifth Edition to Monsters, Adventures, and Races that we can convert over from Pathfinder. It makes sense considering how long we’ve been working in Pathfinder and how many projects we published for the game. But that is about to change.

We never really got into class options in a big way with Pathfinder for a simple reason: there are to many companies already out there that are doing it. Oh sure, we created some class options for the Reign of Winter Adventure Path, some specially designed for races in the Book of Heroic Races series, but it was never a major focus for us. Meanwhile, others developed many other ideas, leaving little design space available scarcely a month after a given class’s release. Just the fighter class has 75 archetypes fully detailed on d20pfsrd and countless others that have not been added to the site. Fifth Edition, however, sees considerably fewer companies creating material for the game and the main company is not producing monthly add-ons for the game. So we are feel that we have the breathing room to spread out developmental wings.

To this end, we are starting with the warlock class. Unlike other Fifth Edition classes, this class has options you can choose throughout the class’s progression. Oh sure spellcasters choose new spells, but the class feature of spellcasting does not change. There are archetypes like the fighter battle master that lets you choose different options throughout the class, but this is not the default option for the class itself. These individual options, we feel, is an easy place for us to start, allowing us to show off our design chops. Each of these different options are a solid choice in game and are fun to boot.

Overall, I would split the 10 Warlock Invocations that we created into 3 different categories.

1) New Spellcasting Options.

Some warlock invocations let you cast spells that are not on the warlock spell list. Armor of Shadows, Bestial Speech, and Otherworldly Leap are all examples of this. Some require the warlock to use a spell slot; others do not. Well, we created a few like this. Here’s my favorite:

Eternal Laughter

You can cast hideous laughter once using a warlock spell slot. You can’t do so again until you finish a long rest.

2) Modified Spellcasting Options.

Some warlock invocations change the way a spell is cast. While the PHB only has Agonizing Blast and Eldritch Spear really the only ones that fit this category, we decided to go a bit further and expand this design option up further. I particularly like this one.

Fiendish Accuracy

Prerequisite: true strike cantrip, 9th level
As a bonus action, you can cast true strike once without using a warlock spell slot and apply its effects this turn. You can’t do so again until you finish a short or a long rest.

3) New Abilities.

Last but not least are those invocations that just let you do new things. Bewitching Whispers, Devil’s Sight, Eyes of the Rune Keeper, and Voice of the Chain Master are perfect examples of this. Of our new creations, I like this one the best (yes, it is inspired by the Alien movies):

Acidic Blood

Prerequisite: 5th level
When you take piercing or slashing damage from a natural weapon, the attacking creature takes a number of points of acid damage equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1).

Download Book of Magic Warlock Invocations for your Fifth Edition game at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, the OpenGamingStore and Paizo.com.

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑