Players can choose from a pantheon of patrons for their warlock, but which of these is a god among lesser deities?
One of the most popular classes in Dungeons and Dragons is the warlock. They vary from other arcana caster classes such as wizards and sorcerers in that they do not devote years to study like the former and are not born with magical talents like the latter.
Instead, warlocks are more analogous to clerics or paladins. Which is odd given the dark places from which some derive their strength. They approach lesser deities and occasionally hazardous entities in order to strike a deal with them. In exchange for magic, warlocks commit their devotion and their souls at death to these beings.
The Archfey, known as the tricksters among the patrons, brings their mischievous nature to their patronage with their Fey Presence ability, Mist Escape, Beguiling Disguise, and Dark Delirium, which are granted at 1st, 6th, 10th, and 14th level, respectively. Three of these skills are dedicated to beguiling or terrifying other creatures. Therefore levelling up in this subclass provides warlocks with minimal new powers and just more of the same. When compared to other clients’ features, these fall short and appear rather weak.
In addition to the lacklustre skills, the enlarged spell selection falls short. Favouring particularly situational utility spells like faerie fire and appearing. Though skilled players can make their own fun and use of these spells. They lack the basic functionality that other spells have.
The Great Old One
The Great Old One is an otherworldly being in the vein of Cthulhu. Who is mentioned as one of the prospective patrons. The Great Old Ones, beings who flee reality and drive humans insane, unleash latent mind powers in their followers. Allowing them to converse telepathically, ward against mind-reading, and transform a foe’s bad luck to their food fortune.
This patron provides slightly more diversity than the Archfey, but given that warlocks are sacrificing their sanity in return for powers, they are risking a lot for little benefit. As a result, while there are wonderful flavour options for a Great Old One. There are better patrons to pick from for players seeking for a bit more firepower.
The genie subclass, introduced in Tasha’a Cauldron of Everything, allows players to strike a bargain with the elusive noble genies of the Elemental Plane. As a result, the genie gives elemental benefits. Such as resistance to one type of elemental damage, such as fire or air, depending on which element genie is selected. This choice also affects the enlarged spell list they receive access to, thus it should not be taken lightly.
The vessel that grants them their powers also functions as a magical container that the warlock can retreat into for a number of hours up to double their proficiency bonus, implying that the vessel could be used to take a long rest inside once the warlock reaches higher levels. The vessel is the main pull of the genie warlock subclass. And while this is a novel concept, it doesn’t stand out as much as other patron bonuses.
Those who shake hands with a demon obtain infernal perks such as an enlarged spell list of pyromaniac spells such as burning hands and flame strike, as well as a range other traits.
A pact with a powerful pit fiend or one of Hell’s mighty demon lords grants warlocks the ability to heal themselves from the deaths of others, gain a d10 boost to their rolls once per long rest, select one type of damage to be resistant to, and hurtle their enemies into a nightmarish hellscape, dealing massive damage to non-fiends. Of course, a warlock must be of the appropriate level to gain these benefits, but Fiends are generous patrons. Players must hope that it is worth the price of the eternity in hell that awaits them after death.
If you can’t decide between a cleric and a warlock, the celestial warlock is the way to go. By providing an angelic alternative with healing skills, this subclass defies the preconception that all warlocks indulge in dark arts and strike a deal with evil.
Those who accept the assistance of a celestial creature receive access to healing spells such as cure wounds as well as strong radiant spells such as directing bolts, allowing the warlock to strike a balance between healing and damage. With pact features like Healing Light, which allows them to use a pool of d6’s equal to their level+1 to heal other creatures from a distance. And the ability to resist death at level 14, the Celestial warlock stands out as not only a unique concept. But also a powerful one.
Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft added a slew of creepy and gothic lineages and character subclasses to 5e allowing players to spread the spookiness of Ravenloft throughout the multiverse, including the Undead warlock. This subclass grants warlocks access to the powers of undead monsters. Such as demilichs and vampire dictators, allowing them a portion of their undead natures.
Undead warlocks can display features of their chosen patron’s deathly countenance. Granting the warlock temporary hit points and terrifying those they successfully assault while making themselves immune to that state. Furthermore, warlocks get necrotic damage resistance. Defy death by plummeting to one hit point instead of zero. Cause damage to each creature within 30 feet of the player’s option, and even project their spirit from their physical body. This subclass is a fantastic addition to horror campaigns. But the strength of the traits should make it a consideration for warlocks regardless of campaign type.
The Fathomless is ideal for those looking for a more nautical motif to flavour their warlocks with. Warlocks receive access to the powers of the oceans by gaining power from aquatic lesser deities like as krakens, water elements, and merfolk, with the ability to select spells such as Create or Destroy Water, Control Water, and Cone of Cold to bolster their repertoire of spells.
Fathomless warlocks, unlike other warlocks, receive two features at level one: the ability to summon a tentacle to deal 1d8 damage to opponents and limit their speed, as well as a swim speed of 40 feet. Levelling up as a Drift Boss Fathomless grants them more damage with their tentacle strikes, the ability to reduce enemy damage against allies, the free spell Evard’s Black Tentacles, and the ability to transport themselves and their allies into a body of water up to 1 mile away, which can come in handy when trying to save the party from a deadly situation.
The Undying, not to be mistaken with the Undead patron, is a comparable agreement to create that delivers similar benefits. But they are distinct and powerful enough to deserve their high ranking on this list. The Undying patron grants warlocks some control over death. As well as tools to assist them avoid it for themselves and their allies.
Starting at level 1, warlocks receive the spare the dying cantrip, an advantage on saving throws against diseases. And difficulties attacking undead, requiring a Wisdom saving throw. And forcing them to choose a new target or forfeit their attack entirely. When a warlock succeeds on a death save or uses spare the dying to stabilise someone. They gain 1d8 hit points and their constitution modifier. Furthermore, Undying warlocks demonstrate their undying nature by having a body that ages slowe. And the ability to reconnect severed limbs and regenerate hit points as a bonus action. Because of their tenacity, these warlocks make excellent patron candidates.
Those who cannot decide between a caster and a melee character should consider the Hexblade. The Hexblade, one of two new subclasses introduced in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, allows warlocks to acquire the art of swordplay, acquiring proficiency with medium armour, shields, and martial weapons at the beginning levels, as well as the ability to curse adversaries. This curse provides them numerous advantages in fighting, giving them a competitive advantage. That can be the difference between life and death.
Increasing their patronage allows warlocks to resurrect those they slay as servants who will obey all verbal commands. Impose a d6 penalty on foes affected by the curse when they attack. And transfer their curse to another creature upon the death of the one previously marked. Death simply serves to increase the power of Hexblade warlocks. Demonstrating them to be the deadliest of all warlocks, and patron players should choose them when hunting for the strongest.