Dive Deep into The Fathomless from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
The Fathomless Otherworldly Patron for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons warlocks immediately evokes Fjord from Critical Role in my mind as an inspiration. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything offered many subclasses to fil out the class rosters and The Fathomless patron for warlocks feels especially welcome. Something about a warlock making a pact with a sea monster feels dreadful in all the best ways. While there’s no denying many Critters will have a hard time separating this subclass from Fjord, a veritable ocean of ideas surged to mind as I thought of what The Fathomless patron might look like, if not the dread Uk’otoa.
A fathomless sea of 5E D&D patron inspiration
The first thing that popped into my head (to no one’s surprise if they know me) was the lion turtles from Avatar: the Last Airbender and by extension, dragon turtles. Dragon turtles are woefully underdeveloped by the Monster Manual and I really think it’s a shame because there are key sentences that speak volumes to the personality of the dragon turtles. Specifically I recall the 5E D&D Monster Manual saying, “As large and voracious as the oldest of its land-based dragon kin, a dragon turtle strikes with its deadly jaws, steaming breath, and crushing tail.”
“I never understood why some people get so jittery about tentacles. Have you ever had octopus nigiri? One of the few pieces of evidence of a benevolent multiverse.” — Tasha, in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
The idea of playing a completely underwater campaign may inspire me due to watching the Little Mermaid animated series as a young child but also I kind of love the idea of a sailor condemned to death on the seas joining this campaign, having stricken a bargain with the resident (pointedly neutral aligned) dragon turtle alongside a sea elf, a triton and a locathah.
Other underwater patrons could be a storm giant mage of incredible power or perhaps a character made a pact with a reincarnated merrow deity. Suppose a warlock was thrown overboard during a storm and was contacted by a kraken offering precious life as it slipped through their fingers. Other characters might look to the inky blackness of the ocean depths to find a mysterious Lovecraftian entity or an aquatic fey such as a sea hag — maybe even a whole coven! Undead abound in sea stories and an Otherworldly Patron might even cosmetically alter your character much like the curse from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
In general the idea of physical mutation is especially prevalent with The Fathomless right form the outset. Evoking some good old fashioned body horror in the vein of X-Men could definitely add to the spookiness and cool factor of your fathomless patron. When I was younger, I loved this movie called The Thirteenth Year where every time the main character touched water he mutated instantly into a merfolk with aquatic adaptations. Something in this vein could also add welcome surprise to an unexpecting party.
Bear in mind many more terrors exist beyond the depths in our own world and even drawing inspiration from less horrific creatures like puffer fish or manta rays could be cool. Maybe the fathomless patron is like a coral reef hive mind where everyone can contact the others in the reef at will and in turn they can be contacted.
This is only the beginning of the ideas I had for The Fathomless and I’m sure with a couple of googling rabbit holes of ocean life, you’re sure to be able to invent some of the most awesome fathomless patrons!
D&D mechanics with a marine flair
One of the coolest things about The Fathomless is how open ended it is as a concept. By design warlocks are very much a build-your-own-class sort of option when it comes to features and while some might feel underwhelmed by the simplicity of the features I’d point to the Personalizing Spells section of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. Features work much the same way. The Fathomless is all about the water and that opens the rest of it up for defining your own murky Otherworldly Patron how you wish.
The Fathomless features
- Expanded Spell List. The expanded spell list for The Fathomless is everything you’d expect it to be. A lot of water and storm themed abilities (because sound travels better in water). Plus a few key ideas for flavor such as the idea to turn Bigby’s Hand into a tentacle, or might I suggest, seaweed.
- Tentacle of the Deeps. Further leaning into the water theming this feature lets you create a tentacle you can command. While you could simply make it look like a spectral octopus tentacle I think going with an Avatar-esque water whip could be really cool. Making it a rocky conglomerate of coral could be interesting. Maybe it’s an angler fish’s lure complete with a glowing tip. This is one of those aspects so fundamentally oceanic at its core yet it also has so much potential to be flavored and really sell exactly what your patron is. I positively love it.
- Gift of the Sea. This feature opens the door to get really weird. Specifically I like the idea of causing your warlock’s physicality to mutate, accommodating a swimming speed and breathing underwater. Mutating your warlock anytime they touch water can make for a really interesting roleplaying experience — especially if no one knows it’s coming ahead of time.
- Oceanic Soul. Not a lot to speak on here. This is really your utility ribbon. Cold resistance is really nice and being able to understand and be understood is useful. More than anything this makes me think of what mechanical implications this ability assumes. Particularly I would read this feature to mean just because you can breathe underwater it doesn’t mean you can understand creatures while underwater. That’s an interesting concept and one I think merits more attention.
- Guardian Coil. The fact you get this feature in addition to the one before it at the same time feels almost too good. This allows your tentacle to protect yourself and others. Essentially a permanent boost to your survivability, this feature is super nice and makes this class significantly more bulky once you get it.
- Grasping Tentacles. There’s not a lot this subclass does with water outside of tentacles, which is something I’ve heard complained about The Fathomless but the theme solidarity isn’t necessarily bad. I personally like the control that comes with the tentacles. This feature and the ability to ignore the prospect of damage shutting down your free spell is actually pretty nice plus it further enhances your role as a controller and defender.
- Fathomless Plunge. This feature feels particularly cool if not a bit niche. Essentially you can transport yourself and at least most of your party to a nearby body of water up to a mile away. A mile isn’t incredibly far but this feature can certainly prove clutch. Maybe just… don’t rely on this class too heavily in a desert themed game.
What do you think of The Fathomless Otherworldly Patron for warlocks from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything?
Do you love warlocks as much as we do? What sorts of fathomless patron can you come up with? Let us know by tweeting us @Nerdarchy or connect with us on Facebook!
*Featured image — A human The Fathomless warlock as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. [Image courtesy Wizards of the Coast]