Over at Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted crack open their eldritch tomes and take a closer look at one of the iconic spells for warlocks in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Next to eldritch blast a warlock’s most recognizable spell puts a terrible curse on creatures through hex, a 1st level enchantment for warlocks only that scales beautifully with their Pact Magic feature. Hex brings a lot to the gaming table for damage output but if I’m honest it’s the other portion of the spell effects most intriguing to me. With this in mind let’s start with hex and see what creepy directions a warlock can take as a true occultist in 5E D&D.
A hex upon thee
Warlocks in 5E D&D often add hex to their known spells for a few reasons. First off it’s a solid bit of extra single target damage perfect in tandem with eldritch blast. These two spells combo especially well since you can cast hex with your bonus action and still eldritch blast the target since it’s a cantrip. For the rest of the battle you can use your bonus action to reapply the hex to another creature once the original target drops to 0 hit points and what’s more the 1 hour duration means it might come into play during the next battle too. These two magical effects work great in combat but the other side of hex turns warlocks into creepy occultists from the get go because for the next hour, 8 hours or 24 hours your eldritch curse really sours someone’s day.
In addition to consistent extra damage when you cast hex you choose one ability and the target has disadvantage on ability checks made with the chosen ability for the duration. Imagine an NPC you know plans to do something antithetical to your best interests like, I don’t know, head into an important negotiation. Throw a hex on them and curse their Charisma or Wisdom. Maybe a nefarious arcanist seeking to unlock the secrets of an ancient tome and your hex on their Intelligence ruins the final steps of their research. The possibilities are endless.
Hex requires all three components — verbal, somatic and material (the petrified eye of a newt) so more than likely your spellcasting is conspicuous but so what? If you had a silver piece for every time some crazy person spat a curse at you…
For a true occultist though, victims of your eldritch schemes need be none the wiser. Warlocks possess a tremendous variety of options through character development and at the end of the day you can always fall back on good old hex and eldritch blast in a fight. The rest of the time lean into the unsettling side and consider all the ways your spells, Eldritch Invocations and class features make you the ultimate creepy occultist.
Occultist warlock toolbox
Warlock spells lending themselves to doing creepy stuff and showing off your occult mastery, these spells can all be found inside the 5E D&D Player’s Handbook. Usually we keep things as open as possible here on the website by sticking with the free Basic Rules, but hex isn’t even in there and if we’re starting from that point how can we not include the PHB?
- Blade ward — impress sycophants by demonstrating how your occult patron shields you from harm
- Friends — sometimes a moment’s bewitching is all you need
- Mage hand — moving stuff around with a spectral hand can definitely make you a creep
- Minor illusion — punctuate those creepy monologues with weird sounds and imagery
- Prestidigitation — emphasize your occult mastery with dramatic flair
- True strike — point at something and foretell its doom makes this cantrip worth it
- Charm person — magical compulsion is a creep’s bread and butter
- Expeditious retreat — creep up on people or ghost them in a crowd like a blur
- Hellish rebuke — you won’t like my patron when they’re angry
- Unseen servant — throw a cloak over it, use light for some creepy effects and freak people out all day
- Crown of madness — hiding 120 feet way the only thing onlookers know is a twisted crown of jagged iron appeared on the evil ruler’s guard and they attacked their own ally
- Darkness — do you need an example?
- Enthrall — look at me and despair!
- Invisibility — go watch The Invisible Man and tell me this isn’t creepy as hell
- Ray of enfeeblement — feel the creepiness sap your power mwahahahaha
- Spider climb — bonus points if your scurry up the wall with your arms and legs backwards
- Suggestion — your honeyed words bewilder minds
- Fear — let them see your true face for but an instant
- Gaseous form — and just like that *poof* they were gone
- Hypnotic pattern — watch how my jeweled pendant catches the light. you’re getting sleepy…
- Magic circle — make this your pre-rest routine “just in case” and freak our your companions
- Remove curse — extremely useful for an occultist and also the bane of your existence
- Banishment — wave your hand and dismiss those you fail to amuse you
- Blight — got a slot left before a short rest? show your disdain for natural order and destroy some plant life
- Contact other plane — you’re not far removed from insanity already
- Dream — okay now you’re taking creepiness to a whole new level
- Scrying — classic creepy occultist move
- Eyebite — sorta like hex but more explicit and dramatic creepy effects
- True seeing — I see you. There is no life in the void, only death
- Etherealness — worthy for no other reason than a creepy answer to “where have you been?”
- Demiplane — a creepy abode. Or abodes. And plenty of places to keep your creepy occult stuff
- Feeblemind — you thought hex and eyebite were terrible curses?
- Glibness — weave the most tangled web when you first practice to deceive and you’ll be fine
- Foresight — see all, know all and trust in your creepy occult power to protect you against all ill will
- Armor of Shadows — draw the shadows around you into a creepy protective shield
- Ascendant Step — let the power of your patron take you on high
- Beast Speech — endlessly strange encounters
- Beguiling Influence — twist and manipulate the power of words
- Bewitching Whispers — spread word of your occult presence
- Dreadful Word — cloud minds and cause others to become unable to tell friend from foe
- Eyes of the Rune Keeper — your occult power reveals all, nothing is hidden from your gaze
- Gaze of Two Minds — hanging out in someone’s mind is pretty creepy
- Mask of Many Faces — remember conspicuously casting hex? Now you can be anyone…
- One with Shadows — make sure to dramatically wave your hands in front of your face before vanishing
- Sculptor of Flesh — turn people into toads with the best of them
- Sign of Ill Omen — with your other bewitching powers everyone’s gonna get cursed up in here
- Thief of Five Fates — so many ways to bewitch others to choose from!
- Whispers of the Grave — and last but not least carry on conversations with the dead all day