Wringing Arcane Juice from Your 5E D&D Warlock Spells
Over on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel, Nerdarchists Dave and Ted discussed 5 go-to Tier 2 spells for warlocks in fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. Warlocks are unusual spellcasters in 5E D&D. With far less spell slots than their spellcasting colleagues, warlocks make up for this by casting all their spells at their most powerful iteration, and getting all their precious spell slots back after a short rest. Warlocks get a lot of mileage from spells that scale at higher levels, with effects that stick around for a while and don’t require concentration to interfere with keeping hex, darkness, fly, hunger of Hadar or any other useful spells going.
What about that other 5E D&D warlock feature?
As it turns out, there’s only two 5E D&D spells meeting these criteria. And one of them was the overlooked spell Dave and Ted talk about! Both charm monster and magic circle scale nicely, affecting additional creatures and lasting longer respectively. Neither require concentration, give warlocks extraordinary powers to control other creatures. For what it’s worth, out 1,561 monster entries across all the official 5E D&D material, only 260 have immunity to the charmed condition, making charm monster widely applicable. In the case of magic circle, 354 monsters can be contained within or protected from while within the 10-foot-radius, 20-foot-tall cylinder of magical energy. It takes 1 minute to cast, so it can be tricky to keep a creature still that long especially since out of those 354 susceptible creatures 156 of them can’t be charmed — a distinct scenario where that overlooked spell might have come in handy.
Eldritch Invocations offer another path to power for 5E D&D warlocks, and I was surprised to find there are 17 Eldritch Invocations with a prerequisite of being a tier 2 character, between 5th and 10th level. Since Dave and Ted covered the spells, I thought I’d take a look at these fragments of forbidden knowledge that imbue you with an abiding magical ability and see what we’ve got to work with.
Eldritch Invocations for tier 2 warlocks
A warlock chooses two Eldritch Invocations at 2nd level, learning another one at 5th, 7th and 9th level. Whenever a warlock gain a level they can replace one of their Invocations Known with another one they could learn at that level. At 10th level, warlocks know a total of 5 invocations, but they still only have 2 spell slots. This means any tier 2 invocations have to compete for spell slots with your other spells, at least in the case of the spells that affect other creatures. But if you stick to invocations granting spells to affect yourself, you can add some variety and versatility to your 5E D&D warlock.
Here’s a list of all the Eldritch Invocations with available once a warlock reaches tier 2. For your convenience the ones that grant you extra spells without using up any spell slots are bold. Out of these 17, significantly more than half expand your magical repertoire without expending your magical potential. Depending on the campaign you play in, some of these will be more or less useful. That’s for you to decide. After perusing the list I’ll make my picks for 5 go-to Eldritch Invocations for tier 2 5E D&D warlocks to accompany Dave and Ted’s recommendations for spells.
- Ascendant Step, 9th level — levitate at will, no spell slot or material components.
- Bewitching Whispers, 7th level — compulsion once per long rest using a spell slot
- Cloak of Flies, 5th level — advantage on Charisma (Intimidation) checks, disadvantage on all other Charisma checks, poison damage aura
- Dreadful Word, 7th level — confusion once per long rest using a spell slot
- Eldritch Smite, 5th level, Pact of the Blade feature — use spell slots to deal an extra force damage, knock target prone
- Ghostly Gaze, 7th level — see through solid objects, gain darkvision for 1 minute (concentration) once per short or long rest
- Gift of the Depths, 5th level — breathe underwater, gain swimming speed equal to walking speed, cast water breathing once per long rest without using a spell slot
- Maddening Hex, 5th level, hex spell or a warlock feature that curses — psychic damage to cursed target and chosen creatures you can see in range
- Minions of Chaos, 9th level — conjure elemental once per long rest using a spell slot
- Mire the Min, 5th level — slow once per long rest using a spell slot
- One with Shadows, 5th level — invisible until you move or take an action or a reaction
- Otherworldly Leap, 9th level — jump at will, without using a spell slot or material components.
- Relentless Hex, 7th level, hex spell or a warlock feature that curses — teleport up to 30 feet near target cursed by your hex spell or by a warlock feature such as Hexblade’s Curse or Sign of Ill Omen
- Sculptor of Flesh, 7th level — polymorph once per long rest using a spell slot
- Sign of Ill Omen, 5th level — bestow curse once per long rest using a spell slot
- Tomb of Levistus, 5th level — once per short or long rest temporary hit points, vulnerability to fire, speed reduced to 0, incapacitated
- Trickster’s Escape, 7th level — freedom of movement once per long rest without using a spell slot
- Whispers of the Grave, 9th level — speak with dead at will, without using a spell slot.
There’s some nifty choices on this list but for all purpose use I’ve got to say Ascendant Step, Maddening Hex, One with Shadows, Trickster’s Escape and Whispers of the Grave offer the best bang for your eldritch buck. Levitating at will, causing psychic damage bursts, disappearing into shadow, unrestricted movement and conversing with the deceased to your heart’s content sound really useful to me. As a matter of fact, warlock is the only 5E D&D class I haven’t played and usually it’s because I can’t get over those limited spells! But after taking a closer look at this Eldritch Invocation breakdown I think I’ll have to give warlocks another chance. Except the Undying Otherworldly Patron. Blah.