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D&D Next Q&A: 11/08/13
Rodney Thompson

Y ou've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will scour all available sources to find whatever questions you're asking. We'll pick three of them for R&D to answer, whether about the making of the game or anything else you care to know about... with some caveats.

There are certain business and legal questions we can't answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we'd rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.

1 What effect will specific patrons have on warlock spells and class features?

The current thinking is that your patron is probably the biggest decision you make as a warlock, so that’s where you’re going to get most of your unique class features from. Your pact, on the other hand, is more of a twist on the relationship you have with your patron. This comes with a baseline benefit due to the nature of the pact, but it also combines with the things you get from your patron; a warlock who has a pact with a fiend and who chooses the Pact of Chains, for example, might gain something different than if he or she had a pact with a powerful archfey. As for spells, there are some spells all warlocks have access to, and then your patron gives you access to other spells that only that patron can teach you—and there might be more options available to you from your patron depending on the pact you made.

2 What sort of beings will warlocks be able to make pacts with?

Right now we’re aiming at creatures from beyond the Material Plane: powerful fey, malicious fiends, and alien creatures from the Far Realm. That said, there’s certainly room for expansion into other kinds of patrons. For now, we want to focus on extraplanar creatures because we think that has the most story resonance within D&D and because the extraplanar element makes your patron more distant and mysterious than if that patron were, say, just one kingdom over.

3 What happens when a character with the Arcane, Divine, or Druidic Initiate feat takes a level in mage, cleric, or druid respectively?

The effect of the feat is unchanged. You still know the cantrip you gained, and you can still cast that particular spell you chose once per day. These feats sit on top of any spellcasting you gain from the class, and they don’t interact with your class features in any way.

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Rodney Thompson
Rodney Thompson began freelancing in the RPG industry in 2001 before graduating from the University of Tennessee. In 2007 he joined the Wizards of the Coast staff as the lead designer and developer for the new Star Wars RPG product line. Rodney is the co-designer of Lords of Waterdeep and is currently a designer for Dungeons & Dragons.
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This is crazy. Look at all the other feats and how powerful they are. Where are the magic feats? These are the only magic feats and you're telling me that by expending a feat someone can shoot two arrows a day, imbue arrows with spells, impose disadvantage on an enemies roll or advantage on ANY of your rolls, increase intelligence by 1 and learn three skills....but you can't learn a single spell from outside your class with a single feat?

I think this is a terrible ruling. You should allow the spell to be added to the spell caster's repertoire instead of only being able to cast the lowest version of it once per day. And then you have casters who take 6 levels of druid, cleric, and mage each...get all their class features and saving throws...proficiency bonuses and spells up to level 3 that can be cast at 9th level?

This ruling should be reconsidered. Spending a feat for one spell is not that big of a deal.
Posted By: chopkins779 (12/21/2013 3:05:12 PM)


Really wish we could get one of these to tell us what is going on with Dungeon Command instead of 5th ed every week.
Posted By: Rekmar (11/11/2013 9:27:39 AM)


I'm just really happy to see the Far Realm mentioned. I was worried that DnD 5e would scrap it; because many seem to think of it as a 4e idea, and therefore bad and wrong.

Until actual mechanics for the warlock (and all other classes) are released, I couldn't care less about vocabulary, fluff, and any non-game mechanics information. I'll do what I always do when getting into a TTRPG: Play it. Read it. And, if I love the rules; I'll keep playing it. If I love the fluff, but dislike the rules, I'll apply the fluff to another game where I like the rules. And vice-versa.

Right now, Warlocks seem to have lot of good ideas going. I like the 3 types of Warlock ('Chain', 'Book', and 'Blade') and I like the idea of the pact effecting and overlapping with that type choice. Pacts have a mechanical component (what spells the pact offers or encourages through bonuses or level learned) but the rest of the pact is fluff. DMs should be able to make up their own pacts, or even ... (see all)
Posted By: seti (11/8/2013 11:05:30 PM)


My two copper pieces:

Three youngsters enter the regional college of arcane studies in hopes of becoming wizards. The first student devotes himself to studying the basic tomes of casting spells, as well as the basic tomes for casting rituals and this student labors long and hard to master each cantrip as well as each low level spell and eventually graduates as a full fledged average wizard. The second student, while assisting another student in the casting of a ritual, is struck by a errant bolt of lightning and finds that a raging storm elemental has been awakened within him/her. The second student immediately streaks out of the college as a storm sorcerer. The third student quickly tires of the long, tedious process of study and starts to search through the library of arcane materials to find the 'quick and easy' path to becoming a full fledged wizard. The third student most unwisely summons an extraplanar being who immediately offers the student a 'deal' that ... (see all)
Posted By: arnvid2008 (11/8/2013 4:25:29 PM)


Both the 3.5 Complete Arcane and the 4e PHB1 allowed for warlocks who didn't receive their power from a specific otherworldly individual.

Here's what I'd like to see:

"Your pact connects you with a patron, the source of your magic. Your patron might be a powerful extraplanar being, a group of beings, or another mystical energy source; and you might gain this power through a formal contract, trickery, or outright theft. Many warlocks form a contract with a specific archfiend, fey lord, or other powerful entity. Other warlocks might steal their power from Asmodeus, make a contract with the Nine Hells, trick fey entities into sharing their gifts, or even unwittingly forge a bond with mysterious entities of the Far Realm as they study from tomes of forbidden lore. A few warlocks gain their pact through the actions of others, perhaps having been cursed by an archfiend through trespassing in his domain with a dark heart, or given away to the fey as a child in excha... (see all)
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/8/2013 3:34:55 PM)


I like these rules and ideas, classes should have these types of story elements attached, it makes the game more interesting and adds depth. Love it!
Posted By: tirwin (11/8/2013 2:41:32 PM)


I feel like some of the comments here are answering the wrong question. Its not necessary for the image of a warlock presented in the core books to match your vision of a warlock. You can make your own backstory, flavor text, etc...

The real question is, does the image of a warlock presented fit well with the rest of the world, and does it provide interesting opportunities for character building, storytelling, gameplay, etc... My opinion is that its generally more interesting if there are connections between the warlock and their patron.
Posted By: WCU_Scout (11/8/2013 1:02:55 PM)


I have no problem with default assumptions for the majority of warlocks. But if those assumptions are presented as *the* way, rather than *a* way, then good luck convincing a lot of DMs to let you do it differently.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/8/2013 3:33:44 PM)


Really good for the warlock!
This "cast at will" class with limited but peculiar arcane powers, with the combination of patron, path and exclusive spells, they can be a very usefull class, both for players and story.
I think warlock are only apparently indipendent, despite they can't serve an ideal or faith, before or after they pay the price, becoming puppets for their patron plans, driving peoples in sacrifice or something similar.

But now, when the paladin is a class for every allignement and the warlock became a class only connected to evil powers, is not the time to give the players a class only connected to good ideals for a more heroic campaign?

For the Initiate feats, I think the second, third and fourth level need each to gain even a spell bonus of the lower level, a precisation for their caster level and a prerequisite score on mental abilities in order to obtain them.
Posted By: Eilistraecomeback (11/8/2013 12:59:20 PM)


I always laugh when I see comments about how the warlock shouldn't have any continuing obligation to his/her patron. Because fiends, fey, and far realmers are all known to be stupid, generous, and very the very least they should have to corrupt...I mean take an apprentice after a certain level.

And for the ones who say "my warlock stole the power", that is even better, since it is a good excuse to have fiends, fey, or far realmer leg breakers or bounty hunters show up periodically.
Posted By: Mechagamera (11/8/2013 10:24:54 AM)


Arcane initiate feat answer, misses key question:
How do cantrips dependent on caster level behave with this feat (Shocking graps for example)
Does fighter level6 with this feat do 1d8 or 2d8 damage.
Does Bard level1o with this feat do 1d8 or 2d8 damage. (since his caster level under multiclass rules is 5?
Posted By: Quiberon (11/8/2013 8:30:02 AM)


Don't think you can get attack cantrips with that feat.
Posted By: ZaranBlack (11/11/2013 8:29:47 AM)


While I think you have a point in that there should be various ways to play a Warlock, the very core of the concept is that you have struck a deal with some kind of eldritch being (or someone has struck it on your part, of course). This is different from how Clerics work. Clerics are servants or mouthpieces for their deities, pantheons, planes or whatever it is they draw their power from. Warlocks however are dealing on a more equal basis. That's not to say that the Warlock is anywhere near the power of their patrons, but it isn't servitude. A Warlock (in her own mind at least) isn't subordinate to her patron, it's more of a business proposition.

That said, I think it can be quite a lot of overlap between Clerics and Warlocks in many cases. Especially the evil or chaotic Clerics.

Just my 2 cents.
Posted By: Seidmadr (11/8/2013 7:00:09 AM)


@LordArchaon, I understand where you are coming from, but I think it represents an unnecessarily limited view of the class. There is no reason to make it so narrow. I personally don't see any reason for a hexblade warlock. But if there are people who do, I'm not going to tell them that's the wrong way to play a warlock.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/8/2013 1:54:35 AM)


The fact is there's no other class that fills the "bad commitment" niche. It's a story niche. The character who deals with the devil and pays a high price to have high power. True, there could be some "Ur-Warlocks" who steal that power without consequences, but you still have to fill the niche I talk about, or as you say, many players will feel like the game tells them their way is not the right way. They want to feel the commitment, they want to feel the "taint" on their characters. And the Warlock is the best class to do so, so far.
Posted By: LordArchaon (11/8/2013 2:29:47 AM)


@Sword_of_Spirit, actually, I'd say the contrary: if you don't want to have an ongoing commitment with some power, don't bargain with it as dangerously as the Warlock does. Maybe then the cahracter you have in mind is a Sorcerer, or a Cleric, or a Paladin.
The Warlock receives truly alien and dark powers, forbidden to anybody else. That has to have a higher price.
Posted By: LordArchaon (11/8/2013 1:30:27 AM)


I'm a bit concerned about making warlocks even more bound to a particular patron than a cleric is to a deity. I *really* don't like that. If a cleric is able to worship a pantheon, or even gain power strictly through meditating on a philosophy, it doesn't make sense to bind a warlock to a particular being. I'd much rather have patrons be more nebulous and fluffable. What if my warlock gains powers through stealing secrets from devils, or from captured fey? Themes (infernal, fey, etc) yes. Heck, have a ton of themes. But let them be at least as flexible in fluff as cleric domans are.

At the very least, do not require an ongoing commitment after the power is gained. If anyone requires an ongoing relationship with a patron, it should not be more so than a cleric does.
Posted By: Sword_of_Spirit (11/8/2013 1:17:24 AM)


The Warlock, along with the Sorcerer, are classes I care a lot about, because on them depends a lot of the feel of magic itself in the world of DnD. The more similar they are to the Wizard, the more magic will feel like a standardized/unified "currency of power" in the story-economy of the world.

The 3.5 Warlock was great not only because it brought something new gaming-wise, with at-will magic, but because it showed that magic wasn't just limited to spells. They mastered spell-like abilities that felt different, and it really felt as if they used a different source of power, that still was arcane in nature. And that was the case. That's a great example of mechanics supporting story.
The same and more could be said of the Tome of Magic classes, in particular the successful Binder class. Nobody could mistake you for a Wizard, and it played differently.
The Sorcerer instead, at least up until 4th edition, always felt like a "rules-tweaked Wizard",... (see all)
Posted By: LordArchaon (11/8/2013 1:05:36 AM)



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