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Warlock 5e Guide

Warlock 5e Guide

The Warlock is one of my favorite Dungeons & Dragons character classes. They gain magical powers through a pact with an otherworldly being and are dangerous foes on the battlefield. We’re taking a look at what makes them unique with our detailed guide to DnD Warlock 5e. Check out our Warlock Subclasses 5e guide as well as Warlock Spells.

We had a representative of the Harpers show up today. They had all the proper paperwork and were looking for a man who had broken into one of their halls. Normally we let the guilds deal with their own, but whoever this guy was they said he was dangerous. 

That turned out to be the understatement of the year. 

One of the patrols found him in a gambling den according to reports. He’d been sitting there for hours and was apparently cleaning the house out. Three guards went in and three guards were immediately shot out of the window by some crazy magic blast. 

I’ve seen wizards and magic users before, but this seemed different. His eyes glowed in the dark and he started levitating shooting his weird magic all over the place. It took about 6 of us with shields to finally get close enough. We thought he was unarmed, but he summoned a magic blade from nothing.  

Dangerous they said. The man was like a demon.

From the journal of Captain Vyes 3rd precinct, city watch, 17th of Hammer, 1382

Read our detailed class guide to DnD 5E’s Warlock below.


Overview of Warlock 5e Class

D&D Warlock 5e Class

Warlocks are one of the most interesting spellcasters in DnD 5e. Their magical abilities are granted to them by some kind of patron. Whether it’s a demon, god, dragon, or magically singing sword the warlock’s magical ability is intricately tied to their patron. 

The initial pact could be made through accident, desperation, or through greed, and the creatures willing to bestow a piece of their strength to the warlock are not always benevolent.

The great powers that warlocks receive always come with a price, and if they wish to keep their strength, they have to ensure their patron is happy with their actions. 

Notable Warlocks in DnD


While her sister Havilar was attempting to summon an imp, she instead summoned a fiend named Lorcan. The demon took Farideh as a Warlock. After this, they were forced to flee and work as bounty hunters to make a living. 

Japheth Donard

At one point, he was a simple acolyte at Candlekeep. Japheth got himself into trouble with an addiction to traveler’s dust and eventually, it was going to kill him. In order to escape his fate, he made a pact with the fey Neifion.

Warlock 5e Class Features & Abilities

The Warlock’s major ability is its Eldritch Blast cantrip. Each Warlock is able to channel the energy given to them by their patron into a magical blast of energy. As the Warlock levels up their eldritch powers shift along with them. Eldritch Blast may only be a cantrip spell, but it can be upgraded and customized as the Warlock levels up. Some may boost its damage and others may turn it into a long-range sniper shot. It’s entirely up to you, but if you’re playing as a Warlock you’re going to be using Eldritch Blast and you’re going to be using it often. 

Warlock 5e Ability Score

Hit Dice: 1d8
Most important ability scores: Charisma 
Spellcasting: Uses the Charisma Modifier

The main Ability Score used by all Warlocks is Charisma. It’s used as their spellcasting modifier, and affects all of their spells.

GameCows Ranking System

There are a lot of abilities and class features, and it can get rather confusing. Here at GameCows, we’re going to use a simple ranking system. 

  • GameCows Ranking: 1  
    • This ability or feature is extremely useful and a must-have ability. 
  • GameCows Ranking: 2
    • This ability is ok and generally useful in most situations.
  • GameCows Ranking: 3
    • This ability is only going to be useful in certain situations. You’d only get it or use it if you personally think it’s cool. 

Eldritch Invocations

D&D Warlock 5e Class

As the Warlock levels up they will continually get more power from their patron. This comes in the form of Eldritch Invocations. These are various powers and spells that add versatility to their spell list as well as power up their Eldritch Blast Ability. As the Warlock levels up they’ll have the option to choose more powers from their patron. As long as the Warlock meets the pre-requisites when they level up they can choose whichever invocation they want to add. 

Agonizing Blast

GameCows Ranking: 1

With Agonizing Blast the Warlock adds their Charisma modifier to their damage with Eldritch Blast. It doesn’t make it any easier to hit your enemies, but when it does it hits that much harder. 

Armor of Shadows 

GameCows Ranking: 1

Warlocks are able to cast Mage Armor on themselves without using a spell slot. 

Ascendant Step

GameCows Ranking: 2

9th Level – Warlocks can choose to gain Ascendant Step which allows the Warlock to cast levitate at will and doesn’t require using a spell slot. 

Beast Speach

GameCows Ranking: 3

Warlocks can speak with animals at will. 

Beguiling Influence

GameCows Ranking: 3

Gain proficiency with Deception and Persuasion

Bewitching Whispers

GameCows Ranking: 3

7th Level – Warlocks can choose Bewitching Whispers which allows them to cast compulsion using a Warlock spell slot. They’ll need a long rest before they can do it again though.

D&D Warlock 5e Class

Book of Ancient Secrets

GameCows Ranking: 1

This requires the Warlock to Choose the Subclass, Pact of the Tome boon at level 3. 

If chosen your patron gives you an ancient tome. It comes with 2 1st level ritual spells, and any ritual spells that are equal to or less than half their Warlock can be added if they encounter the ritual during their travels. They still require some money for special ink to write within the tome, 50 gold. It’s another avenue for the Warlock to collect and learn magic spells, but they can only be cast as rituals. 

Chains of Carceri

GameCows Ranking: 2

15th Level – This allows the Warlock more control over celestials, fiends, and elementals. When encountering one of these creatures the Warlock can cast Hold Monster at will without using any spell slots. They will need a long rest before they can do it again, however. 

Devil’s Sight

GameCows Ranking: 3

The Warlock can see normally in darkness whether it’s from natural or magical means with a range of 120 ft. 

Dreadful Word

GameCows Ranking: 3

7th Level – This allows the Warlock to use one of their spell slots to cast Confusion. They’ll also need a long rest after use to recharge the ability. 

Eldritch Sight

GameCows Ranking: 2

This one is rather useful. With Eldritch Sight Warlocks can cast Detect Magic at will and it doesn’t use a spell slot. They can do this indefinitely and don’t need to rest in between uses. 

Eldritch Spear

GameCows Ranking: 1

This invocation is another upgrade for the Warlock’s Eldritch Blast. Eldritch Spear increases the range to 300 feet. 

Eyes of the Rune Keeper

GameCows Ranking: 2

This gift from the Warlock’s patron allows the Warlock to read ALL writing. That’s super handy, and I actually would make a pact with a fiend to have that ability in real life. 

Fiendish Vigor

GameCows Ranking: 3

Warlocks can cast False Life at will as a 1st level spell, but only on themselves. This does not use a spell slot or any spell components. 

Gaze of Two Minds

GameCows Ranking: 3

This one is rather interesting. Warlocks can touch another willing humanoid and are able to use the subject’s senses while the connection is made. The Warlock will be able to see, hear, taste, smell, and feel what the subject can while the connection is made. The Warlock however is completely vulnerable in their own body and cannot use any of their own senses. 


GameCows Ranking: 1

Requires the Warlock to choose the Pact of the Blade boon at level 3 and that the Warlock is at level 12. Lifedrinker adds the Warlock’s Charisma modifier as necrotic damage when they are using their pact weapon. 

Mask of Many Faces

GameCows Ranking: 2

Warlocks can cast Disguise Self at will and it doesn’t use a spell slot. This can be used indefinitely without taking a long or short rest. 

Master of Myriad Forms

GameCows Ranking: 2

15th Level – Similar to Mask of Many Faces, but the Warlocks cast Alter Self instead. 

Minions of Chaos

GameCows Ranking: 1

9th Level – This is a fun invocation that just feels thematically appropriate. The Warlock can cast Conjure Elemental using a spell slot. They can only do it once per long rest. 

Mire the Mind

GameCows Ranking: 2

5th Level – This allows Warlocks to cast Slow using a spell slot and can only be done once per long rest. 

Misty Visions

GameCows Ranking: 3

The Warlock can cast Silent Image at will without using a spell slot or materials. 

One With Shadows

GameCows Ranking: 1

5th Level – This is another ability that’s really cool thematically. The Warlock can become invisible in low light or darkness until they move or make an action.

Otherworldly Leap

GameCows Ranking: 3

9th Level – The Warlock can cast Jump at will without using a spell slot. This can be done indefinitely without taking a rest. 

Repelling Blast

GameCows Ranking: 1

Repelling Blast is another upgrade to the Warlock’s Eldritch Blast. When something is hit with your Eldritch Blast attack, the blast can push whatever it hits up to 10 ft away in a straight line. You could knock an enemy off a ship or cliff, get them in position for a trap, or even blast one of your “friends” to relative safety. 

Sculptor of Flesh

GameCows Ranking: 2

7th Level – The Warlock can cast Polymorph while using up a spell slot. It can’t be done again until after finishing a long rest.

Sign of Ill Omen

GameCows Ranking: 2

5th Level – The Warlock can cast Bestow Curse up a spell slot. It can’t be done again until after finishing a long rest. 

Thief of Five Fates

GameCows Ranking: 2

The Warlock can cast Bane using a spell slot. It can’t be done again until after finishing a long rest.

Thirsting Blade 

GameCows Ranking: 1

5th Level – If using your pact weapon to attack, you gain an additional attack on your turn. 

Visions of Distant Realms

GameCows Ranking: 2

15th Level – The Warlock can cast Arcane Eye at will without using a spell slot. This can be done indefinitely.

Voice of the Chain Master

GameCows Ranking: 2

Must have chosen Pact of the Chain at Level 3. This Invocation allows the Warlock to use their familiar’s senses, similar to Gaze of Two Minds. 

Whispers of the Grave

GameCows Ranking: 3

9th Level – The Warlock can cast Speak with the Dead at will without using a spell slot. This can be done indefinitely.

Witch Sight

GameCows Ranking: 3

15th Level – This is another really cool invocation. Warlocks can see the true form of shapeshifters and those using magic to conceal their true form. 

Otherworldly Patron 

This is where the Warlock starts their journey and intertwines their fates with their patron. How this happens is completely up to the player and their dungeon master, but there are a few guidelines laid out in the Player’s Handbook. 

How the deal is made is up to the player, but there are a few choices of otherworldly and powerful creatures that the Warlock can choose from: Archefey, Fiend, and The Great Old one. Each one offers its own special abilities and acts like a subclass. We’ll go into more detail in a later section. 

Coming up with a thematic way that your character makes the pact is half the fun of creating a Warlock. 

Some sample ideas:

  • The player finds a magical wishing well and wishes to be stronger.
  • The player is lost at sea and would do anything to be safe on land again.
  • The player finds a flawless gold coin and is blessed with unnatural luck. 
  • Down on their luck, the player buries a box with a wish at a crossroads on a well-traveled road. 

The possibilities are endless, but leave room for a lot of creative roleplaying. 

Regardless of which Patron you choose, each one gives new bonuses at levels 6, 10, and 14th. 

Pact Magic

This ability just explains where the Warlock’s magical ability comes from. A Level 1 Warlock could be a generic commoner, but as soon as they make the pact with their patron they gain access to magical spells and a host of other abilities. 

You can check out the chart below to see how many spell slots the Warlock has at each level, but you’ll need to reference the  Player’s Handbook to see what kind of spells you can choose from. 

LevelCantripsSpellsSpell SlotsSlot Level

Warlocks won’t have as many spell slots as the other spellcasting classes, but that’s okay. Their main spell, Eldritch Blast, is a cantrip. This means the Warlock can spam it over and over in a fight and is never really unarmed in combat. 

Pact Boon

At level 3 the Warlock receives a gift from their patron, but it’s like that gift from that weird uncle. Warlocks have 3 choices from the Player’s Handbook. 

  • Pact of the Chain
  • Pact of the Blade
  • Pact of the Tome

With Pact of the Chain, the Warlock’s Patron gives them a familiar. The Warlock is then allowed to Summon a Familiar. Depending upon the patron it could be an imp, pseudodragon, a sprite, or a quasit (little demon dude). During combat, the Warlock can give up their action to let their familiar attack. If you want your Warlock to have a sidekick this is definitely the way to go. 

Pact of the Blade is a good choice if you want your Warlock to be a melee fighter. This boon allows the Warlock to summon a weapon out of thin air. The weapon can come in any form of the Warlock’s choosing, and it counts as a magical weapon. 

Warlocks can choose to change the weapon by binding a different one using a ritual, and when not in use it sits in a little pocket dimension waiting to be called upon. It’s another great feature that gives the Warlock another weapon that they’ll always have on them. 

Pact of the Tome is the last of the three standard boons in the Player’s Handbook and it’s extremely useful for Warlocks that want to focus on spellcasting as their main ability. The Patron gifts a grimoire to the Warlock. I always imagine it looks like the Book of the Dead from the Evil Dead movie, but of course, you can have it look like anything you want (or what the DM wants).

The book gives the player 3 cantrips from any class in addition to the cantrips that the Warlock already knows. As long as the Warlock has the book in their possession they can use those spells at will. If the Warlock is a little careless and loses it, they have to perform an hour-long ceremony to receive a new one from their Patron.  

Ability Scores

Like most other classes the Warlock gets 2 new ability scores on the 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th levels. They can distribute them as they want as long as they don’t go above 20. 

Mystic Arcanum 

This adds another level of versatility to the Warlock. Mystic Arcanum basically gives you a separate spell list that can only be used once per long rest. All the spells chosen have to be from the Warlock spell list, and the Warlock gets one free use of each.

  • 11th level – One 6th Level Spell
  • 13th Level – One 7th Level Spell
  • 15th Level – One 8th Level Spell
  • 17th Level – One 9th Level Spell 

Eldritch Master

After reaching level 20, the Warlock is a force to be reckoned with, but when facing a drawn-out fight they may find their spells and abilities depleted before they get a chance to rest. This is when the Warlock can reach out to their patron for aid. After 60 seconds the Warlock regains all of its spell slots from their Pact Magic. It’s a powerful feature that gives them one last reserve of strength. This can be done once per long rest. 

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Pact Boons

The Patrons themselves vastly influence how the Warlock develops. It is a piece of their power that’s granted to the Warlock after all.

For example, if the Patron is an Archfey it means that a powerful fairie is the source of the Warlock’s power. The Warlock’s power is then based on fairie magic and gets extra abilities similar to glamour magic or trapping a creature within an illusion.

If the Warlock makes a pact with a fiend, they’re literally making a deal with the devil… or maybe not THE devil, but a devil. The pact with a fiend will give the Warlock unnatural luck, and even the ability to literally throw someone through hell. 

They all add a different spin to the Warlock’s ability so it’s always best to choose whatever sounds cool or fascinating. 

The Pact boons also act like a mini subclass. Any Warlock can pick any of the boons, but it will help focus their abilities.

Player’s Handbook

  • Pact of the Blade
  • Pact of the Chain
  • Pact of the Tome

Tasha’s Cauldron

  • Pact of the Talisman

Unearthed Arcana

  • Pact of the Star Chain

Some Boons work well with particular patrons. For example, the pact of the blade is really cool, but if your Warlock’s patron gives an arsenal of spells, why would they need a magical blade? It wasn’t really until the Hexblade patron that the Pact of the Blade becomes very useful. 

Best Races for Warlock 5e

What’s the best Warlock race in 5e? 

If you’re looking purely at stats then anything that gives a bonus to the Charisma modifier would be a good choice. 

Tieflings, Aasimar, & Half-elves all get decent Charisma bonuses. These will power up the Warlocks abilities.

Humans as always make decent Warlocks, but they’re designed to be good with any class. 

Another interesting choice for a Warlock would be the Warforged race. They would get an extra +2 Constitution, and they could put their free choice ability into Charisma. The Warforged may not be the most obvious choice, but the RP options of having a patron bind a newly sentient Warforged is a really cool concept. 

Warlock Backgrounds 5e

Because the Warlock relies on a high Charisma, any of the backgrounds that support their Charisma abilities are a good choice. Usually, gaining extra proficiencies in knowledge-based skills or persuasion are good choices. 

Warlock Feats 5e

If you decide to use the optional feats rules, there are quite a few feats that can be useful. It will depend on what subclass the Warlock chooses to determine which feats are best. 

The Hexblade will benefit from feats that boost casting and their combat skills like Warcaster. Most Warlocks will want to choose Eldritch Adept. It gives another option for Eldritch Invocations to add to the Warlock’s repertoire. 

Inspiring Leader would be another good choice. Since Charisma is a major Ability Score needed by the Warlock it makes sense to have them as the party face or leader, and giving them abilities to supplement this will help with RP events. 

Playing as a Warlock in 5e

The Warlock is an impressive character class. Their Eldritch Invocations combined with powers from their patron give them a lot of different abilities. Just imagine a Warlock floating into the sky on a battlefield and hurling an Eldritch Blast at someone 300 feet away. That’s pretty cool. 

When creating your first Warlock, the most important ability score is going to be Charisma. Charisma is used by the Warlock for spellcasting and most of their abilities. After Charisma, it’s pretty much up to the player. More health with Constitution is always good, Dexterity if you want to avoid getting hit or use a finesse weapon as your Pact Weapon. 

Warlocks thematically are very cool. Getting powers from a creature or demigod gives room for a lot of fun RP experiences and if all else fails, they can simply Eldritch Blast their way through most fights. 

If you want to be a spellcaster, but the idea of magic spooks you, the Warlock is a pretty easy beginner class to play. The majority of their useful spells are cantrips or one-time use invocations so it’s pretty easy to keep track of and beginners can focus on coming up with a cool patron story. 

The Warlock is always useful to have on the team if nothing else than to simply spam Eldritch Blast at your enemies.

Example Warlock 5e (Fiend)

The Warlock is one of my favorite classes and it’s one that I usually give to new players who have zero experience with DnD. I do this for several reasons. 

  • It’s a relatively easy class to deal with at the early levels. 
  • Their abilities fit right at home in a fantasy setting.
    New players tend to have an awesome time coming up with a patron and backstory for how they got their powers.
  • It’s cool. Rule of Cool plays heavily in my beginner campaigns

Example Warlock Race

I chose the Half-Elf for the example. They have a big Charisma bonus right from the start, and that’s basically all you need to be a standard Warlock. They also are relatively easy for new players to wrap their head around when starting out. They can easily visualize what a Half-Elf would like in their head vs. some of the other DnD races out there. 

Example Warlock Ability Scores

I used the point buy system to create these scores. That limits a lot of the randomness, especially if you’re trying to build up a specific class. The Half-Elf got their +2 Charisma on top of pumping the max amount of points into it, and the other two racial ability modifiers were given to Dexterity and Constitution to help boost the Warlock’s AC and Health. Everything else was just evened out so there was no negative modifier. 

  • Strength 10 (+0)
  • Dexterity 12 (+1)
  • Constitution 16 (+3)
  • Intelligence 10 (+0)
  • Wisdom 10 (+0)
  • Charisma 17 (+3)

Example Warlock Skills & Tools

The Warlock relies heavily on Charisma, so it’s easy for them to also take on the role of the party leader. You’ll definitely want skills that utilize your Charisma Bonus. 

  • Deception
  • Intimidation
  • Performance
  • Persuasion

Example Warlock Background

The Backgrounds don’t do a whole lot for the Warlock. Choose one that gives you one of the Charisma proficiencies from the section before. 
For my Example Warlock, I chose the Criminal/Spy Background.

Example Warlock Weapons & Armor

The Warlock does get some starter equipment and armor, but honestly, it’s not that great or useful. Why would a Warlock use a dagger or club when they can literally make things explode on command with their Eldritch Blast?

This is another reason why the Warlock is so good for new players at early levels. They have their signature spell right from the beginning, and they don’t need to worry about Spell Slots or Spell Levels. They just have to worry about bringing the boom and roleplaying. 

Warlock Magic Items

There are plenty of good magic items to look out for, but the Warlock is a pretty self-sufficient class. They can make their own weapons and they have spells that make their own armor.

Even if the Warlock was stripped of their possessions they easily have enough power naturally to be a force to be reckoned with. 

As a DM looking to reward your Warlock with magical items, anything that boosts the Warlock’s Charisma stat, alters their Eldritch Blast or gives them extra spell slots will be incredibly valuable to the Warlock. 

The Warlock doesn’t have a whole lot of Spell Slots, so they’re going to always rely on their Eldritch Blast. Rewarding them with a trinket that allows them to save up a slot or gives them an extra spell is a great way to reward them without making them overpowered.

We hope you enjoyed this Warlock 5e Guide, why not check out our Monk 5e Guide or our full DnD Races List.

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