Thoughts on the LevelUp 5e Playtest XIV – Warlock

Time to move on to a fun one – I play a lot of warlocks! Hopefully that means I’ll se both good and bad in the playtest. Let’s see shall we?

Things that stay the same up to level 10:
Otherworldly Patron features at level 1 (and 6 and 10) and Pact Magic at level 1 (though some changes with spells, see below), Eldritch Invocations at level 2 (though some changes going on thereafter), Pact Boon at level 3, ASI at levels 4 and 8, and Font of Inspiration at level 5.
Things that are gone:
We’re at minus one cantrip from the get-go (but see below for why), the invocations at levels 5 and 9 are moved around a bit, and that’s about it.

What new stuff are we getting instead?
At character creation the equipment kits include Heretical Scholar, Inconspicuous Civilian and Shadowy Scoundrel, instead of taking the eldritch blast cantrip, we now get Eldritch Blast the class feature at level 1, and there’s now a spell points system, at level 2 we start seeing Exploration Knacks, at levels 4 and 10 we get a Court Invocation, and at level 5 our new blast class feature levels up like the spell with an Extra Blast, then level 6 brings an Eldritch Invocation, and level 10 brings a slight change with an additional spell known.

So let’s drill into this. Those equipment kits play up the nefarious nature of warlocks more than any that might be aligned to a trickster or good-ish power, which I don’t actually like too much. That’s how a lot of people play them, but they don’t have to go dark all the time.

Cantrips are obviously reduced by one as all Warlocks now get Eldritch Blast by default, though it can take the form of the usual Elditch Ray, or mimic a melee weapon as the Eldritch Scythe, or an area of effect nastiness with Eldritch Spasm.
The changes to Pact Magic with spell points instead of spell slots are certainly one way to go, but might be playing into LevelUp5e’s tendency to add crunch with extra rules without any real payoff. I’d have to really sit and playtest this out carefully to get a good feel for that kind of change though, all it seems to really do is give warlock’s the option to cast spells at a lower level than maximum.

Eldritch Invocations now have tags, so there are general invocations, Court invocations, and Eldritch invocations (you need to find a different word for that tag guys, it’s confusing). Whenever a warlock can take an invocation without a tag, they can take an Exploration Knack instead.

I’m going to jump into the exploration knacks before I look at the invocations, since they can affect each other a bit it seems, and some invocations have become knacks – such as Beast Speech, Book of Ancient Secrets, and Devil’s Sight. Interesting new ones include Otherworldly Leap, which is an always-on jump spell, Portents and Portals, which lets a warlock character know when they’re within a mile of a portal or gateway to another plane of existence, and Whiff of the Beyond, which has a similar effect on finding out whether aberrations, celestials, elementals, fey, fiends or undead have been in a space within 30 feet in the last 24 hours.

Now, the invocations.
General invocations like Arcane Expropriation, which ignores class, heritage, or level requirements for magic items, Noxious Invigoration, which adds extra temporary hit points when a character gains them – great with Fiendish Vigor, or Writhing Void, which allows casting of black tentacles for 6 spell points once per long rest.
Invocations with the Court tag include things like Beguiling Influence, Eyes of the Rune Keeper, Mask of Many Faces, and Spellbinding Contract, which allows a casting of geas for 7 spell points once per long rest.
Invocations with the Eldritch tag affect the Eldritch Blast ability, so Agonizing Blast in there as is Eldritch Spear, but there are options like Eldritch Breath which turns the blast into a breath weapon-like cone, Versatile Blast, which lets a warlock use more than one mode of the blast – Ray, Scythe, Spasm, and I like Eldritch Opportunity since it allows the use of Eldritch Scythe for opportunity attacks.

And that’s it, a pretty short one really, but some interesting changes. Really not sure I like all the changes, though the different modes of the blast are good, as is making it a class feature.

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