Xanathar’s Guide to Everything: Warlocks
Since Xanathar’s Guide to Everything came out way back in 2017, I’ve been gradually reading through all the new class options and thinking about how I’d use them. This week I’m almost at the end of them. Here’s my review of the new warlock options:
The celestial warlock’s patron is a good entity from the Upper Planes, who mostly grants abilities associated with healing and radiant damage. This warlock has a pool of d6s that they can use to hand out healing. They receive superior healing during rests, which they can share with their allies in a more limited capacity. At higher levels the celestial warlock receives an ability that allows them to regain half their hitpoints instead of making a death saving throw, at the same time dealing radiant damage to enemies in the area. It’s a kind of resurrection with a vengeance.
One of the things about warlocks is that they don’t necessarily share their patron’s alignment, which can lead to drama – or humour. One of the things I’d like to try with this subclass is making a good warlock who, nevertheless, cannot live up to their patron’s high expectations.
Now this is an interesting one… It’s not clear excatly who is the patron of this warlock subclass. Xanathar’s Guide suggests that the hexblade patron is a kind of arms dealer based in the Shadowfell, and that it might be the Raven Queen, but it’s left very open ended. For that reason, I think this class could be a lot of fun for a dungeon master. If you’re a dungeon master with a hexblade in your group I’d suggest having a chat with that player about who they think their patron might be, but I wouldn’t let them know what I was planning.
A lot of the features for this subclass centre around bestowing a curse on enemies. The hexblade can target another creature with their curse, which give the hexblade a bonus to damage rolls against the cursed creature. It’s also easier for the hexblade to make a critical hit against the target of the curse. If the cursed creature dies, the hexblade regains a few lost hitpoints. At higher levels, the hexblade can use their reaction to try to avoid a successful attack from the cursed creature.
As well as these curse features, the hexblade can choose to channel their will through a weapon. This means they can use their Charisma bonus instead of Strength or Dexterity when using that weapon. The hexblade can also gain the ability to briefly enslave the soul of a slain enemy, which takes the form of a spectre with low hit points.