Hidden within the mystical pages of the Player’s Handbook lies the secrets for mortals to bind themselves to the Fey. This Patron is available to Warlocks, and thus adds the fey’s wacky and strange abilities to their repertoire. For some characters, this choice will come… Naturally. For others, it’ll be… Crazy. No matter why you’ve decided to ally your character with the Archfey, you’re now in it for the long run. So, let’s see why you might want to forge this pact with our Archfey Warlock Guide.
Dance with Chaos: The Archfey Warlock
When it comes to warlock patrons, The Archfey grants the Warlock something they desperately need; Utility. Through both abilities and spells, the Archfey offers a large suite of situationally useful skills that’ll boost up the Warlock’s usefulness outside of the battlefield. For the spells. This can be seen as good or bad. For abilities, it turns out that having permanent buffs that only apply in some cases can hurt the overall power of the subclass. That’s not to say this is a useless patron by any means… But this archetype has less obvious strength than their compatriots.
Expanded Spell List
The Archfey’s spell list is rather diverse, with quite a few options at each level. They also tend to be a little bit situational, but when the situations come up, their usefulness is overwhelmingly good.
Faerie Fire is a quite strong anti-invisibility spell, but it doesn’t scale with your spell slots well. It might be a good idea to keep around, just in case, but do be wary that you don’t have many spells known. Sleep, however, is an early-game titan. You can bypass so many hard encounters with this spell, and it even scales with high spell slots! Even so, I’d consider dropping this once you get past the early game.
Calm Emotions rarely works well, but it can be really fun in out-of-combat scenarios, and hard counters Barbarians and fear effects. Consider grabbing it if you’re worried about that kind of thing. Phantasmal Force is really fun and flavorful – Warlocks don’t have access to good illusion magic, so this one doubles as an illusion and an attack. Not a bad option, if you’re creative.
Blink is a good defensive spell, but uses your Concentration. If you think you’ll have your concentration often enough to use it, go for it! Plant Growth would only be useful in a non-combat campaign, so ignore it if you’re not trying to roleplay the Lorax.
Dominate Beast is not great; Beasts are rather low CR by base 5E rules, so you won’t be catching many high-level creatures with it. Take Dominate Person instead. Greater Invisibility is really strong, and a great use of your concentration.
Seeming is absolutely hilarious flavor, and can lead to a lot of fun antics… But maybe leave that for the Bard, Sorcerer, or Wizard in your party. Your spell slots can’t handle such a spell.
Overall… Not amazing. There are some decent utility options in here – Phantasmal Force, Blink, Calm Emotions – but nothing screams “must take.”
Onto the show! First ability is once per any type of rest.
Starting at 1st level, your patron bestows upon you the ability to project the beguiling and fearsome presence of the fey. As an action, you can cause each creature in a 10-foot cube originating from you to make a Wisdom saving throw against your warlock spell save DC. The creatures that fail their saving throws are all charmed or frightened by you (your choice) until the end of your next turn.
Alright, not bad.
For a once-per-rest ability, causing Charm or Frighten keeps you alive quite effectively. Frighten tends to be a lot better for you than Charm, since Frighten makes them unable to move closer and gives them disadvantage on attack rolls to fight your allies. Charm is better if you can’t make a Move action to run away afterwards, since that means they can’t attack you at all.
Let’s talk about that dismal range though. This is a small radius around you; 10-foot cube means that they’re one square or hex away from kicking your fey-touched butt. For most Warlocks, this is highly problematic; d8 hit dice and no medium armor don’t mix with melee too well. Thankfully, it’s defensive – more of a “don’t hurt me” than an offensive strategy – and the debuffs are nice.
And in a non-combat scenario, this ability can be quite potent! Having a quick and easy way to Charm gives massive bonuses on most Persuasion checks, and you’re guaranteed to have at least one round of that bonus without spending a spell slot… As long as they fail the DC. And if they succeed, a Warlock with high enough Deception can easily just make it a “trick of the light.”
What this ability lacks for in-combat usage, it more than makes up for in defensive ability and roleplay possibility.
Worried that you weren’t defensive enough? Well, here you go!
Starting at 6th level, you can vanish in a puff of mist in response to harm. When you take damage, you can use your reaction to turn invisible and teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. You remain invisible until the start of your next turn or until you attack or cast a spell.
This also refreshes on any type of rest.
So, there’s only one really bad part of this, and that’s the fact that you take the damage. That means that you eat the Disintegrate and then you can teleport what’s left of you far away from the problem. Another bad part is that you need to see the square, so no teleporting around corners. That’s usually not a problem, since 60 ft is rather far, but you can still get sniped by a lot of spells, if the caster can see through invisibility.
Alright, now that the pessimism is done… What a cool effect! This escapes a lot of high-damaging strategies from classes that don’t use magic. You only take the first hit from a Fighter, for example, or from a Monk. Even against Barbarians, you still take about half damage from their Attack actions. And Dragons like to use Multiattack. All of which you can easily ignore! And against creatures that can’t see through invisibility, you’ll also be effectively immune to ranged barrages or spells with multiple rays.
Since you’re invisible, you’ll be out of the way of the rest of the turns between the enemy attack and your turn. But… Try not to metagame that by maximizing your invisibility. That’s a little bit rude.
Finally, if you desperately need to teleport 60 feet to pull a lever or save your own life… You can poke your hand with a dagger. Hopefully your GM will let you just take 1 damage, and then you can teleport 60 ft to safety. That’s probably the least useful thing you can do with this, but if it saves your skin, then it’s well worth it!
I assume you guessed by the title of this ability that this class’s abilities have a theme, right?
Beginning at 10th level, your patron teaches you how to turn the mind-affecting magic of your enemies against them. You are immune to being charmed, and when another creature attempts to charm you, you can use your reaction to attempt to turn the charm back on that creature. The creature must succeed on a Wisdom saving throw against your warlock spell save DC or be charmed by you for 1 minute or until the creature takes any damage.
This is specific. Like, really, really specific.
Charmed is not that bad of a status condition. By rules, all it does is prevent you from targeting one creature. And the advantage on Persuasion doesn’t really matter, because you’re not an NPC. In some strange circumstances, being Charmed could lead to a party wipe, but… Why wouldn’t they just Dominate you instead? This is such a narrow effect that it will probably never come up.
And for the same reasons as noted above, the Charm-reflection effect is also completely meaningless. Not only does it let the creature get a save, but the charm is lost if they take any damage? That’s kind of bad…
Unless your group is really good at roleplaying the Charm effect, and your GM buffs the power of the condition beyond what the PHB entails, this is not a reason to pick this subclass.
Illusions are kind of Fey’s thing. The final ability addresses that missing flavor.
Starting at 14th level, you can plunge a creature into an illusory realm. As an action, choose a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you. It must make a Wisdom saving throw against your warlock spell save DC. On a failed save, it is charmed or frightened by you (your choice) for 1 minute or until your concentration is broken (as if you are concentrating on a spell). This effect ends early if the creature takes any damage.
During that minute, they can’t see anything except itself, you, and the shadowy realm you plunged it in. This also refreshes on any type of rest.
That’s two abilities you have that charm or frighten your opponent as an action. That’s… Actually somewhat unfortunate. Less unfortunate is that they offer different utility purposes; Fey Presence is defensive, and this… This is a Banishment effect.
Since they can only see you, the Charm effect becomes so much better. You can plan with your party members to not harm the person you’re putting into the Delirium, so you can take someone out of the fight for a full minute. They can’t interact with your allies, nor communicate with their own allies. A rather nasty bag of tricks.
Against enemies that are immune to charm and frighten, you at least gain the illusion effect. They can’t see anyone else, so they’re going to target you. The perfect time to use either Misty Escape or Greater Invisibility to give them no real options.
This takes up your Concentration, but… So does Banishment. This is essentially Banishment that doesn’t take up a spell slot. Against enemies that are immune to charm or fear effects, this is still a good isolation tool, and then you can use additional illusions to further mess with them.
And unlike Banishment, this has really interesting out-of-combat utility, letting you be alone with someone in a realm of your own creation. If you’re creative, that’s going to be one hell of an Intimidation – or even a Persuasion – bonus.
Overall, a really fun, if not incredibly strong, level 14 ability from a Patron.
Pact Boon Synergies
All Warlocks have access to three potential Pact Boons at level 3. Only one can be taken, and that one significantly changes how your character performs.
Pact of the Blade
The Archfey has one ability that synergizes with being in melee; Fey Presence. None of their other abilities benefit from melee combat, nor does the Archfey like sacrificing Charisma for other stats. You could make it work just fine, but the other two pacts are more inherently synergistic.
Pact of the Chain
If you don’t have a rogue or another dedicated scout, then Pact of the Chain has a lot of potential. The familiar is able to deliver touch spells for you, most of them can fly, and you’ll get an expendable creature to be your eyes and ears. If you don’t mind taking a hit on flavor, get the Imp; it’s by far the best one. Otherwise, the pseudodragon is a fey-like creature with some fun extra abilities. And the Sprite is an actual fey, with some fun emotion-reading abilities.
Pact of the Tome
If you’ve got a scout already, or are just looking to further become more useful on the utility front, the Pact of the Tome has you covered. The extra cantrips can give you some great utility – Guidance, Shape Water, Control Flames – and you gain access to invocations that can further improve your spellcasting abilities. Really good if you’re not planning on wading into melee, nor don’t want a tiny pet dragon… For some reason.
Best Race for The Archfey Warlocks
The Archfey is a rather interesting Warlock. Like most subclasses, the Eldritch Blast strategy is probably the best one. That means getting good Charisma, and then boosting Dexterity and Constitution to avoid the most pain possible.
If your GM lets you crack open Mordekainen’s Tome of Foes, the Eladrin is a wonderful choice for a Warlock. The flavor of the Eladrin is that they come from the Feywild, after all; you might know an Archfey personally! The Dexterity is absolutely wonderful; worth losing a tiny bit of Charisma. Fey Step gives you incredible movement ability to distance yourself from a Frightened enemy. The only problem is that you gain advantage against Charms, when you eventually get immune to them anyways… But, the level 10 ability of this subclass isn’t useful anyways.
The massive boost to Charisma makes this Volo’s Guide serpent a valuable choice. With resistance to magic, immunity to poison, and some innate spellcasting, they get some valuable defenses and utility to help the Warlock early on. The flavor is a bit of a miss, but it wouldn’t be odd for an ancient civilization to convene with the Fey.
Remember what I was talking about earlier? With the Persuasion and Intimidate strategies? If you need some help with skill slots, the Vanilla Half-Elf is here for you. If you’re considering trying out some illusions in a combat-light campaign, the combination of the Archfey’s charms and the Half-Elf’s versatile skills can be really synergetic. And Half-Elves get some Charisma to boot.
Conclusion – Our Take on the Archfey Warlock
This is not a powerful archetype. This is not something to take with the idea that you’re going to be the master of combat. What you will do, however, is surprising amounts of problem-solving, gain access to a wide kit of defensive and debuff abilities, and have incredibly cool out-of-combat moments. This is one of the most stylish subclasses in 5E, so use it with that in mind. We highly recommend this actually potent – and extremely fun – patron. If you want to get the most out of this patron, get the lowdown with our comprehensive Warlock 5E Guide.