Have you ever wanted to get Pact of the Blade, but the other two options were just better? Tired of building Eldritch Blast Warlocks in every situation? Well, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything really does have everything for you, because it introduced the Hexblade – Warlocks can now dedicate themselves to legendary weapons with a penchant for cursing. Should your Warlock consider binding themselves to these mysterious entities? Read on to find out with our Hexblade Warlock 5E Guide!
Wield the Curse: The Hexblade Warlock 5E Guide
The Hexblade is an aggressive Warlock subclass with some defensive options. Its sole role is to give the Warlock a reliable frontline option in a world where most Warlocks would be crazy to take anything but Eldritch Blast. Whether it actually succeeds at this task or questionable; Eldritch blast still ends up having more rays, and therefore more damage. However, combine the abilities of the Hexblade with the expanded spell list, and you’ll still have a fantastic reason to wade into melee range.
Expanded Spell List
The spell list is the real saving grace of the Hexblade, since the class abilities don’t do quite enough to usurp Eldritch Blast’s reign. It offers some ways to make melee combat slightly more enticing, but suffers from concentration issues.
You might notice that 4 of the 10 spells offered to the Hexblade are smites. Wrathful Smite is a good way to apply Frighten without a save. It forces your opponent to spend their action saving, meaning you’ll normally just have a Frightened enemy for a while. Branding Smite can scale from 2nd to 5ht level spell slots, which is good for when you only need damage, without the utility options of the others.
Staggering offers slightly less damage in return for debuffs on attack rolls and ability check; usually worthwhile. And Banishing Smite is essentially the only smite you’ll be using at level 5; 5d10 damage added to a melee strike is the best Smite available for the Hexblade, and the banish effect is quite potent against enemy casters or extremely hard-hitting melee characters. If you don’t want to banish them, then Branding Smite’s 5d6 might be a better option, or Staggering’s debuff. I’d suggest picking up at least Staggering and Banishing, though all four are solid.
Elemental Weapon, Phantasmal Killer, and Cone of Cold are also fairly aggressive. Elemental Weapon is only useful on nonmagical weapons, but gives you quite a boost when using them; in low magic campaigns, this is great. Phantasmal Killer is a decent ranged ability that can deal a lot of damage over the course of a minute. Quite potent, if you can spare the Concentration slots. And Cone of Cold is good for Warlocks, a class without great Area of Effect options.
Shield and Blur are both solid defensive spells; Shield for emergencies and Blur to apply disadvantage. Blur does take concentration, however, so you won’t be able to use Smites while it’s active.
This spell list has a lot of concentration spells. A lot of them are Smites, which means they’re safe to stop concentrating on after the damage is delivered (unless you want that debuff!). They are all fairly solid, and you can always replace old Warlock spells with new ones. Be sure to cycle your weaker Smites with stronger ones as you level!
The first level for Hexblade is quite powerful, compared to other level-1 patron bonuses. The first priority is the Hexblade’s Curse. As a bonus action, you can toss a curse on someone who is alive 30 ft from you. It ends early if you have trouble opening your eyes. You gain a few benefits from the curse, though the enemy isn’t hampered;
You gain a bonus to damage rolls against the cursed target. The bonus equals your proficiency bonus.
Any attack roll you make against the cursed target is a critical hit on a roll of 19 or 20 on the d20.
If the cursed target dies, you regain hit points equal to your warlock level + your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1 hit point).
You can’t use this feature again until you finish a short or long rest.
This feature is actually quite strong! It’s one of the few ways to get your Critical Hits to be a roll of 19 or 20, and it has a bonus to damage that scales with your Character level. All on a Bonus action! Multiclassing bliss!
The damage bonus is actually quite large compared to a lot of similar abilities – Such as Barbarian or Fighting Style – eventually getting to +6. The healing aspect of this ability is by far the weakest part, and even that will heal for 4 at level 1; not exactly the worst, not exactly the best. It can keep you from getting killed right after your cursed target dies. And it scales well with Warlock levels, which can be nice.
The only real downside is that it’s once per rest. And that’s not even much of a downside; Warlocks adore having short rests! Use this fairly often, and you’ll reap extremely powerful benefits.
And now for the other reason why the Hexblade is a fantastic choice for both multiclassing and melee warlocks. The first benefit includes a pile of proficiencies; shields, medium armor, and martial weapons. Then… You get something more unique.
The influence of your patron also allows you to mystically channel your will through a particular weapon. Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch one weapon that you are proficient with and that lacks the two-handed property. When you attack with that weapon, you can use your Charisma modifier, instead of Strength or Dexterity, for the attack and damage rolls. This benefit lasts until you finish a long rest. If you later gain the Pact of the Blade feature, this benefit extends to every pact weapon you conjure with that feature, no matter the weapon’s type.
We’re still level 1 here!
So, first off, the proficiencies. A huge problem with Warlocks is that they need Dexterity if they want any AC. There’s just too much of a feat responsibility to do so in any other Warlock build. Getting Medium Armor right off the bat is crucial, and shields really can boost the AC of a one-handed build. The martial weapon proficiency is nice in the early game, and if you don’t end up taking Pact of the Blade, then this is a crucial increase to damage. Really good reason to put a Warlock on the frontlines!
Now… Usually, Melee Warlocks need to dedicate themselves to Dexterity or Strength. It’s important for Weapons, of course! But, thanks to Hex Warrior, the Warlock can use the pure power of their personality to maul their opponents. That’s fantastic! You could theoretically do both Eldritch Blast and Melee Combat simultaneously, without needing to put anything into Strength or Dexterity! If you’ve ever wanted your Sorcerer to swing swords just as good as they sling spells, get this multiclass!
Remember if you plan on taking the Heavily Armored feat to sneak your way into Plate Mail, there’s a Strength 15 requirement. Losing 10 feet of movement speed is really rough! Otherwise, try to invest in the +2 Dexterity to boost your armor while in Medium plate. It’ll be a life-saver!
The level 6 ability is the most utility-focused one of them all.
Starting at 6th level, you can curse the soul of a person you slay, temporarily binding it in your service. When you slay a humanoid, you can cause its spirit to rise from its corpse as a specter.
Right off the bat, you get to summon a spooky ghost! That’s pretty neat. Specters are CR 1 spirits that can move through walls, have a hodgepodge of resistances, a few immunities, and probably knows how to talk with you or others. It also can reduce maximum HP, though the saving throw to negate it is rather pitiful. But… They get more.
When the specter appears, it gains temporary hit points equal to half your warlock level. Roll initiative for the specter, which has its own turns. It obeys your verbal commands, and it gains a special bonus to its attack rolls equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of +0).
The specter lasts – nor can you use this feature again – until you finish a long rest.
So this isn’t exactly fantastic scaling. The temporary hit points are added to a base of 22; at level 20, this 32 hit point spookster is probably not going to take a hit too well.
More interesting is the bonus to attack and damage. The Specter’s attack is normally +4. You’ll probably be boosting it to +8 or +9 by the time this is super relevant, which is insane at level 6. In addition, each time your new ghost friend hits someone, they have a small chance of losing 3d6+5 hit points for the rest of the day. And even if they save, 3d6+5 damage is nothing to sneeze at.
Sadly, other than small boosts to your Charisma, you can’t scale this up much more. It’ll have that +9 from level 6 (or more realistically 8) until level 20. And the hit points come aggravatingly slowly. Not to mention that it can only work on Humanoid creatures, occasionally locking you out of using this ability if combat doesn’t happen – or if you only stomp on mice – for a day.
Still, this gives you an Incorporeal scout with a potent touch attack, which follows your every command. That’s far from nothing, and there are plenty of ways to abuse such a potent skill. Use this on the first humanoid you’ve killed every day, and use it until it passes on.
Armor of Hexes
At level 10, the Hexblade gets an additional reason to use Hexblade’s curse… Because I guess three really strong reasons weren’t enough.
At 10th level, your hex grows more powerful. If the target cursed by your Hexblade’s Curse hits you with an attack roll, roll a d6. On a 4 or higher, the attack instead misses you, regardless of its roll.
For the love of all that’s unholy…
Alright, so, now, your bonus action, once-per-short-rest ability gives you a 50% chance to dodge attacks. On top of your already fantastic AC, potent healing, and (probably) good health thanks to the Constitution this class lets you get.
50% chance to miss might sound low… But it really shouldn’t. Your GM can roll a 20 on you, and you can still avoid getting completely decimated by a crit if you roll a 4 on a d6. This turns boss fights against talented duelists and hard-hitting treants alike into jokes.
And it’s not even just weapon attacks! Disintegrate can be easily sidestepped with a lucky d6. Vampiric Touch can suffer the same fate! There’s a pretty long list of powerful attack roll spells that are fairly likely to connect in the lategame, so this pretty solid miss chance is super crucial.
Your Hexblade Curse should normally be applied to the toughest creature in a room. Now, it should be applied to the one that hits the hardest… Which probably is the same one. Establish a short-rest rhythm with your party and reap the benefits.
Master of Hexes
Remember in the last section, where I mentioned that the Curse should be applied to the toughest guy in the room? Well…
Starting at 14th level, you can spread your Hexblade’s Curse from a slain creature to another creature. When the creature cursed by your Hexblade’s Curse dies, you can apply the curse to a different creature you can see within 30 feet of you, provided you aren’t incapacitated. When you apply the curse in this way, you don’t regain hit points from the death of the previously cursed creature.
Now you don’t really need to plan at all.
Notice that this doesn’t take a reaction, or a bonus action, or even requiring you to defeat the creature yourself. You just… Get the benefit. As a frontliner, being within 30 ft of another creature should be your natural habitat – Eldritch Blast Warlocks will have to get a little bit close to the enemies to make use of this. The only reason that you should not land Master of Hexes is either because the mages are blasting you from 120 ft, or because the fight is over.
Noticeably, you don’t benefit from the heal of the curse. That’s fairly significant – at this point, that gives you 19 health, as long as you have +5 Charisma. However, in 99% of situations, transfering the damage, crit chance, and 50% miss chance will be better than restoring the hit points.
This makes the Hexblade go from a somewhat situational single-target beater with good damage potential elsewhere to an absolute beast on the battlefield.
Pact Boon Synergies
At level 3, the Warlock gets a choice of one out of three pacts. These pacts all have synergies with the Hexblade, but…
Pact of the Blade
You chose Hexblade for the benefits of melee combat, right? The Pact of the Blade lets the Warlock use two-handed weapons, longswords, and more to boost your damage significantly. You also become essentially immune to disarm attempts, can always have a potent weapon by your side, get Thirsting Blade for the Extra attack feature, and Lifedrinker. This has by far the most synergies between the Pact and Patron of all the official releases – it’s fairly rare for the Patron to quite literally note that a Pact Boon gets extra effects with a Patron ability. If only because it’s taken so rarely, please consider this boon.
Pact of the Chain
Chain is the weakest of the options. You kind of already have a familiar; at level 6, you get a Specter. That can scout and deal damage for you. You don’t really need the bonus range on touch spells, either; you want to be within one Move Action from enemies, even if you go Eldritch Blast. This really isn’t worthwhile.
Pact of the Talisman
The Pact of the Talisman has a unique place in a Hexblade build, since you can put it on yourself to improve your saving throws and allow for reflective damage. At the low, low price of Extra Attack, bonus damage to every weapon swing, and all of the other Pact of the Blade upsides. It’s not worth it.
Pact of the Tome
The Book of Shadows is a good option that gives Warlocks access to decent utility spells – something Warlocks, let alone Hexblades, really like. Take some options from Wizard and Cleric, or maybe Druid, and you’ll be somewhat happy. Though, once again, if you plan on going into melee at any point, then Pact of the Blade will give you much better melee options, and melee protection.
Best Race for the Hexblade Warlocks
Incredibly, the Hexblade is one of the few melee builds in 5e that eliminate the need for Strength and Dexterity – Although getting to 14 Dexterity is probably not a bad idea. Your priorities are to get your Charisma high, and your Constitution to a point where one strong breeze doesn’t bowl you over.
While not necessarily perfect for a Warlock build, if you want to get to the 14 Dexterity and don’t mind putting your Ability Score Increases into Charisma twice, Tabaxi have quite a few uses. The extra movement speed – plus Feline Agility – can get you into melee range quite fast… Or give you an effective way to retreat. Perception and Stealth are both fantastic skills to have automatic proficiency in. And the 2 Dexterity is not lost on a build that takes refuge in medium armor. A quite potent choice, though more focused on utility than pure damage. Consider it if you’re allowed to use the races in Volo’s Guide.
Yeah, how often are these guys talked about? Held in the not-often-used Acquisitions Incorporated, the Verdan are an intelligently-created race of almost goblinoids with +2 Charisma, +1 Constitution; Perfection. Add onto that a boost of healing during short rests, free Persuasion advantage, bonuses on Wisdom and Charisma saves, and some free telepathy, and you’ve got yourself a really cool choice. Just… Ask your GM first. This one’s in a pretty far-off book.
Best Feats for Hexblade Warlock
The Hexblade Warlock works a tiny bit differently than their Warlock peers. They have several opportunities to be in melee combat constantly, and thus can benefit from melee-centric feats. Otherwise, giving them the ability to soak damage using Warlock’s traditionally strong short rest feats is a good idea.
Not included on this list is Heavily Armored. If you want your Warlock to be in heavy armor, we’d recommend starting Paladin and multiclassing. You can take a different feat instead and slowly gain access to Divine Smite.
The Chef feat is one of our favorites, and it really comes alive when added to a Hexblade’s toolkit. To begin, you gain a +1 to Constitution or Charisma. This isn’t much, but it can round out 15s to 16s and 17s to 18s. That gives a +1 to your modifier, which is a big boost in either damage or durability.
The real benefit, obviously, can be found in the features. Chef grants three separate abilities of varying power.
The first, proficiency with Chef’s Utensils, isn’t your strongest new ability. Chef’s Utensils are a fun tool that can make the usually dull act of eating rations have a bit more roleplay opportunity. Not exactly the most fiery thing in the world, but serves to give the party a fun moment where you cook for them and open up the campfire for talks.
The first mechanical benefit is your bonus healing during short rests. This works like a Bard’s song of rest, where you provide a d8 to healing for anyone who spends a hit dice. This is pretty small, but equates to around 18 additional health if everyone in a four-person party heals. Not bad.
The second benefit, and the more substantial one, is that you produce treats. These treats can be munched on as a bonus action to provide a small overshield of temporary hitpoints. They provide a total of between 4-36 health, since the number and quality of the treats scale with your proficiency. A good thing to have in your back pocket as you brave the frontlines.
As a Warlock, it is important to expand your extremely small list of spells however you can manage to. Fey Touched is perhaps the most efficient way of doing so, even if its strength is weaker for you than it is for most other characters.
Fey Touched provides a +1 to Charisma, which is of course wonderful for a Warlock. Rounds out your odd stats or puts you in a position where, four levels from now, you’ll be good to go.
However, perhaps more interesting to us is the spells that you get to learn. Fey Touched teaches you Misty Step and lets you cast it for free. For a Hexblade, the ability to get into the thick of combat – or escape when it goes bad – is something that cannot be underestimated. A bonus action that clears 60 feet is very, very handy.
The other ability is to gain a 1st level spell in divination or enchantment. This is less powerful for a Warlock. While Misty Step provides much-needed gap closing, the level 1 options that are normally very strong for a caster (like Hex or Silvery Barbs) aren’t nearly as necessary on a Warlock. We’d recommend spells like Command, which scale better with your 5th level spell slots, but Silvery Barbs can still protect you from bad attack rolls.
Great Weapon Master
Sometimes, you just need someone dead and have advantage on attack rolls. Great Weapon Master is here for you. You get a solid bonus action in taking another swing on critical hit – which your Hex improves the ratio of – or on kill. That bonus action can lead to huge damage turns, especially since the Hexblade usually only uses one bonus action per target to set up Hex or Hexblade’s Curse.
The other benefit is that you can drop your accuracy by 5 to boost damage by 10. This is the main reason to take the feat. While a -5 might sound like a lot, by endgame 5E you’re usually swinging with +14s or +15s. If you have advantage, a -5 easily gets canceled out. And Warlocks have a few ways to get advantage. Especially if your party is well-designed to help you out here, this feat can turn you into a damaging monstrosity.
A one-handed Warlock can instead use Slasher or Piercer to replace the raw damage with some utility.
The Inspiring Leader feat from the Player’s Handbook is uniquely quite strong for a Hexblade, though it is strong for all Warlocks. Inspiring Leader allows you to, after a rest, give allies a temporary HP shield of your level plus Charisma. This equates to 25 at minimum by level 20. Give that to a party of four characters and you’re providing 100 HP per short rest with no spells attached.
For a Warlock on the frontlines, 25 HP is no joke, especially if it’s recovered the same way that you recover spell slots. You’re granting your party huge boosts of durability, soaking up a Fireball for free. This feat is almost worth prioritizing if you’re serious about being a frontline Warlock.
Telekinesis is a +1 Charisma option for those who aren’t very interested in the Fey Touched’s bonus spells. While I disagree with that, Telekinetic at least offers some tangible benefits that can be useful for a melee-centric Warlock.
The first is a Mage Hand. This version of mage hand is invisible and you can cast it without needing hands or speaking. That lets you do some sneaky stuff without much issue. And, if you later learn Mage Hand, you get the rare 60 ft Mage Hand. Spooky! And extremely helpful for out-of-combat situations.
The second is a weird bonus action. This bonus action allows you to push or pull creatures as you need by five feet. Allies can fail this willingly, letting you pull a Wizard out of the threatened range of a giant beast or pulling that giant beast towards you so you can beat it with your sword. If you don’t need to set up Hex or Curse, this is a great use of your bonus action. Though, admittedly, the Hexblade is definitely a bit more busy on the bonus action slot than most Warlocks.
War Caster is a necessary price for wanting to be a frontliner with a shield. In most cases, DMs will be reluctant to let you cast while your hands are full with stabby stuff, forcing you to put your shield or weapon away for a cast. In those cases, War Caster allows you to wield two weapons or a weapon and a shield and have the free pass to cast. No DM fiat or anything!
That’s not all, thankfully. You also get advantage on concentration checks, which is great for a Warlock. 75% of your spells take concentration. However, Warlocks have access to the Eldritch Mind invocation, making this part of the feat usually less necessary.
The final part of this feat is the ability to cast a spell when a creature provokes an opportunity attack. That means a Warlock can use a spell like Booming Blade or Hold Person when a person runs away from them. That’s fun, though less necessary when your sword deals so much damage.
Best Multiclass Options for Hexblade Warlock
The Hexblade has a few options for multiclassing. However, we’d say that one is perhaps very slightly better than the others. We’ll break our usual alphabetical order to underline this strongest multiclass.
The Paladin is the perfect multiclass if you want to be a Hexblade. If you start with Paladin, you get to have Heavy Armor proficiency right out of the gate and a strong option in Lay on Hands. Level 2 is the sweet spot, since it gives you a Fighting Style (like Defense, Great Weapon Fighting, or Dueling), spells, and the ability to use your Warlock spell slots for Divine Smite. While Hex is a great way to spend a spell, sometimes you just need to do 6d8 guaranteed damage instead of risking a saving throw or your concentration.
Further levels in Paladin can grant Extra Attack without an invocation, Charisma to saving throws, and one of many Oaths. Vengeance or Oathbreaker work well for the Oathbreaker. An Oathbreaker Paladin could theoretically get Charisma to damage 3 separate times by level 19, which is just very funny.
While the Paladin is almost certainly a more effective multiclass than a Fighter, this class still has some options for a Hexblade. Specifically, Action Surge gives the Hexblade the ability to deal a ton of damage while the Battlemaster or Samurai archetype allows the Hexblade to get advantage on attack rolls easily. Fighting Style with 1 level of investment is also helpful, as is a small heal on a bonus action. Hexblade’s Curse only heals so much, after all.
Giving a Hexblade d6 hit dice might not sound like a good idea, but the Sorcerer has a few options that can help a Hexblade shuffle along towards the finish line of a fight. Metamagic is strong, giving the Warlock the option to cast without needing somatic components or get more range on magic. Sorcery Points and Warlocks go hand-in-hand, granting them some spell slots that they could use to their full advantage.
The Sorcerer bloodline that works best is up for debate, but we like Storm. A bonus action to move 10 feet after a spellcast can let the Hexblade move closer to (or farther from) priority targets. However, there’s a reason to go for bloodlines like Draconic or even Lunar that can access good options for walking in.
Best Backgrounds for Hexblade Warlock
Hexblades follow the same rules as many other Warlocks. They don’t have Persuasion, Perception or Insight access, so backgrounds can really help them fill holes in their gameplan. However, while we truly believe that a Hexblade’s role in the party is to be a good face, Warlocks also don’t have access to Athletics or Acrobatics, which can be dangerous to not have when you fight creatures who grab you.
The Entertainer offers the Hexblade a few alright abilities that can help them on the frontlines. Acrobatics proficiency is actually fairly important, since a grappling monster will be targeting your otherwise weak skill check. Performance is less important, but does let you do funny distraction tools. Disguise kits and musical instruments are more fun than useful, but there are worst tool proficiencies to have. Poor Sailor…
Your equipment is fun, since it pays for a unique weapon, and you get to set up an admirer with your DM. If you want to go standard Entertainer, you instead get a free musical instrument, which is similarly funny though less potentially useful. You also start with 15 gp, which is fairly high for a background.
Your feature, By Popular Demand, lets you get rooms with potentially popular people, though this often leads you into dangerous situations. The normal Entertainer feature is less dangerous but might get you less savage audience members, like Nobles itching to see someone die. A double-edged sword.
The Investigator is a generally useful archetype for adventuring. Insight and Perception is hard for a Warlock to get, and the Investigator hands them over on a silver platter. Your tools are similarly powerful, with Disguise Kits and Thieves’ Tools being useful in many different situations – the Disguise kit does require a creative mind, though.
The equipment comes with 10 gp and some fun trinkets, but nothing very impressive. Your feature is also a bit less impressive, since it gives everyone important the opportunity to make their own opinions about you. You dirty cop.
Urban Bounty Hunter
For a Warlock looking to talk, the Urban Bounty Hunter is a great choice. You get to choose Insight and Persuasion, making you a godly talker with all three Charisma options on the table. You also get to choose between a Gaming Set, Musical Instrument, and Thieves’ Tools. We recommend the Thieves’ Tools and probably the Musical Instrument, since it’s the easiest one to perform with.
Your equipment is basically just 20 gp, which is low value for a background but gives you a lot of options if you need to buy something later. You also get contacts in most cities of the DMs discretion, which can at least give you a foot in the door or a lead that you otherwise would have had to work harder for.
FAQ for the Hexblade Warlock
Can you use Hex Warrior with Two-Handed Weapons?
The Hex Warrior ability allows you to use two-handed weapons at level three, if you take Pact of the Blade. The Pact weapon ignores the restrictions of “lacking the two-handed property,” so you can use greatswords. With the Improved Pact Weapon feature, it becomes possible to use Charisma to attack with ranged weapons… Though, admittedly, you have Eldritch Blast for that.
What does a Hexblade Patron look like?
A Hexblade is a sentient, cursed weapon from the Shadowfell. These weapons are typically darker in style, with glowing gemstones in the pommels, and are created by mages. You are making a pact with the weapons themselves, and do not wield them in combat outside of specific circumstances, though your Pact Weapon might emulate their style.
What Alignment Works Best for a Hexblade Warlock?
While any Warlock might seek a pact with a Hexblade for power, most of the time, the Warlock should be an alignment that allows them to be content with cursing people and raising a fraction of a dead soul under your command. We’d recommend non-good options that are flexible, such as true neutral, chaotic neutral, or neutral good, to give your party some wiggle room.
Example Hexblade Warlock Build
We’re making a Hexblade. But, before we can even consider getting them in a party, we need to lay out some restrictions that our DM asks of us. Those restrictions include:
- No multiclassing. While the Paladin multiclass is incredibly potent for the Hexblade, we’ll be stuck with 20 levels of Warlock. We can make this work, thankfully, though we’ll likely miss out on heavy armor.
- No lineage rules. Lineage races get to choose ability scores, and some races are lineage only. This limits us significantly, which is unfortunate, but you can mostly follow along with this guide with lineage races. Owlkin or other flying options aren’t a bad idea, but grounded races make better use of medium armor.
- Can use any book. Perhaps as thanks for not using lineage rules, our DM is letting us choose from any book for our race and background. This opens the doors quite a bit, though we’re going to be taking a rather simple approach for our Hexblade.
- Standard Array for ability scores. 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8 are definitely more restrictive than point buy, but we have more than enough to make things work.
- Average gold. Unlike many Warlock guides we’ve written, we really want average gold. Hexblades care quite a lot about starting with medium armor, a shield, and a martial weapon. 100 gold isn’t a lot to work with, but it’ll at least get us started correctly.
- Our party includes a Fighter, Bard, and Druid. We’re the second fronltiner of the party, so we can focus a bit on damage and a bit on durability. The Druid plans on spamming Lightning, so they can deal with mobs of enemies.
We’re going to go with a Wood Half-Elf for our race. This gives us amazing ability scores and slightly better movement speed to work with. While the default Half-Elf grants two skills which are fantastic for all situations, the Hexblade can struggle just a bit when it comes to moving to the frontlines. That extra five feet is gonna be a life-saver.
For gear, we’re going to be spending that gold on Scale Mail, a Shield, a Longsword, and a Dungeoneer’s pack. This leaves us with 3 gp to spare. We are losing a lot of value on gear and won’t start play with a Component Pouch, which you should get as soon as possible. However, making sure we have the right gear to survive the early game is very important for the Hexblade, since we’re waddling into melee immediately.
For ability scores, we want Charisma at 17 to let us take a +1 Charisma feat early on. Thanks to the Half-Elf’s +2 to the stat, we’re in a good spot. That leaves us with a 15 in Constitution and 14 in Dexterity, each boosted by 1. This covers our offense and defense, and our other stats are honestly unimportant.
For a background, our Bard likely has talking skills covered. That lets us safely use the Gladiator background that was discussed earlier. Even if our Bard will be the party’s talker, we can still help out or talk to others for our Bard’s sake.
|5E Hexblade Warlock Build|
Ability Scores: STR 12, DEX 14 (13 + 1), CON 15 (14 + 1), INT 8, WIS 10, CHA 17 (15 + 2)
Proficiencies: Deception, Intimidation, Acrobatics, Performance, Disguise Kit, Lute
Starting Equipment: Scale Mail, Shield, Longsword, Dungeoneer’s Pack, Net, Love Letter, Costume Clothes, 18gp
Languages: Common, Elven, Orcish
|When choosing our spells and cantrips, it is important to remember that our Hexblade will be on the frontlines, doing battle with enemies. That doesn’t mean we have to forfeit all magic for them, but it’ll be nice to have a few options available for them as we level up. |
Cantrips. Sadly, the Warlock has very few cantrips to work with. Also sadly, despite being the only Warlock that can free itself from the curse, Eldritch Blast remains far too powerful of a cantrip to ignore. However, we’re going to choose Green-Flame Blade as our second cantrip. This’ll deal quite a lot of damage early on and will be our default melee attack for most of the game. This leaves us with little room for utility, but you don’t choose the Hexblade because it can solve problems.
Spells. Hex might seem superfluous because of Hexblade’s Curse, but they both stack and a Hexed and Cursed enemy is going to explode instantly. Might as well abuse that, though prioritize applying your Hexblade’s Curse before spending the spell slot on Hex. Sleep isn’t going to be useful for long, but the ability to guarantee a deadly status condition like sleep on a foe right now is way too much to pass up.
|2||-Eldritch Invocations||We’re not here to just learn spells. Eldritch Invocations are really, really important for the Hexblade, so pay close attention to them on a level-to-level basis. |
Invocations. Agonizing Blast gives our ranged option our Charisma in damage, which is way too strong to ignore. Our other option is a bit more out-in-the-open, with a handful of good utility spells on the table. We’re going to go for a very early Eldritch Mind to help with concentration, since holding onto Hex as a frontliner is a terrible time.
Spells. We’ll learn Shield at this level, something I’m more than willing to spend a 5th level spell slot on if I’m desperate. We can also start trading out spell slots, but Sleep should still be consistently hitting targets. Let’s keep it around.
-2nd Level Pact Magic
|We’re not going to try anything fancy here. |
Pact. We’re getting the Pact of the Blade. It has far too much synergy with the Hexblade. We’ll keep a Sword and Shield mentality for now, however. Let our Fighter get the cool big magical weapons. We value the AC that a shield can bring to the table.
Spells. For our first 2nd level spell, we’re going to go for Hold Person. Being able to paralyze a humanoid, especially as a melee character, is too juicy to ignore. You might be wondering why we aren’t picking up Smites. That’s simply because, for the purposes of this build, we’re going to focus more on Hex as our primo damaging option that takes Concentration. Not that Smites are terrible damage or anything. Just that we plan on snagging later Smites instead.
|4||-Ability Score Improvement||We’ve reached our first Ability Score improvement, which means we get our first feat. |
Feat. Despite our extremely painful 17 in Charisma, we’re a sword and board build with a DM who isn’t gonna give us some slack. War Caster will let us cast in melee without any issues, unlocking ourselves from awkwardly shoving our sword into our pockets every turn.
Cantrip. Since we got Mage Hand from our feat, we can either dig deeper into options or get a dangerous melee attack like Booming Blade to further damage foes. We’ll go with the former by picking up Prestidigitation.
Spells. To supplement our frontline capabilities for a little while, we’ll pick up Mirror Image. It’s a more annoying version of Shield that lasts a minute, allows for pre-combat buffing, and doesn’t rely on concentration.
Invocation. We just got War Caster, so Eldritch Mind no longer matters. We’ll tag that out right now for Improved Pact Weapon, an ability that lets us use our weapon for material components – for spells like Hex – as well as create magical weapons from thin air. It also lets us conjure magical bows, which is nice in a way. Eldritch Blast trounces any bow, but it’s the thought that counts.
|5||-3rd Level Pact Magic||A pretty important level for any Hexblade. |
Spells. We’re going to pick up our second Expanded Spell list option here with Blink, which can get us out of danger half of the time. Blink kinda makes Mirror Image feel bad, so we’re losing Mirror Image for Counterspell. We’re certainly the best counterspeller in our party. The only one, actually.
Invocation. As a Pact of the Blade Warlock, we are legally obligated to take Thirsting Blade for Extra Attack. Swinging twice will outdamage Green-Flame Blade when we’re stuck with a single target.
|6||-Accursed Specter||Get your specter early in a dungeon, basically whenever possible. It lasts all day and you can tell it to not attack if you need it to. |
Spells. We’re losing Sleep at this point, since it is no longer consistent enough at putting people to bed. We’re going to take Misty Step and Fly at this point. Both of these are potent mobility options and both will be needed in at least one fight in your campaign. What use is Hex if your Fighter can’t join you in a fight, after all? As fun as pinging people to death with Eldritch Blast is, magical weapons should start to outpace blasting.
|7||-4th Level Pact Magic||A very fun level for us, if not the most consistent one. |
Spells. Staggering Smite is an extremely potent debuff that is well-worth losing Hex for. If an enemy is a huge, bulky ogre or another low-mental threat, giving them disadvantage on attacks is probably worth more than the d6 damage.
Invocation. We’ll take Relentless Hex as a way to teleport around the battlefield as a bonus action. We have multiple ways to apply Hex too, which is quite fun.
|8||-Ability Score Improvement||Because we still have a 17 in Charisma, our goal is going to be to fix that now. Telekinesis will be our choice over Fey Touched, simply because we have Relentless Hex to help us move around the fight. 18 Charisma at level 8 hurts a lot, but it’s the price we pay for being able to consistently cast our more devastating magic while in melee.Before we take another spell, let’s consider what we have going for us. |
Cantrips. Eldritch Blast, Green-Flame Blade, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation
Spells. Hex, Shield, Hold Person, Misty Step, Blink, Counterspell, Fly, Staggering Smite
Good! This is a good spell list, with a mixture of ranged options, defensive opportunities, and concentration to non-concentration. The 4th level Warlock spell list is a bit wonky, with a few options we’re quite interested in. Let’s take Raulothim’s Psychic Lance, a great option with anti-invisibility applications that targets Intelligence, an underrepresented saving throw.
|9||-5th Level Pact Magic||As we touch down on the fifth level, we’re also getting the last spell we learn consistently. From here-on-out, we’re learning spells every other level. Don’t be afraid to replace spells in your spell list with more situational options that fit your campaign, especially now. You should have generic options that work in every fight at this point, so magic that is more specific is generally fine. |
Spells. Our first fifth level spell is going to be Cone of Cold. We have a massive cone, are a frontliner, and can shotgun this out twice per rest. That’s a lot of damage.
Invocations. Maddening Hex is a big improvement on our damage during turns where we don’t want to push people around with our Telekinesis.
|10||-Armor of Hexes||The first level that we don’t have a spell to choose. Woe unto us. Armor of Hexes is a fantastic ability, by the way. With Blink and this online, you theoretically have a 1/4th chance to be even targeted by an attack every turn. Very funny. |
Cantrip. Our final cantrip will be Thunderclap. While Green-Flame blade can handle most melee situations, if we’re surrounded by 3 or more enemies, Thunderclap will provide better damage. Sword Burst also works, but we like targeting Constitution if we’re being swarmed by enemies. They tend to be smaller, so this save tends to be a bit lower. Even if the damage type is much worse.
Spell. In addition, because of the campaign we’re in, we’re also going to tag Hold Person out for Hold Monster. While Hold Person targets multiple humanoids, we’re in a campaign where we just don’t have many people to target. Unfortunate, but very likely.
|11||-Mystic Arcanum (6th Level)||We get a spell whenever we get a Mystic Arcanum, and will also be looking at our spell list to see if there are any loose ends to trim. |
Mystic Arcanum. Scatter remains a favorite of ours. Repositioning before an important combat can be very difficult, but a 120 foot teleport will make things significantly easier. You can even teleport close enemies, if they fail a saving throw.
Spells. As we advance into the higher levels, having a consistent Dispel Magic online is going to be very nice. Our Bard and Druid can both cast it, but accessing level 5 spell slots can be hard for them. Certainly not for you. We’ll also take the time to replace Staggering Smite with Banishing Smite, a higher damage option with the opportunity to entirely skip turns, as long as the monster is low enough health. If your team can kill it in time, don’t activate the banish effect. But, if the enemy might be able to be healed, then keep them out of the fight.
|12||-Ability Score Improvement||Finally, at long last, we can get +2 to Charisma for the 20 we’ve been looking for. It’s unfortunate that it took this long, but War Caster was a very important detour. |
Invocation. We also get an invocation, which is extremely easy. Lifedrinker gives us another +5 to damage with each weapon swing. Alongside Maddening Hex, Hexblade’s Curse, and our Pact Weapon, our weapon attack can hit with something like a +20 modifier for damage, if only once per turn with Maddening Hex. That’s hilarious.
|13||-Mystic Arcanum (7th Level)||Mystic Arcanum. Forcecage has several applications, from ensuring that a group of civilians stay unharmed to keeping a group of lich minions in place for a few turns. Hell, in the worst case, it could be utilized as a bridge. The world’s most expensive, 10 ft bridge. |
Spell. Spirit Shroud is a spell that deals 2d8 damage per weapon swing, which isn’t enough to be more useful than the day-long buff that Hex provides. What is enough is the utility of negating healing on targets, as well as potentially targeting a damage vulnerability. Use this when you need to keep someone off of healing.
|14||-Master of Hexes||This is the first level where there is nothing major to choose. Sit back, relax, and remember to spread your Hexblade’s Curse whenever possible. This is a huge boost to the Hexblade’s Curse, allowing you to sweep a whole encounter with it. Try to use Hex normally, and Hexblade’s Curse during medium or large sized encounters.|
|15||-Mystic Arcanum (8th Level)||Okay, we’re back to selecting things. Hope you got some relaxation in. |
Mystic Arcanum. Power Word Stun is a strong magical option that allows us to ignore saving throws, provided a target has 150 hitpoints. For reference, you can just shotgun this on a Lich and he’s stunned, guaranteed. That can let you pile on the damage while they can’t do anything, something that’s not exactly easily performed otherwise. No saving throw, no problem.
Spells. Synaptic Static is our choice at this level. While Cone of Cold usually does a great job dealing damage, Synaptic Static deals a similar amount of damage while also providing a quite potent debuff to attack and damage. So, we have a high damage area of effect and a debuff area of effect. Perfect.
Invocation. There aren’t too many Invocations that are very important for our build at this point. So, we’ll recommend Trickster’s Escape for the opportunity to get away from dangerous paralysis situations by buffing beforehand.
|16||-Ability Score Improvement||We now have the opportunity to round out our Constitution. Instead, we’re going to get a gigantic pile of temporary hitpoints. Inspiring Leader currently gives 21 hitpoints per short rest, as long as our Bard friend isn’t taking the feat before us. Otherwise, we’re kinda free to take Chef, our level 19 option.|
|17||-Mystic Arcanum (9th Level)||Mystic Arcanum. The last Mystic Arcanum of the game. It’s not usually a tricky choice. However, we’ll go with Power Word Kill. The ability to end a fight in a snap is far too powerful to ignore. Work with your DM to determine if there’s any way you can know a creatures hitpoints, like through Medicine, that makes this even more impactful. Otherwise, no shame in options like Psychic Scream or even Gate. This is a level where working with your party to cover weak spots is critical. |
Spell. Teleportation Circle opens the world up just a little bit. While the party Bard might be able to know this or cast it from scrolls, getting the opportunity to do so with our spare spell slots is probably not a terrible idea.
|18||Invocation. Our final Invocation will probably be simple. Visions of Distant Realms is a good scout to have at high levels, even if a familiar or animal can do something similar. You could alternatively consider Undying Servitude or Tomb of Levistus if you’d like. Minions or emergency health isn’t a bad thing to have.|
|19||-Ability Score Improvement||Our last feat, our last spell! How exciting. |
Feat. Here we’ll grab Chef, something our bard definitely should have. 16 Constitution is enough to no longer beg our party for the Amulet of Health. It will also be nice to have treats to eat between fights or during free turns. We have a ton of bonus actions to choose from, which is a great change of pace compared to most 5E builds.
Spell. Our last spell will be Dimension Door. Sure, Misty Step will usually be all we need, and we’ll still learn it. But, the ability to move consistently and rapidly is nice.
|20||-Eldritch Master||And we’re done! Let’s check out that spell list.|
Cantrips. Eldritch Blast, Green-Flame Blade, Mage Hand, Prestidigitation, Thunderclap
Spells. Hex, Shield, Misty Step, Blink, Counterspell, Dispel Magic, Fly, Spirit Shroud, Dimension Door, Raulothim’s Psychic Lance, Banishing Smite, Cone of Cold, Hold Monster, Synaptic Static, Teleportation Circle.
Mystic Arcanum. Scatter, Forcecage, Power Word Stun, Power Word Kill
I love the options we have here. We have great area of effect, defense, concentration, and crowd control options. We don’t have much problem solving magic here, unfortunately, but most problems can be solved with a good teleport or straight-up dispelling it. You should feel free to swap spells out if you find your party requiring specific magic, like the ability to send messages or other methods of magical problem solving.
Conclusion – Our Hexblade Warlock 5E
That wraps up our Hexblade Warlock 5E Guide. The Hexblade is the only Patron truly capable of unleashing Warlocks onto the frontlines. If your goal is to stand in front of your squishy allies in a unique but potent way, consider the Hexblade. Also, consider Hexblade for a multiclass if you’ve got a lot of Charisma and also want to swing a sword. For more info on this great class, check out our Warlock 5E Guide!