I'm currently trying to rebalance certain aspects of the D&D 5e rule set. The overall goal is to open up options for my players so they have a more diverse pool of features to choose from. I don't want them to feel like they "have" to or "can't" pick a certain option, because of it being just that strong or that weak compared to alternatives.

Currently I'm looking at the Warlock invocations; my analysis shows me that a few of them are worse than others:

  • Thief of Five Fates

  • Sign of Ill Omen

  • Minions of Chaos

  • Dreadful Word

  • Bewitching Whispers

What most of these have in common is that they give warlocks access to a spell they otherwise wouldn't once per long rest, while still using one of their spell slots. Compare this to invocations such as Mask of Many Faces (Disguise Self at will) and Devil's Sight (120ft super-darkvision).

The utility of these invocations is very lacking. Warlocks don't have a problem with the diversity of their spells; the problem is with having available spell slots. I'm trying to determine whether removing the spell slot cost from these invocations and making them long rest abilities instead would balance them, or make them a more attractive option rather than a "don't bother" option.

The question:

In the context of re-balancing the Warlock invocations, would making the aformentioned invocations long rest abilities, without costing a spell slot, make them balanced compared to the other available options? Or is it too much/not enough of a change?

If anyone thinks the invocations I mentioned are fine as they are, I would love to hear your reasoning as well, in case I missed a core point!

I'm asking if this change would be balanced in a non-homebrewed version of 5e. To clarify, my group generally has about two short rests per adventuring day.


3 Answers 3


All of the spells you're looking at are powerful but situational. A warlock should incur a cost (1 spell slot) for casting them, but shouldn't plan on casting them once per day, just because they can.

For example, Sign of Ill Omen comes with some situationally great utility -- it's a "customizable" (within reason) curse that can last 8 hours and doesn't require concentration when cast with a 5th level spell slot. By removing the spell slot cost of this spell, you're giving the Warlock an incredible benefit: allowing them to cast a spell that scales extremely well with a resource without having to expend it. This invocation becomes incredibly strong when you remove that cost.

I would recommend not adjusting these invocations; they might be less useful for your specific campaign, but they're not worse invocations just because their applications are more niche.

One different homebrew solution that would be far easier to manage is to give the Warlock one extra invocation at level 9 (for example) that gets locked in forever; call it a Mystic Invocation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The suggested change would be to make them castable at the spell's level, without having them scale up to fifth level with your own spell slots. In other words, Sign of Ill Omen for example would give you access to a 3rd level Bestow Curse once per long rest. I'd also like to mention that there would still be a significant cost attached to these invocations, namely that they take up one of the invocation slots you have. This would make them similar to most other available invocations in that they don't have any "cost" attached to their usage. Thank you for your answer! \$\endgroup\$
    – Squall55
    Jul 14, 2017 at 6:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that having the spell stuck to its original level actually makes the invocations far weaker in some cases. One of the big benefits of being able to cast Bestow Curse at 5th level (so, after Warlock level 9+) is to no longer have the concentration requirement and the longer duration. In my opinion, the invocation is not worth taking until after Warlock level 9; so you're removing a cost to make it attractive, but removing all of its benefits to make it worth having. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 14, 2017 at 8:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I respectfully disagree with your logic. You just discussed how powerful the spell was. Spells generally are balanced against other spells of the same level. You could take any other 3rd level spell and showcase it's power as an indication that the invocation would be overpowered if it just expanded your spellbook (or gave you a dedicated spell slot). For example Vampiric touch (since it always casts at your highest lvl as a warlock, is incredibly powerful. Letting you go toe to toe with enemies, doing 5d6 per round and healing 2.5d6 per round. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 1, 2019 at 23:11

I respectfully disagree with several previous posters. Just like several of the archetypes are woefully unbalanced, the invocations are hugely unbalanced. Some are no-brainers, some are good, and pretty much all of these are terrible with the possible exception of polymorph.

Bane & Bestow Curse should absolutely be warlock class spells. Both totally fit the theme. Spells are balanced by level generally. Sometimes classes stay away from certain types of spells (clerics don't get the big AOE damage spells, etc.) so it's just improperly balanced. Just like invocations like Beast Speech which you'd never take unless it fit flavor for your character and you either didn't care about balance, or didn't understand it.

I'm fully in favor of house rules that attempt to improve the balance.

This forum thread has an attempt to adjust, but a lot of the ideas shown are way overpowered as well. But it can be a starting place for house rules if you are so inclined.

There's actually a lot here to discuss that hasn't been discussed:

Warlocks have 2 different spell use limitations that exist: 1) only a small # of spell slots (balanced by getting them back during short rests) and 2) a small # of spells known. The warlock is not "REALLY" a caster. Their bread & butter is one of three things - eldritch blast, your sword, or your minion. They're not intended to use spells (besides eldritch blast) as bread & butter.

These invocations expand one of these 2 limitations. They let you effectively "know" an additional spell. The change proposed by the original poster actually affects both limitations, which is way more powerful than it seems on the surface.

Personally I dislike how it currently works because it increases spells known, but is still pretty limited because it's limited to 1 use per long rest, so it's like saying "you know 1 more spell" but also limiting it to getting to use it way less frequently. It's crazy limiting. Just having it add the spell to your spells known would be significantly more powerful.

Personally I prefer to just add those spells to the warlock spell list, and remove the invocations. This maintains balance because those spells have to be chosen and you are limited on the # of spells you know. And as I stated, Bane and Bestow Curse are so thematically appropriate for Warlocks (as is Slow), and in many ways Polymorph is as well. Less opinion on Compulsion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Relevant meta: Don't signal your edits in text. Rather than simply throwing the additional information at the end of your answer, you should edit your answer to stand as if it were always the best version of itself. Anyone interested in previous revisions can simply view the revision history. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Jan 1, 2019 at 23:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ ty @V2Blast good to know. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 2, 2019 at 6:15

I will refrain from challenging your premise that the warlock needs balancing. My own opinion is that the warlock is fine as is, but let's answer your question as it is.

You are attempting to make those invocations more desirable and powerful by removing the slot requirement. But warlocks gain all slots back on a short rest. Would a warlock want to burn one of their limited invocation slots on said spells? Are they THAT much of a dealbreaker?

This is not that much of an improvement. Since the warlock is no longer using a slot, they cannot also use the At higher levels... feature of the spells. They will be stuck at its lowest.

You are turning these invocations into more options of Mystic Arcanum. The ability does the same as you intended:

You can cast your arcanum spell once without expending a spell slot. You must finish a long rest before you can do so again.

These class options seem fine being swapped one with another. It can make those invocations more attractive, but it does not make the warlock that much powerful, because they cannot raise the spell level no longer. And most of them do benefit from being cast at a higher level. Summon Elemental gives a stronger elemental. Bestow Curse gives more duration, and even removes the concentration - but the warlock already has Hex, and Hex is not a touch spell.

So, this can potentially make the warlock more powerful in a slight way, but won't break the game.

warning: Making those spells still require a slot but no longer usable only once per long rest (basically adding them to the list of spells known) on the other hand can be unbalancing. Once per day? not so much.


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