At level 3, warlocks gain the Pact Boon feature, and one of the options is Pact of the Blade. One of the benefits of the warlock’s Pact of the Blade is the ability to conjure any melee weapon the warlock likes, and for the warlock to be proficient in that weapon:

You can use your action to create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it. You are proficient with it while you wield it. This weapon counts as magical for the purpose of overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.

This received a lot of attention when discussing monster-only weapons like the ice devil’s spear, but developer commentary nixed that combo, barring perhaps if you get proficiency elsewhere and become legitimately Large yourself.

Without such weapons, though, this feature looks rather difficult to leverage: the game rewards specializing, but if, for example, you build around a high Dexterity, non-finesse weapons are basically useless to you. If you instead multiclass with fighter and take the great weapon fighting style and the Great Weapon Master feat, then non-great weapons aren’t worth your time. The Hexblade patron goes a long way towards solving the biggest problem here, multiple-ability dependency, but does nothing about the difficulty leveraging feats, and in any event the Hexblade may not be available in every campaign.

So this is my question: what is the best approach to getting the most from the ability to use any weapon I want? Ideally, a build that switches between weapons on the fly for different situations. Importantly, I want a character that has a reason for using so many weapons—if having just one weapon, or just relying on eldritch blast, is strictly-superior to a given approach, that isn’t an answer to the question—it’s a claim that the build simply is not supported by the system at all. Which may well be true, but be prepared to back that claim up.

Crucially, how having multiple weapons is advantageous is up to you: if eldritch blast cannot be beat for damage, for example, then a build that uses weapons for utility somehow would be great, where a build that goes for damage and just ends up worse than eldritch blast would not. But since I am not an expert in 5e, and don’t know the answer to my own question, I am explicitly looking for answerer’s expertise and judgment in how to best leverage this feature. I have offered my expertise and judgment on similar questions for D&D 3.5e many, many times, so I know this is a thing people are capable of doing.

Feats are allowed, and so is a limited amount of judicious multiclassing—but answers with less multiclassing are better. Ideally an answer considers a build’s progression from 1st to 20th, but an answer that focuses on a somewhat narrower range—explaining why it doesn’t work before that range or why it fails to grow beyond that range—is acceptable. For reference, but not as a restriction, my particular character is starting at 4th level.

Please be specific about what sources you use—nothing is completely off the table, including Unearthed Arcana, but answers that use fewer sources are better. In particular, anything that’s not in Player’s Handbook should note why it’s important and what, if any, substitutes might be available from Player’s Handbook-only play.

The reason I ask for those notes is that I am joining a game with mostly new players, and while the DM seems amenable to me making light usage of supplemental materials, I very much don’t want to push it or overburden him, or outshine my fellow players. Nonetheless, I worry that without the Hexblade, there just isn’t really a good way to do this. So I want to know what the options are, so I can make my own judgment about how much is worth asking for.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jul 23 '18 at 10:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Although this question does a good job narrowing down the type of character and relevant feature it is trying to optimize, I think it needs a better definition of "leveraging the ability to draw and use any kind of melee weapon". For example, if a build uses only two kinds of weapon, but uses both effectively and in clearly distinct roles... is that better or worse than one which uses a larger number of weapons but with overlapping roles and lower Damage Per Round? \$\endgroup\$ – Kamil Drakari Jul 23 '18 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KamilDrakari That is somewhat intentional—I would prefer answerers make some judgment on what is appropriate, since I am not very familiar with the system. More weapons is better, but they have to be serving a purpose—if the two-weapon version can do everything the more-weapon version can do, but better, then more weapons isn’t serving any purpose. So I want to use a lot of weapons, but I want to do so because I can achieve something cool that way, not just because. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jul 23 '18 at 17:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ You really need to specify which kind of character you're going for here. In the end, using a weapon as a Warlock is sub-optimal. But it's fun! But do you prefer a higher AC? Do you prioritise damage? Or perhaps utility? Or battlefield control? Basically, do you just want to do the most damage possible? Or are there other factors? \$\endgroup\$ – nbsp Aug 1 '18 at 13:49
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @nbsp I consider my question quite specific: I want to use a large number of different weapons, and I want to do it for a purpose, that is I don’t want to be sitting there knowing that I could just stop doing that and use eldritch blast all day and be better off for it. If eldritch blast cannot be beat for damage, then getting something else out of my utility belt of weapons would be necessary. But I’m not an expert in 5e—that’s why I’m asking this question. Judgments like that are precisely what I hope to leverage here. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 1 '18 at 13:52

Hand your friend a +1 weapon

I do not believe there is a compelling optimization reason (ignoring character flavor) to regularly use different weapons. In combat, an action is simply too important to waste. It gets worse if you want to switch from sword and board to two-handed - you need an action to doff your shield and a separate action to summon your new weapon. Out of combat, weapon switching is typically either mechanically suboptimal (using a one-handed weapon when you have the Great Weapon Master feat) or pointless (switching from a longsword to a warhammer). Rarely will enemies be resistant or vulnerable to a specific mundane damage type.

That said, you know who uses a variety of weapons - your party. What if you made them more awesome?

  1. Take the Improved Pact Weapon Eldritch Invocation (XGtE, p. 56). This makes your pact weapons +1 and allows you to also conjure shortbows, longbows, light crossbows, or heavy crossbows. (You don't have to take this if you don't want to use non-PHB sources, but without it you are restricted to melee weapons. Additionally, the weapon does not have a +1 bonus, but will still bypass resistance to nonmagical weapons.)
  2. Determine who in your party doesn't have a magic weapon yet.
  3. Pick a different party member each day (or each encounter) and summon a pact weapon (outside of combat) in the form of a weapon that they use. This allows you to use your unique ability to summon a variety of weapons while keeping everyone happy. With all melee weapons and common ranged weapons to choose from, you should be able to give everyone a turn. The Pact of the Blade feature explicitly grants you proficiency with the weapon, but does not restrict others from using it if they already have proficiency with the chosen weapon type.
  4. Stay relatively close to your ally. The weapon disappears if it is more than 5 feet away from you for 1 minute or more. If you need to be separated for longer than that, just resummon the weapon using an action whenever you meet up again.
  5. In combat, you won't need to worry about positioning. In my experience, a typical combat in 5e lasts 2-5 rounds (30 seconds or less), so the pact weapon is in no danger of vanishing. On rare occasions, summoning a different +1 weapon (making the first one disappear) will be worth spending an action on in combat. Against flying enemies, it may be worth getting rid of a +1 greatsword on the barbarian for a +1 longbow on the ranger.

Some math

Unless otherwise noted, the following builds assume a level 5 PC with a 16 attack stat; any feats are taken at level 4. Damage is calculated vs an AC 16 enemy. In my experience, the bonus action attack from Great Weapon Master triggers on 1/4 to 1/3 of rounds. This damage is not included in the single round calculations.

  • Great Weapon Master (GWM) Barbarian: 23.8 DPR (attacks recklessly for advantage, is raging, no magic weapon)
  • Polearm Master (PAM) Warlock: 22.1 DPR with Hexblade's Curse up (only deals 16.1 damage on round 1), 16.0 DPR without (+1 weapon from Improved Pact Weapon on both)
  • Eldritch Blast (EB) Warlock: 16.1 DPR (Agonizing Blast [PHB, p. 110], +2 CHA at level 4, Hex)

Let's look at the combined damage of a Great Weapon Master barbarian and one of two different warlocks. The barbarian has a +1 weapon from the Eldritch Blast warlock, but not from the Polearm Master one. Damage is averaged over 3 rounds (the bulk of a fight). I assume GWM's bonus attack triggers on the third round. I also assume that the melee warlock uses Eldritch Smite on the third round.

First, versus an enemy without resistances:


  • GWM Barb: 27.8 DPR = (23.8 + 23.8 + 35.7) / 3 rounds
  • PAM Lock: 26.1 DPR = (16.1 + 22.1 + 40.1) / 3 rounds
  • Total: 53.9 DPR


  • GWM Barb: 32.6 DPR = (27.9 + 27.9 + 41.9) / 3 rounds
  • EB Lock: 16.1 DPR = (16.1 + 16.1 + 16.1) / 3 rounds
  • Total: 48.7 DPR (-10% DPR)

Without resistances, the Polearm Master warlock's extra DPS makes up for the barbarian's damage loss from not having a +1 to hit. How would they fare against an enemy with resistance to nonmagical weapons?

GWM+PAM with resist:

  • GWM Barb: 13.9 DPR = ((23.8/2) + (23.8/2) + (35.7/2)) / 3 rounds
  • PAM Lock: 26.1 DPR = (16.1 + 22.1 + 40.1) / 3 rounds
  • Total: 40.0 DPR

GWM+EB with resist:

  • GWM Barb: 32.6 DPR = (27.9 + 27.9 + 41.9) / 3 rounds
  • EB Lock: 16.1 DPR = (16.1 + 16.1 + 16.1) / 3 rounds
  • Total: 48.7 DPR (+22% DPR)

The minor decrease in warlock DPR is worth the major increase they can provide to the barbarian.

So is it any good?

To get the most out of giving away your pact weapon, you really should focus on Eldritch Blast instead of melee, at least in the early-mid levels.

The pros

  • Significantly better (+22% DPR) against enemies with resistance to nonmagical weapons.
  • Only requires 2 invocations: Improved Pact Weapon and Agonizing Blast. After those, you can pick a couple utility or flavor invocations without feeling suboptimal.
  • Actually benefits from your ability to conjure any weapon.
  • Doesn't require a feat - you can get +2 CHA or take a flavor feat like Actor (PHB, p. 165).
  • You don't have to go Hexblade. Any of the patrons work well with this build, though only Hexblade lets you change your mind and convert to melee later on.
  • Your party will love you. I know this isn't a tangible benefit, but people love it when you give them stuff. This build lets you do that multiple times per day. For bonus points, let your allies make design requests; after all, you "choose the form that this melee weapon takes each time you create it".

The cons

  • Slightly worse (-10% DPR) against enemies without resistance to nonmagical weapons.
  • Doesn't involve you using the variety of weapons you summon, unless you convert to melee later on.
  • A GWM barbarian is the best case ally for this build. If your party doesn't have any big hitters (barbarian, rogue, PAM, GWM, or Sharpshooter), you might be better off hitting things yourself.
  • If your DM is overly-generous with magic items (or at higher levels where they are commonly found), your weapon summoning doesn't really provide any benefit. If you want to hedge your bets here, you can go Hexblade - use Eldritch Blast until no one needs a magic item, then swap out Agonizing Blast for Thirsting Blade on your next level up.

Example build

Pretty much any Eldritch Blast-based warlock build will work here, but I will assume that you want to hedge your bets with Hexblade and convert to melee later. All spells are from the PHB unless otherwise noted.

  • Base stats after racials (level 1): 16 CHA, 14-16 CON, 14 DEX. Optimally play a variant human and take the Resilient feat (PHB, p. 168) for CON save proficiency. Most of your warlock spells are concentration and you don't have enough spell slots to waste re-casting them if you lose concentration by failing a CON save.
  • By Level 4, you should be a Hexblade Pact of the Blade with Improved Pact Weapon and Agonizing Blast. Raise your CHA by +2 with your first ASI, or take a flavorful feat. Use a shield in one hand and an arcane focus in the other. Get the heaviest medium armor you can - eventually AC 19 with half-plate and a shield. Spells: hellish rebuke, hex, invisibility, shatter, and suggestion.
  • Level 5: take a flavorful invocation, like Mask of Many Faces (PHB, p. 111). If none appeal to you, take Repelling Blast (PHB, p. 111) to push enemies into hazards (like hunger of hadar) or out of reach. Spells: learn hypnotic pattern and swap out shatter for hunger of hadar.
  • Level 6: Spells: learn counterspell.
  • Level 7: take Sculptor of Flesh (PHB, p. 111) for 1/day polymorph. Spells: learn banishment and swap out suggestion for dimension door.
  • Level 8: most of your party has magic weapons by now, so it's time to convert to melee. (You can postpone this until level 12, if you want.) Take the Polearm Master feat. Swap out Agonizing Blast for Thirsting Blade. Spells: learn shadow of moil (XGtE, p. 164; sub mirror image for PHB-only) and swap out hex for elemental weapon. Use a quarterstaff+shield if you want to be tanky, or a glaive if you want reach and more damage.

    ("Drop hex? Are you crazy?" I know, I know, but consider this: PAM lets you attack with a bonus action and hex takes a bonus action to cast and to move to a new enemy. Besides, adding elemental weapon means you can still give out a magic weapon to an ally. Next level, you can give out a +2 to hit +2d4 damage weapon!)
  • Level 9: Take Eldritch Smite. Consider swapping out the invocation you took at Level 5 for Whispers of the Grave (at-will speak with dead; PHB, p. 111) or Ghostly Gaze (1/rest see through walls; XGtE, p. 56). Spells: learn scrying and swap out hunger of hadar for synaptic static (XGtE, p. 167; sub cone of cold for PHB-only).
  • Level 10: No real choices here, since you don't get a new spell or invocation. If there is a spell you find yourself not using, swap it out here.
  • Level 11: Three spell slots - now we're talking! Note that you learn a new 1st-5th level spell in addition to gaining your first Mystic Arcanum. Mystic Arcanum: take mental prison (XGtE, p. 161; sub conjure fey for PHB-only) if you want damage/control, or scatter (XGtE, p. 164; sub true seeing or mass suggestion) if you want utility. You want to pick something here that you will use every day; you can't upcast using your Mystic Arcanum (since they have no slots), and you can't ever switch them out. Choose wisely! Spells: learn hold monster.
  • Level 12: Raise your CHA by +2, or take the Great Weapon Master feat. Take Lifedrinker (PHB, p. 111). (If you chose not to switch over to melee before, now is the time.)

From then on out, your build is complete - take whatever suits you when you get there. For Mystic Arcanum, forcecage (no-save hard control), glibness (basically never fail a CHA check, including counterspell checks), and foresight (be an unstoppable melee machine) are great picks. If you delay (or decide against) converting to melee, just keep hex and don't swap to the other melee invocations.


Overall, this build probably starts slightly worse than a pure melee warlock or a pure EB warlock; however, you shouldn't ever feel behind the curve in a group of new players. After considering the options, I believe that handing off your pact weapon is the most effective way to actually use your ability to summon different weapons.

A footnote on things that don't work:

The designers (either by accident or intent) prevented most of the invocations from applying to someone else wielding your pact weapon. Lifedrinker, Thirsting Blade, and Eldritch Smite work when you do something with your pact weapon. Improved Pact Weapon is the only one that affects the weapon itself and thus works.

A footnote on Dual Wielding vs Polearm Master:

Without the fighting style Two Weapon Fighting (from dipping a level into fighter, for example), you can't add your ability modifier to the off-hand attack while dual wielding. (Polearm Master's bonus action attack doesn't have this limitation.) A Hexblade can use CHA for both their pact weapon and another weapon, but only your pact weapon will benefit from Improved Pact Weapon (gaining a +1 bonus) and, more importantly, Lifedrinker (gaining +CHA damage on each hit).

Feats are taken at level 8. Calculated vs an AC 16 enemy. I am ignoring Hexblade's Curse, since it affects both styles equally.

  • Warlock 9, PAM, +1 glaive: 20.6 DPR
  • Warlock 9, PAM, +1 quarterstaff: 17.6 DPR (and +2 to AC)
  • Warlock 9, DW, +1 longsword & longsword: 16.9 DPR (and +1 to AC)
  • Warlock 8 / Fighter 1, DW, +1 longsword & longsword: 19.5 DPR (and +1 to AC; can't cast 5th level spells yet)

I had to compare these at Level 9 to give the Fighter dip a chance to catch up. Even with a dip into fighter (delaying your spell progression), the Polearm Master wins out. Without it, even quarterstaff + shield wins. If you also find a +1 weapon for your off-hand, dual wielding barely breaks even (but does have a +1 to AC). The situation is worse once Lifedrinker comes into play at Warlock 12.

  • Warlock 13, PAM, +1 glaive: 37.9 DPR
  • Warlock 13, PAM, +1 quarterstaff: 34.5 DPR (and +2 to AC)
  • Warlock 12 / Fighter 1, DW, +1 longsword & +1 longsword: 33.9 DPR (and +1 to AC; can't cast 7th level spells yet)

Finally, none of this takes into account Polearm Master's reaction attack when someone enters your reach.

Anydice script for the DW vs PAM calculations:

AC: 16

output 2d(((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d10+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d10)) + (((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d4+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d4)) named "L9 PAM Lock Pact +1 glaive"
output 2d(((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d6+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d6)) + (((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d4+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d4)) named "L9 PAM Lock Pact +1 staff"
output 2d(((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d8+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) + (((d20+8 >= AC) * (1d8)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) named "L9 DW Lock Pact +1 sword/sword"
output 2d(((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d8+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) + (((d20+8 >= AC) * (1d8+4)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) named "L9 DW Lock Pact +1 sword/sword Fighter Dip"
output 2d(((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d8+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) + (((d20+8+1 >= AC) * (1d8+4+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) named "L9 DW Lock Pact +1 sword/+1 sword Fighter Dip"
output 2d(((d20+10+1 >= AC) * (1d10+5+5+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d10)) + (((d20+10+1 >= AC) * (1d4+5+5+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d4)) named "L13 PAM Lock Pact +1 glaive"
output 2d(((d20+10+1 >= AC) * (1d6+5+5+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d6)) + (((d20+10+1 >= AC) * (1d4+5+5+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d4)) named "L13 PAM Lock Pact +1 staff"
output 2d(((d20+10+1 >= AC) * (1d8+5+5+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) + (((d20+10+1 >= AC) * (1d8+5+1)) + ((d20 = 20) * 1d8)) named "L13 DW Lock Pact +1 sword/+1 sword Fighter Dip"
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a really cool idea that hadn’t occurred to me at all; bravo and much appreciated. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 5 '18 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Thanks, I hadn't considered it either until I saw this question. Another character to throw on my to-play pile! \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes Aug 5 '18 at 23:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I’m thinking it might be really interesting to try to multiclass with artificer in an Eberron campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 5 '18 at 23:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Quick question. Your build does allow for someone to go for races other than humans since it isn't contingent on a feat at level 1, however I'd still argue that a Hexblade should basically never go for using a shield. At level 4 you can pick up the Dual Wielder feat and you now get a crazy boost to damage since you can dual-wield 1d8 weapons and then you ALSO get a +1 to AC while doing so, which reduces the downsides of missing the shield. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Ziluck Aug 6 '18 at 11:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelZiluck (I'm adding this here as well as on your answer for clarity.) Unfortunately, Thirsting Blade only lets you attack twice with your pact weapon, so you can't give it away and use shadow blade. Also, shadow blade and hex are both concentration, so you can't run them both at the same time. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes Aug 6 '18 at 20:34

As unfortunate as it is, chances are the only way you can get maximum output using a melee-based Warlock without being accused of being "cheese" is if you do indeed have access to the Hexblade Patron. That being said, I wrote out the optimal way to deal damage without being gimmicky. For each of these I used point buy to properly spread out stats. However, it is possible to do it using just the standard array.

For all the damage estimates below, I'm going to assume the AC of the target is 15. This is about average for those with heavy armor, and below average for those with a shield.

Just PHB

Race: Human (Variant)
Class: Warlock (Any patron, Pact of the Blade)
Point Buy: 15, 15, 14, 10, 8, 8
After Bonuses: 16 (Str), 16 (Cha), 14 (Con), 10 (Wis), 8 (Int), 8 (Dex)
Feat: Polearm Master

Notes: Going for Strength and Polearm Master is better than going for a Greataxe for instance because it means you get to proc hex twice. Once for the main weapon, and once for the hilt. This even scales nicely since when you get Thirsting Blade as an Eldritch Invocation at level 5, you can still use your Bonus Action for the bash with your hilt. That, and reach weapons are great for casters who use melee weapons since they can still cast spells freely on the target when they aren't in traditional melee range.


Turn 1:

  • Bonus Action: Hex

  • Action: Glaive (1d10 Slashing + 1d6 Necrotic)

  • Average Damage: 5.25 (40% hit × (9.00 Average Roll + 3 Strength)) + (5% Crit × 9.00 Average)

Turn 2 Onward (Same Target):

  • Action: Glaive (1d10 Slashing + 1d6 Necrotic)

  • Bonus Action: Polearm Master Bash (1d4 Bludgeoning + 1d6 Necrotic)

  • Average Damage: 7.95 ((40% Hit × (9.00 Average Roll + 3 Str)) + (5% Crit × 9.00 Average)) + ((40% Hit × 6.00 Average Roll) + (5% Crit × 6.00 Average))


I actually think this is a viable way to play Warlocks and isn't even considered cheese. Humans make pretty fun Warlocks, and being strength based doesn't even cripple your ability to play. You can even make it so you don't dump your other three stats and reduce your constitution a bit to compensate the other stats. For that you point buy you would have 15, 15, 11, 11, 10, 9.

If you want to go more traditional and aren't worried about not getting your feat until level 4, you could go for a Half-Elf and for stats go 15 strength, 14 charisma (which turn into 16 strength, 16 charisma), put your remaining point buy and 1 racial point wherever you want, and then grab Polearm Master at level 4. However, going with Human (Variant) means you can actually +2 your Strength or Charisma at level 4 and still have the feat.

PHB + 1 (XGtE)

Race: Human (Variant)
Class: Warlock (Hexblade Patron, Pact of the Blade)
Point Buy: 15, 15, 13, 11, 9, 8
After Bonuses: 16 (Dex/Str), 16 (Cha), 14 (Con), 12 (Wis), 10 (Int), 9 (Str/Dex)
Feats: Dual Wielder

Invocations: Improved Pact Weapon, Fiendish Vigor (if Strength) or Armor of Shadows (if Dexterity). At level 5, pick up Thirsting Blade. Also at level 5 if you want more damage rather than survivability, get rid of Fiendish Vigor/Armor of Shadows and substitute in Eldritch Smite (for single target) or Maddening Hex (for AOE).

Notes: This is definitely the build that is the least gimmicky and allows you the most options for what to do. It is what I play the most when I'm not a DM and I've spent quite a bit of time tweaking it to find a good balance of things.

Additionally, you might notice that I just have written in "weapon" most places, and that's because this build works for being Strength or Dexterity based. Personally I very much enjoy being Dexterity based, but Strength gives you a lot more flexibility with what weapons you can use, and allows you to do fun things with Grapple, Shove, and the like.

You can use Hex Warrior on a specific weapon in addition to those that are summoned from Pact of the Blade. This means that after you finish a long rest, Hex Warrior can be used on a weapon you use in your off-hand, and then have the pact weapon in your main-hand. As such, you can easily dual-wield and still use your Charisma modifier.


Turn 1:

  • Bonus Action: Hex

  • Action: Pact Weapon Attack (1d8 Physical + 1d6 Necrotic)

  • Average Damage: 5.8 (45% Hit × (8 Average + 3 Str/Dex + 1 Improved Pact Weapon)) + (5% Crit × 8 Average)

Turn 2:

  • Action: Pact Weapon Attack (1d8 Slashing/Bludeoning/Piercing + 1d6 Necrotic)

  • Bonus Action: Other Weapon (1d8 Slashing/Bludeoning/Piercing + 1d6 Necrotic)

  • Average Damage: 9.4 ((45% Hit × (8 Average Roll + 3 Str/Dex + 1 Improved Pact Weapon)) + (5% Crit × 8 Average Roll)) + ((40% Hit × 8 Average Roll) + (5% Crit × 8 Average Roll))


This is a great build with high Charisma (obviously) and allows the flexibility of being either Dexterity or Strength based, depending on your character and your preference. It scales nicely because of what you pick up at level 4 and the fact that you are able to put your ASI into stats rather than a Feat. Also, it opens the window for you to be very dynamic in your play-style since you are still able to fall back on Polearm Master instead of Dual Wielder if you prefer to be at range.

Level 9 Example Build

Starting at Level 3:

Class: Warlock

Race: Human (Variant)

Feat: Dual Wielder


Non-Combat Character Design:

You must already have a character concept in mind, otherwise you wouldn't have posted such a specific question. However, I just want to put in my two cents.

As for why a character might want to swap between weapons, I have a few ideas that I actually might borrow myself later on since they all seem like a blast. They all have a twist on what Charisma is, since I have always disliked the idea the Charisma encompasses everything, and that a high Charisma character always is outgoing, boisterous, etc.

  • Maybe they spent their whole life training in different types of combat before they become a Warlock so they enjoy showing off what they can do. This character would be Charismatic through their pompousness and could end up getting on the nerves of other characters, but would be hilarious if done right to the other players themselves.
  • Maybe they were a wannabe Lore Bard who lived the idea of being a Jack of All Trades. When that didn't work out, they became depressed and started researching ancient magic and stumbled across a Hexblade and then made a pact.
  • Maybe they were just some average person who, no matter how many adventures they go on, is still extremely entertained by the fact that they can summon weapons out of thin air so they never want to settle for just one. If you go with this concept you could even have them grumble in the morning when they have to mark their non-pact weapon with Hex Warrior saying things like, "why do I always have to pick just one for the day."

As for how/why you might do this in combat, different weapons become useful through an encounter. Rangers routinely switch from ranged to melee and back again. The only downside is that you would have to give up your turn. This isn't necessarily a terrible thing. Say for instant you want to confuse your enemy or have a bit of fun. If the opponent has already used their reaction, you could toss your weapon at them (not an attack, just dropping it), run away from them, and then summon a Longbow and start shooting on your next turn.

This is the part that is potentially the most important. DMs already have a lot to keep track of; it's not an easy role. To make your DM's life easier, you could always use a weapon with the same damage die, only switch off at the end/start of a session, or create macros to handle the math for each type of weapon beforehand if you are using something like Roll20. The first option there is probably the best, but it isn't as limiting as you'd think. As it is, most one-handed weapons already use 1d8 for their damage unless it's a light weapon such as Daggers and Shortswords.

Parting Notes

Hexblade offers some of the most flexibility of any class besides Mystic from UA and some multi-class abilities. You can blast people from range or get up in their face with Dual Wielded weapons and put the hurt on. Additionally, if you pick up a +X magic weapon, you can use your pact weapon in your off-hand and your new magic weapon in your main hand which allows you to reap the benefits of Improved Pact Weapon as well as the magic item.

Hope this helps you in the process of making your character! I'd love to hear how it turns out.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Added my edit with a really fleshed out build that allows a lot of flexibility. I personally use it when I am not a DM and have always have a lot of fun with it. \$\endgroup\$ – Michael Ziluck Aug 1 '18 at 15:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MichaelZiluck Excellent; I look forward to it. Also, I should point out, as a high-ranking member of the site who should take responsibility for the rules and expectations here, that “signalling” your edits is frowned upon—please work to just integrate any edits into a cohesive answer. The answer history is always there for those who are interested. See this meta discussion for more info. (Writing something like “at first I was worried about the ability used for the secondary weapon, but it turns out...” is totally fine, though.) \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 1 '18 at 17:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, Thirsting Blade only lets you attack twice with your pact weapon, so you can't give it away and use shadow blade. Also, shadow blade and hex are both concentration, so you can't run them both at the same time. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes Aug 6 '18 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the level 9 character build PHB-only? Otherwise, why would you put your ASI towards Dex and not Cha? \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 7 '18 at 1:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan It uses Shadowblade from XGtE, ASI went to Dex probably because shadowblade itself is a finesse weapon. \$\endgroup\$ – AntiDrondert Aug 7 '18 at 9:05

Okay, so you're looking for getting diversity out of the feature... Then I think there's only one thing for it... Pick up Hexblade, so you can use charisma to attack, regardless of the weapon, and so you have the option of using a shield.

Then you can use a reach weapon if you need to stab someone at 10ft range and wants to stay there, or a whip and shield if that would fit the bill (that 10ft reach can have its uses ;)

If you just want to do damage, EB will always outpace a weapon (if you have Agonizing Blast), but if you carry around a nice shortsword (or cast Shadow Blade) and conjure another out of thin air (or your DM is nice enough to allow you to conjure 2), you could dual wield them for a pretty nice effect (Hex + Hexblade's curse bonus).

For feats, I'd probably pick up Sentinel, because it's always awesome to lock things down and get more attacks and it works with every weapon out there (and with reach, you technically threaten both 5ft away and 10ft. 5ft unarmed and 10ft with the weapon).

Or look at Mobile or even Charger to get more skirmish options. Charger will let you run further and still smack things, though it will clash a bit with certain things as it uses a bonus action, and a lot of your stuff might do that... But mobile is pure awesomeness if you want to skirmish, more movement and less problems for running around (people you attack don't get attacks of opportunity against you).

Or if you're inclined to melee mages, then Mage Slayer is actually pretty nifty; Sure it's immensely specialized, but it's not so much based on the weapon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate your throwing some ideas out there, but I was hoping to see them a little more fleshed out, in terms of their relative merits and what you can do with them. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Aug 1 '18 at 14:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Actually, it needs more specificity and analysis, if you're going to compare it to the second answer. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – nbsp Aug 2 '18 at 10:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, it was the first answer. "First" and "Second" used in this way are ordinal numbers and used in this context, would generally be understood to refer to chronology... \$\endgroup\$ – nbsp Aug 2 '18 at 11:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan While I agree that it could be more fleshed out, I'm happy if you or someone else can just use it as inspiration. \$\endgroup\$ – nbsp Aug 2 '18 at 11:41

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