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
    Commented Jul 23, 2018 at 10:42

6 Answers 6


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 used this AnyDice script for these calculations. The Summary tab is the best way to look at the data.)

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.


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.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Remember pact weapons do force damage \$\endgroup\$
    – Efialtes
    Commented Mar 12, 2020 at 11:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Efialtes: Since when? They count as magical for overcoming resistance/immunity, but it says nothing about converting to force damage. Damage from the Eldritch Smite invocation or the Eldritch Blast cantrip is force damage, but general pact weapon damage remains the normal piercing/slashing/bludgeoning the weapon would do. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 15, 2022 at 3:26

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.

  • 1
    \$\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
    Commented Aug 1, 2018 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
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 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
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 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
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 11:41

The trick to versatility is that its benefits aren't readily apparent, as opposed to the immediate and obvious advantages of specialization. Which is why dedicated martial classes tend to focus on a particular weapon type with their Fighting Styles and associated feats. The fact of the matter is that you are never going to be as good at any one thing as a purpose-built character doing that thing. However, you will be better than anyone else at it and you can't really be taken "out of your element" in any situation.

For starters, as has been stated by others in this thread, taking the Hexblade subclass and Improved Pact Weapon invocation are both your best options for getting the most out of your Blade Pact. Being able to arm and armor yourself like a dedicated martial class without the hangups normal casters would have in doing so is a priceless commodity. Likewise, you can't be permanently disarmed, meaning that in situations where this might happen to your party, this is at worst a temporary inconvenience whereas the true martialists (with a few rare exceptions) would be severely crippled.

In my own experience, I ran a Hexblade/Divine Soul with a few cantrips from the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. I know you want to keep your additional books to a minimum, but if you want to make your weapons reliably cause more damage than Eldritch Blast, then Booming Blade and Green-Flame Blade are your best bets. Like EB, the Blades scale with your level and since their damage stacks with the weapon's original damage, they will very quickly reach the previously-touted goal of "outpacing EB + Agonizing Blast" in terms of output. It'll still take your entire action to inflict one attack, but that one attack will deal several damage dice and cost you nothing beyond the risk inherent in moving into melee. Also there's the Eldritch Smite and Hexblade's Curse to consider if you really, really need something dead as quickly as possible. Again, going back to my own character, I ran a Half-Elf with Elven Accuracy for the third d20 on Advantage, which you get from your free knockdown provided by ES and stacks nicely with the Expanded Critical Range from Hexblade's Curse. You also get it from Hold Person, so be sure to pick that up if there isn't a dedicated caster in the party.

Now, as for WHY you would want to invest in weapon diversity, well, that's really a matter of the sort of character you're playing. The primary reason that springs to my mind is that you might be trying to hide the fact that you're a Warlock at all. And with good reason, if your DM is playing true to form, Warlocks are as a general rule not welcome anywhere. On the other hand, if you pass yourself off as merely an extraordinary sell-sword, you can get in pretty much anywhere. There's also the utility to consider, but that's a matter of niche situations. Sure, an Eldritch Blast can do (slightly) more damage than a longbow (but not a Heavy Crossbow, which IPW lets you use), but what it can't do is pin a zip-line (or somebody's foot) or start a fire from a distance. Also, there's always the distinct satisfaction of being able to whack something with a greatsword, maul or greataxe, especially knowing that as a caster, you really have no business doing so ordinarily.

Also! IPW's ranged weapon options mean that you are the only class that can perform a ranged Smite (with a no-save knockdown), since ES's only caveat is that you are wielding your Pact Weapon when you perform it. Which is great for use against demons, devils, angels, small dragons, and other flying annoyances. If they happen to survive, then you can switch to your melee weapon as you run over to beat it with the aforementioned cantrips until they don't.

Regarding spells, I'm not sure what to recommend since you'll be wanting to conserve your spell slots for Smites. They're all more or less comparable given your terrible limit of options. Personally, I went with Armor of Agathys and Hellish Rebuke for survivability and also so that I can be dealing damage even when it wasn't my turn, but that was on a character that was multi-classed with Sorcerer and consequently had the spell slots to spare on that kind of absurdity.

TL;DR, the advantage of weapon versatility is having options, which is something you don't know you need until you need them, at which point you REALLY need them. Also, there's the fun factor to consider. Also, yes, Hexblade really is the trick to making the most of your Pact of the Blade, assuming you don't want to multiclass. As far as I can see, that seems to be the whole reason for porting the class to 5th edition.


I suspect I'm a bit late for the OP, but I came across this due to a warlock in my group having questions and thought I might take a moment to note that not all excellent choices result in optimal damage. In my experience, the best part about the pact of the blade is not that you can simply summon a weapon. The point of the pact blade is not just to optimize or have a reason to change weapons often. Rather, that you can transform almost any magical weapon you find into your pact weapon, thus granting yourself proficiency and keeping it handy even if the rogue lands everyone in jail. The flexibility is wonderful when it comes to random loot, as any non-sentient weapon that is anywhere from common to legendary could be yours.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Any one weapon, which sort of limits how useful this really is. I guess you could take the fighter’s sword and let them take yours, figuring their sword is better and/or it’s more important they have it than you have yours. But that’s a pretty niche situation. Beyond that, I’m not seeing a lot of utility, unless I am missing something. (But I did explicitly say it doesn't have to be about damage—it just has to be something uniquely useful about pact of the blade, that justifies this approach to combat over others. So this could be the right idea (+1), but it feels very niche to be. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 11:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ The ability to take a +1 weapon, or even a vorpal sword into a jail, throne room, negotiation.. it's not just the statistics of the thing, but the utility that it provides. It is better as a hex blade, but can certainly come in handy for others. Between this and shadow blade, one warlock could arm a small force. Perhaps this comes up more in my games due to the number of players that practice the five finger discount. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibby
    Commented Jun 19, 2022 at 11:54

You can try a Whispers Bard/Hexblade multiclass.

  • Both classes rely on Charisma, Hexblade allows you to use you charisma for attack/damage bonuses
  • Jack of All trades covers for anything you couldn't do before as a Warlock. At level 9 its a +2 to anything you aren't proficient in.
  • Psychic Blades: At Bard6/Warlock3, you'll be able to use your pact weapon to lay on Pyschic Blades damage (3d6 by this point). This is useful on whatever weapon you might need for the situation (remember that some melee weapons also have a ranged component: dagger, javelin, spear, trident, etc). You can't use Psychic Blades on EB.
  • Hold on to custom Weapons: though you could also have a custom weapon made for you. Ex: I had a Dao make me a +1 dagger with a whistle attached to it. It's an instrument so I can use it as a spell focus for my Bard spells. I can't lose it, because it shunts into space if I'm away from it for a minute.

Espionage would be a great use for this class. A weapon you can stow away in a subspace, or create on the fly, would be useful for tightly guarded areas. Pact weapons can be used silently, as opposed to Eldritch Blast, which could give you away like a gun shot. Ex: A dagger that does charisma damage +3d6 and can be called back into the shadows, in case it misses or doesn't kill.

Outside of combat: Take Mask of Many Faces for one of your invocations, as well as the actor feat and expertise in deception (I was able to get a Deception score of +13 at level 9, which goes to +23 with advantage if you use Mantle of Whispers and the Actor feat.) Use spells like Charm Person, Suggestion, Detect Thoughts, and class feats Words of Terror and Mantle of Whispers to put NPCs where you want them.

In combat: Use spells like Hypnotic Pattern, Phantasmal Force, and Major/Minor Illusion for crowd control. Hide in the blind spots or create Darkness (if you take Devil's Sight) to attack with advantage close range or Long range (with Eldritch Blast)

If you have a DM that will let you, you can use Deception in combat to confuse enemies and give you an easier fight. Ex: I was able to control a chimera because I killed the handler, stole her shadow, and used the chimera against the boss of the dungeon.

Try it out!

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ None of this seems to take advantage of the fact that a Pact of the Blade warlock can conjure any weapon. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Dec 10, 2019 at 21:31

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