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A bit ago I asked if this Warlock patron was balanced.

I was told to explain this patron a bit more, so here we go:

The idea of this patron is that you have made a pact with some Lord of the Undead. Unlike the pact of the Undying, this patron has control over supernatural powers, rather than the avoidance of death.

This Warlock is mostly based off of the success of the Path of the Totem Warrior for barbarians, and so it has multiple choices for Warlocks to choose from. Unlike my last version, I will post my full thoughts and intentions for each individual feature, so this will be a rather long read.

You have struck a pact with a great supernatural being, a great lord over the chaotic Undead. The Supernatural rarely make these alliances with the living, but those who do tire of only ruling over the dead and long for the world of the living. You could have been found yourself in the service of a rather ambitious Lich or Demilich, such as Acererak, a powerful Vampire, perhaps even the mysterious Artor Morlin, or Shyressa.

Expanded Spell List

  • 1st level: Ray of Sickness, False Life
  • 2nd level: See Invisibility, Blur
  • 3rd level: Life Transferrence, Feign Death
  • 4th level: Locate Creature, Evard's Black Tentacles
  • 5th level: Telekinesis, Contagion

The next part I'm a bit nervous about:

Unnatural Aura

At first level, creatures sense an unnatural air about you. You are proficient with Intimidation checks, and can deal 1d4 psychic damage to all creatures within 10 ft. of you as a bonus action. You may use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of 1 use) which resets after you complete a short or long rest. At 8th, 10th, and 14th level, the damage increases by 1d4.

To clarify, I meant this to be auto-hit AoE. It levels, too, but d4s and the condition of being within 10 feet is a bit difficult to do with a spellcaster. A bonus action might be too much, but I leave this question up to you.

Supernatural Path

At 1st level, you may choose a supernatural path.

  • Path of the Blix: When you kill a creature, you may regain HP up to the creature's number of hit dice.

A bit of healing wouldn't be bad for the Warlock, I suppose...when you kill a strong creature.

  • Path of the Skeleton: You may reduce damage by 1d8 plus your Warlock level that you take from a single source as a reaction. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Yay! Damage reduction! 1d8 as a reaction is pretty good...

  • Path of the Ghost: As an action, you may become invisible until the start of your next turn. You may use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) before completing a short or long rest.

Great...except it does use up your action, so its basically only a defensive option.

This wraps up all the juicy first-level benefits. Mostly defensive options to choose from, but wait until you see 6th level:

Monstrous Power

At 6th level, you may choose a Monstrous Power, or choose another Supernatural Path.

  • Powers of the Vampire: You are always under the effects of Spider Climb and have a flying speed equal to 10 times your Dexterity modifier. While exposed to sunlight, you have -2 to AC.

Very strong, but don't get caught in sunlight! In my earlier version, this didn't work at all in sunlight. Note: I did not make this give you sunlight sensitivity as certain races can already get that cough Drow cough. As they wouldn't stack, this would be quite OP.

  • Powers of the Zombie: When you are hit by a melee attack, you may use your reaction to use your Unnatural Aura. To do this, you cannot have used the Unnatural Aura this round.

Why go to your enemies when you can let your enemies come to you? This feature is for defense (notice that most of the middle options are).

  • Powers of the Spectre: You may become intangible until the end of your next turn as a bonus action. While intangible, you are immune to all damage besides psychic damage, cannot take actions or bonus actions, and your movement speed is doubled. Usable once per long rest.

While the wording is a tad complex, this can be very good for scouting.

After 6th level, we take a break from having choices at 10th level:

Supernatural Sense

At 10th level, you are incredibly aware of what is happening at any given moment. You cannot be surprised or charmed, and are always under the effect of the Detect Good and Evil spell.

A hyperaware Warlock is quite interesting... good luck sneaking something past this guy. I'm unsure whether this is weak or strong, though.

And now, back to the last choice this Warlock gets to make. 14th level is a powerful time for combat, so:

  • The Count's Legacy: Your Unnatural Aura drains energy from your enemies. When you damage enemies using your Unnatural Aura, you gain temporary hit points equal to the total damage it deals for 1 hour.

Note that temp HP does not stack. This is quite powerful against large swarms of enemies.

  • The Lich's Legacy: As a bonus action, you point to a creature that has died within the last round that also has a equal or lesser number of Hit Dice than you. That creature regains hit points equal to their number of Hit Dice. You control this creature for one hour, after which it returns to life with its current HP. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Complex, but basically a way to revive your companions with no components. Quite powerful, but situational.

  • The Wraith's Legacy: When you deal damage to a creature, their hit point maximum is reduced by the damage you deal. Additionally, if you kill a humanoid, it becomes a Specter under your command. You may have a number of Specters equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum of one) at a time.

All in all, the power of the Wraith. Helpful vs. healing enemies, and good against lots of weak ones, too.

That's all for this Otherworldly Patron. I do hope that it's balanced, but if you find it not to be, please include whether it is underpowered or overpowered, and why.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Does “Path of the Ghost” have the same limitations of the “Invisibility” spell? \$\endgroup\$ – Alk Apr 18 at 23:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ Why do you say Path of the Ghost is only defensive? I could become invisible, then move and attack with advantage \$\endgroup\$ – lucasvw Apr 19 at 11:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good point. It should be an action. I had an answer that said it was weak if it took an action, but I think its pretty even now, especially if you want to get to a good position. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 19 at 12:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ Power of the Vampire - What does 'exposed to sunlight' mean? Does shade count, meaning can you wear a hat to negate it? What about wrapping yourself in a thin sheet? What if it's cloudy outside? \$\endgroup\$ – Percival Apr 19 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Having a bit at the end of the question where you made it explicit what you were asking would help. Making it clear what the context is would also help. Are you trying to build this for general usage? Is it intended as an additional option in a new campaign? Is it being designed for a specific player? \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden Apr 19 at 15:38
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Given that you're trying to make a Warlock patron, I'm going to compare the features provided to those of the other warlock patrons to determine balance.

1st Level Comparison

There are six canon patrons you can find in the Player's Handbook, Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide, and Xanathar's Guide to Everything. The six 1st level powers they provide (and a rough description of them) are:

Archfey: Fey Presence (Charm or frighten nearby enemies for 1 turn)

Celestial: Two bonus cantrips and Healing Light (Small pool of healing magic)

Fiend: Dark One's Blessing (gain temporary hit points when you kill someone)

Great Old One: Awakened Mind (Short-range telepathy)

Hexblade: Hexblade's Curse (Curse one enemy for 1 minute) and Hex Warrior (Proficiency with more armor and weapons, and can use Charisma to attack with one weapon)

Undying: Among the Dead (a bonus cantrip, advantage on diseases, and something similar to protection from good and evil, but only for undead)

To this, we compare your features: Unnatural Aura (autohit AOE of a damage type most can't resist), and one of the Path features- the character's choice of Path of the Blix (heal a small amount when you kill someone), Skeleton (effectively ignore one hit per rest), or Ghost (1 round of invisibility).

Path of the Blix is similar to Dark One's Blessing- in fact, it's close enough that it implies a problem with your first level abilities. Namely, the Path features are strong enough on their own that also having the Unnatural Aura is unbalanced. That's leaving aside the autodamage, which is itself unbalanced- if it were a cantrip, it would be one of the stronger ones, if not the strongest.

It's my opinion that the patrons of Xanathar's Guide suffer from a bit of power creep, but regardless, their range of powers is closest to yours in scope. If you want to scale down, I'd suggest keeping the Intimidation proficiency but changing the aura's damage so that it either provides a saving throw or only affects one opponent at a time. Another option is to change the damage type (perhaps even linking the damage type to one of the paths). Either way, a proficiency, spell-like ability, and a cantrip-like power would match up to the Hexblade or the Celestial patrons.

Looking at the path powers specifically, the Path of the Blix is, as mentioned, pretty close to the Dark One's Blessing; the Path of the Skeleton is effectively a shield (in that it will negate a low-level attack); and the Path of the Ghost is a low-powered invisibility spell. All of these are roughly of the same power level and mesh pretty well with other 1st level patron features.

6th Level Comparison

The 6th level patron features are as follows:

Archfey: Misty Escape (react to damage with a combination of misty step and 1-round invisibility)

Celestial: Radiant Soul (resist radiant damage and add Charisma to certain damage rolls)

Fiend: Dark One's Own Luck (add 1d10 to a single ability check or save)

Great Old One: Entropic Ward (Impose disadvantage on an attack against you and gain advantage if it misses)

Hexblade: Accursed Specter (Summon one specter from a downed enemy)

Undying: Defy Death (Spare the dying and successful death saves heal you)

Again, we'll compare your features: Powers of the Vampire (permanent 2nd level spell, plus flight, but also lose AC), Zombie (if hit, deal autodamage from Unnatural Aura as a reaction), and Spectre (intangible and practically immune to damage for 1 round).

At this level, it appears that a character should either be gaining the equivalent of a 3rd level spell-like ability (see Misty Escape) or the equivalent of a strong Invocation (i.e. Radiant Soul). The vampiric powers are much stronger than this, though the penalty is also quite hefty... if easily circumvented with spells such as darkness. I'd suggest dropping the flight and the penalty, especially considering that flight powers in 5th edition aren't normally configured in the manner you have (they tend to have flat speeds, with 30 being the norm for a player character).

The power of the Zombie is actually underpowered, all else held equal- while the Aura is unbalanced, all the zombie power does is change the use from a bonus action to a reaction. It also doesn't have much to do with zombies. I'd suggest using an ability more reminiscent of the zombie's Fortitude feature- the first time the warlock is dropped to 0 hit points, they drop to 1 hit point instead.

As for the Spectre ability, it's considerably stronger than (if of shorter duration) gaseous form, a similar 3rd level spell, which suggests that it's overpowered. The easiest way to tone it down is to reduce the damage immunity to damage resistance, although I'd also suggest taking a page from the 5e specter and making travel through objects and people count as difficult terrain while intangible. Instead of saying that a warlock using the power of the Spectre cannot use actions, say that activating the ability itself is an action.

10th Level Comparison

The 10th level patron features are:

Archfey: Beguiling Defenses (my personal favorite- not only immune to charms, but can charm the attacker as a reaction)

Celestial: Celestial Resilience (Warlock and party all gain temporary hit points after every rest)

Fiend: Fiendish Resilience (one damage resistance of choice, changeable every rest)

Great Old One: Thought Shield (immune to telepathy and a psychic version of fire shield)

Hexblade: Armor of Hexes (The Hex Curse gets stronger; ignore roughly half of the accursed's attacks)

Undying: Undying Nature (No longer require air, food, water, or sleep, age more slowly, immune to magical aging)

Your suggested feature at this level is Supernatural Sense: Immunity to charms and surprises, and a constant 1st level divination spell. This is, if anything, underpowered. Every other patron at this level provides a potent defense of some sort- the closest match is Beguiling Defense, since it also provides immunity to charms, but also allows you to effectively reflect them. Rather than provide the divination effect, I'd suggest adding a unique aspect to your warlock that suggests the immunities of the undead, such as an immunity to fear. Barring that, you could increase the effect of the Unnatural Aura so that creatures within its radius must save against a fear effect themselves.

14th Level Comparison

The powers provided by the various patrons are:

Archfey: Dark Delirium (Hard to describe briefly, but effectively a combination of charm monster and banishment)

Celestial: Searing Vengeance (The first time you make a death saving throw, you instantly recover half your health and simultaneously let loose an effect similar to dawn)

Fiend: Hurl Through Hell (A creature you hit disappears for 1 turn, returning with up to 100 points of psychic damage)

Great Old One: Create Thrall (Automatically charm an incapacitated foe indefinitely)

Hexblade: Master of Hexes (You can move your curse to another if the accursed dies)

Undying: Indestructible Life (Use a bonus action to instantly regain health and partially regenerate)

Compared to these, we have your three options: The Count's Legacy (Unnatural Aura gains a vampiric aspect), The Lich's Legacy (Dead creature comes back to life as a thrall), and The Wraith's Legacy (a traditional negative energy effect, combined with the ability to create specters).

The Count's Legacy is only powerful if the Unnatural Aura is; should you decide to nerf the aura, this ability will also be reduced. You may be better served detaching the Unnatural Aura from this feature, such as by gaining a number of temporary hit points whenever you make a successful spell attack.

The Lich's Legacy doesn't have much to do with lichdom, but the power itself does compare favorably to other 14th level features. It in fact looks an awful lot like the feature provided by the Great Old One, altered appropriately to fit with an undead motif.

The Wraith's Legacy seems to be a more powerful version of the 6th level Hexblade ability, Accursed Specter. This is all to the good, and the Wraith's Legacy seems to fit best within the framework you've setup, making this my favorite feature of your patron. The only issue I see is that the damage is unspecified (as is what happens to the other specters once you have your maximum number) meaning that, for example, you could wreak havoc in a town by dropping a circle of death on a group of peasants, turning them all into specters and retaining control of only a handful of them.

Beyond balance, you'll also want to take a close look at the way you phrase the powers. The rule of thumb in 5th edition is that spells in particular and every other rule in general does exactly what it says it does, and nothing more. The less specific you are in your descriptions, then, the more open for abuse those powers become. Just food for thought-- depending on play style, you may want to encourage outside-the-box thinking.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This was very helpful; I definitely revise the Unnatural Aura so that it does not have a save, but a limited set of targets, and revise some Zombie features. I'll try to fix some phrasing issues as well. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 20 at 12:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheCentaur Most wraiths don't have AOE spells available. \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog Apr 20 at 16:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ummm...yes? That is correct. What is your point? There is a maximum of 5 specters you can have at a time. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 20 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you kill an additional humanoid, as written, nothing would happen to the body, and it does not become a specter. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur Apr 20 at 20:38

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