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One of my players wanted to play a Hexblade warlock with a different flavor, I made this feature to replace the Hexblade's Curse feature (XGtE, p. 55).

The feature:

Master of the Elements

Starting at 1st level, you gain the ability to change the damage of any spell you cast to cold, thunder, or lightning damage. You may use this feature a number of times equal to your Charisma modifier. You regain all expended uses after a long rest.

I'm not sure if it is too overpowered or underpowered. Nothing else about the subclass has changed.

My other option is to give them thunderous smite instead of wrathful smite if this is too OP.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this asking about balance with or without multiclassing? There's stuff that works fine for single-class-only that will result in major shenanigans in a multiclass game. \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden May 3 at 18:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am allowing multi classing, this player is going to be a warlock-bard. \$\endgroup\$ – Josiah Riggan May 3 at 19:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ This conversation has been moved to chat. chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/93205/… \$\endgroup\$ – Josiah Riggan May 3 at 19:30
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It's probably underpowered, but we can't tell yet

There's some fringe cases where this feature could be quite useful. For example, if you multiclassed into a single level of Tempest Cleric, the ability to deal max-possible damage for any spell once per short rest via their Chanel Divinity (up to Charisma mod times per day) could be quite appealing. But all things considered, this feature is likely underpowered compared to Hexblade's Curse. First, I'll explain why Hexblade's Curse is likely more beneficial for a Warlock, and then I'll briefly explain why the overall balance of this feature is hard to judge as written.

Be the best at what you do

An important feature the Hexblade's Curse is that it helps them be better at what they're built to do well. A Warlock has the best attacking cantrip in the game, which invocations can make even better, that attacks multiple times at higher levels. Hexblades also gain the ability to use Charisma to make melee attacks. All of this comes together to mean that the class is likely to be attacking often (at close range or from a distance).

In addition to a small healing boost, Hexblade's Curse adds a constant amount of damage (that increases as you level up) to every instance of damage against a single target, be it from attacks or spells, and doubles your chance of critical hits on attack rolls. That's useful for a class that may be attacking often, and casting damaging leveled spells from time to time. Your proposed feature would be useful at getting around certain resistances or immunities (and the multiclass synergy mentioned above), but not for much else. Add this to the fact that Eldritch Blast does one of the least resisted forms of damage (Force), and you've got a feature that is helping this class get around a problem it didn't really have.

However, even if this feature is extremely useful in your particular campaign (maybe you have enemies who are all vulnerable to thunder damage, or resistant to necrotic), the balance of this feature would still be hard to gauge. That's because Hexblade's Curse is not designed to be a single feature: it's a part of the class that evolves over time.

What will this do at later levels?

Many of the Hexblade's features are built around making its Hexblade's Curse stronger at higher levels. Not only does the damage bonus increase with your proficiency, but the 10th and 14th level class features are specifically designed to add features to Hexblade's Curse. So what happens now as the character levels up? You'll need to propose new 10th and 14th features to let us know that. Without those 10th and 14th level features, we cant' judge the overall balance of Master of Elements.

Your feature needs some more careful wording

Finally, Master of Elements is somewhat hard to judge because its exact limits and nature is unclear. As written, it allows you to:

change the damage of any spell you cast to cold, thunder, or lightning damage

There's no limits on this change as written (to only one damage roll, one round, or one casting), which raises several questions. Are you changing the nature of the spell, so will this spell still do this new damage type the next time you cast it? If not, what if it's a concentration spell like Hex or Hunger of Hadar: will the change last for the spell's entire duration? And what if the spell originally did more than one kind of damage: can you change one part of the spell's damage to cold and the other to thunder, or do you have to change the entire spell's damage to one type?

Depending on the answer to any or all of these questions, the balance of this class feature might change. The ability to overcome a resistance or immunity (especially to Necrotic damage, which is one of the Warlocks more common types of damage done by its spells) could be quite useful. But without some clarifying of the nature of this feature, and some more clearly defined ways this feature grows with the character, its balance is impossible to fully assess.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What about the flip side of bypassing immunities/resistances? That seems pretty powerful for some spells - but probably depends on what monsters get thrown at the party. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 3 at 18:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Tempest clerics can also push an enemy back 10 feet when they hit with lightning. With the Repelling Blast invocation, lightning eldritch blast could push an enemy back 40 feet without a save at level 5 (up to 80 feet by level 17). \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes May 3 at 18:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ If this was at-will rather than cha-per-day it would be seriously OP for multiclass Eldritch Blast-optimization builds. Add in some Tempest Cleric, add in some Blue Dragon Sorceror.... \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Barden May 3 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Good question. I've tried to address that a couple of places now (with the fact that Eldritch Blast's Force damage is rarely resisted, and the acknowledgement that in certain campaigns the ability to get around resistance/ take advantage of vulnerability could be useful). Ultimately, I think Hexblade is still more useful, but it's worth considering. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme May 3 at 18:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ChrisStarnes A reminder: the Tempest Cleric only gets that feature at level 6. So you'd need to be at least level 8 (2 levels of Warlock for the Invocations) before this combination came into play. That's quite a bit of multiclassing for the ability to push an extra 10 feet per attack. It could be crucial, but I'd hardly call it OP for a 6 level investment. \$\endgroup\$ – Gandalfmeansme May 3 at 18:59

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