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In D&D 5e's Warlock flavor, it would make sense that incredibly powerful (i.e. > level 20) spellcasters could become the patrons. So, in preparation for a new campaign (with my DM's permission), I am creating a new Magister warlock subclass. It essentially hinges on my Warlock being taught in some way by a more powerful caster.

Before I play this campaign (and possibly future campaigns, if it proves balanced), I would like to see how balanced this is, so as to avoid having to change the features throughout the campaign.

Here it is:

The Magister

You have made a pact with the spirit of an exceptionally powerful mage who draws from unfathmable vestiges of magical power, and you have gained further arcane knowledge through their tutorship.

Magister's Spell List

When you choose this path at first level, you may choose the type of spellcaster you are learning from. The spells on the corresponding spell list count as Warlock spells for you, and you always have them known.

Wizard Spells

  • 1st Level: Magic Missile

  • 2nd Level: Blur

  • 3rd Level: Major Image

  • 4th Level: Greater Invisibility

  • 5th Level: Wall of Force

Sorcerer Spells

  • 1st Level: Chaos Bolt

  • 2nd Level: Aganazzar's Scorcher

  • 3rd Level: Haste

  • 4th Level: Banishment

  • 5th Level: Cloudkill

Warlock Spells

  • 1st Level: Hex

  • 2nd Level: Invisibility

  • 3rd Level: Hunger of Hadar

  • 4th Level: Shadow of Moil

  • 5th Level: Synaptic Static

Okay. This is a pretty big deviation from the typical "expanded spell list," but if you think about it, the flavor works. This patron has taught you these spells from its own experience, not just granted you the chance to learn them.

Lesser Mystic Arcanum

At 1st level, the Magister has taught you a magical secret called an arcanum. Choose a 1st-level spell from the Warlock spell list as this arcanum.

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

At higher levels, you gain more warlock spells of your choice that can be cast in this way: one 2nd-level spell at 3rd level, one 3rd-level spell at 5th level, one 4th-level spell at 7th level, and one 5th-level spell at 9th level.

This is the defining feature of this subclass. Usually, Warlocks begin getting Mystic Arcanums at 11th level, to offset their lack of spell slots, but this feature grants you a few low-level ones at the lower levels (1-5). This gives this Warlock a bit of a safety net of one-time-use spells.

Strategic Spell

At 6th level, when you cast a Warlock spell, you may use a bonus action to Dash or Disengage.

This gives the average Warlock some ways to escape combat easily, but then again, what self-respecting (non-Hexblade) Warlock would find themselves in melee? Dash, however, is a very practical option, and may be too overpowered. Should I only allow the Disengage option? Or perhaps I should include Dodge instead?

Eldritch Weave

At 10th level, you can use your action to weave a web of magic around yourself. For 1 minute, you gain temporary HP equal to twice your Warlock level, and your concentration cannot be broken until you lose all of these temporary hit points. Once you use this feature, you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.

Some potent defensive magic, much like other Warlock features at 10th level.

Greater Mystic Arcanum

At 14th level, you gain the ability cast your 1st-level Mystic Arcanum at-will. At 18th level, you may cast your 2nd-level Mystic Arcanum at-will.

The capstone ability for this subclass stacks at 18th level, and allows you to cast (probably utility) spells at-will, from a very limited (cough) Warlock Spell List (cough) list of options. Additionally, it hinges on an ability you selected a LONG time ago, back at first and third levels.

Is this homebrew warlock patron balanced against the other Otherworldly Patrons?

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  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ @Downvoters. We are currently discussing how homebrew questions can be improved. If you have an issue with this question please see why are my homebrew questions being downvoted and are we satisfied with the state of homebrew review questions. Your opinion is appreciated as we try to improve this style of question. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin May 20 at 5:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I typically upvote homebrew questions and discourage downvoting (see my above comment). However in this case I downvoted after answering. This is so far from balanced that you clearly haven't tried to test or compare it to other classes yourself. Read this meta post on why that makes this not a great question. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin May 20 at 6:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Casters with level greater than 20 aren't very well defined in the D&D 5e rules, if at all. I am looking at the DMG boons and discussions about life after reaching level 20, and feel that if you got rid of that bit in the beginning it would remove part of the various issues in this question. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 20 at 15:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ This isn't related to balance (hence why it's a comment, not an answer), but flavor-wise it seems strange to me that a warlock who gets their power from relatively squishy, back-line casters would have so many abilities that help them cast from melee. I would expect more flexibility and less melee survivability for a warlock who got their power from a wizard than one who got their power from a demon. \$\endgroup\$ – divibisan May 20 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ To those who pointed out my error in Magister's Spell List: I meant to include that "these spells don't count towards your number of known spells. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur May 21 at 1:08
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This answer is going to come off as extremely negative. Unfortunately that is my best analysis of the class. So before I get into I want to say; I love the theme of what you were going for. A patron that could be a level 20 character from a previous campaign is great. I also don't want to discourage you from homebrewing stuff in general, this class has a lot of issues though and I felt it was necessary to point them out.


This is unbalanced and breaks the style of warlock patrons

This patron makes such a departure from the typical structure of a warlock patron that it is somewhat difficult to assess in balance terms. My gut says it is very over-powered and I will try to go through each feature to explain why. Note; this analysis is focused on comparing it to other patrons not the entire warlock class.

Expanded Spell List

A standard feature of warlock patrons that you have re-interpreted, both in good and bad ways. Overall your version is overpowered and needs to be fixed.

Spell List As Spells Known

The PHB patrons get access to 2 spells of each level from 1st to 5th. They are simply added to the spell list and do not add to spells known. The celestial and hexblade patrons from XGtE only get access to 1 spell of each level but they still do not count as known spells.

Expanding the spells known of the warlock is completely against the design of all other patrons. This part of the feature is completely broken and needs to be removed.

@illustro points out that as worded this does not add additional spells known but instead forces the warlock to learn those spells. If this is the case then this feature is actually extremely weak, far worse than any of the other patron spell list options.

Choice of spell list

The choice of three different lists based on the spellcasting class of the patron is a cool thematic choice. However all three lists contain spells that are already available to the base warlock. The warlock list is worse than useless, while major image from the wizard list and banishment from the sorcerer list are already available to warlocks.

I would like to see this feature remain but it needs work on the spells chosen. I would drop the warlock list and a add bard, and/or druid list instead.

Lesser Mystic Arcanum

Nope. This feature is entirely broken. At 9th level your warlock has an additional 5 spell slots per day above and beyond their typical 3 per short rest. Not all warlock spells benefit from up-casting and having them in lower level slots does not sufficiently reduce their power. Giving this many additional spells is way, way stronger than anything any of the other patrons give at this level or at any level.

There is no point even comparing this to the other patrons in detail. In summary it is very overpowered and needs to be removed entirely.

Strategic Spell

This one isn't too bad. Rogues and monks already have access to this feature. However it does go against the normal style of the warlock. Apart from the celestial patron every other patron grants a once per short rest ability not an always on feature. By not being limited to pact slots this feature works on cantrips and is therefore infinite.

To answer your follow up questions, removing Dash makes no real difference, Disengage and Dash are about equal. And no; you absolutely should not include Dodge. Dodge is way stronger than either of the others, there is a reason rogue's cunning action does not include it.

This feature is likely a little overpowered due to unlimited uses, but only when compared to the other warlock patrons. Overall this feature is not game-breaking given you should be at range anyway.

Eldritch Weave

At first this one seems ok, but it is likely overpowered. Gaining temporary hitpoints is very similar to the Celestial Resistance feature of that patron, though that one allows you to also protect other creatures.

The issue with this feature is the additional feature: "your concentration cannot be broken until you lose all of these temporary hit points". This is extremely strong. Spellcasters typically take entire feats (War Caster, Resilient (Con)) just to buff their concentration checks. Your feature is negating them entire for a minute.

Yes, this benefit ends early if you get hit enough. But, at a minimum of 20HP and increasing every level this will take a few rounds. Assuming you are concentrating on some disabling spell like hold person or similar it might be impossible for the enemy to deal enough damage to break this before your party takes out your target.

This feature is overpowered and should be changed.

Greater Mystic Arcanum

If the early version of this feature wasn't so utterly unbalanced this would almost be fine. However; it isn't, and neither is this. At will hex at 14th level, then suggestion at 18th level is very powerful.

In fact this feature is exactly eqivilent to the 18th level Spell Mastery feature of the wizard, barring some flexibility. No other patron gets a feature anything like this. Several only get a single once per long rest ability.

At will casting of leveled spells is normally restricted to Eldritch Invocations. Allowing it in addition to those completely breaks the style and design of the Warlock. This is utterly unbalanced and needs to be removed.

Conclusion

Scrap the whole thing. The features are almost all overpowered and don't suit the style of the Warlock at all. Any one of the features (bar Strategic Spell) would be enough to make this class overpowered. Added together this is completely busted.

You are adding flexibility by increasing spells known with your 1st level features, and you are increasing overall power level by giving out way more spell slots. This Warlock is so much better than the others there is almost no reason to look at them unless you want to be a melee fighter.

Back to the drawing board for this one.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I see your point on many of these features, so I may salvage what I can and post a completely re-vamped version (probably with a traditional spell list). On Lesser Mystic Arcanum: I may move this to be in the place of Eldritch Weave, so that it scales along with the normal Mystic Acranums. I will also weaken the 14th-level ability accordingly. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur May 21 at 1:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheCentaur Those changes will likely be a major improvement. Before posting another version however I do suggest you carefully compare each feature to the other warlock patrons at that level. Check for similar style of feature as well as power level. That is the most reliable way to check the balance of a subclass. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin May 21 at 1:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I will be sure to do so. Check back in a couple days and I should have it ready. \$\endgroup\$ – TheCentaur May 21 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ To which Patrons are you comparing in your analysis? (Or do ypu only compare it to the Celestial one?) \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 21 at 7:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu all patrons from phb and xgte. Normally I would explicitly call out each feature for comparison but this homebrew was so far away from the others there was no reasonable comparison. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin May 21 at 8:59
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This subclass is overpowered, but thematically nice

I like the idea of this patron a lot. Linking it to the position of The Magister in Forgotten Realms lore is a nice thematic addition that fits in well with the other Patrons.

It needs a good bit of work to make it balanced, but I think it could be made to work.

Magister's Spell List

The current wording

The spells on the corresponding spell list count as Warlock spells for you, and you always have them known.

lacks the standard qualifier "These spells don't count against your number of spells known" (See the Pact of the Chain feature for an example). As a result these spells will count against the Warlocks known spells. If this wasn't what was intended then you need to add the clarifier (though this will likely make the feature overpowered if you do add the qualifier).

The effect is, that at 1st level, 3rd level, 5th level, 7th level & 9th level the Warlock gains the spell from the Magister patron instead of being able to choose a new spell.

Thematically this is nice and fits with what the subclass is intending to do. It does remove quite a bit of flexibility from the Warlock at those levels, and thus is weaker than the other patron spell lists in some ways (though it depends on exactly which spells you add to the patron's list!).

The Warlock list is redundant and limiting. I'd suggest adding in a Bard (as the "missing" non-warlock Arcane caster).

Lesser Mystic Arcanum

Adding the ability to cast spells 1/day is normally restricted to invocations. Adding it here is effectively the same as giving the Warlock an extra invocation (with additional flexibility of being able to choose the spell).

The net effect is a Warlock with 5 extra invocations by level 9.

This feature is overpowered as a result. It should be significantly altered to reduce the number of additional spells, and restrict what those spells are.

Strategic Spell

I like this feature. I would limit it to being used when a spell slot is expended though, to limit the number of times it can be used during an adventuring day.

Eldritch Weave

This feature is very broken. By 20th level being able to take 40 HP of damage and guarantee maintaining concentration is way too powerful an ability. Messing around with concentration is specifically warned against by the designers, and is something that requires quite a bit of playtesting.

Rules and game elements that override the rules for concentration, reactions, bonus actions, and magic item attunement can seriously unbalance or overcomplicate your game.

(Chapter 9 DMG)

Greater Mystic Arcanum

This feature is comparatively weak compared to the Lesser Mystic Arcanum feature, but is still overpowered compared to the regular subclass options granted by patrons. It effectively turns two one use invocations into unlimited use invocations.

It is unbalanced on two levels:

  • You get an extra patron feature at level 18 (which no other patron gives)

  • All the other 14th level patron features are limited to once per long/short rest, this is not.

You might be better off changing this to be a single spell that the Warlock can cast once per long/short rest. The level of the substituted spell should be balanced against how potent the other 14th level patron features are.

Conclusion

In order to make this balanced against other patrons within the class this homebrew needs significant alterations as a number of the features are so good that any Warlock in your campaign would be silly not to take this patron.

How would I change it to make it more balanced?

The Eldritch Weave ability I would change to better align with the 6th level features from either the Abjuration Wizard or the War Wizard subclasses, which seem to thematically fit with what you are going for.

If that doesn't fit, I would change it to gaining you advantage on concentration checks while you have those temporary hitpoints. I would also reduce the level of those temporary hitpoints to be equal to your Warlock level. This way you are doing something similar to the Celestial patron, but you are sacrificing the " + your Charisma modifier" in temporary hitpoints, in return for the advantage on concentration checks.

I would change the two Mystic Arcanum features to incorporate a feature that is thematically appropriate to The Magister. This feature has been taken from a published adventure and reworded. It is enclosed in spoiler text to avoid spoilers for the reader.

Lesser Spellfire

At 1st level you gain

Spellfire (Recharges after a Long Rest). Magical, heatless, silver fire harmlessly erupts from you and surrounds you until you incapacitated or until you use an action to quench it. You gain one of the following benefits of your choice, which lasts until the silver fire ends:

Temporary Buffs:

  • Buff Option 1

    You can breathe underwater

  • Buff Option 2

    You can survive without food and water

  • Buff Option 3

    You are immune to magic that would ascertain your thoughts, truthfulness, alignment or creature type

  • Buff Option 4

    You gain resistance to cold damage, and you are unharmed by temperatures as low as −50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Expanded Spellfire

At 14th level the power of your spellfire feature is enhanced by your patron.

While the silver fire is present, you have the following additional action options:

  • Action Option 1:

    Cast the cure wounds spell. The target regains 1d8 + 5 hit points. After you takes this action, roll a d6. On a roll of 1, the silver fire disappears.

  • Action Option 2:

    Cast the revivify spell without material components. After you takes this action, roll a d6. On a roll of 1–2, the silver fire disappears.

  • Action Option 3:

    Release a 60-foot line of silver fire that is 5 feet wide or a 30-foot cone of silver fire. Objects in the area that aren’t being worn or carried take 26 (4d12) fire damage. Each creature in the area must succeed on a DC 21 Dexterity saving throw, taking 26 (4d12) fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. After you take this action, roll a d6. On a roll of 1–3, the silver fire disappears.

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