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In D&D 3.5e, there were various "blast shape" invocations available to warlocks, five of which were included in the video game Neverwinter Nights 2 (which is based on 3.5e and is all I really know of 3.5e): Hideous Blow, Eldritch Spear, Eldritch Chain, Eldritch Cone and Eldritch Doom.

Now, I know that warlock invocations worked differently in 3.5e to 5e (primarily based on how they're implemented in the video game compared to how I know they work in 5e), but I wanted to convert some of these into 5e Eldritch Invocations.

Arguably, Hideous Blow could be thought of as being roughly equivalent to Eldritch Smite from 5e (XGtE, p. 56; even though it doesn't actually modify eldritch blast), and Eldritch Spear already exists in 5e (as a way to increase the range of eldritch blast), so the remaining three are the ones I have attempted to convert.

Here are my attempts at each of the three invocations, with some commentary below each one to explain my thought process and design decisions.


Eldritch Chain

Prerequisite: 5th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to improve your eldritch blast by turning it into an arc of energy that "jumps" from the first target to others. When you cast eldritch blast, on a hit, you can choose to target an additional creature of your choice within 30 feet of the target with the same beam. Make a ranged attack roll against the additional creature, which takes half of the damage dealt to the target on a hit. You can only use this invocation once per turn with one beam, although you may choose to do so after you know whether a beam hits its target.

When you reach 11th level, your chain can target two additional creatures, both of whom take half of the damage dealt to the original target on a hit, and when you reach 17th level, your chain can target three additional creatures, all of whom take half of the damage dealt to the original target on a hit. You choose the targets in succession, and each subsequent target must be within 30 feet of the previous target of the chain (not the original target). The chain cannot target the same creature more than once (although it can target a creature hit with a different beam that turn), and on a miss, the chain ends and you cannot target any further creatures with the chain.

In NWN2 (and presumably 3.5e), Eldritch Blast only ever fired one beam, and Eldritch Chain was a way of making that hit more enemies, but each additional enemy only took half damage. Considering that eldritch blast in 5e can target multiple creatures already, I wanted to come up with something that felt unique.

I considered having each beam jump to only one addition target to deal half damage, but then a level 17 warlock could hit eight creatures with this thing, which seemed overpowered (and wouldn't "look right" compared to what it looked like in NWN2, where the one beam would jump to different targets, not four different beams that each jump to one other target).

In the end, I decided to have it target a few additional creatures, but for half damage (Agonizing Blast would be taken into consideration for the original target's damage, so isn't added again to each of the chain's targets), which is the same as in 3.5e, but only on one of the beams, not each beam. Yes, this still increases the number of creatures you can hit each turn, and therefore increases the damage output of eldritch blast, but hopefully the half damage mitigates that somewhat; also, you've still got to roll to hit them, so there's a chance that you'll simply miss and then it's no different to not having the invocation at all.

That said, it's still a clear improvement on RAW eldritch blast, so if it needs to be nerfed further, I could reduce the range to 10 feet or something, although unless the targets are spread out, this won't really matter. Losing the second paragraph when you reach higher levels is also something that can be dropped, but hopefully not since that would also nerf the look/flavour of Eldritch Chain. I'd still like to keep it as an "at-will" ability, but increasing the damage output of a cantrip is pretty big, so another way to nerf it is to say that you must use it or Agonizing Blast (per beam, so your non-chain beams can still use Agonizing Blast). Depends on how powerful it is as-written above...

Also, I did in fact mean "spell attack", as Cubic's answer points out (I would update the above, but then the Q and A are out of sync, but for any future answers, yes, I did mean "spell attack").


Eldritch Cone

Prerequisite: 12th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as a 15-foot cone. Each creature within the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 1d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

For Eldritch Cone, I've simply used the standard cone spell implementation, like burning hands, but it only does the same amount of damage as one beam, to balance out the fact that you can hit multiple enemies with it. My intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it's actually 1d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock.

I originally had it as a 30-foot cone that did 3d10 force damage, same as the normal damage output for eldritch blast (which would have increased to 4d10), but that was so powerful that I could only justify that as being once per rest or something, and I'd prefer to keep these as being something that can be used "at-will" to keep that 3.5e feel, so hopefully having a cone shaped cantrip is useful enough to justify only dealing 1d10 damage in a 15-foot cone to be balanced; I'm not sure if even having a cone cantrip is inherently overpowered, or whether the small damage and range somehow makes it underpowered, but hopefully it's balanced.


Eldritch Doom

Prerequisite: 18th level, eldritch blast cantrip

This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as the dreaded eldritch doom. This causes bolts of mystical power to lash out and savage all targets within a 20 foot area originating from a point you can see within 120 feet of you. Each creature within that area must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 1d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

For Eldritch Doom, I've implemented it as basically a force fireball, dealing the same damage as a single beam. As above, my intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it's actually 1d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock.

I originally had it at 4d10, same as all four beams combined, and had the range at 30-feet, but this would be massively overpowered without a "once per rest" cap on it, but these caps kinda go against what blast shape invocations were about, so as before, I hope that the AOE shape alone is worth an invocation, since you now have a weak at-will force fireball, but without that being inherently overpowered.


Are these three invocations balanced when compared to the other Eldritch Invocations? Specifically, do they make eldritch blast overpowered in a way that dealing reduced damage and taking up a choice of an Eldritch Invocation doesn't counterbalance?

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    \$\begingroup\$ For the record, aside from hideous blow becoming hideous blast, these “NWN2” blast-shape invocations are the same as the original blast-shape invocations in Complete Arcane, alongside the 3.5e warlock’s debut. You might get somewhat more eyeballs on this referencing 3.5e than NWN2, as I’m guessing more people here have played the former than the latter. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jun 2 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I probably have been hampering myself here by referring to NWN2, but after my previous question(s) about converting Isaac's Lesser/Greater Missile Storm from NWN2, which I originally said was a 3.5e > 5e conversion because I assumed everything from NWN2 was from 3.5e, only to learn that those spells were in fact unique to NWN2! Although I was fairly certain that these invocations were from 3.5e as well (I've also been looking at posts on this site by you about Eldritch Chain, so I know that one really is from 3.5e, at least), I was playing it safe by stating NWN2... more the fool me! \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jun 2 at 13:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Anyway, thanks for the suggestion, that's been updated now. I still want to include mentions of NWN2 in there, at least just for context for those who may otherwise assume I know more about 3.5e than I do (since all I know about 3.5e is what I've picked up from NWN2; 5e is the only one I know about properly); also mentioning the game explains why I have picked those five blast shape invocations specifically, whilst also excluding others that exist in 3.5e that I don't know about. Oh, and I just noticed that "hideous blast" was just a typo, so I've updated that to say "hideous blow". \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jun 2 at 13:35
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Balanced in that it’s not overpowered, but not great

First of all, my point of comparison for whether these are balanced is comparing them with the other invocations that enhance Eldritch Blast.

Eldritch Chain: This is simultaneously too good for a blasting focused Warlock not to take it, but at the same time way too fiddly and not impactful enough to be fun to use. I means that a 17th level Warlock now suddenly has to roll up to double the dice they normally would that turn. Wording wise it is unclear what should happen when the additional attack rolls critically hit, and you should say spell attack not ranged attack unless you really want this to be a dexterity based roll. The main issue here is that this really isn't a lot of extra damage, which makes it feel bad to spend so much time of a turn on it, but it's free extra damage so you can't exactly pass up on it either. I'm honestly not sure if this feature can be salvaged in a way that doesn't make it too strong or too weak. TBH if all you want is to have an easier time hitting multiple targets Eldritch Spear is already doing a better job of that, and I don’t particularly like the idea of stacking yet more damage on what’s already the most spammed cantrip in the game. I can’t say however that it is at all unbalanced considering it’s going to improve Eldritch Blast a lot less than Agonizing Blast does.

Eldritch Cone: This almost always going to do less damage than a regular eldritch blast and can also hit your allies. Shorter range too. Unlike regular eldritch blast, can't crit. The save for half damage may make this situationally useful if you happen to be facing something with huge AC but low dex saves, but that’s not enough to be worth giving up the utility you’d get from other invocations for.

Eldritch Doom: Same as above. You're almost never going to hit more than 4 enemies with a 20 ft radius, and if you want to hit 4 enemies with your eldritch blast you can already do that without putting your allies at risk and giving up your chance to crit. Again, only saving grace would be to trade attacks for a save, but it’s a pretty poor trade by level 18 as by that point your attack bonus is going to be huge, most things you face have huge saves and you’re trading 4 attacks against one. I can’t see anyone ever taking this. This is comparable to the Sun Soul’s Searing Sunburst, which deals more base damage, can be upgraded with Ki, and even then isn’t that great by level 11.

TL;DR Eldritch Chain is good enough to pick, but not amazing and makes Eldritch Blast quite a bit more complicated to use compared to other blasting invocations which just provide straightforward upgrades. The others aren’t worth using Invocations on.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your feedback. This is kinda what it feared; Eldritch Chain is very difficult to make worth it without making it overpowered. Also Chain and Doom, since what I originally had felt too strong, I then nerfed it too hard. Do you think, for those last two, that my original stronger versions would have been overpowered, as I assumed they would be, and is there some balanced middle ground that would make them more useful but not too strong? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Jun 1 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to the above points, the cone and doom shapes bother me because even hitting a couple of creatures with it can mean rolling an awful lot of saves for one action. There's a lot of game slowdown involved here if you can launch 3+ area attacks in a single turn, every turn. I kinda feel like if you want to have some area effects, you can and should just take those as known spells, rather than manipulating your blast to do a poor job at it. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jun 1 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym The cone and blast replace eldritch blast normal effect. They don't get multiple hits. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 1 at 18:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mołot I never said they were OK, I said they were not overpowered, which is what a lot of people mean when they ask if something is balanced. There are a lot of invocations that aren't really worth taking because they only provide minor and/or very circumstancial benefits. \$\endgroup\$ – Cubic Jun 1 at 18:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Cubic OK, fair enough, then I agree that it's tough to get enough targets in the area to be worth it over just throwing blasts at each target. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Jun 2 at 20:31

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