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One of the first 5e character concepts I heard people discussing was the so-called “Megaman Warlock,” based on using monster weapons as pact weapons since the Player’s Handbook rules text for Pact of the Blade seems to suggest that the warlock would be proficient with these weapons. (Word of god on the subject is that they are not.)

Even with that understanding, though, the inability to have more than one pact weapon at the time meant it wasn’t terribly useful. Answers to a previous question of mine suggest that ultimately, it’s very difficult for Pact of the Blade warlocks to make much, if any, use of the ability to use any weapon—you’re better off just picking the best weapon available and sticking with it, which ultimately isn’t all that different from what a warlock of the Hexblade patron could do from 1st level.

Further, generally speaking, Pact of the Blade is considered sub-par. Hexblade does it better, and even copying its best feature to Pact of the Blade doesn’t make the Pact imbalanced. So I want to improve it.

Which gets me thinking about Megaman Warlocks again—what if we could use monster weapons? And we could have as many pact weapons as we like (but only summon one at a time)? Maybe it should be an invocation, so here is what I’m thinking:

Mega Pact Weapon

Prerequisite: Pact of the Blade feature

Your ability to turn a weapon into a pact weapon improves in the following ways:

  • You can turn a weapon into a pact weapon as an action.
  • You can turn any weapon that is neither sentient nor an artifact into a pact weapon. This includes improvised and/or nonmagical weapons, as well as weapons that are neither simple nor martial.
  • You can turn any number of weapons into pact weapons.

As usual, you are always proficient with a pact weapon, even if you use this invocation to turn an improvised or highly unusual weapon into a pact weapon.

Your ability to conjure weapons you have turned into pact weapons also improves:

  • You can summon one as an item interaction.
  • You can resize one, and/or remove the Heavy property, when you summon it. If you do, the DM adjusts its damage appropriately.

This invocation does not grant you the ability to summon multiple pact weapons. You may need to dismiss a previously-summoned pact weapons in order to conjure and use a different one.

This invocation also has no effect on your ability to conjure pact weapons that weren’t previously weapons you had found and turned into pact weapons. Those remain subject to exactly the same limitations that they had without this invocation.

Is this a balanced invocation? Is it a good invocation? Its most obvious competition is Improved Pact Weapon, it seems to me (though you could take both), so perhaps analysis should start there.

The other thing I’m unsure about is whether I should have actual rules for resizing weapons/removing Heavy and determining the appropriate damage, or if it’s more appropriate to leave to the DM. Perhaps a sidebar for DMs would be best, giving guidance but leaving the ultimate decision in their hands. Ultimately, it’s inescapable that the power of this ability is going to be heavily predicated on the enemies the DM chooses to use. You may presume that the DM wants this character to work as advertised, and will make an effort to include monsters that have useful or interesting weapons at the appropriate CRs.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just to clarify-- this is meant to work for taking weapons from defeated monsters, and then using that weapon? My understanding, as someone unfamiliar with Megaman, is that your goal here is to 1. have a warlock that's powerful enough to justify not being hexblade, and, 2. to have your main power come from defeating foes. Is that correct? \$\endgroup\$ – Cooper May 17 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LCooper That is the mechanic, generally speaking, though obviously this doesn’t strictly limit you to defeated foes, since you could find the weapon lying around or for sale or whatever. Your “main power” would come from weapons turned into pact weapons, however they got there. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 17 at 21:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Okay, that makes sense! This is a really interesting idea for a class, and I have a couple of thoughts, but I'm trying to get them to coagulate into something that's A. useful and B. Stackexchange worthy. \$\endgroup\$ – Cooper May 17 at 21:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ooh, found this: Do PCs get the attack and to hit bonus from enemy weapons they may pick up? Is that how it'd work for you? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 17 at 21:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @aherocalledFrog Some kind of ammunition had been something I’d considered, though in keeping with the warlock’s theme, it would probably be a smaller number that recharges fairly regularly (short rest, ideally). But defining what, exactly, is limited in these cases is a little harder to define, perhaps. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 18 at 19:11
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Let me start with a list of some monsters I might found that might synergize with this build:

  • the CR1 Yuan-Ti Pureblood, a medium creature which has a shortbow that deals 3d6 damage on a hit (1d6 piercing, 2d6 poison)
  • the CR3 Githyanki Warrior, a medium creature which has a greatsword that deals 4d6 damage on a hit (2d6 slashing, 2d6 psychic)
  • the CR5 Drow Elite Warrior, a medium creature which has a hand crossbow that inflicts the Poisoned status or unconsciousness
  • the CR6 Kuo-Toa Archpriest, a medium creature which has a scepter that deals 5d6 damage on a hit (1d6 bludgeoning, 4d6 lightning)

(skip some)

  • the CR14 Ice Devil Spear, a Large creature which has a spear that deals 2d8 piercing and 3d6 cold on a hit, and applies a status effect.

I see some problems.

First, this build is weirdly DM-dependent.

Either you encounter one of these monsters and wind up with a high-powered weapon, or you don't and you're stuck with a weapon you could have bought for a few gold pieces. It's sort of up to the DM.

(Most warlocks who do this will go Hexblade, to allow them to use both found STR-based and DEX-based weapons. A warlock that doesn't do this will have even fewer weapon options (or will place more burden on their DM to place a usable weapon in their path)).

If the DM is using homebrewed monsters (such as I usually use), it's worse, because it becomes the DM's job to make up weapons for you to use, eyeballing the balance to try to avoid making you too strong or weak.

The risk here is that the DM might undercorrect and make the warlock player sad about their build. And then they might overcorrect and give the warlock player a broken ability. Either way, there are problems that don't occur with a non-homebrew build.

Second, some of these weapon powers seem dishonest

Does every Kuo-Toa Archpriest really have a special scepter that deals lightning damage on a hit? Or is it a normal scepter and the Kuo-Toa Archpriest has an ability (not mentioned in its stat block) that adds lightning damage to its weapon attacks?

I ask because quite a few monsters do have an ability like that. One example is the CR4 Orc War Chief, with an ability that says: "The orc deals an extra 4 (1d8) damage when it hits with a weapon attack (included in the attacks)." I omitted these monsters from the above list.

Some monsters seem like they might legitimately have special weapons. For example the Drow Elite Warrior has a poisoned crossbow, and it seems realistic that you could pick that up and use it at least until it ran out of bolts. And Githyanki, in lore, are known for their silver swords that damage the mind. In 3.5e lore these silver swords are super-rare and ultra-powerful, but maybe in 5e they're weaker and more common? Who's to say?

My worry is that, with this ability, you've essentially created an engine that gets all its power from poorly written monster stat blocks. In this it's similar to the 3.5e polymorph spell line.

But the good news is that the DM controls what weapons you get (by controlling what monsters you encounter), so this isn't likely to break in the same way that the polymorph spell line was broken.

Third, the "make anything into a weapon" ability seems designed for exploitation

All it says is: "You can turn a weapon into a pact weapon as an action." It doesn't even say you have to be holding the weapon. Rules As Written, the Void Lich attacks you with his Staff of Obliteration, and as long as the Staff of Obliteration isn't sentient or an artifact, your first move can be "nope, that's my pact weapon now, and I'm dismissing it into the ether."

Rules As Written, you could be standing at the base of Fortress Invincible, and you take a look at one of the giant granite blocks that were used to build the fortress, and you say: "well, that block could be a weapon, right? A giant could throw it..." And the DM can try to argue that construction materials are different from weapons, but there's not really much in the text that says either way.

Rules As Written, this also gives you an infinite carrying capacity, as Szega noted.

It's possible to fix all these loopholes, certainly. But if one of my players sent me a homebrew class with this many loopholes, I'd start to feel like the player wasn't very good at writing balanced homebrew (or wasn't trying!).

Fourth, this synergizes better with a martial class than with a warlock

The 5d6-damage scepter doesn't actually seem that unbalanced. For a character with CHA 18, that's 5d6+4 which is an average of 21.5; the character could instead be casting two eldritch blast rays for 2d10+8 which is an average of 19. When you factor in that the eldritch blast upgrades exactly at fifth level, whereas the scepter comes from a CR6 creature, this is probably mostly reasonable.

On the other hand: suppose that you do get a scepter that does 5d6 damage on a hit. The right thing to do is probably to give it to the fighter, who can attack with it twice per round, for an average damage output of 43. (Or double that, with Action Surge!) Or do three levels of warlock and then multiclass to fighter yourself. Warlock/Paladin is already a very strong combination and this makes it stronger.

Even if this is okay on its own, it's broken when combined with abilities that grant extra attacks.


Of the four objections above, the first one is the only one that seems critical to me. The second issue could be ignored if it made the game more fun, and the third and fourth issues could be patched. But the first issue, of making the DM responsible for inventing new balanced weapons for the warlock player on a regular cadence, is in my mind a serious problem with the build.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I was about to remove the second section since I no longer believe it (eg see Githyanki Silver Sword) but then I noticed that the answer is accepted, so maybe I shouldn't make major edits post-accept? \$\endgroup\$ – Dan B May 18 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would say that it’s useful food-for-thought—maybe just soften it to say that some don’t seem honest? Yes, githyanki silver swords have a long history in D&D and yes, they are special, but it’s not always clear that every similar monster design intends that, and separating monster abilities from item abilities is a crucial question for this design that simply needs to be handled somehow. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 18 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Since it's a focus of one of your arguments, can you explain how "the 3.5e polymorph spell line" is broken? Without reference, it doesn't give any weight to what you're saying. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott May 19 at 6:07
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There will be some unintended consequences with this, mainly due to these two points:

  1. You can turn a weapon into a pact weapon as an action.
  2. You can turn any number of weapons into pact weapons.

I assume the intended use is to take a weapon from a defeated (or maybe disarmed) foe mid-combat, but as it is written, this can also be used for shoplifting. Also, the second point gives you an infinite space to stash your stolen goods. It basically turns the character into an arms dealer. Need to sneak in 100 swords to arm a group? No problem, just give me 10 minutes. Although if the ways to break the pact bond remain the same, that might make this harder to perform. To avoid these, I recommend the following changes:

  1. You can make a weapon a pact weapon with one Action, if it was wielded in the past 10 minutes by a hostile creature you reduced to 0 Hit Points.
  2. You can have a number of pact weapons equal to your Proficiency modifier.

If the restriction that you have to be the one to drop it to zero HP seems too restricting, it could be amended to "you or one of your allies", but I feel this restriction is in line with the warlock class and your inspiration. Limiting the number of bonded weapons makes this sound much more reasonable to me. And as you level and start to have access to more magic weapons and more foes with worthy weapons, the limit will go up as well. You could maybe use the Charisma modifier for this purpose, but there seems to be a tendency with newly released options to use Proficiency. It is generally more lenient (less reliant on ASI-s and multiclassing-friendly).

Lifting the magic item restriction and summoning with an interaction will be alright with the above changes.

The only other difficulty I foresee is that this places a burden on the DM to come up with stats for every weapon you come across. Most are not presented as individual items, they are just part of a monster's attack options. You might only use a handful if you go with my amendment, but you will have to ask your DM about all the weapons you might choose from, to see if you want them. This is not terrible, but might be a bit tedious after a while. I would say it is on par with a Shepherd Druid eavesdropping on all the wildlife they encounter. It is an inherent and central class feature, and it might get you real benefits, but when you ask about what the deers are talking about for the fifth time, it might be ... vexing. So check with your DM if they are willing to accomodate this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I appreciate this advice, and the thorough answer. But “important ability triggers only when you personally happened to be the one to kill the enemy” is atrocious design in a cooperative team game like D&D. I know the warlock already has some effects like that—but those were a mistake every time WotC wrote them. Your answer would be improved by avoiding that suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 18 at 3:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan: That was my thought, too. For some of those warlock abilities, the whole point of the ability revolves around the killing (like Accursed Spectre), and there's narrative justification for requiring a killing blow. (Not disagreeing that it's a mistake to design that way, instead of allowing a reaction you can use on others' KB, or simply having a different ability altogether). But this one has very little reason / justification for the restriction: you were fighting them, you won, now you can take their stuff and use it. You already have to kill them, not disarm, for example. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes May 18 at 5:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan I look at it more as a challenge to be overcome, not somethig to oppose cooperation. Also, (in theory) you will not do this in every fight, but sometimes you ask your team to let you handle a particular foe. I understood the basic "feeling" as "absorbing the power of those you defeat", so allowing the warlock to use it on a foe whose defeat they had nothing to do with would go against that. Maybe change it so you can use a reaction to put a Claim-curse on them when you deal damage to them that later allows the quick assimilation? \$\endgroup\$ – Szega May 18 at 8:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ You could get around the shoplifting option by making the action to create a pact weapon obvious, or at least, as obvious as actually stealing the weapon would be. \$\endgroup\$ – user7868 May 18 at 8:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ The shoplifting thing is much more easily handled by just making it obvious and being explicit that you’ve got to have the weapon in your hands, so I don’t think the long ritual is necessary, at least for that reason. I think the possibility of sneaking weapons past the guards is niche enough that if that’s a moment of awesome for the character, that’s a good thing. Focusing on those issues—which I don’t think are all that serious—limits the applicability of this advice to me. I do like the choice of proficiency bonus if a limit is necessary, but I’m still wavering on whether I buy that it is. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan May 18 at 14:46
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This will put a lot onto the DM

It's a very interesting mechanic to tie in the monsters that are fought with the class progression, but there are going to be some potential pitfalls in your build.

Action economy

As Szega points out in their answer, the opportunity for mischief is incredibly high here. I actually think the taking the weapon off a live monster is less likely as that's a commitment to a series of rounds to make that work (although it could be done in less with team support.)

Fixing that with replacing the standard bond time would fix the majority of those issues. I played a hexblade/pact of the blade and I found it incredibly limiting with no strong reason to only have one pact weapon at a time. I don't think unlimited is right, but 2-3 should provide a good array of options for this.

Upper Tier issues

The real concern comes when you start providing weapons that functionally act like upgrades when the other players don't get that. All of a sudden, every fight represents a potential item shop for that player while the others sit and watch to see what they'll get.

Additionally, this is also when some of these monsters get some very powerful items. Again, this build would get access to these just through a fight while the others would either have to purchase or discover them. This returns back to the DM to help make sure the balance works for everyone at the table. It's do-able, but it's also leaning to what will be a campaign with a lot of strong items (which is fine if that's what you're going for.)

Monster Encounter Design

This will be another area where the DM will have to consider what the players will fight. There are potential spoils now in every combat and picking monsters and/or having to adjust them will become another management point for the DM. It may not even be conscious as they simply will consider monsters with the knowledge that a player may get a new and powerful weapon.

Good start!

There's a solid seed here with the MegaLock design, and I think it's potential workable if you solve for the issues above. Keeping this as-is will result in a lot of overhead, both conscious and unconscious, for a DM.

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