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Problem

I've recently been playing a Pact of the Blade Warlock, deliberately abstaining from Eldritch Blast to focus on melee attacks. As we've gotten into later levels, the missing flexibility and range of Eldritch Blast has started to become a fairly debilitating factor, as I'm often entirely unable to attack distant or flying creatures.

Parallelly, the single pact weapon limitation has prevented me from exploring a thrown weapon fantasy (as throwing away your pact weapon often leaves you unable to leverage your primary damaging ability).

Solution

I think I've found a neat way to address both these problems at the same time. This Invocation accomplishes multiple things:

  1. Make thrown weapon fighting more viable by providing a way to recover a thrown pact weapon.
  2. Provide a slight increase in range (to one attack per turn).
  3. Via improving the action-economy of creating a pact weapon, provide an in-combat way to switch up tactics by using ranged weapons.

This was largely inspired by the Path of Wild Magic Barbarian's 4th wild surge option.

The Invocation

Blade Works

Prerequisite: Pact of the Blade

You can create a pact weapon using a bonus action, instead of an action. If you have already created a pact weapon, you can make it magically teleport into your hand at the start of your turn (no action required).

Additionally, any melee pact weapon you create gains the thrown properties, with a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet.

Question

Is this Invocation balanced with respects to the other Invocations? Overall I'm actually concerned that it may be too weak given some of the powerful effects you can gain, but perhaps I've overlooked some shenanigans.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "any melee pact weapon you create gains the thrown properties, with a normal range of 20 feet and a long range of 60 feet." – didn't you forgot to add "if it doesn't have it already" or something similar? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mołot
    May 18, 2022 at 22:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Molot this is pulled basically word for word from the Path of Wild Magic Barbarian which similarly lacks that phrasing. I can see how it could be helpful but I don't think there's any risk of stacking problems unless I'm missing something \$\endgroup\$
    – Andrendire
    May 19, 2022 at 3:08

1 Answer 1

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In the context of your build, this is balanced

Essentially, You have opted to deprive yourself of one of the most powerful tools that come with playing a warlock, Eldritch Blast, for the sake of flavor and using weapons.

So, one way to think about it is as if this Invocation had an additional paragraph:

While you know this invocation, you cannot cast Eldritch Blast.

That downside seems more than enough to balance any potential upside imbalances this may have.

Bonus Action. The change from action to bonus action is material, but without it this would be mostly useless. It also competes with many other bonus actions warlocks have from casting hex to curses. There may be a bit of extra pickup here for getting back dropped weapons etc, but I think that is fine.

Thrown melee weapon: This adds potentially 3.5 damage to the ranged attack (as you could throw a 2d6 melee weapon, instead of the typical 1d6 or worse thrown weapons). That still does not seem to compete with the expected damage output of an Invocation bolstered Eldritch Blast. Unless you have a lot of other effects you can pile on, or a unusually powerful magic weapon to combine with it, this appears just to allow you to realize your character concept and live out your fantasy, not a way to try and gain an unfair advantage (see further down for details).

I would as a DM not have any problem with allowing you to use this in my game.

Quantitative Comparison vs EB

Without that choice of yours to forgo EB, one would need to benchmark the power of this more closely. I think it’s likely still OK, just because it is still competing with Eldritch Blast. But on a flametongue or vorpal blade, this may become more interesting:

Eldritch Blast:

Here is a typcial damage progression for EB, including taking one Invocation (Agonizing Blast) to boost it, and maxing Charisma along the way:

You deal 1d10+3 (8.5) originally, 2d10+8 (19) on level five, or 3d10+15 (31.5) on level 11 out to a range of 120 feet.

Blade Works and a weapon:

If your Patron is the Hexblade, with a longsword as your weapon (to have a fair comparison for only needing one hand like EB), you deal 1d8+3 (7.5) originally, and this does not naturally scale. If you have a magic weapon, for a simple +1 you'd one extra point of damage (and another about half a point from higher to hit). This is comparable. A flame tongue would add +2d6 instead for a total of 14.5, but is not a weapon you'd expect to own at that level.

On level 5, with Thirsting Blade you could get two attacks on the Attack action from level 5 for a total of 2d8+8 (17) or (19) with a +1 weapon, which would scale with EB, but it would cost you an extra Invocation, and since you only have one bonus action you could get the weapon back only once, which dampens the usefulness from throwing it.

On level 11, you have no direct way of scaling, so you would need a better magic weapon. With a flame tongue and Thirsting Blade, you would look at 2d8+4d6+10 (33) damage, slightly ahead of EB, but again, you cannot retrieve your weapon two times per turn. You also could take the lifedrinker invocation on level 12 to bump the raw damage by 10 necrotic for 29 total instead (31 with a +1), which can compete with EB but needs yet another Invocation. Hex also applies to each attack, and would boost EB with its three attacks more than using a weapon with Thirsting Blade.

Overall, even with a magic weapon, this will not deal more than EB, and it has a shorter range. If anything would be slightly underpowered in comparison.

P.S. As a side note, Eldritch Knight has this ability to retrieve their weapon "out of the box", so it might be worth consideration for building a character that wants to throw and retrieve their weaopon, instead of homebrewing a warlock variant.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be useful to compare/discuss the invocation with respect to the other invocations which build on Pact of the Blade; such as Thirsting Blade. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    May 19, 2022 at 16:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, a review of how this impacts the fighter subclass Eldritch night would be interesting to see. This feels like a much better Eldredge night making the EK a class that is no longer necessary with this. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    May 19, 2022 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I agree I thought of EK too seeing this. Seems to be a more natural way to express the concept than a modded Warlock. But the question is asking if it’s balanced, so I answer that. I can add a note though \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2022 at 17:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Someone_Evil Good suggestion, I added it. I think the best way is to not try and compare it to all the other invocations one could use, but to the EB alterntive, because it is only a balance issue if it was stronger than EB. If it is not, then it cannot be overpowered, as the warlock could always opt to use EB instead. I think it might be slighly underpowered, but with some expected magic weapon, it is holding up pretty well for much of the range of levels where most play happens. \$\endgroup\$ May 19, 2022 at 18:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should also address that it changes summoning a weapon from an Action to a Bonus Action. While small, it could have a larger impact for those that don't always have their weapon at the ready. It makes a difference on being able to attack on the first round or not. \$\endgroup\$
    – MivaScott
    May 19, 2022 at 19:35

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