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I'm planning on playing a Paladin/Warlock in an upcoming game and I've picked the Oath of Vengeance, and Great Old One Patron/Pact of Tome. I've made my backstory (island home sunk when invaded by Sahuagin after tribal artifacts (the pact of the tome 'book of shadows' that will be read at a later date), resulting in one wandering vengeance driven Dark Tome possessing dragonborn — think a Lovecraftian twist on Spawn), so I don't want to change the choices, but I'm struggling to see how to make the two sides synergise. I saw "Odd class combination - mitigate losses?" though, and I might get similar advice.

I've read multiple guides on both, and gone over the powers of them too. Paladins in 5E strike me mostly as Tanks/Defenders and the OoV especially so. They focus on tying down a single enemy, gaining advantage on them and striking them down. Warlocks do have the potential to also deal lots of damage with various riffs off of Eldritch Blast (Agonizing Blast etc). But I don't think you can cast and do a melee attack in the same round, so there's synergy lost there already. Add to the fact that, from what I've seen, none of the Pact abilities (Rituals) nor the warlock spell list complement a defender-esque party role.

I want some way to make these two sides work together, and maximise 'synergy' whilst keeping the theme of Lovecraftian Spawn. If it helps I do like the idea of pinning down enemies with feats like Sentinel, but I don't need a full build, just the best way to synergise.

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You're right, there's not a lot of synergy there. Out of combat, your Warlock will add a lot of utility with his less combat-focused spell list and his ritual abilities, but in combat, you have 2 potential paths:

  1. Focus on your Warlock levels to become a powerful spell caster. Going this route, your Paladin levels will add heavy armour and a shield, which will help you stay alive and allow you to dump Dex. It's not much, but it's something.
  2. Focus on your Paladin levels to become a powerful melee fighter with spellcasting abilities that supplement your fighting skills. Going off what you've said, I'm going to assume you're taking this route, and the rest of my answer will focus on that.

So, let us take a look at the Paladin. The Paladin is already something of a hybrid class, with some spellcasting supplementing its fighting abilities. This synergizes better than most other hybrid classes, because the Paladin spell list focuses on bonus action spells that boost the damage of your attacks. Sadly, most of these require concentration to use.

So what can the Warlock offer the Paladin in a fight? (Preferably without investing too many levels.) There are a few things.

The first is a good ranged option. Unless you invest in Dex, the Paladin's only ranged option is throwing weapons, which suffer from extremely short range and being both heavy and expensive to carry a lot of. The Warlock's Eldritch Blast scales well with level, and that's character level, since it is a cantrip, so your Paladin/Warlock should always have something to do if he can't or shouldn't get into melee. If you take the Agonizing Blast invocation (and you should), the damage of Eldritch Blast should be reasonably comparable to your melee damage. Repelling Blast is not as good for you as it is for most Warlocks, because you will generally want the enemy to be coming closer, not further away. Eldritch Spear pretty much guarantees that if you can see it, you can hit it.

The second is what has come to be known as the Darkness + Devil's Sight cheese. If you take the Devil's Sight invocation, you can see in magical darkness. Then you cast Darkness on an object on your person, and you get a 15-foot sphere where you can see perfectly and most enemies can't see at all. Or, to put it differently, your melee attack rolls have advantage, and anyone trying to hit you in melee without special sensory abilities has disadvantage. With the Sentinel feat, this becomes ridiculously mean, because the only viable option for a creature in this situation is to run, and your opportunity attack will not even let them do that. This is probably the best thing your Warlock levels can offer you by far.

The final thing is that Warlocks have access to some good low-level defenses that don't require concentration. Mirror Image is a great defensive spell that stacks with everything and doesn't require concentration. Armor of Agathys does not scale all that well, but at low levels it definitely helps. And Arms of Hadar is a great spell if you're surrounded, because you can prevent some or all of the opportunity attacks you would normally incur.

All things considered, I would probably either recommend 4 levels of Warlock, which will get you the Devil's Sight and Book of Shadows invocations as well as the Darkness spell (among others) without losing an ability score increase (these are extremely important), or 8 levels, which would get you Devil's Sight, Book of Shadows, Agonizing Blast, Eldritch Spear, and Darkness, without losing an ability score increase. (Obviously, there's more to it than that, but those are the synergistic bits.)

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Smite uses spell slots. Warlock spell slots come back on short rests. Use those warlock slots like there's no tomorrow and be a smiting machine!

(Using warlock slots this way is confirmed to work in the first errata: "You can expend any spell slot, not just a paladin spell slot.")

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If you're willing to forego other feats, you can give the Paladin the Spell Sniper Feat at lvl 4. It grants them one cantrip that requires an attack roll AND double the range of all spells. This will give them a 240 ft range attack with infinite ammo; it will probably be weaker than mixing it up with melee, but it gives you a very solid backup option when you need to engage at a distance.

Good options for this cantrip are below. All have a base range of 120 ft, which Spell Sniper immediately doubles to become 240 ft.

  • Eldritch Blast (25% extra damage vs alternatives on this list, can be split between multiple opponents)

  • Chill Touch (necrotic, prevents enemy healing and gives advantage against undead)

  • FireBolt (can ignite objects at long range)

  • Ray of Frost (limits enemy movement, sometimes allowing extra turns before a melee opponent closes the distance)

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Bear in mind, Darkness has a duration of 10 minutes, and can be contained by an opaque covering. I would argue that the particular and unique wording of the darness spell justifies casting it on an object with which you are familiar that is in range, even if line of sight to said object is currently blocked. That would allow a flavor-licious and mechanically practical option to cast darkness on your blade BEFORE combat in any situation where combat seems likely. Then, when combat ensues, you draw the "Blade of Darkness" (possibly with a signature catch-phrase) and trigger the darkness effect without wasting a combat action - combat actions being basically the most potent resource in 5e. Would really fit the flavor of a Cthulhu/spawn theme character well.

Personally, I have found that warlock/paladin multi class has been a really fun character to play and was by no means hindered mechanically. Adding hex on melee and agonizing Eldritch blast keep it a consistently reliable damage dealer. Warlock spells, invocations, and class/pact features can make for a very survivable tank. And the sheer breadth of abilities you can bring to bear means you have a way to contribute to virtually any situation. My favorite was a lawful neutral/lawful evil demon-hunter infernal warlock/OoV Paladin of Asmodeus. Raised by a goodly order of paladins dedicated to self-sacrifice, he began to see hypocrisy in "sacrificing" their lives fighting evil when it simply assured their entry to a desirable eternal afterlife that was verifiable. He went one better in order to make the world a better place; he made an actual sacrifice by selling his soul to Asmodeus and ensuring his own eternal damnation for the power to fight the forces of chaotic evil even more effectively. He pragmatically determined chaotic evil is more disruptive to society than lawful evil, and he would never possibly run out of chaotic evil foes in his lifetime, so need never come into conflict with Asmodeus's own schemes. His signature move was an interrogation technique the group called "Bad Touch" - where he would intimidate and beat a subdued foe into unconsciousness, then apply one point of lay on hands to wake them up, dozens of times per day if necessary, until they confessed and gave up their secrets within a Zone of Truth. I only had to actually do it once and thereafter the GM just let us get any info we needed from any foe that would be capable of breaking by just saying "I apply Bad Touch if necessary."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the RPG StackExchange! I would recommend changing the format of your answer so that it read clearer as blocks of text are quite hard to read. Also, you seem to be responding to something not in the question or your answer. Those sorts of replies are better left as comments. \$\endgroup\$ – Peregrine Lennert Mar 9 '18 at 20:20
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Eldritch Blast+Agonising Blast is All you need as a Ranged Option On a Pal-Lock. I'll also suggest Repelling Blast, but that's mostly because I like it so much, and it gives you so much control. Otherwise, Devil Sight is just as good, if not better, if you can find a way to cast Darkness consistantly (Avoid doing so yourself, but if someone in the Party can do so, it's a nice combo you can use... After all, why be in a Party if you can do everything alone?)

Hex Gives you added damage on one target. Once you unlock higher level spell slots, you just cast it once, and make sure to have it on all day. A good Con score and Combat Caster can help you with that (as it's your main concentration spell, and the reason you probably don't want to cast Darkness yourself), plus, you're a Paladin, thus by Pal level 6 (About Level 8) you need not worry about this stuff, since you add your Cha Mod to all saves.

If you want to prevent MADness, take Pact of the tome, and grab Shillelagh as a Cantrip to use Charisma for Attack and Damage with a Quarterstaff (D8 damage is not bad, and can be d10 if you're not using a shield).

Booming/Green-Flame Blade adds damage proportionate to your level. I advise taking it after 5th level however (and/or with Pact of the Tome, if you don't intend to take any other goodies, eventhough there are a lot of amazing options). Keep in mind that before 5th level you don't add a damage die to the initial attack, just get the secondary effect, that might or might not occure, making the Cantrips less relevent 'till then.

Now here is a simple nova-optimised Build at level 20, adding some Dragoninc Bloodling Sorcerer Levels (Fire Dragon) for extra Charisma Damage from Green Flame Blade.

Half Elf or Tiefling Sorcerer 6/Warlock 8/Paladin 6

Mandatory Feat: Warcaster 3 of Choice

Progression:

Sorcerer 1 Warlock 4 Sorcerer 3 Paladin 2 Sorcerer 2 Paladin 4

I did not include Hexblade, as Unearthed Arcana is not always Avalable.

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