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I'm playing a warlock in our DnD 5e campaign. Near as I can tell, this is sort of specific to warlocks because they have so few spells known (correct me if I am wrong). Either way, I still have a problem.

Every level, I learn 1 additional spell. Soon, it will be one every two levels. I want to pick spells that make sense with my character, but I also don't want to waste a known spell on something that might not be so useful. Contact Other Plane is pretty great for my character, but not so great in combat. I'm worried I will fall off, especially since warlocks are built as burst-damage dealers, and that's my combat role in the party.

I was curious if anyone had any experience with this problem and how they dealt with it. I am also wondering if this is not just a "problem" with our campaign's style of play, which is more combat focused than RP. I am not convinced that this is a personal problem. I would be willing to bet my DM could help, so answers regarding either are fine.

So, how can I balance getting RP spells without losing out on more practical combat spells?

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I would suggest two things: alternate RP and combat spells, and pick combat spells that can be enhanced by using higher spell slots.

Alternating Spells

While your combat role might be blaster warlock, you don't actually need a great variety of spells to accomplish that. If you already have Witch Bolt, there's not much point in taking Hellish Rebuke as well, so spend that extra spell known on Comprehend Languages, for example. Make sure that each of your combat spells lets you solve another combat problem, and not just another way of dealing damage. If you've already got an area-effect damage spell, then don't pick up another one. You get 15 spells by 20th level, and that gives you plenty of options for both combat and non-combat.

Higher Spell Slots

As a warlock, most of your spells will be cast at a higher spell level than they normally would. Take advantage of this, and make sure that you mainly pick spells that get better at higher levels. This means that a spell that you pick up at 1st level is still useful to you 10 levels later, and you don't need to spend your 11th level spell known just to replicate an effect that you already have at higher potency.

Witch Bolt is a pretty good example of this. It's not the best spell, but it illustrates the point nicely: it's a single target damage spell that scales with level, and remains at a relatively constant potency scale until about 11th level, when you stop getting new spell levels.

By using these strategies, you can maintain your combat effectiveness while still getting the occasional non-combat spell.

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Warlocks with eldritch blast, hex, and agonizing blast can remain competitive in combat using just those things. If you used those in combat, and took out of combat utility spells for everything else, you would easily be a valuable asset to your party.

You did say that your party expects you to be a burst damage dealer. I would not agree with that view of the 5e warlock. The warlock is more like an archer fighter, but using a cantrip instead of a bow.

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My answer would be: Keep in mind you are playing a role playing game not some kind of video game. Each spell has its merit and its uses. Some of these might not be as straight forward as "I trow a fireball in there faces! Boom damage!". A well placed illusion can be a lot more useful depending on the situation.

Also keep in mind that a well crafted adventure should contain more challenges than just combat encounter. There should be social interactions, traps, riddle and stuff. This is something that is mostly something your DM controls. If everything is murder and bloodshed yes having spells that would work great in non combat encounter could be a problem.

Talk to your group. It looks like you want to play a character and not a burst-damage dealer. This is great. Now you need a group that wants you to play an interesting character and not a damage dealer. If you cannot get them to accept that there is more to the game than combat you might have to select the obvious combat spells. your group is missing out on most of what roleplaying actual is.

And now to something different. In reality no DnD group needs sutch things like a damage dealer or a healer or what role ever. You are not setting up some WoW raid group. Because there is a DM that should hand craft your encounters. So if there is no guy throwing around large area of effect spells well he can just omit the swarm of minions for the damage dealer to blast away. Same is true for a healer: The party has less HP at its disposal so the DM has to deal less damage to them and can still challenge them.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Telling the player what the DM should be doing is of marginal usefulness in the context of this question, no matter how valid in a general sense. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 11 '15 at 19:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1: While it's totally possible for you to play D&D in such a way that combat roles don't matter, the querent has made it pretty clear that he's not in a game like that. Giving an answer to a player that boils down to "your DM should handcraft everything based on your party" both makes a lot of assumptions about the group, and isn't helpful to the player. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Sep 11 '15 at 21:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ It still is the only useful advice I can give: You have to fix the underlying problem. Spells are only useful in some situation. That is true for all spells. So if you want to give a valid reason to pick a non-combat spell it is that not all encounter should be combat. As I said: "If you cannot get them to accept that there is more to the game than combat you might have to select the obvious combat spells." \$\endgroup\$ – Tobias Kremer Sep 12 '15 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ Consider revising your answer to explain your practical advice better. Right now this has a lot of “the game should be this way and that way” but without giving any advice on what to do with that information. The only advice here is “talk to the group to convince them you don't need to be a burst-damage dealer”, which doesn't explain what to do with your information about how DMs run games. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 15 '15 at 17:54
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Given that a Warlock regains slots after a short rest it shouldn't pose too much of a problem for you.

Take those spells that fit with your RP, hell you could even use contact plane to ask for some wrath to be brought upon your enemies, or a spectator or some such. But ultimately, you have enough room for useful and more flavoursome spells and you can switch them out during a short rest.

I enjoy my warlock but maybe that's because my DM knows me and knows that I will ask and do all manner of morally questionable acts. I once intimidated a knife (nat 20) which became a soul gathering knife for my patron with magical damage

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    \$\begingroup\$ -1: That's not what Contact Other Plane does, and more importantly, Warlock's don't have the ability to change what spells they know with a short rest. They regain their expended slots, but that has nothing to do with spells known. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Sep 11 '15 at 21:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ i dont get how you could intimidate a knife... even with a natural 20. i mean, even with a natural 1000, you can't sway a non-living object into submission... \$\endgroup\$ – Mouhgouda Sep 16 '15 at 16:03

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