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    Default The Warlock - a massive rewrite [3.5 Base Class WIP]

    I worked up a rewrite of the warlock several years ago. The basic idea was that I was unsatisfied with how focused the mechanical side of the class was on dark, evil powers when the fluff clearly indicated that there were alternate methods for being a warlock. It was recently brought to my attention again, and looking over it, I find myself distinctly unsatisfied. So I’m updating my rewrite to incorporate the experience I’ve gained since I first wrote it.

    Now, the warlock is a well-loved class by many, myself included. This is certainly for it’s flavor, which has curiously diverged into two very different paths. The first path, the one I’ve been seeing far more often, is a person who makes a pact with some eldritch and powerful being for arcane power. The popularity of this version, I suspect, is due in large part to 4th edition, as that is the fluff for warlocks there. However, 3.5 has another class that deals with supernatural entities in exchange for power - the binder. The binder captures the feel of pact-making far better than any warlock fix I have ever seen.

    Which leads me to the second fluff path: a warlock is a being that has inherited it’s power from it’s ancestors. Usually a demon or fey hiding in the family tree as a great-great-great grandfather or something. The power they wield is not the result of some bargain made with mysterious beings from beyond, it is a fundamental part of who they are. This is the fluff presented in Complete Arcane, and it is how I’ve always seen them. But oddly, nearly every fix I’ve seen chooses to take the former approach with pacts. This remix will focus on the latter option.

    Mechanically speaking, the warlock is an energizer bunny. They can go pretty much forever without exhausting their resources. The (rather harsh) trade off for this stamina that Wizards handed out was a dramatically reduced impact in many respects. The damage they can meet out is rather unimpressive, making them poor blasters (at least in realistic combat durations). The invocations they can use are fairly varied, but the small number of viable options they receive still creates a bottleneck, making warlocks fairly narrow on a case-by-case basis. Their item-based abilities are nifty, but aren’t mind-blowing (especially now that we can just play an artificer). And the other abilities are hardly worth mentioning.

    This rewrite will focus on their inherited abilities to a great extent, emphasizing the different boons gained from different ancestors. Role-wise they will still not be dedicated blasters (though they will be better at the role), but rather a class that you can mold to fit what you want, from blaster to BFC to party face...but more than anything, to bump up the overall power level of the class.

    Table of Contents
    1. 1st Post: Introduction, Class Basics, Table, and Class Features
    2. 2nd Post: Heritage Features
    3. 3rd Post: Invocations
    4. 4th Post: Extras and Change Log



    2

    The Warlock


    Alignment: Any (see below)
    Hit Die: d6

    Class Skills
    Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Use Magic Device (Cha)
    Skill Points at First Level: (4 + Int modifier) x 4
    Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier

    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    The first change: warlocks are now getting 4+ Int skill points. 2 skill points is so laughably tiny, particularly for any class that doesn’t already focus on Int. It greatly limits your out-of-combat capabilities, and furthermore doesn’t even make sense for a warlock; it isn’t like the warlock is spending years shut in a tower studying!

    The skill list is altered only slightly, to include the last of the social skills. The warlock can make for an excellent party face in any situation, using their natural charisma to maximum effect. Use Magic Device is the only other stand out, and is brilliantly utilized by warlocks. Their connection to magic, and magical items, has been increased, which melds well with their innate arcane power.
    Table: Warlock
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    The biggest change here is the addition of a lot of invocations. An issue that always plagued warlocks was the forced choice between nifty invocations and improving your eldritch blasts. to get any real versatility out of the ability, you’d be sacrificing nearly all of your potential versatility from other invocations. With the shapes and essences having a separate progression that dilemma is eliminated, allowing you to have interesting options with both your invocations and your primary method of attack.

    The only other change to note here is the improved Fortitude save. It isn’t an official progression; it’s the unofficial medium save progression. I’ve always felt like Warlocks should be made of a little sterner stuff, bolstered by their eldritch lineage.
    Class Features
    All of the following are class features of the warlock.

    Weapon and Armor Proficiency
    Warlocks are proficient with all simple weapons. They are proficient with light armor but not with shields.

    Since the somatic components required for warlock invocations are uncomplicated gestures, a warlock’s invocations ignore the arcane spell failure chance of light armor. This does not apply to any other form of armor, nor does this apply to spells or abilities granted from other classes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    No changes or surprises here. A warlock will rarely be using an actual weapon, and those that do are pretty specialized, which is why Exotic Weapon Proficiency is an option.

    Light armor is still the norm for warlocks, as they are slightly more martial than wizards and sorcerers; a warlock’s abilities are simple in combat and aren’t hampered by flexible armor.
    Invocations

    Due to the eldritch power that flows through his veins, a warlock does not prepare or cast spells as other wielders of arcane magic do. Instead, he possesses a repertoire of attacks, defenses, and abilities known as invocations that require him to focus the wild energy that suffuses his soul. A warlock can use any invocations he knows at-will, with the following qualifications:

    A warlock’s invocations are spell-like abilities; using an invocation is a standard action that provokes an attack of opportunity unless otherwise indicated in it’s description. An invocation can be disrupted, just as a spell can be ruined during casting. A warlock is entitled to a Concentration check to successfully use an invocation if he is hit by an attack while invoking, just as a spellcaster would be. A warlock can choose to use an invocation defensively, by making a successful Concentration check, to avoid provoking attacks of opportunity. A warlock’s invocations are subject to spell resistance unless an invocation’s description specifically states otherwise. A warlock’s caster level with his invocations is equal to his warlock level. A warlock may dismiss an invocation as a standard action, just as a wizard can dismiss a spell.

    The save DC for an invocation (if it allows a save) is equal to 10 + the equivalent spell level of the invocation + the warlock’s Charisma modifier. Since spell-like abilities are not actually spells, a warlock cannot benefit from any metamagic feat or the Spell Focus feat. He can, however, benefit from the Ability Focus feat and any other feat that affects spell-like abilities. Unlike other spell-like abilities, invocations are subject to arcane spell failure chance.

    The four grades of invocations, in order of their relative power, are least, lesser, greater and ancestral. A warlock begins play with knowledge of one least-grade invocation. As a warlock gains levels, he learns new invocations, as shown on the table above. At any level when a warlock learns a new invocation, he may also replace an invocation he already knows with another invocation of the same grade or lower. At 6th level, a warlock gains access to lesser invocations; at 11th level, a warlock gains access to greater invocations and at 16th level the warlock gains access to ancestral invocations.

    Finally, by virtue of their strong connection to arcane magics, warlocks can qualify for some prestige classes usually intended for spellcasters; see Warlocks and Prestige Classes section below for details.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    There should be no mechanical changes here, just cleaned up wording. Invocations have always been a standout feature of the class, and there is no reason to change them. I have changed dark invocations to ancestry invocations to reflect a warlocks varying heritage instead of the purely dark focus of the original version.

    Oh, when you gain invocations has been altered, but only slightly for better consistency. You still end the class with 12.
    Blast Shapes and Eldritch Essences

    Not all invocations a warlock knows have any direct effect upon the world; rather, they modify a warlock’s eldritch blast, changing the damage or other effects of the ability. There are two types of these invocations: blast shapes and eldritch essences. Using any of these invocations is part of the same action as the eldritch blast. A warlock may apply up to one blast shape and one eldrtich essence to a single eldritch blast. When a warlock applies a blast shape or eldritch essence, the effective spell level of the modified eldritch blast is equal to the effective spell level of the invocation; if using both, the effective spell level is the highest between the two invocations, plus 1 (thus, a warlock that uses a blast shape of effective spell level 4th and an eldritch essence of effective spell level 3rd has an effective spell level for its eldritch blast of 5th level).

    A blast shape affects the range, target, or area of effect of a eldritch blast. Unless noted otherwise, an eldritch blast subject to a blast shape invocation deals damage normally (as well as applying the effect of any applied eldritch essence or any other ability that modifies invocations).

    An eldritch essence modifies the damage dealt by an eldritch blast or cause a variety of effects. If the warlock targets a creature with an eldritch blast modified by an eldritch essence that has immunity to the essence’s effect, the creature still takes damage from the attack normally (provided the creature isn’t immune to the eldritch blast itself).

    Blast shapes and eldritch essences may be selected as normal just like any other invocation, but warlocks will always learn some methods to modify their eldritch blasts. At the levels shown on the table above (3rd, 5th, 8th, 10th, 13th, 15th, 18th, and 20th) a warlock learns a new invocation, but these invocations must be either blast shapes or eldritch essences. These blast shapes and essences may not be swapped out like your other invocations.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    As mentioned above, the methods to modify your eldrtich blast conflicted with your other invocations, making for some very limited options at times. You could have a solid number of invocations, but then combat would grow boring quite quickly, as your actions would change little from round to round. Or you could have a great variety of shapes/essences...and you’d have little else to ever do. So now you’re going to be able to modify your eldritch blast no matter what, and to a pretty decent extent. This will also give the lower level essences a chance to see more play, as they would often be skipped over in favor of waiting for more powerful options.

    Increasing the spell level of your eldritch blast by 1 when you applied both a shape and essence was an idea I got from T.G. Oskar’s rework of the class, but aside from that these invocations are functionally unchanged.
    Eldritch Blast (Sp)

    The first invocation that all warlocks learn is the eldritch blast. A warlock attacks his foes with pure arcane power, causing damage and sometimes imparting other debilitating effects.

    An eldritch blast is a ray with a range of 60 ft. It is a ranged touch attack that affects a single target, and allows no saving throw. An eldritch blast deals 1d6 points of damage at 1st level, and increases in power as shown on the table above. An eldritch blast is the equivalent of a 1st level spell. If you apply a blat shape or eldritch essence invocation to your eldritch blast your eldritch blast uses the level equivalent of the shape or essence.

    An eldritch blast is subject to spell resistance, although feats like Spell Penetration and other effects that increase caster level checks for overcoming spell resistance apply to eldritch blast. An eldritch blast deals half damage to objects. Metamagic feats cannot improve a warlock’s eldritch blast, but feats that affect spell-like abilities can affect this ability; for instance, Ability Focus (eldritch blast) increases the DC for all saving throws (if any) associated with a warlock’s eldritch blast by 2.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    The most obvious, and common, change is altering the progression of eldritch blast to match sneak attack progression. Why it topped out at 9d6 originally I will never truly understand. An average of 35 damage isn’t anything to worry about by level 19.

    This incorporates the errata...for those of you in the know, you understand. For those of you not in the know, eldritch blast originally had a spell level that changed with your level, but that caused some messes and confusion. This is cleaner.
    Heritage

    At 2nd level a Warlock begins manifesting certain aspects of his otherworldly ancestors. This power flows through your blood, an inheritance from a mighty creature you are descended from. You must choose one of the lineages in the following post. Once chosen this choice cannot be changed. Some heritage’s have prerequisites you must meet to select that lineage; if at any point you no longer meet the prerequisites for your heritage you will cease to gain heritage abilities (but you retain the ones you’ve already awakened, and if you are able to again meet the prerequisites you will continue to gain heritage abilities). If a heritage ability grants a save, the DC is 10 + half your class level + your Charisma modifier.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    Heritage is the big new addition to the class. It reflects whatever your source of power is, and grants benefits associated with it. The original warlock gained several different abilities, but they were all reminiscent of a demonic linage (in addition to being remarkably underwhelming). With Heritage, if you choose to have an Angelic cause for your powers, you will be notably different in your abilities than if you received your arcane abilities from a demon or a fey.

    The progression is staggered with your Eldritch Blast, ensuring that you acquire a new ability or enhancement at every single level. Heritage will grant a large variety of abilities, to really help define each lineage. The main capstone of the class with be the 10th Heritage ability, since that is the driving flavor of the class. Each lineage will have it’s own notes, as they will diverge enough to require unique comments.

    In the future I’d like to increase the available lineages, including draconic, elemental, and undead heritage options.
    Detect Magic (Sp)

    A warlock begins to grasp the basic foundations of magic as he grows in power. At 3rd level he can use detect magic as the spell at will. His caster level is equal to his class level.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    You’ll recognize this from the second level of standard warlocks. There wasn’t anything wrong with getting this at 2nd, but with the addition of Heritage, moving this to 3rd spread things out better.

    This ability is the first mechanical point that shows the warlock’s connection to magic around him, not just the power welling up from his soul. This is expanded upon with his affinity for magical items in the original version, and expanded greatly in this reworking. If it’s magic, the warlock is going to notice it!
    Deceive Item (Ex)

    The energies that surround and flow through magical items are easier to control for a warlock. At 5th level a warlock can more easily manipulate complex magical items. When making a Use Magic Device check, he can take 10 on the check, even if distracted or threatened.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    And this you’ll recognize from the fourth level of standard warlocks. The reasons for it shifting a level are the same as for Detect Magic.

    This is the first mechanic that says “Hey, I am awesome at utilizing magic, even when it comes prepackaged in item form!” Other classes may get UMD, and it’ll be useful. But this class has an innate connect with magic, one that allows him to use magical devices with far more mastery. This focus on items and magic in general is important, so the warlock doesn’t feel like nothing more than an extension of his bloodline. While that may be what makes him a warlock, this thread ties all the various warlocks together into a cohesive whole. They all have a deep and profound connection to magic that transcends the narrower focus of their blood.
    Identify Item (Su)

    A warlock of 8th level has grown to understand the weaving of magical power to such an extent that he can understand the function of magical items with brief study. When he casts detect magic on an item, he may then spend 1 minute concentrating on the item to also learn the properties of the item, as if he had cast identify.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    If a warlock is going to have a deep connection to magical items, it’d sure be nice if he knew what they did! Dragonfire Adepts already have an invocation that grants infinite free identifies...and it’s almost a required invocation because of how darn nice it is to have. So instead of just porting the invocation over for warlocks, their enhanced connection of all magic allows them all to identify stuff. When you’ve got a warlock on your team, it will never blow you away, but you’ll always be happy to have it.
    Eldritch Volley (Su)

    The experience of wielding his eldritch blast for so long has granted the warlock the stamina to fire off multiple blasts in quick succession. At 9th level, if a warlock uses his eldritch blast in a round he may launch an additional eldritch blast at his full base attack bonus as a swift action. When the warlock reaches 18th level he may launch up to two additional eldritch blasts instead of only one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    Warlocks are not dedicated blasters. But they are a never-ending supply of raw arcane damage. One of the greatest and most common complaints is that they only ever get a single eldritch blast a turn. Full attacking with an eldritch glaive is quite nice, but it also requires a fairly specific build to ensure you don’t go squish. While you do get this late in the class, it grants warlocks who have stuck with the class a pretty noticeable boost in damage output. It doesn’t eat up his move action because that wouldn’t make much sense, given the nature of eldritch blast. At this point, firing out that second shot gives him the option of focus-firing better, or performing as a better BFC, hitting more targets and caring more about the riders than the damage. Once he gets the third blast, he’ll be dealing respectable damage out of the box for the late game.
    Arcane Sight (Su)

    A warlock’s understanding of arcane power has grown and matured at 10th level, to the point that magic around him is easily visible. He is under an effect similar to arcane sight, except that instead of using a Spellcraft check to determine schools of magic, he uses his ranks in Spellcraft + his caster level. He may supprese or resume this ability as a free action.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    Here warlock’s are essentially getting an upgrade to their detect magic ability. Arcane Sight gets very little use as it is, but it can provide a nice wealth of information. Warlocks are really expanding at this point, getting a feel for the magic around them, not just the magic they’re tapping into because of some inhuman genes.

    Some of you may be wondering why I bothered changing the Spellcraft check portion of arcane sight. To understand why, play a game in which you have it constantly active. You’ll be making Spellcraft checks left and right, and it will quickly grow annoying (it’ll be even worse in a PBP game!). Instead you get a constant number that your DM knows about and can easily deal with. Streamlining things is good.
    Eldritch Soul (Su)

    At 13th level the magic that infuses a warlock wells up in an incredible fount of power. His warlock caster level and the caster level of any magical item he uses is considered to be 2 higher.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    Warlocks are deeply in tune with magic. Originally exclusive to the Giant Heritage, Eldritch Soul was changed to a main feature of the class in favor of Imbue Item to further reflect the connection and instinctual command of arcane magics a warlock possess. Increasing caster level is less amazing for warlocks than wizards and other casters, but it still provides numerous benefits like better chances at overcoming spell resistance, and makes them outstanding item users.
    Greater Arcane Sight (Ex)

    By 15th level the world’s magic is laid out before a warlock’s senses, as clear to him as the color of the earth or sky. Like his other senses, so intrinsic is this ability that not even an anti-magic field can disrupt it. He is permanently under an effect similar to greater arcane sight, except that instead of using a Spellcraft check to determine schools of magic, he uses his ranks in Spellcraft + his caster level. He may suppress or resume this ability as a free action. This ability replaces the Arcane Sight ability gained at 10th level.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    If you manage to hit this point as a warlock, your understanding and perception of the magic of the world is pretty unrivaled. Magic suffuses your body to the extent that you can tell what magic is where and more with a glance, and it can’t even be shut down anymore. As rarely as arcane sight sees use, the greater version suffers more. It provides a nice effect, but sadly not one that you’ll often want to spend that spell slot one. This really drives home that warlocks are the guys to ask when it comes to magic.
    Renew Item (Su)

    A warlock of 20th level can utilize his eldritch abilities to recharge magical items that have been temporarily drained. He may concentrate intently on an item that has a limited number of uses that recharge each day and replenish some or all of the charges. If an item has no charges left, he may concentrate uninterrupted for 5 minutes to restore a single charge. Alternatively, he may focus on an item uninterrupted for an hour to fully recharge the item.
    Quote Originally Posted by Design Notes
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    While this is not the premier capstone ability (those are found in heritage), it is a, as far as I know, unique effect. Warlocks are the magic users of the world with essentially unlimited stamina. Most often the resources that demand a warlock rest for 8 hours are his items. But now a warlock can keep going as long as he needs or want to, and thanks to his deep understanding of how magical items function, so can his gear.

    This gains the party a unique effect, and an extremely useful one, as there are some very powerful items that you’d love to be able to recharge if given the option.

    Warlocks and Prestige Classes

    A warlock taking levels in a prestige classes that has “+1 level of existing arcane spellcasting class” or “+1 level of existing spellcasting class” does not gain any of his class abilities, but he does gain an increased caster level when using his invocations and increased damage with his eldritch blast. A warlock also gains new invocations at these levels as though he had gained a level in the warlock class, as well as which grades of invocation he can learn.

    A warlock cannot qualify for a prestige class with a spellcasting level requirement, as he never actually learns to cast spells. However, he can qualify for prestige classes with caster level requirements (a warlock’s caster level for his invocations fulfills this requirement).
    Last edited by MammonAzrael; 2012-03-18 at 04:14 AM.
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