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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Calemyr's Avatar

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    Default Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    So I've signed on to a 5e campaign some old college friends of mine have been running. The role-playing concept I'm working from is a reluctant adventurer cursed to carry a sentient sword that is convinced it can train anyone to be the next legendary hero, even a decidedly non-adventurous merchant like my character.

    The combat concept I'm working from is a magic knight, shadow-themed without being evil, with the potential to serve as a tank (as the other player characters are somewhat more squishy). Now, I'm not playing to munchkin or min-max (it's a role-play focused campaign), but I would be curious to see if I'm making decent use of my resources, tactically speaking, without... well... being cheap.

    So I'm a human hexblade warlock with Pact of the Blade. I've got max CHA (naturally) and CON as my second highest, and enough DEX to make the most of medium armor. The DM swapped my ability to summon a modifiable pact weapon with the ability to summon a static sentient longsword as my pact weapon. Character level is 10.

    My invocations are: Devil's Sight, Improved Pact Weapon*, Thirsting Blade, Eldritch Smite, and Relentless Hex.
    * Since I have a static pact weapon, the DM ruled IPW functions as a +1 Pact Rod, adding +1 to spell attack and save and the ability to recharge a spell slot once per long rest.
    My default equipped spells are Hex and Darkness, and my cantrips are Eldritch Blast and a trio of sword-based spells from the Sword Coast Advanced Guide. Eldritch Blast is primarily kept for rounds when nothing is in melee range and not a favored mode of combat.

    The approach I'm working on for combat is to start an engagement with Hex on an intimidating foe and use Relentless Hex to dog this enemy. If they are faster than me, this allows me to keep up. If they are not, this gives me the leave to assist allies as needed while still ending each turn adjacent to my hexed enemy. Since Hex is transferrable and can be maintained for up to 24 hours, one casting should be enough to last any fight unless concentration is broken.

    Hexblade's Curse is typically kept in reserve for enemies that reveal themselves to be particularly dangerous after the engagement has begun and used much the same as Hex.

    Accursed Specter has been reskinned to be the sword's spirit manifesting rather than necromancy and meant to serve as battlefield intelligence rather than a combatant.

    Darkness is reserved as a trump card, but is more typically meant to serve as fuel for Eldritch Smite. Darknesss+Devil's Sight is a powerful combo, but abuse of it would be poor form. (Roleplaywise, it is tied to his origins as a lone-wolf vigilante, when he used Darkness-imbued pebbles like smoke bombs to quit battlefields before uncomfortable questions started coming up.)

    The Black Knight has some minor magical goods and scrolls, but his primary treasure is his sword and a glamoured +1 breastplate. And a cloak of billowing because of course he does.

    Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions on this build? Again, I would like to be effective (as the game is apparently fairly high challenge) without being cheap.
    Last edited by Calemyr; 2019-05-22 at 01:35 PM.
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    1 Godwin Point.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kairos Theodosian
    It appears someone will have to saddle my goat, for we now must ride out in glorious battle.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    It's a pretty classic, full hexblade build, but there's a few things you'll want to pay attention to.

    Hexblades are notoriously squishy melee combatants. You'll want to rely on Shield or some kind of defensive ability (Tomb of Levistus?) to sustain yourself in combat. Many rely on Darkness for this very reason.
    Tying into the last fact, Relentless Hex would best serve when hexing an easy ranged combatant. Relentless Hex doesn't help you when you're fighting something that wants you adjacent to it. Additionally, Hex can be placed on a new target if the old one is killed, so it's actually better to use it on easier targets.

    Combining all of this, you'll probably want to be darting across the battlefield, causing tons of havoc across the enemy's back line. Unless you're using Eldritch Smite, I'd leave the bosses for the rest of your team. It'll also mean that your Darkness will be less hindering for your party, when you're in the middle of the enemy's back line.
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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    To make this build tanky enough, Iíd suggest a couple of things

    1. You really want your foes to have disadvantage to hit you. Darkness is great, but sometimes it wonít fit the battlefield youíre in, itíll mess up your party too much. Take shadow of Moil. Seriously. Darkness is arguably more powerful, and use it when you can, but with darkness AND shadow of Moil, your foes will nearly always have disadvantage against you. Iíd actually say for this build, for this role, hex is less important than these options. You need them to have disadvantage to hit you as much as possible

    2. Protect that protective spell. Darkness or Moil, if you lose concentration youíll be going down hard and fast. Take either res CON or warcaster. There are arguments for each but thatís another long thread on its own and it has been well covered. Iím going to assume youíll likely go WC as youíre sword and board.

    I have, on multiple occasions, seen a melee hexblade who has GWM, but not WC or Res Con yet be quite tough and tanky up to the point they lost concentration... then they nearly disintegrated.


    Then some questions

    3. Are you human or VH? Are you taking sentinel as your feat?

    4. Do you have any ambitions of hitting really hard? The way youíre set up you are going to be challenged to do so.
    Last edited by Spiritchaser; 2019-05-22 at 01:59 PM.

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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    It's a pretty classic, full hexblade build, but there's a few things you'll want to pay attention to.

    Hexblades are notoriously squishy melee combatants. You'll want to rely on Shield or some kind of defensive ability (Tomb of Levistus?) to sustain yourself in combat. Many rely on Darkness for this very reason.
    Tying into the last fact, Relentless Hex would best serve when hexing an easy ranged combatant. Relentless Hex doesn't help you when you're fighting something that wants you adjacent to it. Additionally, Hex can be placed on a new target if the old one is killed, so it's actually better to use it on easier targets.

    Combining all of this, you'll probably want to be darting across the battlefield, causing tons of havoc across the enemy's back line. Unless you're using Eldritch Smite, I'd leave the bosses for the rest of your team. It'll also mean that your Darkness will be less hindering for your party, when you're in the middle of the enemy's back line.
    I appreciate the quick response, but I do have questions on your advice.

    I've heard it said that Hexblades are squishy. Would you be willing to explain how? Is it just the size of the hit dice? Medium armor, combined with DEX isn't worse AC than heavy armor and comes without the penalties. I mean, I realize the smaller hit dice means less HP, but I favored CON to balance that out. It might be worth noting that the two features of my sword are Defending and the ability to summon a shield along with the sword (the shield also gaining an AC bonus equal to any points shunted to Defending, in effect doubling the investment), so my defense can pretty solid in a pinch.

    As for zipping around, both moving the Hex and using Relentless Hex use a bonus action, and I assumed you only get one per round. As a result, using it to zip around seems very inefficient, requiring two rounds of setup every time something dies. Why not use it to weaken a dominant threat and anchor yourself to it, allowing you to engage it (with increased damage) almost on a whim?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiritchaser View Post
    Then some questions

    3. Are you human or VH? Are you taking sentinel as your feat?

    4. Do you have any ambitions of hitting really hard? The way youíre set up you are going to be challenged to do so.
    3. Default human (which I didn't argue with as I rolled a lot of odd stats), no feats so far.

    4. I'm not gunning for burst damage (we've got a barbarian and sorcerer for that), but rather a stable stream of competence.

    Since Darkness, Hex, and Shadow of Moil are all concentration abilities, I can't use any two of them at once. As such, and since the shadow spells require an action to cast while Hex is a bonus action, Hex is to start the fight in a hurry, with darkness in reserve either for smite or to replace Hex after a concentration break (i.e. when I'm in trouble and needing some added defense). And while I'll grant Shadow of Moil is better for combat, it's got a smaller radius, shorter duration, no ability to temporarily disable it, and is focused on the caster rather than an object, greatly reducing its non-combat functionality.
    Last edited by Calemyr; 2019-05-22 at 02:18 PM.
    Spoiler: My inventory:
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    1 Sentient Sword
    1 Jammy Dodger (I was promised tea)
    1 Godwin Point.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kairos Theodosian
    It appears someone will have to saddle my goat, for we now must ride out in glorious battle.

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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    If you go this route and take war caster or res con, run darkness or shadow of Moil and pump CHA and Con, youíll be tough enough to do your job (you donít have second wind like a fighter, or healing like a ranger, or the multiple survival tools that a pally gets, and youíre d8 so you want that protection

    Youíll still need to be able to hold off the masses.

    Combat in 5e is reasonably sticky, but to really do your job, you may find you need sentinel.

    After that? I think youíll be good.

    If your sword were a spear it might be a little different.

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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Spiritchaser View Post
    If you go this route and take war caster or res con, run darkness or shadow of Moil and pump CHA and Con, youíll be tough enough to do your job (you donít have second wind like a fighter, or healing like a ranger, or the multiple survival tools that a pally gets, and youíre d8 so you want that protection

    Youíll still need to be able to hold off the masses.

    Combat in 5e is reasonably sticky, but to really do your job, you may find you need sentinel.

    After that? I think youíll be good.

    If your sword were a spear it might be a little different.
    Yeah, I considered the whole Glaivelock angle, but avoided it because it struck me like the blaster warlock - when you go fully optimized you lose the freedom of expression. That's part of the "I don't want to be cheap" caveat. I guess I'm asking a pretty dumb question, aren't I? I want to play my character optimally rather than play an optimal character.

    Also, how the heck do you "pump CHA and Con" AND have feats? Maybe I didn't read it right, but don't you sacrifice one for the other? As in, at level ten, you can only have 2 feats, 2 ability boosts, or 1 of each?
    Spoiler: My inventory:
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    1 Sentient Sword
    1 Jammy Dodger (I was promised tea)
    1 Godwin Point.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kairos Theodosian
    It appears someone will have to saddle my goat, for we now must ride out in glorious battle.

  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    Hexblade squishiness is manifold; the loss of a single point of AC might not sound like a lot, but A.) you take enough hits on the front lines that you'll constantly feel the weight of even a single point of AC, and B.) the system is designed to eventually have attack bonuses eclipse AC. Higher numbers mean your armor gets to be relevant for longer. The extra points needed in Dexterity isn't ideal either, since it would mostly be a dump stat if you didn't need to earmark it for AC.

    The d8 Hit Die is another glaring problem. You're losing out on half the Tough feat's worth of HP. This can be remedied, of course, but you're already spread thin thanks to needing Dex 14 (assuming you want half plate, which you do. Every point in AC matters when you're constantly getting aimed at). Getting your Constitution up, your Dex to 14, and keeping your Charisma maxed can and will take it's toll on your character development. You'll have to dump Strength, and either Intelligence or Wisdom- and the one you don't will still need to be fairly low. You'll probably dump Intelligence, since playing at low Wisdom is outright dangerous.

    You've taken all these things into account, which is good. But there's one final problem with hexblade squishiness, and it's the exact same problem the Ranger and Rogue face- you have few ways to mitigate damage. The Barbarian can rage, the Fighter has at the very least Second Wind and probably some lockdown tools, the Paladin can heal and has Aura of Protection. Even Clerics are better at this than you thanks to a bevy of heals and buffs.

    To make up for this, you'd need to spend your limited Pact Magic slots on defensive spells like darkness, hence the popularity of the Devil's Sight combo. Anything that lasts multiple rounds is ideal.

    You don't need to play this way, of course. But be aware of it, and know that you have a lot less wiggle room between 'bring 'em on!' and 'retreat!'.

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Calemyr View Post
    I appreciate the quick response, but I do have questions on your advice.

    I've heard it said that Hexblades are squishy. Would you be willing to explain how? Is it just the size of the hit dice? Medium armor, combined with DEX isn't worse AC than heavy armor and comes without the penalties. I mean, I realize the smaller hit dice means less HP, but I favored CON to balance that out. It might be worth noting that the two features of my sword are Defending and the ability to summon a shield along with the sword (the shield also gaining an AC bonus equal to any points shunted to Defending, in effect doubling the investment), so my defense can pretty solid in a pinch.

    As for zipping around, both moving the Hex and using Relentless Hex use a bonus action, and I assumed you only get one per round. As a result, using it to zip around seems very inefficient, requiring two rounds of setup every time something dies. Why not use it to weaken a dominant threat and anchor yourself to it, allowing you to engage it (with increased damage) almost on a whim?
    With what you've described, it should work out well.

    Hexblades do suffer from a smaller Hit Die, which translates to 1 (19%) less HP from class compared to a Fighter, and there is a bit of difference between Medium and Heavy Armor.

    Heavy Armor, with a modifier of 15, reaches 18 AC.

    Medium Armor, with a modifier of 15, reaches 17 AC. But since you're talking about not having penalties, I'm assuming you're talking about a Breastplate, which caps at 16 AC. It's not a great deal of difference, but it is some.

    However, this is assuming a 14+ Dexterity Warlock. A Fighter would be able to put in more towards their two stats, when you are divided between three. Warlocks often cannot afford to have a decent Constitution, Dexterity AND Charisma, which is why they're considered squishier than other melee specialists. Without Shield or Tomb of Levistus, you lack defensive features, too, when a Fighter would have access to something like Second Wind. In the same way that a Fighter can use the synergies of high HP and health gain with high defenses, a Hexblade lacks those synergies.

    While zipping around is a two-round process, you still have access to the best ranged cantrip in the game: Eldritch Blast. You can use it with Hex to harass a ranged target before warp-striking them the following turn and finishing them off.

    The fact that you have a magical and defensive sword does change a lot of things, though.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2019-05-22 at 04:18 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas Iíve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. Youíre a gem of the community here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post

    5th Edition Homebrewery

    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes while maintaining balance with default options.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
    Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!

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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    Quote Originally Posted by Calemyr View Post
    Yeah, I considered the whole Glaivelock angle, but avoided it because it struck me like the blaster warlock - when you go fully optimized you lose the freedom of expression. That's part of the "I don't want to be cheap" caveat. I guess I'm asking a pretty dumb question, aren't I? I want to play my character optimally rather than play an optimal character.

    Also, how the heck do you "pump CHA and Con" AND have feats? Maybe I didn't read it right, but don't you sacrifice one for the other? As in, at level ten, you can only have 2 feats, 2 ability boosts, or 1 of each?
    At level 10 youíll have room for 1 feat and 1 asi, youíre a couple of levels away from your second ASI. If you can work without sentinel you should be fine with that...

    If you find you need sentinel things get considerably tighter

    If you CAN talk your DM into VH, youíd be in better shape there.
    Last edited by Spiritchaser; 2019-05-22 at 02:47 PM.

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    Default Re: Am I Doing This Right? Black Knight Hexblade

    I rolled a pretty robust set of stats. No 18s, but a 17, an 11, a 13, and a few 15s. With strength being pretty superfluous and the standard human stat bonuses, 14 DEX was effectively my dump stat. I used my ASIs to max my CHA and get my CON to 18.

    So far, out of three sessions, I've only been in a single fight but it was against a trio of CR 12 devils with some augmentation for flavor (namely a nasty PBAoE reaction attack when bloodied). Fared pretty well in the fight, too. One fight, however, doesn't make a pattern. Between being a bit out of practice (haven't played for two years and DMed Pathfinder for the three before that) and not knowing the 5e rules all that well (again, Pathfinder pleb), I thought I'd ask this question. The fact that work today is boring and this week's session of the campaign starts in a few hours had nothing to do with it, I swear.
    Spoiler: My inventory:
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    1 Sentient Sword
    1 Jammy Dodger (I was promised tea)
    1 Godwin Point.


    Quote Originally Posted by Kairos Theodosian
    It appears someone will have to saddle my goat, for we now must ride out in glorious battle.

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