Hexblade

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A Hexblade is an arcane/martial hybrid class in Dungeons & Dragons.

3rd Edition D&D[edit]

In 3e he is more or less an arcane Paladin, just slightly worse. You see early on in 3.X Wizards of the Coast had this bizarre idea that all the broken tricks a wizard could pull off were OK, but a guy who could buff himself and wear armor was stupidly OP and had to gimp it to hell to print it. No, we don't get how divine casters were OK under that line of thought either. It also came from Complete Warrior, which is considered extremely underpowered in general (It gave the Samurai class comparable in power to an NPC class).

He has curses, full base attack bonus progression (+1 per level like a fighter), a companion familiar (instead of a mount), has good will saves, casts magic spontaneously, has a big hit die and gets the occasional bonus feat dedicated to improving spellcasting. The class is superficially like a Duskblade, which is also a hybrid Arcane/Martial class. Unfortunately Hexblades do not start with the ability to cast spells and only casts fewer spells-per-day, on the plus side their spell list are improved making them slightly more variable than Duskblades, but unfortunately that's where the comparison ends.

As a caster, he cannot wear anything heavier than light armor, his other saves suck dick (except against spell) and cannot be good (becoming so results in the loss of all your powers and your familiar). No fluff reason is ever given for why they can't be good aligned either, as they're self-taught, natural ability (explicitly like a sorcerer), not something based in an outside power that can yank it away. Also, his class features don't entirely mesh well with his function, since cursing and arcane resistance is all well and good, his spellcasting abilities do not make him a replacement for the group's primary arcane caster and without any combat features he doesn't stand up front as a fighter either. So the Hexblade doesn't really work as either a Caster or a Warrior. Duskblades do this much better.

He will also need a combination of Charisma (for his spells and only source of decent save), Strength (for his attacks), Dexterity (to not die) and Constitution (also to not die), leading to MAD. Pathfinder would later take inspiration from the hexblade as an archetype of the Magus class, called a hexcrafter. They sacrifice their spell recall ability to gain access to curses in their spell list and the ability to learn witch hexes instead of magus arcana.

Making Hexblades Work[edit]

You will be best served by taking spells that increase your own fighting abilities and survivability through not getting hit: by picking your spells wisely you can fill up a few niches as they up, from flanking an enemy and serving as the rear guard to punishing enemy casters. Do note that the class is not considered to be very good, because while the Hexblade can fill certain openings as they fall he cannot fill them as good as someone fit for that job can. While Hexblade is a poor main class, it gets all its important abilities within 4 levels, all but your curse scale on their own and none of them cost actions to use, meaning it is well suited for entering martial prestige classes that don't care about your original abilities.

Prestige class options are very similar to the Duskblade options, made slightly easier to qualify later in your career since you have a broader range of spells. Unfortunately it can't really be said which way you "should" go, since you picked a character class that didn't really have a job to start with.

Dragon Disciple from the core rules works for the Hexblade moreso than Bards or Sorcerers who have to give up much of their spellcasting potential in order to gain buffs that take them out of their comfort zones. As a "Fighting class" who can spontaneously cast, sacrificing most of your spellcasting ability (no great loss) for a series of permanent physical buffs that could help steer your character into a front line role, rather than the confused position the Hexblade normally occupies. Though unlike the Prestige class options noted below, the BAB of the Dragon Disciple follows the 3/4 progression of the cleric, so you do trade away some accuracy for the added strength (which net-outweighs the BAB loss unless you're looking for an extra attack early on) defense and class features, so it's your call...

Abjurant Champion from Complete Mage works acceptably, since it improves your combat abilities by allowing you to burn unused spell slots for temporary bonuses. Other features improve your survivability, but this is mostly situational since your caster list does not include Mage Armor as standard, so you'll have to settle by augmenting your other protection spells, such as Shield.

If you are Elf/Half-Elf, the Bladesinger class works alright with Hexblade levels, though it means fencing yourself into a duelist role by fighting one-handed and makes you more MAD considering that it needs INT to function to its best. Just don't take it too far, as you start losing out on class features as you can already cast in light armor.

Spellsword is where you want to be if you want to stick it as a Hexblade and improve your combat abilities, though you need to have both Medium/Heavy armor proficiency and level 2 spells, meaning you need be around level 8+ to take this class.

If you can pick up the Rage ability from somewhere, either by multi-classing one level of Barbarian (or taking the Eye of Gruumsh prestige class if you are Half-Orc/Orc) then Rage Mage might be the class for you, while it improves neither your spellcasting or your BAB to its best possible ability, the class features do synergize well with the Hexblade, allowing you to cast spells while raging and wear medium armor without penalty.

Blade of Orien is nice if you just want to be a martial with some supernatural tricks and aren't attached to spellcasting. While it's easy for martial classes to qualify for, Hexblade's passive abilities not dependant upon class level make it well suited for entry. You can qualify with Hexblade 6, or Hexblade 4/Whatever 2 (ideally the second, picking up better armor proficiencies along the way). This allows you to teleport around while attacking, steal the clothes off people's back by making them teleport to your hand and other shenangians.

One thing that actually does kick ass about hexblades is their familiar. Normally, familiars kinda suck because they have to run off your stats, and you're a wizard living in fear of rats and kittens. Hexblades, however, get a familiar that runs off the stats of a combat class, meaning they have pretty good hit points and attack bonuses. This also opens up the possibility of improved familiars, which are featured in the same book, and some require a good Base Attack (which you have), meaning you can get yourself a winter wolf instead of a cat. Alternatively, you can swap it out to gain a Dark Companion, which lets you give enemies a -2 to saving throws. Take a few levels in Paladin of Tyranny, and you're looking at a -4 in total, which means enemies are going to be failing their saves a lot. You yourself have no real innate way to capitalize on this beyond Intimidate on your class list and a charisma basis, but the combination of this and your curse (which is a free action attempt) can sink enemy saves very low for allies to take advantage of. Taking Dreadful Wrath and Imperious Command can enhance your dread. Plus there's no real loss as you can still use the Obtain Familiar feat to buy yourself a familiar back - which is actually the better option, because of how familiars work.

When All Else Fails[edit]

Mike Mearls, the guy who created the hexblade, acknowledged that he'd fucked up a bit, and posted this on the WOTC forums. DMs will probably allow it, but ask first.

The hexblade suffers a little because he came on the scene relatively early in 3.5's life. As R&D pushes the boundaries of the game, we learn that some things we thought were risky or potentially broken aren't. Other times, we learn things that look fine don't actually work in play. Armored mages fall into the first category. Them seem really powerful, but in the long run they aren't. Spells and magic items allow an unarmored mage to build great defenses. The spell mage armor is as good as medium armor, and its duration allows most mages to keep it active at all times. If you compare the hexblade to the duskblade from PH 2, you can see how the thinking has changed. If you want to boost the hexblade, I'd try the following changes:

Good Fortitude save

Curse ability usable 1 + the hexblade's Cha modifier per day

Curse ability usable as a swift action

Curse ability does not count as used if the target makes his saving throw

Ability to cast in light or medium armor and while carrying a light shield or buckler

At 6th level, the hexblade can cast one hexblade spell per day as a swift action, as long as its original casting time is a standard action or faster. He gains an additional use of this power at levels 8, 11, 14, and 18.

The key to the hexblade is his curse ability, but it's a little un-fun to have it so limited in use. The hexblade also has trouble casting spells and using his melee attacks, so shifting spells to swift actions fits in with the idea of an armored mage. (These are by no means official. They're just off the top of my head changes I'd consider making.)

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition Classes
Player's Handbook: Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Wizard
Player's Handbook II: Beguiler - Dragon Shaman - Duskblade - Knight
Complete Adventurer: Exemplar - Ninja - Scout - Spellthief
Complete Arcane: Warlock - Warmage - Wu jen
Complete Divine: Favored Soul - Shugenja - Spirit Shaman
Complete Psionic: Ardent - Divine Mind - Erudite - Lurk
Complete Warrior: Hexblade - Samurai - Swashbuckler
Dragon Compendium: Battle Dancer - Death Master - Jester
Mounteback - Savant - Sha'ir - Urban Druid
Dragon Magazine: Sha'ir - Deathwalker - Fleshcrafter - Soul Reaper
Dragon Magic: Dragonfire Adept
Dungeonscape: Factotum
Eberron Campaign Setting: Artificer
Heroes of Horror: Archivist - Dread Necromancer
Magic of Incarnum: Incarnate - Soulborn - Totemist
Miniatures Handbook: Favored Soul - Healer - Marshal - Warmage
Oriental Adventures: Samurai - Shaman - Shugenja - Sohei - Wu jen
Psionics Handbook: Psion - Psychic Warrior - Soulknife - Wilder
Tome of Battle: Crusader - Swordsage - Warblade
Tome of Magic: Binder - Shadowcaster - Truenamer
NPC Classes: Adept - Aristocrat - Commoner - Expert - Magewright - Warrior
Class-related things: Favored Class - Gestalt character - Multiclassing
Prestige classes - Variant Classes - Epic Levels

4th Edition D&D[edit]

Hexblades returned in Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition as part of the Essentials array of Variant Classes. Presented in the splatbook "Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms", they're an alternate version of the Warlock... just why WotC thought they were needed, given 4e already had a solid gish base-class in the Swordmage is unknown, but then, Essentials was full of weird ideas. They went on to bring back the Bladesinger as a variant Wizard, after all.

It bears mentioning that an editorial in Dragon actually says Hexblades were born out of an early meme in the 4e fandom of trying to secure heavy armor for warlocks.

4e Hexblades are still Arcane Strikers based on Charisma, just like their progenitors. The difference is that they are more aimed at close-range, fighting with an implement in one hand and a Pact Blade in the other. What's a Pact Blade? Well, like a true Warlock, Hexblades forge mystic contracts with powerful entities - the default Hexblade has access to the Fey and Fiend pacts, gaining a Star pact in Dragon #393 alongside a variant of the Fey Pact tied to a specific Archfey, an Elemental Pact in "Heroes of the Elemental Chaos", and a Gloom Pact in "Heroes of Shadow". Unlike Warlocks, Hexblades receive a physical manifestation of this pact in the form of an enchanted weapon specific to their patron. They have access to unique spells tied to their Pact Blade, and gain certain features based on their Pact as well. One unusual aspect is that, unlike the conventional Warlock, Hexblades are also Conjurers, with the ability to summon certain monster allies based on the combination of their level and their Pact.

Despite what you'd think, Hexblades are less MAD in this edition; their melee-based powers all key off of Charisma, same as their ranged spells, and unless for some reason you really want to rely on basic attacks a lot, that makes Strength a low priority. That said, you'll want to make either Dexterity or Constitution (for evading or tanking) your secondary ability score.

At 1st level, a Hexblade gains the class features of Pact Boon, Pact Reward and Pact Weapon. The Pact Boon is an at-will utility power that can be used once per round, and which triggers when either you drop an enemy to 0 HP or an adjacent enemy is dropped to 0 HP. The Pact Reward is a flat-up damage bonus based on your secondary ability score, a typically Essentials approach to making Strikers the damage dealing class. The Pact Weapon has certain universal rules; it can be summoned as a minor action so long as you are holding your implement in the other hand, and it only lasts as long as you both will it and you maintain your hold on both items. A pact blade has its own proficiency bonus and damage die, but shares your implement's enhancement bonus, critical hit effect, properties and powers. It can't be enchanted separately. When you use a power associated with your pact weapon and the power has both the weapon and the implement keyword, you are considered to be wielding both your pact weapon and your implement for the purpose of feats and other game elements.

At 3rd level, it gains the Improved Pact Weapon feature, which lets it use its Pact Blade's associated Encounter power 2/encounter..

At 4th level, it gains the Lesser Planar Ally feature, which lets them summon a tiny spirit to serve as a spy or scout 1/day.

At 7th level, it gains the Pact Weapon Retribution feature. This is an Encounter attack power that you can trigger when an adjacent enemy attacks you.

At 9th level, it gains the Summon Warlock's Ally feature.

At 11th level, it gains the Hexblade's Action, Pact Aspect and Pact Curse features. Hexblade's Action is a bonus rider for spending an action point. Pact Aspect is a flat-up character modification. Pact Curse grants you an Encounter attack with a range of 5 squares that causes something nasty to happen to the foe you target.

At 12th level, it gains the Pact Invocation feature. This is a Daily Utility based on your pact.

At 16th level, it gains the Improved Pact Boon feature. This upgrades your original Pact Boon at-will utility spell.

At 17th level, it gains the Superior Warlock's Ally feature, which grants its Warlock's Ally a +3 bonus to damage rolls.

At 20th level, it gains the Pact Transformation feature. This Daily Utility causes you to undergo a transformation based on your pact, as you can probably tell.

At 22nd level, it gains the Master of Magic feature. This s a Daily Utility power unique to epic-level hexblades, which can target either the hexblade itself or an ally in a 5-square burst. The target can either be teleported 20 squares, spend a healing surge & make a saving throw with a +5 bonus, or gain the Insubstantial trait (at the cost of being Weakened) until either the encounter ends or they spend a minor action to end the effect.

At 25th level, it gains the Greater Summon Warlock's Ally feature.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Classes
Player's Handbook 1: Cleric - Fighter - Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Warlock - Warlord - Wizard
Player's Handbook 2: Avenger - Barbarian - Bard - Druid - Invoker - Shaman - Sorcerer - Warden
Player's Handbook 3: Ardent - Battlemind - Monk - Psion - Runepriest - Seeker
Heroes of X: Blackguard - Binder - Cavalier - Elementalist - Hexblade - Hunter
Mage - Knight - Protector - Scout - Sentinel - Skald - Slayer - Sha'ir - Thief
Vampire - Warpriest - Witch
Settings Book: Artificer - Bladesinger - Swordmage
Dragon Magazine: Assassin
Others: Paragon Path - Epic Destiny

Hexblade Pacts[edit]

Fey Pact[edit]

Strangely, the default version of the Fey Pact for Hexblades is associated with the archfey of the Winter Court, giving you a reliance on cold damage. This may be a result of the more limited designs of Essentials classes needing stricter defined power-sets.

Pact Boon: You can use your Dexterity modifier (with a cumulative +2 bonus at levels 5, 15 and 25) as a damage bonus to your warlock attack powers. It also applies to the damage rolls of your Warlock's Ally from 9th level onwards.

Pact Reward: Soul Step, an at-will (though 1/round) teleport of squares equal to your Dex modifier triggered when you drop a creature to 0 hit points or an adjacent creature drops to 0 HP.

Pact Weapon: The Blade of Winter's Mourning, a one-handed melee light blade made from an unearthly blue metal. It has a proficiency bonus of +3, uses a d10 damage die, and grants access to the at-will & encounter attacks Icy Skewer and Piercing Shard, respectively.

Pact Weapon Retribution: Winter's Retributive Escape, an encounter attack power that lets you teleport away from an enemy's melee attack whilst inflicting cold & psychic damage.

Summon Warlock's Ally: You can summon a Wood Woad, a humanoid plant armed with a big club, tough skin, and driven to protect you.

Hexblade's Action: When you spend an action point, you can use a free action to turn invisible and teleport Dex modifier squares, either before or after you take the extra action. You remain invisible until the end of your next turn.

Pact Aspect: +2 to Bluff checks, +1 to Speed.

Pact Curse: You can use the Curse of Shattered Armor 1/encounter. This inflicts 3d10 + Cha modifier damage on an enemy within 5 sqaures and causes them to grant combat advantage until the end of your next turn.

Pact Invocation: You can use the Fey Invocation 1/day; until the encounter's end, roll a D20 whenever you take damage. You double the damage on a 1-2, halve it on a 10+, and take it as normal otherwise.

Improved Pact Boon: When you use Soul Step, you become invisible to your enemies until the end of your next turn.

Pact Transformation: The Feywild Transformation can be invoked 1/day. Until the encounter's end, you gain a +2 power bonus to Reflex and Will, can teleport up to 3 squares as a move action, and, 1/round, can use the secondary power, which inflicts psychic damage on all creatures within a close burst 1 and renders you invisible to any of them that you hit until the end of your next turn.

Greater Summon Warlock's Ally: Your Greater Ally is a Frostbite Treant, a treant from the wintery regions of the Feywild that thusly wields gouts of cold and soul-sucking limbs to protect you by destroying your enemies.

Fey Pact of the White Well[edit]

This variant of the Hexblade Fey Pact was introduced in Dragon #393, and is based on bonding to a specific archfey - the Lady of the White Well. This faerie godling is the illegitimate daughter of the Seldarine goddesss Sehanine and a mortal eladrin, the result of an elaborate vengeance ploy by Lolth based on rape-by-deceit & proxy.

See, before Lolth fully completed her descent into evil and began the elven civil war that spawned the three fey races - eladrin, elf and drow - she was obsessed with jealousy over the favor felt by Corellon for Sehanine. So, she magically beguiled an eladrin knight, cloaking him in an illusion so he looked like Corellon, and guided him to a pool where Sehanine liked to bathe. Believing the eladrin to be her consort, Sehanine laid with him and conceived a daughter.

Outraged by this act of infidelity, in the heat of passion, Corellon cursed the demigod to be forever bound to the proximity of the pool where she was conceived. The only way she would be free is if she were ever to give her heart freely to another. Sehanine cared for her daughter, giving her power over the night and teaching her powerful magic, but ultimately was forced to abandon her when the elven civil war ended and, in the wake of the Dawn War, the gods were banished to the Astral Sea.

As a Hexblade of the White Well, you represent one of those few would-be suitors who made it to the White Well and impressed the Lady enough that she offered not only boons, but the legitimate chance to win her hand and her heart.

Except where noted, this functions exactly the same as the standard Fey Pact above.

Pact Weapon: White Well Hexblades wield the Sword of the White Well, the enchanted blade once owned by the Lady's paternal ancestors, which the Lady's father hurled into the pool after learning he had been tricked into conceiving her. This is one-handed melee heavy blade whose blade shines like moonlight, with a +2 proficiency bons and a D12 damage dice. Its associated at-will & encounter attacks are Moonfire Blade and Well of Light respectively.

Pact Weapon Retribution: White Well hexblades can use the Moonlit Escape encounter power, which lets them respond to an attack by an adjacent enemy by inflicting psychic & radiant damage on them, becoming insubstantial until the start of their next turn, and shifting 1 square.

Summon Warlock's Ally: The Lady was served during the early days of her exile by eladrin handmaidens. Though they perished of old age centuries ago, her power sustains them as ghostly warriors, who she sends to attend a powerful hexblade champion. These Mourning Handmaidens are undead fey in the form of beautiful eladrin women, who can paralyze with the touch of their white-bladed swords and partially shield their charge from damage.

Hexblade's Action: When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you regain a number of hit points equal to your Charisma modifier. In addition, you can take a free action to teleport a number of squares up to your Dexterity modifier, either before or after the extra action.

Pact Aspect: You gain a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Initiative checks.

Pact Curse: By summoning the Curse of Blinding Radiance, once per encounter you can blind and sear a foe with radiant damage, as well as inflicting extra radiant damage with attacks against them until the end of your next turn.

Pact Invocation: Through the power of the White Well Invocation, you can call upon the Lady's attention. Whilst she strives to shield you from harm, her presence may overwhelm you with her sorrow. This Daily utility grants you an aura of bright light that lasts until encounter's end; whilst it is active, roll a D20 whenever you take damage. On a 1-2, you are dazed until the start of your next turn, on a 10+ you can teleport up to 5 squares and become insubstantial until the start of your next turn (you still take the damage, though). Any other result has no effect.

Improved Pact Boon: When you use Soul Step, you become Insubstantial until the end of your next turn.

Pact Transformation: Through the power of the White Well Transformation, you can become a radiance-clad figure whose light fills their foes with terror.

Greater Summon Warlock's Ally: Such is your might that you can summon the Spectral Protector, the watchful shade of the Lady's long-dead father, who employs the crushing weight of his centuries of grief to scour the minds of others and wither their resolve to fight.

Fiend Pact[edit]

Pact Boon: Soul Feast is an-at will, 1/round utility power that causes you to gain Temporary HP equl to your Con Modifier (with +2 or +5 at 11th and 2st levels) whenever you drop an enemy to 0 HP or an adjacent enemy drops to 0 HP.

Pact Reward: You can use your Constitution modifier (with a cumulative +2 bonus at levels 5, 15 and 25) as a damage bonus to your warlock attack powers. It also applies to the damage rolls of your Warlock's Ally from 9th level onwards.

Pact Weapon: Infernal Hexblades gain the Blade of Annihilation, a one-handed melee heavy blade with a Proficiency bonus of +2 and a damage die of d12 that grants access to the Soul Eater at-will attack and Blazing Doom of the Void encounter attack.

Pact Weapon Retribution: When an adjacent enemy attacks you, you can use Reflexive Hellstrike to inflict fire & necrotic damage before pushing it a number of squares equal to your Con modifier.

Summon Warlock's Ally: You can summon a spined devil lackey to pepper your enemies with its vicious poisoned quills.

Hexblade's Action: When you spend an action point, the next enemy you attack before the end of your next turn takes fire damage equal to 5 + your Con modifier, whether the atack hits or misses.

Pact Aspect: You gain Resist 10 (20 at 21st level) Fire, or +5 Fire Resistance if you already have at least that amount, and a +2 bonus to Intimidate checks.

Pact Curse: You can use the encounter attack spell Curse of the Fiery Soul, which inflicts fire damage on the foe and causes any other enemies that come within 2 squares of it before the end of your next turn to take a small bit of fire damage.

Pact Invocation: The Infernal Invocation is a daily utility that can deliver either of two effects, both of which come at a price. Firstly, you can regain 2 healing surges worth of HP but be unable to heal until the end of your encounter. Secondly, you gain a +10 power bonus to the next saving throw you make during this encounter, but then suffer a -2 penalty to all subsequent saving throws.

Improved Pact Boon: When you use Soul Feast, you can also push each adjacent enemy 1 square away.

Pact Transformation: Using Infernal Transformation turns you into a diabolic warrior, granting you immunity to fire, a +4 power bonus to melee damage rolls, and the ability to make a special melee attack 1/round that does fire damage and pushes the target up to 3 squares.

Greater Summon Warlock's Ally: Your ultimate servitor is an aspect of a pit fiend; a mere shadow of that devil's might, but still a powerful and destructive force.

Star Pact[edit]

Bound to the same Mythosian dark stars as presented in an earlier Dragon article for Warlocks, hexblades of the Star Pact excel at crushing minds and manipulating space around them. Their pact is hidden in issue #393 of Dragon.

Pact Boon: You can use the Dire Fate at-will utility 1/round when you reduce a foe to 0 HP or an adjacent enemy drops to 0 HP. In return, you gain a +1 bonus to attack rolls until the end of your next turn.

Pact Reward: You can use your Intelligence modifier (with a cumulative +2 bonus at levels 5, 15 and 25) as a damage bonus to your warlock attack powers. It also applies to the damage rolls of your Warlock's Ally from 9th level onwards.

Pact Weapon: The Starshadow Blade is a one-handed melee heavy blade with a +3 proficiency bonus and a D10 damage dice. Made of shifting light and shadow, as if someone had folded molten dreams and nightmares in the forge of a star, it grants access to an at-will attack (Resplendent Blade) and an encounter attack (Wield the Warp).

Pact Weapon Retribution: Using Gaze Into Nothing allows you to blind an attacking adjacent enemy until the end of your next turn.

Summon Warlock's Ally: Through a crack in the air, you summon a lumbering invisible monster called a Thought Phantom, which can tear the very minds of your enemies apart.

Hexblade's Action: When you spend an action point to take an extra action, the next enemy you hit or miss with an attack before the end of your turn is dazed until the end of your next turn.

Pact Aspect: You gain a +2 bonus to Arcana checks and Resist 10 to Psychic, which increases to Resist 20 at 21st level. If you already had higher psychic resistance than that, increase your resistance by +5.

Pact Curse: Through the Curse of Forbidden Knowledge, you can scourge a foe with psychic damage and cause it to blindly attack any of your other enemies that are adjacent to it, at least until the end of your next turn.

Pact Invocation: With the power of the Star Invocation, once per day, you become insubstantial and weakened until the encounter's end or you use a minor action to return to the material world.

Improved Pact Boon: When you use Dire Fate, you can choose an enemy within 2 squares and slide it 1 square.

Pact Transformation: Invoking the Starry Trnsformation turns you into a flying figure of brilliant starlight that can blind enemies.

Greater Summon Warlock's Ally: By calling forth a Way Walker, you summon a lumbering phantasm whose alien thoughts can crush the will to live with its sheer apathy towards mortal works.

Gloom Pact[edit]

Presented in "Heroes of Shadow", the Gloom Pact is a necromancer-esque pact drawing upon the eerie powers of the Shadowfell.

Pact Boon: Your at-will utility is Convocation of Shadows, where dropping an enemy to 0 HP or being adjacent to an enemy reduced to 0 HP lets you become Insubstantial with Phasing until the end of your next turn.

Pact Reward: You can use your Dexterity modifier (with a cumulative +2 bonus at levels 5, 15 and 25) as a damage bonus to your warlock attack powers. It also applies to the damage rolls of your Warlock's Ally from 9th level onwards.

Pact Weapon: Fitting their sinister motif, Gloom Hexblades with the Scourge of Exquisite Agony, a one-handed melee flail with a +2 proficiency bonus, a D10 damage die, and the Reach property. It grants access to Flesh Rend (at-will) and Spirit Flay (encounter).

Pact Weapon Retribution: When an adjacent enemy attacks you, Shadow Scourge lets you punish them with necrotic & psychic damage, as well as making them grant you combat advantage until the end of your next turn.

Summon Warlock's Ally: You can conjure forth a Dark Creeper; a small, sneaky, shadow-bred humanoid that will slink around the battlefield and backstab your enemies for you.

Hexblade's Action: When you spend an action point to take an extra action, you can become insubstantial until the end of your next turn.

Pact Aspect: You gain +2 to Stealth Checks and Resistance 10 to Necrotic, which increases to Resist 20 at 21st level. If you already had higher necrotic resistance than that, increase your resistance by +5.

Pact Curse: You can inflict the Curse of Ages, which inflicts necrotic damage and slows & weakens the target until the end of your next turn.

Pact Invocation: When you use the Dark Invocation, until the end of the encounter, roll a D20 whenever an enemy targets you with a melee or ranged attack. On a 10+ you have total concealment against that attack. On a 1-2, the enemy gets a +10 power bonus to that attack's damage roll if it hits you. On any other result, nothing happens.

Improved Pact Boon: Using Convocation of Shadows also grants you combat advantage against a single target of your next attack before the end of your next turn.

Pact Transformation: Using the Shadow Transformation turns you into a ghostly reaper figure, a slowly flying wraith whose presence dims light and who is insubstantial, yet can lash out with a touch that inflicts necrotic damage and temporary weakness.

Greater Summon Warlock's Ally: You have the power to call forth a Sorrowsworn, a mighty custodian of the cycle of life and death from the darkness of the Shadowfell.

Elemental Pact[edit]

Pact Boon: Warding Chaos, which grants you resist 5 to Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning and Thunder damage until the end of your next turn, and which lets you shift a number of squares equal to your Con modifier.

Pact Reward: You can use your Constitution modifier (with a cumulative +2 bonus at levels 5, 15 and 25) as a damage bonus to your warlock attack powers. It also applies to the damage rolls of your Warlock's Ally from 9th level onwards. You also gain proficiency with Scale Armor.

Pact Weapon: The Elemental Pact Weapon is the Blade of Chaos, a single-edged, serrated, awkward-looking chopping blade. It's a one-handed melee heavy blade with a +3 proficiency bonus, a 2d4 damage dice, and the High Crit property. It grants the Unraveling Strike (at-will) and Elemental Wrath (encounter) powers.

Pact Weapon Retribution: Elemental Roar, which inflicts psychic damage and causes the target to grant you combat advantage until the end of your next turn.

Summon Warlock's Ally: You randomly summon an air, earth, fire or water archon to do you bidding.

Hexblade's Action: When you spend an action point, gain temporary HP equal to half your level, you also gain a +1 to your melee weapon reach until the end of your next turn.

Pact Aspect: +2 to Endurance checks. Additionally, at the end of each extended rest, you choose to Resist Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning or Thunder, with a resistance value of 10 (15 at 21st level).

Pact Curse: Chaotic Mind inflicts psychic damage and forces it to make any opportunity attack it can until the end of your next turn - during which time its own allies also provoke opportunity attacks.

Pact Invocation: Use of the Elemental Invocation means that, until the end of the encounter, roll a D20 whenever you take Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning or Thunder damage. On a 10+, subtract 15 points from the damage you suffer (before Resistance is applied). On 1-2, you take a further +10 damage.

Improved Pact Boon: After using Warding Chaos, the next melee weapon attack you make before the end of your next turn inflicts bonus Acid, Cold, Fire, Lightning or Thunder damage equal to your Con modifier. You choose which type of damage is inflicted.

Pact Transformation: Through the use of Elemental Transformation, you assume the form of a chaos elemental, an ever-shifting mass of elemental energy that can randomly scourge foes with acid, cold, fire, lightning and thunder.

Greater Summon Warlock's Ally: You call forth a Titan of earth, fire, frost or storm.

5th Edition D&D[edit]

In 5e, hexblades work differently yet again. They ultimately figured "you know what, screw it; this is basically a gishy warlock" and tried to make it work from that angle.

In the PHB, warlocks are presented with the "Pact of the Blade" class feature. This gives the warlock a free magical weapon that they can power up via various "Eldritch Invocations" and which they can turn into whatever shape they want. It was...underwhelming, because the warlock was still a caster class first and foremost, making it very squishy. Still, it works alright with multiclassers.

Then, "Hexblade" was added as an actual subclass for the warlock. Whilst the fluff was atrocious, not least of which was that you were somehow drawing power from the creator of intelligent magical weapons in the Shadowfell (who may or may not be the Raven Queen, but she's already got her own separate pact available... shh don't tell) - and didn't need to take the Pact of the Blade feature, the mechanics are... well, decently solid. his pledge makes the warlock more of a melee combatant, in the vein of the class it takes its name from; their two level 1 features are Hexblade's Curse (1/short rest, place a curse on a foe within 30ft that makes your attacks more likely to hit and heals you if they die whilst cursed) and Hex Warrior (you can enchant one-handed weapons you are proficient with to use Charisma for their attack & damage rolls; if you've the Pact of the Blade, your Pact Weapon always has this trait no matter the form it takes, also you get free proficiency with medium armor, shields and martial weapons). At level 6, they gain Accursed Specter (raise a slain humanoid as a loyal specter 1/day). Their level 10 feature, Armor of Hexes, buffs up their curse by letting the warlock negate a cursed opponent's attack against them on a 4+. Finally, at level 14, they get Master of Hexes, which lets them forgo the healing effect for dropping a cursed opponent to instead immediately reapply that curse to a fresh opponent. Its bonus spells are close-ranged, a mixture of protective spells (shield, blur, blink) and temporary weapon enchantments - the only exceptions are Phantasmal Killer and Cone of Cold.

Ironically, this focus on continually cursing an enemy to weaken them, dropping that enemy, and then cursing a new enemy is basically a shout-out to the core mechanic of warlocks in the previous edition.

The 5e Hexblade is also one of the more front-loaded class options, making it a common dip in many multiclass builds.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Classes
Player's
Handbook:
Barbarian - Bard - Cleric - Druid - Fighter - Monk
Paladin - Ranger - Rogue - Sorcerer - Warlock - Wizard
Unearthed
Arcana:
Artificer - Mystic