Adventures in Game Design: Dragon Pact Warlock

The Warlock is a great class. I love the evocative feel of someone whose search and quest for power leads them to bind themselves to a greater power. What’s one of the greatest powers in the D&D setting? Dragons! My hopes when I first heard about the Warlock was for a dragon pact but it wasn’t there. Neither of of the expansion pacts (dark, vestige) really speak to me, either. (For the record, my favorite pact is the fey pact closely followed by star.)

I started this and the Cavalier Fighter with the same creative burst and really tried to capture some of the essential qualities of a dragon. Dragons are powerful and patient – they live for hundreds (thousands?) of years. Late in life their hobbies include manipulating entire kingdoms for no reason other than simple pleasure. That is patience on an epic level. The at-will attack power associated with this pact relects that. It’s not a particularly high damage power on its own but it sets up other power (and other characters) to deal more damage.

Dragons are also elemental creatures, the breath weapon is one of their defining characteristics. I wanted the pact boon to reflect that elemental nature. Much like the Dragon Magic Sorcerer, a Dragon Pact Warlock chooses a specific damage type. That becomes his area of expertise.

The neat thing with this pact is that it changes the flow of combat fairly significantly. It is no longer just “use all encounter powers, maybe a daily then resort to at-wills.” The at-will functions as a set-up for the encounters. A clever dragon pact Warlock will make really good use of the vulnerability and capitalize on damage with encounter or daily powers. Once the encounters have all been expended, the damage sets itself up in a continual loop. At least until the Warlock misses.

All in all, I like the build. The powers still need some tweaking and I have concerns about the balance of the feat Piercing Dragonfang. It seems too powerful. I won’t know until it’s play tested. Which, unfortunately, may not be for some time as I do not get much time in front of the DM screen. Another thought I had was perhaps changing the wording on Dragonfang to read “…the target gains vulnerable 3 to your attacks of this damage type until the end of your next turn.”

Dragon Pact Warlock:

Dragons are patient, they wait and bide their time before striking viciously. They teach these same traits to those who are willing and bold enough to bind themselves to a dragon for greater power.

Pact Boon

Dragon’s Fury: Choose one of the following damage types when you take this pact: acid, cold, fire, lightning or poison. When a creature subject to your Warlock’s Curse is reduced to zero hit points it explodes. The explosion deals damage equal to your Constitution modifier to all adjacent enemies. This damage is of the type chosen.

Powers

Dragonfang Warlock Attack 1
Arcane, Implement
At-Will, Standard Ranged 10
Charisma vs Fortitude
Special: The damage dealt by this power is of the type chosen for your Dragon’s Fury pact boon.
Hit: 1d6 + Charisma modifier damage and the target gains vulnerable 3 to the this damage type until the end of your next turn.
Level 21: 2d6 + Charisma modifier damage.

Jaws of the Wyrm Warlock Attack 1
Arcane, Implement
Encounter, Standard Ranged 5
Charisma vs Fortitude
Hit: 2d6 + Charisma modifier damage and the target takes ongoing 5 damage (save ends).
Dragon Pact: The damage dealt by this power is the same as dealt by your Dragon’s Fury pact boon.

Embrace of the White Wyrm Warlock Attack 1
Arcane, Implement, Cold
Daily, Standard Ranged 15
Charisma vs Reflex
Hit: 3d6 + Charisma modifier cold damage and the target is immobilized (save ends).
Dragon Pact: On a miss, the target is slowed until the end of your next turn.

Shield of the Dragon Warlock Utility 10
Encounter, Minor action
Close Burst 5
Target: All allies within burst
Effect: Choose one of the following damage types: acid, fire, cold, lightning, poison. Targets gain resist 3 to the chosen damage type until the end of your next turn.
Dragon Pact: Targets gain resist 5 instead.

Feats

Improved Dragon’s Fury
The damage dealt by your Dragon’s Fury pact boon increases to 1d4 + Constitution modifier.
Level 21: 2d4 + constitution modifier.

Piercing Dragonfang
The vulnerability on a successful hit increases to vulnerable 5. Level 11: vulnerable 8. Level 21: vulnerable 10.

Draconic Pact Binding
Prerequisite: Dragonborn, dragon’s fury pact boon
Your Dragonfang power gains the damage type dealt by your dragon breath racial power. If the damage type is the same, you deal additional damage equal to your constitution modifier on a successful hit with Dragonfang.

Draconic Influence
Prerequisite: Warlock, Dragon Pact, 11th Level
When you take this feat, choose a warlock encounter attack power you know. All damage types for that power become the same damage type as you chose for your dragon pact. When you gain a new warlock encounter attack power, you may change which power this feat applies to.

About PK

PK Sullivan is a game designer and writer living in Chicago.
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