D&D 5e: Aarakocra Warlock Guide

Male aarakocra warlock carrying a lantern.

D&D 5e: Aarakocra Warlock Guide

The mention of a constant, at-will flight tends to make many DMs’ eyes twitch. So why not combine that with massive ranged damage and a whole mess of magical power?

Building an Aarakocra Warlock can be a rewarding experience, but takes a little finesse to fine-tune. This guide breaks down what you need to know, and how to get the best at the table. 

Male aarakocra warlock wearing a hood.

How to Make an Aarakocra Warlock

Warlocks tend to be pretty simple to build. The most important thing to know is this:

Max your Charisma first, as pretty much everything the character does uses this stat. 

Dex and Con are your secondary statistics, both of which go towards making the character much tougher. 

Most Warlocks don’t have many weapon or armor proficiencies (Unless you’re planning on playing a Hexblade or multiclassing, both of which are very viable.) This is fine, though, because many Warlocks aren’t looking to ever get close to the front lines of combat. You should work with your party to make sure that you’re never facing down enemies directly. 

Oh, yeah, and as an Aarakocra, you can fly. That also helps you stay safe, especially against enemies without any ranged options. 

This is a constant flight that’s only restricted by medium and heavy armor, neither of which you have proficiency in. It’s the main racial benefit of the Aarakocra, and if you’re running this combination it’s probably the thing the build is focused around. 

That’s a good thing because as a lineage, the Aarakocra doesn’t offer much else. The ability to attack with natural weapons, which you’ll likely never use. A language, and a once-per-day spell that doesn’t have a lot of utility. 

In terms of skills, Warlocks lack options. Social skills build from your high Charisma, and Perception is going to be incredibly useful for a flying bird-man. If you have any extra choices, the character doesn’t require anything special, so talk to your party or build around your concept, as it mostly doesn’t matter. 

How to Play an Aarakocra Warlock

For the first couple of years of 5e’s lifespan, the pervasive idea around the Warlock was that it’s a spellcasting class, along the same lines as the Wizard or Cleric. 

Nothing is further from the truth. Warlocks are main DPS characters, with the best damage cantrip in the game (Eldritch Blast) that precisely follows the same attack progression scale as a Fighter using a heavy crossbow, without requiring feat or fighting style investment. 

This race/class combination combines that with a character that can fly, which puts them safely out of harm’s way for many enemy encounters. This adds up to an unholy terror that can soar through the skies, putting out consistently high damage numbers on to whichever foe needs to suffer that turn, and saving limited spell slots for when they will be the most damaging. 

The vast majority of your combat rounds as a Warlock will be spent casting Eldritch Blast, with your other abilities used as supplements to this. When it comes to choosing Invocations, it’s worth deeply considering Blast augments, especially the effects that slow enemy movement speed or push them around the battlefield, as your character’s high mobility gives them a good chance to be in the perfect position to use them. 

In terms of spells and abilities, the Warlock’s limited spell slots mean that every choice should count. Flying through the air leaves a character vulnerable, so defensive spells are a solid pick overall. Armor of Agathys is a stand-out at lower levels, adding a layer of temporary HP to the character that scales nicely, as well as some incidental damage, and lasting for an hour or until lost.  

Other good options are AOE blasts, especially ones that drop status effects on enemies on top of damage. Once you can cast 3rd level spells and above, the Warlock spell list has some great options here: (Examples include Hunger of Hadar, Sickening Radiance, and Synaptic Static.)

Any of the myriad summoning spells that the class has access to are also excellent. Dropping another body directly into combat can utterly change the flow of an encounter, and it’s hard for many enemies to meaningfully force Concentration checks on you to drop the spell when you’re 60ft above their head. 

Outside of combat, the Warlock has the potential to be incredibly versatile. The class naturally builds high Charisma, so suits taking social skills like Diplomacy or Deception. Invocations can offer utility spellcasting or other scouting abilities, and an Aarakocra Warlock doesn’t require their Pact Boon for anything specific, so is free to choose options that allow for practical benefits, like the Talisman’s boost to rolls, or a little flying companion in the Chain Pact’s improved familiar. 

How to Roleplay as an Aarakocra Warlock

The most common RP hook for a Warlock is their patron; How did they stumble into the pact they have made with an unknowable, incredibly powerful being? What did they have to give up, and what are the terms of the deal? Does their patron take an active part in their daily life? 

Each Warlock patron comes with a host of awesome RP hooks which should go some way to spurring ideas. If you’re playing a regular campaign, take your concept to the DM and ask how it interacts with their story, and also how they’re going to use your patron, if at all. 

Adding the Aarakocra race into the concept leads to a heady mix. 5e’s premier bird-people are insular, tending to keep to themselves and remain free, refusing to be tied down to places, ideas, and even communities. 

So how does that work, when you’re making one of the most permanent ties possible; binding your soul to an impossible, incredibly powerful entity?

Lastly, actual birds can offer a ton of inspiration. Are you the wise and thoughtful owl? The sharp and predatory eagle? Or maybe you just like stealing shiny things and being annoying, you magnificent magpie, you. 

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