D&D 5e: Elf Warlock Guide
An elf warlock is an interesting combination, if we take the archetypal versions of these tropes. An elf is a being that exists outside the normal social order of civilization who can tap into “old magic” and has access to ancient history thanks to their longevity. A warlock is, if we take the original Middle English translation of the word, an “oathbreaker” who has broken their covenant with God (or the Gods, since we’re playing D&D here) to make a pact with a powerful otherworldly being. It makes sense for a flawed and frail human to make a pact with an ambivalent entity; to them, immortality, power, and wealth are all fine prizes to give up their soul for.
But what on earth would tempt an elf so? How does a being of such beauty and grace fall to such depths? Hopefully, after reading this article, you come away with some ideas.
How to Make an Elf Warlock
You can randomly generate your stats using the “4d6 drop the lowest” method described in the PHB or you can take the standard array of 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8. As a warlock, your Charisma should be your highest score, which you can increase by 1 if you choose the Dark Elf (Drow) or Eladrin subraces. The former can be found in the Player’s Handbook and the latter in Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes.
After that, Constitution and Dexterity should be your focuses as they will help you to stay alive and deal damage with finesse and ranged weapons. Eldritch blast is probably going to be your main attacking cantrip, but it doesn’t hurt to be able to use a bow when going for a quieter approach.
Dark Elf (Drow) and Eladrin are probably your best choices. Both give +1 Charisma and a handful of additional magical abilities. The Dark Elf’s handful of spells from Drow Magic are useful and, although they are all already on the warlock spell list, they help increase the number of spells you know past the hard threshold the warlock class imposes on you.
Eladrin are arguably a little more useful, with a suite of abilities that can be switched between on long rests which increases the customizability of the warlock even further. Being able to teleport can also be nice since your hit die is only a d8 so you can’t afford to be knocked around too much.
Subclass (Otherworldly Patron)
My first pick for subclass is The Archfey, which is mostly for role-playing reasons. Regardless, its Misty Escape feature is similar enough to the Eladrin’s Fey Step which possibly makes this subclass pair well with it to make a character who uses teleportation a lot rather than movement speed.
How to Play an Elf Warlock
Exactly how you play your elf warlock comes down to a lot of factors, the most important of which being your subclass and eldritch invocations.
Warlocks are amongst the most versatile of all of 5e classes, perhaps outstripped only by the recently-added artificer, due to the variety in playstyles possible with different combinations.
For now, we shall focus on The Archfey and a handful of invocations that make sense for a trickster-like character.
At 2nd level, choose the Eldritch Invocations found in the PHB Beast Speech and Misty Visions to create a character who can easily mislead foes and gather information from nearby beasts.
At 3rd level, choose the Pact of the Chain to gain a familiar – a sprite makes the most sense for your character’s flavor and gives you an invisible companion who has a limited ability to read the emotional states of others. Sprites can even knock foes with low Constitution scores unconscious with their poisoned bows, but the DC is so low that it will probably only happen once in a blue moon.
Later invocations that would make sense for you are Voice of the Chain Master so you can attend meetings/RP encounters while keeping your real body elsewhere, Mire the Mind to debilitate enemies who are giving you trouble, and Witch Sight to see through magical disguises.
The Archfey’s expanded spell list contains some excellent spells that grant you the ability to “change the conditions of the test” in battle. When your DM throws a group of hostile mercenaries at you, the encounter changes a lot when you cast sleep, calm emotions, plant growth, greater invisibility, or dominate person spell into the brawl. Enemies who were trying to kill you a moment ago are suddenly snoozing, uninterested in fighting, tangled up in an over-enthusiastic shrub, effectively blind to your presence, or suddenly your friend! The elf warlock strikes again, melting into the shadows as another encounter has been nullified by expert use of pact magic.
How to Roleplay as an Elf Warlock
As I mentioned before, both elves and warlocks are people who exist on the periphery of society. Elves are equally feared and idolized for their longevity and quixotic culture, while warlocks are despised yet envied by those who practice more conventional magic and consort with more obviously benevolent spirits. An elf warlock, therefore, is likely to be an isolated figure whether they like it or not.
When roleplaying your character, bear in mind the things that make you different from normal people and emphasize the traits which make you off-putting (or strangely alluring). While a normal elf might dazzle with their beauty, your warlock’s eyes might be windows to an otherworldly nebula that sends shivers down the spine of the weak-willed. An ordinary wizard might babble about esoteric formulas and lore, but your warlock’s explanation of eldritch power might be closer in form to poetry. Rather than explain a rational process by which pact magic operates, the elf warlock speaks in rhymes and riddles that sound oddly personal to the listener. Before you know it, the warlock is talking about our relationship to the stars, to fate and death, and everything in-between.
It’s not clear if the elf warlock is a genius or simply a mouthpiece for an alien intelligence, but one thing is clear: their power is more than real and more than a match for any humdrum magician.