D&D 5e: The Celestial Warlock Guide
D&D 5e: The Celestial Warlock Guide
Intro/Role in Party
The Celestial Warlock has tied themselves to a great and holy entity like an Archangel or one of the Gods and acts as their avatar among the common folk.
As well as casting the same powerful magics as other Warlocks, Celestials channel waves of healing energy through themselves and their allies, when they’re not burning away the darkness with light and fire.
If you want to play a spellcaster that balances long-range blasting and powerful, frequent healing, the Celestial Warlock might just offer what you’re looking for.
The Celestial Warlock subclass is found in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything. Click here to pick up your own copy of Xanathar’s Guide to Everything!
The Celestial Features
Expanded Spell List: The Celestial Warlock has a handful of extra spells added to their spellbook. These aren’t added to their spells known, like some class features. If you want them, you have to choose them.
Cure Wounds: Having an extra cure spell on hand is useful for emergencies, but Warlocks don’t have the spell slots to fuel significant healing. Your subclass abilities, gained at the same time, also make this a little bit pointless
Guiding Bolt: Decent damage and Adv on the next attack is a good rider, but again, limited by spell slots. A solid early game choice that quickly falls off and should be swapped out.
Flaming Sphere: Reasonable damage that can be moved every turn, scales fine, and can prevent enemy movement. Flaming Sphere is a fun spell that you can get a lot of use out of
Lesser Restoration: It’s a good spell, but you’re not the person who should be casting this. Leave it to the Cleric.
Daylight: Do you really want to spend half your spell slots creating a big area of bright light? No. No, you don’t
Revivify: Bring something back to life that died in the last minute. Having some backup resurrection in the party is a good thing. Don’t forget your DIAMONDS!
Guardian of Faith: Low, savable damage to a single target, in a small, immovable radius. Upcast Flaming Sphere is better
Wall of Fire: A large area, with options, solid damage, and control of the battlefield make a good spell
Flame Strike: Reasonable damage for the level, split across two types to help with resistances. But the Warlock gets Synaptic Static at the same level, which does the same damage in a type that’s harder to resist, in the same area, and also messes with enemy rolls.
Greater Restoration: Similarly to Restoration, it’s a great spell, but you don’t have the slots to reliably cast it when it’s needed
Bonus Cantrips: At level 1, the Celestial learns the Light and Sacred Flame cantrips. Both of these are fine, and Sacred Flame synergizes with your subclass abilities, but you have better damage options and ways around seeing in the dark. Still, it’s free.
Healing Light: Also at level 1, the Celestial gains a number of D6s equal to their level +1 (2 – 21.)
These dice can be spent as a bonus action, using up to your CHA modifier at a time, to heal a target within 60ft. It also doesn’t count as a spell, so doesn’t stop you from casting. This is essentially multiple free castings of Healing Word, every day, which is very very good.
Radiant Soul: Resistance to radiant damage, and add your CHA bonus to any spell that deals radiant or fire damage. Both of these are useful but relatively niche. Unless you lean heavily into your unique spells, you won’t be dealing heavy amounts of these types of damage, and radiant doesn’t come up against the party often unless you’re taking the fight to the heavens. (Though turning against your patron sounds like a great story hook.)
Celestial Resistance: Every time you take a short or long rest, your Warlock gains level + CHA modifier temp HP, and also gives up to 5 allies just over half that number.
This is a slightly different Inspiring Leader feat. That’s a good feat. This is a good ability.
Searing Vengeance: Instead of taking a death save, just get back up with half your max HP, and explode with radiant fury, dealing a small amount of damage to targets of your choice within 30ft, but also automatically blinding them.
This is incredible. A Warlock that’s at 0 HP contributes nothing to an encounter, and standing up without a roll as well as punishing your enemies at the same time is huge. There is a once per day limit on the ability, but if you’re almost dying more than once a day, either your GM hates you, or you should start being more careful.
The Celestial Warlock is primarily a backline caster, and they’re most comfortable supporting a party heavy on the front line or crowd control so they can freely cast their spells without concern. On the upside, after your party realizes just how much damage you deal and how much free healing you offer, they’ll be more than happy to stand in front of you and take all of the oncoming axes directly to the face.
Eldritch Blast is the single best damage cantrip in the entire game, and it’s going to be the staple spell that most Warlocks will cast over and over, throughout their entire adventuring career. The Celestial backs this up with Healing Light, a bonus action heal that can be used alongside the casting of their cantrips or full spells.
Playing a Celestial Warlock should be considered similar to playing a ranged character, rather than a full caster. Dancing around the edges of combat, targeting vulnerable enemies, and keeping your allies topped up with healing, then potentially even reviving fallen allies that you just couldn’t get to in time after the encounter is done is the order of the day.
Outside of combat, the Celestial can specialize in being a Face, handling a significant chunk of the social encounters, but can also easily dip into Roguish territory with skill choices and class abilities, including disguising their appearance, turning invisible and sneaking around, or sending their super-familiar to scout out the land ahead.
A Celestial Warlock can throw out consistent damage and a lot of healing over the course of several encounters but needs to do everything they can to keep enemies away from themselves. A D8 hit die and light armor make for a very squishy character, and the Warlock spell list is limited in defensive options, and the slots to run them.
Your best defense is making sure that nothing makes it through the barrage of force bolts and spells, at least until higher levels, when the defensive features of the subclass start to come into play.
Warlocks in general also tend to be relatively starved for spell slots, and the Celestial is no exception. While your two slots (from level 2) do come back every short rest, short rests aren’t guaranteed, meaning that most Celestials will fall back on their cantrips and other abilities to do the heavy lifting, with the occasional higher level spell deployed for maximum impact.
Best Race Options
Winter Eldarin Elf: Great stats, Perception, and a few fluff benefits are nice, but the main ability of the race is the 30ft bonus action teleport, plus an extra ability, that refreshes on a short rest. That’s perfect for a character that wants to stay out of melee range at all costs.
Triton: Tritons dredge up a nice spread of stats, cold resistance, Darkvision, a swim speed, the ability to breathe underwater, talk to fish, and a few spells. Flavor your patron as a sea god, and you’ve got a decent package, especially if the adventure is nautical themed.
Satyr: Hailing from Theros, Satyr have perfect stats for a Warlock, free (and good) skill proficiencies, but most importantly resistance to spell damage. If your front line is good at what they do, spells might be one of the few things that can reach you, so extra toughness against them is incredibly useful.
Choosing the Right Skills
Warlocks aren’t a skill heavy class, but their stat spread, RP potential, and some supplementary abilities mean that they can effectively contribute to out-of-combat skill checks, especially in the social sphere.
The high CHA of the Warlock naturally leans into being good at Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion. The first two are available from your class, so try and pick up Persuasion from your background if possible.
Every character should also consider Perception, and you can round out your skills with some knowledge, for example, Arcana or Religion, and one or two physical skills.
Spell Sniper: Ignore cover and increase the range of your attacking spells (Eldritch Blast!) This is 75% of what a Celestial Warlock does, so making it much easier to land that key cantrip is very nice.
It also allows the character to learn a cantrip from another class spell list. Firebolt is on the Sorcerer list, casts using CHA, and synergizes perfectly with the bonus damage from Radiant Soul, giving you another staple damage option.
Fey Touched: Add +1 to your CHA, and learn Misty Step for a once-per-day emergency teleport, and another Enchantment or Divination spell. (Bless is a great choice.)
Telekinetic: Boost your casting stat, get an invisible mage hand, and a bonus action 5ft shove. Caster Warlocks aren’t too bonus action intensive, so when you’re not using the Healing Light action, you can be pulling allies out of danger, or pushing enemies into pits.
Criminal: Deception and Stealth are great skill choices, as well as Thieves Tools and a Gaming set, plus nice background fluff for redemption RP purposes.
Guild Artisan: Persuasion is a great skill for Warlocks, and Insight is fine to have. A Tool Proficiency and a language can round out a character, depending on the campaign, as well as add some nice RP potential.
Faceless: Two of the social skills and a language are solid, held back slightly by Disguise Kit proficiency (just take Mask of Many Faces, though a permissive GM might let you augment it with this.) The fluff is also nice, leaning towards a character who’s left their past behind and does well from the shadows.
Lore Bard: Failing a key save can ruin an enemy’s ability to do anything meaningful, and the Cutting Words ability of the College of Lore is one of the only abilities in the game that directly minuses from an enemy’s attack rolls or saves. Even better, it’s a bonus action.
3 levels in bard unlocks the ability, as well as more skills, Expertise, and some low level spell slots. That’s good enough, but you could potentially drop some more levels into the class once you’re at Warlock 10.
Oath of Redemption Paladin: What do you do if your Celestial patron demands you get a little more hands-on when bringing the light? You strap on a bunch of armor, pick up something pointy, and smite the heretic face-to-face, that’s what.
The Celestial Warlock synergizes incredibly well with the Paladin, making this a great multiclass to evenly split levels between. Smites can be powered by self-replenishing Warlock spell slots, both classes have tons of HP to pass around the party, and Eldritch Blast gives you a go-to ranged attack. The Oath of Redemption adds in-combat revenge damage and out-of-combat utility.
Taking this to 20 would probably look something like Celestial Warlock 1, Paladin 5, then Celestial Warlock to 15, for a tanky character that can throw itself into the fight, tank everything, then revive itself for free if it inevitably falls.
Divine Soul Sorcerer: Not only is the Divine Soul perfectly on-brand with the Celestial Warlock, but it also gives you some incredibly useful abilities. You’re here for Metamagic, available at level 3, which boosts spell power, and is doubly useful for a Warlock as the Sorcery Points that power it can also be fueled by Warlock spell slots.
1st level also brings a boost to one key save or attack roll per rest, and access to the Cleric’s spell list, as well as the Sorcerer’s. If you’d rather get tougher, and don’t mind conflicting powers, the Shadow Magic origin gives your character another way to stay standing, which can make a character hilariously hard to kill in the early levels.
Would I recommend playing a Celestial Warlock?
Celestial Warlocks take everything that makes a conventional Warlock good, and bolts a ton of extra healing abilities onto the chassis. Most of what it does needs little investment from other abilities, so you can tailor the character using Invocations and skill choices, without hurting your core abilities.
While the Celestial isn’t the strongest Warlock subclass, (cough, Hexblade, cough) it’s genuinely hard to play one badly. As long as a Celestial positions themselves so that they can cast spells and hand out healing uninterrupted, the subclass is always guaranteed to feel useful and effective, and that’s half the fun of playing D&D.