D&D 5e: The Genie Warlock Guide
Role in the Party
Some Warlocks swear their eternal soul to great and fearsome demons, or ancient, half-dead gods slumbering deep beneath the depths. Genie Warlocks have done something far more dangerous. Swear fealty to the whimsical and capricious Noble Djinn, lords of the elemental planes.
Channeling powerful elemental magics through magical, gifted vessels, Warlocks of the Genie Pact are as mischievous as their namesakes. At one moment immolating half a gravesite full of undead, the next disappearing in a puff of smoke. This guide breaks down the Genie subclass, the subclass’s key features, and how you might choose to build one.
The Genie Features
The first choice a Genie patron Warlock faces is which elemental spirit has gifted them their powers. There are four patron choices available, tied to the four cardinal elemental damage types; Efreeti (fire,) Marid (water,) Djinni (wind), and Dao (earth, which in 5e terms manifests as bludgeoning damage.)
This choice affects most of the abilities the subclass gains, and so can a surprisingly involved decision. Take a long look at the spells and abilities of the subclass, and consider the campaign you will be playing in, before making your selection.
Expanded Patron Spells:
The Genie Warlock can choose from a list of extra spells at the levels below. Every variant gains the main Genie spell list, with the remaining 4 lists split between the various patrons.
Main Genie Subclass Spell choices: Every Genie Warlock gains access to these. There are a couple of good options, with some utility spells added in for flair, plus one big stand out, end game monster that most characters are going to want to take.
1st level: Detect Evil and Good: This is normally a decent spell, but it’s aimed toward casters who have more than 2 spell slots per rest.
2nd level: Phantasmal Force: This spell is amazing. A single target disable that’s limited only by the creativity of the caster, targets a traditionally weak save (INT) and can’t be rationalized away like most illusions.
3rd level: Create Food and Water: If this spell is ever necessary, the party’s plans have gone horribly wrong. Leave it to the divine casters. Take the Survival skill. Or just pack your vessel with rations.
4th level: Phantasmal Killer: Another single target debuff, this one with respectable scaling damage attached. Solid and dependable.
5th level: Creation: Very few limits mean this spell can be exceptionally powerful, but it’s all non-combat utility, and very dependent on the campaign and DM.
9th level: Wish: This is the most powerful spell in the game, and access to it is almost reason enough to take this subclass if your game is high enough level to see it in action.
Dao Spell List: This is a good list of spells, most of which the Warlock doesn’t normally get.
1st level: Sanctuary: A solid single target protection spell that can make a character immune to attack against low WIS enemies. Even better, it casts on a bonus action.
2nd level: Spike Growth: A big AOE, damage for every square moved, and slowing enemy movement is already good. Pair that with a class that can push and pull enemies with their basic cantrip for a powerful, reliable level 2 spell.
3rd level: Meld into Stone: The effectiveness of this spell depends on how your DM rules one thing; Can you use Bottled Respite when you’re melded? If so, this is much more effective.
4th level: Stone Shape: A fantastic utility spell. Carve paths into walls, seal doors shut, and write messages into the cobblestones. The only limits are your thoughts.
5th level: Wall of Stone: Create a big block of 10ft wall squares. Lock off sections of the dungeon, create a squared wall to capture enemies, or build your fortress.
Djinni Spell List: One excellent spell, backed up by a disappointing situational list.
1st level: Thunderwave: This is a reasonable damage spell with a nice area of effect, but it’s loud, alerts enemies and scales terribly.
2nd level: Gust of Wind: Create a large line of effectively difficult terrain that emanates outwards from the Warlock and drives enemies back. Push creatures down corridors, into traps, or other threatening situations. Situational, but good duration.
3rd level: Wind Wall: Create a flat wall that deflects ranged attacks, and does a small amount of damage when it first appears. The times this will be useful are incredibly limited. Pass.
4th level: Greater Invisibility: 1 minute of invisibility that doesn’t drop when casting spells or attacking. Permanent Advantage against most enemies, who have Disadvantage against you if they can even find you? Take this.
5th level: Seeming: This is Disguise Self but on an unlimited number of creatures that can fit into its 30ft range. If you’re struggling to think of why that would be useful, you’re not alone. Just take the Mask of Many Faces Invocation instead, so you can cast it on yourself for free.
Efreeti Spell List: Blasts and more blasts. It would have been nice to have some utility because the base Warlock list already has decent damage options.
1st level: Burning Hands: Great at low levels, with reasonable damage in a nice cone AOE. Swap it once you scale into higher levels.
2nd level: Scorching Ray: Will only stay ahead of Eldritch Blast in damage for a short time. A waste of a spell slot.
3rd level: Fireball: Fireball is the king of damage spells, and remains so for the Genie Warlock. Take it, use it, love it. Green only because the damage type is the most resisted in the game.
4th level: Fire Shield: The Genie Warlock isn’t built for melee, and that’s where most of the benefits of this spell come into play.
5th level: Flame Strike: This deals less damage than Fireball did 4 levels ago. Hard pass.
Marid Spell List: The list is mostly utility, with one big, disappointing blast at the end. Reasonable, but nothing special.
1st level: Fog Cloud: Obscured terrain is a useful effect, but this restricts party members as much as enemies. Much better in open areas, or smoking out rooms while other party members drop AOEs inside.
2nd level: Blur: Disadvantage is a powerful defensive effect, but this only affects attack rolls.
3rd level: Sleet Storm: A big area, obscured vision, difficult terrain, and the potential for falling make this a surprisingly effective control spell.
4th level: Control Water: This is all utility, and most of it won’t ever be useful. If the campaign is nautically themed, increase the rating appropriately.
5th level: Cone of Cold: Low damage for the level, with no debuffs attached, on a CON save, add up to a spell that’s not particularly impressive.
Genie’s Vessel: Also at 1st Level, the Genie Warlock gains a vessel that manifests as a tiny object, like a ring or a lamp. This vessel can be used as your spellcasting focus and can be costlessly replaced if destroyed by performing a 1 hour ceremony, which will normally be when you rest.
While the Warlock is holding the vessel, they can add elemental damage to one attack per turn, which scales with their proficiency. Free damage is nice, and this stacks neatly onto Eldritch Blast, scaling through all character levels.
Bottled Respite: This is another ability gained at level 1, tied to the Vessel. It lets the Warlock vanish inside their vessel, for up to twice their proficiency bonus in hours. The inside is a large, circular space, equivalent in size to 44 standard 5ft squares. Items from outside can be brought in, and remain in the vessel until brought out again, or until it’s destroyed.
This can be used in multiple ways. Safe short rests are a good starting point, and the ability can be used once per rest anyway. The Warlock can hear perfectly outside of their vessel as if they were in its space, so it can be used to scout. This goes double if you have a Rogue, who can keep the vessel on their person, ready for the Warlock to just pop out when needed.
You could leave it hidden in a room and listen in, or better still, give it to someone small and innocuous (ahem, invisible, flying familiars…) to hold while sneaking around.
Plus there’s the fact that items remain inside it, so anything the Warlock can carry can be spirited away into an unassailable extradimensional room.
Or you could just outfit your itty-bitty living space with a bed, a bath, and a full library, and relax while the rest of the party are shivering in some dank, damp dungeon. More on this later…
Elemental Gift: From 6, gain permanent resistance to the damage type associated with your patron. Free damage resistance is always excellent, especially with no costs or riders.
Also at 6, a Genie Warlock can spend a bonus action to gain a 30ft fly speed for ten minutes. This action can be used a number of times per day equal to the character’s proficiency bonus.
This is nuts. The duration is longer than a lot of equivalent abilities that can only be used once per day, it comes early enough that a lot of enemies won’t have a real answer, and it only takes a bonus action, so it doesn’t even eat into action economy. Incredibly powerful, fun, and useful.
Sanctuary Vessel: At level 10, whenever the Warlock uses Bottled Respite to vanish into their vessel, they can choose up to five willing creatures within 30ft to come with them. On top of this, any creature who spends 10 minutes inside the vessel counts as taking a short rest and gains a handful of bonus HP if they choose to heal with Hit Dice.
This feature has strong utility and makes short rests much easier to take. Hide your vessel somewhere and disappear inside for a cup of coffee, then come out feeling refreshed. This also lands at about the same time that Bottled Respite lasts for 8 hours, meaning that it’s a safe way for the entire party to take long rests overnight. Hide your magic lamp somewhere safe, like halfway up a tree, and enjoy night after night of uninterrupted sleep.
Limited Wish: Available at 14, this is the capstone ability of the Genie, and it’s incredibly powerful, but is also incredibly complicated.
Using an action, the Warlock can whisper their desires into their vessel, and request the effect of any spell that’s level 6 or lower. The spell can be from any spell list in the game, as long as it can be cast in one action, and the spell takes effect as part of the same Limited Wish action.
This is already powerful, but on top of this, the ability ignores material components, for example, the 500gp material cost of Raise Dead. The sheer flexibility and power this offers can’t be overstated. So scour the spell lists, and channel powers mere mortals hope for. The only limiting factor is the 1d4 long rest recovery period, meaning this is a once per few days ability. But it’s such a powerful effect that it really doesn’t matter.
Like all Warlocks, the Genie is an adept blaster, capable of laying down great damage turn after turn, supplemented by one or two big spell casts at key moments. Taking the Efreeti heritage, in particular, gives the Warlock access to Fireball, which is the damage spell everyone remembers for a very good reason.
But the sheer amount of options in spell lists means that a Genielock can be built in dozens of different ways, especially when you factor in Pact Boons, Invocations, and skills.
Do you want to create a utilitarian scout who looks at the world through the eyes of their familiar, while safely housed in the ring it’s wearing? You can do that with Boon of the Chain, with invocations allowing you to see through its senses no matter where you are.
Do you want to buff the party, standing behind your allies and offering guidance, turning failed rolls into successes, and bringing the party back to full strength once the dust settles? You can do that, too, with Boon of the Talisman buffs, and Inspiring Leader.
The key takeaway here is that the Genie isn’t just a blaster. It’s a versatile and fun subclass that can be built to fill in the gaps in the party without worry, as its base abilities will always consistently perform.
Without support from the subclass, the Genie is always going to be mediocre when the fighting gets close. Limited melee options, even if they choose to specialize in it with class abilities like Blade Pact, light armor and a d8 hit die lead to a character that falls over if a big, scary enemy like a giant looks at them wrong.
The Warlock is also traditionally spell starved, with two slots per rest for most of its adventuring career. The Genie does nothing to fix this, even as it increases the utility of the class with a ton more spell choices.
Lastly, the Genie has some incredible out-of-combat utility built into its abilities but has to choose to dedicate resources to be good at some of the other parts of the game. Skill challenges are never going to be the Genie’s preference, and for such a high CHA class, the Warlock can sometimes feel a little antisocial unless you build towards it.
Best Race Options
Eladrin: Perfect stats, all the standard Elf benefits, and a short rest bonus action get-out-of-jail-free teleport.
Aasimar: Darkvision, a cantrip, and healing hands are good. Two resistances to stack with the one from the subclass are better. A once per day boost that adds even more damage to Eldritch Blast, plus offers other benefits is best.
Simic Hybrid: Variable stat boosts and Darkvision are a good start, but we’re here for Animal Enhancements, which are useful utility boosts like a climb speed, or the ability to breathe water plus a swim speed, that can easily be flavored into Elemental Enhancements.
Choosing the Right Skills
Warlocks are almost certainly going to be high in Charisma, meaning that they’re a natural fit for the party face. Persuasion is the most useful social skill, closely backed up by Deception, if your character is that way inclined. Intimidation has less use, but a lot of flavor for Warlocks.
All characters should also consider picking up Perception, as it’s the single most important skill in the game. With the limited skill slots left to the class, and the lack of physical stats that most Genie Warlocks have, knowledge skills are a generally useful option.
Inspiring Leader: The feat gives up to 6 willing participants a bunch of scaling temp HP if they listen to the user speak for 10 minutes. That’s already good. But the ability can be refreshed whenever a short rest is taken.
Considering how hard the features of the Genie Warlock already push the party towards taking multiple safe, effective short rests per day, this is another way of adding an extra layer of defense to the entire party, drastically increasing the effective HP of every person you adventure alongside.
Metamagic Adept: When a character is as limited in spell slots as the Warlock, each one has to count, and picking up a metamagic choice that can be applied to a key spell is a huge boost in power.
Quickening a spell to also cast Eldritch Blast, or Twinning a key buff or debuff can drastically change the action economy of the Warlock. Almost every Genie can find a use for this.
Spell Sniper: Ignore cover and double the range of your spells. Also learn another cantrip, which is always useful. Genie Warlocks are probably going to rely on Eldritch Blast, and this makes it much more consistent and likely to land and deal damage.
Courtier: Insight, Persuasion, and two languages make this the perfect background for a social Warlock.
Urchin: Sleight of Hand, Stealth, and the all important Thieves Tools make this the dishonest background of choice. The Disguise Kit is less useful but might work with some of your other abilities. Plus, you’re Aladdin.
Hillsfar Smuggler: Perception and Stealth are exceptional skills and language is useful, Forgery Kit is less so for most characters.
Mastermind Rogue: This build is all utility and enabling, in and out of combat. The Mastermind unlocks the ability to use the Help action at a range of 30ft as a bonus action. Pair that with Eldritch Blasts that are packed with slows and pushes, and enemies are going to be bounced into the perfect position before the rest of the party brings them down, one of them attacking with advantage from your timely Help.
Outside of combat, pairing Mask of Many Faces and one of the utility Boons (Chain or Talisman,) plus the Mastermind’s ability to perfectly mimic the speech of another creature and all of the standard Roguish abilities like skill Expertise, for a character that can get almost anywhere.
Glamour Bard: This build takes a little while to kick in, but once it has its main levels, the class can keep its allies alive through almost anything.
You’re looking for 5 levels of Bard, taken after at least 2 levels of Warlock. At 3rd, Mantle of Inspiration lets the character throw out temporary hit points to most of the party, multiple times per short rest, as a bonus action. Add to that extra Bardic spellcasting that includes heals and debuffs, and a ton of out-of-combat utility for a fun and flavorful multiclass.
Watcher Paladin: Several levels in Paladin can turn the Genie Warlock into a capable melee character. The most probable build path is Paladin 1 into Warlock 5, taking the Boon of the Blade for the Extra Attack invocation at level 6, then taking Paladin to 3 for the Oath and finishing all Warlock.
What does this get you? Armor and shield proficiencies for a significant toughness bump. 15HP worth of Lay on Hands for emergency healing. Some utility spell slots. The Channel Divinity options of the Watcher (Advantage on INT, WIS, and CHA saves is very nice.) But most importantly, Smite, for that tasty spike of damage.
It’s also worth considering a Race choice that offers cantrip selection. Picking up Booming Blade lets the character add the elemental damage bonus of the Genie onto their melee attack if they’re confident in the hit landing.
Would I recommend playing a Genie Warlock?
The Genie is a fantastic subclass. Its abilities are incredibly fun, full of flavor, and pretty damn powerful. A complete newcomer to the game could easily roll up a Genie Warlock and have a blast at the table, no matter the campaign.
But the fact that the subclass is subdivided into four different patron choices, which all offer different spell lists, actually makes the Genie feel like a much bigger subclass than it already is.
It would easily be possible to run two or three Genie Warlock back to back, build them differently, and have them feel like three entirely different characters, and that’s probably the biggest sign that the class is incredibly well designed.