Xanathar’s Guide to Everything brings many new options to D&D 5th Edition, but it was the Celestial Pact Warlock which really got my attention. All the fun of a Hex throwing, Eldritch Blasting, Ritual casting Tome Warlock but with access to healing magic and extra radiant based options.
I also rather like the idea of flipping the script on a class that is often associated with making pacts with with evil to do good, and resisting corruption. What if I want to play an amoral character that is using the celestial powers of light and goodness with far less of a moral compass? A character you wouldn’t be surprised to see throwing both light and dark magic in the same fight. A proudly flawed character confused by the righteous influence the celestial power is having on him. Sounds great! Let’s build that.
I will be using Point Buy, Feats, and content from Xanathar’s Guide, so check with your DM if you’re going down this path with me. Also, keep in mind I’m still sticking with published content, not Unearthed Arcana playtest material. No Healing Elixir for this warlock build.
My objective here, as always, is to make a character that’s effective in the majority of situations an Adventurer can get in: combat, exploration, social situations, etc. There are more optimal builds that specialize in a particular thing, like Eldritch Blasting for maximum damage, but I prefer to build characters that always have something interesting to contribute while adventuring. In particular, I’d like two options for most situations so I get an interesting choice or tactical change-up to play with.
Character Creation Step by Step
Step 1: Half-Elf
Normally I play variant humans, for that sweet bonus feat, but I feel like I want more of an outsider for this one, so I’ll take a half step out of my usual comfort zone and pick Half-Elf. Tiefling is also somewhat tempting, but I think it might be too far in the “evil goes good” vein. Likewise, I considered briefly playing a half-drow (using the rules in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide) but again, I think that’s going too far into the “I’m supposed to be evil” path. You’re basic half-elf criminal should be a good fit.
- Ability Scores: +2 Charisma, +1 (my pick)
- Size: Medium
- Speed: 30 feet
- Darkvision: 60 feet
- Fey Ancestry: Immune to Magical Sleep, Advantage on saving throws against Charmed
- Skill Versatility: Proficiency in two skills
- Languages: Read & write Common, Elvish, and 1 language of choice
Step 2: Celestial Pact Warlock
Obviously I’m going with a Warlock with a Celestial patron. I’d like to use a Solar celestial, something clearly angelic and good. Interestingly, Solars detect lies automatically, so there is some question about how this warlock managed to get his powers from one. Of course what are the chances our warlock knows that? I suspect the Solar is playing the long game on the Warlock, turning a criminal that thinks he’s bad into a champion of good in spite of himself, or maybe to prevent an evil patron from getting there first. The warlock of course thinks he’s the one pulling the trick on the Solar.
Here’s what he’s getting:
- Hit Dice: 1d8 per Warlock Level
- Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + Constitution modifier
- Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifiers per warlock level after 1st.
- Proficiencies: Light Armor, Simple Weapons, Wisdom Saving Throws, Charisma Saving Throws, Two skills (selected from Arcana, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, and Religion)
- Equipment: Light Crossbow with 20 bolts or any simple weapon, a component pouch or arcane focus, a scholar’s pack or dungeoneer’s pack, Leather armor, a simple weapon, two daggers.
- Otherworldy Patron (Celestial): Expanded Spell List (Cure Wounds and Guiding Bolt for 1st level), Bonus Cantrips (Light and Sacred Flame), Healing Light (2d6).
- Pact Magic: 2 Cantrips, 2 Known first level spells, 1 spell slot per short or long rest
- Proficiency Bonus: +2
Xanthar’s Guide also includes some character questions we can apply to the Warlock to help flesh him out.
The first is Patron’s Attitude. I like how they are all from the Warlock’s point of view. I think the one that best fits my concept, at least from the warlock’s view, is “You are mostly left to your own devices with no interference from your patron. Sometimes you dread the demands it will make when it does appear.” Basically, the Solar expects to use the Warlock to do great and important things, and doesn’t have time to keep detailed track of all the trouble he gets into the rest of the time. At least that’s what my warlock thinks the deal is.
Special Terms seems like a fun idea, but none of the listed options feel right to me. I like the idea that thee pact terms include a collection of special rules he’s required to adhere to even if he doesn’t want to. Obviously “good” things that the DM can use as hooks to draw the character into plots or situations. Let’s use the “rule of three” to make three “simple” rules that he negotiated with the Solar. He, of course, won’t agree to not lie, cheat, steal, or kill, but that doesn’t mean the Solar can’t force him into acts of goodness.
- If a child asks you for help, you must provide them aid.
- This is an easy way for the DM to strong arm the warlock into doing heroic things, while still allowing the warlock to grumble about it the entire time.
- It’s also a potentially amusing situation when goblin children are encountered mid-dungeon.
- Note that provide aid doesn’t mean give them what they ask for.
- Destroy undead wherever you find them.
- He’s not required to seek them out, but he also can’t just ignore them or sneak around them.
- Once per every year and a day, I may call upon you for a great service.
- This was a bargain after all. The Solar wants something out of it.
Lastly there is Binding Mark, and the obvious choice here is to have one eye that looks like that of a Solar: all solid gold and almost glowing.
Step 3: Ability Scores
I’m once again going with point buy for ability scores. Rolling is fun, but I’ve seen it go wrong by both being lower than the rest of the party and I’ve seen the reverse, where one person is far more powerful than everyone else. There is always my tarot card system, but most people aren’t familiar with it, so let’s stick with something safe.
As a Warlock, Charisma is key. Constitution will also prove important, as it will allow the character to not only live longer (thanks to extra hit points) but also to maintain Concentration on spells mid-combat, such as the damage boosting Hex spell.
I’m also interested in a decent Dexterity and Wisdom as there are traditional saving throw related stats. Dexterity is also valuable for increasing Armor Class, making it an important stat.
Intelligence is something I see the character not being deficient in, so I’ll at least bring it up to 10, even thought that’s probably not the most useful skill for the character mechanically.
Of the many things I see this Warlock doing, physical work isn’t a big one. Strength makes the most sense for a dump stat. I may regret that when it comes time to haul gold out of a dungeon, or climb out a pit, but it fits the character.
- Strength 8
- Dexterity 13 (14 choose this as my Half-Elf +1 choice)
- Constitution 14
- Intelligence 10
- Wisdom 12
- Charisma 15 (17 from Half-Elf +2 to Charisma)
Step 4: Details
Sticking with tradition for this series, I will pick a name from the Player’s Handbook options. According to the Half-Elf race section, Half-elf characters tend to have human names if raised in elf society, and elf names if raised in human society. I figure this warlock is normally in human society, so we’ll use some elvish names.
The fun with the Elvish family names is they have translations. For a wannabe bad guy I like the idea that his last name sounds mysterious but if translated it’s not intimidating at all. Xiloscient (Goldpetal) fits that well. I also like the idea that the character generally goes by an abbreviation of their last name among humans. “Xilo”
None of the male elvish first names are drawing my attention, while the Human options are much more varied, so we’ll do a mix. Human first name, Elvish family name. Lander sounds benign enough that he would switch to the more exotic “Xilo.”
His name is therefore Lander “Xilo” Xiloscient. Great!
On the Good/Neutral/Evil spectrum, Xilo is definitely not good, but outright evil is probably too far, so that leaves him Neutral. On the Law/Neutral/Chaos spectrum I don’t see him as lawful… but “Pure Neutral” doesn’t sound flavorful enough for the moral developments I’d like to role-play with this character. That leaves Chaotic Neutral, which the PHB explains as “Chaotic neutral creatures follow their whims, holding their personal freedom above all else.” That sounds about right.
Looking over the Background options for a bad guy dragged towards good, Criminal is the obvious choice. It provides excellent contrast for the Celestial Patron, and a nice set of abilities to use while adventuring.
- Skill Proficencies: Deception, Stealth
- Tool Proficiencies: Thieves Tools, choice of Gaming Set
- Feature: Criminal Contact
- Equipment: Crowbar, set of dark common clothes including a hood, a belt pouch containing 15gp.
The background includes questions of Specialty and Ideals, but I’m not sure how well those fit. I feel Xilo is after power, and he’s willing to do just about anything to get it.
The question of Bond, however, feels more useful. “Something important was taken from me, and I aim to steal it back.” That’s a solid hook and a good reason to make a bargain for magic power.
Likewise Personality Trait has an option that fits my mental image: “I am incredibly slow to trust. Those who seem the fairest often have the most to hide.” That fits well for the outsider criminal vibe.
Lastly is Flaw. “An innocent person is in prison for a crime that I committed. I’m okay with that.” Now that really sells the Chaotic Neutral, borderline Neutral Evil, character I want to start out as.
Step 5: Equipment
Xilo already has a crowbar, set of dark common clothes including a hood, a belt pouch containing 15gp, leather armor, and two daggers.
There are a few choices left:
- light crossbow with 20 bolts or any simple weapon
- Why carry a crossbow when you can hurl bolts of magical force? The real question is which simple weapon? I’m figuring a concealable weapon that won’t get in the way when climbing through a window or down a sewer. A third dagger feels appropriately criminal.
- a component pouch or arcane focus
- I picture Xilo carrying around collection of strange things in belt pouches more than using wand, crystal, orb, etc. In fact, I rather like the idea of cataloging all the random stuff required for his various spells and noting it down among his possessions.
- a scholar’s pack or dungeoneer’s pack
- The dungeoneer’s pack feels more functional and in line with a potentially criminal set of uses.
- a simple weapon
- Let’s just make it a 4th dagger. It’s a theme now. I picture Xilo having knives hidden all about his person.
Step 6: Bringing It All Together
Xilo’s build still has a lot of questions. Which skills? Which spells? Which cantrips?
Turns out that Xilo has a lot of skill choices to make. I’ve decided to use the skills to play up his criminal pre-pact background more than his magical “now” abilities. It will also allow him to play back-up rogue when it comes to locks and traps. He won’t be as good as a real rogue, but he’ll do ok.
- Criminal Background provides Stealth and Deception
- Warlock provides Two skills selected from Arcana, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, or Religion.
- Intimidation is a good pick for a criminal with high Charisma, considering Deception is already provided by the background.
- Investigation is Intelligence based, but so are all the other options. It’s the most directly applicable option for a criminal, particularly “deduce the location of a hidden object.” It might also be useful for locating rituals at 3rd level when his class features give him access to ritual casting.
- Half-elf provides Two Skills
- Perception provides the important thief ability of detecting traps and secret doors. It goes well with the Thieves Tools proficiency the character has; you can’t disable the traps you don’t find. It’s also a generally useful skill for avoiding ambushes and the like.
- Sleight of Hand provides the key criminal skills of stealing things of other without them noticing, and hiding things on themselves. Xilo’s hidden knives will be skillfully hidden.
There are two skills here I feel the character lacks: Persuasion and Insight. Both would be key assets for a social character. Persuasion is the third Charisma based social skill to go along with Intimidation and Deception. Also, as a social character, the lack of Insight means difficulty in detecting deception. These missing options are not, however, out of character. Perhaps Xilo is untrusting because he’s never so sure when people are telling the truth. Likewise, as an untrusting criminal threats and lies are probably much more in his wheelhouse than heartfelt persuasion.
Xilo has Elvish and Common from his heritage, and has access to one more language. I’d be tempted to pick Celestial, but as an exotic language that requires DM approval. So lets assume these are languages from before he became a warlock. Dwarvish seems like a decent option.
The backbone of any spellcasting character are their Cantrips: the magic they can do any time, all the time. Typically also their primary combat options. They are especially important at low levels when you don’t have many other options to work with.
As a Celestial Warlock, Xilo automatically has Light and Sacred Flame, plus two more cantrips of my choosing from the Warlock list.
Sacred Flame is certainly thematically appropriate. Calling down radiant damage on foes like a holy cleric is very much something proudly unfaithful Xilo would delight in. It’s not, however, an amazing attack option. It does 1d8 radiant damage if the target fails a Reflex saving throw. It does have the nice little bonus of ignoring cover. Overall it looks like the go to option for dealing with targets that have a high armor class due to armor or dug-in snipers… or just taking the piss out of holy men.
Light is a classic utility spell and on theme for a character that has stolen the sacred light. It’s most obvious use is replacing torches, but it has other uses. The caster can choose the color of the light, which can make it useful for signals. It can also explicitly be cast on an opponent’s gear, if they fail the reflex save, making it very hard for them to hide. It’s a useful cantrip, although not generally my first pick.
My first pick for the character is, of course, Eldritch Blast, one of the most potent cantrips in the game. Base d10 Force damage attack. Warlocks can eventually add-on special options to it, including adding their Charisma bonus to damage. The spell also scales well, gaining extra attacks with more levels instead of just more dice. In fact it’s so good, it actually out classes some of the Warlock leveled spells, particularly as the character gains levels and Eldritch Blast boosting class features. A Warlock that doesn’t have Eldritch Blast better have a good reason. It also provides a nice counter point: Sacred flame is the holy attack, and Eldritch Blast is the less holy option that might be a perversion of the sacred power Xilo has gotten his hands on.
Between Sacred Flame and Eldritch Blast combat options are well enough covered. For the last choice I think I’d like to expand Xilo’s utility options, and try to play up the dichotomy of sacred light and dark uses. If Light is the holy utility spell, what is the perversion that Xilo has made of the magic? Warlock utility options are Mage Hand, Minor Illusion, and Prestidigitation. All three have uses, but Prestidigitation is probably my favorite of the set despite being a little harder to use in a dungeon. The main selling point for me is using it to con shop keeps at low level. It can make a copper coin look like a silver for an hour, which is long enough to buy something small and make it well away with the “change.” I also rather enjoy it’s various adventuring life utilities: cleaning, heating, flavoring, etc. Mage Hand is a close second here, as it’s just so useful in a dungeon, particularly for setting off traps from a safe distance. Minor Illusion seems like a fun option, but as a concentration spell it will interfere with Hex in combat situations.
Celestial Warlocks have extra options but still only two spells at first level. Once again, I’d like to do a dichotomy of holy and not-so-good spells.
First, Cure Wounds is a quintessential holy spell, and it’s always useful to have another healer in the party. Warlocks regain all their spell slots with short rests and always cast all their spells at the highest level, which makes them an interesting take on a healer. Thankfully the Healing Light class feature rounds out the minor healing needs, along with healing at a distance options. I’m not sure a Celestial Warlock can function as primary healer, they certainly can’t out do a dedicated Cleric, but from a character arc perspective making Xilo a healer is absolutely the right call. The constant need to pick between using his limited spells slots for either healing or harming is exactly what I want.
The second spell is, of course, Hex. It’s thematically on point as a curse that inflicts necrotic damage, making it about as far from a holy spell as possible, and potent in combat against anything that isn’t immune or resistant to necrotic damage. It’s also surprisingly long lasting, particularly at higher levels, and potentially useful in non-combat encounters, particularly social ones, thanks to inflicting disadvantage. A character with Hexed Wisdom is easier to lie to, intimidate, or sneak past. What’s not to love? The main downside to Hex is that it’s so good it makes nearly every other combat concentration spell a non-starter. For example, would you drop your Hex spell’s bonus damage in exchange for a Minor Illusion or Witch Bolt?
Xilo the Celestial Warlock by Level
Xilo started life as a criminal. Not a proper Rogue, but a general urban criminal of vague specialty. Theft, violence, intimidation, whatever. A half breed in any world, he felt everyone was against him and so he owed no one anything. Somewhere along the way someone or something powerful took something from him, and need to find the power to take it back, or get revenge, drove him to ever more risky jobs. One of those jobs involved a dead temple guard, a “sanctimonious old priest” being held for his murder, and Xilo walking away from a Solar with holy powers beyond his moral capacity. Now he travels, looking for more power so that he may get back what is his, and constantly facing the dichotomy of his immoral nature and the celestial powers at his disposal.
Level 1: Warlock (Celestial)
At first level Xilo makes a decent jack of all trades. Decent damage potential, reasonable healing, good if limited social, and some light trap/lock handling. His primary attack combo is Hex + Eldritch Blast, a 120 foot ranged attack doing 1d10 Force + 1d6 Necrotic every round it hits.
|Variant Human||Chaotic Neutral
|Armor Class:||13 (11 Leather, +2 dex)|
|Hit Points:||10 (8 +2 con)|
|Proficiencies:||Simple Weapons, WIS Saves, CHA Saves, Deception, Stealth, Intimidation, Investigation, Perception, Sleight of Hand, Tools: Thieves|
|Languages:||Common, Elf, Dwarf|
|Wisdom||12||+1||+3 (+2 Prof)|
|Charisma||17||+3||+5 (+2 Prof)|
|Eldritch Blast||+5||1d10 Force||Ranged Spell Attack 120′|
|Dagger||+4||1d4+2 Piercing||Finesse, light, thrown (range 20/60)|
|Unarmed||+1||0* Bludgeoning||*1 base damage – 1 STR Mod|
|Cantrips:||Eldritch Blast, Sacred Flame, Prestidigitation, Light|
Healing Light (2d6): As a bonus action spend a number of dice from the pool, up to your Charisma Modifier, and heal one target within 60 feet. The pool refreshes after a Long Rest.
Level 2: Warlock (Celestial)
Level 2 brings another spell known and another spell slot, along with the big deal: two invocations. Let’s start with the new spell known.
The spell choice here isn’t clear. Guiding Bolt, the pact provided spell, is a reasonable attack option, being a little more potent than Eldritch Blast, and compatible with Hex, which is a nice trick for a holy radiant attack. That said, I don’t feel this is the time where another attack spell is the right choice, Xilo already have both healing and hex to pick from in fights. I’m also not sure that picking up a Charm Person, a social spell, is the right choice considering Hex’s use in social situations. Specifically, Hex doesn’t automatically inform the target they have been messed with when it ends. Unseen Servant provides a variety of potential uses in adventuring, including setting off traps from a safe distance. D&D players have been finding creative uses for a disposable unseen servant for years. Mage Hand would provide similar benefits as a cantrip, but in it’s absence, Unseen Servant will work well enough, and in a few levels it can be converted to a Ritual, making it free to cast. It’s also not a concentration spells, so it won’t interfere with Hex.
Invocations wise, the first pick is clearly Agonizing Blast, because of course I want to add my Charisma Modifier to my Eldritch Blast damage rolls.
For the second Invocation, I don’t want to pick anything I’ll get too attached to because at next level I’m going to swap it out for a Tome enhancing invocation. I could take Eldritch Sight, providing easy access to Detect Magic, and later replace it with a Detect Magic ritual via the Tome, but there is a downside: Detect Magic is concentration based, so it conflicts with Hex. Misty Visions provides the fun of illusions, but Silent Image is also concentration. My pick here, is Fiendish Vigor, providing a 1st level self limited casting of False Life at-will. For a second level caster, an easy supply of temporary hitpoints could be a real life saver, but as it doesn’t scale, it won’t be overly missed when it is gone.
Third level is a big deal for Warlocks. Another spell known, second level spells, and of course, the Pact-Boon! Not only does Xilo gains access to a new spell, which can be of 1st or 2nd level, but he also has the opportunity to drop an existing 1st level spell and replace it with a 1st or 2nd level one.
Choosing 2nd level spells is tough. There are several good ones here. Shatter provides an area of effect thunder attack that is also plausibly useful outside of combat thanks to it’s ability to target an item. It can be used smash doors, break locks, damage traps, etc. Hold Person can be a potent combat power, but requires concentration. Suggestion has both potential in combat and social uses, but is limited by language and concentration. Mirror Image can be used to prevent taking several attacks and doesn’t use concentration. Invisibility is a potent stealth boosting spell, although it uses concentration too. My pick here is Shatter because of it’s ability to be used both in and out of combat without disrupting Hex.
For the Warlock Pact Boon I choose Pact of the Tome, gaining three more Cantrips from any class list. According to the PHB Errata, these three can be from different class lists too, making it very versatile. I’m always tempted by Vicious Mockery as a new ranged combat option, Shilleleigh for when I have to deal with melee combat, and Thaumaturgy for general utility and fun. Toll the Dead, from Xanathar’s Guide is also a tempting pick, as it targets wisdom and can do d12 damage. Likewise, Word of Radiance is also a potential pick for dealing radiant damage to potentially multiple targets at melee range, although as a Con save it’s not great.
Here are my picks:
- Spare the Dying is a good fit for any Celestial Warlock, because you don’t want your team dying. If you’re out of real healing, you can at least stabilize them. Once stabilized, you can take a short rest to regain some spell slots, and now you can provide healing.
- Guidance provides a nice little skill boost that can be used on oneself or others. It’s sadly concentration based, but it’s too broadly useful outside combat not to be taken. Inspecting a chest for traps? take +d4. Picking the lock? +d4. Lying to the town guard? +d4. Climbing the cliff? +d4. Sneaking past the monster? +d4.
- Shocking Grasp is my final pick, rounding out combat options with something useful in melee combat. Shocking grasp may not have the best damage value, but it has two special abilities. First, it’s easier to use on targets in metal armor. Second, it makes it easier to retreat to eldritch blast ranges. Third, as an attack it also works with Hex.
I’m also going to swap out an Invocation, dropping Fiendish Vigor for Book of Ancient Secrets. This provides Xilo with super ritual user status. He can learn and cast rituals of any kind. It also provides two free 1st level rituals immediately. For those I choose Find Familiar and Detect Magic. Also note, Xilo currently knows the spell Unseen Servant, so he can now cast that as a ritual and write it into his book for 50gp of rare inks and 2 hours of work. Find Familiar will be an especially useful tool not only for scouting, but for delivering touch spells like Cure Wounds.
Xilo will probably want to pickup any and all rituals he can get his hands on. Some rituals are very nitch, but when the right situation comes up, they really shine. That said, as a 3rd level Warlock Xilo should seek out:
- Identify, so you know what kind of magic items you found with Detect Magic.
- Ceremony (XGE), make holy water and prevent the dead from becoming undead… fun story stuff too.
- Silence, because Xilo is still a criminal. Sadly it can’t be used to muffle Shatter, as it negates that spell completely.
So, what kind of familiar does Xilo get? I want something useful for scouting and delivery touch spells to allies. That means a flying familiar is preferable: bat, hawk, owl, or raven. Of that list, an Owl is the best fit. As a scout they get flight, Darkvision, Perception, Keen Sight, and even Stealth. As a magic delivery system they have a Flyby power that will allow them to avoid attacks of opportunity as they swoop through combat to land touch spells.
Fourth Level is also a fairly big deal: a new spell known, a new warlock Cantrip, and either an ability score bonus or a feat! It’s also another opportunity to swap spells, in this case dropping Unseen Servant, making it ritual only, to gain a new spell.
For the new cantrip, Toll the Dead stands out as a Wisdom save based attack that does nice damage to targets that aren’t at full hit points. That leaves Xilo with several combat options depending on circumstances. Eldritch Blast provides a standard reliable high damage attack, especially when paired with Hex. Against targets with high AC, both Sacred Flame and Toll the Dead target different saves, providing options. Lastly, Shocking Grasp provides an option when stuck in melee combat range and does reasonable damage when paired with Hex. Each spell does a different damage type too: Force, Radiant, Necrotic, and Lightning.
(EDIT, left out when first posted) For his new 2nd level spell, I pick Misty Step, a nice little teleport spell utility. While it’s limited to only 30 feet to a location you can see, casting it is a Bonus action! For a ranged combat heavy character like a Warlock, being able to teleport is a useful trick for both getting out of melee but also for reaching sniper nests where melee foes can’t easily get at you in the first place. As a criminal, it can also be useful to breaking into or out of locations. Bar and cages can’t hold Xilo anymore. It’s also a nice combo with a familiar. It’s possible for Xilo to see through his Owl’s eyes, which means it can fly up and look into or over things that would normally block line of sight.
Now that Unseen Servant is recorded in the Book of Shadows for ritual casting, I can drop it for a new spell. In this case I’m inclined towards the Celestial option: Lesser Restoration.
Lastly for 4th level, Xilo can either gain a +2 to one ability score, +1 to two ability scores, or a feat. Boosting his Charisma for a bonus to attack and damage is very tempting, but I think my preference here is for a feat. In this case, Resilience to gain proficiency with Constitution saving throws. Not only does this provide a bonus to retaining concentration checks, but it also dealing with the not too uncommon Con based saves monsters and magic frequently throw at players. It also boosts Constitution to 15, although that won’t have much effect for another 4 levels.
5th level brings access to 3rd level spells including all 3rd level rituals, another spell known, and another invocation. It’s also brings Proficiency bonuses up to +3 and Eldritch Blast now generates two attacks, each potentially gaining the benefits of Agonizing Blast and Hex on a hit.
For Xilo’s third level spell there are several wonderful spells to choose from, including Fly and Dispel Magic, but I think the Celestial spell Revivify is my first priority. It’s the best raise from dead spell Xilo can get.
I’d consider dropping Shatter for Hunger of Hadar, but as a concentration spell it interferes with Hex, and Shatter is still doing a solid 4d8 Thunder damage, and will scale up. Hunger doesn’t scale. My opinion might be different if Xilo had Repelling Blast and Devil’s Sight as a way to maximize it’s effectiveness, but he doesn’t.
For a third Invocation, I think I’m going to go for a Hex enhancer from Xanathar’s Guide. Maddening Hex makes allows Xilo to inflict a small amount of Psychic damage on his Hex target, and those adjacent to that target, as a bonus action. Much like Hex itself, there is no attack roll or saving throw for this damage. As long a Xilo can see the target and is within 30 feet, the target and everyone Xilo chooses within 5′ of them takes his Charisma modifier in psychic damage. This damage will improve the over all Eldritch Blast + Hex Combo a bit, but it also can be used for slow stealthy kills. A hidden or invisible Warlock can use Maddening Hex without revealing themselves because neither it nor Hex is an attack.
Xilo doesn’t automatically gain any 3rd level rituals, but I would prioritize trying to get a hold of Leomund’s Tiny Hut, as it provides a great place to take short and long rests while adventuring.
At this level Xilo gets another spell known, and the Radiant Soul patron feature. Radiant Soul provides Resistance to Radiant damage and allows Xilo to add his Charisma Modifier to the damage inflicted on one target of a spell doing Radiant or Fire damage. In Xilo’s case this makes the Sacred Flame cantrip a little bit more effective, but nothing to get too excited about.
For a new spell, I choose Dispel Magic, because it’s just so useful.
Xilo gains access to Level 4 spells and all 4th level rituals, another spell known, and a new Invocation.
For the 4th level spell, I pick Wall of Fire from the celestial list. It’s a good control spell and can be used to do serious damage to a lot of foes. Fire damage is one of the most resisted and immune options in the game so it’s not strictly better than Shatter in all cases, but it does at least work with Radiant Soul. It is also Concentration based so it does interfere with Hex.
I’m also going to drop Misty Step and replace it with Dimension Door, which is a longer range and more versatile teleport spell. In particular it’s possible to teleport to a place you can’t directly, see although doing so can be dangerous if you arrive off target. Such issues can be reduced through creative scouting with a familiar. The only downside to Dimension Door in comparison to Misty Step is that is takes an Action, not a Bonus Action, to cast it.
For a new invocation I pick Ghostly Gaze from Xanathar’s Guide. It provides a unique ability to look through solid matter to a range of 30 feet for 1 minute. It’s a helpful trick for locating foes in the next room, traps in the floors or walls, hidden doors and passageways, secret compartments of treasure, etc. It does have the downside of using Concentration, so it interferes with Hex.
For a desirable 4th level ritual to seek out, Divination provides a limited ability to ask the DM a question, which can be very handy at times.
Another spell known, and the second ability score increase or feat.
For the new 4th level spell I pick Banishment, a spell that forces the target to make a rare Charisma saving throw or be cast out of the plane temporarily. For foes not on their home plane, you can actually permanently cast them to their home by sustaining the spell for a minute. That’s a potent ability for facing demons, devils, and elementals. For everyone else they pop back at the end of the duration, where you’re adventuring team is likely waiting to slaughter them. The downside to the spell is it’s material component: Something “distasteful” to the target. That means you need to both know what is distasteful to them and have that handy. For some foes that’s not hard. A variety of supernatural monsters are a vulnerable to known things. Holy water vs undead or fiends, silver vs lycanthropes, iron vs fey, garlic vs vampires, etc. For everyone else it requires researching the target before facing them, which I really like. Going up against the head of the theive’s guild? It sure would be helpful if you found out he was allergic to shellfish before the fight!
At 4th level Xilo gained a feat because I wanted to prioritize gaining proficiency in Constitution checks for a variety of reasons. This time around I’m going to choose to advance two of his Ability Scores by +1 each: Charisma and Constitution. This pushes his Charisma up to 18 for a +4 modifier, and his Constitution up to 16 for a +3. It also nets him 8 more hitpoints immediately.
At this level, Xilo’s spell slot levels cap out at 5th level spells. He also gains a new spell and a new invocation. Oh, and the proficiency bonus goes up to +4.
Xilo gains the Flame Strike spell from the Celestial list, a classic divine AOE attack that works with Radiant Soul.
He’s also going to drop Lesser Restoration in favor of Greater Restoration. As a warlock that always casts spells with slots of the same level, there is no reason to keep the lesser version when the Greater version is available.
For the invocation, I’m very tempted to take Whispers of the Grave to gain free access to Speak with Dead and begin keeping a library of heads, however I think I’d rather take a more combat useful invocation this time around. Tomb of Levistus from Xanathar’s Guide provides a damage absorbing reaction that is usable once per short rest. At 9th level it provides a hefty 90 temporary hitpoints that can immediately absorb damage from the initial attack. It also has a cool style, with infernal ice entombing the warlock for one turn. The downside to this power is the short lived incantation. This ends concentration spells like hex and just generally prevents the warlock from taking any actions on their turn. It doesn’t provide attackers with any bonuses to hit, thankfully.
Xilo also gains access to 5th level rituals of any kind.
At 10th level and above warlock powers accumulates in a new fashion. Spells known accumulate more slowly, and they don’t get any higher than 5th level, however the warlock starts to slowly gain once-a-day spells of 6th level and higher, along with some other abilities including finally starting to gain more than two spell slots. At level 10 Xilo gains Celestial Resilience, which gives him and allies temporary hitpoints after a rest. He also gains a new cantrip.
For the Xilo’s last cantrip I choose Minor Illusion because Xilo has plenty of combat cantrips already, and doesn’t yet have any illusion powers to play with.
Xilo finally gains a third spell slot, a new spell known, and the first Mystic Arcanum; a single 6th level spell that can be cast once per day.
For the spell slot I choose Fly, a classic utility spell for D&D.
Several of the 6th Level Mystic Arcanum options are interesting, but I choose Soul Cage from Xanathar’s guide, a spell that can be used in a variety of ways. It’s also been a while since Xilo got a good twisted spell to play with and trapping the departing soul of a foe to power more magic certainly fits that definition.
Although warlock no longer gains proper spells above 5th level, a tome warlock with the ritual using invocation can continue to make use of every more potent rituals from any class. At 11th level Xilo gains access to 6th level rituals.
At 12th level Xilo gains another invocation and an ability score boost or feat.
This time Xilo is gaining a +2 to Charisma, putting it at 20 for a +5 bonus.
For the invocation my selection for Xilo is Repelling Blast. Being able to knock a target back 10′ on a hit, per hit, regardless of size, is handy, especially when Firewall is in play.
At this level Xilo gains another +1 to Proficiency, bringing it up to +5. Also another spell known, and a Mystic Arcanum of 7th level.
For the new spell I choose Scrying, which is a useful divination.
For the Arcanum I choose Planeshift, a useful spell not just for travel, but also for banishing foes to other possibly harmful planes if they fail a Charisma saving throw.
At this level Xilo gets access to 7th level rituals from any class list, not that there are many for this spell level.
The Otherworldly Patron power Searing Vengeance is the only things Xilo gains this level, but it’s a good one. The first time killed between Long Rests, Xilo bounces back with 50% health and a burst of blinding radiant damage.
A new spell, a new invocation, and an 8th level mystic arcanum this level.
Charm Monster, from Xanathar’s Guide, provides a solid charm spell that’s effective on monsters as well as humanoids, and doesn’t require a Concentration to maintain. A good social spell to have.
For the 8th level mystic arcanum I’m actually taking Demiplane, even though its widely considered an underpowered option for Warlocks. I just really like the idea of making my own little planar pocket rooms. The ability to make a new one or revisit old ones, and their nature as being other planes, makes them potentially very useful. Many powers and spells are limited to “on the same plane” making these demiplanes excellent hiding places, particularly if you take the time to personalize them. Moreover, the spontaneous generation of a doorway to a 30 foot cubed room can occasionally be useful in a fight or adventure. That you can prepare the room in advance can make it an even better place to lure foes to fight inside. Combined with repelling blast to knock targets through the door, and dispel magic to remove the doorway well before the 1 hour duration is up, and it also makes a way to imprison foes during a fight. Likewise, the room can be used for an escape by rushing through it and dispelling the door. With some proper forethought and work, and particularly when combined with Planeshift, it’s possible to use them for many other tricks. For example, a 30′ cubed room full of holy water from a sea of it on the upper planes, delivered via a doorway placed on the ceiling is a hell of a trick against foes vulnerable to holy water.
Shroud of Shadows, from Xanathar’s Guide, gives Xilo the Invisibility spell as an at-will power. It is a concentration spell and plenty of things at 15th level can see through invisibility, but it’s still useful.
Ritual wise, there aren’t many 8th level rituals to pick from.
At this level Xilo gets either an ability score bonus or a feat. I’m inclined towards a feat. From a power gamer perspective, Lucky is probably the best feat to take at this point, but still tempted to take Prodigy instead, the “human” racial feat from Xanathar’s guide. Xilo finally gains proficiency is Persuasion, the ability to speak Celestial, and the ability to brew potions via Alchemy Tool Proficiency. He also gains Expertise (double Proficiency bonus for a +5 bonus) in Perception, to help offset that his wisdom hasn’t improved. Frankly I was tempted to take this feat at 4th level but I decided Constitution saving throws were more important, and then the 8th and 12th levels were dedicated to ability score improvements.
Lots to love at this level: the proficiency bonus goes up to +6, gain another known spell, gain the 4th spell slot(!), and lastly gain the 9th level mystic arcanum.
With 4 spell slots per short rest, it may finally be worthwhile for Xilo to take Counterspell, which will help when dealing with foes that can also cast lots of powerful spells.
For the 9th level arcanum I’m taking True Polymorph. Foresight is tempting and possibly the more efficient choice as it helps on just about everything, but True Polymorph makes for more fun, and combos well with Demiplane. It can be used to make an army of friendly creatures which can be loaded into a demiplane to join in combat. Constructs in particular would be a good choice for storage in demiplanes, and there are several medium sized ones that would be valid.
At this level Xilo gains another Eldritch Invocation, and for that I choose Witch Sight. At this level, the ability to automatically see through shape-changing or illusions concealed creature’s disguises could be very handy. Of important note here is that Illusion concealment includes invisibility. Unfortunately, the power is specific to creatures, so it provides no aid in seeing other things concealed by illusion transmutation.
This is an Ability Score boost (or feat) and another spell known for Xilo.
Again, I’ll take the Feat instead of the Ability Score boost. This time I’ll choose Lucky, for it’s broadly useful reroll powers.
For the spell, I pick Summon Greater Demon, a 4th level spell from Xanathar’s Guide. Summoned monsters are potentially very useful for a variety of uses, and demons in general tend to be potent. Cast with a 5th level spell slot, this spell provides upa CR 6 demons, which includes Vrocks, Shadow Demons, Barlgura, and Chasme. Lots of options depending on situation. Demon summon in general also provides a nice dark power option for a character whose theme is being drawn between good and evil. It’s material requirement of freshly spilled humanoid blood isn’t likely to be hard to find in many adventures, but collecting the blood of foes isn’t a good feeling act.
The capstone power for Warlocks is called Eldritch Master, and it provides the ability to regain spell slots as a 1 minute option once per day. There are no choices for Xilo at this level.