My inclination for overthinking occasionally lands me in a good spot for table top gaming. I can?t just dream up a character, choose some fun spells, and take them out for a trial run. I have to think about my character ? all night, all day, and a little bit in between. It?s totally fine to sacrifice sleep and productivity to be the absolute best, right? That?s how Slytherins do it, I think? My latest Dungeons & Dragons 5E character was Soren the sorlock, and he put my party members to great shame.
Even when playing solely with base rules, the sorlock can exploit everything good about the warlock?s signature cantrip and combine it with the sorcerer?s ability to double spells. This alone lets you demolish your enemies with beams of dark eldritch energy, but there are more ways to break your character and make them the strongest patron of dark power in the land. I mean, there?s really little reason not to; your max damage potential at level 5 could be over 80 hit points.
Let?s do some minmaxing!
Disclaimer: Your DM might hate you ? or just buff the monsters you fight and nerf your HP.
(Image courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.)
The Sorlock?s Essence Of Power
The crux of this caster build lies in its ability to spam Eldritch Blast with no repercussion, so be sure to start by taking two to four levels in warlock. I?d personally suggest three, because you get to pick up a pact boon, or even four, so you can grab an ability score improvement. Essentially, you just need enough levels in warlock to get your Eldritch Blast cantrip and pick up the Agonizing Blast invocation, which lets you add your Charisma modifier to each beam of your blast. You can get both of these at level 2.
Let me break down why this is vital:
- EB does 1d10 of damage normally.
- If you?re a 5th level character, your cantrip is upgraded to two separate beams of 1d10 damage, totaling 2d10 plus 10 damage (if you max your Charisma out at 20 by rolling your stats and choosing the right race).
- At level 11, you can cast three beams, and at level 17, you can cast four.
Twist Your Spells With Sorcerer Levels
Already, this is a ton of damage. A guaranteed 10 damage each turn is great in and of itself, but by adding in your sorcerer levels, you can multiply your damage by two. This build finally comes online at level 5. You need the essential two levels in warlock and three levels in sorcerer to start doubling your EB damage with the sorcerer?s signature Font of Magic and Metamagic abilities.
Font of Magic allows you to transform spell slots into sorcery points and transform sorcery points into spell slots (with this build, you will truly need all the sorcery points). Metamagic lets you ?twist your spells to suit your needs.? At level 3, you can choose two Metamagic options. Quickened Spell is vital to this build. It lets you spend two sorcery points to cast one spell as a bonus action, basically allowing you to cast two spells each turn that you have enough sorcery points to keep it all up. As for the other Metamagic option, you can follow your heart. I?d suggest Twinned Spell, for cases when you want to buff more than one party member or disable more than one enemy.
Let?s look at the damage one more time:
- At level 5, if you have enough sorcery points, you can quicken your first EB then cast another, garnering a total of 4d10 plus 20 damage in one turn.
- At level 11, this becomes 6d10 plus 30 damage per turn.
- At level 17, you have the potential to deal out 8d10 plus 40 damage per turn.
Remember, this is all with a spammable cantrip. And if you don?t have the points available to Quicken another EB, you can sacrifice your remaining sorcerer or warlock spell slots to create more ? or quick rest to restore a few.
Cast A Hex
Not enough damage for you? Yeah, me neither. When you take your warlock spells, be sure to grab Hex. This can be cast as a bonus action in conjunction with your first EB, saving you some vital combat time. Hex is a beautiful, beautiful spell. It adds 1d6 to your damage each time you land an attack on an enemy.
Once that enemy dies, you can transfer your Hex to another monster ? or a peasant who just happens to be in your way. Plus, Hex only costs one slot for an entire combat encounter of extra damage on each EB beam. And once you can cast Hex with a 3rd-level slot, you can maintain the curse for up to 8 hours, which could feasibly span multiple encounters.
Now, Hex can proc on each EB beam, so think about the damage you can do. Check it out:
- If you cast Hex at 5th level on a standard turn, you are looking at 4d10 plus 4d6 plus 20 damage.
- Hex scales up as you level, and it also makes casting a single EB worthwhile.
- If you?re out of sorcery points or you want to save them for a stronger enemy, 2d10 plus 2d6 plus 10 damage each turn ? without having to expend anything but your initial Hex spell slot ? is not bad.
(Image courtesy of Giphy.)
While You?re At It, Cast A Hexblade Curse
There is a multitude of Otherworldly Patrons to choose from when building your sorlock, but one seems to stand high above the others: The Hexblade. This warlock patron gives you proficiency in medium armor, shields, and martial weapons. The extra AC is nice, but you won?t be using any weapons anytime soon. The essential part of this pact is its Hexblade Curse.
This curse is best used on boss fights or abnormally strong monsters, as it doesn?t transfer like Hex. Once you?ve cast Hexblade Curse, you must finish a short rest to use it again. When you curse a target (also as a bonus action), you add your proficiency bonus to damage rolls against that target. So, when you make your standard 5th-level attack, you would deal 4d10 plus 4d6 plus 20 plus 12 damage. Additionally, Hexblade Curse makes any 19 or 20 roll a critical hit. And, if your target dies, you can restore hit points equal to your warlock level plus your Charisma modifier.
Need A Little Darkness?
Still not enough? Are you having trouble actually hitting your targets with your casual concoction of damage? Look no further. If you?re at least a level 2 warlock, you get two Invocations. The first will always be Agonizing Blast, but the second, should you choose, is best used for Devil?s Sight. Devil?s Sight lets you see through all magical and nonmagical darkness.
Combine this with the Darkness spell, and you?re set. You can pick this up with a standard warlock or sorcerer spell slot, or, if you choose half-elf as your race (with the Drow variant), you can cast the spell for free once every long rest.
If you cast Darkness on your staff or other weapon, enemies that can?t see through magical darkness (including those with darkvision) can?t see you and, thus, have disadvantage on attack rolls made against you. Because you?re unseen, you get advantage on your attack rolls.
Your allies within spell range (those pretty much right next to you or near you) remain relatively unharmed by this spell effect. They get disadvantage for not being able to see through your darkness, but also advantage because your enemies can?t see them. These effects cancel each other out, so they can continue to fling arrows and healing spells with ease.
(Image courtesy of Wizards of the Coast.)
That?s Cool And All, But More Damage?
Okay, okay. There is one more option for optimizing your damage. Normally, only bard, cleric, and wizard characters can use this spell, but you can cast Bestow Curse if you choose the Sign of Ill Omen invocation. This would require you to sacrifice your Devil?s Sight invocation if you decide to go this route before you reach level 5 in warlock. However, if you decide to devote a few more levels to the pact class, you can take them all!
Bestow Curse primarily adds 1d8 to each damage roll made against a target, but it also has some other cool effects. You get to choose one ability score that the enemy has disadvantage on. The target also has disadvantage on attack rolls against you (but you already have that from Devil?s Sight and Darkness). The target must make a Wisdom saving throw each turn, and if it fails, it wastes its action. It?s a lot of nice stuff packed into one spell, but it doesn?t last as long as Hex, and it also requires a lot of finagling in order to get it working for you.
If you take Pact of the Chain (or use Pact of the Tome and the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation to learn the Find Familiar ritual), you can have your familiar cast Bestow Curse from melee range without putting yourself in danger. This isn?t necessary though, especially because it would potentially take up yet another invocation. But if you decide to sacrifice some of the other options above, this is still feasible.
If you were to cast two EBs, one quickened, of course, and add your Hex, Hexblade Curse, and Bestow Curse damage, your 11th level damage would look something like this:
- 6d6 (Hex)
- 24 (Hexblade Curse: proficiency of +4 multiplied by 6)
- 30 (Agonizing Blast)
- 6d8 (Bestow Curse)
You could be dishing out 198 damage ? if the sorlock dice gods smile upon you, of course. Just kidding, we?re not clerics. Just believe in your own raw power.
(Image courtesy of Giphy.)
Need A Little Sorlock Variety?
Of course, every sorlock needs their own unique personality, so feel free to deviate from or add to anything above. I, for one, elected to not pursue the Hexblade patron. Instead, I went with the Archfey patron, as my sorlock is a half-elf whose elven half is descended from fey gods. The extra damage just didn?t seem that important to me, especially because I already wreck our enemies ? and I could only cast the Hexblade Curse once a day. What?s the fun in that?
I?ve also noticed that, while some proponents of the sorlock argue that Intelligence is a wasted skill, I really enjoy boosting my character?s Arcana and other knowledge. It seems to fit with his theme a bit more. He can talk his way out of anything with abominably high Persuasion and Deception, and he just seems to know enough about everything to get his way. Other players might spec into Constitution or Dexterity for the sake of livability (I?m currently sitting at a lovable AC of 12), but that?s just not how I envision my sorlock. He?s a glass cannon, and monsters target him first, which gives our group a good mission in fights: Let Soren kill things, then bring him back to life. It?s not always as fun to fall directly into line with these ?best of the best? builds.
Whatever you decide, happy minmaxing! If there?s a class you?d like me to minmax down the road, let me know in the comments!