The Hexblade is the second Heroes of Shadow class to be released, following the Assassin. With the release of the Essentials Heroes of the Forgotten Kingdoms supplement, the Hexblade build option was made available to Warlocks. Initially, Fey and Infernal Pact Hexblades were available, and now with the release of Dungeons and Dragons Dragon Magazine #393, the Star Pact is also available.
What is Special About Hexblades?
Magical swords. Powerful magic. What’s not to love? And no, we’re not talking about Swordmages. The new Hexblade class offers new build options for Warlocks, with a a number of distinct differences.
What Separates Hexblades from Other Warlocks?
How Hexblades and Standard Warlocks are the Same:
- Hexblades have an Eldritch Bolt, which is mechanically identical to Eldritch Blast.
- Hexblades receive pact rewards and boons, just like Warlocks.
- Hexblades and Warlocks draw their power through similar means.
How Hexblades and Standard Warlocks are Different:
- Hexblades do not have the ability to Curse foes. Nor do they have the Prime Shot or Shadow Step class features.
- Hexblades receive a +1 bonus to Fortitude and Will defenses, instead of Reflex and Will.
- Hexblades are proficient in hide and chain mail armor.
- Hexblades receive a Pact Weapon, determined by the selected pact type. While the Hexblade Warlock holds an implement, the pact weapon is essentially conjured into existence by the Warlock’s magical energies. If the implement is taken away, the pact weapon will fade. Different pact weapons have different weapon proficiencies and hit dice. Hexblade Warlocks never need to buy melee weapons, and can focus on seeking improved implements.
- Hexblades have unique at-will melee attacks depending on their chosen pact. As they progress in level, many encounter powers are melee.
- Hexblades can summon planar allies. Beginning at the 4th level, Hexblade Warlocks can conjure a spirit from another plane to locate objects/people, or explore areas for them. At later levels, Hexblades can summon powerful beings to fight alongside them.
Hexblade Pact Options
Secondary ability: Dexterity. This ability score is used for damage bonuses.
Pact Boon: Soul Step (teleport).
Pact Weapon: Light blade; +3 attack; 1d10 damage
Magical damage types: Cold, Psychic.
Secondary ability: Constitution. This ability score is used for damage bonuses.
Pact Weapon: Heavy blade; +2 attack; 1d12 damage
Pact Boon: Soul Feast (gain temporary hit points)
Magical damage types: Fire, Necrotic.
Secondary ability: Intelligence. This ability score is used for damage bonuses.
Pact Weapon: Heavy blade; +3 attack; 1d10 damage
Pact Boon: Dire Fate (attack bonuses)
Magical damage types: Radiant, Psychic.
Dark Pact (unreleased)
Secondary ability: Strength?
Pact Weapon: Unknown… guessing Heavy blade; +2 attack; 1d12 damage
Pact Boon: Some sort of damage booster?
Magical damage types: Possibly Necrotic and Psychic?
Standard Warlocks also have the Dark Pact and Vestige Pact available to them. Since the Dark Pact involves drawing power from beings of the Shadowfell, it seems likely that this build option will make its first appearance with the release of Heroes of Shadow. If the Vestige Pact is made available for Hexblade Warlocks, look for it appear in a future edition of Dungeon and Dragons “Dragon Magazine”. I doubt the Vestige Pact will be a priority for Wizards though– the build simply is not very exciting. At best, the Vestige Pact offers a little more variety.
Have you tried out a Hexblade yet? Do they feel too similar to standard Warlocks to you, or do you feel a distinct difference? Personally, I’ve always liked the idea of conjuring weapons from one’s energy, so I find this class option very appealing… at least in the thematic sense. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to playtest one soon!