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The Hexblade Warlock 5e Guide: Power of the Cursed Blade

This guide is designed to help give you a deeper understanding of the choices you’ll make when building and playing a Hexblade Warlock in Dungeons & Dragons 5e.

To help you get to grips with this martial spellcaster class, we’ve broken down what makes the Hexblade Warlock effective and stand out from the rest of the party, as well as highlighting a few of its shortcomings.

Hexblades are also notorious for their ability to easily multiclass, and we’ve included some of the best options for combining your Hexblade with levels in other classes for even greater effect.

We’ve also broken down the basics, like ability scores, race, background, and skills, so you know how to get the most out of your Hexblade right from level one. 

Following that, we’ve put together a Progression Section.

This acts as a sort of snapshot of how you’ll start, and when you get skills and powers after that, one level at a time.

You will find things like Hit Points, Proficiencies, Equipment, any Class-specific skills. Then we go through what you’ll get at each level as you progress your character.

Feats are an optional part of 5e that a lot of people tend to skip in favor of a few extra ability points.

If you’re interested in feats and how they can transform your Hexblade build, we’ve also broken down some of the ones that synergize best with this subclass. 

Lastly, we’ve put together an example build that will let you take your Hexblade from level 1-20 as effectively as possible. 

You can jump to any of these topics below using the table of contents below.

Black Citadel’s Ranking and Tier System

In our ongoing series of 5e class guides, we use the following color rating scheme:

  • RedC Tier. Red options can sometimes be situationally useful, and might make for an interesting narrative choice, but are largely less effective than other tiers.
  • GreenB Tier. A solid choice, but nothing that is absolutely critical for a build, or can be very good but only situationally.  
  • BlueA Tier. An excellent choice. Widely regarded as powerful in some way, useful, highly effective. 
  • PurpleS Tier, the best of the best. Objectively powerful or transformative in some way. No choice in D&D is essential, but these options are definitely worth considering when you create your character.

Our goal here is to provide scannable, but comprehensive guides for you as you develop your character.

While we might sometimes make reference to unofficial or homebrew content to illustrate a point (or just because it’s too cool not to talk about) every option we suggest is legal in the official rules for D&D 5e as published by Wizards of the Coast.

What is a Hexblade Warlock? 

All Warlocks are sworn and beholden to one powerful entity or another.

From archdevils in the depths of Avernus to cosmic monstrosities of unknowable, cthulian horror drifting in the ice-cold depths of space, Warlocks have a decent amount of choice when it comes to where they hitch their wagon.

Similar to a Wizard’s chosen school of magic, or a Sorcerer’s origin, the entity with which a warlock makes their pact affects the features to which their otherworldly patron grants them access. 

Hexblades have forged a dark bond with a weapon, a dark artefact of power forged from the matter of the Shadowfell itself.

Also known as the Plane of Shadow, the Shadowfell is the dark counterpart to the Feywild – a bleak, desolate realm of ash and decay.

It is suspected that many notorious magical blades (Blackrazor being the most famous) have been forged from the Shadowfell over the ages, some say by the Raven Queen, ruler of the shadowfell and a minor goddess of death itself.

Now, your Warlock has one of these blades in their possession, bound to their very soul in exchange for untold knowledge and power. 

The Hexblade Warlock is kind of weird subclass, to be honest.

You’re primarily a caster, a magic user, and things like your d8 Hit Die (HD) reflect that.

But your bond with your blade also makes you a capable melee (and even ranged) combatant, able to wear medium armor and – if you also take the Pact of the Blade at 3rd level – capable of summoning a Zweihander made of shadow and flame to smite anyone who talks smack about your lack of spell slots with extreme prejudice.

Class Defining Abilities – Hexblade Warlock

Expanded Spell List 

  • Powerful late game spells 
  • Strong melee combat focus 
  • Other subclasses are better 

Each Warlock subclass gets access to an expanded list of spells in addition to the basic Warlock spell list.

These spells tend to help focus your character on the things your subclass does best.

For the Hexblade, this means combat spells for both survivability (like Blur, which puts attackers at disadvantage when trying to hit you) and damage (like Wrathful, Branding, and Banishing Smite).

However, it’s worth noting that a lot of the Hexblade’s low-level spells require concentration, which means you can’t do things like activate Blur and Branding Smite at the same time.

There are also some spells from the basic Warlock list – like Armor of Agathys – which do a better job than some of the spells that are unique to the Hexblade.

However, a somewhat lacklustre spell list isn’t the end of the world; Warlocks’ Pact Magic means you won’t be casting as much as, say, a Wizard, and your Eldritch Invocations can let you tweak the effects of your mainstay abilities like Eldritch Blast, as well as let you perform some first level spells (like Disguise Self) for free. 

Eldritch Blast and Invocations 

  • Best damage cantrip in the game
  • Eldritch Invocations grant extra damage or utility later on 
  • You’re going to run out of spell slots before you finish reading the next paragraph, so your cantrips are a core element of your build

Warlocks (Hexblade or otherwise) have a very limited pool of spells, and the way that Pact Magic works means that you’ll pretty much always be trying to burn the highest level spell you can at the most pivotal moment.

As a consolation prize, the collective pantheon of Warlock patrons have coughed up the best damage cantrip in the whole game. 

A beam of crackling energy streaks toward a creature within range. Make a ranged spell attack against the target.

On a hit, the target takes 1d10 force damage. Eldritch Blast is a fantastic damage cantrip. 

Also, when you get access to Eldritch Invocations at 2nd level, you’ll be able to start tweaking your Eldritch Blast’s effects – kind of like a Sorcerer’s metamagic.

Pick up Eldritch Spear to more than double your blast’s range to 300ft. That means that, if the average creature moves at a rate of 30ft per round, and you have a clear line of sight, you get to spend a full 10 rounds pelting them with 1d10 force damage every turn.

Also, you can help your cantrip damage scale significantly by picking up Agonizing Blast, which lets you apply your Charisma modifier to the damage you deal with Eldritch Blast.

There are a ton more awesome Eldritch Invocations that help you beef up your blasts (and do a bunch of other great stuff) but we’ll get to that in a minute. 

Hex Warrior

  • Become a Single Ability-Focused Character 
  • Weapon and Armour Proficiencies that let you fight in the front line
  • Build into Pact of the Blade for maximum effect 

Hex Warrior – along with your Hexblade’s Curse ability (more on that later) – is the keystone of your build. The Hexblade, on the other hand, gets proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons at 1st level. 

Whenever you finish a long rest, you can touch one weapon that you are proficient with and that lacks the two-handed property (don’t worry, Pact of the Blade gets rid of this requirement at 3rd level).

This weapon then becomes the conduit through which you focus your eldritch abilities; instead of using Strength or Dexterity, you now apply your Charisma modifier to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon.

I cannot overstate how huge this is.

Your ability as a melee combatant, your spellcasting modifier (and DC), and your social abilities (like deception and intimidation) are all tied to the same ability.

That means that, once you max out your Charisma, you become a spectacular damage dealer, hard-as-nails frontliner, and master of social situations all rolled into one. 

This should go some way towards making up for the fact that Warlocks’ Pact Magic is, frankly, a pile of hot garbage. 

Hexblade Warlock Limitations

  • Extremely limited number of spell slots 
  • Lack of access to heavy armor stops you from being a true melee frontliner 

“I gave up my immortal soul and all I got were two spell slots and this lousy t-shirt!”

A level 2 Warlock and a level 10 Warlock have the same number of spell slots: two.

Warlocks do regain all their spell slots on a short rest, but it’s still a huge drawback of the class – especially when some of your Eldritch Invocations and other class features are also going to require you to burn through some of your precious slots. 

Pact Magic spell slots are also all the same level, meaning that if you have access to third, fourth, or even fifth level spells at later levels and want to cast a 1st level spell like Shield (you don’t, trust me) you still need to burn a higher level slot. 

The other major drawback to the Hexblade specifically is that, while access to Medium Armor proficiency puts you head and shoulders above other full-caster subclasses (suck it, Wizards), at lower levels (when you’ll probably just have a chainmail shirt or even hide armor) you’ll need to put some of your precious Ability Points into Dexterity in order to get your AC above 14. 

You can fix this later on by multiclassing into something like a Paladin or Fighter for Heavy Armor proficiency, but that also requires you to boost your Strength score as high as 15 if you want to wear full plate, and those ability score points could be put to better use elsewhere.

Basically, you’re going to have to resign yourself to the fact that, if something nasty with a high to-hit bonus wants to hit you, it’s probably going to hit you. Gulp

Synergies and Multiclassing 

Speaking of a Fighter or Paladin dip, it really wouldn’t be a Hexblade guide if we didn’t cover multiclassing.

The Hexblade Warlock is probably the most frequently muticlassed D&D build.

There are Hexadins, Sor’locks, and even Hex Bards – all of which are potentially devastating combinations due to the Hexblade’s defining ability score: Charisma. Let’s go over some of the more popular combinations. 

Sorcerer 

If you hit third level with your Sorcerer/Warlock, you get access to Metamagic and a Sorcerous Origin, both of which synergise well with a Warlock’s cantrip-heavy spellcasting style.

For example, Quickened Spell lets you cast two non-bonus action spells in one turn, provided one spell is a cantrip, and Twinned Spell lets you target more than one creature with a spell.

Throw either of those on your Agonizing Eldritch Blast and you end up dealing effectively 1d10 + Charisma (which should be +4 by this point) to two creatures every turn. Punchy stuff. 

Paladin 

Easily the most popular and potent multiclass build – maybe in the whole of 5e – the Hexadin.

With just two levels in Paladin (I recommend you pick them up instead of Warlock 4 and 5, after you grab Pact of the Blade at 3rd level) you get Heavy Armor proficiency, Divine Sense, a Fighting Style, Lay on Hands, more spellcasting, and Smite – which is a huge improvement over the Hexblade’s concentration-based smiting spells. 

Paladins also have a d10 HD rather than your puny Warlock d8, so you’ll probably be picking up more HP per Paladin level.

Also, the fact that Paladins swear oaths that are the source of their power makes for some interesting narrative dissonance with your existing bond to your patron. 

Getting Started 

Ability Scores 

  • Primary: Charisma 
  • Tier Two: Dexterity, Constitution 
  • Also Good (sometimes): Intelligence, Wisdom 
  • Absolute Dump Tier: Strength 

As I mentioned before, a Hexblade is as close to a single ability class as exists in D&D 5e.

Your attacks, spells and social interactions (Deception, Persuasion, and Intimidation are all right in your wheelhouse) are all defined by your Charisma – not to mention the fact that it remains equally helpful if you dip into Paladin or Sorcerer. 

Strength: Unless you’re going for heavy armor later in the game (Full Plate will get your AC to 18 and requires you to have a Strength of 15 to wear) or maybe have a DM who’s really into monsters that can grapple (read: Hentai), your Strength is about as vestigial as a stat can be.

Bump your Dexterity and Constitution for better AC and HP, buy a Breastplate as soon as you can scrape together 400gp, and forget about this utterly worthless stat. 

Dexterity: better AC, better Acrobatics and Stealth bonuses – Dexterity is never a bad shout.  

Constitution: in addition to a bigger HP pool, which is literally never a bad thing, a few extra points of Constitution can really be a lifesaver due to the sheer number of the Hexblade’s spells that require concentration.

When you’re working with two spell slots per short rest, low Constitution can be the difference between landing an all-important Smite, and watching 50% of your spell pool fizzle away to nothing before your very eyes. 

Intelligence: Intelligence-based skills fit really well into the idea of Warlocks as seekers of hidden knowledge.

But you never know, maybe your otherworldly patron chose you for your bubbly personality or your rippin’ bod. 

Wisdom: Wisdom is never a terrible shout when building a character, due to the fact that you use it to make Perception checks, which help you unlock more of the game.

Otherwise, it’s nothing special, unless you want to be an absolute madlad and multiclass intro druid or (as someone in my weekly group with a fondness for cursed amulets and camping recently chose) ranger.  

Charisma: This is your bread, butter, and the cursed plate made of bone you eat it off. Charisma is everything for a Warlock – especially the Hexblade. Get it as high as you can, as soon as you can. 

Races 

  • Great Choices: Half Elf, Variant Human 
  • Very Solid: Tiefling, Aasimar
  • Also Consider: Lightfoot Halfling  

If you’ve been paying attention so far, you’ll know that we’re going to be prioritising any race that buffs our Charisma, with Constitution and Dexterity as a secondary choice.

We’ve chosen four possible races that are available from the D&D 5e Basic Rules found in the Player’s Handbook. The rules for the Aasimar can be found in Volo’s Guide to Monsters.  

Half Elf

An all-important +2 boost to your Charisma, combined with +1 to two other abilities of your choice makes the Basic Rules Half Elf a great foundation for a Hexblade.

You also get advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep thanks to your Fey Ancestry Trait.

Also, you get to choose two skills to be proficient in from the list, giving you even more flexibility when it comes to your starting build.

This also means you’re less likely getting locked into a background that you don’t like just because you need proficiency in Stealth. 

Variant Human

The +1 to all abilities that a regular human gets is fine, but the +1 to two stats and an extra feat is absolutely perfect for a Hexblade Warlock.

Some feats synergize so well with the Hexblade after 3rd level that they very much become the basis for a good deal of your build going forward.

If you used Standard Array or Point Buy (or rolled for your ability scores and didn’t get a particularly good result) you are going to want to put extra points into your Charisma as soon as you get the chance at level four.

By picking a Variant Human, you get a powerful feat at 1st level without having to sacrifice that crucial +1 or +2 bump to your primary ability at 4th level. You also get an extra Skill of your choice. 

Tiefling

Once again, a +2 to your Charisma is great for a Warlock. However, the +1 to Intelligence that Tieflings also get isn’t as useful as a boost to your Dexterity of Constitution.

Hellish Resistance to fire damage, and the innate spells granted to you by your Infernal Legacy trait (Thaumaturgy as a cantrip, Hellish Rebuke at 3rd level, and darkness at 5th) are a huge bonus considering your shortage of spell slots. 

Lightfoot Halfling

With an acceptable +1 to Charisma (and a +2 to Dexterity), Lightfoot Halflings have the potential to make fine Hexblades.

Although your Pact of the Blade feature gets less useful due to your size limitation preventing you from using two-handed weapons, there’s nothing to stop you from picking up a good old-fashioned sword and shield for the AC bump.

Halflings also get the Lucky trait, which means that when you roll a 1 for an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can reroll the die, and is one of the best racial traits in the game. 

Aasimar

Setting aside the irony of a half-celestial being making a pact with an ancient evil from the Shadowfell (although let’s be real, it’s narrative gold), the Aasimar’s +2 Charisma bonus and resistance to both radiant and necrotic damage are a great start.

The various Aasimar subraces also boost either your Wisdom, Constitution, or Strength by 1 – none of which are amazing, but they also give you some cool additional abilities, like being able to sprout ghostly, skeletal wings that frighten anyone near you (also based on your Charisma modifier) or deal radiant damage to anything within a 10ft radius every round.

Basically, Aasimar rule, and are definitely worth considering. 

Backgrounds 

  • Top Choices: Criminal, Charlatan 
  • Also Good Options: Entertainer, Noble 

Backgrounds are both a great way to help flesh out your character’s personal history, and your primary source of skills.

Each background also has its own special feature – which I maintain are a criminally underused aspect of D&D.

As a Warlock with Charisma as your Primary Attribute (and probably Dexterity as your second-highest) choosing backgrounds that grant you access to skills that use those abilities can be a good way to go.

The Criminal background, for example, gives you proficiency in Deception and Stealth, to very useful skills – as well as a network of criminal contacts to help you fulfil the dark desires of your patron.

Alternately, the Noble background gives you Persuasion, which is great, and History, which is fine. 

If you have an idea of your character’s backstory that doesn’t synergise with the background that offers the best skills, however, don’t worry about it.

You can always choose to play as a Half Elf or Variant Human and scoop up some extra skill proficiencies from there. 

Skills 

When you first create your Warlock, you’ll choose two Skills from the following list (in addition to the ones provided by your background): 

Arcana: Identify magic items, decode ancient runes, and other warlock-ey stuff that feels right in your wheelhouse.

If you’re the party’s main spellcaster, your companions will thank you for grabbing this. If there’s a Wizard here too, it’s probably better to grab something else. 

Deception: You’re going to have high Charisma, and there has never been a single D&D campaign in the history of the game where a high roll + high Deception bonus hasn’t saved the party from certain death with an outrageous lie.

Treasure inspectors?! … well I guess that tracks. Right this way! Bring your big sacks too! 

History: like Arcana, having someone in the party who is capable of knowing at least a little about the world you’re adventuring through is never a bad thing, and it might as well be you. 

Intimidation: another fantastic Skill that plays right into your charismatic wheelhouse.  

Investigation: search for clues, pick up the trail, unlock more of the DM’s content. 

Nature: if your party is relying on its warlock for nature checks, and you’re regularly finding yourself in situations where that’s sorely needed, it’s time to go hire a druid. 

Religion: Not as universally applicable as History or Arcana, but could be thematically interesting if your Hexblade’s fall from grace was preceded by a stint in a religious order. 

Hexblade Warlock Class Progression 

1st Level 

Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier

Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per Warlock level after 1st

Proficiencies

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields

Weapons: Simple and Martial Weapons 

Tools: None

Saving Throws: Wisdom, Charisma

Skills: Pick two… Arcana, Deception, History, Intimidation, Investigation, Nature, Religion

Equipment: You’re going to have to stick with the Warlock’s underwhelming starting gear for a couple of levels, but when you pick up Pact of the Blade at 3rd level, your starting weapons are going to become immaterial as you start to manifest whatever your heart desires. 

  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) any simple weapon
  • (a) a component pouch or (b) an arcane focus
  • (a) a scholar’s pack or (b) a dungeoneer’s pack
  • Leather armor, any simple weapon, and two daggers

Otherworldly Patron: Hexblade 

Expanded Spells

  • Shield: a really great option… for just about every class other than this one. It’s fine for 1st level, but doesn’t scale at all and you’ll quickly get enough physical armor to make up for it – or pick up Armor of Agathys later on. 
  • Wrathful Smite: an okay pickup at lower levels, although its total lack of scalability means you won’t be hanging onto it for long.  

Hexblade’s Curse: Starting at 1st level, you gain the ability to place a baleful curse on someone. As a bonus action, choose one creature you can see within 30 feet of you. The target is cursed for 1 minute. The curse ends early if the target dies, you die, or you are incapacitated.

Until the curse ends, you get to add your Proficiency Bonus (+2 at level 1-4) to your damage rolls against a cursed target, a roll of a 19 or 20 counts as a critical hit, and if the cursed target dies you regain HP equal to your warlock level + your Charisma modifier (should be 4 HP at 1st level).

You can only use your curse once per short or long rest, however, so it’s definitely something you keep in your back pocket for bosses and brutes. This ability is also augmented by features you get at higher levels, so it scales really well. 

Hex Warrior: This is the core of your character. Get access to proficiency with medium armor, shields, and martial weapons.

Whenever you finish a long rest, you get to transform a weapon you are proficient with (that lacks the two-handed property) into the focus for your Warlock abilities, meaning you can use Charisma instead of Strength or Dexterity when rolling to hit and deal damage.

If (when) you pick up Pact of the Blade at 3rd level, this feature extends to every pact weapon you conjure with that feature, no matter the weapon’s type. Hello, Zweihander of malevolent darkness! 

2nd Level 

Expanded Spells

  • Blur: Like Shield, this spell is amazing for other classes but just alright on a Hexblade. The fact that it’s concentration-based and doesn’t scale can really dampen its effectiveness, although imposing disadvantage on any enemy not using Truesight or Blindsight is nothing to sniff at – particularly when you probably haven’t picked up any decent armor yet. 
  • Branding Smite: Kind of the Cleric’s spell Guiding Bolt… but melee and not as good. The extra damage is nice, though, and being able to catch something invisible can really come in handy when you least expect it. 

Eldritch Invocations: This is where things get fun. Your Eldritch Invocations give you a chance to really customize your Warlock’s abilities. Turn level one spells into cantrips, pick up a free use of a 1st level spell like Mage Armor, Speak With Animals, or Detect Magic.

You can also grab Invocations that modify your Eldritch Blast – like Eldritch Spear (boost your range from 120ft to 300ft) or Agonizing Blast (add your Charisma modifier to your Blast damage). Choose two. 

3rd Level 

Choose one of the following three pacts. 

Pact of the Blade: This is hugely important for a Hexblade. You gain the ability to use an action to create a pact weapon in your empty hand. You can choose the form the weapon takes and you are proficient while you wield it.

Your Hex Warrior ability means that you can use Charisma for attack and damage rolls made using the pact weapon, and the ban on two-handed weapons is lifted.

Also, if you choose the Improved Pact Weapon Invocation, your weapons get a +1 to hit and damage rolls, and you can summon ranged weapons. 

Pact of the Chain: You get some utility from the familiar that this pact grants you, but the synergies end there. 

Pact of the Tome: The expanded spell list from outside the Warlock class can look tempting, but this is easily the weakest option for a Hexblade. If it’s magic that you want, just dip into Sorcerer for a few levels further down the line. 

5th Level

Expanded Spells 

  • Blink: The chance to poof out of the material plane and briefly dip into the Ethereal Plane while your enemies take their turns can be a huge advantage while you’re still fairly squishy at low levels.   
  • Elemental Weapon: Decent extra damage and, if you haven’t picked up a magic weapon yet, 5th level is around the time that enemies with resistance to non-magical attacks start to get more common. If you’re fighting enemies that frequently have vulnerability to a certain damage type, this can also be a good pickup. 

Thirsting Blade: Definitely grab this Eldritch Invocation as soon as you can. It lets you attack twice with your pact weapon instead of once – an absolute must when you’re playing a combat-focused subclass like the Hexblade. 

Eldritch Smite: Now this is what I’m talking about. Finally, a real smite for Warlocks that doesn’t use Concentration and scales as your spell slots do.

Burn a slot to deal an additional 1d8 force damage to a target you hit, plus 1d8 per spell level. The Warlock spell list maxes out at 5th level spells, but an extra 6d8 force damage really is nothing to turn up your nose at. 

6th Level

Accursed Specter: Starting at 6th level, if you land the killing blow on a humanoid enemy, you temporarily press gang their soul into service. They rise as a Spectre under your command.

Now, the Spectre only has hit points equal to half your Warlock level, so if you’re in the middle of a fight, it’s probably going to get sent straight back to the afterlife in less than a round.

However, outside of combat, Spectres make excellent scouts and spies – or useful props if you’re looking to teach local businessmen about the true meaning of Christmas. 

7th level

Expanded Spells

  • Phantasmal Killer: A really nasty spell that shows a creature its worst nightmare. The target becomes frightened and, assuming it fails its Wisdom save, can take 4d10 psychic damage every round for a minute. 
  • Staggering Smite: Another fine smiting ability. 4d6 psychic damage and imposed disadvantage for a round is nothing to sniff at, but you’re getting up there in levels at this point, and what would have been a game changer at level 5 is now just “meh” at level 7. By the time you get to level 9, it’s probably not going to have been worth the pick up. 

9th Level

Expanded Spells

  • Banishing Smite: Probably my favorite smite in the game. Hit someone so hard that they not only take an extra 5d10 force damage, but also (if your hit brought them below 50hp) get sent to another plane of reality to think about what they’ve done. Great use of a 5th level spell slot. Great way to get rid of a troublesome monster so you can spend a full minute beating up its friends. 
  • Cone of Cold: A thoroughly solid area of effect spell that helps you control the battlefield better than Fireball (in exchange for a bit less damage). 

Ascendant Step: Cast levitate on yourself at will thanks to Invocation. Honestly, this entry shouldn’t be blue because there are just so many mechanically sensible pickups you could be making, but the option to just levitate everywhere is honestly far too good to pass up. 

Whispers of the Grave: This Invocation lets you cast Speak With Dead at will. If your campaign is all about the undead (or if you need to track down a murderer) then this can be a great narrative pickup. 

10th Level

Armor of Hexes: Your Hexblade’s Curse gets way more powerful. Whenever the target of your curse attacks you, roll a d6 for a 50% chance that their attack just flat out misses you.

This makes you way, way more capable of going toe to toe with some truly terrifying solo monsters. 

11th Level

Mystic Arcanum: Grab an extra use of one 6th level Warlock spell per long rest (not short, like the rest of your spells).

Never hurts, and, since your regular spell list only goes up to 5th Level, this is a good chance to grab something really meaty – like Create Undead or Soul Cage.

From here on out, your Mystic Arcanum is going to be how you pick up really powerful spells. The feature comes back at Level 13, 15, and 17, and gives you access to a free level 7, 8, and 9th level spell respectively. 

12th Level

Lifedrinker: Inflict your Charisma Modifier as guaranteed necrotic damage whenever you hit someone with your pact weapon.

Your Charisma should be at a 20 now, so (assuming you’ve also got Thirsting Blade) that’s an extra 10 damage per round, which adds up. 

14th Level

Master of Hexes: This ability lets you transfer your Hexblade’s Curse to another target when your first target dies. This means that you become a lot more effective at fighting multiple enemies, rather than just the big boss.

Choose your targets in order from weakest to strongest and rip through them, dropping your curse on your next victim before the last body hits the floor.  

20th Level

Eldritch Master: For a capstone ability, Eldritch Master is honestly kind of underwhelming. By spending a minute entreating your patron, you regain all your pact magic spells (all four of them, I know) and can’t use this feature again until you finish a long rest.

Yes, it effectively doubles your spell pool, but it feels decidedly like this class’ progression goes out with a whimper rather than a bang. 

Feats

While a lot of DMs tend to ignore Feats (they’re a somewhat maligned element of 5e), if you’d rather get something a little more flavorful than an ability score bump, here are a few options that synergize well with a Hexblade Warlock. 

One of the best races to play as when choosing the Hexblade is the Variant Human. A +1 to two ability scores and a free Feat at first level makes for a really good start to the class, particularly if you pick one of the feats below. 

War Caster: This feat is hugely helpful, as it gives you advantage on Concentration checks, and basically all your spells use Concentration at lower levels.

War Caster also lets you cast a cantrip instead of making an opportunity attack, which is fantastic for someone with an Agonizing Blast up their sleeve. 

Crossbow Expert: If you pick up Improved Pact Weapon as an invocation, you can start manifesting pact weapon crossbows.

You ignore the loading feature of any crossbow you are using, being within 5ft of a hostile creature doesn’t impose disadvantage on your ranged attacks, and when you use your action to attack with a one handed weapon, you can use your bonus action to also make an attack with a hand crossbow.

This feat, along with Great Weapon Master can really form the backbone of your build, depending on the path you want to take. 

Great Weapon Master: If the idea of swinging a giant two-handed sword made of darkness and fire is the reason you picked the Hexblade in the first place (It’s why I play them, and I’m not ashamed to admit it) then grabbing the Great Weapon Master feat can really help you live your best, most-murderous life.

Whenever you score a critical hit with a two-handed weapon (remember: your Hexblade’s curse lets you do this on a 19-20) or reduce a creature to 0 HP, you get to make another melee weapon attack as a bonus action.

You can also choose to take a -5 penalty to hit in order to add +10 to the attack’s damage roll. 

Example Hexblade Warlock Build


Level 1 

Ability Scores (standard array): Strength (8), Dexterity (14), Constitution (13), Intelligence (10), Wisdom (12), Charisma (15). 

Race: Variant Human 

  • Ability Score Increase: +1 Charisma, +1 Constitution
  • Feat: War Caster 
  • Skill: Perception

Background: Criminal 

Skills: Arcana, Intimidation 

Otherworldly Patron: Hexblade 

Equipment: Leather Armor, Shortsword, Light Crossbow, Scholar’s Pack, (2) Dagger

Spells

  • Cantrips: Eldritch Blast, Prestidigitation 
  • 1st Level Spells: Charm Person, Wrathful Smite 

Level 2 

Eldritch Invocations: Agonizing Blast, Eldritch Sight

Spells: Protection from Evil and Good