The rod of the pact keeper is a magic item for Warlocks that enhances their spells.
It’s a useful item, comes in three variants of increasing rarity, and grants a bonus to attack rolls and saving throw DCs as well as letting you use more spell slots than a Warlock usually gets.
But is it right for your character?
If you’re wondering whether or not you should attune to one of these items or whether it’s better to save the attunement slot check out this guide for information and a tactical assessment of the rod.
Rod of the Pact Keeper – Description and Mechanics
The rod of the pact keeper grants a bonus to the attack rolls and save DCs of all Warlock spells cast when holding the rod. The bonus scales by the item’s rarity.
An uncommon rod grants a +1 bonus, a rare rod grants a +2 bonus, and very rare rod grants a +3 bonus.
The bonuses described above apply only to Warlock spells.
As an action when holding the rod a Warlock can regain one spell slot. This ability can only be used once per long rest.
Source: DMG, page 197, Magic Item Table F
However (depending heavily on your DM) a possible loophole exists in the wording of this item.
The DMG states:
“While holding this rod, you gain a bonus to your spell attack rolls and to the saving throw DCs of your warlock spells”.Source: DMG, page 197
While the intended meaning of this sentence is clear, its construction is ambiguous.
You might read it as saying that all spell attack rolls, regardless of source, receive the rod’s bonus, while only the save DCs of Warlock spells specifically are enhanced.
Unless your DM is particularly lenient, however, the ambiguity is unlikely to be decided in favor of broadening the application of the rod, even if it technically follows the rules as written.
You can only attune to the rod of the pact keeper if you are a Warlock, i.e. if you have Warlock levels. You do not need to start out as a Warlock to qualify for attunement.
Interestingly, as a rod-type magic item, the rod of the pact keeper can be used as an arcane focus by its wielder.
That means that you can use the rod as a replacement for any material component required by a spell unless that spell has a material component that has an associated gold amount.
Review: Rod of the Pact Keeper
As the rod of the pact keeper has two distinct abilities this review will examine them separately before considering the merits of the item as a whole.
The rod of the pact keeper’s attack and save bonuses are what you would expect from magic items of its rarity.
Compared to magic weapons which also provide +1, +2, or +3 bonuses to attack rolls (as well as damage rolls) the bonus scales in the same way: uncommon to rare to very rare for +1, +2, and +3 bonuses.
While this means the item is not underpowered for its rarity, the bonuses are not why most Warlocks would seek out the item or choose to attune to it.
The Warlock class’ biggest weakness is its lack of spell slots.
While a level 20 Warlock has access to 4 spell slots, most characters are lucky to have 3 and spend the majority of their playtime with only 1 or 2 spell slots. In comparison, other full spellcasters have 22 spell slots at level 20.
By allowing you to regain a spell slot as an action the rod provides a small but noticeable boost to your spellcasting ability, though you will still fall far behind other spellcasting classes.
Warlocks usually compensate for this shortcoming by regenerating their spell slots on a short rest rather than a long rest.
It is important to note however that the extra spell slot from the rod of the pact keeper regenerates on a long rest, not a short rest. Therefore, it is best to use this rod only when you need a spell slot urgently before your next short rest.
That said, a dead Warlock can’t use any spell slots, so when you need the rod, use it.
Common Questions About the Rod of the Pact Keeper
The rod of the pact keeper is a Warlock-only magic item and provides a great way for Warlocks to gain the ability to cast an additional spell once a day. Regaining spell slots is an especially valuable ability compared to any other class with spell slots, but it isn’t world-shattering.
It provides an edge and combined with the bonus to attack rolls and saving throw DCs the rod of the pact keeper is an obvious choice for attunement if you have a spare slot.
However, if you have a particular build in mind and need your attunement slots for other items, you may find yourself selling this magic item; especially at higher levels when more powerful items become available.