There are spellcasters with innate abilities, those who study and collect magical items, and then there are those with supernatural patrons. These aren't always benevolent deities, as in the case of Clerics. Warlocks are the perfect Dungeons & Dragons class for players who don’t value their soul that much and would much rather sell it for a variety of cool magic powers. Make sure you have a high Charisma before you go making deals with devils. It's the primary ability of the class and you need a score of at least 13 if you're planning to multi-class in the future,

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A Warlock's patron is often a malevolent force of some kind, such as a demon, but depending on the Pact you choose that doesn't have to be the case. Lucky for Warlocks, it’s a seller’s market right now, so players get to choose their otherworldly patron, and not all patrons are the same. Here’s a list of the six warlock subclasses, ranked from worst to best.

Updated on July 27th, 2021, by Kristy Ambrose: The Warlock has evolved and matured as a class that includes a few more creative possibilities for your Otherworldly Patron. The following list doesn't include the myriad of possibilities available in homebrews or experimental materials that aren't yet part of the official D&D canon, but there are still some interesting choices available while we wait for the materials from Unearthed Arcana to sort themselves out.

9 The Undying

A Warlock
  • Source: Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide
  • Main Benefit: Improves the Warlock's durability and survivability.
  • Ideal Feat: Alert
  • Party Role: Damage, Defense

The Undying patron is a powerful undead being. Liches and powerful gods of the undead fit the bill. Warlocks that follow Undying patrons gain the "Spare the Dying" cantrip and at 6th level can regain hit points whenever they use it to stabilize another creature (or succeed on a death-saving throw). The healing on death-saving throws is more useful since it allows the warlock to get back up in the middle of a fight without wasting party healing spells, but self-healing after casting Spare the Dying is less than useful because it still heals the warlock, not the unconscious creature the spell was cast on.

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Those Spare the Dying cantrips will come in handy since a lot of attacks by undead enemies will be redirected toward party members. Other abilities, such as not needing to eat or drink, aging more slowly, and being able to reattach limbs are interesting, but not often mechanically useful. Any Warlocks who follow the Undying should invest in a good Perception skill, since the fact that they don’t sleep means the party will almost definitely put them on watch duty.


8 The Fathomless

D&D creatures
  • Source: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything
  • Main Benefit: Spells and powers are connected to the water element.
  • Ideal Feats: Spell Sniper, Alert
  • Party Role: Damage, Defense

This is a creative angle on the Warlock that connects you to a diety of the underwater realm. This could be a variety of creatures depending on other factors to consider, such as your character's race and their choice of background. You can cast spells like Guardian Coil and Grasping Tentacles, which are just as horrific as they sound.

However, one drawback of this subclass is that most of its most useful spells and abilities only work where water is present. A campaign at sea or exploring a swamp would be ideal locations for this Warlock but their usefulness becomes limited in deserts or arid plains.

7 The Hexblade

Dungeons and Dragons Classes MBTI Warlock
  • Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • Main Benefit: The melee option for Warlocks.
  • Ideal Feat: Polearm Master, Fighting Initiate
  • Party Role: Damage, Defense

The Hexblade Patron is a mysterious force from the Shadowfell that manifests in sentient magical weapons. The best general abilities that this subclass gives are the bonus proficiencies: medium armor, martial weapons, and shields. Warlocks can also use the Charisma modifier for weapon attacks, making them about as effective as weapon attacks by a class that focuses on strength or dexterity.

The other abilities are less broadly useful. The Hexblade’s Curse, which improves at higher levels, gives a lot of bonuses to attack and defense against a single enemy. The Accursed Specter allows the Warlock to enslave the soul of a slain enemy until the next long rest. These are pretty useful, but can only be used once per day. The Accursed Specter lasts for a while, but the Hexblade’s Curse only lets the Warlock be useful for one fight per day. Great for sprints, not marathons.

6 The Undead

death knight undead warrior
  • Source: Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft
  • Main Benefit: Access to handy spells like False Life, which grants some extra temporary hit points.
  • Ideal Feat: Spell Sniper, Crossbow Expert
  • Party Role: Damage

The is the "occult" version of the Warlock for those players that are looking to connect with a darker power from beyond the grave. Naturally, it's sourced from Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, the infamous "vampire" D&D module.

The Undead is ideal if you want to build a powerful spellcaster with focused abilities. You also have some spells that make you more durable in case you need extra hits points or an AC buff during a fight, and there are Feats you can take for ranged and melee weapons if you'd like to build a Warlock that does some weapon damage.

5 The Great Old One

smite god cthulu
  • Source: D&D Player's Handbook
  • Main Benefit: A nice mix of debuff, control, and utility spells along with lots of damage.
  • Ideal Skill or Feat: Resilient, Spell Sniper
  • Party Role: Damage, Defense

The Great Old One is a mysterious being beyond comprehension. Seriously, though, we all know this is a Lovecraft reference and it's Cthulu. Its patronage starts out underwhelmingly, giving what is essentially a better version of the Message cantrip. Resistance to psychic damage and reflecting it back is nice, but it is rare enough that its usefulness is limited by the kind of monsters the DM likes to use.

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The best ability is the power to impose Disadvantage on an enemy attack and gain Advantage against them once per short rest. The "Create Thrall" ability seems cool, but imposing the Charmed condition is less mind control-y than it sounds, and the fact that it requires an incapacitated target means a Great Old One warlock will either have to build their spells around this ability or collaborate with other party members to make the ability work.

4 The Celestial

Warlock Pact: Celestial Patron
  • Source: Xanathar's Guide to Everything
  • Main Benefit: Access to some Cleric spells.
  • Ideal Feats: Alert, Resilient
  • Party Role: Damage, Healing

The Celestial is a powerful being of the Upper Planes, good for people who want to be Clerics but don’t want to do any of the boring prayer and devotion. Normally, subclasses that shoehorn a non-healer class into a healing role are something to avoid, but this one is pretty good. With access to Cure Wounds and a pool of ranged healing, Celestial Warlocks can make a better than average secondary healer or even a decent primary healer in a pinch.

Free temporary hit points after every short or long rest for the warlock and their allies further cements this subclass’s utility. Resistance to radiant damage is fine, but much better is the bonus to fire damage (the most common type of spell damage) and radiant damage (the type of damage dealt by the free Sacred Flame cantrip the subclass gains). The ability to get up after being dropped to 0 HP and deal area of effect radiant damage is just a bonus to an already useful subclass. It’s not necessarily very Warlock-y, but it is effective.

3 The Archfey

Artwork Of An Elf In The Feywilds
  • Source: D&D Player's Handbook
  • Main Benefit: Acces to spells from the schools of Illusion, Deception, and Enchantment.
  • Ideal Skill or Feat: Alert, Fey Touched
  • Party Role: Damage, Defense

The Archfey is a powerful fey lord, the perfect Patron for Warlocks who want to draw on the Feywild’s beguiling influences. The fact that most subclass abilities allow the Warlock to charm or frighten targets makes the Archfey a useful patron in and out of combat. Immunity to the charm condition is useful but very situation-specific, and turning charms back on enemies is nice as well, but considering the number of other charm effects that the subclass has, it isn’t that special.

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The high-level ability Dark Delirium, which places a creature inside a personal illusion world, is great for removing threats from a fight for a while. The Misty Escape ability is more fun than useful, but teleportation and invisibility always add some flair, even if they require taking damage to use them.

2 The Genie

MTG Tempest Djinn
  • Source: Tasha's Cauldron of Everything
  • Main Benefit: A vastly expanded spell-list that surpasses the choices in other subclasses.
  • Ideal Feat: Metamagic Adept
  • Party Role: Damage

One of the more recent additions to the Warlock subclasses of the D&D universe, the Genie is an example of making a pact with a morally ambiguous being. This type of Warlock can be of any alignment and their specific powers depend on the type of Genie they choose to serve. The Efreeti, for example, is a fire demon so it's a good choice if you want increased damage. No matter what Patron you chose, you get to carry a Genie's Vessel around like a proper "genie in the lamp" which can be used for buffs if you have it in your off-hand during a fight.

1 The Fiend

fiend demon fire dnd
  • Source: D&D Player's Handbook
  • Main Benefit: Buffs to already lethal damage spells along with defensive improvements.
  • Ideal Feats: Alert, Spell Sniper
  • Party Role: Damage

Faust was right. Selling your soul to the devil for badass powers is easy and fun. Maybe there was something to the Great Satanic Panic after all?

The ability to add 1d10 to an ability check or saving throw every short rest and the ability to choose a damage resistance to fit different circumstances are both incredibly powerful. The temporary hit points gained by killing enemies are an added bonus and will keep any follower of The Fiend alive in fights with plenty of foes. At high levels, dealing massive psychic damage and removing a single foe from the battle for a turn is great, even if it can only be used once per long rest.

NEXT: Dungeons & Dragons: 15 Best Warlock Invocations, Ranked

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