The Complete Guide to Pact of the Blade in D&D 5e

The Complete Guide to Pact of the Blade in D&D 5e

Pact of the Blade allows warlocks in Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition to summon mystical weapons, forging an arcane bond with a formidable armoury at their fingertips. This versatile pact boon unlocks new fighting styles for warlocks, turning them into empowered melee combatants or ranged weapon masters.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Pact of the Blade for both new and veteran D&D players. You’ll learn about the feature’s origins, mechanics, customisation options, invocations, advanced strategies, and roleplaying ideas. Read on to master the Pact of the Blade!

What is Pact of the Blade?

Pact of the Blade is an optional pact boon available to warlocks when they reach 3rd level. Warlocks intrinsically form pacts with powerful supernatural entities, gaining access to magical abilities. At 3rd level, warlocks may choose Pact of the Blade as their pact boon.

This pact allows a warlock to summon a mystical weapon out of thin air, bond with it, and dismiss it at will. The weapon manifests whenever the warlock holds out their hand, empowering them to arm themselves with deadly force in an instant.

Pact of the Blade grants several key benefits

  • The warlock can choose the weapon’s form when gaining the pact boon, manifesting as any melee weapon.
  • The pact weapon is magic and overcomes creature resistances. The warlock is automatically proficient with it.
  • The weapon uses the warlock’s Charisma modifier for attack and damage rolls instead of Strength or Dexterity.
  • Various Eldritch Invocations enhance the pact weapon’s power.
  • The weapon disappears if the warlock is incapacitated or dies. They can also dismiss it anytime.

Pact of the Blade fuels a warlock’s prowess in melee combat. Rather than solely relying on spells and cantrips, they can summon a customised magic weapon and channel arcane power through its strikes. Many invocations further augment their combat potency, making Pact of the Blade warlocks extremely versatile warriors.

Choosing Your Pact Weapon’s Form

The first choice upon gaining Pact of the Blade is deciding the pact weapon’s initial form. The warlock can manifest any melee weapon they desire, from daggers to greatswords.

Simple weapons like clubs and handaxes offer straightforward attacking. Martial weapons like rapiers and mauls provide more damage but some require certain proficiencies. A warlock proficient with martial weapons unlocks more potent options.

Certain pact weapon choices favour specific fighting styles:

  • A warhammer or battleaxe pairs well with the Great Weapon Master feat for devastating strikes.
  • Wielding two shortswords enables dual wielding mayhem.
  • A rapier in one hand and a free hand for spellcasting is ideal for a spellsword.
  • The warlock can also change the pact weapon’s shape after finishing a long rest by performing a special ritual. This flexibility lets them tailor their weapon to upcoming challenges.

Top Pact Weapon Choices

Here are some recommended pact weapon forms for different builds:

  • Greatsword: Heavy-hitting two-handed power. Works well with Polearm Master.
  • Longbow: Allows ranged attacking when a superior option over spells.
  • Rapier: Light and finesse-based for high Dex builds. Frees up one hand.
  • Warhammer: Bludgeoning damage and versatile style. Pairs well with a shield.
  • Double Scimitar: Unique two-bladed sword enabling flashy attacks.
  • Dagger: Used as an emergency backup weapon when disarmed. Easily concealed.

Augmenting Your Pact Weapon with Invocations

Various Eldritch Invocations can enhance a Pact of the Blade weapon, increasing its capabilities. Here are some of the best invocations to empower your pact armoury:

Improved Pact Weapon (PHB): This makes any weapon you choose your pact weapon, bypassing the normal melee weapon limitation. It also grants a +1 bonus to attack and damage rolls, boosting accuracy and damage.

Thirsting Blade (PHB): This crucial invocation gives you two attacks when you take the Attack action instead of the normal one attack. This vastly improves damage output each turn and works very well for melee focused Blade warlocks. It’s required to keep up in melee at higher levels.

Lifedrinker (PHB): This invocation adds your Charisma modifier to the damage of your pact weapon attacks. This synergizes extremely well with Hexblade warlocks who already use Charisma for attack rolls. For a 20 Charisma warlock, this adds a +5 damage to every hit. The bonus damage stacks with your normal Strength/Dexterity modifier, making each strike devastating.

Eldritch Smite (PHB): By expending a warlock spell slot, you can smite a creature with your pact weapon adding 1d8 force damage per spell level. This allows Blade warlocks to smite like a paladin. Using higher level slots can unleash immense damage, especially on a critical hit.

Arcane Archer (XGtE): Adds +2 to damage rolls on each hit and ignoring half and three-quarters cover on ranged pact weapon attacks. This improves accuracy and damage for archer style warlocks.

Other Invocations

Additional useful invocations include Elemental Weapon, allowing your pact weapon to deal fire, cold, lightning or thunder damage. You can also take Elvish Accuracy and Cursebringer to improve critical hit chances.

For archer builds, take Eldritch Spear to double your weapon’s range and Improve Pact Weapon to allow a short or longbow pact weapon.

Advanced Strategies and Roleplaying Ideas

  • Pact of the Blade also enables creative applications both in and out of combat:
  • Weapon Bond: Have your weapon teleport instantly back to you if separated.
  • Sentient Weapon: Your DM may allow your pact weapon to gain sentience, personality, and abilities.
  • Transforming Weapon: Reshape your weapon into something innocuous. Summon it when combat starts.
  • Emergency Ranged Attack: Pact weapon manifested as a shortbow or hand crossbow for distant targets.

For further immersion, consider roleplaying the ritual of summoning your pact weapon, describing the magical energies swirling and coalescing into its form. Give your weapon a name reflecting its legacy and purpose, then dialogue with it, developing your bond over adventures together… go on, really show off those acting skills at the table!

Best Warlock Subclasses for Pact of the Blade

While Pact of the Blade can work with any patron, some warlock subclasses synergize especially well to create an effective blade-wielding gish:

Hexblade: An obvious top choice, allowing Charisma for pact weapon attacks and medium armor. This makes a SAD melee warlock possible and improves survivability.

Genie (Dao): One of the best subclasses for focusing on spellcasting, as Genie’s Wrath adds damage to every hit. Since the pact weapon bypasses non-magical resistance, nothing can resist your attacks. Spike Growth also gives battlefield control.

Undead: Form of Dread provides temporary HP every turn, critical immunity, and frightens enemies, perfect for a fearsome warrior. Pair with Armor of Agathys formore temporary HP.

Fiend: Fire Shield boosts resistance, and Dark One’s Blessing supplies temp HP on kills. Extra fire damage from Hurl Through Hell intensifies a flaming pact weapon.

Fathomless: The tentacle attack gives an additional bonus action strike to help keep up with Extra Attack classes. Ensnaring foes complements the martial controller playstyle.

Multiclassing and Advanced Synergistic Combos

Many effective builds combine Pact of the Blade with other classes and features:

  • Hexblade Warlock grants medium armor, shields, and Charisma attacks. Perfect for a gish.
  • Battlemaster Fighter maneuvers synergize with a combat-focused warlock. Action Surge fuels additional strikes.
  • Paladin smites stack with Eldritch Smite for destructive criticals. Hexblade or Vengeance Oath work well.
  • Sorcerer metamagic like Twin Spell and Quicken Spell augment spellcasting while still melee viable.
  • A dexterous half-elf Blade Pact 6 / Paladin 2 / Sorcerer 12 builds devastating magical critical hits, blending spellcasting, smites and martial prowess.

Is Pact of the Blade right for me?

In the great Pact of the Blade debate, one of the most heated discussions in the D&D community surrounds the Pact of the Blade and its viability compared to Eldritch Blast spam. Many players feel the flavour and fantasy of a heavily armed warlock warrior makes the Pact of the Blade appealing. However, the math behind the mechanics seems to show Pact of the Blade lagging behind in damage potential. This has sparked vigorous discussion about the merits and issues with a blade-pact warlock.

Pro-Pact of the Blade Arguments:

Provides a unique melee combat option for warlocks wanting to be on the frontlines.

  • Channels arcane power into a summoned pact weapon, creating a cool mystical warrior theme.
  • With right invocations, spells, and builds it can become highly effective in melee/ranged combat.
  • Grants versatility through customisable weapon summoning and switching.
  • Lifedrinker invocation sustains health while in the thick of battle.
  • Eldritch Smite delivers explosive critical hit damage.
  • Unlocks distinct playstyle compared to standard EB spam builds.

Critics of the Pact of the Blade counter that the damage math clearly shows it falling far behind Eldritch Blast in most situations. Even with heavy investment, it struggles to match the damage efficiency and safety of EB spam builds. The fantasy appeal doesn’t outweigh the mechanical issues in their view.

Anti-Pact of the Blade Arguments:

Damage math clearly shows it falling behind Eldritch Blast in most situations.
Requires heavy investment of limited resources just to barely keep up in damage.
Lack of heavy weapons and certain feats give few damage boost options.
Too fragile as a frontliner and outclassed by other melee classes.
Fantasy appeal doesn’t justify mechanical deficiencies and opportunity cost.
EB’s scaling beams surpass damage more efficiently and safely.
For a deep dive into the debate, see these Reddit conversations:

Reddit link.

In your D&D games, extending the Pact of the Blade debate can be an engaging thought experiment. Savvy players may have perspectives from both sides based on their experience and priorities. New players might learn more about making builds and trade-offs from listening to the discussion. Ultimately there is no right answer – choose Pact of the Blade if the fantasy and playstyle appeals to you rather than chasing pure optimisation. D&D is best when you make choices true to your character vision.


Pact of the Blade massively expands a warlock’s capabilities, unlocking martial viability through a summoned mystical weapon. Creative applications combined with Eldritch Invocations enable versatile fighting styles tailored to your vision.

This potent pact fuels warlocks’ desires for arcane power and deadly force. Whether they seek a legendary weapon of lore or simply a conduit for channeling magic into combat, Pact of the Blade delivers. Forge your pact today and unleash your warlock’s true martial prowess!