Warlocks in D&D 5e play pretty differently than the other classes.
Ok, I’m sure you’re probably going “well… yeah… and grass grows!” but stay with me!
Between the different available Patrons, Pact Boons, and Invocations, there are so many different ways that your Warlock can function. They work differently than the other classes’ “Base class + subclass” approach.
There’s more to consider when you’re building your Warlock!
So today we’re going to be looking over the various Pact Boons available to Warlocks. We’ll cover your different Pact Boon options, how they work, and why you might choose one over the others.
Warlock Pact Boons in D&D 5e
Congratulations, dear Warlock, your Patron has been pleased with your performance so far! As a reward, when you reach level 3, your Patron offers you a Pact Boon.
For roleplaying purposes, Pact Boons might take the form of your Patron contacting you to express their satisfaction with your deeds.
Mechanically, Pact Boons are important in helping determine how your characters plays and what kinds of Eldritch Invocations are available to them.
Oh, and speaking of your patron, you’ll want to check out my guide to the Warlock Patrons in 5e as well.
As a Warlock, you’ve got some big decisions to make early on in your game. You don’t want to pledge yourself to a patron without knowing anything about them first, right?
Pact of the Blade
You’ll never be caught unarmed if you take the Pact of the Blade!
With this Pact Boon, you can extend your empty hand and use an action to summon your melee pact weapon into your hand.
When you summon this weapon, you get to choose what form it takes. If it’s a weapon type that you normally wouldn’t have proficiency in, you have proficiency while you’re wielding this weapon.
Don’t worry if you’re fighting a creature that resists nonmagical damage. For overcoming resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage, your pact weapon counts as magical!
You’ll want to keep this weapon close by. If it’s more than 5 feet from you for 1 minute, it disappears. You can always summon it again, but sometimes you may wish that you had that action free to make an attack instead of summoning your pact weapon!
Your Pact Weapon also disappears if you use this feature again. (You can only have one pact weapon at a time.)
Other than that, the weapon will only disappear if you dismiss it as a free action or die.
Dual Wielding and Pact of the Blade
If you want to use two-weapon fighting as a Warlock with the Pact of the Blade, one of those weapons will have to be a regular (i.e. not from your pact) weapon.
While I’ve never had a Warlock player in my own games ask about dual-wielding, it is a pretty cool thought.
Even though you can only summon one pact weapon, you’ll still be able to dual-wield. You just won’t be able to magically summon both of the weapons with your Pact of the Blade.
Don’t fear, though. The Pact of the Blade lets you get some awesome Eldritch Invocations that will more than make up for this minor inconvenience!
If you are looking to dual-wield, be sure to also check out my article that covers the ins and outs of two-weapon fighting!
Pact of the Blade and Magic Weapons
So you can summon your pact weapon, but maybe you just found an awesome magic weapon that is perfect for you!
Do you have to skip taking this new magic weapon or will using it make your Pact Boon useless?
Fortunately, the answer to both of those questions is “no!”
The Pact of the Blade gives you a special ritual that you’re able to perform in these situations. The ritual takes 1 hour and can be done during a short rest.
When the ritual is completed, the magic weapon becomes your pact weapon! It functions exactly as your previous pact weapon did, but now you get the extra magical effects from the magic weapon!
The only time that this won’t work is if you’re attempting to do the ritual with an artifact or a sentient weapon. These weapons are typically very powerful and aren’t held to the same rules as other weapons.
If you die, perform this ritual with a different weapon, or use the ritual to break your bond with the weapon, it stops being your pact weapon.
If your bond with the weapon breaks for any reason, the weapon appears at your feet.
Recommended: Ranking Every Warlock Subclass in 5e
Pact of the Chain
If you choose the Pact of the Chain, you get yourself a little helper!
Specifically, you are now able to cast the Find Familiar spell as a ritual. Note that this doesn’t count against your number of spells known!
This Pact Boon also gives you a new way to use your Attack action.
You give up one of your attacks to instead allow your familiar to take an attack of its own. This uses your familiar’s reaction, so be aware of that.
Sometimes it may be more useful to have your familiar’s reaction available in case an attack of opportunity opens up. Other times, this can open up some new strategic options in the heat of combat!
Pact of the Chain Familiar Options
If you are so inclined, your familiar can take a more “traditional” form used by other classes who cast this spell. It could be a raven, a snake, a mouse, or other such small creature.
But you’re not like other classes!
Warlocks get new options for their familiar. Specifically, the Pact of the Chain lets your familiar take the form of an imp, quasit, pseudodragon, or sprite.
Generally, your familiar is most likely to be something that is at least somewhat indicative of your patron.
If your patron is The Fiend, you’re more likely to have an imp or quasit as your familiar. Meanwhile, a Warlock whose patron is an Archfey is more likely to have something like a sprite as a familiar.
But don’t be afraid to add some flavor to your familiar.
If your Warlock made a pact with a powerful underwater entity (such as the Fathomless patron), you can work with your DM to re-skin one of these options and create something that’s more appropriate to your Patron’s theme. (In this example, adding tentacles is a good first step!)
Remember: your Patron should absolutely play a big part in your character’s story and their abilities. One of the best things about D&D is that you and your DM can freely re-skin and adjust anything you’d like!
Pact of the Talisman
The most recent addition to 5e’s Pact Boon options for Warlocks is the Pact of the Talisman. This Pact Boon was released in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything.
With this Pact, you receive an amulet from your patron to assist you. Right from the get-go, this gives some major “Doctor Strange” vibes, so get ready!
When the person wearing your Talisman fails an ability check, they can add a d4 to the roll. This can be used a number of times per day equal to your proficiency bonus and you regain all expended uses on a long rest.
Notice that this doesn’t necessarily have to be you wearing the Talisman!
In fact, the Eldritch Invocations that become available to you if you take this Pact Boon are best if you aren’t the one wearing it!
This Pact Boon sees the Warlock becoming a little more support-oriented instead of the usual blaster/slasher.
If something happens to your Talisman, you’re able to get a replacement from your patron. Just perform the 1-hour ceremony during a short or long rest and you’ll get a new one. The old one is immediately destroyed when you perform this ritual.
If you end up dying, your Talisman is turned to ash.
You Might Like: The Complete Guide to the Warlock Class in D&D 5e!
Pact of the Tome
We can’t forget about Warlocks who tend to be more bookworm-ish, can we? After all, reading equals knowledge and knowledge equals power!
Your patron gives you a new book for your collection when you take the Pact of the Tome. This is your Book of Shadows and it is a powerful grimoire of arcane secrets.
First things first, you gain three new cantrips. These can be from any class’s spell list and all three don’t have to be from the same one! Even better, they also don’t count against your number of cantrips known!
As long as you have your Book of Shadows on you, you can cast these cantrips at will. No matter what class’s spell list you got these cantrips from, they count as Warlock spells for you.
No need to worry about your patron’s library fees if you somehow lose your Book of Shadows, by the way. You can perform a special ritual for 1 hour to get a new copy from your patron! This can be done during a short or long rest.
If your previous Book of Shadows is still floating around somewhere (like if a thief stole it), it is immediately destroyed when you perform the replacement ritual.
If things go badly for your character and they die, the Book of Shadows is reduced to ash.
Judging a Book of Shadows by Its Cover
Kind of like I mentioned when talking about the Pact of the Chain’s familiars, the Pact of the Tome gives you some extra room to show your patron’s influence on your character.
Consider your patron and what the Book of Shadows that they give you might look like. What does that say about the patron?
Even more, what does it say about your character?
This can turn into a powerful roleplaying device for your Warlock!
If your patron is The Fiend, perhaps the book is dark and charred. When you open it, the air around you has a faint smell of sulfur.
For the truly mad Warlocks who have made their pact with a Great Old One, there might be a lone eye on an otherwise unremarkable book cover. It stares into your very soul before you open the book to find the scrawling handwriting of the madman who held this book before you.
To anyone who might be watching you, they only see you staring intently at blank pages…
Use your Book of Shadows as a plot device for your Warlock. Does your patron hide little notes in there for you?
To those who aren’t willing to sacrifice all that you have sacrificed for power and knowledge, does the book seem like a collection of secret knowledge… or a warning?
Can Warlocks Change their Pact Boon?
Previously, a Warlock who wanted to change their Pact Boon couldn’t really do so. At least, not without going over their patron’s head to talk to a force much darker and colder… the Dungeon Master.
Ok, so mistakes happen, and I like to think that most DMs are pretty cool with letting players do a quick re-tweak if the player made a character-building decision that they’re just not enjoying.
However, a new rule was added in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything that makes this actually work if you’re strictly following the Rules as Written.
The Warlock’s Eldritch Versatility feature is gained at level 4. Among this feature’s other benefits, you’re able to change your Pact Boon when you reach a Warlock level that grants you an Ability Score Improvement.
In other words, you can change your Pact Boon but only at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19.
Be mindful that changing your Pact Boon might also affect what Invocations you chose! If any of your current Invocations required you to have a specific Pact Boon, you’ll need to replace those with options that you meet the requirements for.
Which Pact Boon is Best For Warlocks?
The truth is that there is no single “best” pact boon option for all Warlocks. The purpose of the Pact Boon is to narrow down what role your Warlock plays in the party.
Naturally, you’re going to have your own preferences depending on the type of Warlock you’re playing.
If you’re playing something like a Hexblade who relies on getting up close and personal in combat, the Pact of the Blade is far and away your best bet.
Meanwhile, a Warlock who wants to focus on spellcasting and arcane utility would be more drawn to the Pact of the Tome to help them in that role. Great Old One Warlocks particularly tend to favor the Pact of the Tome.
With all of that said…
If I had to choose the best Pact Boon, I’d be inclined to give that tile to the Pact of the Chain at lower levels.
Having an upgraded familiar (particularly the imp) at those lower levels gives you an incredible amount of utility and options that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
The fact that the imp familiar can also go invisible and deal some respectable damage at the low levels only adds to how great the Pact of the Chain is.
But, again, that’s just my opinion if I HAD to pick a top option. Ultimately, the best Warlock Pact Boon is the one that most synergizes with your character.
In each of my Warlock Subclass Guides, I go over how each Pact Boon synergizes with that Patron. They’re worth reading!
Pact Boons are an important, but somewhat confusing, part of the Warlock class in D&D 5e.
They do give you some abilities, but they mostly serve to better nail down what “type” of Warlock your character is. Each Pact Boon opens up new, powerful Invocations for your Warlock to take.
In a way, you can think of Pact Boons as the bridge between the abilities you get from your patron and the types of Eldritch Invocations you want.
I recommend checking out my guide to Eldritch Invocations to help you out with the rest of that puzzle!
In the meantime, I hope this article has helped you learn the difference between the different Pact Boons available to Warlocks in D&D 5e!
Still have questions about Pact Boons? Let’s chat in the comments!
Want more helpful guides for all things 5e? Sign up for my newsletter below!
Want a laugh? Check out what happened when I had an AI make a D&D character! (Warning: it gets weird!)
If you found this article helpful and want to support the site, you can buy me a coffee here! (It’s not expected, but very appreciated!)