I often get ideas for doing homebrew material from people asking about a particular concept. I think the universal introduction of class options in 5e was one of the best design decisions possible, and it opens up a lot of space for designing flavorful themes that would have been restricted to prestige classes or heroic paths in the previous two editions.
One idea someone suggested on Facebook was that of gaining magical power from one’s ancestors. Although they don’t fit with the assumed definition of a Patron, it still makes sense that they could give some supernatural abilities, and so I thought it would be a good idea to put together.
Warlock Patron – The Ancestors
You have a connection with the spirits of your deceased forebears. Your ancestors may include particularly skilled mages or warriors who can grant you a measure of their expertise, or you may draw on the wisdom of intelligent nobles or clever sages. Although perhaps not as strong individually as other patrons, together they wield immense power and have blessed you with their protection.
Expanded Spell List: The Ancestors let you choose from an expanded list of spells when you learn a warlock spell. The following spells are added to the warlock spell list for you:
- 1st – heroism, shield of faith
- 2nd – aid, warding bond
- 3rd – clairvoyance, spirit guardians
- 4th – arcane eye, guardian of the faith
- 5th – commune with nature, legend lore
The spell list here is made of supportive and defensive options, but still not ones that give direct healing ability. All of these things feel like things spirits could accomplish fairly easily, whether that’s looking at things far away or intercepting harm for you.
Ancestral Knowledge: Starting at 1st level, you learn an additional language and gain a single additional skill proficiency of your choice. Whenever you finish a long rest, you may exchange your chosen skill proficiency for a different one.
The 1st-level Warlock feature is usually combat-relevant, but I thought a skill-based option feels more characteristic of calling on your ancestors. It also gives some flexibility in that you can switch this option, making it more interactive and versatile than other warlock features.
Protective Spirit: Starting at 6th level, you can call on your ancestors to take attacks for you. When a creature attempts to attack you, you may use your reaction to summon a guardian spirit in your image. If the attack roll would be successful, roll another d20. If the roll is 11 or higher, the attack strikes the spirit, which harmlessly absorbs the blow and then dissipates. If the initial attack roll was unsuccessful or the d20 roll was 10 or lower, the protective spirit remains with you for up to 1 minute or until it is struck by an attack. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
The 6th-level Warlock feature is a defensive or utility feature meant for combat use. Here, I liked the idea of a modified mirror image and the potential of completely avoiding an attack. There’s still a bit of counterplay as enemies can work around it or use weak attacks to try to “waste” it.
Spiritual Shell: Starting at 10th level, your ancestors provide you a measure of protection from the energies of both life and death. You gain resistance to necrotic and radiant damage. Additionally, you become more resilient thanks to their intervention. Whenever you would regain hit points, you may add your Constitution modifier to the amount regained if you would not already.
The 10th-level Warlock feature is always a fairly passive defensive one. This one is a bit more powerful than the Fiend’s damage resistance, but it lacks the flexibility and deals with two fairly rare damage types. Because of this, I liked the idea of providing another minor passive benefit when your allies help you out.
Ancestral Reunion: Starting at 14th level, you may summon a whole host of your ancestors to imperil your foes. As an action, choose either a single creature you can see or a cube within line of sight with an area no greater than 15 feet on a side. If you choose a single creature and the creature is not undead, it takes 10d10 necrotic damage as an army of spirits tears at its body. If you choose an area, each creature within that area that is not undead or a construct takes 2d10 necrotic damage. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a long rest.
Finally, the 14th-level Warlock feature is the big one: major combat application, usually based on removing a single enemy from battle or dealing massive amounts of damage to them. However, variety is the spice of life, and I wanted the ability to be a bit more flexible in terms of its targets. Why not give it an area option? As a trade-off, the trigger requires your action, making it worse than the Fiend’s Hurl through Hell, it doesn’t temporarily remove the target from combat, and the damage type is probably a bit worse.
What sort of homebrew material would you like to see?