New Eldritch Invocations in 'Xanathar's Guide to Everything' in D&D
Todd Kenreck: Eldritch Invocations are a big part of what makes warlocks feel so flavorful in D&D. We're getting a whole new set of them in Xanathar's Guide to Everything.
Jeremy Crawford: In Xanathar's Guide to Everything, warlocks get a series of new Eldritch Invocation options that are meant to expand the number of, often weird, neat, magical abilities warlocks can give themselves. One of the neat things about warlocks that they have that, say wizards and sorcerers don't, are these suite of magical options, these Eldritch Invocations, that are special marks of their other worldly patron's favor, but also a sign of other magical research the warlock might have done, other strange powers the warlock might be tapping into. When we created the warlock, we wanted warlocks to have this sort of almost set of wild west magical options that they could delve into that weren't necessarily tied directly to their patron.
Now, that said, in Unearthed Arcana, we actually then explored doing Eldritch Invocations that were tied to patron choice. We made patron one of the prerequisites for a number of these new Eldritch Invocations. What we discovered is, people in general liked many of the Eldritch Invocations that we had created, but more of our fans disliked the patron prerequisite than liked it. As we looked at the feedback and we looked at the invocations, we realized best for us to hold for now to our original design vision for Eldritch Invocations, and that is keep them as options that are independent of your patron choice, because warlocks are more than that connection with their patron. Warlocks are meant to be spell-castors with sort of a dark side who are delving into a variety of strange powers. Again, Eldritch Invocations are a way to model that.
The new ones in Xanathar's Guide touch on a variety of things. They give, particularly some new options for warlocks who have the pact of the blade. They also fill in some holes that the warlock had in terms of just functionality. You know, there's a water breathing one, there's one that gives access to the freedom of movement spell, which is kind of a critical high level "get out of jail free card" kind of spell for our spell castors. It's a mix of some new thematic new options as well as, really kind of system service of, "We want to make sure warlocks have these affects available to them." There are neat things like, for warlocks who have the pact of the chain where if, while their familiar is within a certain distance of them, the warlock has an easier time healing, this kind of thing. Some options that will also change play in some ways.
Invocations also were heavily influenced by play test feedback, specifically Unearthed Arcana feedback. We did a second round of them in Unearthed Arcana, so we actually got great feedback twice. More than some other parts of the book, I can point to sentence by sentence where it's like, we made a design change because of very specific feedback that we got from fans who read the Unearthed Arcana versions of these invocations.
Here's an example. One of the invocations is called Ghostly Gaze, which allows the warlock who has it to see through objects, see through walls, and see everything in this sort of translucent, spectral way. One of the pieces of feedback we got from tons of fans was, "This is a really neat ability, some adventures it's going to be awesome to be able to just look right through the wall," but it didn't last long enough, because the feedback we got, and I think it was exactly on point, is, "this is largely an exploration ability," and it was lasting for very little time. We increased the amount of time that it lasts, and also made it a concentration effect so also there's a little bit of a trade off for keeping it going longer. This is a great example of that vital feedback we get from our fellow D&D fans shaping the final form of something in the game.
Another great example of this is, we experimented with a number of pact weapon themed invocations. The ones we did initially were tied to very specific weapons. There was a moon bow one where you got to summon forth a bow. There was a blade one, et cetera. We found that those were a little too specific for our play testers and even for our own goals for the warlock, but we still wanted to provide ways to enhance the pact weapon. We ended up with an Eldritch smite ability, where warlocks can fuel their strikes with their pact weapon with magic to deal more damage.
Then we also have an invocation which is called simply Improved Pack Weapon, which gives you an array of improvements to your pact weapon. It can now be used as a focus for your spell casting. It has a bonus to hit. Then, both of which people already saw in a revised version of that invocation in Unearthed Arcana, but what they haven't seen, which is in the final version of the book, is we incorporated the moon bow bit into that improved pact weapon invocation, so if you have this invocation it means you can also now use your pact weapon ability to create one of the ranged weapons listed in this invocation, because people said, "Well, we want a way to summon forth this bow." Well, now we've given that to you.
There are some other familiar invocations for anyone who read the Unearthed Arcana article. They're going to see the Tomb of Levistus, which is, you encase yourself in ice to protect yourself. They're going to see the one that you can take if you have a Book of Shadows that makes it so you don't have to sleep ever again, which I think would be wonderfully creepy. This is a character who can gain the benefits of a long rest simply by spending eight hours of light activity. This will probably end up being the character who's always on watch, or who's going to just get a lot done every night while everyone else is just sleeping away the hours.
Again, these are all little nice bits of texture. Like the invocations that are already in the game for the warlock, we think of Eldritch Invocations almost like feats that are specific to this one class, and can sometimes shape how a warlock plays almost more than the warlock's spells do. I think of a invocation in the Player's Handbook like Devil's Sight, where the warlock, unlike other people, can even see through magical darkness. That can have a character defining quality for the warlock, more so than the fact, "Oh, that warlock hurled a fireball," or whatever magical affect, cast Hunger of Hadar, or what have you. I think these invocations are going to add some more arrows to the warlock's quiver in terms of creating some really neat custom, really heavily customized characters.