New: D&D Warlock War Seer
Welcome back to the Zurn blog! We continue our examination of new warlock subclasses today by examining the War Seer: a warlock who, through their tie to their patron, is visited by their patron in dreams, trances, and split-second glimpses into the future. Whether you have chosen to serve an otherworldly patron like Cthulu, a deity from a local pantheon, or an archfey or demon is irrelevant: the pact is made with one from whom you see visions, redefining your life as you are guided by the dictates of their will.
War Seer: Theme and Inspiration
Those who follow this blog, play The Warriors of Zurn, or know my penchant for fantasy literature will know that I love prophet characters. Prophecy and visions of the future - whether near or far off - make games more interesting and provide a unique take on common mechanics. The warlock seems like easy ground for this, and with Divination Wizards, Knowledge Clerics, and as of this series Circle of Blood Druids having access to this, it didn't seem out of place for a warlock to receive such a gift from his/her patron. So I sketched it up, and I loved what I saw.
I wanted this style of prophet to be different from the others, though. The Knowledge Cleric receives its divine spellcasting through reverence and faith, while Divination Wizards gain their power through the studying of powerful magic and portending a future action. The Circle of Blood Druid gains limited divination tied to persons that they have blood from, tracing their whereabouts through the blood that courses through their veins. And I wanted a different type of seer for the warlock, one that was heavily tied to the idea of constant help from a patron, but not tied to reverence.
What I landed on was the concept of a "war seer": a person who receives visions and dreams, but primarily receives their visions in the moment from their patron, just as blows are swinging, bowstrings are loosed, or bursts of magic are fired. So unlike the others that are more control-oriented, the War Seer is heavily defense-oriented, with most of its visions being a preparation to guard and preserve the life of the mortal that has sworn the pact to the patron.
And this aligns well with the concept of the warlock: the patron wants the warlock to survive so that they can continue to be served, so in the moment the patron provides quick insight into the world around him/her to keep the mortal from dying. And that, I think, we do really well here.
War Seer: Mechanics
You can find the details of the subclass here, easily printable for your game master to consider if desired thanks to the team at Homebrewery. Starting at 1st level you get the primary ability of the subclass: when a creature that you can see (so you should invest in Perception as a skill), you can spend your reaction to inflict disadvantage on the attack. If it fails to hit, you get to move 5ft without provoking opportunity attacks. At 10th level you'll get another version of this that does not require you to spend your reaction, but it only works against attacks made from beyond 30ft of you so it will not protect you from mid-range and close range attacks (you'll still need to use your reaction after seeing the threat to get this ability).
You also gain access to a Divination-heavy set of spells, with the staples of prophecy included (Augury, Clairvoyance, Divination), along with useful spells that aid in heightening your senses (Gift of Alacrity) and increasing your action speed (Haste). So on the whole, this is a very effective set of spells, albeit more utility-minded, but with some useful niche abilities in combat.
At 6th level you gain an out of combat ability that takes place while you are asleep, making it a very unique ability in a game with over 100 subclasses. While you sleep, your game master may give you up to three dreams, showing you things that you will encounter the following day. Your patron may reveal potential foes along you path, persons that you may come across, an item you may find in a shop - many things. They will not show you how things will go (that's for the dice to decide), but you will be more prepared for their coming due to the safeguarding of your patron.
And by 14th level as you close out the subclass, your patron confuses your enemies when you strike them with magical damage, inflicting a temporary blindness and mental anguish as visions of the future rapidly scroll through their mind. This has some damage capability (not as much as other subclasses), but its real advantage is that Blindness effect, giving you a turn to attack without fear of reprisal.
You can see here that the War Seer Warlock is not the strongest warlock by any means; it lacks the resistances and the potency that other subclasses have, not to mention the ability to Misty Step away from a dangerous situation. In exchange it gets a far lower chance of receiving critical damage and may not even suffer damage at all, thanks to disadvantage. So if you'd prefer a more utility-centric and evasive warlock, consider playing a War Seer.
In our next post, we will look at the final warlock subclass from our series: a warlock that has sworn a pact with a forest spirit like a dryad, leshy or other non-fey spirit of the natural realm.
Until next time,