Hexblades - what do they need?

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I like Hexblades. Or rather, I like the *idea* of hexblades; the pact blade is cool, and I actually prefer the pact reward striker feature to fiddling about with curses. However, it's also true that an eldritch-striker can do it all better.

So, what do Hexblades need to bring them up to par? Assume, for the moment, things that don't contradict published material (minor errata aside), to keep form just rewriting the class from the ground up.

Some of my thoughts in no particular order:

Problem: Lack of decent items. Many of the good warlock items key of class features the hexblade doesn't have.
Solutions: Create some new items that key off the pact blade, hexblade encounter powers, or even summons. Examples: a rod that gives an item bonus to pact blade damage; an item that gives an extra [W] when using your pact weapon encounter power; a headband that improves the action economy of using your summon.

Problem: Limited paragon path options (starblade excepted)
Solutions: write some! The hexblade's schtick has a martial feel to it, so write some PPs to address that. A PP that plays up the hellblade's tankiness and THPs; a PP that exploits the feyblade's teleportation for combat advantage, or a per-encounter extra attack.

Problem: Lackluster encounter powers
Solutions: ... well, to be honest this is unlikely to go away any time soon, what with them being an E-class and all. A version of Martial Cross-training wouldn't hurt, and feat or item support for the powers they do have would make them more attractive.

Problem: Can't use most class feats
Solutions: errata Misty Step feats to work with Soul Step. Add some feats to allow you to buff up Eldtritch Bolt - one of the nice thing about a hexblade is having a reliable ranged option; adding some focus to a neglected feature looks like a good idea to me. Come up with some feats for the other pact boons.


Any other ideas?

I think the Hexblade could be given Shadow Walk and not be overpowered.  In fact, there is a way they can get it now, but at the cost of two Feats.  Then again, while Shadow Walk would be highly useful for Gloom or Fey Hexblades, Infernal Hexblades tend to be less mobile, so they would likely have a hard time claiming the bonus.

Something I've pointed out to a friend of mine is that the lack of good Rods and Wands for Hexblades has an upshot- as a Striker, he needs attack and damage bonuses more than any other property, so there's nothing wrong with just grabbing common magic rods/wands as soon as they become available.  That having been said, I think there's some available design space for Feats that upgrade your pact weapon, such as giving it Brutal 2 or High Crit.

Another area that isn't very well supported at the moment are Hexblade Daily powers.  Currently, the best choices are bursts and blasts, to take advantage of the Hexblade's high static damage bonus.  But that's really more the Sorcerer's schtick- the Hexblade could stand to have some melee Daily powers to use against Elites and Solos.         
"You can always judge a man by the quality of his enemies." -The Doctor, Remembrance of the Daleks
1. more paragon paths. your options in this regaurd are very very limited and all hexblades are kinda stuck with the acadamy master PP the legendary hexblade paragon path is kinda meh and most of the other warlock ones are not that good

2. feats. all the new classes need the feat support of the other classes, however the designers got it in their heads that the game has too many feats, so the solution is to stop making feats, this is a bad idea yet it is the philosophy of the current regime. i wish they would make more for these classes.

3. ability to tap into more warlock powers. unless you exploit wands (PG 242 of PHB1) perhaps a feat like the oppsite of the now vaporware pact blade manifistation/mastery feats (PLEASE BRING THOSE BACK) where you get an at will from your pact.

4. shadow wlak, it wouldent be broken to have it. however, if you MC assassin (which is not a bad MC for most hexblades, or any class) you can take a feat to get the shadow walk class feature i would not be opposed to just giving it to them

right now hexblades do function within their job very well im playing one right now and he is a good striker and he is MC vampire infernal so he is all but indestructable. 
Just throwing something out that my DM and I were considering for an upcoming game: how unbalanced would it be to just give Hexblades the Warlock's Curse? Since so many Warlock feats and items key off of that, we had been considering houseruling things to just let a Hexblade have the Curse, same as a normal Warlock.

Does this seem workable, or is it too much?
No, it's not too much.  Remove the stat-based damage boost and add Curse, and everything is fine.  Change the pact boons to trigger on cursed targets dying, as per normal Warlock, and not on adjacency.

When the Dragon 400 article first came out, there was a feat that let normal Warlocks get a Hexblade pact weapon and the corresponding at-will power.  It got cut, in my opinion largely because they realized that a normal Warlock with that feat completely outperformed a Hexblade in all ways.  But it still only makes them as powerful as a Warlock, only with slightly better options for magic items.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Personally, I think the pact weapon should have been designed around a modular system.  Basically, whatever implement you are using in your off-hand determines which pact weapon you got, or something like that.  So, a Warlock who wants to focus on using Orbs will get a different pact weapon that one who focuses on wands.  And that Orb-using Infernal hexblade would then have a different feel than the Wand-using Infernal hexblade.

Also, just in case anyone else wants to look at it: use a Ki Focus with your Hexblade.  Use it in addition to their wand or rod or whatever implement they want to have in their off-hand.  Nice bonus to attacks (from the off-hand implement and the ki focus) and they get both bonuses to damage as well.
No, it's not too much.  Remove the stat-based damage boost and add Curse, and everything is fine.  Change the pact boons to trigger on cursed targets dying, as per normal Warlock, and not on adjacency.

When the Dragon 400 article first came out, there was a feat that let normal Warlocks get a Hexblade pact weapon and the corresponding at-will power.  It got cut, in my opinion largely because they realized that a normal Warlock with that feat completely outperformed a Hexblade in all ways.  But it still only makes them as powerful as a Warlock, only with slightly better options for magic items.



Well yeah, but in that case we might just as well bring back the Pact Weapon Manifestation feat, since we're already houseruling, which would once again basically make the Hexblade obselete.

No, what we were debating was giving the Hexblade the Curse IN ADDITION to their scaling damage bonus. Since Hexblades give up choosing Encounter powers, Shadow Walk, and Prime Shot, not to mention a lot of feats beyond just those that are curse-related, we thought that letting them have the Curse AND the scaling damage might make them a more competitive alternative. However, we weren't certain if this made them too powerful in comparison to other Strikers or not.
No, it's not too much.  Remove the stat-based damage boost and add Curse, and everything is fine.  Change the pact boons to trigger on cursed targets dying, as per normal Warlock, and not on adjacency.

When the Dragon 400 article first came out, there was a feat that let normal Warlocks get a Hexblade pact weapon and the corresponding at-will power.  It got cut, in my opinion largely because they realized that a normal Warlock with that feat completely outperformed a Hexblade in all ways.  But it still only makes them as powerful as a Warlock, only with slightly better options for magic items.



Well yeah, but in that case we might just as well bring back the Pact Weapon Manifestation feat, since we're already houseruling, which would once again basically make the Hexblade obselete.

No, what we were debating was giving the Hexblade the Curse IN ADDITION to their scaling damage bonus. Since Hexblades give up choosing Encounter powers, Shadow Walk, and Prime Shot, not to mention a lot of feats beyond just those that are curse-related, we thought that letting them have the Curse AND the scaling damage might make them a more competitive alternative. However, we weren't certain if this made them too powerful in comparison to other Strikers or not.



There's a reason WotC didn't give the Scout Hunter's Quarry....
I know. Though, the Scout also gets to spam multiattacks about as hard as a Ranger, so they don't miss it as much. A Hexblade, however, loses out on a LOT more than a Warlock overall.

One caveat I had considered was to have the Hexblade's Curse only function on one person at a time, unless a feat or item allowed them to curse multiple targets at once. That way, they're still limited in who they can apply the extra damage to. But again, I can't determine to my satisfaction if it makes them more competitive or simply overpowers them.

I'd really much rather make the Hexblade more competitive with the Warlock than just bring in PBM and call it a day. I really like the fluff behind the concept, and unlike some of the other Essentialized classes, it actually promotes a totally different style of play than it's parent.
I know. Though, the Scout also gets to spam multiattacks about as hard as a Ranger, so they don't miss it as much. A Hexblade, however, loses out on a LOT more than a Warlock overall.

One caveat I had considered was to have the Hexblade's Curse only function on one person at a time, unless a feat or item allowed them to curse multiple targets at once. That way, they're still limited in who they can apply the extra damage to. But again, I can't determine to my satisfaction if it makes them more competitive or simply overpowers them.

I'd really much rather make the Hexblade more competitive with the Warlock than just bring in PBM and call it a day. I really like the fluff behind the concept, and unlike some of the other Essentialized classes, it actually promotes a totally different style of play than it's parent.



If you think about it, Warlock's Curse is the same damage bonus as a Horned Helm... if I had a player who wanted to use a Hexblade but wasn't into exploiting charge mechanics, I'd probably let them have the Curse to compensate.
That's exactly my point. I wanted to give hexblades the Curse in order to give them some legitimate rod & feat choices, as opposed to just using PBM and invalidating the entire class. My DM has already chosen to rule that feats supporting Eldritch Blast work for Eldritch Bolt, for precisely the same reason.

Part of me thinks that the extra 1d6 per tier wouldn't be THAT big a deal, especially since there are other things a Hexblade would like to use minor actions for beyond just cursing. But another part tells me that I'm no game designer, and that good intentions don't equal smart houserules.
1d6 per tier is pretty close to the progression of the Hexblade damage bonus.

Warlock vs 18 Secondary Hexblade:

L1:  3.5 vs 4
L5:  3.5 vs 6
L8:  3.5 vs 7
L11:  7 vs 7
L14: 7 vs 8
L15: 7 vs 10
L21: 10.5 vs 11
L25:  10.5 vs 13
L28:  10.5 vs 14

If you're running low on damage-improvement feats, you can always go with Killing Curse for +1/2/3 average damage and that odd S-K pact feat that gives you an extra die for +3.5 (4.5 with KC).

It's worth noting in the houserule calculation that the Hexblade damage bonus is applied more frequently.  Bursts and blasts on area powers in particular are significantly affected, because the Hexblade boost is unlimited an Curse is 1/turn, which also means that nova rounds benefit more from the Hexblade boost than they do Curse.

So, all in all, you're taking a straight-up hit to raw damage output in exchange for significantly better item and feat support and more reliable pact boons.  On the whole, I'd say Curse is better despite doing less damage.  That on its own should say a lot.

Your Hexblade will not be overpowered if given Curse in exchange for the Hexblade boost.  Not even remotely close, as far as the spectrum of strikers go.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
But once again, if I gave the Hexblade the Curse IN PLACE of their normal bonus, then I might as well just bring back Pact Weapon Manifestation and drop the Hexblade class entirely. That's sort of what I've been trying NOT to do.
Giving them Curse in addition to the damage bonus is even worse, as you're giving back PBM and damage, and dropping the Hexblade class entirely.

Giving them Curse in exchange for the damage bonus keeps things more balanced.  The fundamental question you need to be asking is "what does it mean to be a hexblade?"  I'm pretty sure the answer isn't "Dex or Int mod bonus to damage rolls" but rather is the pact weapon.

I mean, the pact blade should have just been an alternate class feature for the Warlock that gives you different at-wills like all other pact choices do, and some new encounter powers that use weapons.  If you view it in that light, then anyone with a pact weapon is a Hexblade.

There really isn't anything hexblade-specific to the rest of the class.  At all.  You seem to think there is this clear, defined line separating a Hexblade from a pact-weapon-using Warlock, and there really isn't.  The pact weapon is the only thing that differentiates the two.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
No, I'm well aware that the weapon is the only thing seperating the two. That's WHY I'm trying to come up with a way to make the Hexblade competitive.

You appear to have misunderstood my intent: I'm not giving the WARLOCK the Curse + damage, I'm asking about giving the HEXBLADE the Curse + damage. They're the ones who need the support, they're the ones who lose out on a lot of options compared to the Warlock, and they're the ones who I want to make better.

I said at the beginning that I want to make the Hexblade a viable (well, MORE viable) option, rather than simply give Warlocks PBM. That means that what I want to do is the opposite of what you're saying. My DM and I have been debating this for a while, and he wants to just drop Hexblades and give PBM to Warlocks. I want to make Hexblades BETTER so that someone would have a reason to choose a Hexblade INSTEAD of a Warlock.

Right now, the ONLY things Hexblades have going for them when compared to a regular Warlock with PBM is slightly better Armor Profs (which really only matters for Infernals), a damage bonus that works with bursts and blasts, and more options for what to do with your minor actions than just Curse nonstop. In response, they lose a ton of versatility in their powers, a more reliable Pact Boon, feat support, Shadow Walk, Prime Shot, item support, and so on.

In short, I'm trying to find a way to make Hexblades more viable, rather than just dumping them in favor of the Warlock + PBM. Giving HEXBLADES the Curse in addition to their Pact Reward was an attempt to give them some feat/item support and throw them a cookie in the form of a more reliable Pact Boon and better overall damage. They'd still miss out on the Warlock's power choices, Shadow Walk, & Prime Shot, but at least the gulf wouldn't be QUITE so vast.
I'm not clear, though, on why you seem to think that giving Hexblades Curse instead of their damage boost destroys the concept of Hexblade.  Hexblades aren't behind Warlocks on damage, overall.  They don't need that extra boost.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
You're right, Hexblades aren't behind on damage compared to a Warlock. They're just behind on everything else.

Once again, my goal is to make Hexblade competitive with the O-Warlock. Since the Warlock has superior features, versatility, and control to the Hexblade, I felt that giving the Hexblade the edge in damage would make them seem more appealing. You yourself said that giving Warlocks pact weapons completely invalidates the Hexblade as a class, so I was trying to give the Hexblade something it could be superior to the Warlock at. And boosting their damage by giving them the Curse in addition to the Pact Reward seemed the simplest way to do that. I didn't want to rewrite the class completely; I'm just a player assisting my DM and another player who was thinking of playing one.

The way I see it, if the Hexblade's damage is currently only equal to the Warlock's, then the Warlock is still always the better class choice since it has better riders, due to having actual power choices. So, I reasoned that if the Hexblade did more damage, it would have more individual worth, and be slightly more appealing to someone trying to choose between the two.

I'm starting to get the feeling that my DM's plan to just bring back Pact Weapon Manifestation is going to be the simplest route to go with. There's only one player in our group who was thinking of messing with the Hexblade class at all, so it's not like it's THAT big of an issue. I just wanted to come up with a simple alternative that would give a player wanting to play a Hexblade a reason to feel like he's not just a weaker, less-effective melee version of a Warlock.
Perhaps, but I won't apologize for trying. Given the choice, I'm always going to try to fix a class over flat-out dropping it.

Either way, our DM has now ruled that bringing back PWM for Warlocks, so that's basically the end of that. He's considered making the Soul Eater power CON-or-CHA-based, just so that any Infernalock can use it, though I reckon that'll depend more on whether or not anyone wants to use it.
It doesn't create the same problem in the opposite direction; it creates more equal choices.

Right now, Hexblades are equal damage to warlocks, and all their damage boosting options are also available to warlocks, which means they don't make a difference. Warlocks have lots of utility that Hexblades don't have (I'm lumping encounter powers and class features into "utility").

With the addition of Warlock's Curse to Hexblades, you have Hexblades the same as now, but with more damage (and a little utility from Warlock's Curse feats and items), and Warlocks have less damage but more utility. Voila! Now there are two equal but different choices, where before one was strictly superior. I will say, though, that it might be good to weaken the Hexblade curse a bit, as the full curse + full static damage unbalances them a bit compared to other strikers. Perhaps starting it at d4 instead of d6 and allowing Killing Curse to make it d6.
Since the hexblade's damage output is not the problem, what if the hexblade could apply a "curse" when they attack a target (as a non-action, like the fighter's mark) until EONT; it doesn't grant additional damage in any way, but it counts as a warlock's curse for other purposes (like rod properties), thus opening up at least some of the otherwise-lacking utility interactions?

This also makes it distinct from the standard curse in terms of how it's applied; no minor-vs-nearest target, and it's not persistent. Of course, this would probably have some unwanted interactions, but as a top-of-my-head thought it might be worth looking into.

(Of course, it could be taken in a different direction - the hexblade's "curse" functions more like a defender's mark, or a leader's my-allies-like-hitting-you effect. Hmm...)
A lot of the main flaws have been discussed, but I'm going to throw in a few small ideas.

1. More Radiant damage feats for non-divine characters. There are currently two builds centered around radiant damage, but most of the great feats for radiant damage are tied down to Divine powers. Furthermore, Wellblades are stuck with a power that doesn't scale because it applies vulnerability to all enemies in the aura, but Warlocks have few ways to deal radiant damage in burst.

Court Hexblades and Infernal Hexblades get good support for their damage types, but Star and Wellblades are left with little beyond Starfire Womb and Silverly Glow.

2. Evolving Blades. By this, I mean the pact blade itself could improve over time. This could be as simple as all Pact Blades gaining Brutal 1 at Paragon and Brutal 2 at Epic, or as complex as gaining weapon properties or powers specific to your pact.

3. Intellingent Blades. I would love to see a Hexblade pact where your patron is the Pact Blade itself. STEAL THIS IDEA, WIZARDS. D:<

4. Hexblade Themes. Warlocks come by their powers in a way that's completely different than any other class, so having unique themes could be a good idea.

5. Rods made for Hexblades. I think this would be the best way to distinguish normal Warlocks from Hexblades. Normal warlocks have rods that focus on their curse, so naturally having Rods that can be interchangable but build on your pact weapon is a way to not only distinguish the two classes, but to distinguish the pact blade from any ordinary magic weapon (because Pact Blades should be better than an ordinary magic weapon, given that the entire class is built around it).

For example, if Rod A has the property "Necrotic attacks made with your Pact Blade are crits on a roll of 19-20" and Rod B has the property "When you deal necrotic damage through an attack with your Pact Blade, you gain a +1 bonus to AC", having both rods and being able to adapt the pact blade to the situation would make the Hexblade a much more interesting class strategically.

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I don't know -  I think Wizards knows that the Hexblade class has a lot of cool potential given that they've released three entirely new builds since HotFK, but just releasing a bunch of builds doesn't make the class any more fun. I think having unique Hexblade rods was the best suggestion in this thread, but the trouble with that is you'd have to collect a bunch of rods to make it work. I dunno.




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