Is my homebrew melee Eldritch Blast cantrip balanced?


Intent

A complaint I often hear about Warlocks is that, unless they choose Pact of the Blade/Hexblade, they are effectively pidgeon-holed into playing a caster that sits in the back, blasting foes from afar.

This homebrew cantrip attempts to remedy that by providing an alternative to Eldritch Blast that is nonetheless compatible with Eldritch Invocations, such that the fantasy of a magical melee warrior is attainable while being usable with a variety of Patrons and Pact Boons, all the while utilizing the full breadth of customization that Eldritch Invocations provide.

Variant: Eldritch Blade

Warlock 1st level feature.

Whenever you learn Eldritch Blast, you can choose to instead learn Eldritch Blade. This cantrip is considered the same cantrip as Eldritch Blast, with the modifications listed below.

Eldritch Blade

Evocation cantrip
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: 5 feet
Components: S, M (a hilt or hilt-like rod worth at least 1 GP)
Duration: 1 minute

You create a blade of crackling magical energy in your hand that lasts for the duration or until the spell is cast again. As part of casting this spell, and as an action for the remaining duration, you can strike at a creature or object within range. Perform a melee spell attack against the target. On a hit, the target takes 1d10 force damage, or 2d6 force damage if you hold the blade in both hands while making the attack.

The magical blade emanates from the hilt used to cast this spell, or wraps around an existing blade if it is attached to the hilt. Using an existing blade confers no additional benefits to the attacks made with this spell. If you release the hilt, the spell ends.

This spell magically amplifies the fervor of your attacks, such that you can attack more than once with this spell when you reach higher levels: two attacks at 5th level, three attacks at 11th level, and four attacks at 17th level. You can direct the attack at the same target or at different ones. Make a separate attack roll for each attack.

Eldritch Invocations

Any Eldritch Invocation with a prerequisite of Eldritch Blast affects Eldritch Blade as if it were the same cantrip. The following Eldritch Invocations have their effects replaced:

Eldritch Spear: when you cast Eldritch Blade, its range is 10 feet.

Grasp of Hadar: Once on each of your turns before attacking with Eldritch Blade, you can magically teleport to an unoccupied space within 5 feet of the target of your attack, provided you can see the creature, and the creature is within 15 feet of you.

Analysis

The characteristics and usage of Eldritch Blade closely follow those of Eldritch Blast, except that the spell can only be cast at melee range.

Components: the hilt component is given a gold cost so that the component cannot be replaced with a spellcasting focus. This is mainly to evoke imagery of a fantasy lightsaber blade that is emitted from the hilt. Additionally, the spell’s wording allows the user to use an existing weapon as the spellcasting component, as if using magic to fuel their attacks. The magical blade cannot be given to an ally, so there’s no room for cheesing the system by giving your allies magically creating blades.

Damage: in order to compensate for the significant reduction of power associated with Eldritch Blade’s reduced range, I’ve given it the option to be wielded with two hands for moderately increased damage. This increase is deliberately similar to the increase in damage from a longsword to a greatsword.

Eldritch Invocations: Eldritch Spear normally provides an ~2x improvement to the range of Eldritch Blast, so I’ve followed the same logic. Grasp of Hadar is more tricky; within 5 feet, you cannot pull a target any closer to yourself, so instead I’ve changed the wording such that a user can move themselves closer to a distant target. The increased utility of teleportation for escaping grapples comes at the cost of reduced safety, as the ability can only be used to teleport next to the target.

How is this different from Pact of the Blade/Hexblade? For starters, this option allows Warlocks to choose a different Pact Boon. This cantrip uses the Warlock’s spellcasting ability, meaning that it uses Charisma for attack rolls. This cantrip is still a spell, so it has none of the benefits of magic weapons (i.e. bonuses on attack and damage rolls, additional effects on hit, etc.), and none of the benefits of Pact of the Blade like its associated Eldritch Invocations.

Conclusion

Is this homebrew spell balanced? I’ve combed through the list of Eldritch Invocations and I’m confident that I’ve identified any potentially strange interactions. Thank you for reading.