This is a follow up to the question: Are these homebrew attempts at recreating some blast shape invocations from 3.5e balanced for 5e?
As that question explains, I wanted to convert some “blast shape” invocations from 3.5e to 5e, specifically those I recognise from the video game Neverwinter Nights 2 that don’t already have equivalents in 5e: Eldritch Chain, Eldritch Cone and Eldritch Doom.
Thanks to Cubic’s answer, I was able to redesign my 5e invocations based on that feedback and hopefully come up with something that’s simpler and more fun to use but hopefully also still balanced, which is my main question.
Here are my second attempts at these invocations, with commentary below:
Prerequisite: 5th level, eldritch blast cantrip
This blast shape invocation allows you to improve your eldritch blast by turning it into an arc of energy that “jumps” from the first target to others. When you cast eldritch blast, you can choose to fire only your first beam, but if it hits, the second beam automatically hits a second target within 30 feet of the first target, dealing half of the total damage dealt to the first target.
When you reach 11th level, your third beam must then target a third creature within 30 feet of the second target, and when you reach 17th level, your fourth beam must then target a fourth creature within 30 feet of the third target. These beams also automatically hit their targets and deal half of the total damage dealt to the first target. A creature cannot be targeted more than once in this way per casting.
What stands out to me in Cubic’s answer is that the extra damage was too good not to pick, but at the same time all the extra dice rolls and fiddliness made it less fun and take up too much time. With this in mind, and with the aim of keeping it simple, I decided it would be best if the invocation used the beams you already have, rather than creating even more targets (and therefore more dice rolls) like my previous version, but this time they just automatically hit (if the first beam hits).
My hope is that automatically hitting (which gets better with more beams when you reach higher levels) is the attractive thing about this invocation, but is also offset by a) half damage, b) you can’t spam the same creature with it, the damage has to be shared around, and c) it becomes an “all or nothing” attack, since if you miss the first attack, that’s it.
I’m wondering if there are too many drawbacks that might make it less appealing, so maybe having it be a choice you can make if the first beam hits might help to make it more attractive again, since if you miss the first attack, you can just continue to fire more beams as normal (although the subsequent beams cannot become chains, only the first beam can). At worst, I could even ditch the half damage part entirely and make all targets take the full damage of the first target, either as well as or instead of my previous sentence?
Either way, hopefully this version is both more fun and less complicated, but still mechanically has a trade off that’s not “clearly better/worse” but is also attractive enough to take for situations where it would be better than just firing your beams individually.
Prerequisite: 12th level, eldritch blast cantrip
This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as a 30-foot cone. Each creature within the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 3d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. This damage increases to 4d10 force damage when you reach 17th level.
For Eldritch Cone, I’ve gone back to my original draft before I nerfed it, which is the version I posted in my previous question (the nerfed version, that it). My original draft had the total damage match the total damage output from a normal eldritch blast at that level. My intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it’s actually 3d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock; they don’t add the +5 to each d10, just the overall damage.
Given that Cubic’s answer pointed out that the range was too short and that saving throws become a less reliable way to deal damage as you get to higher levels, I’ve decided to both increase the range (which also increases the number of creatures that can be caught in it) and increase the damage.
Certainly now the short range of my previous version is less of an issue, but being able to deal 3d10 (later 4d10) force damage to a 30 foot cone’s worth of enemies does seem very strong as an at-will ability. Is forgoing the chance to crit and giving the targets a chance to half the damage really enough of a drawback that being able to do all that is still balanced, or have I gone too far in the other direction now?
Prerequisite: 18th level, eldritch blast cantrip
This blast shape invocation allows you to invoke your eldritch blast as the dreaded eldritch doom. This causes bolts of mystical power to lash out and savage all targets within a 20-foot-radius sphere originating from a point you can see within 120 feet of you. Each creature within that area must make a Dexterity saving throw. A creature takes 4d10 force damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
For Eldritch Doom, again I’ve gone back to my original draft before I nerfed it, which is the version I posted in my previous question (the nerfed version, that is). My original draft had the total damage match the total damage output from a normal eldritch blast at that level. My intention is for Agonizing Blast to be included in this damage, so it’s actually 4d10 + 5 force damage for an optimised warlock; they don’t add the +5 to each d10, just the overall damage.
As above, Cubic’s answer points out that the 20 foot area is rather small, and that at Tier 4 play saving throws are a very unreliable way of dealing damage. I realised that part of this problem was actually that “area” isn’t really a term used in 5e anymore; what I actually meant was a 20-foot-radius sphere, same as fireball, which would effectively be a “40 foot area” (as I understand it; hopefully that’s right), so I’ve updated it to match what fireball says. I’ve also increased the damage to 4d10.
My main concern here isn’t so much the same concerns as with Cone, but rather whether Doom now seems a bit redundant compared to Cone given how strong Cone is now? Sure, this can be done from 120 feet away, whereas Cone does not, but is that enough that someone might want to pick this over Cone, or is Cone now strictly better (and therefore overpowered)? Maybe Cone’s damage needs to be dialled back a bit so that Doom still seems impressive to have at 18th level, but at the same time, I don’t want this one to be overpowered too.
But even without comparing it to Cone, there’s also the matter of whether or not its new effects are overpowered, so again, is forgoing the chance to crit and giving the targets a chance to half the damage really enough of a drawback to basically cast a force damage fireball at-will? Does the damage need to be cut back as I suspect I might have to do with Cone? Have I gone too far in the other direction again?
My question is are these three invocations balanced when compared to eldritch blast being cast in the standard way? Are any of them “must haves”, or are there still legitimate reasons to cast eldritch blast normally (or to pick other invocations over these in a way that doesn’t see these actually ending up being underpowered–more so looking at Chain here, since I doubt Cone and Doom could still be considered underpowered)?