Playing a warlock in Dungeons & Dragons can be a lot of fun. The class has tons of great flavor and opportunities for roleplay baked right in. You sold your soul to an inscrutable being in exchange for magical powers? Fantastic! There's all kinds of drama to explore there.
Warlock is also a pretty good class for beginning players who want to take a stab at a spellcaster. Some spellcasting classes, like druid and cleric, absolutely inundate you with spells to keep track of—warlock might look limiting by comparison. But there's actually a lot of room for customization, and we'll look at how to make your character an eldritch powerhouse.
10 Make Charisma Your Highest Stat
This might seem strange at first if you're not planning on making a particularly persuasive character. But warlocks are actually Charisma-based spellcasters! All the numbers for their magical powers, like attack bonuses and saving throws, rely on a good Charisma score. It makes sense when you think about it; your character got their powers from another being and maintains them based on that relationship. So something about your character must be suitably charming to encourage an otherworldly creature to lend you some of it's strength.
9 Choose Pact of the Chain
Of the pact boons, Pact of the Blade is good for a warrior, and Pact of the Tome offers great utility. Pact of the Chain, however, gives you a really excellent little pet. Who wouldn't want that? In all seriousness, the familiar options provided by Pact of the Chain go beyond what even wizards can get with their find familiar spell.
Instead of picking from the usual menagerie of animals, you can also choose from an imp, pseudodragon, warlock, or sprite. They all have some unique upsides and can be used for a variety of tasks, including scouting. Plus, unlike the wizard's familiar, yours can even attack!
8 Be Born A Half-Elf
There are quite a few races that give out Charisma boosts, which should be your primary concern. Tieflings, pretty much the default race for edgy warlocks, give you a juicy +2 alongside a bonus to Intelligence. But we can do better. Half-elves not only get that lovely +2 to Charisma, but they also get an extra +1 to two more stats of your choice. You have some freedom to improve more desirable stats or balance any that rolled lower than you'd like. Not to mention half-elves get proficiency to two skills of their choice also, in addition to the ever-useful darkvision.
7 Make A Deal With The Devil
When you first build a warlock you'll have to make a decision about who you want to sell your soul to. You want to make the right decision—you only have one. While Pact of the Archfey and Pact of the Great Old One both have their fun flavor and useful abilities, sometimes you just have to go with the classics.
The Pact of the Fiend provides you with some extra HP and a cool signature move that literally hurls an enemy through hell, dealing tons of damage. Their expanded spell list is also very useful if you want to blow stuff up, and even offers some useful crowd control spells to boot.
6 Beef Up Your Eldritch Blast
Eldritch blast is a warlock's signature cantrip. A ranged spell that does a juicy d10 damage and it scales when you level. This is probably one of your most powerful tools and certainly your most reliable. But why settle? Eldritch invocations, which you unlock at 2nd level, give you some options to improve upon your already sick spell. Agonizing Blast is almost required, since it allows you to add your Charisma modifier to the spell's damage. You can maximize it further by taking Eldritch Spear, which increases the range, and Repelling Blast, which lets you push creatures around.
5 Synergize Devil's Sight and Darkness
Sometimes it all just comes together. Warlocks have access to the spell darkness, which fills a 15 foot bubble with magical dark. Nonmagical sources of light can't illuminate it and even trusty darkvision can't cut through it. The darkness blinds everyone in the bubble, giving attacks disadvantage on both sides. But your warlock also has access to an eldritch invocation called Devil's Sight, which gives you the ability to see in all darkness, both magical and not. Have fun mowing down enemies with advantage!
4 Become A War Caster
The first time you'll get an ability score increase is at 4th level, and you can choose to boost your stats if you want to. But you'll also have the option of choosing a feat. The War Caster feat is incomparably useful for all spellcasting class. It gives you advantage on saves to maintain concentration on a spell when you take damage, which is invaluable all by itself. But you also get the ability to cast spells with hand motions while your hands are full of deadly weapons, perfect for a bladelock, as well as being able to cast spells as a reaction instead of melee opportunity attacks.
3 Invoke The Book of Ancient Secrets
You might have decided to take Pact of the Tome instead. It's a solid choice, since it gives you access to a few more cantrips, and they can be from any other class's spell list. But if you really want to get the most out of that build, you're going to need the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation. Not only does it give you the ability to cast some warlock spells as rituals, saving a spell slot, but you can also inscribe other ritual spells from any other spell list into the book for future use. It gives the warlock a lot of utility and, with some planning, can make or break an encounter.
2 Multiclass Into Paladin
If you decide to go for a more melee-focused warlock and take Pact of the Blade, almost nothing could suit you better than a dip into paladin. You get proficiency with all armor and weapons and a healing ability right out of the gate. But what really makes it worth it is the paladin's smite ability. They're generally bonus actions you cast when you hit with a weapon attack that cause extra damage or other fun effects. They cost spell slots and warlocks have the lovely ability of regaining all expended slots on a short rest. You can really rain down fire that way.
1 Actually, Multiclass Into Sorcerer Instead
We know, we just said to take some levels in paladin for a powerful warlock build. And it can be very powerful when paired with the right kind of warlock. But if you don't intend to make a half-caster character, a multiclass into sorcerer is probably the better bet. Because sorcerers get metamagic. Metamagic gives you the option of recycling spell slots into sorcery points, which can be used for other fun sorcerous effects. And, like above, you get those spell slots back on a short rest, which means even more sorcery points!