[RPG] Arcane Adept: is this proposed Warlock feat balanced as compared to PHB feats


While discussing Warlocks and the new Uneartherd Arcana at GiTP forums, we were kicking around the idea of a class only feat (versus the Xanather's race based feats) and I arrived at the following homebrew Arcane Adept feat.

Purpose – support the Warlock design goal of customizability.

I quite frankly find that as I go through the invocation allocation from levels 1-20 that there are too few to support the "no two Warlocks are alike" design theme that choosing invocations offers. Yes, it is important to have to make choices.

What I want to know is if this proposed feat is balanced with respect to PHB feats. (Balance with Xanathar's feats is not of any interest to me).

Secondary Objective: offer one more incentive to play a full-up Warlock, and not "take a dip" in the class for Multiclassing.

Feat: Arcane Adept
Prerequisite: Warlock level 4
1. Increase your Charisma score by 1, to a maximum of 20.
2. Gain one invocation of choice from those available to the Warlock and for which you qualify. {eg, Pact of the Blade can't take invocations restricted to Pact of the Chain with this feat}
3. Gain one additional cantrip from the Warlock spell list.


  1. Why level 4? That's the first time one is eligible, and it prevents
    the vHuman feat-at-level 1 (which also would not make sense since
    pact boon is a level 3 featue anyway).

  2. Why add a Cantrip? Because only two features in the feat seemed
    underpowered. If that is what tips the balance scales, it can be pulled.

Is this balanced vis-a-vis PHB feats?
Repeated for emphasis: feats in any UA, in the recently published Eberron campaign setting, and in Xanathar's Guide to Everything are not considered relevant for this question. (But if after answering the question you want to add a comment, as a coda, in re a Xanathar's feat, then that's fine).

Unhidden Agenda: make a case to my brother, the DM

I will be trying to convince my brother to allow this feat if I can make a sound case that it is balanced – in either January or February – when my cleric retires and my recently created warlock is introduced. If it, as currently presented, is not balanced, then any observations on "what would make this balanced would be {x}" are very welcome.
I got a suggestion in chat to name it "Eldritch Adept" rather than "Arcane Adept" so a comment on that is welcome.

Best Answer

It Seems Very Strong Compared to Magic Initiate

The closest PHB parallel to this feat would seem to be Magic Initiate, which allows knowing one 1st level spell to be cast once without a spell slot (unless you are certain classes and subclasses taking it for your own class). Invocations are somewhat comparable to knowing spells as many of them involve allowing the casting of spells. But they are generally stronger than one casting of a 1st level spell, in some cases allowing at-will casting of certain spells and in other cases allowing access to high level spells otherwise inaccessible. The designers clearly have tried to severely limit access to higher level spells. Admittedly Magic Initiate has a much wider menu of spell options to choose from whereas the Invocations have been curated to, theoretically, be balanced options for warlocks, but still many seem to generally be stronger options than a single casting of a single level one spell.

Continuing our parallel to Magic Initiate this gives one fewer cantrip, but given the +1 charisma it is effectively a "half feat", which means that getting half as many cantrips as an existing "full feat" has a logical symmetry.

Our question is hence, basically, is another invocation substantially better than half the value of an additional spell from any full caster class once a day. It seems like most would be for most people, so it is hard to see how it is balanced with Magic Initiate.

Also note that, for those Warlocks who qualify, the Book of Ancient Secrets invocation is effectively a more powerful version of the Ritual Caster feat. With this feat you can take it and then get more Charisma and a cantrip to boot.

5e Does Not Have Class Specific Feats so it is Hard to Compare

There are no class specific feats in 5e. One near exception is Martial Adept getting a better die for the Battlemaster along with much better synergy, to the point that it seems quite underpowered for people not in this one particular subclass in specifically builds off of. The other closest exception would probably be, once again, the Magic Initiate feat which only allows Bards, Sorcerers, and Warlocks choosing their own class to cast the spell with additional spell slots (and is kind enough to not explain that in terms clear to anyone not looking it up in sage advice!). This is important because giving out more warlock abilities to a warlock is different than giving them to members of other classes, which is what most feats that grant class features do. Book of Ancient Secrets is better than the Ritual Caster feat but that is exactly why someone who is already a Pact of the Tome Warlock probably wouldn't take that feat. They would have taken the invocation anyway if they are interested in ritual casting, so this feat just allows them to take one additional other feat.

Therefore, even though if it were a non-Warlock Specific feat I would say it is definitely overpowered, the 4 levels of Warlockery requirement is a major limitation that at least somewhat dampens the balance issues, and simply puts it in the realm where there is not a clear enough PHB parallel to really judge. My gut nevertheless says that, at the very least, it should not also boost Charisma. It could alternatively perhaps be balanced by allowing access to only a curated list of comparatively weak invocations.

Of course it is not as though the PHB feats are perfectly balanced against each other as is. So even if this is overpowered versus Magic Initiate, whether it is overpowered versus much vaunted feats such as Great Weapon Master or Lucky is a whole different, and even harder to answer, question.

Pitch to Your Brother

If you are willing to give up the Charisma Boost and limit it to certain evocations it seems on par with Magic Initiate. Alternatively I would argue that a Warlock getting one extra invocation and one extra cantrip will hardly break the game, and he could make it an option you have to quest after or be rewarded with. I also might argue that Warlocks could really use another strong feat option particularly one that allows for more uniqueness.