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A 5e Quest for the Ultimate Damage Build -Hexacorcadin
Hexasorcadin sounds like magical nonsense but for 5e players it can be the magical incantation you need for dealing the maximum amounts of damage possible as a player character. Hexasorcadin is a multiclass build name for a 3-class split, Hexblade Warlock, Sorcerer, and Paladin. These three classes are all powerful damage dealers with a variety of power levels on their own but together they form a Frankenstein's monster of class features and damage dice that can turn anything that comes your way into a smoking crater. So, grab your character sheets and start crafting a plausible story to your DM about how this power level build totally makes sense for the character as we go through everything you need to know.
Why Play a Hexasorcadin?
Fundamentally this is the already known and feared Sorcadin build that can deal damage competitive with the very best 5e builds (which you can find an in-depth guide for here) with a single level dip into hexblade warlock. Why is this beneficial? For three big reasons, first it gives us access to everybody’s favorite cantrip eldritch blast which is always nice to fall back on when the spell slots run dry. And with the new expanded warlock spell list, it also gives us access to the attack cantrips like booming blade and green-fire blade which conveniently still work with smite. Most importantly the hexblade lets us use our Charisma for our attack rolls. This dramatically cuts down on the number of ability scores we have to worry about and instead of being a MAD class we can essentially narrow ourselves down to a SAD class that primarily cares about Charisma. All three parts of our build are Cha-based classes, and this class combo fits them together like puzzle pieces.
Beyond the arguments above, the reasons to play a Hexasorcadin are essentially the same as a Sorcadin, damage, damage, and more damage all served up fast and reliably at the end of a magic sword. You do a ton of damage with an uncommonly resisted damage type and while they tend to be edgy, they're some of my favorite character builds. You've got all the power of a spellcaster and enough armor to laugh it off when a giant belts you in the head.
In this tabletop game we call 5e, why not play a cool character class combo with all the armor, magic, and swordplay combined into a single powerful option? Bring down your holy weapon / eldritch weapon / bloodline weapon upon your foes!
Even a 2 class combination loses out on a lot of later game features and suffers from slowdown but we’re going 3 classes so all those problems are compounded. The build is going to have problems for the first few levels before we get all our synergistic features working together. A single class paladin will outpace us in base damage until later levels, though we'll still excel at our burst of damage output.
We’re also working with a lot of spellcasting classes, one of which is a half-caster, which means our spell slot progression is wonky and slow and our spell level progression is even slower maxing out at 7th level magic. You'll never pick up a 9th level slot and depending on how you spread your levels you may only ever reach a 7th level slot. With that being said there's plenty to work with at 7th level magic and it won’t matter all that much since we’ll be pouring most of our spell slots into smites anyway.
Levels for games don't always go into the teens where we'll really start to excel, so I wouldn't recommend it for campaigns you know won't go past level 8 or so.
Finally, hexasorcadins are powerful characters but they're one of the most "power build" characters and this level of optimizing can easily be seen as power gaming rather than roleplaying. It can be hard to justify a character arc in an actual game for your cool character who just happens to be a holy knight with a magical bloodline who has also made a pact with an eldritch being for power. Forum rules might ban it, and your DM may not allow it.
When Does a Hexasorcadin “Kick In”?
The Hexasorcadin functions in basically the same way as the sorcadin but with a single extra level dip into the hexblade warlock. This means we “kick in” one level later once we hit 2 levels of Paladin, 1 level of warlock, and 3 levels of sorcerer. You’ll be picking up more class features later that we care about, but the build really starts to function at your 6th character level.
What Class Features Do We Care About?
To start pouring out those damage dice we’re going to be combining several key class features.
Paladin Features for Hexasorcadins
Hit Points: Every paladin level you take will gain you an average of 2 hit points more than your sorcerer levels with their wimpy d6 hit dice (just as bad as a wizard).
Heavy Armor: The sorcerer is flimsy, and the warlock isn’t much better, and assuming you take your first level as a paladin you’ll have access to heavy armor and shield proficiency right from the start.
Divine Smite: Gained at 2nd level, THIS is the big-ticket item that you’re picking paladin for over any other martial class. Divine Smite lets you sacrifice your spell slots for pure consistent damage when you hit things with melee attacks, and it doesn’t matter what class those spell slots came from. This means you can use those plentiful sorcerer spell slots as raw smite damage goodness. Each 1st level spell slot turns into 2d8 damage, with an extra 1d8 damage for each spell slot level above 1st, up to a maximum of 5d8 smite damage. Or 6d8 smite damage if the target is undead or a fiend. It's also radiant damage, and if you look through the analysis of damage types radiant is an uncommonly resisted damage type.
Fighting Style: Also gained at 2nd level, your fighting style goes a long way towards buffing up your martial ability. Keep in mind that you’ll need to keep a hand free for most spells (until you take war caster), so while all the paladin fighting styles have their merits, I usually go for dueling or defense for a one-handed weapon and shield build.
Extra Attack: Gained at 5th level, this is one of the more compelling reasons to keep going forward with paladin levels as you won’t get it from sorcerer.
Aura of Protection: Gained at 6th level, this one is a lot more optional but worth considering as it’s one of the strongest defensive features in the game. You and any of your allies standing near you get a bonus to ALL saving throws equal to your Charisma bonus.
Sacred Oath: You gain your first sacred oath feature at 3rd level and the oath’s aura ability doesn’t kick in until 7th. Depending on what build you go for, these archetype features may or may not be waste of time and levels, but we’ll dig into that more later.
Sorcerer Features for Hexasorcadins
Spellcasting: Sorcerers are full step spellcasters AND they use Charisma as their spellcasting ability. You’ll also be getting access to both the sorcerer spell list and the paladin spell list, which have some juicy applications. And since a sorcerer has full spellcasting progression, you'll get access to much higher-level slots much faster, ready to divine smite your enemies into oblivion.
Quickened Spell: At 3rd level you gain metamagic options including quickened spell which will allow you to really go off with nova damage. Quickened spell allows you to spend 2 sorcery points to cast a spell as a bonus action, rather than an action. Normally this isn’t as good as it looks, since there’s still the limitations on casting multiple spells in a turn. However, as a sorcadin you can now use your action to make your melee attack (and smite with it), then quicken out a powerful damage spell in the same turn.
Twinned Spell: Also at 3rd level, you'll be able to take twinned spell as a metamagic option. This can literally double your effectiveness with things like touch attacks so long as you have separate targets to go after for a low cost in sorcery points.
Sorcerous Origins: Unlike the paladin oaths, sorcerers get their archetype features starting at first level and some of them are fantastic for a melee character. We’ll go into these in more detail in just a moment, but you’ll be getting some good stuff from this archetype choice.
Warlock Features for Hexasorcadins
Hexblade: Warlocks get to pick their archetype at 1st level, and we really want the two features from the hexblade archetype that they pick up at 1st level, hexblade’s curse and hex warrior. Dip hexblade only 1 level to pick up both.
Hexblade’s Curse: As a bonus action you can “curse” a creature and get a ton of bonuses against them including an increased critical threat range, extra damage, and free healing when you bring the target down. These aren’t integral to our build but they’re welcome additions.
Hex Warrior: This grants us a lot of weapon and armor proficiencies we’ll already have as a paladin, but the key here is it allows us to use Charisma for the attack and damage rolls of our combat weapons, meaning we can have a damaging weapon with just Charisma. With this we can essentially ignore Strength and Dexterity to focus on Charisma instead.
- Pact Magic Spell Slots: Pact magic gives us special spell slots that will recharge on a short rest and importantly can be fed into our smites. You’ll already be getting a lot of spell slots from the sorcerer levels but having these “free” slots to smite away is rather helpful. If you go with the single level dip this is only a single 1st level slot, but you get 2 first level slots for a 2-level dip, or 2 2nd level slots refresh if you go all the way to 3rd level warlock.
- Hexblade Spells: You know it, you love it, it's eldritch blast. You can pick up cantrip utility like the light cantrip from your other classes, grab eldritch blast here and it'll be a go-to damage spell for the entire time of your campaign.
- Improved Pact Weapon Invocation: This is one of the invocation options you can pick at your 2nd warlock level and it’s probably the strongest argument for making a 2-level dip over only a single level dip. It lets us use bows as our pact weapon (which we aren’t interested in), turns our weapon into a magical melee weapon with a +1, but most interestingly it lets us cast warlock spells using our sword as an arcane focus. This essentially frees up one of our hands to use a shield while still letting us belt out eldritch blasts when we need to hit with range.
- Agonizing Blast: Speaking of eldritch blast, if you do end up with a 2 or more levels in warlock you may as well pick up agonizing blast as your other invocation. This adds your Charisma modifier to the damage of your eldritch blasts and in situations where you’re using blasts it’s an excellent damage add for our almost exclusively Charisma based multiclass.
Hexasorcadin Ability Scores
This is the big advantage that the Hexasorcadin has over the Sorcadin. Thanks to hex warrior we do all our attacks and spells using Charisma which means we want to level up CHA as fast as we can. Ideally, we want our Charisma score up to 20 as quickly as possible, with secondary concerns for Constitution and Strength. We want a decent Constitution to keep our hit points nice and healthy, and we want a minimum of 13 Strength so we can put on at least chain mail. 15 Strength would let us get a bit tankier with splint or plate armor, but it’s not necessary and you should prioritize a high Charisma above everything else.
We're going to use one of our hand slots for shield, with a one-handed weapon in the other hand. Out of the combat weapons we have at our disposal the longsword or any other 1d8 damaging weapon will work, and since we're using Charisma, we can even use a finesse weapon like a rapier.
While you could technically do any of the normal martial/style feats with reasonable results, in my mind there’s only one essential feat you need to make your Hexasorcadin into a powerful character and that’s War Caster. It's already the normal blade warlock feat of choice and with access to blade warlock in our build it just makes sense.
War caster has several features, each of which culminates to make martial/spellcasting function properly. All together you get the following features:
- Advantage on Concentration checks made to maintain your spells.
- You can perform somatic components of spells while your hands are full.
- You get to cast spells as opportunity attacks.
ALL of this is vital to a martial/spellcasting character playstyle. You get much more capable of holding onto your spells while in the middle of combat by passing those concentration saves. You get to wield a full sword/board combo or a two-handed weapon without worrying about spell components. And finally, that spell attack of opportunity can be absolutely brutal damage. It's hard to predict sometimes if your group will be a mostly melee party or if you can get away with spending time on the back line to cast spells. Taking war caster lets you do everything from the front line and is more party friendly.
We’re combining 3 spellcasting classes here, so we’ve got a lot of options but not a high spell level. The spells you'll want to focus on though are those that can enhance or take advantage of melee combat.
Firstly, we have the melee cantrips, particularly booming blade and greenfire blade. Unlike a normal cantrip, these cantrips trigger off a melee weapon attack as part of casting the spell, which means their damage can be stacked atop your regular weapon damage AND your divine smite damage. You can pick these cantrips with either your warlock cantrip options, or your sorcerer cantrip options. Greenflame blade is probably the best of the two, as booming blade depends on enemy movement while green-flame blade will trigger no matter what so long as there's a secondary target. These are especially useful if you don't work up to (or not yet to) an extra attack.
Next we have the min-max favorite of shadow blade. Shadow blade conjures a shadowy magic sword you can wield just like a normal magic weapon, except this one deals a base of 2d8 psychic damage. There's been some contention about this combination, but you should still be able to use a shadow blade, casting a greenflame blade, AND use your divine smite all in the same attack.
We're also not likely to be getting higher than 7th level spells and for most of a campaign your highest will only be a 5th level spell slot from your sorcerer levels. For your 5th level slot I recommend cone of cold for swarms of enemies, and summon draconic spirit for a flying mount with elemental damages.
Beyond that combo goodness, you should just take advantage of the better combat spells available to sorcerers such as shield and mirror image, and the healing and smiting spells granted from your paladin levels.
Best Paladin Archetypes for Hexasorcadins
Sacred oaths kick in at 3rd level, providing access to select spells and a pair of channel divinity options. Then at 7th level they usually provide an aura-based feature. Then sacred oaths don’t provide anything until 15th level and 20th level, which should almost guarantee you won’t be seeing them for your sorcadin. This means as a good rule of thumb that those features at 3rd and 7th levels should be the only ones you really take into consideration. There are other sacred oaths, but let’s just go through the ones best suited for Hexasorcadin character builds:
Oath of Conquest
Oath of conquest gets abused a lot in the polearm builds and as a Hexasorcadin the most tempting part of this oath is still the aura you gain at 7th level. Also worth considering is that this oath gives you access to the spell spiritual weapon. Spiritual weapon lets you still do damage with your bonus actions once you run out of sorcery points for those quickened spells. Still, I’d only take this oath as a Hexasorcadin if you plan on taking enough paladin levels to gain that aura feature.
Oath of Devotion
This is one of the best options if you’re only taking 6 levels of paladin as one of its best features is a channel divinity option you pick up at 3rd level. Sacred Weapon lets you add your CHA modifier to attack rolls for a minute, and it recharges on a short rest. This is in addition so we’ll basically be doubling up on that ability score bonus damage. Since as a Hexasorcadin you’ll be pumping up Charisma more than your average paladin, this can make you WAY more reliable in combat.
Oath of the Watchers
The Watcher’s Will channel divinity option can be a huge boon against certain enemies as it grants advantage for you and your party against all mental saves for a minute. This makes it a worthy option if you’re only taking a few levels of paladin. The 7th level aura providing a bonus to initiative is also good, but I’m not sure it’s worth taking the level dip for.
Oath of Vengeance
This oath is a key part of some infamous Sentinel builds, mainly due to the Abjure Enemy feature that can freeze your opponents in place. You also gain access to the spell hunter’s mark and with all these sorcerer spell slots it’s not too costly to boost your damage using it. The aura isn’t worth it though, so I wouldn’t push past 6th level on this archetype.
The evilest of the evil paladin oaths, and quite possibly the most damaging. Aura of Hate boosts not only your damage output but the melee damage of your nearby allies, making this oath an extremely strong damage multiplier if one or more of your allies are also melee fighters. As a Hexasorcadin, possibly your biggest incentive to take this oath is the access to the spell inflict wounds. Inflict wounds is a POWERFUL damage dealer that is usually balanced by the fact that it takes a melee attack. As a Hexasorcadin, melee is exactly where you want to be and a quickened inflict wounds alongside a big divine smite attack can take a boss out like it was nothing.
Best Sorcerer Archetypes for Hexasorcadin
Sorcerers gain their sorcerous origins at 1st level, which means you’re picking one no matter how few sorcerer levels you take. As you’ll be dipping at least partially into other levels you won’t see the late features for quite a lot of your adventures, so we’ll focus on the 1st level core features and those gained at 6th level. Sadly, most of the sorcerer subclasses really don’t add much to a melee-focused strategy, but a few really shine. The following sorcerer archetypes are suited especially well for Hexasorcadin builds:
This may seem like the boring healer option at first as it mostly enhances your healing capabilities. And while that’s true (and also a huge benefit to you as a character), you can also sneakily use it to gain access to the powerhouse spell inflict wounds. You’ll already have access to cure wounds through your paladin levels and gaining inflict here gives you the dreaded one-two punch of a divine smite attack followed up by a quickened inflict wounds as a bonus action.
This is a contender exclusively due to the Strength of the Grave feature you gain at 1st level. It essentially gives you an “undead fortitude” save to pop back up when you would have died once per long rest. This can be more powerful for your armored Hexasorcadin than it is as a squishy sorcerer and can keep you in the melee just long enough.
I adore this option for hexasorcadins and it’s the one I recommend the most. Your 1st level feature lets you fly 10 feet as a bonus action without provoking attacks, meaning for the low cost of a bonus action you can zip in and around melee combat with ease. The 6th level feature really pushes you to cast lighting and thunder spells, but lightning bolt and thunder wave are fine spells you’d want to cast anyway. In general, this is the sorcerer archetype that wants you in the middle of combat blasting out elemental damages, which is exactly where a Hexasorcadin wants to be.
Putting the Hexasorcadin Together
The spit in levels here isn't set in stone, we have a few milestones we need to hit for the key features but there's wiggle room.
To start with, you’ll be taking 2 levels of paladin. It’s important that you start with paladin first so that you gain all their weapon and armor proficiencies. We also want to pick up extra attack here, so while they don't need to be immediate, we want to get to a minimum of 5 paladin levels up to a maximum of 7 if you want to gain their aura ability.
Next, you’ll be taking between 1-3 levels of warlock. This hexblade wrench thrown in messes with the math compared to a sorcadin and exactly how many warlock levels you take is up to you, but you need at least 1 and you really shouldn’t be taking more than 3. 2 levels will get you the improved pact weapon invocation which you can think of as a potential replacement for the war caster feat. They’re different, but you should really take at least one of them so we can cast spells through our magic weapon to be a full melee character. A 3rd level gets us a pact boon for pact of the blade. This lets us bamf our weapon back to our hands, which is cool, but not really needed unless you’ve got enemies that regularly try to disarm you.
Next, we want at least 3 levels of sorcerer. We need at least 3 levels to get our sorcery points and metamagic. The majority of our late build levels will be sorcerer, and we should end up in the teens in level for sorcerer.
To sum up the leveling on our class combo, you should be taking 5-7 total levels of paladin, 1-3 total levels of warlock, and whatever levels you have left should be devoted to sorcerer to get the most spell slots possible.
So, what does this build actually do? Well… Everything, it does everything, but the thing it does the most is damage. Your melee ability is also your spellcasting ability, so you sacrifice nothing between your martial and spell options.
Between your pact magic spell slots and the multiclass spell slots, you’ll typically be able to smite with every attack. You’ll be able to use the attack cantrips like greenfire blade alongside your smites, and with a +4 or +5 Charisma bonus to your attack and damage rolls, your sword swings will be downright deadly. Plug any level spell slots you have free into your smites, due to both your recharging warlock slots and all your sorcerer slots you'll have plenty. Keep in mind the damage disparity between casting a spell at level vs feeding that spell into a smite is a rate of 1d8 damage per level above first. There are some spells better cast then smitten.
You’ll be heavily armored as well. By taking paladin as your first level, you have heavy armor and shield proficiencies, and with either war caster or improved pact weapon you don’t need a spare hand for your spellcasting so you can go full sword and board. This means you’ll be rocking a base AC of 18-20 depending on how much Strength you went with and if you can afford full plate armor.
And since you’re a paladin, you’ll have full access to healing magic through your paladin spells and the lay on hands ability. You've got hexblade spells, as well as all your sorcerer and paladin spells to play with.
So to recap, this build is a full caster, a tank, and a healer, all relying on a single main ability score AND you’re equally effective as a melee character or ranged character with exponentially high damage per attack. You'll have damage competitive with the best builds in the game and with access to blade warlock you won't even have to stretch your ability scores. This is one of my favorite character builds and I think it can be one of yours too, suit up and have fun!
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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