When we talk about magic items, many ideas come to mind. Attunement items, their rarity, and who can use them become the forefront of our worries over specific item abilities and effects. From Staff of the Magi to the Tome of Knowledge, there are many ways D&D items can be used and abused for significant impact.
With each new book adding more magic items, a few of the older items from the original texts have been power crept and are less effective than the more recent items.
That doesn’t mean every new thing is excellent, and every classic item is weak, but rather the newer items tend to be more overtuned than the ones found in the PHB.
My time has finally come, as comparing and contrasting items is something every DM does at least once in their hundreds of days of experience. Given my thousands of days, I am qualified to talk about this classic item.
Let’s Get Into Rod of the Pact Keeper 5e Guide
This is an attunement item that players can only equip with Warlocks. A scarce magical item that allows for the Warlock to regain a Warlock spell slot once per Long Rest. It also comes in three different rarities.
It is a short explanation but still a mighty item in the hands of an intelligent Warlock.
In more Detail on Pact Keeping
Let’s break down the abilities and see what makes this item keep up with the newer things found in the recent releases for Dungeons and Dragons—first, the drawbacks.
Firstly, it is a class-exclusive item; while not strictly a drawback, you will only apply its effects to that class restriction. Even if you multiclass, its abilities can only affect the Warlock side of your character. This means that as time goes on and you gain more levels it will fall off the less investment you put into Warlock.
Even if you go into another class with the same primary casting stat, in this case, Charisma, so Sorcerers, the bonuses this item provides will only be applied if you use your Warlock spell slots to cast.
Second, it is an attunement item. While not inherently wrong, I would say that it is still a drawback since it is usually implemented to balance out powerful effects.
In this case, it is more cumbersome on a Warlock since many of their items are attunement based, so by attuning to this, you would be locking away one of your three precious slots.
Lastly, its second effect is a once-per-long rest item. Compared to some of the newer items, which are once per day, or a specific time or day (Dawn, Noon, Dusk), this makes it hard to restore after its singular charge has been expended.
Of course, if you can get a long rest, this point is moot, but plenty of times in a more extended campaign would you find yourself fighting for survival through the night.
Overall, its cons are pretty light compared to its pros, especially since most of this was made to balance out the power of this item and ensure that only the true wielder of the item can get its benefits.
These would be:
Bonus to Spell Attack Rolls and Spell save DC
Depending on the item’s rarity, it can give a bonus of +1, +2, or +3. This is so that later on, you can switch the Rod of the Pact keeper out for its upgraded version. The utility and power of this item are significant enough that the unique applications of other items within the same tier can only be on par rather than stronger.
At Uncommon this bonus is a +1, Rare is a +2, and Very Rare is a +3. While the bonus may seem small, remember that the only ways to improve your spell save DC or spell attack bonus are magic items and improving your primary casting stat. Even then, usually, items only improve one or the other, not both.
So, keeping the rarity aside, even a +1 in both these facets is equivalent to a +2 to your primary stat; it pushes the limits of spell casting from the average achievable maximum of +9 to +13.
Mechanically that would mean you will never miss a villager or goblin-level opponents and are almost guaranteed to hit stronger foes.
The closest item that gives a bonus to spell attack rolls would be the Wand of the War mage, and that one does not provide a bonus to spell save DC.
This effect is powerful, and since you can find versions of it with increasing rarity, you could say that it can scale with the player.
You can take this pseudo-scaling effect for the DMs out there and make it scale for your Warlock players. Perhaps they have pleased their patron or have accumulated enough favor in exchange for power, and anything goes in a Homebrew campaign.
Restore Spell Slot
Some items let you cast spells using them. Items that are sentient and cast spells for you. Even items allow you to learn spells outside your regular spell pool and use them as you wish. They come in various rarities and consumability, from scrolls to actual items.
So when it comes to an item that can function like a class feature or just taking a rest, it is put high up on the priority list for casters, as getting an additional spell slot is essential for long combative sessions. Warlocks need these as they only have two spell slots every short rest.
Warlocks, in particular, benefit more than other classes since restoring a spell slot immediately restores the strongest level of spell they can cast. This is because Warlocks can only cast at their highest possible level, so gaining a lower level spell slot means gaining the strongest level.
Is it a Good Item?
Yes, it is powerful. Warlock exclusivity aside, if you had placed its effects on a different item, you could separate its two abilities into two additional items, and spell casters would still gravitate towards it.
What makes it good is that its abilities synergize with each other, and with any spell caster that wants to use spells offensively. Additionally, while it does take up one attunement slot, it also takes up one hand only, so you can still wield another rod or staff in the other hand.
You cannot stack items with the same name, nor can you stack abilities with the same name; however, you can apply items with similar effects that do not share ability names. In this regard, you can increase your spell attack or spell save DC much higher than other classes.
Essentially giving you an extra spell slot also means that you have an additional opportunity to cast, whether a control spell or a damaging one. Mix that with the Warlock’s capability to restore spell slots during a short rest, making him one of the casters who can cast the most spells in a day given the right circumstances.
If we compare it, you can see it as a mix of two magic items: Wand of the Warmage and Pearl of Power. Wand of the Warmage is the scaling aspect that gives a bonus to hit, but rather than providing a bonus to spell save DC, it ignores half cover.
A powerful effect still, but not exactly the one we are looking for. Pair that with the Pearl of Power’s spell slot restoration ability and you end up with a Rod of Pact keeping.
Note that while these effects are strong, they can still be attuned to and used in conjunction with the Rod of Pact keeping, so hypothetically a Warlock can get a bonus of +6 to their spell attack by equipping both of these items; additionally, they can restore two spell slots with a Rod and Pearl of Power.
There are many other powerful combinations of items that a Warlock can equip however the Rod of the Pact keeper stands as one of the most potent items for Warlocks everywhere.
Is it Craftable?
Surprising to say, but there is not much lore on this item. Unless it was renamed and remastered from an older item, I would say WoTC added this item in the 5th edition. Thus the crafting methods would have to be made from scratch as there is nothing to fall back on.
So this recipe is strictly my homebrew, so if you want to use it or edit it go for it!
I would say that these would be the components for at least a Pearl of power and part of the Wand of the Warmage.
- A pearl taken from an oyster protected by water spirits or a faerie heart.
- Shards of a Staff of the Magi or wood from an elder Treant
- The essence of a Will’o wisp or Spined Devil horns
- Beard from a Bearded Devil or Shards from a Flameskull.
If you do not want to craft in your game, please ignore this and go on to the next section.
Where to Get it?
There are surprisingly many places to get this item at a low rarity. However, the higher rarities are much more uncommon as per their ranking.
In season 0, you can get this item from the Soulbound Tomb, a DDAL Open, or an open event for everyone to play at tier one. This is for both rounds of the Soulbound tomb, and you can even get a Rod of the Pact keeper +2 at the tier 3 version of this adventure.
In Elemental Evils, you can get it from the DDEX2-8 or the Foulness beneath Mulmaster adventure. It is for levels 1-4, so it is a short but sweet adventure easy enough for most people to accomplish.
Rage of Demons has it in the tier 2 adventure DDEX 3-13: Writhing in the Dark as a +2 Rod of the Pact keeper. Optimized for level 8 players, it is an even shorter adventure, clocking in at two hours of playtime.
For the Curse of Strahd Hardcover, one is hidden in the depths of Castle Ravenloft. It is a +1 rod, so make sure to pick it up along the way, as you should be around level 9 by then.
Amidst the Storm King’s Thunder, DDAL 05-18: The Mysterious Isle. You can find a Rod of the Pact Keeper +3 as part of your reward. Just be sure to fight for your life as this rates in as a Tier 4 adventure for level 17 players.
For Baldur’s Gate: Decent into Avernus, you can get this item in DDAL 09-20: Where Devils Fear to Tread. A level 18 adventure with a Rod of the Pact keeper +2 as part of your many awesome rewards.
Of course, as a DM, you can give this to your players anytime if it is a Homebrew game.
Question: Does Rod of the Pact Keeper Increase Damage?
Answer: No, it does not. While it can increase your accuracy with spells and decrease the likelihood of opponents escaping from spells, it does not directly increase the damage dealt. Additionally, it can only apply to Warlock spells. So items, scrolls, and multiclass spells would not gain these benefits.
Question: Can Rod of the Pact Keeper Be Used as a Weapon?
Answer: It can be used as an improvised weapon. These weapons deal 1d2+ Strength unless a feat or skill says otherwise. Classification-wise, though, it is not a martial or simple weapon.
Question: Can Rod of the Pact Keeper Be Used as an Arcane Focus?
Answer: Yes, it can. Rods are described in the PHB as Arcane Foci, so in theory, this item would also be classified as such. The confusion comes when you consider specific items that state that they can be used as Arcane Foci, but those usually are not the traditional Wand, Rod, or Orb.
Rod of the Pact keeper is one of the few items in DND that can scale. A powerful effect that can generally combo many builds and can be used to hit thresholds only powerful monsters have access to.
It is one of the best in slots for Warlocks and allows your Warlock to compare to even Wizards with how versatile and often they can spell cast. While it does not apply to specific builds, such as Hexblade, it still makes its mark against even the newest magical items to hit playability.