The Whispers: A Madness-based Patron for Warlocks

During the COVID-19 outbreak, I temporarily put one of my main campaigns on hold, and ran something of a side story on Roll20. Since this campaign would have a short runtime, it proved an excellent testing ground for some wilder ideas, one of which is the Whispers, a Warlock patron that invites heavy roleplaying and can cause some serious chaos at your table.

A Note On This Class

I collaborated extensively with the particular player to come up with something that fit him. Thus:

  • It has plenty of roleplaying options built in, as he’s a great roleplayer.
  • It might be overpowered in some aspects, but
    • I knew this particular player wouldn’t abuse it
    • I can always balance encounters on the fly
    • We tweaked the class as we played

Warlock Patron: The Whispers

You’ve always heard voices in your head. You recognize them: they speak to you, sometimes in a conversational tone, sometimes shouting, but they’re always there. Recently, a new voice has been added to the cacaphony of voices: Whispering, at moments where you don’t expect them, giving you comfort, companionship and… insight? The whispers are always in your own voice, almost like it’s your conscience talking to you, but the subject matter is a lot more occult than your other voices have ever been…

Hints of Madness

You tend to listen to the whispers. They’d never lie to you, as they’re just a subconscious part of your psyche, right?

At the end of every long rest, the whispers speak to you. Roll a D6, and check the corresponding result. Until the next long rest, this is the advice whispered to you.

1Your reflection is not to be trusted. Make sure it’s not doing anything weird in any surface that reflects your image.
2Spirits can inhabit any room, but luckily, you can stay safe by knocking on the doorpost three times before entering.
3People around you will lie, cheat, deceive. Repeat the last 3 words they said whenever you respond, to make sure the words aren’t used to trick you.
4Pebbles are blessed, lucky, divine. Make sure to check for beautiful, round specimens.
5Your enemies know what they did, and they must be made to see. Make sure that any bodies you leave behind, rest forever with their eyes open.
6The sun is illuminating, the light is blinding. The very sunlight scratches and itches your skin.
Table 1: Mad Advice

Madness Checks

A lot of features from this patron require you to make Madness Checks. Those are made as follows:

D20 + your Intelligence modifier

This represents your efforts to, well, not go insane. The DC for this check is

10 + your amount of Madness Charges

Upon your first use of a Madness-related ability after a long rest, the DC would be 10+1=11. The DC can never be lower than 11. The check after that would be 10+2 andsoforth.

You reset your Madness Charges back to 0 after completing a long rest.

Going Mad: Failing Your Madness Check

Failing a Madness Check has the following consequences:

If you gain a new Short-Term Madness effect while already suffering from one, it replaces the previous one. This also goes for Long-Term Madness.

This allows players to ‘gamble’ with their madness: perhaps the new effect will be better, perhaps it will be worse.

Expanded Spell List

Listening to the Whispers allows for the following spells, which are added to your warlock spell list.

Spell LevelSpells
1stDissonant Whispers, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
2ndDetect Thoughts, Crown of Madness
3rdBestow Curse, Stinking Cloud
4thConfusion, Polymorph
5thAnimate Objects, Bigby’s Hand
Table 2: Expanded Spell List

New Abilities

Reckless Casting

Starting at 1st level, you may call upon a powerful piece of magic that allows you to roll once on the Wild Magic Surge table. This costs an action and immediately causes the rolled effect to happen. You may use this as many times as you want, but gain a charge of madness upon use and must make a Madness Check.

A Broken Clock

Just like a broken clock being right twice a day, the whispers sometimes provide… valuable insight.
As an Action, you can analyze the behavior of one enemy creature that you can see within 30 ft. You can immediately shout your insights to an ally within 20 ft. They gain advantage on their next attack against that creature. You may use this as many times as you want, but gain a charge of madness upon use and must make a Madness Check.

New Feat: Fuel of the Mad

Sometimes, a trade can be made: magical energy, for the small price of your sanity.
You can freely cast a spell you know without using a spell slot.
This effect adds one extra madness charge, and you have to make a Madness Check after using it.

Advice on improving this homebrew class? Have you tried it, and did you love it or hate it? Let me know!

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