One class I have been thinking about off and on since 5th edition came out is the Warlock. I love the concept and the class in general. As support for the class has grown, a lot of interesting patrons have been introduced. One thing I don’t think enough settings take advantage of is a Warlock Patron that is very strongly tied to the setting. Originally, I was researching Mystery Cults for another article, and I read about Paculla Annia, a prominent leader of the cult of Bacchus. That wikipedia page (and binge watching True Blood a few months ago) inspired this article.
Otherworldly Patron: Bacchus
Your patron is the god Bacchus: god of wine, grape harvests, freedom, fertility, and ritual madness. While Bacchus is a god, and therefore can be worshiped by clerics, his divine status has always been in question in mythology. When he was called Dionysus by the Greeks, he was the last of the gods to be allowed into Olympus, mainly due to conflicts on whether his patronage was worthy of godhood. Due to this nebulous status, some individuals, like you, have a much more direct and personal relationship with Bacchus. They are imbued with his power, and they work to destroy those that oppose Bacchus’s cult and free the people from the oppressive restraints of those in power. Others may call you a Maenad, Bassarid, or Bacchantes, although such titles hold little interest to you. Long ago, only women could become Warlocks of Bacchus, but in modern Rome, all genders are welcome.
If you take Pact of the Blade, the weapon you take should be in the form of a Thyrsus, which is a wand or staff of fennel wrapped in Ivy vines and topped with a pine cone. Sometimes, although the meaning of this is up to the Warlocks interpretation, the Thyrsus appears dripping with honey. Use the stats of a Club, Greatclub, Mace, or Quarterstaff for this weapon.
Warlocks of Bacchus that take Pact of the Chain often summon venomous serpents as familiars. If they summon another familiar form, it is not uncommon for the animal to have serpentine or bull-like features, such as a Sprite with horns or a long snake-like Pseudodragon.
If you take Pact of the Tome, your “Book of Shadows” typically takes the form of a Thyrsus, which you hold like a wand. Or you might find yourself with a special goblet, with the mysteries of Bacchus written on the inside, which you enjoy drinking wine from.
Expanded Spell List
1st – Goodberry, Tasha’s Hideous Laughter
2nd – Crown of Madness, Suggestion
3rd – Hypnotic Pattern, Leomund’s Tiny Hut
4th – Confusion, Freedom of Movement
5th – Geas, Seeming
You know the Booming Blade cantrip.
At first level, you know how to enter a state of ritualized mania, or Revelry. You begin to dance in an energetic way, and that can be amusing to your friends and allies and frightening to your foes. On your turn, you can enter a Revelry as a bonus action. While in Revelry, you gain the following benefits if you aren’t wearing any armor:
You have advantage on Charisma checks and Charisma saving throws.
You may use your Charisma bonus on melee attack rolls, instead of your Strength or Dexterity.
You add your Charisma bonus to any damage roll that does not already include it as a bonus.
You gain resistance to poison damage.
You are immune to the poisoned condition.
Your Revelry lasts for 1 minute. It ends early if you are knocked unconscious, or if you choose to end it as a bonus action.
You may enter a Revelry twice before completing a long rest. You gain another use of the Revelry at level 6, level 10, and level 14. You gain unlimited Revelries when you reach level 20.
Charge of the Bull
One of Bacchus’s aspects is that of a great bull, and you can channel the strength of a charging Bull through your body, pushing your attacker away from you. Starting at 6th level when you take harm, you can use your reaction to push your attacker away from you with the divine strength of Bacchus. The target moves away from you 30ft, stopping if they hit an obstacle or another creature. They then must pass a Strength saving throw vs your warlock spell save DC. On a failed save the target gains the prone condition. Once you use this feature, you can’t use it again until you finish a short or long rest.
Dance of Bacchus
Your connection to Bacchus grows ever stronger, and while you’re in Revelry, you grow the horns and hooves of a Bull. Some might mistake you as a Satyr, but your frenzied dancing shows all to well what your true nature is. Any shoes you are wearing magically meld into your new form, though at this stage, most Patrons of Bacchus prefer to be barefoot if able.
Starting at 10th level, your Revelry can keep you fighting despite grievous wounds. If you drop to 0 hit points while you are using the Revelry ability, and don’t die outright, you can make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. If you succeed, you drop to 1 hit point instead.
Each time you use this feature after the first, the DC increases by 5. When you finish a short or long rest, the DC resets to 10.
Ecstatic Dance of Bacchus
Starting at 14th level, you can channel your Revelry into another creature, causing them to dance uncontrollably. While you are using your Revelry ability, as an action, choose a creature that you can see within 60 feet of you. It must make a Charisma saving throw against your warlock spell save DC. On a failed save, it makes all attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws with disadvantage. Furthermore, the affected creature cannot concentrate on spells while affected by the Ecstatic Dance of Bacchus. Additionally, at the start of the creature’s turn, it takes 2d6 + Charisma modifier psychic damage.
Ecstatic Dance of Bacchus lasts for the duration of your Revelry, or until your concentration is broken (as if you are concentrating on a spell). You must finish a short or long rest before you can use this feature again.
Patron of Bacchus In Other Settings
While this Warlock Patron is strongly tied to the Roman god Bacchus, by removing the Bull imagery and the references to Bacchus, you can use this Patron in any setting. Revelry was inspired by the Barbarian Rage, so you can change the fluff of the powers from ecstatic dancing to raging, and setup the Warlock as a member of a Barbarian Tribe. A Warlock patron could even be the same totem spirits that the Totem Barbarian uses.
Alternatively you could say the Warlock Patron is the raw energy of Ysgard itself, sort of like the “Undying Light” Warlock Patron introduced in the “Light, Dark, Underdark” Unearthed Arcana. Or you can simply state that your Patron is some unknowable spirit of revelry and keep it vague. Warlocks are mysterious to begin with, so your character gaining bull-like features and dancing while casting spells could just be your “thing.”