Arms of Hadar
Warlock - 1 Level Spell
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 10 ft
Components: Verbal and Somatic
Duration: 1 Hour
Reference: PH 215
You invoke the power of Hadar, the Dark Hunger. Tendrils of dark energy erupt from you and batter all creatures within 10 feet of you. Each creature in that area must make a Strength saving throw. On a failed save, a target takes 2d6 necrotic damage and can’t take reactions until its next turn. On a successful save, the creature takes half damage, but suffers no other effect.
At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 for each slot level above 1st.
My Comments: So, this is one of those moments when I want to get annoying- I feel like this spell should only be available to warlocks with Hadar as their patron. For example, it just doesn’t make sense to me that a celestial patron would provide access to Hadar’s power. Of course, the easy answer is to just re-skin it as a celestially-source spell, like “Buffeting Winds of T’ien Lung” and just use hand-wavey logic for why it does necrotic damage, like “the winds of T’ien Lung blast through the victims, leaving a leaving a wave of necrotic energy in its place.” …or, something.
Here’s this bit in a description of Hadar:
Hadar was usually sought out by some warlocks to make a pact with it. […] To those few Hadar bestowed the ability to use the spells arms of Hadar, hunger of Hadar, as well as brood of Hadar.
That makes me think Hadar isn’t bestowing the ability on anybody else. But, at the same time, it says that Hadar is a dying star that sends spells to minions in hope of devouring life energy from living beings, so maybe old Hadar would spread it around liberally.
But that’s probably not what you’re here for! Let’s get to the gritty spell review!
Before getting into mechanics, let’s talk just a little bit more about the role-playing aspect. It really is fun to imagine your belly exploding with dark tendrils that smack people around. It reminds me of Ben Hargreaves, A.K.A the Horror, A.K.A. Number Six, form the Umbrella Academy. He didn’t seem to enjoy it much, though.
It’s a bit gross, a bit terrifying and a bit… insane, but is it effective? Let’s review.
It’s first level and scales, which is important for warlocks, so you get early access to it and it can hit everyone around you with 2d6 damage (+d6/level slot above first). This ends up being a maximum of 6d6 when cast with a 5th level spell slot. At first, this sounds like a fun way to clear the room, but again, is it effective?
Well, it’s not too bad at first level, when you might get surrounded by low-level creatures. Imagine being surrounded by a bunch of goblins and suddenly doing an average of 7 points damage to each. That’s 2d6 to each and they have 2d6 hitpoints, works out pretty nice, right?
Except, they get a strength save. A goblin’s strength is generally only 8, but between the possibility of your damage rolling lower than their hit points and some of them save, fewer are going to fall than you might hope.
Then there’s the fact that it’s not exactly a friendly spell. Popping a bunch of freaky tendrils out and smacking everybody when your friends are nearby is just anti-social. By anti-social, I mean your friends won’t appreciate getting hit by your necro-tentacles.
Further, there are several creatures immune or resistant to necrotic damage, so keep your opponent type in mind when casting.
The way the spell is written, this phrase “all creatures within 10 feet of you” could include you, the caster as well, but I think it’s obvious that “erupt from you” means the effect occurs outside of you and you’re not affected.
When comparing it to other damage spells, it doesn’t quite stack up, especially at higher levels. For example, if you’re going to use a 5-level slot, it might be better to consider fireball for 10d6 damage in a 20′ radius and has a range of 150ft, so you don’t have to be right in the middle of it. (Of course, fireball is pretty much one of the most generic and boring spells ever, so there’s that.)
Okay, there is a useful upside! Your victims are so busy batting away tendrils that they miss out on reactions for a turn. Sadly, this use is pretty situational.
Honestly, I think this spell is best for NPCs and monsters, but I might be tempted to take it anyway just for fun.
[P.S. Check out the Wacky Dungeon game just above the footer!]