Arc Warden: He’s Electric (boogy woogy woogy woogy).
Arc Warden is a ranged Agility hero whose roles are Carry/Escape/Nuker. His abilities combine micromanagement, debuffs, and high damage to control the enemy in a myriad of ways. Being a sort of avatar for one of the supreme primordial aspects of the universe, Arc Warden (or ‘Zet’) is concerned with nothing more than saving all of existence. Ya’ know, real casual stuff. Dire and Radiant are going to end the world, and it’s up to Arc Warden to stop it. With this greater-good philosophy, and being a literal warden to retain the structure of the universe, Arc Warden has the distinction of being the first ever Lawful Good hero to be converted to DnD 5e!
As always, lets first do a rundown of what Arc Warden is capable of.
Arc Warden’s first ability is Flux, a ranged attack that slows and damages targets but is less effective if the target is around other enemies.
His next ability is Magnetic Field, a protective barrier for allies.
The third ability is Spark Wraith, which summons a little dude who patrols an area for an enemy and gives them a slowing zap when he finds them.
Arc Warden’s ultimate is Tempest Double. With this, he creates a copy of himself with its own item (and ability) cooldowns.
When I first looked at this ability spread, I was worried that Arc Warden would be the first character I couldn’t truthfully recreate in DnD 5e. With some more research I found a way to replicate most of his abilities, though it is excessively clunky. So prepare to reflavor some stuff, but don’t be too worried: Zet is here to save the universe!
DnD 5e is seriously lacking in “shattered remnant of primordial energy” races, so just go Warforged. Envoy works, but so does Skirmisher, so either subrace will be okay. Technically, Envoy gives freedom in ability score increases that will be helpful for this build, but I prefer the relative lore accuracy of a skirmisher.
Unlike with past articles, the class of Arc Warden is best not dwelt on too much. For this build, you’ll be taking 2 levels into Great Old One Warlock, 2 levels into Trickery Domain Cleric, and the rest of the levels into Shadow Magic Sorcerer.
Like always, I recommend you go into the levels however you see fit. Personally, I’d take the first level of Trickery Cleric at level one then save the second level towards the end. From there, I’ll go into Warlock then Shadow Sorcerer. This all sounds very strange, but it is definitely intentional, so keep reading.
The two levels into Great Old One Warlock are for nothing more than Eldritch Blast and an invocation. I get that this is kind of a meme, but hear me out. By picking Great Old One, our Zet gains the ability to telepathically communicate with others – more fitting for primordial energy than what is offered by other patrons at level 1. By sticking in for 2 levels, we get the choice of 2 Eldritch Invocations. If we choose Lance of Lethargy as one of them, we’ve already got an excellent replica of Zet’s Flux ability.
By going this route, we avoid using unfitting cantrips (like Ray of Frost) and still slow targets. Moreover, by picking Eldritch Blast we can replicate the damage over time effect of Flux, attacking a target multiple times for incremental damage rather than once for loads of damage. For the hardcore Arc Warden roleplayer, Eldritch Blast also gives you the opportunity to, like Flux, diminish your damage when your target is with other enemies by attacking other targets. It may seem unreasonable for a two-level cantrip dip, but the mechanical bonuses and accuracy with the lore is worth it to me.
As far as starting spells and other cantrips go, it is also completely up to you. Pick whatever.
No, you didn’t misreading anything. Arc Warden is a Shadow Magic Sorcerer, not a Storm Sorcerer. I have two main justifications for this choice. Firstly, Sorcerer has the widest selection of elemental themed spells regardless of subclass chosen: there is no penalty to the number of lightning and thunder spells available because we don’t choose Storm Sorcerer. Secondly, Shadow Magic gives us (along with loads of features we’ll never need) the closest thing to a Spark Wraith we’ll ever have. More on that later: for now, let’s look at what you should pick up in the early levels of Sorcerer.
Level 2’s Font of Magic feature is nice, but let’s be honest, the Metamagics at level 3 are the only thing we care about here. You could pick up Twinned Spell and another one of your choice (personally, I’d go with Careful Spell). To be honest, no particular Metamagics are essential. Twinned Spell is highly restrictive in what it can alter (and you can only twin Eldritch Blast from levels 1-4).
Shadow Magic Sorcerer level 6 gives us the only feature I’ll talk about in length: Hound of Ill Omen. By spending 3 sorcery points as a bonus action, you create a hound to hunt down a single target. Because this little pup has its own initiative and turn order, you get to recreate the multi-tasking required to play Arc Warden – fun!
Hound of Ill Omen is, for all intents and purposes, our Spark Wraith. This feature has loads in common with Spark Wraith: it is autonomous, it hunts down a single target, multiple can be made, and it can even hunt down hidden targets! The only issue is the fact that it’s a dog, so, I dunno, reflavor it to be a Manectric or something. As an added bonus, it gives its target disadvantage on saving throws against spells you cast.
Once you get past level 6, Shadow Sorcerer has nothing more for us. The ability to teleport in shadows is cool, but it’s not in Zet’s repertoire. Theoretically, you could go deep into Warlock after level 6 Sorcerer, but in doing so you’ll forfeit many themed spells. Speaking of spells, let’s take a moment to look at all the spells we’ll get along the way.
In terms of cantrips, Lightning Lure and Shocking Grasp fit with Arc Warden’s theme, but to be honest Lightning Lure sucks. Early to midgame spells should include Witch Bolt, Blur, Lightning Bolt, and Storm Sphere. The purpose of Blur here is to recreate Arc Warden’s second ability, Magnetic Field. Sadly, this version only helps you avoid damage, so it isn’t quite a wholesome recreation.
By late game, spells like Chain Lightning and Synaptic Static can be cast. It’s also later that we can cast the next discount Magnetic Field with the spell Globe of Invulnerability. This spell does actually protect your allies… but only from spells of 5th level and lower. Maybe I missed a big spell that emulates Magnetic Field (and please let me know if I did!) but I was having serious trouble finding a generic protective orb spell that could affect multiple people.
Trickery Domain Cleric
To prevent unnecessary bloat, I’ll keep this section brief. By going Cleric at your first character level you get medium armor and shield proficiency, which means Composite Plating for the Warforged and a chance at higher AC. Whether or not you want to do this is completely up to you.
The level 2 channel divinity option of Invoke Duplicity is Zet’s Tempest Double feature. Though with this feature you don’t duplicate spell slots, using Twinned Spell you can effectively double the spells cast as if you had more spell slots. It’s a makeshift work-around.
The reason that I save this for the end is because it’s Zet’s ultimate, so fitting with DotA 2 it’s the last thing you unlock. Practically however, the benefits provided by Invoke Duplicity is completely negligible, so you could put it anywhere in the build. Again, if there is a spell or other class ability that gives you more than an illusory duplicate, please let me know!
As a Warforged you won’t need any armor and as a spellcaster you won’t need any weapons, so enjoy your light equipment load!
Now, you might be wondering about the difference between choosing Darkwood Core integrated protection versus the Composite Plating. The difference depends entirely on how high your dexterity is.
If you have 20 Dexterity and light armor proficiency at level 8, you’ll be touting a cool 19 AC with no shield. If you have at least 16 Dexterity with Medium Armor Master and no shield at level 8, you’ll also have 19 AC. In my mind, the chance you’ll have a 20 to spare on Dexterity is fairly low, and if you have medium armor proficiency from Cleric you’ll also get shield proficiency.
Regardless, if you have 1 level into Cleric (even when multiclassing) you will gain medium armor and shield proficiency, so it’s inevitable to have a shield and high AC. What you control is how much Dexterity you need to do it.
If you are able to pick a feat, Elemental Adept in lightning is probably your best choice. Besides this, there’s nothing that our Zet absolutely needs from feats. If you chose Composite Plating you could benefit from Medium Armor Master, too. Some DMs may argue that it isn’t valid, so be sure to check with them first.
Because Sorcerer will be providing most of your damage through spells, a high Charisma is essential. Besides this, at least 13 Wisdom is needed to multiclass into Cleric. Finally, having a high Dexterity depends on your choice of Darkwood Core or Composite Plating integrated protection.
This review is, honestly, the most underwhelming in my opinion. While being able to recreate Arc Warden is cool, the mechanical limitations of DnD prevents true recreation of many of Arc Warden’s more in-depth abilities. That being said, there are plenty of other guide articles I made that work well both in recreating the original DotA 2 hero and in creating a fun, effective DnD 5e character. You can find each one here:
And as always, what was none becomes one again.