The DnD Eldritch Knight Fighter is caught between two worlds: magic and martial combat. It’s a subclass for people who like to have fingers in both RPG pies. You can swing a sword as well as any other Fighter, but you can also buff your defences with supernatural powers – or even shoot the occasional fireball.
If you love to get stuck in during combat but purely martial DnD classes don’t sound like your bag, the Eldritch Knight 5e subclass might be the answer to your prayers. Below the budding DnD Fighter will find everything you need to start creating one. We’ll explain every subclass feature, then recommend the best DnD races and 5e spells for your DnD character build. Then all you need is a DnD character sheet, a DnD name, and you’re ready to roll.
Eldritch Knight 5e features
Here are each of the subclass features for the Eldritch Knight:
- Weapon Bond
- War Magic
- Eldritch Strike
- Arcane Charge
- Improved War Magic
Unlike most D&D Fighters, an Eldritch Knight can cast spells as well as any DnD Wizard or DnD Sorcerer. Okay, maybe not just as well, but they’ve still got plenty of magic at their fighting fingertips.
Starting at level three, your Eldritch Knight learns two DnD cantrips. They’ll also learn one at tenth level. All of these need to be from the list of DnD Wizard spells – no DnD Warlock shenanigans here, please. Like a Wizard, your Eldritch Knight uses Intelligence as their spellcasting DnD stat.
An Eldritch Knight also knows three first-level Wizard spells at level three. These must be from the Abjuration or Evocation DnD schools of magic. Generally, as you reach different DnD level up milestones and gain new spells, you’ll need to keep picking from these two schools. The only exceptions are at level eight, 14, and 20 – here you can choose any kind of Wizard spell you like.
Here are the spell slots an Eldritch Knight gains as they progress:
|Fighter level||Cantrips known||Spells known||Level 1 spell slots||Level 2 spell slots||Level 3 spell slots||Level 4 spell slots|
At level three, your Eldritch Knight learns a ritual that creates a magical bond between them and a DnD weapon of their choice. Simply spend an hour with your weapon performing the ritual, and you’ll become bonded to it. Mechanically, this means you can’t be disarmed when using this weapon unless you’re incapacitated.
You can also spend a bonus action to summon your weapon. Providing it’s on the same DnD plane, it can teleport to your hand from anywhere. If you’re bonded to more than one weapon (the maximum is two), you’ll have to specify which weapon you want to summon.
War Magic is a simple subclass feature. Whenever you spend an action casting a cantrip, you can also make a weapon attack as a bonus action. Simple, yet pretty effective.
Eldritch Strike means, whenever you successfully hit with a weapon attack, your target has disadvantage on its next saving throw against a spell you cast. Be warned though; you’ll need to cast that spell before the end of your next turn.
It’s not just your swords that can teleport. Arcane Charge allows you to teleport 30 feet into an unoccupied space you can see whenever you use Action Surge. It’s up to you whether you teleport before or after taking your extra action.
Improved War Magic
As the name implies, this is a boost to the original War Magic feature. When you spend an action casting a spell, you can make a weapon attack as a bonus action.
Tips for building a DnD Eldritch Knight
Best races for Eldritch Knight
When choosing an appropriate D&D race, you’ll need to choose whether your Eldritch Knight will focus on Strength or Dexterity. You should also ideally prioritise Intelligence for spellcasting and Constitution for soaking up damage. While Eldritch Knights are spellcasters, they’re still Fighters first – which means it’s not generally worth boosting your Intelligence over your Fighter’s other abilities.
If you’re solely choosing from races in the Player’s Handbook, there are no options with stat boosts to Strength and Intelligence. This means an Eldritch Knight should stick to basic Fighter rules – focus on Strength and Constitution, and work with your Intelligence afterwards. Your best bet here is a Half-Orc or a DnD Dwarf.
If you’re aiming for a Dex build, the DnD Elf is a great choice – in particular the High Elf. You could choose a DnD Gnome to reap the rewards of their Intelligence boost – and the Forest Gnome subrace buffs Dexterity, too. One of the best choices overall is the Variant DnD Human, which gives you more flexible stats and a 5e feat.
If you’re using additional DnD books, your options get more complex, but also more exciting. D&D’s more fantastical races all use the custom origin rules introduced in Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, meaning you can boost whatever stats you please. While this may make it seem like any of the rarer races would suit an Eldritch Knight Fighter, some choices are still better than others. This is because of their unique racial traits.
The DnD Kobold can give an Eldritch Fighter (and their friends) regular advantage on attacks, as well as an extra cantrip for free. The DnD Bugbear doesn’t have much magical affinity, but pretty much all its traits will make your Eldritch Knight a better Fighter, so it’s more than worth it. Races like the Duergar and the Githyanki are also suitable options if you’d like to expand your limited spell list.
Best spells for Eldritch Knight
When it comes to spellcasting, the usual advice for an Eldritch Knight is to focus on buffs and defence. Offensive spells will rely on high spell save DCs and spell attack bonuses – and, if you’re focusing on building three different ability scores at once (Intelligence, Constitution, and Strength/Dexterity), chances are yours won’t be very high. This means you’re less likely to hit with an aggro spell.
Spells like Shield 5e and Absorb Elements are must-haves for an Eldritch Knight looking to enhance their combat abilities. Green-Flame Blade 5e or Booming Blade are also an excellent blend of magic and martial action. If you do want to go into offensive spells, Magic Missile isn’t the biggest damage-dealer, but it’s guaranteed to hit. And Fireball 5e remains one of the best Evocation spells around – if you can land a hit.