With a flash of flame and a gout of smoke, Blood Pact appears again! It demands that columnist Nick Whelan make a sacrifice! Either he must write on a relatively simple subject this week, or be doomed to perform poorly during his finals! Left with no other recourse, Whelan submits to the will of the column.
Spells are the essence of playing a Warlock. Just about every part of playing the game, save role playing, has spell casting as a central feature for us. Fighting for control of Arathi Basin, dueling on matters of honor with some upstart Mage, questing and leveling, or any instance from assailing Defias scum in The Deadmines, to unlocking the secrets of Azeroth in Ulduar. Without spells the only things a Warlock could do would be run, jump, and weakly bonk our foes with our staffs. And there just aren't enough platforming sections in WoW to make that kind of thing fun.
Depending on our spec and in-game vocation, different Warlocks focus on different spells. And the decision of which spells to focus on is based on numbers. Such as the time required to cast the spell, potential damage output the spell has, or the amount of time that the spell will allow us to reign destruction on our foes while they run around screaming in abject terror. Understanding the mechanical uses of spells is essential if we're to be effective Warlocks. But as I've said in the past: Rain of Fire isn't just an area of effect spell channeled over 10 seconds which causes 2-3k non-crit damage every 2 seconds to enemies within a 15 yard radius--it's fireballs falling out of the sky!
I've found playing my Warlock far more entertaining since I actually started thinking about what my spells were doing, aside from just the numbers that scroll down the side of my screen. So here I've compiled a small list of representative Warlock spells, and fluff descriptions of them based on my own musings.
Haunt: Haunt is a controlled release of one of the souls trapped in a Soul Shard. The Warlock infuses the soul into a Shadow Bolt, and hurls it at the enemy. The captive soul then possesses said enemy, making their afflictions worse and passing on its own suffering in a blind act of vengeful rage. As the soul afflicts, it becomes more powerful, absorbing the energy of its victim. But before the soul can become powerful enough to escape, the Warlock calls the soul back to themselves, and absorbs the excess power the soul accrued while it was away.
Metamorphosis: Metamorphosis is a strenuous and exceptionally difficult spell to cast and maintain, which is why it has such a short duration and such a long cooldown. Before learning metamorphosis, the Warlock must make contact with a demon--and not just your standard run of the mill summon-able. A real demon. The kind of demon that could lead an army of felguards into battle.
The Warlock and the demon must make a pact. What the demon gets out of the deal varies, but the Warlock gains the ability to channel said demon's power directly. But inhabiting the same body as a demon lord takes a toll on the Warlock's soul. Constantly, while in this altered form, the Warlock must fight for control of his own mind and actions. It's likely that most demons care less about whatever they're getting in return for this power, than they care about the opportunity to attempt bending a mortal Warlock to their will.
Chaos Bolt: Rules govern all of Azeroth. Cause and effect, and physics are important examples of this. Another, more relevant example are the laws of anatomy and medicine that control the bodies of living creatures. These rules allow our bodies to function, and our lives to continue.
Chaos Bolt is a little bubble of the pure essence of chaos. Rules suddenly stop applying to whatever it strikes. Effects appear and disappear at random, without any purpose. Entire organs could disappear, or appear, or change form entirely when struck with a Chaos Bolt. It's one of the more unpredictable--and frightful--tools at a Warlock's disposal.
Howl of Terror: Remember that scene in Star Wars: A New Hope when Obi-Wan Kenobi shows up just as Luke is being attacked by Sand People, and imitates the howl of a Krayt Dragon, scaring them off? That's what I think of whenever I cast Howl of Terror. The Warlock literally screams, though his own voice is completely obscured by the wails of the damned souls that accompany his own. Even the heartiest fighter can't help but be reduced to a whimpering childlike mentality, and fleeing for their lives.
Drain Soul: As long as I've played a Warlock, I've never been content with accepting that we 'steal souls.' I mean, obviously we steal something akin to souls, but rather than stealing the entire thing, I think soul shards are more like an itty bitty piece of a creature's entire soul. Certainly something that the creature in question wouldn't want to give up, but not something that severely affected them in the long run. The new Drain Soul mechanic, which allows us to get multiple souls off of a single target, only reinforces that outlook.
Still, even though it's a tiny piece, getting that piece away from a person is a titanic struggle of wills.
Immolate / Conflagrate: Immolate is the simplest kind of spell. With a quick incantation and a twitch of a hand, flames erupt on a victim's clothing and burn until they're able to put them out. While obviously a painful and unpleasant experience, it becomes truly agonizing when the Warlock snaps his fingers, causing the petty wisps of flame to flare up with rage, completely engulfing the target in an instant blast of unholy fire that would be enough to make any normal person simply explode.
Death Coil: The 'panic button' spell is a spell born of the fear and the panic that it causes. It is the magical manifestation of a Warlock's horror during a brush with death--his certainty that he is moments away from an inevitable doom. It's a spell that most practitioners of the dark arts can only cast when they're in a moment of utter desperation.
Skilled Warlocks, of course, have long ago mastered their emotions--fear in particular. It wouldn't do for one who prides themselves on their ability to instill fear in others to be easily susceptible to it. However, Death Coil can only be cast if the Warlock connects with that base inner fear of death that every living thing has. He need not express it, or let others know what he's feeling--but he must feel afraid.
Every spell has the potential to be more interesting if it's given a game-world explanation. What other spells could have interesting, or just plain awesome in-game descriptions?