Warlock pact fluff?

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
How do people describe a Warlock's pact? The books say Warlocks "commune with infernal intelligences and fey spirits", but does that mean they've actually met with their patrons and conversed with them face to face? Or is it a more abstract sort of pact, where you just read some incantations from a forbidden grimoire and get your Warlock powers without ever actually meeting one of these patrons face to face? What is the nature of the pact? The main thing that springs to mind is "selling your soul" for the warlock powers, but that seems like a steep price to pay for some level 1 powers. Do you think Warlocks have to set up some sort of contract in order to get their powers? What happens if they break the contract? Do Warlocks get their powers from some specific devil/fey/abomination, or do they have multiple pacts with multiple patrons, or is the pact just a broad sort of rule that says "I hereby declare my allegiance to amoral fey and/or devils in general?"

Any ideas would be appreciated. My game will have a player who is an Infernal Pact warlock, and the first few adventures will involve interaction with Devils and the politics of Hell, and probably the need to make a few bargains or pacts with the devils as the game goes on. I'd like a firm grasp of the way the Warlock is getting her powers so that it makes sense with the rest of the campaign. It seems like the Warlock should have some sort of inside info or extra knowledge about how to deal with devils, but by the book, she doesn't seem to be able to do anything particularly useful.
I have been using warlocks for some time in my 3.75 campaign. In my campaign, pacts are almost always with a specific patron (especially if they gained a familiar, usually an imp, sprite, or other minor servant of that patron). I let them have a ritual that summons their patron, but this is rarely used. Instead, they usually deal with their familiar or another minor servant that acts as an intermediary. As the warlock gains power, the current patron might not be enough anymore, so the PC may have to seek out a new patron to make a pact with.

As far as the price of the pact, the patron always tries to influence the warlock, sometimes offering favors in return for services, especially when the PC is in a tight spot. If the warlock works against the patron's interests, the patron may simply cut the warlock off, denying him his power.

I also created pact feats (based off of the ones from Darkness & Dread). Each feat has a bonus, but also a price. The price could be an aura of unease that causes animals to flee, and makes social interactions more difficult, physical alterations that hinder the warlock or obviously mark him as a warlock (angry mob anyone?), a chance each week for the patron to control the PC for a few hours (always done in between adventures, but allows the patron to advance his agenda, sometimes to the warlock's detriment), or of course, the ultimate price of the warlock's immortal soul.
Owner and Proprietor of the House of Trolls. God of ownership and possession.
Well dude...the only thing I can say is Fluff is just that..."Fluff"
Sure the book says things like commune with such-and-such. But it's really all in how you want to handle it. However, I offer you a few ideas:

1. Similar to the Star Pact, your Warlock has discovered secret knowledge or hidden lore that has shown them the path to true power. The way I see it with this version is - "where do you think Devils and Demons get all that power from anyway?" It sure isn't traditional wizardry, but you know a few secrets that most mortals don't. There may not even be an "entity" to commune with...simply secret laws (a pact) that you know how to take advantage of...though few other mortals would understand the hidden lore you've unlocked.

2. My own personal Warlock is a Dragonborn, Lawful Good, Devout worshiper of Bahamut - with an infernal pact. WTF?!...that's right, and here's my excuse: Long ago before the dragonborn empires crumbled, an ancient clan-patron red dragon fell to the corrupting influence of Asmodeus. The clan's priests of Bahamut Sealed away the ancient dragon's power in the Nine Hells. Though to keep the Sealed dragon slumbering in his abyssal prison, his terrible power must be tapped into and drawn away. Thus a pact was made that 3 members of the clan from each generation would be taught to tap into this power to prevent the ancient dragons terrible return. The candidates to be initiated into this pact are prepared from a young age to use their power honorably to help their people...though a few have slid into the corruption of the wicked whispers inherent in the power. Keep in mind that this ancient pact arrangement may have fallen somewhat to the wayside as the Dragonborn empire no longer exists and clan structure is more nomadic and rarely more than a small group that occasionally lives together. Since these ancient times, the Pact may have fallen to a "Parent teaches Offspring" arrangement that still effectively satisfies the needs of the pact and keeps the terrible dragon from escaping.

3. If you feel like dealing more directly with dangerous powers of the Nine Hells, perhaps you really did make a deal for knowledge. But I would recommend against "selling your soul". Rather, you've traded something of value. It could be knowledge, assistance in escaping from the pits, or something as simple as a feast of blood to a beast that has nearly starved to death. You can assume that any Warlock worth a Damn, ISN'T damned. That is to say, when setting up a contract for power, either the Warlock got lucky, or simply outsmarted the would-be patron and got the better end of the deal, with one "loop-hole" the power didn't come rushing in all at once, you gotta learn to tap into it over time (woohoo for level-based gaming).

Anyway, I hope those ideas work out for you.
The way I see it, the warlock has entered into a pact that sets them on a path. The powers they gain from being a warlock cannot be revoked by any entity, and the warlock cannot "break" the pact. It is a done deal. The contract has been signed, the words have been spoken, the wish has been made.

The pact has altered the warlock. Now he can do all sorts of terrible things (powers) and the more he travels the world and explores his new look on life, the more power he gets (as he levels).

I think each warlock would have a different story to tell about how they entered into their own pacts. Some would actually have met and conversed with a devil that offered power. Others might have read dark incantations under a dark night sky or received the offer of power in a dream. The details are left up to you and the player (or just the player).

The only thing I would probably stay away from is the idea that the warlock can do something that would result in a loss of his own powers. For example, the infernal warlock starts doing good things that interfere with his devil patron's plans, so the devil "cuts off" the warlock's powers somehow. Nuh-uh. I don't think that's even possible with clerics or paladins in 4E. Of course, if your group is really into roleplaying it, your player might *enjoy* being denied his powers as his character struggles with the conflict between his good intentions and his infernal pact. If that's the case, do whatever. ;)
*I apologize for this post being so long, sometimes I get overly drawn into stories!*

I struggled with this a lot as well. I was instantly really interested in creating a eladrin fey pact warlock but I had such a hard time coming up with how the pact took place or what the pact even was really. I didn't like the idea that one day I was wondering around my home town when suddenly the embodiment of Autumn showed up and granted me power. I really loved the picture of the warlock in that "Races and Classes" book that got released before the actual PHB. It's a picture of an eladrin releasing some leaves from his/her hand in the midst of some fey pact ritual.

In the end my problem with pacts really came down to the fact that I didn't want my character to be ruled over by someone nor did I want him worshiping another entity essentially. I had a hard time picturing my 'lock as someone to be feared or someone who wanted power at any cost while still doing the fey pact and making it cool. In the end I finally found a solution. My character was near death and needed power, needed to live, and happened to encounter a fey spirit that needed the same. The whole pact unfolds as such.

My character came from a family known for great arcane expertise. In fact my father was a wizard of the spiral tower and very well known throughout the community. Naturally there were expectations thrust upon me but they did little to influence me, I knew that one day I would join the rest of my family in the ranks of powerful arcane wielders. One day while home alone I hear a crash in my dads study. I know how important many of the tomes and magical items in the study are as well as knowing how dangerous they can be if disturbed. I rush to see what's happened only to see one of my dads colleagues stealing away through the window of the study holding my dads spell book. Enraged by his audacity and deceit I take up a longsword and quickly follow after him. I catch him about a mile outside our beautiful city as he stops to take a rest and survey his prize. I stumble into the clearing he's sitting in and draw my longsword, I'm exhausted and my muscles tremble with anger and fear but I'll be damned if he's going to reap the benefits of my family's hard work. The thief casually looks up and cracks a smile. There is no warning to the attack that comes, no condescending order to return home, I'm simply thrown against the trunk of an ancient tree by a scalding blast of arcane power. My vision is blurred by blood and I feel my very spirit slipping away as my fathers colleague quietly collects his treasure and sets off deeper into the forest. My very soul cries out as I cling to life and curse that mans name (which I haven't yet determined.) As I feel my self slipping out of this world there is suddenly a large crash behind me, the shock of which allows me to cling to life a few precious moments longer. I turn and open my bloodied eyes to see an ancient fey spirit thrashing about in what would appear to be death throws. I meet it's eyes and suddenly I feel connected to something so much greater than myself, I'm met with the understanding that life doesn't necessarily end today but will take on a whole new meaning. It was there that two powerful spirits decided to feed off each other. I allowed my flesh to become a vessel to that ancient spirit and in such we were both reborn.

His power in me cared very little for how it was passed on, only that it was. That his influence on the world wouldn't end. In me the bloody battles are continued, the flippant games go on, and the call to a life of freedom and fire won't end. I like the pact this way because I'm not ruled over by my pact. My pact still dictates who I am but through symbiotic relationship. I also like it this way because I'm not tapping entirely off some demonic or chaotic entity for power. The spirit within me simply guides and advices on how to pull off the astral plain for arcane might. Things come easier but are not necessarily free. The only thing I like to imagine the fey directly powers are my eldrich blasts. The rest is merely influence.