Warlock Fluff

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I think the whole pact thing is pretty cool- but I have one beef with it. It's too passive, too "Faustian". In the current incarnation, warlocks have to beg the higher worlds for their juice. What about the opposite: Demonbinders? If you have to bargain with devils for power, why couldn't you just lock demons up and make them give you the juice?

I think it provides a little bit more of a palatable fluff for folks for whom, religious issues notwithstanding, the idea of bargaining with devils makes them a trifle uncomfortable, even for an obviously make-believe game.

For some reason, the idea of demonbinding doesn't give me as much of a visceral reaction. You're just harnessing the evil to fight evil, or what not. Or just harnessing evil to do evil, whatever floats your boat.

I suppose I could just house-fluff it that way.
For the possible religious issues for players, Warlocks also have access to Fey pacts (being gifted the secrets of their power from creatures of the feywild) as well as the cryptic "stars above and the darkness between them" pacts (presumably far realm or "whomever's willing to listen").

As for not liking the Warlock "begging" and/or "bargaining" aspects. Homebrew that part out, make them more like Ur-priests or binders if you so desire.
Why are you even worrying about it? If a player wants to play a warlock, they are coming up with the back story. Their back story in no way has to mesh with the fluff given, you just have to give them the go ahead.
Not every pact is so dire, not every practitioner so dark.

Want two examples?

In a little story called Magic, Inc, by Heinlein, a witch is hired to help repair a business building. It's been royally walloped by water, earth, and fire. She conjures three spirits, an undine, a gnome, and a salamander.

Now, the latter of the three is a capricious, simple critter, who see burning things as a wonderful pastime, not in a malevolent sense, but out of pure, natural instinct. But the witch needs the fire damage removed, and he has the power to do it. So, they bargain.

Light a hearth, keep it burning for a year to give me a place to play. That would be the price he names.

Or there's the wonder that is the Dresden Files. Now, Harry Dresden's a wizard, but he does make a pact or two. Take for example, Storm Front.

He needs information about a certain house, and if a certain person has been there. He creates a circle of magic, hides the trigger that will lock in a fae, and adds some honey as a lure. Along comes Toot, who investigates, scans the area, then jumps in to grab the morsel. Harry closes up the trap, the two banter, and strike a deal.

Toot flies off to consult the local populace. In turn, Harry orders them pizza for a week. Fey looooooooove pizza.


Not every pact is some terrible price, bent on corruption. Sometimes, you need something done halfway across the multiverse, and you're busy with your Powerful Extraplanar Stuff. Along comes a little warlock, calling you up one day. He needs the Booms. You have the Booms. You need someone to go smack a cultist of Another Extraplanar Power upside the head. He's near the cultist. You strike a deal.

That, or your a Being of the Stars. The Stars are vast. The Stars are ancient. The Stars get really, really boring. So, to add some spice to floating in the void, why not toy with mortals? Heck, for the cost of a tiny burst of heat, which you can get at the white dwarf down the lane, he'll go running across creation, creating crop circles that serve no purpose whatsoever. By the time you're three eons old, that kind of stuff gets pretty funny.

This is why the Fey and Star packs exist. Not everyone wants souls. Not everyone needs souls. Heck, many powers have no use for souls whatsoever. Sometimes it is outer forces that say "To fulfill the prophecy, go switch the two babies, thus ensuring they will be raised accordingly." Or maybe it's "Strip naked, clad yourself in leaves, and dance around the mushroom ring." Or perhaps "Dude, I seriously have the muchies. Gimme your rations, man."

....Don't look at me like that. Fey have herb gardens. Special herb gardens.
Making pacts with the devil are supposed to be very, very dangerous. They're supposed to make you uneasy.

Folklore is rife with stories about deals gone wrong. It's also rife with stories about some crafty individual who tricks the devil and actually wins.

Political correctness be damned, they need to be true to the spirit of the source material here.
I agree that some Faustian unease is cool, and Faust is a great source. That said, I loved Dragoncat's proposed fluff for few and star powers. That is awesome!
Generally, power at a cost or with a hook is more interesting than free power. Make it an epic tier adventure arc for the Warlock to free him/herself from the other pactmaker.
Not every pact is so dire, not every practitioner so dark.

Want two examples?

In a little story called Magic, Inc, by Heinlein, a witch is hired to help repair a business building. It's been royally walloped by water, earth, and fire. She conjures three spirits, an undine, a gnome, and a salamander.

Now, the latter of the three is a capricious, simple critter, who see burning things as a wonderful pastime, not in a malevolent sense, but out of pure, natural instinct. But the witch needs the fire damage removed, and he has the power to do it. So, they bargain.

Light a hearth, keep it burning for a year to give me a place to play. That would be the price he names.

Or there's the wonder that is the Dresden Files. Now, Harry Dresden's a wizard, but he does make a pact or two. Take for example, Storm Front.

He needs information about a certain house, and if a certain person has been there. He creates a circle of magic, hides the trigger that will lock in a fae, and adds some honey as a lure. Along comes Toot, who investigates, scans the area, then jumps in to grab the morsel. Harry closes up the trap, the two banter, and strike a deal.

Toot flies off to consult the local populace. In turn, Harry orders them pizza for a week. Fey looooooooove pizza.


Not every pact is some terrible price, bent on corruption. Sometimes, you need something done halfway across the multiverse, and you're busy with your Powerful Extraplanar Stuff. Along comes a little warlock, calling you up one day. He needs the Booms. You have the Booms. You need someone to go smack a cultist of Another Extraplanar Power upside the head. He's near the cultist. You strike a deal.

That, or your a Being of the Stars. The Stars are vast. The Stars are ancient. The Stars get really, really boring. So, to add some spice to floating in the void, why not toy with mortals? Heck, for the cost of a tiny burst of heat, which you can get at the white dwarf down the lane, he'll go running across creation, creating crop circles that serve no purpose whatsoever. By the time you're three eons old, that kind of stuff gets pretty funny.

This is why the Fey and Star packs exist. Not everyone wants souls. Not everyone needs souls. Heck, many powers have no use for souls whatsoever. Sometimes it is outer forces that say "To fulfill the prophecy, go switch the two babies, thus ensuring they will be raised accordingly." Or maybe it's "Strip naked, clad yourself in leaves, and dance around the mushroom ring." Or perhaps "Dude, I seriously have the muchies. Gimme your rations, man."

....Don't look at me like that. Fey have herb gardens. Special herb gardens.

Can I have your kittens? :D
"Strip naked, clad yourself in leaves, and dance around the mushroom ring." Or perhaps "Dude, I seriously have the muchies. Gimme your rations, man."

....Don't look at me like that. Fey have herb gardens. Special herb gardens.

Damn you. Now I have coke all over my desk.
R&C states that Pact givers may grant power freely, or have to be coerced. So demonbinding would be quite acceptable as a pact source.
I'm currently planning on playing a Star-Pact user. He hasn't made any actual pact, he simply learned to hear the voices of the stars, and the terrible truths they hold. (No Outside pacts for me! Just pure, natural horrible fleshwarping secrets man was not meant to know.)
You will fear my Laser Face!
I'm personally looking forward to playing a Raistlin-esque "promising young magic-user who finds himself beholden to an unnamed spirit in return for amplified power" Wizard/Warlock.

I figure that particular pact in the Dragonlance canon would probably be Infernal. ;)
Races & Classes suggested that Warlocks don't "beg" for power like some sort of pitiful Cleric. Rather they take it, wrest it from whatever forces using cunning and charisma. A "pact" doesn't necessarily mean a "deal". It can be very one-sided.
^ HAHA. Nice.

That, and making a deal with a being isn't quite the same as worshipping it. Clerics are bolstering their deity through some form of worship (the foodstuffs of gods), while Warlocks are finding some powerful extraplanar creatures and goading their secrets from them.

It's kind of a throwback to class Witches and Warlocks (Warlock means oath-breaker). You're doing this arcane magic spellweaving by tapping into some demon's power instead of some studied formulae.
I want to make a "jack of fables" type warlock who just keeps making promises, and more promises to get away from the bad effects of previous promises, and so on for eternity. You only live once right?
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So, I'm sure this is probably the WORST and BEST place to ask. I really didn't like how the warlock overpowered games in 3.5. He could at will eldritch blast stuff over and over again, but wait! He could add fire or nausua to it. With the revamp, is there going to be more balance with the Warlock in this iteration?
So, I'm sure this is probably the WORST and BEST place to ask. I really didn't like how the warlock overpowered games in 3.5. He could at will eldritch blast stuff over and over again, but wait! He could add fire or nausua to it. With the revamp, is there going to be more balance with the Warlock in this iteration?

We don't actually have enough information about the new Warlock to answer your question. We can say, however, that the Warlock is completely different from the 3.5 Warlock in a mechanical sense. They still throw Eldritch Bolts...that's about it. (And those Eldritch Bolts no longer do fistfulls of d6 in damage)
well... it may be too early to say...

but YAY!!! *throws confetti in victory*

*waits patiently now...*
Meh, this one really bugs me for some reason. They stole the "pact" and "vestige" terms from binder, but it looks like the warlock's choice is a one time deal, not my everyday versatility. I liked warlock as it was and the new one is probably pretty darn cool, but I wish he hadn't killed and looted my Binder in the process.
Forcing a fiend to provide you with power would also be quite difficult as a level 0 character with no class yet. ;)

But there's some cool stuff in here. I might use some of that even in my 3.5e campaign with no warlocks. :D
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Forcing a fiend to provide you with power would also be quite difficult as a level 0 character with no class yet. ;)

Stories of demons or "The Devil" coming to earth and granting mortals power are as old as human oral history. Sometimes the power is given willingly, sometimes it is imposed on a person who doesn't want it and sometimes the mortal manages to trick the demon into parting with it. Any of those are great hooks for a 1st level Warlock.

A fae powersource could be similarly integrated. A fae trickster decides to give a human (elf/eldarin/dwarf) youth powers and watch the ensuing antics. A group of fairies challenge a human to a dancing contest/card game and the human wins, taking some of their power as a prize. Fae interact with humanoids in a lot of interesting ways, so it shouldn't be too hard to come up with something that fits your character.

Stars might be a little harder, but it's hard to speculate as it's currently rather ill-defined. Maybe "wish upon a star" takes on a slightly more concrete reality in the new edition.
Stories of demons or "The Devil" coming to earth and granting mortals power are as old as human oral history. Sometimes the power is given willingly, sometimes it is imposed on a person who doesn't want it and sometimes the mortal manages to trick the demon into parting with it. Any of those are great hooks for a 1st level Warlock.

A fae powersource could be similarly integrated. A fae trickster decides to give a human (elf/eldarin/dwarf) youth powers and watch the ensuing antics. A group of fairies challenge a human to a dancing contest/card game and the human wins, taking some of their power as a prize. Fae interact with humanoids in a lot of interesting ways, so it shouldn't be too hard to come up with something that fits your character.

Stars might be a little harder, but it's hard to speculate as it's currently rather ill-defined. Maybe "wish upon a star" takes on a slightly more concrete reality in the new edition.

Doesn't the "vestige" one deal with spirits and/or the dead? You could easily say your character is tapping into the power of said spirit to put them to rest, they grant you the power, you go off and try to put their restless soul to peace. Like, say, going to complete the task that they left unfinished, or right some great wrong the claimed the lives of their whole family or something.

I'll probably stick with Vestige and Feywild with all of my Warlock's. I know better then to make a deal with a Devil, and as crazy as I am, I'm not crazy enough to take on the Stars. Might toy around with the Shadowfell though...
The potential of the Star Pact is pretty great. It's been described as Cthulhu-like and relates to things like the Mindflayers. It lets you roleplay a character toeing the edge of madness by peeking into these realms so beyond earthly comprehension, and opens up chances for DMs to introduce really mind-melting adventures (a bad spell pulling you into a Mindflayer's lair with corridors that twist like Moebius strips?).

I plan on playing a Dwarf Warlock with the Star Pact who has eccentric ravings ("You can gaze on the vastness of the void in the deepest dark of a mine."), fights in bizarre and seemingly roundabout says, and believes the light world is an illusion of little cosmic consequence.

I am very excited about this.
Forcing a fiend to provide you with power would also be quite difficult as a level 0 character with no class yet. ;)

But there's some cool stuff in here. I might use some of that even in my 3.5e campaign with no warlocks. :D

I agree completely. The pacts are probably somewhat basic rituals that are passed on from Master to Apprentice, or discovered all on their own.

However, I -do- like the idea of being able to summon an extraplanar entity and force it into a pact. Perhaps a Paragon/Epic option for Warlocks? That makes more sense, especially since the lowest level characters, especially in the "points of light" model, aren't likely to know anything about the cosmos beyond the world.

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

Howl = Star Pact
Howl = Star Pact

Howl, the Allen Ginsberg poem? I don't know if I'd call that cosmic. I'll have to think about it...
Does anybody have any ideas/suggestions for Paragon/Epic level pacts?

Perhaps at those levels you'll have the option of making more specific pacts? For instance Infernal pacts will be able to deal directly with specific devils, or Fey pacts can deal with particularly powerful members of Feywild? That'd definitely be interesting.

Thoughts?

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

I wonder if an angelic or ghost pact will be coming eventually. A necromancer-type warlock who calls upon the spirits of the dead to grant him his magic (think Necroscope) or a religious ritualist who calls down messengers of the gods to empower him could be really cool.
Howl, the Allen Ginsberg poem? I don't know if I'd call that cosmic. I'll have to think about it...

As in Howl's Moving Castle.
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I am going to be pretty choked if the fey-pact is with "fairies" and not with something along the lines of ancient spirits of the wild/feywild. "Fey" spirits like the Woodsman (ala the the Dreaming Dark trilogy) would be good, but I think anything along the lines of "normal" fairies would be really sad.
Howl = Star Pact

Spoilers, people. ;)
I am going to be pretty choked if the fey-pact is with "fairies" and not with something along the lines of ancient spirits of the wild/feywild. "Fey" spirits like the Woodsman (ala the the Dreaming Dark trilogy) would be good, but I think anything along the lines of "normal" fairies would be really sad.

In worlds and monsters it said that they are veering away from "Fairy Tales" instead concentrating on the things of nightmares. I imagine some examples might be the fairy that attacks Jen Connelly early in Labrynth, the evil Leprachan from the movies of the same name, and the darkest horrors of the original Grimm's Fairy Tales. As well as inspriartions from real life legends, tales in which one translation of fairy was furie. I think thats the effect they are going for.
The fey pact intrests me the most...

"So yeah I was running around the forest and I stumbled upon this strange stone circle!"

"Yeah why was it strange?"

"Well I touched it and I was surrounded by this greenish misty smoke stuff and I passed out for a second!"

"I don't think it was the stone circle man..."

"Shut up! Anyway so I woke up like seconds later I was in the same forest but it was different... Like the trees were bigger and there was way more vegetation around.. i could hardly walk around! So i pushed my way to a clearing where a HUGE tree spirit was! He looked at me with these huge glowing green eyes and he spoke into my mind... Do you seek the power? So of course I said yes, and this same green mist came over me again and I passed out one more time."

"Ok now I know it wasn't the stone circle. You should stop hanging out with the halflings dude.. its getting to you."

"No I told you, IT REALLY HAPPEND! See watch!"
*Ray blasts a huge rock into powder.*
"See told you it was real!"

"WTF! Where was this circle again?"

"Sorry man, when I woke back up it was gone..."

Awesomness to the 10th power!
So, I'm sure this is probably the WORST and BEST place to ask. I really didn't like how the warlock overpowered games in 3.5. He could at will eldritch blast stuff over and over again, but wait! He could add fire or nausua to it. With the revamp, is there going to be more balance with the Warlock in this iteration?

First, Warlocks have never, never, never, ever ever ever not even than been overpowered.
In fact, there are times when they are underpowered.

Blasting 1d6 + 1d6/1.5 levels is not that great in damage: only thing he got is reliablility.
He has a few neat tricks, but nothing overpowered.
"If you can't believe in yourself, believe in me who believes in you." and "Go beyond the impossible, and kick reason to the curb" Kamina, from Gurren Lagann
People have talked about Infernal, Fey and Star Pacts, but isn't there a Vestige Pact too?

If there is I'm so making a Human Warlock with the Vestige Pact.
You ask "But Joni, why are you so excited?"
Well, the Vestige shall be Kamina!

I think that they mentioned delaying the vestige pact. So you many have to wait for the arcane power book.
What exactly is a Vestige Pact going to be, anyway? I didn't really catch what they were talking about.

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

I think that they mentioned delaying the vestige pact. So you many have to wait for the arcane power book.

I don't suppose you have a link for that? The vestige pact was the one I was most looking forward to, so I would be greatly dissapointed if that is true.
What exactly is a Vestige Pact going to be, anyway? I didn't really catch what they were talking about.

Essentially Vestiges are beings from the past/far-past. So ancient Primordials, long dead spirits, dead gods and demons. Essentially extremely powerful things that have fallen in the past but retain some power.
I don't suppose you have a link for that? The vestige pact was the one I was most looking forward to, so I would be greatly dissapointed if that is true.

It was an offhand remark in one of the podcasts that after the completion of R&C that the vestige pact "went on the back burner". I can't remember which though. Although it is not quite condemnation, that suggested to me that it will not be out right away.
Oh, wow, So I can make a Vestige pact with Wee Jas? *chuckle*

A friend and I actually wrote Wee Jas into 4e. Basically, she's tied into the rising up of the devils, and the creation of the Tieflings, and ends up as a demi-goddess like entity known only as the Queen of Thorns, who resides in FeyWild and reigns alongside the King of Roses, a powerful Eladrin with whom she'd gained much favor.

PM me if you'd like the full flavor.

"Not only are you wrong, but I even created an Excel spreadsheet to show you how wrong you are." --James Wyatt, May 2006

Dilige, et quod vis fac

Oh, wow, So I can make a Vestige pact with Wee Jas? *chuckle*

A friend and I actually wrote Wee Jas into 4e. Basically, she's tied into the rising up of the devils, and the creation of the Tieflings, and ends up as a demi-goddess like entity known only as the Queen of Thorns, who resides in FeyWild and reigns alongside the King of Roses, a powerful Eladrin with whom she'd gained much favor.

PM me if you'd like the full flavor.

That's cool, that reminds me of that demi-goddess (Maiar) in the Lord of the Rings that is married to an Elven king. I can't remember their names though...

EDIT: Melian the Maia and Thingol the Elf.
Essentially Vestiges are beings from the past/far-past. So ancient Primordials, long dead spirits, dead gods and demons. Essentially extremely powerful things that have fallen in the past but retain some power.

Don't forget about in FR they could be spattered/lost heros who didn't have faith in the gods or betrayed a gods faith: they get spattered into that wall or lost.
So an Epic dude wants another chance at life: so he makes a pact with a Warlock (Binder in 3.5).
"If you can't believe in yourself, believe in me who believes in you." and "Go beyond the impossible, and kick reason to the curb" Kamina, from Gurren Lagann