Dungeon Mastering

DM Tools - CREATE YOUR FREE ACCOUNT       About Us       Contact Us       Advertise                   Subscribe to Dungeon MasteringSubscribe

What is a Warlock?

Written by Nicholas - Published on January 23, 2010

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

If you crack open your PHB you’ll find Warlocks described as arcane magic users who get their power through pacts made with powerful entities. They lay curses on their enemies and then follow it up with blasts of arcane energy. All of that just makes for a vague premise and a binding mechanical concept, the individual pacts are all radically different

Fey Pact

When I think of fey pact Warlock I think about the witches from fairy tales. They are mysterious, entrancing and have an otherworldly connection to nature. Fey pact warlocks have powers to beguile their enemies, fly and teleport around and use illusions and other trickery. For instance, they is a fey pact power that makes the Warlock invisible, but leaves behind an illusionary version of them. If anyone attacks the illusion it turns into a pile of leaves. Outside of mechanics, that sounds like something that would happen in a fairy tale.

Fey pact Warlocks also have the stats to fit the flavor. Good witches and fey warlocks in the stories are always kind and beautiful. Mechanically, those of the fey pact have good charisma to back that up. Evil fey casters typically assume a pleasing form, even if it is unnatural, but can also twist the minds of mortals. Fey pact offers several powers of magical confusion and the old fashioned bluff skill.

Infernal Pact

The classic Faustian bargain. The Warlock made a deal with some big bad devil, but the rules don’t cover motives, terms of side effects. There are two types of infernal warlocks, those who understand what they are doing and those who don’t. One of my favorite things about Warlocks is that the arcana skill is not automatic, some may not have it. That means there are warlocks out there who have no idea what forces they are dealing with. You can easily have an infernal warlock without arcana or religion, do they even know what bargain they made or who they made it with?

Even more frightening is those who enter the deal with eyes wide open. Do they need the power for some higher goal or is merely greed? Even the evil characters likely don’t want to be servant to some demon, so how do they plan to avoid paying their dues?

Star Pact

Star pact is a bit hazy, depending on your view it can go two very different ways.

There’s the literally star powered Warlock. Intense study of astronomy have taught the Warlock how to call down their power, the same way a Wizard learned the secrets of terrestrial magic. Replace the spellbook with hand made star charts, astrolabes and an obsession with staring at the night sky.

The other view of star pact is as a deal with entries from the Far Realm, the area beyond the stars. Creatures from the Far Realm are essentially behind mortal comprehension. Their forms and thoughts are completely alien to us. It takes a greedy and reckless person to deal with a devil, but it truly takes a mad man to align himself with entity from the Far Realm.

On other path, star pact Warlocks are always a little bit creepy.

Dark Pact

It is unlikely that any truly sane person would enter into the dark pact. Beside speaking to whispers in the darkness, dark pact Warlocks spread madness, poison and disease. Essentially they are plague bearers, spreading around magical contagions but they might also be carriers for mundane illness. A player character with the dark pact is likely a bit twisted, but trying to redeem himself or use these wicked powers for good.

Vestige Pact

Vestige pact Warlocks are essentially mediums. They take on the spirits of long deal entities, but what are the physiological effects of having multiple, willful ghosts sharing your body. Do they have any physical or mental control? Do they whisper things secrets to you? The answers could be different for each person with the vestige pact.

These Warlocks seek out these entities to join their arsenal, but what if they are not looking? Apparently they are more sensitive to ghosts. Perhaps a vestige pact Warlock is constantly haunted by the dead, seeking answers, restitution or trying to freeload inside the Warlock.

What is the true nature of your favorite Warlock? Tell us in the comments!

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

GD Star Rating
loading...
What is a Warlock?, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

 

 Comments

6 Responses to “What is a Warlock?”
  1. greywulf says:

    I’m a huge fan of the Warlock class for all the reasons you give. It is, imho, the best, most flavour-filled of the new classes brought in with 4th Edition.

    Good post!

  2. deadorcs says:

    Great post on identifying the different types of warlocks. I took a third route on the Star Pact, though. I see the Star Pact as making a deal (or being within the influence of) alien creatures from the stars. Think a fantasy version of the x-files, if you will. Whenever the warlock is about to gain a new level (and additional abilities), the warlock is “abducted” for a brief time.

  3. Nicholas says:

    @deadorcs: That’s awesome! Love the abduction! I’m making it a point in my games to have more story around level ups, explaining where these new skills and powers came from.

  4. gull2112 says:

    I think the Warlock class is by far the most intruiging, story wise. The only reservation I had with it was that it was so open that I was concerned that wel into my 4E campaign WotC would publish “what they really intended” for a warlock and throw my warlock player into a tizzy. It hasn’t happened, and in fact my player has used the info as a means to add depth to his character.

  5. giamatti says:

    i think the star pact warlock can be considered as somewhat thematically akin to the works of howard philipps lovecraft, most especially to his cthulhu mythos, which concerns itself with an otherworldly entity that was said to be from the void of the stars. and there is also this recurring theme of the fragile sanity of the mind that’s practically eager to break down that also matches the flavor of it. the star pact even has the theme of the horrors of bearing the ultimate truth and potentially going crazy from it, as seen from the effects of madness on targets. give or take, the star pact could be one of the scariest covenants to make, right next to the dark and gloom pact, where your entity… is practically unknown

  6. giamatti says:

    the fey pact reminded me a lot about fairy tales as well. it shows a very strong similarity to them, most especially to the earliest versions of such stories that came from the brothers grimm and their german compilation of children’s tales back in world war ii. their stories showed the duality of warlocks (aka witches) wherein one could be “good” and the other as “bad” but still coming off as good. it definitely showed as much a similar level of… uh… “classic”-ness as the infernal pact has, considering that both have extremely popular potential references and influences.

 Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

*

css.php