(Author’s note: to “give credit where credit is due” these ideas come from Rachael Arron’s Eli Monpress series in which wizards can control a variety of forces due to the consciousness that exists in all things and these consciousnesses are either forced, coerced or willingly help the wizards who have various trinkets on their person to communicate with them. This takes those ideas and extrapolates them into a format that DMs and players can use in their games.)
The standard lore in D&D 5e is that the Warlock has a single patron that they get all their powers from. But that got this author to thinking, why is this so? Why couldn’t a Warlock have multiple patrons? Furthermore, why does the contract need to be with an “otherworldly” entity? Why not have the entities be things that people interact with daily? Each patron would give their own unique set of powers and each would be an individual pact or contract. However, in doing so, only one pact/ contract may be “active” at any one given time. Each one is contained in a different item be it a piece of jewelry, a rod, a statuette, etc.

Background

From an early age, the Warlock has heard that everything has a voice: the dishes he uses to eat his food, to the bed he sleeps in, to the door to his room. He also found that people thought that he is strange in talking with things that obviously (at least to other people) cannot talk, and this made him an outsider. In exploring these abilities, he found that, many times, if he asked nicely the objects in question would do what was asked. Conversely, he could have been a cruel master and threatened the items with destruction if they didn’t obey his whims. Whatever the case, he found that by interacting with what everyone else thought as mundane things, he could accomplish great things.

Personality

  1. I am determined to show others that the objects they use have sentience to prove them wrong.
  2. Because I can hear the object’s voices I can see a variety of viewpoints, and am able to be more understanding of viewpoints others cannot.
  3. I feel that objects started talking to me at a young age because, like them, I was ignored. I
  4. Nobody stays angry at me or around me for long, since I can defuse any amount of tension.
  5. The witty banter with the objects around me makes me feel alive.
  6. Betting paraphernalia are literally my friends; because of my abilities I can always know what the odds are.

Ideals

  1. Power. I wish to create a world where everyone can hear the objects that they use in their daily lives. (lawful)
  2. Equality. I wish to create a world where Warlocks are not bullied because of their unique ability to hear things others cannot. (good)
  3. Aspiration. I seek to prove myself worthy of my contracts by consulting them before making any big decisions. (Neutral)
  4. Independence. I am a law unto myself – no one tells me what to do. (Chaotic)
  5. Greed. I will do what it takes to get wealthy / powerful, no matter the cost (evil)
  6. People. I’m loyal to my friends, not to any ideals. If others don’t like it, tough; that’s on them. (Neutral)

Bond

  1. One of my contracts came to me and saved my life, therefore I will do anything in my power to protect it.
  2. I am indebted to my mentor who didn’t think I was crazy because s/he heard the same things as I did.
  3. I will help another warlock above anyone else, even if it means betraying those who trust me, because they are the only ones who understand me.
  4. My tools are a connection with my past life, but are still important to me now as they hold my contracts.
  5. One day I will get my revenge on those who made fun of me for talking to objects.
  6. It is my duty to pass along the knowledge that everything is alive and purposeful misuse or breaking of objects is morally wrong.

Flaw

  1. Instead of using charm, I use threats to get what I want from my contracts.
  2. I use my charm to beguile objects to let me in places otherwise I could not get into (or out of).
  3. By asking information from the objects, I use the information I learn to blackmail important people.
  4. I trust what objects say over what people do, as they cannot lie, they have no guile.
  5. I see the power granted to me by the contracts as a means to an end. The contracts are simply the tools that allow me to reach those ends.
  6. I have fallen for the sob story of an item more than once, only to be told by the owners that there’s more going on than what the object told.

Starting equipment

Standard warlock and one contract trinket.

New Warlock Lore

In this lore for Warlock, everything has a consciousness if it gets big/ collected enough. For instance:

  • The individual grains of sand that make up a beach definitely wouldn’t have sentience enough to develop coherent thought. On the other hand, if one could somehow unify the consciousness of all the sand on a stretch of beach, the entire mass would have a single consciousness and would act as a single creature. Similarly, a rock would be moronic if one bothered to communicate with it, yet the spirit of the mountain would be a lot wiser.
  • A single candleflame might not have enough sentience to communicate and is content to dance merrily on its wick, but a giant bond-fire would have a limited sentience. A forest fire that consumes hundreds of acres would have a lot larger / more solidified sentience.
  • A single knife or sword wouldn’t have much sentience, except maybe to note how skilled (or unskilled) their user is if it’s old enough to have been used in at least a few fights/ battles. A brand-new sword would not have that insight. However, the combined might of all the bladed weapons of a kingdom kept in a vault or a machine or forge that exclusively does sharp, pointy objects would have a lot more.
  • A gentle breeze that flutters through the trees might be self-aware enough to pass along a message and be able to return one, but a gale would have a lot higher of awareness than the breeze would.
  • The rain or a glass of water would be totally unaware, yet an artesian spring would have a level of intelligence, and the water contained in an entire ocean would have a much greater sentience.
  • A wooden door might have a bit of intelligence, but be easily tricked, yet an ancient oak whose roots stretch out for hundreds of yards might be wiser in some aspects than the wisest sages.

The more awareness and intelligence the force in question, the more powerful it is. The more powerful it is, the more it can affect the world around it.
Even though everything has a sentience of sorts, not everyone can hear it; by and large, most people are deaf to the voices and so use items in a careless manner, not caring if it gets damaged/ killed or broken in the process.
For that reason, most warlocks are very particular in the voices of objects they listen to, otherwise they would hear the cries of pain and complaints of everything that they handle on a daily basis.

Obtaining Warlock contracts  

In order to obtain a warlock contract, he must first identify a self-aware force that he wishes to use and using guile, charm, force of personality, threats or a combination of all of the above, and using a trinket that costs 100 GP per warlock level (see types of entities the warlock is able to make a contract with, below). The reason for using jewelry and other such trinkets is for portability purposes. There’s nothing to prevent a warlock from housing the entity in something relatively unmovable, but if they can’t touch it, they can’t access the contract.
A Warlock may have as many contracts equal to his Charisma modifier, minimum 1. The number of available contracts increases at levels 6, 12, and 18 by 1.

 

Warlock level

Examples of Entities Contracted

1-4

A large bond fire, a man-sized sand or rock sculpture, a light breeze, several wineskins worth of water or a trickling stream, their own personal weapon, a small wooden object such as a door frame, a spirit of static electricity.

5-10

A small forest fire, a small hill or a few dozen meters of a sandy beach, a pond, a wooden object the size of a wagon, the amount of electricity contained in a car battery, a dozen swords or a small forge that created them, etc.

11-15

A large forest fire, a small mountain, a body of water the size of one of the great lakes, a few treants, a lightning bolt, a hundred swords, etc.

16+

The spirit of a massive fire, the largest mountain in the world, an entire ocean, the spirit of the forest, the collective spirit of all the blades in the kingdom, a massive lightning filled storm, etc.

What does a contract *do?*

(thanks for Wyvern for suggesting a section that needed clarity)
A Warlock’s contracts give them appropriate powers appropriate to the item in question. For instance a contract with water lets him put out fires, while a spirit of flame allows him to ignite things. A spirit of blades might keep his weapons sharp without upkeep, or, as in the picture in this article’s opening, allow him to have multiple daggers that circling that attack in quick succession. Each contract should offer unique powers, or there’s no sense for the Warlock to bother with them.

Changing active contracts

A Warlock can change his active contracts as a bonus action, but may only do so once per turn. If there are any active powers, they continue until their duration ends. Why would a warlock want to switch contracts? Simple: to be able to have a broader scope of powers at his disposal, as well as being able to adapt to almost any situation.

Alterations to Current Warlock Abilities

Eldritch Blast options

Keep in mind that the following options are suggestions only, based on the contract that the warlock has active at the time.

  • Instead of being the standard blast, perhaps it could count as bludgeoning, slashing or piercing damage
  • Instead of being the standard blast, perhaps it could deal acid, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, poison, radiant, or thunder damage.
  • The differing types of damage would be appropriate to the force the Warlock has the contract with.
  • The same concept could be applied to the summonable blade in “pact of the blade”

New Warlock abilities

Talk to anything: Most objects are relieved to be able to finally be able to find someone who can hear them. Because of this, unless dealing with another Warlock with a similar ability, if he is willing to listen to the object in question, most of the time he will be able to find out information that he could not have normally. The types and specificity of information gained will be up to the DMs.

Roleplaying object’s personalities is a difficult thing. But think of what the object (or force) is made of and how it might interact with those that use it. There’s a scene in the Classic Disney animated feature “Alice in Wonderland” in which the eponymous character grabs the doorknob. But unlike the movie, the warlocks don’t see the objects anthropomorphized with eyes and a mouth. In this instance a door might talk about how roughly it was handled. Or a wall might complain about the stomping figure that just went by. A self-aware teacup with a chip might scold a Warlock that can hear it to use it gently because it is fragile. Get creative!
If the warlock uses one main contract throughout his entire time he gains one additional ability at 20th level:
Merge: The Warlock and the force that he has a contract with merge. This puts an enormous strain on the Warlock’s body and can only be done for a number of rounds equal to 1+ the Warlock’s Charisma modifier, minimum 2. This ability can only be used once per week.

Ideas for how this might work is that the character might count as an elemental for the time of the merge. If the character’s contract was based around the consciousness of blades, he might be surrounded as per the Blade Barrier spell. If the Warlock obtained his powers through a gravesite, he might have the abilities and weaknesses of an undead for the duration.
If the Warlock switches through his contracts on a regular basis and grows the powers of each of them he gets the following ability at 20th level.

By Your Powers Combined: He gets to use the powers of a number of his contracts equal to 2+ the warlock’s Charisma modifier. He may do this even if the contracts are of opposing forces: for instance, using a fire and a water contract simultaneously. The drawback is that the powers are limited to the level of the weakest contract. If the person has fire, water, earth, and air powers he becomes something akin to “Captain Planet.” This ability can only be used once per week.

Finding appropriate powers

Keep in mind that this discussion of powers isn’t meant to be comprehensive by any means. For instance, if a Warlock is an elf and is concentrating on protecting the tree that he has his contract with, instead of a eldritch blast, he might get one empowered by the living forest energy. Furthermore, for his spell he might get a version of fireball substitutes a mass of twigs and leaves exploding with extreme air pressure. Alternatively, a warlock might specialize in a graveyard and his powers would be connected to death/ undeath.

Design Notes

In tackling this topic my idea was to mainly work within the existing framework of the Warlock, yet simultaneously provide interesting and unique things to do with it, as well as give ideas for DMs to use this as an alternate type of Warlock as an enemy or some new ideas for powers for their PCs.

As always, feel free to comment, like, re-share!

 

 

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  • Jim Flory

    Interesting.
    I feel that the outline as you’ve presented it would make a good start for a Shaman class. For additional inspiration, check out the concepts of fetishes and chiminage as presented in the Werewolf: the Apocalypse rpg.

  • Wyvern

    I had the same thought as Mr. Flory: with a little tweaking, this could be a good framework for a shaman class (or a Shinto priest). Instead of seeing sentience in every object, the shaman binds spirits *into* objects. (Also, I’ve never heard of Rachael Arron or the Eli Monpress series, but the Young Wizards books by Diane Duane use a very similar premise.)

    The article seems more like notes from a brainstorming session than a fully fleshed-out article, though. (There’s even an unfinished sentence: “Keep in mind that the following options are suggestions only, based on the contract that the”) Nothing wrong with that, I suppose, but the mechanical implementation of the idea is pretty fuzzy. I’m not clear, for instance, whether this is supposed to be a new warlock archetype or a change to the baseline class. Also, it talks about how many contracts you can have and how often you can change contracts, but what’s the purpose of that? What does a contract *do*? Are they where you get your spells and/or invocations from, or do they grant additional powers on top of that?

    • Wyvern – thanks for the catch. I corrected the half sentence and included a brief section about what contracts do, as well as a brief explanation as to why one would want to change them.

      In regards to your question, it can be seen as either one: It COULD be a change to the baseline class OR it could simply be played off as another type of Warlock. Is there a rules point where it would matter one way or the other?

    • Wyvern

      “Is there a rules point where it would matter one way or the other”

      Yes, it certainly would matter; the fact that you don’t see that tells me that you don’t understand my question. So let me try to explain myself more fully. When I say “baseline class” I’m referring to the core class features that all warlocks share. When I say “archetype” I’m referring to the additional features determined by your choice of otherworldly patron. What I was getting it was that it’s not clear from your description if what you have in mind (mechanically speaking) involves a change to the core class features of the warlock, or whether it’s simply another option for “patron” in addition to the standard options of fiend, fey or Great Old One.

    • These are most definitely new features, so it qould be a new archtype

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