A warlock was an arcane spellcaster who gained power through pacts with powerful entities, most commonly devils, elder evils of the Far Realm, fey, or demons. These pacts allowed warlocks to channel powerful abilities of arcane might that would otherwise be closed to them.
Warlocks had an overall poor reputation, a result of their dealings with otherworldly and often malevolent outsiders. However, not all warlocks were evil by nature and may have used such deadly gifts for more benign purposes. How far the warlock went to fulfilling their pact was entirely up to them, though corruption was an ever-present danger for warlocks of all stripes. Likewise, many warlocks made pacts with several creatures, rather than just one, in order to access even more power, though all warlocks eventually favored one pact over all the others.
Like sorcerers, many warlocks came from a supernatural bloodline, and it had been said that warlocks were "born, not made." This was not true for all warlocks, though many did indeed come from fiendish bloodlines. Those that weren't were still often touched by destiny in some special way, sought out by powerful extraplanar forces as tools and minions, altering their souls and giving them supernatural abilities beyond the ken of most mortals. These forces beheld warlocks to their power, though some broke away from the chains of their servitude to forge their own destiny. More often, warlocks, by choice or by circumstance, became much like the cruel and capricious beings they served. Regardless of how they treated their patrons, most warlocks had a healthy respect for the divine, particularly patrons of magical power such as Corellon or Selûne, though many evil warlocks were drawn to Asmodeus and Cyric as well. There were exceptions, however. Some warlocks sought out good gods deliberately to counter the powerful temptations they dealt with regularly. Other warlocks felt no ties to the gods, perhaps due to their frequent dealings with other supernatural powers.
Tieflings and others of fiendish blood were powerfully drawn to the ways of the warlock and were among the most common to take the path. Humans, thanks in large part to their capacity for ambition, also bred many warlocks, hoping to find a path to power that did not take them a significant portion of their short lifespans. Half-orcs were also commonly warlocks, in part because the powers that choose to give patronage to warlocks did not discriminate between them and other, more "purebred", races. Other planetouched, particularly fey'ri, genasi, and worghests, but celadrin, as well as shadar-kai and star elves, were also often drawn to forge warlock pacts, the latter due in part to the chaotic and troubled energies which filled Sildëyuir. Warlocks from other races were far more rare, though halflings and half-elves, when given the incentive, made excellent practitioners of the dark arts.
Warlocks had varying views of those who differ from them, in part because of their outsider place in society. Generally, warlocks viewed other arcanists through a lens of bitter rivalry but many had a healthy respect for fighters' strength or rogues' cleverness. Few warlocks got along well with practitioners of divine magic, in part due to their dealings with unholy powers, but warlocks rarely tried to deliberately upset allies who could have proven useful, which included healing clerics.
Warlock spells were also called invocations, which were released through sheer force of will rather than by trained practice or innate ability. Invocations tended to be more powerful and deadly than those of a wizard or sorcerer, though had limited range or area of effect. Some invocations were less inherently deadly but instilled terror or confusion in an enemy, and warlocks were adept in cursing those with whom they fought. The most basic of all invocations was called an eldritch blast and was essentially a charged blast of pure arcane energy. When forced into combat, experienced warlocks often eluded enemy blows through spells of flying, teleportation, or invisibility.
As a result of their pacts, warlocks channeled arcane power with more ease than most other arcanists, though this power was most particularly focused around a warlock's pact. Prior to the Spellplague, this difference in the acquisition of magical power made warlocks intrinsically different than their fellow casters. Unlike other arcanists, warlocks were not limited to a number of spells per day, but instead could unleash each of their powers as often as they wanted, though at the cost of versatility. This changed with the Spellplague, after which warlocks became more similar to other arcanists in their casting methods.
Warlocks had some degree of training in the use of basic weapons and leather armor, which gave them a slight edge over both wizards and sorcerers in non-magical battle, though still left them vulnerable to the attacks of more specialized combatants. For the most part, warlocks, like other arcanists, relied on their magic as both a shield and a weapon, and the tools a warlock was most likely to use was his or her implements. For this purpose most warlocks used rods or wands, though specialized weapons, pact blades being the most common, could sometimes be used by highly experienced warlocks to enhance their invocations.
Several warlocks learned additional abilities to help them. From their ties to dark powers, some warlocks gained a resistance to cold iron over time. Others learned to make their bodies more resilient, healing more quickly through their fiendish power, sometimes at extraordinary rates. Similarly, many warlocks acquired resistance to various energy types, particularly attacks that used acid, cold, electricity, fire, or psionic energy as a major component. Lastly, some warlocks became so full of arcane power that they were able to literally imbue mundane items with their power at a whim, creating magical items of great value, even if they did not possess the knowledge typically necessary to create such an item.
The attributes and qualities of a warlock were largely determined by the kind of being with whom they have made their primary pact. The following were the known examples of warlock pacts.
Dark Pact, the FiendEdit
Dark pact warlocks forged some of the most dangerous pacts of all, both morally and physically, through foul alliances with demons - such as those who served Lolth. It is this latter connection from which the dark pact gained its name and much of its tradition, since most male drow who did not choose the path of the wizard or the fighter took on the role of the warlock. In spite of its roots amongst the xenophobic drow, this tradition of dealing with demonic forces within drow society had slowly moved towards the surface, and many such inclined warlocks then lived above the Underdark. For instance, during the Era of Upheaval, a number of fey'ri warlocks were sponsored by the outcast balor Wendonai, who promised them vengeance against their enemies in exchange for helping him in his feud with the Mulhorandi pantheon. Interestingly, it was Wendonai who first drew the Tel-quessir who would become the drow into the worship of Lolth, a process aided in part by similar dealings.
These warlocks gained powers reflecting the pain, poison, and madness inherent in the forces of the Abyss. Dark pact warlocks also gained an ability known as a darkspiral aura, which enabled them to feed off death in battle to create more and more powerful eldritch spells. Invocations of the dark pact were almost always fueled by the strong willpower required of such warlocks. The most basic spell of the dark pact warlock was spiteful glamor, which allowed the warlock to strike into the mind of his or her foe, wracking them with terrible pain.
Fey Pact, the ArchfeyEdit
Fey pact warlocks, which were among the fewest in number of all warlocks, forewent the obvious dangers of dealing with devils or the forbidding mystery that surrounds the star pact but instead dealt with powerful, supernatural forces of the Feywild. Such spirits of the natural world may have been menacing or simply capricious in their dealings with mortals of the Prime Material Plane. Some were faerie-like dryads or sylphs while others were less easily defined, more like incarnations of nature than anything else. Many of the sponsors of warlocks who sought the fey pact were dangerous archfey, such as the Queen of Air and Darkness or other such Unseelie fey, although a few received their powers from the more benevolent Seelie fey.
The magic bestowed upon fey pact warlocks could be enchanting, while retaining the savage lethality common to the Feywild. Typical spells may have charmed a foe or burnt them alive, reflecting the often fickle nature of the fey. Often such invocations required the wielder to have a high level of natural presence and charm, with which they could hold their own in negotiations with the wily and often deceptive beings. The most basic of these, known to all of the fey pact, was eyebite, which caused its victim to lose sight of their attacker under the weight of staggering psychic pain. Additionally, fey pact warlocks with a measure of fey blood may also have demonstrated a natural affinity for flora and fauna, allowing them to have located hidden wildlife with relative ease.
Warlocks who focused all their attention on dealing with fey spirits might have become one of the feytouched, half-mad arcanists who slipped between the Feywild and the Prime Material Plane as they wished. Some of the best-known organizations of fey pact warlock included the Lakh-Myr Thorns, who, during the Era of Upheaval, were headed by a shadar-kai named Gaen Ral, as well as the Tairemgira of Kryptgarden Forest. While most fey pact warlocks sided with the Unseelie, a few came under the patronage of more benevolent beings, such as the archfey Titania.
Infernal Pact, the FiendEdit
Warlocks of the infernal pact, the most commonly sworn of all the pacts, were those arcanists who forged dealings with the devils of the Nine Hells, often exchanging their souls to a powerful devil in exchange for temporal power. Other warlocks of the infernal pact sought forbidden knowledge given to the mortal world by devils but since forgotten over time.
Infernal pact warlocks may have lost much from their literal bargain with the devil, but what they gained was vast. Warlocks who successfully learned how to wield the powers of the Nine Hells could turn the life force of enemies against them, and could master the fires of Baator for their own purposes. These powers required warlocks to possess a strong constitution, since they often dealt damage to the wielder as well as the target. One of these known to all warlocks who beheld themselves to the Hells was hellish rebuke, which scoured the warlock’s foe in flames, growing worse should the victim have foolishly retaliated. Additionally, infernal warlocks with fiendish heritage may have found their spells may be unusually effective against celestials or other truly good creatures.
High-powered warlocks who focused on their infernal pact may have become life-stealers, vampiric warlocks for whom souls become weapons of war and tools to use. Of all the archdevils, Asmodeus, who frequently sponsored tieflings, half-fiends, or hobgoblins, and Mephistopheles were the most likely to sponsor a warlock's pact. Asmodeus' daughter Glasya also held a number of warlocks bound to her minions' service, through the organization known as the Black Star, and virtually all archdevils took part in such dealings to some degree. More than a few did this by actually siring mortal children, whom they hoped would spread their influence. Another prominent archdevil to sponsor warlocks was Malkizid, both during and after his alliance with the daemonfey against Evereska.
Mephistopheles at one point attempted to extend his reach into other planes, in particular the home of the star elves in Sildëyuir, once a demiplane and now a part of the Feywild. After the realm's devastation by nilshai invaders centuries before the Spellplague, Mephistopheles took an interest in ten star elf children altered by the nilshai's attacks, giving them supernatural abilities and an affinity for slaying the undead. These individuals were led by Pherix Traeleth, who was unknowingly bound to the service of Mephistopheles before he succeeded in breaking away with the help of old friends. Since then, Mephistopheles influence among the star elves as waned somewhat, though from Pherix's example new warlocks have arisen.
Star Pact, the Great Old OneEdit
So-called star pact warlocks forged their arcane alliances with the unknowable and alien forces of the Far Realm. Star pact warlocks often formed these deals without a direct connection, interacting with the elder evils through the intermediary of ancient stars of the void, having learned the secret names of those celestial objects that acted as doorways into the Far Realm.
In some cases, star pact warlocks were unaware of how strongly these stars were connected to the dark powers of the Far Realm and were guided to their pact through haunting nightmares. Such warlocks might have viewed the source of their powers as innocent or at the very least under their control. Others were fully aware of the connection and exploited it anyway, either due to insanity or sheer ambition. Still others viewed these pacts, if they were even aware of them, with an even higher degree of suspicion than normal warlocks warranted, since the aberrant powers of the Far Realm were more horrific than any devil or fey spirit.
Regardless of their motivations or even awareness about the nature of their powers, star pact warlocks gained much from such dalliances, including degrees of prescience and powerful spells infused with radiant energy that inspired fear in the arcanist's enemies. The most basic of these invocations was dire radiance, which caused a piercing ray of life to burn a warlock’s enemy with pain and fear.
Experienced warlocks of the star pact can became doomsayers, who spread fear through their powerful magic, or students of Caiphon, apostles of the powerful elder evil that spoke through the ancient star. Star warlocks who continued this path may have become a radiant one, beings who mastered the power of the Far Realm and became aberrations.
Undying Pact, the UndyingEdit
Walocks of the undying pact formed a union with some eternal being that had achieved immortality during their mortal life. Some of the well-known undying pact patrons in Faerûn included Larloch, the lich who was referred to as the Shadow King and Gilgeam, the returned God-King of Unther.
These warlocks were able to cast away the needs of their mortal body and slow the effects of aging. They became partially indestructible by physical means, and could readily restore any limbs that may have become unattached.
Details of other pacts are sparse but it was known that some warlocks have been found in the service of other lords. For instance, during the Era of Upheaval, a number of genasi warlocks found their way into the service of a fire elemental known as Sthes'kthes. Although unlikely to be bound of Hanali Celanil by pact, some celadrin warlocks had also been known to serve the goddess as clerics and eldritch theurges. Additionally, a number of worghest warlocks were at one time bound to the barghest Tarkomang as his servants.
While many warlocks chose to embrace their pact, developing their invocations and abilities along that line, others were more versatile. These warlocks used a variety of invocations, drawing on the power of a variety of pacts rather than just one though, like all warlocks, these individuals had a primary pact to which they were beholden. Most warlocks who did not specialize in their pact belong to one of the following traditions.
Deceptive warlocks preferred guile to sheer power and typically trained themselves in spells that may have been less immediately lethal, but which could cause any number of unpleasant side effects. For this reason, deceptive warlocks were less likely to be found in the thick of the fighting, using long range invocations instead. These warlocks often had a very strong force of personality, which they channeled into their spells for additional power. Many were also highly intelligent, a cunning which allowed them to often use their invocations in more effective ways. Deceptive warlocks were most likely to hold themselves to powerful archfey or aberrations.
Preferring raw power to subtlety, scourge warlocks were tougher than the average warlock, possessing a powerful constitution, which often superceded their intellect and charisma. Scourge warlocks fostered this capacity for endurance purposefully, channeling their vitality into the deadly invocations they wielded. This came at the cost of often endangering oneself, either in close combat or through the sheer lethality of their powers, but scourge warlocks were typically more than capable of wielding their dangerous spells safely. Most scourge warlocks were beholden to devils or horrors of the Far Realm, though exceptions existed.
- ↑ Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 108–111. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- ↑ Jeremy Crawford, Mike Mearls, Robert J. Schwalb, Adam Lee, Christopher Perkins, Matt Sernett (November 2017). Xanathar's Guide to Everything. Edited by Kim Mohan. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 53–57. ISBN 978-0-7869-6612-7.
- ↑ Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 138–140. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 130–142. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 49, 54. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ Richard Baker (November 2004). Complete Arcane. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 5–10. ISBN 0-7869-3435-2.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 130–131. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 129. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 131. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 129–130. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Eytan Bernstein (March 14, 2007). Warlocks, Part 1. Class Chronicles. Retrieved on November 22, 2014.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Richard Baker (November 2004). Complete Arcane. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 5–6. ISBN 0-7869-3435-2.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 130. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 Richard Baker (November 2004). Complete Arcane. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-3435-2.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 16.6 Eytan Bernstein (March 28, 2007). Warlocks, Part 2. Class Chronicles. Retrieved on November 22, 2014.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Richard Baker (November 2004). Complete Arcane. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5. ISBN 0-7869-3435-2.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 132. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 129–131. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Richard Baker (November 2004). Complete Arcane. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-3435-2.
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 21.2 21.3 Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 35. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 35–40. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 132–140. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 131–132. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 141. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 142. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 Bruce R. Cordell. Wish Upon a Star (PDF). Dragon magazine 366. p. 18.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell. Wish Upon a Star (PDF). Dragon magazine 366. pp. 18–19.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell. Wish Upon a Star (PDF). Dragon magazine 366. p. 17.
- ↑ 31.0 31.1 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 140. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell. Wish Upon a Star (PDF). Dragon magazine 366. pp. 24–25.
- ↑ Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 139. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- ↑ Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 140. ISBN 978-0786965809.