A warlock is an arcane spellcaster who gains power through pacts with powerful entities, most commonly devils, elder evils of the Far Realm, fey, or demons. These pacts allow warlocks to channel powerful abilities of arcane might that would otherwise be closed to them.
Warlocks have an overall poor reputation, a result of their dealings with otherworldly and often malevolent outsiders. However, not all warlocks are evil by nature and may use such deadly gifts for more benign purposes. How far the warlock goes to fulfilling their pact is entirely up to them, though corruption is an ever-present danger for warlocks of all stripes. Likewise, many warlocks make pacts with several creatures, rather than just one, in order to access even more power, though all warlocks must eventually favor one pact over all the others.
Like sorcerers, many warlocks come from a supernatural bloodline, and it has been said that warlocks are "born, not made." This is not true for all warlocks, though many do indeed come from fiendish bloodlines. Those that aren't are 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 behold warlocks to their power, though some break away from the chains of their servitude to forge their own destiny. More often, warlocks, by choice or by circumstance, become much like the cruel and capricious beings they serve. Regardless of how they treat their patrons, most warlocks have a healthy respect for the divine, particularly patrons of magical power such as Corellon or Selûne, though many evil warlocks are drawn to Asmodeus and Cyric as well. There are exceptions, however. Some warlocks seek out good gods deliberately to counter the powerful temptations they deal with regularly. Other warlocks feel no ties to the gods, perhaps due to their frequent dealings with other supernatural powers.
Tieflings and others of fiendish blood are powerfully drawn to the ways of the warlock and are among the most common to take the path. Humans, thanks in large part to their capacity for ambition, also breed many warlocks, hoping to find a path to power that does not take them a significant portion of their short lifespans. Half-orcs are also commonly warlocks, in part because the powers that choose to give patronage to warlocks do 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, are also often drawn to forge warlock pacts, the latter due in part to the chaotic and troubled energies which fill Sildëyuir. Warlocks from other races are far more rare, though halflings and half-elves, when given the incentive, make excellent practitioners of the dark arts.
Warlocks have varying views of those who differ from them, in part because of their outsider place in society. Generally, warlocks view other arcanists through a lens of bitter rivalry but many have a healthy respect for fighters' strength or rogues' cleverness. Few warlocks get along well with practitioners of divine magic, in part due to their dealings with unholy powers, but warlocks rarely try to deliberately upset allies who could prove useful, which includes healing clerics.
Warlock spells are also called invocations, which are released through sheer force of will rather than by trained practice or innate ability. Invocations tend to be more powerful and deadly than those of a wizard or sorcerer, though with limited range or area of effect. Some invocations are less inherently deadly but instill terror or confusion in an enemy, and warlocks are adept in cursing those with whom they fight. The most basic of all invocations is called an eldritch blast and is essentially a charged blast of pure arcane energy. When forced into combat, experienced warlocks often elude enemy blows through spells of flying, teleportation, or invisibility.
As a result of their pacts, warlocks channel arcane power with more ease than most other arcanists, though this power is 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 have some degree of training in the use of basic weapons and leather armor, which gives them a slight edge over both wizards and sorcerers in non-magical battle, though still leaving them vulnerable to the attacks of more specialized combatants. For the most part, warlocks, like other arcanists, rely on their magic as both a shield and a weapon, and the tools a warlock is most likely to use are his or her implements. For this purpose most warlocks use rods or wands, though specialized weapons, pact blades being the most common, can sometimes be used by highly experienced warlocks to enhance their invocations.
Several warlocks learn additional abilities to help them. From their ties to dark powers, some warlocks gain a resistance to cold iron over time. Others learn to make their bodies more resilient, healing more quickly through their fiendish power, sometimes at extraordinary rates. Similarly, many warlocks acquire resistance to various energy types, particularly attacks that use acid, cold, electricity, fire, or psionic energy as a major component. Lastly, some warlocks become so full of arcane power that they are able to literally imbue mundane items with their power at a whim, creating magical items of great value, even if they do not possess the knowledge typically necessary to create such an item.
The attributes and qualities of a warlock are largely determined by the kind of being with whom they have made their primary pact. The following are the known examples of warlock pacts.
Dark pact (The Fiend, in 4th Edition)Edit
Dark pact warlocks forge some of the most dangerous pacts of all, both morally and physically, through foul alliances with demons - such as those who serve Lolth. It is this latter connection from which the dark pact gains 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 has slowly moved towards the surface, and many such inclined warlocks now live 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 gain powers reflecting the pain, poison, and madness inherent in the forces of the Abyss. Dark pact warlocks also gain an ability known as a darkspiral aura, which enables them to feed off death in battle to create more and more powerful eldritch spells. Invocations of the dark pact are almost always fueled by the strong willpower required of such warlocks. The most basic spell of the dark pact warlock is spiteful glamor, which allows the warlock to strike into the mind of his or her foe, wracking them with terrible pain.
Fey pact (The Archfey, in 5th Edition)Edit
Fey pact warlocks, which are among the fewest in number of all warlocks, forgo the obvious dangers of dealing with devils or the forbidding mystery that surrounds the star pact but instead deal with powerful, supernatural forces of the Feywild. Such spirits of the natural world may be menacing or simply capricious in their dealings with mortals of the Prime Material Plane. Some might be faerie-like dryads or sylphs while others are less easily defined, more like incarnations of nature than anything else. Many of the sponsors of warlocks seeking the fey pact are dangerous archfey, such as the Queen of Air and Darkness or other such Unseelie fey, although a few receive their powers from the more benevolent Seelie fey.
The magic bestowed upon fey pact warlocks can be enchanting, while retaining the savage lethality common to the Feywild. Typical spells may charm a foe or burn them alive, reflecting the often fickle nature of the fey. Often such invocations require the wielder to have a high level of natural presence and charm, with which they can hold their own in negotiations with the wily and often deceptive beings. The most basic of these, known to all of the fey pact, is eyebite, which causes 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 demonstrate a natural affinity for flora and fauna, allowing them to locate hidden wildlife with relative ease.
Warlocks who focus all their attention on dealing with fey spirits might become one of the feytouched, half-mad arcanists who slip between the Feywild and the Prime Material Plane as they wish. Some of the best-known organizations of fey pact warlock include 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 side with the Unseelie, a few have come under the patronage of more benevolent beings, such as the archfey Titania.
Infernal pact (The Fiend, in 5th Edition)Edit
Warlocks of the infernal pact, the most commonly sworn of all the pacts, are those arcanists who forge 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 seek forbidden knowledge given to the mortal world by devils but since forgotten over time.
Infernal pact warlocks may lose much from their literal bargain with the devil, but what they gain is vast. Warlocks who successfully learn how to wield the powers of the Nine Hells can turn the life force of enemies against them, and can master the fires of Baator for their own purposes. These powers require warlocks to possess a strong constitution, since they often deal damage to the wielder as well as the target. One of these known to all warlocks who behold themselves to the Hells is hellish rebuke, which scours the warlock’s foe in flames, growing worse should the victim foolishly retaliate. Additionally, infernal warlocks with fiendish heritage may find their spells may be unusually effective against celestials or other truly good creatures.
High-powered warlocks focused on their infernal pact might become life-stealers, vampiric warlocks for whom souls become weapons of war and tools to use. Of all the archdevils, Asmodeus, who frequently sponsors tieflings, half-fiends, or hobgoblins, and Mephistopheles are the most likely to sponsor a warlock's pact, although Asmodeus' daughter Glasya also holds a number of warlocks bound to her minions' service, through the organization known as the Black Star, and virtually all archdevils take part in such dealings to some degree. More than a few do this by actually siring mortal children, whom they hope will spread their influence. Another prominent archdevil to sponsor warlocks was Malkizid, both during and after his alliance with the daemonfey against Evereska.
Mephistopheles at once 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 One, in 5th Edition)Edit
So-called star pact warlocks forge their arcane alliances with the unknowable and alien forces of the Far Realm. Star pact warlocks often form these deals without a direct connection, interacting with the elder evils through the intermediary of ancient stars of the void, learning the secret names of those celestial objects that act as doorways into the Far Realm.
In some cases, star pact warlocks are unaware of how strongly these stars are connected to the dark powers of the Far Realm and are guided to their pact through haunting nightmares. Such warlocks might view the source of their powers as innocent or at the very least under their control. Others are fully aware of the connection and exploit it anyway, either due to insanity or sheer ambition. Still others view these pacts, if they're even aware of them, with an even higher degree of suspicion than normal warlocks warrant, since the aberrant powers of the Far Realm are more horrific than any devil or fey spirit.
Regardless of their motivations or even awareness about the nature of their powers, star pact warlocks gain much from such dalliances, including degrees of prescience and powerful spells infused with radiant energy that inspire fear in the arcanist's enemies. The most basic of these invocations is dire radiance, which causes a piercing ray of life to burn a warlock’s enemy with pain and fear.
Experienced warlocks of the star pact can become doomsayers, who spread fear through their powerful magic, or students of Caiphon, apostles of the powerful elder evil that speaks through the ancient star. Star warlocks who continue this path may become a radiant one, beings who master the power of the Far Realm and become aberrations.
Details of other pacts are sparse but it is 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 have 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 choose to embrace their pact, developing their invocations and abilities along that line, others are more versatile. These warlocks use a variety of invocations, drawing on the power of a variety of pacts rather than just one though, like all warlocks, these individuals have a primary pact to which they are beholden. Most warlocks who do not specialize in their pact belong to one of the following traditions.
Deceptive warlocks prefer guile to sheer power and typically train themselves in spells that may be less immediately lethal, but which can cause any number of unpleasant side effects. For this reason, deceptive warlocks are less likely to be found in the thick of the fighting, using long range invocations instead. These warlocks often have a very strong force of personality, which they channel into their spells for additional power. Many are also highly intelligent, a cunning which allows them to often use their invocations in more effective ways. Deceptive warlocks are most likely to hold themselves to powerful archfey or aberrations.
Preferring raw power to subtlety, scourge warlocks are tougher than the average warlock, possessing a powerful constitution, which often supercedes their intellect and charisma. Scourge warlocks foster this capacity for endurance purposefully, channeling their vitality into the deadly invocations they wield. This comes at the cost of often endangering oneself, either in close combat or through the sheer lethality of their powers, but scourge warlocks are typically more than capable of wielding their dangerous spells safely. Most scourge warlocks are beholden to devils or horrors of the Far Realm, though exceptions exist.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 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.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 129. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 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.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Eytan Bernstein (March 14, 2007). Warlocks, Part 1. Class Chronicles. Retrieved on November 22, 2014.
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Richard Baker (November 2004). Complete Arcane. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 5–6. ISBN 0-7869-3435-2.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt (June 2008). Player's Handbook 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 130. ISBN 0-7869-4867-1.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Richard Baker (November 2004). Complete Arcane. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-3435-2.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Eytan Bernstein (March 28, 2007). Warlocks, Part 2. Class Chronicles. Retrieved on November 22, 2014.
- ↑ 11.0 11.1 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.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 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.
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 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.
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 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.
- ↑ 22.0 22.1 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.
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 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.