D&D Classing It Up: Warlock
The final installment of the D&D Classing It Up series! We end with Warlock (since we’re going primarily in alphabetical order).
Warlocks are one of the more interesting classes. A Warlock makes a pact with another entity of some sort to get their powers. It’s the “deal with the devil at the crossroads” sort of idea. You get power, but the power comes at a cost, and you have someone who can take away your power if you don’t do what they want. You can make a pact with a fiend, a great old one, a fey, or even a blade, and they’ll become your patron. The reason this makes for interesting storytelling is that no matter who you are, there has to be something in your history that shows why you made the deal you’ve made. People generally make deals for a couple of reasons — either to help someone they love, or to hurt someone who hurt them or someone they loved.
Mechanically, you are a simplified spell caster. You don’t have the spell options that a Sorcerer, Wizard, or Druid would have — probably more on level with a Paladin in terms of number of spells. However, the spells themselves are very limited, and you don’t have the weapon proficiency that a Paladin would have. You get a nice advantage in that your spell casting is based off of Charisma — this means that you get to have some face-of-the-party abilities as well. Generally, that charisma seems to be balanced out role-playing-wise by some level of twistedness or some broken part of your character, as again, the inciting incident for becoming a warlock generally isn’t good.
Let’s look at some ideas for Warlock backstories:
You watched in horror as your father and mother cried. Your life had been normal up to this point, but at 16, when you came of age, the told you a horrible secret. At your birth, you hadn’t been alive. You had been stillborn, and your parents didn’t know what to do. They had been trying for a child for so long, but it hadn’t worked out until your mother got pregnant with you. They cried, pleaded, hoped, and prayed, but you were dead. And then a voice had come to them, and time seemed to stop. “You wish to save your child?” it had asked them. They had told the voice that yes, that they would do anything. “Your child can live, but there is a price. On their sixteenth birthday, they are mine to do my bidding when I need them.” In their grief, they had agreed. And now, as a 16-year-old, you got powers that you never would have imagined — and along with that, a curse, as your parents still didn’t know who had brought you back to life. You felt a tug on you, and you left your home searching for answers as to whom they had made a deal with, to figure out if there was a way you could get out of the deal. However, you hadn’t been trained to study, so you needed to find someone to help you, someone who could determine whom the deal was made with.
Background: Haunted (Curse of Strahd) or Guild Member (?)
Patron: Great Old One
You found the blade as you cleared lands for your farm. You and your new spouse were building near where their family lived. The blade didn’t seem like it was anything special. You brought it back and placed it above the fireplace mantel. You weren’t a fighter, but it didn’t feel right to leave the blade out in the woods. A raiding party of giants came out of the hills, and while they hadn’t been seen in a while, there were many more that you’d expected, based on the stories people had told about them. Your farm was in their path, and you rushed from the far fields back home in hopes of getting to your spouse in time. You got back to the farmhouse just before the giants came, and bursting into the house, you saw your spouse hiding in the corner. The giant crashed into the house, and the whole thing shook. You could see through a window that they were going to strike again to bring down your house on top of you and your spouse. You grabbed the sword from the mantel, knowing that in your hands, it wasn’t going to be effective. But you felt a jolt of energy and a voice in your head that asked you if you accepted its power. “To protect my spouse, yes.” That’s what you said out lout, and the power flowed into you. With a lucky dash and blow, you took down the giant. The rest fled after seeing someone to stand up to them, but they are still raiding out there. You left your spouse with their parents and have vowed to finish off the giants and then return.
Background: Folk Hero
The best time of the year was when the peddler came through town. The adults liked it because they were able to replace things that had broken and hear the news of the world; the kids loved it because the peddler always told great stories and could make them laugh. They could even do a little bit of magic. The peddler had been coming around for generations to your village, and you knew a number of his stories by heart. When everyone had gone to bed one night, you couldn’t sleep because you were too excited to see the peddler. He’d come in late that night, so he hadn’t been able to tell any stories. You snuck out of your bedroom and into the inn next door where he was staying. You were able to go and find his room, and timidly, you knocked on his door. He answered, looking a little tired, but fully dressed and with a jovial smile on his face. He let you into his room, and he told you a story, then asked if you wanted to be able to help him and tell stories like he did. You said yes, of course — what child wouldn’t want to be like him? He smiled and bent down to touch your head. You felt power go through you, and he told you that you were his. When he left the village a few days later, he hid you away in his cart, and you learned from him. Then one day, he disappeared without leaving you a message. You found out that he and his cart weren’t appreciated in some towns — something to do with the mayor’s daughter — and soon, those stories cropped up in more and more towns, and people hated you. Now you need to find him again to get a normal life back.
Background: Guild Member or Entertainer
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