Dragonmarks: Warlocks

Given that it’s my Patreon patrons who make it possible for me to spend time on this site, I thought I’d take some time to write about someone else who relies on patrons… Warlocks. With that said, I am working on articles about Phoenix: Dawn Command and the 5E campaign I’m running in Q’barra, and you’ll see these soon. But for now, let’s talk about warlocks.

The basic concept of the warlock is an arcane spellcaster who gets their power from a bargain with some sort of patron. However, at the end of the day this is like the idea that the bard is a musician: it’s a cosmetic detail that doesn’t actually factor into the mechanics of the class. Yes, the warlock gets a “pact boon” and gets different abilities based on the nature of their patron. But there are no hard mechanical effects tied to their relationship with their patron. There’s nothing concrete like “You must perform a service for your patron to regain your spell slots” or any concrete statement that a warlock could lose their powers based on annoying their patron. What’s said instead is that the relationship between the warlock and patron is something that should be established between the player and the DM. It can drive adventures if that’s something you both want, or it could “consist of small favors you can do entirely between adventures.” Your patron could communicate with you directly or very indirectly. And once you accept the possibility of a friendly patron who communicates indirectly and doesn’t require you to do anything in an adventure, it’s a very small step to acknowledging that you don’t actually need a patron at all. A warlock’s patron is an excellent story hook that gives the player and DM something interesting to work with. But it’s possible to come up with an equally interesting story for a warlock that doesn’t involve a patron. In this article I’m going to talk about both approaches… starting by exploring things you can do with patrons, and then looking at warlocks who go it alone.


If you embrace the basic story, the warlock is someone who gains their powers through their relationship with an outside source. A warlock doesn’t have to have any understanding of arcane science, and they don’t have to be tied to a mystical bloodline; they can be someone who has stumbled into power or earned it through a clever bargain. And while there’s no mechanical basis for a warlock to be stripped of their abilities or denied new powers when they level, as long as both player and DM agree, you can always add this; the question of what you’re willing to do for your power can be an excellent foundation for roleplaying. And even losing your powers can be a great story… as long as you’re excited about that story and have a clear means to resolve it. Let’s look at a few ways you could handle patrons.

The Classic Patron

The standard story is that you’ve got a patron who provides you with power in exchange for you acting as their agent in the world. Perhaps you’re entirely happy with that concept, and just want a few ideas for forces in Eberron that can fill that role. Here’s a few thoughts.

  • Fey Patrons. You have made a bargain with one of the Archfey of Thelanis. I discuss the Fey at length in this post, and the critical point is that each Archfey has a story… and that story will likely tie to the services they expect you to perform. Do they seek revenge? To find a lost lover or a stolen treasure? To be freed from a curse? To spread winter over the land or to save a lost soul? A secondary question is whether your patron is in Thelanis or whether they are actually in Eberron. The 4E Eberron Campaign Guide introduces the idea of the Feyspires, Fey cities that have been trapped in Khorvaire. If your patron rules one of these cities, their needs may be more grounded in the material world.
  • Fiendish Patrons. There’s endless possibilities here. You could have a connection to an Overlord, or one of the powerful Lords of Dust; bear in mind that based on the nature of the Prophecy, a Lord of Dust may want to accomplish things that are actually benevolent in the short term in pursuit of the release of their Overlord. You could have a bargain with a powerful spirit of the outer planes – a fiend of Fernia or Shavarath. Or you could drop the fiendish aspect and say that your patron is an epic dragon; your flames aren’t hellfire, they’re dragon-fire.
  • The Great Old One. The Daelkyr are the easy choice here, but not the only one. The powers of a GOO Warlock are tied to telepathy and madness, and a powerful Quori could serve this role. Perhaps they claim to be a rebel, like those who formed the Kalashtar… do you believe them?
  • The Celestial. The Silver Flame is an easy option, but also a very abstract one. The Silver Flame is a radiant power source, but it’s not generally something you bargain with. If you want to keep that aspect, you could choose a powerful outsider from one of the planes of light. As an elf or even a half-elf, your patron could be a powerful member of the Undying Court – perhaps even a personal ancestor. As a half-elf on this path, it could be interesting to say that you are one of the last of your bloodline; thin as the connection is, you are the only living descendant of this councilor, and this is the foundation of your bond.
  • The Undying. This is an equally valid path for a Deathless Councilor. A stranger option would be Erandis Vol, or an ancient Qabalrin lich entombed in Xen’drik and not yet known in the wider world.
  • Hexblades. If you embrace the idea of a weapon as your patron, Eberron doesn’t have a lot of established options, but it’s easy enough to come up with some. A blade forged in the Age of Demons, infused with the power of a bound fiend. A weapon crafted in the Age of Giants that still holds the soul of an ancient titan. A dagger crafted by Sora Kell that holds a fragment of her spirit. A sword you found in Cyre, infused with the spirits of hundreds who died in the Mourning. The main questions are who created it and what it wants.

Many of these are dark powers. How could you be working for an Overlord or a Daelkyr? In the following sections I’ll talk about the possibility of opposing your patron. But the other point is that you could serve an evil patron with the understanding between you that there are lines you won’t cross. In particular, you could be a weapon in a war between two equally evil forces… a feud between Daelkyr or different prakhutu within the Lords of Dust. I had just such a warlock as a PC in one of my campaigns; he served an Overlord, but with the understanding that give gave him the power to protect the world from the other Overlords… and if one of them was going to end up being released, at least his one would just enslave everyone instead of killing them or driving them mad. Justifying an alliance with an evil force – whether to fight something even worse or because you believe you can use the power for good – can be a very interesting foundation for a character.

The Mysterious Patron

In the 5E Eberron game I’ve just launched, Emmett is a scion of a merchant family with a minor talent for magic (as reflected by the Magic Initiate feat). Bored with his family’s life, he stole a heirloom wand from the vault. Using the wand he found he had access to greater power. When he was injured in a friendly (nonlethal) duel, the wand lashed out and killed his opponent… the first manifestation of his Hellish Rebuke spell. Emmett was forced to flee. He disposed of the wand… and it returned to him. He doesn’t know why the wand has chosen him. He doesn’t know what it wants. But he has begun to master its powers, and he’s going to see where this path leads.

Mechanically, Emmett is a hexblade warlock. His “patron” is the Ebon Wand that he carries. But as the campaign begins, Emmett knows nothing about the wand. So far it hasn’t communicated with him. He doesn’t know what powers he might unlock; he just knows he’s become a better duelist, with a knack for spotting a weakness in his foes (as represented by Hex and Hexblade’s Curse). One thing Emmett’s player and I have agreed upon is that I can choose to trigger his powers involuntarily… that the wand might choose to perform another Hellish Rebuke on someone who harms Emmett, or Hex someone who for some reason vexes the wand, even if Emmett doesn’t choose this action. And the understanding between us is that over time, Emmett will learn more about the wand and what it wants. Maybe it will some day speak to him; maybe not. It could be that he will simply learn it’s purpose, and that things will go better for him if he makes that purpose his own. What we have established is that the wand can’t be stolen from him, that if it is lost it will always return. He knows he can’t lose his powers (even if he wants to); it’s simply that he also doesn’t completely control them.

This is an easy option for a hexblade, but it can work with any patron idea. A warlock may have always had mystical gifts, never knowing their source. Now those powers are growing… and now they may learn that these powers come with a price. Perhaps the warlock’s parents bargained with an archfey or fiend; the PC possesses powers because of this deal, but doesn’t know what their parents promised in exchange. Perhaps the warlock survived the Mourning and now seems to be channeling its power… but what does that mean? In such a campaign, uncovering the identity of the patron and the details of the bargain provide the same sort of story hooks you’d normally get from serving the patron.

The Enemy Patron

Normally a warlock’s abilities are gifts freely given by the patron. But what if this power has been stolen from the patron? As a fiendish warlock you could have found a way to tap the powers of an imprisoned Overlord… and it could even be that by using its power in this way you are delaying its release. Or a Great Old One warlock could have an involuntary connection to a Daelkyr. Belashyrra is using you as one of its eyes in this world, but that connection gives you the ability to draw on its power and visions of other schemes it has afoot. Instead of the Patron giving you tasks to perform, your connection to the patron gives you glimpses of schemes you could foil, if you’re willing to take the time.


The idea of a warlock gaining their powers from an ongoing partnership with a powerful being is an option… but you can keep the mechanical abilities of the Warlock and reflavor them in other ways. The point here is that you will pick a patron and pact… but work with your DM to agree on changes to how these cosmetically manifest. In theory you have a Book of Shadows that grants you access to additional cantrips. But in your case it could be a wand, or a charm, or a special toolkit. Consider the following “patrons”.

  • Dragonmarks. Typically, the powers of a Dragonmark are largely constructive instead of destructive. A warlock could have learned to tap this power in a deeper and more aggressive way. Storm is an easy option for this, and you could take the Fiendish patron and shift anything tied to fire to inflict lightning or thunder damage instead as a way to reflect this. There’s many warlock abilities that work well with the Mark of Shadows… deception, illusion, consuming darkness. This could be reflected with a Fey patron, simply reflavored so your abilities to teleport and charm are tied your manipulation of shadow and enchantment. A question is whether you’re an elite agent of your house, or if you’re a rogue who’s discovered ways to tap the mark the House love to unravel.
  • Aberrant Dragonmarks. Even simpler and applicable for almost any “Patron,” as aberrant dragonmarks are generally destructive and don’t follow a particular theme… and it’s beleived that powerful aberrant marks are beginning to appear. You are the heir of Tarkanan and the Lady of the Plague… will you use your powers to help other aberrants, or solely for your own good?
  • Artificer. As a final version of the artificer is still being worked out, in the interim you can actually make an offense-oriented artificer using the warlock. Cosmetically, all of your spells and incantations come from magic items that you create; it’s simply that if it comes to it, you can jury-rig an eldritch blast wand from a piece of wire and some lint. I played a warlock artificer who had a Hawkeye-style hand crossbow with different bolts representing his different cantrips and offensive spells. You’ll want to be proficient in Arcana, and taking the incantation that lets you detect magic at will can help with this
  • Spy. A Fey Warlock is an excellent model for an elite member of the Royal Eyes of Aundair – a spy who uses arcane magic to accomplish their goals. The right invocations can let you disguise self at will and disappear into shadows, and between backgrounds and invocations you can get an excellent set of skills for subterfuge. Between your cantrips and limited spell slots, you can follow the path of the assassin (powerful but limited use offensive magic) or rely more on illusion and enchantment. A Hexblade can be a good model for an Aundairian duelist.
  • Vessel. This is a twist on the enemy patron, with the idea that a spirit has been unwillingly bound to you – that you are a living prison for a powerful rakshasa or Fey. Your powers are a manifestation of the spirit inside you, and the more you use them the more they will grow… but is there the risk that the spirit could escape? Meanwhile, allies of the prisoner could seek you out and try to kill you in order to release the spirit within.

I’m out of time, so I’ll stop here for now. But there are many more ways you could take a ronin warlock. Perhaps you were born in a manifest zone and your powers are tied to your plane. Perhaps they are connected to the Mourning. Maybe you’re a follower of the Blood of Vol, and your powers are the manifestation of your own divine spark (an interesting way to deal with Celestial or Undying). The critical point is not to let the concept hold you back. The patron is a tool for creating a compelling story. But you can always follow a different path!


Does it seem reasonable, along the vein of the enemy patron, to form a pact against the will of a patron?

Certainly, and that’s exactly what I was suggesting with the idea of the enemy Overlord. It could be that you are stealing the power; in that case, a question is whether the “Patron” is aware of it, or if you’re doing it covertly and could be in trouble if they figure it out. I also just added a “Vessel” option to the No-Patron section that could work for this.

For those forces like the Undying Court who are capable of “creating” warlocks is the process difficult/draining or does the candidate need to be exceptional in some way?

To me, it’s simply logic; if it’s easy and free, there should be Warlocks everywhere. The fact that there aren’t – at least in my Eberron – means that there are limitations. Personally, I’d be inclined to say that the answer is “both.” There needs to be something exceptional about the candidate, whether it’s bloodline or talent; and there’s a limit to what the patron can support. But that likely depends on the patron.

Sort of a cross question with the sorcerer, would a casting class skinned to a dragonmark represent a stronger or more developed mark?

When I use an expanded dragonmark as an explanation for sorcerer or warlock powers, I say that it reflects a deeper connection to the mark than most people ever develop — not necessarily a larger mark. They have found a way to use the mark as a lens for arcane energy, and most heirs can’t manage it. So if I was using a system that had a concrete progression system I wouldn’t require a Dragonmarked warlock to have a larger mark. However, if I’m using a system that DOESN’T have a clear progression for dragonmarks – such as 4E – then I might say that the dragonmark grows a bit with every level the character gains.

How would you use the Daughters of Sora Kell as a patron, either collectively or individually?

I suggested Sora Kell as a patron; I’m not sure I’d want to use her daughters. Sora Maenya is too bound to the physical world; I could see her training martial adepts, but I don’t see her granting arcane power. Sora Katra… I could see her doing it, but in my campaign I don’t see her empowering an agent like that and then just letting them roam free; she’s got so many concrete schemes in the works, and I would expect that being her warlock would be a full-time job, not a casual thing you’d do on top of a career as an adventure. On the other hand, Sora Teraza could definitely work. No one knows the extent of her powers. Her motives are mysterious and her actions don’t always benefit Droaam. She could definitely pick an agent and give them occasional directives with no clear explanation for her actions. Personally, I’d make her a Great Old One patron who provides the Book pact.

Given the name of the game, could you see a dragon as a proper patron for a warlock? What would it take for a dragon to empower a humanoid in such a way?

Sure; I suggest this at the end of the “Fiendish Patrons” section above. This isn’t something a normal dragon could do, but if you posit an ancient, epic level dragon from Argonnessen – a deep student of the Prophecy with access to eldritch machines – I think they could definitely serve as a patron. The question is whether the warlock’s power is actually coming directly from the dragon, or whether — and this is the approach I would take — the dragon is simply showing the warlock how to connect to a source of arcane power. This could even be a way to double up on your explanations. Looking to the “Vessel” idea I suggest for “No Patrons”, I could see the idea of an epic dragon binding a demon into a mortal’s body and then teaching the mortal how to tap into its powers. So the dragon is the PC’s patron and mentor, but the POWER comes from within them.

What might be some motivations for an epic level dragon to empower a warlock like that?

Off the top of my head…

  • The Draconic Prophecy is a matrix of if-then statements that can set the path of the future. This dragon could be working to lock in a particular prophetic path – which involves particular actions on the part of the PC.
  • The dragon doesn’t have a specific agenda, but they are concerned about the actions of the Lords of Dust in Khorvaire; they want a human agent who isn’t on the radar of the fiends to investigate and foil their plans.
  • It’s an experiment. Perhaps they just have a fiend they need to bind SOMEWHERE and they want to try their bind-it-to-a-human ritual… and once it’s done, they are curious to watch the warlock and see what happens. or perhaps it’s literally a lab rabbit situation; they ultimately want to use this ritual on dragons, but they’re trying it on humans first to make sure it’s not dangerous.

Are warlocks accepted in the magical colleges like Arcanix and Morgrave, or are they outside of arcane academia?

That would entirely depend on the warlock’s personal story. A warlock doesn’t need magical training. They don’t have to have proficiency/training arcana or spellcraft. If you take the Fiendish Vessel warlock I present above and set them alongside a Fey-bargain warlock, they literally have nothing in common… so it’s not like you’d have a generic “Warlock” class. On the other hand, I’m sure that there are people who study the science of pact magic, and if a warlock has Arcana training they could have worked in such an environment. And taking the idea of the warlock-as-spy as I suggest above, that could definitely be a concrete path of arcane training that you could learn at Arcanix. So in short; could there be warlocks at Arcanix? Sure. Is there a place for EVERY warlock at Arcanix? No.

Do you see the Dhakaani as having a warlock tradition? 

No. We’ve established that arcane magic wasn’t a strength of the empire and that their main traditions were bards and a form of artificer. However, the fact that there wasn’t a tradition doesn’t prevent there from being warlocks, because to my mind warlocks are highly individualistic. If you are using patrons, then the fact that person A can become a warlock doesn’t mean that warlock B could as well. For example: Dhakaani can create artifacts. Perhaps the great dirge singer Jhazaal Dhakaan bound the spirit of the greatest hero of the empire to a greatsword (or spiked chain) and whoever bears the sword can channel his power. This is a foundation for a hexblade warlock… but there can only ever be one at a time because there’s only one sword. So: there’s an example of a Dhakaani warlock – but that doesn’t mean they have an established tradition within the culture.

What about the dwarves of the Mror Holds? 

Same thing. I don’t see an established tradition of warlocks as part of their culture. But I can imagine a hexblade warrior carrying a blade forged in the Lost Kingdom, or a Aurum Concordian willing to pay any price for power who makes deals with fiends.

How about warlocks among the Valenar? …I can envision a case where you have a Valenar warlock whose “patron” is the ancestral spirit. 

It’s certainly an idea a character could explore, but it’s not the direction I’d personally encourage… for the same reason I’d have a Celestial warlock tied to the Sovereign Host have an angel as their patron instead of a Sovereign. I see the relationship between the ancestors and the Valenar as being very similar to the Kalashtar and their quori. The spirit is connected to (and sustained by) multiple hosts. It provides subtle, almost instinctual guidance, but the Valenar has to find their own path towards it; they can’t have a direct conversation and be told what to do. And two Valenar with the same patron can argue about who has done a better job of emulating their ancestor. So wouldn’t have the warlock’s patron be the ancestor; I’d make the patron be in some way tied to emulating the ancestor. For example…

  • A Hexblade warlock carries the sentient blade once wielded by their ancestor. Can they fully master its power and unlock its secrets?
  • A Fey warlock serves the same Archfey their ancestor served. In the course of this service, will they learn secrets about their ancestor that have been lost to history? Or might they discover that the Archfey was responsible for the death of their ancestor – and if so, will they find a way to destroy their patron to avenge their ancestor, even if they risk losing their power?

If you have additional questions or ideas about warlocks, post them below!

50 thoughts on “Dragonmarks: Warlocks

  1. Actually, I think the dragonmark patreon, for lack of a better word, would make a great subclass for the warlock. And for the sorcerer too as a bloodline.

  2. I continue to be impressed by Eberron’s ability to support concepts and your ability to fit the mechanics to them so elegantly.

    For those forces like the Undying Court who are capable of “creating” warlocks is the process difficult/draining or does the candidate need to be exceptional in some way?

    Does it seem reasonable, along the vein of the enemy patron, to form a pact against the will of a patron? Like those bound to an overlord who are dispersing its power to keep it weakened or “accidental” kalashtar who are bound to a Quori spirit that may not want to be so linked?

    Sort of a cross question with the sorcerer, would a casting class skinned to a dragonmark represent a stronger or more developed mark? If you are a level 10 Warlock whose power comes from the Mark of Storms would you still have the least mark or would it have grown with you even if you can’t use the common powers of the lesser or greater marks?

    Thank you again for taking the time to write these pieces.

  3. As for why to serve the Daelkyr, I played an escaped slave from Darguun, who would do ANYTHING for revenge on his former masters. That included forming an alliance with the ancient enemies of the goblins. It didn’t come up that much in play, but I think it’s a good way to play on the moral complexity that Eberron provides.

  4. Given the name of the game, could you see a dragon as a proper patron for a warlock? What would it take for a dragon to empower a humanoid in such a way?

      • Thanks for the response, Keith. That really stirs some great story ideas. What might be some motivations for an epic level dragon to empower a warlock like that?

        • Good question! Answer posted in the Q&A section. (Apologies for doing it that way, I just like having the questions and answers in a central place instead of scattered through the comments.)

  5. How common is it for a warlock to know who or what their patron is?

    For Deathless and dragons, a pact would probably be entered “in person”, through a ceremony or ritual. But it seems unlikely for warlocks of less physically present beings — like Daekyr or outsiders or Overlords — to actually talk to a warlock directly. Dreams, visions, and portents, sure. But those are usually mysterious…

    What do you think of the idea that the vast majority of warlocks don’t know anything about their patrons? Most of them simply gained power after learning a ritual…and SOMETHING answered. What they consider that “something” to be would be highly subjective. For example, a dwarf “fiend” warlock might see himself as channeling the flames of Onatar’s forge, but is actually empowered by elusive Fernian spirits whose names no one knows.

    • How common is it for a warlock to know who or what their patron is?

      It would depend on the story you choose – looking to the examples I’ve given above, in some case the story is driven by the warlock not knowing; in some cases it’s about their serving as a willing agent; and in some, the warlock doesn’t have a patron at all. To me, the question is always what is the story the player wants to explore? If the PLAYER likes the idea of that mystery – are they SURE they know who they are working for – I’d love to explore that with them. But if the dwarf really loves the idea of channeling Onatar’s flames, as DM I wouldn’t want to say “SUCKER! You’ve been working for a pit fiend the whole time!”

      So: following the principle of the Mysterious Patron, I’m all for the idea of a Warlock who discovers that the source of his powers is quite different from what he originally thought. But I’d want to be sure that the player is on board with exploring that story.

      • The idea is more along the line of exploring the vagueness of religion in Eberron, rather than intentionally upsetting a player’s expectations. In my games I tend to keep great powers mysterious. So the aim is more to give warlock players a primer beforehand to establish the class as highly different from a cleric who does services to a KNOWN higher being in exchange for miracles.

        • The funny thing is that I almost called out the warlock as the reverse of the cleric when I wrote the post… for almost the opposite reason. In Eberron, the cleric believes their power comes from a particular entity, but it is purely a matter of faith as to whether that being exists. A common assertion of the Sovereign Host is that clerics who worship obscure religions are actually getting their powers from the Sovereigns… while someone else could easily claim that the Forge cleric of Onatar is simply drawing their power from Fernia.

          By contrast, if you work with the idea of the patron, the warlock ISN’T based on faith; they have a concrete bargain with a concrete entity, be it fiend or fey. This is one reason it’s arcane instead of divine; essentially, it’s a scientific arrangement, not faith-driven. As noted earlier, in Eberron a cleric generally CAN’T talk directly to the Sovereigns or the Flame; while a warlock working for the Fey Prince of Winter could absolutely have a direct conversation with the boss.

          None of which is a reason not to explore your idea. It’s just that if I’m using a patron as opposed to one of the no-patron concepts, I’m more inclined to make the patron a very concrete presence in the story – more so than I do with a cleric. With the hexblade player I mentioned in my current campaign, he doesn’t know the story of his patron – but he knows that it exists and that it wants something, and figuring that out will be a big part of his story. As opposed to the cleric, for whom the existence of the divine is more a sort of absolute foundation even though there’s no proof that it’s what she thinks it is.

        • To be clear, I definitely think it’s a valid approach and could be an interesting story to pursue. It’s just that for me one of the concrete differences between a Celestial warlock and a cleric is that the cleric believes their magic comes from a higher power… while the warlock knows that their power comes from a concrete source. I wouldn’t generally have a Celestial warlock drawing power from “the Sovereigns” (if I’m using the patron idea) – I’d have him working for a specific angel who claims to be Aureon’s Hand. The Undying Court is the wacky exception here because it’s a known entity. But even here, the idea is that a cleric of the Undying Court draws their power from their faith in the Court, not from a specific counselor; while the warlock with have a concrete arrangement with a single individual counselor, an the arrangement doesn’t require any faith in the Court as a whole.

          • Eberron seems like the perfect setting for an image I’m quite fond of – a fairly devout follower of one of the major religions who wants to be a hero of the faith but has a little too much self-doubt to achieve divine power through the usual path – so they make up for it with arcane studies and perform BRIGHT AND TERRIBLE RITES to allow an angel to channel power through them.

            I think the Sovereign Host is the best fit here – the fact that the individual angels are also working on faith fits in really well – but a Silver Flame follower finding one of the few remaining couatls and convincing it to work with them like that also has some potential.

          • Props for “bright and terrible rituals.” I agree that the Sovereign Host is the simplest match, but the idea of someone working with one of the last couatl makes sense as well. This reflects what I was saying about the Undying Court – that a cleric is driven by faith in the court as a whole, while a warlock has a concrete deal with a specific member of it.

          • What I mean to say that, whether or not there is proof, a cleric “knows” his power comes from the gods in the same way that a real world priest “knows” that God exists. This is what I mean by a cleric “knows” — his faith is so strong that there is not a single doubt that his power could originate elsewhere.

            Whereas a warlock to me always had a touch of occultism and esotericism attached. That’s what I mean in terms of “not knowing” — if wizards are scientists and clerics are true miracle workers, then warlocks would be mystery cultists, Gnostics, and pseudoscientists. Everything they know has a touch of the superstitious in it.

            Again, I simply think that, because of the heavily “scientific” style of arcane magic presented in Eberron, the common trope of the hedge witch dabbling with unknown power isn’t very well represented, so that’s usually how I use the warlock.

  6. I’ll also add in that the warlock works well as a way to, in effect, give players the equivalent of a 3.5 half-breed template – the “dragon pact” warlock could just as easily represent someone who’s simply a half-dragon acquiring supernatural abilities in addition to draconic magic; a character in my game uses a homebrewed pact to represent that one of their parents was a being of Daanvi. The Blade/Book/Chain Pact is a little hard to reconcile, but the Book at least could work as “you’re using this book to develop your innate powers”.

    • The Blade/Book/Chain Pact is a little hard to reconcile…

      Indeed, but it’s also something that I as a DM would be willing to change to fit a story. Mechanically, the effect of the Book pact is “You have an object, and while you possess that object you have access to more spells.” No one else can use that book, and if you lose it you can get it back. So does it really matter if it’s a book, or a crown, or a wand? The main thing is that it should be something that is clearly useful to you so that someone realizes they can weaken you by taking it – so I wouldn’t make it a sock (inobvious) or a set of tattoos (can’t be removed). But I don’t feel that it HAS to be a “book of shadows.”

      Looking at Hexblade Emmett in my campaign, we’ll definitely use his wand as his “book.” It’s an obvious source of power someone will take from him if they can… and with his story being that this wand gives him powers, it would be really weird for it to suddenly produce a book for him.

      • Ooh, that’s very interesting (and I might change the Book to be our warlock’s rod, since we’ve already called out that it was designed to further their connection to Daanvi)! Can I ask how you’d reconcile something as specific as a weapon or a familiar for a “template warlock”?

        • This child of Daanvi is an enforcement agent, rather than a scribe. It is written that an officer of the Law must go armed at all times, in order that they be prepared to fight in support of the Law at any time this is necessary; thus the Law provides a weapon of pure order that can spring into being in their hand whenever they need it.

          A familiar might be a lesser Daanvi creature assigned to assist them, which can be summoned (possibly with a ritual entitled “Familiar-Spirit Requisition Form 1213” or something of that sort 😉 ) – hierarchy is part of the Perfect Order, and this character’s important enough that they need at least one (minor) underling to support them, because hierarchical authority and significance as a person are basically the same thing.

          I’m less sure about the draconic version.

  7. My wife considered using the Hexblade to represent a transformation from a Paladin of The Blood of Vol into something more like a 4e Avenger, but the story ended up going a different way.

    The idea was simply that her Divine Spark, and the faith of her people, were making her into something more than mortal.

    • I suggested the same idea at the very end of the “No Patron” warlock section, and it makes sense to me. The wacky twist on it would be if her Divine Spark actually began talking to her…

      • My idea is actually that the BoV and the Silver Flame are unknowingly related faiths, because the SF itself *is* a manifestation of the Divine sparks of people who fight to defend the defenseless from supernatural evil.

        That is, to me, just a different side of the BoV focus on the community, preserving life, sacrificing for the good of all, and of course the Divinity Within.

        So, she may find that she can hear the Voice of The Flame, and *The Shadow In The Flame*, and her revelation is essentially that the BoV is right, and ther faith and deeds are fueling the Silver Flame, but also that it is as a *community* that the Divinity Within can become more than mortal.

        Maybe. It is still in the works.

        • I definately like the idea of her spark itself speaking to her, too.

          I wonder what a Warlock flavored BoV Paladin Oath might look like, btw?

          Definately some Warlock spells in the additional spells list, obviously…

        • To me the problem is always that bov is neutral evil. You can have a good cleric of bov, but the core of the divin power is neutral evil.

          • In my opinion, the Core source of power is the faithful, which means the Canon is simply incorrect on that.

          • To me the problem is always that bov is neutral evil. You can have a good cleric of bov, but the core of the divin power is neutral evil.

            Sure, but in Eberron, what does the alignment of the divine power source actually MEAN? It’s not an incarnate entity; it’s not the same as saying that Bane is evil, because Bane can show up on your doorstep and do evil things. Ultimately, there’s only one reason that the alignment of the power source matters at all, and that’s the effect on spontaneous spells and whether the cleric turns undead or rebukes them. A cleric of the Silver Flame turns undead; a cleric of the Blood of Vol rebukes them.

            To me, the alignment of the power source isn’t a fundamental value statement about the faith as a whole; it’s a concrete mechanical function as to whether its clerics channel positive or negative energy.

            With that said, in 4th Edition the Blood of Vol and all the Elven religions were set as Unaligned.

          • Right!

            So in my campaign, the Silver Flame and Blood of Vol may end up as dichotomous sides of the same coin, and it’s a revelation in both directions.

            If I stick with this idea, of course.

            Thanks as always for your thoughts!

          • I think that is different if a creature is evil or a divine source is. You have to believe in the good of the silver flame. I pretty like the idea that bov is evil at the core because they don’t care of non believers. If you are not with me, your fake views empowers our enemies, the gods. Some bov clerics will be good and they believe that everybody is precious: but the divine source is evil and incarnate that if you are not a believer you mean nothing to the community.

          • Beyond what Keith has already said below, and the fact that the BoV was ‘retconned’ to be Unaligned in 4E, I’ve always seen the evil nature in the Blood of Vol more a reflection of what Erandis d’Vol and her cadre of followers are up to.

            But the actual religion of the Blood of Vol does not need Erandis and most of the Seekers have no idea she still exists.

            The BoV still turns to the Mabar, which embodies ultimate destruction and can hardly be seen as good, but the Seekers also consider death the ultimate evil. So, while they draw power from Mabar, they are also actively opposed to it and engaged in a fight against what it represents.

            In short, I see the BoV as a faith that is quite riven in what it wants to be.

            In my Eberron, I actually have Karrnath be on the verge of a major War of Religion akin to the 30-Years-War between those who remain loyal to the Queen of the Dead on Farlnen (and are mostly, but not always, the stereotypically evil Seekers), and those who reject her and the Emerald Claw and seek to put their communities first. These are also loyal to the King, whether or not Kaius III wants them at present. These are not necessarily good, but they are old-guard stoics who will do anything for their communities in the fight against Death itself.

            Also, the BoV is a faith that tells you that you yourself are the divine power. Shouldn’t that mean that if are evil, the power is evil, and if you re good, the power is good? A Cultist of Life, stealing the life of others to prolong is how, is certainly evil; one who literally shares his own blood to help others would be good.

  8. This might be a little silly, actually, but I was wondering: is there a specific Archfey you would suggest as a patron?

    (I’ve been thinking about making a character from before the War who was stuck in Thelanis and due to the altered flow of time has only just now returned to the present, but I don’t know any specific fey from the setting for her to be bound to.)

  9. I was once in a 3.5 gestalt campaign based on the idea of the Lords of Dust managing to get far enough in breaking their bonds that everyone on Khorvaire without a true dragonmark became some kind of tiefling (and we had access to a bunch of homebrew variant tiefling rules to facilitate this). It served to basically give everyone something of an empowered fiendish side to them, and different party members confronted this in different ways, from trying to peacefully coexist with it to trying to destroy it. My own character had been a kalashtar before she was a tiefling, so was used to having something not of Eberron in her and the idea that something inherently evil could become good… thus, her approach was to try to redeem it. Basically she was a cloistered cleric//warlock who took a dip of the Eldritch Disciple PrC (taking up both sides of that level) to get healing blasts and eventually started taking levels of the Enlightened Spirit PrC. In 5e terms, she’d probably just work out to mechanically be a Celestial patron warlock if one weren’t going to make a 5e version of the gestalt subsystem (and I’d blame no one for not doing so!).

  10. I absolutely love how you take character class features and rethink them with trappings, separating mechanical effect from lore. This is a significant feature of powers in Savage Worlds. Everyone casts the burst power differently; some create devices blast eldritch energy; some spray acid from their mouths, and others conjure shadowy energy, but it’s all still the blast power. The way, you describe the warlock artificer and dragonmark applications reminds me of exactly that type of reframing mechanics to suit the character concept and theme desired. It inspires one to really stretch the limits of what players can do with given game mechanics. Well done, sir!

  11. I have not played either 4E or 5E, so I cannot comment on the warlock, but these thoughts appear to work quite well for a Pathfinder witch, too. It may be going too far off-topic to ask whether you are familiar with that class (and Pathfinder), and have any thoughts about its place in Eberron, though of course any comment would be highly welcome.

    So far, I tend to see it mostly as a far more ancient form of magic than wizards or clerics or druids, which require more codification, and one still practiced by common people. The main reason is that I want to keep some of the elements that ‘civilised’ places are wary of them, and that organised religions would ostracise and even persecute witches. Still, I digress.

    For one of my characters, I’ve introduced the idea that her original patron was supposed to be her hag mother, but that her rivals (fey she displaced to gain control over the local bog) got to her first.

    Is it reasonable to assume that patrons, especially patrons who are directly hostile to each other, to try and fight over a specific warlock/witch? Especially if they need agents in the wider world, and find someone with the potential to be great?

    Leading on from that, could a person be beholden to two patrons (even without knowing it), being cajoled, duped, threatened, or otherwise made to change pacts and patrons?

    Also, in how far would people in a wide-magic setting like Eberron be superstitious and wary of at least some kind of magic? I’d love to keep some of the elements from our own world, but people of Eberron (or Khorvaire, at least, the Riedrans being conditioned to see magic as evil) are confronted with magic as part of their everyday lives.

    Would it still make sense for people to fear pact-magic, as outlined above, especially if egged on by organised churches or other groups that might feel their monopolies threatened? Or simply because patrons are so much more obscure, and even in Eberron, people distrust the unknown?

    • Is it reasonable to assume that patrons, especially patrons who are directly hostile to each other, to try and fight over a specific warlock/witch? Especially if they need agents in the wider world, and find someone with the potential to be great?

      It depends on the nature of the patrons and what makes a person a suitable agent. A Fey warlock could likely serve any Archfey (probably) but that doesn’t mean they’re especially suitable to serve a Daelkyr. But yes, if the warlock is suited as an agent for multiple patrons, conflict over agents is a logical story.

      Leading on from that, could a person be beholden to two patrons (even without knowing it), being cajoled, duped, threatened, or otherwise made to change pacts and patrons?

      Changing a patron within the same category – archfey to archfey – is trivial and I’d easily do it. Changing pacts or categories – Blade to Chain, Fey to Fiend – has a more significant mechanical impact. I wouldn’t rule it out, but I wouldn’t do it casually or say it’s something just any warlock could do. As for duping the warlock, to me the question there is is the player up for this? Are you deceiving the CHARACTER, or are you deceiving the PLAYER? I have no issues with the CHARACTER being tricked, but before I changed the story on a player without their consent (“Ha! You were working for the bad guy the whole time!”) I’d want to make sure I know the player well and am sure they won’t be really pissed about it. Some players will really enjoy that sort of thing, but others may be angry that I essentially changed their backstory and vision of their character. So I’d be careful about it. On the other hand, I love the idea of a warlock who’s effectively a grifter running a scam ON their patrons, playing multiple patrons against each other; that’s a fun idea.

      Also, in how far would people in a wide-magic setting like Eberron be superstitious and wary of at least some kind of magic?

      I don’t think CLASS is the answer you’re looking for here. It’s not always going to be easy for a typical commoner to tell the difference between a sorcerer, a warlock and a bard. On the other hand, I think ANY of those characters could generate fear or superstition based on the APPEARANCE of their technique. For example, most normal people are creeped out by the Blood of Vol’s use of undead. Most normal people are creeped out by things tied to the Daelkyr and their symbionts. People will be disturbed by things involving clear invocation of the Overlords or Dark Six, whether it’s clerics or warlocks doing it. They don’t like aberrant dragonmarks (and a sorcerer or warlock could manifest their power as an amplified aberrant mark).

      So there’s lots of ways you can generate paranoia and superstition tied to magic, but class alone isn’t the metric I’d use for it.

      • Thanks for the full reply, Keith. I agree that changing patrons ought to be a matter of duping the character, with the player’s knowledge (unless, as you say, one knows the player very well).

  12. Hi, Keith! How about warlocks among the Valenar? Certainly a Valenar who is emulating an arcanist hero could well be a sorceror (they’re a descendent of the hero and so inherited that bloodline), but I can also envision a case where you have a Valenar warlock whose “patron” is the ancestral spirit – perhaps because the ancestor was a warlock themselves, or because this is the only way for the ancestor to pass along arcane might to the present-day emulator. If the latter, which patron type would best reskin as a pact with a Valenari ancestor?

    • One of my players is playing a Tairnadal whose patron is his ancient ancestor!

      He’s a half-drow, and the ancestor has been “whitewashed” by the family over generations, but she was a drow that helped the people escape the giants and fight against them.

      He doesn’t know as much about his ancestor as he should, but is tracing back the tales to learn his own place in the world.

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