Thursday, November 08, 2018

Leveraging Warlocks for Campaign Greatness

Warlocks are one of the great post-TSR additions to D&D. Their relationship with their patron is much closer than that of a cleric's deity, and yet they can't take a direct hand in the campaign. Even better, they can be awesome frenimies for the PCs, power they know they shouldn't use but hey, one of them has already taken a big bite out of that forbidden fruit, so how bad can it get, right?

Someone over on Quora asked about what an Archfey could want from their warlock. And that inspired the following thoughts:

1. Why did the Archfey take the warlock on?
Maybe it was a whim of a moment, maybe it was an accident. But maybe there was something about this character that drew the attention of the Archfey. If so, that may dictate what the Archfey wants.

For a new PC, this can be the hardest way to go, because neither you nor the player may yet know what makes this actual character tick. Or, even worse, you might have a solid idea, only to see it morph and mutate when the character starts interacting with the other PCs and the world.

Still, the key to an awesome warlock experience is to make it personal, so if you think you can pull this off, do it! Look for something that capitalizes on a trait that makes this character unique, whether it’s something in their background or personality, or the people they know.

If the warlock is a PC, like all PCs they’re bound to have interesting adventures, almost as if they are fated to happen. Legend says King Arthur would not begin his New Year’s Day feast unless he’d heard of or seen some marvel. Perhaps, like Arthur, what the Archfey wants is an account of the warlock’s amazing adventures. And, if they are deemed not quite amazing enough, the Archfey will take matters into their own hands, perhaps by bribing the PCs to take on certain adventures, and then offering the PCs' adversaries some help so the warlock’s eventual triumph will be all the more exciting!

2. What does the campaign need from the Archfey?
You’ve got your world, you’ve got your villain-types and their victims, you’ve got your starting location. How are you going to put your PCs in the path of the villains? Your Archfey can help here. Maybe they want the same thing the villains want. Maybe they want something else entirely, but two things are mutually exclusive somehow. Maybe they’re just in the same neighborhood.

The nice thing about Archfey is how flexible they are. Need the PCs to focus more on the quest? The Archfey wants something related to the quest. Want to mix some romance into things? Archfey wants to help a pair of star-crossed lovers. Things getting to heavy and dramatic? Archfey wants a pig dressed up to look like the Queen of Dramatopia. An Archfey can work like a safety valve, releasing or storing up pressure as needed.

3. Being Fun-fun Silly-willy Absurd
As others have pointed out, the desires of the Archfey can at times seem a bit… off. Not quite sane. Certainly not understandable by mere mortals. To help with this, make three lists of 20 items each, one of verbs, one of adjectives, and one of nouns. Then roll on all three lists. The Archfey now wants their warlock to verb the adjective noun. The more ridiculous it sounds, the better.

Art by Sophie Anderson.


SHOPnROAR said...
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Compare Electric Rates said...
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Warclam said...

"Jeremy! Jeremy, attend me!"
"Your wish, my esteemed patron, my shade in the noonday sun?"
"You called me that four months ago."
"You called me 'Jeremy' four months ago."
"Did I? Oh my, how careless of me! Please forgive your patron's tragic unoriginality, my dear Mint Forest!"
"Of course, my—"
"I want you to serenade a kelp farmer."
"Uh. Any kelp farmer, or a particular one?"
"Do you really want to ask that?"
"…The first kelp farmer I meet shall receive my finest aria, my—"
"You have three days. Or else you'll wear the hat again. Good luck!"

trollsmyth said...

Warclam: XD