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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pact magic

One thing I will likely do in my homebrew game is have all mages gain their spells via pacts with otherworldly creatures. The creatures grant them the ability to harness magic, at the cost of fulfilling the creature's whims. Some creatures will want blood, some might be happy with wine and tobacco. It depends on the type of creature. 
Creatures capable of granting spells might include: demons, dryads, elementals, or angels.

Sample pact granter:
Demon, Imp
Armor Class: 17
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1 sting (1d6+poison)
Special: Poison tail, polymorph, regenerate, immune to fire
Move: 6/16 (flying)
HDE/XP: 6/400
Imps are demonic creatures sent or summoned into the material plane.  They are about a foot tall, and have small but functional wings.  An imp can polymorph itself into one or two animal forms: a crow, goat, rat, or dog being common.  Imps regenerate 1 hit point per round, and can be hit only by silver or magical weapons (or by animals with 5+ hit dice). Imps grant mages the ability to cast spells. They will not supply access to holy spells or banishments.

Most imps will be very greedy, but will happily supply a mage with any spell he wants, especially those considered evil. Imps prefer things that appeal to their vanity. While they would be ok with tobacco or sacrificed humans, they would love a bard writing stories about them that show them to be powerful and intelligent. Imps love manipulating mages into committing evil acts, especially if the mage is trying to work for the greater good.

6 comments:

Johnathan Bingham said...

Interesting. I've been tinkering with similar ideas in my homebrew setting. I want my setting to have a dark fairy tale feel to it so there will be some consorting with spirits, alien beings, demons, fairy, etc. I really want to use summoning, pacts and binding magics. In addition, I want to include things such as knowledge based skills and rituals that will help people deal with said creatures (such as perhaps wearing your clothes inside out, or speaking backwards, or using silver, etc). I'm slowly working up to that for my campaign setting.

Timeshadows said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timeshadows said...

The basis of magic you have chosen is the very definition of Sorcery.

In the Western Christian tradition, it would mark one as a Warlock, by virtue of having (likely) been baptised at infancy, and breaking the oath (queue Mercyful Fate/King Diamond) of devotion to Christ.

Now, of course, if your world doesn't have a Good/Lawful-aligned church theology, 'Warlock' would likely be a misnomer. For indeed, if such a magic-user were known in Aetheric, Natural, and Infernal circles as an Oath-Breaker, the M-U wouldn't be well received by the powers s/he were invoking for succour.

Sacrifices are usually only used to get the attention of a power, and not to initiate (and thereafter) solidify one's pact, and as such, serve as the ice-breaker in the proposed new relationship with the power in question. The Pact is a binding agreement that would have consequences upon either/both parties should the pact be broken. In a positive, Judeo-Christian sense (including Solomonic, so-called, 'holy' Sorcery) tradition, this arrangement with G-d is known as a covenant.

If a pact is broken by either party, the terms are annulled as are any outstanding debts of responsibility within the relationship.

So, after the /hors d'orve/ of an initial sacrifice is made, the 'meat of the matter' is up for definition. With the terms defined, they must be agreed upon by both parties, or rejected for a new set of definite responsibilities from both parties so involved.

I hope that fuels your imagination. :)

Best,

Jim Pacek said...

A very interesting idea. Thanks for sharing. Will be mulling this one for a time. :)

Dan said...

Thanks for the comments!

John, I definitely plan on having more wards and summoning, and less fireballs.

Timeshadows, I have done a little research into this stuff, and I'm purposely not doing it exactly like old legends. Especially with demons, I like the idea of continued sacrifices being required, because they are evil, greedy bastards. I will likely have different requirements depending on what type of creature is fulfilling the pact. I suspect angelic creatures would be happy with an initial service to their god. Nature spirits might require active ecoterrorism. It's still up in the air. You've definitely given me stuff to think about, though.

Timeshadows said...

'k, cool.
--Looking forward to more from you on this.

Sorry if my 'instruction' was unwarranted; both of my folks are/were educators.