Earlier articles in this series discussed how to incorporate beguilers and dragon shamans and duskblades and knights from Player's Handbook II into the Realms. This article deals with the extremely popular warlock class. In addition to exploring ways to include warlocks in your games, this installment also details Davoren Hellsheart, a warlock devoted to Asmodeus and who is featured in the novel Depths of Madness by Erik Scott de Bie.
In the Realms, there are a number of possible supernatural origins for warlocks. The most common is an infernal source such as the fallen archdevil demigod Gargauth or the archdevils Asmodeus and Mephistopheles. These individuals represent the majority of warlocks and are, with rare exceptions, almost universally evil.
A small number of warlocks derive their powers from fey pacts and bloodlines. These most commonly arise from pacts with the unseelie courtiers of the Queen of Air and Darkness, but other sources exist as well. A small band of shadar-kai warlocks has been spotted along the Golden Way near Telflamm.
Elven powers native to Faerūn also have spawned warlocks. The chaotic energies of the deteriorating Sildėyuir have affected the births of a small number of Star Elves, creating powerful magical defenders. Led by their indomitable leader, Pherix Traeleth, they act as a defensive bridge between the Yuirwood and the Sildėyuir plane, fending off incursions on both ends.
A coven of fey'ri warlocks derive their power from an ancient pact with the fallen solar Malkizid. Despite the near decimation of the daemonfey army, most of these warlocks survived. They fled after being defeated by the armies of Lord Seiveril Miritar, then attempted to pick up lives halted by thousands of years of imprisonment.
Warlocks are present among a number of the planetouched races of Faerūn. Many tieflings who descended from infernal powers pursue dark invocations, though abyssal tiefling warlocks exist as well. A small coven of worghest warlocks is known to exist in the Mines of Tethyamar. Scholars believe that they derive their powers from a pact with the mammoth greater barghest known as Tarkomang. There are even rumors of warlock bloodlines among the celadrin in Cormanthor.
For those who wish to incorporate this lore into their games without introducing the warlock class, here is an alternative. With small changes, many of these individuals and groups could be sorcerous bloodlines. The rules for heritor/heritage feats allow these sorcerers to exhibit powers and qualities characteristic of their otherworldly origins but without the need to take levels in the warlock class.
The Black Star
Glasya, daughter of Asmodeus and slayer of the Hag Countess, is one of the most frequent employers of warlock pacts after Asmodeus and Mephistopheles. Through her agent, a Paeliryon known as Oagnuxthiode, she has cultivated a small coven of warlocks know as the Black Star in Zhentil Keep. The coven secretly lairs within the sewers and basements of Zhentil Keep, plotting for control of the city and the Black Network. An erinyes known as Eshaeris leads them in their manipulations and dark deeds, both as a game to pass her time and as a set of cards to play against her rivals, Fzoul Chembryl and Scyllua Darkhope. Eshaeris is a patient creature, and the Black Star shares this quality, using the insidious talents of its members to conquer one merchant or lordling at a time. Thus it slowly builds its power base in the city. In particular, the coven seeks to supplant members of the Zhentarim in order that they might control the organization and spread its aims toward the ultimate goal: political and economic conquest of Faerūn.
History: The Black Star is a young pact assembled of diabolist warlocks united by Eshaeris (Mysteries of the Moonsea) in her guise as Lady Desmonda. Along with Yanser Vorath, she brought together influential and wealthy worshippers of Cyric and other deities cast aside by Bane's return, and trained them in the darkest of powers, focusing upon guile and persuasion, breeding a band of assassins and cultists. Only Vorath knows her true nature. Others in the cult know her only as Lady Desmonda, Vorath's mistress (just as she is mistress to many in the city).
After her role in the overthrow of Lord Orgauth and her subsequent "fall from grace," Eshaeris worked to frustrate the schemes of Fzoul Chembryl whenever possible. With Scyllua Darkhope unavailable (because of engagements elsewhere in Faerun), Eshaeris turned her attention toward corrupting Rassendyl, ruler of Mulmaster, in the hope of furthering her effort against Fzoul. Members of the pact and Eshaeris herself make clandestine visits to Mulmaster, securing the ruler's favor with bribes and will-enslaving powers. Vorath, however, dares even more -- not only does he plan to betray Eshaeris to her enemies but also to ascend beyond the bounds of humanity and attain a sliver of godhood, becoming the baneson reborn. With Eshaeris and the rest of the coven occupied in Mulmaster, there is no limit to Vorath's betrayal.
Current Activities: Vorath manages the day-to-day leadership of the pact and decides which merchants to intimidate, which noble families to manipulate, and the like. He has an excellent head for intrigue, but as his powers mature and grow -- thanks to pacts made with infernal powers beyond Eshaeris's knowledge -- he has put more and more responsibility on the shoulders of Reoul Sathis, a devout Cyricist and jealous rival for Vorath's affections. She uses both the powers he taught her and her divine arts to create a wide variety of useful potions and poisons for the pact. The pact prides itself on secrecy, and most warlocks focus on powers of stealth and darkness.
The Black Star (Minor Arcane) AL LE; 12,000 gp resource limit; Membership 12; Mixed (6 humans, 2 half-elves, 1 tiefling, 1 erinyes); Dues 10% tithe
Disciples of Asmodeus
As the most powerful archdevil in hell, Asmodeus makes a great effort to maintain bloodlines and pacts among mortals. This allows him to maintain spheres of influence in different planes, cementing his position as most powerful lord. He is the most frequent patron of tiefling and half-fiend warlocks in the Realms. He jockeys for influence over these infernal servants, battling Mephistopheles for control.
In addition to tiefling and human pacts and bloodlines, Asmodeus also courts influence among organized lawful evil humanoids such as hobgoblins. One of his most despicable servants is detailed below.
Davoren Hellsheart is a vile, treacherous scoundrel who seeks nothing less than absolute domination over those around him for his own evil gain. He made his first appearance in the novel Depths of Madness by Erik Scott de Bie, in which by turns he aided, betrayed, saved, and attempted to murder the heroine, Fox-at-Twilight. In a world where little is as it seems, Davoren, though he never betrays his intentions, is honest in what he is -- a dark-hearted monster.
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
* Bonus included in the statistics above.
Born of demons and worshiping the king of devils, Davoren Hellsheart is a cruel and -- despite his name -- heartless creature, prone to manipulating others toward his own benefit. His powers manifest in ruby fire, the better to reflect the power of his infernal patron, Asmodeus, Lord of the Hells. Driven by his obsessive need to dominate others and wrench their obedience and worship, even at the point of a fiery blade, Davoren seeks to control and further the aims of his master.
Paired with his overwhelming thirst for power, he suffers from a fundamental lack of self-esteem and confidence. Like all bullies, he can punish but cannot endure. This comes from a childhood spent as the smallest and weakest child, abused and neglected by his parents in his Daggerdale home. When he reached adolescence, however, he experienced dark, bloody dreams sent to him by demons, it seemed. Dark, sorcerous powers accompanied these visions, but the demons warned Davoren to keep them hidden. Unable to conceal his new, uncontrolled strengths, Davoren found himself the laughing stock of his village once more. In bitter vengeance, he planned and carried out the heinous murders of his fellows and his family, then fled the reprisals of an angry liege lord. Davoren found the path of Asmodeus to control his dark rages with icy discipline.
Davoren has gray skin that seems to be made of something other than flesh, eyes that gleam red, and limp, dead hair worn in a disheveled, unkempt fashion. As a youth, he kept careful composure, but now he cannot keep the wildness from his visage. He favors black and red leather garments and is rarely seen without his elbow-length black gauntlets. Beneath his mottled, much-stitched clothing, hideous scars cover most of his body. He has a soft, haggard voice that betrays more than a hint of madness. He limps and coughs frequently and shakes uncontrollably at times. He is wary of being touched. His health is not as broken as it seems, and he is capable of hideous displays of strength and endurance at need.
The Hellsheart is particularly hesitant to speak of his doings in and around Uktar and Nightal of 1374, and he grows angry and fearful when the time is so much as mentioned. No one knows what happened to him, but by the hideous scars visible even on the flesh not covered by his clothing, it was something foul. Those foolish enough to inquire and lucky enough to survive his wrath speak of a word he utters under his breath: 'Twilight."
What he means by this, no one can say.
Next installment -- Origins.
About the Author
Eytan Bernstein hails from exotic Long Island and spends his days writing and editing projects for numerous game companies. In addition to his work on Dragons of Faerun, the Magic Item Compendium, and numerous other projects, Eytan serves as a partner and PR & Marketing Manager for Silven Publishing. He enjoys hunting for gems and minerals in rock quarries, studying religion and theology, composing music, and playing with his many pets. For more information about Eytan, check out www.eytanbernstein.com. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.
A native Californian, Erik Scott de Bie is a long-time gamer, a novice fencer, and (when he has the time) a writer. He has authored an increasing number of fantasy works, including the Forgotten Realms novels Ghostwalker and the forthcoming Depths of Madness. Erik spends his daylight hours compiling technical documentation for The Boeing Company and cursing whatever foul darkness spawned the dreaded "day job." For more information about Erik, his myriad-though-charming eccentricities, and how to pronounce his name, see his Wizards of the Coast profile and his blog.
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