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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    (BTW This is all Pathfinder)


    So, I have an Unholy Barrister/Ecclesitheurge/Hidden Priest/Charismatic (cleric) that the DM has allowed to gain the Infernal Legist feat next level (5), with the stipulation that all things granted by my contracts must be within the capabilities of my character. Can someone help me write an infernal contract that will help to screw over a (soon to be) level 5 Hunter with a wolf companion that he loves? All without him suspecting a thing. Pact Insidious preferred, but not necessary.
    Live, Love, Laugh. What a waste of potential! It should be: Live, Lay (waste to your enemies), Lie (in your deathbed peacefully after a long and fulfilling life)

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Is the table okay with pvp? Because this is pvp, no matter how you try to present it.
    Jasnah avatar by Zea Mays

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Focus on character motivations. Both those of your character, and those of the hunter. Your stats and classes don't matter. Your motivations do.

    If you're out to secure nominal worshipers and the tithes they bring to your church and he's out to prove himself by bringing down the biggest baddest game ever, that will result in a very different contract, loopholes, and penalty clauses than if your character is motivated by paranoia of betrayal by every friend and companion in his life and grasps for the security of magically iron-clad contracts while his goal is pursuing the man-killing bear that mauled his eldest sister to death a decade ago.

    His motivations matter because that tells you what terms and considerations of the contract will speak to him. Your hook needs bait, and if he knows the first thing about your desire to screw him over with a contract (and he does) that bait needs to be either plump and juicy and tasty enough to override common sense, or indispensable enough that he doesn't have a choice. The cleverest contract with the nastiest loopholes in the world accomplishes nothing if he has no reason to sign.

    Your motivations matter because WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THIS? Is it because the character pissed you off? If so, what about him pissed you off? Get down to the details of what's driving you. Is it because you have orders from a superior? If so, what are those orders trying to accomplish?
    Last edited by Reltzik; 2017-12-01 at 11:07 AM.
    Alstroemeria and Shozin in Thrair's War of the Final Whisper.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    To give an example: In a long-running campaign I've in, I'm playing a retainer (also slave, but a well-treated and trusted one) to one of Cheliax's great houses. The DM's had a daemonic cult (the BBEGs) fuel up a war between Andoran and Cheliax, take Absolom with an internal coup, and is now bearing down on both weakened nations with a huge Absolami invasion force. We were forced to negotiate a ceasefire between Andoran and Cheliax and create a grand alliance against Absolam.

    My character was appointed to represent Cheliax for several reasons (actually on scene, having earned a reputation for shrewdness and loyalty to the state, and the Queen not wanting anyone important to be a target of yet another assassination attempt). And Cheliax is going to insist that Andoran's Senate be bound to this alliance by an infernal contract, because Cheliax.

    So, what sort of contract do I negotiate? It all comes down to motivations, character, and what contract everyone will accept.

    Spoiler: Motivation Details
    Show
    I'm a middle-aged elf (yay cheap caster-stat bonuses!) who lived through Cheliax's civil war as a child and was traumatized by the experience. I yearn for peace because war gives me nightmares. Also, it creates SO MANY DISTRACTIONS from my life's work of scholarship. I sold my freedom for the security that comes with being valued property of a great house, which also brought access to their library and scholars. (The House gives me that access because that's what makes me most useful to them.) As such, I started off feeling a life-debt to that house, and over almost two centuries I've come to view most members of the house as surrogate family. My loyalty to them goes well beyond a slave contract. I don't LIKE that the country is practically run by devils and all the suffering that implies and I would like for it to be nicer, but that's reality and I've made so many moral compromises over the years and sold away my integrity so I mostly just have to live with it. At the end of the day, I could live with devils, but not demons.

    My house, in turn, is located primarily in Cheliax, but has offshoots in dozens of nations from before the Chelish empire contracted. Its main concerns are conducting research and scholarship for the sake of learning, making money through business, and not seeing family members slaughter each other on the battlefield. It's been a longtime advocate of security through peace and territorial gains through subtle negotiations and maneuvers which, in the long term, will expand Cheliax's borders and reunify the House.

    The Queen who I'm representing wants to NOT BE INVADED, but is also short-tempered, flighty, and petulent. She's angry at a whole bunch of people right now and a whole bunch of other people (myself included) are trying to whisper in her ear and direct that anger at their own enemies. She's given me specific instructions to regain through negotiations a port city that was lost in the last round of war, which is just the sort of petty, specific demand that will make my life difficult.

    Andoran also wants to not be invaded, but is extremely distrustful of Cheliax on multiple levels. They believe in democracy rather than tyranny and in freedom rather than slavery and all sorts of annoying impractical PRINCIPLES and the two countries just DO NOT see eye-to-eye on ANYTHING. They know Cheliax has a reputation for tricksy contracts and are NOT HAPPY about signing one and will go over it with a fine-tooth comb. They're also populated by a lot of escaped Chelish slaves who hate Cheliax to their marrow, and a lot of veterans and displaced civilians with a lot of grudges over the war.

    The party also consists of a paladin (who'd rather give cakes to evil than smash it, but will smash it if evil proves unreasonable) hobgoblin whose risen to become warchief of multiple tribes that were catspaws of the "incite a war" effort, and a gish Andoran irregular soldier whose disillusioned about life in general but is still kinda loyal to his own Andoran mercantile family. Since I'm a squishy wizard, I'd like to keep the party's meatshield and the party's stabby-stabby alive and not trying to kill me. We've spent most of the campaign employed by a neutral border state stuck between Andoran and Cheliax that doesn't want to be caught in the middle of another war, and I'm sorta friends with its leader, so I want that to work out okay too.

    ALL of us want the alliance to work and the daemon cult to be defeated. The fate of the world hangs on making this contract work.


    Spoiler: Negotitions and Contract
    Show
    So while the immediate need is to call a truce and create an alliance of necessity, MY ultimate goal is to create a PERMANENT peace. Andoran (and Cheliax) start off focused on petty territorial demands on the border, but I table those and turn the conversation to the elephant in the room: who will oversee the occupation of Absolam once we're victorious? The Andorans suggest bringing in a third party which I overrule because Cheliax insists that the occupiers be bound by the contract. I in turn suggest that Cheliax be allowed to manage the occupation, including enslaving the population as spoils of war, and if this is allowed we will grant Andoran its desired border concessions. Andoran does NOT LIKE THIS (exactly as I planned), and suggests a joint occupation. I point out that the two nations trying to occupy a country together is a recipe for disaster, give a sigh, reluctantly admit that Andoran's probably the better choice given its proximity to Absolam, and say we could let Andoran occupy the nation, long-term, according to carefully-negotiated terms in exchange for border concessions of our own... say, that nice little port there, which used to be ours and which we'll need as a forward naval base anyway if we're to fight the sea war effectively.

    Andoran doesn't like the idea of being an occupier and suggests we put that question off until later. I counter that we CAN'T do that, because frankly neither side trusts the other not to betray it and both sides would be willing to preempt that betrayal with a preemptive betrayal, and you CANNOT WIN A WAR LIKE THAT. Unless we can negotiate a permanent peace, now, that both sides can live with post-bellum, then we lose the war. I then unveil the proposal I've been building up to all along: Create a series of independent, neutral border states between us that will serve as a buffer and prevent the border incidents that usually lead to war. Including, say, that independent city employing the party, and those hobgoblins over there, and a few others. Neither side gets that strategically valuable border territory that is useful for launching invasions in either direction. Instead, it gets neutralized.

    In the end, despite the border being neutralized and Cheliax getting the port, Andoran gets control of Absolam (assuming, of course, that we actually conquer it) and Cheliax (AND a bunch of independents) as allies. That's a hell of a big gain for them. All allies gain free access to Absolami ports with the same fees, conditions, and privileges as Andoran ships, and any reparations or tribute that Andoran administrators will extract from Absolam, beyond what is needed to administer the island, will be shared out among the allies according to fixed rates, but Andoran gets to decide how much, if anything, is taxed from Absolam as reparations. The Hellknights will have free access to Absolam and a right to set up a chapter and will be on-hand to help Andoran put down any riots if, and only if, called upon. (Cheliax doesn't TRUST Andoran to administer Absolam with sufficient firmness, but they'll let them try, so long as there's a backstop.) If Andoran tires of being the occupiers, it can turn over the responsibility to Cheliax at any time, no charge. The Andoran Senate will not forfeit their souls as a penalty clause, but anyone who works to undermine the alliance or deliberately violates it must be turned over to Cheliax for punishment (and we have very competent torturers who can get you to agree to ANYTHING given enough time to work), and THAT part is enforced at the cost of the souls of the Senators. There's a few more details -- audits, accounting, verification -- but that's the gist of it.

    On the surface, it appears that Andoran is getting a lot more than Cheliax does out of this deal. All Cheliax is getting is that port city (with the population allowed to evacuate first, if it wants), and, of course, an alliance that should turn into a permanent peace. What's stopping the queen from tearing up the proposed treaty and collecting my head? I explain to her by encrypted message that Absolam is a poison pill. If Cheliax tried to occupy it, we'd be overextended and every nation for a hundred miles would be viewing us with alarm. But if Andoran occupies it? Well, Andoran's so fixated in going over the fine details of the contract for any loopholes (just as I knew they'd be) that they ignore the bigger picture. The nation that's all about freedom and democracy is now bound by contract to be long-term military occupiers of an even older nation with an even deeper culture. They're not REQUIRED to tax them excessively... but they have the motivation, temptation, and grudge to do so. Of course Andoran principles tell them not to, and the fact they have those principles is why they're not seriously considering how the ongoing temptation will undermine and ultimately corrupt those principles. Andoran is not experienced in occupations and lacks the firmness for the occupation to be anything but a complete failure, one that will hurt Andoran badly in terms military, economic, self-image, and politics. After all, does not the Law of Hell guarantee to all of us who have faith in it that weakness such as Andoran's is a guarantor of disorder? We sit back and grow rich off of Andoran's administration, secure in our faith to Asmodeous that the occupation will poison Andoran... or force it to change, evolve, and become much more culturally similar to Cheliax.

    Meanwhile, my own house benefits from the permanent peace and the expanded trade access (and basing rights) in the form of Absolami ports.

    ... and I create an opportunity to reform Cheliax. You see, Cheliax is just as blinded by its own prejudices as Andoran is. By echoing Asmodean precepts of how effective rule must be accomplished, I put church doctrine on the line. (And I have to. It's not like I have the authority to DEPART from the doctrine of Cheliax's official church in my planning.) If Andoran manages to govern its conquest benevolently, it will PROVE, empirically PROVE, that the devils lied to us and that tyranny is not necessary for security. This will undermine the church of Asmodeus and force the nobility to ask exactly what they've been selling their souls for. But because Cheliax KNOWS this isn't going to happen, just as Andoran KNOWS that it will never turn into tyrants, both sides are willing to make the deal.

    And I, the amoral scientist, get to create an actual empirical experiment to confirm or deny the veracity of Asmodean doctrine, which had previously been a matter of pure faith.


    THAT is the key to making an infernal contract. Not with silly loopholes or setting out to screw anyone over, but by offering everyone exactly what they want and/or need.

    EDIT: Okay, technically I was setting out to screw the BBEGs over, but they weren't signatories.
    Last edited by Reltzik; 2017-12-01 at 12:29 PM.
    Alstroemeria and Shozin in Thrair's War of the Final Whisper.

    I'm not an evil GM! Honest!

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    Pixie in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Thank you!
    This has (I know this sounds cliche) given me a lot to think about.
    My character is motivated to gain souls for her master. Simple as that. She has given herself to the cause, and as such her motivations are pretty clear.
    His character ... I am assuming (from knowledge as a personal friend of his) that he wants to be powerful. And have the ability to surpass his dog in power.
    I was thinking of giving a contract that gives (not in so many words):
    Templates to his doggo
    Sentient Scaling Hell-Fire Cannon (that condemns the souls of those that it kills)
    in return for
    One undefined "Favor" per lunar month that does not violate his alignment at the time of the request
    And a cumulative one (1) minute per week with a 10% (rounded down) interest that compounds at the end of every month of "Modified " time. (essentially meaning that his soul is removed from his body, and is filled with a low-level fiend, Imp, that will follow the commands of my character. All damage, effects, XP gain, and other stuff that occurs during the possessing time is revoked at the time that the Hunter's soul is restored to his body)
    Live, Love, Laugh. What a waste of potential! It should be: Live, Lay (waste to your enemies), Lie (in your deathbed peacefully after a long and fulfilling life)

    78% of DM's started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Hrrrm.

    I'm not so familiar with the stats side of things, but I can tell you the key to REALLY making this work, both in terms of goals achieved and in terms of an interesting story that your fellow player will want to be part of.

    Okay, yes, you COULD get him to just sign over his soul as the price, be it knowingly or part of the fine print. But that's not as fun, and ultimately not as effective. So, here's an alternative. Make the activation condition of his newly-gained powers that he has to pray to, worship, and supplicate your master. Maybe some extensive prayers every night to be sure it's ready during the following day, and then a quick prayer at the moment of activation itself, followed by a prayer of gratitude and praise reasonably soon after the power's used. (Like, after the encounter. Within an hour, say, or ASAP if he's incapacitated. The point is NOT to screw him over if he CAN'T do this, just if he chooses not to.) If he doesn't, the penalty is that he loses the power and takes an ongoing debuff (something like, say, a bane spell or a bestow curse) until he makes a reasonable penance.

    At this point, he's a borderline worshiper, and your master has a good claim upon his soul at death. But what's more, he's HAPPY with this. He will keep doing it. You can whisper into his ear now and then about how great it is to worship a LIVING and ACTIVE and POWERFUL deity that actually provides real blessings.

    Whenever your imp has control of the hunter? DON'T SCREW HIM OVER. Instead have him be extra-awesome. Have him wake up with loot he doesn't remember getting, or people thanking him for his heroism and ooing and awing over his prowess. Before long you'll have him as a fellow devotee.

    So now we come to the truly evil part: Pyramid schemes.

    After a few levels, your powers will have expanded and he'll be feeling that his contract is underpowered. So you try to upsell him with a newer, shinier, more powerful contract. But the price for THIS one, you say, he has to do a bit of recruiting for you and find three other people (followers, cohorts, whatever) who want to come to you to sign their own contracts. He can use testimonials about how satisfied he is with your master's blessings and how happy he is in his devotions to reel people in. These people will, in turn, need to do some recruiting as well, but they can either recruit on their own OR they can get your hunter friend (one link up the chain) to recruit on their behalf in exchange for some suitable price.

    At this point the hunter is not just a worshiper. He's a proselytizer and a preacher. Your master has his soul for sure at this point. And the souls of all he recruits... and all the souls THEY recruit... and all the souls THEY recruit... and so on.

    The beauty of all this is that he NEVER ACTUALLY SIGNS HIS SOUL AWAY. The hardest part of selling anyone on a contract like this is that they KNOW to look for that clause or anything that might be construed as that clause. But you're not capturing his soul with that clause. You're capturing it the old-fashioned way, and the fact that he's looking for his clause will stop him from seeing the true trap.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Why are you trying to screw over somebody at your table? Seems like a good way to ruin the game.

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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Red Fel Red Fel Red Fel

    Come on, we have a professional.
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    78% of DMs started their first campaign in a tavern. If you're one of the 22% that didn't, copy and paste this into your signature.
    My first adventure started as a continuation of another's person's adventure. The party stepped into a room that was trapped with some gates which teleported them into another plane.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Quote Originally Posted by FocusWolf413 View Post
    Red Fel Red Fel Red Fel

    Come on, we have a professional.
    I am a professional!

    Quote Originally Posted by Cestes View Post
    (BTW This is all Pathfinder)


    So, I have an Unholy Barrister/Ecclesitheurge/Hidden Priest/Charismatic (cleric) that the DM has allowed to gain the Infernal Legist feat next level (5), with the stipulation that all things granted by my contracts must be within the capabilities of my character. Can someone help me write an infernal contract that will help to screw over a (soon to be) level 5 Hunter with a wolf companion that he loves? All without him suspecting a thing. Pact Insidious preferred, but not necessary.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cestes View Post
    Thank you!
    This has (I know this sounds cliche) given me a lot to think about.
    My character is motivated to gain souls for her master. Simple as that. She has given herself to the cause, and as such her motivations are pretty clear.
    His character ... I am assuming (from knowledge as a personal friend of his) that he wants to be powerful. And have the ability to surpass his dog in power.
    I was thinking of giving a contract that gives (not in so many words):
    Templates to his doggo
    Sentient Scaling Hell-Fire Cannon (that condemns the souls of those that it kills)
    in return for
    One undefined "Favor" per lunar month that does not violate his alignment at the time of the request
    And a cumulative one (1) minute per week with a 10% (rounded down) interest that compounds at the end of every month of "Modified " time. (essentially meaning that his soul is removed from his body, and is filled with a low-level fiend, Imp, that will follow the commands of my character. All damage, effects, XP gain, and other stuff that occurs during the possessing time is revoked at the time that the Hunter's soul is restored to his body)
    Okay. Here's the thing.

    First: Things granted by your contract must be within your abilities. So let's see. Can you apply templates? Can you create a sentient cannon that claims souls?

    No? Then that stuff is out. Stop that.

    Second: You're receiving one favor that doesn't damage his alignment, and one minute per week of letting an Imp inhabit his body (which definitely will impact his alignment). I get why having a favor benefits you, but since it won't upset his alignment your use from that favor is limited; in what way does turning him into an Imp-shell benefit you? Because - here's a key point - this deal sounds like it gets you nothing.

    Screwing over someone else? That's a sucker's game. You can do better.

    Let's assume your end goal is to screw this guy over. Let's further assume that it's socially acceptable (at your table) to do this, and that you have the resources necessary to do so. How do you do it?

    Not the way you're going about it.

    I've said it before - Infernal Pacts are needful things. They involve giving someone exactly what they think they need when they are the most desperate to have it. The best Pacts don't screw over the client - he does that to himself.

    Getting exactly what you want, no questions asked, for a price you consider to be negligible, is a naturally corrupting act. People are naturally wasteful with things they didn't earn. This is a proven fact - they've done studies, for example, on people who win the lottery or receive an inheritance, and most end up squandering it, simply because they unconsciously know they didn't earn it.

    That's how a Pact tends to work. The client receives exactly what he wants at little or no perceived cost. The cost isn't in what he gave to you, it's what he gave up by entering into a Pact. He gave up the chance to feel like he earned it. So now, suddenly, he has this un-earned benefit and a whole world on which to unleash it.

    And better: He has a dealer ready to hook him up with even more when he comes asking.

    That's where your benefit comes in. Not from the first deal. First deal gets him hooked, convinces him that there's no cost to him. Let him have that. It's the next deal that has a string attached. Not a big one, just a little one.

    And none of that indefinite "one favor per month that doesn't impact your alignment" crap. That gets the rubes suspicious. Keep it definite. Do X for me, I do Y for you. Re-up your subscription to Infernal Power Monthly for the low, low cost of go kill that guy for me. He's a PC, I assume, that makes it easy; they're all murderhobos anyway, what's one more innocent death on his hands?

    That's it. Keep it simple, stop overcomplicating. Don't try to be Batman, or Xanatos, or any of those guys.

    That's my job.
    My headache medicine has a little "Ex" inscribed on the pill. It's not a brand name; it's an indicator that it works inside an Anti-Magic Field.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Please Help Write Infernal Contract

    Infernal contracts, work a lot like wishes. You have to make sure you word them exactly, or you'll get unexpected results.

    "I wish to be the strongest man in the world!"
    POOF! Your character is now Fred, the strongest man in the world. He ceases to be himself, doesn't remember being himself, etc. He's now an NPC, but he's the strongest man in the world!

    "I wish for a million gold pieces!"
    POOF! Your character is now buried under literally tons of gold coins, and squashed flat. He's a rich corpse...but he's still a corpse.

    Of course, with contracts, the devil, as they say, is in the fine print. It is still common to find IRL contracts that have clauses on different pages, that seem to be separate conditions, but can be (and are written to be) taken together, to have a completely different effect.

    So in your case, "At the time of the request" could be defined in a separate clause, to mean the exact second of the request, but the time frame immediately following the request, (i.e. the request itself) is fair game.

    You can say "My favor this month, is kill every rabbit in that building." and then polymorph the family living there into rabbits. Killing rabbits will not violate his alignment, so the request is valid. Even if he knows and watches you polymorph people into rabbits, the request AT THAT TIME, was kosher. The fact that innocent people were transformed into rabbits after the request was made is beside the point.

    Of course, the signing of the contract would need to place said dupe under a Geas to compel him to perform the favor, no matter what.

    Also, you should include a clause that exempts the acts of the imp from the "nothing against his alignment" stipulation. So the Imp can use his body to rape, pillage, and plunder. It's a technicality, but since HE is not doing the actions, said actions do not cause HIM to violate his alignment. But the repercussions of said actions are his to deal with.

    Of course, then there's the fact that, depending on your dupe's alignment, just the act of signing an infernal contract could cause an alignment shift, which starts the process out nicely.

    And then there's the time scale...

    If your character is out to harvest souls, tricking one member of your party into signing a rigged contract, is really a slow way to go. If you want to harvest souls, you have to work on a volume based harvest system. If you are capable of creating that cannon you mentioned earlier, then go with something your dupe can, and most likely will, use frequently. Make him a sword (or a bow...what ever his favorite weapon is), that swallows the souls of those it kills and commits them to your character's deity. Make it a (demi)human slayer, and watch your dupe do your harvesting for you. He thinks he's getting a great weapon for free, your deity get's the souls of his victims, and you do little to no work. Give it a function that powers it up a bit more, any time he kills an innocent with it, and wait to see how long it takes him to actually justify using that ability (and let him damn himself).
    Last edited by Mutazoia; 2017-12-11 at 03:36 AM.
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