I'm in a game that has a lot of first-time players (myself included) however the person I am questioning I do not believe is a first time player.

We've been playing for about 6 months now (October - Present) though our Warlock was gone for the winter quarter and missed the previous arc (nbd). I didn't know a lot about DnD when we were playing in the fall but after winter quarter I had a better sense of what well, made sense in DnD. And I noticed some...odd behavior from our Warlock.

The main thing I noticed that was fishy is that after an incident where we (accidentally) killed his familiar (an imp) he claimed it was a messenger from his patron (fair enough). I asked him who his patron was and he said "I don't know who my patron is" which isn't right, isn't it? I asked out of character because I thought they had to choose and my DM was like "yeah they don't know where their magic comes from" but i looked it up and the choices in the Players Handbook were "the Archfey, the Fiend, or the Great Old One," which all have specific boons.

Does a Warlock then have to know his patron, or can he just not know it? Will he miss out on his boons?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What makes you say warlocks must be evil or neutral? Is this a house rule for your table? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 19:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @David I don't know things that's why I'm asking but I've been watching a lot of "how to play X-character/classes in Dnd" videos and they've all said that warlocks aren't yanno "good" idk that's why I'm asking \$\endgroup\$
    – S. Bunni
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 19:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does he not know their name or not even what type of being they are? \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 19:45
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Historical note: In 3.5rd edition, members of the Warlock class frequently didn't know the identity of their patrons, as pacts could be hereditary in that edition. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 21:54
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A note: unlike earlier editions, 5e has no alignment restrictions on classes; they don't even give suggestions - the descriptions for races mention alignments that they commonly tend towards, but classes do not. There's no mechanical reason why you can't play a Lawful Good warlock, even with a Fiend patron. (In fact, there could be some great story in how that came about and how the character deals with it...) Xanathar's Guide to Everything even added the Celestial warlock, who gets healing abilities and access to cleric spells, which definitely lends itself to unambiguously Good warlocks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 16, 2018 at 10:09

2 Answers 2


Not Necessarily

Nothing in the text requires a warlock to know his/her patron's specific identity.

you have struck a bargain with an otherworldly being of your choice: the Archfey, the Fiend, ...

The only thing you chose is the type of being, not the entity itself. That is worked out with your GM.

Here's an excerpt from the Great Old One patron to show how this relationship might work.

Your patron is a mysterious entity whose nature is utterly foreign to the fabric of reality ... The Great Old One might be unaware of your existence or entirely indifferent to you, but the secrets you have learned allow you to draw your magic from it. 

In this case, not only would the warlock not know the patron, it's possible the patron doesn't know about the Warlock.

So while his character may know what type of entity (Fiend, Archfey, etc.) fuels it's magic, he doesn't have to know what individual specifically.

The GM probably knows

Sometimes the GM will keep some things about a character secret even from the player so the player can learn more about his character as the game goes on. This can be fun for some people who really enjoy getting into the role of their character.

I wouldn't worry too much as the flavor isn't that important for gameplay purposes.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The quoted part does not say anything about what the warlock knows and refers only to the GOO. There is no similar passage for the other patrons. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah okay. That makes sense. I'm just trying my best to learn and among other things that confused me (V.V) Thank you so much! \$\endgroup\$
    – S. Bunni
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 19:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega I meant it as an example. I revised for better clarity \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 19:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was not about clarity. Your argument does not logically follow from what you quote. You are stating your opinion without basis. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 20:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Szega my basis is the text lacking a requirement to know the patron. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 20:11

The question is interesting. I will start with

  • What does "Not knowing its patron" mean?

If we read p. 108 from PHB, the section about the patrons say

The beings that serve as patrons for warlocks are mighty inhabitants of other planes of existence - not gods, but almost godlike in their power. Various patrons give their warlocks access to different powers and invocations, and expect significant favors in return.

From that, we expect some kind of interaction between the Warlock and the Patron. The introduction says this relationship can be like that of a cleric and a deity, but mostly are like that of a master and apprentice. In p. 107, this relationship is further clarified as

you have struck a bargain with an otherworldly being.

So far, the Warlock should know his Patron - he made a pact with it, after all, and draws his powers from it, while acting in behalf of it, although as noted in David Coffron answer, that doesn't always apply.

But now back to my question: what does "not knowing it" mean? The Warlock might have done a pact with "a fiend", but not necessarily knowing WHICH fiend. The Warlock might have done a blind pact, without even knowing with what kind of Patron. It could just be a shadow that talked to him when he made a ritual, but without a shape or revealing itself. If the Warlock is good and would only serve to the Archfey, maybe a Fiend actually pretended it was an Archfey to manipulate the Warlock?

Also, remember: the Warlock said he doesn't know, that doesn't (necessarily) mean he actually doesn't know, he might just be lying to you. Honestly, if neither the DM or the player are seeing a problem on it, I wouldn't go as far as telling someone he's playing his character wrong, after all you don't have all the info on him, only him and (maybe) the DM do. (Please don't take it the rude way)

  • \$\begingroup\$ yeah that makes sense. that's why I asked the question, being new to DND I honestly don't know. Thanks for the info! \$\endgroup\$
    – S. Bunni
    Commented Apr 15, 2018 at 20:08

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