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I am making a Celestial Warlock who has made a pact with a particularly powerful Unicorn, as suggested in XgtE. One thing I want to do is flesh out the pact and my patron, but I am struggling to find anything that would make a Unicorn different to any other Chaotic Good Celestial who happened to like forests.

I hope this isn't too broad, shopping related or an open ended list, but:

What published official sources (Including novels) describe the motivations of Unicorns, provide examples of quests on behalf of unicorns, or provide examples of other 'wants'?

Ideally these would be showing the unicorn wanting something other than rescuing after being trapped in a net, or otherwise reacting to something negative affecting it.

I am playing 5th Edition, but any D&D lore will be suitable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @sdjz so hard to think of unicorns as monsters \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jul 22 at 11:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not a Legends of Tomorrow fan then. (Caution: Violence.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jul 22 at 11:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ In Dragons of Autumn Twilight (a Dragonlance novel), there is a unicorn who is known as the Forestmaster. It's been a long time since I read it, but I think she was kind of a forest/nature protector. \$\endgroup\$ – Matt Hollands Jul 23 at 8:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Title answer: a virgin \$\endgroup\$ – CGCampbell Jul 23 at 12:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri Read Pratchett then. Or more grimdarkly, Charles Stross's excellent Laundry Files novella "Equoid". \$\endgroup\$ – Graham Jul 24 at 15:20
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There's not a lot to go on in official 5E materials, but there's a few clues in the monster description which we can extrapolate from. Note that since the default setting in 5E is Forgotten Realms, what follows is Forgotten Realms lore. Unicorns in other settings might be very different.

To start, these are regional effects that might apply to a unicorn's domain:

  • Open flames of a nonmagical nature are extinguished within the unicorn’s domain
  • Creatures native to the unicorn’s domain have an easier time hiding; they have advantage on all Dexterity (Stealth) checks made to hide.
  • When a good-aligned creature casts a spell or uses a magical effect that causes another good-aligned creature to regain hit points, the target regains the maximum number of hit points possible for the spell or effect.
  • Curses affecting any good-aligned creature are suppressed.

And it says "If the unicorn dies, these effects end immediately." I think it's therefore reasonable to expect these things to be manifestations of the unicorn's wants.

So:

  • they don't like fire. This might put them at odds with fire as an elemental force, and opposed to, say, any cults of fire or fire deities.
  • hiding and stealth are valued as a way to stay safe, and healing and protection of good creatures is a priority.

Then, also from the description:

Unicorns allow good-hearted creatures to enter their woods to hunt or gather food, but they hold evil ever at bay.

So, again, protection of the good — and holding evil ever at bay. And not just passively, because:

Foul-hearted creatures seldom leave a unicorn’s domain alive.

On maybe a more local, specific level:

Most unicorns protect a bounded realm such as an enchanted forest. However, the gods sometimes send a unicorn to guard sacred artifacts or protect specific creatures.

So, an individual, specific unicorn may want a particular location, artifact, or creature protected. That would be very campaign-specific, of course (not necessarily a bad thing).

Under a unicorn’s protection, creatures feel safe from the threat of encroaching civilization and the insidious spread of evil.

Again, keeping the spread of evil at bay — and also, stopping "encroaching civilization".

And finally from the monster description:

A paladin astride a unicorn is a sign of the gods’ direct intervention in the affairs of the mortal realm. It is a holy alliance made to cleave the heads from demons and banish devils back to the Nine Hells.

... we've got a specific remit to fight demons and devils.

That's almost all there is to go on, except the note in Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide that:

Mielikki’s symbol is a unicorn, which prompts some to think of her as such and conflate her with Lurue, Queen of the Unicorns and the actual goddess of their kind.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell, there is no official 5E lore relating to Lurue, but one might be able to find some from older editions. One tiny tidbit comes from the Knight of the Order character background in Sword Coast Adventurers' Guide:

The Knights of the Unicorn [...] On a lark, they took the unicorn goddess Lurue as their mascot and went on various adventures for fun. The reality of the dangers they faced eventually sank in, as did Lurue’s tenets. [...] The Knights of the Unicorn are chivalric adventurers who follow romantic ideals: life is to be relished and lived with laughter, quests should be taken on a dare, impossible dreams should be pursued for the sheer wonder of their completion, and everyone should be praised for their strengths and comforted in their weaknesses.

We don't know which of these are actually Lurue's tenets in 5E, but this paragraph is actually directly lifted word-for-word from the description of Lurue's dogma in the 3rd edition (3.0, pre 3.5) book Faiths and Pantheons (which in turn seems to have been adapted from a similar one in AD&D 2e Powers and Pantheons). So that seems plausibly canonical.

A warlock following that particular happy-go-lucky knight errant character trope would be quite different from warlocks as often played, and also quite different from the stereotypical follower of a forest god.

Also as suggested in the Forgotten Realms wiki, both of the older-edition sources note that Lurue is an enemy of Malar, the beast-god of lycanthropy and is also opposed to the Red Wizards of Thay — so, there are some other specific sources of evil incarnate your unicorn patron might have particular concerns about.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Man I wish I could write essays about things that "there's not a lot to go on"; it would have been immensely helpful in school. \$\endgroup\$ – goodguy5 Jul 22 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @goodguy5 Yes, that's where I gained this ability :) \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jul 22 at 18:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Those KotU ideas sound like they came from My Little Pony. Laughter, loyalty (the reason to accept your friend's dares), magic, honesty, kindness. If chivalry provides generosity, you've got the set. Confirmed Lurue endorses the elements of harmony. \$\endgroup\$ – Lofty Withers Jul 22 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LoftyWithers Perhaps! Although Powers and Pantheons is from 1997, so it certainly predates Friendship is Magic. Who knows — maybe the inspiration is actually the other way around! \$\endgroup\$ – mattdm Jul 23 at 13:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ (continued because it ate it...) Often this is a metaphor for a high ideal or an unattainable love - you will never have it, or her, but you serve her anyway because she is wonderful. Perhaps the idea is that the unicorns and their goddess approve of that kind of thing and appear to humans precisely because that's just what they wanted them to do! \$\endgroup\$ – A. B. Jul 23 at 13:43

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