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A PC died, and in an attempt to have his life spared, my group's paladin decided to offer his soul after he had a talk with the spiritual form of Lolth. Lolth decided to bargain for a trade of his friend's life back to normal in exchange for the paladin's soul (not the paladin's life).

I don't want to just make the paladin turn "evil", but I want to offer him some form of template (much how a PC turns into a vampire, for example, and gets extra new stuff from the vampire template).

Is there some template like the deathknight, for example, but with more powers to make my player feel like he unlocked a "premium" or otherwise "hidden" character template? If so, which is it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm curious as to why the normal revivify/raise dead/resurrection/reincarnate route wasn't an option for this character? \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Jan 4 at 20:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AllanMills Why would you do that when this is actually interesting? \$\endgroup\$ – Mark Wells Jan 4 at 20:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AllanMills I agree with Mark Wells, and also, they were in a dungeon with limited access to resources. As low level group, they don't even have access to revivify/raise dead/resurrection/reincarnate route yet. It was a good chanse to create an epic moment and give an exclusive access to a different class. PC's love exclusive stuff (and the feeling of being unique), regardless of quality. \$\endgroup\$ – Drunken Commoner Jan 4 at 20:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is still really broad, mostly because random internet users can't guess what your player wants or how they would feel. There are too many options: class features, magic items, boons, story rewards, etc. Maybe ask your player for ideas. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Jan 4 at 21:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarkWells My main concern is if this would disrupt the party later on. If their (presumably) good and righteous paladin becomes a creature of darkness it could cause the players problems later on. \$\endgroup\$ – Allan Mills Jan 4 at 22:45
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Selling your soul doesn’t make you evil

Let’s not get into off-topic discussions about the nature of good and evil. Suffice it to say that being in debt to an evil demon doesn’t make you evil; only your own actions do that.

When does she get it?

To paraphrase an old Bon Jovi song: “I’ll live while I’m alive, and be in thrall to the Queen of the Spiderweb Pits when I’m dead”

There are evil paladins

You have clearly not been on the wrong side of a lawful evil Oath of Vengeance paladin or a chaotic evil Oath of the Ancients paladin who wants to return civilisation to a Hobbesian state of nature: nasty, brutish and short.

A paladin is defined by their oath, not their morals. Each oath is a “broad church”: there’s room for all world views within it.

The Oathbreaker

The Oathbreaker paladin (DMG, p. 97) is the only official option that sort-of does want you want. However, it’s for paladins who break their oaths, not for paladins who like drowning puppies in their spare time or who sell their souls to a demon lord.

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    \$\begingroup\$ May not be what player is looking for, but could also consider a warlock dip as an option. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 4 at 22:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your own actions...... like, for instance, selling your soul to an evil demon? \$\endgroup\$ – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 5 at 22:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Harper-ReinstateMonica or ... like, for instance, sacrificing your soul to save someone’s life? \$\endgroup\$ – Dale M Jan 5 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Past editions have explicitly called out making deals with devils/demons as an evil act. Admittedly, 5e takes a much more barebones approach to alignment (among other things). \$\endgroup\$ – Michael W. Jan 6 at 18:01
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The Oathbreaker

The Dungeon Master's Guide features the special Paladin subclass of "Oathbreaker". According to the description:

An Oathbreaker is a paladin who breaks his or her sacred oaths to pursue some dark ambition or serve an evil power. Whatever light burned in the paladin's heart has been extinguished. Only darkness remains.

If you feel this applies to your Paladin buddy for trading away his soul, you might consider replacing his current Oath with this one. You can read more about this on page 97 of the Dungeon Master's Guide.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that choosing the paladin's oath for them may mean forcing them into a character they don't enjoy. The DM should ensure they discuss this with the player first. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Jan 4 at 20:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ I prefer to add some template over him, something to make him feel like he achieved something otherwise unachievable. An oathbreaker is still rather easy thing to accomplish. \$\endgroup\$ – Drunken Commoner Jan 4 at 20:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ they will enjoy, I have talked about it in the past and he said he would ejoy such an epic transition. \$\endgroup\$ – Drunken Commoner Jan 4 at 21:01
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DrunkenCommoner How is it easy to accomplish? It's an option normally reserved for NPC, so it's usually impossible for players to use it. It's even quite a bit stronger than other paladin oaths. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Jan 4 at 21:09
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As others have said, Oathbreaker fits if the player/character's new mission serves the evil power. The alternative could be something else, as whatever force they did serve before is likely to have opinions on what they've just done.

So, these are the questions: Where does the Paladin's power now come from, are they attempting to redeem themselves in the eyes of their old patron, and is this a thing they want to fix over the course of the campaign, a new permenant part of the character spec, or a new direction for the character.

One way to do this would they are now multiclassed, Level X paladin, Level 1 Minion of Lolth, which comes with a couple of really useful spells they wouldn't usually get access to, with the caveat that the more they use these powers the further into debt they become, until Lolth can - for example - claim control of the Paladin for 48 hours, after which they wake up with no clear memory of what they did, their debt paid, and a lot of people with pitchforks outside.

Or they can put XP into climbing your new Minion of Lolth XP tree until the branches start to crack.

Or their current patron doesn't know about the deal, and any of the above options.

But the end point of all of this is up to you and the player to discuss; what tropes they're looking to embody in the campaign, how much this incident becomes/disrupts the campaign, how to balance this rich vein of Content against spotlight time for the rest of the Party.

But if you're looking for templates to add simply as a mechnical thing, Oathbreaker works, Inventing a new multiclass they can maybe only take a level or two of works, something less strictly mechanical that might cause the other characters to start questioning things works (Starting to feel empathy towards demons, suddenly speaking abyssal, a tendancy for flashy spells to now smell of brimstone, that kind of thing).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ In the example in your third paragraph, are you suggesting homebrewing a new "Minion of Lolth" class? \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 6 at 7:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, pretty much. Not a full home-brew class, but a one- or two-level diversion that grants access to a couple of reskinned cantrips. A spell that spits acid of at them for 1d4, stuff like that. Something that seems like a shiny character thing without breaking balance. \$\endgroup\$ – Aquarion Jan 6 at 19:20

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