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Are devils limited with regards the powers they give to a warlock by a pact? I want to know if a devil can grant immortality by a pact. Normally they want the souls after death.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think we need some clarity with this question. Is the devil in question a warlock patron? Do you want the devil to grant immortality to the warlock as a part of that pact? Are you worried that the devil would not do this because they actually want the warlock to die so that they can have the warlock's soul for eternity? Or are you asking an entirely different question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mathaddict
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mathaddict Based on the previous question that this was part of, I believe the question is whether a warlock's devil patron can bestow immortality as part of a pact. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 16:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @QuadraticWizard thats what i mean \$\endgroup\$
    – Jenneigh93
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 16:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking whether the rules allow adding effects to a pact that aren't part of the class features, or are you asking whether a devil would offer immortality? Those are two different questions. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 16:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ Edited to clarify the meaning of the question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 17:13

2 Answers 2

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The DM can do whatever they want to, including adding additional effects to a pact, so this isn't really something we can answer with the rules-as-written. Presumably if the DM does this, there would be some story-based reason for it.

Whether a devil would offer immortality, and what exactly that means, is a question the DM would also have to handle on a narrative level. Normally, a warlock trades their soul for the magical powers that make up their class features, but devils make lots of kinds of bargains with mortals that aren't necessarily related to the warlock class. (For example, if a person sold their soul to grant power to another person, then the devil might be looking for a way to get the recipient of those powers to also sell; or if the warlock performed some great service, they may be able to demand a repayment in the form of an extra gift, though perhaps one with strings attached.)

In the real-world folktales, immortality is often one of the things the Devil will offer to somebody, but -- one supposes -- only if they're pretty wicked already and he's pretty sure keeping that person around will inflict more harm on the world than letting them pass on, thus setting up a villain for the hero to face and some conditions that will require an adventure to deal with.

But devils' bargains being what they are, I think we can assume there will be some sort of twist to it. Just to start with, "immortality" can mean a lot of things:

  • Unending age - you never die, but continue to grow older and more infirm forever
  • Ageless - you remain young forever but can be killed as easily as any mortal
  • Deathless - you can't die but damage still accrues to your body and may not heal
  • Invincibility - you regenerate from any injury or damage
  • Revival - you can die but will always come back (sooner or later)

For example, the elves of Lord of the Rings are ageless*, the characters in Death Becomes Her are deathless, the Greek prince Tithonus aged forever until he withered into an insect, and certain characters in Baldur's Gate are invincible.

And then there are riders or conditions to the immortality, like the classic Koschei the Deathless stories, where he's effectively invincible, but can be killed if you can find his heart (hidden in the eye of a needle in an egg in a duck in a rabbit, etc.) and destroy it. Possibly a PC warlock is ageless, but only as long as they keep using their infernal pact to take lives, which feeds their ageless state (and also gives them temporary HP).

From a game-balance perspective, agelessness (eternal youth) is more or less meaningless. A character's whole adventuring career may span only a few years or a decade of in-universe time, depending on how big the gaps between adventures are (if any), and writing down that you're actually 900 years old instead of 19 means very little. Similarly, being able to revive when you die may not actually equate to an in-game power boost if the revival period is long enough (e.g. if you'll come back but it takes 10 years, that's not going to help the party or have any impact on the current storyline). Obviously, being able to regenerate like Wolverine would be completely broken in a game-mechanical sense, so probably not that one, at least for a PC.

*Technically, Tolkien's elves also have that Revival thing going on, but since their respawn point is outside the world of mortals and they can't really come back after, it's functionally death as far as anyone outside Valinor is concerned.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "immortality from age" is a classic example, only to be used to either torture the victim into suicide or setting them up to be slain by someone else. \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 17:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Unending" age is what King Cikadus of Greek Myth got when he asked the gods to never die. He got ever smaller and more shrivelled until he was tiny, and his voice was just a chirping to be heard. It where cicadas get their name from. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ THANK YOU! I knew there was a classical example of getting older forever but I couldn't remember what story it was. Name was actually Tithonus though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 18:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DarthPseudonym, Ah yes, I recounted it from memory. You are entirely right about the name. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 19:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ The last example of "immortality" reminds me of the curse Subaru from the Anime Re:Zero suffers: He can die, but revives a little bit in the past afterwards, with all the memories and the pain he felt intact. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tobias F.
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 6:49
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Immortal, perhaps, but not invulnerable.

D&D 5th edition lore heavily ties the devil's pact to the warlock character class. However, books from earlier editions of D&D (and therefore the canonical history of Faerûn) often describe pacts which grant a huge variety of different boons, which may plausibly include immortality.

Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, Appendix A, refers to these as Diabolical Deals, and even lesser devils like imps can offer them. This is different than a warlock's pact, which according to the Player's Handbook can only be offered by the most powerful of devils. (You could, for example, sell your soul to an imp for a single magic item.)

However, the ultimate goal of a devil is to reap the contractee's soul eventually, and they are particularly well known for exploiting technicalities in contracts. Therefore, while they might grant someone immortality, they will certainly have some loophole in mind.

Immortality as a reward

In the D&D 5e Dungeon Master's Guide, there's an Epic Boon called the Boon of Immortality, which allows someone to never die of old age. It's possible for a warlock to receive such a boon from their patron after reaching level 20, or a cleric from their deity, and so on. It's entirely possible for a warlock's patron to grant them some gifts like this. However, they can still die if slain.

Descent into Avernus suggests that a diabolical deal with an archdevil can give you the benefit of a wish spell, which can do practically anything including bringing the dead back to life, DM willing. Avernus suggests you can have immunity to aging, although not immortality. In other words, immortality is the upper bounds of power, relative to what you would normally be given, and it may even be too powerful a reward. A wish spell can also have unexpected consequences if you ask too much of it, so perhaps you would simply be transformed into a vampire, which is technically a form of immortality.

In the AD&D 2e World of Greyhawk sourcebook Ivid the Undying, there is a mage named Karoolck who made a pact with the archfiend Baalzephon. He is not truly immortal, but will live without aging for 333 years, and return to life if slain during that time. Since Karoolck is a powerful 19th-level archmage, it gives the sense that actual immortality is rarely awarded.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But it is not the devil's pact, it is the Fiend Patron and pacts are made with The Fiend. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast True, but the devil is a subcategory of fiends, and is the one best associated with fiendish pacts in the lore. I can't think of any warlocks whose patron is a yugoloth, for example. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ QW: Orcus and Demagorgon are demon princes who could easily be fiend patrons. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2023 at 22:35

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