Fiends and Archfey could be killed by a rival trying to usurp their power.

If this is not covered in the 5e RAW, is there a good resource from another edition that could be helpful in determining how the death of the being with whom a Warlock has a pact with affects a Warlock?


2 Answers 2


There is no RAW answer, so it's up to the DM.

The way I would rule is that if there is no Patron there is no power. I would do this with the divine classes as well. I don't do it to be mean to the player, but for the cool story options it provides.

From a story perspective, there is a really cool way you can handle this (I've done it but used a Cleric and their deity):


  1. Talk to the player, make sure he is okay with losing his powers for an entire session.
  2. Talk to the party, make sure they're okay playing an entire session about the Warlock.
  3. Have the Warlock loses his Patron (and power) and then run an entire session about him getting it back. Take the party to wherever Archfiends/Archfey reside in your world and let the Warlock find a new patron. There are lots of ways for the Warlock to get a new patron: maybe the party defeats an Archfiend/fey and demands that it enter the pact with the Warlock, if the patron is a devil maybe the party goes to a higher devil and demands recompense which should work because they're lawful (but have a price because they're evil), maybe the Warlock begs.

There are lots of options for a Warlock to get a new Patron which could provide a fun and interesting adventure for your group.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ As a DM, I would have so much fun with this. To go even further, the type of patron might have an effect. In folklore, Fey creatures are bound by promises (if you've read the Dresden Files, this will be familiar) so if your patron is fey, then the obligation might fall to their heir, or even to whoever killed them, if they're a fey as well. For a fiend, it might be that their killer has the chance to take on the patron's former wealth, including vassals like warlocks, so there's a power play there. For Great Old Ones... who knows? Perhaps a quest to meet a strange and ancient being? \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2015 at 12:54

Short version:

Due to the lack of RAW information on a warlock's power, the outcome of such an event should be determined by the DM. Plausible outcomes are determined by the nature of a warlock's power (which is determined by the DM). If the power comes directly from a given entity, it would mean power loss, and if it comes from some other place and the "pacted entity" simply made that connection, then it is possible that the power will remain.

For the purpose of the story the DM may decide, for example, that another entity will inherit the pacts of the original archfiend/archfey, which may make sense depending on circumstances.

Long version:

To my knowledge, 5e's description of warlocks amounts to half of a page of text, which gives very little insight on the warlock's relationship with their pacted entity, and zero information how the pact was made or how the warlock's powers function.

Source books from 3.5 (Complete Arcane and Complete Mage) speak of warlocks, and there's additional mention of them in Fiendish Codex II. However, none of this books actually bother to explain warlock powers, which means that it is mostly left for the DM to decide.

Now, putting aside that killing some fiend was quite hard and you needed to do that on their home plane (otherwise they would reform later - whether it is true or not in 5e remains to be seen), there's pretty much two ways for a warlock's power to function:

  1. Warlock gains powers directly from its "master". This is similar to relationship between cleric and deity.
  2. Their "master" enables them to gain power from somewhere else. The warlock performs a ritual and creates a conduit with greater power source, such as "essence of the nine hells", "chaos of the abyss" and such.

The obvious consequences are that in scenario #1 if the "master" is slain then the warlock will lose all powers or most of them. In scenario #2 if the "master" is killed, then the warlock retains all powers, unless connection with the actual power source has been severed. If a pacted entity is the Archfiend, it is reasonable to expect that there's some safety mechanism that terminates pacts once the archfiend is dead.

The main difference between the 3.5 and 5e warlock (aside from warlocks having spellslots now) is that in 5e the warlock is in service and the "master" checks on the warlock periodically. That is a much closer relationship than what 3.5 warlocks had and is somewhat similar to a cleric's relationship with their deity. This means that complete power loss upon the death of a "pacted entity" is more plausible in 5e than it was in 3.5e (where infinitely recastable spells suggested a connection to some infinite power pool).

From the perspective of the story, another fun thing a DM could do is to make some other entity inherit all of the pacts of a slain entity. It makes sense if the archfiend you pacted with was slain by another archfiend. It makes less sense if it was slain by someone else.
I saw this kind of plot in action, it was a big shock for the warlock character to discover that the entity he planned to kill was already slain by someone else and that a NEW fiend held the warlock's pact.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Uh, you should probably restore all those articles. This is not grammatical English and is substantially harder to read now. Articles are not optional in any variety of English. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 22, 2015 at 3:57
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ As SevenSidedDie says, articles are kind of important in English; a native English speaker, this abuse of the language offends my eyes, and makes the answer less clear. -1. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jul 22, 2015 at 4:57
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I fixed the numerous errors in syntax and punctuation, and a few bits of grammar and formatting. @SevenSidedDie Amen to your comment. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 28, 2021 at 16:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .