! Warlocks are my favorite class to both play and DM for, and I am always striving for unique warlock patrons for myself and my players. This is going to be a short series where I present some example patrons for all of the warlock subclasses in the Player's Handbook (the Archfey, the Fiend, and the Great Old One) before potentially providing more past that. This is my first post here so as always, feedback is welcomed. Provided here are descriptions of the two patrons and what they may ask of their warlocks, some flavor ideas for traits and Pact Boons, extra gifts you may hand out to your players if they complete appropriate side quests, and some example plot hooks for both of them.
The Lord of the Lost The cold chill of winter surrounded the traveler, his brittle skin tightened around his bones. He'd been at it for three days, now. His hunting party had been attacked by frost giants, and while he just barely managed to get away, the rest of his caravan was not so lucky. As soon as he had set off, a terrible storm had set upon him, and he felt like he'd been moving in circles. Had it even been three days? Had it been shorter? Longer? He did not know. The cold and the starvation were getting to him. Soon, the chilling embrace of death would claim him. Or so he thought. The cold storm was broken by a steadily approaching light. A hooded individual, lantern in one hand and gnarled walking stick in the other, approached him from the north. The traveler rushed through the snow before collapsing in front of the hooded individual, frigid tears running down his face. "Now I suppose you've wandered in here long enough, hmm? You look miserable." The hooded individual's voice was smooth and welcoming. He placed a hand on the traveler's arm and helped him to his feet. "I'm so happy to see you, I've been out here for days - finally someone that can help-" "Now now," the hooded individual interrupted, a wry grin revealing itself from beneath the cloak, "I did not commit to any such thing."
The Lord of the Lost is an archfey that finds his greatest pleasure in experiencing the wide range of emotions that comes from an individual led astray. He spends most of his time in arctic environments, but has also spent time in lush forests or on the coast of remote islands awaiting lost individuals. He delights in making bets with himself on how long it takes for desperation to set in on the forlorn traveler: how long before a party turns on each other for food, how many days someone can survive alone, how long it takes to find civilization, so on and so forth. He does not care much for where a traveler comes from, nor where they end up, instead focusing entirely on the dread that comes with being alone.
Similar to a prey playing with their food, the Lord of the Lost has weather-changing and environment-shaping abilities that keep his victims wandering. Laying a massive layer of fog over the ocean, thickening the treetops so that travelers cannot use the stars to navigate, or simply posing as a toy salesman to separate a child from its parents are just a few of the tools in his toolbox. His intentions are unclear, as sometimes he will lead individuals into the mouth of a hag's lair, and others he will lead straight back to the embrace of a long-forgotten friend. His mood changes quickly, but the only constant is his love for the uncertainty a lost traveler experiences.
As a Patron
The vast majority of the Lord of the Lost's followers are individuals he agrees to lead back to their destination. He does not employ them to do his work for him, so to speak, as a lost individual means nothing to him if he is not there to enjoy watching them, but he does force them to agree to allow him to divert their course whenever he sees fit. As a DM, the Lord of the Lost serves as a great excuse to put side quests or plot hooks in front of your players. He may decide to keep the players in a forest for three days while they are on their way to a time sensitive quest, or he may point them in the direction of a seemingly unimportant item or individual that becomes relevant to the plot months later.
If you wanted to go for a more good-aligned warlock (or maybe even a Cleric diety!), The Lord of the Lost could also give powers to warlocks to help out individuals he may have forgotten to lead home after getting them lost in the first place. These powers would be contingent on rescuing any lost or stranded individuals the players come across on their travels, or traveling to far islands and remote tundras to escort somebody back home.
- Pact of the Blade: a gnarled wooden walking stick with a thick oil lantern on the end, which could serve as either a quarterstaff or a mace
- Pact of the Tome: a collection of maps whose destinations and trails are constantly shifting on the page, with new spells revealing themselves on pages where they were not previously
- Pact of the Chain: a small sprite that glows like a lightning bug, with colors of the light changing based on the mood of its master
- A bag of rations that allows his followers to cast Create Food and Water or Goodberry once a day, so that he feels less guilty about making them get lost for six weeks
- A heavy lantern that disperses magical darkness when activated. When a high enough level or after an appropriate side quest, allows the warlock to cast Find the Path once a day as a ritual
Flavoring the Warlock
- Any compass I hold spins wildly out of control and does not work; any map I look at has the ink melt slowly off of the page, or the roads twist and turn vividly in my sight
- Whenever I fall asleep, I wake up in a spot about thirty feet away from where I first laid my head
- My footprints occasionally diverge from behind me when I am traveling, and reunite with me sometime later
- I cannot read street signs when I am in a major city
- (Low Level): While traversing a snowstorm, you find yourself in the path of a lost revenant. She desperately needs to find the man who killed her and her husband to take her revenge, but she has no idea how to get out of the storm she has found herself in.
- (Mid Level): You are traveling by sea when your navigator falls unconscious and all compasses on the ship cease to work. When a heavy fog rolls over the waves, the only thing you can hear is the alluring song of a choir of female voices coming from a nearby shoreline.
- (High Level): Your party attempts a routine teleport, but are lead to a completely different location than what was targeted. The family of vampires that live here are quite upset that you have arrived to their home unannounced, but your patron thinks it's hilarious.
Tarys, The Autumn Huntress
He awoke with a throbbing pain in his head. The last thing he remembered was attempting to rob the red-haired woman traveling alone in the forest, and next thing was him waking up here. The surrounding fauna was all manner of burnt orange and bright yellow, with crunchy brown and green leaves littering the floor. He only had a moment to gather himself before he heard the horn go off, and the drums beating loudly in his ear. Rushing past him were dozens of other creatures - not only animals such as moose and tigers, but hill giants, owlbears, satyrs, and a couple of other humanoid individuals, all sprinting past him into the forest. He stood to follow, but searing pain shot through his leg as an arrow pinned him to the floor.
He turned around and saw, standing fifty yards away, the red-haired woman he had tried to rob. However, now her hair was a vibrant orange, yellow, and brown, matching the surrounding wildlife, and she had another arrow nocked and aimed in his direction. In the distance, the other runners heard his screams echo through the forest.
Tarys is an archfey who has dedicated her life to hunting rare and exotic creatures. She is seen as a mother to lycanthropes, often appearing to and helping those afflicted with the condition to make the most out of their newfound gift before inviting them to live forever hunting in her domain. Cold and calculated, Tarys' other excursions out of the Feywild are either to bring mortal prey back to her hunting grounds, or to approach individuals with offers of power.
When rounding up creatures to bring back to her domain, Tarys often poses as a helpless elderly traveler to bait out brigands on the side of the road. She will sometimes target larger creatures, such as giants, beholders, or even dragons, but only does this on nights with a full moon. Her armor is decorated with dozens of trophies from past kills, and she is always chasing after the thrill of a bigger target. Her mood changes immensely after a successful hunt of something big - any creature in her domain is invited to a massive feast in her banquet hall, where she happily brags about her personal accomplishments and feeds her own ego as much as her belly. Naysayers or challengers are often shot immediately after.
As a Patron
Tarys offers powers to the very few individuals who survive her hunt, any lycanthropes looking to harness the power of their gift, or accomplished hunters she encounters in her excursions to the material plane. She wants her followers to prove themselves worthy to sit in her halls alongside her; as such, she demands they chase glory and trophies from dangerous game all throughout the world. As a DM, Tarys will designate targets for her warlocks that they must claim a trophy from - this could be something massive and threatening like a green dragon lording over a town, or at the least opportune moment, Tarys could divert her warlock's attention to a mouse scurrying through city streets. Whoever the target, the warlock knows they have a new hunt when the sound of war drums fills their ears.
The Autumn Huntress could also send her warlocks on excursions to feed and help towns under her watch, as well. She may demand them slay a vicious dinosaur to bring back food to a town she has grown fond of, or she may have them take out a rival hunter that has intruded on her grounds. Tarys does not stand for disrespect or any insinuation that she is not the best hunter alive, so she often sends her warlocks on complete suicide missions should they anger her in any way.
- Pact of the Blade: a large bowie knife with an orange blade and a warm hilt wrapped in animal fur, or a longbow woven from the branches of a large autumn tree with a unicorn hair bowstring
- Pact of the Tome: a small animal-skin journal with the pages written in the blood of different slain targets
- Pact of the Chain: a dove or swallow made entirely of orange and yellow leaves that Tarys can hear and speak through to make sure the warlock is respecting her properly
- After a successful hunt, the warlock is granted one of the Hunter's Prey features from the Hunter subclass of Ranger
- A special invocation that, after hitting a creature with Eldritch Blast, allows the warlock to know the exact location of that creature for the next hour, including seeing through invisibility
- After slaying an appropriate creature of challenge rating 12 or higher (can be adjusted based on the campaign), at any point in the next week, the warlock can teleport themselves and their entire party to Tarys' banquet hall to have a Heroes' Feast once before needing to slay another appropriate creature
Flavoring the Warlock
- I prefer to eat my meat raw. The fresher the better!
- My hair changes with the seasons: it may turn vibrant orange and yellow in the fall, and it may all fall out and make me bald in the winter
- I woke up one day and had knowledge of every single possible knot someone could tie, and can identify any animal just by smelling some of its droppings.
- (Low Level): While traveling through a nearby forest, Tarys has tasked you with slaying a brontosaurus she has placed in the area. However, a centaur hunting party is also after the beast, and if they kill it before you do, Tarys will not be happy.
- (Mid Level): A tribe of frost giants has recently been hunting on some of Tarys' favorite hunting grounds, and she wants you to behead their chief to show them she is not to be trifled with.
- (High Level): For one reason or another, Tarys is either incredibly impressed with you or immensely upset with you. Either way, she has targeted an ancient red dragon for you to kill, but with a bonus: if you slay the creature without wearing any armor, she will grant you a special boon.
Thank you once again for reading! Hope these two are able to help you all out with your games. Next up is going to be the Fiend.