How to make a contract in D&D is dependent on the circumstances and parties involved in the contract. If you have 2 parties who want to help each other a contract is straightforward. If you have 1 party trying to leverage an advantage over someone else, there are many shady techniques to use.
When you make a contract in D&D a malicious party can screw someone over or you can get a slight advantage in a mutually beneficial contract.
Most contracts fall into these 2 areas. Mutually beneficial contracts and contracts that are meant to benefit 1 of the parties while screwing over the other. There are many different ways to go about both of these contracts, but let’s first look into the most common type of contract.
Malicious parties and contracts.
Whisp of smoke: I see that Your sister is hurting you Timmy. Taking that toy from you even though it should be yours. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had the power to….. take it from her?”
Whisp of smoke: “gooooooodddddd. Just sign here and you will be able to get what you want.”
Narrator: Timmy proceeded to eldritch blast his sister into a pile of flaming meat as he scooped up the toy ring. He was banished from society and is a creature that holds that toy dear to his heart. Even calling it his ‘precious.’
Most malicious parties are not able to make deals with such innocent beings like in the example above, but it represents all the aspects of how to make a contract in D&D for malicious or predatory beings.
- The tricked party (Timmy) did not fully understand what they were agreeing to.
- The tricked party thought they were getting what they wanted and did in some fashion.
- The price is always too high.
- There was an extra element that the tricked party did not see.
- The malicious party is getting what they want at the detriment to others.
Most of the time when we think of malicious contracts, we think of warlock contracts. There can be other contracts out there, but they all have some things in common.
We will explore each aspect and then go into how to make a contract that benefits both parties. If you are trying to make a mutually beneficial contract skip to that part in the article. Otherwise, learn a bunch of evil tricks on how to make a contract in D&D for malicious parties!
Hiding something is the oldest trick in the book for malicious contracts. You can do this in a variety of ways. The easiest is to do what we do in real life. Make the contract way too long to read, and have it seem so standard that there is no point in reading all of it.
Think of when was the last time you fully read a contract that you had to agree to online. Now consider when you signed for a house or a car. You were more likely to sign for a long electronic contract that involved a phone or piece of software without reading it than a car or a house. Why is that?
A house or a car are both big purchases. These contracts seem like they are something more, but even now we don’t read them. That is because the constant electronic contracts are boring. We have to sign them and we frequently sign them. They are not a big deal, and that is what we have come to understand.
This is how contracts can hide a bunch of malicious practices. Some games have contracts that state any work created in-game is a product of the company that made the game. Others state that you don’t own the game or product but are paying for the privilege to use it. This is different than what many consumers think. They don’t actually own what they buy.
This is a great way to hide small changes in the contract which can be harmful to 1 party. If you are able to lul someone into a bored state when reading a contract they will miss things. When contracts are common key points are ignored.
Here is an example of how to make a contract in D&D like this.
“Grognar on the the 32nd of Orctober has officially agreed to make his axe into the Great Destroyer of Worlds. This includes duties that involve, but are not limited to killing for fun and having a great time.
Grognar is to use the Great Destroyer of Worlds to do whatever he pleases with and it must be able to harm any foe upon which he comes across. If the blade is unable to harm an opponent in any fashion then Grognar will have the right to revoke this contract.”
Grognar isn’t used to contracts. This is something that most DMs will have to deal with. So when you make a contract in D&D you have to deal with other methods that are similar to the player. These legal terms that are bolded would normally be red flags to most people, but we are used to these lines. ‘But are not limited’ is a classic example of this.
This 1 phrase means that the bearer is signing up to do anything required of them. It is such an open-ended legal term that you can get away with anything. That is why you have to mask it with the two other bolded points in order to make the player feel like they are getting a good deal.
“Be able to harm any foe upon which he comes across” seems like a great deal for the player. The truth is, a +1 magical weapon is able to harm any foe that they come across if an argument is made. For example, a player might say that a bird was flying so they couldn’t hit it. That isn’t the fault of the weapon, it is the fault of the wielder.
That is why the second clause ‘in any fashion’ is able to make any argument of yours valid. Did you go inside the creature and try to hit it from the inside out? If not, then you didn’t try to hit it in any fashion!
This line is held in a subsection that seems like it is valuable to the person who is signing. It talks about how the party can revoke the contract and get out of it right there! The problem is that they are bored by this point or mentally taxed if they found the first problem.
In this contract, we made use of real-life legal terms that bore us, hid the malicious intents, made them bored or mentally taxed if they found the first point, and still got our 2nd malicious clause into the contract which will never let him revoke it.
This is just a small contract, but with a real one it can be longer, have more malicious clauses, or just make the item itself undesirable once the person figures out the negative side effects of the weapon/deal. This is part of tricking the party into getting what they want.
Give them what they want
Have you ever tried to sell someone an item that they did not want? It is extremely hard. Instead of selling someone an item or deal that they don’t want, jump on an opportunity.
This is why most deals happen when a person is looking for something. They can be grieving for a loved one and want the power to destroy. Others might be in a desperate strait or searching for an answer for a long time. There will always be moments of weakness and desire. This is when you strike!
Make a contract in D&D that gives the player what they want. If a child wants the power to avenge their parents give them that power. If a scholar wants an answer to a mystery they have been pursuing give it to them. This is the incentive for the other person to make a deal.
In order to make them fall for the contract, they need to know that they will get something in return. This is where it seems fair, but a malicious party wants something much more valuable in return. This is where the price is always too high.
Getting away with a high price
“Grognar, I will give you the Great Destroyer of Worlds, but I won’t give it for free. I am required to take payment, but gold is worthless to me. What can you give me that is worthless and useless to you, but possibly good for me?”
Getting away with a high price is best done in negotiation. The best way to make a deal in D&D with a high price is to make the person signing the contract put forth the offer.
If Grognar were to recommend his soul, it is far more likely that he will go through with the deal. This is because he thinks that he is tricking the demon or giving it something that is not worth anything to him.
The demon already put forth the offer by asking Grognar what is useless to him, but worth something to the demon. The answer is pretty obvious, but Grognar feels like he came to a solution on his own. Grognar would feel even more like it was his own idea if the demon feigned surprise at such a proposal and seemed almost reluctant to accept.
This is the best and easiest way to get away with a high price. If you try to hide the price it will not work. Everyone knows that nothing is given for free. That is why you need to downplay the cost of the price, but don’t try too hard.
If you try too hard to downplay the cost people can get suspicious and wonder why you are so adamant that this isn’t worth a lot. View the price as a passing fancy. Try to get something else if you can, or be willing to drop the high price without much of a fight.
Demand something, but make the price you want seem not very good. This will make it far more appealing to the tricked party and they will be more vocal about the high price being the only price that should be paid. This is where your trick comes into play.
Extra elements to the deal
When you make a contract in D&D you are making a trade. This does not mean that you need to disclose everything about what you are giving.
The Great Destroyer of Worlds is able to do what was promised, but with each kill, the soul is fed directly to the demon. This alone is worth more than any price that Grognar could give since he will be killing many enemies throughout his travels. He just doesn’t need to know this specific detail.
Extra elements can be directly added to the item or thing that is being traded like we did the Great Destroyer of Worlds, or it can be added into the contract.
In our earlier contract, we bolded the statement ” but are not limited to.” This is another way to add an extra element to the contract and can involve almost anything if you can hide it. Based on the length, you can bore the reader to possibly let slip through a few clauses. This will make it obvious that you are trying to screw over the other party, but if you are doing this they are most likely too desperate to call off the contract.
It is safest to give a few hidden elements to a deal that cannot be detected until after the deal is made if ever. Like the axe sucking in souls for the demon.
These extra elements are why you are making the deal, so make sure that there is some hidden element. These hidden elements will give you what you want at the detriment of others.
Getting what you want
You made this deal for a reason. You didn’t make a deal in D&D to help someone. This deal is solely to help yourself, and you know that the other party will not like what you are proposing. That is why you need to make sure you get what you actually want.
Malicious contracts are saved for entities that are not going to get what they want through mutually beneficial agreements. This is why you need to know all the steps on how to get what you want before you even consider what you want. It seems backward, but you are bound to fail if you don’t know how to get what you want.
Knowing what you want is easy. Do you want power? Souls? Whatever it is, figuring it out is the easy part. Actually achieving it is the problem.
Your contract has to be malicious, but it can’t be overbearing. Many evil beings have the problem of revealing their hand before they get what they want. The ax, for example, didn’t reveal that it stole souls until you have already gained a few. Even if the other party figures out what you did, it will be too late to reverse it.
If the ax instead caused the bearer to lose their soul, you should probably do so after the bearer is old, alone, and unable to be aided by their friends. The damage cannot be undone.
I suggest making your item a bit like a cursed item. We have an article on cursed items to help you learn how to make a proper parasite. It will accomplish what it was meant to do and ultimately gives you what you want.
Now that we have covered how to make a contract in D&D for malicious parties, let’s cover how to make beneficial contracts!
Beneficial contracts are where 2 parties are able to get what they want without completely swindling one another.
In malicious contracts, 1 party gained everything in the end and made the other person think they were getting a deal. Beneficial contracts do not do that. Bartering and trying to get a better deal is commonplace, but you are not intentionally trying to harm someone.
Hidden clauses will sow mistrust and break most contracts. Negative effects or extra elements added to a deal will sow resentment and possibly create repercussions. Everything you do has consequences, and if you want to learn more about how to use consequences read our article about it.
The best way to make beneficial contracts is to be open and honest. If you are not the deal will possibly go through and no one will get what they want. For this reason, magically binding contracts are rare.
In most malicious contracts the extra party is kept to the contract through enforceable means. In beneficial contracts, the most enforceable means are usually when threats or allies are involved because of a breach.
We make beneficial contracts when we buy houses, make big purchases in real life, and when we purchase items for money. Most beneficial contracts just involve haggling.
When making a contract in D&D you need to haggle. We usually think of haggling for a price from a merchant, but the same thing is done with beneficial contracts.
Haggling is where you try to get what you want at the best price for you. The other party is also trying to do the same. When both of you haggle, eventually you come to an agreement without threats, lies, or deceit.
Well, there is some deceit. You don’t need to tell the other person every little detail, but you want to be honest. For example, if you trade a mine for a bar under the premise that both are doing well in business, someone will be angry if they find out that the mine was abandoned, haunted, and a lair for bandits.
That quickly turns into a malicious deal and unless magically enforced will not stand. Beneficial deals are meant to last without strain. You can hide the fact that the mine has crappy infrastructure, but that is a minor issue.
Only hide minor things. Do not hide something that will stop the deal from going through.
If you hide anything too major, the deal might not go through or your reputation is ruined. You do not want this unless you plan to be a feared and malicious person/entity.
The trick to haggling is getting what you want at the lowest possible cost to you, and possibly only have a few minor surprises for the other party.
It really depends on how you want to be seen by others, but your haggling skills will affect your reputation and how to make the best beneficial deal possible.
When you make a contract in D&D you need to think of what type of deal you are making. There is a lot more for malicious contracts to go over than there is for beneficial contracts.
Beneficial contracts need to only worry about their reputation and haggling skills. Malicious contracts need to worry about how to trick the party and get away with it.
This is much more difficult than it sounds for malicious contracts but is relatively easy for beneficial contracts.
We are more used to beneficial contracts in everyday life, so they do not require us to learn as much. Just watch your haggling skills and you will make a great deal!
For malicious contracts, you might have to pour over how to approach, make, trick, devise, and deliver the deal. It is a lot of work, but making a contract can be quite rewarding and fun!
I hope that I helped you make a beneficial or malicious contract in your D&D game.
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