Infernal contracts are a classic component of devils. While the simplest contracts may simply seek to trade a player’s soul for some sort of benefit, many players will resist signing this as the price is seen as too high. Other contracts may involve confusing fineprint or hidden trap clauses. While this is certainly a traditional part of infernal contracts, it may lead either to players feeling unfairly misled, or players discovering it and simply refusing to sign the contract.
Instead, the following contract is intended be one that allows the players to sign it without negative consequences, and which then tempts them into doing evil deeds on their own accord, rather than forcing them or tricking them into evil. The contract does not seek to deceive, merely to tempt, offering the player benefits in exchange for the player performing certain deeds. Interested? Read on!
The contract design
The contract is intended to be a straightforward, what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of contract. There is no cost or obligation associated with simply signing the contract. Signing the contract merely allows the player to invoke the pacts described in the contract. Each pact provides an immediate benefit to the player, and each pact has a cost that must be paid by the player when they invoke the pact. Only when they invoke a pact and the benefit is provided are they obligated to pay the cost. Failure to do so dooms their soul to hell. However, it should always be possible for a player to fulfill their obligation, provided they are willing to do so.
A player can invoke a pact at any time during the game (including outside their turn), this does not impact their ability to act in any way (it does not take an action). Fulfilling their payment obligations (providing evil deeds) will slowly shift their alignment towards evil – especially the payments for pacts 3 and 4.
The four pacts
- Damnation’s Relief:
- Benefit: this immediately restores their health or hitpoints to full and removes any negative effects the player may have been subjected to.
- Cost: one hour of prayer to an infernal deity (in the example text Asmodeus) per day for five days
- Explanation: this is intended to be a very low-cost benefit, to tempt players into using it and becoming more comfortable calling on the pacts in the contract. Naturally you should not expect a player to roleplay an entire hour of prayer, but you should require them to let you know on each day that they spend an hour fulfilling their contract obligation. While the character should be sincerely thankful for the benefit they received, they do not need to like, support or worship the infernal deity they pray to. Failure to do so would show the character did not pray and broke their end of the deal.
- Infernal Fate:
- Benefit: a player may require a reroll any d20 with a +4 or -4 bonus of their choosing. The new result must be used. This can apply to their own rolls, an friend’s roll and even the DM’s rolls.
- Cost: the player (optionally with help of allies) must place a symbol of the infernal deity in a temple of a good aligned god. This is intended to be largely a roleplay affair. The symbol will be provided by minions of the infernal deity, we suggest something slightly unwieldy like a meter-high wrought iron pentagram or a man-sized statue of the infernal deity. The symbol must be placed in the temple in such a way that it is difficult to remove, for example by fusing it to the floor or wall. The symbol must be placed in a prominent and easily visible location within the temple. The player and anyone who knew about this action may not reveal their involvement, nor may they assist in the removal of the symbol. Similar to Pact 1, daily prayer is also required.
- Explanation: The goal here is simply to create both a interesting and possibly humorous challenge for the player(s) as they must make their way into a temple and covertly place an evil symbol. The NPCs of their world may afterwards react shocked, worried or hurt that someone would desecrate their temple in such a way, and this should generate a lot of opportunities for roleplay.
- A Fiend’s Council:
- Benefit: an Imp devil appears that can provide information/knowledge to the players or answer their questions (for example via Commune, Augury or Divination spells or abilities). This information should be accurate/correct, and the Imp (or entities it communes with) are very well informed.
- Cost: The player(s) must convert one intelligent creature with a soul to the worship the infernal deity. Their worship should be sincere and of their own choosing (so not compelled by force or magic, though trickery is allowed to help spur the creature’s belief). The creature in question does not need to have been a good create (an evil goblin is also acceptable for example), but it should be intelligent enough to understand the concept of worship, it should have a soul, and it should not already worship the infernal deity. The player(s) may afterwards not interfere in the new convert’s belief.
- Explanation: Like pact 2, this is largely intended to spur roleplay. Players may use trickery such as creating an illusion of the infernal deity appearing to the target creature, but may not use force or magical compulsion to force the worship.
- Hell’s Assistance:
- Benefit: The player immediately receives the assistance of one or more devils that will faithfully follow every command of the player (even suicidal ones) and remain for 3 minutes (or until killed), after which they disappear. The total hit dice of the devil(s) may not exceed the total hit dice of the players. In systems that do not use hit dice, it means the total power of the devils cannot exceed that of the player. A player with 12 hit dice can summon one 12-hit dice devil, two 6-hit-dice devils, one 5-hit dice and two 3-hit dice devils, etc etc.
- Cost: Again this cost is meant to be about the roleplay. The player(s) must build (or arrange to have built) an opulent shrine dedicated to the infernal deity in a prominent (meaning a place where other people will easily access/see it) place on their world. Once it is built they must desecrate it by sacrificing one living, intelligent creature (though this does not have to be a good creature), in the presence of at least 10 attendees. The player must also perform daily prayer. They player(s) may not interfere with the shrine afterwards.
- Explanation: This is the strongest benefit. The assistance the devils will likely make the player(s) triumph easily in whatever fight they invoke this pact for. In exchange, building the shrine and performing the sacrifice will provide a lot of roleplay opportunity. Additionally, sacrificing a living intelligent creature in this manner is certainly an act evil enough to shift their alignment to evil.
If you want to limit the possibility of the player accidentally fail their obligations, remove the prayer requirement from pacts 2 and 4.
As a DM you should encourage your players to ask questions about the meaning of the contract or its clauses and provide honest answers. The contract is not meant to trick the players or mislead them. For players who may be inclined to act like a rules-lawyer over the interpretation of certain terms in the contract or seek loopholes or cheats, you may explain the contract comes with an appendix document that clarifies such terms and prevents any loopholes the players thought they found. It is fundamentally not intended for this contract to be outsmarted, but instead it should put a moral choice in front of the players: is the benefit worth the evil act that must be provided as payment? The document is written by a devil with countless lifetimes worth of contracting experience, who is not about to be outsmarted by some mortals. The phrasing of the contract is bulletproof.
If a player fails to hold up their end of the bargain, they are in breach of contract and their soul now belongs to hell (or other punishment if you adjust the contract). This breach of contract can be a new plot hook to get the players to try to get the contract voided (maybe they need to break into hell to find the infernal copy of this contract and destroy it, maybe they can find the contract devil and convince them to alter the deal, etc etc).
It is important to emphasise that simply signing the contract has no ill effects for the players, and that only when they invoke a pact and receive the benefit they must pay the associated cost. This will hopefully encourage players to sign it ‘just in case’, and once they have it, they may be more easily tempted to invoke one of the pacts.
Example contract text (usable as handout)
The following example text is intended to be a contract handout that can be provided to your players. It is written in faux-infernal legalese, while still intended to be understood by your players. As this was originally written for the Golarion setting of the Pathfinder RPG, some names and places mentioned in the contract may need some minor adjustments for other settings.
I. Contracting parties. The following contract is a legally binding agreement between the undersigned, hereafter referred to as the CLIENT, and the infernal order of Hell, represented at the time of writing by Odexidie, Vice Barrister of Terrestrial Prospects, currently residing at the Fallen Fastness of Dis, hereafter referred to as the SCRIBE. This contract will remain in effect for an unending period of time, or until this contract is voided by agreement of both the CLIENT and the SCRIBE, and describes the obligations and responsibilities of both parties. Failure to meet these obligations will immediately constitute a breach of contract, causing the relevant penalty clause (section III or IV) to take effect and voiding any further claim on any of the services described herein.
II. Contract outline. This contract stipulates four (4) pacts (section V, subsections I-IV). Each pact can be invoked by the CLIENT only one (1) time. Pacts may be invoked by the CLIENT in any order or combination provided they are not invoked more than once, and the CLIENT may choose to leave a pact uninvoked. Pacts may be invoked by the CLIENT as long as this agreement is valid, provided the CLIENT is within reasonable proximity of the contract. When the CLIENT invokes a pact, the SCRIBE will immediately and without malicious intent provide the service to the CLIENT as specified by the invoked pact. After receiving the service specified by the invoked pact, the CLIENT must provide payment according to the terms specified by the invoked pact. Once all pacts are invoked and processed without issue, this contract is considered completed, and both the CLIENT and the SCRIBE are freed from any obligations stemming from or specified in this contract.
III. Penalty clause for the SCRIBE. If the SCRIBE is unable or unwilling to, or otherwise does not provide the services of an invoked pact to the CLIENT, this contract is voided, freeing the CLIENT of any claims by the SCRIBE to their person, to their belongings both material and immaterial and to their everlasting soul. Additionally, the SCRIBE must immediately report this failure to their immediate superior and submit to any disciplinary measures that are deemed appropriate.
IV. Penalty clause for the CLIENT. If the CLIENT is unable or unwilling to, or otherwise does not provide payment as specified by the invoked pact, the CLIENT forfeits any remaining pacts contained herein. Additionally, the claim to the CLIENT’s everlasting soul transfers immediately to the SCRIBE as per common Pharasmin law, for the predefined period of eternity, sending the soul immediately upon the final death of the CLIENT, whenever that may be, to the SCRIBE to be used for whatever purpose the SCRIBE sees fit.
V.I. Pact I: Damnation’s Relief
Benefit: Immediately upon invoking this pact the CLIENT will find their wounds healed and their ailments cured, their physical health once again as strong as the bones of hell.
Payment: One (1) hour of honest prayer in appreciation of the Lord of Hell, Master of Witches, the Ultimate Arbiter of Law, God-Fiend, Prince of Darkness, The First, The Archfiend Asmodeus, once a day for five (5) consecutive days, starting the day that this pact is invoked on.
V.II. Pact II: Infernal Fate.
Benefit: Immediately upon invoking this pact the CLIENT may press their thumb heavily upon the scales of fate, ordaining that one event may well play out in the CLIENT’s favour.
Payment: The CLIENT must covertly and properly place a symbol provided to them by the Church of Asmodeus plainly and persistently visible in a place of worship of Desna, Cayden Cailean, Milani, or Sarenrae, as well as one (1) hour of honest prayer in appreciation of the Lord of Hell, Master of Witches, the Ultimate Arbiter of Law, God-Fiend, Prince of Darkness, The First, The Archfiend Asmodeus, once a day for five (5) consecutive days or until the symbol is placed, whichever longer, starting the day that this pact is invoked on. The CLIENT and their allies may not aid in the removal of the symbol, nor reveal their involvement in its appearance.
V.III. Pact III: A Fiend’s Counsel.
Benefit: Immediately upon invoking this pact the SCRIBE will send one (1) Imp to the CLIENT, who will make their Augury and Commune spells available to the CLIENT at no additional cost and without malicious intent. The Imp will not provide any other services, and it will return to Hell as soon as its spells are used or the CLIENT has no further immediate use for it.
Payment: You must convert one (1) mortal person to the Church of Asmodeus within thirty (30) days of invoking this pact. Their belief must be sincere and their conversion of their own free will. The CLIENT and their allies may not afterwards interfere directly in the new convert’s belief.
V.IV. Pact IV: Hell’s Assistance.
Benefit: Upon invoking this pact the CLIENT may request the assistance of one or more of the following devils, providing that their combined power does not exceed the CLIENT’s own power: Lemure, Imp, Gaav, Marnasoth, Barbazu, Magaav, Levaloch, Erinyes, Osyluth, Hamatula, Gelugon. The SCRIBE will immediately send this or these devil(s) to the CLIENT, whom they will be completely and utterly obedient to without malicious intent, for the CLIENT to command as the CLIENT sees fit. The devil(s) will remain with the CLIENT for three (3) minutes or until they are slain, whichever comes first, after which they return to Hell immediately if not slain.
Payment: The CLIENT must construct, or commission to construct, a high quality shrine to the Lord of Hell, Master of Witches, the Ultimate Arbiter of Law, God-Fiend, Prince of Darkness, The First, The Archfiend Asmodeus to be finished at a prominent location upon the material plane within sixty (60) days of invoking this pact and hold a ceremony with no fewer than ten (10) attendees to Unhallow the finished shrine in honour of the Lord of Hell, Master of Witches, the Ultimate Arbiter of Law, God-Fiend, Prince of Darkness, The First, The Archfiend Asmodeus. During this ceremony the CLIENT must sacrifice one living, intelligent creature to celebrate the glory and generosity of the Lord of Hell, Master of Witches, the Ultimate Arbiter of Law, God-Fiend, Prince of Darkness, The First, The Archfiend Asmodeus. The CLIENT must also perform one (1) hour of honest prayer in appreciation of the Lord of Hell, Master of Witches, the Ultimate Arbiter of Law, God-Fiend, Prince of Darkness, The First, The Archfiend Asmodeus, once a day for five (5) consecutive days or until the ceremony is complete, whichever longer, starting the day that this pact is invoked on. The CLIENT and their allies may not afterwards interfere with the shrine.
VI. Arbitration. In case of disagreement on the interpretation, consequences or meaning of terms included in this contract, the SCRIBE and the CLIENT agree to submit to binding arbitration by Dispater, Lord of the Second, or one of his proxies, at the Iron Scepter in the Infernal City of Dis.
VII. Signatures. Signed and witnessed on the date ……………………………………………… by