A tweet by @jorphdan about adapting the Piety system from Mythic Odysseys of Theros into the Forgotten Realms sparked the idea of using the Piety system to reward warlocks for their loyalty to their Patrons. One of my narrative issues with the warlock class is that there aren’t any mechanical hooks – like at all – that touch on honoring the pact that gets you your powers. They’re your patron but that doesn’t mean anything more than you decide to let it mean. There are good reasons for this, don’t get me wrong, but I think there’s still room to explore rewards above and beyond the warlock subclass features.
I also plan to create an anti-Piety model, representing some of the ways you can have an antagonistic relationship with your patron and extract more powers from them. I’m not sure where that’s going yet, so I’m writing to find out.
Summer Court Archfey: Positive Relationship
Mortal servants of the Summer Court Archfey are dedicated to ideals of beauty, romance, valor, glory, righteous wrath, and joy, and inspiring those things in others. Many mortals let themselves become enthralled with the glamour of the fey and the privilege of serving them. Those who turn a blind eye to the ruthless courtly intrigues of the Summer Court, though, are most often taken in and destroyed by them.
Summer Court Favor
How did you enter your pact or relationship with an Archfey of the Summer Court?
1 You tried to burgle the house that is only there on the three days around Midsummer. When you got caught, accepting this pact seemed a lot better than the punishment for theft.
2 You saw an Archfey from afar, and you were so overwhelmed by their glamour that you threw yourself at their feet in devotion.
3 Your artistic creations so impressed a fey listener that their liege-lord offered you a life filled with inspiration.
4 A bitterly unhappy home life led you to wish for something more, and an Archfey granted you that… in exchange for service.
5 You pursued a unicorn or silvery stag into the greenwood. When you had a chance to slay it with an arrow, you chose to miss, and it became an Archfey who offered you prestige and power.
6 An Archfey took you from your family in your infancy, and you lived at their court in the Feywild for an immeasurable time. The Archfey is an emotionally distant parent to you; you’re like a favorite exotic animal to them.
Devotion to the Summer Court
As you dedicate yourself to the Summer Court’s service, consider replacing or adding one of the following to your Ideals.
Summer Court Ideals
1 Beauty. Beauty is truth, truth beauty,–that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. (Keats, “Ode on a Grecian Urn”)
2 Valor. If we are marked to die, we are enow to do our country loss; if to live, the fewer men, the greater share of honor. (Henry V, Act IV Scene 3)
3 Romance. What true love has joined together, no force of light or darkness may sunder.
4 Joy. Let us banish the cares of the world with joy and surprise.
5 Hospitality. The bond between guest and host is the most ancient and powerful of oaths.
6 Delirium. We deny this cold and cruel world of mortals and imagine it as something better.
Earning and Losing Piety (Favor)
You increase your Piety score with the Summer Court when you honor ideals of beauty, glory, and joy through deeds such as the following.
- Inspiring or enjoying a new artistic creation or performance
- Taking great or foolhardy risks to inspire valor in others
- Making sacrifices the sake of your own love, or the bond of love between others
- Encouraging romantic love to blossom
- Building shrines dedicated to your Patron, and destroying shrines dedicated to the Gloaming Court Archfey
Your Piety score decreases if you show greater loyalty to other powers – the Summer Queen and all of her Court are jealous – and through the actions like the following.
- Breaking an oath, especially the bond of safety between guest and host
- Interfering in romantic relationships, unless it’s really funny or you’re setting them up with someone else
- Carelessly destroying something beautiful
Summer Court Page
Piety 3+ Summer Court
The paths of the Feywild are open to you. You can cast misty step with this trait. You can do so once, and regain the use of this trait when you finish a long rest or gain two points of Piety from your deeds. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Summer Court Squire
Piety 10+ Summer Court
When you spend Inspiration or Bardic Inspiration on a Charisma ability check and the result is a success, one creature you interact with is charmed by you for 1 minute. When you spend Inspiration or Bardic Inspiration on a Charisma ability check and the result is a failure, you retain that Inspiration or Bardic Inspiration.
Summer Court Knight
Piety 25+ Summer Court
You gain an additional Eldritch Invocation or supernatural gift that is appropriate to your Patron.
Summer Court Noble
Piety 50+ Summer Court
You can increase your Dexterity or Charisma score by 2 and also increase your maximum for that score by 2.
Summer Court Iconoclast
If your relationship with your Summer Court Archfey patron is antagonistic, you’re probably taking direct steps against them. You might do this for any number of reasons, but I’m saving some of the more overtly horrific content for Fiend and Great Old One patrons. This probably also works well for Archfey who aren’t part of the Courts.
Unlike the Iconoclasts of Mythic Odysseys of Theros, this system really depends on actions in game – I think it’s a substantial violation of theme and concept if all you have to do for this is gain levels. Instead, I’m suggesting a progression of four goals, one per tier of play. At some point during or after each tier of play, you complete one of the quest goals listed for that tier. Completing multiple goals within a single tier may advance the narrative, but it doesn’t grant an additional supernatural gift.
Tier 1, 1st to 4th level
- Use a weapon made of cold iron to kill a fey servant of your Patron
- Find a map of the Feywild that reveals the location of your Patron’s demesne
- Create a popular song or other piece of art ridiculing your Patron
- Escape from a group of NPCs sent by your Patron to capture or kill you
Reward: You can cast counterspell when a creature you can see casts a spell that would teleport them any distance. You can use this trait once, and regain use of it when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Tier 2, 5th to 10th level
- Slay a warlock who serves (rather than opposes) your Patron
- Convince a warlock who serves your Patron to break their pact
- Destroy a shrine dedicated to your Patron
- Defeat a group of NPCs sent by your Patron to capture or kill you
Reward: You can cast bestow curse or remove curse with this trait. Once you cast one of these, you can’t use this trait again until you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for this spell.
Tier 3, 11th-16th level
- Engage your Patron in a contest of wills; if you lose, escape from the psychic prison
- Reveal a humiliating secret about your Patron to the Summer or Gloaming Courts
- Steal the token that signifies your bond with your Patron
Reward: You can cast dispel evil and good with this trait, requiring no material components. Once you do so, you can’t cast it in this way again until you finish a long rest.
When you cast counterspell with your Tier 1 trait, you cast it as a 5th-level spell.
Tier 4, 17th-20th level
- Slay or banish your Patron
- Arrange for your Patron to be exiled from the Summer Court
Reward: You can increase your Wisdom or Charisma score by 2 and also increase your maximum for that score by 2.
I’m hoping this represents a model I could comfortably use across each type of officially released Patron, for both positive and antagonistic relationships. I’ll have get a lot more creative when it comes to positive relationships with the Great Old Ones, won’t I?
My main doubt in these features is the top-end ability score bump. It works in Theros, but I think it might be out of place for general use. Thinking about replacing it with extra Spells Known or an extra Mystic Arcanum slot or the like.
Let me know what you think. I’m interested in turning this into a DM’s Guild product.