Did you ever have a character concept you loved, one that looked great on paper even, yet… nothing ever worked out? That’s Intari Ariabis, my tiefling warlock. When my friend (and Sidequest Editor in Chief) Missy decided a couple of years ago that she would start running a Dungeons & Dragons game for us, and that the game was going to be full of feywild bullshit, the concept for Intari snapped together, crystal clear in my head.
I knew I wanted her to be a warlock from the get-go because I really wanted to play with the built-in story mechanics of warlock patrons, which are powerful creatures who grant followers some of that power in exchange for service. They’re not mortals, and not quite the same as gods—kind of somewhere in the middle.
While other classes in D&D merely hint at potential story hooks, only warlocks have the bargain built-in. A bargain is two-way—your character gets powers from their patron, but the patron gets something in return. There’s an element of selfishness to the deal on both ends that isn’t present in the cleric-deity relationship, for example. While some deities are self-serving, the idea is that clerics (or paladins) have power because of their faith, not because of a strict exchange negotiated with the deity in question. Meanwhile, sorcerers lack even that, given that their power is inborn, and similar is true for wizards—a wizard’s magic is the result of study and practice.
It’s not that those aren’t perfectly valid options, it’s just that the warlock’s specific arrangement introduces a story conflict by default as part of character creation. Add to that the patron choices available: the rules allow for a variety of homebrewed or third-party patrons, but the ones presented in official material are almost all menacing in some way, and that’s the real hook. There’s something to a warlock’s bargain that invites question from outside, an inherent uncertainty that makes one think, “Are we really sure this is a good idea?” That tension is the part I’m most interested in playing with, and so, with Intari, I took advantage.
Intari’s specific deal is that she gets power in exchange for service to her patron (in this case, archfey Tallisin Vos from Astrolago Press’s Faerie Fire book). I chose an archfey patron for her both because of our game’s themes and because of the sheer abundance of lore regarding making bargains with fey creatures—it is always, always meant to be a dangerous proposition. In this case, the question of what, exactly, Tallisin Vos gets in exchange beyond the occasional fetch quest remains a mystery, but there’s one specific element of the bargain that makes for great visual flair and a fun, slow-burn threat: every time Intari uses the powers she’s gained, crystals begin to slowly grow up her horns. The implication is that one day, they’ll encase her horns completely, which will probably be bad.
So what motivates her to take this deal? Well, Intari grew up an orphan on the streets. She learned to steal and hustle to survive, and when she met Tallisin, she was conning tavern patrons out of their gold by pretending to be bad at gambling. When she attempted this con on a disguised Tallisin, the rest was history. He liked her charm and her moxie, and made her a deal for power that Intari, so often lacking even basic stability, would never refuse.
At least, all of that is the concept. Remember how I said things don’t really work out sometimes? Well, for all that the story beats are great, Intari’s rolls are terrible. Always. It’s not that her stats are bad—they’re actually pretty decent! A running joke in the game at this point is that she is actually fairly competent, but that she has an entirely over-inflated sense of her own ability to accomplish things, which leads to disastrous results.
It doesn’t matter what, either. It’s not like she’s bad in combat and good in social situations. She fails things everywhere, constantly. Attack rolls, persuasion checks, saving throws, you name it. How bad is it? Well, if you’ve read other entries in this series, you might remember Missy talking about Hawthorne Odds, the himbo cleric she had to make at level one for a party that couldn’t stop dying on a supposedly easy adventure. Remember that?
I can’t even be angry about it, because the concept of Intari making a questionable deal with an archfey and then constantly bungling everything is the kind of Murphy’s Law setup I adore. She’s my favorite character I’ve ever played, and I can’t wait to see what else happens with her.
Nola is a bad influence.