Today’s blog takes the form of a needlessly confrontational Socratic dialogue. For the sake of scene setting, let us assume that our drama unfolds in your high school cafeteria. Ahem:

You: “This is bullshit! I shouldn’t have to please my Patron just to earn my warlock powers! Jeremy Crawford said so!”

Me: “Ah, then Jeremy Crawford is your GM?” 

You: “No. Obviously not.”

Me: “Perhaps Matt Mercer is your GM? After all, he famously threated to disempower rebellious warlocks.” 

You: “Pffft. Hell no. Mercer doesn’t get to decide what goes at my table.”

Me: “Who does get to decide what goes on at your table?”

You: “Me and my GM.”

Me: “We come to the heart of the matter, then! Tell me now: Who is it that decided you would need to please your patron in order to earn your  warlock powers?”

You: “My GM. But he’s playing wrong!”

Me: “I thought that your GM got to decide ‘what goes on at your table.'”

You: “He should take my feelings into account! After all, it is my character.”

Me: “Well said. It is a cooperative game, and your feelings ought to matter. Can we then assume you feel that you should get all the benefits of your patron’s blessings without paying any price for them?” 

You: “I just want to play my class! Why can’t I enjoy my mechanics without having to jump through a bunch of arbitrary roleplaying hoops?”

Me: “That does sound irritating. But then again, doesn’t a paladin have to ‘jump through arbitrary roleplaying hoops’ to keep their powers?”

You: “Yes, of course. But there are rules for paladin oaths and codes and shit. Warlock doesn’t have to deal with any of that!”

Me: “Indeed not. Unless of course your GM has a role in deciding ‘what goes on at your table’ beyond the written rules.

You: “Then he should have explained that I can lose my powers at character gen!”

Me: “Must your GM warn you of all possible perils up front?” 

You: “Well no. But this has a major impact on my character’s lore and backstory.”

Me: “What is your character’s backstory?” 

You: “He’s an orphan with memory loss who woke up with mysterious powers one day.”

Me: “I can see you’ve put a great deal of time and effort into your backstory.” 

You: “Thank you.”

Me: “But haven’t you’ve ceded some modicum of narrative authority to your GM? You have chosen to include ‘mysterious powers’ in your personal history. Surely the role of mystery solver then falls to your GM?” 

You: “I suppose that makes sense.”

Me: “What then is wrong with defining the warlock/patron role as one of power for service?” 

You: “I don’t like it!”

Me: “Have you expressed this dislike to your GM?” 

You: “Certainly not! I called him a butt and then showed up here to complain.”

Me: “Is it not you who are the butt?” 

You: “I am logically compelled to agree.”

And scene. We can assume our drama ends with everybody in the cafeteria slow clapping for me. Meanwhile your pants fall down as you run out of the school in tears. (I did warn you that this would be needlessly confrontational.)

As for today’s discussion, let’s figure out exactly what the limits of power are in a “GM stole my powers” scenario. When is it a cool RP moment to coerce a PC? When is it a blatant abuse of GM power? And how do you tell the difference? Let’s hear all about your own patron/warlock relationships (along with alternatives to the baseline power for service narrative) down in the comments!


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