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View Full Version : Roleplaying Why don't D&D devils, make deals with kids?



Dragonkingofth
2018-07-02, 04:12 AM
This is something that has driven me nuts every seen I wondered it, but can't find a place to really ask anybody else about it. The question is: What keeps demons and devils in D&D from makeing deals with kids who don't know any better?
Example:

http://www.sandraandwoo.com/comics/2009-06-25-[0071]-how-not-to-deal-with-the-devil.png

What keeps them from doing that? You think if it was common we would hear about in some of the fiend follo's as something people teach there kids about as a world building thing and as a way to show just HOW evil the devils are, but I don't recall reading anything about it.

But if it's not common enough to be used as world building info: why not? and again same problem as the last one. Devils are lawful so using a 'don't make deals with underage kids' clause in the rules of the multiverse would demonstrate that and act as good world building, and yet again: no fact as far as I know exists to that effect.

So why not? Is it something they can do that just has not been in any of the D&D books, even the ones based on devils and demons, or is there something that keeps them from it?

Or am i just making a mountain out of a molehill here just banging my head on a random question that stuck in my craw. Would not be the first time I assure you.

Lord Raziere
2018-07-02, 04:29 AM
Yes there is an underlying metaphysical rule to it in fact.

Its called "censorship/parental outrage/disturbing implications"

See, the whole logic of media depictions to kids being okay is that they can't be imitated. for example, if a wizard casts fireball, no kids is going to try and imitate that to see if its fun. or if they do, they quickly see that it doesn't work or just learn to pretend and accept that fireballs will never be a thing in real life.

so, depicting kids making deals with devils and devils approaching children to exploit them is kind of iffy from that perspective, because even if the supernatural being can't be imitated, the underlying message of "make deals with evil people kids!" is still something that they probably wouldn't want to be shown, since it has too many real life parallels to say......stranger danger, kidnappers, child molesters, things like that. its too real and disturbing to be something people want to come for. the kid doesn't see whats wrong, but the parent will almost certainly be incredibly afraid for their child

so in many ways, it kind of breaks the fantasy, as its close to a real life thing thats disturbing and its unlikely that anyone would want to read about it. whose to say they haven't kept away from that ever since that irrational devil worship scare in the 80's? corporations that like to stay in business don't take needless risks, and what needs to be good for a child, needs to be good for the parent as well, as it goes through the parents approval.

Pleh
2018-07-02, 05:04 AM
Two other thoughts: nothing prevents you from having it happen in your own games. In fact, it's probably a great way to make your players take a personal dislike to that particular devil.

The other thing is there could be a cosmological reason. Devils are lawful and children often don't have full decision making capabilities, so devils might be under some kind of strange age restriction (sort of like Death Note had some strangely specific rules that didn't always have human explanation) or even if they aren't barred from such deals, it might just be less profitable to make such deals. Kids may be easy to fool, but they also have a very small region of influence into other people's lives. It could be that whatever otherworldly power devils get from deals just don't payoff enough with kids.

Lots of ways to sweep it under the rug and cover the plot hole. The game makers just decided to let you figure out how to do that.

Cespenar
2018-07-02, 05:11 AM
Could be fluffed really easily.

-Could be a rule of an ancient concord.
-Could be because kids mostly don't fulfill the "temptation" aspect of a deal. They don't possess a will strong enough to validate a deal. It would be similar to making a "deal" with an animal.

Eldan
2018-07-02, 05:15 AM
Could be a section of the pact primeval, maybe.

There's a part somewhere that says that young children who die automatically go to Elysium if their parents end up in an unpleasant place and they can't be with them. You could expand that and add some kind of celestial group who acts against fiends who try to entice children. Guardinals, probably. Quite likely more than a few gods, too.

Just say something along the lines of "the forces of good find violations against children to be so vile, they have publicly sworn to drop everything else and go after whoever did it. In turn, most of the forces of evil have decided that this means the souls or children are not usually worth the effort."

Telonius
2018-07-02, 05:43 AM
The closest thing to a rule saying this doesn't happen that I've been able to find is in Fiendish Codex II (in 3.5, page 14 in "The Moment of Damnation" sidebar):


Individuals raised in lawful evil societies typically take the decisive step toward damnation upon reaching the age of reason.

So even in Lawful Evil societies (that might very well be under devilish influence) damnation doesn't happen until adulthood.

Whyrocknodie
2018-07-02, 06:19 AM
They do. The more naive the victim, the better!
But there is no need, as they have already bartered for the souls of 'all of your descendants' with every living child thousands of years ago. Every single one of those paladins is bound for the abyss.

In local games, if the subject of the pact has no actual way of removing their own soul and somehow handing it over, the demon in question is out of luck anyway. A kid can promise their soul, all souls or even all planets in the solar system if they like - they simply cannot deliver.

Dalinale
2018-07-02, 06:23 AM
Could be a section of the pact primeval, maybe.

There's a part somewhere that says that young children who die automatically go to Elysium if their parents end up in an unpleasant place and they can't be with them. You could expand that and add some kind of celestial group who acts against fiends who try to entice children. Guardinals, probably. Quite likely more than a few gods, too.

Just say something along the lines of "the forces of good find violations against children to be so vile, they have publicly sworn to drop everything else and go after whoever did it. In turn, most of the forces of evil have decided that this means the souls or children are not usually worth the effort."

Probably the best way to go about it; devils and demons messing with innocent kids are one of the absolute easiest ways to get a warparty of Guardinals against the forces of evil on the mortal planes, which means that it is an activity only done by particularly desperate or idiotic fiends. Alternatively, have it that a archfey or something suitably outside the main alignment axis has domain over the protection of children until they are a certain age and extraplanar's doing so quickly find themselves the target of the local equivalent of the Wild Hunt.

Doorhandle
2018-07-02, 07:25 AM
I'd say they would if they could (No evil should be beyond the reach of being literally made of sin), but they don't have the opportunity.

First, most demons/devils are in the hells or abyss, and thus are unlikely to have access to earth children.

Second, Even if summoned, they tend to be summed by adult diablosits: very few children have the talent or the interest in summoning friends, or recognise doing so as a means to their desires.

Third, devils would find little gain to deal with a child. The goals of the fiendish deals are to corrupt more mortals toward evil, and to become more fodder for demonic armies. Sure, they corrupt another soul towards evil, but a child has little means to corrupt others They would instead peddle their deals to those with or in power, so that they have a pawn both malibule and useful.

In other words, the devil would not deal with the beggar child, but with the crown prince, only to call in it's favors when they are in power.
As for demons...It's a big assumption they make deals willingly in the first place. They would probably just eat the damn kid.

Pex
2018-07-02, 08:00 AM
In the real world, in the U. S. at least, contracts with kids are not binding. They're considered not having the maturity to make informed decisions. That can be the same in D&D world. The soul isn't mature enough yet for true free will. Even an orphan tough street kid will cling to an adult when one presents himself as an authority figure. A contract cannot be valid until the soul is free. A demon, on the other hand, has no such formality. When a kid is tempted into evil, a demon is behind it. The demon will possess a kid or her doll or his teddy bear or be the imaginary friend.

Scripten
2018-07-02, 08:15 AM
In the real world, in the U. S. at least, contracts with kids are not binding. They're considered not having the maturity to make informed decisions. That can be the same in D&D world. The soul isn't mature enough yet for true free will. Even an orphan tough street kid will cling to an adult when one presents himself as an authority figure. A contract cannot be valid until the soul is free. A demon, on the other hand, has no such formality. When a kid is tempted into evil, a demon is behind it. The demon will possess a kid or her doll or his teddy bear or be the imaginary friend.

I find myself in complete agreement with this. There are plenty of examples of kids falling victim to other sorts of evil in 5e's published materials, for example.

Curse of Strahd has, for instance, two ghostly children in the intro adventure. Their parents were cultists and left them to starve. D&D doesn't really shy away from infanticide (though I'll concede that my example was via negligence).

Devils rely on getting willful consent from their victims. They want souls that have been given freely, though they obviously will often manipulate the situation such that the victim feels like they have no other choice. A child wouldn't have the ability to fully understand the implications, so they're essentially immune until they age. I wouldn't be surprised to see a devil that manipulates a child's life until they come of age, though.

That would actually make for an interesting plotline. Say the young boy Prince of Kingdomsland constantly has things happen to him which are slowly making his life more and more desperate. The adventurers, over the course of several years, must fix the problems in the Prince's life as well as the greater threats to Kingdomsland before the Prince comes of age, as they know there is a devil behind the scenes looking to gain a soul of royal blood. The Prince himself isn't under active threat, either physically or spiritually, so they can be free to adventure, but there is a threat lurking in the background. Sounds like a fun, interesting campaign thread to me!

Nifft
2018-07-02, 08:17 AM
Kids are born as cute little sociopaths, so there's no gain to be had. They're already evil (and cute).

It's only after the Ceremony of Adulthood that a humanoid soul is free enough of taint to be worth targeting.

Zombimode
2018-07-02, 08:49 AM
Yes there is an underlying metaphysical rule to it in fact.

Its called "censorship/parental outrage/disturbing implications"

Since this does not seem to extend to anything else, I find this explanation to be highly unlikely.


The literal trope of temptation by the devil is as least as old as the bible. The important word here is "temptation". And the subject of temptation must fulfil certain requirements to make the temptation possible in the first place.

You can only "give in" when you have reasons not to. The entire point of the Faustian pact is one of the failing of the subject - not of missing knowledge.

Maelynn
2018-07-02, 08:57 AM
As part of my Tiefling Paladin's backstory, I had her older sister unwittingly make a deal with a Devil (a Falxugon, to be precise) when she was around 7-8 years old.

She thinks he's a fellow Tiefling because of their physical similarities, so she considers this Devil to be her new friend. They talk a lot about things, such as her desire to become a famous Bard so she can make people happy. The Devil offers to 'teach' her how to play and sing beautifully, because he wants to help her. When the girl says she has no money to pay for the lessons, the Devil says he can wait until she's become famous and rich. By then she'll have plenty of gold to pay for her lessons, right? When the girl agrees, the Devil takes out a contract. He says that this is how grown-ups promise each other things, and because he takes her dream as serious as that of a grown-up he wants to do it all official-like. The girl glows and agrees to sign: singing and instrument lessons for future payment, to be determined. Oh dear, the Devil forgot to bring any ink with him. What could we do? Oh hey, I know, let's use some of our blood. That also works great as ink, wouldn't you agree? The girl nods and happily draws a bloody smiley face in the bottom corner of the parchment.

A slight twist I made to this was that because of her innocence and naivety she doesn't shift to Evil alignment. Makes sense to me and is important for my Paladin's own backstory, when the sister ends up being betrayed by the Devil who sets a village mob on her that lynches her in the village square. There was not a shred of evil in her, and yet she suffered for what she was and what she was tricked into. With her dead sister's ripped and torn body in her arms, my character vowed to avenge her sister's death by killing all responsible. No, not the villagers... Devils. All of them. Those conniving bastards who corrupt innocent people. They're also the reason Tiefling's exist in the first place, why her and her sister's life has always been difficult. They all have to die. But especially that one Devil who tricked her sister. She will find him and she will kill him.

And that's how my character got her Oath of Vengeance. As such, her holy symbol is a small ornate vial, containing preservation liquid and her sister's eye. Always watching. Always keeping an eye on her. The sister's name was Hope, and that eye is all the hope my character has left.

Kami2awa
2018-07-02, 09:15 AM
Devils are lawful, and most legal systems have a minimum age to sign a binding contract. In fact, this would probably prevent them from making deals with those who are insane or otherwise not deemed to have full control of their behaviour.

comk59
2018-07-02, 09:29 AM
Eh. While all the reasons given make a lot of sense both from a narrative perspective and in a worldbuilding sense, I still think it can occasionally be done well.

http://i.imgur.com/nUsE0tR.png

Nifft
2018-07-02, 09:32 AM
Devils are lawful, and most legal systems have a minimum age to sign a binding contract. In fact, this would probably prevent them from making deals with those who are insane or otherwise not deemed to have full control of their behaviour.

If devils were to respect the laws of mortals, then every kingdom would just write a law prohibiting devils from visiting anyone ever.

Thus, devils presumably don't respect mortal laws in most games.

Perhaps kids simply don't have souls yet.



Eh. While all the reasons given make a lot of sense both from a narrative perspective and in a worldbuilding sense, I still think it can occasionally be done well.

http://i.imgur.com/nUsE0tR.png

Your Imgur link doesn't work for anyone except you.

You might need to make a Faustian contract with a better hosting service.

Calthropstu
2018-07-02, 09:51 AM
Kids are born as cute little sociopaths, so there's no gain to be had. They're already evil (and cute).

It's only after the Ceremony of Adulthood that a humanoid soul is free enough of taint to be worth targeting.

There is actually more truth to this than most realize. We like to think of kids as innocent, but the oppisite really is true. Good is a learned trait, evil deeds are instinctive. Stealing is rampant amongst children, and if children were left completely to their own devices, merely given their basic needs, I have little doubt half of them would be murderers by the age of 5.

2018-07-02, 10:14 AM
I use possed kids all the time in my games.

Nothing spells horror like lost of innocence, or innocence that was never there int he first place.

zlefin
2018-07-02, 10:22 AM
Maybe it's just not worth the time?
devils and demons strong enough to make pacts have better things to do
I'd probably go with contracts aren't binding with kids; so it'd only serve as a means to encourage them toward corruption. i.e. the contract isn't enough to get their soul; you still need to get them to actually be evil in their lives. this tends to require a lot of guidance/prodding over time; and it's just not generally worth it for just one soul. Years of work for a chance at just one soul isn't worth it; not when there's better opportunities.


the dnd world building has plenty of holes in it (especially economics) so having such things as this be unexplained is to be expected.


we can always make up more reasons of course; and just pick whichever ones are wanted for a setting.

here's one I just made up: mechanus doesn't recognize the validity of contracts with minors, and is opposed to enforcing unlawful contracts. So the devils avoid doing so in order to maintain mechanus' neutrality. The devils already have enough enemies to deal with, they don't want to make an enemy of mechanus as well.
occasionally some devil does it anyway of course; but they're disowned/not protected once found out, so the rest of the hells just let that devil get killed by inevitables.

NichG
2018-07-02, 10:23 AM
Needful Things is probably good inspiration for this sort of thing. Give a kid a baseball card in exchange for them throwing a rock through a window, and soon you've got a small town all murdering each-other over petty grievances. Though I suppose that's more of a demon thing than a devil thing in a D&D context.

Psyren
2018-07-02, 11:43 AM
That's easy, it's the same reason you can't enforce/build your case around a contract signed by a kid in the real world - you'd be laughed out of court. Remember, even capital-D Diabolical contracts can be overturned, and the party having no legal/metaphysical standing to consent would almost certainly qualify.

Max_Killjoy
2018-07-02, 12:25 PM
This is something that has driven me nuts every seen I wondered it, but can't find a place to really ask anybody else about it. The question is: What keeps demons and devils in D&D from makeing deals with kids who don't know any better?


You answered your own question.

Because they don't know any better... the target has to be fully aware of what they're doing. Otherwise devils could just pose as normal businesspeople, write horrendously convoluted contracts, and get people to unknowningly sign a pact.

Friv
2018-07-02, 12:43 PM
There is actually more truth to this than most realize. We like to think of kids as innocent, but the oppisite really is true. Good is a learned trait, evil deeds are instinctive. Stealing is rampant amongst children, and if children were left completely to their own devices, merely given their basic needs, I have little doubt half of them would be murderers by the age of 5.

If I were going to apply D&D rules to the real world, I would say rather that children are instinctively chaotic, and lawful behaviour is learned. Children are innocent, and part of innocence is a failure to understand the ways in which your actions are able to hurt others.

Evidence from studies is that empathy is an innate trait. Stealing is rampant because children have a hard time making the connection between "I want this thing" and "it will hurt someone else if they don't have this thing". It's quite common to see a child grab a toy from a younger child, and then get really freaked out that the younger child is super-upset.

Anyway, my argument would be that in my cosmologies, you can't be tricked into selling your soul, because you can't sell your soul without understanding what you're doing. This is also why devils don't just write "I sell my soul" in microscopic text and magically add it to every merchant's contract in a kingdom.

Scripten
2018-07-02, 12:53 PM
You answered your own question.

Because they don't know any better... the target has to be fully aware of what they're doing. Otherwise devils could just pose as normal businesspeople, write horrendously convoluted contracts, and get people to unknowningly sign a pact.

Even non-demonic EULAs don't hold up in court, after all. And that's not even signing away your soul... at least not literally.

Darth Ultron
2018-07-02, 01:39 PM
Well, there is nothing in the rules that says they don't do it.

For the most part though, devils avoid kids for the same reason they avoid Farmer Joe: there is little to gain and little damage they can do.

A devil could make Farmer Joe lets his crops rot and harm his farm animals, but it's not exactly a 'big win' for evil. And the same is true for little kids: the dvil helps little Billy cheat on a school test. Wow, what evil.

The world is full of plenty of adults to make deals with, adults with much more power and influence to to great things of evil.

Max_Killjoy
2018-07-02, 01:40 PM
Even non-demonic EULAs don't hold up in court, after all. And that's not even signing away your soul... at least not literally.

I'm pretty sure all EULAs and TOSes are demonic.

Telonius
2018-07-02, 01:56 PM
I might see them targeting a kid if they're after the parent. "Well, Lord Fancypants, it seems your daughter has agreed to give me her soul in return for the pony you didn't get her for her birthday. I've provided the pony. Now, I might be persuaded to drop the case, for a price..."

Note that the devil honestly describes what's happened, and never actually claims ownership of the soul; he simply agrees to drop the case (which he wouldn't have won). If Lord Fancypants is in a situation where he can't ask for help, and he doesn't know that the devil couldn't win that case, he might sign away his own soul.

Segev
2018-07-02, 01:58 PM
Devils do try to take little kids' souls. So do demons. That's part of why the tales of monsters and evil creatures to scare kids straight are so important. That's also why regular church attendance is so important. Because the kids don't know what they're doing, they can't be making a mockery of the simple rituals of atonement that are part of such religious ceremonies, even as they get tempted again during the week. So, maybe saying devils and demons do try is a bit of a stretch. Only the inept or desperate do; the majority find it a huge waste of time and a very risky gamble. Sure, if they make it stick, somehow, the fresh young soul is valuable, but it's so low chance of success that it's generally considered not worth it.


Or at least, that's one way to rule it.


In one campaign setting, there is an obscure but dangerous Demon God of Children. He grants children's prayers. Unfortunately, children's prayers are rarely well thought-out, and while he will pour a great deal of power into making them come to pass, no matter how unworkable, they also still have horrific consequences. He doesn't even need to bargain; the evils that arise as cascade effects once the child's prayer granted him permission to intervene pile up to far greater than his investments, as a general rule.

Peelee
2018-07-02, 02:33 PM
I disagree with most everyone here, and would make my own houserule: souls, when sold, go into a sort of astral escrow account. They cannot be collected until death, but they are also in a sort of stasis. Souls are desired because they are valuable to a fiend, but grown, mature souls are exponentially more valuable. This means that children's souls, while easier to get, are far, far less valuable, and most often not worth the time or effort.

Hence, parents can warn children of devils and demons, and kids can be possessed or corrupted, but it is uncommon to rare.

Nifft
2018-07-02, 02:35 PM
In one campaign setting, there is an obscure but dangerous Demon God of Children. He grants children's prayers. Unfortunately, children's prayers are rarely well thought-out, and while he will pour a great deal of power into making them come to pass, no matter how unworkable, they also still have horrific consequences. He doesn't even need to bargain; the evils that arise as cascade effects once the child's prayer granted him permission to intervene pile up to far greater than his investments, as a general rule.

That's amazing.

You probably wouldn't even need any other demon-gods.

Rockphed
2018-07-02, 04:35 PM
The simple answer is that nobody likes playing games where the actual best course of option might be to kill all the children. In universe, I suspect that either demons and devils cannot enforce such pacts on children (which doesn't necessarily mean they don't make the pacts; if you can convince someone they are already doomed, what is one more pact), they are forbidden by agreements between the various powers that be from doing so, or there are some powerful entities whose purpose is to hunt down and destroy any devil or demon that tries. That said, the "Lord Fastenloose, your daughter has offered me her soul in exchange for a pony" thing is an awesome start to an adventure.

Max_Killjoy
2018-07-02, 04:49 PM
This thread brings a different meaning to the phrase "hell is for children".

VincentTakeda
2018-07-02, 05:48 PM
The souls of children are not yet ripe, therefore they are not yet delicious.

Nifft
2018-07-02, 05:52 PM
The souls of children are not yet ripe, therefore they are not yet delicious.

"Ripe enough to Fall."

Iamyourking
2018-07-02, 06:04 PM
Duke Amdusius of Malebolge explicitly does make deals with children, offering them power in exchange for having them murder and sacrifice their parents.

Max_Killjoy
2018-07-02, 07:45 PM
"Ripe enough to Fall."

+1




Duke Amdusius of Malebolge explicitly does make deals with children, offering them power in exchange for having them murder and sacrifice their parents.

I'd hazard a guess... that's precisely the sort of thing that the publishers of D&D have shied away from for much of its publication history due to it sounding a lot like all the stupid scaremongering crap that people said about D&D.

Grim Portent
2018-07-02, 07:57 PM
I feel like if a devil was making deals with kids it'd be part of a long term investment sort of plan. Having them murder someone or getting the kids soul seems kind of like a waste of time given how rare making a Faustian bargain is. You want to make pacts whenever the opportunity arises and make them last as long as possible in the hopes of getting more bystanders caught up in things.

I'd imagine devil deals with kids being something the kid wants in exchange for behaving in a fashion that encourages other people to be evil. Rewarding blackmail, spying, rumour mongering, deception and other social manipulation that breaks down trust and builds strife between people in the hopes of pushing them to be more cruel and tyrannical.

At the peak of possibilities I'd imagine children pulling a Salem Witch Trial type affair on their village, and the devil would hope, and likely encourage, their parents try to take advantage of it for personal gain in the hopes of damning them as well as the children.

Mr Beer
2018-07-02, 08:32 PM
I disagree with most everyone here, and would make my own houserule: souls, when sold, go into a sort of astral escrow account. They cannot be collected until death, but they are also in a sort of stasis. Souls are desired because they are valuable to a fiend, but grown, mature souls are exponentially more valuable. This means that children's souls, while easier to get, are far, far less valuable, and most often not worth the time or effort.

Hence, parents can warn children of devils and demons, and kids can be possessed or corrupted, but it is uncommon to rare.

Demons and devils don't die of old age right? Seems like a smart fiend can corner the soul market by investing in cheap kiddie souls and collecting a fortune in a mere half century or so.

JoeJ
2018-07-02, 08:49 PM
The great secret that the devils are hiding is that no soul contract is valid. Souls are sent to the plane that most closely matches their alignment at the time of death, regardless of what they did or did not sign. The whole "selling your soul" shtick is just to fool people into thinking that they're already lost, so that they won't believe there's any point in changing their ways and they'll end up being carried into Hell by inertia (metaphorically speaking). It only works with people who are already pretty far along the path; if you spring it on someone too early there's a good chance they'll be horrified once they have a chance to reflect, and they'll devote the rest of their life to doing good in hopes of beating the contract - any good cleric would give them that advice - with the likely result that they'll end up on one of the upper planes when they die.

Keltest
2018-07-02, 10:31 PM
If devils were to respect the laws of mortals, then every kingdom would just write a law prohibiting devils from visiting anyone ever.

Thus, devils presumably don't respect mortal laws in most games.

Its less about law and more about the idea that children are literally incapable of understanding what theyre agreeing to. If you need an explanation, assume that devils, either by nature or as part of a specific code, wont deal with somebody if their ability to understand the deal is compromised in some way. They cant just get someone drunk and trick them into signing a contract for example, they need to specifically get the person to agree while in full command of their senses. If theyre foolish enough to not take advantage of that ability, well, that's their own fault.

JoeJ
2018-07-02, 10:48 PM
There's also the numbers game. A devil doesn't care about one soul among billions, although they'll take one if it's free. But they're not going to offer you anything unless you can give them something big in return. If you can start major wars, enslave whole regions, or inspire hordes to follow your evil path, they'll talk to you. For an ordinary child, naah They've got better things to do.

Anymage
2018-07-02, 11:00 PM
Duke Amdusius of Malebolge explicitly does make deals with children, offering them power in exchange for having them murder and sacrifice their parents.

A fiend could easily convince a child to do something, usually a thing with ripple effects that cause the community to become a generally nastier place. Although turning children into slavering murderers tends to be done for pure shock value, and most tables tend to be very uncomfortable with that.

For faustian bargains, I'm going to have to join with the side that assumes that for actions to have moral weight they require understanding, or at the very least malicious indifference. A child or a lunatic can certainly be pawns in a devil's plan, but their lack of understanding means that any deals they enter aren't valid.

Iamyourking
2018-07-03, 01:23 AM
I should note that Amdusius doesn't do this for shock value or just to try and corrupt children. His targets are always children who are being abused by their parents or other authority figures, so in his own evil mindset he's helping them by giving them the power to fight back (They get the power for a week, and if they kill and sacrifice their parents they get to keep it).

Of course, child abuse is another issue that a lot of games would rather not deal with.

oxybe
2018-07-03, 01:35 AM
Largely because there is a horrible return rate on a kid's soul.

You need that corruption or weight on the soul. That's the ticket. A high corruption that weighs on the soul little is like a sifter of well-aged whiskey or cheese, whereas a low corruption but a heavy weight is the equivalent of bulk buying cheap knock-off or no-name brand candy: it's not high quality stuff, but the volume is what gives it value.

Have you met a child? Do you know what weighs heavily on their soul? Is it their sins? No, it's that Spiderman's cartoon is not going to be aired because of some political debate is going on longer then expected. It's that mom scolded them for dunking their entire grubby fist into the cake batter. It's because dad yelled at them for whacking their kid brother with their sword (a sturdy branch that fell off the oak tree in the yard) yelling "IM DA HEEWO UF DA WAAND! DIE GOBWIN!" and knocking out a tooth.

Yes a kid would sell his soul for a Beyblade, and after setting up a rube goldberg-level of complexity plot to kill the kid without dirtying your hands and collect he, our theoretical devil, will probably end up getting like... 4 HeckNickels in profit. Kids are stupid.

And if he waits until the kid dies of old age and tries to play the long con, he'll get like, maybe a HeckDollar return on investment since most people are at most simply annoying s**ts and not horrible sinners who's acts would make a good man faint. Still using your ex's netflix months after breaking up is being a right and proper Richard, but i wouldn't expect that to make it rain HeckBucks once you come collecting.

Otherwise you'll have to get at the kid young and then you're required to put the effort into corrupting them over a long period of time and hope it takes since you've already invested into this soul, instead of going out for a few months and just finding a handful of people who are susceptible to corruption to begin with. This is probably the devil equivalent of a passion project, but it's a whole lot of time and effort put into something that may not bear fruit.

Kami2awa
2018-07-03, 02:17 AM
If devils were to respect the laws of mortals, then every kingdom would just write a law prohibiting devils from visiting anyone ever.

Thus, devils presumably don't respect mortal laws in most games.


;) I meant the laws of the devils themselves. Just because you are evil doesn't mean you aren't bound by a lot of rules. Just letting devils do whatever they wanted would be anarchy. Or worse, chaotic.

To quote Crowley from Supernatural: "This isn't Wall Street, this is Hell! We have something called integrity."

Talanic
2018-07-03, 02:24 AM
I think a lot of good reasons have been hashed over here. Particularly the reprisals one would face - not merely the Good planes but Mechanus also sending enforcers to deal out a Reckoning with Extreme Prejudice. I might even see some beings of Limbo affronted by this as a tyranny of the highest order.

However, the question I ask is, do D&D devils really try to trade for the souls of living mortals? I know they traffic in the already-damned, but since (as was mentioned) souls in D&D go to the plane that matches that soul's alignment, aren't devils really just trying to arrange temptations instead? Give the puny mortals deals that will lead them into depravity and excess, letting them grow old (or not) and die never regretting the bargain that set their feet onto the lawful evil path. Only then do they find their old 'benefactor' waiting as they enter their new home for the first time.

Sinewmire
2018-07-03, 02:53 AM
In a lot of medieval societies, children literally belonged to their parents or apprentice-master until they turned 15 or so. If you're owned, you can't disburse yourself or your soul as it belongs to your master(parent), not you.

Luccan
2018-07-03, 03:16 AM
I can think of a few possibilities:

1. There are ways to escape such contracts. Even if these ways are hidden and difficult, if devils suddenly started grabbing every (or too many) child(ren), suddenly you'd have basically every Good creature on the material plane, plus various celestials, looking for ways out of the contracts. And then everyone knows the way out, which means now you have no way of gaining souls: Once the Good guys know how to prevent you from reaping the rewards, they have no reason to let you do it ever again. Best keep it to adults as often as possible, because everyone believes they're capable of making their own choices and even most Good creatures seem to think you should lie in the bed you make. In a way, this would actually be devils playing everyone else: they take advantage of the apathy of Good creatures, maybe even pointing out to their debtors that if these supposed Good creatures know a way out, they sure don't seem to care.

2. As others have said: a lack of moral understanding. Innocence means that you may not understand the consequences of your actions. It may be in the nature of devils or simply a requirement of some ancient agreement that they can't buy the soul of the morally innocent or anyone else who may not understand what they're getting into. As someone pointed out, if they could do that then quiet a few taverns would likely have some low-level devil lurking in a corner waiting to make a deal.

3. Fear of reprisal. Another one someone pointed out, if there's no way to get out of the deal and they can do it anyway, you can bet an army of celestials are gonna start hunting such devils across the planes and recruiting any powerful adventurer they can to hound them in the places they can't reach. Deities might even get involved. No one wants a large scale interplanar war, so their bosses will probably cut them off too. Maybe even offer you up as a peace offering so paladins stop besieging their preferred layer of Hell.

Demons don't care, but they also don't make real deals: they'll drag you to the Abyss whether you're a tyrant who trafficked with their cultists or LG paladin. They don't follow rules and break their oaths whenever it's convenient. They also aren't organized enough to pull it off large-scale and are kept in check by literally everyone else, including non-CE fiends.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-03, 06:09 AM
As has been pointed out it'll depend on the metaphysics of the setting.

I like the idea that people under their culture's agree of majority are 'owned' by their parents. We can throw in a symbolic rite of adulthood that has metaphysical meaning, in that the cultural shift from child to adult means that, as far as the universe is concerned, the person owns themselves.

Another idea I've had it's that devil's don't bargain for souls, they bargain to make the world more lawful Evil. Why do you think all these outsiders are interested in the material plane? It's not out of the goodness of their hearts, but rather any world that is resonant with their alignment long enough becomes a new layer on their plane. Sure, young outsiders might want to live in Celestia, but Baator and the Abyss just have much cheaper real estate, massive it's better to start there.

Segev
2018-07-03, 09:44 AM
They cant just get someone drunk and trick them into signing a contract for example.That actually could be an interesting adventure seed. Farmer Bob started showing supernatural powers, or having things "go his way" as disasters befall his rivals, and has realized the quirky old slimeball he shared a drink with last week must've been serious about the whole "sell your soul" thing. He now wants adventurers to help him get out of this and stop bad things happening to his friends and family.


In a lot of medieval societies, children literally belonged to their parents or apprentice-master until they turned 15 or so. If you're owned, you can't disburse yourself or your soul as it belongs to your master(parent), not you.
This is also a good point. It leads into why fae of old fairy tales could bargain for "your firstborn son." So you could have the child-souls traded by their parents rather than by the kids themselves, if you wanted.

An adherent of a succubus or the like who barters his children for power and success in lustful pursuits might deliberately father many, many kids so he has more and more bargaining chips to trade away.

Look at that same scenario from the other side, and see the succubus surrounded by her adoring semi-adopted children, all the ones she's claimed from her contracts, which she raises in a Granny Goodness like fashion. They all call her "Mommy" or "Auntie."

In a fully diabolic society, where devil-worship is the norm, it may be that the first contract most make with devils is to barter back their OWN souls in exchange for service or more souls than their own. After all, Mommy and Daddy sold yours before you were even born.

Hecuba
2018-07-03, 09:57 AM
As has been pointed out it'll depend on the metaphysics of the setting.

I like the idea that people under their culture's agree of majority are 'owned' by their parents. We can throw in a symbolic rite of adulthood that has metaphysical meaning, in that the cultural shift from child to adult means that, as far as the universe is concerned, the person owns themselves.

Another idea I've had it's that devil's don't bargain for souls, they bargain to make the world more lawful Evil. Why do you think all these outsiders are interested in the material plane? It's not out of the goodness of their hearts, but rather any world that is resonant with their alignment long enough becomes a new layer on their plane. Sure, young outsiders might want to live in Celestia, but Baator and the Abyss just have much cheaper real estate, massive it's better to start there.

This makes a good way to address this in setting. "Coming of age" is a powerful idea, and it exists in various forms in various cultures. It's not unreasonable for a setting to have a metaphysical equivalent of doli incapax that extends at least so far as active diabolical temptation as a way to resolve the consistency problem here in such a way that does not cause the setting to devolve into a part-Faustian, part-Dickensian dystopia.

denthor
2018-07-03, 10:05 AM
+1





I'd hazard a guess... that's precisely the sort of thing that the publishers of D&D have shied away from for much of its publication history due to it sounding a lot like all the stupid scaremongering crap that people said about D&D.

The guess is correct. Which is why Dungeons and Dragons is now pathfinder.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-03, 10:37 AM
This is also a good point. It leads into why fae of old fairy tales could bargain for "your firstborn son." So you could have the child-souls traded by their parents rather than by the kids themselves, if you wanted.

An adherent of a succubus or the like who barters his children for power and success in lustful pursuits might deliberately father many, many kids so he has more and more bargaining chips to trade away.

Look at that same scenario from the other side, and see the succubus surrounded by her adoring semi-adopted children, all the ones she's claimed from her contracts, which she raises in a Granny Goodness like fashion. They all call her "Mommy" or "Auntie."

In a fully diabolic society, where devil-worship is the norm, it may be that the first contract most make with devils is to barter back their OWN souls in exchange for service or more souls than their own. After all, Mommy and Daddy sold yours before you were even born.

I personally like these ideas. For extra funsies, somebody willing to sell their child's soul for power is committing an even more evil act than selling their own soul for power (or services). Selling somebody you're supposed to protect with your life to somebody who's literally made of evil, well that's
a first class ticket to the firey afterlife. Even if the child is able to get out of the contract Baator probably still wins.


This makes a good way to address this in setting. "Coming of age" is a powerful idea, and it exists in various forms in various cultures. It's not unreasonable for a setting to have a metaphysical equivalent of doli incapax that extends at least so far as active diabolical temptation as a way to resolve the consistency problem here in such a way that does not cause the setting to devolve into a part-Faustian, part-Dickensian dystopia.

Interestingly we also have an extension. Who 'owns' those children without parents and guardians. I'd say that those who end up in orphanages or monestaries or the like are owned by the person running the place (or most directly looking out for their needs), but those without anybody looking after them metaphysically own themselves.

Which means that we have a now relatively common character archetype in the setting, the urchin warlock. Somebody who through desperation sold their soul for power while living on the streets. Avoiding them might even spur cities to give more support to orphans and other children in danger of making the trade, the only thing worse than an angry warlock is a warlock who's angry at you.

Rockphed
2018-07-03, 10:43 AM
a part-Faustian, part-Dickensian dystopia.

You say that like it wouldn't be awesome to have the players run across a city where this is the way things are.

Huh, I wonder if having Drow be a part-faustian, part-Dickensian dystopia would make them more interesting.

woweedd
2018-07-03, 10:52 AM
Same reason they have to make deals for souls at all: It's just the rules. They have to give their soul willingly, and while in possession of their full judgement, which means their brain has to be fully-developed. Heck, in some depictions, Devils don't even lie, merely..."mislead"". By which I mean, they say things that are technically true, but they know will be interpreted wrong.

Max_Killjoy
2018-07-03, 10:59 AM
"It's an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."

There are societies that most players are going to be OK with encountering, but totally immersing themselves in it is going to become "Crapsack World Gaming", and that's not for everyone.

Segev
2018-07-03, 11:18 AM
"It's an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there."

There are societies that most players are going to be OK with encountering, but totally immersing themselves in it is going to become "Crapsack World Gaming", and that's not for everyone.

Such societies are usually termed "adventuring sites" in D&D and similar games. :smallwink:

Peelee
2018-07-03, 11:25 AM
Demons and devils don't die of old age right? Seems like a smart fiend can corner the soul market by investing in cheap kiddie souls and collecting a fortune in a mere half century or so.

Like a fiend collecting pennies while others find contractor jobs that pay in the tens of thousands. Said fiend may end up working more, if not harder, than the others for most likely less benefit.

legomaster00156
2018-07-03, 11:37 AM
Contracts with minors are not legally binding, according to most mortal laws and also Infernal Code Chapter 784.864, Article 83, Section 72.38, Subsection A14, Paragraph 903.

NecroDancer
2018-07-03, 12:01 PM
maybe because the souls of children aren't very strong. its like fishing, why bother catching minnows when you could catch salmon or catfish?

Also a demon wouldn't bother trying to corrupt a kid because all little kids are CE.

superstrijder15
2018-07-03, 12:05 PM
Contracts with minors are not legally binding, according to most mortal laws and also Infernal Code Chapter 784.864, Article 83, Section 72.38, Subsection A14, Paragraph 903.

I like how the sections are defined to 1/100 of a section, but even then there are subsections.

Relevant to the thread: From a metagaming perspective, most people wouldn't like playing in a world where children regularly accidentally sell their soul.
Also, perhaps the Devils realised that if they got all childrens souls or 'the souls of you and all your descendants' or something, the good aligned dieties would simply write them off as collateral damage now and destroy that world/plane before the devils would get to much power from it. It might even have happened before...

NichG
2018-07-03, 01:21 PM
There's no real reason for devils to avoid, in general, messing with kids given the opportunity.

It seems stranger to me though that every mortal would have a devil hanging out near them waiting to hear a misspoken 'I would do anything for...' or 'I'd sell my soul for...'

That is to say, your average devil with access to the mortal realm is, as a scheming, immortal personification of cosmic forces, a more important personage than your average mortal. If they're slumming it on the Prime hunting for souls in time to hear and respond to the request, someone either got very (un)lucky, went through a bit more trouble than usual to get their attention (e.g. via involved ritual magic or at least a mid-level spell), or they have some specific and long-term end in mind.

Kids selling their souls won't be an average childhood experience any more than people selling their souls would be an average adult experience, because being important enough to be the lynchpin in a devil's Machiavellian plan isn't something just anyone can aspire to. A single solitary soul, unless one of particular power seized in living form before Lethe's kiss strips it of it's useful bits, just isn't worth the time in most cases - kid or adult. You could trade a couple of them to a hag for a nice prosthetic limb perhaps.

But, if that devil has a grand plan that grounds out through the corruption of a child, a devil isn't going to think twice. You're just more likely to see that round about the time that everything goes to hell for everyone rather than as a frequent childhood nuisance.

Segev
2018-07-03, 01:27 PM
There's no real reason for devils to avoid, in general, messing with kids given the opportunity.

It seems stranger to me though that every mortal would have a devil hanging out near them waiting to hear a misspoken 'I would do anything for...' or 'I'd sell my soul for...'

That is to say, your average devil with access to the mortal realm is, as a scheming, immortal personification of cosmic forces, a more important personage than your average mortal. If they're slumming it on the Prime hunting for souls in time to hear and respond to the request, someone either got very (un)lucky, went through a bit more trouble than usual to get their attention (e.g. via involved ritual magic or at least a mid-level spell), or they have some specific and long-term end in mind.

Kids selling their souls won't be an average childhood experience any more than people selling their souls would be an average adult experience, because being important enough to be the lynchpin in a devil's Machiavellian plan isn't something just anyone can aspire to. A single solitary soul, unless one of particular power seized in living form before Lethe's kiss strips it of it's useful bits, just isn't worth the time in most cases - kid or adult. You could trade a couple of them to a hag for a nice prosthetic limb perhaps.

But, if that devil has a grand plan that grounds out through the corruption of a child, a devil isn't going to think twice. You're just more likely to see that round about the time that everything goes to hell for everyone rather than as a frequent childhood nuisance.

I picture it happening more likely the way it did in an episode of Supernatural: The devil was summoned to make a deal with one guy, and then...didn't leave. While in the area, it just went to a bar and hung out as people got drunk enough to make bargains. Then it visited the apprentice barracks at the various local guilds and played on ambitious, jealous, or fearful apprentices' weaknesses to get more deals. Then, on its way out of town the next morning, it stopped at the orphanage and the various play yards with little kids in them, making whatever deals it could in passing.

I mean, its in town; may as well make the most of it.

Anonymouswizard
2018-07-03, 01:38 PM
A single solitary soul, unless one of particular power seized in living form before Lethe's kiss strips it of it's useful bits, just isn't worth the time in most cases - kid or adult. You could trade a couple of them to a hag for a nice prosthetic limb perhaps.

The thing is, the pact might not even be for a soul. I like to think of your stereotypical 'I sold my soul for power' deal the sort of thing that really never happens because thousands of souls are pouring into hell at any rate, one or two more isn't going to make a difference.

No, the real benefit behind a pact is the ability to act indirectly in the mortal world. A Pit Fiend becoming the Vizier is the sort of thing that the Celestials will frown on, but the Pit Fiend offering the Vizier some service in exchange for throwing his weight behind policies that suit the Pit Fiend is much more likely to go unnoticed.

And really, that is why a devil might go after a kid. Because while the lone soul isn't worthwhile you can shape the kid into your agent in the mortal world. Much more easily than as an adult as well.

No, this isn't the concept for the next character I'm going to play (okay, it totally is, but might be going for any of the 5e Warlock Patrons).

Peelee
2018-07-03, 05:39 PM
Contracts with minors are not legally binding, according to most mortal laws and also Infernal Code Chapter 784.864, Article 83, Section 72.38, Subsection A14, Paragraph 903.

Which makes sense, because otherwise that would be evil.

Wait a second....

Scripten
2018-07-03, 06:25 PM
Which makes sense, because otherwise that would be evil.

Wait a second....

Worse, it would be chaotic.

Peelee
2018-07-03, 07:15 PM
Worse, it would be chaotic.

I don't see how that's necessarily the case.

Braininthejar2
2018-07-03, 07:30 PM
A kid won't summon one.

As a target of opportunity... perhaps. But it's worth exactly one soul with no extra merits (knowledge etc) so might not be worth the extra attention it would bring.

Then again, if you remember Berserk "lost children" arc...

Pleh
2018-07-04, 06:38 AM
The guess is correct. Which is why Dungeons and Dragons is now pathfinder.

5e begs to differ.

The fact that Paizo isn't working on 5e is the reason PF isn't D&D.


You say that like it wouldn't be awesome to have the players run across a city where this is the way things are.

Huh, I wonder if having Drow be a part-faustian, part-Dickensian dystopia would make them more interesting.

I actually got a picture of a society where Drow, Vampires, Illithid, and Devils rule the world/metropolis in factions and mortal humanoids are the prime commodity in the form of livestock. Devils want their souls, Mindflayers want their brains, Vampires want their blood, and Drow want their labor. So humans/core races are born into slavery and traded like currency.

Slap on a victorian style feud of the nobility and layer in some semi ironic faction niches (Illithid are the scientists/scholars, Devils pound the pulpit, Vampires run the brothels and casinos, and Drow manage the industrial block) and you've got a decent dystopia foundation.

Psyren
2018-07-04, 10:47 AM
I don't see how that's necessarily the case.

It's a contract that is invalid from the get-go. It wouldn't be worth the infernal ink it was signed in. That's a far bigger problem to a devil than worrying about the children themselves.

theMycon
2018-07-04, 10:56 AM
They tried it, but quickly learned the hazards of making a deal with creatures more evil than even they could fathom.

Peelee
2018-07-04, 10:57 AM
It's a contract that is invalid from the get-go. It wouldn't be worth the infernal ink it was signed in. That's a far bigger problem to a devil than worrying about the children themselves.

For a baby or a toddler or someone who cannot understand the terms, sure. An eight-year-old certainly has a concept of trade and ownership, it's not the fiend's fault that an eight-year-old may have a crappy concept of value. Perfectly lawful, just evil as all get out.

Segev
2018-07-04, 11:21 AM
Devil: And that is how we learned to include a "no-take-backs" clause in every contract.
Kid: Well, I also had my fingers crossed.
Devil: AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGHHH!

Andor13
2018-07-04, 01:24 PM
For a baby or a toddler or someone who cannot understand the terms, sure. An eight-year-old certainly has a concept of trade and ownership, it's not the fiend's fault that an eight-year-old may have a crappy concept of value. Perfectly lawful, just evil as all get out.

Well it depends on the GM, but historically kids aren't legally people, they are chattel. They can't sell their souls until they are legally adults, because they don't have the right.

Lemmy
2018-07-04, 03:02 PM
Why do Devils make contracts rather than just rip the soul out of whoever they want? And who judges whether the contract is valid or not? If all that matters is the knowledge of the devil and the guy signing off hos soul, then no paper or ink would be necessary. Both parties agreed to the deal and know that they did. If it's only the paper that matters, the devil could simply force the person to sign their name through the use of raw physical force.

So that implies that devils either require or really, really want consent.

Perhaps that means there's some cosmic force that can (and does) check contracts, judge their validity and enforce their decision. This force, whatever it is, may enforce the addition of an "in my full mental capacities and of my own free will" kind of clause. And that means consent from someone fully capable of making their own decisions.

Perhaps so they savor the victim's despair and regret later, which is much more intense when they know it's honestly their fault and that they should have known better.

Perhaps it's because it's embarassing. Tricking a kid is easy. If you're an immortal being of evil-made-flesh specialized in tricking people into signing unfavorable deals, doing it to kids or mentally challenged people could be seem as embarassing... You'd be the laughing stock of Hell! It's like a professional MMA fighter bragging about beating a toddler. Even discounting the morality, it's an embarrassment even if it's technically a victory. After all... If you went after that toddler, it's probably becauze you're too weak to face a real opponent. And devils probably enjoy seeing their rivals pubicly humiliated even more than they enjoy the despair of those who sign their contracts.

Malphegor
2018-07-04, 03:31 PM
Personally, I'd allow it if I ever get around to running a game, but have some obscure clause force the deal into being educational for the child should they get free.

So less 'you are doomed, woe is your folly, your hubris has ruined you', more 'Labyrinth knockoff quest hook'.

Depends on the style of the campaign though.

Nifft
2018-07-04, 03:49 PM
Well it depends on the GM, but historically kids aren't legally people, they are chattel. They can't sell their souls until they are legally adults, because they don't have the right.

"Hey there Your Majesty, it's your old buddy Lucifer. I need you to do me a favor. Change the legal age of adulthood to seven, justify it with something about apprenticeship contracts for orphans or whatever. If you do that and let it remain for the rest of your reign, I'll give you back your own soul."


Perhaps it's because it's embarassing. Tricking a kid is easy. If you're an immortal being of evil-made-flesh specialized in tricking people into signing unfavorable deals, doing it to kids or mentally challenged people could be seem as embarassing... You'd be the laughing stock of Hell! It's like a professional MMA fighter bragging about beating a toddler. Even discounting the morality, it's an embarrassment even if it's technically a victory. After all... If you went after that toddler, it's probably becauze you're too weak to face a real opponent. And devils probably enjoy seeing their rivals pubicly humiliated even more than they enjoy the despair of those who sign their contracts.

Peer pressure, bane of fiends and teens.

I suppose that's why Dr. Faustus was such a prize -- he was a doctor, after all.

ross
2018-07-04, 07:07 PM
It's a great way to get your game pulled off the shelf, which is the only reason that really matters.

And if it does stay up - like maybe at that one game shop no one goes to 'cause the cashier looks like a serial killer and there's always this one guy at the table at all times of the day who never showers - your game will forever be known as "that game where kids make deals with satan", which is pretty much the same thing as getting pulled. Just like FATAL is "that porn game made by a couple of 14-year-old potheads".


Since this does not seem to extend to anything else, I find this explanation to be highly unlikely.

What should "devils don't make deals with kids" extend to, other than devils not making deals with kids?

NichG
2018-07-04, 07:45 PM
Mortal laws won't matter. Keep in mind what hell represents - it's the ultimate expression of law as evil. There may be ideas in that legal system about informed consent, ownership, and so on, but they'll be designed to have the highest degree of dystopian, unfair, and unjust interpretations as possible, with as many traps and gotchas as they can manage. Half of it though will be there for devils to screw over each other.

In all likelihood the dog and pony soul of a contract is in most cases just a kind of sick and twisted scorekeeping between devils. Sure if you just kill the warlock who summoned you, hell will probably get that soul. But you want to make sure you can prove that you were the one who delivered it, not that erinyes across the way, not your boss (who you're of course scheming to surpass and dominate all the while trying to ingratiate yourself), etc. And if you physically kidnap still-living mortals back to hell, it's going to be hard to keep those other devils from trying to take custody (and credit). So you have some incentive to get the postage right, as it were.

The exceptions are the cases where the soul actually would normally go somewhere else, in which case the contracts are referents to the Pact Primeval and, in order to work, have to stick to that. Here the importance is less the soul obtained and more about actively contributing to the corruption of the fundamental nature of the Upper Planes - that is to say, by forcing them to be complicit in the damnation of innocents. Since the Pact Primeval is a sort of original sin committed by the heavens, damning a truly good or truly innocent person who is signing themselves away in an act of real self-sacrifice is a way of twisting the dagger. In that sense, I think getting a baby to sign in blood would actually be worth some points (though better would be to get a child to damn themselves to save their parents while simultaneously the parents damn themselves to save the kid).

Psyren
2018-07-04, 09:30 PM
An eight-year-old certainly has a concept of trade and ownership,

Of a soul? [Citation Needed]

Peelee
2018-07-05, 12:16 AM
Of a soul? [Citation Needed]

They have a concept of a ownership, and a concept of self. The two can certainly be combined easily enough. I see no reason why they wouldn't be able to sell their souls, because I see no reason why it wouldn't be Lawful. Crazy Evil, but Lawful Evil.

Calthropstu
2018-07-05, 01:05 AM
Of a soul? [Citation Needed]

Well obviously since they souled it.

WindStruck
2018-07-05, 01:21 AM
Something about legality of contracts and holding them up in hell court. You have to knowingly agree to terms of a contract, and it could be that children of a certain age are simply off limits as they are deemed "incapable of making responsible decisions", unless a particular individual proves otherwise.

Psyren
2018-07-05, 02:03 AM
They have a concept of a ownership, and a concept of self. The two can certainly be combined easily enough. I see no reason why they wouldn't be able to sell their souls, because I see no reason why it wouldn't be Lawful. Crazy Evil, but Lawful Evil.

I'm not denying that they COULD sell them, just like a pre-teen COULD perform the physical act of signing a contract on a piece of paper in our world. It's keeping the goods that I'm objecting to - i.e. trying to enforce/collect on that contract when the kid later dies. And because of that, devils don't bother, thus neatly answering the question posed in the OP.

Suggesting that devils can get away with this and simply choose not to, suggests that they are either uncharacteristically benevolent or uncharacteristically moronic. Neither explanation is particularly appealing. *points once more at sig*

Avigor
2018-07-05, 04:07 AM
There are annis hags in a 5e book (VGtM 159) that specifically attempt to corrupt children, and they removed the RAW age restrictions and penalties from character creation for both 5e and 4e, so logically it might be possible for child warlocks to exist, albeit due to multiple in-universe factors* it is probably not attempted very often.

OTOH, IRL there would be a lot of freakout if there was a faustian child as a major character, I doubt they'll ever attempt to push some 8 year old infernal pact warlock as the next Drizzt in the novels.

As for the question brought up of whether infernal contracts can change where a soul goes upon death, well there is the Mountebank class (Dragon Compendium 42), which does allow neutral characters to be bound to an evil power by their making a pact.

*:potentially unspecified clauses in the pact primeval, issues regarding innocence, probable anticipated reactions from outside parties (forces of good, inevitables, peer response, etc), lack of plane shift or summoning depending on the devil in question, regular exposure to clergy who can atone, wanting to avoid too many people finding the obscure loopholes, and the fact that at least most children don't have enough influence to be worth more than just one more soul larvae have already been pointed out by others.

Peelee
2018-07-05, 09:13 AM
I'm not denying that they COULD sell them, just like a pre-teen COULD perform the physical act of signing a contract on a piece of paper in our world. It's keeping the goods that I'm objecting to - i.e. trying to enforce/collect on that contract when the kid later dies. And because of that, devils don't bother, thus neatly answering the question posed in the OP.

Suggesting that devils can get away with this and simply choose not to, suggests that they are either uncharacteristically benevolent or uncharacteristically moronic. Neither explanation is particularly appealing. *points once more at sig*

You're conflating real-world legalities with Lawfulness. Real-world legalities regarding pre-teens and contracts are for protection. You have provided absolutely no reason whatsoever why Lawful fiends, or for that matter why the entire entity of Lawfulness would be concerned with protection. That's a Good/Evil issue, not a Lawful/Chaos issue.

As your "make assumptions that fit what happens," perhaps you missed where I provided a reason for why devils could get away with this and don't? I have no problem quoting myself there if you missed it. tl;dr, I made assumptions that didn't make them uncharacteristically benevolent or uncharacteristically moronic.

ETA: Back to the protection but for Lawfulness, more to the point, you are asserting they are uncharacteristically benevolent by allowing creatures who can understand the basic concept of a deal immunity from said deal because of an arbitrary age restriction. This isn't the real world, this is D&D. Good and Evil explicitly exist. Law and Chaos explicitly exist. Gods explicitly exist. We have a vaguely arbitrary age line because we need a line drawn somewhere, because we have trouble gauging and judging what young people can understand. A D&D world has no such compunctions; the universe absolutely can know. It can know objectively if you are Good, Neutral, or Evil. It can objectively know if you are Lawful, Neutral, or Chaotic. It can objectively know whether a pre-teen has the requisite understanding to enter into a Faustian deal. Most likely nations in the world may disallow contract negotiations below certain ages, just as most nations may disallow fiendish deals to begin with. But that would have no bearing on the function of the universe.

If a king judges someone to be Good, the universe may disagree, and in that case the universe would be correct. You are asserting in this analogy that because the king judged the person to be Good, then the person is, without regard to whether or not the universe would have a say in it.

Andor13
2018-07-05, 09:35 AM
"Hey there Your Majesty, it's your old buddy Lucifer. I need you to do me a favor. Change the legal age of adulthood to seven, justify it with something about apprenticeship contracts for orphans or whatever. If you do that and let it remain for the rest of your reign, I'll give you back your own soul."

Why would mortal law be relevant to the trafficking of souls? And a flat age requirement would run into racial issues anyway. In an elven kingdom a human would go senile before he reached his majority if they went by a single standard.

I mean, really, the problem here is that D&D is using ideas pinched from a monotheistic religion in a polytheistic setting, and therefore nothing makes sense.

Psyren
2018-07-05, 09:49 AM
You're conflating real-world legalities with Lawfulness. Real-world legalities regarding pre-teens and contracts are for protection. You have provided absolutely no reason whatsoever why Lawful fiends, or for that matter why the entire entity of Lawfulness would be concerned with protection. That's a Good/Evil issue, not a Lawful/Chaos issue.

But consent and volition do matter for contracts, even the fiendish/metaphysical ones present in D&D. It's the same reason why the devils can't simply corner a mortal and beat the gently caress out of him with subdual damage or torture until he signs his soul away. By your logic, that should be possible, because it's an issue of protection and thus morality rather than the purely objective consideration of whether their signature is on the page or not. So clearly there is an element of "fairness" built into the proceedings.


As your "make assumptions that fit what happens," perhaps you missed where I provided a reason for why devils could get away with this and don't? I have no problem quoting myself there if you missed it. tl;dr, I made assumptions that didn't make them uncharacteristically benevolent or uncharacteristically moronic.

You mean your throwaway assumption that child souls are worth less? Putting aside that you have yet to support that, it makes no sense that fiends would care about that even if it were true. For starters, there are an infinite number of them while there are a finite number of mortals, so if child souls were on the table there would definitely be fiends going for them before too long. And second, child souls have value beyond what the soul itself can do, because you have a good chance of getting a damned (literally) kid's parents of committing all kinds of atrocities or mortaging their own to get it back.


Gods explicitly exist.

I'm glad you're aware of this, because it's usually a god (specifically, whichever one is in charge of death and the afterlife, e.g. Kelemvor, Jergal, Wee Jas, Pharasma etc) that decides whether a soul contract is enforceable or not - not the devils themselves. This is why invalid contracts can be a thing to begin with.

hamishspence
2018-07-05, 09:54 AM
I'm glad you're aware of this, because it's usually a god (specifically, whichever one is in charge of death and the afterlife, e.g. Kelemvor, Jergal, Wee Jas, Pharasma etc) that decides whether a soul contract is enforceable or not - not the devils themselves. This is why invalid contracts can be a thing to begin with.

In Fiendish Codex 2, if a mortal wishes to dispute their contract - they may do so - but the court is in the Nine Hells and the judge is a pit fiend.

"Being coerced" is a valid defence. So is "I didn't receive the promised reward".

Mystral
2018-07-05, 09:56 AM
The reason partly depends on the faction.

Devils can take souls because of an ancient contract with the gods forged by asmodeus in the dawn of time. One of the clauses of the contract is that the souls have to be given willingly, in full knowledge of the implications of the pact and in sound mind, which is also why Devils don't go around charming people before having them sell away their soul for a snickers bar. One of the parts of being in sound mind is being old enough to understand the concepts of soul, eternal life and eternal torture, which is defined in the contract as (amongst other things) being of adult age. So the fact that devils don't sign contracts with children is part of the primeval contract.

Demons, on the other hand, only forge contracts to obtain what they can't gain by force. In the event that they were able to forge a pact with a child, they'd most likely also be able to kill it and steal its soul, so they'd just do that.

Secondly, devils and demons aren't as prevalent in the fantasy world as you might think or as implied by your cartoon. There's no all-hearing fiendish entity who just waits for someone to utter a wish and then to swoop in and yoink their soul away. Most people never meet an outsider in their entire life, and when they do those outsiders have better things to do than quarrel over a soul. Those demons and devils who can just grant any wish are aiming for kings and warlords, not children, and those who are weak enough to gain something from children souls are either kept on a tight leash or not very clever.

Third, children souls are generally not very interesting. They didn't have time to ripen with experience (both literal XP and memories), so they lack substance and aren't worth much.

Fourth, in some religions there are baptism ceremonies where the child is baptised in a fitting manner and from this moment onward until their age of adulthood under the protection of the corresponding diety/pantheon. It's basically a mark by that diety who clearly marks the soul of that child as protected and warns away any otherworldly entity who tries to interfere with the soul (though the body is still the parents' to protect). Most demons, devils, fey and so on steer away from such a mark because it invites far, far more trouble than a single child soul is worth.

Psyren
2018-07-05, 10:17 AM
In Fiendish Codex 2, if a mortal wishes to dispute their contract - they may do so - but the court is in the Nine Hells and the judge is a pit fiend.

"Being coerced" is a valid defence. So is "I didn't receive the promised reward".

That's for Greyhawk, which is the assumed setting for FC2. In Forgotten Realms, Kelemvor or his agents preside over such cases.

The overall point still stands though - the fact that "I was coerced" is a valid defense, means that the circumstances of the signing itself do matter, not just the thing that was signed.

Segev
2018-07-05, 10:28 AM
It could be also related to the fact that you have to be LE to go to hell. Children are, shall we say, typically fairly chaotic, even leaving the G/E axis aside. There is a certain level of maturity required to really grasp Law as a concept. Children tend to have a sense of "fairness," sure, but it's heavily biased towards their perceptions. "It's fair if I like it" is a common misapplication of the concept. Their budding empathy helps them learn better fairness.

But fair and orderly are not always the same thing. Especially at a child's immature comprehension level.

So, when the devil gets the little kid to sign away his soul, the kid just...refuses to pay.

When an adult says, "That's not fair!" he may mean it, but he still understands that life isn't fair, and that the contract he signed does actually say what the fiend is proclaiming it to. He knows he was swindled in a broad sense, but that he did agree to it.

When a child says, "That's not fair!" he not only means it, but believes it to be overriding. That stupid 'contract' thingie is boring and complicated and he is positive that he never agreed to whatever that mean ol' devil is trying to claim. He shoves the reward back at the devil, if he even goes that far, and storms off.

The kid lacks the sophistication to even recognize that he's breaking the deal. To him, the devil has. This inherent chaos makes the kid's soul unable to be dragged to Hell. If the devil isn't careful, the evil he's engendered might even send the kid to the lower planes anyway...but the Abyss. And if there's anything a devil hates more than a soul going to the upper planes, it's that soul going to the hated enemies in the Blood War.

hamishspence
2018-07-05, 10:34 AM
That's for Greyhawk, which is the assumed setting for FC2. In Forgotten Realms, Kelemvor or his agents preside over such cases.
Actually FC2 has sidebars discussing how to apply it to Faerun - and "Kelemvor/agents preside over all disputes" is not in the sidebar.

Peelee
2018-07-05, 11:19 AM
But consent and volition do matter for contracts, even the fiendish/metaphysical ones present in D&D. It's the same reason why the devils can't simply corner a mortal and beat the gently caress out of him with subdual damage or torture until he signs his soul away. By your logic, that should be possible, because it's an issue of protection and thus morality rather than the purely objective consideration of whether their signature is on the page or not. So clearly there is an element of "fairness" built into the proceedings.
You have a really, really poor grasp of my logic. By my logic, children may enter contracts so long as they give consent and volition. I've never said they can't, despite what you may think. If the child cannot give consent and does not have volition, the universe would not give the contract legitimacy, and the devil wouldn't get the soul. Call it a gamble, the devil doesn't know for sure, the universe does. Hell, if anything, that gives extra protection to the child, since the devil has as much certainty as we do.


You mean your throwaway assumption that child souls are worth less?
There is nothing saying what souls are worth compared to each other, and in my world, why not, this is the case. "Why not do X?" for something that has no rules is a perfectly acceptable assertion, so long as it's self-consistent. Nothing I said has been inconsistent.

Here's a thought, have you ever thought to just say, "i do not like this idea" instead of trying to mangle my arguments so that you can try to be right about a subjective argument? Note how I've never said "this is the way to do it," I've just said "this is a way to do it, and I prefer it." You can not prefer it. Feel free to not prefer it. Just stop trying to twist what I'm saying so you can pretend to be right on something you literally can't be right on.

Of, conversely, quote me a relevant section from any sourcebook on how I'm wrong, and I'll cop to it. Just stop trying to say "by your logic" and then follow it with things that do not at all follow by my logic.

I'm glad you're aware of this, because it's usually a god (specifically, whichever one is in charge of death and the afterlife, e.g. Kelemvor, Jergal, Wee Jas, Pharasma etc) that decides whether a soul contract is enforceable or not - not the devils themselves. This is why invalid contracts can be a thing to begin with.
Gods aren't all-powerful, and fight and argue among each other. The universe is the ultimate arbiter, not the gods. If you wanna play with all-powerful, all-knowing gods, feel free. I don't.

Calthropstu
2018-07-05, 11:33 AM
You have a really, really poor grasp of my logic. By my logic, children may enter contracts so long as they give consent and volition. I've never said they can't, despite what you may think. If the child cannot give consent and does not have volition, the universe would not give the contract legitimacy, and the devil wouldn't get the soul. Call it a gamble, the devil doesn't know for sure, the universe does. Hell, if anything, that gives extra protection to the child, since the devil has as much certainty as we do.


There is nothing saying what souls are worth compared to each other, and in my world, why not, this is the case. "Why not do X?" for something that has no rules is a perfectly acceptable assertion, so long as it's self-consistent. Nothing I said has been inconsistent.

Here's a thought, have you ever thought to just say, "i do not like this idea" instead of trying to mangle my arguments so that you can try to be right about a subjective argument? Note how I've never said "this is the way to do it," I've just said "this is a way to do it, and I prefer it." You can not prefer it. Feel free to not prefer it. Just stop trying to twist what I'm saying so you can pretend to be right on something you literally can't be right on.

Of, conversely, quote me a relevant section from any sourcebook on how I'm wrong, and I'll cop to it. Just stop trying to say "by your logic" and then follow it with things that do not at all follow by my logic.

Gods aren't all-powerful, and fight and argue among each other. The universe is the ultimate arbiter, not the gods. If you wanna play with all-powerful, all-knowing gods, feel free. I don't.

Except the canon is exactly as said in the post you quoted. It's not that they are all knowing, it is that a soul appears before the agent of whoever has dominion over death (or their agent). They then go through a process to determine where they end up, and I assume a soul contract would be taken into consideration at that time.

Peelee
2018-07-05, 12:05 PM
Except the canon is exactly as said in the post you quoted. It's not that they are all knowing, it is that a soul appears before the agent of whoever has dominion over death (or their agent). They then go through a process to determine where they end up, and I assume a soul contract would be taken into consideration at that time.

Aha. Then that part is definitely objectively wrong. Still doesn't really change a whole lot, since the deal can/will still be taken into consideration and the possibility still exists that the deal will be seen as valid, but I'll totally cop to being off on the mechanism.

Thanks!

Kami2awa
2018-07-06, 05:22 AM
I like the idea of soul contracts in D&D being a con, to trick people into thinking they are already damned and so drive them more effectively towards evil acts. This seems a very evil way to operate. It depends, however, on most people being at least partially ignorant of how the afterlife works... which is quite plausible.

Braininthejar2
2018-07-06, 05:50 AM
I like the idea of soul contracts in D&D being a con, to trick people into thinking they are already damned and so drive them more effectively towards evil acts. This seems a very evil way to operate. It depends, however, on most people being at least partially ignorant of how the afterlife works... which is quite plausible.

The fluff for infernal contracts did mention 2 types of pacts in use:

Pact certain - where the mortal is provided services, and in return promises his soul to a specific devil.

Pact insidious - where the mortal is provided services, and in return is expected to perform some actions (often sacrifices) that are evil/lawful acts. The devil will still get the credit when the mortal shows up in hell, since the pact marks his soul in a manner recognized by other devils.

The books also mention how most evil worshippers do know more or less how hell works, but are unaware of how little they matter in the grand scheme of things: even though they've heard of the hordes of the damned used as cheap labor / cannon fodder/ currency / literal fodder, they often expect some special treatment for being mortal agents of hell.

Braininthejar2
2018-07-06, 05:53 AM
There's no all-hearing fiendish entity who just waits for someone to utter a wish and then to swoop in and yoink their soul away.

"Pazuzu, Pazuzu, Pazuzu."

NichG
2018-07-06, 08:31 AM
"Pazuzu, Pazuzu, Pazuzu."

Ironically, a CE demon who rather than making pacts just forcibly shifts the victim's alignment towards CE, contract-free...

Forget having to fight in Kelemvor's court for a Good soul, just magic the target towards Evil...

Segev
2018-07-06, 09:49 AM
"Pazuzu, Pazuzu, Pazuzu."Technically not all-hearing; you're calling his pager.


Ironically, a CE demon who rather than making pacts just forcibly shifts the victim's alignment towards CE, contract-free...

Forget having to fight in Kelemvor's court for a Good soul, just magic the target towards Evil...

Not "forcibly." You do have to, after all, willingly make the wish.



Though the "magical" part is always interesting to me. Does it compel behavior? Reduce inhibition (e.g. as if you were slightly drunk)? Magically alter your mind and your likes and dislikes so that things you used to dislike seem cool, and things that used to seem great now seem boring?

NichG
2018-07-06, 12:28 PM
Technically not all-hearing; you're calling his pager.

Not "forcibly." You do have to, after all, willingly make the wish.

Though the "magical" part is always interesting to me. Does it compel behavior? Reduce inhibition (e.g. as if you were slightly drunk)? Magically alter your mind and your likes and dislikes so that things you used to dislike seem cool, and things that used to seem great now seem boring?

Well I guess I was interpreting the immediacy of the effect as 'forcibly' and as a forma of direct supernatural corruption (magic or otherwise). Someone who takes the wish is going to end up with the modified alignment immediately regardless of potential objections or arguments after the fact. Mechanism-wise, I don't think there's enough to pin it down, but I sort of like the idea that the supplicant's potential for goodness/grace/etc is actually being directly consumed as a material component of the Wish. In which case, even if they continue to behave in an LG manner, whatever cosmic mechanism appropriately handles accounting of those deeds has been permanently scarred.

Psyren
2018-07-06, 02:51 PM
You have a really, really poor grasp of my logic. By my logic, children may enter contracts so long as they give consent and volition. I've never said they can't, despite what you may think. If the child cannot give consent and does not have volition, the universe would not give the contract legitimacy, and the devil wouldn't get the soul. Call it a gamble, the devil doesn't know for sure, the universe does. Hell, if anything, that gives extra protection to the child, since the devil has as much certainty as we do.

My point is that physical ability to sign a contract does not equal consent, whether it is a child or a torture victim.


There is nothing saying what souls are worth compared to each other, and in my world, why not, this is the case. "Why not do X?" for something that has no rules is a perfectly acceptable assertion, so long as it's self-consistent. Nothing I said has been inconsistent.

Here's a thought, have you ever thought to just say, "i do not like this idea" instead of trying to mangle my arguments so that you can try to be right about a subjective argument? Note how I've never said "this is the way to do it," I've just said "this is a way to do it, and I prefer it." You can not prefer it. Feel free to not prefer it. Just stop trying to twist what I'm saying so you can pretend to be right on something you literally can't be right on.

Of, conversely, quote me a relevant section from any sourcebook on how I'm wrong, and I'll cop to it. Just stop trying to say "by your logic" and then follow it with things that do not at all follow by my logic.

Hamish already provided the quote for me, so you can refer to his post. As for souls, you can find the relevant rules in BoVD - there are quite a large number of effects that don't care about the qualities of the particular soul that you use, for which damned children would be a ridiculously efficient engine.

And as for me - I can quite easily do both "I don't prefer this thematically" and "I think it makes no sense within the game", thank you for asking.


Gods aren't all-powerful, and fight and argue among each other. The universe is the ultimate arbiter, not the gods. If you wanna play with all-powerful, all-knowing gods, feel free. I don't.

Calthropstu covered this one.

Peelee
2018-07-06, 04:05 PM
My point is that physical ability to sign a contract does not equal consent, whether it is a child or a torture victim.

And if I'd ever said a word about physical ability, that would be a valid point. But please, keep beating that strawman all you want.

ETA: Also, I'm tired of constantly having to correct your wrong assumptions or assertions about my argument. There's only two reasons I can think of that you have consistently misrepresented my position; either you don't understand it, or you're being deliberately obtuse. I assume it's the second, but regardless, I'm not going to bother to address you anymore.

Psyren
2018-07-06, 04:22 PM
I assume it's the second

Ahh, not only a direct flame, but "nyah nyah, taking my ball and going home" too. Charming.


I'm not going to bother to address you anymore.

Do you promise? Can we get a devil to write it up? (I consent.)

Greymane
2018-07-06, 07:21 PM
In Fiendish Codex 2, if a mortal wishes to dispute their contract - they may do so - but the court is in the Nine Hells and the judge is a pit fiend.

"Being coerced" is a valid defence. So is "I didn't receive the promised reward".

This is actually the information I go off of with infernal contract disputes. Except with children, I also added "incapable of understanding the contract, because they haven't reached the Age of Reason". The interesting thing is, is that devils will often times make these bad contracts that can be disputed, and the contract is still valid unless the person actually knows they can dispute the contract. So your typical soul might be able to fight their predicament when they hit the shores of Despond, but still get harvested because they don't know their rights. And the devils aren't obligated to tell you.

I treat the contracts with children the same way. They're invalid, but only if they're objected to and disputed in court. Otherwise the devils will still abscond with your soul.

Edit: Just some backstory for the reason for the addition: This actually came up in a game. Players were on the Infinite Staircase, ran into a Falxugon and a Gelugon having a dispute on turf. The falxugon had found a lost little girl, 'comforted' her, and made a deal to take her back home upon earning her trust, in exchange for an unnamed favor to the falxugon in the future. The gelugon wanted the little girl too, for the same reason. Giant blue praying mantis had a lot harder time earning her trust, though. Falxugon knew the contract would not hold up in court, but how's the little girl going to know? Party was onto him, though.

redwizard007
2018-07-06, 10:12 PM
Traditionally, children were property. You would need the father's agreement.

Jackaccount
2018-07-06, 10:18 PM
My headcanon is that as a person ages their soul develops "flavors" so to speak. In addition to being more or less useless in the short term, a child's soul would be a bit like having an undercooked meal.

Peelee
2018-07-07, 10:04 AM
Traditionally, children were property. You would need the father's agreement.

I'm sure devils would not wish to defy human traditions.

Keltest
2018-07-07, 10:11 AM
I'm sure devils would not wish to defy human traditions.

If they didn't care about laws and traditions, they would be demons, not devils. Even if they didn't codify or create those traditions, they would still respect them, to a point.

Peelee
2018-07-07, 10:53 AM
If they didn't care about laws and traditions, they would be demons, not devils. Even if they didn't codify or create those traditions, they would still respect them, to a point.

To a point, yes. We just disagree on where that point is, it would seem.

Keltest
2018-07-07, 11:46 AM
To a point, yes. We just disagree on where that point is, it would seem.

Lawful beings are typically respectful of the laws and traditions of other groups unless they find them sufficiently morally offensive that they cannot bring themselves to cross that line (Devils being physical incarnations of the concept of evil, it seems unlikely they would make that particular judgment of mortal societies.) Its not impossible that they don't care, but given how much room it seems like it would open up for other devils to contest the contract and deprive their opponents of souls, I have to wonder how much it would really be worth to them to open that can of worms.

Peelee
2018-07-07, 12:03 PM
Lawful beings are typically respectful of the laws and traditions of other groups unless they find them sufficiently morally offensive that they cannot bring themselves to cross that line (Devils being physical incarnations of the concept of evil, it seems unlikely they would make that particular judgment of mortal societies.) Its not impossible that they don't care, but given how much room it seems like it would open up for other devils to contest the contract and deprive their opponents of souls, I have to wonder how much it would really be worth to them to open that can of worms.

True. I should rephrase - I wouldn't portray people as having a tradition of children being the property of their parents unless I wanted to portray said people as an Evil (or at the very least, non-Good) society.

Psyren
2018-07-07, 01:58 PM
This is actually the information I go off of with infernal contract disputes. Except with children, I also added "incapable of understanding the contract, because they haven't reached the Age of Reason". The interesting thing is, is that devils will often times make these bad contracts that can be disputed, and the contract is still valid unless the person actually knows they can dispute the contract. So your typical soul might be able to fight their predicament when they hit the shores of Despond, but still get harvested because they don't know their rights. And the devils aren't obligated to tell you.

Are you talking about them making bad contracts in your setting, or are there canonical examples from the rulebooks? Genuine question as I haven't seen the latter.


Traditionally, children were property. You would need the father's agreement.

Putting aside the humor, and that this sociopolitical concept of property is unlikely to extend to metaphysical realms, this strikes me more generally as another example of where the "medieval flavor" of D&D's setting doesn't perfectly translate to the game as a whole - much like women being allowed to adventure or a large number of people outside the clergy being literate.

Braininthejar2
2018-07-07, 04:47 PM
Actually, how do we know they don't?

If a devil has means to directly reach the mortal world, doesn't have more urgent matters to do there than bargaining for a single soul, and can take a form that won't make the kid run screaming... That's a pretty rare combination, but if that happened, I see no real reason why not.

Braininthejar2
2018-07-07, 04:54 PM
Are you talking about them making bad contracts in your setting, or are there canonical examples from the rulebooks? Genuine question as I haven't seen the latter.

There are some computer game examples, both of a devil making a bad contract that a player can dispute on behalf of the mortal, and one devil being forced to do good, because he took risk on a contract out of greed and got played.


The thing is, Hell is Hell for the devils too. If they mess up with a contract, and draw the ire of their superior, they could get crippled with torture, and demoted to a dead-end job for the rest of their immortal existence. But at the same time, Hell is a business run by sadistic psychopats - the devils have quotas to meet, and if no good victim presents itself, one might be forced to take some risks.

Theophilus
2018-07-08, 12:18 PM
If you look at the scope of D&D, it tends toward the mythic and the legendary. Even low level characters face monstrous beings. Devils tend to appear in significantly more powerful stories in the D&D multiverse, such as the Blood War. When you have one around, your players and their setting typically involves larger problems than corrupting youth. However, D&D has a blatant example of young beings corrupted by devil influence: Tieflings.


Since the concerns of D&D are generally cosmic when handling devils, they rarely get into the weeds--cults can have child sacrifices, child acolytes, and child Sybles. It's just not likely to appear in a canonical text for the masses.

Psyren
2018-07-08, 12:52 PM
There are some computer game examples, both of a devil making a bad contract that a player can dispute on behalf of the mortal, and one devil being forced to do good, because he took risk on a contract out of greed and got played.

Do you mean D&D computer games?



The thing is, Hell is Hell for the devils too. If they mess up with a contract, and draw the ire of their superior, they could get crippled with torture, and demoted to a dead-end job for the rest of their immortal existence. But at the same time, Hell is a business run by sadistic psychopats - the devils have quotas to meet, and if no good victim presents itself, one might be forced to take some risks.

Exactly - they're not going to waste their time on something they know will be invalid and set back their career, which is the point I've been making all along.

Braininthejar2
2018-07-08, 02:32 PM
Do you mean D&D computer games?

Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion, and Planescape: Torment, respectively.

tomandtish
2018-07-08, 04:18 PM
Traditionally, children were property. You would need the father's agreement.


True. I should rephrase - I wouldn't portray people as having a tradition of children being the property of their parents unless I wanted to portray said people as an Evil (or at the very least, non-Good) society.


From a legal perspective, they still are in some form. Otherwise corporal punishment wouldn't be legal. Parents can spank their kids (for example) precisely because of that. It's not worded specifically that way, but that's the underlying basis. (NOT saying I agree).

Peelee
2018-07-08, 05:15 PM
From a legal perspective, they still are in some form. Otherwise corporal punishment wouldn't be legal. Parents can spank their kids (for example) precisely because of that. It's not worded specifically that way, but that's the underlying basis. (NOT saying I agree).

Legal guardianship and legal ownership are two very different concepts, I believe.

JoeJ
2018-07-08, 06:06 PM
How many contracts do devils make with mortals in the first place? I've always been under the impression that it's not at all a common things. Occasionally a king or a high level wizard or cleric might sign a contract, but the vast majority of people would never even be approached. And if that's the case, then even if devils are willing to make deals with children, there probably are very very few children who are in a position to be offered one.

tomandtish
2018-07-08, 06:42 PM
Legal guardianship and legal ownership are two very different concepts, I believe.

Very true. And there's no law that specifically spells them out as property now. Rather, it's a carryover from the days when they were considered that way.

The issue these days is that if a child were considered FULLY a person (legally) by the courts, then you couldn't spank them at all, since that meets the assault definitions. Most US courts have ruled there's an exception for parents disciplining their children. That exception is the carry-over. You have a legal right to be able to do something to your child that you can't do to another person.

Note: NOT saying I agree with this and again, not saying that the law SAYS children are property. Simply that the exceptions for corporal punishment are a carry-over from those days.

redwizard007
2018-07-08, 07:49 PM
Legal guardianship and legal ownership are two very different concepts, I believe.

I think you are splitting hairs. Countless examples abound in RL of children being sold to marriages and into slavery. This has gone on for thousands of years across dozens of cultures. More vile (yes, that is possible) acts perpetrated by parents and ignored by society bear this theory out still further.

Regardless of what you call it, if guardianship includes the legal ability to make bargains on behalf of the child then the devil is out of luck. Assuming, as previously discussed, that they follow human norms.

Nifft
2018-07-08, 07:52 PM
Regardless of what you call it, if guardianship includes the legal ability to make bargains on behalf of the child then the devil is out of luck. Assuming, as previously discussed, that they follow human norms.

The devils just need to create popular cartoons which have embedded advertising, and get the kids to ask their parents for products which include free eternal damnation.

This is similar in principle to malicious medical advertisers convincing patients to bug their doctors on behalf of the advertiser.

Peelee
2018-07-08, 10:42 PM
I think you are splitting hairs. Countless examples abound in RL of children being sold to marriages and into slavery. This has gone on for thousands of years across dozens of cultures.

Yes, but that's not relevant since we were discussing current attitudes, not historical ones. If you want to argue that it's splitting hairs from a historical perspective, hey, no argument here.


How many contracts do devils make with mortals in the first place?

As often as ones plot calls for it, though any more than once or twice per campsign and I'd expect a reason for devils to be so active all of a dude.

NichG
2018-07-08, 10:53 PM
I think you are splitting hairs. Countless examples abound in RL of children being sold to marriages and into slavery. This has gone on for thousands of years across dozens of cultures. More vile (yes, that is possible) acts perpetrated by parents and ignored by society bear this theory out still further.

Regardless of what you call it, if guardianship includes the legal ability to make bargains on behalf of the child then the devil is out of luck. Assuming, as previously discussed, that they follow human norms.

Even if for some reason devils would recognize mortal legal codes as valid, most of those codes won't explicitly give ownership that extends past the death of the subject. So it'd be easy to build a contract which takes the form of a debt of soul to be paid the moment the subject repossesses themselves.

But of course devils won't recognize mortal legal codes - their cosmic role is to represent the ultimate twisting of rule of law to perpetuate evils and injustices. Which they cannot fully do if they cannot actually apply their own twisted legal codes to their dealings. If a devil appears to follow mortal legal precedents, it's either indulging in sinful pride (I am so awesome I can win even with a handicap), being deceptive, or obeying the conditions of some secondary contract it has entered into (e.g. perhaps the wizard who summoned it gave it freer range in accomplishing it's duties in exchange for an agreement not to break the law).

redwizard007
2018-07-09, 06:03 AM
Yes, but that's not relevant since we were discussing current attitudes, not historical ones. If you want to argue that it's splitting hairs from a historical perspective, hey, no argument here.

At the risk of a moderator message I will elaborate with a few examples that point to the fact that many of these issues persist well into the 21st century.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/feb/06/it-put-an-end-to-my-childhood-the-hidden-scandal-of-us-child-marriage

https://www.google.com/amp/s/relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/public/amp/photography/proof/2018/04/child-brides-marriage-shravasti-india-culture

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/girl-bridges-share-stories-child-marriage-survivor/


NichG
That is an interesting take on Devils and mortal law. I particularly like the "handicap" aspect. Somehow, I was always under the impression that infernal law was a reflection of mortal law, (or more accurately that mortal law was derived from biblical law,) but I suppose that was just personal preference for my own campaigns.

Peelee
2018-07-09, 07:08 AM
At the risk of a moderator message I will elaborate with a few examples that point to the fact that many of these issues persist well into the 21st century.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/feb/06/it-put-an-end-to-my-childhood-the-hidden-scandal-of-us-child-marriage

https://www.google.com/amp/s/relay.nationalgeographic.com/proxy/distribution/public/amp/photography/proof/2018/04/child-brides-marriage-shravasti-india-culture

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/girl-bridges-share-stories-child-marriage-survivor/

:sigh:

Yes, these things are horrible. Sounds like a good reason to involve this in a campaign to illustrate a non-Good society. Someone should make that point sometime.

Max_Killjoy
2018-07-09, 08:24 AM
Many people don't build their campaign settings to "illustrate" real world issues, and many people don't game to have "lessons' shoved in their face.

Rockphed
2018-07-09, 10:54 AM
Yes, these things are horrible. Sounds like a good reason to involve this in a campaign to illustrate a non-Good society. Someone should make that point sometime.

I feel like various people are talking past each other.

For the record, I don't think I would include devils buying the souls of children (whether directly from the children or from their parents) in a campaign unless I wanted to show an evil dystopian society. The best place I can think of the use it would be in dark-elf society.

Wait, isn't that how the Dark Eldar work in Warhammer 40,000? They have, effectively, all sold their souls to some warp-demon, but they can get out of the deal by giving it other people's souls?


Many people don't build their campaign settings to "illustrate" real world issues, and many people don't game to have "lessons' shoved in their face.

And this is why I wouldn't include this sort of thing in a game unless I was trying to set up a society as definitely non-good, probably evil.

Anymage
2018-07-09, 11:09 AM
To go one farther than Rockphed, either the nature of the cosmos itself or some specific wording in the Pact Primeval (don't have any of the FC books, don't personally know all the printed details) could easily have some mental competency clause. At the very least both parties have to broadly understand what's actually at stake (even if devils mislead about finer details), or else you'd have elaborate scrollwork on seemingly mundane contracts that's really a soul deal in some archaic language.

If I wanted to create a crapsack universe, I could create lineal debts. Screwing over the entire lineage for the sins of one person is a thing in certain genres. I could also invoke the idea that the liege has a certain level of ownership over all his subjects, so a king could sell off the souls of his subjects without even consulting them. Both are very medieval thinking, both ideas have shown up in fantasy before. It all comes down to deciding what unstated bits should be ruled what way in order to get the sort of story you want.

Peelee
2018-07-09, 12:02 PM
Many people don't build their campaign settings to "illustrate" real world issues, and many people don't game to have "lessons' shoved in their face.

I should rephrase. I wouldn't have such a society in place to illustrate real world issues so much as I would first want an Evil society for campaign reasons, and then give them the child ownership trait to easily illustrate that the society is Evil. Similar to the Empire of Blood having a ridiculous "justice" system; it's not trying to say, "hey, a real-world justice system is like this and we should be against that," it's just a simple way to show it's an Evil government while also furthering the story.

I feel like various people are talking past each other.

For the record, I don't think I would include devils buying the souls of children (whether directly from the children or from their parents) in a campaign unless I wanted to show an evil dystopian society. The best place I can think of the use it would be in dark-elf society.

And this is why I wouldn't include this sort of thing in a game unless I was trying to set up a society as definitely non-good, probably evil.

I agree wholeheartedly.

NichG
2018-07-09, 05:37 PM
I feel like various people are talking past each other.

For the record, I don't think I would include devils buying the souls of children (whether directly from the children or from their parents) in a campaign unless I wanted to show an evil dystopian society. The best place I can think of the use it would be in dark-elf society.

I guess for me the non-sequiteur here is, when we talk about devils and infernal contracts, what could we possibly be trying to show other than an evil dystopian society. That is almost the definition of what devils cosmically represent. The fact that the rules devils play by are awful shouldn't be seen to reflect on the society upon which they predate, unless that society has basically opened the door to them and encourages devils to set up one-stop-damnation-shops for the citizenry. So if devils are buying the souls of children, that doesn't mean that the society in which that is happening is evil, it just means that the society in which it is happening doesn't on its own have the power to completely control what its citizens get up to.

More broadly, once you raise the subject of (any particular) vile act and actually ask 'do lower planar entities do this thing?', making them willfully avoid it sort of diminishes the effectiveness of those planar entities as representing the absolute nadir of evil in the setting. So if you want to avoid e.g. child damnation as a subject in game, its better not to raise the question in the first place rather than to actively specify 'children get a pass' - similar with other sensitive issues. It's not that the worst evils in the cosmos aren't doing that stuff, but rather it's that the game isn't trying to be a vehicle for dealing with it so it's all happening offscreen and isn't really central to the particular issues that surround the PCs.

If a group does actively raise the question, e.g. proactively investigating child damnation in a city, saying 'why don't devils do this?', etc, then to me that indicates at least some degree of willingness to be exposed to the issue and to deal with it, so for such groups I think it would be better to just play it straight.

Ultimately, you can be selective about the degree to which all of this stuff plays a role in a campaign without making a setting's logic fall apart because demons/devils/angels/etc themselves are extremely uncommon on the material plane in most cases, and ways to invoke their presence are the domain of mid to high level casters. So you can have tons if you need tons via the intervention of a summoner, and few or none if that's what you need or want to work with.

Psyren
2018-07-09, 07:47 PM
More broadly, once you raise the subject of (any particular) vile act and actually ask 'do lower planar entities do this thing?', making them willfully avoid it sort of diminishes the effectiveness of those planar entities as representing the absolute nadir of evil in the setting. So if you want to avoid e.g. child damnation as a subject in game, its better not to raise the question in the first place rather than to actively specify 'children get a pass' - similar with other sensitive issues.

The problem with this view is that you appear to be assuming "children get a pass" is an attitude held by the devils themselves. That is why it doesn't seem to fit. Instead, it's far more plausible/sensible to assume that a higher power - the gods, specifically - are the ones who fought tooth and nail to get that clause into the Pact Primeval or legal precedent or whatever. They can't eliminate evil and devils entirely, but they can at least protect the souls of some (most) kids.

By doing it this way, you don't have to have devils who "willfully avoid it" - they are instead avoiding it very unwillingly. They'd love nothing more than to swoop in and hand out ice cream cones in the playground in exchange for easy souls. But they don't, because there are laws in the universe that they didn't write and powers that supersede theirs saying they can't profit from that. Maybe not in all instances, but in most. And also by doing it this way, you set the clear precedent that even if this does happen, it's exceedingly rare (as it should be) and that is precisely why the PCs won't come across a children-soul-mill or something.


It's not that the worst evils in the cosmos aren't doing that stuff, but rather it's that the game isn't trying to be a vehicle for dealing with it so it's all happening offscreen and isn't really central to the particular issues that surround the PCs.

The thing about verisimilitude is that to make a world feel real and alive, you can't just limit its scope to what the PCs are doing. If the PCs are highly unlikely to ever see something, verisimilitude demands that there be a reason for that. You can't say for example that dragons are the most populous creature in the world, with a birthrate surpassing that of even goblins, and then continue to run a standard campaign where they are pretty rare. Similarly, you can't run a campaign where children selling their souls is anywhere close to routine but the PCs just never see it happen or the effects of it because it's all "off-camera."

Pleh
2018-07-09, 08:38 PM
Point I haven't seen anyone else make: devils don't have an age limit to their lifespans.

To them, most mortals are all like children. It's really not feasible for them to be dealmakers, but somehow be required to "play fair".

The only argument about the limitations on what deals can be made and with whom are all totally dependent on how the cosmic force of Law is being handled in the setting, which varies between respective universes.

The Metaphysical Limit: devils seek deals because they possess metaphysical power. If all deals are equal in value, devils will run around picking all the low hanging fruit to maximize profit. If deals are more cost effective based on who and what is being sworn, then it becomes far more profitable to hunt the larger prey. This won't stop them from drafting smaller deals that present themselves as easy to attain.

The Cosmic Limit: not all deals actually manifest cosmic power of law. Nothing prevents devils from making any deal with anyone, but not all of them actually give them any cosmic power in return. Difference here is that it's not the act of dealmaking itself that has power, but the invocation of certain deals and variants thereof.

The Planar Political Limit: power in deals comes less from the nature of the deal itself and more on the complex balance of power between planar beings, such as deities, angels, demons, modrons, slaad, etc. This version is actually the easiest to bamboozle mortals with, as they tend to be relatively blind to interplanar politics. However, it also grants larger protections to mortals from devil enemies.

Peelee
2018-07-09, 09:31 PM
The Metaphysical Limit: devils seek deals because they possess metaphysical power. If all deals are equal in value, devils will run around picking all the low hanging fruit to maximize profit. If deals are more cost effective based on who and what is being sworn, then it becomes far more profitable to hunt the larger prey. This won't stop them from drafting smaller deals that present themselves as easy to attain.

This, basically, was how I was seeing it. For a not-great-but-workable analogy, definitely getting children's souls is like a guy begging down to pick up a penny. Sure, it's money and had called, but it's so small compared to the 5-figure deal they got going on elsewhere that why bother? And even those who devote all their time to it are still going to come out significantly far behind everyone else.

NichG
2018-07-10, 09:27 AM
The problem with this view is that you appear to be assuming "children get a pass" is an attitude held by the devils themselves. That is why it doesn't seem to fit. Instead, it's far more plausible/sensible to assume that a higher power - the gods, specifically - are the ones who fought tooth and nail to get that clause into the Pact Primeval or legal precedent or whatever. They can't eliminate evil and devils entirely, but they can at least protect the souls of some (most) kids.

By doing it this way, you don't have to have devils who "willfully avoid it" - they are instead avoiding it very unwillingly. They'd love nothing more than to swoop in and hand out ice cream cones in the playground in exchange for easy souls. But they don't, because there are laws in the universe that they didn't write and powers that supersede theirs saying they can't profit from that. Maybe not in all instances, but in most. And also by doing it this way, you set the clear precedent that even if this does happen, it's exceedingly rare (as it should be) and that is precisely why the PCs won't come across a children-soul-mill or something.

The thing about verisimilitude is that to make a world feel real and alive, you can't just limit its scope to what the PCs are doing. If the PCs are highly unlikely to ever see something, verisimilitude demands that there be a reason for that. You can't say for example that dragons are the most populous creature in the world, with a birthrate surpassing that of even goblins, and then continue to run a standard campaign where they are pretty rare. Similarly, you can't run a campaign where children selling their souls is anywhere close to routine but the PCs just never see it happen or the effects of it because it's all "off-camera."

Whether or not children can be pulled into infernal contracts, just how many infernal contracts do you think a group of PCs should encounter over the course of their career on average? I'd put it around 0 to 2, with further outliers requiring something pretty specific like taking a trip to Baator. If none of those happen to be child contracts, it wouldn't even be particularly noteworthy even if 80% of contracts in the population at large are child contracts.

A world in which the average population center of 100 people or more has to deal with a contracting devil passing through is already going to be so wildly different than the default setting assumptions that explaining why devils don't steal kid souls is going to be the least of your breaches of verisimilitude, unless you're running a campaign taking place in Ribcage.

If I were running devils who were in a Pact Primeval double-bind preventing them from contracting with children, I'd have them physically abduct the children to Baator and 'left alone' - starved and dehydrated, without being permitted to die - while their parents on the Prime were told that it could all be fixed if only they tricked their neighbors into signing over their souls (letting the parents commit an act of self-sacrifice would be too easy). If the continued existence of the Devil were at stake - e.g. risking the wrath of the gods - I'd have them constantly framing each other for child contracting to get the gods to come down and clean up their rivalries. If its not a table where that would be appreciated, it's not going to come up, but that's still the mental model of devils I'm running in my head when trying to figure out their psychology, motivations, and tactics. It's just that, this campaign, the PCs won't cross paths with a devil for whom that stuff is the current priority sceheme.

When it comes to cosmic evils, it hurts my verisimilitude much more if they hold back than if it just happens that their opportunities for interacting with random prime material plane mortals are fairly rare. They've got a Blood War to win after all, and I can buy 'they have better things to do'.

Greymane
2018-07-10, 01:07 PM
Are you talking about them making bad contracts in your setting, or are there canonical examples from the rulebooks? Genuine question as I haven't seen the latter.

I'm away from books right now, but the Fiendish Codex 2 has a few examples. When it's explaining torture as a means of coercion and interrogation, one such pact a devil will offer a victim is to simply stop the torture. It even says that the devil knows it's an invalid pact, but will make it anyway just to see if it sticks.

Segev
2018-07-10, 03:51 PM
A thought occurs to me. Let’s assume devils can make deals with kids. How cognizant that a deal is being made must the target - of any age - be?

If the devil offers a glass of water in return for the mortal’s soul in a language the mortal does not speak while disguised as a kindly old woman while holding out said glass of water encouragingly, does the mortal accepting the glass constitute sufficient agreement for the pact to be made and his soul become the devil’s property?

Similarly, can a child with a vocabulary sufficient to indicate his desire for a cookie and accept one when offered be expected to be making a deal of the offerer says, “here is a cookie; if you take it, I own your soul. Would you like to take he cookie?”

When we previously discussed ability to consent, we kind-of accepted that children can consent without really knowing the full implications. This is because there is an age range where kids understand the concept of a deal, but lack the cognitive prowess to really make what we’d consider informed decisions.

A lot of “devil’s deals” are with mortals who similarly don’t think the deal through properly (in other words, like the twisty devil meant all the clauses to work together in an inobvious way). But at what point does it stop counting because the mortal is too unable to comprehend that a deal has even been made?

I think examining the first example situation might help, here. The mortal is not mentally inept or immature, but has no reason to believe that a deal has even been proposed nor a string attached to the proffered water. Does that count? How much awareness that a deal is being made must he have?

Pleh
2018-07-10, 05:58 PM
But at what point does it stop counting because the mortal is too unable to comprehend that a deal has even been made?

I think the "safe zone" threshold can be defined by the mortal's "suspicion to within reasonable doubt."

That is to say, to what extent is the situation clearly placing themselves at risk through their acceptance? Clearly, diabolical deals can go through even if the mortal fails to notice all the threats laid out against them, but there is an argument to be made for how far should a mortal be responsible for looking out for threats against them. It's ridiculous to think a demonic pact has no power unless they inform the mortal of the terms and conditions (although that can still be an intriguing scenario).

Perhaps the power of pacts is fueled by the mortal's level of voluntary committment to the deal.

Coerced: nearly, if not actually, useless.

Ignorance: hit and miss, so weaker devils who can't score the big corruptions try to compensate taking ignorance pacts in large numbers hoping it will ultimately cash out big one day. Like gold diggers sifting.

Fear: the mortal is making the deal as a last resort and only agrees out of fear of loss of something greater than their soul (commonly a loved one in peril). These deals always hold up in court, but sometimes heroic sacrifice can redeem the soul, so it's not always most reliable. Most of these deals are safe, but unfortunately, your biggest, most valuable souls are most likely to do something heroic to free themselves.

Ambition: the nice thing about these deals is you don't always have to go looking for them. Half the time, they seek you out, though mostly only if you're already powerful enough to have a reputation in the mortal realm. These deals can be dangerous, as mortals that take pacts out of ambition usually have a game plan for how to have their cake and eat it. In a few cases, the mortal wins big time. Overall, though, these are well paying deals, due in no small part to the lack of divine protections for such characters.

Corruption: not necessarily separate from the other categories, but goes above and beyond. When you get corruption to work, you get more than the deal for the mortal's soul, you actually make them more like a devil (which they will automatically fall to the bottom rung on the pandemonium pecking order if they become fully corrupted). It's the difference between making a single sale and tricking the mortal into doing your bidding as well.

JoeJ
2018-07-10, 07:56 PM
A thought occurs to me. Let’s assume devils can make deals with kids. How cognizant that a deal is being made must the target - of any age - be?

If the devil offers a glass of water in return for the mortal’s soul in a language the mortal does not speak while disguised as a kindly old woman while holding out said glass of water encouragingly, does the mortal accepting the glass constitute sufficient agreement for the pact to be made and his soul become the devil’s property?

Similarly, can a child with a vocabulary sufficient to indicate his desire for a cookie and accept one when offered be expected to be making a deal of the offerer says, “here is a cookie; if you take it, I own your soul. Would you like to take he cookie?”

When we previously discussed ability to consent, we kind-of accepted that children can consent without really knowing the full implications. This is because there is an age range where kids understand the concept of a deal, but lack the cognitive prowess to really make what we’d consider informed decisions.

A lot of “devil’s deals” are with mortals who similarly don’t think the deal through properly (in other words, like the twisty devil meant all the clauses to work together in an inobvious way). But at what point does it stop counting because the mortal is too unable to comprehend that a deal has even been made?

I think examining the first example situation might help, here. The mortal is not mentally inept or immature, but has no reason to believe that a deal has even been proposed nor a string attached to the proffered water. Does that count? How much awareness that a deal is being made must he have?

Using my idea that soul contract are cons, the mortal has to believe that they've sold their soul for it to work.

NichG
2018-07-10, 09:40 PM
A thought occurs to me. Let’s assume devils can make deals with kids. How cognizant that a deal is being made must the target - of any age - be?

If the devil offers a glass of water in return for the mortal’s soul in a language the mortal does not speak while disguised as a kindly old woman while holding out said glass of water encouragingly, does the mortal accepting the glass constitute sufficient agreement for the pact to be made and his soul become the devil’s property?

Similarly, can a child with a vocabulary sufficient to indicate his desire for a cookie and accept one when offered be expected to be making a deal of the offerer says, “here is a cookie; if you take it, I own your soul. Would you like to take he cookie?”

When we previously discussed ability to consent, we kind-of accepted that children can consent without really knowing the full implications. This is because there is an age range where kids understand the concept of a deal, but lack the cognitive prowess to really make what we’d consider informed decisions.

A lot of “devil’s deals” are with mortals who similarly don’t think the deal through properly (in other words, like the twisty devil meant all the clauses to work together in an inobvious way). But at what point does it stop counting because the mortal is too unable to comprehend that a deal has even been made?

I think examining the first example situation might help, here. The mortal is not mentally inept or immature, but has no reason to believe that a deal has even been proposed nor a string attached to the proffered water. Does that count? How much awareness that a deal is being made must he have?

Well, the thing about a contract-based capture is that, from the devil's point of view, getting the mortal this way should cause more systemic damage than just e.g. kidnapping the mortal to Gehenna and having a barghest eat their soul, or killing them on the spot, or so on.

A devil wants to exploit the ability of feelings like inevitability, despair, hopelessness, desperation, and guilt to fester and spread greater harm. Not to mention, to create a circumstance that ultimately leads to submission and acceptance of the tyranny of an unjust law. A total victory would be to get a mortal to willingly commit an atrocity they didn't want to and didn't have to, while saying all the while that they must and that it's the right thing to do.

The purpose of a contract in this is to create the perception in the mortal that everything that follows is their fault, not directly the devil's or the infernal system as a whole. So a child contract would work if e.g. the child didn't understand the consequences, but their parents or community did and were driven to some unnecessary sacrifice or self-destructive action on the child's behalf.

The actual disposition of the child's soul is less important than the potential for damage to be done in the vicinity of its capture, I'd say. The child is a target here because they represent a weakness in others around them that can be exploited, and twisting something good and noble like love into evil is a big win.

So that would imply that secret contracts (or contracts where even the signatory is unaware) are suboptimal - maybe an option as part of a larger ploy or a rookie move by low-level infernals or a 'we need bodies for the Blood War' mass drafting scheme (though in that case, physical abduction makes more sense), but generally not what something at the level of a Pit Fiend would be pulling.

So at minimum, you probably are looking for enough of the trappings of consent that the mortal (or those around them) can be encouraged to believe that what is happening is their fault and that they in some way deserve it, or to at least be in proper self-destructive denial. A mortal believing truly that they're unbound while observers in the community get stirred up into a witch hunt is also workable.

Peelee
2018-07-11, 12:33 AM
A lot of “devil’s deals” are with mortals who similarly don’t think the deal through properly (in other words, like the twisty devil meant all the clauses to work together in an inobvious way). But at what point does it stop counting because the mortal is too unable to comprehend that a deal has even been made?

When the mortal can't comprehend the deal. To expand on what I've said earlier, so long as a person (age regardless) understand the concepts of ownership, trade, and their soul, there's no Lawful reason why the deal can't be made*; being a terrible negotiator doesnt make one exempt, though outright trickery or coercion does. Caveat venditor. But if the seller doesn't know they're selling, then they're not selling.

*Plenty of Good reasons, of course.

Segev
2018-07-11, 11:10 AM
Using my idea that soul contract are cons, the mortal has to believe that they've sold their soul for it to work.Indeed. I like that formulation.

Stepping outside D&D for a moment, and going with Earth-literature traditions about "the devil" and Faustian bargains, I like the idea that the claim, "The Devil can't lie about a contract," is, itself, a lie. He is, at least in Christian tradition (which the Faustian Bargain is rooted in, and therefore from which a lot of our notions of "deals with devils" and "devil contracts" stem), "the Father of Lies."

I've oft thought a neat story would be one wherein the Devil makes the deal for the target's soul, and then proceeds to pal it up with him. Sure, the Devil reminds him regularly that he's doomed to the Pits already, but he uses that to explain why the Devil can be so chummy and helpful, now. "You're already doomed; I don't have to screw you over or tempt you to evil. Heck, I want you to have the happiest and most successful life you can, so others will make similar deals," he says. "So, since you're already damned, why should you remain chaste? Why should you even care about that girl's knowing consent? Trick her. Seduce her. Use her and leave her when you're done. It's not like you endanger your soul by doing so," he suggests. "Y'know, this guy's in your way, and it'd be real easy to sabotage him, make him look bad. There's no eternal reward waiting for you if you are some lame 'good person' about this; seek the win in this life, because it's all you've got. Hell's waiting either way," he argues.

The truth is, the contract had no power at all, beyond whatever sin being willing to make it in the first place represented. The real power of it is in the mortal's head: because he thinks he's going to be punished either way, why shouldn't he be evil in life if it feels good and gets him what he wants? The Devil very carefully keeps the mortal's mindset focused on Heaven as the only reward for doing good and making right-but-hard choices, because if the mortal has attacks of conscience and caring about others, the mortal might actually live a good life in spite of believing himself damned. And, since the contract is not really enforceable, the mortal could find himself going to Heaven for living a good life in spite of his belief that he was damned to Hell.

And that kind of explanation does wonders for answering all sorts of questions, including matters of consent and understanding.


A devil wants to exploit the ability of feelings like inevitability, despair, hopelessness, desperation, and guilt to fester and spread greater harm. Not to mention, to create a circumstance that ultimately leads to submission and acceptance of the tyranny of an unjust law. A total victory would be to get a mortal to willingly commit an atrocity they didn't want to and didn't have to, while saying all the while that they must and that it's the right thing to do.

The purpose of a contract in this is to create the perception in the mortal that everything that follows is their fault, not directly the devil's or the infernal system as a whole. So a child contract would work if e.g. the child didn't understand the consequences, but their parents or community did and were driven to some unnecessary sacrifice or self-destructive action on the child's behalf.

The actual disposition of the child's soul is less important than the potential for damage to be done in the vicinity of its capture, I'd say. The child is a target here because they represent a weakness in others around them that can be exploited, and twisting something good and noble like love into evil is a big win.

So that would imply that secret contracts (or contracts where even the signatory is unaware) are suboptimal - maybe an option as part of a larger ploy or a rookie move by low-level infernals or a 'we need bodies for the Blood War' mass drafting scheme (though in that case, physical abduction makes more sense), but generally not what something at the level of a Pit Fiend would be pulling.

So at minimum, you probably are looking for enough of the trappings of consent that the mortal (or those around them) can be encouraged to believe that what is happening is their fault and that they in some way deserve it, or to at least be in proper self-destructive denial. A mortal believing truly that they're unbound while observers in the community get stirred up into a witch hunt is also workable.Excellent points, if the contracts don't claim the soul, themselves, or if the purpose is not one soul, but many.


When the mortal can't comprehend the deal. To expand on what I've said earlier, so long as a person (age regardless) understand the concepts of ownership, trade, and their soul, there's no Lawful reason why the deal can't be made*; being a terrible negotiator doesnt make one exempt, though outright trickery or coercion does. Caveat venditor. But if the seller doesn't know they're selling, then they're not selling.

*Plenty of Good reasons, of course.Also a good stance. Makes it simpler, if not outright simple. Now all we have to do is determine if the mortal really understood, "You're trading your soul for X," and what sufficient understanding of what a soul is constitutes.

I assume this formulation would also handle "unserious" offers. If Sandra thinks the kid offering her a candy bar for her soul is joking about the "for your soul" bit, it still doesn't count. Devil-boy had best be certain he's convinced the mortal that the deal is real.

Peelee
2018-07-11, 01:23 PM
I assume this formulation would also handle "unserious" offers. If Sandra thinks the kid offering her a candy bar for her soul is joking about the "for your soul" bit, it still doesn't count. Devil-boy had best be certain he's convinced the mortal that the deal is real.

I'd say it's a gamble for the devil. Joking wouldn't affect it (play stupid games, win stupid prizes), but not understanding the deal would. A five year old, for instance, would almost never understand it. A twelve year old probably would, but probably is still the key word. The gods could always say at the end, "they couldn't understand what they were doing, deal isn't valid." The devils have no absolute concept of the person understanding, though, so there's high risk for low reward.

Segev
2018-07-11, 01:26 PM
Also, to be fair, in a setting where devil's buying people's souls was really a thing, it's probable that "joking" about "Sure, I'll give you this candy in return for your soul," would not be considered funny. At all.

Kind-of like if somebody "jokes" IRL about bombs while in an airport, or the like.

JoshuaZ
2018-07-11, 08:44 PM
A kid won't summon one.


This is probably the best explanation. Devils are rarely on the material plane. Simply saying "I'd sell my soul for a cookie." Isn't enough to summon a devil.

Avigor
2018-07-12, 01:23 AM
My headcanon is that as a person ages their soul develops "flavors" so to speak. In addition to being more or less useless in the short term, a child's soul would be a bit like having an undercooked meal.

This reminds me of Black Butler; granted, I've only seen the anime (yes I know I'm a philistine for not reading the manga, I do intend to correct this but I don't know when I'll get around to it) but Sebastian wanted Ciel to achieve his revenge because doing so would influence the flavor of his soul when Sebastian ate it... and that became a big point in the non-canon 2nd season, albeit I won't spoil how in case anyone actually cares what the anime did differently from the manga and wants to watch it for themselves.

Calthropstu
2018-07-12, 01:50 AM
From a legal perspective, they still are in some form. Otherwise corporal punishment wouldn't be legal. Parents can spank their kids (for example) precisely because of that. It's not worded specifically that way, but that's the underlying basis. (NOT saying I agree).

Agree or not, it's almost the ONLY universally effective strategy. Humans are pretty stupid. You can tell them over and over "don't do it, you'll get burned" and until they get burned (or spanked) they will not learn their lesson.

Corporal punishment is the single most effective method for preventing unwanted behaviors.

zlefin
2018-07-12, 06:03 AM
Agree or not, it's almost the ONLY universally effective strategy. Humans are pretty stupid. You can tell them over and over "don't do it, you'll get burned" and until they get burned (or spanked) they will not learn their lesson.

Corporal punishment is the single most effective method for preventing unwanted behaviors.

note that spanking is not legal in a number of jurisdictions, and that the data on the efficacy and long term consequences of it show it has a lot of problems and isn't any more effective than other methods.
but let's not get into it too much.
wiki has articles on the topic, which note these points, and which link to the actual research.

Nifft
2018-07-12, 06:07 AM
wiki has articles on the topic, which note these points, and which link to the actual research.

Some people won't believe the research until you spank it into them.

Max_Killjoy
2018-07-12, 08:16 AM
note that spanking is not legal in a number of jurisdictions, and that the data on the efficacy and long term consequences of it show it has a lot of problems and isn't any more effective than other methods.
but let's not get into it too much.
wiki has articles on the topic, which note these points, and which link to the actual research.

Hell, the data shows that causes long-term problems more often than it accomplishes anything.

Peelee
2018-07-12, 11:01 AM
Agree or not, it's almost the ONLY universally effective strategy. Humans are pretty stupid. You can tell them over and over "don't do it, you'll get burned" and until they get burned (or spanked) they will not learn their lesson.

Even with your analogy, it sounds like getting burned will learn them the lesson plenty well without needing any external punishment brought into it.