Writing an Infernal Contract—please help!


Advice

Editor

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I'm starting an evil campaign soon, and my character is a diabolist in the soul trade. His gimmick is to scam others into assigning him their souls—usually for marginal or nonexistent payment—and then re-sell those contracts at a markup to whoever's buying. (I've cleared this with the GM and the group.)

I'd like to write an actual contract—not an Infernal Contract, per se (since no devil is a party to the agreement), but one that my character will scam NPCs into signing, which forfeits their souls. Of course, I'd like this to be full of humor, confusing clauses, and almost-nonsensical legalese. I can't be the first person to write one of these, but I can't find anything of this kind on the boards.

What are your ideas for clauses to include? Better yet, are there pre-existing contracts out there somewhere that I might use as a launching pad?

(EDIT: I know there's an Infernal Contract in Book of the Damned 1, but that one is geared toward giving a whole bunch of power to the mortal—I'm trying to get souls for NOTHIN'!)


Be very upfront about what you grant them, but do it in the back. *pun*

You offer them limitless power*. You offer them immortality*. You offer them tons of gold*.

Limitless power to complain, an eternity in a gem waiting to be eaten by their new demon master, and .000000000001 tons of gold, rounded up to the nearest copper.

Just make sure all the fine print clarifies your end of the bargain, and all the bold print reads "A bargain at any price!".


This is just off the top of my head, so it's probably... well... wrong, but we'll give it a shot anyhow yeah?

"The party of the first part henceforth identified as The Signer agrees to the following terms and conditions as laid down in this contract, understanding unequivocally that this contract is binding and its conditions will last in perpetuity in all planes of reality.

The signer hereby agrees that once the party of the second part, henceforth referred to as The Signee, undertakes a single desire of The Signer, that they will in turn immediately relinquish their soul, including all rights and value of said soul, to the signee, lasting in perpetuity and in all planes of reality. The Signer also understands that the soul will be taken via supernatural force and agrees not to fight, interrupt or in any way hinder the souls transfer to the signee, including but not limited to (killing the signee, hiring others to kill the signee, hiding, leaving their current plane, destroying the contract, etc...).

The Signee hereby agrees to undertake one single, solitary desire of The Signer, the scope of said desire being The Signer's choice, and The Signee understands that they must do whatever they can to undertake said desire to the best of the their ability.

By signing here: _____________________________________ the signer agrees that they have read and full comprehend this contract and have in no way been coerced or forced into signing this contract. They also agree that this contract is binding and is not under any circumstances a joke, jest or meant for anything other then the items listed above."

Not as tricky or complicated as I would like, but that's just out of one of my minds. No reference to legal documentation or anything. Maybe it'll at least give you some ideas.


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You'll want to include a merger clause, so your suckers business partners can't start whining that they were promised something that wasn't in writing.

You'll also want to borrow a trick from Microsoft and provide that all disputes should be settled by binding arbitration. The arbitration process, of course, will be tilted in your favor.

Sample merger clause:

This Agreement, along with any exhibits, appendices, addenda, schedules, and amendments hereto, encompasses the entire agreement of the parties, and supersedes all previous understandings and agreements between the parties, whether oral or written. The parties hereby acknowledge and represent, by affixing their hands and seals hereto, that said parties have not relied on any representation, assertion, guarantee, warranty, collateral contract or other assurance, except those set out in this Agreement, made by or on behalf of any other party or any other person or entity whatsoever, prior to the execution of this Agreement. The parties hereby waive all rights and remedies, at law or in equity, arising or which may arise as the result of a party’s reliance on such representation, assertion, guarantee, warranty, collateral contract or other assurance, provided that nothing herein contained shall be construed as a restriction or limitation of said party’s right to remedies associated with the gross negligence, willful misconduct or fraud of any person or party taking place prior to, or contemporaneously with, the execution of this Agreement.

Arbitration:

Any dispute, controversy or claim arising out of or relating in any way to the agreement including without limitation any dispute concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, enforceability or breach of the agreement, shall be exclusively resolved by binding arbitration upon a Party’s submission of the dispute to arbitration. The demand for arbitration shall be made within a reasonable time after the claim, dispute or other matter in question has arisen, and in no event shall it be made after one year from when the aggrieved party knew or should have known of the controversy, claim, dispute or breach.

This agreement to arbitrate shall be specifically enforceable. A Party may apply to any court with jurisdiction for interim or conservatory relief, including without limitation a proceeding to compel arbitration.

The arbitration shall be conducted by one arbitrator. If the Parties are not able to agree upon the selection of an arbitrator, within twenty days of commencement of an arbitration proceeding by service of a demand for arbitration, the arbitrator shall be selected by [an organization you secretly control] in accordance with the terms of this agreement.

The arbitration shall be conducted in your hometown.

The cost of the arbitration proceeding and any proceeding in court to confirm or to vacate any arbitration award, as applicable (including, without limitation, reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs), shall be borne by the unsuccessful party, as determined by the arbitrator, and shall be awarded as part of the arbitrator’s award. It is specifically understood and agreed that any party may enforce any award rendered pursuant to the arbitration provisions of this Section by bringing suit in any court of competent jurisdiction. The parties agree that the arbitrator shall have authority to grant injunctive or other forms of equitable relief to any party. This Section shall survive the termination or cancellation of this Agreement.

Remember: It doesn't really matter what all the fiddly detail bits of the contract say, as long as you control the person who interprets them.

Editor

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Shiroi wrote:
You offer them limitless power*. You offer them immortality*. You offer them tons of gold*...

I love it!

contract wrote:

A life eternal*!

*Defined herein as the time from the time of signing until the moment of Signer's bodily death (natural or otherwise). Signer agrees that time is subjective and cannot be meaningfully measured independently of signer's capacity to observe, and that therefore any reference to a time after signer's death (natural or otherwise) is meaningless and arbitrary, and that Signer hereby waives all rights to exist, live, or especially litigate during any such period such as may exist due to unthinkable paradoxes or the natural order of the universe. Neither Signee nor Signee's agents shall have any obligation to attempt to extend Signer's life (natural or otherwise) through any effort, expense, or investment of any sort, nor shall they be bound to refrain from efforts, actions, or thoughts that may be deemed deleterious, harmful, dangerous, or lethal to Signer.
In the event of Signer's undeath, resurrection, or other return to life or demi-life of any kind (natural or otherwise), Signer acknowledges Signee's claim to and shall make every effort to remit to Signee any soul restored to Signer by any applied revivication process whatsoever, in accordance with this agreement. Signer agrees not to rise as an undead under the control of any creature except Signee, and only then at Signee's behest.

---

Third Mind wrote:
The Signee hereby agrees to undertake one single, solitary desire of The Signer, the scope of said desire being The Signer's choice...

Ok, great! but what about:

contract wrote:
Signee agrees to undertake one single, solitary desire of the Signer, the scope and nature of which shall be defined by the Signee and agreed upon between the Signee and any of the Signee's agents prior to undertaking. Such agreement shall be final and binding, and all parties agree that Signer probably doesn't know what Signer wants to begin with, so it's best this way.

Silver Crusade Contributor

Dotted for interest. I had an NPC diabolist in Council of Thieves who was into this sort of thing... her home had a lot of servants. (That campaign got really dark...)


Could work. The reason I left the desire up to the signer however is to lure them in. In reality it doesn't matter what they wish for, because all it says is that you'd undertake their wish. Didn't say for how long nor that you have to finish what you undertake.

"I want power!"
*Starts writing a forged document that could make them a Duke, but stops at the third word. Gets soul because you undertook their request.*

Anyways, that was the idea at least ha-ha. I wonder what skills your GM intends to use to have the signers not just sign blindly. Sense motive of course... Maybe linguistics too. Hmm.


iTunes has a pretty awesome EULA. A number of years ago it was 75 pages of thick legalese.

What you also want to do is make sure there are thousands of references throughout the text. Defining terms differently in different parts of the agreement is good. Conditional phrases are good, because if you can deny their condition, the rest doesn't mean squat.


The law is hard, because the contract you read is not actually everything you need to know. for example, if you sign a contract with your employer where you promise not to work in your industry for five years if you quit, that would be unenforceable, because you can not be blocked from making a living.

I like to imagine that the Infernal Courts also have a vast body of case law and probably a constitution.

so you might have a simple looking contract like this:

contract wrote:


I ____, hereafter known as the applicant, assign my soul to Lord Graxis. In return, Lord Graxis agrees to grant the applicant a vast quantity of money. What follows is a rendering of this contract in Infernal:
<< I _____, hereafter known as the fool, do grant Lord Graxis my soul forevermore. In return, Lord Graxis will laugh at me. In the case of conflict between this contract, and any of it's translations, the version in Infernal will be accepted as definitive >>

or

contract wrote:


[...] agrees to grant the applicant a vast sum of money [...]

Where the infernal law codes for contracts may define a 'vast sum of money' as a very precise amount, say 100 gp. They just never bothered to adjust it for inflation since the law was written way back when Rovagug was sealed.

Or you could have taxes consume large parts of their wish. Everyone loves taxes :)


make sure you check with a Phistophilus so you don't step on any toes

Editor

Blackvial wrote:
make sure you check with a Phistophilus so you don't step on any toes

Step on their toes? They're my best customers!

Editor

Sissyl wrote:
...make sure there are thousands of references throughout the text. Defining terms differently in different parts of the agreement is good. Conditional phrases are good, because if you can deny their condition, the rest doesn't mean squat.

Oh, great ideas! Anybody have any particularly funny/nasty examples of these I could include?


You can define non-sensical terms, for example: Define the person signing the contract as the signee, and yourself as the signer. Then re-define them half-way through. Or even retroactively. For example:

furthermore, on odd lines of this document, exchange the meaning of 'signee' and 'signer.'

Editor

Knight Magenta wrote:

You can define non-sensical terms, for example: Define the person signing the contract as the signee, and yourself as the signer. Then re-define them half-way through. Or even retroactively. For example:

furthermore, on odd lines of this document, exchange the meaning of 'signee' and 'signer.'

I love that! I was considering working some sentence into the text such as "Of course, the opposite is true." Then, any time I want to, I can give a sentence an asterisk and have the footnote refer the reader to that line.


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At some point, referring to "the damned" or any similar obvious reference to the signer, when having absolutely failed to mention who that is. In a soul selling contract, you could well assume that's you (the signer) but the contract writer can easily enough be referencing the demon who's going to get your soul. So the reference point isn't defined enough for them to claim any reward which would be reserved for "the damned" because that isn't their official title in the document.


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You can also have fun defining the remedies. In the event that you breach the contract they're entitled to fifty GP, while in the event that they breach you're entitled to specific enforcement of the soul collection.

You also want to structure the deal so that they give you their soul in exchange for five GP now, and untold wealth/infinite power to be delivered later. Make clear that the only condition that would excuse their performance is if you fail to pay the initial five GP.

So at the end of the day you get their soul for fifty-five GP.

(IRL you aren't allowed to impose punishments as part of contract enforcement... but you are certainly allowed to reduce the available remedies. Courts won't enforce sham bargains, but as long as there is at least some value on both sides of the exchange they won't invalidate a contract as lacking consideration.)

Editor

chuffster wrote:

You can also have fun defining the remedies....

So at the end of the day you get their soul for fifty-five GP...
(...as long as there is at least some value on both sides of the exchange they won't invalidate a contract as lacking consideration.)

I'm considering running something akin to an insurance scam: dressing up as a cleric and offering to "save" the customer's soul as insurance against untimely death before the victim can cleanse his soul via confession, or some such. Then, of course, including an assignation clause that will allow me to "entrust" the contract to anyone I deem worthy.

To be honest, I'll probably ask for a donation to the "church" for my services. Think I can get away with saying that the consideration given to the customer is peace of mind? That's essentially what insurance companies do, right?

EDIT: maybe I could offer a "blessed coin" (a copper piece) to seal the deal?

Sovereign Court

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This thread helped me whip up a contract this morning, so thank you everyone. I incorporated some verbiage from Apple's TOS as well. Here's what I came up with: http://www.karzoug.info/srd/campaigns/HellsRebels/Handouts/RensContract.htm


In Curse of the Crimson Throne you have an actual infernal contract. Maybe it can help you.

Spoiler:
In the last book, Crown of Fangs, page 45, it's the infernal contract signed between Queen Ileosa Arabasti and the devil Sermignatto.


I'm not sure this will be of help as it's not exactly what you're searching but here I'm linking the contract in Way of the Wicked, in case it could serve as inspiration.

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