How bound are devils by contracts?


Rules Questions


If a Pit Fiend to sign a contract with his own blood (not an infernal contract, although written in infernal), how bound is he to abide by the document? Can, he just "so long suckers", or his lawful natures forces him to follow through this mortal-made piece of parchment?


I dunno, contracts are kinda their thing.


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Like Goblin_Priest said, contracts are their thing. They would twist a contract to honor the exact lettering of the contract, not the spirit of the paper.

The devil would 100% find a way to fulfill his end of the contract, screw the the other side of the contract, and then say "so long suckers".


On the other hand, it's pretty well in their rights to go

"What that? That's just a piece of flayed skin with words on it. Did you actually think that was binding to me? Next time you want a deal, make sure you're getting something authentic foolish mortal. Later sucker!"


This really depends on the nature of devils in your setting.

I treat it so that while not metaphysically binding in the sense that they are forced willy-nilly to honor a contract, tradition and pride strongly encourage a pit fiend to honor any agreement made to the letter, even to its detriment.
This doesn't mean they can't find any excuse to weasel out of it, finding reasons to break the agreement they would never accept from the other party.


Yeah, I agree that contracts are kinda their thing.

But you've probably heard the expression "Lawyered" before? Devils are full of deceit and trickery, so you'd better pay attention to the fine print and anything "written between the lines" in a contract with a devil.

In fact, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you are compelled to sign a contract with a devil, you'd better insert an addendum that says "any clause which could be ambiguously exploited by the drafter of this document shall be worked into the favor of any member who did not draft the document", or something to that effect.


Ryze Kuja wrote:
you'd better insert an addendum that says "any clause which could be ambiguously exploited by the drafter of this document shall be worked into the favor of any member who did not draft the document", or something to that effect.

If I were a devil, I'd gladly accept that clause, as you inserting it makes you a drafter of the document.

There's not supposed to be a good way to get out of a contract with a devil. There shouldn't be a lawyer on the Material Plane capable of outlawyering Hell's lawyers. The whole point of a diabolic contract is to screw you. At no point would I as a GM ever allow someone to make a contract that didn't screw themselves over in some way - if you want a fair contract, go find a lawful neutral deity.


As long as the Pit Fiend willingly signed the contract (and it wasn't altered afterward), it needs to fulfill the contract. That doesn't mean he can't twist the meaning to his benefit. Everyone expects that. But also everyone expects Devils to make good on their contracts. If a powerful devil gains a reputation for breaking deals...who is going to make a deal with a devil? So other devils will need to make an example out of any devil that gets a reputation for breaking deals.


Being Lawful is in their nature, just as being Evil is, or being... (<checks their subtypes list>) Extraplanar.

There's nothing physically preventing them from going against their legalistic nature, just as there's nothing to stop them from deciding not to do evil things any more. But they wouldn't do that, because they don't want to.


Fully bound, but they should be treated the same way that wishes were treated by GMs back in the old days. Looking for every loophole in said wording to screw over the person with said contract while technically fulfilling it.

Only in this case, it is less of a "the GM is against you" but rather an actual, malevolent devil who is actively working against you.

Also, the devil has been doing it for centuries longer than any character. They should be REALLY good at screwing people over.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Devils are literally made of lawful and evil matter.
Going against the letter of a contract they signed (even under duress) is against their nature. Not respecting it will count as a big alignment violation and possibly will change their alignment.


The only reason I could get my head around the idea of a devil breaking a contract is if they can void it legitimately, but I can't really imagine on what grounds. Contract voiding varies by jurisdiction, but typically occurs over stuff you would expect the devils to do themselves without letting their victims off the hook. "Hah, this infernal contract is void because it was signed under duress!" Really? Can't fathom it.

Scarab Sages

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Im in the same boat as those who say they would honor the contract in a way to the most benefit to themselves which may or may not screw you over. Because that to me is the point and what makes contracts with them so dangerous. Plenty of people go in thinking I'm smart, I'm cunning i can win this deal and wind up finding the devil is just as dmart, just as cunning amd has millenia of legaleese to draw on you dont. HOWEVER the devil is not required to actually screw the person making a deal with them if they see a potentially greater benefit elsehwere. Consider the following contract premise.

1) The devil insert name here shall make the signee insert name here a prince of wealth and handsomeness. (All in lawyer with clauses and details)

Now the devil could screw him over e.g.

1) Kill a number of princes and MAKE him a handsom prince loaded down with wealth he'll need to try and run away from the kings upset about their murdered sons.
2) Make him handsome enough to draw the attention of a princess who marries him making him a prince then reveals shes a sadist or intends to have him stuffed and mounted to preserve his beauty forever.

However the devil could instead play it entirely above board and make him a legitimate wealthy prince of a small country somewhere with subjects who love him. Then quietly let it "slip" he got this via a deal with a devil. Thus inspiring a whole lot of other people to look at this wealthy, handsome, beloved prince and go that could be me, i just need to sign away a soul that's probably going to hell anyway.

Sure they'd prefer both but its improtant to rememebr that while a devil wont sign a contract that doesnt benefit them in some way that benefit may not even become apparent till years later and could come at the cost of others than yourself. For example thw typical "Id sell my first born son for a X." If the devil knows your first born son is prophesied to become a saint/warrior of good why not make that deal. If you made one contract with a devil your probably going to wind up in hell anyway and right now they take steps to turn a future saint into hells plaything.


There's a whole section on this in The Book of the Damned.


"Sure, I'll abide by this contract. Just as soon as it's properly registered. Any of the clerks in Dis knows how, I hear they even have an office in the City of Brass these days. Any disputes can be referred to my Lord, or to Asmodeus in person."


I think Senko has the right of it. Most devils aren’t going to hurt their reputation to mess with one measly mortal. Devils are immortal lawful beings. They can stand to be patient enough to wait a while to collect on their deals, so they can get even more deals down the road.

But that was assuming the devil wasn’t forced to sign a contract. In that case, I would expect them to twist it with all of their cunning.


If we are talking about Devils writing contracts, it is a different ballpark. They will negotiate for the other party to do something bad enough that it damns their soul. The best outcome is collecting souls and selling them to the devil. Though they could ask for lesser evils...especially ones that craft society to their ends.

Take our Handsome and Rich Prince for example. All we ask in return is for the Prince to host a feast to celebrate Asmodeus annually. Our devil here starts by sending several disguised devils to 'serve' the new Prince. As his servants they make deals with various merchants to support our chosen son. They win those merchants favor by sabotaging their business competitors. The financial and political favor of a bunch of rising merchants rolls in.

The devils find blackmail and effective bribes for various nobles in a Kingdom. These use these to manipulate the nobles into forming a faction to support our new Prince.

By causing some misfortunes they manipulate the Royal family to accept the Prince into the family. He only needs to be Prince, but lets make sure he gets a position as a Royal Adviser, preferably as a Chancellor.

Now lets have him push some tax reforms. Included in the tax reforms are various ways to handle debts. Included in that is Indentured Servitude. Not only is it applicable to tax debts, but private debts as well.

Now our servants manipulate both the nobles and merchants into spreading and collecting debt to turn a lot of peasants into indentured servants, effectively creating a slave caste. Rewrite the laws to make it more difficult to get out of indentured servitude. Rewrite criminal law to make most offenses punitive fines. Include more fines for crimes committed in jail. Now create prison gangs that basically force new prisoners to rack up fines.

The devil servants do everything to shape the kingdom into being a more Lawful and Evil kingdom, while faithfully serving the Prince.


Meirril wrote:

If we are talking about Devils writing contracts, it is a different ballpark. They will negotiate for the other party to do something bad enough that it damns their soul. The best outcome is collecting souls and selling them to the devil. Though they could ask for lesser evils...especially ones that craft society to their ends.

Take our Handsome and Rich Prince for example. All we ask in return is for the Prince to host a feast to celebrate Asmodeus annually. Our devil here starts by sending several disguised devils to 'serve' the new Prince. As his servants they make deals with various merchants to support our chosen son. They win those merchants favor by sabotaging their business competitors. The financial and political favor of a bunch of rising merchants rolls in.

The devils find blackmail and effective bribes for various nobles in a Kingdom. These use these to manipulate the nobles into forming a faction to support our new Prince.

By causing some misfortunes they manipulate the Royal family to accept the Prince into the family. He only needs to be Prince, but lets make sure he gets a position as a Royal Adviser, preferably as a Chancellor.

Now lets have him push some tax reforms. Included in the tax reforms are various ways to handle debts. Included in that is Indentured Servitude. Not only is it applicable to tax debts, but private debts as well.

Now our servants manipulate both the nobles and merchants into spreading and collecting debt to turn a lot of peasants into indentured servants, effectively creating a slave caste. Rewrite the laws to make it more difficult to get out of indentured servitude. Rewrite criminal law to make most offenses punitive fines. Include more fines for crimes committed in jail. Now create prison gangs that basically force new prisoners to rack up fines.

The devil servants do everything to shape the kingdom into being a more Lawful and Evil kingdom, while faithfully serving the Prince.

You just described the United States of America.


Contracts are their thing, but they're not magically, supernatural, or otherwise bound or forced to comply with them (generally speaking)*.

But they would be loathe to break the letter of a contract, and would most likely find some literal fulfillment of the contract the screws you. Especially if they wrote it.

*Some devils have abilities that force/compel others to comply with contracts, and there might be abilities that could be used on a devil to compel them but it's not innate to their existence that they are compelled.


Well, according to The Book of the Damned, an infernal contract is almost always for the mortal's soul, which the devil doesn't get if he doesn't comply,and it is magically binding, so devils typically comply.

There is almost always the 'fine print', however.


Thanks everyone! Guess having a Pit Fiend play along would also be more interesting.

I already have an idea how to exploit the sloppy wording of the contract, muhehehe.

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