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Author Topic: Writing a contract for DnD  (Read 64 times)

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Offline TianaDarklifeTopic starter

Writing a contract for DnD
« on: December 10, 2018, 03:02:49 AM »
So some back story for this.

I gm a pathfinder game in which the players characters were all teleported to this city that is trapped by a curse (as well as some other things) and they want to get out. One of the characters was persuaded by the big bad (not yet knowing is the bad guy) to sign a contract of servitude. In return once the contract is fulfilled she will be given a way to get out of the trapped city so she may return to her home. There are some basic details I do know about the contract but both the player and myself want an actual written version of the contract that she can study. Do to the background of the character she is very good at seeing loopholes and things like that so she wants to find a way to basically game the system as it were. This entire aspect is actually pretty important to the overall story of the game but I am very bad at writing contracts. Is anyone willing to discuss things with me and help me put together a contract? I'm hoping for something that makes a Faustian contract to shame. Feel free to respond either here or shoot me a pm. Thanks

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Writing a contract for DnD
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2018, 07:34:08 AM »
Oh boy contract law! :D

Well, let's start at the basics of what constitutes a contract:

1. You have to have two parties:

This would be your bad guy as the issuer of the contract and your good guys as signers (yes your good guys count as one party unless you're going to write up and sign individually tailored Faustian bargains).

2. Something has to be exchanged for something else and sufficient consideration has to be given by the issuer (aka hereto referred to as party A of the first part, etc.)

In this case what is being traded? Well your good guys (hereto referred to as party B). Are trading their services for a way out. This is actually illegal by United States standards but I get we're not there. So we might have to go back to the English school of jurisprudence.

What you have is a contract detailing indentured servitude. But this brings us to the very IMPORTANT (READ: DON'T SKIP WHAT THIS!) item number 3.

3: YOU CAN'T HAVE NEBULOUS OR OPEN ENDED TERMS! Party A cannot say, "I promise a way out if you serve me." At first it seems like this meets all the criteria but it doesn't because you just can't have this kind of "trust me" nebulousness.

There have to be defined terms of time, place, money, etc.

Let's look at the original Faustian contract: Faust signs his soul to Mephistopheles for basically a good life and knowledge of everything, and upon Faust's death well Meph collects right? We have an item of value being traded for let's call them proprietary secrets. Two things of value that the parties have considered sufficient consideration. At the end of a life (which is considered a definite term) one soul is paid for access to these proprietary secrets.

It's really not that hard a contract to understand. There is no trickery in it. It's cut and dry. Where Faust gets into trouble is because he either doesn't care about the consequences of a hedonistic life, losing his soul. Meph is a totally straight shooter and he actually doesn't trick Faust, he just gives the man what he wants.

So keep it simple. Have your bad guy play fair, and don't give them a loophole.

So onto the suggestions:

Keep that stuff lawful. A contract villain is a lawful villain so they know that in most cases of jurisprudence (even if the law is fantasy law). They would know that asking someone to do something illegal (remember legal and illegal aren't right and wrong or good and evil inherently) with a contract voids the contract. Contracts cannot be crafted by illegal means. I cannot for instance contract you to put up a shed and then demand you do it against code. You cannot (logically speaking) have your Party B sign this contract and go burn down an orphanage or it's their ass.

Keep the terms definite: Make the way out a physical tangible thing (contracts like measurable, physical, and tangible). A seal, a key, a spell. Likewise, their means of service should be equally defined:

Length of time (months, days, years).
Number of tasks (Do ten missions for me). And as part of their obligation as long as it's not illegal, they have to complete them to satisfaction. If their job is to kill a bandit and they don't and it was legal to do so. Then that doesn't count even if they run him off.

(Example: TFS at the Table had a contract with this snooty angel character to take him to some ruins and the angel character would get 90% of all treasure deemed valuable by his own appraisal. You can't do this the nebulous term is deemed valuable by his own appraisal. You would have to bring the items to a mutually agreed upon appraiser, but nothing saying that appraiser can't be in his back pocket as long as it looks like an independent 3rd party.)

In general you want to give the appearance of acting in good faith. The only  thing that matters though is that you adhere to the rules set in the four margins of your piece of paper. If the missions they go on are subtly corrupting them or screwing them over that's not on you. Your contract is binding, legal, and airtight.

While not a rule of contracts per se what you have to make sure of is that the contract can be enforced. There has to be a higher power both parties can go to to litigate the contract. In Faust it's God and Satan.

Also keep in mind that breaking a contract doesn't inherently VOID the contract. Voided contracts are such because they are illegal or they fail to hold the two-party, traded value, sufficient consideration burden. Breaking a contract should also have penalties associated with it. Penalties should be clearly defined in the writing of the contract.

Also keep in mind acts of God. Setting your players up on clearly impossible things would not be considered enforceable in a logical court of law. If the bandit they have to capture falls and breaks his neck and it Party B wasn't even in the same town, then they haven't failed their part of the mission and would not reasonably incur penalties.

If the artifact they have to retrieve is destroyed by a meteorite impact right before their very eyes, again they're not responsible.

I get that you want to trick them, but tricky language cuts both ways. What you can do is offer bonuses (the opposite of legal penalties). Offer the players more of what they want for performing beyond expectations. That's your rope, that's your trick, let them hang themselves by doing a good job. I'm sure most well-developed PCs want more than measly way out.

« Last Edit: December 10, 2018, 07:37:19 AM by Inkidu »

Offline TianaDarklifeTopic starter

Re: Writing a contract for DnD
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2018, 04:37:32 PM »
The basic details lays out that She must kill at least half of the hero party (they are playing in essentially 2 campaigns side by side. One of heros the other of villians) to satisfy the contract because the heros are the largest nuisance to William (bbeg). They both signed the contract using an enchanted quill that kills anyone who signs their name and then willfully breaches the co tract. William is a man of law abiding honor. He lays everything out in written word. He operates a fairly illegal operation in a way that the law is never broken by him. He keeps things very neat and clean, careful to never leave loose ends. He is capable of double talk but is never truly misleading. He let's the contracts that people enter into with him do the majority of the speaking. The character my player is playing is a Chelish woman (I don't know if you know much about pathfinder) so she is very used to the lawful and tricky nature of devils and their contracts. Her trie love and the wife of her true love are on the side of the heros so sue does not want to kill them. I'm trying to write up a very carefully worded contract that will seem air tight but might have some tricky loophole in it somewhere that isn't initially thought of.