Archives of Nethys

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All Rules in Infernal Contracts

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Escaping Contracts

Source Book of the Damned pg. 204
The easiest way to avoid the consequences of an unfavorable infernal contract is simply not to sign one. If that isn’t an option, thoroughly researching the contract and learning of dangerous provisos and potential loopholes can mean the difference between life and damnation.

When an infernal contract is signed, two copies manifest: one for the mortal signee and one for the devil. The mortal is free to do whatever he pleases with his copy, though destroying it is rarely directly helpful. Devils tend to do one of two things with their copies: Some keep the documents close at hand, securing them in vaults or in the care of guardians of their choosing. Most, however, send their contracts back to Hell for safekeeping, typically to the Fallen Fastness in Dis. In this infernal library, contracts are protected by countless diabolical scholars, the sanity shattering complexity of the library’s organization, and its planar inaccessibility. For most mortals, retrieving a contract from Hell is practically impossible. Yet even once an infernal contract is signed and secured, there are still routes by which it might be changed—or escaped.

Transferring a Contract: A devil might be convinced to adjust the terms of an infernal contract to apply to a different mortal. Just as in the case of the original signee, the new mortal must enter into the contract freely, accepting the benefits but also the damnation. Occasionally, a damned mortal can convince a second mortal to take his place in an infernal deal, or a particularly self-sacrificing mortal might decide to take on a loved one’s contract. In either case, the devil must deem the new signee an equal or more valuable soul. Only the devil that created the original document (or had it created) can adjust the terms of an infernal contract, which must be done in the presence of the former signee, the new signee, and one copy of the original contract. Once the new signee commits her signature to the contract, with the devil as witness, the former signee’s name is erased and both copies of the contract immediately change. The effects of the adjusted contract are left to the parties involved, but most commonly, the former signee loses all benefits and conditions of the contract, while the new signee gains them.

Destroying a Contract: If both copies of an infernal contract are destroyed, the contract ends. The mortal and devil lose all benefits of the contract, and the mortal’s soul is released to follow whatever natural course it might take upon death. This requires obtaining both copies of the contract, which isn’t easy; a devil guards its contracts and isn’t likely to let a mortal go back on a contract without a fight. Recovering the devil’s copy of a contract might require the mortal to plunge into the depths of Hell itself.

If the mortal signee has already died and her soul is already in Hell, destroying the contract does not transport the soul to the afterlife where it otherwise would have been sent. The best the petitioner can hope for is to be liberated from her tortures, and her escape is made even more challenging by the fact that her soul is now free game for all of Hell’s various deadly denizens. Moreover, the weight of having made a deal with a devil stays with a soul for the rest of its existence. Even after escaping a contract (or Hell itself, in the previous case), a mortal might still be forsaken by her deity and find herself condemned to Hell or any of the other evil-aligned planes. Actual salvation might require much more than the mere destruction of the infernal contract.