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The Fylgja Warlock

Guardian Spirits, Fate, and The Wyrd in DND 5E

By Neal LitherlandPublished 2 years ago Updated 10 months ago 5 min read

Aendra lay back, exhausted, sweat dripping from her face as she tried to catch her breath. Her pulse hammered, and her vision swam, but she clung to consciousness. She drifted in a silent moment that seemed to stretch for eternity, and then she heard the crying. It was outraged instead of scared, and despite herself she smiled.

"Is he all right?" she asked.

"Bloody and howling, but otherwise fine," Farthun said, toweling the blood and less mentionable fluid from the boy's red cheeks. "You did well, Aendra. Now relax as best you can."

Aendra tried to do as the midwife bid her, catching her breath while she waited for her head to stop spinning. She listened to the water splash as Farthun washed her son. She heard the rustle of cloth as she wrapped him up. It wasn't until he was in Aendra's arms, though, that he quieted. He blinked up at her with his wide, blue eyes, staring at her the way you would at a person whose voice you knew but whose face you'd never seen. She smiled, gently stroking his head as she began to sing softly to him. Farthun scraped up the bloody mess from the floor, depositing it into a wooden bowl. The old woman took it, and placed it on the doorstep before returning.

The lullaby was nearly done when Aendra heard a wet, snuffling noise from the doorstep. Glancing up, her voice trailed off as she saw a fox staring in at her. The black fur on its feet was sleek, and its back was blood red. It licked its nose and twitched its whiskers. The eyes were wrong, though... they were a bright, glimmering blue. The same blue as her son's.

The baby glanced up, noticing she'd stopped singing. When he saw the fox he smiled a wide, toothless smile, and made a high-pitched sound of delight. He reached out a chubby hand, waving at the beast. The fox gave mother and son a sly, tongue-hanging grin, before snatching the rest of the bowl's contents and dashing off. Her son laughed, and babbled nonsense at the fox's back.

"It seems you're going to have a busy time of things," Farthun said, wringing out a bloody cloth. "Teach him well. He's going to need it."

Aendra smiled down at her son. His eyes were starting to close, and she rocked him gently. A small, cold chill sat in her stomach where he had so recently been. She started singing again, but this time it was a song of protection. If the fox was any indication, he would need it.

The Fylgja, and The Warlock

Among the Norse was a concept called a fylgja, or fylgjur when plural. Though a complex concept, a fylgia was akin to a guardian spirit in many ways. Linked to a person's destiny, these spirits would be perceived as women, or as animals, and they were often seen in dreams, at times of important events, or when a person's death drew near.

The fylgja was also similar to what would later come to be known as a witch's familiar, which is where this character concept can come into its own.

Because some children may be more sensitive to their fylgja than others. Perhaps they are the ones who must take up the role of defenders of their families or clans (as fylgja tend to be passed from parents to children). This might be particularly true if someone is the last of their line, so a fylgja must take extra precautions to keep them safe... especially if they insist on leading the dangerous life of an adventurer.

Whether the ritual happens just after they're born (the offering of afterbirth to draw out a representative of the fylgja, perhaps?), or it's something an individual does later on in life, finding the mechanical underpinnings of this concept is fairly simple. Pact of The Chain is the most obvious choice, since your fylgja needs to be there with you. Also, given their connection to fate, the wyrd, and luck (along with the protection granted by the fylgja), the powers of the Archfey patron are most in-line with this concept (though you might find some fun examples in 13 Fiends: A Baker's Dozen of Devils if you're wanting to go with a more infernal patron instead).

From there, the sky is the limit! What form your fylgja takes, how you managed to form such a tight bond with it, what goals you're trying to accomplish, and even if you inherited it from an unknown bloodline (whether you never knew your parents, or there was an illicit affair that was covered up), the details are up to your imagination.

Additional Warlock Reading

If you're looking for more inspiration for your next warlock (or just to add some more flavor to your fylgja) make sure you check out the following!

- 5 Tips For Playing Better Warlocks: If you want your warlock to really stand out from the crowd, or if you're just having trouble getting into their head, consider some of these simple tips!

- 100 Superstitions For a Fantasy Setting: What draws ill fortune your way? What rituals do you perform to protect yourself? There's a bit of everything in this collection, and it can add some weirdness to your warlock.

- 100 Random Oracular Pronouncements: If you want your fylgja to give cryptic warnings throughout the campaign, consider keeping a few of these up your sleeve!

Looking For Even More Content?

That's all for this installment of my Unusual Character Concepts series! Hopefully this one gave you something to chew over, whether you're a player, or a game master.

For even more of my work, check out my full Vocal archive. Or if you'd prefer to read some of my books, like my alley cat noir novel Marked Territory, its sequel Painted Cats, my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife, or my most recent collection of short stories The Rejects, then head over to My Amazon Author Page!

To stay on top of all my latest releases, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and now Pinterest as well! To support my work, consider either Buying Me a Ko-Fi, or heading to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a regular, monthly patron. That one helps ensure you get more Improved Initiative, and it means you'll get my regular, monthly giveaways as a bonus!

Or if you want to get all of that in one place, check out my LinkTree instead!

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About the Creator

Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.

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