As a follow-up to my recent post about witches, it seems natural to move on to warlocks. Warlocks are not nearly as prominent in folklore. In fact, when they are mentioned at all, they are typically referred to simply as male witches. In 3e, warlocks were introduced as a character class. In 5e, warlocks saw some changes. But they remained, essentially, a wizard with a different backstory. I see warlocks as a bit more than that.
In my world, the warlock class is not a playable character class. It is what I refer to as one of the dark classes, a group of classes only available to evil creatures. As such, a warlock is strictly an enemy, often a recurring arch-villain, to be dealt with by the adventurers.
Any sentient humanoid, male or female, can become a warlock. A warlock starts out as a wizard with a high charisma. At some point she discovers that she not only possesses a great aptitude for summoning spells, but an obsession with summoning demons to do her bidding. As she progresses, she forces lesser demons to divulge the secrets of more powerful summoning spells, allowing her to summon and control more powerful demons.
A powerful warlock is always protected by summoned demons and uses them to spread evil and mayhem, but always in the process of achieving a specific goal. Unlike witches, who have sold their soul for their powers and are subservient to their masters, warlocks are themselves the masters, controlling those that they have summoned.
Furthermore, warlocks are more focused with some sort of ultimate goal in mind. Characters may encounter them as the force behind certain demon attacks, that may at first seem arbitrary. But over time characters may recognize that each such attack actually serves a purpose and is simply a single step towards a larger goal.
Lastly, warlocks may bargain with powerful demons to acquire demonic powers for themselves. Usually, this involves obtaining a mortal’s signature on an infernal contract whereby the mortal sells their soul to the demon. The highest level demons may be beyond the ability of a warlock to summon and to control, but their services may still be bartered for in exchange for souls obtained in this manner.
Granted, my warlocks are still little more than “wizards with a different backstory”, but with the ability to cast far more advanced summoning spells, having powerful demons as bodyguards, as well as the addition of demonic powers themselves, these warlocks are far more than your average wizard. They also serve the role of iconic villains with exciting story potential.