What are viable reasons to summon and make a pact with a supernatural creature such as a demon?
Disclaimer: FYCD does not endorse dicking around with supernatural forces outside of fiction, and will not be held responsible for loss of limb, life, or soul.
Faustian bargains, very nice, one of my favorites.
A ‘Faustian Bargain’ is named for the play Dr Faustus, in which a mortal man makes a pact with Lucifer via Mephistopheles for power and knowledge in exchange for his soul.
Modern interpretations show a great deal of variation. The term ‘faustian bargain’ can be used in general to describe deals that aren’t necessarily unfair but that are super, super shitty- or having to decide between two equally shitty courses of action. The ‘Devil’ can often be metaphorical.
The classical pattern goes like this:
The Hero wants a wish granted. When the Hero realizes that they cannot grant this wish under their own power, they seek supernatural aid (aka The Devil). Devils do not work for free, thank you very much, and the price for granting wishes is very high.
(In the olden days, the Hero’s soul was pretty standard fare, but the blazing fires of perdition don’t really seem in to interest audiences like they used to. Deciding on cruel and unusual fares is half the fun of faustian bargains, and there are some really creative ones out there.)
The Devil will suggest a contract, the Hero’s fare in exchange for granting the Hero’s wish. While Devils can’t just take your soul, and they aren’t supposed to lie, they’re very much not above fine print, or the classic ‘you didn’t ask’.
With the contract signed, the wish will be granted and the payment will be extracted. Frequently, whether or not the wish was worth the payment becomes a source of drama.
Obviously, deals with demons are the height of sketchy bargains. So, why would any of the characters in your story do that? I’m sure you’ve heard that all of your characters should want something.
Faustian bargains are what happens when your character desires something that they cannot grasp with their own power, and want that thing badly enough that they will pay a stupidly high price for it.
What do they want, that they cannot get on their own, that they’re willing to agree to something horrible in order to get?
The answer is different for every character, their situations, and their values. “What would you literally sell your soul for?” is, I think, one of the most interesting questions that we can ask a character. Think about your cast, and figure it out!