Demons

Copyright Robert J Defendi © 2007

Edited by Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"A Demon can attempt to possess any Mortal."

Demons. They've plagued the nightmares of Humanity since the dawn of recorded time. They force us to the heights of evil and selfishness. They are the epitome of evil.

Demons fulfill an important role in The Echoes of Heaven. The Fallen Angels have settled into their roles as the masters of Hell. Demons handle almost all the active work on Mortality. They murder and pillage and cajole. They tempt and they corrupt and they seduce. They recruit for the legions of Hell.

Demons are the middle tier of Hell, below the Devils that were once Fallen Angels and above the countless hordes of damned souls. Demons come in two kinds: the Demons of Sin, which are the souls of dead Nephilim, and the Demons of Damnation, which are the souls of powerful and evil Mortals.

Ulcers and Demonic Powers

Demons stand at the heart of Ulcers. Usually, they take their traditional forms, but sometimes they manifest in more unique ways: a demon heart beating at the center of a maze, a raging possession that leaps from person to person, the Demon Grove in the accompanying adventure.

One thing to remember about Demons is that they can be changed by the Ulcer as much as anything. If you place a Demon inside an Ulcer, feel free to alter his abilities. The Demon in The Festering Earth used its abilities to extend the power of its Ulcer. A Demon could have less or more ability, change Type, even break hard and fast rules about its Demonic nature, all if the Ulcer makes it happen.

No one knows how a Demon takes its place in an Ulcer (and this is a World Thread). Some think that it's luck. Others think that they subtly work to create the Ulcer (if so, almost none succeed). Others think that they work to create an Ulcer, but the Demon that ends in control is random. Theologists don't agree, and they might never know.

Demonic Possession

The ideal way (for the Demon) that a Demon can enter the Mortal Realm is through an Ulcer, which is essentially a special gate to Hell. The easiest way, however, is through possession.

A Demon can attempt to possess any Mortal. No one knows how the mortal is targeted, and it's thought that a Demon can't just target a specific person, but only someone whom they select at random or someone who reveals himself to the Demon.

A Demonic possession is resolved as a Channeling RR with the level of the attack being equal to half the Demon's level. Characters who are good and pure should receive a bonus, anything from +5 to +50, based on their spiritual quality. Those who are weak, or sinful, or outright evil should receive a similar penalty.

Demonic possession can be stopped by certain spells. Barring that, any Channeling User with the Magical Ritual skill can attempt an exorcism ritual, to banish the Demon back to Hell. Should there be no rules for the specific effect, consider the exorcism a Channeling attack at the level of the Exorcist. A GM may grant a bonus on the base attack from +5 to +50, based on the faith of the priest.

Demon Types

Demons in The Echoes of Heaven are more powerful than in other Rolemaster settings. They tend to have a high level, for their Type, than the spells in the Spell Law books would indicate. This makes spells that summon Demons both more powerful and more dangerous at the same time.

That said, a specific Demon won't necessarily have the Type as listed in their entry below. Some are more powerful some are less. So if you feel that the strength of Demons throws off your game balance, feel free to adjust their types to more closely conform to the levels as listed in the Rolemaster core books.

Demon Types can change for a variety of reasons. The Type of a Demon represents the power of its Demonic essence. A Demon gains or loses power through feeding off the soul energies of Mortals. The longer they go without an infusion of energy, the lower their type drops. The more energy they feed upon, the higher they rise.

There's no hard and fast rules on how much a Demon gets from a feeding or how many mortals they must feed upon, but they can feed directly from Hell, locking onto mortals as if targeting them for possession. Some theologians believe the Type of the Demon and the number of sinners that fuel it, looks something like this:

Type Sinners
I 0-10
II 11-100
III 101-1,000
IV 1,001 - 10,000
V 10,001 - 100,000
VI 100,000 +

The problem with these numbers is that they assume minor indulgence in the Mortal Sins. More powerful sinning creates more energies to fuel the Demon. It's rumored that Demons have moved two or three types simply by investing and supporting the evil of one perfect sinner.

How they latch onto these Mortals is unknown, although as stated above, it seems to be the same method they use for possession. It's relatively certain that while feeding off a Mortal in this manner, the Demon can remain in Hell, and it can tempt the Mortal by suggesting thoughts and sins into his mind.

Ulcers can also change the Type of the Demon. Some feed the Demon, increasing the Type. Other sap the Demon, causing the opposite.

Demons and Cambions

A Cambion is created either by the union of two Cambions or the union of a Demon and a Mortal. However, Demons cannot take a fair form, which leads one to wonder how.

The answer is that some Demons have very powerful magic that can trick a Mortal into thinking they have a fair form. Others simply seduce Mortals as part of their religious rites, and the Mortal knows the nature of the Demon. Some think a Demon can come to a Mortal in their dreams, and if the Mortal is willing, the union happens part in dream and part in reality.

Demon and Mortal unions are a touchy subject and should probably be only used as background history during a game, not in the foreground. The goal here is to have fun, not make people feel uncomfortable.

Demons and Death

Once a creature has been born, or born again, in Hell, he gains an Infernal body. This body holds his soul as a vessel and it is the seat of his life. If this body ever dies, the Demon dies as well.

When a Demon leaves Hell, he does so through one of two ways. First, he can travel through a gate, such as an Ulcer. Second, he can be summoned by Mortals to the Mortal realm. The Stairway of Heaven and Hell is closed to Demons.

When a Demon leaves Hell by summoning or through a gate, he does so through the processes of transmutation. His body converts into the energy of the plane, anchoring the Demon in Hell. His spirit, contained fully in his Infernal Taint, as a shadow, then travels to the plane of his destination (this process is brief and unnoticed in Gate travel, and a Demon can forgo it, although they wouldn't do so voluntarily). When they arrive at their destination, they create new bodies from the energies of that plane.

The same thing happens when a Demon leaves his Ulcer, though they rarely do. A Demon who leaves its Ulcer usually drops dramatically in power (the effect varies from incapacitating the Demon to a minor penalty to all actions). If the Demon is then killed, the Ulcer usually collapses, and so Demons rarely risk this.

However, no creature who travels in this fashion can truly die on another plane. If killed, they travel back to their point of origin, where their body reforms for them (in Hell, not the Ulcer, if the Demon left in that fashion). They are usually "damaged" by this process. No Demon can take this trip again for 2d10 days. If they do it anyway, death results in a true death.

They can die permanently by dying in Hell, in their Ulcer, or by losing their real body, should they bring it with them to another plane (say by being allowed through a gate controlled by another Demon, who will only allow them through in their true form). When a Demon dies permanently in Hell, they are thought to return, in a spiritual form to the energy of the plane. If they die in another plane, their fate is unknown, but some suspect their souls are lost for all eternity.

Still, this usually only happens when one dies in an Ulcer. The benefit of successfully creating a permanent Ulcer is too high for many Demons to pass up.

The Individuality of Demons

It's very easy to look at a "monster's" stats in an RPG and say, "He's just like that." We talked above about when that is a good idea and when a little customizing would lend an adventure spark. This is doubly important for Demons.

Essentially, every Demon is really a non-player character. Their appearances are different, their abilities are different, each one is a unique creation.

That said, complete character creation stats for Demons are beyond the scope of this work. Instead, take the stats here as a Master Character Table. Swap out equipment and abilities. If you decide that a Demon of Gluttony is a mage, that's completely okay. Give them personality and flare. Like Angels, most of them have had a lot more time to develop into unique creatures than your player characters.

Demon Gender

Every Demon was once a living creature, be they Nephilim or Mortal. They maintain this gender when they become Demons, though most people don't feel like examining them well enough to tell.

Most Cambions come from Demons of Deceit, who have taken roughly Mortal-looking bodies when they entered the Mortal Realm. A Demon can't take a fair form, but they can take a horrible Human form, for instance, and then cover their hideous appearance with illusions. Demons, regardless of species, that take illusionary forms to seduce mortals, as known as Incubi and Succubi.