Monday, June 19, 2017

Demons, Devils and Demonology

First: It's been a while since my last update. My apologies as I've been swamped at work and with real life stuff. But it's good to be back!

Demons, Devils & Demonology

I understand that demons and 2nd Edition have a history. This post is not about that history but is instead about ignoring all of that history and introducing a concept I think could provide useful story tools for DMs moving forward. Demons and devils were included in 1st Edition and not 2nd due to that history, but this post is not about the demons and devils in 1st Edition. These rules are going to go in a different direction.

These rulers were inspired by the book "Scales of Justice" by Daniel Hood. the fourth book in the Fanuilh series.

Librum Daemonum

Mara peaked through the dirty glass into the basement. There, the Circle of the Broken Blade had gathered around a circle drawn in chalk. Chained in the center was a sacrifice, a small goat from the fields behind her. She frowned as she studied the circle. Reaching into her bag she pulled out an oil cloth wrapped book. In the light from the window the words 'Librum Daemonum' were clearly imprinted in the red leather of the cover. She opened it and started flipping through pages, her eyes darting from diagrams back to the chalk circle inside. She found it nodded to herself. Packing up she backed away slowly from the building and went around to find her friends, the Circle was looking for information - more than likely about Mara and her friends.
The Book of Demons is a rare tome that seems to turn up where mischief is desired. Trade in the books is generally considered illegal, and when found the books are burned. Only certain wizards and clerics are allowed to openly own them, as they are responsible for tracking and killing those that summon demons and the demons themselves. Despite this prohibition, copies can still be found in private collections even if they are not used. Simply owning them is a thrill. Yet, in the back of the dustiest shops in unexpected nooks it is possible to find someone who, with the right incentive might be able to provide a copy of the book. 

The books themselves are surprisingly uniform. They are always bound in red stained leather, with the words Librum Daemonum in white. Touching the letters shows that it is bone embedded into the leather itself. The book is usually between an inch to an inch and a half thick, with crackling parchment pages. They almost always look aged.

The inside of the book is written in black ink and is composed of diagrams, formula, and descriptions of the demon and devils that can be summoned and what it is that they do. The language is an ancient form of denomic, and the user of the book must either be proficient in the language ("Languages, Ancient"), or spend 3d4 weeks studying the manuscript, where after it will be added as a bonus non-weapon proficiency. This proficiency can be improved per normal,

When someone is seeking one of these books for a specific purpose - especially if that purpose is dark - then when they find a copy and open it for the first time, it will often fall open to the specific summoning circle they need as a form of temptation.

Summoning a Demon

Hald, a balding gnomish warrior slammed the door with his shoulder. Despite his small size, he was exceptionally strong - and the gauntlets of ogre's strength didn't hurt. As the door crashed open, the Circle turned in shock their chant falling away in surprise. The leader, caught up in the summoning, continued his chant unaware of the sudden commotion. Mara was only a few steps behind and with a flick of her wrist, she launched a knife at the cultist near the front. Hald was already pushing forward wielding his heavy battle axe in two hands as he closed towards the circle. They pressed hard, as they only had a minute or two before the demon arrived.

The book describes how to summon multiple different types of demons for multiple different purposes. Anyone can use the book to create a summoning circle. Each book is divided into 10 overarching spheres of influence:

  1. Foresight: Portents, Omens and Divination | Internal
  2. Promises: Power, Deals, and Contracts | Internal
  3. Deception: Secrecy, Deceit, and Trickery | Internal
  4. Knowledge: Information, facts, and history | Internal
  5. Bloodlust: Hunting, killing, and battle | External
  6. Vengeance: Revenge, hatred, and envy | External
  7. Assassination: Destruction, death, and power | External
  8. Confusion: Obstruction, plots, and manipulation | External
  9. Pestilence: Disease, famine, and vermin | External
  10. Hedonism: Desire, debauchery, and lust | Internal

If a sphere of influence is External or Internal indicates where the demon or devil will be summoned outside of the summoning circle (External, with the caster standing inside) or inside the circle (Internal, with the caster standing outside of the circle). When summoning, the caster has to create the circle. Creating and summoning is like casting a spell, though the level of the spell is determined by the rank of the creature that you are attempting to summon.

The ranks are as follows:

  1. Tempters: (HD: 1 - 3)
  2. Masters: (HD: 4 - 7)
  3. Minor Lord: (HD: 8 - 11)
  4. Lord: (HD:: 12 - 14)
  5. Duke: (HD: 15 - 17)
  6. Dark Champion: (HD: 18 - 19)
  7. Prince of the Sphere: (HD: 20)
Determining what kind of demon responds to the call is handled by percentages. There is a 60% chance a demon will show up for an external sphere, and a devil for an internal sphere. If a demon, there is a 60% chance it is a fighter type character (treat as a PC fighter where level is the HD), and 20% chance it is a wizard, 10% chance it is a thief, and 10% chance it is a cleric. If a devil, there is a 60% chance it is a cleric, 20% chance it is a thief, and a 10% chance it is a fighter or wizard. HD are rolled randomly. They are always humanoid type creatures. 

Each summoning circle is generally the same:

Summon Demon or Devil (Conjuration/Summoning)Range: 20'
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: 20' radius
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 to 20 Turns
Saving Throw: None
The summon demon spell found in the Librum will take between 1 and 7 turns to cast depending on the HD of the creature being summoned. This does not include the time to set up the summoning circle, which requires materials ranging from common for low ranking demons to exceedingly rare for Princes. While a goat or chicken might do for a tempter, an angel or high priest will be needed for a Prince. Stopping the summoning of a Prince might be an adventure in and of itself. 

Controlling the Summoning

When summoned, a demon is not under any special power or control of the caster. The summoning circle will either protect the caster by presenting a barrier. An encounter check is made immediately. Demons start off as threatening. If the summoner has less hit dice then the demon, it changes to hostile. If the summoner has more, it changes to indifferent. Devils start off as indifferent, if higher in HD, they are threatening. If lower they are friendly. Princes are always hostile.

When starting the encounter roll 2d10 and subtract the reaction adjustment of the summoner based on their charisma score. Devils are always lawful, demons are always chaotic. If the player's alignment matches the summoned creature, then they get a +1 bonus to their reaction adjustment. If the summoner is not matched, it is a -1 bonus. Other bonuses and penalties can be found on Table 50 in the DMG for encounters.

The demon does not have to stay in the summoning circle and can simply leave and return to where it came from. This happens automatically if flight is the encounter result. Spells that bind demons can be applied in this situation, though this automatically sets all future summons to hostile.

When the demon arrives it will be prepared to help the summoner answer their question and will stick around long enough for one attempt. They will either be ready for battle with appropriate gear, will have the right spells memorized, or will have access to the right non-weapon proficiencies.

By their nature, demons and devils in general are unhelpful. If the question is to uncover where Baltur the Money Lender hides his account ledger the responding creature might give an exact location ("The third stair in the west wing of the manor has a hidden compartment") or might be more mysterious ("Where feet tread upwards towards the setting sun, the count of Hydra will reveal a light within the darkness.").  The level of help from the creature is dependent on their reaction. Friendly creatures will be more helpful.

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