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Comparison of demon summoning going from Elric! to BRP


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Recently I've been reviewing the demon summoning rules from various branches of "d100" and I just noticed a striking discontinuity between Elric! and the BGB. I wonder if anyone else can confirm this.

Summoning procedure

In Elric!, and presumably SB5, it costs 9 MPs to try to summon a demon. A point of POW must also be sacrificed if a binding will be attempted. The summoning only works on a successful Luck roll. If the roll is unsuccessful, the MP (and POW, if applicable) are still spent.

In the BGB, it costs 9 MP to summon a demon, period. No roll is required.


In Elric/SB5, MP have to be spent to define the demon. Eight of the points used in the summoning are credited toward this, but 1 MP must be spent for each d8 of characteristic, 1 MP must be spent for each 10 percentiles in any skill or demon ability, and additional MP must be spent if the demon has multiple modes of movement. The sample demon breeds don't precisely follow these formulae, but the (very weak) Servant Demon is close, and it costs 20 MP to summon.

In the BGB, no additional MP need to be spent on top of summoning. There aren't any rules for defining demons, but two examples are given. The characteristics of greater and lesser demons aren't given in terms of d8s, but if you do a rough translation based on averages, a greater demon's cost in Elric! terms would be:

STR: 8

CON: 5

SIZ: 5

INT: 2

POW: 4

DEX: 4

APP: 1 or 5

It has two movement modes, so that would add at least 1 MP. Its armor would cost 4 MP, once you translate it into random AP. By my accounting, various skills and powers would conservatively add 100 or more to the cost. In total, an Elric! demon equivalent to a BGB greater demon would require the sacrifice of at least ~130 MP.

I have two concerns about this. First, it seems that demon summoning in the BGB is vastly more powerful than in Elric!, and possibly unbalanced relative to other Sorcery spells, other magic/powers systems in BRP, and everything else in the game. We can agree that balance isn't everything, though. Besides, unless the demon is bound, the GM has a lot of leeway via negotiation. If a sorcerer has POW to spare on binding, though, and a decent chance of winning the POW vs. POW binding roll, that remedy is unavailable.

Second, the relatively low cost of summoning in the BGB makes the Brazier of Power and Chain of Being spells pretty much superfluous. Summoning is the only thing I can find whose cost could make those two spells useful--provided you use the point costs from Elric!

Am I wrong? Or should the summoning rules in the BGB be errata-ed?

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You are not wrong, but there are some differences that I think are important.

In Elric!, the summoner gets what they pay for. The summoner constructs their demon with their spending of mp points. In BRP I see no reason for the GM to even let the PC know what their demon looks like stat wise. Demon construction is entirely up to the GM. BRP also does not include Demon Armor and Weapons, which is a real game changer there. As it stands, Demons in BRP are similar to teh Sidekick Superpower.

As an aside, if you are looking for more takes on Demon Summoning I will refer you to both Corum and Chronicles of Future Earth, both of which deal with Sorcery summoning. Nephilim touches on the subject as well but uses a very different premiss, closer to CoC in the manner that summoning a given entity is very much a spell by spell basis.

But I do agree that summoning is a tricky thing and that it's important for a GM to take a good look at it before introducing it. Personally, I'm fine with it being a powerful thing. A sorcerer willing to traffic with demons should be pretty scary.

I also agree that the usefulness of Brazier of Power and especially Chain of Being is limited in teh BRP rules. Brazier of Power is still useful if the sorcerer is going to have to cast a number of spells in a short amount of time, like in defense of his or her lair. Those spells become much sought after again if you allow players to use both Sorcery and Magic.


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Thanks. I just think that if someone is getting into BRP via the BGB, the book should be a good introduction and baseline. From my reading, a player can just specify a greater or lesser demon; while the possibility of having other types is there, you have to fill in some pretty big blanks on how the GM will do this. Comparison with Sidekick is a bit misleading--again, I may be mistaken, since I've only just skimmed the Powers section (having never been too interested in supers), but the Sidekick's powers come out of the PC's power budget, no? Whereas a demon is a big chunk of power whose only cost is a renewable resource (magic points), a point of permanent POW to bind, and a few spell slots to keep bound. The latter could be a big deal, but I don't think it balances the power of a demon.*

Also, I know that Advanced Sorcery will include the full-blown summoning system from Elric--some explanatory text will be needed if it's not just an expansion of the BGB rules but a replacement.

Thanks for the other suggestions. I have Corum and CoFE, though I haven't checked out the latter. I was surprised at all the praise Corum's gotten for its summoning, though. The most interesting thing was the rule for Chaos Creatures having a price which is (a) entirely at the GM's discretion and (B) mandatory for the summoner (he can't refuse it after it's been named). I also like the idea of demon summoning always adding a year to the summoner's age. Those are pretty interesting options to consider when fine-tuning summoning rules, but what I wrote is about all there is, isn't it? (The material on demon prices is good, but it basically just elaborates the negotiation process implicit in summoning a demon to carry out a task without binding it--already possible in Elric!)

I also own CoC but I haven't read through that either. The idea of having specific spells for specific entities, though, is appealing, for the type of game I'm thinking of. I'll keep an eye out for Nephilim.

To bring this back to the OP, though: as interested as I am in options for magic/sorcery/summoning that experienced GMs can work into their campaigns, I'm most concerned here about the fact that the BGB rules have this issue which can derail beginners and which could accidentally carry over into other setting books.

*One way I could see balancing the power of a bound demon would be to not only have it take up spell slots equal to the POW of the demon, but to require ongoing "maintenance" expenditure of POW for as long as the demon is being kept on the character's home plane.

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  • 1 month later...

With regards to the handling of demons as Sidekicks, perhaps one way to increase the cost would be to build the "Sidekick" using only as many "Power" points as the MPs invested in the summoning. If my estimation is right, one lone sorcerer would only be able to summon pretty minor demons, while the more powerful ones would only be accessible through group summonings, therefore making Chain of Being a very valuable spell for would-be summoners. Any thoughts?

Proud pen-and-paper roleplayer since 1991!

Blood and Souls for Lord Arioch!

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If my estimation is right, one lone sorcerer would only be able to summon pretty minor demons, while the more powerful ones would only be accessible through group summonings, therefore making Chain of Being a very valuable spell for would-be summoners. Any thoughts?

A Sorcerer who has a long game can do pretty well for themselves, MP wise with Brazier of Power, Witch Sight and Curse of Sorcery (or any other POW : POW spell).

Say the Sorcerer has POW 17. Casts Brazier of Power for a reservoir of 16 mp and a new POW of 16. Sorcerer uses Witch Sight to find victims of appropriate POW and inflicts Curse of Sorcery on them, eventually raising her POW up to 17 again. Casts Brazier of Power for another battery, rinse, repeat.

Now, if I were a player who wanted a demon entourage I would talk with the GM about it, just as I hope a player in my game would inform me if their plans were potentially game breaking...


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Bad, bad idea, regardless of game mechanics. Of course the demon is going to pretend to be submissive and obedient -- right up to the instant when it pounces on the the sorcerer or betrays him fatally in his supposed moment of triumph. "Gotcha!" The worship of Nergal, Babylonian ruler of the underworld, was centered in a dark city populated largely by lawyers and tax accountants. Get a clue, people! =|

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