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Sean_RDP

What is a Demon?

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I know what the book says and I know what some literature and other games say, but I am curious how others think of or describe demons in their campaigns. What role do they play, if any, outside the specific uses for magic? 

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Anything weird and magical could be called a demon by superstitious locals, including undead but on the more powerful scale you could include elder gods etc, such as your average cult shrine demon, ranging up to Nyarlathotep or Cthulhu -- super powered science-fictional beings with godlike powers. It sort of depends on religiousness of your campaign too. In the Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe and also in Chronicles of Future Earth, 'demons' are aliens or interdimensional beings; but in paintings by Hieronymous Bosh, demons have a religious or moral function of punishment. Having said all that, I use demons only for magic in my campaign, when I use them at all, and I just explain them as amoral other-dimensional beings with needs that seem to  us bizarre, obscene, dangerous or all three.

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They are inhabitants of other worlds, other planes of existence, belonging to species much like humans, apes, dragons or mice. There, they may be simply magic users, a magic which translates into demon abilities in our world, or they might possess those abilities as a natural gift, or they might have it received from one of their gods, etc.

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On 10/31/2018 at 1:36 AM, Thot said:

They are inhabitants of other worlds, other planes of existence, belonging to species much like humans, apes, dragons or mice. There, they may be simply magic users, a magic which translates into demon abilities in our world, or they might possess those abilities as a natural gift, or they might have it received from one of their gods, etc.

Would that mean that a "normal" human from another plane of existence would qualify? For instance imagine a Granbretan soldier with a flame lance in the Young Kingdoms. 

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In Magic World terms I tend to think of demons as being something like jinn; amorphous entities of some otherworldly plane/dimension/reality that lack individuality until they are drawn forth and formed in the material world. Mechanically this explains sorcerer's being able to define a demon. in Cosmological terms, maybe this is one reason why they are so eager to make deals with sorcerers or allow themselves to be summoned at all? They become "real" (or at least more real) once they are summoned.

Whatever demons are and where they come from, I tend to want to rebel against the carefully laid out cosmology by Gary Gygax for the Dungeons & Dragons game with its outer planes and their clearly defined hierarchies, species, politics, etc.

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43 minutes ago, Nick J. said:

In Magic World terms I tend to think of demons as being something like jinn; amorphous entities of some otherworldly plane/dimension/reality that lack individuality until they are drawn forth and formed in the material world. Mechanically this explains sorcerer's being able to define a demon. in Cosmological terms, maybe this is one reason why they are so eager to make deals with sorcerers or allow themselves to be summoned at all? They become "real" (or at least more real) once they are summoned.

 

An interesting view. I'm not sold on it though. I think it might hold true for some demons but not all. One interesting tidbit in one of the series (Hawkmoon or Corum, I forgot which one) is that one of the baddies summons Yyrkoon as a demon. If this is the same characters from the Erlic saga is unknown, and if so, if the  the summons occurred before or after his death. If it is the same Yyrkoon, then either way, it opens up some interesting lines of thought. Maybe sorcerers themselves are vulnerable to being summoned, or maybe those who follow Chaos or are slain by Stormbringer can be summoned? 

 

43 minutes ago, Nick J. said:

Whatever demons are and where they come from, I tend to want to rebel against the carefully laid out cosmology by Gary Gygax for the Dungeons & Dragons game with its outer planes and their clearly defined hierarchies, species, politics, etc.

I don't blame you. But I do think as this is Moorcock's Multiverse that we are dealing with beings from some other plane/dimension/sphere.

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It depends on the setting.
In my old homebrew game they're spirits of various sorts... as varied in temperment, intelligence and motivation as the people who summon them. Definitely not purely good or evil.

In my 30's war campaign they were straight up Christian fantasy, red-skinned devils with horns, pitchforks and a complicated hierarchy.

Either way, they're outsiders who don't quite belong in the world and cannot normally come across without aid of some sort. Not un-natural but other-natural... maybe?

Edited by Simlasa
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On 11/3/2018 at 7:33 PM, Atgxtg said:

Would that mean that a "normal" human from another plane of existence would qualify? For instance imagine a Granbretan soldier with a flame lance in the Young Kingdoms. 

I would say so, yes.

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16 minutes ago, Thot said:

I would say so, yes.

I played in a game recently where our party was summoned (mid combat on the back of a dragon) by a wizard in need of aid. POOF! We were there in his citadel, fought off the monsters plaguing him, and before we could ask any questions POOF! We were back on the back of the dragon... so I suppose that means WE were the summoned monsters/demons in that scenario.

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On 11/3/2018 at 12:49 PM, Atgxtg said:

An interesting view. I'm not sold on it though. I think it might hold true for some demons but not all. One interesting tidbit in one of the series (Hawkmoon or Corum, I forgot which one) is that one of the baddies summons Yyrkoon as a demon. If this is the same characters from the Erlic saga is unknown, and if so, if the  the summons occurred before or after his death. If it is the same Yyrkoon, then either way, it opens up some interesting lines of thought. Maybe sorcerers themselves are vulnerable to being summoned, or maybe those who follow Chaos or are slain by Stormbringer can be summoned? 

 

I don't blame you. But I do think as this is Moorcock's Multiverse that we are dealing with beings from some other plane/dimension/sphere.

If this was Stormbringer/Elric! we were talking about I'd fully agree with you, but in Magic World all we're left with from the old games is the mechanics and not a lot of guidance on what something "is." As a generic fantasy RPG it seems like this was done intentionally to leave it up to the GM to define.

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28 minutes ago, Nick J. said:

If this was Stormbringer/Elric! we were talking about I'd fully agree with you, but in Magic World all we're left with from the old games is the mechanics and not a lot of guidance on what something "is." As a generic fantasy RPG it seems like this was done intentionally to leave it up to the GM to define.

True. I stand corrected. I forgot which forum this was in. 

 

All this does beg the question just what (or whom) is summon-able? Can anybody be yanked from their home into another world by a summon spell?

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I would suspect some kind of servitude to Chaos/Shadow or whatever you call it would be required.

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Interestingly, Magic World itself says that demons need not be inhabitants of other dimensions. Origin on another plane is not a necessary attribute of demons. Quote from the Summon Demon spell p125:

"The spell contains the key phrases that open a pathway to the other planes (or hidden places within this plane at the Chronicleer's discretion), allowing communication with a demonic entity..."

We should remember that other dimensions are a very modern idea and whether it be the underground hell of early christians or the home of the gods on Olympus mountain, or the Land of the Young far across the ocean to the West, for most of history incredible beings lived in unreachable places on our own world, then we reached those places. My worlds tend to use this model.

 

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On 11/5/2018 at 5:47 AM, Atgxtg said:

All this does beg the question just what (or whom) is summon-able? Can anybody be yanked from their home into another world by a summon spell?

If anyone is interested there are some alternative rules for Stormbringer fifth edition that allow a sorceror to summon creatures from another plane that aren't generally classed as demons that could be used for Magic world, if you want that sort of summoning to be part of your games.  "The summoning skill is a useful measure of the general magic proficiency of a character and can be used in a simple way to deal with the summoning of creatures that are predefined as coming from another plane, such as the Creatures of Matik, the Elenoin, the Steeds of Nirhain, or even a Vadagh from Corum's world, an Eldren from the ghost-worlds of Erekose's Earth, or a traveller of the spheres like Wheldrake the poet."  http://www.stormbringerrpg.com/docs/Alternate Magic.pdf

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