Regarding demons

In an eclectic campaign our group is playing, we found it necessary to create a demon of completely unspecified nature. We decided on this oracle which has been used to fun effect in three systems thus far:

1. Choose a Traditional Fantasy Element (TM). Examples: Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Dark, Spirit, Light, Wind, Ice, Lightning, etc.

2. Choose a Non-Traditional Element. Examples: Masks, Staircases, Bats, Desiccants, Rogues.

3. Choose an Element from the Periodic Table. Examples: Neon, Helium, Iron (booooo), Mercury, Arsenic, Oxygen.

Now create the demon's stats/powers/moves/tags/whatever in your system of choice. It is "A Demon of Fire and Masks and Neon".

This procedure has resulted in some very eclectic monsters, much stranger than we would otherwise have come up with. The Demon of Earth and Staircases and Mercury, for example, was pretty weak in direct combat but excelled in weird ways at traps and ambushes, while the Demon of Fire and Masks and Neon was a pretty standard elemental-type-thing but with very memorable color.

Anyone have other nonstandard oracles they like for demon/monster/etc generation?

Comments

  • Try adding random emotions ;)
  • Using demonic iconography from middle age Europe as inspiration couldn't hurt (or Hieronymus Bosch, for example).

    The paintings will have enough detail to inspire your portrayal.
  • edited November 2017
    I ran a game once where we used random tables to generate Bosch-style demons. Mind, these were mostly demons the players were summoning, not fighting against. The tables were these.
    Start with the type of demon you wish to generate. An asterisk (*) indicates that you should roll on the appropriate table. Reroll duplicate results or contradictory results as necessary. Finally, randomly determine the demon’s name.

    An imp is around the size of a cat or a dog. Randomly determine the imp’s general appearance*.
    - Roll 1d6. On a roll of 4-6, the imp has a special feature*.
    - Roll 1d6. On a roll of 1-3, the imp has a weapon*. On a roll of 4-6, the imp has a power*.
    - Roll 1d6. On a roll of 4-6, the imp is a metaphor for or manifestation of a sin*.

    A soldier is around the size of an adult human being. Randomly determine the soldier’s general appearance*.
    - Roll 1d6. On a roll of 1-4, the soldier has one special feature* and one weapon. On a roll of 5, the soldier has two special features*. On a roll of 6, the soldier has two weapons*.
    - Every soldier has a power*.
    - Roll 1d6. On a roll of 4-6, the soldier is a metaphor for or manifestation of a sin*.

    A courtier is around the size of a bear. Randomly determine the courtier’s general appearance*.
    - Every soldier has a special feature*.
    - Roll 1d6. On a roll of 1-3, the courtier has a weapon* and a power*. On a roll of 4-6, the courtier has two powers*.
    - Roll 1d6. On a roll of 1-3, the courtier is a metaphor for or manifestation of a sin*. On a roll of 4-6, the courtier is a harbinger of a calamity*.

    General appearance (1d6): (1) The demon is an anthromorphic animal*. (2) The demon resembles an animal* with an inappropriate head* and legs*. (3) The demon resembles a human with an inappropriate head* and body*. (4) The demon resembles a human with inappropriate legs* and head*. (5) The demon is an amalgamation of a body*, head*, and legs*. (6) The demon resembles an animal* with an inappropriate body*.

    Animal (1d20): (1) fish, (2) frog, (3) vulture, (4) wolf, (5) goat, (6) crow, (7) pig, (8) snake, (9) bear, (10) scorpion, (11) shark, (12) skunk, (13) sloth, (14) tapir, (15) tiger, (16) lizard, (17) spider, (18) worm, (19) fly, (20) crocodile.

    Body (1d20): (1) a giant egg, (2) no body, just a big head, (3) pot-bellied, (4) matches the head, (5) young and beautiful human body, (6) hideous and withered human body, (7) segmented like an insect, (8) tree trunk, (9) ape, (10) covered in metal armour, (11) turtle shell, (12) leopard, (13) skeleton, (14) no body, just another pair of legs, (15) horse, (16) snake, (17) pyramid, (18) slime, (19) made up of many insects, (20) human muscles with no skin or bones.

    Head (1d20): (1) fish, (2) tree leaves, (3) frog, (4) dragon, (5) dog, (6) hidden by a metal helmet, (7) adult human face, (8) child’s face, (9) giraffe, (10) no head, just another pair of legs, (11) vulture, (12) raven, (13) hidden behind a huge beard, (14) spider in place of a head, (15) wooden mask, (16) weasel, (17) sea lion, (18) stork, (19) goat, (20) skull.

    Legs (1d20): (1) chicken, (2) goat, (3) adult human, (4) shriveled human, (5) skeleton, (6) lobster, (7) spider, (8) octopus, (9) tortoise, (10) hidden in iron boots, (11) vines, (12) frog, (13) legs of a marble statue, (14) no legs, just a pair of wings, (15) wheels, (16) lizard, (17) human arms for legs, (18) ostrich, (19) centipede, (20) jellyfish.

    Special Feature (1d20): (1) long curved fingernails, (2) a trumpet where its mouth should be, (3) bat wings, (4) insect wings, (5) vulture wings, (6) a scorpion tail, (7) an extra pair of arms, (8) a long, forked tongue, (9) feathers all over its body, (10) moth wings, (11) a stringed instrument growing out of its back, (12) porcupine spines, (13) needles like a pine tree, (14) rides an animal, (15) goat tail, (16) large horns, (17) whiskers like a catfish, (18) rabbit ears, (19) dripping with slime, (20) two heads.

    Weapon (1d20): (1) curved sword, (2) pitchfork, (3) meat cleaver, (4) large hook, (5) big scissors, (6) scythe, (7) sickle, (8) pike, (9) axe, (10) whip, (11) bone club, (12) saw, (13) spiked flail, (14) ice pick, (15) rope with noose, (16) hooked sword, (17) spiked chains, (18) crossbow, (19) branding iron, (20) cudgel covered in teeth.

    Power (1d20): (1) breathe fire, (2) possess people, (3) freeze things, (4) levitate objects, (5) spread miasma, (6) spit venom, (7) put people to sleep, (8) create illusions, (9) invisibility, (10) inflict pain, (11) control insects, (12) produce clouds of smoke, (13) snuff out lights, (14) rot flesh, (15) rust metal and crumble stone, (16) make animals turn violent, (17) paralyze anyone who makes eye contact, (18) pass through walls, (19) wreath its body in flame, (20) grow and shrink things.

    Sin (1d20): (1) lust, (2) gluttony, (3) greed, (4) sloth, (5) wrath, (6) envy, (7) pride, (8) idolatry, (9) lies, (10) disloyalty, (11) blasphemy, (12) cruelty, (13) injustice, (14) hypocrisy, (15) drunkenness, (16) apathy, (17) cowardice, (18) cannibalism, (19) cynicism, (20) despair.

    Calamity (1d12): (1) war, (2) famine, (3) fire, (4) flood, (5) pestilence, (6) ice, (7) earthquakes, (8) slavery, (9) blindness, (10) deafness, (11) barrenness, (12) deformity.

    (name tables omitted as it was just hundreds of random syllables)
    The "metaphor for or manifestation of a sin" part led to the most fun role-playing. Sure, you can summon up a terrible demon that looks like a giraffe's head coming out of an egg, but it's really a metaphor for cynicism. So it keeps questioning your motives and pointing out how rotten humanity is while it goes about fulfilling your orders.

    And then while this is happening, you'd be trying to make sense of the symbolism, until you finally realized, "Oh, of course! It's a giraffe because it looks down on everyone. It's sticking out of the egg because it thinks its broken out of the worldview of the foolish sheep."
  • The "metaphor for or manifestation of a sin" part led to the most fun role-playing. Sure, you can summon up a terrible demon that looks like a giraffe's head coming out of an egg, but it's really a metaphor for cynicism. So it keeps questioning your motives and pointing out how rotten humanity is while it goes about fulfilling your orders.

    And then while this is happening, you'd be trying to make sense of the symbolism, until you finally realized, "Oh, of course! It's a giraffe because it looks down on everyone. It's sticking out of the egg because it thinks its broken out of the worldview of the foolish sheep."
    Yes! This is actually what I'm talkin' 'bout. I want to know what part of the generation had bonus greatness. So, for the original 3-element demons:

    The "Element from the Periodic Table" part led to some fun unanticipated gamism, where, for instance, a demon in mercury form was deemed obviously very vulnerable to (sufficient!) cold. In general bringing Science Facts! to the table feels like fun.
  • Much less intense, but here are some rules from Vincent Baker's unfinished/unpublished Storming the Wizard's Tower (ca. 2009, I believe).

    They weren't meant for demons, specifically, but would work for such:
    choose or roll (with a d12) two materials:
    Natural materials
    1. Bone / horn / teeth (3 endurance)
    2. Fire (1 endurance)
    3. Flesh (2 endurance)
    4. Gas (1 endurance)
    5. Glass (1 endurance)
    6. Ice (2 endurance)
    7. Metal (4 endurance)
    8. Shadow (1 endurance)
    9. Stone (4 endurance)
    10. Water (1 endurance)
    11. Wind (1 endurance)
    12. Wood (3 endurance)
    Then he broke up all the powers/abilities available in the game into groups by "element". For instance, Fire might have an ability like "fire-breathing" whereas Glass might get the ability "dazzle" (and so forth, depending on what kind of game this is). You roll or choose abilities from the appropriate sets.

    For example, a demon of Flesh and Glass or Bone and Wind is a fairly evocative combination, whether you think of what those two things might be doing together (is Bone and Fire a flaming skeleton?) or whether they might suggests a hybrid (in his own examples, Water and Gas is a series of noxious, fetid pools of mud which seek to drown anyone who steps into them).

  • I love all these!

    Here’s the demon system I created for a Victoriana Fate Core game once:
    Demons can be evoked (caused to appear in their own form) and invoked (caused to possess a person or object). The only unnatural power that their masters have over them, apart from the ability to summon and banish them in the first place, is that of restraint: a demon summoned inside a magic circle cannot leave it until it the circle is rubbed out.

    Most demons long to walk the Earth (life in Hell is not pleasant) and so will readily enter into contracts with magicians, agreeing to perform myriad services in exchange for keeping them around. Demons will usually negotiate contracts as much towards their favour as possible – e.g. the right to drink a vial of their master’s blood on the full moon – and will always, always try to find a way to get out of their side of the bargain through legalistic loopholes. A single misplaced comma could bring about the death of a summoner. Sometimes demons are outright insolent or destructive; and sometimes they only pretend to be bound, working against their master in a pernicious, subtle fashion, or just biding their time for the right moment to make a big power play… In D&D terms, demons are all Lawful Evil.

    In theory, any elemental or occult being is summonable. In practice, demon conjuration is restricted to demons.

    All demons are arranged in accordance with the Hierarchy of Hell. In mechanical terms, the categories are governed by a rating on the skill ladder, that value determining:

    * the value of the peak skill of the demon's skill column,
    * the passive difficulty of invoking or envoking the demon,
    * the active difficulty of striking an advantageous bargain with the demon,
    * the passive difficulty of banishing a demon if it is bound,
    * and the active difficulty of banishing a demon if it is free.

    MINOR DEMONS

    These demons are not important enough to have individual names. Rather, they do have names which are used to summon them, but nobody cares much what they are.

    - WISPS (Average +1)
    0 stress, 0 consequences
    fist sized, usually taking the form of pure energy

    - DRUDGES (Fair +2)
    1 stress, 0 consequences
    variable in size, usually taking the form of flora and fauna

    - FAMILIARS (Good +3)
    1 stress, -2 consequence
    animal sized, usually taking the form of natural beasts like cats

    - SERVITORS & ATTENDANTS (Great +4)
    2 stress, -2 consequence
    dwarf sized, usually taking the form of humans, but sometimes of larger beasts like horses

    MAJOR DEMONS

    These demons have individual names and personalities. It is the player's responsibility to track and roleplay bound demons, and the GM's to track and roleplay free demons. Each active major demon costs the master a point of refresh.

    - ASMODEUS AND FURIES (Superb +5)
    2 stress, -2/-2 consequences
    human sized, usually taking the form of human/beast hybrids
    1 master contract aspect
    1 character aspect in addition to high concept

    - INCUBI AND SUCCUBI (Fantastic +6)
    3 stress, -2/-4 consequences
    human sized, usually taking the guise of supernaturally attractive humans
    1 master contract aspects
    2 character aspects in addition to high concept

    - MALIGENII AND CALUMNIATORS (Epic +7)
    3 stress, -2/-2/-4 consequences
    giant sized, usually taking the form of unnatural monsters
    2 master contract aspects
    2 character aspects in addition to high concept

    SERAPHIM AND CHERUBIM (Legendary +8)
    4 stress, -2/-4/-6 consequences
    giant sized, usually taking the forms of winged humans
    2 master contract aspects
    3 character aspects in addition to high concept

    The skill LORE is used for the construction of magic circles and the incantations to bring a demon in the world, be it an invocation or an envocation. Once bound to the world, a demon can be summoned to attend its master at will.

    The writing of DEMONIC CONTRACTS is necessary in order to allow the demon out of its binding circle safely. The master makes a LORE roll against a secret GM roll at the level of the demon in question:

    * If the master Succeeds, the demon is bound totally and must obey the will of the master (unless the contract is broken). Fully-bound demons cannot disobey orders or break their contract.
    * If the master Ties, the demon is bound but retains the ability to find wiggle room in its binding to act against its master. It is automatically banished as soon as it disobeys an order to breaks its contract.
    * If the master Fails, the demon is free, and may act as it wishes (under the control of the GM). Sometimes, demons pretend to be bound in order to wreak havoc. Sometimes, they simply go on the rampage.

    Once rolled, a contract cannot be changed unless the demon is banished and re-summoned. Aspects can optionally be invoked to gain advantages on contract formation, but the players will not know if they were effective.

    Each party to the contract will take an appropriate CONTRACT ASPECT. "Bound to Master", "Master of Demon", "Possessed by Demon", or "Possessing Subject".

    Demons of Asmodeus level and above can negotiate rewrites of these aspects incorporate whatever the demon would like or thinks would be entertaining. For example, a contract aspect on George might be "Must kiss at least one virgin a month due to demonic contract with Ashmotep". If the contract is broken, then the demon is FREED and may act as it wishes.

    Once a master has finished with a demon, they may choose to BANISH it back to Hell. Masters will also wish to banish demons who they have discovered to be weakly bound, or who have gone rogue in one way or another. A banish roll is a LORE skill from the master, opposed by the level of the demon - passive if bound and active if free. Demons are also banished if they run out of stress and consequences, and must be summoned again if the master wants them - the contract may be rerolled or left as it was before at the master's discretion.
  • I have this "Dragon Radieux" issue on Demons. A memorable piece to be found in it is a random resolution table for demon summoning where you can have the janitor entering the room to tell you have to leave the building, and all kind of harping on the almighty janitor trope : in the morning you find the janitor with a broom in hand pestering about all the chalk drawings he had to erase (gasp - my demon is free), or another result where the janitor gets into the room and HE is the demon you summoned (maybe he wears a rock T-shirt with a pentagram or something), you just have no way of knowing it, but the GM will pay extreme caution to the words you say to the janitor.
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