Steve Jackson Games - Site Navigation
Home General Info Follow Us Search Illuminator Store Forums What's New Other Games Ogre GURPS Munchkin Our Games: Home

Go Back   Steve Jackson Games Forums > Roleplaying > GURPS

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-10-2011, 08:45 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
GURPS FAQ Keeper
 
vicky_molokh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyv, Ukraine
Default [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

Greetings, all!

This is one idea I might use in whatever campaign involving magic and other fantasy stuff to break the clich. Decided to share it for others to see and use. The surprise value is increased against players who don't know all the fluff in such a setting, but it might be worthy of the unexpected twist in its own right.

First, base assumption about the nature of demons:
The local demons in a setting should not be irredeemable spirits of ultimate evil. Instead, they should be reasonably intelligent (IQ8-14 or so), at least partially corporeal creatures with a Blue And Orange Morality (defined as a Code Of Honour) which makes them sometimes do nasty things (but mostly just creates moderately incomprehensible goals for them). Most of them are acting according to the contracts they agreed to when they were created (or became demons), and a majority of those probably no longer remember what were the reasons behind the tenets of the contract, or maybe even the spirit of the rules.
Some are free to roam the world, while others slumber in dimensional pockets, waiting to be summoned by someone who knows enough about them to bind them into (mutual) service.

A Demonologist
. . . is a person who is proficient enough in the lore of these contracts to do at least one of the following:
  • Bind a demon into a service (the nature of which usually depends on the contract ruling this particular demon). The price is typically a service in exchange of some sort (Sense of Duty or Duty counts), or the fact that such an Ally is simultaneously an Enemy (usually a Rival). In either case, the demonologist and the bound demon are linked as per Sympathy (B38, Allies), at either the -25% or the -50% level. Such Allies are possibly Unwilling, or have a Frequency Of Appearance used to represent their fickle nature (only serves when the Stars Are Right etc.). Notice that they do not usually possess the Summonable trait.
  • Barter human traits (not necessarily Traits) for demonic ones. A small-t trait can be represented either as an Advantage or a Disadvantage, or even a Meta-Trait. This ability is very flexible. For instance, one can gain Claws (demonic) in exchange for gaining a demonic a couple of demonic Quirks (usually mental) or some Unnatural Features, or one could gain Curiosity of Tinker Demons (or whatever) in exchange for the Incurious trait that was gained through upbringing in a gray human city. In general, the process is represented by adding or removing one Trait or Meta-Trait, and then adding or removing another, and paying any point difference if necessary. In either case, the barter usually involves some level of unpredictability, as the ability of a demonologist to precisely define what s/he is willing to trade for exactly what is limited by skill. The GM (optionally in the guise of a demon - see below) is free to alter the interpretation of the listed. Special considerations on where traits may be gained and where they go:
    • The demonologist may barter with The Force of Demonic Contracts. This is the most flexible choice (any demonic traits the PC knows of, and any human trait s/he has is fair game), but also the most dangerous (the PC gets no chance to discuss the bartered traits with the Force, and has no specific person to blame for an exchange s/he regrets). If buying supernatural Abilities as opposed to innate traits characteristic of the physical/mental nature of a demon, the GM may optionally offer to buy them with a strange Pact limitation instead (GM's choice where the blurry line between traits and abilities lies).
    • The demonologist may barter with a roaming demon. In this case, the PC may buy traits either possessed by the demon (the demon does not necessarily lose these traits in the process!), 'stored' by said demon from earlier trades, or 'licensed' to the demon by other demons (or by The Force of Contracts!) to trade as if they're its own. Free-roaming demons may or may not have limits on trading with a stranger. Either way, there is a certain degree of paranoia involved, since the free-roaming demon may mislead the PC (but not outright lie . . . at least there were no such known cases!), and may leave freely even if the PC is non-content later, never to be found again.
    • The demonologist may barter with his/her bound demon. This is the safest (the demon knows that angering or harming the bound human will have serious negative consequences), but usually most limited choice (bound demons are less likely to have 'stored'/'licensed' traits).
      It should also be noted that the more 'stored' and 'licensed' traits a demon has, the more likely it is to be more experienced in demonic contracts than the PC, with all that may or may not imply. The GM decides what what demons get access to what licenses, but a handful of unrelated traits tradeable once (e.g. one specific build of Claws and four specific but distinct Afflictions), or an infinite supply of traits from a small group (e.g. all RAW Strikers, all Talents which only include DX-based Skills, or all Appearance-based Advantages and all Appearance Perks) is probably worth one Perk each for the demon.
  • 'Rent' demonic abilities from a bound demon (or, rarely, from a free-roaming one, for a limited time). Game-mechanically, this is typically represented by buying an Ability with the Granted By Ally limitation (applying to a bound demon). The price for renting them may be in the form of a self-imposed Code of Honour or Vow, a duty to the demon, or whatever the GM deems appropriate. However, this price is often trivial for the character (at least compared to some of the other options), and thus the player has to pay earned CPs. The line between traits and abilities is a blurry one.

On Demonic Traits
Remember, demons are not necessarily evil - they're just very strange, with convoluted rules of behavior. Here are some sample traits (including abilities) that a demon (or demonologist) might possess:

Superhuman strength, agility, beauty etc.: just buy the stats or Advantages
Natural weapons: Strikers etc.
Intellectual abilities not normally available to humans, but not quite supernatural: Intuitive Mathematician, Compartmentalized Mind etc.
Supernatural abilities: fire breath, insubstantiality, Oracle (provides literal hints open to interpretation), Demonic Wishmastery (Serendipity, Affect Others Only, +100% Wishing, -100% GM is free to misinterpret stated wish) etc.
Note that none of this involve casting spells using the Standard Model.

Quirks, Vows, Divine Curses and Codes Of Honour:
A special consideration goes to the rules by which demons (and potentionally demonologists) live. Most such traits - even the smallest Quirks - should have at least a touch of absurdity, such as never eating from red plates, always washing the right hand twice before entering an administrative or religious building, or making sure one makes an even total number of steps per level of a ladder. The most common Quirk is 'Tries as much as possible to make all statements technically true one way or another'. There is a more severe form of this Demonic Truthfulness (which is probably worth around -5, maaaybe -10 points depending on how cruel and inventive the GM is):
Whenever the GM says so, the PC must tell all truth (as if s/he has utterly failed Self-Control for Truthfulness) about the topic at hand, with no omissions and no attempts to mislead.

How does it look?
__________________
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
The Eye of Eclipse Phase. A Discord server focusing on Roleplaying, Sci-Fi, Transhumanism, and discussion of other assorted topics, from tech to boardgames, from politics to philosophy.
vicky_molokh is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2011, 08:53 AM   #2
BFEL
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

it looks....... very long
BFEL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2011, 09:33 AM   #3
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

Seems like fine background color.

Quote:
adding or removing one Trait or Meta-Trait, and then adding or removing another, and paying any point difference if necessary
So, the demonic contract is just backstory for why the character is the way it was built. Demonology apparently isn't a particular body of knowledge, or a skill/advantage in and of itself. It's a reason in the setting for allowing exotic and supernatural traits to be possessed by PCs.
Anaraxes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2011, 09:49 AM   #4
PseudoFenton
 
PseudoFenton's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Land of the Britons
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

It seems quite fae-like in its style.
  • Perceived as quasi-evil creatures due to their view of the world being so different from ours that we fail to comprehend their motives well.
  • Whom bestow gifts and boons, although often begrudgingly or fickley, to normal folk.
  • Invariably have to tell the letter of the truth but are allowed to twist it around to mislead others.
  • Often bound to areas or can be "called" upon (which can both be a good and bad thing) but otherwise are generally unseen.
  • Can be tricked into loyalty or obedience with clever use of words (again linked to the concept of truth and personal codes of honour).

That said, its still very well crafted, even if I'm no doubt going to re-skin it for personal use (I've got a fae thing going in my current game).
It provides some nice hard gaming rules for what is otherwise vague folklore tendencies whilst capturing the feel of their oddness very well. I'd very much like to see any more rules or ideas you have like this!
PseudoFenton is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2011, 10:13 AM   #5
Fwibos
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

I did something similar in a supers game for my PC. The only thing I added was magic like the Jewish Community uses in Nova Roma to represent bargaining for certain abilities (this got squished, the GM hates GURPS Magic) and split personality and other disadvantages to the demon partially possessing the character.

I didn't see a question in your post, but I like this idea.
__________________
Just Bought: Succesful Job Search!
Currently Buying off: Fat *Sigh* and Poverty.
Number of signatures inspired: 1
Word of God and Word of Kromm are pretty much the same thing in my book
Fwibos is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2011, 10:15 AM   #6
vicky_molokh
GURPS FAQ Keeper
 
vicky_molokh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyv, Ukraine
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Seems like fine background color.

So, the demonic contract is just backstory for why the character is the way it was built. Demonology apparently isn't a particular body of knowledge, or a skill/advantage in and of itself. It's a reason in the setting for allowing exotic and supernatural traits to be possessed by PCs.
If the GM says so. But I was envisioning Demonology as a GURPS Skill similar to Merchant and Law. In fact, it should probably be called Law (Demonic Contracts).

Assuming a GM is willing to make the skill important, here's how I would play it:

The player writes the initial, 'Human-language' (i.e. not legalese) barter contract, stating what s/he wants to gain and what s/he's willing to lose. The text should be at least a couple paragraphs long, and shouldn't include any rigorously defined terms (such as terms with a concrete scientific definition). At this point, either the GM should either agree with the PC about the maximum point cost (or gain!), or declare that if a PC gains too many Advantages, s/he goes into point dept (and declares what percentage of earned points go toward buying off the debt).
Then, the GM splits the wording into sentences or other short elements, and the player rolls Demonology for each such elements (often resisted by the skill of the other side - either a demon or the Force Of Contracts, which should have a suitably high skill level). If a player rolls badly on such an element, s/he must rewrite the element in vague terms (the worse the roll, the vaguer), OR the opposing party gets the right to interpret it more outrageously wrong.

Note that it is possible to avoid the Resistance rolls by bartering with a relatively friendly and good-willed demon (perhaps thanks to actions on the PC's part that won the demon's favour in the past).
__________________
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
The Eye of Eclipse Phase. A Discord server focusing on Roleplaying, Sci-Fi, Transhumanism, and discussion of other assorted topics, from tech to boardgames, from politics to philosophy.
vicky_molokh is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2011, 10:17 AM   #7
vicky_molokh
GURPS FAQ Keeper
 
vicky_molokh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyv, Ukraine
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fwibos View Post
I didn't see a question in your post, but I like this idea.
Seems like I am infamous as a Frequent Asker of Questions.
__________________
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
The Eye of Eclipse Phase. A Discord server focusing on Roleplaying, Sci-Fi, Transhumanism, and discussion of other assorted topics, from tech to boardgames, from politics to philosophy.
vicky_molokh is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-11-2011, 11:43 PM   #8
Anaraxes
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

Quote:
I was envisioning Demonology as a GURPS Skill
Oh, okay. i missed mention of a skill to be used in play. Still, it doesn't seem to me that it will come up often. (The player needs some points and needs to come up with a new ability that they want to buy.)

Would you return CP if a player "traded down"? Or just leave them in a Demonic Ability Pool?
Anaraxes is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2011, 06:03 AM   #9
vicky_molokh
GURPS FAQ Keeper
 
vicky_molokh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyv, Ukraine
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anaraxes View Post
Oh, okay. i missed mention of a skill to be used in play. Still, it doesn't seem to me that it will come up often. (The player needs some points and needs to come up with a new ability that they want to buy.)

Would you return CP if a player "traded down"? Or just leave them in a Demonic Ability Pool?
It wasn't explicitly mentioned in the OP. It comes up rarely, but is important when it does.

As for 'trading down', I'd rather leave them in the Pool (but a sufficiently greedy and crafty demon might take them for itself).
__________________
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
The Eye of Eclipse Phase. A Discord server focusing on Roleplaying, Sci-Fi, Transhumanism, and discussion of other assorted topics, from tech to boardgames, from politics to philosophy.
vicky_molokh is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-15-2011, 06:19 AM   #10
vicky_molokh
GURPS FAQ Keeper
 
vicky_molokh's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Kyv, Ukraine
Default Re: [Thaumatology] A very different take on the Demonologist

Sample demons for the contractors:



Misa

Quote: 'This was not in my contract!'
Rarity: Unique (though other similar demons may exist).
Point range: ~150.
Binding: Sympathy -25%/-50%, plus Special Rapport or Mind-Link, plus either Enemy (Watcher or Rival) OR demonologist gains Duty or Sense Of Duty.

Notable traits:
ST8, IQ11 (or more), Will and Per 10.

Appearance, Beautiful
Business Acumen 4
Fangs
Innate Attack, Burning (couple dice; more if high-tech)
Insubstantiality (but see notes below)
Intuitive Mathematician
Sanitized Metabolism
Single-Minded
Social Chameleon
Striker (Crushing Whip-like tail)
Striker (Weak, Crushing, very small horns)
Wealth (Comfortable)
Cosmic Payload (only for harmless pricey stuff - money, gems, gold etc.)


Passing Appearance (Demon)
Demonic trait stash (several groups and several assorted 'bags' of traits, net worth 10+)

Code of Honour (and other quirky behavioral traits - see description)
Cowardice
Greed
Post-Combat Shakes

At least one point in the following skills:
Accounting, Administration, Brawling, Computer Operation (if TL7+), Current Affairs (Business), Economics, Erotic Art, Finance, Gambling, Law (Demonic Contracts), Make-Up, Market Analysis, Merchant, Propaganda, Writing, Sex Appeal

Description (Visual):
While it is possible to mistake Misa for a succubus, she's actually a accountant/secretary demon, and is completely unsuitable to the role of the former. While she's been a demon as long as she remembers, it is possible to think she's been made into one by bartering traits ages ago: aside from the visible small cute horns and fangs, and an iconic 'devil arrow' tail, she's rather human-looking. In fact, even people who hate or fear demons will find themselves treating her as any other person.

Description (Behavior):
She sees the Binding as a contract of mutual servitude, and will mistreat a demonologist for treating her as anything other than an equal. While capable of turning insubstantial when danger strikes, she will not use it to set up an ambush or walk through walls. She also has the normal set of human needs, and will expect

Specific Code tenets and behavioral quirks:
Share 50% of all profits with the demonologist (done monthly)
Demand 50% of all profits of the demonologist to herself (again, will demand at least monthly)
Never use Insubstantiality to walk through walls or attack at an advantage
Avoid 'serious' combats whenever possible (as if Cowardice wasn't enough, but see below)
Never use sex as a means to an end (except the experience itself) - even to save lives, including one's own or the demonologist's (but simple Sex Appeal the like is okay)
Maintain secrecy about the demonologist's financial affairs (unless asked by the demonologist)
Stay with the demonologist in the same city/village whenever at all possible
Never use the Innate Attack to kill (even outside combat)
Bite the doctor once (for 1HP) when treated with First Aid (once per doctor ever)
Only bet even numbers of coins in gambling, and never cheat
Never play games where chance plays (nearly) no role (e.g. chess)
Always add salt to a dish when eating, even if there is enough in it
If the demonologist rapes anyone, kill the demonologist in his/her/its sleep
Once day, utter a statement that is technically true, but misleading the other person
Stop the demonologist from bartering with other demons/Force directly; represent the demonologist instead, even if his/her/its skill is higher
Misa sometimes refers to Misa in Third Person, esp. when grumbling
Never hide Misa's demonic nature

Kredger

Quote: 'I came to offer you to engage me in honourable combat; should you refuse, I will destroy you with whatever means necessary'
Rarity: Rare, but multiple instances can exist independently
Point range: At least 1000.
Binding: either none, or non-sympathetic.

Notable traits:
Morph with Improvised Forms and Cosmic (any traits available as long as they can ever exist in this world), and a huge Morph Pool.
Cosmic Modular Abilities
Insubstantiality with Reflexive.
Unkillable III
Fast Regeneration (Only When Dead, but Morph can fix that)
Warp (only to those who break P:TNW after losing, see description)
Code of Honour (see description)
Cannot Harm Innocents (note that an army ready to attack is not innocent for it)


Description:
Kredger is a shapeshifter demon (with a random ugly/monstrous natural form) that may only be summoned to be sent to a particular target or group of targets. The demon will then challenge the highest-ranking member within the group to honourable combat.

If the target accepts, the demon uses Morph to bring his traits to levels equal to (or lower, if applicable) the target's, and gains abilities that mimic (but not surpass!) the target's (be they weapons, spells, or something else). What constitutes honourable combat is open to some interpretation, and the demon allows its targets some leeway in choosing the rules, as long as it is actual combat, one on one, with minimal chance of harming other sapient entities through collateral damage. Should the target win, the same demonologist will never be able to send this or another Kredger at this target ever again; the Kredger then proceeds to challenge the next lower-ranking member. Should the demon win, if the combat was not to the death, it will demand the target to live from now on in line with Pacifism:Total Non-Violence, and will punish any attempts to disobey.
If the target refuses, Kredger assumes a form most suitable to brutally and efficiently wipe out the entire force of targets. If slain nonetheless, it will leave them alone either for a limited time, or forever (as if they all won a honourable combat) - GM's choice.
__________________
Vicky 'Molokh', GURPS FAQ and uFAQ Keeper
The Eye of Eclipse Phase. A Discord server focusing on Roleplaying, Sci-Fi, Transhumanism, and discussion of other assorted topics, from tech to boardgames, from politics to philosophy.
vicky_molokh is online now   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
demonologist, ideas to share, random thought table, thaumatology

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Fnords are Off
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:50 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.