Anyway, here’s the final part of “Dealing With Demons”. Next time, as it's just about acceptable to mention Christmas now that we're into December, we'll have something to get you more in the holiday spirit.
Part Three: THE DEMONIC NOBILITY
The demon lords and princes are individual beings of immense power who rule the demon planes. They have, of course, been summoned far less frequently than the lesser demons, so no exact canon of knowledge is available as with the latter. A summoner who does some research may find suggestions and theories as to how to deal with the demon lords (“Rokash the Pious records that the powers of the Lord Eldyr are diminished by bright light...” and so on), but exact wards—if any—are a matter of conjecture.
Similarly there is some uncertainty as to the precise levels of power of the demon lords. Tsienra’s stats are given here as a guideline, but referees must design these creatures to suit their own campaigns. They should be virtually impossible to overcome with raw power alone, and if your campaign abounds with 150%-plus Rune Lord-Priests then the abilities of Tsienra and the others should be increased accordingly. When the demon lords have suffered defeats in the past it has been through the summoner’s quick wit and daring rather than from spells and swords.
As a general rule all demon lords will have a personal POW of between 80 and 100, and can draw on unlimited POW reserves from their home dimension for casting battle magic. They are hostile about 20% of the time and otherwise neutral. They will only be friendly if there is a very good reason why they should react favourably to the summoner— Umalu prefers Chaotic berserkers, and so on.
While not precluding the possibility of striking completely unique bargains with a summoned demon lord, there are two types of deal which are ‘commonly’ made. These are the Lesser Gifts—minor exertions from the demon’s point of view, made in exchange for characteristic POW from the summoner—and the Greater Gifts, which are permanent abilities bestowed on the summoner in exchange for a soul-pledge.
A soul-pledge means the summoner gives the demon 1 POW point to seal the bargain and promises him a further 3d10 POW later. These further points are intended to be collected on the summoner’s death, but there is a 2% chance the demon will arrive if it feels the summoner’s life-force is burning low—in game terms, whenever the character’s hit points or POW reach 2 or less. Once the demon arrives nothing can stop it from devouring the POW promised to it. These POW points are permanently lost to the character, at which point the soul-pledge is ended and he loses the Greater Gift. If he survives the POW loss he can later bargain again for a Greater Gift with the same or a different demon lord. A character can buy any number of Lesser Gifts from demon lords (if he can spare the POW), but it is only possible to have one Greater Gift at a time. Note that to receive any gift at least 200 Wheels or equivalent must also be offered.
The Demon Lords
There are a number of other demon-lords that could not be listed here—among them Pazuzu, Lord of Fevers, ruler of the lesser demons commonly called by his name; Bakshuro the Screamer, who inhabits a dimension so hostile that only he can live there; Valladolyn of the Emerald Eye, who sees all; and Lady Kleshkala of the Pit, whose face is so terrible that merely to summon her is to court insanity.
The three important parameters for each demon lord are his or her Resistance to Summoning, Resistance to Binding, and Cross Pentacle ability. The last is applied as a negative modifier to the summoner’s chance of correctly drawing the Pentacle of Protection.
The Lord Tsienra
Screaming Metal Spirit, Demon of Ferocity
Tsienra usually appears as a metallic figure, something like a huge tiger armoured in intricately patterned plates of tarnished silver and with a violet light burning behind his eyes and gaping maw. He embodies the lightning attack, the unrelenting ferocity of battle, the prowling spirit of savage death. Possession by the spirit of Tsienra gives great speed and grace to the recipient’s fighting prowess.
Greater Gift: Tsienra can give the power of ferocity. When a character with this power uses it, his STR and DEX are effectively increased to species maximum for combat purposes, 35% is added to his Attack chance and 10% is subtracted from his Parry. The character expends 2 points of battle magic POW to go into ferocity and then another point for every full turn he keeps it going.
Lesser Gifts: For the sacrifice of 1 POW point, Tsienra will teach his summoner the battle magic spell The Talons of Tsienra. For 2 POW points he will use his skill at stalking between the planes to take the summoner within a few miles of any location he specifies, now matter how great the distance. For 3 POW he will enchant any sword with a permanent bladesharp 2.
The Talons of Tsienra
POW used: 4 points
Type: passive, unfocused, temporal
This battle magic spell causes 30cm talons of red light to spring from the caster’s wrists. He can fight with these using either Fist or Dagger skill. The talons do just 1d4 damage (no STR/SIZ bonuses apply), but the only effective defence against them is the Rune spell shield, which absorbs one point from the talons’ damage for each point of shield. The talons are immaterial, so parrying a weapon with them will damage but not deflect it. The spell can only be learned from Tsienra himself, and if the character tries to teach it to someone else then Tsienra will materialize unbidden and kill him.
His Fell Highness Eldyr
Prince of Deceit, Demon of Persuasion
Eldyr is overlord of Incubi, Succubi and Gremlins. He can pass in any guise he chooses, the better to advance his wiles, but will always eventually cast images aside to reveal his true (perhaps true) self. In the Chronicles of the Conjunction, Eldyr’s own description of himself is recorded: “My hair is like black silk, my skin is burnished copper in the moonlight, my eyes are sapphires and my robe embraces the starry night…” This description was for the benefit of the sorceress Cordelia, who had wisely blindfolded herself before the summoning. Without defences such as this, all in time succumb to Eldyr’s charms; the evocator must attempt to banish him at once, therefore, if he begins to use his powers in a hostile fashion.
Greater Gift: Eldyr can give the power of harmonic spirit. This is a combination of charm and blind luck. It costs nothing to activate this power, but each morning the character must roll POWx5 or less on percentile dice to see if the power works for that day. The chance is increased by 15% if the power was working the previous day, and decreased by 5% if it was not. Any luck roll the character has to make has a 50% chance of working automatically without him having to roll for it; on a roll of 05 or less he may have quite incredible luck – a 20m fall broken by some bushes, for instance. He gets a CHA bonus of +4 and can use his CHA as an Incubus or Succubus does. Finally, he gets an Oratory bonus of +35%.
Lesser Gifts: For 1 POW point, Eldyr will aid a character in an attempt to persuade others of something. He gives the character a 45% bonus to his or her persuasion chances for one use only–and this must be some matter where the character’s chance of persuasion was at least 10% in the first place. The bonus is reduced to 10%-30% in attempts to bargain with demon lords because Eldyr’s powers work only erratically against his peers. For 2 points of POW Eldyr will give a luck ring. This silver ring has 100 charges and each charge can be used to change the chance of something happening by 1%. The event to be influenced must occur within 100m of the wearer and have at least a 10% chance of happening in the first place. You can’t make a healthy warrior suddenly die of a heart attack, for example. The wearer must declare how many charges he is committing before the roll is made. When all charges are expended the ring permanently tarnishes and is powerless thereafter.
The Lord Umalu
The Whip of Chaos, Demon of Pain
The spirit of Umalu is that of glorying in the inflicting of pain. He is a fierce, powerful demon who hates Lawful creatures with an intense passion and is little better disposed towards being of Chaos. Umalu manifests himself as a 3m tall muscular black giant with a long mane of white hair, face perpetually contorted in hatred. He wields a glittering whip which can bestow Reverse Chaos features and an envenomed shortsword which inflicts terrible wounds.
Greater Gifts: Umalu can bestow chaos on a character, giving him or her a Chaotic feature. He can also give the power of excruciation, so that any wound the character inflicts has a 20% chance of dealing an extra 1d8 damage to the victim’s hit point total owing to extreme pain.
Lesser Gifts: In exchange for 1 point of POW he will teach a character an extra 20% in the Torture skill. For 2 POW points he grants the Rune spell curse of anguish (see below). For 3 POW he will personally torture a captive to obtain information on the summoner’s behalf.
Curse of Anguish
POW used: 2 points
Duration: Permanent, Non-reusable, Not stackable
The caster of the Rune spell is able to inflict racking pain on a victim if he can overcome their POW. He can alter the victim’s hit point total at will to represent the pain, and can thus force the victim into unconsciousness, vary the pain so that they must fight at a disadvantage, or merely threaten them with the effects. The curse of anguish cannot kill– its victim will merely lapse into a coma if the pain level is increased too far. This spell does not affect undead, elementals or other creatures which do not actually experience pain.
Torture is a manipulation skill with a base score of 15% and is learned at the rates 200/400/800/EXP. Normally a character must join the Guild of Torturers to learn the skill. A successful Torture roll means that the torturer has extracted all or part (40%+ 1d6x10%) of the truth from his captive, failure means that he has got false information. A fumble means that the captive has died. Torture can usually be used only once a day on a given captive – each extra use in the same day doubles the chance of a fumble. Captives can use their CON +POW as a ‘Defence’ against the Torture ‘Attack’ if they wish.
His Demonic Majesty Adelmar
Summon the terrible Adelmar only when you plan such grand designs of mayhem and destruction as would make lesser demons quail, for he is a proud and potent force and should not be summoned lightly. Standing about two and half metres tall, he is ebony-black with the lower body of a serpent, a human torso, and an armoured, horned head like that of a triceratops. He wields enchanted scimitars in each hand. One scimitar feeds on the blood of victims, the other on their souls. Adelmar is said to dwell in a labyrinthine castle on an island in an unknown lake. When Adelmar is summoned, the evocator and his party (up to six others) are carried to this castle to petition the demon.
Greater Gifts: Adelmar has a limited power over time itself, and can give the ability of temporal navigation. This enables a character to cross up to ten years either into the past or future, arriving within 1-12 weeks either side of the required date. Each use of temporal navigation costs the character 1d4 from characteristic POW.
Lesser Gifts: For 1 point of POW Adelmar will open the veils of time to uncover some secret at the summoner's behest. For 3 POW he will send an army of demonic warriors – equivalent to five thousand elite cavalry–to fight in one battle beside the army of the summoner or his employer. Adelmar can also add to a character’s lifespan— five years for 1 POW, ten years for 2 POW, and so on. A character can only petition for this gift once. During the added years the character does not age, but the deal must be phrased with exceptional caution or Adelmar will surely twist things to the summoner’s detriment.
The Lord Akresh
Spirit of Thunder in the Mountains, Demon of Invincibility
Akresh represents steadfast strength of purpose, the glowering look that intimidates a foe, the essence of power that cannot be assailed. Possession by the spirit of Akresh is called waiting-within-a-fortress; it hardens the will, shields the body from harm and augments the recipient's physical might. Akresh himself can only be evoked in mountains, where he usually appears as a shadow against the sky and a booming echo between the peaks.
Greater Gift: The power that Akresh can grant is indomitability. A character with this power must roll POWx5 or less on d100 whenever he wants to use it; once activated, the power costs 2 points of battle magic POW for each full turn the character wishes to use it. While indomitable the character remains fixed in position waiting for attacks. He can automatically sweep aside all attacks made at 25% or lower, including missile attacks; his STR increases to species maximum; he gets a +20% Parry bonus and any parries he makes do an extra 1 d4 damage to the parried weapon. Finally, he gets an extra point of armour protection.
Lesser Gifts: For 1 point of POW Akresh will teach two points of the battle magic spell parry (usually available only to Humakti). For 2 POW he can enchant any shield so that whoever carries it has a permanent protection 1. For 3 POW he will summon mountain storms that can throw whole armies into confusion, or block a pass with landslides.
Her Eldritch Highness Sarasathsa
Princess of Mystery, Demon of Paradox
Sarasathsa has sovereignty over things impenetrable or unknowable. Possession with her spirit-essence renders the recipient immune to spirit combat, as spirits will recoil from her terrible mysteries, but is double-edged in that the recipient could become sunk into lethargy and pensive introspection (roll POWx5 or less when coming out of possession to avoid this. Sarasathsa may have many forms, but is often described as a very tall (2½m), slender, graceful woman in blue and green robes. Her skin is pale and mottled in a serpentine pattern, and the right side of her face is concealed behind a fantastical mask in the form of an embryonic dragon. All summoners describe her as cold and disdainful and rather draconic in temperament.
Greater Gift: Sarasathsa can grant morphetic counsel. Whenever the character has some problem to solve or mystery to uncover she will whisper clues to him in his dreams. This acts as though the character had 80% in the General Knowledge skill, and also allows him important visionary dreams at the referee's discretion.
Lesser Gifts: For 1 POW she will answer any three yes/no questions about the past or present with 99% accuracy. For 2 POW she will convert any powered crystal into another type which the summoner specifies (the crystal's POW is diminished by 1 by this process. For 3 POW she grants a character a permanent 5% bonus on POW gain rolls.
The Lord Kojuro
Who is One with the Sword, Demon of Fighting Skill
Kojuro appears as a slender man with greyish skin and sharp white shark's teeth. He wears white and grey cotton robes and carries a number of swords and throwing knives. His province is skill in combat, particularly swordplay.
Greater Gift: Kojuro can immediately raise a character's skill with swords to 80% or by 15%, whichever is greater.
Lesser Gifts: For 1 POW point Kojuro will increase a character's score in any fighting skill by 5%, to a maximum of 75%. For 2 POW points he will place a single-use truesword spell on a blade; this spell can be activated at any later time by whoever wields the sword. For 3 POW he will increase the skill of an entire army by 5% for a single battle.
The Lord Kesh
Jewelled Serpent, Demon of Confusion and Terror
Kesh embodies the transfixing gaze of a snake. He causes awe by his presence alone, a massive bejewelled, serpentine shape coiling about the Pentacle and rearing up to the roof of the summoning chamber–the summoner must roll POWx5 or less on d100 or lose all power to bargain with the demon. Looking into Kesh's eyes causes demoralization.
Greater Gift: Kesh grants the power of intimidation. Given two rounds in which to talk to foes before he fights them, a character with this power can threaten with such unholy force that those hearing him must roll POWx5 or less on percentile dice or be demoralized. In combat, the character's gaze can transfix like a vampire's.
Lesser Gifts: For 1 POW point Kesh will reveal the location of an ancient treasure hoard of at least 90 treasure factors. For 2 points he will set a giant demonic serpent to guard your treasure for you. For 3 points he will teach you how to brew any venom or acid up to potency 15.
The Lord Engala
Gatherer of Darkness, Demon of the Undead
Engala is usually characterized as the zombie spirit, embodiment of unrelenting attack, but in fact he is the lord of all undead creatures. Engala appears as a dull-eyed, expressionless man with dead white skin, robed in grave-soiled black raiment. His movements are slow and languid, like a corpse underwater, and when he speaks his lips hardly move to his hollow, emotionless tones. Those possessed by his spirit will fight until cut apart.
Greater Gift: Engala can make a character into a vampire or mummy. The customary pledge of POW is useless to Engala because he is an undead being, so instead of that pledge he imposes a peculiar condition on his Gift. Every ten years the character must find a champion to play Engala's representative at a game not unlike chess. If the champion loses, Engala drains him of POW and destroys him. If the character cannot find a champion he must play Engala's representative himself – in this case, if he loses, Engala will come and take the character as one of his personal servants.
Lesser Gifts: In exchange for a powered crystal Engala will give a lead amulet which grants the wearer some protection from undead – hostile undead act neutrally and neutral undead will be friendly, as per the Runequest response table. Occasionally he may give favoured summoners a zombie or skeleton guard to serve them.
The Lord Kyrax
Blizzard Flame, The White Lord, He Who Descends from the Storm
Kyrax is one of the oldest demons. He has the form of a giant white wolf, or sometimes a man of feral aspect. He is the master of stealth and guile, can cause invisibility, blizzards and darkness and particularly aids those who were once mighty, for he is the demon lord of regathering old powers.
Greater Gifts: Kyrax can grant a character 70% in all Stealth skills or raise these by 20%. Or he may personally aid a character in a single master plan.
Lesser Gifts: For 1 POW point he will increase a single Stealth or Tracking skill by 10%. For 2 POW he will give a one-use Rune spell to summon thick mist in a 160m radius; the caster can see up to 30m in this mist but for others the visibility is under 10m. For 3 POW he will summon a blizzard or turn a character invisible for eight hours.
His Excellency Hragahl
Minister of Lightning, Demon of Intellect
This bizarre and ancient demon lord is master of all matters connected with logic and philosophy, and if he is impressed by a summoner's ability in these areas he will have a friendly reaction to him. Hragahl materializes as a giant (1 m) bald, fanged head with silvery-blue skin, incandescent white eyes, and giant wings springing from his temples. He has a tongue of flickering lightning which can snake out up to 20m.
Greater Gift: Hragahl can transform a staff or weapon of the summoner's so that it has powers of a Stormblade [WD39, Runeblades].
Lesser Gifts: For 1 POW point he will summon up a Storm Demon and place it under the summoner's control for fifteen minutes. For 2 points of POW he will give a 5% bonus in General Knowledge (to a maximum of 45%). For 3 POW he can increase a being's INT by one point or summon storms to confound an enemy.
A word of warning: campaigns where demon lords get summoned up every weekend and every other character has a Greater Gift are going to get dull very quickly. Scenarios could involve a demon lord's influence without requiring him to make a personal appearance – player characters could battle a small cult worshipping one of these entities, or inadvertently break a chain of events set in motion by a demon lord long ago.
Bear in mind that even the Lesser Gifts of a demon lord are powerful and hard to come by. There is a high risk factor in any summoning, and the demon lord must have a favourable reaction to the summoner if any deal is to be struck. Few generals would care to swell their army's ranks with demon warriors, even if they can seek out one of the demonologists powerful enough to make such a bargain. Only three cases of military use of demonic powers are recorded in Questworld's history – each time by the extravagant, whimsical Ancients, for whom normal caution and logic seem meaningless.
Lastly, words of thanks to everyone who might have inspired or actively fed me with demonic ideas – in particular, Steve Ditko, P Craig Russell, Richard Lupoff, Miyamoto Musashi, Yvonne Newnham, Mike Polling, Jack Vance, Oliver Johnson and William Burroughs. Vance's short story “TheMiracle Workers” directly supplied the idea of possessions, and gives a vivid account of their effects. For a host of further demons, Professor M A R Barker's Book of Ebon Bindings is recommended. It details, with many colourful anecdotes, creatures designed for Barker's world of Tekumel but usable in any setting.