How do I integrate intelligent demons(/devils) into my campaign without potraying them just as evil for the sake of being evil, even though that's more or less the definition of them?Also, what are demons and devils in your campaign/setting like?
>>53166234Always out for themselvesJust seeking powerlike WoD vampires mostly
>>53166322But if you depicted them like that, wouldn't they make a boring and shallow villain, just like any other nondemon, normal villain, who is just seeking power, is kinda boring and shallow?
In the Drunks&Dragons Podcast, the main characters are trying to stop a demon apocalypse and are basically forced into working with devils to stop it because the dwarves, elves, and human armies are too busy goofing around. The players are reluctant to work with devils, but the point is that, being lawful aligned creatures, the devils are concerned with the continued survival of society as a whole for their own needs and of course the natural antagonism between lawful devils and chaotic demons.
>>53166234They gotta pay their bills.
>>53166234Maybe apparent cruelty or "evil" isn't really the main intention or goal but a byproduct. Bargaining for souls and using them for power or currency.
>>53166234they live in a different dimension, and they have their goverments and laws just like us, and most of them do not care about our universe, but those who do, mostly come here to annoy us because they find doing so hilarious
>>53166727ThisMake them like normal people except way more intelligent, even gregarious. The kinds of guys you could shoot the shit or delve into deeper conversations with and walk away having a good impression of them and the situation in general. Maybe they even give good advice that changes peoples' lives for the better, with no spooky contracts ever being drawn. But when push comes to shove, hell is a nasty place and they'll do anything to maintain their position in the hierarchy. Anything at all. Their evil becomes more of a necessity of their situation rather than something they want to be, and their constant vying to one up each other so that they can be one rung up on the ladder where their suffering is reduced that much more creates a self-perpetuating society of evil.They're just guys in a shit situation that happens to reveal and tempt them into constantly using their dark side, which only grows as their dysfunctional society feeds it- they have literally no opportunity or outlet for positivity. Devils become a lot less one dimensional when their own complexity and suffering is revealed.As for demons, instead of being cursed with a darwinian hierarchy that sucks for everyone involved, they're cursed with straight up insanity. Their evil is a way of "acting out" and temporarily relieving the pain that their constantly malfunctioning psyches cause them. They're not going to be as put together as the devils and they won't pass for normal. They'll flip on a dime and delight in all sorts of depraved nonsense that they secretly hate because they're walled off from feeling pleasure from anything else.
In my special donut steel homebrew, demons are basically parasitic maggots that suck off the residual power of the Big God Dude by living inside of his corpse and trying to devour human souls. Lesser demons are basically just wild-ass monsters that will take whatever they can get, while more powerful demons like to season their souls with things like hate, sorrow, fear etc. This often leads to them trying to tempt mortals into compromising situations in order to flavor the soul so that it's tastier when they eventually consume it.All demons were spawned from the Demon Princes, who in turn were the Seven Fruits of the Tree of Hate, which grew within the heart of the Big God Dude.
>>53166234Demon, devil, or what have you isn't a strict classification. It's just what people call particularly malevolent spirits regardless of why they behave that way.
>>53166234This is a half baked idea but, the demons are at war with the angels and spreading "Evil" is an important part of their plan becouse reasons
>>53167025This is fucking brilliant.
Just use them like they used to be in ancient Judaism.Devils are evil, because God created them to act evil. It's their job, their purpose and their meaning of life. Even if they don't like it - God LITERALLY created them to inflict evil on humans.
>>53167025>Make them like normal people except way more intelligent, even gregarious. The kinds of guys you could shoot the shit or delve (...)It kind of reminded me of pic related, they were somewhat casual in their evilness
>>53166234My setting for a home brew game doesn't have a heaven/hell angel/demon dynamic.Most people in the setting believe that's the way the world works, but in reality there is only one group of diving beings that reward souls they consider virtuous and punish those they consider sinful.A Devil or Demon is just an Angel assigned to torment those who rejected the righteous path. They don't tempt mortals, that's just an excuse we use to try and shift the blame off of ourselves.
>>53166234Why can't they just be assholes?Then you can have a nice demon, but everyone thinks he's an asshole
Devils are worker bees in an enormous and obfuscated eusocial society that appears from a distance to just be a really bureaucratic republic. They coerce people into selling their souls through offering them immense mineral wealth that would otherwise be difficult to get at, and use the souls for a variety of unimaginable and sinister purposes. They also make really good honey.
>>53168330Don't think you can sneak Fallen London past me, anon.
>>53166234Sounds tome like you don't actually wabt demons as your antagonists.
>>53166234Here's how I've been doing it, feel free to take what you want:You can be Evil and not necessarily an asshole. Demons while evil by nature, are less assholish than Angels and it's primarily why people are more enclined to align themselves with Demons, do what they say, work with them, and fall for evil; the evil of Demons is far more relatable and comprehensible than the good of Angels. Whats more, Demons are capable of LOVE; Demons LOVE their CHILDREN, they LOVE the few people they consider FRIENDS, they LOVE their MATES, and they LOVE their freedom, property, food, etc.. And because they know love they can feel HATE and through it do the evil that they do.
>>53166234Make them something worse than evil. Make them bureaucratic.
>>53166521The difference should be with normal villains really, not demons. Normal villains should be seeking power and doing evil for legitimate reasons, even if they're very thinly justified reasons that only apply in their own heads. Demons and devils are scary because they don't need to have a motive; they carry out evil just because its their nature.Alternatively go the 'beyond your ken' route with them either carrying out some incredibly byzantine plan that won't even come to fruition for generations after the PCs are dead of old age, and everything they see them do is just a tiny step in that plan, or that they see mortals as just utterly unimportant and have no qualms about genocide because humans are essentially gnats to them.
>>53166234>OH THOSE ANGELS AND THEIR SHITTY DEFINITIONS OF "GOOD" AND "EVIL">WE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A SAY IN THE MATTER
>>53167229>>53168216I like this.
>>53166234Here's how I do it, but I'll preface by saying that my demons are weird as hell, and not really demons in the classical sense.Basically gods in my setting are created by people believing in a thing, and worshiping it actively. Do that enough, and you get a self-aware manifestation of that worship that can survive indefinitely as long as it doesn't get cut off from that worship.Demons are what happens when someone does the same thing, but not on purpose. Someone tells a ghost story, makes an urban legend, or just some kind of local folklore that people believe is true, and you get demons. As they aren't necessarily made of evil stuff, they aren't necessarily evil, but on the other hand they're obsessed with perpetuating their existence. Demonic contracts are more often the demon doing you a favor, in exchange for help in perpetuating its name, legend, and even worship. Most of the time their presence as villains isn't due to being evil, but just to being weird amoral belief-beings who don't really care what happens to anyone else.Also they all have cool masks, because
>>53166234Alternate morality systems. There are two ways to go about this. The first is to just make them amoral chaos that is occasionally bound by contracts. They don't understand good or evil, and as a result they are perfectly willing to do acts that we consider monstrous. On their own they largely leave us alone, but when they get involved in mortal affairs the bad largely outweighs the good, and as such history and myth does not paint them fondly. If they make contracts with mortals, this is even easier to explain. They are willing to do ANYTHING as part of a contract, and they are pretty powerful. By nature, the sort of people who seek out help from demons tend to be evil powerhungry assholes of some kind or another, and the demons don't care about the consequences of fulfilling these contracts. Which, again, leads to demons having a reputation as evil fucks, even if they only are doing what they agreed. The other is to have them be stereotypically evil, but they think they are helping. "Good is a set of chains you bind yourselves in because you are afraid of what you would be without them. There is a word for that wonderful state: freedom. You have desires you don't act on because you fear the consequences. That is because you are weak. Let me help you. Let me make you strong, so you need never fear consequence again. Take what you want to take, kill what you want to kill, rape what you want to rape. You humans have so much potential. Let me unlock your chains. Let yourself make choices informed only by your desires, not that which is forced upon you by those that think themselves the master of your fate."
>>53168216>>53169416The fun part is that my players don't know any of this yet, but they're starting to grow suspicious.In my notes I have the world that is and the world that is seen. I run everything based off the world that is, but the NPCs believe in what's seen. The difference between the two has become a point of curiosity in the group.Also fun; when you die you get to see the divine city and it's wonders, then you go to the dungeon.
How about something like the merchant from Warau Salesman? Grant wishes to people but go full asshole genie when they start abusing them.Either that or make them seem someone good and reliable at first, and then go full plot twist and reveal that they had actually made a pact with a demon.
>>53169789You know that would actually be a fun thing to spring on people, the demon who doesn't call themselves that. Have your demons look like something else, more weird and exotic magical beings than obviously demonic horned red monster. They make deals with it, things go good for a while, and eventually the church gets involved. "Thats a demon!""...Am I? You know, I remember people calling me that the last time I was here too. I can get from context its probably not flattering, but what does it mean exactly?"
>>53169284I get that it makes sense in terms of plot and setting, but it feels like it does neither generate enough tension nor is it enough to hook the PCs by giving them a villain, that doesn't seem too far away in some mythical spheres and somewhat relatableSame for>>53167229I think I'll stick with something like >>53167025It will be something like that, I guess:When people die, their souls descend to the darkest corners of the world forgetting about their earlier existence as human beings. Driven by madness they take on demonic forms; now they only lust for flesh and destruction to numb the pain of their existenceHowever, devils were cursed (by a God(s)? I have to give that some thought) to experience the same degradation of their souls with one important difference; they won't forget about their former painless life as humans. That's why they -despite being as deeply corrupted as demons- still can feel normal emotions and still remain sane to a certain degree, which worsens the suffering and fuels their jealousy of mortal life. That's why they try to instrumentalize demons and corrupt Warlocks and Wizards - to maybe find a way through magic, that shows them at least a glimpse of the joy of feeling like a human again>>53167056I kinda like the mythological flavor, but that may be too far away from my players
>demon is sustained through souls>captures mortals>tortures them, mentally and physically>takes delight in the screams because it's basically like eating good food for them when a mortal screams just right>the torture is actually just preparing the soul>by the end the mortal will do anything to get out>even give their soul willingly to the demon>the moment when the mortal does is the equivalent of finishing a meal when they eat the soul which they've been preparing
>>53169697your demons are what a lot of games would call spirits and quite close to the sort of morally neutral being originally implied by the word daimon.
>>53170701Honestly my whole setting's cosmology is giant crazy mess. Actual spirits are way closer to nonsentient elemental 'things', kind of like the Incarnations from MTG.
>>53169131This is how I do evil, I hate the idea that evil can't feel positive emotions or love.Chaotic Evil Bard loves his party, good food, good drink, and playing music, he hates most governments and he hates anything that hurts his friends/the party.
>>53166234>How do I integrate intelligent demons(/devils) into my campaign without potraying them just as evil for the sake of being evil, even though that's more or less the definition of them?I would say don't. The advantage of demons as rpg antagonists in my view is that theyneed no further justification. Evil for the sake of evil is the demon's whole reason for being. Of course villains with believable human motivations are a lot more interesting which is why demons are best used sparingly and either as colourful minions or sinister patrons to the real antagonist.
>>53166234I mean, I'm just running D&D, but my own take on it is that demons are evil because they are literally manifestations of wanton destruction and sadism, while devils are evil because they are dedicated to absolute order at any cost. Arguably, the devils might reasonable save the world every now and then. While the party hasn't interacted with any devils as far as talking goes (barring the imp they tortured at one point), I'm going to make a point of having the devils be reasonably polite but completely nonchalant about the massacres and torture they've engaged in.
>>53170819So further to this, the way I characterise demons in my game is to keep in mind that they're intrinsically, elementally evil and therefore can never have virtuous motivations.The fun is in getting them to perform an approximation of human behaviour for when you need them to be characters. So a demon is incapable of love, but they CAN be lustful and possessive and for the sake of the story that's often good enough. Demons are hierarchical, but find loyalty and duty utterly repulsive, so they take it as a given that a leader can only command by fear.
>>53166234I play them close to the D&D book. Demons are into chaotic creation of evil while devils scheme for decades to get what they want.
>>53166234The NEED to take dominate all life and consume it to be left alone in the universe is actually a part of the human soul methinks. Unlike people, demons have nothing else to want, so they can be portrayed as totally unloving, trusting-no-one autists who are also powerful.
>>53170819>>53170940I'll be honest, I personally find that form of demons entirely unfun and really don't enjoy any games that feature that kind of demons. I'd rather they just not exist at all than be evil for evil's sake or because that's how they were created.
>>53171007>close to the D&D bookthey look like cartoons, anon
>>53166234Make them bored and constantly looking for new thrills. The demon wars are long gone and they've already fucked with humans in all kinds of cliche ways. They'll help anyone with a new idea for how to have some fun. And then they'll take their deliciously creative soul
>>53171042>createdit isn't implied actuallythey could choose their universal goal of becoming alone in the universe, rejecting the principle of love
>>53166234I prefer the classical approach of them being irredeemably evil, BUT, that doesn't mean they're evil for the sake of evil, nor does it mean that they're stupid evil. Something led them towards their rejection of good, whether it be envy, pride, greed, or anything else.And they're smart, too. Liars to the core, but very smart and subtle. They know the ins and outs of humanity, they know how to pull the PC's strings. They know about your loved ones, they know how to quote scripture, they know why your player is fighting and his personal motivations and weaknesses, and they will exploit those weaknesses for everything they can. They almost never appear as demons, instead coming in the form of angels and friendly faces, building trust so that you may be easily deceived.But there is nothing good to be had from them. They are hollow and pitiful creatures, dressed up to be beautiful and strong to the unwary. Their deals and promises are lies, they're supposed love of humanity is a trick, their hope for the future is empty. The only thing that brings them any happiness anymore is watching God's creatures be dragged into the same Hell that they have been condemned to. But that's just my preference, and I'm a pretty boring guy, so you should probably do whatever you prefer.
>>53166234Hell is hell even for devils. Sure, they think they're happy, they know there's a system to game, but the hierachy, the everything, is designed to make everyone suffer. Maybe not as overtly as souls being boiled unlive, but, still.
>>53169236Ever heard of the Infernal Revenue Service?
>>53167025You've got a beautiful mind.
>>53166234Torture isn't the objective, but a means to the end: energy and reproduction.The god(s) made souls quite well. To devils, they are like a delicious hazelnut inside a hard shell. Torture is how one cracks it, the pain and suffering destroying the victim's self until the soul is soft enough to be sucked out. The leftover husk is used to create new devils. This makes Hell the cosmic equivalent of a cancer upon the body of Creation.The more souls a devil consumes, the more powerful it is. in Hell, its aura is like a force field and reality-warper in one, making a personal fief shaped at its whims and needs. This leads to the plotting that seeks to undermine its rivals and/or neighbors, as well as the need for agents that bring new souls to it. The aura of a greater devil lord can outreach its sense, leading to organization: flying spies, mercenaries paid with coinage made of metal alloyed with life force, thrall patrols and crawling palaces.The unclaimed borders and wastelands are fiercely contested between hordes of minor devils/demons, pitiful creatures that depend on physical might and violence to acquire sustenance from life scraps and their brethren.
>>53166234My demons are essentially a long-running glitch of the universe's way of producing new species, that the 4 big angels are in no way interested in patching. They're the antithesis of normal life because they came out wrong, and are rejected as a flaw in the way the universe works by the angelic system management. This leads them to hiding away in their own little plane that's essentially a bureaucratic banking system based on the value of their gem-like souls, which grow more powerful from the amount of souls they gained via pacts with mortals. They're also keen to feed off of negativity, not because they need it, but because it's like chocolate-dipped catnip to them.Their evil is usually due to them being contracted to do it, rather than seeking it out on their own. They're more than happy to oblige when offered souls, but are just as fine with not taking up the contracts if people didn't ask for their assistance. They're essentially a niche-market occupier based on the shortcomings of others feeding into their economy, unabashedly willing to do things that are horrible if you've got the means to make it worth their while. They're not even dicks about it, though. If you ask a demon anything that they've got the capacity to answer, they'll never lead you astray with false information because they've got no real reason to lie to someone. In that way, they and the angels are the only beings you could completely trust when it comes to anything.They also don't all act the same. They approach the way they gather up souls differently; ranging from the typical edgelord who is willing to just do your bidding without thinking, to an experienced and affable businessman that's actually willing to offer you helpful advice to benefit your goal and theirs. It's why they're trafficked with, even though people know that there is nothing good about doing it: they will get you results, whether you like how it ends up or not.
>>53167025I've always attributed those characteristics to both depictions, but I'm going to save your post anyway because it's nice to have a neat summary in writing.
>>53166234Your devils are someone else's angels or gods.It's not necessarily about good or evil, but about being different.The culture over the mountains has a goddess of love and life, you have a god of fire and purity.To them, your god's angels are demons of torment, who seek to burn all that is good and sacred.To you, their god's angels are seductive demons of temptation and licentiousness.
Had a game once where I had this NPC who the players loved and he worked side by side with them to try to achieve peace. However, as started becoming all too clear, what was necessary to keep peace was a bigger hell than war. No freedom, slavery abounded, everyone miserable, etc. I slowly dropped hints so that it would be gradual and the players wouldn't immediately catch on. And at the end the NPC just fucked off and nobody could find him and now the setting is a peaceful albeit dystopian nightmare. And now they have to unravel it all, making them turn into the very things they set out to fight just to try to get freedom back.Evil works best when under the guise of good because the way to hell is paved with good intentions.
>>53166234Had a talk about that just yesterday myself. After pondering about it we came to the same conclusion as >>53174962.By introducing different viewpoints on the same entity/ies they could stand for different concepts and therefore be used for many narrative purposes.We came to this point by looking at how pagan beliefs, traditions and entities were integrated into christian practice but most of the time heavily changed their purpose of being, morality and sometimes even their looks to fit better with the belief system.One thing I generally implemented with supernatural beings: their body/outer form/appearance isn't set in stone. This helps with giving a reason to those changes.
>>53175029This right here is a demon done right. Good job anon.
>>53166234They're evil for the sake of evil. But they don't parade it around. They're not kicking puppies all the time and monologueing about all the virgins they've tortured that day.They're cold, powerful and to straight to the point. They've go something you want, they want to make a deal, they know you know they're going to try and screw you over so they forego the fake civility and take control of the interaction. I like to think they manage to intimidate.