OSR Demons 3: Demonbringer
Demonbringer is a RPG featuring the demons from Stormbringer 1st Edition by way of the OSR (specifically Whitehack), Everway and the WaRP system.
This is the character sheet I’ve been working on:
Here is the character sheet as a PDF
Previous entries for “OSR Demons”:
It uses SB’s 6 demon types, linking one per characteristic (see the previous blog posts). Powers are worked out according to type and Everway-inspired magical point buy — so powers are rated e.g. Major, Frequent and Versatile. It also uses Everway’s 3 resolution systems (see commentary here) and general loose approach.
It sort of uses a revised roll-under as described here, but that needs playtesting.
But it can be made to use a OSR-like combat subsystem. To do this it uses a dice clock.
It uses Groups or Traits — as applied in Whitehack and WaRP/Over The Edge.
I’ve got two uses in mind. The first is for a fantasy game that’s basically like Stormbringer, in a massive single city. There’s a city-building mechanism or subsystem that both the GM and the players get involved in.
Second is an underlying system for Black Mantle, since the system should work for mecha too.
The two sort of complement each other; one is about having adventures inside a city, while the other is about exploring the unknown outside (or capital-O Outside).
Further Notes On Demons
The rest of the text below are some notes I’ve been making on demons. Putting them here by way of elaboration and explanation. This has been written with the fantasy city setting in mind.
1. The Riddle of Demons
The following definitions may be useful:
- (Classical) an otherworldly entity summoned and bound to do the conjurer’s bidding
- (Literal) a projection of a person’s will or motivation on the external world
- (Metaphorical) a skill or ability that outclasses and reaches beyond that of others or which is considered possible
In addition, demons are described from two perspectives:
- By the game world; whatever the culture calls a demon is a demon. This definition is extrinsic. Also known as “colour”.
- By the system and the GM; an object comprising a need, a relationship with the conjurer, and various services. This definition is intrinsic.
First comment: only the actual relationship with the demon is intrinsic; any assumptions of intelligence or motivation, and projections of a personality are extrinsic and colour.
Second, if you don’t bother with relationships with demons, you’ve basically got superheroes (and can run a game with “demons” using an appropriate system).
With a much broader scope any apparent expertise can be called “demonic”. For example: Conan’s obsession with “the riddle of steel” in Conan the Barbarian is a demon; the “service” of that demon is his uncommon ability with a sword, but he also has a relationship with the concept that drives him — and sometimes it gives him hope, other times disappointment.
So in more general terms, players should understand that their PCs’ powers are demons per the game system definition. For the actual game world they (and anyone else in the world) are free to rationalise their powers how they wish.
Furthermore different communities, religions and cultures will
- have different views on what demons are, how harmful they are and where they come from; and
- draw arbitrary distinctions between demons where there is no game-system distinction (e.g. angels and devils)
2. The City’s Demons
People have various skills and affiliations expressed as “groups” (see Whitehack) that benefit then in a situation — a Soldier will be combat-ready, a Black Hand Thief will know the nearest escape route, a Scholar from the Imperial Library will be able to tell you of the City’s rich and layered history.
Rare individuals may transcend this expertise — they have superhuman capacity to inflict violence, gain knowledge, withstand pain or cross distances. Such folk have aligned themselves with demons.
The most subtle of such demons are the armaments: these are personal extensions of mortal expertise. These often have a motif — a weapon, a piece of clothing or similar. But whatever happens it’s conjurer to which the demon is bound; thus their motif may be separated from them for a time, but it will always find its way back.
- Discreet compared to other demons; they may be on show but they are not obviously demonic
- Usually constant, i.e. always available (but there may be exceptions)
- Not at all versatile; they typically have one function
- Not autonomous; they cannot take decisions or act for themselves
Embodiments are objects or entities that are separate from the conjurer, bound to do their bidding. Embodiments have a form in which they appear; frequently humanoid, sometimes monstrous, or possibly non-living but nevertheless autonymous.
- They are autonymous, capable of taking instruction and then making decisions
- They are much more likley to be versatile
- They are usually constant
- They are not discreet; although they may actively defeat detection
Appeals are short-lived interventions of other beings with whom the conjurer has a relationship. Basically the conjurer opens the way to great and remote powers, which leak through and cause brief but terrible change.
- They are often major powers
- They are not constant — their influence is brief
- Their are inimical to life — wherever they emerge, they will cause great change and weirdness