Three Rivers

StormHack has one “magic” system, i.e. demons. Objectively these all follow the same rules, however different characters will probably have wildly varying ideas of what demons are. Here are three different perspectives.

Demons of Self

Demons are all about ambition, and Demons of Self are probably the purest form of this. This character credits no external force for their exceptional ability. It all comes from within. This is probably easier to rationalise when the abilities are “coincidental” i.e. appear to be exceptional skill.

How the demon talks to them: the demon appears as a darker version of the conjurer. This is the most personal manifestation of the demon, as it embodies everything the character knows is negative about themselves. It is the dark mirror held up to the character.

How they see the supernatural: these characters will be aware of a wider supernatural world (as in a fantasy there is usually proof of the magical and supernatural) but may not consider themselves part of that continuum at all. This is possibly because they see their demon (if they even consciously refer to it as a demon) as completely internal. Possibly in advanced stages of development the character will view themselves as the demon, identifying as a vampire or other kind of supernatural monster that passes for human. So, unlike the other two perspectives, they may end up identifying as other than human, having no external supernatural force to explain (excuse) their behaviour.

tl;dr vampires, &c.

Patrons

Demon Patrons manifest from faith and belief. The deity will have a doctrine, an aspect (which may shift), and will speak directly to the character. All the powers the character has are granted by their god (whether that god exists objectively out in the world, or otherwise).

How the demon talks to them: one or more aspects of their god. Use this opportunity for the player to develop the god’s doctrine, surrounding pantheon, and so on. To the character this demon is external from the self; however it has a moral or philosophical component which represents the character’s core beliefs.

How they see the supernatural: the magical world is framed according to the doctrine of the god, which will include creation myths, explanations for magic and demons, etc.

Consider these questions1:

  • How was the world made?
  • Where did we com from?
  • Why do we die?
  • What happens after we die?
  • Why am I here?
  • What is magic?
  • What are Demons?

tl;dr clerics, paladins and other (un)holy warriors

Sorcery

Sorcery is the art of making Pacts. Whatever the sorcerer, they treat their demon as an occult science and conjure demons to perform supernatural acts on their behalf. They are likely to have many demons named (which may be considered individual spells, or imps, etc.).

How the demon talks to them: one or more demons the character has bound into service. These demons may be graceful or resentful about their indenture, but in every case this is a transaction and a contract. There is no moral judgement of the sorcerer’s actions, and when transgressions happen it’s because they have lost control. The conjurer may have one demon for each “spell”, or one demon for each class of magic (i.e. one per realm they have activated2), or a single, powerful wish-granting demon.

How they see the supernatural: the demon realms are external, real, measurable. Their denizens can be bargained with. Magic cannot be accessed directly3, only via demonic intermediaries. Gods and magic are intrusions of the demonic realms on the earth.

tl;dr magicians of every stripe


  1. Inspired by the questions and answers in my Games Workshop edition of Runequest III, late 80s 

  2. This is the most Stormbringer-like option. 

  3. In the early 90s there was an Elric! supplement called Corum. See here. That system provided an alternative to demon summoning with “sorcerous melds” where the chaos magician would access raw chaos to do magic. So if you wanted to have your sorcerer skipping demonic intermediaries and going straight to the source, that might be one way of doing it. 

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