Thursday, January 9, 2020

Demons part 2, foocubi

AD&D Succubi- Demon ladies with the classic 'lady monster with charm effect' design most lady monsters in AD&D got, pretty much. I think their AD&D statblock suffers from ludonarrative dissonance, in that the intended lore of the monster (a sneaky seductress) does not match up with their statblock. Oh sure, their abilities could help with sneaky social subterfuge, but what they would mainly do is replace subtlety with brute magical force and make sneakiness not even necessary in the first place. Like, for the record, a succubus has abilities very much on par with the Martian Manhunter....

-Ability to go ethereal/intangible
-Mind Reading
-Shape Changing
-Immune to most physical attacks
-Can call Superman to come kick your ass/Gate in a type IV, VI, or Lord Demon.

And while ol J'onn J'onzz doesn't bust out his powers to oppress humanity, a demon would have no such ethical constraints.

So the dissonance comes from what you might expect them to act like due to lore, and what they are capable of mechanically, ie, being damn near invincible* to peasant hordes, and damn near uncatchable if confronted with anything that can actually hurt them. Forget subtlety, one could hold an entire settlement hostage with aerial crossbow sniping and an ultimatum, go ethereal/fly away if resistance is ever mustered, and return at their leisure. One presumes the divine beings would then intervene similarly overtly, but humans being helpless pawns while angels and demons do all the work sounds not so good to me. There's some lore indicating that succubi are not so much concerned with humans but are more like the master spies of Hell and are mainly tasked with espionage tasks dealing with other high level outsiders, though that's really just another way of making them largely irrelevant to the human condition in all but the highest of fantasy settings.
*Demons are vulnerable to silver, but the succubus statblock explicitly states they cannot be harmed by any normal weaponry, so idk if it's supposed to harm them or not.

Mythological Succubi/Incubi
Demons that turned into a woman to collect semen, then into a man to impregnate someone with that semen, typically taking the forms of marital partners to trick otherwise faithful people and sow discord. The word literally means 'to lie beneath/to lie atop' so Succubi and Incubi are not different things, but different behaviors of the same thing(hence my stealing of the term 'Foocubus' from Nethack to refer to that thing). A mythological explanation for a mundane occurrence of the baker's wife having a child that looks like the butcher, bandaid explanations intended to prevent domestic violence and social unrest without addressing the root cause of oppressive societal norms. Honestly, one of the more depressing mythological monsters if you dwell on the sociohistorical reasons for them to have been imagined. This sort of drama about social unrest and sexual deception doesn't really translate well to a game about dungeon delving, but could be top stuff in a game set over a longer timespan focusing either on politics or interpersonal drama even if they are only blamed and not actually present.

Sunset Realm Foocubi

The -cubi group of demons has survived the death of their original god and culture for one main reason.

basically this
(this comic is nsfw if you live under a rock and dunno what Oglaf is already)
They stem from an ancient religion that derided free will as something that was a source of suffering and enabler of ignorance, and so the mind-controlling foocubi(known as angels in their own time) were produced in vast numbers to throw off the shackles of freedom and micromanage emotional states among the citizens. Whether the results were a benevolent divine rule or a horrible oppressive mindslave dystopia is unclear as foocubi give different accounts, when they can be bothered to speak of that lost age at all. Despite what you might suspect of a race of divinely crafted thought police, Foocubi are not master manipulators of the social scene, as a being that is
  1. As powerful to humans as humans are to chickens
  2. Able to mind-control said chickens just in case they get uppity
Has basically no pressure to ever learn things like 'politeness' or 'empathy' or even 'fear' (and certainly not 'seduction.' Do you seduce your food? Didn't think so.) and as such, even after centuries of time, most foocubi's personalities are still complete trash, just, mean and domineering and casually murderous, and even the "nice" ones are nice in the way people are nice to their farm animals. Just because something looks* like a person doesn't mean it has a relatable mindset.
*As psychic shapeshifters, foocubi don't actually look like anything by default, but the image of a person with symbolic wings emphasizing access to higher realms spread memetically and became an expected norm.

True Succubi/Incubi act as matchmakers for ancient holy royal bloodlines so diluted that to human sensibilities, they no longer exist. They retain their considerable powers by bureaucratically attempting to fulfill ancient marriage contracts between these adjunct royal houses, and cannot give up on their obsessive quests to get targeted people to fall in love and breed without exploding. To abandon that raison d'etre is to embrace oblivion. As successful creation of new life cannot occur without mutual consent, Succubi/Incubi cannot simply mind-control their targets and be done with it, or steal sperm via shapechanging and fly it across the ocean to impregnate someone the way mythological succubi/incubi did, (unless contracted by both parties to do so of course) and so things tend to start with engineered meet cutes, but escalate into tangled webs of intrigue, mind control, kidnapping, shapeshifting induced forgery and impersonation, and worst-case, carpet bombing cities with lanterns dropped from the sky and ultimatums to 'fall in love NOW or everything you ever knew will burn.'
Many have sworn allegiance to Our Lady of Gardens and serve again as angels of matchmaking to modern bloodlines, but as this is a demon post I won't get too much into that.
Hatecubus- Drawn to the Demon-Lord of Hatred Isfrix after their first, forgotten god perished, but put off by his perpetually delayed divine suicide, Hatecubi are independent demons that feed off of negative, violent emotions, hatred prime among them. Unfortunately, this means they do their best to cultivate hatred, and as such they are a blight on society. The Void Monks of Oroboro, given their close proximity to the hell of Isfrix, have bound many of these creatures into the form of silver greatswords, where the Hatecubi can feed off the hatred of the dying towards their killers and occasionally manage to possess those foolish enough to pick up one of these demon swords without sufficient training.
When collecting hate on a personal scale, they prefer stealing magic items, smear campaigns based on telepathically received half truths, and other enraging but non-lethal activities, but have no qualms about nastily killing mortals to feed on the hatred directed at them, or ironically, encouraging mortals to hatefully "kill" them. (As spirit beings, 'death' is just being driven back into the spirit world, so if the bounty of hate is great enough it may be worth it.)
Cupids-The counterpart to a Hatecubus, these rogue spirits have decided to survive off of the love and affection of mortals. They may arrange romances between other mortals, but are unlikely to engage in the business themselves unless desperate, and if they've grown desperate, they may adopt parasitic strategems like encouraging unrequited love towards themselves, or even stealing a bit of life force via the famously lethal kiss if starvation seems likely. While devoid of any ill intent beyond hunger, the fallout of a hungry cupid can prove quite destructive and the arrival of one (no doubt in disguise) is more likely calamitous than fortuitous. Of course, to adventurers with no social ties who think a demon partner has no downsides, the sad fact of the matter is that you won't gain XP with a Cupid at your side, and if your love proves insufficient to fuel the Cupid, the difference must be made up for either in level loss from you, HD and power loss from the Cupid, or a polygamous relationship so large and lopsided that it is basically a sex cult with the cupid as cult leader.
Snugcubus/Slothcubus/Grave Nymph- these demons survive by hoarding souls to stock their own created afterlives with, and subside off the quiet glow of the souls. They cannot sustain very large afterlives while merely feeding off of the faint glow of comfyness, and so they require lots and lots of dead and dreaming souls, and are popular 'mini-deities' in forgotten graveyards, god-forsaken crypts, and motels Inns.
Their afterlives are stitched together from pilfered dreams and smothered in fog, and the souls within mainly lounge around in simple creature comfort, barely awake and often snoozing in huge piles. They may be roused by the slothcubus to serve as undead defenders or the like, for the only thing the demon hates more than disturbing the sleeping dead is other people disturbing their power source. This may bring them into conflict with players as tomb-guardians or dream-thieves- One idea for stealing dreams I had was to erase stuff on the players character sheet when they aren't looking (this is much easier to do in roll20 than IRL) and write a little code so it's not completely forgotten- if the player can remember what the lost item was they can use it again, but if not, it stays forgotten, the spirit of the item remaining in the slothcubi's dream realm.

Imagine the following- You are a dirt farming peasant whose village is the chew toy of every wandering monster, bandit, and oppressive noble for miles around. But one day, a stranger rides into town, and it's like every crappy fanfiction power fantasy ever- the stranger kicks the ass of every monster with one hand tied behind their back without taking so much as a scratch but doesn't ask for gold or special favors, just the opportunity to be the selfless defender of the town. This stranger is, of course, a foocubus who is eating threats to the village to build up a hero narrative. The end goal is to be worshipped like a local hero-saint, king, or perhaps even a god, and transition from feeding off of death to feeding off of awe and worship. Obviously this brings them into conflict with existing power structures.

Vampire, Basically
Look, sometimes monsters can't be bothered with feeding off of emotional resonance and decide to just eat people, confusing overlap of mythological source material be damned.

Foocubus Stats
HD- 6-9,
depending on how well fed they are. They do not heal naturally, and must either be exposed to the appropriate emotional state to have daily healing, or violently drain life via predation.

AC-As Plate&Shield,+3. Absolute bastards to hit due to being fast, experienced, and made of quasi-physical ectoplasm.
Attacks- 1d3/1d3 punches/wing buffets or by weapon. If both attacks hit, a grapple is initiated and they can start sucking the life out of someone next round, inflicting a negative level per round. Alternately, an item may be stolen.
Special Abilities
Mundane weaponry does not harm them save for the lawful touch of silver, and disrupting their physical form merely sends them back to the dream realm, and as immortals, they are not hunted by elementals as other undead are when they return. Creating an ectoplasmic body is tiresome and reduces the HD of a foocubus by 1.
Foocubi may change their physical appearance to anything person-ish. They cannot turn into say, a chair unless it's like, a chair that has deep emotional significance to someone nearby. Their form is a reflection of mortal emotion, so taking a form that doesn't cause some sort of feeling simply isn't their nature.
Expressing the appropriate emotion makes mortals vulnerable to being possessed. Attacking a Hatecubus, loving a Cupid, thanking a Glory, sleeping around a Slothcubus. I don't think standard charm spam is fun to GM, so this is the alternative. Corpses and other nonliving items may be possessed as well.
Borehole- Foocubi may enter dreams and construct hallucinatory scenarios to set up possession requirements, and may physically escape into the dream realm themselves. Lesser 'holes' may be bored to read people's minds or create 5' radius darkness at will (the dream realm is hungry for the light of the waking world and small portals will create big vortexes of darkness.) They may bore into dream/nightmare/afterlife realms in semi-stable portals that other people can use, though this is dangerous and tiring and they will not do so unless offered a sacrifice of a level to be drained or similar heavy-duty persuasive tactics.
Oneiric Coterminality- That is to say that they are coterminous with the waking world and the dream realm simultaneously. Spellwisps sent against a demon of a Foocubi's power may cower away in fear or even perish in the attempt to make contact, and Foocubi have decently good odds of knowing other demons to act as spells or summons in a pinch.
I've been too lazy to draw for some time, so I'll just double dip and use this commission of some party members from a player who has a hatecubus in a sword (using arnolds neat familiar rules)

1 comment:

  1. The succubus as cunning consort for an even more evil primary bad guy was put to good use in more than one adventure from Necromancer Games, e.g. Good post.