(See the previous post first before reading this)
4) Demon Magic
So, it is time to look at Demon Magic in classic Stormbringer (1E to 4E).
Rereading the Magic section, it is an incredibly mixed bag. On the one hand, the mechanics for elementals are almost rules lite, astonishingly simple, and are an exemplar of good, uncluttered game design. There are no stats, just rules on what they can or cannot do. Ditto the rules for Beast Lords and Lords of the Higher Worlds.
I really dig this. No wonder they were kept unchanged in later editions.
The demon rules are the opposite - clunky and contradictory, and decidedly incomplete. These rules are almost unfinished by modern standards. No wonder they made a whole point buy system for 4E, basically GURPS Demons. This solution came with its own problems.
This needs a rethink.
Basically, I want to do 4 things with Demon Magic:
1) Make the demon rules simpler, ie core mechanic instead of willy nilly differing numbers for every action or situation, or bloated point buy of later editions.
2) Make the demon rules faster by cutting out the math (ie no more adding up ALL attributes), allowing for summonings on the fly that don’t kill game momentum.
3) Add some flavour to demon summoning.
4) Organize and articulate what I cut and what I add so that it is usable at a glance.
Here are my suggestions.
4 The Three Demon Ranks
Basically, there are three demon ranks in the world of Stormbringer.
Rank 1 - Coarse Demons
Humans warped by Chaos. Pawns in the great struggle. Examples are Snake, Pig, and Thing that Elric and Rackhir meet in Ameeron.
Rank 2 - Lesser Demons
Demons of middling power. A good challenge for seasoned adventurers. An example is the demon guarding King Urish's treasure hoard in The Vanishing Tower.
Rank 3 - Greater Demons (also called arch demons or demon lords)
Entities of great power acting towards inscrutable ends. To be avoided at all costs. I speak, of course, of Stormbringer himself.
Note that all these entities are loyal first and foremost to Chaos, and will not serve anyone opposed to Chaos. They may only serve a sorcerer if Chaos allows it, but can change their allegiance at the whim of the Chaos Lords, or to fulfill their destiny.
I will introduce their characteristics in the following format:
1) How to Summon
2) Attributes & Skills
4) Other Notes
4a) Type 1 - Coarse Demons (ie Chaos Beastmen)
The first rank of demon is Coarse Demons, also called Chaos Beastmen. These are humans corrupted by Chaos, who gradually turn to beast form to reflect their inner devolution.
I discussed this in a previous post, but it is worthwhile to repeat what Rackhir tells us about coarse demons as he and Elric travel to the demon city of Ameeron:
Elric: "Have you seen any of these demons?"
Rackhir: "Aye. The usual bestial sort. Coarse, stupid and powerful - many of them were once human before electing to bargain with Chaos. Now they are mentally and physically warped into foul, demon shapes."
1) How to Summon & Bind - Coarse Demons cannot be summoned or bound, they can only be bartered with, as Yrkoon did with the coarse demons that assailed Elric and Rackhir in Ameeron. They are most commonly found wandering the lesser planes of existence, such as the world beyond the Shade Gate, or other minor hells. They are often organized into Chaos armies by Agents of Chaos, such as when Prince Gaynor lead throngs of them against Law in the Corum Chronicles.
Being relatively weak, Coarse Demons usually travel in groups of a half dozen or more. Many are too warped mentally and physically to have much gear, but some might have simple weapons (broadsword or scimitar doing 1D8+1 or spear doing 1D6+1) and shields (round target giving 1D6 Armor as per my previous Shield armour rules) as the GM wills.
2) Attributes & Skills - Since Coarse Demons are just humans warped into demonic shapes, we can assume all their attributes are average (10) because they were neither smart nor strong enough to resist being contaminated by Chaos. These guys are the mooks, the cannon fodder of chaos.
These demons come from all walks of life, and many were not warriors, so weapon combat skills of 30% seem reasonable. They should have the advantage of numbers but not be too much of a challenge for the player characters.
3) Abilities - As I noted in my post on Moorcock's bestiary, GMs should try as much as possible to create adversaries that match the theme of their adventure, and determine powers based on that. However, we can't all be Moorcock all the time, and even Moorcock had moments that didn't entirely work. Optionally, use this random table to determine their bestial form, and adjust results as need be.
Coarse Demon Appearance and Abilities (Roll 1D20)
(Reminder: All weapon attack and defensive skills are 30% unless otherwise noted. All fight as humanoids with the same restrictions as PCs unless otherwise noted.)
1 Ape - Bite for 2D6, Fur Armor 2 points, Climb and all sense skills at 65%
2 Bear - Bite for 1D8, Fur Armor 3 points, Move Quietly & Hide at 65%, Track & Scent at 90%
3 Tiger - Bite for 2D6, Fur Armor for 2 points, Move Quietly & Hide at 80% (in grasslands, half elsewhere), Scent & Track at 90%
4 Hawk - Bite for 1D4, See 75%, Dodge 45%. Hawk Beastmen can fly unless wings are crippled, and do double damage with a spear if they perform a Strike attack. A Strike takes one turn to ready (ie maneuver and dive). They can also juke attacks while flying without losing an action or incurring cumulative 20% penalty on a successful defense roll.
5 Wolf - Bite for 1D8, Fur Armor for 1 point, Track & Scent 80%, Move Quietly % Hide 70%, other senses 60%, Dodge 50%. Can Dodge AND Attack once before cumulative 20% penalty is incurred. Comes in packs of 1D6+1.
6 Dog - Bite 1D6, no fur armor, Track & Scent 70%, Hide & Dodge 35%. Can Dodge AND Attack once before cumulative 20% penalty is incurred. Comes in packs of 2D6.
7 Crocodile - Bite 2D10, Tail Lash 1D10+2 plus Knockdown (STR x 2% to avoid), Scale Armor for 5 points. Swim 100%, Move Quietly 50%, Ambush 25%. Amphibious. In water, Swim skill can be substituted for Dodge.
8 Pig - Tusks for 2D4+1, no fur armor. Track & Scent 70%, Hide & Dodge 35%. Can Dodge AND Attack once before cumulative 20% penalty is incurred. Comes in packs of 2D6. Do double damage with tusks or a spear if they perform a Charge attack. A Charge takes one turn to ready (ie while charging). However, they cannot Dodge attacks while charging. Can be cooked and eaten if adventurers are starving.
9 Shark - Bite 1D6+4, Scale Armor for 3. Swim 100%, Move Quietly 90% (half outside of water). Amphibious. In water, Swim skill can be substituted for Dodge.
10 Snake - Has 1D4+1 snake heads. Each Bite for 1D6 vs armor. If PC armor is breached, poison of Potency 1D10x1D6 is injected. No natural armor. Move Quietly, Hide & Ambush 40%.
11 Horse - Cannot hold weapons due to hooves. Bite 1D10, Kick or 1D8+1D6, Trample downed foe 2D6. Skin Armor 1 point. Swim & Scent 50%. Runs at double human speed.
12 Octopus - All limbs are tentacles, face is Cthulhuesque. Bite for 1D6+1, Spew Ink (see below), Rubbery Skin Armor 1 point. Can attack once per limb. Swim 100%, Move Quietly & Hide 70% due to skin camouflage. Usually holds 1D4+1 weapons and attacks with them, or can grapple an opponent, immobilizing one limb per successful attack. Victim is immobile, but can make a STR x2% roll per round to break out as their sole action. Can also Spew Ink as one of its attacks, once per round, a success blinds the victim for 1D4 rounds.
13 Leech - All limbs and head have multihinged, needle-toothed mouths and no eyes. Bite 1D6 from ANY appendage, no armor, double hit points (20). Once they hit, they automatically suck out 1D6 CON per round per place hit. Take double damage from salt or fire. Move Quietly & Hide at 55%.
14 Fly - No natural attacks or armour. Compound eyes mean they cannot be surprised or snuck up on. Often used as scouts or watchmen. Can fly unless wings are crippled, and do double damage with a spear if they perform a Strike attack. A Strike takes one turn to ready. They can also juke attacks while flying without losing an action or incurring cumulative 20% penalty on successful roll.
15 Psychedelic Butterfly - Bite & Claws 1D6, Wing buffet (see below), Sticky skin armor 1 point. Wing Buffet stops all arrows fired at the demon, or can be used to knockdown the opponent (save at STR x 2%).
16 Fish - Bite 1D6+1, Scale Armor 1 point. Swim 100%, Move Quietly 50%, Ambush 25%. Amphibious. In water, Swim skill can be substituted for Dodge.
17 Spider - Bite for 1D6 vs armor, Shoot Web 80%. No armor. Move quietly, Hide & Ambush 80%. If PC armor is breached by Bite, poison of Potency 1D10x1D6 is injected. Web attack must be dodged, otherwise the victim is immobile, but can make a STR x2% roll per round to break out as their sole action.
18 Rat - Bite 1D6, claws 1D4, Fur Armor 1 point. Move Quietly & Hide at 70%. The major danger is the disease they carry. If PCs are in combat, they must make a CON x 5% roll or get sick. If they are wounded by the Ratman's bite or claws, this is reduced to CON x 1%. Failure to save means the character loses 1D4 CON and HP temporarily, and is bedridden that number of days.
19 Undead - Bite or claw 1D6. When they are reduced to 0 HP, they start regenerating at a rate of 1D6 HP per round. Can only be totally destroyed by fire or demon weapons. The major danger is the disease they carry. If PCs are in combat, they must make a CON x 5% roll or get sick. If they are wounded by the Undead's bite or claws, this is reduced to CON x 1%. Failure to save means the character loses 1D4 CON and HP temporarily, and is bedridden that number of days.
20 Thing - An amorphous blob continually shooting out and sucking in appendages with various appearances, from tentacles to swordhands to claws. Has 3D8 HP, 3D8 natural armour from mutating flesh (roll once and keep that for the rest of the encounter), and does 1D8 attacks per round, each doing 1D8 damage. Doesn't really dodge but can parry equal to the number of appendages with penalty.
4) Other Notes
For every group of Coarse Demons, one could have a special demon ability. Once again, match the theme of the adventure if you can, otherwise roll on the Demon Special Abilities table (coming in next post) and adjust as needed.
Stormbringer Redux # 15 (part three)
First, as promised last time, here is the revised Random Chaotic Abilities table. Use it for the leaders of Coarse Demon groups, random monsters, or else chaotic mutations / curses. I always felt it a bit of a misstep how the designers split [22.214.171.124] Special Demon Abilities and [126.96.36.199] Special Chaotic Abilities into two tables with many overlaps and rule contradictions, so I have tried to make it as coherent and as simple to use as possible.
Revised Random Chaotic Abilities
Roll D66 (Roll 2D6, do not add, instead refer to results for upper & lower rows of table)
Clarified Effects of Random Chaotic Abilities
1-1 Shapechanger - Story effect, no combat bonus per se. Can take on the appearance of anyone it sees with a minute's concentration, ie doppelganger.
1-2 & 1-3 Loathsome - All NPCs flee in disgust and fear, PCs can save at INT or CON x 5%, whichever is higher.
1-4 Invisible - Attackers have 1/2 skill to hit, it has double chance to surprise (ie Hide, Move Silently).
1-5 & 1-6 Camouflaged - Has a natural Hide skill of DEX x 5% (average 50).
2-1 & 2-2 Invulnerable - Has skin armor of 20 points vs mundane weapons, but they have 50% of breaking if they hit. Ignored by demon weapons.
2-3 & 2-4 Magical Vitality - Unharmed by non-magical weapons, which have 50% of breaking if they hit.
2-5 Magic Resistance - Immune to demon weapons, only hurt by normal weapons.
2-6 Insubstantial - Ghostly form, mundane weapons pass through it, but it ignores mundane armor and does damage to POW when it hits. Can only be defeated by magic weapons, demon or otherwise, or exorcised in a POW vs POW with a Sorcerer for monsters.
3-1 & 3-2 Flying - Can fly at walking speed, but can also make a Dive attack if already in position, or if it takes a round to get in position. Does double damage with a spear, triple if a critical success.
3-3 & 3-4 Speed - Gets two attacks, one at DEX x 2, another at DEX x 1 without any penalty for consecutive attacks. Also gets 2 Parries without penalty.
3-5 Teleport - Can teleport 1D10 meters away 1D8 times per combat.
3-6 Retreat - Story effect, no combat bonus per se. Upon a killing blow, this creature dissolves back to its home plane, swearing vengeance as it does so. Expect it to return with double the number of allies at an inopportune future time to harass the PCs. Can only be killed on its home plane.
(NB: Creatures must be concentrating to use any Psychic powers, and cannot fight while doing so. Range is 10 meters. If damaged, the creature has POW - damage % to resist or lose concentration. Incapacitated PCs should be considered captured and either exchanged for ransom or rescued at some later point in case of TPK or being abandoned. Saves against Psychic abilities are allowed ONCE a combat.)
4-1 Telepathy - Story effect, no combat bonus per se. The GM should start whispering unsettling words to freak out the players, within reason.
4-2 Illusion - All NPCs believe in the false scene presented by the creature , PCs can save at INT x 5%. Requires lots of GM creativity.
4-3 Fear - All NPCs flee in fear, PCs can save at INT x 5%.
4-4 Sleep - All NPCs fall into an arcane slumber, PCs can save at CON x 5%.
4-5 Hypnosis - All NPCs are under the control of creature, PCs can save at INT or CON x 5%, whichever is higher. Time to fight your henchmen.
4-6 Pain - All NPCs are crippled with intense pain, PCs can save at CON x 5%.
5-1 & 5-2 Minor Regeneration - Regains 1D6 HP per round, must go one round at 0 HP or below to die.
5-3 Major Regeneration - Regain 1D10 HP per round, must go two rounds at 0 HP or below to die.
5-4 Speed - See 3-3 & 3-4.
5-5 & 5-6 Combat Luck - Attackers have 1/2 skill to hit the creature, and it can make PCs reroll one successful roll against it per combat.
6-1 Drains STR - Drains 1D6 of STR to foes within 10m, POW vs POW to save. If bound in a weapon, needs a hit & damage to drain.
6-2 Drains CON - Drains 1D6 of CON to foes within 10m, POW vs POW to save. If bound in a weapon, needs a hit & damage to drain.
6-3 Acid - Skin extrudes acid, does 1D6 damage to anything it hits with natural weapons or when it is hit. Lasts for 3 rounds unless wiped off.
6-4 Fire - Does 1D6 damage to anyone in close combat.
6-5 Cold - Does 1D6 damage to anyone in close combat.
6-6 Poison - First, roll on 188.8.131.52.1 for type of poison. Character is poisoned if hit by natural weapons, gets one roll of CON x 5% for every time it is hit.
Example of Coarse Demon Creation
First, I would try to match the demon type to the surroundings (ie Sharkmen for ocean,Tiger men in grasslands), and roll randomly without such context. Next, I would choose a power that matches this, or roll randomly if out of inspiration.
For reference, here is what I got when I rolled randomly:
Beast Type Roll: 1, 1 Ape - Bite for 2D6, Fur Armor 2 points, Climb and all sense skills at 65%.
Random Power Roll: 5-1 - Minor Regeneration - Regains 1D6 HP per round, must go one round at 0 HP or below to die.
So basically we have a group of Chaos Apemen who can regenerate. Although they have no damage bonus or magic, they are strong enough to pose a challenge to most PCs, and could even lead to a TPK (Total Party Kill) if enough PC rolls are flubbed.