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Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 01:18 AM #1
Defender (Lvl 8)
Discussion: Devils and Demons in L4W Cosmology
So, how do devils and demons fit into L4W’s cosmology?
I’ve had an idea about devils for a while now, which is to combine the Christian devil with the Greek Prometheus. In the beginning, the mortal races had no real intelligence, barely being smarter than animals. They worshiped the gods and obeyed their laws because they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. One of Joven’s angels saw that mortals are suffering from their lack of free will, so he hopped on down and basically gave mortals the ability to a) make mistakes, and b) learn from them. Gods were upset and punished the angel by banishing him to what would become hell. However, the gods saw that what he did was for the best. After all, it’s much more of an ego boost when someone chooses to worship you. Now the angel has become bitter and twisted over his “betrayal” by both the gods (for the banishment) and the mortal races (for still worshiping the gods), and desires revenge.
Believe me, I will clean that origin story up if it becomes official. But that gives the basic idea. Also, for the angel’s name, I’ve been trying to come up with an awesome mix of Prometheus and Mephistopheles, but nothing’s clicked. So maybe something vague, like “The Adversary”, since his real name has been stricken from the divine record.
Something to note: the Adversary is not on the same level as the Twelve Gods. He is weaker than the weakest of them. He couldn’t even take on Hecate. He’s just an immensely powerful fallen angel. This is to keep our pantheon Unaligned. Also, the Adversary’s hell isn’t where bad people go when they die. Lauto has a tight grip on that. The Adversary’s hell is just where the devils (the angel’s loyal followers) hang out.
So, what about demons? Don’t really have an idea here. They’ve been associated with Oni a lot, and occasionally equated to them. Are the Oni demons? Are all demons Oni? I have to say, I sort of liked it when the Oni were just “the Oni”, rather than being the Tsugo word for “demon”. I’ve been describing them as demonic fairly frequently, but I didn’t mean to imply they have variable resistance. On the other hand, demons are chaos-y, and the Oni are working to destabilize the very ordered Kingdom of Jade, so it’s not a bad match. But then are the Oni chaos made “flesh”, or just a bunch of evil dudes looking to take down the Kingdom?
Finally, the Blood War. Devils versus demons. The eternal struggle between despotic tyranny and destructive anarchy that should one side ever win would spell the end of existence. Should L4W have it? In my opinion, no. Devils and demons can duke it out, sure, but I don’t think it really fits the mythos we’ve been working with.
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Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 01:53 AM #2
Novice (Lvl 1)
The thing I see as most important (because it directly relates to me), is the use of the monsters in the monster manuals. Immortals are the gods and their servants, Infernals or Devils are the Lawful-Evil fiends, and Demons are Fiends that are lumped in with the Primordials and their Elemental servants. So, while the above story is cool, what I'm interested in myself is cosmology: Do we use astral sea/elemental chaos/abyss, or something else?
Also, as we are using a reference to the Greco-Roman Mythos, are there Titans in L4W?
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 02:01 AM #3
Defender (Lvl 8)
I think when talking about demons and devils there's something important to keep in my mind, and to keep. Demons seek to destroy and devils seek to dominate. I think as long as we play with that I think we can have some fun.
In my next adventure, devils, demons and oni will be all be touched on. Without revealing anything, I can say that I kept the struggle between demons and devils but it certainly need not be the Blood War. Devils seek to dominate and if demons destroy, what are they going to dominate. Such of extremes of law and chaos are going to fight when they cross paths wether its eternal or deeply meaningful.
As for demons and oni, I considered them related but not the same. Oni have demon blood but they're slightly less destructive and much more controlled. That's why they can be slowly subversive in the Jade. They still seek to destroy the Jade empire, but they can do it differently.
Current Work: http://stuffershack.com/tag/brian-liberge/
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 04:53 AM #4
Novice (Lvl 1)
Hmmm. I am also using that conflict in the adventure I'm planning, and I am considering using the Blood War. Mind sharing notes?
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 05:32 AM #5
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 05:41 AM #6
Novice (Lvl 1)
Just because all Oni are demons, does not mean all demons are Oni. I have to agree with THB on this one - Saying all Demons are Oni is like saying all backgrounds/homelands are similar. They are not. They have similarities, and every homeland is a homeland, but the Isle of Bone is very different from every other area we have, and that's what helps keep things interesting. I would be willing to say there are no non-Oni demons in KoJ, but I would avoid the homoginization of villains. Oni are more interesting if they have their own culture & history, and are not just 'demons.'
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 06:10 AM #7
Myrmidon (Lvl 10)
Saying that all demons are not onis is well and good as long as I got stats for onis! Meanwhile the point is moot and I am using demon stats for onis (Starting with using dretch in 'Hell's Basement' and calling them onis).
If someone is truly serious about onis being a distinct type of monsters, they need to come up with a distinct bestiary. Otherwise onis are just demons with a funny hat. But then, japanese samurai were just humans with funny hats too so I don't see any harm.
If what bothers you is a distinct 'culture', well, that's all fluff. I'm talking stats. And at this points, oni stats are demons stats unless someone provide me with a workable alternative (which I am open to use but not willing to provide!).
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 06:14 AM #8
Novice (Lvl 1)
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 08:45 AM #9
Defender (Lvl 8)
I'm very taken with the idea of a divine Adversary figure, a la the Bastard in Lois Bujold's Chalion books, or the Adversary in Sepulchrave's story hour. Evil in the sense that he or she or it works in opposition to the gods, but in much the same way that a thumb works in opposition to the fingers, or a hammer vs. the anvil.
The Adversary separates the wheat from the chaff; he works to expose creations of the gods that aren't worthy. He does his very best to subvert mortals to evil and destruction and tyranny, and to disrupt the plans of the gods, corrupting their ends. If he succeeds, that is evidence that those mortals, or those plans, were flawed creations and deserve destruction. In fact, exposing and destroying such flawed creations serves the greater good. In that sense, the Adversary need not be actually Evil himself.
Demons and devils and various other evil monsters are his tools, mostly independent (never "free") to work their own schemes for power, but able to be commanded at need. Different situations call for different tools, so there are as many varieties of fiend as he needs.
In a sense, it doesn't matter if the Adversary is on par with the rest of the gods in terms of power. He and the gods are never in direct conflict, because the gods recognize the necessity of his existence and the work that he does. All of their conflict takes place through proxies. Also, it seems like the Adversary would be extremely clever, preferring the indirect approach. Subversion and corruption, rather than direct opposition. Which renders raw power somewhat moot.
Anyway, my early morning fiendish thoughts.
Thursday, 25th March, 2010, 11:21 AM #10
Minor Trickster (Lvl 4)
I like the basic idea of conflating the Adversary with Promethean myth, and I like Covaithe's gloss on the idea of the Adversary very much.
That said, the thing that bothers me about the original post is that, in seeking to syncretise the different traditions, you have basically mashed everything up into a 'middle way' where, for my money, a lot of the source material loses its savour.
The way I would prefer to see it done is simply create one paradigm for a Prometheus figure (the grand rebel, punished for all eternity because of his audacious assertion of his own will over that of the gods), one paradigm for a sanctioned adversary (very much what Covaithe is talking about), and one paradigm for the more traditional Manichean lord of evil (as pretty much implied in the WotC source material).
All those perspectives apply to the same entity, and they have equal validity. This already seems to be the approach taken with the dominant pantheon, which is something I really like about the setting here. Leaving it unresolved (Schrödinger's Adversary ) seems to me like a more elegant solution than just announcing 'different people might see him in different ways - but really they're all wrong, he's like this'.
* * *
On Oni: am I missing something? They're statted in MM2. Or was it already decided that those mechanical write-ups don't match their demonic flavour in the context of L4W?
Last edited by Antithetist; Thursday, 25th March, 2010 at 11:26 AM.