PF2E Succubus on the offensive

CapnZapp

Hero
This post is primarily meant for Pathfinder 2 rules, but feel free to offer advice even if it is general to any edition of D&D. :)


The adventure I'm currently gamesmastering features one of these suckers. However, I'm toying with the idea to change the story arc from merely "behind the scenes manipulator that goes down in a fight once the heroes meet up with it" to "this really makes me understand how dangerous Succubi really can be".

So. Upfront, I'm not going to promise I will stick to every last bit of RAW, but I would like to know when and where I am winging it :) In short, how would the following approach work? Any advice on improvements? Feel free to point out where I'm breaking or bending a rule as written.

The non-spoilery background: There is a scripted encounter where the heroes finally catch up with the one corrupting their friends. It leads to combat, and the end of the Succubi. Let's call her Alenna. Now, what if Alenna the Succubi simply Dimension Doors away when she realizes the heroes are too strong for her? And vows to return to wreak havoc using what she's good at, instead of what the heroes are good at (combat).

Her plan is to find out the sexual preference of the heroes, take an appropriate form, and approach each of them individually (such as when they're shopping in a Magic Shoppe, or posing as a paying customer at the circus etc). One of them meets Stellan The Armorcrafter, another one meets Sue, a mother of three taking her brats to the Circus, and so on...

She will start by using no magic, and simply appearing charming and persuasive, claiming to be able to bolster their prowess. In addition to the listed stat block, the adventure itself sets a precedent of an extra damage die (described as "demonic corruption") or the ability to summon demonic allies. Just as the description says, she's not (only) about lust for carnal pleasures. Players are often interested in plus bonuses more ;-) Bonuses to attacks, to damage, to skills, to their circus performance... (they're circus performers).

Remember, the point here isn't to hose the players. The point is to impress them enough to go "woah, now I really understood how our earlier friends could become corrupted!". As far as costs and drawbacks, I'm content with even Drained 1. The main thing is giving the players a choice to roleplay their characters as being tempted. And to do that, they can't feel their character's life is on the line. So I'm probably not even going to mention the negative damage (since even 18 points of damage is less than half their hp) And of course, give them an opportunity to realize what's going on, set a trap for Alenna the temptress, and finally once and for all destroy her.

Anyway.

If general roleplay isn't enough to make them willingly accept her bonuses, Alenna can use Mind Reading and Suggestion.

What are the limits of these spells in this non-combat context? I'm guessing a PC needs to be lucky to resist (assuming the player suspects foul play and resists). The most interesting situation role-play-wise would be if some PCs successfully resist while others don't. Again: I'm not planning to have her force PCs to do stuff their player doesn't want them to do. Except what's clearly delimited by CRB effects, of course. (Nobody gets upset their character does stupid or offensive stuff when under the influence of a Confusion spell, for instance. Even though a player having his character attacking another character would normally be a big fun-killing no-no).

I'm guessing one or three saving throws is all that stands between a PC and doing whatever non-specific stuff Alenna needs them to do in order to justify getting her "upgrades". So one character runs back to their Circus to warn the others that Alenna is back. Another is just happy they've met Bob the Butcher who is not only their best new friend, but has also taught them how to gain +1 to their attacks.

Thoughts?

PS. The party will be level 5 when this happens, making Alenna's DC of 26 quite respectable still (especially assuming the -2 penalty for finding her good-looking)
 

dave2008

Legend
Ugh, I'm getting a feeling of deja vu! I think there has been a similar thread on these forums before. I will see what I can dig up. If I can't find it, maybe I can offer some help.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Not what I was looking for, but some other succubus threads that might be helpful:
Need ideas/ help for succubus taking a soul
I love the 5e Succubus
Succubus Boss Fight
Thanks.

What I'm after is second opinions on the specific scenario:

"A succubus (in disguise) seeks out a sole player character during a trivial errand for a friendly chat."

The point is there's no lethal threat intended to the character, no combat encounter.
I respect the unwritten contract between players and GM that in order for players to allow their characters to act anywhere near normal between dungeons, instead of staying in paranoid murderhobo mode all the time, there can't be any reason to "never split the party" even during downtime. And so a monster seeking out a hero needs to do so peacefully

What can Mind Reading and Suggestion accomplish without the meeting going south? Ideally, these spells are only used to support a purely social encounter.

What actions do the character need to take to gain the Succubus' "gifts"? I'm thinking the Passionate Kiss can be reskinned as a blood bond (shedding a drop of blood each) or similar acts of "devoted agreement", in order to set up the Profane Gift.

I realize the Succubus could just ask the player character, and if so, give to a willing character. But I think it's best if the player expressly commits to his or her character participating in a "devoted agreement" of some sort.

Zapp

PS. As you likely have realized by now, none of the three linked threads were sufficiently relevant to help me. Thanks again, though.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
I'm also interested in hearing what y'all think about the Succubi approaching several characters (during one and the same day of shopping, Earn Income or whatever).

Is it core to the mythology of the Lust Demon that it focuses on a single target at a time?

I could roll a dice to determine the single hero she targets. But wouldn't it be more fun to involve all players?
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Is it core to the mythology of the Lust Demon that it focuses on a single target at a time?
If we're talking the real-world mythology, then it's that succubi are essentially rapists, since they show at night to have sex with men who would presumably otherwise say no, since monks needed a reason to explain why they'd had nocturnal emissions despite their vows. Likewise, the succubi would then turn into incubi and use the stolen seed to impregnate innocent young ladies, who needed to explain why they were pregnant despite swearing that they hadn't done anything untoward or illicit. The entire idea of succubi being temptresses doesn't really work with their traditional depictions, though portraying them as femme fatales works a little better.
 

dave2008

Legend
I'm also interested in hearing what y'all think about the Succubi approaching several characters (during one and the same day of shopping, Earn Income or whatever).

Is it core to the mythology of the Lust Demon that it focuses on a single target at a time?

I could roll a dice to determine the single hero she targets. But wouldn't it be more fun to involve all players?
I think that makes absolute sense to me. I am not intimately familiar with succubus lore, but I think more than one target at a time seems acceptable. I can see how that would have benefits
 

pcrotteau

Explorer
During a casual meeting, in a market or shop, the demon could (accidentally) knock something over or drop it. The item doesn't have to be sharp, a sheet of paper would do.
A small cut, enough for a drop of blood as it is handed back to the villain, could give her the link to perform a couple of different rites, or link by profane bond. (unfortunately, its only on at a time)
 

CapnZapp

Hero
During a casual meeting, in a market or shop, the demon could (accidentally) knock something over or drop it. The item doesn't have to be sharp, a sheet of paper would do.
A small cut, enough for a drop of blood as it is handed back to the villain, could give her the link to perform a couple of different rites, or link by profane bond. (unfortunately, its only on at a time)
Thanks.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Let me discuss the meta-issue at stake a bit further, if you indulge me.

I'm looking for the player's consent. The character might be tricked, but I don't intend to violate the player's trust.

I'm going to make it obvious to the player that going ahead with the "blood bond" (or whatever) means an agreement has been made, and that it was made willingly.

If the player is okay with it (perhaps because a +1 bonus is nice) that's all that matters. Whether the character is willing or duped or coerced doesn't matter nearly as much.

Whether the player catches onto Balenni, or merely suspects something fishy, or is okay either way isn't the important thing either. That the player might not fully understand the consequences is also fine - just that there is a price to be paid. The specifics doesn't have to be spelled out beforehand. (They can do research!)

The important thing is that the player understands that "no means no" - if the player doesn't want his or her character involved, he or she just needs to say "no thanks", and the strange shopkeeper (or whatever) won't cause permanent harm. After all, I pitched a dangerous monster at the PC when he or she was alone.

---

That's the only way. I can't have the players distrusting the GM. Everybody knows "never split the party", but a player must be able to trust the GM not to exploit the fact that the only natural behavior is - and I'm mainly talking downtime here, not when you're exploring hostile dungeons - for heroes to shop in different shops, sleep in different rooms, and so on.
 

pcrotteau

Explorer
Try offering a "sidequest"

"Hey! Do this errand and I can offer you this item that gives you this bonus!"

Or having numerous inconsequential encounters to hide the true intent. Vary the appearance, approach and mannerisms.

I wouldn't try anything sexual towards a character, personally. I try and leave that outside the game. But lust doesn't necessarily require sex, just desire. How about a new Sword! All shiny with Dark Fire coming from it. Maybe made with Alchemical Silver! Great for those pesky Devils and Lycanthropes!
 

Eltab

Adventurer
Maybe the first step to corrupting an unexpecting soul is a verbal agreement sealed with a handshake.
Later you can do the G Gordon Liddy thing (also in Lethal Weapon 2, IIRC) where you hold your hand over an open flame to show your commitment.
Then suggest "blood brothers" with a pinprick and a drop of blood.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Maybe the first step to corrupting an unexpecting soul is a verbal agreement sealed with a handshake.
Later you can do the G Gordon Liddy thing (also in Lethal Weapon 2, IIRC) where you hold your hand over an open flame to show your commitment.
Then suggest "blood brothers" with a pinprick and a drop of blood.
Something like that, yes. The reason us humans seal deals with a physical action is to show trust, and also to make it that much harder to backpedal, since you can't easily say you didn't know shaking his hand or bonding her blood meant something, was more than a party trick... Words are, after all, cheap.

In this context, it specifically achieves two things, one in-game and one out of game.

In-game, requiring Succubi to seal deals with a physical action (such as "an embrace or other act of passion") means they can't just do "drive-by" harvesting of souls. No card skimming to empty your accounts without you knowing, as it were! :)

Out of game, requiring the player character to perform a willing action means the default outcome (player inaction) is a failure state for the demon. On one hand, the player should feel safe his or her character isn't tricked into something without the express consent of the player. On the other hand, taking such an action means that everybody around the table can be confident the player went into this with "open eyes"; greatly lessening the risk of having a player feel hurt or betrayed without me the GM (and the other players around the table) realizing it. (Very bluntly: if I tell a player he doesn't have to shake the NPC's hand, and his character still does it, I can hope that means the player didn't feel coerced into going along.)

PS. I realize there are stronger measures to be had if you're really concerned about inclusivity and consent (such as the "x card" et cetera). I'm not nearly at that level. Just showing a basic empathy for the fact that any game effect that could take control over your "playing piece" carries a potential for out-of-game trouble, that's all. :)
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Q. What do I want out of setting up these encounters?
A. Ideally, I want the players to have their characters discuss what to do, once they suspect they have a Succubus in their midst.

I anticipate the fighter being very happy about getting a +1 bonus to attacks, the barbarian about getting +1d6 damage, or the wizard getting +1 to his spell save DC, and so on.

They will likely still conclude it's too dangerous to keep the succubi around, but at least they got to think about getting the same bonuses they witnessed the corrupted hermits exhibiting - it made them very dangerous combatants. They might even enjoy their bonuses for an encounter or three before getting to a decision.

Obviously, if they surprise me by deciding to conspire to keep their bonuses, I will have to up the game. After all, there is only bad endings where succubi are involved. Sooner or later they will have to kill off the lust demon. But I can let her give any accommodating PCs more and more "gifts" to signify corrupting them. Much like those hermits, I won't describe the drawbacks, since they themselves remain entirely unawares.

As you can see on its entry in the Pathfinder 2 SRD, if they think they can collect all her gifts before slaying her, they have a nasty surprise coming. In the blink of an eye, she can withdraw her Profane Gift, instantly making any involved PC permanently "stupefied 3", which is gamespeak for a -3 penalty to all mental actions, including Will Saves. (That should be a fun fight...! :p)
 

Sadras

Hero
Capp I like your idea (intentional or otherwise) to have all these NPCs start with the same letter or a letter from her name.

So either all S (Stellan, Sue) for Succubis or all names beginning with A from Alenna or in the sequence of the spelling of Alenna i.e. first Andrew, second Leandra, third Elena...etc

EDIT: That way the clues were there the whole time...she might even reveal that to them (if they do not figure it out) in the final showdown or when it's too late. She toys with them from the start due to her hubris.
 
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CapnZapp

Hero
Capp I like your idea (intentional or otherwise) to have all these NPCs start with the same letter or a letter from her name.
Heh.

The name of the actual Succubus is Balenni

Yes, I've put together a list of names to be prepared when the players tell me what they want to do when they arrive at the new big city: shopping for magic items, earning income, or whatever other downtime activity you might imagine.

Example names: Benni, Nial, Liane, Aline, Blain, Nabe, Ian ...

I need to prepare this beforehand because I can't know which character goes where, so I'll have to improvise on the spot. I'll let them roll a flat d20 so I can roleplay each small vignette in order. I won't send out players from the room and try to keep secrets. The first ones will have to enjoy the thrill of not knowing what's up; the later ones can instead enjoy being fore-warned.

To throw them off the succubus could easily introduce herself as Miss Elain or Master Bean :alien: or even Nine Nail
 
I'd definitely leave off the sexual aspects--what PC is not going to realize something is up when someone comes on to them? The only way to pull off anything remotely sexual is if the characters already seek out feminine companionship in town. In that case the succubus could put herself in a position to be sought out.
 

CapnZapp

Hero
Absolutely.

I'm thinking more along lines of:

The succubi pretending to be a potion seller or smith the PC visits to buy magic items from.

That person would strike up a conversation, and offer a "special technique" that grants +1 to spells or skills or whatever.

If the player is interested there would be some type of "deal closer" action required, such as cutting your hand before shaking on it.

This would then represent the character willingly accepting the Succubi Profane Gift.

If the character isn't interested (perhaps because the player suspects foul play) the Succubi will give the PC a taste of its power by using Suggestion and Embrace to drain the character. But only once (Drain 1) for the reason already explained; not violating the implicit trust the players place in their GM when they let down their guard during downtime.

Ideally there will be at least one affected character and at least one unaffected. And that there will be a lively discussion on what to do next

PS. Of course, if a character does decide to visit an actual bordello, things do get much more "straight-forward"!
 

CapnZapp

Hero
It went down swimmingly. :)

No less than four (out of five) characters are now entangled with the temptress 😮 , being given +1d6 damage (the Barbarian), +1 to hit (the fighter), one less MAP (the ranger) and +1 spell DC (the cleric). Only the wizard bungled his social encounter to the degree even the succubi couldn't make anything come out of it ;)

Only one player was immediately suspicious enough to hold back on his enthusiasm. That player finally cracked the "name puzzle" too, but only at the very end of the session.

Short-term the only drawbacks of this power (which might not appear as a big deal if you're playing D&D, but in the tightly controlled context of Pathfinder 2 it sure is) was Drained 1 (which goes away after a good night's rest) and 6d6 mental damage (in the case of the fighter, who was the only one to have a "classic" ahem encounter with "his" NPC*.)

*) I deliberately tried setting up encounters that didn't just rely on the classic seductress trope. After all, the monster entry has this to say: "While mortals often fixate on succubi's application of sexual lust, these demons are (sic!) can easily exploit lust for power, knowledge, fame, or any other desire as easily as more carnal appetites."

These NPCs are presented in the order encouraged. After all, Balenni can't be in two places at the same time! :cool: After the three first encounters, I had decided enough time had passed for them to meet up (if, for instance, they wanted to warn the others. That didn't happen)
The Barbarian: She was shopping for a Striking Greataxe and met Ian the sweaty half-orc smith (Balenni had "persuaded" the real shop owner to take a hike). He offered to teach a superior "rage style".
The Cleric: While looking for background info on Zevgazieb and Moonstone Hall, she "chanced" upon Master Albin, a grizzled male “devotee” of Gorum from Ulfen. He offered a ritual to connect deeper to your god.
The Wizard: while shopping for "potions and scrolls", he found the shop of Miss Elain the gnome tinker in a cute red headcap. But the encounter started on the wrong footing right away, when she offered potions but no scrolls, and he insisted on scrolls... Then he rolled 1 on Diplomacy and started ranting about mushrooms. Elain ended up selling him a crafter's eyepiece but no "special deal".

None of these three heroes thought to tell the others, so after dinner, the remaining two had their encounters.

The ranger was on the look-out for Celestial Menagerie dropouts and met Aline, the halfling knife thrower. He brought her home (to the Circus) and hired her (I'm assuming Balenni wouldn't be totally inept at throwing a dagger). She couldn't resist suggesting (with a capital S) that she, Aline, could share the ranger's wagon, despite him already having a girlfriend (one of the original circus NPCs). He played his character as very surprised when she gave him the clear answer "hell no" :) )

The fighter: Having completed his business, he and his wing-man (another NPC relation) went for a round of beers at the Escadar pubs. There he met and immediately hooked up with one Liane the Sell-Sword, a tattooed human mercenary, who promptly broke into a room at the inn, and "asked" the hapless NPC living there to get lost. After having sex once (where I secretly deducted 3d6 mental damage) she made her offer, giving him a special tattoo combat upgrade. The player remained willing throughout, so they had sex once more, before parting on amicable terms.
Now the question is how to take this to the next step until the heroes break up and hate each other :)

After all, she's a freakin' succubi - of course she won't stop!

So she should keep it up, potentially even destroying the lives of the NPCs that are in each hero's life. Let's see how much abuse the players are willing to take in order to keep their precious combat power-ups... :devilish:
 
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