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Yay or Nay? Demon: the Fallen

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  • Yay or Nay? Demon: the Fallen

    So, while I have zero interest in Descent (I don't care for the God Machine idea, and even less so for a game that revolves around it), I have been curious about Fallen for some time. Unfortunately, I seem to be getting mixed reviews about its themes and mechanics. Some people think it's good and are hoping for a D20 release, while others weren't too pleased with it, judging by how we don't even have a forum dedicated to it.

    Some have said that players weren't happy about it adhering primarily to Abrahamic faiths, but that's something I'm not really worried about. Vampire kind of already did that by incorporating the biblical God into the vampire origin story.

    Others have said the game doesn't really allow for cross faction groups, which is also something I'm not too worried about. I mean, I have yet to see a game where people are playing Camarilla / Sabbat in the same coterie.


    However, what I am concerned with is that there is barely any coverage surrounding this game, both in youtube videos and wikis as well. They just sort of skim through the game without giving an in depth look about its premise or setting. This makes me hesitant about buying it, since I don't like the idea of paying for a game I know almost nothing about and finding out later that it's not right for me.

    So far, I'm leaning towards 'yes,' but that's mostly from my own hype about being able to play an actual friggin demon set loose upon the modern world.

  • #2
    It has a good fluff, its mechanics need polish.

    It's the one game where you absolutely need the players handbook: It adds the concept of rituals and the idea of creating your own Apocalyptic Form (complete with wings that can actually fly instead of just "glide" like the ones in the Basic), which are two really big aditions.

    Many preffer to port the Sphere system from mage rather than use Lore system. But that's on you. Lore system it's like Disciplines, but a little more flexible. If you add rituals it's like a potent form of Thaumaturgy. Personally I wouldn't have used the Discipline/Thaumaturgy system for Demons. Something like Exalted Charm trees or Mage Pillars/Spheres would have worked much better to give that oomph of "Lores of Creation", but that's me.

    It's fluff it's VERY good if you like the whole Milton "it's better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven" vive (and aren't married with Werewolf cosmology). Demon it's to the judeocristian WoD cosmology what Werewolf it's to the animist WoD cosmology - it goes above and beyond Vampire in that regards (and perhaps that's why people complains more about Demon than Vampire)

    In my opinion it does lack of "things to do" when you're a member of a demonic faction. To give an example, when you're Sabbat you have the Sabbat agenda, belief system, and social structure providing a solid foundation for the game, your character has a supernatural background to build on.
    Perhaps because Demon has so little material there isn't a very detailed agenda for each faction (for instance, how can you build the "faith weapon" for a Faustian Win?) and very little details about organizations or goalposts. Also, Demons lack the clear purpose Hunters - you aren't driven to do anything but to get one or two Faith farms, after that you can do what you want. It's almost a sandbox in that sense.

    The Earthbound book it's the most lovecraftian book of all WoD that I've ever read. So there's that.

    It would be great to have a D20 to encompass all these books, and polish some mechanics.
    Last edited by Aleph; 03-22-2018, 01:09 PM.

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    • #3
      Demon is an interesting game. I had a lot of doubts about it when I first stumbled across it and I have never played a true (pure-)Demon game, but I am using it in my current game, even though we played around with the lore and stuff to make it fit a non-abrahamitic cosmos (basically we already established The One as the Weaver Incarna of Patriachy, so that's what created Elohim as it's servants and Lucifer is a really complex concept that isn't fully explained yet in the game).

      Overall, I have the feeling Demons are really much, much weaker overall than splats like Werewolfs, Mages and Vampires, even Changelings (especially C20). This is kind of funny, when you look at what they think to be.
      Mechanic wise, the rulebook is a mess! There's rules all over the place and nothing is where you would search for it. Also, without the Players Guide, Apocalypse Forms are very static and kind of just something that "might" come in handy for your character. However, Players Guide introduces systems to modify the forms to make them fit your characters.
      Lores are an interesting thing, they're linear magical paths and you start with four available. Also there's a "Torment" form of each. This is where Demon becomes something different than the other games. The more you lose yourself to your pain and anger, the more you lose control over your powers while you also get much stronger. Even your Apocalypse Form will get buffed with Torment Powers.
      The whole Torment-thing works like an opposite to Humanity in Vampire, where you lose your conscience and morality the more points you gather, really nothing new but a bit more flexible overall (then again, there's no paths so a flexible system makes sense).

      Since there are only a hand full of different houses (9 Houses), each with 3 Lores (and two common lores, I believe the Players Guide to be essential to really get this system going. Also, being creative and inventing some more "lost" Lores is a very cool thing. Were're working on a Lore of Shadows atm, inspired by the Obtenebration Discipline. In fact, a lot of Lores seem quite similar to certain Disciplines or especially to the elemental paths of Koldunism.

      Earthbound are your common enemies, even though they are nothing special in the core book. Just really powerfull, high Torment Demons with a lot of Lore points and a lot of allies. The "Earthbound" rule book would fix that problem, with additional Lores designed after the triatic Wyrm but I don't have the book, so I can't say much about it. When I design godlike enemies, they don't have a fixed amount of stats and my players don't necessarily need to know that. That way they're epic no matter what.

      A minor drawback: Since Lores are cast by a combined Dice-Pool of Attribute + Ability and there are literally no Lore using Appearance, this Attribute might not even be rolled once the entire story. It's even more useless than in other game lines.

      Overall, I'd go for a Yay.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by TheVarulfen
        Earthbound are your common enemies, even though they are nothing special in the core book. Just really powerfull, high Torment Demons with a lot of Lore points and a lot of allies. The "Earthbound" rule book would fix that problem, with additional Lores designed after the triatic Wyrm but I don't have the book, so I can't say much about it. When I design godlike enemies, they don't have a fixed amount of stats and my players don't necessarily need to know that. That way they're epic no matter what.
        That book it's very good, and really upgrades Earthbounds up to the point of changing their vive. A lot. After you read that book, Demon transforms in "Angels/Demons vs Cthulhu" (when you use them as antagonists, of course).

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        • #5
          One of the metaphors that is sort of underplayed in Demon: the Fallen is that the player characters are essentially escaped prisoners who are have to deal with integrating back into regular life (through the humans they've possessed/merged with), fighting the trauma they have from millennia of imprisonment and war, and resisting the urge to get sucked back into the schemes of both imprisoned Demon Lords and Earthbound demons and their cults.


          Mage: the Ascension - Redesigned Prime Sphere; Streamlined Wonder Creation
          Mage: the Awakening 2E - Hogwarts: the Wizarding World Chronicle
          Mummy: the Curse - Lightweight 2E Conversion; Disciples of Duat

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Aleph View Post
            It's the one game where you absolutely need the players handbook: It adds the concept of rituals and the idea of creating your own Apocalyptic Form (complete with wings that can actually fly instead of just "glide" like the ones in the Basic), which are two really big aditions.

            I assume by Player's Handbook, you mean Player's Guide?

            If so, I'm going to add it to my Wishlist on DriveTHRU.


            Originally posted by Octavo View Post
            One of the metaphors that is sort of underplayed in Demon: the Fallen is that the player characters are essentially escaped prisoners who are have to deal with integrating back into regular life (through the humans they've possessed/merged with), fighting the trauma they have from millennia of imprisonment and war, and resisting the urge to get sucked back into the schemes of both imprisoned Demon Lords and Earthbound demons and their cults.

            Holy shit, I didn't even consider that metaphor!
            Last edited by Nyrufa; 03-22-2018, 05:29 PM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Aleph View Post

              That book it's very good, and really upgrades Earthbounds up to the point of changing their vive. A lot. After you read that book, Demon transforms in "Angels/Demons vs Cthulhu" (when you use them as antagonists, of course).


              Actually, that's not quite accurate. The horror that surrounds the Lovecraft mythos isn't about the existence of alien demon-gods. It's about revealing humanity's insignificance in the grand scope of the universe and us being incapable of accepting that realization. We like to believe that all life is precious and every individual is special. But those who are worshiped as gods in Lovecraft's mythology were sporadically created through the chaotic dreams of Azathoth. And if the creation of the gods themselves was little more than an accident, then there is nothing special about life at all. Which is probably why Shub-Niggurath (a fertility goddess) looks like a roiling mass of random body parts, instead of a seductive or motherly figure.


              The monsters in Lovecraft don't actively want to destroy us. In fact, they barely even acknowledge that we exist. They just go about their business and if we happen to get fucked up along the way, then so be it. They're billions of years old, they've been around long enough to know that the death of one planet's inhabitant isn't going to affect the universe in the slightest.

              The monsters from Lovecraft's stories aren't so much threats to be challenged, as they are forces of nature beyond our control. Once you give the characters a way to defend themselves or defeat the enemy, then you've missed the point of his work.
              Last edited by Nyrufa; 03-22-2018, 09:25 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Nyrufa View Post
                Actually, that's not quite accurate.
                Well, Lovecraft is influential in a number of different ways. The aesthetic of his creations is probably more so than the cosmic horror.

                Which is probably why Shub-Niggurath (a fertility goddess) looks like a roiling mass of random body parts, instead of a seductive or motherly figure.
                Lovecraft didn't describe Shub-Niggurath.

                Once you give the characters a way to defend themselves or defeat the enemy, then you've missed the point of his work.
                You're going to have to include Lovecraft on that list, seeing as it's not that uncommon for his characters to do so. Also, he did multiple different types of horror.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael View Post

                  Well, Lovecraft is influential in a number of different ways. The aesthetic of his creations is probably more so than the cosmic horror.



                  Lovecraft didn't describe Shub-Niggurath.



                  You're going to have to include Lovecraft on that list, seeing as it's not that uncommon for his characters to do so. Also, he did multiple different types of horror.


                  1 - From what I understand, the aesthetic of his creations were derived from his own prejudices and general dislike for the world around him. The 'unknowable terrors' that permeates his work symbolizes his xenophobia towards other cultures and ethnic groups.

                  2 - Yeah, I know that a bunch of different people expanded his mythos. I'm not knowledgeable on who did what, though. Plus, his work is public domain!

                  3 - Sure, they can challenge the little minions. But as for taking on the big leagues, the only real option is to lull them to sleep and pray to whatever powers are listening that they stay that way. How exactly do you fight against a creature who is so alien to our minds that the very sight of them causes our eyes to explode from their sockets as we are plunged into screaming madness?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nyrufa
                    1 - From what I understand, the aesthetic of his creations were derived from his own prejudices and general dislike for the world around him. The 'unknowable terrors' that permeates his work symbolizes his xenophobia towards other cultures and ethnic groups.
                    His aesthetics aren't any more or less derived of those things than his cosmic horror - the dislike of the world arround him it's what inspired the idea of a hopeless humanity. You can't really sepparate the cosmic horror from the idea of unknowable terrors, because the cosmic horror derives from the prevalence of the Outer Gods (a terminology that screams xenophobia more than any tentacled beastie)

                    Also, none of what you say disproves that the aesthetic of his creations it's more prevalent that the cosmic horror, it's just baseless ad-hominem (trying to equate the aesthetic with evil)

                    2 - Yeah, I know that a bunch of different people expanded his mythos. I'm not knowledgeable on who did what, though. Plus, his work is public domain!
                    Whereas I love the winks to Cthulhu in Conan, I'm not a fan of canonizing Shub-Niggurath looks. There's a difference between creating a story in the Mythos universe and explaining how the mythos "really work" outside Lovecraft original work. And no ad-hominem against the author will change my opinion about that.

                    3 - Sure, they can challenge the little minions. But as for taking on the big leagues, the only real option is to lull them to sleep and pray to whatever powers are listening that they stay that way. How exactly do you fight against a creature who is so alien to our minds that the very sight of them causes our eyes to explode from their sockets as we are plunged into screaming madness?
                    1º "little minions"?. Most Lovecraftian monsters aren't cosmic in scale, just aliens and/or old abominations from prehistory that once ruled the earth "and will do once more" . I think you're thinking in the Outer Gods, which comprise a small part of the mythos (you can easily have stories in the Mythos universe without mentioning them).

                    2º Miskatonic dudes literally shot down the Dunwich Horror after using magic to reveal it's location. But surely that's what you call a "minion". Cats killed the mosnters of the dark side of the moon that were going to murder Randolph Carter (granted, cats are very magical in the Mythos). But surely those are minions too. By being too focused on the Outer Gods you fail to notice that most Elder Things aren't really of a greater magnitude than such creatures. There's more in Lovecraft than Azathoth (who was mentioned but twice)

                    Lovecraft it's pesimistic about humanity's chances, but unspeakable horrors have been defeated time and time again in the mythos. Lovecraft it's pesimistic not because humans are powerless, but because he thinks humans are stupid and base (cats, elegant creatures, are likely to survive us). It's not casual that Armitage it's a head librarian and highly cultured - that's the sort of guy that Lovecraft sees as a "hero".

                    3º "that the very sight of them causes our eyes to explode from their sockets as we are plunged into screaming madness" was never the reason of why humanity it's doomed. In fact, this never happens in the whole Lovecraft work, that's a pop culture misconception - Randolph Carter literally saw Yog-Sothoth in it's true form and didn't die of madness nor lost his eyes.
                    Oh, Carter it's a very special dude, perhaps one of the best and more resorceful dreamers and mages in the Lovecraft universe, and his triffle with the Outer Gods didn't left him unscatched , but Yog wasn't the cause of his downfall, his own hubris caused that.( The Silver Key it's a must read. One of the best books if you want to understand what the Gods really are)

                    4º Demon it's not situated on the Mythos universe, but all that I'm going to say it's that Earthbounds often come with their own cities from elder times that don't follow the rules of physics, and before waking up they rally people to their side trough nightmares.They're abominable beyond any WoD being, to the point of humans going insane with just their alien looks (no magic involved). Many want to rule the earth like they did in the prehistory.
                    That's very Lovecraftian (they have a Great Old Ones vive, but they are no Outer Gods) and if your characters weren't themselves inhuman, could lead to a very Lovecraftian storytelling (which it's not the same)
                    Last edited by Aleph; 03-23-2018, 12:23 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Aleph View Post

                      Snip
                      Ah, thanks for clearing it up. I was under the impression that most encounters with the Old Ones result in the individual being driven insane in some fashion or another. As for the subject of minions, Cthulhu technically classifies. He's actually supposed to be a high priest, as opposed to the god he's often portrayed as in modern media. Being a priest would imply that 1) he prays to the Outer Gods, and 2) He preaches their doctrine to fellow worshipers.


                      Still, my point about comparing them is that we have a general idea of what the Earthbound want and why they want it. But when it comes to Lovecraft, it's mostly ambiguous as to what their long term goals are, or why they're striving towards them.


                      Anyways, I'm still leaning towards 'Yes' on picking up the core book and the player's handbook. I'm still on the fence about Earthbound, because DriveThru isn't offering a hardback cover, which is what I prefer to purchase from them.

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                      • #12
                        Earthbound is a pretty slim book, I don't think it would work for a hardback cover.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Nyrufa
                          Ah, thanks for clearing it up. I was under the impression that most encounters with the Old Ones result in the individual being driven insane in some fashion or another. .
                          People that go insane in Lovecraft work are, usually, normal people.

                          Most encounters with the Old Ones are normal people facing the supernatural for the first time. Cthulhu was faced (and defeated) by relatively normal people that went insane but most were functional enough to run away and ram the preacher with their boat when "he" was chasing them (which was surprisingly effective).

                          "Heroes" that wield supernatural power like Carter or Armitage ain't about to die by just taking a peek on Cthulhu. They may get horrified, but they're made of a stuff that survives the experience. Carter saw much, much, worse (He not only faced but seeked Outer Gods) and was...well...functional most of the time. As an example, after his sense of self was shatered and blown up trough all the universe by Yog, Carter barely lost his jimmies, causing him to make a very serious, but very small, mistake of the kind that someone perfectly sane could have made in a moment of distraction (he forgot the key ).

                          This is something to keep in mind in Lovecraftian stories whatever the setting. While nobody faces the horror unscatched, there's a difference between normal people and those who eat supernatural for breakfast (say, Mages vs Sleepers in Mage).
                          Last edited by Aleph; 03-23-2018, 02:35 PM.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                            It has a good fluff, its mechanics need polish.
                            It also has startlingly bad fluff in a demon mentioning that autistic people have weak connections to their souls and make for easily-had vessels.

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                            • #15
                              Wow, that's just bad, I must have erased that from memory. Why would the authors feel the need to give a supernatural dimension to autism?. It's the kind of things that just call to be ignored.

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