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  • Question about Infernal Pacts

    Simple question: can you take multiple minor pacts or you have a "total" that you can increase only committing greater atrocities?

    Pact Ratings
    Level I Malice
    Small tasks and minor sins (theft, slander, ect.)
    Level II Cruelty
    Injuring, killing or corrupting one or two innocents.
    Level III Immorality
    Extreme cruelty; sacrificing several innocents.
    Level IV Wrongdoings
    Actively spreading evil, or opposing religious authorities.
    Level V Corruption
    Leading others into evil; killing a major force for good.
    Level VI Mortal Sin
    Founding and leading an Infernal cult; desecrating a pure Cray and dedicating it to malice.
    Level VII Heresy
    Large-scale corruption; founding and leading major cults; destroying sites and churches of goodness.
    Level VIII Grand Evil
    Corrupting a city; founding a major Infernalist Covenant or Cray.
    Level IX Life Bond
    Dedicating entire life to the Patronus' every whim.
    Level X Soul Pact
    Swearing life time fealty to the Patronus, and promising it the soul after death. No further pacts can be made to the same demon at this point, although a truly nervy Infernalist might secretly strike Soul-Pacts with several demons at once. (Gods help him when he dies, however....) (Infernalism: PoS pg 71)

    Example: let's say I want to become somewhat stronger ( Demonic Strength: Strength +1, 3 points investment ), tougher ( Invulnerability: 1 soak dice, 3 points investment ), handsome ( Uncanny Beauty: Appearance +1, 2 points investment ), some easy money ( Background: Resources 1, 1 point investment ) and a comely lady as bedwarmer ( Background: Retainer, 1 point investment ).


    Can I get all the package with two gruesome human sacrifices ( 3, 3 ), a quick murder ( 2 ) and a couple vandalized buildings ( 1, 1 )
    or since the total is 10, my character has to sell his soul ( 10 point sacrifice )?

    - - -

    And, if the first answer is the correct one...
    isn't that sistem terribly open for easy abuse by taking a lot of minor pacts?
    Last edited by Solomon Draak; 01-09-2022, 11:21 AM.

  • #2
    As written, a person can make as many pacts of 9 points or less as they are able to fulfill.

    So it does seem possible for the person to abuse the system which leads to problems because only the demon should be able to abuse the system. Therefore, it is important for the ST to keep that in mind. The entire purpose of infernal pacts is so the person sells their soul to the demon. That's the end goal the demon has in mind - a level 10 pact. Unless the demon thinks the pact will help him in eventually getting the soul of the person, the demon should never agree to make a pact. Just like the person has an incentive to drive the price down as low as possible, the demon wants the price to be as high as possible. The demon should ultimately be in charge of the negotiation - he has no reason whatsoever to make a deal unless it helps him get a soul (in some kind of time frame). Any desperation to seal a pact must be on the part of the person. The demon should always feel (and be) free to walk away if he is not making the person more corrupt. If the demon doesn't get what he wants, he should walk away (but always willing to come back).

    The ST should negotiate accordingly. Just like a car salesman will do everything possible to make a sale at the highest price possible, so will a demon. And a demon will be even more underhanded than a car salesman to do so.

    From a pure mechanic perspective, the person could get all the package by doing either of those two answers. He could make one deal for 10 points, or a series of minor deals. How that plays depends on specifics.

    First, if the person wants all of those things in one session, the demon should absolutely demand the person to sell his soul. And under no circumstances should the demon allow the person to bargain that away by offering a combination of lesser conditions. The demon should feel confident to say "no" all the time. This should be one of the prime rules - only accept the highest level Pact needed to give the person what he wants.

    So the smart strategy for a person is to do a series of deals. Don't ask for everything at once. Do it over time. But even here, the demon still wants to get that soul.

    So let's say the person initially summons the demon to get some easy money. Fine, he makes a 1 point pact. Then he wants to be handsome, so he makes a 2 point pact a month later. Then he wants demonic strength so he makes a 3 point pact a year later. But then he decides he a comely lady as bedwarmer and asks the demon for a 1 point pact. The demon should refuse. The only reason for the demon to make the pact is to get the person closer to hell. If you got the person to be at Stage 3, there is no incentive whatsoever for the demon to go back to making pacts at Stage 2 or 1. The demon wants the person to make a pact at stage 4 or higher. So the demon simply tells him "no". The demon instead makes a counteroffer - do a Stage 4 pact, and he'll give him the bedwarmer plus some other things (the lowest things possible - everything being a 1 point investment on their own if possible. After all, the demon wants to give as little as possible to corrupt the soul). So that's another prime rule -the demon only accepts pacts at the current highest level or higher, he never goes back below. If he has the person at Immorality, he wants the person to go to Wrongdoing or higher - he has absolutely no reason to go back down to Malice or Cruelty. The only reason to agree to another pact at Immorality is to keep dangling the Investments at higher levels so the person comes back.

    That leads to another negotiation tactic, if the person only wants a level 3 pact, the demon should negotiate in a way that gets the person to make a level 4 pact or higher (preferably as high as possible). For example, why be invulnerable when you can get Regeneration instead, or some combination of Investments that "truly" fulfills the real needs of the person at pact level 4, rather than what the person "thought" he wanted?

    The only reason a demon should agree to more level 3 pacts is that he thinks the person will ultimately make higher level pacts and he needs to string him along. So although in theory a person can make more pacts at level 3, it doesn't mean the demon is forced to give him another level 3 pact. If he has reason to suspect the person won't keep making deals, the demon should refuse, delay, obfuscate, or do something else. The demon wants to prolong the negotiation as needed to get the person to agree to a higher level pact.

    So now the smart strategy of the person is to do a series of deals, but only doing all the level 1 pacts first, then moving to all the level 2 pacts, then eventually to level 3 and so on. But of course, that takes a lot of time and planning. And most people won't ever think about that. They'll only think about their immediate needs. So if the person's immediate need is that Invulnerability, he starts with a level 3 pact. The next time he shows up, he finds the demon won't accept any pact of levels 1 or 2. The demon instead is pushing hard for a level 4 pact - but in exchange the demon will give him the extra cash, bedwarmer, and Uncanny beauty.

    Any time the person asks for another pact at the same level, the demon should always be trying to get the person to make a higher level pact. He'll make counteroffers, tell him to take more time to think about it, make suggestions about the future that makes the demon's proposal more attractive, have other thralls do things to secretly inconvenience the person to make them more willing to get that deal, or any other number of tactics to get him to make a higher level pact without causing the person to turn away. Maybe even a "temporary" use of Investment which the demon will take away at the most inconvenient time so the person will buy it permanently.

    Of course, once all of this is explained, it is easier for a player to try to game the system. Which is why the ST should never lay out the "rules" in advance. Let the PCs make the early mistakes which ends up with them being more indebted than they should. Because they didn't understand how the demon negotiates.

    This is all about negotiation. So keep in mind what it is the demon is negotiating for and act accordingly.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Black Fox View Post
      This is all about negotiation. So keep in mind what it is the demon is negotiating for and act accordingly.
      The heart of the matter lies here.

      Usually Black Fox's advice is spot on. There may be other reasons for a Demon to accept a lesser pact, if they predict that either the character's actions will bring more victims, or that they'll position them even better for that higher level pact. You may get company without realizing they're sick, for example, and now you need a cure, or even sickness immunity. You may get amped Strength with the Demon knowing beforehand what you plan to do and that it will still fail somehow and bring you problems.

      But a Demon doesn't gamble without heavily stacking the odds in their favor, and they don't give Investments just for the payment, or even let you alone after just a few minor offers. Dealing with Investments is always dealing with a powerful and very clever negotiator that can't be coerced safely.


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      • #4
        -Is anyone else going to to talk about the white text on grey background? Because Jesus Christ MY EYES!-

        Edit: Thank you for the text change kind sir.
        Last edited by Prometheas; 01-10-2022, 02:07 AM.

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        • #5
          If an infernalist successfully creates a cult for the demon and persuades or coherce other people in signing soul pacts with him, he's gaining him much more than one soul
          Wouldn't be in the best interest of the demon to renounce the infernalist soul in exchange of many others, expecially if the infernalist is a common mortal and not an awakened mage?

          Because I ever felt that this whole "Infernalism always screws up the infernalist" is self - defeating.

          If the value of souls is roughly equal, letting go an infernalist in exchange for 2 ( or ten, or whatever ) souls is a net gain.

          Sure, demons are petty ( I guess ) but from level IV and up, the Infernalist is procuring extra souls. Why refusing a pact level 4+ in order to reap that specific infernalist soul?

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          • #6
            The Demon isn't a fair negotiator. It surely can play into the infernalist's proposal and keep it low for a long time for the benefit of the cult. But in the end the question is that the Demon knows it can eventually pressure the infernalist for their soul anyway.

            Also, the Demon knows that those cults won't last forever or be completely effective. Most of those people won't sell their souls, and the whole thing will come down one day, sooner than later. At some point the infernalist's soul is more valuable than investing in the doomed cult.

            So, in the end the Demon may accept minor exchanges for the cultist's service for a time. But in the long run it has no reason not to try for the big reward.

            Finally, keep in mind that upon selling your soul you're the demon's eternal servant. At this point you will keep the cult if it demands so.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
              If an infernalist successfully creates a cult for the demon and persuades or coherce other people in signing soul pacts with him, he's gaining him much more than one soul
              Wouldn't be in the best interest of the demon to renounce the infernalist soul in exchange of many others, expecially if the infernalist is a common mortal and not an awakened mage?
              If an infernalist has already created a demonic cult and corrupting other people, he's already at stage 6, 7, or 8. But he's given that benefit to the demon for no advantages to himself. He's damning his own soul for free. That infernalist is WAY beyond stage 3 and doesn't even know it. The demon should be chuckling at this mortal's stupidity. The demon's task to get to a stage 10 is now a lot easier for it.

              You seem to operate with an understanding that the only way for a soul to go to hell is by making a Pact. It's not. A Pact is just an additional tool that demons have. Demons want Stage 10 because at that point, there's no possibility for redemption. Someone at the higher stages is very unlikely to redeem himself, but it's always a risk. Your infernalist in question has already likely guaranteed his soul is going to hell. A stage 10 pact is just insurance.

              Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
              Because I ever felt that this whole "Infernalism always screws up the infernalist" is self - defeating.
              It all depends on what you mean by screws up. At the end of the day, the infernalist always screws himself up because he is giving away the most priceless thing to him (his soul) for the vanity of this world. By definition, he's always paying heavily. The demon wouldn't screw over his mark for no reason. If he does it, it's only because it's the next best move to get him to move onto a higher stage. If a different strategy would work, he'd use that. It's all just tactics - a demon will use whatever tactic that gets him to the next step.

              Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
              If the value of souls is roughly equal, letting go an infernalist in exchange for 2 ( or ten, or whatever ) souls is a net gain.
              The demon doesn't need to let the infernalist go to get the extra two or ten or however many souls. In your example, the infernalist is already damning himself and giving over those additional souls while getting nothing in exchange!

              First rule of negotiation is to NEVER give up what's already been offered. You always BUILD on that, never subtract. Demons don't follow WIN/WIN strategies. It's always WIN/LOSE, and they are the ones who win. The tragic comedy of the infernalist is that they fundamentally don't understand that.

              Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
              Sure, demons are petty ( I guess ) but from level IV and up, the Infernalist is procuring extra souls. Why refusing a pact level 4+ in order to reap that specific infernalist soul?
              Why pay anything for a soul the infernalist is already giving you for free?

              Besides, any soul already willing to join an infernalist cult is already low hanging fruit. The demon is likely going to get those anyway. If the demon is going to give away investments, it'll be for the infernalist corrupting a soul that Hell wouldn't normally get.

              Last edited by Black Fox; 01-09-2022, 05:55 PM.

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              • #8
                Excuse me, I didn't explain myself well.

                What I meant is that once the Infernalist reaches level V ( leading others to damnation ) he could simply reiterate that pact ad infinitum.

                I meant, oversimplified: " I corrupt for you X number of souls, you give me things. Then I corrupt some other souls in another town or region, you give me other things".


                Demons want Stage 10 because at that point, there's no possibility for redemption. Someone at the higher stages is very unlikely to redeem himself, but it's always a risk. Your infernalist in question has already likely guaranteed his soul is going to hell. A stage 10 pact is just insurance.
                Mh.. no.
                It doesn't work like this.

                I remember reading something on the line of "One thing is a soul generically damned, another is a soul chained to your specific corner of Hell".
                Actually a demon would be deeply upset if a rival demon gets souls that he could claim.

                The infernalist can leverage that : " You give me investments - regularly - I give you souls. You cheat me, I open bargains with another demon is your worst rival".

                Then there is the death switch tactic: " If an accident happens to me, papers will be found that describe your cults and pratices in details so Church inquisitors will have more tools to act specifically against you".


                Besides, any soul already willing to join an infernalist cult is already low hanging fruit. The demon is likely going to get those anyway. If the demon is going to give away investments, it'll be for the infernalist corrupting a soul that Hell wouldn't normally get.
                If the demon gives nothing to the infernalist, the infernalist do not create the cult at all. Or worse, he change patron.
                Also, since cohercion is a viable tactic, he can kidnap innocents and lead them to damnation through various means, not necessarily pleasant as bribes or seduction.



                Finally, keep in mind that upon selling your soul you're the demon's eternal servant. At this point you will keep the cult if it demands so.
                That's a very good reason for never agreeing to a level 10 pact ( or even level 9 ), no matter what.
                Last edited by Solomon Draak; 01-09-2022, 08:08 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  Excuse me, I didn't explain myself well.

                  What I meant is that once the Infernalist reaches level V ( leading others to damnation ) he could simply reiterate that pact ad infinitum.

                  I meant, oversimplified: " I corrupt for you X number of souls, you give me things. Then I corrupt some other souls in another town or region, you give me other things".
                  No, the demon won't agree to that. Why would it? Why give the infernalist additional things if he won't continue to damn himself further?

                  There's only limited benefit to the demon if he all he is getting is others to do stage 1 style evil. Who cares about that? It's only use is if it leads to the person doing more. Getting people to perform slander (a stage 1 sin) is minor! These kinds of sins are easily redeemed.

                  If the infernalist can actually get people to do stage 2 style evil (murder or worse), he is moving himself up to stage 6 or 7 of above. So he is still giving the demon lots of free stuff. The demon doesn't care WHY the infernalist is dooming his soul. He just wants it done. If the person demands an investment before he achieves stage 6 or 7, the demon will give it. But only if that demand is first. In your examples, that demand is never made.

                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  Mh.. no.
                  It doesn't work like this.
                  Yes, it does.

                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  I remember reading something on the line of "One thing is a soul generically damned, another is a soul chained to your specific corner of Hell".
                  Actually a demon would be deeply upset if a rival demon gets souls that he could claim.
                  Individual demons do want to move up in ranks. But you are getting the Accounting wrong. If a demon's pawn starts selling his soul for free. He creates a demon cult on his own and corrupts others, why wouldn't that accrue to the demon he's already partnered with?

                  If a sales person is given the account of Company X, and Company X just happens to buy lots of things, that sales person gets the credit even if those sales aren't truly because of the salesperson (meaning anyone assigned to that account would have gotten it, it's not because of the sales chops of that person).

                  You are making assumptions that the infernalist can ultimately play demons against each other. That's not how it works. The House always wins. Satan is too smart to let a mortal win like that. Your presumption is the arrogance of the infernalist thinking he can win. He can't. If mortal businessmen have figured out a way to prevent this kind of chicanery, then Hell certainly has.

                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  The infernalist can leverage that : " You give me investments - regularly - I give you souls. You cheat me, I open bargains with another demon is your worst rival".
                  No, the infernalist can't. The Devil is the CEO and it doesn't matter to him who gets credit. He won't let the infernalist - a mortal - play these kind of tricks. The House doesn't play fair. The House also stacks the deck. Demons simply can't report to the Devil that the company earned less money because he let another demon be played against him. No corporation would ever allow that. Give Hell the minimum compliment of being at least as efficient as a small company.

                  The demon isn't cheating him. If the infernalist doesn't get everything he "deserves", it's because he's stupid, a sucker. Most infernalists are suckers.

                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  Then there is the death switch tactic: " If an accident happens to me, papers will be found that describe your cults and pratices in details so Church inquisitors will have more tools to act specifically against you".
                  The infernalist is an idiot then. How can this possibly harm the demon? The Church already has all the things it needs to act against Hell. The infernalist can't possibly harm Hell. Yeah, he may expose his own demon cult. So what? Demons have lots of ways to corrupt people. You are overestimating the importance of any single temporal cult to beings who are immortal (truly immortal, not fake immortal like vampires) to their plans. Both you and the infernalist are overestimating their own importance.

                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  If the demon gives nothing to the infernalist, the infernalist do not create the cult at all. Or worse, he change patron.
                  But in your scenario, the infernalist has already created the cult. He's already moved himselt to stage 6, 7 or 8 for nothing. If the infernalist is smart, he is not the infernalist that you portray. He doesn't establish the cult up front. Instead, he does wait for the investment to be given, and then damns himself to stage 6, 7 or 8. In either case, the demon certainly does not "renounce" the gains he made on the infernalist soul. He's successfully moved him up on the scale of damnation.

                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  Also, since cohercion is a viable tactic, he can kidnap innocents and lead them to damnation through various means, not necessarily pleasant as bribes or seduction.
                  This is debatable. We're not exactly sure of the actual laws between heaven and hell. Demons are very legalistic because the laws established by God are not negotiable. They have to work within them. And a common legal precept is that coercion provides duress which invalidates the contract. Unless it is willingly given, the contract is invalid. Maybe the person despairs under whatever torture provides and is considered willing, but more likely the torture (or whatever) simply invalidates whatever the person agrees to.

                  The demon has to have a willing person. Otherwise it does no good.

                  Originally posted by Solomon Draak View Post
                  That's a very good reason for never agreeing to a level 10 pact ( or even level 9 ), no matter what.
                  Yes, you are correct. Which is why infernalism is always stupid. The House always wins.

                  Again, the level 1 pact simply provides insurance. Someone who is already high on the stages of corruption is already going to Hell. The chances of redemption are slight. 99% of the time, the demon doesn't need a stage 10 pact.

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                  • #10
                    The book ( Infernalism: path of screams ) that I quoted in the OP says, very clearly: " No further pacts can be made to the same demon at this point, although a truly nervy Infernalist might secretly strike Soul-Pacts with several demons at once. "

                    You instead says that no, demons can't be played against each other.

                    I think I'll stick to what the book says.

                    - - -

                    About consent under duress, that is true if we are talking about Dungeons & Dragons: Fiendish Codex - Tyrant of the Abyss ( great book by the way ).

                    In WoD: Devil's Due, I found this:

                    In the end, a prospective thrall may refuse a demon’s advances. It may kill her, torture her, threaten her, lie to her or use any other form of coercion, but in the end, a demon cannot force the initial pact of thralldom
                    - - -

                    By the way, I hope you are not indirectly calling me an idiot.
                    Last edited by Solomon Draak; 01-10-2022, 04:47 AM.

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                    • #11
                      I think Solomon Draak has a point here. This isn't the first time that the rules operated under the assumption that the villains were saturday-morning-cartoon-villain levels of stupid as otherwise they'd just break the game and rule the world before lunch(see: literally all of pentex, the yama kings, earthbound, the antedeluvians etc.)

                      This also why the books are strongly against Players making infernal pacts, because the rules for them are so convoluted and full of so many options that a player with a half-decent understanding of the books could stack the highest level powers of half the existing splats onto one character without giving up anything important.

                      The Infernal pact rules are just kind of poorly designed.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
                        -Is anyone else going to to talk about the white text on grey background? Because Jesus Christ MY EYES!-

                        Edit: Thank you for the text change kind sir.

                        What I do in those moments is hold left click and highlight the text into a readable color.

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                        • #13
                          It's worth mentioning that in the WoD the 20th edition books' take on demons seems to echo what was established by Demon: The Fallen. To wit, Hell is not, in fact, under the absolute monarchy of Lucifer/Satan, but rather sort of a co-op run by the five Archdukes and their assorted minions. That makes for more fertile ground playing one demon's interests against another's without either finding out what's going on until time to collect. Of course, having multiple demons pissed off when they discover they have conflicting claims to one's soul is unlikely to work out beneficially for the infernalist in the long run.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Vamps Like Us View Post
                            What I do in those moments is hold left click and highlight the text into a readable color.
                            I know, but it's still better for the common viewer if that isn't necessary in the first place.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Matt the Bruins fan View Post
                              It's worth mentioning that in the WoD the 20th edition books' take on demons seems to echo what was established by Demon: The Fallen. To wit, Hell is not, in fact, under the absolute monarchy of Lucifer/Satan, but rather sort of a co-op run by the five Archdukes and their assorted minions. That makes for more fertile ground playing one demon's interests against another's without either finding out what's going on until time to collect. Of course, having multiple demons pissed off when they discover they have conflicting claims to one's soul is unlikely to work out beneficially for the infernalist in the long run.
                              More or less.

                              WoD has always used the word "demon" loosely, and investments do not work in a way too similar to how D:tF does that, it actually works pretty similar to how it always used to work in Vampire. In another thread I already stated that I think those demons are more likely Wyrm spirits.

                              But this is semantics. Most of the underlying conc​epts Black Fox presented work regardless. One way or another the infernalist tends to end up serving the interests of the demons far more than receiving anything in exchange.

                              Originally posted by Prometheas View Post
                              The Infernal pact rules are just kind of poorly designed.
                              I don't think so. I think they're designed for a kind of situation that won't work for every group or ST.

                              The crux of the matter is that two things define infernalism as a literary trope: first, that it is an easy way to power, second that the demon is smarter than the infernalist.

                              And that's the whole point. Investments must be a cheap way to get more power and clearly easy to abuse because that's exactly what makes it tempting. Yet the demon must be smarter than the infernalist, period. Demons don't play fair. They'll take more from the infernalist than the infernalist expects because they can and know how to.

                              So this isn't something any ST should try with any player. What you're not getting, Solomon Draak, is that you're only looking at the infernalist as a complete character with agency and resources. But the demon is one, too. The demon acts behind the scenes, studies their mark, knows many other entities and possible targets. Not only that, as an immortal creature playing a very long term game, the demon sees the infernalist as just another mark. There are many others. They may play into the infernalist's sense of self-importance, but the demon actually has no need for you. Even that cult, if they want it really, they can have any other person duped into making it.

                              Now, there is two caveats to that. First, as it happens in Demon: the Fallen since those are player characters, you may have "demons" that aren't either as smart or as malevolent. That's one of the reasons for that game to have more limited rules for what a demon can give to a mortal and more clear rules on how they can screw mortals up and why. Second, you do have the trope of the person that fools the Devil, so I won't say that succeeding at this endeavor is impossible.

                              But even in such a circumstance, you should think more thoroughly about how the demon itself may find ways to push through. Arrange situations to have the mark want to further the pacts, study your options and play smart. Lie, omit, let others draw conclusions on their own as if you had actually said something you didn't. If the infernalist manages to dupe the demon, this should be a feat against one really, extremely skilled con-man, not a matter of finding a simple solution. And keep in mind that the demon will go for the final prize simply because it is confident it can.


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