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Can a former infernalist ever redeem himself?

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  • Herr Meister
    started a topic Can a former infernalist ever redeem himself?

    Can a former infernalist ever redeem himself?

    So, I wanted to create a healthy discussion about this topic. What do you think? Could a former infernalist, i.e. someone who had acquired infernal powers, be it Daimoinon, Dark Thaumaturgy or even Infernal Investments, ever redeem himself and become a "good cainite" and/or somehow "untaint himself"? Let's share opinions here.

  • monteparnas
    replied
    Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post
    My main point here is to discuss the limitations of "how good" a former infernalist could become and also, something that comes to mind is that does using the powers the infernalist gained from pacts make him "closer to evil", I mean should he forever forego every "tainted power" he acquired via infernalism or could he use it freely once he's "free from a pact".

    All in all, I'm enjoying the discussion as it's an interesting theme.
    Narrowing down redemption to "doing good" is valid.

    I think in that case redemption is possible, always possible, but at the same time it depends a lot on the reasons an infernalist had to make the Pact in the first place, and then at the lengths they're whiling to go for becoming better a better person.

    Using the power of demons to do good is a common trope, but it also brings a question: how does this power really work? I mean, if an infernalist wants to go that route, that's a pretty important question. How can a demon twist things to make the power itself be a source of evil? Does it make not using the power undoubtedly the best decision, or are there potential circumstances in which it is worth the cost, or bypassing the cost is possible?

    The games have no answer for this, and I think this is too important a think for the ST to work on a game with such a premise of redemption. Is the power damning by itself? If so, why? How? Maybe using the power fuels the demon or something in Hell. Maybe it uses up energy from other people, each use tax someone mentally and drive them to depression. Maybe the power lingers more than the initial effect, kicking up some butterfly effect that inevitably (or maybe not quite inevitably) causes tragedy down the road. Or maybe the power just works as constant temptation, it doesn't cause harm by itself, but the more you use it, the easier it is to give in and do some bad stuff for pleasure or to make things easier for you. Maybe this temptation isn't even supernatural.

    But to me the most interesting aspect of a Redemption Arc is the psychological exploration. People want to be good as they define it, they strive to be good, but they're also trapped in their own patterns of thought and behavior. Abandoning such a pattern is really tough, most people that try fall into it again several times, as the linchpin of the pattern is something we really don't want to give up on ourselves. The pattern that leads a character to seek a Pact, so, must be the core of their redemption arc, if they can't change that about themselves, or understand and work around how it leads them to bad decisions, they'll just go back to the bad decisions again and again, Pact or not.

    So defining this is fundamental to define a fulfilling redemption arc. And it isn't something you need to define at character creation, at character creation you're mostly defining the overall goals of the character, and the events that lead their patterns to the fateful Pact. I usually prefer to run the game for a time and observe the character, see the patterns that emerge and the reasons behind them, to see what would be a form of personal growth that would be most interesting and make the most sense to the character.

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  • Herr Meister
    replied
    Originally posted by Reasor View Post
    Using the powers of evil to fight greater evils is a trope for a reason. It's a compelling one. The Molochim certainly believe they're doing the right thing.

    That's a very interesting concept, for sure.

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  • Reasor
    replied
    Using the powers of evil to fight greater evils is a trope for a reason. It's a compelling one. The Molochim certainly believe they're doing the right thing.

    Leave a comment:


  • Herr Meister
    replied
    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    And I reiterate that they offer no evidence for such affirmation.

    What we have are entities that are demons for all intents and purposes, which is vastly different from being a specific concept of demon, regardless of the infernalists believing they are. It wasn't ever said that those entities aren't the Fallen, much less that they aren't any particular other entity from other game lines. Those books don't need to, since they're Vampire supplements, and if they did they would call it out directly in some side bar, which hadn't happened.

    On the contrary, the only book I remember to ever refer to other gamelines on the matter was Lair of the Hidden, that has a pact with a Demon featuring prominently, without ever differentiating this demon from the ones that give investments, and that book has a side bar specifically saying that this Demon may well be a Fallen Earthbound.

    Those books aren't clear in any of those two things because they're beyond the scope of the books. They don't deal in Fallen, Djins or other entities, so they can't draw a meaningful distinction, and the infernalists don't travel to other realms, so no one can say where the demons actually take those souls to, if to anywhere. They could be Malfeans using vampires as source for the creation of Banes for the Wyrm as far as we know.

    You can take those books at face value on this information, it is a valid take and probably the intended one. But you can't argue they put clear distinctions on things they don't even mention.

    I was also going to mention Lair of the Hidden, as in this book it's said that Saulot could at any time, with a snap of fingers, end the pact as he's immensely more powerful than Nikanuuranu. Also, I'm pretty sure a Valeren at high levels could destroy the demon permanently, as could a mage with Prime Sphere, etc. Of course, it's all in the hands of the ST and unless he/she wants to make demons "all-powerful" entities, demons are definitely not "invincible" in the setting (especially on Earth).

    Many characters in the WoD have dealt with demons in the past, like Etrius (that once opened a gate to hell in Ceoris, but regretted it) or even Saulot (if you believe in the stories that said he was the progenitor of the "three" Baali). My main point here is to discuss the limitations of "how good" a former infernalist could become and also, something that comes to mind is that does using the powers the infernalist gained from pacts make him "closer to evil", I mean should he forever forego every "tainted power" he acquired via infernalism or could he use it freely once he's "free from a pact".

    All in all, I'm enjoying the discussion as it's an interesting theme.

    Leave a comment:


  • Thoth
    replied
    An alternative way to look at the "permanence" regarding corruption, if we are bringing other game lines into the discussion to prove or disprove a given point is to look at the Exalted game line. It had a clearly defined cosmology, a clearly stated soul cycle, and clearly stated dimensions. The setting was originally a pre-history to WoD, with each exalt type corresponding to the major splats at the time.

    Solar = Hunters
    Lunar = Werewolves
    Sidereal = Mages
    Abyssal = Cainite Vampires
    Dragon-Blooded = Kuei-jin Vampires

    Off the top of my head, I don't think they ever got around to linking the Alchemicals or the Infernals to anything in the modern age.

    Back then corruption could be purged and thus a character's soul redeemed. It was merely a matter of power level and who did the cursing/pact. Though given that V:tM Caine would probably be considered an Abyssal Half-Caste at best, very few groups in the modern magic dead age would be able to affect such things. Though if we go by the Kuei-Jin cycle system which seems connected to the Exalted one, then the upcoming 6th age could be a return of magic in general.

    I bring this up because whoever or whatever that made the deal/pact with the theoretical infernalist will likewise be depowered compared to its Exalted age counterpart. A modern max rank pact wouldn't hold a candle to the power of a 2nd or 3rd age Akuma, ergo the level of power to cleanse it would likewise be different by comparison.

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  • Prometheas
    replied
    I'm going to go against the grain here and say that as long as there are no level 10 pact/souls sold, breaking a demonic pact should be easy. It should just take swallowing your pride, walking into a church, temple, or other spiritually significant place of forgiveness and saying "I'm sorry and I need help". The only catch being they Lose any infernal powers or demonic investments they acquired.

    The central conflict with demonic investments is choosing between freedom or beliefs and the power demons can provide, each step along the demonic investment chart is a character giving up a bit more of themselves because they want what the demon is giving out.

    That's also why I think Not making forgiveness hard Enhances those themes. The vampire is choosing to be the demon's slave, Their choosing to defy all of their morals, They're Choosing to betray everyone around them because they value power More, and that choice is emphasized the easier it is to leave. You don't need the character to go on a spiritual journey to prove that they're serious, the character fundamentally changing to to such an extent that they value other people, their own beliefs, and their own freedom more than power is enough.

    This changes if they make a Level 10 pact. That's a choice that should always have Permanent and Final consequences.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    Originally posted by Shadeprowler View Post
    I beg to differ
    And I reiterate that they offer no evidence for such affirmation.

    What we have are entities that are demons for all intents and purposes, which is vastly different from being a specific concept of demon, regardless of the infernalists believing they are. It wasn't ever said that those entities aren't the Fallen, much less that they aren't any particular other entity from other game lines. Those books don't need to, since they're Vampire supplements, and if they did they would call it out directly in some side bar, which hadn't happened.

    On the contrary, the only book I remember to ever refer to other gamelines on the matter was Lair of the Hidden, that has a pact with a Demon featuring prominently, without ever differentiating this demon from the ones that give investments, and that book has a side bar specifically saying that this Demon may well be a Fallen Earthbound.

    Those books aren't clear in any of those two things because they're beyond the scope of the books. They don't deal in Fallen, Djins or other entities, so they can't draw a meaningful distinction, and the infernalists don't travel to other realms, so no one can say where the demons actually take those souls to, if to anywhere. They could be Malfeans using vampires as source for the creation of Banes for the Wyrm as far as we know.

    You can take those books at face value on this information, it is a valid take and probably the intended one. But you can't argue they put clear distinctions on things they don't even mention.

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  • Shadeprowler
    replied
    I beg to differ
    Every source book (Storytellers Handbook to the Sabbat, Infernalism: The Path of Screams, The Book of Madness and so on) that details the Demonic Investments are pretty clear on two things: first, Demons - not Fallen, not Djin,. not some entiies from an outer plane or shattered shard dimension, but Demons from Hell - are Real.
    Second: Whether or not the pact is observed, the demon eventually collects its due and the Infernalist joins her master in Hell
    Cursed and damned by God (or God's archangels) are a sure way to end up in Hell...

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    This entire conversation is founded in baseless assumptions.

    What is redemption? What is damnation? What any of this entails? For vampires and for anyone?

    None of those questions have an actual firmly established answer in the lore, just assumptions.

    Is there a Hell for the damned souls? Not all religions believe that, actually a lot do not, and many more that don't think this' an eternal fate. Being a vampire is damning? Again, that's not nearly as clear cut even in Christian theology. It is a common trope, not a religious certainty.

    Yes, the setting is construed on top of this trope and themes, so the assumptions about damnation and redemption are common. But while present as assumptions and themes, they're not backed by facts ever.

    As for any official information on the matter even by passing, the only source is actually Demon the Fallen, as in Vampire everything will come from extremely unreliable narrators, either vampires explicitly citing their opinions, information given by demons known to lie or options for the ST.

    DtF though, has a clear separation from human souls and the abode of demons. No human soul goes to the Abyss (or their Abyss, as the setting also don't make it clear the relationship between the many realms called Abyss by their respective game lines), and the Pact actually aims at a person's Faith instead of Soul. While the link formed can certainly be interpreted as the demons owning the soul of that person, they don't really know shit about what happens to that person after passing away, despite regularly and repeatedly lying about this.

    So, again, what does any of that means? As far as I can tell, you can't even say for sure the character is damned beyond any material effect of the Pact.

    Leave a comment:


  • Shadeprowler
    replied
    Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post
    Could a former infernalist, i.e. someone who had acquired infernal powers, be it Daimoinon, Dark Thaumaturgy or even Infernal Investments, ever redeem himself and become a "good cainite" and/or somehow "untaint himself"?
    Good question
    "Good cainite" is very broad term...
    First and foremost, don't forget, if you sold your soul to a Demon, or a portion of it for power or anything. the Demon will not likely let you go
    On the other hand, for all tense and purposes, a vampire's soul is a "damaged property"; cursed, damned, tatered, withered remnant of a human soul wich the Shadow/P'o/Beast - call whatever you like - constantly gnaws uppon, and mentaly none of the vampire are "that" stable and more often than not, ends up basically an undead preadtor without any real mind, lands on 0 humanity or dies before that happen. From purely a darwinian point of view, the neonates/fledlings are basically worthless, an ancille survived long enough to see himself become something he hated during his younger years, and around the time he became an Elder, stopped hating himself for it
    Very very very few vampire worth as much as the lowliest human in the eyes of a Demon (demon, not a Fallen, nor a Djin, nor something lowercraftion beyond reality, demon.)
    So while the Demon had to have a good reason to enter a pact with a vampire, grant him power, etc, it must have been a darn good reason, so will probably want to keep that vampire... but on the other hand, I think it would be reasonable to alter the deal, make a bargain or so on.
    A bit like how Jakcy boy almost wriggled out from his pact with Davy Jones: 100 human souls for his freedom
    Now, would it be conisdered redemtion, or anything else, if you had to "buy" your freedom with even the price of one human soul?
    Because face it, killing your demonic master is out of the question and unless your demonic pact had a loophole (a bit like in Bedazzled where Elliot asks the Devil to cancel their contract. When the Devil refuses, Elliot states he will not use his final wish. The Devil teleports them to Hell. When the Devil pushes him to make a final wish, Elliot wishes that Alison could have a happy life - with or without him. The Devil sighs and Elliot falls into the depths of Hell. He wakes up on a marble staircase, wondering if it is Heaven. The Devil tells him that a provision in the contract's fine print states that a selfless wish voids the contract.) that bargain will chain your soul to your master.
    A Demon Hunter, like the Salubri not really killed any Demon, just estroyed their manifestation on Earth and sent them back to Hell... so killing it to be free? Around the realm of impossible. Summoning and binding it like Solomon? Wouldn't make you free either per see...
    So the only way out is to bargain yourself out of the deal
    Even if an Infernalist turn his back o his "faith", and "grows" a True Faith to live in a monostery and do good for the rest of his unlife, no mater the deeds, would still remain an infernalist, and his soul would belong to the Demon.

    But on the other hand... nothing really says you can't be good, do good things as an Infernalist. Okay, you sold your soul for power and porbably ends up hell after your final death, and untill then the Demon in question will demand thing from you. Thats true (tho' depending of you pact/pacts for infestment, knowledge, and so on. It could have been okay, i will grant your "wish", power, fame, knowledge, but in turn,.do this or that, kill or taint this would be saint etc, and don't call as we call you), but probably won't expect you to open the gates of Hell and bring the Apocalypse!

    “Most of the members of the convent were old-fashioned Satanists, like their parents and grandparents before them. They'd been brought up to it, and weren't, when you got right down to it, particularly evil. Human beings mostly aren't. They just get carried away by new ideas, like dressing up in jackboots and shooting people, or dressing up in white sheets and lynching people, or dressing up in tie-dye jeans and playing guitars at people. Offer people a new creed with a costume and their hearts and minds will follow. Anyway, being brought up as a Satanist tended to take the edge off it. It was something you did on Saturday nights. And the rest of the time you simply got on with life as best you could, just like everyone else.” ― Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

    There were people who called themselves Satanists who made Crowley squirm. It wasn't just the things they did, it was the way they blamed it all on Hell. They'd come up with some stomach-churning idea that no demon could have thought of in a thousand years, some dark and mindless unpleasantness that only a fully-functioning human brain could conceive, then shout "The Devil Made Me Do It" and get the sympathy of the court when the whole point was that the Devil hardly ever made anyone do anything. He didn't have to. That was what some humans found hard to understand. Hell wasn't a major reservoir of evil, any more than Heaven, in Crowley's opinion, was a fountain of goodness; they were just sides in the great cosmic chess game. Where you found the real McCoy, the real grace and the real heart-stopping evil, was right inside the human mind.” ― Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch

    Maybe ment to be funny, but both quotes from sir Terry Pratchett are technically true
    The point is, "redemption" or be a "good" guys while an infernalist I think not mutually exclusive

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  • glamourweaver
    replied
    Originally posted by Herr Meister View Post


    Do you remember the source that says Saulot at one point had Daimoinon?

    And yes, most definitely it should be hard and something unique. I'm actually just discussing it in a hypothetical scenario, although I once thought about redeeming an important NPC in my current game, it's still something of a possibility, but it would depend on my PCs actions.
    nothing explicit, just the strong suggestions he was the sire of the three Baali Methuselahs in a dark ritual before his enlightenment in the east.

    gun to my head if I had to call it one way or another I’d say he didn’t have daimoinon, but did have dark Thaumaturgy at that point as he was engaged in a ritual to bring daimoinon into the world via his progeny. Creating Valeren was later the process by which he purified his own soul from his past infernalism.

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  • Lysander
    replied
    Interesting notion there. I'm sure that an Infernalist could find a way out there situation. It would be an epic journey of undoing deals with whatever is left of sanity and soul somewhat intact. I remember that in Sins Of The Blood that there was a True Brujah elder that almost obtained Golconda and one of the things he had to do was regain his emotions and forsake his following of The Path Of The Scorched Heart. It wasn't easy for him and it would be doubly true for this group and not to mention there would be still stigma of mistrust for former followers.

    In short I think that he or she could find away out of it.

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  • Reasor
    replied
    Just getting out from under the demon's influence should be an epic journey.

    As for whether the vampire in question is redeemable, it's a question that we mortals would only be able to speculate about even if we had real vampires and demons.

    I lean toward thinking that the vampire can certainly change their conduct, but would never know the state of their own soul until they face judgement after Final Death. If results were guaranteed, it would be just another transaction, and morality as I understand it can't be transactional. I freely admit that this is just my outlook, and others' theological mileage may vary.

    (I grew up in a cultlike religious environment that inflicted insecurity about the state of one's salvation to keep people in line, and I didn't realize how deeply I had internalized that until you asked the question!)
    Last edited by Reasor; 05-07-2022, 06:32 AM.

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  • Black Fox
    replied
    If you go by the books that detail Infernalist pacts, as long as the person does not make a level 10 pact which promises one's soul to the infernal powers, there is always the chance of redemption. Of course, the person could still go to hell even if a level 10 pact is not made, but in theory the person could repent and attempt to make up for their past evils, convert, or do whatever things you determine as ST as necessary for salvation.

    I think in practice it would be very hard for a PC or ST to run a story where someone at that level (who has the powers you mentioned) can convincingly redeem themselves to the PCs of the game. Every player will have their own idea on what it takes to do so, and the common response I've seen of my friends to many redemption stories is that the writers didn't pull it off.

    A good example is how Chris Claremont in the 1980's X-Men comics started presenting a different side of Magneto as more than just villain. It was an intriguing concept, but the problem for Claremont is that the character of Magneto as written before him was pretty terrible. He was a literal supremacist, willing to use nuclear weapons, and even treated his own allies terribly. So it fell flat for many people. So while I know there are lots of people who really liked Magneto's portrayal in that period, many long time fans and Claremont's fellow writers at Marvel couldn't accept it. Claremont just didn't write Magneto in a way that truly made him feel repentant. Just that he regretted his past decisions, but never wanted to pay for his past crimes. Which is like someone robbing you, and then asking you to stop describing him as a thief because he now feels sorry he robbed you. But in no way will he ever give back the money.

    So there's a lot of pitfalls to running such a story, or PCs playing characters with that in their background, because you have to do it in a way that convinces the players. And every player group will have different requirements.

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