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GMing Demon: What NOT to do?

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  • GMing Demon: What NOT to do?

    As the title somewhat implies, I've had some interest in running a game of Demon in the future. Having played a number of games with different GMs and players, I can safely say it has a number of hurtles that the GM needs to avoid. Demon is complicated, with the plots, the counter plots, characters, infrastructure and happenstance that needs to all come together without making the experience a mire to get through. Though mistakes will inevitably happen, I'd like to preemptively learn how to avoid the worst and be properly prepared. Failure can teach as much as (if not more than) success, but I've also learned from experience it's best to have a good platform to start from to make sure that one egregious failure doesn't stop future attempts.

    What advice do you all, either as players or GMs yourselves, have to avoiding particular pitfalls? What plots should not be done and characters should not be evoked, and how do you keep the group working together when they have very different characters with differing ideologies?
    Last edited by Taidragon; 04-06-2017, 04:20 AM.

  • #2
    • The game pitch comes before the characters. Get your players together and formulate an idea of what the game will be about, what kind of ring will suit it, and why the ring is working together before your players start coming up with characters, so that they cohere and you don't have to stretch yourself thin incorporating them. This is advice that cross-applies to games in general.
    • Don't nitpick with compromise risks. The consequences of a compromise are significant enough that they build tension well as rare and dangerous moments rather than an ever-present annoyance. A demon has some leeway in breaking the character of a Cover. It's only gross contradictions that directly risk compromise.
    • Don't undermine achievements. There's a valid atmosphere of paranoia to build in how much the God-Machine is really ahead of the ring, but making things too explicit can drain agency. Occult matrices depend upon myriad background factors that only coincide once in a blue moon, meaning that if a project is disrupted before it can fire, it's not a simple matter for the God-Machine to simply "try again" somewhere else.

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    • #3
      Stupid Loserman (wow that feels weird to write), those are all great points. The first one is something that I've run afoul of before, where there wasn't really a game pitch, more of a sandbox the characters were plopped down into with some plot added in after the dust settled. It has merit, but in my case it made the characters very disparate and coordination between them very hit and miss. It didn't help that half of those games were also ones where other players deliberately kept their characters separate from the other players' in the conception stage, which made it hard to figure out how they were supposed to work together and their covers fit in with one another.

      I appreciate that Demons are supposed to be suspicious of one another, and keeping characters separate before, during or even after character creation means that players aren't meta-gaming, but I find it more frustrating than anything else. Again, it has merit, it just wasn't something that worked for me.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Taidragon View Post

        What advice do you all, either as players or GMs yourselves, have to avoiding particular pitfalls? What plots should not be done and characters should not be evoked, and how do you keep the group working together when they have very different characters with differing ideologies?
        When it comes to making demons work together the answer is simple. They have a common enemy and sharing intelligence, and sometimes pulling off daring heists and the like, is one of their best protections and weapons against It, More paranoid and less likeable demons do this on a purely transactional basis, but nicer ones may do it out of the goodness of their metal hearts, or to build alliances and friendships. Integrators can be harder to fit into this paradigm, though I've yet to see a player playing as an actual 'I will betray you to the Machine' Turncoat. heck, some Integrators (those of the 'the Machine needs fixing' philosophy) might even to play well with Saboteurs.

        A big part of fostering this is building your setting. If you're starting as freshly Fallen, newbies demons, Special Message might be useful for a demon who acts as a local 'welcoming committee' to introduce you to local Unchained politics. Agencies might want recruits. My own demon settings generally have demons falling into discrete roles in an Unchained society - information brokers, Cover and Pact-suppliers, extradimensional real-estate experts (ie, boltholes and Splintes), Infrastructure- archaeologists, bespoke Gadgeteers, smugglers, spies-for-hire, muscle for hire, demonic cryptozoologists... Players might speak to, or hire, these experts or be hired in turn.
        Last edited by Eremite; 04-14-2017, 08:09 AM.


        Onyx Path Freelancer: Demon Storyteller's Guide, Dark Eras
        Storyteller's Guide Extra Material
        After the Fall: Bonus Material

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        • #5
          EDIT: Was thinking of Demon: the Fallen. Please Ignore!
          Last edited by Nyrufa; 04-09-2017, 08:20 PM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Eremite View Post


            If you're starting as freshly Fallen, newbies demons, Special Message might be useful for a demon who acts as a local 'welcoming committee' to introduce you to local Unchained politics.
            Oh my god this was the simplest-and-yet-the-best idea I read for putting characters together and developing so many plot hooks ! Thank you so much You may have a cookie.

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            • #7
              Eremite As per usual, you are great to read from on the matter of Demon. I hadn't actually thought on using Special Message like that before, but it makes total sense to; now I'm going to look into what other Embeds could allow discrete instruction and or obfuscation. It was actually from your very post I got the idea on the direction to go with my Demon in my most recent game, a gadgeteer, when before I'd been struggling on a focus. Of course, I had planned on making a number of gadgets to begin with, since I find them very fun (though the effective one experience cost is a bit prohibitive), but making it the character's focus/specialization wasn't something I had thought on before. It's something I'll want to ponder on for future games too. Thank you for the awesome advice~

              Nyrufa It's all good! Thanks for posting all the same, even if it was for a different gameline.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Eremite View Post

                When it comes to making demons, a paranoid bunch, the answer is simple. They have a common enemy and sharing intelligence, and sometimes pulling off daring heists and the like, is one of their best protections and weapons against It, More paranoid and less likeable demons do this on a purely transactional basis, but nicer ones may do it out of the goodness of their metal hearts, or to build alliances and friendships. Integrators can be harder to fit into this paradigm, though I've yet to see a player playing as an actual 'I will betray you to the Machine' Turncoat. heck, some Integrators (those of the 'the Machine needs fixing' philosophy) might even to play well with Saboteurs.

                A big part of fostering this is building your setting. If you're starting as freshly Fallen, newbies demons, Special Message might be useful for a demon who acts as a local 'welcoming committee' to introduce you to local Unchained politics. Agencies might want recruits. My own demon settings generally have demons falling into discrete roles in an Unchained society - information brokers, Cover and Pact-suppliers, extradimensional real-estate expert (ie, boltholes and Splintes), Infrastructure- archaeologists, bespoke Gadgeteers, smugglers, spies-for-hire, muscle for hire, demonic cryptozoologists... Players might speak to, or hire, these experts or be hired in turn.
                Oh my gosh this was so helpful! And I am so glad that Special Message has a good purpose for just this sorta thing. I actually did this myself with a player recently and I felt so sure that I was actually just grasping at straws that that Special Messaging a recently Fallen was actually just like, deus ex machina or too silly for words. I feel so much better now!

                More importantly, this makes making the background characters of Unchained a lot less daunting, thank you so much! Also might I just say that the Demon Dark Era's stole the books, they were my favorites!

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                • #9
                  I have some advice based on personal experience: moderate the paranoia of your players. While some paranoia is good and encouraged for the game, having too much will cause nothing to get done because everyone's too scared to take anything on at a low level of Primum. There was a game I was in where half the players had played with the GM previously, and knew they could be devious and extremely dangerous, and they were open about that concern. Consequently, near everything close to a plothook was viewed as a deathtrap, which meant our progress was slow and all over the place; I imagine the GM was frustrated when so many of their carefully made infrastructure was either passed over or mis-attributed for being more deadly than it was.

                  The ironic thing is that the GM wasn't doing it intentionally; in fact, they said that the paranoia level they were going for was a 1 out of 10.

                  I guess another way to put it is to make sure players are paranoid of the game, not the person running it.
                  Last edited by Taidragon; 04-19-2017, 03:30 AM.

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