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Hack - Ephemeral Demons

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  • Hack - Ephemeral Demons

    So, inspired by the mechanics for Geist, this is a variation on Demons-as-possessors (namely, instead of Covers being identities/masks the Demon switches between, they are actual people the Demon co-opts for a time). Specifically, Demons mostly use the Manifestation systems of other ephemerals, even if their personal power-set is different (unless someone wants to play a Demon game without using most of Descent's mechanics, for whatever reason). These are ideas I had, and I make no claim regarding them being balanced (or even particularly well thought out).

    The Fall
    When an Angel disconnects from the God-Machine it undergoes a variety of changes. It's form and Numina become corrupted and fixed (into Demonic Form Abilities). Their Incept privileges get cancelled, and their access to directly manipulate facets of reality in the form of their Influences get banned. But, in their newfound silence, they are not entirely without recourse. They gain new Manifestations (or, perhaps, only realize they have always possessed), and learn to manipulate certain underlying principles Embeded into the world. Though hunted by their former peers, they have learn to suborn the God-Machine's tools and agents for their own purposes.

    Divine Creation
    • Demons are converted from Angels (Rank 2).
      • They retain the simplified Attributes of Power, Finesse, and Resistance.
      • E Their Rank is traded in for Primum (starting at 1), and they utilize Aether instead of pure Essence.
      • E They trade in Numina for Form Abilities.
      • E They lose Influence, but gain Embeds.
      • They have the following Manifestations for free (and can acquire new ones for 3XP):
        • Twilight Form
        • Materialize
        • Devour Infrastructure - The Demon can eliminate an Infrastructure or Suborned Condition (or downgrade a higher Condition reliant upon it) to harvest Aether. They roll Power + Primum and gain that much Aether in exchange for Resolving the appropriate Manifestation Condition.
        • Angel Jacking - The Demon can contest a Claim Manifestation based upon the Infrastructure Condition. Roll their Finesse + Primum. If the Demon beats the Angel, they lay the Claimed Condition instead and Discoporate the Angel that attempted the initial Claim.
      • Demons usually start with a Simulacrum (an artificial human) Claimed as their first identity taken upon their Fall. Treat the base human as possessing the minimum Attributes before adding the dots from Claiming.
      • Demons start with Skills (representing bits of information they still retain after their Fall). They can purchase new skills normally for 2XP a dot.
    E = The idea here is to leverage existing Ephemeral rules and Conditions. Technically, if someone didn't want to use Demon: the Descent, they could just cut out the substitutions of Rank->Primum, Essence->Aether, -Influence, -Numina, +Embeds, and +Exploits and keep Pacts as Influence-use-like-benefits-for-Conditions.

    Infernal Mechanics
    Demons in their Twilight Form exist on a different wavelength of Twilight then Angel, prevent casual interaction. However, they suffer from Aether Bleed just as Angels suffer from Essence Bleed outside of Infrastructure Conditions, and furthermore, the God-Machine can track Demons by their waste Aetheric footprint (roll for Compromise whenever Aether is lost). The forces the former Angels to either shelter under Infrastructure Conditions (which brings more direct risks of detection), or generate their own particular Manifestation Conditions.

    The shortcuts and tricks worn into reality Demons know as Embeds can be invoked regardless of the Demon's current state. Funneling the greater power of Exploits, however, requires the same potential manipulation the using Influences requires. This means that Demons Fettering themselves to a person or object can only use them upon that subject, cannot use them at all while merely Possessing, but have full usage while Materialized or after Claiming.

    Just Sign on the Dotted Line
    Despite their lost Influences, Demons have learned to leverage their remnant of interaction with reality to enable certain effects. They can form Pacts with humans, leveraging the signer's connection to themselves to work changes upon their life and surroundings in exchange for granting the Demon access (explicit, or implicit). A person can sign a Pact with a Demon, allowing the Demon to grant them Assets in exchange for establishing various Manifestation Conditions upon themselves for the duration of the Pact. Demons can grant themselves access to Manifestations they do not normally possess, or even create an entirely new being to inhabit, in exchange for additional Assets. Each Manifestation Condition or Manifestation is worth +1. Creating a new identity requires +4 for a Facade, or +5 for a new identity, and both are connected to the original source of the Pact (or Pacts) in some way. A Demon can "bank" their side of Pacts for later use, but can only impose Manifestation Conditions upon a signer up to the amount of Assets granted to them (though they can use other Pacts to transfer details, or gain access to additional Manifestations to use).

    Note: Cover
    Cover-as-a-Trait represents how much attention you've drawn to yourself. Your "priority" on the G-M's recycle list, or how much attention you-the-rogue-agent has drawn. It could either be a single Trait like other gamelines' mechanics, or still tracked separately based on each identity the Demon has, depending on ST needs (if the Demon is forming Pacts and going through agents/identities like tissues, it probably doesn't make sense to track them individually).

    Cover-as-Identity is handled via having Open and Controlled Conditions on people (and objects, I suppose). Open let's you either "ride" them with Fetter, or pilot them via Possession. Controlled is your Soul-Pact - letting you Claim them completely. A Demon can also create new identities related to one of their Pact signers via the Create Influence - a coworker, a new friend, even a cousin. Unless they take care to add more details or tie the identity to other people and elements (via other Pacts), these Ex Nihilo people tend to be easy to mark as out of place.

    Note: Demonic Form
    Demonic Form, as it stands, is accessible when Materialized. I'm thinking about some way to do Partial Transformation when Possessing or Claiming (or even Fettering?). In the "simplified" setup, this would let them use one or more Numina during those Manifestations, despite the normal rules regarding them.

    Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
    Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."

  • #2
    Thoughts on the Cipher.

    If you wanted to keep Rank, each additional unlocked Key could grant an additional Rank (up to a maximum of Rank 5). If keeping Influences, you could make the Interlocks a kind of Influence Specialty (in more narrow conditions/circumstances, increase the effective rating in the Influence by 1) to a maximum of Influence 5 - but if the Influence is already at 5, you can use the effective value to boost the Duration of Influence effects beyond normal capacity (10 minutes/success Mass Create, or even up to Permanent Control if you can get all 3 circumstances in play). If you want more Inferno terminology, you can even call these Malapraxis.

    Obviously, it should be far harder to successfully unlock Keys in this hack, due to the power discrepancy between Primum and Rank.

    Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
    Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."


    • #3
      Wait, could angels use Claim? Away from my stuff now, so I can’t check...

      MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E


      • #4
        Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
        Wait, could angels use Claim? Away from my stuff now, so I can’t check...
        No reason they couldn't. In this Hack, since Cover isn't an Identity-created-whole-cloth (usually), Angels are assumed to predominantly Possess and Claim as well. Which means God-Machine cultists and agents have another use (being or preparing Angel Hosts).
        Last edited by Vent0; 07-26-2018, 12:04 PM.

        Malkydel: "And the Machine dictated; let there be adequate illumination."
        Yossarian: "And lo, it was optimal."