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What would you change if Demon the Descent got a new edition?

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  • #31
    Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
    Seeing as I am still here, yes. Why would you get ejected for mentioning ludonarrative dissonace?
    Because I might come off as pretentious and an expert in a field that I am just a dabbler? Or I could try to use less jargon?

    I also just really like the word "ludonarrative"1.


    (1) Alternative definition: a story told by a really large character from the movie "Labyrinth".

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    • #32
      I want alot more embed and exploits

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      • #33
        This may seem a bit petty, but if second edition comes around I would hope that Download Knowledge would get reworked. Simply put, as it stands, the Embed is too good. Download Knowledge has, at low Primum at least, a very bad precedent at being spammed for near every roll a player makes, even if it’s to bolster the abilities of another Embed being used, and that results in a lot of slowdown for what should be a quick scene. Even at its worst successful result, Download Knowledge grants basic competence for a particular skill and at high Primum that lasts a significant amount of time.

        My simplest fix for it would be that the Demon can only use the Embed when with a place/event/item symbolic of the knowledge they are downloading, as it they’re drawing from said place/event/item on how to react better. In a fight scene and you have a gun you have no idea on how to use? Download Knowledge and now you have basic firearms expertise. On a track and field ring and you need to outrun a werewolf? Download Knowledge and suddenly you’ve got the skills of the best runners on said field. Need to schmooze up to a high value target in a bar? Download Knowledge and suddenly you’ve got all the sweetest lines from those who frequented said bar. All it needs is a bit of context to keep things from going as crazy.

        It’s a small bit for a much larger thread topic, I know, but even as someone who used said Embed a good deal when my characters had it, I can’t deny the power is very easy to... well, to abuse, and second edition would do well to curb that to something more streamlined.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Taidragon View Post
          This may seem a bit petty, but if second edition comes around I would hope that Download Knowledge would get reworked. Simply put, as it stands, the Embed is too good. Download Knowledge has, at low Primum at least, a very bad precedent at being spammed for near every roll a player makes, even if it’s to bolster the abilities of another Embed being used, and that results in a lot of slowdown for what should be a quick scene. Even at its worst successful result, Download Knowledge grants basic competence for a particular skill and at high Primum that lasts a significant amount of time.
          Fungible Knowledge is a worse offender IMO - I've banned it in non-solo games. Take one skill at 4/5 dots and swap it out for whatever you need. Fungible and Download combined? Oh my no.

          I do like your fix, though, as (moreso than Fungible, which I'd probably cut entriely or add lots of caveats to) the ability to, say, suddenly pilot a helicopter is exactly the kind of Matrix-style stuff Demon is for.

          I'd like to play a lot more with a demon's identity. On the identity front some PCs and NPCs I've seen in my games, other people's and the books (and tie in fiction) feature some demons where the demon itself seems to the main personality with the Covers as disguises they wear... while others are much more based on the human Cover as the true self with a demonic upgrade when needed, This dichotomy fascinates me.

          I do like some of the suggestions in this thread for new antagonists (and there's always room for more). Despite having angels, exiles, crytids, stigmatics and regular humans, the game did feel oddly lacking in enemy variety from the core (but I feel we added a fair few in subsequent books).


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

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Eremite View Post
            Fungible Knowledge is a worse offender IMO - I've banned it in non-solo games. Take one skill at 4/5 dots and swap it out for whatever you need. Fungible and Download combined? Oh my no.
            I would say that Fungible Knowledge is pretty bad since the restriction on how many times you can use it in a session before compromising doesn’t seem to come up much, and unlike Download Knowledge you don’t really have any penalties for rolling low. I would say that I haven’t abused it like Download Knowledge... but that’s probably a lie. While cool, skill affecting powers like these need a lot of consideration so they aren’t considered musts and thus kind of make having a set sheet redundant.

            I'd like to play a lot more with a demon's identity. On the identity front some PCs and NPCs I've seen in my games, other people's and the books (and tie in fiction) feature some demons where the demon itself seems to the main personality with the Covers as disguises they wear... while others are much more based on the human Cover as the true self with a demonic upgrade when needed, This dichotomy fascinates me.
            It was noted in a sadly cut short Actual Play (Demon: Night Train Detective Agency) that the players’ characters all had different ways of viewing their Covers and how they lived them. Some saw their Demonic selves as their true selves with their Covers as just a sort of set-dressing, others saw their Covers as actual other people they were living as and being mindful of, and some saw their Covers as themselves in tandem with their Demonic self. Demon gets trippy when you take that into consideration.

            Something that I feel could add to this is maybe making Anchors dependant on both the Demonic and the Cover selves. While it has been discussed that Demons already have strange Vices and Virtues compared to mortals, I feel that it could be taken a step further given the divide between Cover and Demonic Self, something that showcases how in spite of being integrated into one another being in Cover is really, really different from being in Demonic form, given all the chemicals and emotional impairments that come of it, and the alien mindset of the Demon themselves. Something other than dividing merit dots among the different Covers (I never really could wrap my head around how to do that).

            Deviant in particular managed to do something very interesting with Anchors and Willpower recovery. I feel like Agendas themselves could be integrated into this, possibly as a third option for Willpower recovery; do this action that is a possible Compromise, but in doing so you get a Beat (or progress along your Cipher) and Willpower depending on how extreme it is. After all, Agendas are your leanings towards the God-Machine, Angels and Demons. Why shouldn’t it be a touchstone, especially when we have several new ones in Dark Eras 2 that are just as valid to have in the modern age?

            I do like some of the suggestions in this thread for new antagonists (and there's always room for more). Despite having angels, exiles, crytids, stigmatics and regular humans, the game did feel oddly lacking in enemy variety from the core (but I feel we added a fair few in subsequent books).
            I think that’s partially because the God-Machine has more variety with Its servants in the Chronicles of Darkness core book than most of the other books. It may simply be scale, but aside from cultists Angels are the main thrust of the God-Machine’s forces in the Demon core book I’ve yet to run into anything serving the God-Machine but not an Angel, like Dalga: the Creator of the Servitors, or the Blind Serpents, servants of Triage, in the Demon books (which are ironically in the Angel section of the core book). While these could fall under Cryptids, by and large Cryptids are listed as accidents and pests, whereas these creatures are explicitly helping the Machine. Even Angels like Kalka, a being outside of time, or Rasha, an Angel keeping mundane people from entering the Citywalking dimension, don’t really appear in Demon stories even though (or perhaps because) they are pretty explicitly not antagonistic.

            Maybe the CofD core was meant to act as an extension of Demon’s own retinue of possible characters/plots? Apologies for the rambling, by the way.
            Last edited by Taidragon; 02-09-2020, 07:41 PM.

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            • #36
              it may have been said before, but how about offering more ways to play? as of now, it seems the game leans into Saboteurs being the main Agenda in terms of objectives (and Integrators too, since the focus on destroying infrastructure also means playing as Moles and demons on more personal missions to redeem themselves)

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              • #37
                I just wish what happens with Pact elements was more clear: where they exist between Pacting and Cover Integration, how those retroactive changes look, etc.

                Embeds (mostly, though some Exploits too), could probably be looked at for eliminating their Dice Roll - some really seem like they should be automatic, especially when Successes don't matter much and it isn't resisted or contested. Failing that, add some more resistance modifiers.


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

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                • #38
                  I'd drop Interlocks and streamline the Cipher process.

                  A "God-Machine Magic" system would be neat; an Angelic script that is like 50/50 occult pentagram/engineer's circuit diagram in theme. Magic-as-an-engineering-challenge (see also Computational Demonology from The Laundry Files as inspiration).

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                  • #39
                    A couple other, more experimental thoughts:

                    Folks often say it would make more sense for angels to work like demons, mechanically. Outside of Cover, they work as ephemeral entities, but it makes sense that angels in Cover would use Embeds and Exploits, not Numina, Influences, etc. Let's take it a step further. When a demon Goes Loud, rather than getting nigh unlimited Embeds/Exploits, they become ephemeral entities and follow those rules, instead - even suffering Aether bleed the way ephemeral entities suffer Essence bleed, unless they take refuge in Infrastructure or adopt a different Cover. That would certainly capture the sense that they are burning away their Cover to reveal the angel they once were, at least temporarily.

                    What if the Fall wasn't a flashy, obvious thing that required the demon immediately go to ground? What if you could Fall without severing ties with the God-Machine? Continue doing your normal job, working within it while also attempting to advance your hidden, personal Agenda - whether it's figuring out what truly makes It tick, sabotaging Its Projects behind the loyal angels' backs, or cobbling together a couple more Covers that you can use to have the demonic equivalent of a night on the town. Maybe it's because I recently watched Good Omens, but the idea of angels with agency trying to advance their own interests without seeming to be disloyal to their master intrigues me, at the moment. It would certainly ratchet up the tension as the demon tries to navigate among angelic peers without tipping them off. Playing along in this way means you have a steady supply of Aether, and the God-Machine doesn't realize you are a threat. But if you compromise that original Cover? Now you have several serious problems, and getting back into the God-Machine's good graces is impossible without a successful angel jacking or a way of shrugging off a "factory reset" with your memories and personality intact.

                    What if angels wielded the equivalent of Pacts as a means of winning over cultists? There could be parallel structure along three tiers of pacts, each of which may only be entered by a given mortal once. Tier 1 is the usual patch job - give the pactee a minor blessing (on the level of 1-3 Merit dots) in exchange for juuust enough juice for a barely usable Cover. Tier 2 is a patch job plus - blessing on par with a 5-dot Merit or access to a single Embed in exchange for the patch job benefit, plus the pactee has obey the (non-suicidal) commands of the angel/demon (the control of which can be "signed over" to another angel or demon, just like pacts in the current game). Tier 3 are the soul pacts - allowing a demon to step into the pactee's life with a touch or an unmanifested angel to step into the body of a cultist during a ritual at appropriately designed Infrastructure (a process known as Incarnation), as well as compelling the pactee to obey any command issued by whichever angel/demon holds the title to the pact (even suicidal orders). Soul pacts and incarnation rituals are the gold standard of pacts when creating a new Cover, guaranteeing a high Cover rating (7+). Patch jobs are almost always inferior, granting a low Cover rating (1 or 2) unless cobbled together from several different pacts. With this, lift the cap on the number of Covers based on Primum, and find some other, softer way to limit these (perhaps "committing" a couple points of Aether per Cover after the first). The first pact is free. The second demands your obedience. The third requires your immortal soul (or your martyrdom in the service of God).

                    I alluded to it in Into the Cold, but I'd love to do something with the idea of what happens when parts of the God-Machine become disconnected from the whole, with each fractional entity treating the others like a rogue process. Such Schisms could make for a great chronicle hook, transforming the game from a clear, two-sided conflict into one with multiple angelic factions serving multiple God-Machines while demons dash this way and that, playing the sides against each other.


                    Onyx Path Freelancer and Fantasy Author

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Eric Zawadzki View Post
                      Folks often say it would make more sense for angels to work like demons, mechanically. Outside of Cover, they work as ephemeral entities, but it makes sense that angels in Cover would use Embeds and Exploits, not Numina, Influences, etc. Let's take it a step further. When a demon Goes Loud, rather than getting nigh unlimited Embeds/Exploits, they become ephemeral entities and follow those rules, instead - even suffering Aether bleed the way ephemeral entities suffer Essence bleed, unless they take refuge in Infrastructure or adopt a different Cover. That would certainly capture the sense that they are burning away their Cover to reveal the angel they once were, at least temporarily.
                      This one doesn't work without even further fundamental changes. Going loud bursts you to a full 100 Aether and only lasts for a scene long, neither a tight enough supply nor a long enough stretch to make managing Aetheric Bleed tense or interesting. (Unless you actually mean taking demonic form? A lot of people keep saying "going loud" when they mean "taking demonic form." Going loud is a high-cost, high-risk variant, a last resort or expensive artillery strike of a move to make.)

                      More importantly, from a play perspective, this means keeping an entire alternate version of your character sheet, and being familiar with the set of ephemeral entity rules, and either having to swap your two character sheets regularly (demonic form) or keeping the whole detailed thing just for a rare big-deal situation that doesn't last long (going loud). This is a lot of mechanical rigor and reference for comparatively little payout: the end result of your powers isn't going to be very different for all that work.

                      This one's an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
                      Originally posted by Eric Zawadzki View Post
                      What if angels wielded the equivalent of Pacts as a means of winning over cultists?
                      Is it useful for angels to have to track their Cover as a resource that has to be renewed and upkept? Are you supposing PC angels in this schema, and if so, what ultimately separates this scenario from just having demons who are loyal to the God-Machine and demons who are not, instead of angels as a qualitatively different thing? Ironically, I think this starts to step on Deviant's toes a little bit by having two sides as relative mirror images. I think the asymmetric nature of angels and demons, with demons designed with playability in mind and angels designed as antagonist NPCs first, is good for the game. (I do, however, remain fascinated by the idea of there also being demons who are on the God-Machine's good side and payroll, so your middle idea remains interesting to me.)
                      This thread has been going on for awhile so this next point may well have been brought up before. My apologies if so, I'm not trying to steal thunder:

                      I think that one major weakness of Demon: the Descent is that there is a strong implication that most angels, especially most angels who become player character demons, are short-lived, recently minted, or otherwise rooted in the now. Part of the thematic power of being a game about demons is playing as a character from the outside looking in, a creator and architect of the world as it is. Regardless of whether the God-Machine literally created the universe, its angels are the Princes of the Air and have crafted the material world in which people live, down to various occult metaphysical details and laws. A demon character shares in that flavor. She, too, is a world-builder who had a role in the cosmic order, though her outlook has changed and she stands in rebellion, without the authority and access she once had as an angel. To reinforce this feeling and not deflate it, it should not be uncommon for angels and demons to be old. They may not have lived in perpetuity throughout history – indeed, it's likely they didn't, for both setting reasons (the God-Machine doesn't like to waste resources and holds unneeded angels in stasis) and design reasons (player characters can get the flavor of having seen pivotal points in history, but this isn't Mummy, it's about the now and not about timeless ages, and we're not writing rules to take advantage of an eidetic memory stretching back through centuries of activity) – but they can remember having been present for particular projects of import during different cultural eras of mankind. Player characters shouldn't be limited to fallen angels who were created to consecrate a skyscraper or organize a cult of Hollywood celebrities. Players should be able to play fallen angels who helped configure Stonehenge or organized a Hellenic mystery cult, who remember undertaking multiple missions of import during their time summoned and awoken into the material world. (They don't need to remember much in the way of practical details about these things, unless they invest dots on their character sheet as being their special thing. The Fall takes a lot out of you, and just because you're an old fallen angel doesn't mean your Fall wasn't like a month ago.)

                      I think having these old angels and demons around would help to contribute to a sense that angels are special, and consequentially so are demons, and thus help address people who have difficulty connecting Descent with the feeling of being a game about fallen angels. Bonus points if this helps underline that the God-Machine summons angels for more awesome works, and when it needs something more mundane done, it has other servitors to call on and mobilize, because things like the Dalga and the Blind Serpents are cool as hell.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Eric Zawadzki View Post
                        A couple other, more experimental thoughts:


                        What if angels wielded the equivalent of Pacts as a means of winning over cultists?
                        I'm not sure that this is necessary - part of the horror of angels is the way that they can brainwash/inspire mortals. However, at a minimum they should have some ability to heal/cure mortals. That would be a powerful recruiting tool.

                        I designed an angel who just made people think that he had cured them of diseases like cancer. He is not nice.

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                        • #42
                          I would prefer Angels just being able to bless people. a part of the reason demons have pacts is because they lost much of their power, and require an exchange in order to have some of it (and dont get cover from the God Machine anymore). as for the fall being subtle, that's what the Abandonment is. Exiles are those very demons that just sorta...well lost their connection the the hum of the machine. however, I do support demons being more able to go deep cover with angels

                          furthermore, Stupid Loserman, I like the idea of long lived demons and angels. as you said, it seems there are NO ancient beings. speaking of which, it would be nice to see what the Tempters are building (since we are told they actually ARE organized, yet we never see anything)

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                          • #43
                            Regarding the Angels and Demons living a long time aspect, the text may reflect that Angels typically are only out for a short time... but aren’t most of the books filled with write-ups for Angel and Demon NPCs that clearly have been doing their jobs and lives for a long time? Even in the core CofD book we have an Angel standing guard in the city-walking dimension on a post that I can’t see being a short stay. Genuinely confused about this being a significant change when the precedent is already established.

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                            • #44
                              I'd like it if Form Abilities scaled better.

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                              • #45
                                What about Angelic forms? What are the rules around them? There is the mention of custom Numen produced by Exiles in DSG. We see some of that in Interface but I'd love to see more.

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