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DEMON: After the fall


Epiphanis
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February 29, 2012 came and went -- and Luther Black, the Edomite, failed to achieve his apotheosis. So, what happened then? Here are some possibilities, obviously not canonical.

 

Luther Black, miscalculating the effects of his deviations from the visions granted by the Basilisk Orb, was utterly annihilated, body and soul, by the Qlipothic energies he tried to absorb when several superheroes interfered with his plan at the last moment, during the "Second Demonflame Incident".

 

Although most of its members did not even know of the Edomite's existence, the organization had become so unknowingly bound to his machinations that upon his absence it immediately began to tear itself apart. Although many Demonhames remain around the world, and most still claim to their rank-and-file that they represent DEMON, there is no central leadership that they answer to and for they rarely defer to each other or cooperate in any meaningful way. They are effectively just remnant splinter groups.

 

The Circle of the Scarlet Moon cherry-picked many of what it considered the most promising members of DEMON, primarily a handful of the cleverer Morbanes who were willing to shift gears to the Circle's leadership and more subtle methods. Their greatest acquisition became the Coin Collector, who brought tremendous monetary resources into the Circle's fold.

 

The Left Hand became bereft of purpose when the apocalypse he was an omen and manifestation of failed to occur. His powers are slowly but steadily diminishing, and he is aware that he will ultimately fade away. Once arrogant and assured, he is now shrill and desperate, hatching increasingly unlikely plans to re-instate the failed prophecy. The Left Hand's most promising lead is an attempt to use some form of mystical time travel to go back and correct the Edomite's mistakes, but he is painfully aware that this plan is incredibly unlikely to succeed. While still powerful, he never learned the social skills to truly finesse loyalty from anyone, and he is now largely left to his own ever-dwindling devices.

 

The Back Shepherd disappeared entirely. Sometimes mystically inclined individuals, including former DEMON members and others, some even pure of heart, would report seeing an odd individual matching the Shepherd's description. Invariably these individuals would disappear a short time later. The few who knew of its existence suspect that the Black Shepherd may be taking these individuals to the Thirteenth Floor. Of course, no one can confirm this, as the few who know of its existence have no method of reaching it, and its possible the Thirteenth Floor no longer exists and the Shepherd resides elsewhere -- assuming the Shepherd still lives.

 

Jack Fool, who was in Mexico City at the time of second Demonflame, simply lay down where he had been standing when the Edomite was destroyed and has not moved since. Mexican authorities, mistaking him for an ordinary nameless homeless man, buried him in a numbered grave in a Potter's Field outside the city. He continues to lay there, neither moving nor putrifying, indefinitely. It is rumored that one of Black's grimoires described rituals to summon and bind Jack Fool to one's bidding, but if such exists or ever existed no one has apparently found or used it yet.

 

The Dalang returned to India, where he lives as a poor ascetic. Kapilasa of the Devil's Advocates has visited him several times, courting him for membership, but the Dalang is not particularly interested. He is content to live quietly with an occasional murder to take his mind off his woes, for the time being at least.

 

Demoiselle Nocturne continues to exist in the Dreamzone, leading her small army of Night Terrors. Many deaths from nocturnal heart attacks are attributal to her, and free of the Edomite's yoke she appears to be growing in power. She could easily become a major mystic villain in her own right, except she lacks any particular motivation to do so. She terrorizes and kills almost reflexively, but she does not appear to have any larger agenda. Not that she couldn't if she wished to, she is simply apathetic.

 

Herr Doktor Pandemonium began seeking out the Slug to offer it his services. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for everybody else, he failed to find the Slug, who almost certainly would have either slain Pandemonium or converted him to a Helminth. Instead, Pandemonium drew the attention the attention of Shadow Destroyer, who found the mad doctor moderately interesting and potentially useful. Pandemonium now serves the Shadow Destroyer, fascinated by his odd techno-magick.

 

Dyer van der Bleek was shocked at his apparent good fortune, in that DEMON's collapse freed him from his extremely precarious position. Unfortunately, it happened too late; Van der Bleek is severely in debt to a variety of powerful devils from the Descending Hierarchy. Curiously, he has found an odd common cause with the supervillainess Astralle, who likewise struggles under a crushing debt to the infernal powers. Van der Bleek and Astralle have set out on a risky path, previously blazed by the Silver Age supervillain Archimago; they seek to pay off their immediate infernal debts by entering new ones with even more powerful beings. This is a risky venture at best, and neither Van der Bleek nor Astralle have Archimago's finesse at the deal. Unfdortunately, at this point they have few other options and are driven ever further in desperation.

 

Finally, a new power has appeared -- the spectral sorceress Lethka Zakkera, better known as Ghost Veil. It was she who was originally supposed to join DEMON's Inner Circle in Van der Bleek's position, but the Edomite never located her. She was freed from her underground prison too late to join in Luther Black's unholy crusade, but she is now free and active in the modern world. Should the Left Hand learn of her existence, and bring her and the other Inner Council members together, it is just remotely possible they could complete what the Edomite started. But what surrogate could possibly stand in for the necessary role of the Edomite himself?

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

All of this sounds very logical, intriguing, and fun to play. :)

 

In case anyone reading this is unfamiliar with it, the "Second Demonflame Incident" is a scenario from the Champions Online MMORPG, which deviates from the prophecied events leading to the Edomite's apotheosis as described in DEMON: Servants Of Darkness (and is really illogical for the Edomite to undertake, except that I guess Cryptic Studios preferred to do it this way). It effectively removes Luther Black from his position as leader of DEMON for the foreseeable future, even if he isn't actually destroyed.

 

If the Edomite is removed as head of the organization, but the rest of DEMON remains essentially intact, I believe it would still be possible to run DEMON mostly as presented in the book if the Black Shepherd regained free will. The Shepherd knows all of DEMON's greatest secrets, and recruited all the Morbanes personally, so they're used to looking to him as the figure to deal with. If Aganju Lambo regained control of his body his powers make him ideally suited to maintaining the cult. Under his leadership DEMON would probably make gaining power in the world a higher priority than it has been for Luther Black.

 

Mind you, there would undoubtedly be conflict for ultimate control of DEMON. The Left Hand is unlikely to give anyone the same deference he showed to his "father," and his ego would prompt to try to seize power for himself. However, as you point out he isn't very subtle, and could be eliminated by a more cunning rival. Demoiselle Nocturne would be a greater threat. D:SOD mentions that she aspires to take control of the whole cult, and by sleuthing the dreams of the Morbanes understands more of its true function than any other Inner Circle member.

 

OTOH if you want to use the cult entirely as presented in the source book, all you would need to do is move Luther Black's 100th birthday forward to the next Leap Year, or the one after that, giving you years more to play with.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

DEMON: Servants Of Darkness strongly implies that the missing fifth member of the Inner Circle is the witch Chantal, from the adventure Shades Of Black. Although that adventure officially ended in her defeat, as long as her enchanted knife exists Chantal can be reincarnated again, and Luther Black has the motivation to do so. (I suspect Qliphothic contamination to be the explanation for the knife gaining its supernatural qualities.)

 

Chantal as leader of the Wandering Magi would be a more formidable opponent than Dyer van der Bleek, being a far stronger black magician and a more profoundly evil person. OTOH she'd probably be an even more effective mole for the Descending Hierarchy than Dyer, being on good terms with the elite of Hell after centuries being trapped there.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

I think the Black Shepherd is too unstable to run any organization; his implacability was externally imposed by the Edomite, and once that yoke is removed he should be far too random to organize anything. You are probably correct that I was misinterpreting Nocturne as written, however.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

I think the Black Shepherd is too unstable to run any organization; his implacability was externally imposed by the Edomite' date=' and once that yoke is removed he should be far too random to organize anything. You are probably correct that I was misinterpreting Nocturne as written, however.[/quote']

 

I concur about the Shepherd, unless one personality among the many souls occupying his body became dominant once free of the Edomite's control. I would bank on Aganju Lambo for his experience as a black magician. Maybe his prayer to the Yoruba god Olorun would at last be answered.

 

But it's highly debatable what Demoiselle Nocturne would do if DEMON dissolved. She's not really human, after all, so her motives may not resemble anything human either.

 

However, in a storyline I developed for a short-lived Galactic Champions campaign, I had Demoiselle Nocturne seduce the Left Hand in an attempt to get him to join her in taking over DEMON. (They may be monsters, but they're still essentially male and female.) They spawned an offspring, whom I named the Prince of Darkness, who was born fully grown with all the power and knowledge of both parents. The Prince survived the waning of magic in the world after 2020 by remaining in the Dreamzone, until magic returned to Champions Milky Way Galaxy in the year 3000, allowing him to manifest on Earth again.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

Chantal certainly fits the criteria for the fifth Inner Circle member, and was almost certainly originally intended for the role. But note that Ghost Veil, while the character was not yet created when the DEMON sourcebook was written, also fits the bill admirably. Both are beautiful, dark-haired evil female mystics that are displaced in time. I just happen to like Ghost Veil for this purpose better.

 

The similarities between Chantal and Ghost Veil raise some interesting story possibilities of their own. Given that the Black Paladin was probably not on very good terms with Chantal's spirit by the end of Shades of Black, wouldn't Ghost Veil make an interesting "rebound" relationship for him?

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

Just so you know, psyber, most of what we are talking about is touched on in the DEMON sourcebook, but neither Chantal nor Ghost Veil are discussed explicitly therein. Chantal is from the "Shades of Black" adventure and Ghost Veil is a creation of the MMO and has not yet, to my knowledge, seen print.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

The similarities between Chantal and Ghost Veil raise some interesting story possibilities of their own. Given that the Black Paladin was probably not on very good terms with Chantal's spirit by the end of Shades of Black' date=' wouldn't Ghost Veil make an interesting "rebound" relationship for him?[/quote']

 

I certainly wouldn't object if someone chose to take those characters in that direction, but my impression of Ghost Veil is that she's a little too similar to Chantal in the "arrogant and inhuman" departments. I suspect BP has had enough of that. ;) I've seen a good case made in discussions here for the Black Paladin pairing up with Talisman, all things considered.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

Personally, I would prefer that DEMON not fragment in the passive way you describe. It's such a rich, layered organization, and a major player in the Mystic and Superhuman Worlds. I would rather someone else come to the head of the group after the Edomite's passing. At the very least I would expect the Left Hand and several of the Inner Circle to fight for dominance; I think an internal power struggle could manifest in ways to make life very interesting for PC heroes. :eg:

 

OTOH perhaps an outside supernatural power could take advantage of DEMON's divided, weakened state to take control of it. If your campaign uses Shadow Destroyer, he would have the power, knowledge, and resources to do it. In fact, something like this might have been his intent for Luther Black from the moment he helped Black on his path. Takofanes also has the power, and DEMON in his hands would give him the Earthly power base to make major inroads to world conquest. Many in DEMON already revere Dark Seraph as an angel of the Pit; under him the other five Crowns of Krim could take the roles of the Inner Circle, leaving DEMON largely intact organizationally.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

A few additional thoughts:

 

The Circle of the Scarlet Moon cherry-picked many of what it considered the most promising members of DEMON' date=' primarily a handful of the cleverer Morbanes who were willing to shift gears to the Circle's leadership and more subtle methods. Their greatest acquisition became the Coin Collector, who brought tremendous monetary resources into the Circle's fold.[/quote']

 

The addition of Morbanes to the Circle would increase their capacity to forcefully confront superhuman enemies if desired, both with the more combat-effective magic of the Morbanes, and their capacity to create Demon-bound agents. OTOH I would expect the Scarlet Moon to harvest from the Maleficia, since they have useful skills and knowledge and are accustomed to more subtle methods of operation. Covert communication via a Maleficus Rex would also improve coordination within the Circle.

 

In my game-use of DEMON I made the Coin Collector the heretofore-unspecified creator and master of the Leech (Champions Villains Vol. 3) -- the magic coin in the Leech's origin made him the logical choice. The Coin Collector developed a ritual to spread the Qliphothic taint on his own soul to the bodies of others. He had created several of these "Leeches," keeping them in major bodies of water around the world until needed.

 

Demoiselle Nocturne continues to exist in the Dreamzone' date=' leading her small army of Night Terrors. Many deaths from nocturnal heart attacks are attributal to her, and free of the Edomite's yoke she appears to be growing in power. She could easily become a major mystic villain in her own right, except she lacks any particular motivation to do so. She terrorizes and kills almost reflexively, but she does not appear to have any larger agenda. Not that she couldn't if she wished to, she is simply apathetic.[/quote']

 

Again in my own campaign, Demoiselle Nocturne was behind the origin of the mysterious villain called the Monster (also in CV 3). It's spawned from the murderous dreams of her "sanctum," the mind of the evil child Henry Francis Krueger, described in D:SOD. Henry's dreams are so intense that Nocturne can cause them to manifest in the waking world, giving her an agent of great physical power. This version of the Monster is effectively immortal, since Nocturne can eventually recreate it if it's killed.

 

Herr Doktor Pandemonium began seeking out the Slug to offer it his services. Fortunately for him and unfortunately for everybody else' date=' he failed to find the Slug, who almost certainly would have either slain Pandemonium or converted him to a Helminth. Instead, Pandemonium drew the attention the attention of Shadow Destroyer, who found the mad doctor moderately interesting and potentially useful. Pandemonium now serves the Shadow Destroyer, fascinated by his odd techno-magick.[/quote']

 

IMO Professor Paradigm (Champions Villains Vol. 1) would be a natural ally for Herr Doktor -- just as crazy, and just as obsessed with weird science and hidden knowledge. What the two of them could concoct together is frightening to contemplate. :fear:

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

Interesting calls, althogh I wouldn't associate Pandemonium with Paradigm, who is just as crazy but not as um, Qlipothic, about the issue. I put Pandemonium with Shadow Destroyer for two reasons: One, they are both pseudo-scientists with a technomagic flavor and ultimately insanely beholden to dark extradimensional forces (compare the physical side effects of Pandemonium's devices with those of SD's acolytes). Two: I think SD ultimately needs more and more varied followers for his inevitable Round 2 showdown with the true Doctor Destroyer.

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Re: DEMON: After the fall

 

February 29' date=' 2012 came and went -- and Luther Black, the Edomite, failed to achieve his apotheosis. So, what happened then?[/quote']My preference is to have the Crowns of Krim take over. They've work for (and against) DEMON previously and -to me- they seem the best mystic-suited powerhouses (with Dark Seraph in charge, of course) to fill the void. It might be an easier "switch" for the members of DEMON if Luther Black's true agenda was exposed. (It's been a while since I've read that plot.) If I start up a campaign again, that's probably what I'll end up doing. And if I like the plot itself, I'll have to have Captain Chronos ("Walking plot device, at your service,") instigate it.
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