Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kandarian Demons for RuneQuest 6

Thanks to my old friend Alex, I was introduced to the Evil Dead "thrillogy" back in high school, and have been a big fan ever since. The recent premiere of Ash vs. Evil Dead, along with my current love affair with RuneQuest 6, got me thinking about how to best model "deadites" in game mechanical form. Here's my first stab, then...

(Note that I'm basing this interpretation off the first three movies, having not seen the Evil Dead remake. Also, I don't have any familiarity with how the Army of Darkness RPG handled Deadites. This is just my best stab at sussing out a system for a foe who largely exists as a plot driver in the movies.)



Kandarian Demons are Bane Spirits of Chaos, a supernatural hive-mind capable of possessing and animating organic matter in order to meet their own inscrutable ends. They seem to exist solely to spread death and woe in the mortal realm.

In their “native” form, Kandarian Demons are an invisible kinetic force bound by the sorceries contained in the Necronomicon ex Mortis. Certain words of power must be spoken to both release and bind the Demons from and into their native dimension.

Unbound Kandarian Demon

INT: 1D6
POW: 1D6+60
CHA: 2D6+6
Intensity: 10
Skills: Spiritual Combat (50%+POW+CHA); Willpower (50%+[POWx2])


Clouds, fog, and electrical blackouts usually accompany the appearance of Kandarian Demons - always a tipoff to those familiar with their evil ways. They have a preference for the dark, but can operate in broad daylight just as well.

Once unbound, the demonic force seeks out a living host. This can be a plant, animal, or sentient being. Upon finding a host, the Demon can then project itself into multiple vessels. These various shards form a gestalt hive mind, in constant communication with each other regardless of separations of time or distance. Each shard retains the full INT and CHA characteristics of the unbound Demon; however, POW must be divided equally among all shards. Thus, there is a practical limit on how many vessels can be possessed at once.

Once a Kandarian Demon has been loosed upon the world, time and space mean nothing to it - it can possess vessels across vast distances. Being an embodiment of the Chaos rune, the Demon will usually possess vessels that have some sort of personal relationship with those who would oppose it, the better to sow misery and discord.

There are two ways to become possessed by a Kandarian Demon: spiritual assault and physical contact.

Spiritual Assault: Used mostly when the Demon does not have a vessel. The invisible force races along searching for a host, breaking windows and smashing doors as it does so. Even though the force is invisible, it is detectable (even without all the wanton destruction); a standard Perception check will alert the target to the force’s approach with sufficient time to try and effect a getaway. The force has a STR equal to its POW for purposes of determining whether it can break through obstacles.

The force has a Move of 8. If attempting to flee from the force, an Evade roll against the Demon’s Willpower will allow the target to hide or otherwise give the Demon the slip. Otherwise, upon detecting the Demon’s approach, if the target is able to, say, mount a horse or jump in a car, they will be able to outrace it. The Game Master might still call for an unopposed Evade roll to determine how successfully the target outran the force - Kandarian Demons do not call off the hunt lightly.

Physical Contact: Coming into contact with a possessed entity is extremely hazardous. Even simply touching a possessed being opens one up to mutual possession. If actual bodily harm has been inflicted, possession is nearly assured (see below). What’s more, if damage is done to a location sufficient to cause a Serious Wound, that location is automatically possessed without need for Spirit Combat. If the location is a limb, the vessel has 1D3 rounds to amputate the limb before the possession spreads. If the location is the Head, Torso, or Abdomen, the the vessel is immediately and fully possessed.

Demons can also possess corpses and carcasses. (Indeed, all those possessed by a Kandarian Demon eventually die.) Lastly, they can temporarily possess small inanimate, non-organic objects with a SIZ equal to half the Demon’s INT, for a number of rounds also equal to half its INT. These objects can make noise or move about in a manner similar to poltergeist activity: scary but not life-threatening.


Regardless of the type of potential possession, the process for determining if the target is actually taken over remains the same: Spirit Combat.

Go through the usual routine for Spirit Combat. (Note that in a typical modern setting, targets will be rolling at one-half of their Willpower skill, as they will most likely lack the Binding skill.) Remember to calibrate the Demon’s Spiritual Combat skill based on its current POW (as derived from the number of vessels occupied as well as whether the vessel in question has been dismembered, as defined below).

Spirit Combat with a Kandarian Demon causes physical damage, as per p. 214 in the RQ6 rulebook. As soon as any location is reduced to 0 Hit Points, the target is defeated and possessed. Thus, targets that have already suffered damage from any source are much more susceptible to possession.

Possessed Vessels


The following changes are applied to a possessed vessel:
  • Reduce CHA by half. 
  • STR and CON are both doubled. Recalculate derived stats. 
  • If the vessel is non-sessile (i.e. not anchored to the ground), it gains the ability to fly as per the Sorcery spell of the same name (with the spell’s Intensity equal to the possessing Demon’s current POW).
  • Immunity to the Impale special effect.

Once possessed by a Kandarian Demon, the vessel - be it a tree, a small animal, or a human being - becomes completely subordinate to the Demon’s animate will. The life-force of the vessel is slowly consumed during the time of possession. This is reflected in a loss of POW: every hour, the Demon inflicts its current Spirit Damage stat on the vessel’s POW attribute. Once POW reaches 0, the vessel is effectively dead; even if the spirit is later exorcised, only a corpse will remain behind.

(Vessels without a POW score, such as vegetation, are considered to be instantly and fully possessed by the demonic force.)


As POW is drained, the vessel takes on increasingly alarming characteristics of decay and monstrosity. In effect, the Demon inside is transforming the vessel to resemble its true form. For every 3 points of POW lost, further reduce the vessel’s CHA (if any) by 1 point. Even vessels without a CHA score will take on an alarming and unsettling aspect.

The demonic force possesses every cell of the vessel. Thus, dismemberment doesn’t stop the vessel from continuing to act. (However, it does reduce the Demon’s power, as below.) This cellular possession also fundamentally alters the vessel’s biochemistry: blood and other fluids take on garish colors of white, dark or light red, black, or green, and overall features become much more corpselike. The typical possessed vessel has milky-white eyes, sharp teeth and nails, and exaggerated facial features; its voice is usually a demonic growl, although it can also take on other, disturbing forms, such as childlike singing.

Once a vessel is completely taken over, the Demon may create the illusion of the vessel being restored to its full CHA, speaking and appearing as it did before possession. The Demon has full access to the vessel's memories, and can use those to lure loved ones into a false sense of security. These changes are entirely illusory, and can be maintained for a number of rounds per day equal to the Demon's own CHA.

Furthermore, once a vessel's POW has reached 0, its body is putty in the hands of the possessing Demon. Bones can be broken, features completely reshaped, whatever the Demon wishes to do in order to cause the maximum amount of terror. The Demon can even reshape the vessel's physical structure, causing extremities to extend or mutate, growing a pair of wings or extra limbs, and so forth. These changes are largely cosmetic, but might have some minor game-mechanical effects subject to the Game Master's discretion.


Stopping a Kandarian Demon


Driving a Demon from its host is extremely difficult. A possessed vessel may make a single Passion roll if confronted with a trigger for that Passion. (For example, finding a necklace given to a person for whom the character holds a Love passion.) A Critical success is required on this roll. If the roll is made, the Demon is expelled.

Otherwise, the only way to stop a possessed vessel is to utterly immobilize it. Dismemberment is the first step, particularly destruction of the head. Effectively, this means damage sufficient to cause a Major Wound must be inflicted on every hit location. Alternatively, complete destruction at the hands of fire, explosion, or other sources of that nature will do the trick.

Without a head, the vessel is unable to see or hear; Demons usually react to loss of their head by going into torpor (see below). Also, a possessing Demon’s POW is divided up in the same manner as Hit Points for the purposes of dismemberment.
Example: A Kandarian Demon with a total POW of 66 has possessed three vessels, meaning each vessel now has a POW of 22. If one of these vessels has a leg lopped off, the leg becomes an independent vessel with a POW of 5 and the remaining vessel now has a reduced POW of 17.

The downside to destroying a possessed vessel is that the Demon fragment then becomes free to try and possess other vessels via Spiritual Assault, as above.

Lastly, there are words of power written in the Necronomicon. These words, when spoken, will bind the Demon once again to the Chaos rune, making it flesh, and (it is hoped) removing their foul influence from our world. However, these words must be spoken in a particular place and under particular astronomical conditions, secrets that are not contained in the book itself and that died long ago with the passing of ancient knowledge from the realms of man. Invoking the ritual to make the Demons flesh under less than propitious circumstances can have terribly unintended consequences…

Torpor


A Demon can cause a possessed vessel to go into an extended torpor, either from the loss of a head, as a way to bide time, or for lack of targets to possess. The Demon effectively gives the vessel’s body back to itself. This means, if the vessel still has points of POW, it can resume its normal life. A dead vessel will take on the appearance of its former self, and, if practicable, seem to be alive, but will not be “alive” in any actual sense--a person will appear to be comatose, a tree will not grow any new limbs or buds, etc.

The possessing Demon can reassert itself at any time and without the need for any rolls.


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