Had this outline in my head for a while (and talked about it some in a thread a long time ago) but, today, I had an hour and felt like writing something, so, I dribbled this out. It's still, very, VERY obviously in a draft form, and is just my own house rules for futzing around, but I figured I'd plpop it out, get some feedback, and see what's what. There's still a long way to go and it, clearly, isn't finished (I haven't touched the Royalty yet!), but I think that you can see the basics … Demons start out small, stupid, and hungry, but as they develop they get larger, slower, but more powerful (Essentially, +4 attribute points for each stage of development), even before getting to assorted magical boosts or occultech implants.
It's barely developed at this stage, but, hey... have a look, see what kinds of suggestions you might have.
From newly-hatched to a few years old, treated more as bothersome nuisances than children, casually swatted aside, stepped on, even eaten by Royal demons who are well-aware that there are always more to be found. Demons care not for their hatchlings, who are left to fend for themselves, ensuring that only the strong survive while the weak are culled. Imps thus survive on the outskirts of Demon civilization, like vermin... they lurk high out of reach, tucked away into narrow hiding places the larger demons can't access, and they descend en mass on discarded food, to rend and tear every last morsel. Naturally craven, they are all the same utterly vicious and ruthless when seeing vulnerability; every Thrall has seen a fellow collapse, exhausted, for just a moment, before vanishing in a swarm of Imps that fall upon the briefly-helpless prey. Imps are cannibals, as are all Demons, and common fights for dominance or spoils sometimes see the loser of the contest added to the prizes.
Imps are semi-intelligent, capable of identifying those who are threatening and those who are actively hunting, and are capable of a screechy, chattering speech with a dozen or so words in their vocabulary. They can be trained like dogs or hunting falcons, and many Demons keep a few on hand for scouting out prey or for looking for Storm Knights. Due to their semi-feral minds, Imps can never be Dominant or submissive.
Cha 5, Dex 11, Min 4, Spi 5, Str 5
Wings: Imps can fly at a speed of Dex (11) meters per round.
Claws: Imps have natural claws which deal Str +1 (6) damage.
Very Small: Attacks vs Imps are at -4, can't use most euipment.
Magical Affinity: Fatigue does shock +1 unless in a cosm of Magic 12+
Very Outside: Imps suffer a -4 penalty to all Social Tests.
In time, Imps grow into this youthful form. Awkwardly long and thin, Youths stand roughly a head shorter than a Thrall (but usually slouch shorter), but while their bones have lengthened they've yet to fill out into the meat that adulthood will bring. Their Demonic temperment and natural weaponry compensate for this somewhat, making them more dangerous than their appearance would suggest, and they retain the pack mentality of Imps, knowing that they're vulnerable alone, making a small swarm of them a real problem. Youths are essentially hungry whenever they aren't eating and are easy to motivate with simple bribery. Youths have a mental capacity roughly on par with a Human teenager, fully capable of having conversations (when they feel like it) and while lacking a terribly deep vocabulary, their array of insults is quite impressive.
A Youth is at a very odd stage for a Demon's development, entering into a naturally rebellious state in defiance of the usual Dominant-submissive nature. They can enter into such links with others of the same development, allowing for pack dynamics, but can neither Dominate a weaker demon nor be submissive to a stronger one; indeed, developing the ability to submit is the defining moment in a Youth's life cycle, when they are ready to reach the next stage of life.
Cha 5, Dex 10, Min 5, Spi 6, Str 8 (13 skill adds)
Wings: Youths can fly at Dex (9) meters per round.
Claws: Youths have natural claws which deal Str +1 (9) damage.
Small: Attacks vs Youths are at -2
Magical Affinity: Fatigue does Shock +1 unless in a cosm of Magic 12+
Outsider: Youths suffer a -4 penalty to all Social tests, except against Demons.
(Youths can be a PC race. Taken as a PC, they gain 4 attribute points to spend and start with 16 points of Skills instead of the listed skills shown above. Youths also have Unique: Only one Youth PC may be in any campaign.)
The mature form of a Demon, this is the natural 'stop' in a Demon's development cycle; unless they gather food, , magic, and ersonal influence enough to challenge for a better position, they no longer grow. Now at their full height they are, more importantly, at their full weight, creating a natural state of laziness and contentment that contrasts greatly with the hunger of their Youth. This state is quite addictive and most demons are happy to accept their lot in life and just exist at this stage, one predator of a pack, never having to worry about hunger again. This innate laziness has hampered the Demon race since time immemorial, requiring a bold leader, or more often a good whip hand, to drive them to do much more than the barest minimum effort. Adults always have Thralls, who attend to what needs attending, and usually keep a few Imps about for amusement.
Adults are the functional(ish) part of Demon society, the demons who are snapped to attention to watch the gates, the ones assissting scientists in the lab, or apprentices undertaking menial tasks for a sorcerer. Each is individually more powerful than the average Human (as it was meant to be, of course), but every year one or two are caught be surprise by a Thrall who has had enough, or more often several, and slain. Appropriate punishments are taken against the Thralls of course, but nothing outlandish; an Adult killed in this way shamed himself, not his House, after all.
Adults may submit to any Demon of their status or higher, but may only Dominate those of the same (Imps being too feral and Youths too rebellious.)
Cha 6, Dex 9, Min 7, Spi 6, Str 10 (16 Skill Adds, 3 wounds)
Wings: Adults may fly at a speed of Dex (9) meters per round.
Claws: Adults have natural claws which deal Str +2 (12) damage.
Magical Affinity: Fatigue does Shock +1 unless in a cosm of Magic 12+
Outsider: Adults suffer a -4 penalty to all Social Tests, except against Demons.
Perks: An Adult may take either the Occultech perk or the Spellcaster perk.
There were only five categories of the Demon life cycle at first. Until the Social axiom climbs past tribal, there couldn't be anyone over a Lord. As the Social axiom climbed, more advanced forms of Demon could develop. It was thought that 9 levels were all that could be and the Demon Kings knew that they couldn't Dominate over one another.
Then the Darkness Device arrived and created a tenth.
The Demon development cycle is known but not deeply explored. It simply Is. They call it “The Chain of Life”, and each stage of development is but a link in that chain. Demons thrive on magical energy and siphon small portions of it from their underlings (Adults, having no underlings to siphon from, are left bearing the full weight, the reason for their infamous lethargy) … there is furthermore a limit to how many Demons of a certain level can exist. This limit is expressed as a power of ten, and seems to be a hard limit. While there are ten Demon Kings, no Prince may become one themslves, so one above must be slain to make room. In practice, the actual number of Demons at each level is lower than the maximum, due to squabbles and constant infighting, with the higher levels being more stable and, thus, filled, while the lower levels are in a constant state of turnover. There has rarely been a full hundred million Demons alive at one time and, when there has been, wars would erupt as the Demon Kings moved to cull the population. (While it seems paradoxical that one Demon could control too many others under Tharkold's structure, in fact the siphon effect gets thinner as more bodies are added to a Demon's Dominance chain. Too many and the trickle is barely enough to sustain itself. Finding the exact ratio is the work of several Demon scholars, with great debate being held over “Demoneconics” and the proper degree of cull vs herd. The general concensus is to keep it at about half the possible, while some suggest a third and others two thirds. A thousand years in and there's still no definitive answer.”
10 Emperor 1
09 King 10
08 Prince 100
07 Duke 1000
06 Count 10,000
05 Lord 100,000
04 Alpha 1,000,000
03 Adult 10,000,000
02 Youth 100,000,000
01 Imp 1,000,000,000
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