Conception Date: May 2009
It is the early 17th Century, and the Reformation is nearly a century underway. In Europe, the Thirty Years' War is just starting in Germany. King Louis XIII is battling Huguenot Protestants in France. In England, power is passing from James I (James VI of Scotland) to his son Charles I. Puritanism is reaching its peak. Netherlands is rising as a world mercantile power, establishing colonies in North America and trade routes to the exotic East Indies. The African slave trade is steady, but the depths of Africa remain shrouded in mystery.
You are a member of the Order of the Holy Faith. This religious military order began in the early 1220s. Following in the footsteps of the Order of the Temple of Solomon (aka, the Knights Templar), it was tasked with the destruction of heretics and the protection of the Church. The Order quickly came under the auspices of the new Dominican Order.
Started by St. Dominic, the Dominican Order of Preachers sought to spread the Word of God through open and enlightened debate. However, over the next couple centuries, the Order was frequently tasked with Inquisitions and other investigations of heresy and witchcraft. The distinctive white habits and black scapulars became the ominous mark of the "Blackfriars".
As a member of a Third Order, you are a friar. You are not ordained as a priest and cannot administer the Sacraments. In short, you are a consecrated member of the Laity, but you are not holy. After sufficient training, you publicly vowed to adhere to the three Counsels of Perfection: Obedience, Chastity, and Poverty. Your task as a "Faith friar" is to seek out demons and take the battle to the Enemy itself, including witches, heretics, and black sorcerers.
From the Latin pun of Domini canes, all Dominicans are called "the Hounds of the Lord." But as Faith friars joke, being on the front line of a demon war is nothing as glamorous as that. You are simply one of "God's Dogs."
Essence: Demons are incorporeal creatures of evil Will. A demon's power is determined solely by its Will attribute. Greater demons have a Will of more than 0; lesser demons have a Will less than 0; and mid-level demons have an Ordinary (+0) Will. If a demon has to make a check for any other attribute, it substitutes its current Will instead.
Demons heal Will at the same rate as humans heal physical injury. Demon's cannot be destroyed by Will dmg. If they reach -4, they disperse and disappear until they can heal again. Thus, the only way to get rid of a demon forever is to reduce it to -Will and then banish it... and even then, it can be summoned again (probably with a healthy grudge).
Forms: Though essentially incorporeal, demons come in many forms. These fall into either embodied or disembodied.
Embodied demons have inserted themselves into some physical body. This may mean inhabiting a vessel: some inanimate object, including corpses. It could involve possessing a host: a living creature, usually human. Or, through breeding, a demon can produce spawn: a living body housing a demon but that never possessed a soul.
Disembodied demons can be incorporeal: simply a shadow or vaporous form. Incorporeal demons can change form as they desire, and travel through walls and other objects. Sometimes a demon will construct an incarnate body through sheer force of Will. This is weakening for the demon (-1 Will while incarnate), but can be useful. Incarnate demons can choose their form, though lesser demons tend to be rather diminutive and impish; mid-level demons frequently appear as glossy black humanoid figures; and greater demons choose large, twisted, amalgamated forms. Their incarnate bodies are usually cool to cold to the touch, and heavier than they appear. Incarnate demons are largely resistant to mundane damage, taking only a maximum of 1 Wound from each attack. Incorporeal demons can also make themselves completely invisible, though this too is weakening (-1 Will while invisible).
Abilities: A demon can make a subtle mental attack a victim (representing nightmares, temptations, and subconscious whispers in the victim's ear), roll the demon's Will vs the target's Will (static) each hour. On a success, the victim takes Will damage equivalent to the degree of success. On a failure, the demon cannot try again that day.
Alternately, a demon can make an obvious mental attack that reveals the demon's presence to the victim: roll a Will contest between demon and victor, with the loser taking DoS damage. This kind of attack can be made every exchange. A demon cannot be destroyed this way.
A demon can possess a victim, but only if they have a negative Will score. Once in a victim, the demon has access to all her thoughts and memories. It can also then make a Will contest to assume physical control of the victim's body.
All mental or possession attacks require the demon to touch the victim, though the demon may be incorporeal or even invisible at the time.
Demons may also control animals (including attracting or repelling them from a location), move objects (according to Fluffy telekinesis rules), control elements (such as start fires, dry wells, cause landslides, etc), inflict disease (or, occasionally, cure it), and otherwise cause misfortune. None of these powers requires touch; ability is proportionate to the demon's Will. (Thus, a poltergeist is usually an invisible or subtle demon using these powers.)
Goals: Demons exist to spread evil, tempt humans, and collect damned souls. However, they vary greatly in how they go about this task.
Demons often subtly tempt or harass the weak-willed, driving them to despair and madness and to such evil acts as would damn their souls. This is usually the task of Ordinary demons. Lesser demons tends to be more like malicious pranksters, simply sowing discord and misery where they can. Greater demons, including incubi and succubi, often work to plans of wider scope, such as producing demonspawn to establish a more powerful fiendish presence in the mortal realm.
Demons are incredibly wily and, being immortal, are generally patient (though this is truer of greater demons). For example, demons have been known to act subjugated to lull sorcerers into over-confidence. Even when firmly bound by magic, demons have silver-tongues and are still a threat to one's soul. Demons are also prideful and vindictive though: they tend to destroy any who have summoned or controlled them.
Demons will keep their word if not magically compelled into giving it (though they may be captive, often agreeing in return for their freedom). While they will uphold any pacts made, they are bound only by the letter, not the spirit, of the law and excel at finding loopholes to exploit.
All human magic in God's Dogs revolves around demons. White Magic opposes demons; Black Magic encourages or aids demons. According to the Church, the knowledge of Circles, Litanies, and Inscriptions were passed down to King Solomon by God. Black magic--with its Pentagrams, Execrations, and Blasphemies--are human perversions of this divine and holy gift. By enslaving or making pacts with demons, witches and sorcerers are able to harness a demon's power, which can indirectly produce magic-like effects (as described above under demon abilities.)
All God's Dogs characters have a Magic attribute, which includes the six skills Circles, Litanies, Inscriptions, Pentagrams, Execrations, and Blasphemies. Besides the skill, the caster also needs the knowledge of each specific runes. (Such knowledge can often be gained through play, though any caster with a Magic attribute should start knowing 3 to 5 runes.) Each White rune can be cast as either a circle, litany, or inscription; similarly with Black runes.
When reinvoking a circle or inscription, use either litany or circle/inscription skill to successfully reinvoke; however, resulting effect is based on strength of original casting of circle/inscription.
All runes (unless otherwise noted) are resisted by the demon: roll a contest of the caster's Magic skill and the Will of the demon to succeed. Ties go to the caster, but (if appropriate) the demon is then able to try again as an exchange to break free.
White Runes: All runes are a shape drawn within an enclosing circle. White runes are always drawn with an even number of lines.
Grey Runes: These runes can be White or Black depending on how they are used.
Black Runes: Black runes are always drawn within a circle using an odd number of lines. Many wielders of the Black have been known to also use White runes to further their ends.
Disclaimer: It saddens me that I feel compelled by our politically-correct world to append this, but here goes: This is a work of fiction. It contains demons, black magic, and potentially-torturous inquisitions. It is inspired by certain real historical organizations (such as the Catholic Church, Militia of the Faith of Jesus Christ, the Third Order of St. Dominic, etc). But, as a work of fiction, this setting does not attempt to portray these things (or even the general history of the time) accurately. Its author does not encourage you to dabble in either black magic or religious military orders in real life.
Settings : God's Dogs
Last edited: 09 Jun 2009
©2009 by Z. Tomaszewski.