Welcome to my second series of Monster-themed RPG deep dives! In these posts, my son Xander (7) and I will dig down into what’s good and great in the Fantasy AGE Bestiary. Each week you’ll see some original art from Xan alongside observations, plot hooks, and other miscellany about each creature.
Xander actually helped motivate me this week. He was really on the fence about doing a drawing, but then spent an hour or so on a really cool picture of a Djinn. If a 7-year-old who’s doing remote schooling and can’t go outside because of wildfire smoke can deliver, then so can I.
I think it’ll be mostly Adventure Hook fun this week, but let’s see what happens when I start typing!
Let’s Talk Monsters…
As an exaggerated expression of human frailty, the demon is a wonderful lens through which to explore stories of power, desire, and corruption. When you’re working on a demon plot, the notion of the 7 Deadly Sins isn’t a terrible guide.
(See Divine Warrior below.)
My contribution to the Imp is the System Agnostic Imp Generator I posted last week. I thought it would be useful to a wider audience, so I wanted it to be its own post. It owes a huge debt to this series, though! If I hadn’t been reading through the Bestiary, it never would have occurred to me to create such a thing.
When all you have is a hammer…
A small cabal of well-meaning clerics manages to overcome and gain control of a Demon Lord. Rather than banish it back to its own plane, they begin a misguided campaign of eliminating local problems with it. Once a month, or whenever the powers of their god wax the strongest, they send the Demon out to pluck a thorn from the church’s side.
The first month they use it to destroy a ferocious bridge troll, and a murderous bandit band the next… but now the power is going to their heads. Will our heroes, who have come to this backwater to investigate the demon’s appearance, be next? Have the clerics become corrupted or can they be talked out of using their new super-weapon? Did they really subjugate the Demon, or is it manipulating them? Or is one of the clerics actually a demonologist using the power of the church for his own ends?
Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in…
A popular local mayor has a secret. She’s a Seducer Demon that’s turned over a new leaf. She’s decided to turn the storied but crumbling city that she loves back into a local power. Naturally her followers adore her, and seemingly overnight she’s turned the fortunes of the town around. Unfortunately, an Inquisitor has guessed her secret, and is blackmailing her. She either has to pay up or get outed.
The PCs are brought in by the mayor’s councilor to try to solve the problem. (To up the ante, maybe one of the PCs is already friendly with the mayor… or perhaps the party clashed with the mayor back in her demoning days.)
Do our heroes agree to help? If they don’t, does the town fall into lethargy again? Does the mayor bravely out herself and split the loyalties of the town, creating a potentially explosive situation?
If they agree to help, what’s to be done about the Inquisitor? It may not be as simple as moving them along or even eliminating them; they’ve already started to spread rumors about the mayor. In any case, can this inquisitor be reasoned with, or is it matter of coming up with gold, and lots of it?
Love is a Battlefield
In order to stop an infamous Assassin Demon, a drop of its essence is used in the creation of a Divine Warrior. The Divine’s existence has but one purpose, to kill the Assassin. The Divine always knows where its target is, thanks to their special bond. The Assassin Demon has nowhere to run or hide; the Divine Warrior finally tracks down its prey in the kingdom’s Capital.
But then, something goes horribly, horribly wrong…
Night after bloody night, the two enemies rend each other. Businesses are destroyed, homes are wrecked, lives ruined and lost. But, whenever one of the foes is in a position to finish the other, they gave their opposite number a passionate kiss instead. Cultists and pious believers alike are scandalized. Authorities are enraged and academics befuddled, while a beleaguered populous just wants the whole thing to stop.
The Faith that helped created the Divine Warrior is baffled. Out of desperation, our heroes are brought in to investigate. Have these implacable foes somehow become lovers? Can hate become so focused that it turns into love? Can these two unlikely lovers be sent somewhere, another plane perhaps, where their “affections” can find a healthier expression? Or must they simply be destroyed?
It’s an interesting case study to compare how the 5E Monster Manual and the FAGE Bestiary handle the Djinn. They both have an elemental focus, but the Bestiary gets in and out efficiently thanks to its focus on modular design.
Xander actually gave me this plot seed, the last piece of the puzzle I needed to complete this post…
Turnabout is Fair Play
When the most famous adventurers in the realm start disappearing, a foul plot is suspected. Further investigation reveals that a group of Djinn have reversed-engineered the summoning magicks that have kept them in servitude for millennia. Where have the Djinn taken the heroes? And to what end? How long before the player characters are whisked away? Or, if they’re not sufficiently powerful to warrant the Djinn’s attention, can they stop the threats their “betters” would have faced without being overwhelmed?
Try this as a campaign hook for a group of young adventures that’s being mentored by a legendary band of heroes on the verge of retirement… or for the talented, but unmotivated, children of such a band.
It’s been another tough week in 2020.
RIP Chadwick Boseman.
You will be missed.