Tuesday, December 6, 2016
World Building Part 8: Demons and Monsters
At the dawn of time something went wrong. No one knows exactly when, as it was before the first people came forth onto the world. However into the perfect creation came a flaw. A being of great power that was the antithesis of the world spirit, the anti element if you will. It sought to wipe out everything and bring about and eternal nothing. This was Niddhoggandr, the demon king. Long ago it was sealed away with great elder magics, no long lost, by the four chosen disciples of the four peoples. All demons that exist today are but pale shadows of the true demon awaiting it's eventual release.
What no one realizes, is that event caused untold destruction in the Fallen, a parallel and similar dimension, and directly led to the constant threat of demons. The demons seek to either destroy that original spell and hopefully save their world, or gather as much life energy as they can to prolong the life of their world. to gather that energy they must cause hardship, pain, and despair among the peoples of this world. To break the spell would reawaken Niddhoggandr and spell doom for this world.
Alrighty folks I am back to playing around with this bit of world building. I am still working on my other projects, don't you worry, but I had a bit of inspiration on how demons and such would work in this world and so I thought I would share. It has come to the point where I will need to come up with a name for the world. As I have been building the setting I have seen a few things start to pop up, the ideas of harmony and balance are pretty key to the setting, extremes of one thing or another seem to be bad, in the setting as it currently exists. That is what led to humanity conquering the other peoples, so I could go forward with that. So I need a word that sounds like a planet name that also means something like harmony. So I got to digging in good old google translate and came up with, Amoni ,the Haitian Creole word for harmony. I chose it because it sounds nice and is easy to say and spell. I may change it in the future but I am currently leaning toward calling the world I am building Amoni. Yay!
Previous Posts in the series:
Part 1 Initial Ideas
Part 2 Airships
Part 3 Peoples
Part 4 Basic Magic
Part 5 History
Part 6 Deeper Magic
Part 7 Culture
On to the world building:
There are two alternate dimensions that seem to directly interact with Amoni in some way. The Far Away and The Fallen. Each contains beings that seek to access Amoni and the people therein. These beings are known as demons and spirits and they seem to delight in chaos and the destruction of the world for their own purposes.
The Fallen may once have been like the world, but something went wrong and the energies of the dimension became corrosive and corrupting. Most demons hail from this land, sent to reap the life energies of the world and return them to the wastes to use that energy to prolong the life of that dimension. People can access and use the energies of The Fallen, though there is a cost. People who tap into this dimension's energy can gain great power and the ability to do what would normally be impossible standard magics. However as they use it they become corrupted and eventually become demons themselves, unable to survive in the world naturally without harvesting life energy merely to survive.This is the nature of what folks call the undead, people who have become so corrupted that they must devour life energy to survive.
The Far Away is a strange land of pure spirit and natural energy energy. It is wild and full of dangers.The landscape constantly shifts to suit the moods of the spirits who reside within it. Often they will seek to echo the world's landscapes, but they will feel off and have odd angles. Time has no meaning and the beings who dwell there wish to steal your soul and ride your body in the world. They live in a world without meaning or feeling, and so possessing a person and wandering about in Amoni is a great vacation for them. Make no deals with the spirits from the Far Away. For every deal you make brings you closer to falling under their power.The Spirits behave like spoiled brats who have never had anyone tell them no. Even when they wish to do good, they cause chaos and disorder.some spirits are actually fully malevolent, and these are also called demons.
Those are my first thoughts on the demons and spirits that inhabit the land as well as a brief on the worlds they come from. Now I want to dig into creatures and monsters of the world. I am currently trying to sort out exactly what makes a good creature description and which creatures do not need a description. I could go the route of Jack Vance where I just give the creatures a name and do not describe them in any detail. This works very well in the Dying Earth and might work here. I do feel like I would be missing out on some fun though. I could also go full on Audubon and give a detailed description of every creature in the world with detailed analyses of the habits and variants of the species, but man that seems like a lot of work.
Perhaps if I knew for what I am going to do with this project that would help me. If I am making this just for my own fun and nothing else then I guess I can just do whatever animals and monsters interest me and be done with it. I can describe what I like as I like. However this is not just for me. I mean I am already posting online so at the very least this is for the entertainment of at least one other person(though I hope everyone who reads this is at least a little entertained...please?). Because of that I must have some sort of focus in what I design here. If I were designing a world to write fiction about then I could probably get away with the Vancian method of merely describing the barest of minimums, though all I would need then would be a list of weird sounding names and some basic descriptors on the size of the creature and if it would eat people. Then there is my wheelhouse, RPGs. If I am designing this for RPGs then I need to give the GMs enough information that they can use the creature in play and make the game more fun. I would need to do one of three things with each creature(perhaps all three). The creature needs to add flavor, challenge, or plot to the setting. I think this final method would be most useful to me here. It is always easier to describe less than what I have in my notes and adding more is relatively easy(though it takes more time), but this final method will at least give me a set of goals to aim for. Lets break that down with some examples.
Welcome to flavor country. Animals described for flavor exist to define the world and showcase either its normalcy or its strangeness...or both. So when we describe a creature that is mundane and ordinary in the context of the world, something that does not add drama or danger we must use it for flavor(I think, though let me know if I am wrong). So for this setting I was thinking of not having horses be a thing in the world. I have already established that the Bit-Bit ride about in giant flamingos(not too giant as the bit bit aren't all that big themselves) so perhaps birds have taken the place of draft and riding animals. Though I think that lizards would be cool too. S I think I will brain storm a little on the riding and draft animals of Amoni:
Phoru: Humans ride about on terror birds, Mostly this is because I really like the idea of giant riding birds, but it also fits with the motif of the Human Empire, where even their mounts are dangerous and scary.
Djialisks: Njan have domesticate giant lizards that they ride. There are two types of domesticated Djialisk: The Wa-Geck is a giant gecko that hey can ride only with special harnesses and ride over any surface. The Annago - giant monitors, unruly and difficult, but super useful in war and for draft work(pulling large wagons and plowing). Cats riding lizards just sounds like fun and it fits better with the desert terrain they dwell in.
Gelves: The great war flamingos of the Bit-Bit have already been discussed and so I will just say I really like the idea of tiny knights riding great pink flying death machines. But maybe that is just me.
Once you get past beasts for flavor you get into beasts as challenge. This is your standard monster or danger. It is the Bear that made its home in the abandoned farm or the dragon pillaging a town. The beast exists to be defeated, driven off, or appeased. though this is fairly simple, it is important to know what motivates the creature, its instincts and desires.
Sky Whales: Lumbering behemoths of the sky. While they are called whales they are in fact something else entirely. They fly through the inflation of air bladders that are then heated with elemental fire energy, allowing them to be neutrally buoyant in the sky. They then channel air energies to travel slowly through the clouds gathering sky plankton. They are dangerous to air travel as they see anything smaller than them as food and most things smaller than a full on warship are smaller. They are territorial, and fairly passive unless disturbed or hungry.
Shabu-Shabu: a swamp dwelling creature that feeds on blood. It is a small bipedal creature that appears somewhat like a Bit-Bit from a distance. It spreads disease and actively hunts intelligent peoples. The Bit-bit claim that it is a curse on their people by Niddhoggandr for locking it away.
Finally there are creatures as plot. these are more than just challenge but the goal of the story/adventure/narrative itself is so tied into the creature that it becomes the core of the story entirely. Examples from other stories include the Questing Beast, The Unicorn(who could heal anything), and The Dragon Fafnir(as the whole of the story is based around the horde of the dragon and the ring that was in the horde), also Smaug(though he is just a better characterized Fafnir when you get right down to it).
Lundorm: Massive worms that devour rock in the mountain ranges of the world. They cannot digest precious metals however and those form into an ultra dense melded precious metal sphere in their many stomachs. these spheres are the most valuable metals in the world as they accept enchantment better than any other material. As the Lundorms are too large to domesticate and too dangerous to live near there is a powerful market for the Spheres and a whole adventuring community has grown up around Lundorm Hunting.
Ur-Phoen: A massive bird lat lives far from civilization. It is said to be the first bird, somehow still alive after all these years. One of its feathers when properly treated can cure any disease, and it is said that eating its heart would grant immortality.
And that is my thoughts on demons and creatures in rough. I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Comments, critiques, and ideas are always welcome.I will probably do my next post on the Challenge of the Star Knights, and later this month I am going to start a big new thing, so look for that(#12gamesofchristmas ...shh). So I guess I am fairly busy in the upcoming weeks.