Compared to my essentially Gothic and Medieval Christian treatment of the Devils (with a notable side-journey into Hoodoo- land for the Pact Devil), my take on the Demons incorporates more ancient Near-Eastern lore, with just a touch of modern Cosmic Horror for flavor. Enjoy!
Concerning The Demons of the Outer Darkness
Outside the orderly realms of the Cosmos lie vast spiritual wastelands, where the catastrophes of Chaos are manifest in all their terrible power. Known by such names as the Outer Darkness, the Abyss, the Cosmic Gulfs, and the Wastes of Chaos, these domains of ruin are inhabited by the Lost Souls of the mad, and the emissaries of disaster called Demons.
The Demons are the most numerous of spirits, existing in vast Hordes that would certainly overrun the mundane word if they ever worked in harmony with each other. Thankfully, Demons almost never do. Each type of Demon embodies some kind of catastrophe, fearsome event, or breakdown of harmony. Known types include the Strangler Demons who murder sleeping mortals, as well as the Demons of Plague, Night, Slaughter, Famine, Storms, and Death. Some Demons are relatively benign, such as the mercurial Mischief Demons. Most common of all are the Possessor Demons whose sole aim seems to be the destruction of hope. In some cultures, every calamity is attributed to the actions of Demons. Such an attitude may overstating the case – but not by much.
Each Waste of Chaos is a spatial representation of a particular calamity. For example, the Waste of Slaughter is an endless plain whose surface is completely covered with eviscerated corpses, and the rain is blood that falls from rust-brown clouds. Similarly, the bodies of Demons reflect the disaster they bring. Plague Demons, for example, resemble amalgams of disease-ridden humans and various pestilence-carrying animals.
The origin of the Outer Darkness itself is a matter of grave dispute. The Demons are known to claim that Chaos is the primal and true state of things, and that the creation of the Cosmos was an act of violence upon its body. The Outer Darkness is then simply a series of abattoirs maintained by the children of Chaos, butchering a Cosmic order that should never have been. The Astrologers who speak for the Cosmic Archons, on the other hand, claim the Wastes of Chaos are simply the slag heap of Creation, full of material that will eventually be reclaimed and put to use, but which is meanwhile infested with spiritual vermin. The Saints of Heaven speak of the Demons as fallen angels who, unlike the Devils who became consumed by Vice, were instead overcome by madness. The Devils and their damned flock regard the Outer Darkness as simply the wilderness of Hell, and the Demons as akin to wild animals who can be useful if tamed and directed. The Fairy Folk regard the Cosmic Gulfs as the necessary counterpoints to the orderly Planetary Spheres of the Archons, the inevitable side-effect of arrogantly trying to impose absolute order upon existence. One thing is certain: while those who consciously pursued their Vices at the expense of others consign themselves to Hell, the various Wastes of the Outer Darkness are inhabited by the most twisted of the dead, whose actions in life transcended mere evil into the realm of utter insanity.
Demons love gifts, sacrifices, and worship. They can often be bribed, although the person offering the bribe should expect the Demon to return looking for more. Unlike Devils, who are always engaged in some scheme to collect souls for Hell, Demons spread catastrophe and confusion as simple expressions of their own nature. They don’t care whether or not any particular person suffers, nor are they concerned with increasing the ranks of Lost Souls. Thus, Demons will happily fight each other for bribes. Some Demons have even gained a reputation for protecting people against other Demons, if they are sufficiently pleased with the bribe they are offered. Similarly, Demons love to set up bizarre and fraudulent cults that compete with legitimate religions, going so far as to grant seeming miracles to their devotees. Demonic cults will always end in tragedy, however, either by mass suicide or inevitable persecution by other religions.
Demons are obsessed with mortal blood and bodily fluids, and regards these as the most pleasing sacrifices. If the substances are gained through illicit, illegal, or morally transgressive means, it pleases the Demons even more. Demons are also fond of bodies of water, particularly foul, polluted, or dirty ones. Demons prefer the left side of anything, and will insist that anything given to them be passed from the left hand. All Demons are themselves left-handed, a fact which can be used to detect mortals who have become demoniacally possessed.
Demons are well known for their ability to influence the behavior of mortals. Whereas the Devils usually tempt and trick mortals into damning themselves, Demons will spiritually oppress them into becoming agents of destruction. Certain Demons (especially the eponymous Possessor Demons), can actually spiritually inhabit a mortal (or even dead) body, completely usurping the previous personality. Unlike a Devil who may carefully groom viable candidates for damnation, a Demon typically selects a victim for oppression or possession at random.
Most Demons are nocturnal, but only a few are actually damaged by exposure to sunlight. The others simply prefer the hours of darkness, but are perfectly capable of appearing in broad daylight,
Most Demons regard magic as a powerful tool for destabilizing and eventually destroying the Cosmos. They are happy to put magical secrets in the hands of anyone who asks. Demons are able to teach spells, and are often summoned for this purpose. A summoned Demon may demand nothing but a token sacrifice in return for imparting the most powerful magical secrets. In fact, the more undeserving and inexperienced the magician, the more likely the Demons are to freely cooperate with him! Demons have even been known to give unsolicited gifts of powerful enchanted items, particularly to immature or ignorant people who will inevitably abuse them. On the other hand, a summoned Demon may randomly decide to demand a difficult service from its summoner, ranging from the commission of some illegal or taboo act to the destruction of an entire community.
Demons are of Chaotic Evil Alignment. The Demons are more concerned with Chaos than moral Evil, however. Many are even known for a seemingly benevolent disposition. This is particularly true when the Demon in question decides to target an oppressive regime. The Demons are just as happy to ruin the plans of tyrants as saints. Many a Diabolist has had their malevolent schemes thwarted by Demons and their agents! It can be disconcerting for a Paladin to learn that the secret patron who helped them bring down an evil tyrant was actually a disguised Demon, hoping to bring about mass political confusion.
Above all, the Demons hate the Cosmic Archons. The regard the Archons’ ruler, the Demiurge, as the great enemy who committed the original and unpardonable sin of torturing pure Chaos into the Cosmos. If the Demons have an overall goal it is the destruction of the Demiurge, and the return of all existence to Chaos. The Demons are seemingly hampered in this pursuit by their refusal to follow any kind of overall plan, and the frequency with which they work at cross-purposes to each other. Nonetheless, the Demons believe that to do otherwise would be to submit to the disgusting Order that the Archons try to impose upon reality. The Demons regard their own unpredictability as their greatest strength, and they may even be right.
Not all Demons have corporeal bodies. Those that do are able to change their shape, and often amuse themselves by impersonating other types of spirits. A Demon may choose to impersonate a Pact Devil, for example, spoiling the Devil’s plans to harvest another soul by freely giving away all the magic that the Devil had planned to offer in his final contract. Likewise, a Demon may impersonate an Angel of Mercy, and give a sudden kick in the head to a pathetic cripple hoping for a miraculous cure.
There exist Greater Demons, which are simply more powerful versions of the common types. Even more powerful are the unique Princes and Princesses, who are mighty enough to force other Demons into service. A Prince’s rule extends only as far as his reach on his home Waste, however, and rebellion is naturally frequent.
The more powerful and devoted to Chaos the Demon, the more it is repulsed by the order and predictability of the mundane world. The most powerful Princes, for example, can only enter ordinary reality after the performance of strange rites, and must return to the Outer Darkness shortly thereafter.
All Demons seem to ultimately serve a pair of mighty suzerains, the formless Dweller on the Threshold, and the abominable Mother of Monsters . These two beings also go by many other names, and may even be the same being. They are said to inhabit an endless labyrinthine city, where every dream of madness is real, and Lost Souls howl and gibber into eternity. Variously called the City of Night, Pandaemonium, or the Temple of Confusion, this city is said to contain doors that open not only onto all the different Wastes of Chaos, but also onto every door and portal everywhere in existence.
All Demons share the following characteristics:
Extraplaner Type: As natives of the Outer Darkness, Demons are subject to all magic that targets Extraplaner creatures. In fact, there exists an especially large body of spells designed to summon and control Demons.
Cold Body: A Demon’s body is always cold and clammy to the touch, even if the Demon appears to be wreathed in flames. Additionally, Demons suck the warmth from the area around themselves, creating a discernible chill in a 30′ radius. A Demon must employ some magical means if they wish to suppress this chill. While it is insufficient to cause any damage, the chill will alert wary people to a Demonic presence.
Iron or Magic Weapons To Hit: Iron, the symbolic embodiment of inflexibility and resolve, is anathema to Demons. All Demons, no matter how powerful, can be damaged by weapons crafted of pure, unalloyed Iron (but not necessarily alloyed steel). Otherwise, only enchanted weapons can harm Demons.
Aversion To Salt: Demons will not willingly touch pure crystalline salt. Salt thrown at a Demon does not actually damage it, but will disgust the creature and may cause it to leave the area. Spells designed to ward off Demons often employ salt (and iron).
Weakness To Holy Water: Like Devils, Demons are burned by Holy Water as if it was acid. They take 1d8 damage for every full phial they are doused with.
Subject To Turning: Just as Devils are subject to Good Clerics, Demons can be turned by the faith of sufficiently powerful Lawful Clerics. Treat Demons as Unique Undead for turning purposes.
Demonic Oppression: All Demons have some kind of ability to influence the thoughts and actions of others. This can range in power from the ability to Daze victims, to complete bodily Possession.
Conditional Regeneration: A Demon can regenerate when in the presence of its associated calamity. For example, A Plague Demon regenerates in the presence of diseased people or animals, while a Death Demon regenerates in the presence of corpses. Conditional Regeneration occurs even if the Demon itself caused the calamity. Such regeneration is usually at the rate of 1 hp per round, for common Demons.
Darkvision: Demons can see perfectly regardless of illumination.
Spell Resistance: Like most spirits, all Demons have some measure of resistance to magic.
Spell-Like Abilities: All Demons can speak and understand all languages, become Invisible, cause Darkness, perform feats of Prestidigitation, Polymorph Self, and instantly Know Alignment. They can also roam the Ethereal and Astral Planes. Most Demons have additional Spell-Like Abilities, related to their associated Calamity. When Demons Polymorph into animal forms, they are particularly fond of the shapes of toads, bats, jackals, wolves, wildcats, foxes, sharks, spiders, snakes, owls, pigs, and swarms of flies.
Gate: If hard pressed, every Demon can open a Gate back to the Outer Darkness. There is a small chance that one or more Demons of the same type as the opener may decide to come through the Gate, if they think there is some benefit in it for themselves. Note that unlike the Summoning abilities of Angels and Devils, Demons who come through another Demon’s Gate don’t lose their own ability to likewise open a Gate.
Demonic Immunities: Demons are immune to all diseases (magical or mundane), all poisons, and all magic that influences minds or perceptions.
Cold and Acid Immunity: Demons are completely immune to cold or acid based attacks.