The Helpless

By William J. Keith


"Are you okay?"

The damned soul kept his head down. It didn't pay to look demons in the eye, especially when they asked questions like that. "I don't have any more today. Please...."

"Here." He flinched -- why did he keep flinching? It had never helped, not for hundreds of years, and still he flinched whenever one of the Lusties came around with a whip or a knife or whatever they thought was today's toy to use on the nameless soul chained to an insignificant corner in a crappy brothel in Shal-mari -- as the Djinn reached a paw toward him.

A pad of the foot brushed his scars. He felt Essence flow into him -- at least a couple of day's worth. He couldn't help it -- he looked up in surprise at the Djinn's bestial form.

Discord, massive amounts of it, twisted the giant iguana's form into something more resembling a dragon. Unlike many others, this one almost made the demon seem like something noble. Its reptilian eyes did not blink, staring at him, but a membrane flicked across a shiny orb.

Were those tears?

"It'll save you a short while, anyway. It's the best I can do. I ... can't...." It turned and ran out of the brothel. Behind it, the human stared at the tail of the retreating Djinn. There, where he had not seen it, was the personal mark of Beleth. That explained things -- a Helpless.

The nameless soul's keeper came in. "Okay, wretch. Time for a new customer. Scream nice now, hear?"

"I'll... I want to pay off this one."

His captor frowned. "I thought you were out of Essence. Have you been holding out on me?" With a dismissive shrug, the demon bent down. "Okay, gimme." The nameless soul passed across a measure of Essence, and the demon, sticking to the bargain for once, left to direct the customer to another hapless victim.

The nameless soul leaned back against his wall. A moment's respite. It was all the Helpless could do, and all you could really hope for in Hell.

It was an idea of Belial's, or so he claims, and he's certainly cruel enough to have come up with it. The slightly smarter heads in Hell think Kronos gave him the idea, since the Helpless tend to wander around Kronos' Archive a fair amount. At any rate, nearly every Prince has some, except Andrealphus (whose Servitors would quickly rack up Dissonance from it), Asmodeus (who rails against the project whenever possible) and Lilith (who never likes it being done to a Lilim).

The Helpers are always created as full-fledged, if weak, demons, at 7 or 8 Forces -- 9, in the case of Lilim. They frequently have no Corporeal Forces, although Lilim may, and others might just possibly have developed them independently. They also, one and all, have Selfless/6, inflicted by their Superior. Their numbers are kept extremely low, and when the Game takes out one or two, no one finds it politic to complain.

If they have no Corporeal Forces, they can never get to Earth, and those who do have them are refused the use of all Tethers, especially Beleth's Tower (refused to all but Beleth's own, kept inside the Tower itself). Their sole Realm is Hell. Their purpose in Hell is simple -- to do nothing, but not for lack of trying.

How much can a single demon do? Six? A dozen? What does an (almost) utterly selfless being do when trapped in Hell, surrounded by misery and cut loose to do whatever they wish? At most, they can provide a moment's respite. They pass along Essence as much as they can; wise Princes will make few Impudite Helpless. Otherwise, they will occasionally prevent a lone demon or demonling from beating up on a human, or a damned soul for abusing another one, at least for as long as they can stay around. But even when they try to stay a long time with a favored soul, they are always off again, driven by their Discord to help more of the tortured.

Why make selfless demons? Because they serve as examples -- bad ones. No matter how hard they try, their efforts are ultimately futile. Of course the damned spread rumors of the demons who just might come to your aid. It is also painfully apparent that they can never do anything of significance in that regard. Demons learn multiple lessons from watching these examples. One is that posing as someone friendly or helpful can be an easy way to gain trust for a quick betrayal, though the older damned don't fall for the trick of someone posing as a Helpless -- a good lesson in itself. It also reinforces Hell's propaganda line that if you want to do something and have the power to do it, you can -- after all, we even let these idiots run around trying to help people. Finally, many young watching demons gain evidence for their natural moral position that ultimately, selflessness is useless, or even causes more pain than it relieves -- after all, there are few other sources of selfless activity in Hell to examine. This alone is worth the expense of the Helpless' creation to most Princes.

Dissenting Princes: Asmodeus dislikes the notion of demons with Discord, especially Selfless, wandering around Hell. He was the force behind the demand that the Helpless (a twisting of the name of Helpers given to Relievers) all be marked prominently with the sigil of their Prince. Andrealphus cannot make Helpless, since they would rapidly accumulate too much dissonance from his dissonance conditions unless he broke their Hearts, which is generally unsafe. He does, however, allow them free run of his areas in Shal-Mari. Lilith hates it when a Prince decides to "modify" a Lilim to this pattern, by inflicting Selfless/6 and sometimes stripping their Corporeal Forces. She will never fulfill a request specifically for a Lilim intended for this purpose.

Adventure Uses

Redemption: A Renegade demon, or one otherwise planning to Redeem, might be willing to try sneaking a Helpless through a Tether to go with them. Beleth's is the only one available, though, if the Helpless has no Corporeal Forces. Of course, that means that the "Helpless" might actually have decent Celestial Forces and a useful Resonance, or many Ethereal Forces and enough smarts to help out with an escape. A single PC can try running an "Escape From Hell" game.

Alliance: The Helpless are banding together, meeting in secret places and coordinating efforts. This is strictly against The Rules, and the Game (and probably their Princes as well) will be sending investigation and hit squads to find them out and break them up. The demonic PC(s) can be either investigators, or Helpless trying to plan and coordinate something -- major sabotage of a Hellish plan, or a simple mass escape.

Mole: An angelic PC can make contact with a Helpless by sheer accident on a fast mission to Hell, or hear rumors about them from a demon. Michaelites may try to recruit long-term moles, while other angels may attempt to break in to Hell and locate a Helpless for a quick Archangel-Invocation. This is quite an audacious plan, but the payoff can be well worth it.


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