A Pocket Full of Horror for In Nomine
by Elizabeth McCoy
It is well known that demonlings in Hell frequently "just appear." No one is entirely sure how it happens, but a couple of Forces stick together, and then something coalesces and a 2-Force demonling appears. Eventually, if something else doesn't eat them first, they gain a third Force and differentiate into gremlins or imps.
Until then, however, most are near-mindless creatures -- some vicious, some cowardly, some with a low cunning, but basically useless for Princely purposes. Therefore, it should be no surprise that it was the Prince of Technology, Vapula, who devised a way to make use of this otherwise superfluous experiment-fodder.
Unfortunately, unlike many other experiments of Technology, this one works almost perfectly.
First, you catch one of the stray demonlings running around the lab. Then, you put it into a relic akin to a Memory Pearl (Liber Reliquarum, p. 65), about an inch in diameter. Finally, you have the Demon Seed implanted into a human's body. (Interestingly, the human host need not be a mortal -- Saints and undead are both vulnerable!)
For the mechanics-minded, roll a Contest of Will every day thereafter; if the demonling stuck in the Demon Seed fails, nothing happens. If the human loses, however, the demonling is granted a characteristic point -- and the human loses the equivalent point! This will not result in Force loss until the Demon Seed has stolen 4 characteristic points; the demonling therein then gains the stolen Force. (Fortunately for the human, he still retains the potential for a replacement Force; this is one of the few ways to Force-strip a human which does not destroy that potential.) The characteristic is chosen randomly, and must be possessed by the target human (so zombis cannot provide Will or Perception).
For the non-mechanics minded, drain a Force every 6-12 months that the Demon Seed is within a human's body.
If left in long enough, the Seed can strip enough Forces from a human to kill him! The demonling -- or fledged demon! -- within will still be bound within the Seed, and must be rescued from the corpse.
A Kyriotate or Shedite possessing the human will have a sense of a "second presence," but will not automatically know what is going on unless it has previous experience with Demon Seeds.
Once the Demon Seed relic was mostly perfected, Vapula sold the information to other Princes -- it had been an interesting theoretical exercise for him, but was hardly Technological enough to keep as a trade secret. Vapulans and most other Servitors who use this method of "fast-growing" demonlings prefer to use the "secret surgical implant" method; demons of Kobal (Prince of Dark Humor) sneak them into breast implants, while those serving Andrealphus (Prince of Lust) . . . have other versions which don't require surgical insertion.
Note, though, that the Demon Seed was mostly perfected. Occasionally -- such as on Divine or Infernal Interventions -- something odd happens. The few cases where this has definitely happened were covered up by the demons involved. Still, there are stories of humans who developed the ability to tap celestial abilities, were granted all the Forces of the demonling within the Seed, or on the flip side, tales of demonlings who not only absorbed all the Forces and memories of the host, but also gained control of the body as a vessel!
Naturally, the forces of Heaven despise these relics. There are, of course, rumors that some of the more pragmatic Archangels attempt to use these to remove infernal Forces from Hellsworn sorcerers and Soldiers. (The infernal Force is the first one stolen, in such cases . . . )
Being attuned to a Demon Seed costs 1 character point per level (up to 6), allowing one to track it down for removal later. However, many demons don't bother with the attuning process, and simply attempt to keep track of the human hosts mundanely, or by keeping the human prisoner.
The person hosting the Demon Seed is generally weakened, listless, and appears to be suffering from a constant mild depression. (This depression will not respond to medication or even Songs or attunements!) As the Seed strips characteristics, it may seem as if the host has been having minor strokes.
(For GURPS In Nomine, a Contest of Wills is still performed with the demonling generally having Will 2-6, but the Seed steals one of ST, IQ, DX, HT, Will (taking levels of Strong Will or adding Weak Will), and Perception (Sense rolls; it takes levels of Alertness or adds Reduced Alertness). Once it's taken 4 points of any combination of these 6 "characteristics," it will steal a level of Power Investiture if the human possesses any; even if the human has no Power Investiture, the demonling will gain a level after taking 8 points of characteristics. Or, for the non-mechanics inclined, it strips them automatically every 6-12 months . . . )
Naturally, this relic may be removed from the In Nomine setting, for use by any callous supernatural entities who find it useful to ripen their young by stealing the spiritual energies of humans. Chest-bursting upon "hatching" is optional . . . but odd slithering sensations are recommended.
Article publication date: December 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 by Steve Jackson Games. All rights reserved. Pyramid subscribers are permitted to read this article online, or download it and print out a single hardcopy for personal use. Copying this text to any other online system or BBS, or making more than one hardcopy, is strictly prohibited. So please don't. And if you encounter copies of this article elsewhere on the web, please report it to email@example.com.