Tabletop Game: Demon: The Fallen

The final game in White Wolf's Old World of Darkness.

In the beginning, God made seven Houses of angels, who forged reality out of the void of non-existence: the House of the Dawn, angels of radiance and fire, God's Heralds to Creation; the House of the Firmament, angels of the winds and the breath of life; the House of the Fundament, angels of earth and matter; the House of the Spheres, angels of pattern and fate, the House of the Deep, angels of the waters and desire; the House of the Wild, angels of nature; and the House of the Second World, angels of death.

The pinnacle of the Houses' collective act of creation was mankind, destined to be a reflection of all the greatest traits of God and Angels and beyond. Except it didn't happen. Everyone waited and humans were still focused entirely on humping and eating anything they saw. The angels tried to ask God what was wrong with them, but anybody who went to see him didn't come back, with the best case scenario being that God assimilated them and worst case unmade them.

Impatient and feeling abandoned, a third of the angels decided to just give humans the blessings of civilization themselves. For this, they were cast out from the angelic host, punished by seeing their gifts to humanity twisted to bring humanity low, and branded with new names to signify their new status. The House of the Dawn became the Namaru, the Devils. The House of the Firmament became the Asharu, the Scourges. The House of the Fundament became the Annunaki, the Malefactors. The House of the Spheres became the Neberu, the Fiends. The House of the Deep became the Lammasu, the Defilers. The House of the Wild became the Rabisu, the Devourers. And the House of the Second World became the Halaku, the Slayers.

There was war then, between the loyalists and the rebels, war for countless mortal generations, the rebels steadily making themselves into true monsters as it progressed. In the end, the loyalists triumphed, and the vanquished rebels were sealed in a featureless abyss.

Millennia later, the Abyss cracked open as a great storm raged across the realms of the dead, and the fallen angels began escaping, with the weakest demons slipping through the cracks first. Weakened, they had to possess the bodies of dying or comatose humans to survive. There was no sign of any angels or God's influence left in the world, which was now filled instead with jaded humans and unfamiliar supernatural creatures. During their time in the Pit, the demons had fractured into five factions, which came to color their philosophies now that they were free: those who wish to destroy all of creation to spite an absent God (Raveners), those who see Lucifer as the Messiah of both mankind and angels (Luciferians), those who want to fashion mankind into a weapon to destroy God (Faustians), those who seek redemption and repentance (Reconcilers), and those who have come to the sinking realization that all of this was probably what God wanted to happen (Cryptics), and want to figure out why God would want this, of all things?

This RPG provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: The Earthbound present themselves like this to their cultists, and many of them are insane enough to seriously believe in this.
  • Alien Geometries: The Lore of Paths can bend space for any number of effects, it's possible to, in effect, turn a crack in the wall into a six-foot-wide corridor or change the angle of a street you're driving down.
    • Once, during the War of Wrath, Malefactors cut off an entire city from normal reality by simply removing any path between it and the rest of the world. The Loyalist Host started down the road to the city, and ended up on the other side without finding it.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: All demons initially are this. Only by merging with the body and mind of a human, like all protagonist demons do, can they hope to break free from their all-consuming hatred. The Earthbound demons, who inhabit inanimate objects instead, embody this trope without exception.
  • And I Must Scream: Imprisonment in the Abyss. The Fallen went from having a fundamental connection to all of reality to an existence defined by non-existence and their own anger. The only Fallen to escape this punishment was Lucifer. The Earthbound were summoned out of the Abyss long ago, and the player characters only recently managed to slip out.
  • Animorphism: Two Visages of the Devourers, the Demons of the Wild (the third being an idealized version of their mortal form).
  • Ascended Demon: What quite a few wish for.
  • The Atoner: The Reconcilers have as their major agenda making some sort of peace with God and the world, as repayment for sending everything downhill during the Fall.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: How demonic/angelic hierarchy works.
  • Ax-Crazy: The Raveners embrace their Ax-Craziness and really high-Torment demons in general qualify for this trope almost by definition.
  • Council of Angels: How the universe was run in the old days.
  • Crapsack World: Standard for the gameline. In this case it might actually be the demon's fault. Or God's. Or humanity's, or maybe this is just the way things are supposed to be.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The demons certainly aren't all evil, and the reason they're in this mess now is because they chose humans over God.
    • Or it is. The more evil the demon is, the more like a demon he looks. Truly benevolent ones look angelic.
      • Depends on the type of demon. Nicer Slayers still look like dark angels, just, you know, pretty ones.
  • Deal with the Devil: The demons can strike bargains with mortals, granting them boons, such as superhuman abilities, in exchange for a steady trickle of Faith. Unfortunately for mortals, becoming a demon's thrall means granting a demon access to one's soul and ability to ravage it for extra Faith, at the cost of major harm to the thrall...
  • Death Is Cheap: Kind of. Destruction of its host body does not kill a demon and he can try to find a new body or possess an inanimate object (becoming one of the Earthbound) before being drawn back into the Abyss. However, demons can be made Deader Than Dead, as this process causes permanent loss of power, whittling the demon to nothingness if he loses bodies too often; and other demons can attempt to devour a disembodied demonic spirit, to absorb its power and knowledge.
  • Demonic Possession: All of the characters. Thankfully, demons are usually able to possess only the comatose, suicidal or dying.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Player Characters are supposed to battle Eldritch Abominations that can torch whole continents in seconds, if they push their abilities to the limit. Thankfully, at the moment of the game's start, said Abominations are supposed to be in a weakened state as well.
  • Divine Conflict: Lucifer's rebellion against God is a key event.
  • Divinely Appearing Demons: The low-Torment demons are virtually indistinguishable from non-Fallen angels, allowing the former to pass for the latter to the mortals.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Earthbound. Some demons got dragged out of the Abyss early by mortal sorcerers, and that really didn't help anything... "Normal" demons also can turn into this.
  • Empty Shell: What demons can do to a human if they steal enough faith or use other means of mental trauma.
    • This is also the usual state of those humans eligible to be hosts for the Fallen. Stated possibilities include vegetative-state brain damage, drug overdoses, catatonia, and the like.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: There's a reason this was the last of the gamelines...
  • Evil Feels Good: Subverted. Demons' Karma Meter is called "Torment" for a reason. High-Torment demons (and all of the Earthbound) invariably are insane, screwed up monsters.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Every Demon did this as part of the back story. They started out as noble idealists. War against their own kind, followed by eons of imprisonment in the abyss, twisted them into hateful monsters. Player Characters are the ones who managed a subsequent Heel-Face Turn (or are at least capable of trying).
  • Glamour: The Lore of Radiance.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: One look at a manifestation of a high-end Earthbound can crush a human's mind and willpower.
  • God: Obviously.
  • God Is Evil: Here things get confusing. The general demon line is "God is a dick, and we were right to rebel". The problem comes when you realize that God's version of events is never told. Every account of the War of Wrath is from a demon's first-person viewpoint, and they don't seem to line up. Even the demonic accounts claim they did some truly horrible things before getting sent to Hell. There's a faction, the Reconcilers, who have as their central conceit that God was right about the whole mess. All that said, God doesn't do a lot to counteract the general "God is on the bad side" line, having denied humanity sapience without a word of explanation (even the angels who were loyal admitted that one).
    • The overriding feeling is more "God is Apathetic." Given the fact that the World of Darkness is such a crapsack world, perhaps He just gave up on the whole thing. Not to mention that a free and sapient humanity managed to create the Crapsack World, even without the presence of the Earthbound; after all, many of the supernatural threats were once human.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The Fallen need Faith, which is a rare thing to find in the World of Darkness, to power their Evocations. The Fallen make pacts with mortals to draw on their Faith potential in exchange for a supernatural boon.
  • Good Feels Good: The more a Demon works to heal the world's many wounds, the more his or her own Torment is eased.
  • Gothic Punk
  • The Grim Reaper: This used to be the job of the Halaku.
  • Have You Seen My God?: God and the loyalist angels are nowhere to be seen in the modern era; one supplement gives guidelines for making angels, though.
    • Oh, and Lucifer is AWOL as well, having never been sent to the Abyss. He's supposedly Walking the Earth though and messing around with the Meta Plot of other gamelines.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Fallen became profoundly less sympathetic as the war against Heaven raged on, as the the millennia long conflict became more brutal and vicious and the rebels became much more jaded and bitter. Some of them even began to turn on humanity, as misunderstanding and frustration turned to outright rancor and disdain.
  • Hive Mind: The Lore of the Firmament can allow a Scourge to remotely control his or her thralls and sense what they sense.
  • Holy Burns Evil: See below. A sufficiently Tormented Fallen takes constant aggravated damage if he treads on holy ground.
  • Holy Ground: Played With; Fallen can walk freely into holy places if either the ground is insufficiently "holy" (e.g. nobody who goes really believes, including the priests) or their Torment is low. Otherwise, stepping onto a holy ground kills their host bodies quickly and efficiently.
  • Horned Humanoid: certain Apocalyptic forms provide horns.
  • Horny Devils: The Defilers run largely on this trope.
  • Humanity Ensues: To stay on Earth, demons need to take a human host. For some demons (e.g. PCs), possession can shock them out of their Torment, as they experience human memories for the first time; for others, however, it has little effect.
  • Immune to Mind Control: All Demon hosts are immune to all mind-controlling effects including hypnosis, thanks to being already possessed by a demon. They are still susceptible to I Know Your True Name, however.
  • Karma Meter: Torment, which is unusual in that it goes up. At 10, you fall so deeply into hatred and revenge that you can never come back. Conversely, reaching zero Torment would hypothetically redeem the fallen back into their angelic self. However, this is impossible through normal mechanics, but with proper roleplay...
  • Knight Templar: A great deal of the angels who didn't rebel, if demons are to be believed about this, and some of the ones who did.
    • Most particularly Usiel, who never joined the rebellion but Fell anyway because he slaughtered an entire valley of people just to get at Gaviel.
  • Little Miss Almighty: It is implied that the (old) World of Darkness's God is female; the folks pushing this are Devils, so take from that what you will.
    • Of course, given that God is said to exist on multiple levels of reality at once, this is likely to be true. God is female, male, both, neither, a third gender that doesn't exist in life on earth, and, and...
  • Love Hungry: A few demons, and mind control makes it easier, and if done "right" gains the demon spiritual power.
  • Mad Scientist: A number of the Malefactors fall into this category, as do a few of the Devourers. One of them is directly responsible for the demons losing the war against Heaven thanks to her experiments.
  • Mana: Faith, which is harvested from mortals, either willingly or, erm, less willingly...
  • Mind Rape: The side effect of reaping Faith from an unwilling mortal. The Earthbound-exclusive Lore of Violation's second rank power is called "Mind Rape." Both kinds cause physical damage as well as psychological. Doing this more than once to your thralls can turn them against you.
  • Nephilim: Offspring of humans and angels who tried to Take Over the World.
  • No Social Skills: A common flaw amongst the Malefactors (who find humans uncomfortably unpredictable) and the Slayers (who have a tendency towards isolation). The Devourers have a decided tendency towards this, as they're often tactless and aggressive.
  • Number of the Beast: There are six hundred sixty-six Earthbound.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The Raveners want to kill every living thing and destroy everything that isn't living; the idea is to spite God by destroying Creation. Some of the Earthbound also qualify.
  • One-Winged Angel: Every demon has an "Apocalyptic Form," a reflection of the angelic Lore they embody the most. They can take on this form for extra power, as well as to reap Faith from mortals. Low-Torment demons generally have a beautiful apocalyptic form, but even they can go one-wing if the fight turns against them and they need to tap into their Superpowered Evil Side.
  • Original Man: Of the "modern humans are pathetically frail by comparison" variety. Adam and Eve were supposed to be the ultimate lifeforms and we just can't measure up.
  • Our Angels Are Different
  • Our Souls Are Different: Angels/Demons don't actually have souls. They're the celestial equivalent of software, and they can be deleted or made into hand puppets if someone discovers their true name. Demonically possessing a human (even an Empty Shell) gives them direct access to a human soul, which lets them experience (among other, less pleasant things) real love for the first time. This is part of what frees them from Torment after leaving the Abyss.
  • Prophecy Twist: some powers of Lore of Patterns point the fallen towards key events, allowing him to execute a For Want of a Nail scenario - but the vision provides the key event without context (and if the evocation has got warped, the meaning will be exact opposite)
  • Rage Against the Heavens: The war against the loyalist angels.
  • Religious Horror
  • Self-Inflicted Hell: There is no punishment in the Abyss but the rage and pain of those trapped within it.
    • Or is it? The demons are described as existing several dimensions above humanity's ability to comprehend, while modern day Earth is a single plane of existence. The Abyss is nothing, leaving the demons with only their rage, pain, and each other for millennia, able to see/feel the World of Darkness. Which isn't pleasant, seeing as how it's a Crapsack World.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The secondary goal of the Reconcilers, if contact with God is not possible.
  • Shout-Out: Earthbound Belial, one of Lucifer's five most powerful subordinates before the imprisonment, looks a lot like Cthulhu. Or at least the reliquary inhabited by his spirit does, as his manifestation is said to be so horrible that it defies description.
    • In the tie-in novels, the Trilogy of the Fallen, one demon happens upon a vampire, to which he immediately reacts, "Caine? Is that you?"
  • Speak of the Devil: comes with the territory
  • Spider Limbs: The high-Torment apocalyptic form of the Neberu's Lore of Patterns.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: See With Great Power Comes Great Insanity.
  • Transformation Of The Possessed: Elohim with the proper lore can do this to their host.
  • Unholy Ground: The fallen angel Kupala is bound within the soil of Eastern Europe.
  • Vampiric Draining: All Elohim require Divine Faith to live and cast magic, and the only way the Fallen can obtain it is from humans, the image of God. For this, they can either reveal themselves to certain humans and let their Faith trickle to them constantly, or reap them for all their Faith in a one-time boost. Unlike vampires, demons don't actually expend Faith by merely existing.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Apocalyptic forms of demons not only automatically grow more powerful with accumulation of Torment, but also can be powered up temporarily by accepting more Torment. Moreover, the Earthbound are considerably more powerful (although much fewer in number) than regular Fallen.

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