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"A mortal poet put these pretty words in Lucifer’s mouth: “it is better to rule in Hell than it is to serve in Heaven."
"He got it half right; I have never seen Heaven and not even the angels of the Pit know its true nature. But this much is true – it is better to rule in Hell."

Infernum is an RPG produced by Mongoose Publishing, using the "D20 system" created and popularized by the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons. It is a game in which you do not fight the Legions of Hell... but, by default, play as them. Most heavily based on Dante's Inferno, its list of inspirations also includes Paradise Lost, the various comics of Alan Moore (most prominently Promethia, Swamp Thing, From Hell, and Hellblazer), Neil Gaiman's Sandman, Mike Carey's Lucifer, Dune, Conan the Barbarian, Sláine, Gormenghast, China Miéville's Perdido Street Station, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco, Hellraiser, Event Horizon, and Doom.

The year is 766 After Fall, over seven and a half centuries since Lucifer and his rebellious angels were exiled after failing to conquer Heaven. Ploughing a gigantic crater 2400 miles deep into the surface of Hell, an empty world populated only by Spawn, the First Fallen burned for an age without reckoning until Lucifer, in an extreme act of will, cut open a rift between Hell and Earth, allowing Time to seep into Hell and, with it, the promise of Change. Resentful of what happened, the First Fallen proceed to couple with the Spawn, then reshape the resultant abominations over generations of incest, crossbreeding, surgery, sorcery, alchemy, and other ghastly experiments to create the nine breeds of demon.

Their intention was to use these creatures to conquer Heaven, but they failed to predict the intelligence and rebelliousness of their "children". Even laying upon them the Covenants, forcing demons to obey anybody to whom they swore loyalty or gave their word, did not prevent them from managing to seduce half of the surviving First Fallen into supporting their desire to remain in Hell and forget about Heaven. Lucifer's faction called for a confrontation, and each faction simultaneously ordered the demons to obey them. Knowing that they would either be destroyed once Heaven was claimed or remain slaves to their Abusive Precursors, the demons chose their own path and attacked both angelic factions while their Covenants were stretched to breaking point.

The vast majority of angels were slain and devoured, the survivors fleeing into the dying universe of the Broken Lands, leaving Hell forever after in the hands of the demons. Lucifer vanished, no one knows his fate, but managed to lay a spell upon Pandemonium, the City of Chaos, that would prevent any of the demons from seizing the Throne of Angels and claiming dominion over all of Hell. By the time that the spell wore off, the demons had uneasily settled into the violent, bloody, oft-broken 'peace' maintained by the Nine Houses of Hell, each headed by one of the most powerful demons in the Pit, each one a claimant for the title of Ruler of All Hell.

It is five hundred and sixty five years since the last of the First Fallen was slain, and Hell is in turmoil once again. The Tenth House, House Lictat, has arisen after three hundred and sixty seven years to claim the position held by the destroyed Ninth House, House Jelac. The Free Cities Heresy, a rebellion against the very laws of the Infernum, has arisen and claimed multiple cities across Hell, forcing the other eight Houses to accept House Lictat in order to focus their attention on this new threat. The Hellgouts are swallowing larger and larger groups of mortals. Fallen angels are plummetting into the Pit more frequently then ever before. This year marks ninety eight years since the Knights of the Harrowing plunged their mountain-fortress of Outremer into Hell to lead a crusade against demonkind. The possibilities for the brave, the cunning, and the lucky are infinite.

The nine breeds of demon are Artificers, Beasts, Deceivers, Fiends, Hulks, Imps, Malcubi, Slavers and Stalkers.

The Nine Houses are Astyanath, Carthenay, Glabretch, Haimon, Lictat, Oblurott, Riethii, Sturrach and Zethu.

In addition to demons, players can also play humans and Fallen Angels, younger and less potent versions of the First Fallen.

This RPG provides examples of:

  • Abusive Precursors: The First Fallen count created, through an act that could seriously be considered rape and/or bestiality, an entire sapient species solely for the purpose of being disposable weapons and tools, ruthlessly mutilating, mutating and exterminating them in the process of "honing" them towards their desired purpose.
  • After the End: The Broken Lands are the dying remnants of a previous universe.
  • Anatomy Arsenal: Most if not all of these tropes are present in the system, with the right mutations and sometimes a little reflavoring. Chain of the Carriage's final form is Beware My Stinger Tail incarnate (either crushing flail or actual stinger), one branch of the Chain of Living Weapons fits nicely into Swiss-Army Appendage (hand, bio-gun, cutting implement, stabbing implement, crushing implement), and there's more. Chain of the Crawling Flesh culminates in the ability to make your skin peel itself off of your body and try to kill your enemies.
  • Anti-Hero: the very best demons (in terms of morals) are likely to fit into this mold... or, more accurately, '90s Anti-Hero. Many humans will also sink to this level in order to survive.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Demons qualify. While in principle, demons have free will and can choose their own path, they're inherently beings that feed on pain and torture, and no demon in all of history has really qualified as better than a Noble Demon.
  • Appeal to Force: Most ranks within a House have a Byzantine system for determining who gets them based on a mix of several factors. The rule for attaining Head of House status, however, is perfectly simple: "Last Demon Standing."
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: With very few exceptions, every holder of a noble fiefdom earned that fief by politics, assassination and brute force, and they only hold it until one of their subordinates becomes stronger than they are.
  • Badass Army: Well, most Houses in Hell aspire to have this, but there are still some military formations that stand out from the pack.
    • House Sturrach (a House which is an army) is the standout example. At their height they were roughly as mighty as the rest of Hell put together, and even now the thought of another Sturrach's War scares the iliaster out of other demons.
    • The Haimon Legion of the Damned relies, as its name suggests, on damned souls. While their tactics amount to a Zerg Rush, their troops are actually more highly motivated, resilient, and reliable than the average demon. Their badassery as a force was proven at the Battle of the Ash Ghosts, where they routed the armies of House Sturrach and forced the House into a hundred-year retreat.
    • The Joyous Legion are House Astyanath's elite forces. They feel pleasure rather than pain when wounded, harnessing their pleasure in battle, and while their numbers don't match up to those of the other Houses, demon-to-demon they're probably the most powerful army in Hell.
    • An honorable mention goes to the Oblurott cavalry. As a consequence of eating so much real flesh, House Oblurott have become pretty good at breeding spawn, and they use this to create riding-spawn without equal. And despite being a House of Fat Bastards, when they ride to battle they tend to hit with overwhelming force and quickly pound their enemies into the mud (getting it over with as quickly as possible so they can go back to feasting and being lazy).
  • Badass Normal: mortal player characters, especially if they choose to fight against demonic society rather then meld into it. Particularly noteworthy are members of the Early tribes (humans born and raised in Hell) and Knights of the Harrowing, who actually invaded Hell in an attempt to crusade against the demons. That said, nobody's quite Earth-normal in Hell, since mortals can generate iliaster by Heroic Willpower.
  • Bizarre Alien Reproduction: demons are naturally asexual (though there is a mutation that lets them become truly male or female, as well as one that renders them sexually male or female), and reproduce through "Spawning Pits". No, not what you're thinking: these Pits are canyons or vats full of alchemical compounds and acids. A living demon is thrown into it, and dies a hideous death as, simultaneously, their flesh and bones dissolve into nothing and their organs change into fanged maggot-things (demon larvae) and chew their way out of the decomposing mess. Larvae swim in the Pits for about six months, then pupate and emerge as fully mature and functional demons. Malcubi can also breed like humans do, as can Deceivers that make the once-off choice to assume a gender instead of being asexual like the other breeds.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: The vast majority of demons are born as physically genderless, asexual, or otherwise neuter beings. The exceptions are malcubi, which are born with fully functional male or female genitalia, and deceivers, who are born neuter but can choose to manifest functioning genitalia. Demons who ascend to Noble rank can use the energies from doing so to imbue themselves with reproductively functional genitalia as a Noble Mutation, and any demon can develop sexually functional but sterile genitalia as a Common Mutation. Thus, only malcubi, gendered deceivers, and demonic nobles are capable of sexual reproduction.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: the lightest way to handle things. There are good-guy mortals and angels, but they're few and far between.
  • Black Magic: implied in the background, but not actually present in the game. There's only two spells that are outrightly offensive (one is a Voodoo doll-style curse, the other turns a nearby source of fire into, essentially, a stockpile of hellfire grenades), and two others that have the potential to be damaging (one manipulates the local elements -earth, air, water or fire- in accordance to the caster's will, allowing them to potentially do something like make a mass of fire crawl over someone, or cause spikes to erupt from the earth underfoot, while the other can cause violent weather/water — or calm storms and wild water).
  • Blood Knight: Basically House Sturrach's schtick; the most militant and warlike of all the Houses, their explicit goal is to conquer Hell, then invade and conquer Earth, then crush Heaven, then sweep out into The Multiverse to find an infinite array of worlds to conquer. War without end, an eternal battle, is their idea of paradise. Naturally, full of Sociopathic Soldiers and Colonel Kilgores.
  • Body Horror: Where to start? Asyanath's surgery, House Glabretch's... everything, all demons mutate as they grow stronger and more powerful, the tortures inflicted upon damned souls...
  • Brain Bleach: The waters of the River Lethe can erase memories, from any duration from "only while exposed" (the mists that cling the river's surface) to "permanently" (submerged in the water). One of the oldest industries in Hell is boiling the Lethe and pumping its fumes up the sky above the crater, as the Mists cloak Hell from external scrying and wipe the memories from damned souls and fallen angels as they plunge into Hell.
  • Break the Haughty: Zethu is the House most associated with Pride, and up until twelve years ago, the rise of industry had made them the mightiest of Houses, bouncing back from their collapse in Sturrach's War with an unmatched aplomb. Then their greatest cities suddenly rebelled, and their House is now on the verge of destruction.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Inverted. The mutation "What You Want to Be True" from the Chain of Lies, and likewise the mutation "All Secrets Revealed" from House Riethii's Chain of Whispers, cause the demon to be physically harmed if they say something that is not a lie.
  • Charm Person: certain mutations basically have this effect. Most notably, Malcubi get Domination (basically Charm Person's up to eleven big brother) as a high-level racial ability.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: most, if not all, demons will betray others for their own advantage. House Astyanath, however, has such a reputation for this that other demons think they're kind of nuts. The rampant cruelty and sheer viciousness of Astyanath "society" has totally bred out any semblance of loyalty among them, and their willingness to let rivals be overwhelmed in battle so they can take their position, or to lead mutinies against "weak" leaders in mid-combat has cost them more then a few battles.
  • Circles of Hell: Invoked by name, and they serve as the equivalent of countries. The Pit is a 2400 mile deep crater basically divided into nine bands of terrain that roughly equate to countries. We start with Emptiness, the rim of barren ash wastes around the mouth of the crater. Next come the eternally storm-wracked mountains of Tempest. The mudflats and swamps of Tears come between Tempest and the volcanic badlands and slagheaps of Toil. After that, one passes through the battlefields of Slaughter to the urbanized nightmare of Industry. For the final stretch, you go down through the demonic "paradise" of Delight, through passes in the volcanic mountains of Malebolge, and finish in Pandemonium, the city of chaos on the crater's floor. Yes, you are walking on the walls of a roughly conical crater for the seven intermediate Circles between the outside and the crater floor. Gravity works differently in the Pit.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Everywhere in Hell. Demons need to torture souls to extract iliaster from them; the more pain they induce, the more iliaster a soul generates.
  • The Corruption: Downplayed with Corruption — the ambient sin of Hell will eventually force even innocent Early's souls to be stuck there, and will mutate humans into more demonic forms, but it doesn't actually corrupt their morality in and of itself; it does render humans vulnerable to Covenants, however, so Early distrust obviously corrupted humans for fear they have been unwillingly drafted as demon servants, not to mention Corruption is just as often the product of being a genuine Jerkass by your own free will.
  • Corrupt Church: Inverted with the Church of the Morningstar. While they claim they're really just mocking religion while gathering iliaster to power the artificial sun of the Pit, in reality anyone of Priest and above rank genuinely worships Lucifer and has faith in his return and that he will lead to a Golden Age of the Infernum (with them as his right hands, of course)
  • Crapsack World: It's blisteringly hot and dry (except where it's freezing cold and dry), rivers are more likely to be full of magma or molten metal then water, there's no sun (though there's a reasonable facsimile), it's several types of barren wasteland, it's crawling with inhuman creatures that literally need to rip your soul apart in order to both feed themselves and sustain their society... how much more crapsack can you get?
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • Averted for hellkin. There can be relatively good-natured and honorable demons, but they're still monstrous and most of the race is, indeed, evil.
    • Played straight for some human sorcerers, especially those who are aligned with the Early. Zethu, the Founder, created sorcery as a degenerate version of angelic magic, and it is meant to gradually wear open portals to the Pit in the mortal world... operative term, in the mortal world. In Hell, it's completely harmless to the dimensional fabric as well as being more powerful, but while it invokes Black Magic themes and especially enslaving demons through forced Covenants, it's also the only way to reliably cure Corruption and, when it comes down to it, forcing demons to not enslave humans and fight to protect them isn't exactly the worst action. In fact, human-friendly faustians are probably the reason there are any free humans that aren't servants of demons at all.
  • Decadent Court: The lower Circles of Hell are pleasurable to the point of sybaritic, but it's still Hell. Instead of the constant open warfare practiced in Upper Hell, you get backstabbing, seduction, possession and Covenant manipulation. It should be noted that these circles are the most dangerous part of Hell, not the least.
  • Deal with the Devil: Deceivers are basically embodiments of the sort of suave, charismatic demons/devils associated with this trope. Also played straight with the Chain of Gifts, powers that allow a demon to give "boons" of various sorts to those willing to trust its benevolence. The "exact payment for what was promised" is played up more with the Chain of Usury.
  • Demon of Human Origin: The "Change Species" ritual allows a spellcaster to transform a mortal or an angel into a demon, permanently. There are rumors of a reverse of the ritual, a spell that can turn a demon into a mortal, but no Faustian claims knowledge of such a spell.
  • Demonic Possession: racial ability of the Deceivers (who do it psionically/spiritually) and the Imps (who do it physically by shrinking down so small they can squeeze in through your ear and turn your brain into a control panel). Also, any creature who takes the Chain of the Possessor gets this ability — this includes not only other breeds of demon, but also fallen angels and even corrupted mortals.
  • Demon Lords and Archdevils: The rulership of Hell comes in a distinctly feudal fashion, authority being handed down from the nine Heads of Houses through a system of Grand Dukes, Dukes, Earls, Viscounts, Barons and Captains. There's no actual difference between "demon" and "devil" (racially; devil is a higher social rank, below daemon). The overall authority of/law in Hell is a selection of three councils, primarily the Assembly of Grand Hierarchs of the Infernum, a council comprised of one representative for each House and a number of other representatives of various powers, such as the Independent Demons, the lords of Pandemonium, and the Faustians. It's sort of like the UN... only disputes are much more violent. It's an uneventful meeting if only two or three members are vaporised in mid-speech.
  • Devil, but No God: One possible interpretation of the setting is this. Lucifer and a number of other Fallen Angels named by Christianity were exiled from a place called "Heaven", but there's no evidence that Heaven is anything like the Christian depiction of the place (even the Fallen Angels player race don't remember anything about it, and of course the demons and humans haven't ever seen it), and there's nothing that implies there's some kind of supreme entity running the place.
  • Duels Decide Everything: One of the three lynchpins of Infernal society is the Law of the Duel, which allows demons with a grudge against each other to sort things out by killing each other in person or through officially appointed proxies. It's seen as far more practical than allowing vendettas to just suck whole tribes of demons into rampant war against each other.
  • Dumb Muscle: Hulks were literally bred to be this, with dull minds but massive frames bristling with muscle and natural armor. They get a pretty serious sharp Intelligence penalty, contrasted by a sizable Strength bonus, and grow increasingly larger as they gain levels. However, nothing stops a Hulk from getting smarter as they gain levels, especially as intelligence-boosting is one of the common mutation chains, and hulks who subvert this trope tend to be extremely scary.
  • Dungeon Punk: Steampunk grade Industrial Revolution technology mixed with magic, resulting in things like biomechanical Golems, chainsaws powered by soul-stuff, and demon-possessed missiles.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: The Circles of Tempest and Pandemonium, as well as anyplace ruled by a demon lord following the Glacier Lord branch of the Chain of the Screaming Sky. The DM's book mentions the possibly existence of a "Tenth Circle" below Pandemonium, composed of grinding ice and darkness.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Plenty of House Zethu and Beasts, along with faustians, human sorcerers who have perfected demon-binding and are now considered honorary demons. Occasionally subverted with faustians like the Goetic Order or Bori shamans, who turn their powers to protecting humans and reducing at least some of the misery in the Pit.
  • Fallen Angel: A playable character race. Between their exile and their passage through the Mists of Lethe that cloak Hell, they don't remember the slightest thing about Heaven, or even why they Fell in the first place.
  • Fantastic Caste System: The nine breeds of demonkind were bred for specific roles in the army of the First Fallen. Whilst it hasn't been officially supported since the demons went independent, in practice most demons tend to gravitate towards positions based on their racial role.
    • Artificers were created as artisans and engineers, responsible for producing the material devices needed to wage war, building fortifications, and basically supporting the army.
    • Beasts were bred as a caste of Sorcerous Overlords, using their high intelligence and aptitude for magic to lead or support the army.
    • Deceivers were the designated officer caste, being relatively unimposing physically, but with keen intellects and a knack for leadership.
    • Fiends were bred to be flying warriors, with their innate ability to manifest hellfire making them especially powerful.
    • Hulks are the "purest" warrior strain, engineered to be as hard-hitting and damage-resistant as possible.
    • Imps were initially thought of as a failed strain, but were preserved when it was discovered they made expert spies and messengers.
    • Malcubi are the only strain not bred for combat, but were instead engineered as a race of sex slaves to provide comfort to the First Fallen.
    • Slavers are infernal quartermasters, innately inclined towards mastering the arts of torture so they can wring the vital iliaster from damned souls.
    • Stalkers are scouts and hunters by nature, bred to harry enemy forces, outflank, and conduct hit-and-run guerrilla warfare tactics.
  • Fantastic Racism: About the only hard rule is that the damned are less than anyone else, and this is true across all factions except (in theory) for the Free Cities (where it's just true in fact), even the Knights of the Harrowing (who are led by a damned ghost). Other than that, demons look down on nondemons, free humans hate demons, the various breeds have different stereotypes associated with them, and views regarding angels get complicated. (An angel in the Infernum is legally a demon, but a newfallen is seen mostly as lunch.)
  • Fat Bastard: Oblurott's hat. Demons of House Oblurott invariably are massively obese, partially because of their eating habits, partially because their House Chain actually revolves around them mutating into being so fleshy it's hard for them to move, but also hard for them to be hurt. Oblurotts consider this a sign of dignity and respect, however; as they know they were created to be warrior-slaves, being as unfit for that duty as possible is considered a sign of good breeding. Laziness is also highly admired; an admired Oblurott will have a hundred slaves to do something rather then lift a finger itself. When they do bestir themselves, they are notoriously direct and can be surprisingly energetic and effective, but that's only because they want to get it over with so they can go back to feasting and lazing around.
  • For Science!: Mixed with some elements of Machine Worship, the basic hat of House Zethu, although they apply it to both actual science and to sorcery. Progress and development are the closest thing they have to a personal religion, to the extent that they are defined as embodiments of "The Sin Against The Holy Ghost".
  • Fisher King: Any demon who follows the Chain of the Screaming Sky can determine the general weather patterns and terrain of their land, eventually causing it to become a frozen tundra, volcanic wasteland, misty swamps, or shrouded under eternal night. In spirit, at least, the Chain of the Burning Land, which binds a demon closely to their territory, also fits.
  • Genius Bruiser: Fairly uncommon among demons, due to Crippling Overspecialization, but outright terrifying when it happens. The most notable example of this was Sturrach, the mightiest demon in history, who was also the Infernum's greatest general.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Emps can invoke at will. It works best with In-Character suggestions though.
  • Greed: The "Avarice" version is the defining trait of the demons of House Carthenay, to the point where one of their powers is the ability to have Solid Gold Poop.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Gendered demons can breed with humans and create half-demons. These half-breeds will always look like an obvious hybrid between a human and a demon (or two kinds of demons) and have strengths and weaknesses of both races, ultimately leaning towards the weakness side. For example, they age like humans, they need human food as well as iliaster (though, like humans, they can generate iliaster on their own), they start dying at zero hitpoints instead of being Breached, they can't alter fate like a true human can nor can they impair the luck of others, and their abilities are sub-par.
  • Hell: The game is, of course, set in Hell, which is presented as an abandoned prototype of Earth that was cast aside in favor of the final product, then used as a dumping ground for Lucifer and his Fallen Angels after the War in Heaven.
  • Hellfire: An energy type native to the setting, alongside the "traditional" D20 energies of Acid, Cold, Electric, Fire and Sonic. Described as greenish-black flames that are fuelled by hate, rage and misery, explicitly called the "anti-iliaster", the will to destroy rather than the will to create. Actually using the stuff isn't actually a sin in and of itself, though it is put to sadistic use by demons - presumably, a human has plenty to be genuinely angry about and want to destroy in Hell,
  • The Heretic: Most demons qualify. The official word in Hell is that the first demons came about when the First Fallen became demons by being evil enough, and anyone who disagrees with that is heresy. No demon buys it; everyone knows that demons Turned Against Their Masters and ate them, but nobody says so out loud because it would damage the legitimacy of Covenants.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Riethii gained a significant amount of status by capturing the first newfallen angel and taking him as her lover. However, after she later screwed up, Purity turned on her and replaced her as House Head. (It's unclear what exactly happened to Riethii herself, but the smart money says that she's dead.)
  • Horned Humanoid: Demons from House Sturrach, or any demon with the Chain of the Crown. Traditionally, the latter is supposed to be required to rise to high rank, though that tradition is not always upheld.
  • Humans Are Special: Mortals are capable of generating iliaster by force of will and using it to boost themselves or alter fate, traits that are the only reason they can survive in an environment as unforgiving as Hell.
  • I Gave My Word: The principle of the Covenant is the closest thing to law that exists in the Infernum. Of course, this being the Infernum, a Covenant imposed by force or even Mind Rape is just as valid (both magically and legally) as a Covenant sworn voluntarily.
  • Immortal Procreation Clause: Whilst it is possible for demons to reproduce sexually, it's rarely done, largely because demons are paranoid and pregnancy is a very trying time for female-aspected demons, as their daily iliaster requirement increases due to their need to feed their unborn child. As a result, gendered demons normally only procreate for political reasons, typically to seal pacts or to create legally recognized heirs. This breeds Fantastic Racism from regular demons towards half-demons, who resent them for their fundamental connection to the demonic aristocracy and "spoiled" place in Infernal law, whereas most demons are forced to fight for everything they need to survive from the moment they crawl out of the Spawning Pit.
  • Inherent in the System: Several mechanics in the system exist to help the amoral and wicked gain power over the more scrupulous, as the nature of Hell rewards conquest and brutality. Also, even demons who try to be honorable and good-natured are still creatures who have to survive by feeding on the end product of torturing souls, albeit damned ones.
  • Kill It with Fire: the Chain of the Inferno gives the character fiery powers, including launching blasts of flame, turning into living flame, cloaking themselves in auras of fire, and causing victims to spontaneously combust with a touch; though those last two options have the drawback that, eventually, the demon will burst into flames themselves when they try to use it. Also somewhat subverted, as all demons are naturally resistant to fire and the same Chain can make them even more resistant to it.
  • Large and in Charge: The Chain of the Demon King, a chain of mutations exclusive to House Lictat nobility (formerly held by the fallen House Jelac), begins by giving the demon who takes it one level of Size Increase.
  • Legions of Hell: The default player characters.
  • Light Is Not Good: The average Fallen Angel who survives in Hell quickly becomes even more evil and corrupt than most demons. Even Fallen who follow the Paths of the Divine Will (attempting to adhere to their celestial purpose) and Mortal (attempting to become like humans) can be Jerk Asses. (Not too badly, however; commit too many sins and you'll be corrupted.)
  • Massive Race Selection: Nine breeds of demons, plus humans, half-demons, Fallen Angels, the damned, and possibly oddballs like the Abhorei.
  • Might Makes Right: Most Houses don't honor this in theory to the degree that they do in practice, as the social structure of the Infernum tries to protect the principles of feudalism and Covenant as an alternative to complete anarchy. House Lictat, on the other hand, laughs at this; they have the right to be a Great House because they've taken it, and to the spawning pits with anyone who says otherwise.
  • Mind Rape: let's see... tortures designed to break your will, malcubi can physically enter your dreams, House Riethii's Noble Chain of the Harlot, the Chains of Charisma, Lies, Lust and Weeping all let you manipulate the minds and/or emotions of others in some fashion, the Chain of Possession lets you steal the bodies of others or become a voice in their head goading them to do what you want, the Chain of the Hungry Mind culminates in the ability to psychically "eat" someone's brain, the Nightmare Aspect Chain turns you into living horror... yeah, this is a popular trope.
  • Monster Lord: The Deceivers argue that they're this, as they were initially bred as a leadership caste. While they're the most humanoid of demons, and claim pre-eminence over all demonkind, nobody else really buys it. Since Asskicking Leads to Leadership, and Deceivers are not the strongest warriors by a long shot, they're forced to resort to guile and alliances to survive.
  • Non-Human Humanoid Hybrid: Demons can breed with other demons and create half-demons who are handled identically to those with human blood. Given a Hand Wave in-canon about such hybrids only being possible because one (or both) of the parent demons will have human blood "somewhere" in their lineage.
  • One-Word Title: A Hell-related word, for a Hell-related game.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Church of the Morningstar is an inversion; it claims to be a Scam Religion, but you will find more and more sincere believers in Lucifer as you climb up the ranks — the "scam" is to come off as just more cynical hellkin with a neat trick.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The kindest interpretation of the demon's torturing souls for food is that, as (most) of them ended up in Hell for things they did (albeit don't remember), they kind of have it coming.
  • Red Right Hand: Deceivers always have a single distinguishing mark to set them apart from true humans.
  • Religion of Evil: Played with in the form of the Church of the Morningstar. On one hand, their religious trappings are intended more as mockery then anything else (to the point the average priest thinks someone who genuinely believes in their "faith" is either dead stupid or out of their mind), they're no more evil then any other demon, and they're really more of a social organization who are basically responsible for ensuring that the sun of Hell rises and sets regularly and doesn't explode or snuff out in the wind or anything like. On the other hand, the secret heart of the Church is that it's a Lucifer Cult, awaiting the return of the leader of the First Fallen and planning to fight at his side, betraying all demonkind, in the belief that he will make them his right-hand-minions after re-enslaving all other demons.
  • Sacred Hospitality: One of the three Laws (the others being the Law of the Covenant and the Law of the Duel) that hold the Infernum together as a functional society (for certain values of functional). The Law of Hospitality means that if you invite someone into your fortress, then you feed themnote  and don't hurt them, and they don't hurt you.
  • Satan: averted, more or less. Lucifer was the leader of the First Fallen, and did more or less mastermind the creation of Hell, but he has played no part in the course of demonic history since the first rebellion by the demons. The book is ambigous as to whether he escaped from Hell somehow, fled to the Brokenlands with the other First Fallen survivors, or was killed and eaten by his own creations.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: this is the racial motif of the Stalkers, who look something like demonic humanoid jackals and have a personality somewhere between a rabid wolf and a shark. Their racial abilities include being able to meddle with their quarry's dreams, cursing them with the knowledge that the Stalker is coming and there's nothing they can do to shake them off, and the ability to see through their prey's eyes and know exactly what they're feeling, both of these at will.
  • Scary Scorpions: One type of weapon in Hell is a mutant scorpion bred to serve as a living, poisonous whip. The actual body clings to the back of your hand/arm and the tail lashes out to sting your victims.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: most of the Houses embody at least one of these, and sometimes more. Zethu and Astyanath are Pride, Riethii is blatantly Lust, Sturrach obviously has strong ties to Wrath, Lictat is implied to be Envy, Carthenay is Avarice, Haimon is Sloth, and Oblurott is predominantly Gluttony. To finish the list, Glabretch can be seen to embody Despair.
    • Also referenced in the history. In the Good Old Days, souls were given to the various Houses of the Infernum based on their sins. After the industrial revolution kicked into high gear in the wake of Sturrach's War, this went by the wayside as every House started grabbing for every soul they could get their claws on.
  • Shining City: Pandemonium, a shining symbol of all of demonkind's aspirations, hopes and dreams. From the demonic perspective, the trope is played completely straight here. From everyone else's, of course, it's a horrible black disaster of a city, built on and ringed by black, grinding, soul-sucking ice, full of twisted, winding streets that change when you're not looking at them, and dominated by those palaces and temples of the First Fallen that still stand.
  • Shout-Out: The Book of the Tormentor has, as a sample mortal, a "Newcomer Marine", who represents a survivor of one of the "many military bases and mercenary encampments prone to being dragged into Hell". Between his quote, and his primary weapons being a shotgun and a chainsaw, he's pretty obviously supposed to be a Doomguy expy. He also comes with a packet of bubblegum.
  • Slave Liberation: The Branded are an Early Tribe descended from escaped slaves.
  • Solid Gold Poop: A Carthenay mutation is called "Shit Gold." Technically, the coins in question can be produced from any orifice, though.
  • Succubi and Incubi: One half of the Riethii hat is to be this, as well as Honey Pot spies. Astyanath qualifies too, but they take it in a somewhat more specialized direction. Also, malcubi, and any demon with the Chain of Lust mutation. Sex demons are a thing.
  • Technicolor Toxin: Demons with the Chain of Venoms develop greenish discolorations on their hands; by extension, poisoners are referred to as "green-handed devils" as a title of respect.
  • Time Abyss: Defied. Demons may be immortal, but Hell has only existed for 766 years (local time), and none of the current House Heads were there when the demons overthrew the First Fallen, except for the Hierophant of the Church of the Morningstar. Every other House Founder has been killed by an enemy or usurped by a minion.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Time in Hell is kinda fuzzy. As of the "present day," Hell is getting Newcomers from anywhere between the sixteenth and twenty-first centuries.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: the elite House military of House Astyanath is known as the "Joyous Legion", composed entirely of demons who, thanks to a unique House Noble Chain, feel only pleasure when wounded, and learn to harness their pleasure to drive them on to even greater efforts. While numerically inferior to many Houses, the Joyous Legion is still feared by all of Hell. Which is really no surprise; would you want to pick a fight with an army of highly combat-trained sadists who just get tougher (and more turned on) the more you fight back?
  • Torture Technician: The racial Hat of Slavers (though they lean more towards the "lowbrow, brutish, sadistic thug" version then the "self-professed artiste of pain" version), and the Hat of House Astyanath as a whole (who lean towards the latter). In a culture where torture is vital to everything from the economy to industry, there's plenty of these to go around, though.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: The Demons slaughtered the Fallen Angels.
  • Unstoppable Rage: An ability available to certain mutation chains, and the racial ability of Hulks. On a larger scale, Sturrach's War began when the most powerful demon in Infernal history was pushed beyond his limits and proceeded to tear down the leaders of several other Houses.
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • House Sturrach conquered half of Hell under the leadership of the original Sturrach, but they haven't been quite the same since the Battle of the Ash Ghosts. They're still the mightiest army in Hell by a long shot, but the lands that Sturrach conquered in the War have mostly been lost and they're now kept on a leash by Carthenay, who make sure that they don't get enough iliaster to really fuel their war machine.
    • House Zethu was the next House looking to take pre-eminence in Hell, but the heart of their power was based around cities and industry. With the Breaking of Oaths and the revolt of the Free Cities, their powerbase has just broken free from them, and they're currently in total disarray.
  • Villainous Glutton: House Oblurott — even the other demons consider them disgusting, to the point their official nickname is "The Gross". Many of them are, indeed, Fat Bastards (emphasis on fat), but relatively few of them have Jabba Table Manners — they're far too hungry to waste food by spilling it on themselves. They actually need to have surgery to avoid killing themselves through being like this, as demons are only supposed to live off of iliaster and, consquently, have rudimentary stomachs and no excretory organs, and extra digestive organs are frequently implanted to help them eat even more. And it still doesn't keep one of the two main causes of death amongst the Oblurott being exploding from eating too much. The other main cause, for the curious, is being eaten by a rival or a superior.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Part of why Sturrach's War was so successful was because the Houses didn't even think to cut the squabbling and team up to take down Sturrach, and while all the Houses together could beat Sturrach's army, while he was in command, no House could do it alone. In addition, the War started because Sturrach couldn't get everyone to agree to his plan to unite the Infernum, so he decided to make them listen.
  • Written by the Winners: According to the official history, demons came into being when the First Fallen were corrupted. They absolutely were not the result of bestiality by the First Fallen, Lucifer never existed, and more importantly, demons certainly did not rebel against the Fallen - such rumors are heresy. Note that every demon knows the Luciferine Heresy and nearly all believe it — but admitting that would undermine the Law of the Covenant and put Infernal society (and the positions of the nobility) in peril.