Discover Inferno 10/08/2014 | 740 comments

KasparHello, friends. As promised, today I will tell you what I know about the infernal realm of Sheogh and its chaotic denizens. I won’t be able to read you quotes from one of my old travelogues this time around, as I never visited Sheogh, obviously. But I’ve survived a few Bloodmoon Eclipses, so I have had a few opportunities to observe the Demons, sometimes from, well, a bit too close for my taste.

So let’s get started, what say you?

…What? Why are you looking at me so intensely? Is there something on my face?

Oh, I see, you want to know about last night’s experiment first? Well I’m sad to say it got a bit out of control, and my whole laboratory blew up as a result. It’s a good thing I’m already Undead, don’t you think? Still, I made interesting discoveries I’ll need to investigate further. Anyway, back to the topic at hand…

On the Demons

1. Sheogh, the Demon Prison

Not much is known about Sheogh. Once upon a time, it was an actual, physical place, located within Ashan’s fiery core. According to the oldest myths we inherited from the Shantiris, this is where Asha imprisoned her brother Urgash during the Wars of Creation. Despite Order’s victory over Chaos, the confusion that reigned during the following Ancient Age allowed the Demons to establish a foothold on the world’s surface. Lurking in uninhabited places, they slowly gathered their strength, until they were able to launch a full-scale assault on the Elder Races. As you all know already, this ended when Sar-Elam, the Seventh Dragon, sacrificed his life to banish the Demons together with their Dragon progenitor and seal off Sheogh in a separate plane altogether.

Of course, the spiritual prison proved less absolute than he had probably hoped. Every time Ashan’s shadow eclipses the Moon – what we call a Bloodmoon Eclipse – the barriers of Sheogh weaken and the Demons find themselves able to re-enter the physical world. Although Demons are inexorably dragged back to their prison dimension once these Eclipses are over, some of them sometimes find ways to maintain themselves on our plane. It usually involves consumption of magical artefacts or Dragonblood crystals in such quantities that it always attracts attention – and once he is discovered, the crafty Demon stowaway usually doesn’t last long. Through complex, bloodcurdling rituals involving the Demon’s true name, a Wizard can temporarily summon a Demon to Ashan, However, whatever benefit – power of forbidden knowledge – the Wizard desires is obtained at the cost of his very soul. But we’ll get back to that particular point.

It has been speculated that some very powerful Demons have mastered the ability to project their spirit beyond the boundaries of Sheogh. If true, this would allow them to haunt the dreams and influence the minds of weak-willed members of the Elder Races.

An ancient tome known as the Gorada Rael gives some details about the looks and climate of Sheogh. Yes, I know the original grimoire is a cursed and dangerous item, but the libraries of the Silver Cities’ academies have abridged copies that only contain the most harmless chapters, annotated by renowned Demonologists. Here’s what one such copies has to say about the Demon Prison-realm:

The Demon Realm is, to put it mildly, hot. It rains fire and ash on a regular basis, the skies are filled with noxious smoke, and the temperature ranges from uncomfortable to intolerable. On occasion volcanoes release thick plumes of steam, which sometimes coalesce into warm rains, but this happens infrequently at best. There are no seasons in the Demon Realm, nor is there any sun to mark the passing of the days – there is only infernal light and heat.

Within that realm of rivers of molten rock and volcanoes in eternal eruption, the Demons have established great cities of red-hot iron, stone and flesh. Demon cities are comparable to living, growing tumours.

During Eclipses, passages between the planes open in ancient volcanoes, most of them located in the Dwarven realm of Grimheim.

Yes, that’s something that is too rarely said: as terrible as Demon invasions during Bloodmoon Eclipses can be, and have been, they could be much worse. The Dwarves of Grimheim have long identified the volcanic chimneys where the main “gates” of Sheogh open, and they have erected gigantic fortifications to prevent the Demons from escaping. Obviously, the Dwarves can’t seal every single volcano of Ashan, but thanks to their efforts, instead of an inexorable wave descending from the northern mountains and burning everything on their path, Demons can only enter Ashan in scattered groups, ultimately “easier” to defeat.

Dungeon Cities

2. The Demon Hierarchy

Conquer, plunder and rape the weak, laugh when you’re wounded or tortured, indulge yourself in selfish pleasures, spread panic and chaos, corrupt the righteous: this is how a Demon would describe a fine day.

Each Demon lives only to raven and destroy, and is quite capable of wreaking tremendous havoc on his own. Forged together into a disciplined army, they would be nearly unstoppable. Fortunately for their enemies, Demons are creatures of Chaos, and are therefore partial to anarchy.

There’s only one form of hierarchy and obedience among Demons. Following the principle of “Might makes right”, the strong command the weak, who in turn command those weaker than themselves.

However, under the absolute leadership of the one they call the Sovereign, and who calls himself Kha-Beleth, the Demons are becoming more disciplined, and that’s a worrying thought.

I still remember the Second Eclipse, three centuries ago. Back then, Demons were led by generals – for lack of a better word – that called themselves the Princes. Each Prince was the personal champion of one of the Demon Overlords, the “Demon-Gods” Urgash created in mockery of the Dragon-Gods. Ahribban, the Prince of Hate, is especially famous in the Empire, as the engineer of Emperor Liam Falcon’s death. Between Eclipses, it is believed the Princes were busy fighting each other in the name of their respective Overlords, without one managing to become significantly stronger than his rivals.

Yet things seem to have changed. During the Third and Fourth Eclipses, the Demons were all fighting in the name of Kha-Beleth, one single ruler to whom they showed an almost zealous loyalty. To unite all Demons under one banner is nothing short of an extraordinary feat. We have to assume Kha-Beleth is no ordinary Demon, and accept the fact that he has somehow managed to bring some form of Order to Chaos.

Scholars and Wizards have many theories, more or less far-fetched, about who or what this Demon Sovereign could be. Kha-Beleth is never seen without his armour, so we don’t even know what he truly looks like. Three things are known for sure: his power is considerable, he’s incredibly cunning, and it’s without a doubt not the last we see of him.

Now let’s head into more… “esoteric” domains. But don’t worry, I’ll try to keep things simple.

Essentially, Laws of death and reincarnation are different in Sheogh. When one of Asha’s creations dies, it is believed that its soul ascends to the Moon – Asha’s cocoon – where it is renewed, purged of its memories and suffering, and sent back to be born anew. Demon souls, on the other hand, are entirely ruled by Urgash.

When a Demon dies, its essence is sent back to Sheogh where it is simply “re-spawned” as an Imp, with its memory intact. It must then work (and fight!) to regain its lost power and strength. Even more interesting: a member of the Elder Races who chooses to make a deal with Urgash will also be reborn in Sheogh after his death, either as an Incubus or Succubus. It remains to be determined whether this happens because that person has sold her soul to Urgash, like in the old folktales, or if because Asha rejected her for dealing with the powers of Chaos.

Dungeon People

3. Infernal Armies

As vicious and savage as they are, Demons are also very fond of self-preservation, maybe because they fear the punishment they will receive once back in Sheogh, or because they are wary of having to begin again from scratch. If the mere intimidating presence of their army isn’t enough, they’ll use every trick at their disposal – mind control, shape-shifting, fear spells, and so on. Ranged attacks and attacks from above come next. Only then, once the enemy has been sufficiently softened up, will the demonic forces charge. If the demonic ranks hold their discipline, they generally power straight through anything opposing them. If not, they turn into a ravening mob.

Demonic weaponry is serrated, barbed, and spiked so as to cause maximum pain and damage, and to make physicking any wound they inflict that much more difficult. Their arrows are designed to be impossible to pull out, and their swords do more damage coming out than going in. But most Demons don’t even need weapons to begin with: their very bodies are a nightmare of spikes, flames, claws and teeth. Once in Ashan, the most powerful Demons are able to open “gates” of their own, accelerating the arrival of their brethren.

Being creatures of Chaos, Demons come in all sizes and shapes, but it’s usually easy to determine which Overlord has spawned them originally. It allowed the demonologists to put together a tentative classification of Demonkind. The ravenous Hellhounds, for instance, are Demons of Voracity. The terrifying Pit Fiends are Demons of Hate. The sickening Breeders are Demons of Proliferation. And so on. The most powerful warriors of the infernal armies are known as Arch-Demons. Once the Princes’ honour guard, they are now Kha-Beleth’s lieutenants, ready to commit any atrocity to gain his favour. This change of allegiance shows that Demons are first and foremost a pragmatic lot.

This feels like a fitting conclusion to today’s lecture. I hope that, despite Demonology not being my area of expertise, you still found this little exposé informative, maybe even entertaining.

Now it’s my turn to ask you something. I’d like you to tell me why you are staring at me with these aghast eyes. I understand that I probably have some burn marks on my face after yesterday’s explosion, but I can’t believe it warrants such bewildered glares. Anyone can pass me a mirror? Thank you…




Oh dear.

Dungeon vs. Inferno

Status: Closed

you choose

Dungeon

56%

votes

you choose

Inferno

44%

votes

comments (740)
Order by: Latest | Best