Pact with a shadow demon cloak

A demon imbued artefact can grant its wielder arcane powers.

The Shadow Demon starts at strength 0 and with its hunger clock filled. This signifies it is at its weakest.

No matter its weakness or hunger, it always has a voice, though at its weakest the voice can only be heard in absolute silence. The magnitude of the demon’s voice grows louder as it hungers less and grows stronger.

The demon will grant its wielder access to greater powers when it grows stronger:

Strength 0: Hunger 4-clock
Shadow hand: shape nearby shadows to make illusions or shroud things in shadow

Strength 1: Hunger 6-clock
Shadow shift: move through nearby shadows as if they were a doorway

Strength 2: Hunger 8-clock
Shadow heart: see into nearby people’s minds and pull their strings

To use an arcane ability, mark hunger on the demon’s hunger clock.

The GM will tell you how many segments. A minor or insignificant effect may cost little or nothing. A powerful or very beneficial effect may cost 2 or more.

The GM may also mark hunger when time passes or as a consequence or complication.

If the demon’s hunger clock fills, the demon’s powers becomes limited or withheld, and the demon starts to plot against you.

The length of the hunger clock is determined by the demon’s strength. The shadow demon’s starts weak, strength 0, with a hunger clock with 4 segments, all filled.

If the demon hunger clock is filled, then it will plot against you. It will generally wait to strike when things couldn’t be worse.

So long as its hunger clock is filled, when you make an action roll, the GM may introduce a demonic complication. A demonic complication always happen, no matter the result of your roll.

Think of this like a devil’s bargain, but required to make the roll at all. It is a consequence of striking a bargain with a demon. The player can ask what this complication will be before deciding whether to continue making the roll.

With a demonic complication, the GM may:

  • mark a segment on a clock, maybe the demon alerts the guards or leaves behind evidence
  • make you suffer lesser harm, perhaps strangling you or tripping you up, or
  • worsen your position for this roll or reduce your effect, by getting in the way or distracting you.

The severity of the complications that the GM describes (and the position for the action roll) determines the threat level of the demon.
With a particularly angry or strong demon, maybe the GM marks two or three segments of a clock or you suffer moderate or severe harm. Perhaps the demon’s influence changes things so much that you lose the opportunity to achieve your goal with this action, forcing you to take another approach.

Of course, demonic complications can be resisted like any other consequence. If this happens before the action roll, the player can also avoid the demonic complication by choosing to not take that action.

Importantly, demonic complications shouldn’t come up every roll while a demon is hungry. If a canny player picks actions that align with a demon’s nature, there’s less reason for the demon to interfere, even when those acts don’t directly satiate their dark hungers.

The purpose of all this is not to punish the PC but to follow through on the demonic pact. The demon is not trying to destroy your PC (yet), but to encourage you to stop ignoring its needs.

To clear hunger, you must indulge the demon’s dark desires. When you do, roll dice equal to its strength, plus or minus dice for any major advantages or disadvantages for the demon.

Unmark a number of segments equal to the highest die result. For every additional 6, unmark another segment.

If you remove more segments than are filled, then you overindulge the demon.

Overindulging the demon increases the demon’s strength. This grants the wielder access to more powerful arcane abilities, at the cost of the demon demanding more to satisfy its dark desires.

When a demon’s strength increases, increase the size of its hunger clock by 2 segments and the wielder gains access to another arcane ability.

If the demon is already strength 2, then the demon will try to break free from its bindings.

The desire to feed on fear
The shadow demon is drawn to situations where fear is present, such as when someone is being threatened or when danger looms. It also delights in causing fear, perhaps by whispering dark thoughts into the minds of those nearby, or by manipulating events to create more opportunities for fear to arise. If the demon grows in power, so does its desire for ever-more-intense sources of fear to sustain it.

The desire to corrupt
The shadow demon also desires to corrupt those around it. As a shadow demon, it is intimately familiar with the darkness that lies within all sentient beings, and relishes the opportunity to bring that darkness to the surface. It might whisper temptations to those it encounters, encouraging them to indulge their most base desires and giving them permission to act on their darkest impulses. It might also seek out those who are already on the edge of darkness, such as scoundrels or those with powerful grudges, and work to push them over the edge. If the demon grows in power, so does its desire for ever more excessive and extreme corruption and manipulation of others.

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This is great. Both your mechanics and the flavor will works for me, and piggybags of the blades in the dark system in a logical way. I have had a bit of a hard time handling demons in the game and this gave me some good ideas. My only reservation is that the demon, feels a bit weak. but maybe that can be explained away with the binding within the artifact.

Cheers, great to hear. We’ve had a lot of fun with it in my game.

Yeah, the demon is in a much weakened state from the ritual that bound it and lets its wielder control it.

If it were ever to become strong enough to break free from its bindings, the demon would be very dangerous: probably Quality 5 or 6, monstrously strong and fast, travelling through shadow, and terrifying and corrupting anyone it can reach but mostly obsessed with anyone that wielded it.

This is part of balancing the powers the demon can offer as it grows stronger, with the threat of it breaking free and wreaking havoc.