The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, November 13, 2016


I've been watching Ash v the Evil Dead lately. It features our state of Michigan... if its Hell were a literal dimension and not a town, and reachable by the Names Of The Dead and not by the Patterson Lake Road. I'm thinking of how a "Necronomicon" could be possible.

In the real world, of course, the Ex Mortis is not possible. There is no evil plane of existence beneath our spacetime. (I've never been able to discount, however, that our godforsaken planet is the evil plane of existence. Nor that we're gliding through paraplanes of chaos...) So what follows is to be treated as a guide to Dungeon Masters writing fantasy.

Even if the world were adjoining an Evil Plane, all could well be safe just for the demons' lack of interest in it. So the Necronomicon would have to appear in a plane that mattered to the demons: more exactly, a problem for the demons. The mortal world would further be inhabited by sentient beings with ability to follow a written text.

Next we have to explain why the human world hasn't been totally overrun already, like D'Stradi in Monte Cook's Eldritch Might III. Your campaign has a few options, involving a form of Anthropic Principle. In short, the world was lucky enough to avoid a demon invasion, as D'Stradi was not. That D'Stradi has not happened "yet" may be explained: such that fiends are more likely to fight each other than to extend their reach over other planes. In Cook's Planescape terms, that's the Blood War. So any serious invasion of a decent plane stands a chance of failure.

Demon incursions are still Extraordinarily Bad. They can topple civilisations. To give you more Cook, Beyond Countless Doorways features two examples: a plane in the middle of an ongoing stalemate between rival planes (law and chaos, here), and a plane after the blood-war between fiends has come and gone. Those are extreme case scenarios. But even comparatively well-off worlds can have patches of history during which demons ruled over men, such as the Acheron epoch in Robert E Howard's work.

So here is how I envision a Kitab al-Azif roaming around a campaign. I shall refer to the main world as Damocleia; it is in potential conjunction with the chaos plane Assayf, City of the Blade.

When humans first entered Damocleia, some of their kind broke into the spirit-world and became shamans. The shamans noted - some whisper, created - places where the air seemed "bent". Things seemed to go unlucky in these areas, and it was not good to bury the dead here. Taboos were passed down about such places. Soon enough, wicked tribes and wicked shamans researched ways to use them for power. The first demon invasion was, luckily, ended by the accident of more demons showing up, unable to unite with the first demons; and by human shamans, able to unite, thus leading their tribes together out of the line of (hell)fire. They quickly learnt some magic to fence off such areas. Meanwhile they sought out and un-bent whatever other unholy spaces existed outside the fence. Finally they pushed back the fence itself.

These actions were, meanwhile, recorded. Cave paintings by the tribes in the hills; tattooes on the flesh of migrant shamans. When the shamans died, their flesh was preserved.

Later, civilisation was able to arise on Damocleia, but there were still archaeological record of this First Demon War. Other people were able to access the old "texts": in the hills, or among the old tribes. Some of these took the illustrations and made them verbal in cuneiform or hieroglyphic. However such people inevitably went mad from the horrid secrets they learnt, so their texts were only barely more coherent than the paintings and tattooes were. And sometimes these mad scholars would just save time by flaying some hapless shaman.

There would effectively be an ongoing cold-war between Damocleia and Assayf: a lunatic and/or greedy Damocleian mage would summon up some demons, the demons would make a huge crimson splattery mess, other mages would rally and fix the problem. Meanwhile the demons over in Assayf learn from Damocleia.

UPDATES 3/3/2018 - what is a shaman? what is conjunction?

posted by Zimri on 09:52 | link | 0 comments

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