Bonus Runequest Content in Support of D-Infinity Live This Week - Demon Weapons and Armor!

Clint Staples

For the past couple of Runequest Thursdays, I have been laying out the details of my system for Wizardry - Summoning and Binding Demons for Fun and Profit! If you ever played Stormbringer or Elric by Chaosium, you will know where I am taking my inspiration for the system presented here. 

Yesterday, When William Thrasher posted the topic for D-Infinity Live (tomorrow night at 9 Eastern): Smart Swords and Dumb Phones!, it seemed only natural that I work out rules for Demon weapons and armor. Demon weapons like Stormbringer from Moorcock's Elric's saga, and demon armors, are so cool that they really need to be a part of high level play. But the systems provided were subject to some real flaws that made them difficult to work with. It is my hope that my system address at least the worst ones.

Note that this article builds on the system that I have outlined for Wizardry, and makes reference to terms and concepts found there. If you have not read those articles, you might want to before you dive in here.

Without further ado, here is my ruleset for Demon Weapons and Armor:

 

Demon Weapons and Armor

A weapon or piece of armor may be used the Binding Object for a Demon, thus creating a demon weapon or armor.

  • The item must be of exceptional quality (at least x5 base value).
  •  The item must have the Binding Sigil worked into it in some way (paint, embossing, cloisonné, enamel, etc). 
  • One of the Strictures must be “Binding Object”.
  • A demon placed in an item has the benefit of Thaumaturgic Sympathy with such an item. Thus a demon in a sword understands that it will be wielded to fight, etc. This functions as a "free" Stricture commanding the demon to act in accord with the function of the item.
  • If the demon item is to be owned by another, a stricture must be set to allow this. Otherwise, the demon item remains under the control of the wizard, and counts against his Binding Limit.

If the Binding is successful, the demon’s essence replaces the physical item, taking on the form of the item. Its properties replace any the item had previously.

  • Demon weapons may not be enhanced via Battle Magic. So a demon weapon cannot benefit from Bladesharp or Pierce, for example. Rune magic may still augment demon weaponry.
  • Demon weapons have the base ENC, Reach, and starting Percentiles to hit and parry as the weapon form they take, but use the demon’s base damage by Rank, rather than the weapon’s listed damage. Thus a demonic churl broadsword would have a Base Damage of 1d4. For this reason, many demonic weapons are in forms that bestow comparable base damage to a normal weapon. However, this need not be the case, and many stories of daggers of deadly potence exist in Demon Lore.
  • Demon Armor is generally an entire harness covering all locations of the body. This is because of the expense and difficulty of maintaining multiple demons in close proximity. Only one demon armor may be worn at a given time.  Demon armor may be employed to attack, using the Base Damage for the Rank. If so desired, attribute points may be spent to modified it as a weapon, but these are in addition to whatever points are spent on Armor qualities, and come from the Demon Point total for that Demon.
  • Demon Items can only be damaged by other demon items of equal or greater Rank, or by magical items of equal potency. If a Greater Demon were bound into an item, it is immune to the effects of protective Battle Magic. A demon item has Hit Points Equal to its CON. When these are reduced to zero, the item and then demon are destroyed. In addition, for every 8 points devoted to CON, a demon item gets 1 additional use of any powers it possess that are limited.
  • For every 8 points devoted to STR, the Demon item adds +1 to Damage of a weapon, or +1 Protection for armor. Bonus damage or protection counts as magical. Since this Protection is the same as the spell, only rune magic or a greater amount of Protection would further enhance the armor’s AP.
  • For every 8 points devoted to DEX, the Demon item adds +1 to Priority, or +5% to Hit or Parry for a weapon, or -3 to the ENCumbrance inflicted by a piece of Armor. ENC is figured based on the armor used.
  • A demon weapon must have 1 SIZ for every 8 SIZ of the wielder/ wearer. Within this limit, a demon item will automatically resize itself to its current owner.
  • Demon Armor must have SIZ at least as large as the wearer. It will become larger or smaller to accommodate the SIZ of its wearer, up to the armor’s full size. Demon armor also must maintain the general form of the harness used in its creation. So a SIZ 34 harness made for a humanoid would fit a humanoid of any SIZ up to 34, but could not adapt to fit a centaur, or a scorpionman, for instance.
  • A demon item’s POW is set by the demon. It must be overcome to affect the weapon directly with magic, but does not protect the owner otherwise.
  • A demon item’s INT allows it to share an ability with its wielder. For every 8 INT it can share a single ability.  In addition, for every 8 points devoted to INT, an item can also do one of the following: translate a stated spoken language, translate a stated written language, speak mentally with its owner, maintain a telepathic link with its owner for up to INT x Rank miles distance, 
  • A demon item’s appearance, which is determined by the binding wizard based on the item used, is reflected in its CHA. The more points devoted to CHA, the more imposing, fantastic, or desirable the item appears. If a mechanic is required for this, the item affects a viewer on a CHA vs. POW contest. If the item is to bee visually imposing or appealing, or seem to be composed of incredible materials, etc, it requires a suitably high CHA.
  • Demon items cannot benefit from all entries on the various Ranked Power tables. If a power makes no sense for a particular item (extra limbs for a helmet or axe, for example), it will not function. Having said that, flying swords and similar are possible, with Sufficient STR devoted to carry its wielder. A demon item does not have to devote attributes (in the case of the Flying Sword) to a Power, but its ability to function usefully is based upon its attribute. So a flying sword with 16 STR would do +2 damage AND be able to carry an owner of SIZ 16 or less.

 

 

Some sample Demon Weapons and Armor:

 

Name: Halikasz

Form: Dagger

Rank: 1, Churl

76 Demon Points

POW 16

Base Damage 1d4

SIZ 2 (wielder of up to SIZ 16)

STR 16 (+2 Damage)

CON 17 (17 Hit Points)

DEX 0

INT 16 (Speak mentally to owner, Translate a single spoken language)

CHA 15

Two Picks spent to choose from the Rank 1 Table: Magical Adept (10 Points)

 

Halikasz is a fine looking poniard with a stiff, narrow blade seemingly made of glass. This hilt is a single piece of obsidian, with the head of a beautiful woman as its pommel. In addition to functioning as a dagger, Halikasz can speak to its owner, translate spoken Persian, and function as an apprentice in magical rituals, even donating its POW in such circumstances.

 

 

Name: Firespitter (demon name: Acorynth)

Form: Bow

Rank: 2, Demonling

115 Demon Points

POW 21

Base Damage 1d6

SIZ 2 (wielder of up to SIZ 16)

STR 32 (+4 Damage)

CON 16 (16 Hit Points)

DEX 24 (+15% to Hit)

INT 16 (Share “Special Attack” and “Heat Vision” with Wielder)

CHA 15

20 Four picks for rolls on Table 2:

Choice: Spent another pick to choose from Rank 2 table:

Special Attack:

  • 2d6+4 Fire damage
  • Range: Close 10, Far 40
  • 6 shots per day (+2 for CON 16)
  • Chance to hit: (CON+DEX+INT+POW) x 2% = 77% to hit

 

Acidic Touch: Spent another pick to reroll on the Rank 2 Table: Heat Vision

 

In creating Firespitter, the wizard made a very fortunate roll: Choice, then spent a further Pick to choose from the Current Rank (2) table, going with Special Attack.  

 

The next roll was rather unfortunate. Acidic touch on a weapon would inflict acid damage on target and wielder alike. So a pick as spent, the roll abandoned and rerolled, with Heat Vision as the result.

 

Firespitter can shoot its special attack 8 times per day, afterward doing 1d6+4 damage with +15% to hit.

By giving Acorynth 16 INT, the wizard ensured that both of its abilities could be shared/ used by the wielder. So as long as Acorynth is in the wielder’s possession, she can use Heat Vision and the special attack, which the wizard decided was fire, in order to thematically match the Heat Vision. Firespitter’s creator intends to give the demon bow to a favoured retainer, and ritually relinquish control over it, making way for another demon she can bind.

 

 

 

Name: “Obsidian” Harness; Demon Name: Guthrass

Form: Demonic Fine Plate Armor (AP 9, ENC 14)

Rank: 3, Knight

157 Demon Points

POW 26

Base Damage 1d8

SIZ 20

STR 48 (+6 Protection)

CON 40 (40 Hit Points)

DEX 24 (-9 ENCumbrance)

INT 0

CHA 20

1 Pick from a lower Rank Table: Improved Damage (Obsidian does 2d8 damage in melee with its gauntlets)

Obsidian, or The Obsidian Harness, is a set of fine gothic plate, fluted and embossed, seemingly crafted from shiny black obsidian, but moving with the body such that its wearer suffers only 5 ENCumbrance. The gauntlets are spiked and magically potent, doing 2d8 damage in melee. The armor is also reinforced by the demon, granting 15 Armor Points in each location. Its creator put as many points into CON as possible, because he knew that the harness would be subjected to Magical Attacks that could damage its Hit Points.

 

Check back tomorrow for the promised article on Wizardry and Demon Lords!