More on Demons
This is not a first draft for a final descriptions of demons, but more conceptual work on what I want demons to be developed to.
One big problem with demons is, that about every setting eventually comes down to "prevent the world being consumed by demons". Sauron, the Burning Legion, the Quori, the Shadow (Midnight), the Dark One (Wheel of Time), the Blights (Dragon Age), the Reapers (Mass Effect), the Sith (Star Wars), the Vong (Star Wars!), the Great Old Ones (Lovecraft), and I don't know how many more. And I want the Barbarian Lands to be something different than what's already been done a thousand times.
Two of my favorite versions of demons are the Quori of Eberron and the Demons of Dragon Age. Full out invasion and destruction of all living things is not their goal, and a trait they both share is that they lack bodies that could travel to the material world. Instead they use projections of their spirits, or much more often, possession of mortals. The quori are doing it to prevent their own annihilation, while the demons of Dragon Age just find it extremely entertaining to visit the other side of the Veil. Destroying the world or casting it in darkness is not in their interest, and in the case of the Quori, in direct opposition of their goals.
As I have established several times before, the Barbarian Lands have no alignment and demons are not inherently evil. However their interaction with the material world is harmful to the natives, and most demons simply don't care. They don't want to destroy, at leaster after they stilled their initial curiousity, but don't care if they do so anyway. There is an infinite number of material universes and none of them have any meaningful value to demons. But true demons are potentially eternal and time doesn't have any actual meaning in the raw Void. For most demons, things that truly matter are their interactions with other demons, but without physical needs, an almost infinite amout of time, and pretty much no way to permanently harm each other, demon society is absolutely incomprehensible to mortals.
On occassions, the rare demon takes note of the existance of a material universe and decided to investigate it. But since they can't really leave the Void, they need mortals who act both as their eyes and guides. In the most simple form, a demon makes contact with a mortal spellcaster who is using magic to explore the Void. In exchange for services, the demon provides him with some additional magical power. If a demon is truly interested in what it dinds, it tries to get a greater foothold engineeering the creation of a cult that worships it. Cults can accomplish much more than a single warlock and might provide some willing hosts for possession.
True demons are the spirits of the void, incorporeal and eternal. Some sages believe that they can be classified into seven types of different power and behavior. If they are actually seven different types of demons, or just individuals of different strength of the same type, or even different forms of evolution or stages of maturity, is unknown.
Rage Demon: By all accounts the least intelligent and cunning, and apparently the weakest type of demon. Compared to other demons, they actually quite dumb and possess the intelectual qualities of common humanoids. That's still enough to draw small groups of followers and even outsmart careless spellcaster on occasion. Rage demons usually don't have any plans beyond taking possession of a powerful form and going on a rampage of destruction until their body is slain or consumed by exhaustion. However, powerful sorcerers sometimes manage to lure rage demons into attacking their enemies and they are sometimes send by more powerful demons to aid in the defense of their mortal servants. But given the rage demons nature, they are only used as weapons of last resort.
Hunger Demon: Hunger demons are similar to rage demons in many aspects, but they are not as careless and blind in the destruction they cause. A hunger demon attacks with much more purpose and is primary driven by its desire to feed and consume. Sometimes they just slay mortal creatures to devour them, but as true demons they are capable of much more calculated action. As it is their nature, hunger demons set lose in the world of mortals will usually set out to hunt for a specific kind of treat, but they also desire to keep their feeding binges continuing as long as possible and, in an unlikely kind of restrain, try not to bite off more than they can chew. Sometimes the target of a hunger demons desire is completely mundane, like apples or ale, which they will consume in almost endless quantities. But quite often they are also out for such exotic things like dogs heads, human children, rubies, or pixies. Where ever a hunger demons appears in the world of mortals, they usually cause a string of strange disappearances, murders, and burglaries, trying to not draw to much attention to them, that might bring an end to their feeding.
Greed Demon: In a greed demon, the inhuman craving of hunger demons is more sophisticated, but no less intense. The emotion that drives greed demons to seek out the material world is the desire for possession. With the Void being an infinite and eternal realm of thoughts, ideas, and energies, the concept of possessing physical things is a source of endless fascination for greed demons. Greed demons are simply obsessed with gathering and hoarding certain types of objects, and the more rare and valuable they are to mortals, the better. The demon does not have any use for these things, but just the sensation of possessing things and denying them to others is all they need and desire. If other people value them, then there must be something special about them that makes them worth possessing. Greed demons are very intelligent by mortal standards, but their single minded, and ultimativly futile obsession with gaining more and more makes them act completely irresponsibly. In addition to the currupting influence of the Taint they spread, greed demons can be very dangerous to humanoids, as they know restraint or boundaries when it comes to attaining the object of their desire, which migh as well be slaves, jewels, ancient tomes, or anything that other people do not want to part with.
Desire Demon: The next step in the demonic hierarcy are the Desire Demons, which are far more particular and descriminating about their cravings. Unlike hunger or greed demons, desire demons not only want to consume or possess things of the mortal world, but also enjoy them. For desire demons, it is all about the pleasures that a mortal existance includes. Part of this includes, that desire demons have the least interest in destroying or currupting things, though there are some of them who revel in depravity and causing suffering. Like all other demons, desire demons never get bored with the things they are craving. They may start to try out some variations or even travel to other places to experience other forms they have not sampled yet, but a desire demon will never just give up its persuit of pleasure and return to the Void for good willingly. Completely destroying all support they have in the mortal world is the only way to get rid of them, and even then they might just bid their time and wait for an opportunity to seduce another uncareful sorcerer with their promises. Desire demons can be active in an area undetected for many months or even years, if they are careful. But during that time they will always spread the curruption of the Taint, which will first take their mortal minions and eventually plague the whole settlement if not taken care of.
Sloth Demon: Sloth demons are a significant change in attitude and behavior to the desire demons that rank below them. For sloth demons, material pleasures are only of few interest. Like the other greater demons, the objects of their desire are the minds and spirits of mortals. Similar to desire demons, sloth demons often amass great riches and luxuries, but to them they are merely tools to seduce others. Nothing is more exciting and fascinating to a sloth demon than currupting and twisting the minds of mortals and playing with them as it desires, though excitement is no emotion one would associate with them. The corruption of sloth demons is slow and creeping, ver difficult to detect and even harder to escape. Like rage demons, they greatly enjoy destruction, but instead of seeing things burn and razed, their goal lies in causes slow decay by spreading despair and apathy. Sloth demons are just as good manipulators as desire demons, but much more intelligent and great liers and deceivers.
Dominance Demon: Where sloth demons are simply toying with mortal minds and spirits, dominace demons go much further. They desire nothing more like complete control and power over both mortals and weaker demons. Dominance demons are not content with enslaving remote villages and being given regular sacrifices to appease their wrath. While those might be a good starting ground, the true goal of desire demons is complete obdience and entire countries, and most of them would probably not even stop if they would manage to control entire worlds.
Pride Demon: At the absolute top of the demonic hierarchy are the pride demons. In many aspects they resemble more powerful dominance demons, but to a pride demon obedience is not enough. They desire nothing more but unquestioned loyalty and devotion, and being worshiped as gods. When pride demons set their eyes on the world of mortals, they desire nothing more than laying claim to everything in that unvierse.
Though only scholars of demons know the difference between true demons and lesser demons, the later are distinctivly different beings. While native beings of the Void, lesser demons are the creations of true demons. They are the essence of the Void, given shape by powerful demons and filled with tiny sparks of the least demonic spirits. Unlike true demons, lesser demons possess physical forms that can be permanently destroyed, effectively slaying the creature. Lesser demons that are summoned to the mortal world are merely projections that merely dissolve when destroyed, leaving the demon unharmed. But when a lesser demon is called through a portal or slain in the Void, it is permanently destroyed unless a very powerful true demon decides to reform them.
Lesser Rage Demons: Dretch, Hell Hound
Lesser Hunger Demons: Barghest
Lesser Greed Demons: -
Lesser Desire Demons: Succubus
Lesser Sloth Demons: Imp
Lesser Dominance Demons: Erinyes
While pride demons might possibly be able to create lesser demons infused with the power of pride, they are never doing so, every single one of them believing to be the one true manifestation of it.
At the lowest level are the demonspawn, which are not actually demons. Demonspawn are mortal creatures permanently possessed by demons, or infused with the essence of the Void in other ways.
Half-Demon: A half-demon is the magical ofspring of a mortal and a demon or a mortal creature directly altered by demonic magic.
Tiefling: Tieflings are the humanoid descendants of half-demons. They are mortal in almost all respects, but have natural resistance to the Voids currupting effects and can survive in the Void indefinitly. Tieflings are often found in the mortal world, but whole colonies of them exist in the artifical demiplanes of the Void.
Dread Beasts: These creatures are animals and other creatures that have become possesses by a minor demonic spirit. They are still alive, but completely consumed by taint and almost mindless. They sometimes are created spontaneously when animals enter areas so heavily currupted by Taint, that some tiny spirits can slip through the border between the world and possess them. More often, they are created on purpose by warlocks and guardians.
Dread Warrior: Dread Warriors are similar to dread beasts, but are created from heavily tainted corpses and resemble skeletons and zombies in many regards.
Abomination: The easily most feared version of demonic possession. True demons will often project their spirits to the mortal world and ride the bodies of mortals while remaining passive and simply observing. Such people, or more rarely animals, are most often willing warlocks, tricked sorcerers, or sacrifices presented to the demons in dark rituals, but may even be unlucky individuals who touched ancient traps that allow a true demon to possess them. Demons often ride these bodies without becomming active and only manipulating their victims thoughts, and might even leave without leaving any trace but a strong tainted aura. Sometimes the demon decides to take complete control of the body, destroying its soul and warping the body into a horrible demonic form. Sometimes a demon will sacrifice a high ranking servant in this way to destroy dangerous intruders into their cults bases, but usually this is the prefered choice for true demons to enable a long term stay in the world of mortals. Rage and Hunger demons make the most use of abominations and cling to them until the bodies are destroyed. Desire demons often enjoy the sensation of riding a mortal body they have completely mentally dominated, but sloth demons prefer to keep their demonic nature hidden as much as possible and the more powerful dominance and pride demons rarely step so low to use such humble forms. To them the bodies of giants or dragons are much more suitable and appropriate.
I'd really like some feedback and even additional ideas, before I start to really work this into the rest of the setting.