Friday, July 14, 2017

Dungeons and Dragons, "My Favorite Fiends"

Standard Introduction
            I have been writing about Dungeons and Dragons semi-regularly this year and in the course of writing those I found a 30-day blog challenge.  As I have done those a couple times before it seemed remiss not to jump on this one.
            If you want here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Disney Movies, here is a link to my 30-day challenge on Video Games, and here is a comically out of date 30-day challenge on Movies (it is old and the writing is rubbish).

Day 14- My Favorite Fiends
            There are 10,000 monsters in this gods damned game.  Expect several top 5 lists this week as there are not too many specific “favorites” more like “preferred”.  Today is Evil Outsiders.  That will primarily mean Demons, Devils, and Yugoloths.
            Really, any one of those species of evil could have its own top 5 and there are evil monsters in the multiverse that aren’t of those groups.  This is a massive category.  I considered just talking about the biggest of the big evil outsiders, with Demonic Princes and the Dukes of Hell, but in my perspective, those tend to have too much coverage and emphasis.  Better to, again, look at those monsters that lend themselves to interesting encounters, interesting long term villainy, or just have the coolest looks to them.
            DOUBLE TWIST, while writing this I decided to only do a Top 3 and then do a heavy discussion about 2 “Dishonorable Mentions” because I think there is something that needs to be talked about.
            Let’s go.
This is a Vrock.  A Vulture Demon.
#3: Vrock
            They fly, they have spores, they look like the Skeksis from “Dark Crystal”, and they scream so loud it physically stuns people.  In 3rd edition a group of them working together could create a lighting explosion.  What more could you want from a giant demonic vulture thing?  Cause they kind of cornered the market on weirdness.

Anyone else recall the "Dark Crystal"?
It was alright.  Little too much enamored with the novelty of an all puppet movie.
            Like most demons, Vrocks are dumb and guided entirely by self-interest to the point of self-destructive behavior.  I have used them in the past but never to great effect.  I think that getting rid of the lightning explosion for 4th and 5th edition was a wise move, it was a distracting ability pulling them away from the more interesting shrieking and spore blasting.

This is a Kyton.  They look awesome.

#2: Kyton (Chain Devil)
            This one owes a lot of its success to the cool art.  Chains have numerous connotations related to domination both of one’s self and others.  At the same time chains are analogous to sins, heavy and forged link by link (am I the only person who remembers Jacob Marley’s speech to Ebenezer Scrooge about why his ghost was covered in chains?).  There is also just the general kinkiness factor, I was surprised not to see all that much fan artwork of the Chain Devil while pondering this blog entry.
            The Kyton in 5th edition is all about making lots of attacks from numerous points around the room by animating chains.  Like a cenobite from “Hellraiser” the chains become barbed and reach out to touch people.  They can also make scary faces to frighten the PC’s, either by appearing as a loved one or hated enemy, I kind of like that idea, the idea that your loved one ended up in a kink dungeon in Hell and is now trying to kill you is kind of awesome.

I would like to make a suggestion that this sort of head cage should be used in future Kyton images.
This seems like an obvious way for the whole "face of a loved one" could appear.

            4th edition kind of stands apart in that he was more about moving around with lots of attacks but I want to say that all iterations are missing something I always assumed they had: A Climb speed.  I guess when I pictured these guys I see them as swinging from chain to chain, the chains hanging from a place so high up that you can’t see it, and going down so low that the bottom is cloaked in darkness, their victims twisted up in chains like flies in spider silk.  Oh well, my mistake.
This is a "Horned Devil".
Because if there is one trait that would be unique enough to comment on with DEVILS, it is the horns thing.
No other Devil would have those.
#1: Horned/War Devil (Cornugon/Malebranche)
            This guy has an interesting journey that consists primarily of being a big dude with a trident.  His art ALWAYS looks awesome and that is really all I care about in regards to him.  He is a big, solid boss monster that looks cool.
            I have no idea why the names of this thing are so all over the place.  In 3e it is a Horned Devil (Cornugon), in 4e it is a War Devil (Malebranche), and in 5e it is a Horned Devil (Malebranche).  I guess when 6e rolls/roles around (I am guessing around 2022) it will be the War Devil (Cornugon).

This is a Sex Demon.
This will be uncomfortable to talk about.
Feel free to tell me I do not know what I am on about.

Dishonorable Mentions (Cause Demons): Succubus and Incubus
            Yes, I need to talk about the personification of sexual “seduction” that was a Demon in 3rd edition, a devil in 4th edition, and in 5th… they “play for both teams”.  The Succubus is now not just a sexy lady, but can also be a sexy fella in the form of an Incubus.  I think this might illicit some criticism in the form of, “Depraved Bisexual”.  I don’t think it does, but only because there are so many pansexual and bi-sexual characters like Queen Morwel and arguably the rather gender ambiguous nature of the Elf gods.  Instead I want to talk about a different issue that I feel is not clearly appreciated.
            In 3rd edition the Incubus was a separate demon from the Succubus.  Making them one creature which has a term for their female and male manifestations is a change for 5th edition… Holy shit is it a change.  And that is the thing I want to talk about.  Cause it is something that kind of bothers me!  Like more than I realized when I started writing this blog about demons.
            Let’s all take a look at Dragon magazine #353 from March 2007, it was a month that featured a cover illustration and focused article on the Demon Ruler of the Succubi and on page 33 they had the 3e version of the Incubi.  I will take an image DIRECTLY from there along with the relevant roleplaying information.  (Click for Full Size).

            “The Incubus is a physical manifestation of male sexuality given human form… Whereas Succubi seduce their victims… Incubi see what they want and take it by force.”  They are RAPE DEMONS.  OH MY!  Hash tag “Not all Demons” I suppose.
            Take a look at the combat description too.  “They gang up on single targets… Most incubi fight with a single longsword, often using the weapon with both hands to strike their foes.”  I can't be the only one thinking about that classroom scene from "The Wicker Man"?

Phallic Symbol! Phallic symbol!

            Woof!  Am I the one reading into this too much?  I think the writer might not have thought it out enough.  2007, a shockingly different era now that I think about it.  Here is the thing though: The Succubus kissing someone into a mind controlled stupor and then having sex with them, that is also a rape demon!  It is just more of a date rape demon.
            This is one of those things that I sometimes feel people do not appreciate when talking about these things in modern myth.  It is not good to be held down and fucked to death.  I find it strange that I have to be so blunt, but these things keep cropping up in pop fiction.  Morrigan from “Darkstalkers” being the best example, but there are others, especially in anime.  These things that portray the succubus as unironically seductive.  That is messed up.
            They are evil.  They manipulate, use, and destroy things.  And, you know, rape, lots and lots of rape.  It’s an icky villain.  I would recommend not using them.  Because, they’re role is INTENSELY misunderstood and weird.
Although... If that is what you are going for and you go for it hard enough.

Coming Tomorrow
            Tomorrow I am going to talk about Celestials.

            If you like or hate this please take the time to comment, +1, share on Twitter (click that link to follow me), Tumblr, or Facebook, and otherwise distribute my opinion to the world.  I would appreciate it.

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