The original game topic for today was Changeling, but I’ve never actually played it. I would LOVE to, it’s one of the settings that fascinates me, the whole crossover between Faerie and the modern world. I enjoy urban fantasy, that’s part of the appeal of Vampire for me too. It would be fun. I even bought a couple of the books. But I haven’t played it (yet), and I’m not planning any Vampire/Changeling crossovers, so… I’m changing the topic to another WoD Entity that wasn’t listed on the 30-Day List: Demon: the Fallen.
(Sartael and Nikanuuranu, this is for you….)
Fantasy literature (and gaming, and movies/TV) splits demons into two classifications (sometimes they overlap, but not usually): There are the Demons From Other Dimensions (which can, but doesn’t always, mean Hell), that are monsters in form and spirit; nothing angelic about them (or at least, not anymore). And then there are the Fallen; immensely powerful beings that were once angels in heaven, blessed beings in the service of God and all things good—who betrayed all they and their kind ever stood for and were thus banished and cast out of Heaven. Maybe they went to Hell or some kind of prison—but some didn’t, or perhaps they’ve escaped, or been summoned out by foolish sorcerers. Whatever the circumstances, they are now wandering on Earth, and pursuing whatever sort of Evil the story needs them to pursue.
Sometimes the Other-Dimensional Demons are minor baddies—little imps, nasty multi-headed or tentacled monsters that can be banished fairly easily (or not so easily, at least not without a tough fight) back to where they came from. Sometimes they are really, REALLY bad news, capable of destroying entire cities, never mind whatever poor heroic saps are standing up against them. Anywhere a Hellmouth opens – whether in Sunnyvale, California, Arkham, Massachusetts, or New York City—things can go from bad to worse very fast. Other-Dimensional Demons are also the most inhuman in appearance and personality—they are grotesque in form and mind and the really big ones are always, ALWAYS more powerful than those pitiful souls who stand against them.
The Fallen, however, were once angels, so even if banished from heaven, they still have a connection to this world the extra-dimensional monsters lack. They can resemble the classic ‘demon’ stereotypes with cloven hooves, horns, etc.—but they can also be beautiful. Sometimes they even still have wings. They can appear as normal humans; they can speak softly or with a voice of thunder (in any language), they can tempt, persuade, justify, excuse, entice and seduce. They’re powerful, incredibly intelligent, and they understand human psychology very, very well. They are good at disguising themselves as someone else, someone you can trust, someone who has your best interests at heart. And they are almost always, really REALLY bad news, capable of destroying human lives, hopes, faith, and while they’re at it, maybe even entire cities.
Or not—and that’s the fascinating thing about the Fallen. They’re almost always evil, twisted by the millennia of torment they’ve endured, and by their stubborn refusal to atone for their rebellion—but they don’t have to be. They’re individuals, and they have free will, and their personalities and nature and ultimate fate does not appear to be written in stone. They can change. And for me, that’s what made Demon: The Fallen so fascinating—the path by which a tormented, angry, jealous, resentful and immortal creature might find some degree of peace, of redemption—by learning what it means to be human. (While quite possibly also having to deal with its former associates and superiors who are more interested in inflicting torment, despair and terror on others around them, including any of their fellows who might show signs of ‘weakening’ and rejoining the Wrong Side.)
That seems to fascinate a lot of other people too – judging from the number of fallen angel-centered stories I see out there, in anime, in published urban fantasy, and in movies and TV. Fallen angels (and their children, the Nephilim) are all over the place.
They’d make fascinating crossover characters too—particularly if their real nature remains hidden for a good while. Or most formidable adversaries, even for elders. (hmmm….)
But they don’t have to be directly adversarial, and in fact, it’s better if they’re not (both for the story and for the poor Kindred involved). The Fallen are best known as manipulators, tempters, and bargain-makers, and they can offer quite a bit—in exchange for the power they need, or to further their own goals and ambitions. This is, in fact, written into the rules—it’s to their benefit to make pacts with mortals. Not so much vampires directly—but vampires are often their way to reaching yet more mortals, and vampires can act as pretty good recruiting agents if there’s something in it for them.
This was, in fact, the entire premise behind Nikanuuranu’s Pact with the Inconnu of Hunedoara Castle in Lair of the Hidden—it’s the mortal inhabitants of the castle who really provide the power the demon needs, but it’s the vampires who provide the mortals, and whose annual ritual keeps the Pact going.
The Fallen can also be seductive and mysterious. They can pass themselves off as almost anything else other than what they are. They can be a mortal whom the vampire believes is his unwitting and safely blood-bound tool. The wise adviser to the Prince, or the mortal contact who can’t possibly know about vampires. Perhaps even a correspondent on the internet, or the Nosferatu master of spies who always wears a mask and a hoodie, so that the character never thinks to question whether said Nos is even a vampire at all.
Or a book, discovered in an attic or stolen from a museum exhibit… where an unknown but very knowledgeable hand writes lines of elegant calligraphy right before one’s eyes.
Temptation can be very, very hard to resist. And the Fallen know that so well.