Chapter 31: Fires of Hell (infernal splats)

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here”- 

Dante, the Divine Comedy

Welcome to Hell.

It’s a nice place, when you think about that- the winters are not that bad, for example. The bureaucracy is a bitch, but isn’t it always the case? Yeah, you’ll have to deal with all of the torment and suffering thing which is going on, but once you get used to it, and you have an eternity to do so, it could actually be kinda fun. The great thing is that in Hell, nothing is forbidden- as long as you are strong enough to claim what you want, of course. No desire is unfulfilled, no passion is barred. Everything is available to you- a perfect freedom, which eventually feels so hollow that you must make other people to sin just as you did, just so that you will feel that your passion means something.

Hell loves you, no matter how fallen or broken you are.

Even if you are a monster.

I’m not talking only about human monsters- of course Hell would love those (even though I would argue that some of those, such as Slashers, would probably be too Abyssal in mind to be loved by Hell. When you can’t recognize your sin, do you even sin?). What I’m talking about is outright monsters- vampires, were-beasts, witches and other twisted beings. As long as they can whisper to them, make them lose their path and draw them to the depths of Hell, Inferno can love them. Even non human- related monsters can be loved: spirits are Wounded by the Lords of Vice, ghosts hear whispers in their mind to become independent, dreams become real as Hell gives desires will of their own. Only those who are fallen by themselves- such as the strix or the horrors of the Abyss- or too perfect to be touched- such Supernal beings and the angels of the Machine- are protected from Inferno’s maddening whispers. Only those who can recognize their own sins are open to Hell’s call, and discover that sometimes, you can fall so low that you’ll never, ever, rise again.

As such, it should come as no surprise that Hell has developed its ways at infecting supernatural beings. From corrupted cults and occult orders up to twisted creations birthed and powered by Hell’s own flames and brimstone, Inferno have twisted and tainted the supernatural again and again and again. It wounded the Shadow, it polluted the Astral and even managed to burn the world of the dead. No matter who or what you are, Inferno is waiting for you to break down, to fall so low that all sounds vanish in a perfect silence- and then, it starts whispering. Listen to the whispers, and they will lead you to the promised land- a place where you’ll finally be free, a place you’ll call home.

In this blog post, we are going to explore those hell cults and demon spawn. For each of them, I’m going to present both a an infernal y-splat or social group, and a x-splat or a variant template, or something in between. Of course, you may ask yourself why you should want to play such monsters- but the answer is really simple, and made out of two parts. The first is discovering what “evil” means- how far you are willing to go, and what can you learn of yourself from the experience. The second would be that not all of those poor souls are evil. Some are desperate, and simply have no other option and decide to choose what seems to be the lesser of two (or more) evils. Others don’t know any other way, and when they do they may even decide to rebel against their own forefathers and find a new place for themselves in the world. And few, few truly believe they are doing the right thing, that what they are doing is not evil, but who they are, and what they are destined to be. That they are creating a new Heaven upon earth, without recognizing the Hell which burns behind them. The road to Hell is paved in good intentions, after all- and at the time, adding to the infernal flames the warmth of nuclear fires may have seemed like a good idea. too bad no one checked who was the one to whisper it in their ears.

And now, let’s go to the splats themselves, shall we?

Vampire– thankfully, Requiem has already provided us with an excellent, infernal Covenant: Belial’s Brood. While there are certain suggestions at changing the Brood into a strix-cult, I like the infernal emphasis better. As the Brood is yet to show up in 2e, I think that we could use the infernal interpretation until proven otherwise. At the worst case scenario, we could always devise a new Covenant- I think about adapting the Aharanite version of VII into a “not explicitly VII” version called the Blood of Ahran, which would have a focus as inquisitors and demon hunters which invoke the demon Shaddad for their help.

As for the Variant/Clan version, I think that an “Infernal Clan” actually sits well in Requiem’s themes. Archdemons can make vampires just like anyone else. While the Akhud may fulfill that niche, I think that something a bit more.. diabolical could be appropriate. What if instead of a Beast, the members of that Clan would have a demon in their hearts? What if instead of a dirge, those vampires would be bound by vice? More than that- as the Daeva are the Clan of serpents and tempters, perhaps we could explore that theme even more deeply using them- either as a “corrupted” version of the Daeva or, perhaps, their “proto Version”, just as the Hollow are the Mekhet, and the Pijavica may be the Gangrel.

Werewolf– again, Forsaken has saved us some work by presenting the Bale Hounds. More than that, we are going to get a 2e update for them in the upcoming Night Horrors book! Woot woot! As it may give a deeper view of Wounded spirits and their Maeljin masters, we can all agree how excited we are toward that book.

As for the other Splat, I’m not sure an “infernal auspices” would work- perhaps the Blood Moon one, but still, not good enough. Instead, we do have an alternative First Change which may be connected to Inferno, written by Chris Allen. Still, what I suggest is instead of directly using it, use it as an inspiration, and build upon an older 1e material- the Balam Colop. Originally in Blasphemies (I think), those werejaguars are said to be formed from jaguars which ate the hearts of humans sacrificed by the Aztec. Personally, I don’t like that origin story (I feel like it is a bit too one dimensional. Good for a Monster of the Week kind of thing, not an actual new splat). Instead, we could use them as the “chosen of the Maeljin”, shapeshifters birthed through sin and vice, showing up first in the Aztec Empire through some vary wrong bargains with the Lords of Vice as a Uratha mockery. Tying them to Inferno won’t be that hard, but they should have some redeeming qualities so you won’t end up playing a freaking monster.

If we were top consider other Shapeshifters, I think that the Baal Haddad and the Unclean has the greatest potential. The Baal Haddad already take a part of my “Molochite Mythos”, and as such presenting them an infernal, Moloch worshiping version could show itself cool. The Unclean have been connected to chthonic worlds through the Hell Cults, but I think that the plain old Underworld makes more sense for them than the actual inferno.. unless we also include the larvae. Now, that has some potential.

Mage– while a fully infernal Order is out of the picture, having a small Nameless Order does sound like a good idea. I did wrote once an infernal Ministry for Seers (called the Ministry of Tartarus), but having a full Order could be cool. Perhaps something in the style of a semi-Goetic cult, which, unlike the two goetic legacies, seeks to summon demons and find them “proper vessels”. Making them the regular demon worshipers has its charm, as Inferno is kind of simple in nature (you are evil, no excuses are needed), but we could give them some depth by connecting them as a terribly misguided cult which believe that, following gnostic traditions, believed that achieving Ascension could only be done by testing their own weaknesses and becoming immune to them by indulging them. That didn’t worked, unfortunately- but it doesn’t stop them from believing it did. That’s what their demons tell them, after all.

Now, making an whole new “Infernal Path” is out of the picture. It doesn’t make any sense, and would require too much work. But perhaps we could make a some sort of “alternative Awakening” done by Hell instead- people who sign Faustian bargains with Hell in exchange for wisdom is something we see again and again in folklore, after all. It could be the standard version, were people believe they would be granted Awakening, but get instead a cheap mimicry which shows only Hell *(and an infernal Watchtower) or perhaps, by taking inspiration from the mortal instruments, they could work as a demonic “Proximi” lineage, which can do some strange magics thanks to an ancient bargain with a demon, but has never produced an Awakened from its rank (even though that stories about a “Watchtower cloaked with smoke and flame” are told about in the family).

Promethean– well, here things become really interesting. Promethean, the game which is connected the most to divinity, with the Principle and burning angels and redemption, could make an interesting contrast with the old biblical demonic vice. While I am yet to write it, I have tinkered for awhile about a new “broken” Refinement called Sulfurous- the Refinement of Vice. Like Centimani, going to Sulfurous is considered going out of the Pilgrimage (so no fear of becoming Petrificati), even though it has its own twist- instead of accepting your own monstrosity, Sulfurous is about accepting your divinity. It teach you to believe the Promethean state as an exalted state, something that puts you above humanity. The world dies beneath you because it can not withstand your awesome presence, humanity hates you because they instinctively fear your power. You should make mankind to submit to you, to use them for your expense, and be worshiped as a god upon earth. Let other Created chase the lower fate of becoming humans- you have a much greater fate. You are not human, and never were human. You are above them, and as such you should use them to fulfill every twisted desire you ever had in your heart, until your fire will burn your mortal coil and you’ll rise as a god. The fact that it is an utter lie never seemed to bother anyone.

As for a Lineage, I have once worked on something I actually kind of proud of- the Baalim. Instead of being born from the Divine Fire, the Baalim are created by the fires of Inferno, even though that most of them are not aware of the difference. On the surface, they are just like any other promethean- a dead body brought to life through an act which invokes the powers of the world. But when you look at the details, you notice that there are some… terrifying differences between the Idols and the rest of the Created. Made to serve as idols and faces for the gods, the Baalim as general follow Sulfurous, even though some brave souls go to the quest in an attempt to gain a New Dawn. If it is possible for the spawn of hell to be greeted to heaven is yet unknown. While they are not finished, I am waiting for the Tormented in order to see how the Zeka are going to be treated (as they seem to have unique, variant features to them), and decide if I’ll settle for something in their style, or will make a more variant template.

Changeling– So what is the big difference between faeries and demons? Not much, as it seems. One of the versions for the Gentry’s existence is that they are the third Choir of heaven, which neither rebelled or supported against God. As such, they are bound by their words- being in a distance of a single lie from hell’s eternal punishment. They haven’t committed any sin, and as such escaped Inferno. They left God’s care, and as such they are not accepted in Heaven’s gates. Is that story true? Who knows- but it makes a good base to build about for infernal splats. As for the Court of Hell, I’ll think about them as some sort of infiltrators- they are a Court without a Freehold, which swarm their way into the heart of other Freeholds, feeding on their protection like parasites. Hell stands for them against the Fae, granting them protection- as long as they’ll betray their own friends to the Keepers. The Gentry get toys, Hell get treachery and souls, the Court gets freedom- everyone wins! Bet the changelings, of course.

As for the Infernal Seeming- do you know that they say that the Faerie Queen pays a tithe to Hell? What if among 10 stolen children, one is given to Hell as a part of a Pledge as old as the world. Most of those Lost are never found again, suffering for all eternity in the flames of Inferno as it delights in their pain- but one out of ten escapes- or, perhaps, is freed. It is a part of the pledge, too, and we all know that Hell respects its bargains. Those poor souls are scarred more or less the same way as their Fae siblings, but their experience was quite different. They see the marks of Hell everywhere they look, and hear the whispers of demons as they try to lure them to Hell’s warm embrace- and this time, by their own accord. After all, the pain of stolen souls is much less satisfying than that of willing ones, and Hell doesn’t give anything unless it would gain ten times more of the deal.

Hunter– well, I must say that here I officially have little to nothing to add. With the Lucifuge as an infernal conspiracy, the L’Enfant Diabolique as an infernal cabal, and my own infernal homebrew for hunter (the Heirs of the Crown, the Cult of Moloch and the gran project called the Strains of the Cursed Blood), the best that I could suggest would be turning the Lucifuge into a proper template as some sort of a variant. That saves a lot of work, thankfully.

Geist– Now, the Underworld is a broken, terrible, hellish place- but it is not Hell. Hell is terrible by its own right- but when having to choose between being slowly eaten by the Bellow and finding a way out in the form of Hell’s endless pain and suffering, you shouldn’t be surprised that at least some ghosts chose the other way. The way I see it, larvae, the infernal ghosts, are those ghosts which found their own way out by going even deeper than most ghosts usually do (metaphysically. Usually, they don’t search for Hell as much as it finds them). They gain a certain awareness to their state, which the lacked before, and are able to rise in Ranks beyond their regular limits. In exchange for their freedom, Hell clutch at their Essence- and one day, it would devour them whole and take them to a place of eternal torment, but for now they are free. Considering the way Archetypes and Krewes work, I’m kinda divided between making something in the style of the Court of Hell (that is, making a global krewe which kinda breaks the rules by acting as a collection of Hell cults which work in order to advance Hell into the Underworld, believing it to be a better alternative as a form of a weird, upside down Catabasis), or by making an whole new Archetype which advance Hell’s agenda by granting the dead the freedom they deserve (as inspired by my discussion in the Ghosts are People thread).

As for the other splat, I think that a variant would work better than an “infernal Burden”. The concept is quit simple, actually- larvae Bound instead of geist Bound. Now, the larvae is much more possessive, corrupted and aggressive than the average geist, leading it to constantly tempt the Bound to further damn itself and go down to inferno’s clutches. Instead of helping ghosts, those Bound are tempted to damn them and spread inferno’s evil taint. Tyranny is not an option for them, and Synergy is a dangerous path for those who wish to understand the devil. And who knows? Perhaps there is no larvae inside their brains. Perhaps there is only a Whisperer, which corrupts their own, bound ghosts, and slowly leads them to the slippery slope to Hell.

Mummy– in a world of harsh laws and harsher punishment, Inferno represents the pleasure in transgression while being aware that you sin. In a world of divine hierarchy and tyranny of judgement, Inferno is freedom and the ability to shape your own place in the world through brute force and desire. In a world decided by a starry fate and the hunger of oblivion, Inferno is escape, a new fate burned by your own bloody hands as you laugh in the face of the Devourer, which can’t eat what is already eaten. Guild splat wise, I really don’t think that making a new, infernal Guild is either appropriate or that it will be accepted well in the fandom. However, we should remember that in the original myth, Shaddad was Irem’s king- and in the CofD, Shaddad is, in fact, a demon. What I have in mind is allowing the Arisen to change not their Guild- but their Judge. Shaddad is the “43rd Judge”, a false Judge which tricks the Arisen to switch their allegiance to him. He is an heresy, perhaps as old as the Nameless Empire itself, even though that it claims to be a “fallen Judge, banished by his siblings from the rule of Heaven”. Is Shaddad speaking the truth? Could he be a silver of Sutekh’s essence, a shard of Divine Will finding solace in Inferno? Or is he a liar, as all demons are? Whatever the truth may be, the Arisen do have hazy memories of such an heresy- or something similar enough- during the age of Irem, and those who abandon their Judge and pledge loyalty to the demon find new and addictive power in their hands, one which has no laws- other than serving your own, dark will.

As for an X-splat, again, the Deathless are ancient creatures. Having them sacrificing parts of their Pillars to hell sounds a bit too much like the Shuankshen, which I prefer to avoid. Perhaps some sort of a Lifeless mimicry would be appropriate, either as a result of a messed up Twice Arisen (like my idea for the Hery Seshta, but with a different twist), or perhaps as some sort of “false mummies” made by demons trying to replicate the Rite, only to create something don’t even they can control, and are sorry for the miserable attempt.

Demon– When demons meet demons, ha? We already have at least one infernal-unchained interaction in Night Horrors, as the Mayor made a pact with a certain demon, which taught her something or two about what “Hell” actually means. I must say that I’m reeeeeeeeeeally tempted to make a new “Satanic Agenda”, even though I believe that an Agency would be the more logical way to integrate Inferno into Demon’s setting. The Tempters seems to cover most of Inferno’s themes in Demon- so what about some sort of “Unchained Hellfire Cult/Club” which are bound by some semi-mythical figure (I’ll go with calling that demon Mephistopheles) which they believe would grant them power to withstand the Machine and disrupt its Infrastructures for their own benefit. Why would that ancient devil would help the Unchained and what is its endgame are unknown- but we can be sure it won’t end up well.

As for a variant/ Incarnation- the most logical way to go would be for Angels who Fell because of Whisperers. However, that feels like it would go against the themes of both books- forcing Angels to Fall is against Demon’s themes, as it is an act of free will and choice, usually (there is the whole Satan Signal, and while the Cryptid option is kinda nice, I can accept it well into my headcanon, so I go with the “Satan Free Radio” option instead), and Whisperers corrupting Angels is something which Inferno outright states to be impossible (sure, Inferno treated angels as creatures of Virtue and not the Divine Machinery, but I think it is still appropriate). However, we do have another option- Exiles. Exiles are trapped by their own Parameters, preforming a mission no one cares about anymore with no way out, while still being aware of their helplessness. Doing otherwise would put the Exile in a risk of becoming a Silver- which is really not a good thing. But what if there is a why out? What if a voice starts whispering in their mind, telling them that it is not yet too late, that they still have a way to Fall from grace without corruption, a way to become human and not the Machine’s slaves, a way to find their own Hell. All they have to do, is sign the dotted line, and listen to the voice in their mind. Don’t worry- all will be ok. Hell know its own, after all.

Beast– Ah, Beasts and Infernals. Both creatures of twisted desires and unbound passion- but where the Begotten wish to teach humanity lessons, Inferno just toys with its food for the pure fun. The Beast is an external experience- you go out and teach lessons, you come and find a family, you are Devoured by an horror from a world of dreams and feed by enforcing fears upon the world. Inferno is an internal experience- everything you do, you do for yourself, your own evil thoughts take over your body and whisper to you at night, you go through a self exploration journey where you learn how far you can fall, and whether or not you will break under the pressure. And the surface, Beasts and Infernals should be the best friends- but when you look at the powers which moves them, we can see that they probably despise each other, with the Begotten seeing the Infernals as some sort of infection upon the Dream, and the Infernals thinking about Beasts as fools who can’t embrace the truth of the world, that there are no lessons to teach. In the Primordial Dream, there is no sin- only hunger exist, and the myth of monsters and heroes. Inferno, which feeds upon vice and loves humanity, would probably see Beasts as competition and best, and enemies at worst.

But every family has its conflicts,, you know?

The thing about Beasts is that they have no real social structure/splat. While I could probably devise an “Hunger for Sin”, it feels like it would be too close for the Hunger for Transgression which we got at the Player’s Guide. I think that instead, some Kinship Nightmares related to Inferno and its denizens would make a good substitution, with perhaps some in depth investigation of how Inferno manifest itself inside a Beast’s Lair, with a few actual Gates of Hell if not a Malus Loci birthed inside of it, and how its side effects on the Horror which decides to sleep with the devil. Now, as for the other splat, I’m thinking more of treating it as a variant template than a new Family- that is, taking my idea for the Celebrants which I detailed in Chapter 27. That is, a literal invasion of Inferno into the Primordial Dream, with its Horror like denizens and how they form their own “Devouring” upon dreams. The Demon City travels through the Dream with song and dance, and when it comes even the mightiest of dragons would bow their head before its infernal glory.

Conjurer– And of course, I could I finish a blog post without some selfish promotion, right? 😛 Now, as you may have guessed/ read in the game’s previous incarnations, the Shattered have some strange ties to the Abyss- the Playground and the Void are actually the same thing, and while mages have a certain understanding of the blackest void, conjurers are actually a part of that dimensions of antinomian nightmares. As such, we can be sure that the conjurers and Inferno do not go along- Hell and the Void despise each other in ways we can’t even comprehend. The Playground hates the world, being a Lie which damage its perfect, endless possibilities. The world exist, while the Abyss doesn’t, and as such the Void wants to replace what that is with what could have been. From the Shattered’s point of view, it relates to the original Shattering, which happened as the Toymaker took over the Abyss and forced its will on the Playground, creating a new timeline, and turning the older order, the older reality, into a time which never was- the Time Not. Inferno, on the other hand, loves this world- it is a damaged, broken, fallen world, full of sins and vice. It accept the world as is- no need to replace or change anything. This world is perfect, as damaged as it may be, and we are all beautiful in its eyes. We just need to embrace our own inner darkness, and accept that we are not perfect- more than that, we should celebrate our broken nature. We are perfect as we are, and pain and pleasure are both worthy to indulge in.

Now, in Conjurer, like most of the other games, we have two splats- Heart and House. Heart is your X-splat, and describes the reason for why did you broke time, and defines the type of Functions you have the greatest affinity with (Host, Sublime, Aggressive, Sphere and Abyssal). House is your y-plat, which gives you a special House Function which can be powered only by Tokens and a Style, which describes the medium you use in order to work Fluctuations (painting, sculpture, song, dance and acting). More details about those splats will be given in a future Open Development post. Now, considering that Inferno is unbound by the Marionette Syndrome (which is a property of the Lower Depths as whole), it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the Shattered may search for an escape from the Toymaker in the lower planes of existence. Houses, as general, are ruled by a mysterious Monarch- so it shouldn’t take too much for an archdemon to mask itself as a Monarch, even though that their inability to maintain the Syndrome should be problematic for any demon who would make such an attempt, as the Syndrome is what that binds the House together. Perhaps some sort of a rebellion movement would make a better alternative- a movement which works to depose of the Houses and their Monarchs and replace them with the “ultimate freedom” of Hell. I think that such a concept could actually be some really cool addition for Conjurer’s setting- even though that getting to close to Hell’s influence tends to make the Toys act funny and unstable. After all, you mix two forces of creation which despise each other into a single vessel. Don’t be surprised if the whole thing would blow up.

As for a Heart/variant splat, I’m not sure I can see how an “Infernal Heart” could exist- but I think I have something else in mind. What if certain conjurers sacrifice their Heart- that is, their very reason to exist- to Hell? That would practically also take away their Toy, as well as any connection they establish with the Marionette Syndrome. Hell, of course, will give them something else in exchange- perhaps an actual, Toy-like demon to serve as their familiar? the ability to bins and possess the souls and fates of others? An whole world of horrors born from their own vices and hate against the world? So many options, so many cool things we could do.

 

 

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed those infernal creations, and if there is one which excites you especially, let me know so I’ll start writing them! See you next time!

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