Got some time while the ribs cook, and a friend of mine asked for this game, so here we are.
The Game: Demon: The Fallen
The Publisher: White Wolf
Degree of Familiarity: Quite a bit. I didn't work on the core book, but I wrote some of the important systems in the Player's Guide and I worked on one or two other sourcebooks.
Books Required: Just the one, but I might grab the Player's Guide.
Ah, Demon. There's some weirdness behind the creation of this game - it was something WW said they'd never do (they said that a lot), and it was initially supposed to tie in to Hunter more, but then...I'm not entirely sure (and it's not my story to tell, it's Mike Lee's). I playtested Demon, but I can't remember if anything we said after the playtest got implemented or not. This is, after all, a long-ass time ago.
I ran Demon for about a year - it was actually my first game run on the paradigm of "let's play monthly, decide before we start playing when we're playing next month, and play for a longer session." I presently run three games that way, so it worked out nicely. That was a fun chronicle.
Anydangway, let's do this.
Step One: Concept. I've got an idea. When you're making a Demon character, you're making not only the Fallen angel that got out of Hell, but the person they've possessed, and you can play either of those personas to a greater or lesser degree. One of the things that's fun about Demon is that your angel can have been the Angel of Just About Anything before the War; unlike In Nomine, you still have your "Word" (but since you're not an angel anymore it doesn't much mater). So my demon, as an angel, helped design the mammalian nervous system, and specifically the apparatus that ties chemical responses to mood. Increase sodium here or potassium there, and the monkey feels sad or happy or horny or loved. It was all a matter of ratios and balance, and he loved humanity and made sure that means for contentment was right there in their brains all along.
He rebelled because he wanted to explain to humanity that achieving balance with biology was possible, and of course, God's rules conflicted with that, so he sided with the Morning Star, lost, and spent thousands of years in Hell. He escaped and found himself drawn to a man named Andre Summers. Andre was so deep in depression that he couldn't get out of bed, and with no health insurance and no support system, he only hadn't ended his life because he couldn't muster the energy to do it. The angel - Ymariel - took him over, and was appalled at what the world had become.
Lots of people believed that the consciousness was outside of the body, and lots more believed it was nothing but the body. The harmony he'd created was gone, probably unachievable (Ymariel had lost much of his power and knowledge through eons in Hell). He took Andre's life, largely a blank slate, and started working again, learning all he could about neuroanatomy. He put Andre through med school, at the same time studying philosophy, trying to find the secret he'd once lost. With it, he figures he could save humanity.
So, now we do the splats. House...hmm. I kinda pictured him as a Malefactor, but that might be too stuff-focused. Lemme look. Well, there's not really a life-focused House, so I think I'll play to Ymariel's focus on structure and integration and say he's a Malefactor. As for Faction, he's either a Cryptic or a Reconciler, and I think it'd be interesting to say he's a Cryptic. He doesn't think that the angels were wrong to rebel, but he does think maybe there's more to this whole thing than anyone wants to understand.
Right, so I need a Nature and Demeanor, too. OK. His Nature is Visionary; he wants to find the way to reconcile metaphysical consciousness and the fatty mystery of the brain. His Demeanor is Architect, because well, it fits.
Step Two: Attributes. Standard OWoD array, 7/5/3. I think Ymariel is pretty clearly a Mental/Social/Physical guy. I'll put two into Dexterity and one into Stamina (might raise Strength with freebies, might not).
Two into Manipulation and Charisma, one into Appearance. Andre is pretty average looking.
Four into Intelligence, one into Wits, two into Perception. Andre is hella smart (some of that is Ymariel, but Andre was always clever).
Step Three: Abilities. Again, standard OWoD, 13/9/5, can't go over 3 without spending freebies. Hey-ho. Knowledges first, obviously. Three each into Academics, Medicine, Research, Science, and then one in Occult.
Skills next, I think? Three in Technology, two each in Crafts and Security, one each in Etiquette and Stealth (BTW, "Etiquette" is one of those Abilities that pretty much doesn't need to be there - it's not like when you ask the question "what would fallen angels in a modern fantasy/horror setting be concerned with?", "being polite" would be the answer).
Finally, Talents. One into Alertness, one into Awareness (ugh, those so shouldn't be separate, and look, there's my old friend Dodge!, double ugh), three into Empathy.
Step Four: Advantages. Backgrounds first, I get 5 dots. Well, if I'm a doctor, I need some Resources. I'll take one for now. I want Paragon, Eminence, and Legacy, so I'll go 1 each, and then hell, I'll take Pacts at one dot, just to keep things even. Actually, no, you know what, I'll put that last one in Contacts.
Now Lore (our kewl powerz). I get three dots (boo), and they have to come from the three Lores available to Malefactors or the Common ones. Well, Lore of the Earth doesn't do much for me, but Lore of Paths seems pretty cool, so I'm gonna take two dots there and one dot in...lessee. I'll take one in Lore of Humanity; it's a decent dice pool, anyway. That makes Lore of Paths my primary lore, which guides my demonic form (but I'm gonna use the optional system in the Player's Guide, 'cause it's better. Fnah).
May as well do that, actually. I get 16 "form points" to build my form, and I have to take at least one from the Visage of Paths. Oh, shit, Wings, yes please. That eats 3 points. I'll take Conjuration, that's cool (5 spent). I need some high-Torment ones, so I'll take Ichor (2 points) and Relentless (1 point, so 8 spent, that's not high-Torment, though). Man, still got 8 points. Ooh, Aura of Vitality is good. 4 points, so I've spent 12. I need three more, and they all have to be high-Torment (which means if I pick one that's not normally high-Torment, it's cheaper). I'll take Affirm (high-Torment, which is...um), and then I need two 1-point ones (or rather, 2-points if they're not high-Torment). How about Lashing Tail and Casts No Reflection? Sounds good!
I get three points in Virtues, besides the starting dot. Think maybe I'll dump 'em all into Conscience? Nah, that's too much. One into Conviction.
Faith starts at 3, Torment starts at 3 because I'm a Malefactor, and Willpower starts at the sum of my two highest Virtues, which is 5.
OK, then! 15 freebies. I need to jack up my Backgrounds. I want Eminence at 4 (3 points) and Legacy at 4 (also 3 points). That leaves me 9. I'll buy a dot of Faith, I guess, for 6, and that leaves me 3. I want Medicine 4 so I can have a Specialty in Neurology, and that leaves me 1 more point. I'll jack Resources up to 2.
That's it, then! I picture Ymariel's apocalyptic form as being slender and slight, covered in a sheen of ichor (if analyzed, it would be CSF). He has huge, membraneous wings that sit close to his body when folded, and a long, whip-like tail like a very large nerve cell. In human form, Andre is a biracial man, light skin, brown hair, green eyes, slim and not terribly fit. Andre has a practice; he tried doing pure research, but a) it pays for shit and b) his particular area of interest requires him to get close to people.