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Let's Read: Demon: The Descent!

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
Infrastructure that a qashmal calls the Promethean PCs' attention to, for whatever reason.
Me, I think that's a relic of a time before the God-Machine was something explicitly different from the Principle.

It's more of a revision than a retcon, though-that Qashmal may have just manifested near the activated gears to foment the change of "turning it on fully" or "killing Detroit" by simply explaining what it does, which as we'll see, Qashmallim tend to do.
 

Patkin

ougikawa
Validated User
The Cover of a regular firebrand of a preacher, the deacon people go to church to see melt down every service about the latest apocalyptic threat facing the good and noble people of his denomination, can't spend a service simply having a calm speech about a personal relationship with the divine or stop campaigning-that would break character, and with it the Cover.
I'm... not so sure that it's that extreme, personally.

I mean, the comparison they drag up when they discuss Cover later for what's "out-of-character" is the serial killer that everyone thought was just some quiet neighbor. So your firebrand preacher wouldn't get dinged for cooling it down now and again, but if he gets dragged out of a car with a male escort, yeah, he's probably going to see his identity frayed a bit more. Because that's what would be out-of-character according to his parishioners.
 

Leliel

SJ Road Warrior
Validated User
I'm... not so sure that it's that extreme, personally.

I mean, the comparison they drag up when they discuss Cover later for what's "out-of-character" is the serial killer that everyone thought was just some quiet neighbor. So your firebrand preacher wouldn't get dinged for cooling it down now and again, but if he gets dragged out of a car with a male escort, yeah, he's probably going to see his identity frayed a bit more. Because that's what would be out-of-character according to his parishioners.
Probably true. I'd be merciful, especially given how the way XP now works, the players are encouraged to suggest what are breaks in Cover themselves.
 

Xenesis

Syogun Changer
Validated User
My bigger complaint about the Cover rules is that I'm never sure if I should call for a Compromise check if there are witnesses or not.
You're supposed to be gaining and losing cover all the time, so err on the side of performing them I'd say. Just about anything a Demon does seems to be able to cause a cover roll once per scene (it might be worth doing it at the end of the scene, for what it's worth).
 

stsword

Registered User
Validated User
I mean, the comparison they drag up when they discuss Cover later for what's "out-of-character" is the serial killer that everyone thought was just some quiet neighbor. So your firebrand preacher wouldn't get dinged for cooling it down now and again, but if he gets dragged out of a car with a male escort, yeah, he's probably going to see his identity frayed a bit more. Because that's what would be out-of-character according to his parishioners.
It might be a shock to his congregation, but fire and brimstone types being massive hypocrites is a stereotype nowadays, in the world of darkness, which I think of as being even more of a cynical place, probably more so. :)

Anyway, the impression I got from the books is that covers aren't really organic in nature, if you want to change something major you have to add a plug-in through a pact, even if other people would buy it, covers can't handle it when the demon goes off script.

So while a normal businessman getting a big red sports car and a blonde half his age, people would just say "Oh, midlife crisis," but a demon would roll cover because his cover is businessman, not bussinessman undergoing a midlife crisis.

Or did I miss something and I'm just out of my mind here?
 

Kraus

Diligent Procrastinator
RPGnet Member
Validated User
For inspirations, there's a lot of spy fiction; the work of John le Carre is called out as perfect for playing those high-and-mighty Agency bastards. Neil Gaiman isn't left out, as his short story "Murder Mysteries" can easily be about an angel on the precipice of Falling, while Good Omens, however comical it might be, nails the mystical conspiracies and the relationship between demons and angels perfectly. Mike Carey's Lucifer, a spinoff of Sandman, nails the bitterness and grudge the Unchained feel towards their former master, while Paradise Lost...if you can't figure out why that poem is here, you need to work on your attention span.

From the non-fiction category, we have Erik Davis' Techgnosis, which besides lending itself as an inherently cool word to the title, is also about how technology and information can be magical, and indeed how it is affecting how humans view the mystical in general. The God-Machine has much to thank.

For film, besides the obvious Matrix, we have one of my favorite shows, Person of Interest (and given the seasons that aired after this book came out it's an even better inspiration now that there's a God-Machine wannabe in the main antagonist role), with Finch and Harold being our Unchained and their life-saving godlike security guard AI being subverted Infrastructure. The first three Terminator films and The Sarah Conner Chronicles also are great for showing the inherent stress that comes from being hunted by an assassin angel as you hunt the Machine's agents. And The Cabin in The Woods, besides being an excellent example of Infrastructure in action, also shows why you should really, really check to see what the occult matrix is before assaulting it,
It's not mentioned in the book, but one of my first thoughts when I read about Demon was "you could steal just about anything from Fringe for this". Which is awesome.

More recently, the BBC did a spy thriller set in the Seventies called The Game. It's got the visual look perfectly, but has a bunch of plot holes which actually make more sense if you think of the main characters as all being Demons, running their own small Agency in the guise of an even more secret operation inside the secret service MI-5.
 

Stupid Loserman

Lame Dumbhead
Validated User
It might be a shock to his congregation, but fire and brimstone types being massive hypocrites is a stereotype nowadays, in the world of darkness, which I think of as being even more of a cynical place, probably more so. :)

Anyway, the impression I got from the books is that covers aren't really organic in nature, if you want to change something major you have to add a plug-in through a pact, even if other people would buy it, covers can't handle it when the demon goes off script.

So while a normal businessman getting a big red sports car and a blonde half his age, people would just say "Oh, midlife crisis," but a demon would roll cover because his cover is businessman, not bussinessman undergoing a midlife crisis.

Or did I miss something and I'm just out of my mind here?
It's hard for me to know how much to jump in here, because it is a Let's Read and I don't want to jump ahead of the reading, but this is an important element of DtD.

A key part of the compromise rules is that you face a compromise for acting grossly out of character. You're not limited to the set of actions that would be stereotypical for your Cover; that would be pretty unplayable and mostly render the Unchained, if not flat characters, unable to show multifaceted characters to the world most of the time. You face a compromise, instead, when you perform an action contradictory to your Cover identity, one that, if it were to be witnessed by a hypothetical acquaintance only familiar with your Cover identity in the broad strokes, would evoke suspicion from the acquaintance that something is amiss. (To address Sorazorashii above, though, the compromise results regardless of whether it is actually witnessed. You damage your Cover by acting in contradiction with the identity that girds it.)

How much Cover goes up and down can vary from group to group; I can certainly see some groups abstracting out looking for Cover pacts to recover dots relatively quickly. But Cover is not a trait that fluctuates heavily in play, like Beast's Satiety. My experience has been that a compromise risk is a significant moment. Cover is easier to lose than it is to recover unless you're out for a bunch of soul pacts that are morally sketchy at best. Losing Cover also inflicts a Condition or a glitch, either of which threatens to endanger your Cover more in the future, and some of which are quite severe. Losing Cover is scary.

(The Conditions attached to compromises are one of the areas I think Demon could have refined better, but I'll save that talk for later.)

I would really counsel not to micromanage compromises. You'll know them when you see them; demons on the job tend to put themselves in positions in tension with their Cover. Make the most of them; don't make them petty.
 

Patkin

ougikawa
Validated User
Or did I miss something and I'm just out of my mind here?
It's... questionable.

I think, just for sheer sanity of player interaction, that organic growth of Covers is supportable and even expected. That fourth skill specialty that's "out-of-character" can still be potentially explained, after all. The strict school principal can cool his jets and while he's still a school principal, now he's the prince that's your pal.

Pacts are just a very sharp, forceful measure for demons, a way to say "no, fuck you, I've always owned this Maserati" to the people around them. There's nothing preventing a demon from just... y'know, buying one.

It even works out better than a pact-buy because there's now a proper paper trail linking the demon to their new thing, instead of it getting really fuzzy when you think back too far of when exactly he started owning that sports car, since you occasionally remember him showing up to school in a beat-up Dodge Dart two months ago.
 

BlackHat_Matt

Member
RPGnet Member
Banned
It's hard for me to know how much to jump in here, because it is a Let's Read and I don't want to jump ahead of the reading, but this is an important element of DtD.

A key part of the compromise rules is that you face a compromise for acting grossly out of character. You're not limited to the set of actions that would be stereotypical for your Cover; that would be pretty unplayable and mostly render the Unchained, if not flat characters, unable to show multifaceted characters to the world most of the time. You face a compromise, instead, when you perform an action contradictory to your Cover identity, one that, if it were to be witnessed by a hypothetical acquaintance only familiar with your Cover identity in the broad strokes, would evoke suspicion from the acquaintance that something is amiss. (To address Sorazorashii above, though, the compromise results regardless of whether it is actually witnessed. You damage your Cover by acting in contradiction with the identity that girds it.)

How much Cover goes up and down can vary from group to group; I can certainly see some groups abstracting out looking for Cover pacts to recover dots relatively quickly. But Cover is not a trait that fluctuates heavily in play, like Beast's Satiety. My experience has been that a compromise risk is a significant moment. Cover is easier to lose than it is to recover unless you're out for a bunch of soul pacts that are morally sketchy at best. Losing Cover also inflicts a Condition or a glitch, either of which threatens to endanger your Cover more in the future, and some of which are quite severe. Losing Cover is scary.

(The Conditions attached to compromises are one of the areas I think Demon could have refined better, but I'll save that talk for later.)

I would really counsel not to micromanage compromises. You'll know them when you see them; demons on the job tend to put themselves in positions in tension with their Cover. Make the most of them; don't make them petty.
This is how I look at it, too. The salient question for compromise is "is the God-Machine or an angel going to see this and think 'Unchained'?"
 
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