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Exorcism Enhanced, Part 2

Exorcism Enhanced, Part 2

Demon

Commandments

Commandments are orders issued with special divine authority. Exorcists learn how to issue commandments as they study ways to combat demonic possession. When an exorcist issues a commandment, the possessing demon is compelled to obey (no saving throw).

At will, as a swift action, the exorcist can issue any of the following commandments:

  • Abase Thyself: The demon cannot make any sort of attack, physical or magical, for 1 round. It can still defend itself.
  • Abstain from Trickery: The demon ends all dismissible magical effects and abstains from using any magic for 1 round.
  • Answer Truthfully: For 1 minute the demon promptly and truthfully answers all yes/no questions. If done during an interrogation (see “True Names”, below) this gives the exorcist a +5 bonus to his or her next set of skill check rolls.
  • Be Silent: The demon stops all noisemaking activity (even speaking) for 1 round.
  • Be Still: The demon stops moving for 1 round (can still use magic, but is denied physical attack and defense).
  • Diminish Thyself: This rescinds the Manifest Thyself commandment, forcing the demon back into early-stage possession.
  • Manifest Thyself: Brings the demon out of hiding, transforming early-stage possession into advanced-stage possession.
  • Repent: The demon is forced to look upon its own unworthiness. Shaken to the core, all attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and skill checks are made with a –4 penalty for 1 minute.

The power of commandments wanes if overused. For every commandment it receives, the demon has a cumulative 10 percent chance of becoming immune to future commandments. This immunity lasts until the possession ends.

True Names

Knowing a demon’s true name grants power over the demon. Using the demon’s true name in the Verdict of Exorcism imposes a –5 penalty to the demon’s saving throw. Exorcists must take care, though: Using an incorrect name grants the demon a +5 bonus to the saving throw.

Most exorcists will want to interrogate the demon so that they can discover the demon’s identity and thereby gain an advantage. Demons look forward to interrogations as an opportunity to mislead the exorcist and get the upper hand.

Interrogation isn’t always possible, though. In early-stage possession, the demon is sequestered deep within the victim and has no way to answer the exorcist’s questions. In advanced-stage possession, the demon controls the victim’s body and can respond using the victim’s voice, which provides the exorcist with an excellent opportunity to ask questions.

The simplest way to simulate an interrogation is with a series of opposed skill checks. Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate, and Sense Motive are sure to be used extensively, but GMs should also encourage creative use of other skills: A demon with ranks in Perform (oratory) may weave a story supporting its lies, while the exorcist might use Knowledge (religion) to winnow fact from fallacy.

Demons have practiced their lies since the dawn of time. Normally demons add their CR as a bonus to any skill checks made in support of their lies. This bonus does not apply against exorcists, though, since exorcists have carefully studied the deceptive ways of demons.

Assume each set of opposed skill checks represents about 15 minutes of game time.

If the exorcist wins the skill check, then he or she gains a clue about the demon’s name. Skill checks that fail by 1 to 5 points bring no gain to either side. If the exorcist loses by more than 5 points, then he or she has been fooled into accepting a lie as if it were a clue.

The GM should not tell the exorcist if he or she won or lost the skill check. Instead the GM should say something similar to “you’ve gained more information,” while keeping a secret tally of actual clues versus lies.

After collecting a minimum of seven clues, the exorcist has enough information to (possibly) determine the demon’s true name. If actual clues outnumber lies, then the exorcist has discovered the demon’s true name. Otherwise the exorcist has been fooled into believing a false name.

The exorcist can extend the interrogation to collect more than seven clues if he or she so desires. Regardless of how many clues are collected, the exorcist uncovers the demon’s true name only if actual clues outnumber lies.

3 thoughts on “Exorcism Enhanced, Part 2”

  1. I see a problem with the commands. What’s to keep an exorcist from using the Answer Truthfully command to verify that he has the correct true name at the end of an interrogation? He could assemble his clues then command the demon to Answer Truthfully and say, “Is Periwinkle your true name?” The demon has to answer truthfully, giving the exorcist a huge advantage.

    By the same token, an exorcist using the Repent command immediately before the Verdict of Exorcism will get nearly as great of a bonus as using a true name (-4 vs. -5) without any risk of misusing the true name.

    One way to prevent this imbalance would be to make true names and the Verdict of Exorcism immune to commands. Other than that, I don’t see how you would prevent a resourceful player from taking the easy advantages these commands provide, which might diminish the suspense and drama you’ve worked so hard to build up.

  2. Charles Lee Carrier

    I did debate with myself over the “Truthful Answer” commandment. In the end I decided that it still had a place – especially if the demon has caused other deceptions which need clearing up (“the Baron’s wife is pregnant – is the child actually yours”, “did you destroy the dragon-repelling magic item”, stuff like that).

    Of course, these articles are really just suggestions for house rules, so no one is required to allow that particular commandment in their game. Really, I’m pleased if someone uses even 50% of what I wrote. :)

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