Thuntonian Lore #1 – Demons (part 1) Edit
The AD&D Monster Manual lists demons and devils as two separate species. Some people have been a bit confused when they see me referring to ‘devils’ as ‘demons’. In Thuntonia, they’re all simply referred to as demons.Thuntonian demons live in hell and are animated by a form of magic that is more powerful, but more chaotic than the magic found on the prime material plane (that’s where regular folks live). Thuntonian magic is actually a form of energy. On the prime material plane, spells and magic items tap into that energy and use it to power whatever that spell or item is designed to do. In hell, that magic is a massive amount of excess energy that constantly and violently generates various types of heat and radiation into the atmosphere it permeates. This is what gives hell its fiery state. It’s also why demons have no problem with heat and fire. In the same way that sunlight would kill a vampire but feel quite comfortable to a human, fire would kill a human but feel comfortable to a demon.
Since hell magic produces so much energy, demons don’t require food energy to live. They get all the “calories” they need just by existing. But demons don’t have souls and this means they need sustenance that mortals don’t. To understand this you need to understand how Thuntonian souls work.
How Souls Work Edit
Souls are indirectly responsible for mortals dying of old age, instead of living indefinitely. Imagine the prime material plane as a dark room. In order for life to exist, it needs to shine through that darkness with light. Now think of a soul as electricity and a mortal body as a light bulb. The bulb emits light and we have a living creature. However, while the electricity (soul) can exist forever in one form or another, the light bulb (body) will eventually burn out. Hell is like a brightly lit room and demons are like bulbs that are not generating any light. They don’t need to, since the room itself is already lit up. Without electricity (a soul) running through them, the bulbs (demons) never burn out and can exist pretty much forever. But just like breaking a light bulb, demons can still be killed.
Souls are what make certain emotions possible. While souls have little to do with whether someone is good or evil, they’re what generate love, empathy, passion, and other feelings. While a demon can experience hate, anger and lust, only a creature with a soul can passionately experience those emotions. It takes a soul to create and appreciate all forms of art. Being moved by a story, painting, song… this is only possible with a soul.
It’s this passion that sustains us. Without ever experiencing any of these feelings in one form or another, we’re really not alive. But demons are living creatures, so how do they manage to exist without being able to generate any kind of extreme, passionate emotions? Well, they are forced to absorb the experiences of others.
Why Demons Love To Make Others Suffer Edit
Demons are able to ‘capture’ the passionate experiences of other souls and use that as a sort of emotional food. While a number of passionate feelings can be absorbed by demons, suffering is by far, the easiest and most energy efficient state to take. This is why hell is known for capturing the souls of mortals and forcing them to suffer in various horrible ways. Souls are like never ending generators of sustenance for demons. Because of this, demons will often use souls as a form of currency in hell. And since some souls are more capable of suffering than others, some souls are worth more. This is where the whole concept of ‘sacrificing a virgin’ came from. In the rare times that a demon could reach the prime material plane, they might sometimes demand souls. The more innocent, goodly souls tended to be capable of experiencing horrible suffering to a greater extent. The demons honestly didn’t care if the sacrificed person had ever had sex or not. But if the person being sacrificed to the demon was a virgin, there was a greater chance that they were innocent and “pure”. For countless ages, mortals have misunderstood this concept and it has become fairly common practice to sacrifice virgins to Gods, the weather, volcanoes… if it worked to get the huge, fiery demon to leave the village alone, maybe sacrificing a virgin to improve the crops will work. Yeah… mortals can be dumb.
Demons Have Shaped Our Nightmares Edit
Some of our instinctual fears are there for natural reasons. We fear the dark because there might be a hungry predator hiding in the shadows. We fear snakes and spiders because they might be poisonous and kill us with a single bite. But why do we fear monstrous things that don’t exist on our plane? Well, we can thank demons for that. As a species, demons are much older than any mortal life that’s around today and they’ve been pestering humanoids since the beginning. Demons and demonic imagery doesn’t look the way it does because it’s what mortals fear. Mortals fear those images because that’s what demons look like.
Demons Invented Swearing Edit
Why are some words forbidden? Why do certain words cause noble souls to gasp at hearing them or mothers to cover their child’s ears? Demons have their own language and of course, this language is older than any mortal species that exists today. This language is so old, so drenched in nightmarish horror, that simply hearing a demon speak it, can cause mortals to go insane or become evil. Many ages ago, mortals would on rare occasion, witness a demon speaking in its hellish language. While telling the tales of their rare encounter to others, those mortals would try to replicate the words they heard. Of course, no mortal can properly speak the demonic tongue. However, just making the sounds to the best of their abilities, carried a fraction of the dark power that the language held. These mispronounced demonic words felt… wrong to hear and even worse to say. Over time a few of these bastardized, pseudo demonic words have become part of the common tongue. They’re easily said by those who don’t shy away from darker thoughts and sometimes, even uttered by the innocent in times of anger, shock or pain.
Are Demons Evil? Edit
Yes and no. Not having a soul means that demons are incapable of feeling empathy or friendship toward other demons or those they torture in their realm of fire and brimstone. It’s this lack of empathy that has them betraying each other and conveying no sense of honour or compassion. Yet their cruelty always has a purpose. Demons by their nature, cause suffering in others because it’s how they survive. A human who rips the wings off of a fly, simply to watch it flail about, does so without a purpose. A demon would never do something like this, simply because… well, why bother? Whether or not you think they’re evil, they’re undoubtedly horrible and scary.
Angels also have no souls of their own and are a lot like demons. Though instead of feeding off of mortal suffering, they feed off of mortal joy. This is why they tend to help out mortals in need and produce “miracles”. Angels don’t really capture and collect souls, like demons do. This is merely because a captured soul is harder to keep happy. It’s better to visit the prime material plane, create some kind of joy and move on. And just as a demon can’t care one way or another about the mortals themselves, neither can an angel. They simply want to feed.
Comic Notes Edit
Let’s answer some questions that can popup from readers after reading this… 1. Complains of Names still has his soul. His soul was… erm… ‘dented’ a bit when he became part demon, but he’s still got one. The full extent of his transformation will crop up in the comic at some point.
2. Yes, Big Ears saying “shit”, was him saying one of those words that sound like demonic but isn’t. Swear words aren’t actually evil, they just ‘feel’ kind of evil. So while a paladin can technically swear all they want, they tend to not want to do it much at all.
3. Yes, Not-Walter feeds off of suffering, too.