Beyond The Shore
A leather bound tome best left undisturbed.
The Catholic Church tells of only one afterlife, namely drowning. The Puritans speak of a second, in the resurrection promised by Dormin. What neither ever choose to speak of is what happens to the animus of those beings who do not drown or are not resurrected. What they both absolutely refuse to speak of is that there is a third option. A darker option. The trading of one soul for many.
There exists a book—a treatise ancient and worn—that describes horrible acts. This is no singular tome, for many times has it been copied—on leather, on paper, on stone, on living flesh—and to even speak of the acts described therein is probably enough to get one arrested in most jurisdictions. This book is known, officially, as the Demonologia Sexualis, though those few who have read the words contained therein know it by another name, the Book of the Resurrection.
Penned only in the lingua infernalis, and never translated (it may, in fact, be untranslatable), the book details both of those whats which the two great religions do not speak of. The living, they claim, possess an eternal soul; not the indwelling spirit of Dormin that the Puritans preach, nor the spirit of animation claimed by the Catholics, but a separate and vital spark of personality which can linger even without a physical body. Deprived of a body, this soul travels to another realm, another dimension, another plane.
Beyond the walls of dreams lies the realm of Faerie, where mortals may walk but wish they couldn’t. Beyond Faerie lies the Spiritual Desert, the blistering wasteland of thought in which mortals may walk, but can not survive. Beyond the desert lies the Nothingness, the Void, the Abyss, the maelstrom of primordial chaos from which reality was born. And beyond this, a land of the dead, the eternal resting place of the soul.
In this Realm of Souls, the souls, that spark of personality, is made manifest. There souls have their own form, separate and apart from the bounds of physical flesh. Without the bounds of physics found on Earth, or even the bounds of mortal imagination one finds in Faerie, the souls manifest as twisted incarnations of pure desire. Shapes which even to look upon would destroy a mortal man’s mind. If the Demonologia Sexualis is to be believed, the soul, that vital spark of mortal life, is the stuff of demons.
Thus the third afterlife. The Puritans and their colossi have the indwelling spirit of Dormin, which can restore mortal life to a mortal frame. The Catholics have the animus of water, which can restore a semblance of life to a slain body. But, the Demonologia Sexualis describes how to bring the soul of the deceased back across the veil—past the abyss, past the desert, past Faerie—and fully incarnate that soul in mortal flesh. Not the feeble flesh of man, but flesh shaped by the will of the soul, something powerful and other. A true Demon, but with the memories of its mortal life.
Moreso, unlike the mighty workings of Dormin, which require the god’s direct intervention, or drowning, which only occurs if the death happened in specific circumstances, anyone in possession of the words of the Demonologia Sexualis can bring their loved ones back from death. Souls, as incarnations of the desires of the living, desire to live. All one needs to do is remind the soul of how to live—through Lust and through Blood.
Each Soul is unique, and must be coaxed back to life in its own way. Thus the Demonologia Sexualis is not a formulaic how-to guide, but a complex series of cross-referenced ideas and suggestions of how one might gain the right Soul’s attention and bring it back across the veil. Always this requires the sacrifice of another mortal life, for only blood can breach the veil of dreams and allow the Soul to manifest, and often it requires many. Appealing to the Soul’s lust for flesh helps too…
Using the Tome:
Anyone in possession of a copy of the Demonologia Sexualis can reincarnate a deceased character as a Demon (regardless of class or level). It takes one hour to consult the tome to devise the proper ritual. Each ritual requires the sacrifice (killing) of at least one sentient, living creature. The deceased character will be restored to life with full knowledge of their past life, their original class levels, and the same ability scores, but with a drastically different Demonic body.
There are hundreds of possible rituals to attract a Demon, and thousands of possible forms the Demon might take. The summoner must roll to determine the necessary components, the nature of the conjured entity, and so on. The summoner rolls percentile dice, then adds his level and his Intelligence modifier.
The summoner may increase his chances of bringing back the correct soul by offering more blood, or by engaging in perverse sexual acts. For each additional creature sacrificed, add +1 to all d100 rolls. If the caster engages in a specific form of ritual sexual congress (requiring at least one other not-necessarily willing participant) during the ritual, add +1d10 to the rolls. If at least one of the additional participants is another Demon, add +1d20 instead. Should a sex component be invoked, the user should roll twice for Ritual Type (once for the sacrifice, and again for the required paraphilia).
For every one of the following sections (Ritual Type, Components, and so forth), the player must roll percentile dice, adding the above modifiers. The higher the player’s roll, the more beneficial the outcome.
- Ritual Type – In this section, the tome describes the nature of the ritual. In each case, a sentient victim must be killed in a specific manner. Care must be taken that the necessary components (the victim’s body parts, for example) are not damaged. If they are, and the casters proceed, then subtract 1d20 from each subsequent roll.
- Components – Here, the text explains which components must be procured and added to the body parts of the murdered victim. Some of these components will be costlier than others; in general, the higher the roll, the lower the cost of the items. If the components are insufficient (for example, using silver coins instead of a bar of silver), then subtract 1d20 from each subsequent roll.
- Body – This section provides a basic description of the demon’s frame.
- Appendages – These additional limbs or organs may provide the creature with bonuses or penalties. As before, high rolls are preferable.
- Scent – Because the olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system, the part of the brain associated with memory and feeling, a list of scents has been provided. The creature may exude a pleasant aroma, or it may emit a heinous reek of putrefaction.
- Personality – This section describes the monster’s disposition towards the caster. It may be affectionate, or it may be filled with hate (and serve only because it must).
- Number of Abilities
- Abilities (may require multiple rolls) – These are bestowed upon the monster and the caster, and remain in effect as long as the creature is alive.
- Compulsions – Demons are compelled to perform specific actions each day. If the entity does not satisfy its Compulsion on a daily basis, it can no longer access its powers, and its caster (or casters, if there were more than one) will suffer Penalties.
- Proximity – Some entities must satisfy their Compulsions by themselves, without assistance. Others will allow their casters to help, and yet others will permit casters to do the dirty work instead. For example, an entity that must feed on the flesh of murderers may allow the casters to do it instead, while the monster watches; it may even allow them to do it while it waits elsewhere, then return to describe the event to the monster, which is happy to experience this satisfaction vicariously.
- Penalties – During each 24-hour period, the entity’s Compulsion must be satisfied to the Referee’s satisfaction. If not, then the player must roll on the Penalties table, and all casters who were present at the the ritual will suffer the ill effects described there.
- Duration – Demons cannot remain in physical form indefinitely—eventually the soul loses focus and its body begins to fall apart. Duration describes the interval at which the Ritual must be repeated in order to keep the Demon in the mortal world. If additional creatures a sacrificed during the Ritual, add the number of creatures killed to the duration (this applies each time the Ritual is performed).
- Aftermath – When the Duration has elapsed, the demon will disappear, based on the results of this table.
The First Appendix:
While most print copies of the Demonologia Sexualis are identical, describing the Realm of Souls and the nature of demons and how they might be brought into the world, numerous appendixes also exist. The First Appendix describes the author of the book, the self-styled “Prince of Demons”. No name nor description is given for this being, though it tells of how he/she/it rules over the deepest layers of the realm of the dead, and is responsible for converting deceased souls into the unspeakable monstrosities they are.
The First Appendix goes on to tell of an ancient struggle, long before the birth of first patriarch and the founding of the All-Encompassing Church, and long before humans turned to the worship of the The God-king of the Colossi. In this time, the appendix claims, all those who died on land passed into the Realm of Souls with no means of return. When a beautiful giantess died, it says, Dormin, then only a king of his kind, braved the passage into the Realm of Souls, opening the barrier that surrounded it, and stealing away with the sixteen masks worn by the being known as the Lord of the Dead. Thus the Lord of the Dead became the Prince of Demons and Dormin gained the power of resurrection of the body, and the eternal enmity of all demon-kind.
Anyone in possession of a copy of the Demonologia Sexualis with the First Appendix inserted may cast Find the Path once per week, to show the direction to the nearest Mask of Dormin. In addition, he may choose to substitute sexual intercourse with a previously summoned demon in place of the human sacrifice component when performing a resurrection. This interaction is always traumatic for the summoner, and causes a permanent loss of 1 point from a randomly determined ability score.
The Second Appendix:
The Second Appendix is perhaps the least heretical from the Catholic or Puritan prospective. It describes the nature of the gods and saints as beings only slightly above the level of their mortal kin, and goes on to tell how the “miracle” of granting magical gifts to their prophets is an inherently self-sacrificial act. This “divine” magic, the appendix says, is nothing more than an invocation of blood — in this case the blood of the god in question, willingly poured out for their prophets. Thus the only difference between the “resurrections” performed by devotees of the third faith and the spells cast by the prophets is that Resurrectionists use the blood of mortals, forcefully taken.
Anyone in possession of a copy of the Demonologia Sexualis with the Second Appendix inserted may use the book to cast any spell on the base Cleric Spell List (anything from lowly Blessings, to Removing Diseases, to opening planar Gates). In order to perform these miracles, the reader must perform the ritual sacrifice of one or more living sentient creatures (Intelligence 3 or greater). This sacrifice takes 1 hour to perform and requires a number of Hit Dice of creatures equal to the level of the spell desired (thus a 9th-level spell would require the sacrifice of 9HD worth of sentient creatures). Once the ritual is complete, the reader is treated as having the spell prepared and may cast it at any time before the next sunrise, at which point the spell is lost. Any spell cast in this manner uses the reader’s character level as the caster level, and any saving throws required are based on the reader’s Wisdom score.
The Third Appendix:
The Third Appendix goes into great detail on the anatomy and physiology of the demonic bodies created when a soul is reborn in the mortal world. Much of this appendix is highly technical and esoteric in nature. The one applicable takeaway from the Third Appendix is the similarities between demonic flesh and mortal flesh, and possible surgical applications related thereto.
Anyone in possession of a copy of the Demonologia Sexualis with the Third Appendix inserted may use the book to graft demonic limbs or flesh onto a mortal body. The reader can craft any Demonic Implant without having to meet any of the crafting prerequisites. In place of the gold-piece cost of crafting such an item, the reader must sacrifice a number of Hit Dice of sentient (Int 3 or greater) creatures equal to 1HD per 1000gp of the item’s cost. Attaching a demonic graft requires a complete set of Surgeon’s Tools.
The Final Appendix:
The Final Appendix details a long and complex ritual by which a large number of creatures’ souls could be “freed” (that is, transformed into their demonic counterparts) without engaging in the complexities of killing and resurrecting them one at a time. This process hinges on the creation and use of of Shadow Pearls.
Creating a shadow pearl requires multiple preliminary sacrifices carried out over the span of one month. Starting on the night of a new moon, and every seven days thereafter, a sentient creature must be sacrificed by suspending them upside down, with their head submerged in water, and their heart cut out a moment before they drown (effectively transforming the creature into a Drowned). At the next new moon, the process culminates in a twenty-four hour ritual during which a powerful mortal (minimum 9HD and 18 or greater in at least one of Int, Wis, or Cha) is flayed alive, raped, and then slowly burned to death by suspending them upside down over a bonfire (accompanied by continual invocations by the reader). The subject must be kept alive throughout the entire twenty-four hour process.
At the end of the process, the final victim’s soul will manifest as a Shadow Pearl, which can then be activated to transform all living, corporeal creatures within a 1-mile radius into their demonic forms by a simple process of anointing it with blood and shattering it.