Demonic Incursions

Andy Goldsworthy

Noisms' recent posts on adventuring in the Abyss and Demonic Incursions into the Prime Material plane from the Abyss have gotten me thinking. Or at least posting.

First off, be sure to check out the little throw away hex crawl he wrote up in the Demonic Incursion Generator post 'cause it's a beauty. Tons of potential energy packed into 10 locations. I like his idea for setting up random tables for demon generation, but I'm going to quibble a bit.

Instead of developing a set of nested tables to determine random demonic incursions, I think it would be better to develop a number of well defined planes/domains/demon lords. Yes the Abyss is infinite and shifting, but the demon lords, their minions and their domains are relatively constant. It may also be that the game group I'm a part of like to really "dig into" a location, and if the demonic forces are too random then I feel they will run the risk of becoming a sort of "background noise". Just a thing that happens in this world, sort of like that MMO Rifts. Rifts would open, but it felt disconnected and ultimately pointless (aside from, this is how you grind XP), when I played for the briefest of time back in the day.

But it's late and my words may not be making the most sense, so let's do a specific example.

1. Start with the demon lord. Afterall, their minions, method and domain are all reflections/aspects of their self aren't they? For this example, I'll pick Graz'zt.

2. Develop their domain, at least partially. Graz'zt is somewhat easy as much of his domain has been defined over the years. Azzagrat, layers 45-47, the "Triple Realm". 

3. All incursions into the Prime will be echoes of Graz'zt's malevolence. In addition to simply sending in troops, the Abyssal lands could "leak into" the Prime, corrupting the lands themselves. Some of the infamous viper trees could appear. There's a salt river and salt bog in the triple realm that could ripple through dimensions and corrupt the waters.

4. Then maybe a nice nested table to define the types of demons that come through and attack, but it should be created so that the results are a "set" that works together in a cohesive (but naturally chaotic) manner. 

One of the elements of Planescape I liked was that pieces of the Prime Material could shift into the planes because of concentrated psychic energy. If the attacks and corruption are unified, it seems to play more strongly into this idea imo. It also makes it easier, or at least it makes more sense to me, for players to research the attacks. Notice a pattern. Tell sages. Discover, "It must be Graz'zt!". The overarching adversary can now be a focus that my players would eat right up. This would give more of a cohesive reason for players to want to go through portals that may appear (or create a portal) to take the fight to the enemy in an attempt to sever the link. 

I also really like Noisms limitation of the original map to 8x8, so 2d8s can be rolled to determine incursion points. It's a decent size for a small region, and it's nice "creative target" for making content, and multiple of them can be stuck together as the play world expands. 

If a specific adversary is chosen, then other pieces also fall into place. Want to make the tables more interesting and throw PCs for a bit of a loop? Who's a supporting evil power that might help Graz'zt? But also if Graz'zt is showing up, there may be specific forces of good who show up to oppose him as well. A campaign seems to form almost effortlessly. We know who the local cult is worshiping. We know who's secretly pulling the strings of bad local governmental decisions.