Spreading the Virus

Demon: the Descent doesn’t seem to be one of the Chronicles of Darkness games which is getting that much love from Onyx Path. Whilst it’s had some material published for it in crossover books like the Dark Eras series, that’s pretty much true of all the Chronicles lines; the real measure of how much support a line’s going to get stems from the line-specific products it receives, and those have been thin on the ground. Since 2016 there has only been one Demon-specific product – the adversaries supplement Night Horrors: Enemy Action – and that came out in early 2018. Onyx Path’s Monday Meeting Notes on their blog includes a full breakdown of their upcoming product schedule, and there’s no Demon products on there at all.

That being the case, what supplements there are for Demon: the Descent become particularly important. Demon has, at least, received a Player’s Guide and a Storyteller’s Guide, in common with many Chronicles of Darkness lines. Personally, I recommend them both, because as you’ll see from my quick survey of their contents the Storyteller’s Guide takes the opportunity to plug a number of significant holes in the core book, whilst the Player’s Guide adds a bit of extra mayhem to the mix.


Flowers of Hell: the Demon Player’s Guide

The front cover of this one could, at first glance, be for a player guide for any given Chronicles or World of Darkness game line, at least as far as the generic goth foreground figure is concerned; but look to the background, with the various figures rushing towards a sinister distant light (a riot? a fire?), and that detail feels distinctly Demon – engineering chaos and mayhem and strolling away calmly before the heat comes in.

As far as the content goes, it’s a mixed bag. There’s an extensive chapter on demon psychology and how the different Agendas see things and organise themselves, but I’m not sure how successful it is. (In particular, I remain convinced that out-and-proud Integrators just don’t work outside of all-Integrator rings, because their goals are just too opposed to the other Agendas to permit co-operation or even mutual tolerance.) Somewhat more successful is the breakdown of Infrastructure, the things you can do once you subvert it, and Agencies at different power tiers.

Then you have the usual grab-bag of extra powers – Embeds, Exploits, and brand new Gadgets – and whilst sometimes I’d be hesitant about adding a bunch of this stuff, the fact is that Demon is so gleefully unbalanced straight out of the core that I’m all for providing people with additional options for completely breaking the game.

Demon Storyteller’s Guide

This consists of two near-essential bits and three merely Very Useful bits. The two near-essential bits consist of a detailed look at the idea of the Cypher and Interlocks – concepts which are not at all well-explained in the core book – and a deep look at Angels and various other tools of the God-Machine, including some interesting ways in which Angels can go wrong which don’t involve them Falling.

In terms of the non=essential stuff, there’s a breakdown of major flavours of the espionage fiction genre, complete with some suggested rules for adjusting the dials in particular directions, and there’s a rundown of various supernatural things Demons might find themselves looking into – some of which are Demon-specific, the latter half of which consist of Demon interpretations of the various other Chronicles of Darkness splats. Lastly, there’s a brace of alternate settings for the game.

3 thoughts on “Spreading the Virus

  1. Kai D.

    Demon: The Descent lands for me in the same box as Mummy: The Curse and Beast: The Primordial do. It isn’t that I necessarily love everything about these games but I’d be really interested in seeing what a group would do with these weird concepts.

    Just the idea, though, of trying to describe all the concepts at play in Demon: The Descent, for example, to someone who knows nothing about the game… It’s why I probably will never get my group to play any of these games I mentioned.

    Have you ever had the chance to play Demon: The Descent?

    1. Yes! I ran a little playtest game when I did my review of the core book.

      Mummy and Beast I agree have the problem that their core concepts are very… fuzzy. (Also Beast is actively terrible, but never mind). Demon you can at least explain to people reasonably quickly: “It’s like an RPG of The Matrix where you play a renegade Agent”, boom, done.

  2. Kai D.

    Hmm, yeah, that sounds like a cool summary. Maybe I should take another look at the game. Thanks!

    Beast actually only started becoming interesting for me after reading some fan-made material on the Onyx-Path-forum. Of course, that says a lot about the core-game that it needed a fan to clarify and sorta-adjust the core-premise for me understand the game.

    And with Mummy 2e coming out… The idea of reincarnating in a non-linear chronological order. God, that game just got even weirder. It starts to feel like the game is about playing a bunch of Doctor Who’s.

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