The Disembodied Daemon

I’m not super keen on how relatively easy it is to lose a party member to this one, not to mention the possibility of TPK with an unbound daemonhost lying around, but if I sleep on it I run the risk of my alarm failing and missing my post time again. Normally I’d make a joke about how this would disappoint all the non-existent readers of my blog, but at some point I picked up some number of followers who actually read my posts, though not usually these ones. So weirdly enough the posts I originally considered “actual content” have morphed into filler that my accidentally acquired audience doesn’t care about, while a subsection of the filler content I post because I can only make so many encounters a week has become the actual draw of my blog, to the extent that it has any. I always knew that posting adventure content usable by like 5% of the TTRPG community wasn’t very likely to get me a huge audience, but I didn’t expect it to underperform relatively low effort articles slapped together half on autopilot based on exploring random thoughts I have and hoping something interesting comes out. Go figure.

Anyways, daemons.

Summary: A sorcerer in this town intends to make a daemonhost just as soon as he finds a suitable host body. The characters, powerful things that they are, will do nicely. In order to accomplish the deed, the sorcerer has prepared a ritual that will tear everyone’s soul from their bodies. After that, it’s just a matter of playing musical chairs to find out who isn’t getting back into their own skin.

Discovery: So long as the characters (or anyone they are accompanying) are known to have any accomplishments at all, the sorcerer will immediately invite them to his manor to discuss an important matter of supernatural significance as soon as he hears they’re in town. If the characters have become particularly famous, he may even send such an invitation to them while they’re in an adjacent hex or even anywhere along the Grey River.

Exploration: The sorcerer’s ritual will be undertaken underneath the manor at the time the characters are appointed to arrive, and will be completed, flinging all from their mortal coils, about half an hour afterwards. A half-dozen cultists conduct the ritual down below, and if even one of them is slain, it will not be able to go forward. These cultists are kept secluded in the basement for the entirety of the characters’ stay in the manor, however the cellar is not particularly well-hidden. Anyone who snoops around before or during the ritual may be able to find the place, although the sorcerer will do everything in his power to make sure the characters stay in the dining room with him while the ritual is ongoing. If a cultist is captured, it is a Challenging(+0) Interrogation check to get them to confess what they were doing and what their master hoped to achieve.

If the characters accept the sorcerer’s invitation, he shall bring them into his manor and tell them about a sorcerer who he believes is in contact with a powerful daemon herald. If the characters appear to be devoted to a specific Ruinous Power or to just two of the set, the sorcerer will claim this herald answers to their rival. If they appear to be Imperium, a mixed Chaos party, or if their exact loyalties remain unclear due to a successful subtlety check, he will simply insinuate that this Chaos herald is hungry for the entire region and must be stopped or else it will lay claim to everything. If the characters inquire as to who it is a Chaos herald of, the sorcerer will claim that it answers to an unknown Chaos Prince unaligned with any specific power.

A squad of Red Guard are stationed outside the manor during the ritual and will attempt to prevent anyone from leaving the building, violently if necessary. Only two of these eight Red Guard will be defending the manor if the characters have entered town without drawing the sorcerer’s notice.

Confrontation: If the ritual fails, the sorcerer makes no attempt to harm the characters, but instead will ask them to stay the night, and the next morning tell them that good news! The daemon herald he was worried about was just reported killed by unknown assailants. Maybe the Inquisition. Who knows, but it’s not a problem anymore, hooray! He will then tell them they’re welcome to remain if they like, but he has no more important business to speak to them about.

If the ritual is completed, all cultists are immediately consumed by fire from the Warp and everyone else physically within the manor has their soul cast from their body. This includes the sorcerer and anyone from outside the manor who has entered due to the party’s actions. For example, the Red Guard may have entered in order to try and flush out someone they’re in a gunfight with. Their orders are to stop anyone leaving the manor, but if that leads to a gunfight with someone who’s still inside, they’re not just gonna sit there and eat the bullets just because they have technically achieved their objective, they’ll send their rifle team in to kill the bastards like normal.

Every disembodied soul may attempt to claim a body. Any attempt to claim a body requires a Challenging(+0) Willpower test. If attempting to claim their own body, they get a +20 bonus to the check. If two souls attempt to claim the same body, the Willpower test is opposed, although if both fail, then the body remains unclaimed.

One of the souls floating about is the daemon spirit drawn up from the Warp which the sorcerer hopes to bind into a daemonhost. This is an unbound daemon with no particular patron, and as such has a Willpower of 40+3d10 (as per Enemies Beyond p.64). None of its other traits or characteristics meaningfully manifest until it acquires a host, at which point is is a fully unbound daemonhost and behaves like one, seeking to kill every mortal it can find, especially the sorcerer who thought he could bind the creature to his service.

The first round after the completion of the ritual will likely be a mad scramble by everyone to get back into their own body. It is also reasonably likely that the daemon will successfully get a body on either the first or second round of this scramble (the daemon will target whichever body from amongst the characters has the lowest Willpower, and is thus most likely to be overpowered – he will attempt to possess the sorcerer only if this fails, as he would prefer to kill the sorcerer physically, and if the sorcerer’s body is also unavailable, only then will he attempt to grab the body of another NPC). Once that happens, there is a spare soul, unable to reinhabit their original body, but probably at least a few bodies left over that the spare can try and hijack instead. Once there are no spare bodies remaining, the final soul is banished to the Warp.

If the daemonhost successfully gets its hands on a body, it will target the sorcerer first, then whoever seems most threatening, and will retreat when heavily wounded, but will turn to make a stand if pursued effectively. The daemonhost cannot be reasoned with. Its only desire is to destroy as many mortals as it can.

Rewards: The sorcerer could plausibly be recruited if the characters find out what he’s up to before anyone loses their body, and alternative hosts for the daemon found. He has a clever personality, a starting disposition of 25, and due to some misleading texts in his possession believes that the quality of the host, physically, mentally, and spiritually, will have an impact on the power the daemonhost is able to manifest. The same misleading texts claim that completing the ritual will create a once-bound daemonhost under the sorcerer’s command. This is an outright fabrication, and the ritual is only capable of creation unbound daemonhosts. Determining this from examining the texts alone requires a Very Hard(-30) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check, however characters are well within their rights to be skeptical of this just on the grounds that it sounds too good to be true, whether or not their knowledge of heresy is thorough enough to know which parts of the ritual simply do not do what they claim to. If getting six flunkies to do a weird dance around a pentagram can actually give you a bound daemonhost, how come anyone ever does anything else?

The ritual can be learned from the texts with a Difficult(-10) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check. The check gains a +20 bonus if someone who already knows the ritual (like the sorcerer) can serve as a tutor. Seven participants must be properly marked on the chest, six as the cultist dancers who will be consumed, and the seventh as the sorcerer who will allegedly command them (though in reality the seventh person marked is mainly just having a target painted on them for when the daemonhost arrives). Being marked as the daemon’s commander when the ritual is completed inflicts 1d10 Corruption. The ritual dancers also take 1d10 Corruption, for all that it’s worth, seeing as they are instantly annihilated by the powers of the Warp.

When the ritual is completed, everyone within its twenty meter range will be flung from their bodies as detailed above, so it’s important to have other people around, or else the daemon will go straight for the sorcerer’s body. The text will also claim that the characteristics of the end result are modified by the host used, so getting people with decent stats will make a difference. This is a lie, and the daemonhost will have its usual characteristics, skills, traits, and etc. no matter who is used as the host.

The sorcerer was the town’s leader and without him the town is rudderless. If a player installs themselves as ruler, they immediately gain 1d10 Influence, and anyone who knows the new ruler (whether that’s a player or an allied NPC) gains 1d5 Influence. Additionally, the town can be levied by permanently sacrificing two points of Influence to instantly succeed on any Influence check in the town. The town can provide anything that’s common or cheaper, any solid projectile weapon or service that’s average or cheaper, any medical care, low-tech weapon, or basic armour that’s scarce or cheaper, and as long as nearby Imberkavitas remains a stronghold of Chaos, any drugs or consumables that are Rare or cheaper.

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