Demon Summoning Rituals
Demon Summoning Rituals
Part of the Art of Demon Summoning
Though summoning rituals can vary wildly in their specifics, the fundamental practices of all have much in common and any demonologist will readily identify any ritual he witnesses as such, even if he is not familiar with the demonic entity being called.
All summoning rituals call for a pentagram to be inscribed upon the ground, though the design is different for each demon and an incorrectly drawn form will have no power during a ritual. The ritual itself will require perhaps many hours of chants and calls, along with the consumption of various components, expended in much the same way as with the casting of arcane magic. Such rituals are the most lengthy part of the summoning process, particularly if the demonologist is unfamiliar with the demon he is attempting to call.
If the summoning proves successful, the demonic entity will appear, drawn from the infernal realms, into the pentagram before the demonologist. Now begins the shortest part of the ritual but also the most hazardous. The practitioner must apply his force of personality to break the spirit of the demon and bend it to his own demands. The successful application of this last process is the ultimate goal of all demonologists. Failure does not often grant one a second chance to correct mistakes.
It must be noted here that, contrary to popular beliefs, the sacrifice of animals or sentient beings is never required for the successful controlling of demonic entities. On the other hand, such offerings can greatly aid an evil demonologist with no remaining scruples and even the most accomplished of practitioners will be hard pressed to control the greatest of the demonic powers without a valuable soul to offer in exchange for services…
A demonologist of any level is free to attempt the summoning and control of any creature from the infernal realms, provided he has the appropriate research materials and texts. Any scroll, tome or other resource a GM deems to contain demonological knowledge must first be read and comprehended by the player character before it can be used in a summoning ritual. To actually decipher and comprehend these inevitably complex texts takes many days, usually culminating in some sort of skill check. This check can be adjusted to represent varying degrees of ease and complexity of ancient or relatively new texts. Failure in the final check (made in secret) will result in the demonologist being unable to understand the information contained within the resource. A fumble, or very low check, may result in incorrect interpretations of the information with the demonologist unaware of the deficiency.
The summoning ritual itself holds little danger for the demonologist, other than the fear of discovery for it tends to be a fairly lengthy process. Failure in summoning a creature from the infernal realms is likely to result only in the loss of potentially expensive materials for no gain. The danger lies in the attempted control of a demonic entity. Such beings do not enjoy being ripped from their homes within the infernal realms and will be greatly enraged by the intrusion into their often incomprehensible plans and designs.
Upon the completion of a successful summoning ritual, the demonologist will be confronted by the entity he sought to call, standing within the pentagram he laboriously toiled over, its power now spent in pulling the demon into the material world. Such an entity will be murderous in nature, its desire for cruelty and destruction magnified by the temerity of a mortal seeking to dominate it by his sheer will. The demonologist has but one chance to bring the creature under control. A single slip, just one break in concentration will leave the demon free to roam the material world. Its first act will be to exact vengeance upon the summoner, either rending him limb from limb in an orgy of blood-letting, or carrying him off to the infernal realms where he will suffer for an eternity as the plaything of demons.
Even if the demonologist manages to somehow survive and escape such a baleful existence, he is unlikely to ever be…quite right again. Every demonologist is all too aware of the risks they run every time they practice the art. Most fervently pray for a quick end should they ever make a costly and fatal mistake at this most critical of times. In some cases, the demon may seek to stay in the material world to wreck havoc for a little longer than the summoning ritual ordinarily permits.
In such circumstances, the demonologist will be viciously assaulted physically, mentally and spiritually as the demon attempts to possess him, gaining absolute control of his functions and twisting his body beyond all recognition. Bones bend and snap, skin warps and muscle expands as the mortal body strains to contain the demonic energies it is subjected to. The chances of surviving such a fate unscathed are non-existent.
The Summoning Ritual
Summoning rituals vary between the differing demons they are designed to call forth, with certain pentagram designs, components and binding chants having power over one being but not another. The core rules used for summoning demons, however, are very simple though there are many modifying factors a player must be aware of so he may swing the odds of success further into his favor. This practice of minimizing the chances of failure in summoning and controlling demons is the heart of demonology.
Summoning rituals take as many hours to perform as the level of the subject demon. During this time, the demonologist prepares the pentagram, expends components and masters the chants of summoning, all of which were learnt through his study of the demon. Whilst performing the summoning ritual, the demonologist may take no other action and so cannot cast any spells.
The Summoning Check
The basic Summoning check is based on Arcana or Religion (with applicable secondary skills) with a DC 10 + the level of the demon.
The summoning ritual requires the acquisition of various components for both a pentagram and a summoning focus. These vary for each type of demon, known only in the ancient demonology texts.
Failure in the Summoning check results in nothing more than the expenditure of any components used and the absence of said demon. Of all the checks used in demonology, this is the one that is safest and least costly to fail in.
A successful Summoning check will draw the demon from the infernal realms into the pentagram, where it will appear before the demonologist. Now comes the most difficult part of the ritual - controlling the demon and making it subject to the summoner's will.
The Control Check
The basic Control check is an opposed check between the demonologist and the demon, each choosing their own offense and defense.
If passed, the Control check will allow the summoner to give the demon instructions to be carried out; usually a maximum of nine words. A failed roll will likely mean the demonologist is in very serious trouble as the summoned demon frees itself of the bonds that have been placed upon it. It will immediately attack the demonologist however it sees fit, or is capable of.
Shifting the Odds
With his very life and soul at stake, any demonologist will work hard to increase the chances of a successful summoning and control of the demon he calls. At the same time, however, other factors may intrude upon the summoning ritual to make it far more difficult. There are many different bonuses and penalties that may be applied to Summoning and Control Checks.
The archetypal demonologist, for many common folk, is one who performs the most hideous ritual sacrifices in the pursuit of his black art. The truth is a little different and many demonologists actually shun such practices. Others limit themselves to using only common creatures, those the civilized races slay every day in the names of sustenance and sport.
It is an undeniable fact though that demons of all types delight in both the misery and death of other creatures. A blood sacrifice may be incorporated into any summoning ritual by a demonologist and, in doing so, be granted a little extra power in compelling the demon to service.
Any warm-blooded creature, from a chicken to an elf, may be used as a blood sacrifice in a summoning ritual. The creature must be alive, though not necessarily aware, throughout the ritual and must be slain by the demonologist immediately before the demon is drawn into the material world at its completion. A blood sacrifice adds a +1 bonus to the Control check for any type of demon.
The experienced demonologist will naturally be far more capable than one just starting his journey down the demonic path. Even when confronted by an unfamiliar demon for the first time, he will have the strength of will and purpose to cover minor mistakes and errors, becoming consistently successful in the art. A character with the demonology class feature gains certain bonuses on these checks throughout their progression (typically +1 for every 2 levels).
Study and Preparation
Demonology is not an art that can be easily mastered by those short of memory or failing in their mental faculties. It requires precise observation and recollection, for a mistake made in the preparation of the pentagram or in the summoning chants can cripple a ritual. A demonologist can gain a small bonus to the Summoning check with effort and preparation above and beyond what is normally required.
Force of Will
Whilst specific rituals and rites are absolutely essential if any demonologist is to control a demon he has summoned, it is often his sheer force of will and personality that can make the difference between success and failure when he comes to actually controlling the creature. A battle of titanic wills can erupt in a fraction of a second as the demon strains to break free of the bonds being imposed upon it, even as the demonologist exerts his mind to bring the entity under control. Demonologists can always choose to resort to their Presence offense at any time, even if they chose Focus or Emotional earlier.
High Quality Components
By acquiring the finest examples of the components necessary in any given summoning ritual, a demonologist can greatly minimize the risk of failure in calling the demon into the material world. If the components used are at least double the base monetary value required, a small bonus may be applied to the Summoning check. If the value is at least four times greater, a medium bonus is granted. For components of eight times or greater value, the highest bonus is awarded (usually no more than +5). For items without a strict monetary value (an ancient war banner, for instance), the GM will be required to exercise his judgment in applying these bonuses.
It should be noted that if undervalued or misidentified components are used, there is no penalty to the Summoning check - the ritual will simply not work and every component will be consumed and wasted.
Demonologists, by necessity, take great care in their preparations for the summoning ritual. Given enough time, greater safeguards can be employed, with every stage of the ritual being checked and rechecked for any possible mistakes. By doubling the time required to perform a summoning ritual, a demonologist will be granted a +2 bonus to both his Summoning and Control checks.
By the same token, there may be times when a demonologist will be put under the severest pressure to summon a demon as quickly as possible. Under such circumstances, it is almost inevitable that errors and mistakes will creep into the ritual, making the whole process harder and a lot more dangerous for the demonologist. Flurrying a ritual will reduce the time required to perform it by half but will impose a -3 penalty to both Summoning and Control checks.
Previously Summoned Demon
In performing the same ritual again and again, a demonologist will inevitably become more familiar with its subtleties and nuances until they almost become second nature. If a summoning ritual has been successfully performed before by the demonologist, a +1 bonus is granted to the Summoning check.
Previously Controlled Demon
Once a demon has been summoned and the practitioner has established his control over it, he will find future attempts at imposing his force of will to be much easier. Apply a +1 bonus to the Control check if the demon has been successfully controlled by the demonologist in the past.
Fledgling demonologists, those just starting the practice of the art, often make sure others are present during the summoning ritual in order to provide a physical defense against the demon if control is not established. There is a -1 penalty to both the Summoning and Control checks for every creature, sentient or otherwise, present at the ritual other than the demonologist himself. They need not be present for the entire ritual for this penalty to be applied - even poking their head around the door of the demonologist's laboratory can shake the concentration required for a summoning ritual.