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Author Topic: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question  (Read 496 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« on: February 26, 2013, 12:59:29 AM »
I was recently thinking about demons and how they are presented in fantasy fiction. And here's something that I'm wondering about:

What are they made of, really?

They are magical beings, after all. So... do they have any real flesh? Can they be dissected when killed - or do they just turn into dust, or something? If they can be dissected, then - do they have real internal organs etc.?

Also, is it possible for a mortal to become a demon? Do you know any of such instances in fantasy fiction?

Offline Changingsaint

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 01:08:43 AM »
Theres no really solid answer, demons can be made out of a lot of things. They can be made of flesh, blood, bones, organs – etc the same way humans are. Some settings make demons creatures of less realistic bodies, but made out of things like emotions, raw chaos, etc. So while they have bodies that can be interacted with, they are not made of the same ‘stuff’ as humans. There are settings where Demons have been dissected or studied (The Salvation Wars, Warhammer 40k possibly), but none come off the top of my head.

For stories where humans can become demons, there are many of those. Dragon Age on the PC has humans who become fused with demons, the main character in Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne becomes a demon, as do a few other characters. Humans are capable of becoming demons in Warhammer and Warhammer 40k, and there are countless other examples, sadly I don’t have many on hand. The problem with the question is demons have been written about many many many times, and many people do their own spin on what they are.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2013, 06:05:22 AM »
I'm wondering about the mechanics for a human becoming a demon, as I have an RP idea based around it... It could be useful for me to know if (and how) a situation like this was presented in fiction.

So far, my only reference point is Hellraiser and its sequels...

Offline Oniya

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Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2013, 07:16:09 AM »
Rituals, doing supremely evil deeds, curses, possession by artifact... When you're dealing with a fantasy situation, almost anything is possible. 

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2013, 08:09:45 AM »
I'm thinking it would involve the subject's body being completely destroyed (in the most agonizing way possible of course), leaving behind nothing but pure spirit sustained by hate & malice.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2013, 08:26:16 AM »
Wouldn't that be only a ghost, though?

Offline Avis habilis

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2013, 08:40:58 AM »
Depends what you mean by "demon" I guess. If it's the ex-angel variety they never had a physical body to begin with, so it seems to me the only way to become one is to get rid of yours.

Maybe a person could get turned into an ifrit or a jinn by going through a ritual that turns them into a being of pure fire.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2013, 09:01:26 AM »
Hmmm. Good ideas :)

Another matter to consider: what about the personality of a new demon? Can a good person be transformed into one? If so, would that person remain good?

Offline TheGlyphstone

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2013, 09:09:39 AM »
Basically, you get to make your own rules here. "Demon" is an incredibly broad term, so it's next to impossible to answer these questions unless you choose a specific franchise/setting. And if you do, use the rules from that setting.

Demons in Warhammer follow one set of rules. Demons in D&D follow another. Demons in Dragon Age follow another. Demons in Hellraiser...a fourth. You get the idea.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2013, 09:14:35 AM »
Yeah, I know :) Basically, I'm trying to learn what these matters would be like in different stories and settings...

In other words: I'm trying to make up my own rules, but I'd like to have some inspiration :)
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 09:31:51 AM by Beorning »

Offline Oniya

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Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2013, 11:29:07 AM »
Well-ll-ll, technically, the word 'demon' comes from the Greek δαίμων, which was a good/benevolent nature spirit, sometimes related to the Roman concept of the genius.  An artist's muse could be referred to as his δαίμων. (I would need to find my Modern Greek dictionary for the exact phrasing on that.)

Offline Moraline

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2013, 12:05:39 PM »
Demons will vary greatly based on the mythology behind the demons you intend to use in your story.

I would suggest if your going to use demon's that it would be best to consider the setting and basic cultural references your going to use in your world setting.

This entire subject could easily be held in the World Building section.

I personally prefer the concept of using demons in a loose translation of the cultural setting that I'm playing in. So, if I have a relatively middle eastern setting then I'd pick a demon concept that falls loosely within one of the cultures of that region of the world.

For Horror concepts I tend to like the idea of pulling a demon concept from an unfamiliar culture and planting it into a different setting. The jarring difference in cultural constructs adds to the shock value of the demons. (Although you have to analyze it carefully because what's frightening in one culture can seem absurd to another.)

As for the transformation of human to demon: I would like the idea of a human spirit becoming tainted by having to commit evil deeds then slowly turning them into a demon. A sort of tortured soul approach. They would eventually reach a point where they would be made aware of how awful what they are doing is but unable to stop themselves. A bit like having a split personality but always being aware of everything as it happens.

The Wiki article on Demons is just FULL of information and links to the various belief systems. 

Quote
A demon is a supernatural, often malevolent being prevalent in religion, occultism, literature, and folklore. The original Greek word daimon does not carry the negative connotation initially understood by implementation of the Koine δαιμόνιον (daimonion),[1] and later ascribed to any cognate words sharing the root.

In Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an unclean spirit, more specifically an evil angel, which may cause demonic possession, calling for an exorcism. In Western occultism and Renaissance magic, which grew out of an amalgamation of Greco-Roman magic, Jewish demonology, and Christian tradition,[2] a demon is a spiritual entity that may be conjured and controlled.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demon

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2013, 02:47:51 PM »
Hm. Good point about this subject belonging to the World Building forum...

Anyway, here are some things about demons I'd need to consider:

1. Do demons dwell in the material world (like Sauron in Lord of the Rings), or do they come from somewhere else?

2. If they do come from somewhere else, then what is their place of origin like?

3. If they come from somewhere else, then do they appear in our world in their true forms? Or can they manifest as whatever they like?

And so on...

And I'm wondering, as I have this half-baked RP idea about a princess that gets turned into a demon...  ;)

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Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #13 on: February 26, 2013, 08:35:12 PM »
I can touch on the Warhammer ones to some degree. The 4 main powers of Chaos, the deamons in Warhammer, were formed from the emotions of sentient beings (mostly humans, though the Eldar get a {dis}honorable mention in 40k). Khorne is the embodiment of anger, Slaanesh is the embodiment of excess, etc etc.

In Warhammer, the lesser deamons are fragments of the patrons power, split off and given a life of their own.

It is possible for a mortal follower of a Chaos power to rise to become a Deamon Prince. In fact, once you start on that road, the only outcomes are death, devolving into a Chaos Spawn, or rising to become a Deamon Prince. I'll let you guess which outcomes are more and less likely than others ;)

Offline CupidCatt

Re: Fantasy demons - a probably silly question
« Reply #14 on: February 26, 2013, 08:53:40 PM »
Hmm. Interesting question. I'm going to free flow some ideas that it provoked in me, taken from bits and pieces of fantasy and supernatural reading I've done all over the place :)

I think demons would be, first and foremost, spiritual intelligences hell bent (pun painfully intended) on eradicating life and destroying, perverting and harming the living. While those spiritual intelligences can coalesce in physical reality, these physical presences are just "finger puppets" for the being that manipulates them.

Demonic possession would be the ultimate extension of that, taken to a whole new degree - the demonic intelligence enters into dialogue with the interior life of a human being. We are creatures uniquely composed of body and spirit in one seamless unity, and the demon can only access our corporal presence by the acquiescence of the human will. The person has to say "yes" to the demon's claims over their body, submit to the dominion of that dark intelligence and thereby give the demon a physical manifestation par excellence.

Now... getting rid of that immense demonic power once you realise what a terrible mistake you've made would be the fun part  >:)