The Spiral Path
Perhaps the most mistrusted and despised path of sorcery known, the history of the Spiral Path is shrouded in rumour and misdirection. Most texts concerning this Path are concealed in ancient libraries, scattered across Kith Kanaan, and with the many attempts to eradicate this Path through history by the Joshuite faith, the true history of infernalism is most likely lost for good.
The Spiral Path was once the predominant path of the nation of Aranous, before it fell, and was a recognized path of power among the noble families. It was seen as a useful tool and weapon, and the demons that were summoned and bound were treated as vassals and servants by the royal family and any noble who desired prominence within the court. When Aranous fell, the nobles brought their practise to other nations, but were forced to conceal their knowledge as a new wave of prejudice rose up.
Shortly after the fall of Aranous, a treatise by the then-mortal infernalist Mika was released, explaining the nature of the infernal realms and the ecology of the infernal. Many among the various faiths decried the treatise, considering it nothing more than propaganda, but with Mika’s apotheosis, members of the Arin faith began to seriously study the treatise and the information found within. Horsemen and Balancers who followed the goddess tracked down and interrogated a number of infernalists, learning the secrets of their power, allowing them to compare the knowledge gained with the information presented within the treatise, and unified this lore into the Daemonum Libri, the book of demons.
A copy of this book was presented to the Joshuite faith, and while the church’s first instinct was to destroy the book, having a body of knowledge about the enemies of the faith was seen as something too useful to pass on. The book was studied and tests conducted, and the knowledge gained proved to be an incredible weapon against what the Joshuites believed was a very real threat. Between their scientific experiments and the enthusiasm of the worshippers of Mika, an accord was made and the first Warlocks were initiated.
The prevalent philosophy of the Spiral Path is found within the path’s core symbolism: the spiral. Those who study using the Daemonum Libri believe that while the demons are a force of entropy, they are also a part of the balance of Creation. Within their native realms, demons serve a purpose and are not a threat to the world itself. However, when a demon is unleashed within creation, the balance is disrupted, and the demon acts according to its nature. These demons, even if banished back to the infernal realms, may develop desires which are contrary to the harmony of Creation, and become a very real threat. A Warlock studies the names of these demons, and may even visit the infernal realms themselves to search for such entities. By learning a demon’s name and weaving it into the sorcery of the infernalist, the demon’s essence can be siphoned and used to fuel the spells woven. These spells weaken the named demon, and acts as a chain to keep the demon from becoming a threat. A second tool of the infernalist is the summoning of familiars. These lesser demons are used as a source of information and as a guide to hunting and slaying threats to Creation. With these two tools, most Warlocks believe they are turning the entropic forces of the infernal against themselves.
Obviously, there are those who would stray from this philosophical path, seeing infernal magic as a path to power or as a tool used to contact those demons who the infernalist feels is worthy of praise and worship. Many of the nobles within the nation of Cordona have nothing but disdain for the Warlocks, and practise their own brand of infernalism covertly, training new apprentices in an attempt to rise to their former glory. Both the Joshuite and Arin faiths have sent Warlocks into Cordona with the blessing of the Queen of R’Tal, and a battle has begun between Warlocks and Diabolists, each attempting to destroy the other.
The primary focus of the Path is one of evocation, but can easily be expanded into conjuration or divination. The schools of restoration and transmutation are difficult for this path, though some Warlocks dabble in phantasm. Only those of infernal lineage gravitate naturally to this path. Signatures are usually entropic in nature or theme, including such things as corrosive effects, but other signatures include inducing chaos or death, inflicting diseases or toxins, or using profane energies. Other signatures include the corroding or warping of metal, or the summoning or manifestation of vermin.
A sorcerer of this path must have a powerful personality. Drawing essence from a demon requires the infernalist to pit their identity against that of the named demon. Those with a weak personality quickly succumb to the powerful psyche of the demon, either giving in to the demon's vice, or becoming a thrall of the demon.
- One who has studied the Spiral Path
- One who uses the path for personal gain or who worships the infernal.
- One who uses the path to bind the infernal or for the good of others.
- Warlock initiates are trained in the name of a few demons, usually those who are known to be weak and easy to bind. As the infernalist gains strength and confidence, more powerful names are granted, or the warlock specifically searches out the name of demons who have yet to be bound. Diabolists are not as picky, and usually search for the names of powerful demons early, attempting to find those who are "worthy" of being the vassal of the infernalist. Those who are part of a demonic cult usually bring apprentices in to learn the name of their "god", the apprentice's will and identity soon siphoned when they come into contact with such a powerful Name.
- Without access to an infernal name, the infernalist is incapable of using magic. Demonic names tend to be long and convoluted, and most infernalists use symbolism and short cuts to speed up the invocation of the infernal name for spell casting. More complicated or powerful spells require the infernalist to use more of the actual name, drawing out the time it takes to actually unleash the effect. A demonic name sounds essentially wrong to those who hear it, making it difficult to disguise what an infernalist is doing.
- Each demon is associated with a vice. When performing a spell, the infernalist will invoke the name of a demon whose vice best coincides with the effect desired. This can make some spells harder than others, and as such an infernalist will usually "flavour" the casting of the spell to make it align it closer to the vice needed. An infernalist using a healing spell flavoured with Lust may use a passionate kiss to align the essence appropriately, for instance. Because of this limitation, infernalists usually collect a number of Names from different demons to provide more variety.
- When creating an infernalist, the player should choose how many names the infernalist has. The more names the character begins with, the weaker the individual demons are. An infernalist with a single name has access to a powerful demon, which can be used a handful of times in a scene, but is limited to a single vice. Having a handful of weaker demons means the infernalist can call on them less often, but provides more vices to draw on during the scene. Additional Plot Points can be spent to strengthen the names used, or to provide an additional powerful name.
Upon acceptance as a Warlock, the infernalist may be trained in a powerful ritual of summoning. When the ritual is completed, the warlock summons an incarnation of a greater demon. This incarnation manifests as a familiar, bound to the warlock's will. The familiar is an aspect of the greater demon, and the ritual binds the demon within the infernal realms, acting as a chain which prevents the demon from being able to manifest within Creation or be summoned. As long as the warlock and familiar both exist, the demon is tethered to the infernal realm through the warlock's will. Each familiar is connected to a specific vice - the same vice as the demon the familiar is a part of. Each vice also provides the familiar with specific abilities appropriate to the demon's type. Familiars are infernal spirits, and do not need to eat, drink, breathe, or sleep. They are immune to mortal poisons and diseases.
Most familiars are only half a metre in height, though there is leeway depending on the desires of the summoner. In spite of this height, a familiar has the traits of a normal person, showing surprising strength for their size. They have a natural talent for the occult, and are adept at hiding if needed. The familiar is fluent in all languages, and can act as a translator for the infernalist, and is not seen as a threat by other demons - meaning the familiar will not normally be attacked by other demons (even hostile ones) and will not draw the attention of demons when among their company. This is often useful for scouting a location or gathering information on known demons.
Familiars can also be trained by their master. Some familiars are given useful skills to assist in the infernalist's duties, while others are trained in sorcery. Familiars can not learn the particulars of specific paths, but they can learn how to manifest effects similar to the Schools of magic. Most infernalists master a specific School, though a patient teacher can give the familiar mastery of two or three schools. Familiars can not learn Conjuration.
Once bound, the familiar's chaotic and entropic instincts are tethered to the personality of the infernalist. The infernalist has control of most aspects of the familiar, but this control is not total. The familiar is still guided by the demonic vice it possesses. There are, however, additional benefits from the bond between the familiar and the infernalist:
- In most relationships between the infernalist and the familiar, the bond between the two creates a form of companionship – the familiar wants to obey the infernalist, and will fulfil the spirit of any request, rather than simply the letter of the request given. The familiar always knows the intent behind any request, and what the infernalist truly wishes accomplished. Familiars who are mistreated and then commanded tend to ignore the spirit of the order, subverting it by following a strict or twisted interpretation of the command given – whichever would further aggravate the Hero.
- When in contact with the familiar, the infernalist can use the demonic Name of the familiar to strengthen the connection between the infernalist and the demon whose name the familiar is a part of. The infernalist can channel the demon's name additional times during the scene. This does not harm or weaken the familiar.
- When a spell is cast upon the infernalist, the infernalist can choose to have the spell either be transferred to the familiar, or can instead have the spell affect the familiar as well, providing a benefit to both the infernalist and the familiar at the same time. If the spell is simply transferred, it does not affect the infernalist.
- If the familiar is slain or banished, the infernalist can re-summon it from the infernal realms after one day. If the familiar is truly destroyed, the infernalist may summon a new familiar and start over once again.
- The familiar and infernalist have an intimate bond with one another, allowing one to share their thoughts and senses with the other regardless of distance while in the same realm. The familiar immediately understands the intent and desires of the infernalist, as well as anything the infernalist senses or feels, while the infernalist can only sense the thoughts, senses, and sensations the familiar sends to them.
- The infernalist may borrow essence from the familiar in addition to using his own essence. This is uncomfortable for the familiar, as the familiar does not have a true physical body, and the process drains from the familiar's very vitality. If needed, however, the infernalist may grant the familiar access to their own essence flows, allowing the familiar to heal. This is a gradual process either way, and often takes a number of minutes to do.
Betrayers are connected to the vice of Envy. These familiars can be recognized by the two to six tendrils which sprout from their backs. Betrayers are supernaturally charismatic, drawing others to them through a powerful force of personality, and can make nearly anyone like them. In addition, by touching an individual, the familiar can create the illusion of great skill and competence. The familiar chooses a skill or talent, and while the target can not actually fail at the skill, their talent becomes mediocre at best, while convincing the target they are a master at the skill. After a scene, the blessing fades, and the victim finds using the talent or skill incredibly difficult, if not actually impossible for the following scene. The familiar can extend the benefit as an act of will without touching the target, but the curse lasts for an identical number of scenes afterwards.
Deceivers are connected to the vice of Pride, can be recognized by their leathery wings, but are also capable of shape shifting. They can not truly grow more than an additional foot in height, and most prefer to take animal forms. Deceivers are adept at imitating sounds and voices, and can imitate anyone or anything they have heard. The special gift of the Deceiver, however, is their ability to augment the infernalist, making it appear that the infernalist possesses qualities that invoke admiration in others. The infernalist finds it easier to attract followers or gain assistance while within contact with the familiar, and this blessing often lasts for the remainder of the scene. The familiar can continue to provide this benefit by remaining in contact with the infernalist. Once the effect wears off, those who have been drawn to the infernalist may notice that their initial impression of the infernalist was off, but whether or not they remain allied with the infernalist is more of a matter of roleplay.
Destroyers are connected to the vice of Wrath, and are dervishes of destruction, and are recognized by the sharp quills or spines that cover their bodies. They are known for sharp claws and teeth, and for being notoriously hard to hurt, ignoring most blows and even causing weapons that strike them to shatter. Their claws and teeth rend armour, and they can tear through even stone structures with relative ease.
Devourers are connected to the vice of Gluttony, and are usually either thin, or rotund. They can be identified by the tendrils that spring from their shoulders. These tendrils are incredibly quick, and can lash out faster than people can react to, and once they grasp onto something, they are nearly impossible to escape from. A devourer can swallow anything up to a foot smaller than it, and can either digest the item devoured or simply store it. Whatever is devoured is held "elsewhere", and does not injure or harm the familiar while it is held or digested. If desired, the devourer can also cough up anything held. The bite of a devourer is capable of slicing cleanly through armour and stone, allowing it to eat almost anything.
Enticers are connected to the vice of Lust, and are usually identified by the demonic wings they sport on their backs. Enticers can transforms into various shapes, and most take on the form of animals, though they also have a tendency to take a mortal form as well. Enticers are experts at drawing others to them, creating friends and allies with their supernatural charm. An enticer's gift is to weaken the resolve of a target, causing them to succumb to physical pleasures or a vice when the temptation arises. This can be resisted, but doing so causes a backlash, the victim's essence and will draining from them as they resist.
Saboteurs are connected to the vice of Sloth. They are telepathic, and can cause those within eyesight to feel drained and listless. A saboteur's touch can weaken a victim's resolve. The gift of the Saboteur is to create an aura which causes essence flows to be sluggish. Supernatural abilities become difficult to manifest, and spell casting or miracle working becomes difficult as the area is filled with an aura of lethargy. The saboteur can maintain this effect for the Scene, and can continue the effect as desired.
Usurpers are connected to the vice of Greed. They are telepathic, and can fill a victim's head with visions of horror, drawing upon the target's worst nightmares. When dealing with others, an usurper draws out things from their target, making the target reveal secrets or simply speak openly and honestly with the usurper. Their victims find themselves wanting to tell the usurper everything. The gift of the usurper is to cause others to have a heightened desire for something they can see. The target finds the desire and need to claim the object (whether a person, a concept (such as a political position someone else has), or normal object) grow and consume their thoughts. This effect normally lasts for the scene, but the usurper can extend this duration with an act of will.
- An infernalist can learn how to reduce the amount of essence they take from a Name. By injuring themselves and shedding blood, the infernalist can use their own life force to supplement the power of a name, allowing them to invoke the name more than once in a scene. The injury must be obvious, but does not have to be life-threatening, and the wound is bound by the ritual, preventing magical or supernatural healing until sunset.
- An infernalist can empower themselves, drawing upon a demon's Name at a slow, steady rate to improve themselves. This requires the infernalist to bind their name to the demon's, weakening themselves to cause the demon to flood the infernalist with more power. The infernalist then draws the energy into themselves, using it to shore themselves up and recover what they lost. While initially this has no obvious effect, what it does do is grant the infernalist to grow more powerful over time. The infernalist can develop just that little bit further than a mortal can, becoming slightly stronger, or smarter. They can grasp a concept that mortals might overlook, or become just that much greater in a skill they thought they had mastered. This effect can be compounded, the infernalist sacrificing more of themselves to gain greater strengths, but if this effect is severed, the infernalist loses everything they sacrificed, and the additional power they had drawn from, leaving them crippled until they have time to recover.
- The final ritual a Warlock is likely to learn from a mentor is the Hell's Gate. This ritual takes a full minute to invoke, and will transport the ritualist into the infernal realms. A circle may be drawn and a more elaborate ritual performed to allow the infernalist to draw others into the infernal realms with them. The infernalist can then travel through the infernal realms to another key location, and invoke the ritual again, allowing them to appear once more in Creation. It usually takes about an hour within the infernal realms to find the appropriate location, and the infernalist can travel a score of kilometres as a result. Longer journeys in the infernal realm will allow for appropriately larger distances in Creation. The infernal realms are dangerous, and if the infernalist has a familiar, it will work hard to hide the infernalist or distract any demons who are in the region. The infernal realms are a manifestation of entropy and vice, and the demons present are the embodiment of these urges.