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Inactive Forums => Burning Wheel => Topic started by: baron samedi on February 21, 2007, 01:21:12 PM



Title: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: baron samedi on February 21, 2007, 01:21:12 PM
Hi everyone,

Reading the Burning Empires RPG, I come upon an interesting rule - Inner Demons - that evoke Trevor Faith's Monkey King (in the graphic novel album no.1), but the whole concept of Inner Demon I don't quite grasp. (Never saw that before.)

What is an Inner Demon exactly, and in that game? Can anyone help me here?

Thanks,

Erick


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: Glendower on February 21, 2007, 02:23:14 PM
I think you're talking about the personal demons rule regarding the spending of a Deeds point.  That's the one where you spend it to reroll all the failed dice on a test. 

This also costs something.  The "personal demons" represent the two decisions a player has to make, what price he pays to get these rerolls, and what fate is in store for him.  To quote the text:

"What price must he pay? Personal Demons may exact a human, material or temporal cost: an injury suffered, a piece of technology destroyed or damaged, property annihilated, a relationship severed or time lost."

"Second, the player must describe why his character’s personal demons want him alive/intact/cogent. What worse fate are his demons saving for him? There’s always another twist in fate’s hand."

Now, personal demons mean whatever you want it to mean, either the grand designs of the universe, or the coincidental collection of events, or the will of God, or your own fear of failure, or whatever.  Mechanically speaking, it's a cost to the character the Player chooses to pay, so that he can reroll all failed dice in a critical conflict. 


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: baron samedi on February 22, 2007, 08:14:27 PM
Hi Glen,

Thanks for the answer! I do understand the mechanics very well. Get a benefit, payback later with interest. That's fine.

But... cosmologically, does this notion of Inner Demon represent something (implicitly) about the BE universe? You're telling me "personal demons mean whatever you want it to mean"... Allright, but *why* is there a price to pay for this help? I understand that conflicts create story, but is there a reason for this relevant to the setting? Why would God/Fate/the universe demand payback? Or am I just thinking too hard for a simple mechanic intented to provoke "Peripeteia", e.g. more intense drama?

Reading the comics, I thought that the section about Faith's discussion with his monkey demon didn't make any sense... I still feel like I'm missing something cultural or cosmological here, like I'd be supposed to understand what this is all about. Is this something that Shakespeare invented, or a medieval theme, a cultural meme, or something like that?

I'm not nitpicking BE, understand me. I sincerely don't understand that concept of Internal Demon at all, and Wikipedia wasn't much help. :-(   (sob)


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: Glendower on February 23, 2007, 05:44:44 AM
But... cosmologically, does this notion of Inner Demon represent something (implicitly) about the BE universe? You're telling me "personal demons mean whatever you want it to mean"... Allright, but *why* is there a price to pay for this help? I understand that conflicts create story, but is there a reason for this relevant to the setting? Why would God/Fate/the universe demand payback? Or am I just thinking too hard for a simple mechanic intented to provoke "Peripeteia", e.g. more intense drama?

Reading the comics, I thought that the section about Faith's discussion with his monkey demon didn't make any sense... I still feel like I'm missing something cultural or cosmological here, like I'd be supposed to understand what this is all about. Is this something that Shakespeare invented, or a medieval theme, a cultural meme, or something like that?

My take on that is that Trevor is just batshit insane.  Personal demons just represent that little voice in your head telling you to fail.  There's a little Jungian theory of the shadow self that explains a person's psychological urge to do harm to oneself, and normally we have those little voices under control.  Trevor has less control than some, and probably needs some kind of anti-psychotic medication. 
Psychological issues like extreme depression or aggression, anorexia nervosa, all stem from an injured psychological profile, or possibly a chemical imbalance.  These psychological problems could be shorthanded to inner demons.

Since the theme of the Iron Empires is about worms that litererally take over a person, much like demonic possession, there's a theme between the Monkey King and the Vaylen.  The Monkey King is something Trevor made up in his head, to taunt him and torture him whenever he loses control over his insanity.  The Vaylen also wriggle into your head, and then you lose control of your body, still aware, but unable to act, watching helplessly as this "outer demon" becomes an all powerful "inner demon".

If you want to go the religious route, the concept of Original sin indicates that all of humanity are inherently sinful, and carry a demon within them that attempts to lead them into temptation.  These personal demons are that urge to commit all the different sins, and we have to control those demons by controlling our urges. 

It's all very metaphorical. 


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: baron samedi on February 23, 2007, 01:23:52 PM
AAAAAAHH!!!

Thank you Jon!!! Now I get it! It's like that Shadow thing in the Wraith RPG! The little red devil sitting on your shoulder, tempting you to do wicked things, like in the old Flintstone episodes!

Thanks for the insight about Trevor Faith, too. Worms = Monkey King, this is a great comparison. I never thought to consider Faith as a madman, in fact he seemed to me the only sensible guy in the bunch (given the circumstances) except for that Inner Demon detail... Gives me a way to re-read that in a different light.

A thousand blessings and a barrel of monkey kings to you! :D

Erick


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: Iskander on February 24, 2007, 10:59:00 AM
I wouldn't necessarily say your inner demons are always the little red guys on your shoulder. Sometimes, I'm pretty sure they're the raging frothing baptist preacher types, or the OCD squirrels that tell you to check every drawer, or that alluring bottle of whiskey stripteasing its way out of a brown paper bag. They're the memories of your father's cruelty that make you lash out sometimes, or the voice of your indulgent mother that tell you to have just one more cookie.

Inner demons can drive you to succeed as well as fail, too, in my book. Sure, the destructive voices are more common, but the drive to achieve that little bit more than your parent, to be the Forged Lord to your older brother's Anvil Lord, (or the Inquisitor). You'll probably lose a bit of your humanity on the way... but you get there, and god damn if the demons aren't still talking at you...


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: baron samedi on February 26, 2007, 01:27:47 PM
Thanks - is that concept specific to BE, or something common in anglo-saxon litterature? I'm from a French background, this concept is all new and odd to me... :)

Erick


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: Iskander on February 27, 2007, 11:33:18 AM
I think it's more global than Anglo-Saxon... from one perspective, when Maître Corbeau was sur un arbre perché, it could be argued that what drove him to montrer sa belle voix was an "inner demon"! It wasn't just the persuasiveness of Maître Renard, but something within Maître Corbeau that tipped the balance. Perhaps a little voice inside that told him that he was indeed le Phénix des hôtes de ces bois?

Although I can't cite anything properly academic, my guess would be that the whole "inner demon" thing is an evolution of medieval Catholic influences, particularly mystery and passion plays and the personification of things like the seven deadly sins.


Title: Re: (Burning Empires) What are Inner Demons exactly?
Post by: baron samedi on February 28, 2007, 05:54:53 AM
Iskander, while I do think you're likely right in pointing the "original sin" doctrine as a source, I also do think you've got a very... original (!)reading of Lafontaine's classic fable ! I appreciate the jest. :)

Still, your examples help me better understand the concept. It's fascinating... It's definitely analogous to that "Spectre" inner double in the WRAITH RPG.

Thanks everyone for lighting my lantern. :D