Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Art of Being a Monster: Fiend

The weak, spindly, lowly, conniving fiends need not read any further. This manual will be of use for the great lords, the ambitious demons, and the powerful evil entities from the pits below. This manual will suffice only for those with the grandest and most despicable plots. While your physical forms and strengths vary according to your kind, all fiends share basic traits: powerful attacks, devious magic, and minion summoning. In all battles, it is best to use your minions and summoned demons to break up enemy formations and block them from engaging yourself directly. Use this freedom of movement to focus your attacks and magic on the toughest foe. Without minions, use the terrain and your magic along with your own tactics to accomplish the same goals as below.
F: This enemy will be the most adept at engaging your minions toe-to-toe, so you should keep them in defensive formations that limit the number of attacks the fighter can make against you while keeping the fighter engaged in combat to limit their maneuverability. Unless the fighter is well equipped to overcome your resistance to man made weapons, they fall behind the wizard in terms of danger and are mostly dangerous for your weaker minions.
T: The thief may be equipped to deal with your resistances or may simply be able to strike a weak point, but in either case they have very little staying power. They should be separated and flanked by your minions or tactics to negate their combat abilities. If they show competence or are particularly prepared for fighting you, they are weak enough to destroy quickly. Make sure your minions are not out flanked by the thief.
R: The ranger will fare poorly against minions that threaten them directly. While they most likely will not fall to minions’ attacks, they will be unable to focus their fire on you while so distracted. Even if they manage to direct their ranged fire at you, ranged attacks will be hard pressed to penetrate your weapon resistances. Through all of that, your toughness will allow you to weather most projectiles.
W: A magic user will be the greatest threat to you and your minions in combat. They often have abilities for dealing with demons or extraplanar creatures and will definitely have magic to damage many minions at once. If allowed to work freely, they can destroy swathes of minions and break up your tactics. If possible, direct your minions delay and attack during their spellcasting while working to keep them apart from the rest of their group. Engage and destroy the spell-caster as quickly as possible.
The Unstoppable, Dapper Demon
With enough time, even the lowest fiend could learn the tactics above to become a passable combatant. Those demons that intend to dominate the material world would do well to take heed of the grander points below. These will lay out the loopholes and pitfalls so that you may tighten your defenses and continue to outmaneuver and out-think your lesser opponents.
-I will treat my summoned demons well and ensure that they are compensated appropriately for their time, effort, and abilities. Paying them less than they are worth or treating them poorly will only ensure my opponents an easier time convincing them to betray me. Worse, it will actively hamper my own recruitment of allies and traitors if it becomes well known that I treat my employees badly.
-A ban on plotting and betrayals amongst my minions would be nearly impossible to enforce. I will not try to stop my underlings from their own plots. Instead, I will encourage this behavior by offering occasional support for their plots as long as they keep me regularly informed of their plotting. Not only will this reduce the effort I must spend on clamping down on their weak plots, I will also gain an early warning of betrayal if their plots suddenly change or if they stop informing me of their plots.
-I will keep on hand easy ways to counter spells specifically created to combat fiends such as protection against alignment and banishment spells. This is an obvious weakness, so it may be beneficial to invest in protection methods that seem to work and allow my opponents to lull themselves into a false sense of security. Additionally, I will prepare for such targeted weapons by investing my lair and minions with traps and abilities that will detect or draw out the usage of anti-fiend abilities.
-Evil cults and demonic organizations are well known cliches of the human world. They all share one thing in common: they were all defeated. I will not repeat the mistakes of lesser demons and I will make my human minions work in a noble seeming cause or goal, or better yet, attach myself to an existing one. Open evil attracts opponents and adventurers, while twisting a kingdom or church slowly, but undetectably, into evil purposes can bring those opponents to do my bidding instead.
-I will never trust that my traps or minions have actually killed a hero or foe. I will ensure their death personally once any immediate danger has passed. I will keep magic on hand to ensure it is very difficult to revive or restore defeated foes. While it may be tempting to keep them alive and trapped where I can see them, dead and disintegrated is better as it requires expensive magic to reverse and doesn’t leave my foe alive, plotting their revenge. All unconfirmed kills will be treated as active threats.
-Many demons and fiends will discard any kind solutions to their problems out of hand. I will  force myself to perform kindnesses and think of solutions to my problems that involve using generosity and goodness. This will not only keep an aura of plausible deniability in my disguises (and give practice for future disguises) but it will also make sure that I am thinking through all possible solutions purely on the basis of effectiveness.
-Corruption and the spread of evil are my ultimate goals, but I will not mistake that fact for thinking that every step along the way must be made in the direction of evil. Pure evil is often mistaken by weaker demons as requiring every action to be made in malice. I shall not refuse to work with good or neutral creatures and entities for ideological reasons. In fact, alliances with pure hearted creatures may help disguise my true motives and goals.
-I will keep in regular contact with all of my minions, especially those in critical positions. I will establish this so that the absence of communication will become suspicious and alert meto betrayals or defeats earlier than I might otherwise notice. The frequency and schedules will fluctuate so my enemies cannot predict them. I will never ignore a report from a subordinate, even if its ridiculousness warrants further investigation, and I will never punish a minion for having delivered bad news. I want to encourage every minion to be open and honest with me about my tactics and effectiveness.
-Loyalty in my organization will never be perfect, but it is important to invest in. I will build loyalty in my minions and followers by regularly working to advance a random individual’s goals on a lottery system weighted by their effectiveness in their role. This will cost me little but encourages a heirarchy-wide increase in effectiveness and loyalty, as each minion puts in a disproportionate amount of effort in the hopes of winning your favor. Their goals are much smaller in scope than your own and will likely be of a miniscule scale compared to the power you wield.
-I will discourage all backstabbing and betrayal within my ranks. Any minion caught sabotaging or betraying another shall never be advanced, rewarded, or encouraged. Anyone suspected of betraying me will be dealt with by me. I will never rely simply on the word of others who may be the actual betrayers or misinformed. Jumping to conclusions would only benefit my enemies, allowing them to drive wedges between me and my most useful minions. Obviously there are exceptions to this when time is of the essence, but I will always investigate claims of betrayal.
-Considering that adventurers will often seek out patrons for their quests and pay, I will seek to become a host of adventurers. I will look to hire similarly talented individuals at above market rates under pseudonyms in order to keep appraised of the local, regional, and worldly talents that may be hired or sent to fight against me. The tasks they will be sent on will be on missions of varying importance against a random selection of both my enemies and allies so as to further misdirect the source of the quests.
-I will have a strong fall-back base in whatever plane or area I return to after being defeated on another plane. The minimum that should be included in that base is a way to return to the plane you were on, ways to contact my organization, and methods to gather tools that will give me an advantage over the foe that defeated me. This base will remain a personal secret that no one else knows about.
-I wlll often engage in plots with goals that are unrelated to each other or have no relation to my main purpose. This will ensure that my enemies can never be sure what plots and minions are of critical importance and which are a waste of time. I will not try to deviate in terms of cost or stated importance in any way from my other goals. No matter how tangential, these false schemes will increase my power. This will ensure that foes that discover the link between me and this plot will think themselves intelligent for having uncovered a secret without wondering whether it is a secret I truly cared to hide. This combines well with figuring out my enemies’ strengths and targeted abilities well before they can impact me.
-I will keep a strong network of informants to use when enemies become apparent to me. I will also use these on random individuals and on generally powerful or interesting people. This will disguise any single person’s importance to my spying activites while also having a chance of uncovering secrets or blackmail.
-Plots and schemes are prone to many points of error and misunderstanding, especially if performed without practice. I will engage in drills and emergency plans, testing them for effectiveness and noting any problems. My minions and systems will never be used untested or unpracticed and my minions will always know what to do.
-I will never give out any information I am not comfortable telling my worst and most powerful enemy. It does not matter if I will kill the listener afterwards or think that the listener is my most loyal minion. This is a world of magic and my minions are already the types to be working for a demon.
-I will be wary of other monsters and creatures in the regions I operate in. It is important to make sure to leave as little evidence of my activities in areas with higher concentrations of other creatures. Counter-intuitively, more creatures will be more likely to draw attention to a region, making it more likely I will be discovered and pursued rather than less likely by blending in with the ‘crowd’. The density of mysterious happenings and intrigues draws more adventurers exponentially, not linearly. The exception to this rule is that an absolute lack of mysterious events is as obvious as bird silence in a forest or no flames in hell.
-Either destroy enemies or befriend them. The worst possible way to keep my enemies is with only minor defeats and harms. This will enrage them and keep them actively plotting against me. I will swallow my pride and make peace or utterly destroy my foes. I will sometimes do so even against enemies I can defeat easily so that it is impossible to tell which enemies I made peace with out of weakness and which I make peace with from a position of strength.
-I will not mess with deities. Even if I think I am prepared and have my own gods behind me, I still will not mess with gods or godlings. They have infinitely more resources and practice with plotting than I do. At best, I am just a minion or a pawn in a grander fight by entities I cannot comprehend. If I must engage with a god, I will remember this fact so that I can make sure to work for a god that treats me in a way in concordance with these rules so that I have the best chance of coming out alive and profiting.
-I will make a note of not seeking out or listening to prophecies. I will ignore them and treat them all as the vague predictions they are. Treating them as true will force me to endeavor to avoid ones that harm me or overreach to bring about ones that advance my causes. Prophecies make me too predictable and encourage tactical mistakes with the belief that fate is on my side. On the other claw, I shall not treat them as automatically false and likewise make tactical mistakes. Basing tactics on assumptions is always a mistake. I will take the time to seek out supporting evidence and constantly reevaluate my assumptions. A secondary mistake I could make is to seek out evidence to confirm an existing prophecy that has been given. This is almost a worse mistake to make because it then allows me to think that I have thought through my assumptions while I am still sitting in error by granting special privilege to an existing assumption rather than working from a neutral standpoint.

Keep these points as your own contract with yourself and you will never be caught in a position of weakness. You will advance evil and bring your foes to their knees.

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