Sunday, August 8, 2010

DragonQuest Demons

Obviously my taste in demon illustrations is idiosyncratic, but, even so, when I think of demons, the ones that come immediately to mind are those I saw in the pages of SPI's DragonQuest as a younger man.

I'm still not entirely sure why this particular image affected me so. Looking at it now, it still creeps me out a little, especially the demon on the left, which reminds me a bit of a sinister Carnival mask. Maybe it's their mocking expressions that unnerve me; I don't know. As I've said before, though, I find demons like this far more frightening than I do those that just look like Big Monsters.

11 comments:

  1. As a player, they were seriously scary as well. We kept as far as possible from demons in most of our campaigns. The one time we had a player character demon summoner, in the end the witch, the necromancer and the assassin (it was a pretty evil campaign) had to get rid of him, because we were too scared of the demons that he summoned, combined with the fact that he was slowly going insane. The final straw was when we were stranded in the desert and he wandered off by himself he returned and informed us that we had all agreed that we would provide a Duke of Hell with a galleon within a month or forfeit our souls. None of the characters objected to dealing with the devil, what we objected to was not even being informed about the negotiation!

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  2. That is one of the least scary things I've ever seen, unless we are counting it as horribly bad artwork ;-)

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  3. Sometimes very juvenile art can be scary in its own very intense way. Sometimes the vision shine through.

    Personally I remember some demons from Stormbringer as the very idea of "demoness". There is one on page 71 of the 4th ed, drawn by Alain Gassner, which I think is iconic. Claws, horns and all that. Also, a very subtle and somewhat creepy one is the small beasts on page 77.

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  4. What's great about DragonQuest demons and why they seem so authentically scary is that they are taken directly from a real demon summoning grimoire, the Lemegeton or the Lesser Key of Soloman. They are, for all intents and purposes, as far as the reality of such things can be determined, real demons statted out for your RPG enjoyment.

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  5. They kind of remind me of a bunch of thugs or rowdy fans you would find at a soccer gam. Most especially how their leering at the viewer in a way that gives you the impression their about to pounce on you at any moment. Very disturbing ...

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  6. If you think them scary, consider the following: What is a tetrad of living creatures, each having four faces: of a lion, an ox, an eagle (or griffon vulture), and a man, with the stature and hands of a man, the feet of a calf, and four wings, where two of the wings extended upward, meeting above while the other two stretched downward and covered the creatures themselves?

    A Cherub (at least according to the prophet Ezekiel). Some of the representations of other angels were even stranger. Many actually had Babylonian precedents.

    The thing I liked about the Dragonquest demons is that there was a hierarchy of the Fallen you could call on for your purposes, particularly for instruction or divination. It accompanied the ideas behind the the SPI boardgame Demons very well, which is why they included it in the first edition. But actual demonology was too inflammatory for later editions.

    Another game which does a good job of this sort of thing was the original english version of Nephilim, but you'd expect that sort of thing from an occult conspiracy game.

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  7. Yeah, the oldschool stuff that looks somewhat human but badly distorted is definetely very creepy. Admittedly I didn't find much of the really oldschool stuff bad.. I thought the trolls in particular were pretty silly.

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  8. Loved DragonQuest. Along with The Fantasy Trip, it was what the "cool kids" played instead of D&D when I lived in Australia.

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  9. The College of Greater Summoning and Black Magics were removed from TSR's printing of Dragonquest. Was a shame, Black Magics offer a lot of power at a price, and feeding your imp left you in a weakened condition almost all the time. The Ritual of Casting Runes allowed you to have a reoccuring villian with a demon that was bound to hunt down a character. Fun stuff.

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  10. If you think them scary, consider the following: What is a tetrad of living creatures, each having four faces: of a lion, an ox, an eagle (or griffon vulture), and a man, with the stature and hands of a man, the feet of a calf, and four wings, where two of the wings extended upward, meeting above while the other two stretched downward and covered the creatures themselves?

    Believe me, I am all in favor of frightening angels. I really do think that the common conception of an angel is now so thoroughly degraded that reminding people of the downright unnerving majesty of the Heavenly Host would be a worthwhile endeavor.

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  11. I just stumbled upon this post - and took a peek at your DragonQuest Retrospective. I'd forgotten about this game! I recall reading it thoroughly, but only playing it once or twice. I do remember that those with Greater Summoning could pretty much OWN everybody else. Though they'd almost certainly lose themselves in the process. Really, really scary. That picture does justice, I think.

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