Demonic Possession Rules?

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Zapp » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:39 am

Hi,

First question: there are no rules for how exactly a Demon possesses an (unwilling) target in AGE, right? How you resist a possession attempt (or fail doing so)? What you can do to make it as hard as possible for the demon to successfully take over your body? What happens to you (your soul?) if and when you fail (=can you be exorcised and regain control over your body?) etc.

In the examples I've seen so far, Dragon Age (all sources) simply lets the story decide what happens, not really hinting at what mechanisms David Gaider and team imagines are at play here (if there's more to it than Demons automatically succeeding, that is). Obviously for player characters, this is not satisfying.

Second question: Do you know of any good rules for possession in any other fantasy game you'd recommend?

I'm looking for a fairly simply ruleset that allows for a gradual struggle, letting the player know how his/her PC fares against the demon, and lets him/her take actions to help out (seeking out allies, taking the fight to the Fade, etc). I'm guessing and hoping this particular wheel has already been invented for some other (Ghost-related?) rpg... :)

My immediate case is a PC stumbling into an unused storeroom of religious paraphernalia and rolling so badly she got the attention of a spiteful... presence (a spirit - perhaps a demon; perhaps the echo of somebody's ashes in a burial urn?). Now, what rules could I use to model the struggle where this... spirit... whispers into the PC's ear, trying to nestle itself into her life, her mind (and ultimately, her body). As you can see, this is not a case where it would be okay for some brutish Hunger Demon to just take a body for its own use, with no input or resistance from the body's previous owner (like it might be in the case of a NPC).

Any suggestions?
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Hellebore » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:52 am

I put some in the Bestiary:

Demons use any means at their disposal to gain control of a mortal’s mind. The more intelligent the Demon, the
more ways it can attempt this. As such the following may only be attempted using one of the Communication
Focuses the Demon has. These represent the ways a Demon can ensnare mortals, so circumstances need to
fit the context of the Focus. Etiquette wouldn’t work on a peasant for example. The appropriateness of this
ability is up to the GM.
This is an Opposed, Advanced test pitting the appropriate Communication Focus vs the target’s Willpower (Self Discipline) with a Hard (20) Threshold (test is 1 hour). These tests do not have to be consecutive, allowing for a long struggle and great roleplaying (and/or find a cure). The first to 20 wins either complete control or freedom. If the Demon’s score is higher than the target’s they will gain some influence over their actions, increasing as they get closer to 20.



It's up to the GM to determine what triggers the initial encounter and when/how often a test is made. Lower level demons are easier to resist than higher level ones.

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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Saisei » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:52 am

One of my party actually currently has a Rage Demon inside them. Every now and again it comes to the surface and I have her roll to resist. If she fails I tend to give her a bonus to strength or attack rolls or something. That way she kinda starts to think "Hey this isn't so bad..."

I'm playing it by year as it is. If it makes sense for the story I have it happen. If not I don't.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Arimmus » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:16 am

This I think is where The rules for Age lack, For there are no true rules for failing advanced tests. Thus why I use opposing Advanced tests in this situation. Lets give the Demonic Possession a ST of 15, and the first person to reach that wins. Battle of Willpower if you will Each one gets a Willpower Roll (Presumably Faith or Self-Discipline) against the other. The gm could say that the player can roll 3 times a day. The battle continues until one of the two involved reaches the ST. Thus if the Demon wins, we have our self an Abomination. If the Player wins, Well He can rest easy knowing the maker was on his side.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby MacGrein » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:20 am

Of the 3 mages on my group, one have become an Abomination Specialization which I did by myself (the other mage being a Blood Mage). This Abomination made a complex ritual with a necromancer NPC which used a ring to imprison a Pride Demon while the player is on control. With a full-round action, she activates the demonic powers, becoming that monster, but controlling herself. The menace comes when she wants to end the "demon mode". She makes a Willpower test against herself. Is she fails, the Demon get out and controls her body in this turn (as a GM, I control it), until she makes another try next round.
A powerful thing with dangerous ways, and very funny to play with!

Last section, both mages were helping another NPC (the third mage was out) when a Vengeance Spirit possessed the NPC. The Abomination, in front of the NPC, activated her powers and fought the ally/enemy. After the combat, she failed to cancel the demonic source and the Pride Demon urged to control (me). An rogue ally stood confused at the monstrous mage attacking the party, while the blood mage (her friend) just running calmly saying "give her some time to cool it down...". XD

I'll post the Specialization anyday.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Lynata » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:26 am

Zapp wrote:In the examples I've seen so far, Dragon Age (all sources) simply lets the story decide what happens, not really hinting at what mechanisms David Gaider and team imagines are at play here (if there's more to it than Demons automatically succeeding, that is).
There do seem to be a few rules:

- Of the intelligent creatures, only mages can be possessed, as normal people have no "active presence" in the Fade, unless the victim is ritually prepared as a host. See DA2, that quest where you free one of the templars from the blood mages. The possession is a mental battle between the victim and the demon that takes place in the Fade, whereby the demon may attempt to trick his victim or use brute force.

- Furthermore, mages overextending their magical abilities may accidentally tear open the Veil, allowing a demon to attempt possessing a mage even outside the Fade (imagine this like some sort of invisible tunnel between Fade and Realspace, through which the demon attempts to reach his victim).

- Demons may also end up possessing corpses or even plant life. This happens only when a demon has actually managed to cross the Veil, at which point it needs an anchor to the real world. The aforementioned beings are unable to offer much resistance, and since a demon needs to find a vessel quickly and cannot afford a battle of wills (lest it is pulled back into the Fade), it often ends up trapped in one such shell.

- Possession is said/believed to be permanent, with one known exception (Wynne's friend in "Asunder").

- Possession has several stages (contact -> manipulation -> transformation), but it only works one way, with the final stage having the victim transform into an Abomination. The speed at which a victim changes from one stage to another is highly variable, depending on the host's willpower, the demon's strength/tactics, and possibly environmental circumstances. It ranges from nigh-instantaneous (magical mishaps, a Harrowing) to a possessed character being stuck with "a voice in his/her head" for weeks (Connor Guerrin, various blood mages).

http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Codex_e ... Possession
http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Codex_e ... f_Banastor

You could probably use the rules for magical mishaps in DARPG Set 2 and adjust them, modifying them by keeping their basic nature intact.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Kalias » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:51 pm

I would argue that Wynne's friend is is further proof that anyone (or any organic matter) can be possessed, but as demons seek to experience life, they find living humans and elves the most desirable. They also typically possess mages because they naturally have more contact with the fade, meaning there are more opportunities to posses a mage than a regular person. Also, as a mage is more powerful than a regular being, this also makes them more desirable.

Also, while it is difficult for them to do so, a demon does NOT have to possess something to remain in the physical world, as it has been stated that shades are demons who have crossed over from the vale, but have not possessed anything.

The process of possession is reversible however. The simplest way to do this is to destroy the host body that demon inhabits, however, it is possible to remove the demon while still preserving the host. This requires confronting the demon in the fade and destroying it. Some examples of this include Connor Guerrin (though his body had not been twisted and deformed), Fiona (whose body had been deformed. "The elf threw back her head and let out a horrible keening wail. Her entire body tensed, her hands flying out at her sides. Her skin became a pale white, and then it began to change. It bulged, and twisted. Her body grew and took on a hideous form, her head becoming something gnarled and fanged even as she shrieked in torment." The Calling chapter 11), and Wynne's friend (who had also been deformed). In the cases of the latter two, the physical changes to the real world bodies were reversed after the demon was killed in the fade, and the possession reversed.

Also, it is possible for a person to become possessed and retain control of their body, however this merges the host's mind with the spirit's and both are changed as a result (e.g. Wynne/Faith, Anders/Justice). However, as demons are just malevolent spirits, they typically do not want to share their knew body, choosing to completely suppress the original 'owner' of what they are possessing.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Zapp » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:12 am

The discussion whether non-mages can be possessed is purely academic from my point of view. Or rather; whatever is canon simply isn't interesting for the purposes of a pnp campaign.

In my game, it's simple: Of course they can - otherwise you would have several player characters that would effectively be immune to all sorts of interesting demonic storylines. And that would be pretty dull for no particular reason.

I mean - for the purposes of the CRPG, it might do to present a world where only Mages' relationships with "beings from beyond the veil" are explored. But in the pnp game you don't have a single player controlling all of the characters in the party, and so you will want the freedom to inflict all sorts of interesting things on each and every character.

Obviously, things like "you find a magical book" can be restricted to only those who have shown an interest in the esoteric (i.e. those players who chose to play Mages). (Or rather, everybody else still finds the book but can toss it away if it doesn't interest them).

But Demonic Possession (as opposed to simple slaughter)? That should definitely not be restricted merely because a CRPG haven't felt the need to possess non-Mages.

Zapp

PS. And oh: I'm still onboard with the "only mages can physically transform (become abominations) when possessed", mind you. Just not the "non-mages are never targeted for possession" idea...
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Zapp » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:16 am

I googled around a bit and it seems there isn't supposed to be some kind of hard division between "spirits" and "demons".

If an entity is benign, it might co-exist with its host and call itself nice things (such as "Hope" or "Faith"). If a similar entity is malign, however, it simply wrests control over the body away from its previous owner (whether reversible or irreversible is a question that can be left open).

Anyway, that's what I took away (and obviously personally agree with).
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Zapp » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:27 am

The idea to utilize "opposed extended tests" as a race is a great one. Nice and simple - Thanks!

This also allows others (faith healers, exorcists, benign spirits) to contribute in an intuitive way; to help the victim win the race before the demon does, they simply make appropriate rolls themselves, adding their results to the victim's tally.

However, I wouldn't hardcode a test every hour: not enough time to have a proper adventure before somebody wins the race.

To simplify and reduce random chance, you could codify generic rules for failing extended tests (I agree this is a hole in the rules), simply by saying the "enemy score" (the demon in our case) automatically gains +2 (or even +3) each time the character rolls (but possibly not when outside help rolls; to make that valuable if not invaluable). That is, instead of having the Demon roll (instead of making an opposed roll), you simply add 2 to the enemy total whenever you do roll (or every hour, if you feel particularly nasty).

Meaning you'd have a overarching way of making extended test fails; by rolling less than 2 on average, you'd know that not only are you taking long to finish, you're actually wasting your time.

This mechanism would work well for things like poison or disease too. Not making opposed rolls would actually be especially appropriate when a character is poisoned or diseased - in these cases there isn't an "active opponent" making rolls of its own; just a relentless "ticking of the clock".
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Hellebore » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:39 am

Yeah the intention with my rule was not that the test had to be once every hour, but that the 'duration' of a single test was one hour (as the game requires a duration be set for advanced tests). I specifically say you should spread the tests out over as long as you want so you can have a drawn out battle.

Perhaps it isn't as clear as it should be.


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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Zapp » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:22 am

Ah! Now it's clear... :wink:

Just replace with what you just said and you'll be golden :) Such as:
Demons use any means at their disposal to gain control of a mortal’s mind. The more intelligent the Demon, the more ways it can try to achieve this. As such the Demon must always choose one of its Communications focuses - more dangerous Demons have more and subtler ways in which it can attempt possession. Communication focuses represent the ways a Demon can ensnare mortals, so circumstances need to fit the context of the Focus. Etiquette wouldn’t work on a peasant for example. The appropriateness of each Focus is up to the GM.

This is an Opposed, Advanced test pitting the selected Communication Focus vs the target’s Willpower (Self Discipline) with a Hard (20) Threshold. It's up to the GM to determine what triggers the initial encounter and when/how often a test is made. Each test takes 1 hour, but tests not have to be consecutive, allowing for a long struggle and great roleplaying (and/or find a cure). The first to 20 wins either complete control or freedom. While the Demon’s score is higher than the target’s, it will gain some influence over the mortal's actions. This influence should increase as the Demon's score get closer to 20.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Hellebore » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:41 am

Yep, that'll do it. cheers.

I originally started out thinking about 'possession' points ala Insanity points, but realised that the way advanced tests work pretty much amounts to the same kind of thing. Accruing points, although in this case 'resistance' points vs the demon's 'dominance' points.

It also means the GM has complete control over the accrual, as you ask the player to make their WP test, make the demon's test and then note down who won the points. It results in players not knowing what's happening until they begin losing time, acting wierdly and waking up in the foetal position with the innkeeper's family in pieces around them...

Maybe specific actions attract the demon, so every time the PC gets angry the rage demon attempts to worm its way in. It would be an interesting roleplaying experience for a PC to find out they're being slowly possessed by a demon through one of their core personality traits. Watching those blood crazy warriors trying to go all zen in the middle of combat to avoid attracting the demon's attention would be entertaining.

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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Lynata » Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:58 am

Kalias wrote:I would argue that Wynne's friend is is further proof that anyone (or any organic matter) can be possessed
How is Wynne's friend different from any other mage? His experiments reversed Tranquility, after all, making him as susceptible to possession than any other arcanist.

Kalias wrote:Also, while it is difficult for them to do so, a demon does NOT have to possess something to remain in the physical world, as it has been stated that shades are demons who have crossed over from the vale, but have not possessed anything.
That would seem to be dependent on environmental effects, however. There also was a Desire Demon below Kirkwall for years on end, but this only worked because the Veil was basically torn asunder due to the experiments of some Magister. In the instances we encountered Shades, I would presume that either mage spells or a lasting effect created a similar basis.

In short: magical activities weaken the Veil. If the Veil is weak enough, demons may cross over. The exact degree of the Veil's weakness determines the "pull" that a demon experiences dragging him back into the Fade. Powerful demons may stay stronger, weaker demons may have to possess something asap. In most areas, demons would be unable to cross over at all.

At least that's how I interpreted it, and this would be compatible with all I've been reading in the books / seeing in the games.

Zapp wrote:In my game, it's simple: Of course they can - otherwise you would have several player characters that would effectively be immune to all sorts of interesting demonic storylines. And that would be pretty dull for no particular reason.

Zapp wrote:I mean - for the purposes of the CRPG, it might do to present a world where only Mages' relationships with "beings from beyond the veil" are explored. [...] But Demonic Possession (as opposed to simple slaughter)? That should definitely not be restricted merely because a CRPG haven't felt the need to possess non-Mages.
But that's not how it works. The computer games did not just "forget" possession of non-mages, it is presented as a specific reason for why mages are so much more dangerous than normal people, and why there is so much bias. I would think that the hatred/distrust of mages would be a good deal less if everyone could get possessed just like that, but as it is, possession is another stigma that only mages have to deal with. The templars specifically pointed this out in DA2, as did Gaider on the BSN forums.

It just is a part of the world. Part of what sets mages apart from other people. Of course you can change this for your own campaign, should you feel a need to do so - but in the end that would be a simple modification of the background based on personal preferences rather than an improvement based on the premise of the computer games failing to deal with a subject.

However, if you feel you can do so without deconstructing the setting's consistency, and if your players are fine with such alternate versions of the setting, go right ahead. That's the beauty of P&Ps, after all. :)

I contest, however, the notion of possession being limited to those characters that have always been described as being the ones vulnerable to it making for games to be "pretty dull". I for one prefer to work within established confines of a setting, and I have yet to see a game becoming dull just because of this. There are multiple ways to have any and all player characters participate in "demonic storylines", after all, not just the one you were aiming at. DA2 presents one such option (the aforementioned special rituals), though there is room for many more.

On a more constructive note (for the purposes of your game, anyways), I will add that I like the idea of using a Communication test for possession attempts (different demons would then use different focuses - Pride Demons might use Persuade, Desire Demons would use Seduction, ...), but that there could also be the alternative of a simple Willpower vs Willpower duel. This would represent a demon not using diplomacy/bargaining to get his way but rather a brute force attack on the victim's mind. Less intelligent demons might prefer this method, as would stronger ones whose diplomacy fails to promise success due to the target's "mental stability" or purity?
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Hellebore » Thu Jun 21, 2012 5:25 am

We have seen the possession of non mages, especially in DA2, the girl in Honleath can be possessed and isn't a mage (her cat is possessed as well and talks) and there's a desire demon monkeying with a templar in the tower in Origins (you'd think templars would be resistant to demons). In fact there is an entire enemy type in Orgins called 'Possessed Templar' - http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Possessed_Templar . We also see mages that are possessed not becoming lumpy meat abominations (Connor at Redcliffe).

Then of course we have the fact that demons can possess everything from trees (most often rage demons becoming sylvans), wolves (the original werewolves are considered to be rage demons in a wolf), corpses to rocks (ancient rock wraith was a hunger demon). In fact they can possess the corpses of non mages (an arcane horror being the result of a mage corpse being possessed so the corpse's origin has some kind of affect on it even after death). They can even exist in the real world without possessing anything - shades and wisps.

The only instance I've seen of someone saying that only mages can be possessed is an incharacter statement in a codex entry for demonic possession. Certainly the fact that mages continually tug at the veil and the fade makes them prime targets for possession, but the simple fact that a TREE or a corpse can be possessed by a demon makes it hard to countenance that a normal non mage person CAN'T.

It seems pretty wierd to think that humans or elves with less magical power are somehow capable of fighting off demons without trying whilst a mage abominates pretty easily.

As far as I'm concerned the evidence strongly supports the idea that ANYTHING can be possessed, even Tranquil. If a tranquil can't be than a tree can't be either, but they are. Matter in reality can contain a demon in it. A corpse should have about as much connection to the fade as a tree or a tranquil, yet they get possessed.

However just because anything technically could be possessed doesn't mean everything IS. Demons are picky and they don't always go into trees deliberately. Possessing a rock provides little sustenance, as would posessing a tranquil.

So my conclusion is that whilst technically a demon can possess anything or nothing giving the sheer variety of evidence, they don't if they can avoid it. Mages provide a far more enticing prospect and are heavily favoured.

EDIT: Basically it wouldn't make any sense that non mage humanoids can't be possessed but everything else in the universe non magey and far less apetising than a vulnerable magic-less human/elf could be. Even if David Gaider came from on high to explicitly state that only mages were susceptible to possession it would make no sense within the context of his own setting. I've not seen him say it though and the mere fact that possessed non mages existed in Origins should be enough evidence to show that it happens.

The image of a demon standing there bouncing off some hick farmer because he can't get in then an anvil falls on the farmer's head and suddenly he can possess his corpse is just dumb. A living human provides far more emotional sustenance than a bloody tree does, or indeed their own corpse 10 seconds later. A desire demon can't get all the juicy desires out of mere mortals from their corpses, far better to possess the living version instead.

EDIT: Here is a quote from David Gaider saying that regular people can be possessed by demons, but they don't become abominations. Maybe that's what you were thinking Lynata? http://social.bioware.com/http%5Burl%5C ... /4799697/1

It also says that Tranquil can't be possessed ever, but I would dispute that given the evidence above. If a tranquil's corpse can be possessed, or any corpse, or a rock, they can be possessed. Unless somehow rocks and corpses are connected to the fade but a tranquil is not. I would find it a bit bizarre that a rock or tree is connected to the fade though, as it's the realm of the mind and spirit, somethin neither have.

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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Alchemus » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:47 am

Hellebore just said everything I was thinking while reading this, so I won't repeat all that. The source supports non-mage possession and I'll leave it at that.

I do disagree with the assessment that tranquil can be possessed on a technicality.
In Asunder, Pharmond's tranquility is reversed through contact with the demon.
In DA2, Anders' tranquil friend is temporarily cured when Justice makes his appearance.

So I would say a tranquil cant be possessed because they lose their tranquilty by coming into contact with a spirit.

Also Pharamond says that tranquil are invisible to demons and that he had to seek one out. He also says demons resist possessing tranquils because they don't experience life like other people. So demons just don't want to possess tranquil.

I could go on and on about this subject, but most of it has been said already, so I'll just leave it at that.

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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Lynata » Thu Jun 21, 2012 8:17 am

Hellebore wrote:We have seen the possession of non mages, especially in DA2, the girl in Honleath can be possessed and isn't a mage (her cat is possessed as well and talks) and there's a desire demon monkeying with a templar in the tower in Origins (you'd think templars would be resistant to demons). In fact there is an entire enemy type in Orgins called 'Possessed Templar' - http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Possessed_Templar . We also see mages that are possessed not becoming lumpy meat abominations (Connor at Redcliffe).
These are no contradictions, actually. You just have to examine each of these cases individually.

For example, Amalia in Honnleath is from a mage's family, so it stands to reason that she may be a fledgling mage herself, even if her powers have not manifested themselves yet. This would make her an easy target for demonic possession, exactly what the cat is trying to achieve.

The possessed templars in the Tower, on the other hand, rather seemed to be enthralled by nearby demons, not directly possessed by them. Otherwise they would transform like "true" possessed people (including non-mages) do.
Or perhaps the possessed templars in DA:O, or at least some of them, were not enthralled but rather corpses (templars who died fighting the blood mages), which have in turn been taken over by demons summoned into the Tower? Alternatively, it is of course just as possible that these templars have been subjected to the very same ritual as Wilmod. Cullen does state, after all, that the blood mages tortured them.

As for the cat, we do know that the mage Wilhelm conducted experiments with demons in his cellar. I find it reasonable that he trapped a summoned demon into the animal's body to ensure its continued "survival" in the real world rather than seeing it pulled back into the Fade. He likely used a ritual similar to Idunna's blood mages.

Again, I'm not disputing that normal people can be possessed. I said as much in a couple of posts. I am disputing that they can become possessed just like mages. There are some major differences in how it can be achieved - at least if one wants to keep it close to the source material.

Hellebore wrote:Then of course we have the fact that demons can possess everything from trees (most often rage demons becoming sylvans), wolves (the original werewolves are considered to be rage demons in a wolf), corpses to rocks (ancient rock wraith was a hunger demon). In fact they can possess the corpses of non mages (an arcane horror being the result of a mage corpse being possessed so the corpse's origin has some kind of affect on it even after death).
Of course. All of these do not count as a living, intelligent humanoid being, though. A rock has no mind with whom it could withstand a demon's willpower. ;)

As for the werewolves, I vaguely recall this was only a myth. Demonic possession isn't supposed to be hereditary, after all.

Hellebore wrote:They can even exist in the real world without possessing anything - shades and wisps.
I'd be interested in how long they can exist in the real world, though. Everything I've seen so far hints at their stay both requiring some event to tear open the Veil for them to slip through, and them being temporary. Like I said, their duration likely depends as much of the environment as it does on the specific demon. All we know is that there is a pull back into the Fade, and the only way to escape it is possession. The DARPG specifically mentions demons wouldn't possess corpses at all if it would not be necessary for them. Their entire motivation is to feel and experience life, after all. Being confined to a bunch of rocks or bones isn't exactly what they were wishing for.

Hellebore wrote:The only instance I've seen of someone saying that only mages can be possessed is an incharacter statement in a codex entry for demonic possession. Certainly the fact that mages continually tug at the veil and the fade makes them prime targets for possession, but the simple fact that a TREE or a corpse can be possessed by a demon makes it hard to countenance that a normal non mage person CAN'T.
And I never did say that, if you read my statements carefully. What is important is that possession of normal people works differently than it does for mages, simply because the Fade presence of normal people works differently than a mage.

As for statements, Cullen also says this in DA2 during the "Enemies Among Us" quest. It's the very reason for why he is so shocked that a non-mage, a templar even, has become possessed by a demon: it's not supposed to happen. He does have an explanation, however, which is confirmed as you follow up on his theory (-> the blood mage ritual).

Hellebore wrote:It seems pretty wierd to think that humans or elves with less magical power are somehow capable of fighting off demons without trying whilst a mage abominates pretty easily.
This has nothing to do with "fighting off". Demonic possession is a battle that happens in the Fade. Normal humans or elves do not have a presence there, hence there is nothing for a demon to attack in the first place.
DARPG Set 1 actually has a small segment about this.

Hellebore wrote:As far as I'm concerned the evidence strongly supports the idea that ANYTHING can be possessed, even Tranquil.
"Tranquil have no connection to the Fade and cannot be possessed, ever."
-- David Gaider

Hellebore wrote:A corpse should have about as much connection to the fade as a tree or a tranquil, yet they get possessed.
That is a good point, but a contradiction can be averted by suggesting that there is no "battle of wills" necessary to possess a tree. Essentially, what protects a living, breathing, intelligent humanoid being and (normally) prevents him from being possessed like a skeleton is that the body is already "possessed" by its original inhabitant. Call it a soul if you like. To gain control over this body, a demon first needs to overpower that which already exerts control over it. This can happen only in the Fade. Since only mages show up in the Fade, only mages can be possessed that way. To possess a non-mage in the real world seems to require outside assistance, like the aforementioned ritual.

Hellebore wrote:EDIT: Here is a quote from David Gaider saying that regular people can be possessed by demons, but they don't become abominations. Maybe that's what you were thinking Lynata?
No, that seems to be a different topic altogether. As I said, anyone can become possessed, but not like mages do. ;)

Hellebore wrote:It also says that Tranquil can't be possessed ever, but I would dispute that given the evidence above.
In that case you would be cherrypicking, though. Throwing around quotes is meaningless for a debate if you want to use one as proof but dismiss another just because it doesn't fit your interpretation.

I will end with the notion that it is certainly possible to interpret all of the above differently. Doing so, however, will throw up conflicts and contradictions that my interpretation manages to avoid.

On a sidenote, maybe this is interesting to some, too. It doesn't have to do with the debate at hand, but explains how possession on mages works:

"They have to agree, but agree doesn't necessarily mean a conscious "Yes, please, please come in my body and turn me into a twisted abomination." Agreeing can be a moment of weakness. If you're unwilling or unable to resist being possessed then you'll be possessed. There are mages who make an intelligent bargain with a demon. Sometimes, the tricky part, something we haven't been able to show very well, is sometimes they're not aware that's what they're doing. I don't know how many people have read Asunder, the last Dragon Age novel. That does show a bit of how it's possible for a mage to be in contact with a demon and not even be aware that that's what's happening, and agreeing to things that they don't know that they're agreeing to. To say that a mage must agree is both true and false in the sense that a lot of it relates to the will of the mage and their strength to resist a very determined demon, but I think you can also see from the games and the novels that there are levels of possession as well. Not everybody who becomes possessed by a demon immediately turns into an abomination and starts attacking everything in sight. It depends on the type of demon that's attempting to take possession, how powerful they are, how intelligent they are, and the mage in question. As is typical of Dragon Age, the answer is never [typical]."
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Ghostdanser » Thu Jun 21, 2012 10:43 am

Lynata wrote:"Tranquil have no connection to the Fade and cannot be possessed, ever."
-- David Gaider


Ummm...not sure how old that quote is, I can't follow the link...but Tranquil most certainly can be possessed. Admittedly it isn't the same process as a regular mage being possessed, but it can be done. And the source is none other than David Gaider himself in his book "Dragon Age: Asunder". Since there would be spoilers involved for anyone that hasn't read the novel I won't go into detail here, but I would guess that the above quote about Tranquil not being able to be possessed is outdated. Gotta love consistency...or lack there of...
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Tiger's Heart » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:35 pm

Perhaps it is being a bit picky, but it is possible for all the Gaider quotes to make sense.

It is not possible for a Tranquil to be possessed for at the moment of possession they are no longer tranquil, but returned to what they once were.

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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Zapp » Thu Jun 21, 2012 1:39 pm

Sorry not interested in arguments that would invalidate my story thread, Lynata.

I'll give the proposed mechanism a whirl; lets see how it goes.

That last Gaider quote was interesting, Lynata. It would indeed be cool to feature a possession attempt where your own action is what can damn you. But for now I'll play with my cards face up...

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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Loswaith » Thu Jun 21, 2012 6:26 pm

A thing to note with possession, it seems that in general things like trees, rocks, animals and the like can be possessed but the demon has to be in the real world first (having crossed over from the fade by some means).
This is typically supported as most (I've not exclusivly checked all sources) sylvan are found near areas where there is or has been a weakening of the veil.

This is likely the biggest aspect of possession differences between mages and non-mages. Demons get the ability to posess mages directly from the fade, others the most likely have to have corssed over the veil by some means.

Though the grey area is that of corpse possession, which seems to be more mage like possession than non-mage possession.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby shonuff » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:57 pm

Loswaith wrote:Though the grey area is that of corpse possession, which seems to be more mage like possession than non-mage possession.


I think it's actually the reverse... that possessing a corpse is more like possessing a tree than a mage. It's a form without a will to resist; however, it still has the uses of a humanoid form.

Loswaith wrote:A thing to note with possession, it seems that in general things like trees, rocks, animals and the like can be possessed but the demon has to be in the real world first (having crossed over from the fade by some means).
This is typically supported as most (I've not exclusivly checked all sources) sylvan are found near areas where there is or has been a weakening of the veil.


IIRC, at some point it is said (although this might have been an in-character codex), but demons could only cross into the real world if summoned or if the Veil were torn. However, once they arrived, they (for the most part) had to possess a physical form in order to stay for any real duration.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Hellebore » Fri Jun 22, 2012 3:35 am

Lynata wrote:These are no contradictions, actually. You just have to examine each of these cases individually.

For example, Amalia in Honnleath is from a mage's family, so it stands to reason that she may be a fledgling mage herself, even if her powers have not manifested themselves yet. This would make her an easy target for demonic possession, exactly what the cat is trying to achieve.


Yes but it never says that. Being from a mage's family doesn't make you a mage. Neither Connor's parents are mages, nor his uncle. Carver Hawke is not a mage despite having a father who was.

Lynata wrote:The possessed templars in the Tower, on the other hand, rather seemed to be enthralled by nearby demons, not directly possessed by them. Otherwise they would transform like "true" possessed people (including non-mages) do.
Or perhaps the possessed templars in DA:O, or at least some of them, were not enthralled but rather corpses (templars who died fighting the blood mages), which have in turn been taken over by demons summoned into the Tower? Alternatively, it is of course just as possible that these templars have been subjected to the very same ritual as Wilmod. Cullen does state, after all, that the blood mages tortured them.


As Gaider's quote says, only mages abominate, presumably because of the amount of magical power a demon can draw through them not being containable to their form. They are called possessed templars, not enthralled templars.

Lynata wrote:As for the cat, we do know that the mage Wilhelm conducted experiments with demons in his cellar. I find it reasonable that he trapped a summoned demon into the animal's body to ensure its continued "survival" in the real world rather than seeing it pulled back into the Fade. He likely used a ritual similar to Idunna's blood mages.


All these require supposition. There is no evidence for it as written.

Lynata wrote:Again, I'm not disputing that normal people can be possessed. I said as much in a couple of posts. I am disputing that they can become possessed just like mages. There are some major differences in how it can be achieved - at least if one wants to keep it close to the source material.


I don't understand this distinction. A person can get a demon inside them. That's possession. Apparently only a demonically possessed mage can abominate, but the difference is in power, not effect.

Lynata wrote:Of course. All of these do not count as a living, intelligent humanoid being, though. A rock has no mind with whom it could withstand a demon's willpower. ;)


Whilst a mage with more willpower than a normal human can't, the dumbest rube on the planet is simply immune? How does being a mage with the actual ability to FIGHT a demon on its own turf in the fade make you more vulnerable than a normal person with no such defence?

Lynata wrote:As for the werewolves, I vaguely recall this was only a myth. Demonic possession isn't supposed to be hereditary, after all.


There are two types of werewolf, rage demon possessed wolves and those created by the spirit in the Brecilian.

Lynata wrote:I'd be interested in how long they can exist in the real world, though. Everything I've seen so far hints at their stay both requiring some event to tear open the Veil for them to slip through, and them being temporary. Like I said, their duration likely depends as much of the environment as it does on the specific demon. All we know is that there is a pull back into the Fade, and the only way to escape it is possession. The DARPG specifically mentions demons wouldn't possess corpses at all if it would not be necessary for them. Their entire motivation is to feel and experience life, after all. Being confined to a bunch of rocks or bones isn't exactly what they were wishing for.


No, so they should be rearing to go at a normal human without magical defences.

Lynata wrote:And I never did say that, if you read my statements carefully. What is important is that possession of normal people works differently than it does for mages, simply because the Fade presence of normal people works differently than a mage.



The only difference is that a mage can use fade 'stuff' to affect reality. A normal person goes into the fade every night when they sleep (you even encounter their minds in several parts of the game). A dwarf can be pushed into the fade despite not doing it naturally. The difference between a mage and a non mage is in terms of their capacity to use the fade. Demons go after mages because of the power the have. They see people's minds floating around them all the time, and those people aren't even conscious of the danger they're in.

You'll have to provide some evidence that mages and non mages have functionally different fade interactions, because so far the only distinction is the ability to use its energy which has no effect on how demons interact with them.

Lynata wrote:This has nothing to do with "fighting off". Demonic possession is a battle that happens in the Fade. Normal humans or elves do not have a presence there, hence there is nothing for a demon to attack in the first place.
DARPG Set 1 actually has a small segment about this.



That's not true and is probably the reason you are taking this position. EVERYONE bar dwarfs enters the fade when they sleep, their minds float through it whilst they dream. A tranquil has no fade pressence. I don't know how you've concluded all people are like tranquils.

Lynata wrote:That is a good point, but a contradiction can be averted by suggesting that there is no "battle of wills" necessary to possess a tree. Essentially, what protects a living, breathing, intelligent humanoid being and (normally) prevents him from being possessed like a skeleton is that the body is already "possessed" by its original inhabitant. Call it a soul if you like. To gain control over this body, a demon first needs to overpower that which already exerts control over it. This can happen only in the Fade. Since only mages show up in the Fade, only mages can be possessed that way. To possess a non-mage in the real world seems to require outside assistance, like the aforementioned ritual.



Well as this is wrong and everyone shows up in the fade it's not particularly useful. However the argument should support tranquils being possessed as they have had their fade connection severed just like a tree or rock lacks one and thus there should be nothing to fight.

Lynata wrote:No, that seems to be a different topic altogether. As I said, anyone can become possessed, but not like mages do. ;)


You're creating divisions where there aren't any. Abominating is like a demon turning a tree into a sylvan, or a wolf into a werewolf. The demon exerts its power over the body. Without a mage's power they have little earthly power (Gaider says that a non mage possession relies on all the demon's power). It takes ages for a demon to modify a tree into a sylvan and it would take ages for a demon to modify a human into an abomination - unless they happen to have their own connection to the fade that they can draw more power than the demon otherwise possesses.

Lynata wrote:In that case you would be cherrypicking, though. Throwing around quotes is meaningless for a debate if you want to use one as proof but dismiss another just because it doesn't fit your interpretation.


I'm far less caring about tranquil being possessed than the idea that normal people can't be possessed or don't have a 'fade presence'. The only reason I pointed this out is because it contradicts the evidence. A writer can have as much freedom as they want in a setting they create, but if they ignore their own logic then they're just bad writers.

However, Gaider wrote Asunder were a tranquil is in fact possessed by a demon. The contact with the demon reestablishes his connection to the fade. You can read a synopsis here: http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Dragon_Age:_Asunder

According to Asunder demons find tranquil unappetising, as I said they should in my previous post. The tranquil had to find a way to force the demon into contact, because it wasn't interested.



So you seem to be operating under misapprehension of the interaction of people with the fade. Mages tap it for magic but don't otherwise 'exist' within it except when they sleep (as all non dwarfs do). http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Fade

Mages are desirable possession targets because they have power. They naturally possess a link between the fade and reality enabling them to draw power from the fade and sustain the demon. Non mages would be like driving a car with no fuel, you can push it along yourself but it takes ages to get anywhere.

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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby shonuff » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:09 am

I believe that, if my interpretation is correct, that non-mages are less in danger of possession in the Fade because of their awareness. I believe that initial possession comes about due to a conscious decsion by the possessed... tempted by rage/desire/pride/etc. Non-mages really, IMO, cannot make that initial agreement because they are not conscious of what is around them, whereas mages are.

I cannot think of too many instances in DA where someone is completely unwillingly possessed. Connor, for instance, struck a deal with the Desire Demon; the Baroness with the Pride Demon; etc.
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Re: Demonic Possession Rules?

Postby Lynata » Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:08 am

Zapp wrote:Sorry not interested in arguments that would invalidate my story thread, Lynata.
Fair enough, and understandable - I sort of allowed myself to get dragged down to a debate of conflicting interpretations when all I wanted was to point out a few perceived standards.

Perhaps the discussion could be moved to another thread on its own. Sorry for sidetracking!
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