Showing posts with label succubus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label succubus. Show all posts

Thursday, September 8, 2022

In Search of Nocticula

I want to introduce what I hope will be a new semi-regular feature here at the ole' Other Side.  

"In Search of" will delve into odd, esoteric topics from my games in search of their origins and their relationship to myths, legends or even just a good story.  The obvious tribute to the old 70s-80s TV series "In Search of..." featuring Leonard Nimoy.  I am going to go back and retag some posts with this new "In Search of" label since this is not really a new idea for me.  My hope here is this takes the place of "One Man's God" in my rotations of posts.

Nocticula

Let us start my first In Search of looking for a demon who captured my attention back in the 1980s.

Back in the Monster Manual II days, we were treated to a long list of demons that were also powerful members of the abyssal Hordes. These included a few demon lords (L) and oddly enough some that were tagged as being female (F).  It seems odd to call that out now, but this was the 1980s.  

But that is not why I am posting today.  I was cleaning up some minis the other days and noticed one in particular.  Maybe because I have been thinking of various monsters and monster books I decided to go back to an old search.

Who Is Nocticula: Part 1 History

Nocticula

This is the mini and an entry in question.

Originally she was obviously some sort of demon related to the night.  She is not listed as a "Lord" so we assume she must be of higher rank along with Lolth and Zuggtmoy. 

Obviously, the name caught my attention then as it does now.  Though there is almost nothing about her in any products outside of the MMII. 

She does get name-dropped in the 1981 made-for-TV horror movie Midnight Offerings. When I saw it back in 2019 I wondered at the time if Gygax/TSR got the name from the movie. Though now it seems likely the name came from various occult books from the 1970s.

It would not be until the 1990s that I would run across her again.  

My first encounter with her was during the Netbook craze of the Pre-OGL Internet.  While many people were still blissfully unaware of what the Internet could do AD&D players were on LISTSERVs on Bitnet sharing "Netbooks."  These fan mad creations often lacked any sort of editorial control, art, or often even playtesting. But they made up for all of that in pure enthusiasm.  If you were lucky you found one that had been formatted like a "real book" in Microsoft Word 2.0.  One such book was "The Complete Netbook of Demons and their Relatives." This ancient and dusty tome was full of new demons.  It was a great little treasure, to be honest.  It did have an entry for Nocticula and Socothbenoth (I'll get to why that is important later).  Their entries were:

Nocticula(F)-a patron of witches. Could only find one reference on her.
...
Socothbenoth-Another female (harem) like deity turned into a male demon.

Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks, and Covens
That obviously had my attention. So I was already doing deep dive research into witches at this point for my "Netbook of Witches and Warlocks" so I added her name as one to be on the lookout for.  Now keep in mind that at this time people were very, very wary of being sued by TSR for any copyright violations.  So I had no real plans to use Nocticula in my books, I was just curious about her.

In my reading, I came across "Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks, and Covens" by Paul Huson, 1970.  Nocticula is mentioned many times. Likely as a "dark aspect" of Hecate or Habondia (or Habundia). That name is not in my "Dictionary of Classical Mythology" by J.E. Zimmerman. Huson adds that Noctiula is "Ruler of the Dead and Warden of the Tower Adamantine" and she walks at night.  He also claims that the title of "Nocticula" meaning "little night" comes from the 12th century.

I do have to admit that the paperback cover of Mastering Witchcraft makes for a good depiction of Nocticula. 

Gerald Gardner, the father of modern Wicca, even mentions her in his "Witchcraft Today" (1954). He also associates her with the figure of Bensozia. I guess that removes the fear of copyright issues, but I was still hesitant to use her preferring to come up with my own.

While all this is going on I got a copy of Dungeon #5 and found the adventure with Shami-Amourae, the demon queen of Succubi. She, along with Nocticula and Malcanthet have all been contenders for the title "Queen of the Succubi."

This bit didn't last long really and with the publication of Green Ronin's Armies of the Abyss and later the Book of Fiends we get a new look on Nocticula. 

Nocticula and Socothbenoth
Part 2: Green Ronin & The d20 Years

Green Ronin brought Nocticula into the new Millennium with the various fiend books. Chris Pramas had worked on a few Planescape and devil-related books for Wizards of the Coast in the waning years of TSR.  So he was in a great position to bring all of that knowledge to Green Ronin during the d20 boom.  Armies of the Abyss (2002) covered demons and introduced us to a new Nocticula. Or rather, gave us Nocticula since so little detail had really been published about her so far.  (Note. I am coming back to the Armies of the Abyss later in this series.)

Here she is demon lady of night yes, but also of women, dark fey, the natural world, psychotropic drugs, and earthly sensuality.  Known as the Princess of Moonlight she revels in all things pleasurable, earthly, and chaotic. She very much is the patroness of "living deliciously."  The description of her followers can only be described as "witches."

She has a twin brother, Socothbenoth, the demon lord of perversion, with whom she has an incestuous relationship with. Socothbenoth is basically the mind of Aleister Crowley in the body of Lord Byron and the sexual appetites of both.

I have used him before as a witch's patron based on the movies Byleth: The Demon of Incest (1972) and Il Sesso Della Strega (1973).

She only gets a mention in Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss, a little more than what she got in the MMII nearly 20 years prior.  She gets the title "The Undeniable" and her concerns are "Night" and she makes her realm on the 72nd layer of the Abyss called Darklight.

Part 3: Pathfinder

Our Queen of the Night fares better in her Pathfinder version where she is a major Demon Lord.  Her history is largely that of what was seen in the Green Ronin books. Indeed all of that is kept to the extent the OGL will allow. However, she is taken further in Pathfinder when she is given the ability to kill other demon lords. This gives her a connection to assassins.  

Here she appeared in a number of Pathfinder products, in particular the Book of the Damned, which covered the demons and devils of the Pathfinder game.

Nocticula for Pathfinder

At some point, she grew tired of killing demon lords and sought out redemption as the Goddess of Artists. I am not sure I completely like this idea, but hey Pathfinder can do what they like really.

Now to be fair, Pathfinder added a ton of material to Nocticula, and a lot of it is good. I could easily use any amount of it, to be honest.  

Part 4: Nocticula in my World

I have a lot of great information and details. But not all of them are great for my games. So. How can I rebuild Nocticula for my games and in particular my War of the Witch Queens campaign?

Part of her background is she was one of the first Succubi. That's fine and all, but I feel there is a tendency to make a female demon a type of succubus. Sure I get it and her background supports it to a degree, but it feels lazy to me. I mean there are SO MANY "first" Succubi. There is MalcanthetShami-AmouraeXinivrae, and Lynkhab. Do we need Nocticula to be a succubus? Not really.

I do like keeping Socothbenoth as her brother/lover. I like keeping them both as being fairly depraved as well. They are demons after all.  I even like the assassin idea from later Pathfinder books. Given her name I would like to get back to her association to the night and things of the night. In some ways the evil counterpart to my Nox.

In this, Nocticula is the demon lord of Night. She is honored by witches, warlocks, prostitutes, and assassins. Anyone committing an evil act at night will say a benediction to Nocticula. She is the daughter of Nox by Camazotz, the demon lord of bats and vampires (or maybe Orcus?). She is the twin sister to and lover of the demon lord Socothbenoth (the demon lord of perversion). 

Given that her first "D&D" appearance was in the Monster Manual II from 1983, I would draw on sources from 1982 and before for my influences on her. 

Obviously, I would need to write her up for AD&D 1st Edition.  I would use some of her Pathfinder details (what is allowed under the OGL) and go back to the earliest ideas about her. 

--

Nocticula
NOCTICULA 

FREQUENCY:  Unique (Very Rare)
NO.  APPEARING:  1 
ARMOR CLASS: -2
MOVE: 18" / 24" (MC: C)
HIT DICE:  13+39 (97 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  0%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Q (x10), U
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  Whip 1d6+1d4 (fire) (x2)
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Witch spells
SPECIAL  DEFENSES: +2  or  better weapon to hit
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  25%
INTELLIGENCE:  Genius
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic Evil
SIZE:  M  (6')
PSIONIC ABILITY:  See below
LEVEL/X.P. VALUE: IX/8250 +  18/hp (9,996 xp)

Nocticula is the Demon Lady of the Night. Witches, warlocks, assassins, and all those who make illicit trades or bargains under the cover of darkness are her followers. She hears their prayers when none of the gods will. She is also the patron of creatures of the night like vampires, shadow creatures, and even alu-demons and succubi.

She will always appear as a very attractive member of the gender and species the observer prefers. In a mixed company, she will attempt to provide as many attractive qualities as she can.  She can do this via a limited form of telepathic awareness that is not quite ESP.  It is a subtle power, like many of her gifts, and can only be blocked by magic or psionic ability specifically designed to do so. It also gives her the ability to speak any language known.

Nocticula is a lover, but also a capable fighter. She wields a whip of fire that she can attack with twice per round. The whip will do 1d6 points of damage and the fire an additional 1d4.  She can cast spells as a Mara Witch of the 13th level. 

She also has the following spell-like powers.

  • At will: Detect Good (Law), Detect Invisible, Detect Magic, Darkness 10' Radius, Glamour, Telekinesis (250 lbs / 25,000 GP weight), Tongues.
  • 3 times per day: Astral Projection, Charm Monster/Person, Read languages, Read magic, Shape change, Teleport without Error, Trap the Soul.
  • 1 time per day: Gate, Polymorph any object.

Like all demons, she is affected by acid, iron weapons, magic missiles, and poison, (full).  Cold, electricity, fire (dragon, magical), and gas (half). She has 25% magic resistance, but this does not apply 

She has wings, but these can be hidden away. Despite her appearances and appetites, she is not a succubus or any sort of Lilim. She does have many succubi attendants and servants.  Her preferred servants though are humans and some elves and fae. She may gate in 1d6 Succubi or 1d8 alu-demons to aid her. These are from her personal retinue and not easily replaced. She can also summon 2d8 shadow demons to do her bidding. Either of these can be done once per day (1/day). She can compel any vampire she encounters (as a charm-like ability they are not immune to) to do her bidding, but she can't summon vampires.

Rumors of her always appearing nude when summoned were created by clerics and scholars who rarely left their scriptoriums. However, to approach her in her layer in the Abyss one must be completely unclothed. This includes armor and weapons. 

Relationships

Nocticula has the best relationship with her brother and lover Socobenoth, the Demon Lord of Perversion. It is a good relationship as far as two chaotic evil demons can have.  She respects Lilith, the Demon Queen as the two are fine as long as they remain out of each other's business. Her rivalry with, and enmity of, Malcanthet is legendary. Equally so is her distaste of the demon Lord Graz'zt but none remember how this all began. Her relationship with Camazotz is one of pure hatred and each hates the other's claim as the demonic patron of vampires.  A hatred she does not extend to Lilith or even Orcus, whom she refers to as "Grandfather." Whether this is an acknowledgment of paternity or an honorific is unknown.  Orcus also extends this recognition to Nocticula. 

Unknown to most, Nocticula is an assassin of demon lords and even a minor god. She has discovered that when she kills them she can take on their powers. She successfully assassinated Vyriavaxus, the former demon lord of shadows. Now shadow demons begrudgingly show her patronage.  Presently Nocticula sits and carefully plans her next kill.

--

Looking forward to seeing what I can do next in my new In Search Of feature.

--

Links

Saturday, April 10, 2021

#AtoZChallenge2021: I is for Incubus

The Nightmare, Fuseli
Something a little different today.  Different in that I talk a lot about the Succubus, but never really anything at all about their male counterpart the Incubus.  Since my next book after the Basic Bestiary is going to be about Demons and Devils, I figure I better get one detailed here.

The Monster Manual and medieval demonologies are replete with all sorts of "male" demons. The Monster Manual itself only has two female demons, the succubus and marilith, and only one female devil, the Erinyes. Four if you include the Night Hag (but more on that later).  Because of this, I have never really seen a need for the Incubus.  There is one "Species" the Succubus and she can shapeshift however she feels fit.  And for what it is worth that is still true.  Though I got to thinking what if the incubus was something else.

Going back to my cover, Fuseli's The Nightmare, there is an imp sitting on the chest of a sleeping woman while a ghostly horse, a Nightmare, looks on.  There are two versions of this painting, but both are the same.

The creature on her is an incubus. This got me thinking.  What if the incubus is NOT the male version of this:

Succubus

But rather the demonic version of this:

Cupid

An incubus is an imp-like demon that is a demonic mockery of the cherubic cupids of Renaissance and Victorian art. 

I like it to be honest. They invade women's dreams and appear to be a tall strapping male that makes love to them all night, leaving them drained (Constitution drain).  They are kin to the Succubi (they are both Lilim) and might even be the offspring of succubi and humans.

Now...I am still working on a few things for the demon book.  One of the reasons they are not in the Basic Bestiary is because I have not worked out all the issues with their stat blocks and all the demonic families I have.  I mean are succubi Chaotic Evil, Lawful Evil or Neutral Evil?  I have seen them done all three ways.  Is the Lamia a monster or are they demons?  Still too many unanswered questions.  But until then, here is an Incubus.

The Nightmare, Fuseli 1781
Incubus
Small Fiend (Demonic, Lilim)

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1 (1)
Alignment: Chaotic [Neutral Evil]
Movement: 90' (30') [9"]
    Fly: 120' (40') [12"]
   Spirit: 240' (80') [18"]
Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 5d8+15** (38 hp)
   Small:  5d6+15** (33 hp)
THAC0: 15 (+5)
Attacks: 1 claw or special
Damage: 1d4
Special: See below
Save: Monster 5
Morale: 10 (8)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 575 (OSE) 660 (LL)

The incubus is sometimes considered to be the male counterpart to the succubus.  While a succubus can change shape to male, the incubus is a different, but a related creature.  Like the succubus, the incubus can invade the dreams of their victims.  This is often how they make their first contact with the victim.  In this form, the incubus is merely a spirit and cannot attack or damage.  But once they have made contact and their victim, usually a woman of pure and good standing, they will begin their nightly visits.

The incubus can appear as any sort of creature or person the woman desires.  If that desire is say forbidden such as the love of a man married to her sister or the head of a church, then incubus' connection will be stronger. During these nightly visits, the incubus will drain 1 point of Constitution from the victim.   Any incubus typically has a few victims he sees every night, so one sign of an incubus problem would be many women wasting away over the course of a week.  When they reach zero Constitution the incubus will take their soul to be bartered in the lower planes.  

The true form of an incubus is that of a gargoyle-like imp creature about 3' to 3½' tall. It has small leathery bat-like wings, a pinched evil little face with a mouth full of sharp teeth, and tiny hands with small sharp claws. They are covered in fur and smell of soured milk, body odor, odor, and brimstone. 

An Exorcism spell will remove their spirit forms.  A Protection from Evil spell will keep them at bay for the duration.  They can only be harmed by magic or magical weapons. Killing an incubus sends it back them the lower planes. Once the threat is abolished victims can heal at the rate of 1 Constitution point of bed rest each week. 

Talismans and amulets that protect wearers from demons will work, but only if they are specifically crafted for incubi or succubi. 

--

Not bad.  Not 100% perfect yet, but I have some time.  I still need to work in magic resistance and what demonic abilities all Lilim share. 

The Incubus has three different kinds of movement and of course, has the reduced hp of a small creature.

April 2021 A to Z

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin for Basic-era games

ePic Character Generator

Back in the 3.5 days there was this contest, the D&D Creature Competition. It was a fun little romp of pitting monster vs. monster in a bracket-style competition where people voted.  There were such mainstays as the Tarrasque, Meepo the Kobold, and a gelatinous cube, and some odd ones like a half gold dragon/half pixie, a warforged ninja, and Half-Amethyst Dragon/Iridescent Naga.  But the strangest one, and the one that eventually won was Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin.

Eludecia got a featured write-up and even an adventure centered around her, Legend of the Silver Skeleton.  I always thought the character was a really interesting one.  She is seeking redemption at a level that honestly staggers the mind. She has suffered (imprisoned inside a gelatinous cube to burn the entire time) and yet she is still trying to be better. She is a character I could see working quite well in D&D 5th edition.  But what about Basic-era D&D?  

Basic D&D: B/X or BECMI?

Lately, I have been playing an unholy hybrid of D&D B/X and BECMI and OSR.  It might not work for others, but for me it has been fantastic.

So I try to aim at a 1st to 14th level range, this allows me not to have to choose between B/X and BECMI level play.  I add in BECMI details when things get higher in level.  Thankfully for me, there are plenty of examples of Eludecia at levels 8th, 14th, and 18th level.  Once you figure her 6HD of Succubus this makes her 2nd, 8th, and 12th level Paladin.  That keeps her within the bounds of my B/X sweet spot.

In this version of Eludecia has been roaming the multiverse, seeking quests not to prove her worthiness, but to test it.  She has a shape-change ability, but she keeps her succubus features in the open so that everyone knows what she is.  To her, it is far more important to be truthful in her dealings with all mortals than to pass herself off as human.  She carries a holy sword, even though its touch hurts her. 

For her Basic build, I am going to start with the Succubus as presented in Eldritch Wizardry. Then I am going to add the Paladin class on top of that.  For the Paladin, there are a lot of choices including the BECMI Paladin in the Companion Rules or the OSE Paladin.  I think in the end I'll use the OSE Paladin and add in the BECMI material as needed.


The Eldritch Wizardry Succubus has the following features.

Succubi prefer to act alone and Eludecia is no different. In her case though it is because she knows her journey is a solo one. Only she can earn her redemption. Plus she knows she is a target by the forces of Evil and sometimes Good alike. She does not wish to put others in harm. She still has all her succubus powers; causing darkness, drain life, become ethereal, charm person, ESP, clairaudience, shape change, and gate.  She considers these powers to be tainted and will never use them, even to save her own life.  Her Gate ability will not work even if she tried, no demon will answer her summons. She does know this. She can't control her 70% magic resistance.

Her base AC is 9, movement is 40 (120), and 60 (180) flight. Her base HD is 6.  

I think for this build I want her a little higher level than her 3.5 days, so here she is now a 14th level Paladin. With her base 6HD this makes her a 20HD/level NPC.

Her base 3.5 stats are a little bit outside the realms of Basic D&D (unless I use some Companion or Immortal Rules).  
Str 18, Dex 14, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 30

I'll re-scale these to Basic levels.

I also opted to make her blonde as a nod to Sheila Mullen the supposed "model" for the succubus in the AD&D Monster Manual. 

Eludecia, the Succubus Paladin

14th level Paladin, Lawful (Lawful Good)

Strength: 18 (+3)
Intelligence: 16 (+2 languages)
Wisdom: 14 (+1 on magic-based saves)
Dexterity: 14 (+1)
Constitution: 14 (+1)
Charisma: 20 (likely it is a lot more) (+4)

Saving throws: D 2, W 3, P 4, B 3, S 6.  MR 70%

AC: 0 [19]
HP: 93 (6d8+6, 9d8+9,+10)
THAC0: 10 [+9]

Powers, Succubus: +2 weapons needed to hit, 70% magic resistance (these are powers she can't control)

Powers, Paladin: Divine Spells, Lay on Hands, Undead Turning

Equipment: Plate Armor +2, holy sword +3, holy symbol, normal shield

Spells

1st level: Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil, Protection from Evil

2nd level: Bless, Hold Person

3rd level: Striking



How I Would Use Her

There is so much that could be done with this character. I guess that is why 15 years after she appeared I still find reasons to pull her out for things.

I am getting near the end of my HUGE Order of the Platinum Dragon campaign (more on that later) and presently the characters are stuck in the Abyss.  I think it is entirely possible that they might find her silver bones stuck in the Gelatinous Cube. The PCs could free her and gain an ally.  AND since I now have Basic-era stats for her, I can see her making an appearance in my new campaign, War of the Witch Queens.

Anyone ever use her in your own games?