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Friday, April 18, 2014

A Tribute to The Succubus

Beware, there's some spoilers for Scourge of the Sword Coast in here, trusty chum. Gird your loins.

I just watched the first episode of the new season of Mad Men. Some episodes are ones I watch over and over. This wasn't one of those.

I read that this person (?) Lustmord was going to do the Planescape: Torment soundtrack way back when. I am listening to Lustmord's music now. Seems useful for D&D.

I'm pretty sure every one of us has encountered a succubus in D&D at one point or another. If you look on ebay, there's a million different types of succubus minis out there. These monsters are pretty popular.

I was thinking about the succubus in Scourge of the Sword Coast. Her picture is drab. Her story is eh. She feels bland and uninspired. I decided to read up and see what I could learn to help bring this NPC to life.

Here is what the 1st edition Monster Manual has to say about a succubus:

- Appears as a beautiful woman with bat wings
- Only magic weapons harm her
- Her kiss drains a level!
- Can become ethereal, charm, shape change, use ESP and cast suggestion
- Has 70% magic resistance! Yikes.

According to the 9/9/13 D&D Next playtest packet, a Succubus:

- Is a demon again. In 4th edition, they were devils. Which was weird.
- Takes 1/2 damage from non-magic weapons
- Can communicate with telepathy to any within 100 feet
- Her kiss does an incredible amount of damage. Her claw does 13 damage. Her kiss does... 31! Plus the target has to make a CON save or else the target's hit point max is reduced by this amount for 24 hours.
- She can change shape
- She can dominate. Get a load of this: If her victim has less than 50 max hit points, there is no save against this! Wow.
- She can summon demon allies with a 30% chance of success (a balor!)

I was going to say that the D&D Next version of a succubus is much weaker but upon closer examination, that is definitely not the case.

The greatest sideboob in D&D history
A succubus isn't generally a monster used as something to throw at the PCs in a straight fight. She's a trickster, a devious foe (or ally). There's the classic "Hey I found this poor woman chained up in a dungeon and she really likes me" scenario. Or sometimes, PCs have to deal with her to get to the true bad guy. A succubus in a game tends to make people at the table smile, and that's really what the game is all about.

I'd say the most memorable succubus I've ever used in a game was one I half-created - she was a daughter of Demogorgon (Yes apparently this giant two headed ape monster went out with the queen of the succubi for a while). She ended up as an ally of the party, sometimes aiding them with her shape change ability in the Savage Tide campaign. Heck, the party drow married her.

There are two main "rulers" of the succubi. One is detailed in a Pathfinder book (though I believe she originated in D&D) and the other is the 'official' D&D queen of the succubi:


That's some psychedelic fungi you've got there
She is probably my favorite just for the painting of her alone. Come on, how awesome is that?! I don't know what the deal with the hair is, but the thorn throne is epic.

I actually used her to replace Zuggtmoy as the villain in my 4e Temple of Elemental Evil campaign, but we didn't quite finish it. It was derailed somewhat by the legendary Fayte Bonesunder's romance with Grazz't, and also because TOEE was actually kind of boring.

Nocticula is "the first succubus" and demon lord of assasins, darkness and lust.

She has seduced and killed demon lords, including a guy named Vyriavaxus. Her followers are expected to ingest psychedelic fungi and engage in any number of sexual acts where at least one pint of blood must be shed.

Her Abyssal layer has a dozen islands on black water. Nocticula is awesome. I cannot wait to better use her as a villain.


Honestly, I always thought Malcanthet was pretty lame. She has a cool scene in the Savage Tide adventure path, but other than that I'd look at her art and kind of go... "That's the ultimate succubus?" She seemed kind of boring for the hottest evil chick in the universe.

But I just read her Demonomicon entry in Dragon #353. I was a fool! This article is a tour de force by James Jacobs. It is chock full of fantastic rich and juicy ideas. Hold on to your face.

Here's a quote: "Unlike the obyriths, who crawled wet and ruinous from the heaving birthflesh of the Abyss itself..." Wow! Wet and ruinous! Heaving birthflesh!!

The succubi had something called "The War of Ripe Flesh". There were only 4 survivors (The three others, I believe, are Shami-Amourae - imprisoned in the Wells of Darkness, Xinvrae - seducer of women, and Lynkhab the severely depressed). The winner of this war was Malcanthet, who "ascended the Razor Throne". Sheesh I wish I had read this article earlier. Awesome.

Get a load of this. If she kisses you, she can monitor your location and condition and communicate telepathically no matter where you go. Malcanthet can use her spell-like abilities through the target too. Wow.

She wields the Lover's Lash, a scourge with three razor-edged chains ending in blades. Once per day it can cause a permanent bleeding wound that can't be healed by anything short of a wish!

She's had her fair share of drama, too:

- She rejected Grazz't's advances and now they're in a "cold war".
- OK this is crazy: Grazz't may have magically disguised himself as Malcanthet and seduced big, frosty Kostchtchie just to troll her. I can't even... wow...
- She has lots of kids with the bird-man Pazuzu
- "Her greatest conquest" is Demogorgon. "The nameless and wretched offspring of their unions are best left undocumented".

What a great article. I was wrong. Malcanthet is awesome.

See you tomorrow, pal.


M.C.V. EGAN said...

Swinging by, interesting but nothing I am familiar with, liked graphics quality. I am in mom mode and so think kinda... prudish, I wonder what a younger childless me would have thought ?#AtoZchallenge ☮Peace ☮ ღ ONE ℒℴνℯ ღ ☼ Light ☼ visiting from

ZeroSD said...

"Grazz't may have magically disguised himself as Malcanthet and seduced big, frosty Kostchtchie just to troll her. I can't even... wow..."

That is some dedicated trolling!

Sean said...

ZeroSD: Grazz't goes the extra mile to make all the demon lords smile!