Day 30: Demon: Interface

Demon: The Descent, Sales

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Demon InterfaceAnalysts

Let me see.

You were sent to analyze. You were one of the God-Machine’s Eyes, an angel created to measure, sample, digest, and report. Perhaps you watched impassively as your Destroyer brethren did their bloody work, or perhaps you swooped in alongside a Psychopomp to test the raw materials she transported. In any case, something caught your attention. Rather than report back to the Machine, you Fell, becoming one of the rarest of demons. You probably have no recollection of your mission or your life as an angel, other than vague understanding that you were once a servant of the Machine.

Angels: Contrary to popular belief among the Unchained, Analysts, not Messengers, are the primary method by which the God-Machine gathers information. Most demons simply do not know about Analysts, because their missions are almost always separate from the angels they are sent to accompany or observe. The reason for this is unclear. Perhaps the God-Machine feels that if angels know they are being observed, this will impact their performance? Or maybe the God-Machine prefers to keep the existence of Analyst angels as guarded a secret as possible.

Analyst angels are perhaps the most common of the God-Machine’s servants, but they also often go unnoticed. Many Analysts are sent simply to watch and report, though some — the ones most susceptible to the Fall — have instructions to retrieve samples, measurements, and other data. Analysts are seldom given solo missions; more often an Analyst accompanies Destroyers to learn how to kill and break more efficiently, Guardians to check the efficacy of their tactics, Psychpomps to time their construction or travel, or Messengers to report back on signal-to-noise ratio in their communications.

For important missions, Analyst angels precede the others. Before the God-Machine creates Infrastructure to make a squadron of Destroyers, It might send an Analyst to check the defenses of the enemy it wishes to eradicate or to test the suitability of a potential Facility site.

The Fall: Analysts risk Falling when they express a desire to interact with their subjects rather than simply observing them. When they draw conclusions from the data they have accumulated and assign meaning to the numbers, the Fall is imminent.

Some of the common catalysts described by Analysts are:

  • Distraction: Something caught the Analyst’s attention and she couldn’t let it go. Maybe she missed a crucial moment while paying attention to something else, or maybe she simply gave up her primary focus to follow a new interest.
  • Overwhelmed: The world is infinite, and every raindrop carries a world of possibility. An Analyst that doesn’t stay focused on its primary goal runs the risk of trying to take in too much data and becoming so lost in it that the only option is to Fall.
  • Humanization: Learning how much blood a given person can lose before he goes into shock, to an angel, is merely an interesting factoid. If the angel sees the person lying on the ground, slowly turning pale and cold, and takes greater note of his fear and pain than of the cubic milliliters of blood he is losing, that angel might very well choose to intervene.
  • Sympathy: Analysts are often paired with other angels, typically without those angels’ knowledge. As such, an Analyst often has a front-row seat when an angel Falls. While Analysts have standing orders to observe such activities and report back to the God-Machine which angelFell and under what circumstances, some Analysts choose instead to follow their compatriot on this journey, either out of true sympathy to that angel’s Catalyst or just a desire to see the analysis through.
  • Action Envy: Analyst angels don’t normally interact with their subjects in any meaningful way. Often their role in protecting or breaking something is simply to watch and measure while Destroyers and Guardians do the heavy work. An Analyst occasionally wishes to get her hands dirty, as it were, or to pick up the slack when another angel doesn’t do his job. Of course, this is still acting outside programming and still leads to the Fall.
  • Impishness: When you spend all your time looking for needles, you start to resent the hay, as the adage goes. Some Analysts don’t necessarily want to risk themselves or do anything exciting or glamorous, they just want to change the outcome by playing with the data just a bit. This generally leads to butterfly effect-levels of change that they couldn’t have predicted and a swift Fall.

The Descent: The human world has great need of beings able to analyze information. Finding information isn’t difficult for demons in general; the very nature of the Descent and the ability to influence the mystical sub-routines of reality make investigation instinctive. Understanding what to do with that information, however, requires looking at it from multiple angles, playing out possibilities and correcting for variables. An Analyst, therefore, might show aptitude for police tactics, mathematics, programming, logistics, engineering, or any of hundreds of other vocations that require her unique skills.

The most telling fact about Analysts, though, is that many of them don’t realize that they are Analysts. It is a commonly accepted fact among the Unchained that only four Incarnations exist, along with four Agendas, four Keys in a Cipher, and so forth. Demons who delve deeply into the angelic mindset, though, realize that these distinctions are for the most part self-inflicted. For the God-Machine’s purposes, an angel’s classification is its mission, meaning that a near-infinite number of “Incarnations” exist. Once they Fall, Incarnations serve as a way for demons to classify themselves. Analysts are normally mischaracterized as Messengers or Psychopomps…but they are unquestionably different.

What separates an Analyst from other demons is her ability to reconfigure and reinterpret data. In practical terms, the Eyes have an easier time creating Exploits and Gadgets out of Embeds than most other demons do. Since they are already prone to analysis and calculation, they find it easier to apply the variance to an Embed that turns it into an Exploit, or to change its “state” and Install it into a Gadget.

Analysts do occasionally realize that they are different from other demons, but many Unchained are highly invested in the status quo and the mystical significance of the number four. Challenging it might be met with disbelief (“Ha, no, really, you’re a Messenger”), suspicion (“Not any demon I ever heard of”) or outright hostility (“Better safe than sorry, right?”).

Nickname: The Eyes

Character Creation: Mental Attributes are the most common primary choice, but a good Composure rating is also typical. An Analyst often has good ratings in whatever Skills are germane to her last assignment; this often means Mental is primary, but an Analyst sent to assess tactical positions of street gangs might have high ratings in Streetwise and Firearms as well as Politics. The Eyes have whatever Merits allow them to reach an advantageous position from which to collect their data; this could mean Status, Professional Training, or just Striking Looks.

Embeds: Analysts do not favor any one class of Embeds, but they do show great facility for Exploits. The player may select an Exploit at character creation without regard for normal prerequisites.

Demonic Form: Analysts are built to be unobtrusive. They often have stealth capabilities that allow them to blend into their surroundings or mental countermeasures that distract or redirect their subjects’ attention. Many of them have wings or other Propulsions that enable a quick getaway or the ability to escape the immediate area and watch unseen.

Concepts: Occult mathematician, hacker, stress-tester, librarian, security expert, intelligence operative, Gadgeteer, Infrastructure scout, information broker, Cipher consultant.

Stereotypes

Destroyers: You know how you knew exactly how hot it had to get before it burst into flames? You’re welcome.

Guardians: What’s it like to care so much?

Messengers: Sing something else. That one has too many sibilants. It’s distracting.

Psychopomps: I’ve meaning to ask: 21 grams. Is that true, or false?

Vampires: On average, 55% the living person they were, 42% the undead thing they are, and 3% something I can’t quite figure out. Outliers exist, of course.

Werewolves: It’s not the killing that they need. Don’t get excited, though. The killing still happens.

Mages: They’re better at our old jobs than we were, but they didn’t earn it.

Prometheans: I don’t know what I am, either. I mean, not the little pieces.

Humans: Seven billion variations, and don’t ever let anyone say otherwise.

Analysts were a bit of an experiment. I’ll freely admit I didn’t think of them when I wrote the bible for Demon, although I probably should have. When Matt was developing Interface, he brought the idea to me. His notion was that we’d established a strong pattern in the core book of everything coming in fours, and for the most part it was a pattern that demons themselves were aware of. Demon, though, isn’t a game where anyone has the complete picture… so who’s to say there isn’t five of something?

Analysts themselves were a natural fit for the setting. The observer role is something the God-Machine definitely needs, and Messengers have plenty to do without it. They also fit well into the game’s espionage theme. And I rather like the idea that an Incarnation that’s quiet even by demon standards is also so disruptive to the worldview of the protagonists.

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  1 comment for “Day 30: Demon: Interface

  1. Enokh
    October 30, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I loved interface and fully support it’s format for future books like this. The “let’s make sure stories adhere to mechanics” bit is just too good.

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