Last year I did some work on The Secret Fire RPG for Secret Fire Games – much of the flavour text in that book is from my own twisted mind as it were – mainly the monsters, a lot of the spells, and the setting descriptions. One thing I’ve learned from the game’s release is to develop a thick skin, especially online. Any product will come under scrutiny and the anonymity of the internet allows people to be far nastier than they would be in a face-to-face conversation.

The RPG.NET forums are especially unpleasant these days. I’ve never liked them as there seems to be a a fairly nasty undercurrent to a lot of the posters there – often it seems its little more than a thinly veiled ego trip for a lot of the posters there. Coleslaw on the Cthulhutech forum (on Cthulhutech’s own site) sums it up thus:

My brief stint at can be likened to having to use a porta-potty in August.

The other thing I’ve learnt is not to build expectations – The Secret Fire RPG had a number of problems during its creation, and I think there’s a lot that could have been done differently. I don’t think it was the game itself that raised people’s hackles, more the way it was built up and marketed. However, I’m unlikely to visit RPG.NET again – I’m a member of many other online forums and it’s no loss to me. The signal to BS ratio has pretty much made me give up on it.

Although I’ve a few misgivings about how I’m going to find the time or if indeed I can stick to the deadline, it looks increasingly likely that I’ll be responsible for a chapter on the Demon/Druid war in the first supplement. I’ll also be including some information on the Soul Reapers, TSF RPGs equivalent of Supernatural‘s Crossroad Demons. I’ve got a number of ideas for them, as well as their origin and how demons are really are the Big Bad in the world of the The Secret Fire RPG. Hell, or Infernus, as it is named by the Soul Reapers, isn’t actually the home of Demons. It’s a crossing-over point.

I’ll examine why Demons are fascinated with humans and souls – and why the  Druids hate them so much. As well as the more Faustian ones I’ll also be looking at how the Soul Reaper bargains are designed so that there’s what I’ll call The Catch: it’s not just your soul they want: chaos, misery, pain, and discord will give it a far more seasoned flavour…  For example, a character that wants to live forever? “No problem,” says the Soul Reaper,”of course, I’ll give you the ritual”. The Catch: the ritual requires the death of a mortal every month – and the ritual sends the soul straight to Infernus. Failure to complete the ritual, and the Soul Reaper comes to collect the forfeit…

The Paths of Damnation

If there’s space, I’ll also look at something called the Paths of Damnation: how a mortal can become a Demon Marquis and the powers they wield. I suspect that a few players would love to take this route through a campaign. Its nothing new: it was done in both Realms of Chaos volumes for WFRP and the Book of Vile Darkness for D&D (I recently read that filming of the D&D movie of the same name is currently under way in Bulgaria!). In the past supplement that have dealt with demons or their powers are often held up as examples as “proof” of the corrupting nature of RPGs.

Hopefully we’ve outgrown this. Ascension toward Demonhood (or should that be descent?) wouldn’t be an option for any PCs, but it could make for a fun campaign. The PCs are duped into procuring items for the Demon-Wannabe NPC or are running around trying to prevent their Ascension in the first place. Remember the Mayor in Buffy: the Vampire Slayer?

Published by Bill Heron

Wannabe game designer and would-be author. I've been playing RPGs for over 25 years and have recently started creating my own RPG called Mandragora: Ashes of Freedom. I also run a number of RPGs: Cthulhutech, Call of Cthulhu, WFRP, and D&D. I'm active in the Edinburgh RPG community at and regularly play RPGs.