Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Shadow Jam: Neo-Neo-X, FND Syndrome and Fanad players' option

(Head of Xing is the second moment of Shadow Warrior 2 that started the whole "this is its own setting now"; among variable SW2 NPCs he is one of the best)

All that glitters is not gold, it is demons. Mostly demons.
(screenshot from League of Legends: Overdrive trailer)

It might be odd to consider the metropolis ruled by demons and also full of demons to be a safe place for anybody else, but Neo-Neo-X is its own kind of madness thanks to Head of Xing and his utter obsession with human culture.

Just like Xanadu influence, direct demonic domination and shadowlands taint are turning many humans into semi-demonic akuna, some demons can 'catch humanity' after being exposed to such intrinsically human things as accounting, disapproving grandparents and reality shows. These ‘gone native’ demons had lost most of the mythic nature of their kind, and, in many ways, are now just badly-tempered people with fangs and horns and not the creatures of mystery and magnificence they were. The Xanadu derogatorily call humans "underdemons" but those humanity-tainted demons are called ‘underhumans’ even more derisively, and are exiled from Xanadu under the thread of utter destruction on sight lest their taint of humanity spreads. These Friendly Neighbournood Demons – mostly seed or root demons, as the spiritually weakest ones – keep a few useful talents of their nature and inability to resist their Princes embedded in all lower demons, and tend to react with violence to the voiced thought that they are somehow inferior to humans. Yet, they are much less likely to eat one's face just because it is a human face, and their minds are so similar to humans' they are eccentric much more than eldritch.

Which makes Head of Xing a bit of a paradox. Nobody would dare to suggest – not openly, at least, not in The Glitter, not often – that Xing, one of five Demon Princes, the ruler of tremendous spiritual power, the GOLDEN SUN himself could have succumbed to FND Syndrome like any lowly demon, but this obsession with human culture cannot be anything else. Most accepted theory is that Head of Xing is not Xing himself but Xing's Moon-ranked interpretation of Mouth of Sauron-type of messenger carrying just enough connection and influence that people are wary of offending real Xing through him and thus relatively few try to test Head's power. As a result, The Glitter is one of the friendliest cities to both FNDs and humans, and is the posterboy city to hate for those who wish for purity of existence from both human and demon sides. 

Head of Xing, voted "Best Demonic Overlord" by Neo-Neo-Times for thirteen years running;
screenshot from Shadow Warrior 2

It isn't to say Neo-Neo-X is a peaceful city. Aside of fending off 'the preliminary scouting missions' from Zilla City and the raids on outskirts from more purity-minded Xanadu demons, neither "calm" nor "quiet" are the words one uses for The Glitter. Head of Xing's obsession with human culture – more specifically with pre-Collision pop-media culture although any would do in a pinch – turned meager remnant of a human metropolis into feverish set of movie sets, never-ending cosplay convention, (pseudo-) historical recreations, ever-going art production and a carnival party at once where everything and everybody gravitates toward one main purpose: Head of Xing's enthusiastic entertainment with yet another spectacle. Everyday life shimmers subdued in the shadow, ready to be interrupted with colour and action at any moment.

One can make a really big bank in Neo-Neo-X if they discover a server with some obscure pedestrian anime that Head of Xing never heard about.

The Glitter is a city of dazzling soaring skyscrapers and deep, somber gutters; whirlwind of colours, neon lights, appropriately dark alleys, and smoke-filled bars. Some streets have permanent rain over them; some areas forever in nightfall because Head of Xings likes them so, and huge amount of makeup The Glitter produces is only barely enough for some exports. As Head of Xing often goes through media like wildfire through the wilds The Glitter is the grandest scene that Earth ever knew, rebuilt over, and over, and over again following the latest turn of obsession, the latest whim, the latest discovered pedestrian anime. Many long-time denizens of Neo-Neo-X assume a tone of current media fashion like other people take umbrellas for the rain, on pure reflex, changing the manner of speech or adjusting behaviour from comedic to melancholic to boisterous as per current Head of Xing's interest. The show(s) must go on and as long as a denizen or an outsider at least tokenly follows this all-encompassing fever, and don't challenge the whims / tastes of the ruler, Head of Xing or his Executives don't really bother with enforcing the whole Demon Dominance In Your Face thing, and the Glitter is thus rather free-natured and cosmopolitan in nature; everybody is welcome.

The surrounding areas around the Glitter are under Head of Xing's protection and provide the city with food and other necessities from small towns and carefully picturesque villages. While people from such outskirts are rather thankful for a rather stable and rather safe life they are not very eager participants in the artifice of The Glitter beauty, hence the city's common nickname.

In last few years Head of Xing took to broadcasting: Neo-Neo-Waves includes among other things, reality shows, pop quizzes, sports tournaments and city's own radio (which Head of Xing DJs himself with much enthusiasm). Such broadcasts are utterly forbidden by Zilla City as corrupting demonic influence and by other demonic warlords as the taint of humanity, but as main source of entertainment in the known world it finds wide acceptance in The Glow and the Garden, and even in Independence (albeit begrudgingly) and Driftwood (mostly sarcastically) – yet in this harsh enough world this is good enough distraction even for them. Pearl City in particular has strong ties with Neo-Neo-X, and both Unifology Church and Ameonna's priesthood have a strong presence in the Neo-Neo-X.

Fanad (Friendly Neighbourhood Demon)

Larry gave me the whole FND Syndrome idea;
art from Shadow Warrior 2 artbook

Demon infected by the nature of humanity. Not always particularly friendly or neighbourly, to be honest, and many have a rather bad temper after being relegated by former kinsmen to the lowest of low. Yet, what they do with their new lives is varied, from rejection to a search of acceptance to carving their own weird trajectory. Regardless of their initial appearance they take upon human shape, but still carry many powers of their blood, and are both spiritually, mentally or physically superior to regular humans.

Each Fanad has following aspects to them:

• Their starting Chai is 20, one another stat of choice is 18 and no stat can be lower than 10 (reroll other five stats at once until you get a whole single array of 10+ numbers). 

• The power of their blood: chose either Magenta, Amber, Viridian, Azure or Purple blood and subsequently roll 1d6, 6+1d6 and 12+1d6 for innate powers of it.
> lists of powers will be added later when I figure out the system. Idea here is the first roll gives minor at-wish power, second roll gives medium but more rarely useable power and third roll gives powerful but limited in use power.

• They look demon enough even if they look human enough.
> Use thiefling tables from AD&D Planescape or somesuch appearance/physical abilities demonic/mutation generator.

• Obsession over some very human thing, be it knitting sweaters, watching TV, doing taxes or dining with adopted grandparents. How each such obsession manifests is to temperament of each particular demon, ranging from cute and benevolent to cruel; knitting sweaters isn't very adorable when demon knits them from slain humans' guts.
> (I have a list of 100 such trivial obsessions somewhere, will add when find it in notes)

• They can physically survive shadowlands and Xanadu no problems, but no longer have any spiritual or mental advantage versus Xanadu and don't remember Xanadu much – as their brains humanized when FND syndrome set up the fluent nameless nature of Xanadu became elusive to them.

• Yet, fanads still have some advantage of their inhuman nature: pick up two conditions – fanad is completely immune against one of them and have permanent advantage against another.

• They are utterly despised by all right and proper Xanadu demons. Unless there is somebody present in the the group whom such demons despise even more, they will always target fanads first for extermination, and if violence is not an option, will treat them as the lowest of low. 

• Fanads remain demons enough that any Star-ranked demon have an advantage on all domination, persuasion or influence attempt, and any Moon-rank demon (and, of course Demon Princes) utterly dominates their will when within vicinity. Fanads are free (unlike many weak demons) from Sky and other lower ranking demons' dominance and generally viewed as ones who have broken off most of chains of Celestial Hierarchy. 

• By the cost of 3 permanent points of Chai, fanad can temporarily evoke their older self, making them completely immune to all earthy weapons not imbued with chai, have unlimited use of their innate abilities and expressing other signature aspects of true Xanadu demons, while also having all their drawbacks. The invocation lasts a scene (about a few minutes) and points thus lost cannot be restored.

Some tidbits

• Head of Xing is puppy-enthusiastic about human culture, but he consumes it rather fast and while he is never tired to see the same general motif manifested three thousand times in various movies or shows or arts, he remembers each separate manifestation. Can one run out of culture?

• FND Syndrome takes root when a human permanently names a previously nameless demon, sacrificing their own Chai; the transformation isn't instant though and might take a few years.

• Neo-Neo-X is a major pain in Zilla's side – mostly ideologically and as a haven to various non-pure-human undesirables – but both Orochi Zilla and Head of Xing occasionally have a very brief public radio discussion about the virtues of their own ways. Nobody is persuading anybody, though.

• Larry is a weapons trader in a small, rather obscured settlement near The Garden. 

• Mezu's and Hoji's demons are most eager to destroy FNDs; Mezu's seek to redominate and use them. Dead Sun Enra's remaining demons mostly just avoid them like plague.

4 comments:

  1. No idea what's "the lore" from the games, I'm liking these posts though.

    Demon-human cross contamination = fun.

    Floating face-ball = what's going on there?

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for reading them. I made up Shadow Jam from tidbits of interesting stuff found in the games. It is almost pure headcanon.

      Floating face-ball is the demon overlord called Head of Xing, who seems to be fully FND-ed with obsession about human popculture, but shhhh! this is rude to tell this aloud.

      It isn't very clear if this is an actual Xing (one of Demon Princes, superbly powerful demon) or one of Xing's subordinates (kind of like Mouth of Sauron isn't _really_ a literal mouth of Sauron). If this is first it creates a very dangerous implication that even Demon Princes can be infected by humanity (and demons really don't like this idea) so everybody kind of politely with goal of self-preservation agrees that Head of Xing is a subordinate demon gone wild. Few dare to challenge and check, though.

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  2. I am loving this series K!

    ReplyDelete