Malazan Daemons, D&D Demons and Magical Weapons
Having read the books you will all be very aware that daemons in the Malazan world are creatures from another Warren, and are most creatures in their own right. I’ve been making a list of Daemons for my players and me, so I know what might be in a warren when they get there, and when they start casting summoning spells, I’d like them to get Daemons from their own warren rather than all getting them from Aral Gamelain.
This then is the issue. Resistance to none Magical Weapons.
All D&D demons have this, but do all Malazan daemons? Do you get a feel from the books that this is something all daemons have? There are some cases where clearly magic swords do more damage to a daemon, but is that because the are “dealing magical damage” or because of the greater powers the blade has?
What effect does it have if I have one Warren using the stats from a D&D demon, while another Warren is just using a re-skinned monster without resistance?
What does Resistance to none magical weapons really do to a creature? Most high level monsters have it, but it doesn’t really have an effect on players, as by the time you are a high level your weapons and attacks are all magical. SO all it really does is stop you from improvising weapons and using NPC followers. There is no point having some hirelings when they don’t have magic weapons, nor is there any point throwing that dagger to catch the fleeing monster, because your dagger isn’t magical. The only place it really has an effect is at low levels, where fighting a spectre with a party with little no no spell casters can be horrendous.
So here is my question for you and some possible answers I have come up with.
How do I make the Daemons of the Warrens feel ‘right’ and how to apply resistance to none magical weapons?
Don't change a thing.
The first and simplest option is just to leave everything as it is. If some daemons form the warren of shadow have resistance to none magical weapons, and others don’t, just find some way to suggest that the ones with resistance are ‘special’ in some way. This is quick and easy but it suffers from the problem of player buy in. There is no rhyme or reason, no consistent logic in the world to help players out. If you fight werewolves you need silver, you fight demons, you need magical weapons. This is something players know in D&D, not is something they have learned from experience because the game is consistent. To have random Monster just have resistance to none magical weapons for no reason is just frustrating for people.
Give everything resistance.
The second simple in principle but not in application, is to give everything summoned form a Warren resistance to none magical weapons. They are all Daemons, so they should all get this Daemon trait right? But what does this do? Firstly it give players a nice consistency, and makes everything that is summoned feel otherworldly. On the other hand it means that the CR of a lot of creatures would probably have to change, which are a lot of beasties and that is a fair amount of work. It also means, that these Daemons feel otherworldly…..but we all know that these Daemons are often just people from their own world, fishermen and potters who have been dragged into service by a mage against their will. Some of them might have glowing eyes in this world but in their own they don’t. This otherworldliness means that it is a bit harder for the players to realise over time that there are more to Daemons than mere servants. Perhaps these Daemons do not have that same resistance to non magical weapons when they are in their own Warren?
Take it all away!
The last option I am considering, and the one I am leaning to the most, is removing Resistance to None Magical Weapons from those creatures, such a D&D demons, that it would not make sense for them to have it in this world. Spectres and elementals that clearly have a bodily nature that would make it hard for a common blade to damage them, they will of course all be keeping their resistance to none magical weapons. But if I use a Mezzoloth, a demonic D&D creature, as a race of creatures that live in the Warren of Shadow, trading alongside the Azalan, does it make sense for them to have this resistance and none of the other creatures?
The effect of this are as such:
Those D&D demons that I use will have have their CR changed slightly. How much by I don’t know, frankly I am terrible at using the CR monster calculator in the Dungeon Masters Guid. I just look at it, start reading and my brain seems to shut down. This isn’t that much work, as I’m actually not using a huge number of the demons.
The use of Hirelings is more useful. Having some archers that you have hired, or some Rhivi slingers, feels a lot more satisfying when they are not halving every 1D4+1 piercing damage they do to the Galayn daemons, summoned by the Malazans.
It means that fighters and other none magic classes are not hampered by not having access to a magic weapon as soon as they can. It means that I can keep the magic item count a bit lower rather than handing them out like candy. Normally you have to try and make sure the players all have a magic weapon by the time they are level 3-5 otherwise they are going to have problems. It will still be an issue some times, but those times will make the monster they are fighting that much more special. On the rare times it happens, you the player can charge in and pull out that magical weapon you found and feel like you are really someone cool. Now throwing that none magical javelin as a barbarian feels that little bit more worthwhile than it did before when you go up against a daemon of Ruse, because you aren’t going to deal half damage, which would have before made you think “Well I guess I’ll just dash for the next few turns, nothing else to do.”
The major problem with this that I have created for myself? Summoning spells. As I mentioned before, I want the standard summoning spells to instead summon a Daemons from your own Warren. I’m compiling a list at the moment and would really like peoples help at some latter point. There is a lot of re skinning at the moment and it should make for a real switch up to what people expect. The problem is that all the deamons they summon, might can very easily killed by the random human fighters of the Pannion Domin that the players have summoned the Daemons to deal with.
A large part of the balance of the spells, in my opinion, is down to the fact that many of the creatures have this resistance. And while at high levels players pretty much ignore that fact that creatures have resistance to none magical weapons, because everyone has one, your random NPC bad guys are not going to be so lucky. How much does it reduce the power of Summon lesser and Greater Demons, if the things you and dragging into this world are not longer resistant to the arrows and swords being swung at them?
If it were not for this final issue, and how much I want players to be able to summon Warren specific daemons, I would go right ahead with removing the aforementioned resistance without problems. But with my poor understanding of the CR calculation, and a limited experience as a DM, I feel that I need to make use of the wider brains available online to work out how to do this.
So what do you think? Do you like the idea of being a Priestess of D’rek, summoning Vegypygmys’ and Catoblepas’ to do your bidding? Would it be a problem if you summoned the Mezzoloth from the Warren of Shadow and it did not have resistance to none magical attacks (if it’s CR we changed accordingly)?
I would welcome any thought ideas and criticisms that you might have. My players are a fair few levels from being able to summon any deamons are start visiting the inside of a Warren, so I have time to think.
Thank you for any help that you can give.