Is a character in a state of mortal sin more vulnerable to infernal powers ?
I want the PCs in my saga to undergo long-term temptations to sin, orchestrated by a major demon who will not reveal himself.
But I'd like the PCs who do not resist the temptations to become more vulnerable to the powers of minor demons, minions of the major one.
That would include the magic resistance of the PCs, who are quite powerful magi (20-25 years out of apprenticeship) against the powers of demons of the particular sin.
I can't find a rule about that in The Infernal. I thought the sinful personnality trait could be used as a sympathetic penetration modifier. But not all demons have a penetration ability...
Am I missing something ?
Does anyone have suggestions on how I might make this working ?
Yes, for a number of reasons - in particular sin tends to dispel the protection of the Divine, and a number of infernal effects are dependent on the target remaining in a state of sin.
I do not think there's a "generic" rule in this sense -- though I could certainly see some demons having such a special property. I do not particularly like it though, for a simple reason. If you tend to indulge in a certain sin, you are already weaker against demons of that sin. Those demons already have a good shot at your soul and generally cause you mischief without need of penetration at all.
In fact, I'd try to make it work differently - give characters who sin advantages. That's what temptation is about!
I agree with you, generally speaking, it's not a very subtle use of the infernal. But here's what bothers me : what should a demon do with a mortal in a state of mortal sin ?
kill him, before he has a chance to repent himself, since the demon already own his soul (isn't that how it works ?)
use the corrupted individual to spread more corruption.
For instance, in the second case, I would like a Vessel of iniquity to use its "contagious obsession" power on a magus who has repeatedly indulge in the sin of wrath, knowing that the guy is likely to react like that again (and possibly infect his sodales with the sin). The magus is a wrathful person, but a minor demon can't use its power on him because the magus has a high parma magica. So the souls of magi are safer, just because they have magic resistance ?
If a demon uses a Mentem effect to make you act in a certain way, well, it's not really you who are sinning.
But generally speaking, the more power a demon has over you, the easier it is for it to corrupt you -- by deluding you into thinking someone has committed a terrible wrong against you, by putting you in a position where sinning will win you (or prevent you from losing) something you cherish etc.etc. So in some sense, powerful magi would appear "safer"; but in fact, they just attract more powerful demons than a lowly farmer does. In the end, it all balances out.
The high-parma magus is vulnerable precisely because real sin is a choice by the self, not imposed by the demon. The demon simply sets up the situation that allows that sin to shine.
Take the wrathful magus example. Rather than using its demonic powers on the magus, the demon instead uses its demonic powers on the magus' enemies. It incites them to create scenarios in which our target magus can utilise his wrath - ideally against powerful foes.
If the magus dies in the confrontation, the demon wins. It has a soul.
If the magus survives, the magus is rewarded in a material way for his victory. This both encourages the magus to indulge in the sin again as well as suggesting to his sodales that indulging in sin means power. The demon wins again!
In all of this the demon's actual targets are the dupes and diabolists it utilises to repeatedly incur the wrath of the magus. If its extremely clever it may even get to the point of offering the magus further advantages directly - at which point the magus may even lower his parma...
This is actually a great idea.
I also agree with everything you said above, that's actually the kind of setup I was planning.
That's also true for regular people. But if they sin, they're done (oversimplifying...) The magus still has his parma as a "last resort".
I guess it is just more difficult for a demon to encourage a magus toward sinful behavior, not because the magus is more virtuous, but because he has magic resistance, so the demon can't use a supernatural power, just its wits. It probably makes for a more interesting story, but it's not fair for the poor non-gifted folks...
But all in all, I think you are right. I (the demon) should not try to directly influence the PC or "force" him to act in a sinful way. That's not very good storyguiding...
In the games i run , i can't use the Infernal easily , because one player knows that anything Infernal is wrong.
He simply refuses to go along with anything related to it.
Don't try to affect the magus , affect the area around him.
Use a mobile effect that will travel with him wherever he goes.
Not sure if you can place it on his shadow , which is not protected by Parma afaik.
Say that sin emits spiritual species that a demon can manipulate or something.
One effect that i used was not from a demon , but a saint.
He wanted to make sure that the magus only met non-sinful women.
(remember , a saint is not all-knowing)
The Holy effect caused any women who came within Voice range to be able to sense their own sins by Smell.
(penetration , magic resistance and all that taken into account)
The player of the magus complained that he could not meet any women , because he was "Mr Stinky".
(as i had no need to explain at the time how the Holy effect worked , nor what it was)
Try to find non-magical ways to affect him
Item of Quality perfume (or Excellent Quality , page 69 C&G) as an aid to seduction.
A demon is not a hermetic magus , but might obtain arcane connection/s that a Diabolist could use.
(magi being paranoid about these things does make that difficult)
But if the magus is sufficiiently distracted he may make a mistake.