Why did the Succubi change?

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zontoxira
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Why did the Succubi change?

Post by zontoxira » Sat Dec 09, 2017 9:00 pm

As a sequel to Why did the Githzerai change, I hereby present you with a new question: The succubus, a creature listed as demon/tanar'ri in all editions from 1st through 3rd, switched to a NE shapechanger, albeit with the fiend tag. The reason I can think of is, since the concept of erinyes as the LE counterpart of succubi fell out of favour at some point during 4th edition, it was decided that succubi should function more like spies and assassins of greater fiends. What I find stranger though is that 4e classified them as devils. And as 5e redesigned erinyes to be more martial and warlike (roughly resembling the Erinyes from Greek mythology), a position was left open for the succubi to fill in, as the ultimate tempters and corruptors, working on both sides of the fiend coin.
Still, I think it's weird that both baatezu and tanar'ri don't have their own fiend that deals in corrupting and influencing mortals into giving body and soul for the Blood War but instead rely on some NE fiend to do the job.
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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Dec 09, 2017 10:51 pm

The 4e designers decided it was bad that some monsters existed to personify alignments, so they eliminated most of those and what remained had to have new things to distinguish them.

For demons and devils, it was no longer good enough to say "demons are like devils, but chaotic rather than lawful" so they decided instead that demons were corrupted elementals interested in physical destruction for its own sake, while devils were fallen angels interested in spiritual corruption. By those terms, succubi obviously belonged in the devil category.

However that created some continuity problems when they tried to bring forward some pre-4e continuity. Some of the demon princes, like Graz'zt and Malcanthet, also fit much better as devils in 4e terms, but moving them to the Hells would have radically changed a lot of continuity without adding anything of value to the Hells. So they decided that Graz'zt and Malcanthet were devils who came to the Abyss, along with succubi followers, and were corrupted into chaos. So some demons were literally devils, but chaotic rather than lawful.

The 5e solution, making succubi independent neutral evil fiends, was an attempt to find a compromise that left both 3e and 4e continuity somewhat intact. But note that the idea that succubi and erinyes were actually the same creature, "a yugoloth species called the bioloth," created by the 'loths to infiltrate both demons and devils, was floated in this fan-created article back in the mid-1990s as a conspiracy theory from a member of the Revolutionary League.

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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by zontoxira » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:48 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:The 4e designers decided it was bad that some monsters existed to personify alignments, so they eliminated most of those and what remained had to have new things to distinguish them.

For demons and devils, it was no longer good enough to say "demons are like devils, but chaotic rather than lawful" so they decided instead that demons were corrupted elementals interested in physical destruction for its own sake, while devils were fallen angels interested in spiritual corruption. By those terms, succubi obviously belonged in the devil category.

However that created some continuity problems when they tried to bring forward some pre-4e continuity. Some of the demon princes, like Graz'zt and Malcanthet, also fit much better as devils in 4e terms, but moving them to the Hells would have radically changed a lot of continuity without adding anything of value to the Hells. So they decided that Graz'zt and Malcanthet were devils who came to the Abyss, along with succubi followers, and were corrupted into chaos. So some demons were literally devils, but chaotic rather than lawful.
Whoa. The more I read about 4e the more I think that its designers were on to start with a tabula rasa. Was WotC's intention to radically change D&D? I guess there was also an issue with changes in alignment; instead of three aspects of evil (lawful/neutral/chaotic evil), you had only two (evil and chaotic evil).
ripvanwormer wrote:The 5e solution, making succubi independent neutral evil fiends, was an attempt to find a compromise that left both 3e and 4e continuity somewhat intact.
Still, there was no explanation as to what made the 4e cosmology to switch back to its Great Wheel concept (or one that I'm not aware of).

Reading the 1e Monster Manual, it is mentioned that erinyes "[are] most commonly sent forth to garner more souls" and "[t]hey will sometimes bargain with others, hoping to tempt them into evil doing." 5e doesn't have such description, leaving me to believe that erinyes were stripped of their "tempting" skills and focused on combating and acting vengeance on mortals. Which further confirms the idea that succubi were left to do the dirty work.. for both groups.
Oh, and that Anarchist theory is ingenious, though controversial if I may say.
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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by Zeromaru X » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:36 pm

The explanation given in the DMG (and supported in Twitter by the developers) for the planes, is that "cosmologies" are a think devised by mortals to explain how the planes and that stuff work, but that none of them is really the "truth", as mortals cannot understand how the planes really work (that stuff is beyond mortal comprehension).

So, while the Great Wheel is the most accepted theory about how the multiverse is organized, is just that: a theory, not something confirmed (as it cannot be confirmed by mortals). 5e uses the Great Wheel as the "default" because is the most popular theory, but the other theories (Great Tree, World Axis) are as true and valid as the Great Wheel is in some worlds, for the same reasons.

As for the other question, the 4e preview books explain their views for change what they changed.

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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by zontoxira » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:20 pm

You're right on that Zeromaru, it's always the mortal's skewed view that defined the cosmology of the D&D multiverse. And Planescape, as far as I'm concerned, toyed with that notion, presenting the Great Wheel as the most widely accepted structure of the planes. Looking at DMG, the cosmology presented by 4e (World Axis) is also present, which makes it an acceptable theory.
Only thing is, 5e encompasses all cosmology theories, 4e didn't. The planes were thought of as the World Tree (what FR scholars claimed) then by the events of the Spellplague, it was turned into the World Axis.
I'm not aware at all of 4e preview books. That's quite interesting news, is there a way to access them?
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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:12 pm

zontoxira wrote:I'm not aware at all of 4e preview books. That's quite interesting news, is there a way to access them?
They were called:
  • Wizards Presents: Races and Classes and
  • Wizards Presents: Worlds and Monsters
You can pick up copies of them on Amazon. Wizards Presents: Races and Classes is also on Print on Demand on DMs Guild, but you will almost certainly get a second hand or new copy from Amazon for less money, as the books are fairly cheap.

The books are full of essays (essentially they are a big advert for 4th Edition that you buy) and there were apparently some design changes later on (that conflict with the statements of intent in these two books) but, so long as you know what you are getting into, you won't get an unpleasant surprise if you buy them.
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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by Big Mac » Sun Dec 10, 2017 7:17 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:The 4e designers decided it was bad that some monsters existed to personify alignments, so they eliminated most of those and what remained had to have new things to distinguish them.
I tend to agree that it's bad that monsters personify alignments. It takes away the ability of players to persuade an individual monster to change it's ways. It should be possible (not necessarily easy) for PCs that come up with great roleplaying plans to befriend monsters and change their attitude from the hostile end of the scale to the friendly end of the scale. And if a creature's alignment is totally nailed down that's not so easy to do.

I can see how a monster, like a vampire or an illithid, has a built in need to kill people as prey, but if you look at other critters, including succubi, I have to ask myself: does this creature really need to go around causing problems?

If succubi were some sort of distant relation to the avariel, I think I'd like it more.

Is there a list anywhere of the alignment-personifying-monsters that the 4e design team tossed out?
ripvanwormer wrote:For demons and devils, it was no longer good enough to say "demons are like devils, but chaotic rather than lawful" so they decided instead that demons were corrupted elementals interested in physical destruction for its own sake, while devils were fallen angels interested in spiritual corruption. By those terms, succubi obviously belonged in the devil category.

However that created some continuity problems when they tried to bring forward some pre-4e continuity. Some of the demon princes, like Graz'zt and Malcanthet, also fit much better as devils in 4e terms, but moving them to the Hells would have radically changed a lot of continuity without adding anything of value to the Hells. So they decided that Graz'zt and Malcanthet were devils who came to the Abyss, along with succubi followers, and were corrupted into chaos. So some demons were literally devils, but chaotic rather than lawful.
Hmm. I'm wondering if I would prefer to retcon this sort of thing into older rules. I still need to get my head around this.
ripvanwormer wrote:The 5e solution, making succubi independent neutral evil fiends, was an attempt to find a compromise that left both 3e and 4e continuity somewhat intact. But note that the idea that succubi and erinyes were actually the same creature, "a yugoloth species called the bioloth," created by the 'loths to infiltrate both demons and devils, was floated in this fan-created article back in the mid-1990s as a conspiracy theory from a member of the Revolutionary League.
There are not enough flying people in D&D. I might be tempted to try to put some rebooted succubi onto a SJ airworld on the Material Plane. I'm not sure if a fiend background would make them easier to use or if I would want to reboot them some more.
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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:58 am

Big Mac wrote:I tend to agree that it's bad that monsters personify alignments. It takes away the ability of players to persuade an individual monster to change it's ways. It should be possible (not necessarily easy) for PCs that come up with great roleplaying plans to befriend monsters and change their attitude from the hostile end of the scale to the friendly end of the scale. And if a creature's alignment is totally nailed down that's not so easy to do.
That isn't one of the issues the 4e changes were meant to address. Risen fiends were a thing in 2e, just as fallen celestials were. There was a section on risen fiends in Faces of Evil and one of the major NPC followers in Planescape: Torment was a risen succubus. 4e's changes didn't make this sort of thing either more or less likely to happen.

In 3e, there were some templates for risen or repentant fiends in The Avatar's Handbook from Green Ronin. There's also the sanctified creature template in Book of Exalted Deeds, though that gives mixed messages about whether it's intended for outsiders or not (the text says no, but it also specifies that creatures with the template lose the tanar'ri, baatezu, or yugoloth subtypes, which only outsiders have).

If you're trying to use ideas inspired by the horror genre, there's a place for creatures in the game who are supposed to be pure evil. Not in the "because they need human brains to live" sense, like mind flayers, or in the Lovecraftian "the universe is nihilistic" sense, but in the sense that movies like The Exorcist or The Omen wouldn't have been improved by having the protagonists convince the forces of evil to reform through reasoned debate. I mean, there's a valid story in that (I love Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens) but not a horror story.
If succubi were some sort of distant relation to the avariel, I think I'd like it more.
You could certainly create a reskinned avariel with bat wings. I probably wouldn't give it succubus-like powers like energy drain, unless it had fiendish or vampiric blood.
Is there a list anywhere of the alignment-personifying-monsters that the 4e design team tossed out?
Rilmani, archons (they reused the name for an elemental creature), eladrins (they reused the name for gray elves/faerie nobles), guardinals, modrons. Yugoloths were changed to a kind of demon and moved (for the most part) to the Abyss, arcanaloths became ravaastas, and the origin of gelugons was changed so that they're a kind of yugoloth that lives in Hell. Angels were changed so that they served gods of any alignment.

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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by willpell » Mon Mar 05, 2018 9:38 pm

The 5E fiend-succubi have a tremendously different feel from the 3E demon-succubi. They better fit the original succubus myth, but are less consistent with the lore from early D&D editions. Overall, their new status makes them more useful for narrative purposes for which you would specifically need either a succubus or something like a doppelganger, stories heavy on espionage and NPC interaction, rather than being a combat challenge that's a little bit different from the brute-force demons but still very much governs a life-and-death struggle, rather than ephemeral questions of free will and moral purity. The 5E succubus/incubus is more of a plot device, while the 3E one is more of a monster.

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Re: Why did the Succubi change?

Post by timemrick » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:37 am

ripvanwormer wrote:In 3e, there were some templates for risen or repentant fiends in The Avatar's Handbook from Green Ronin. There's also the sanctified creature template in Book of Exalted Deeds, though that gives mixed messages about whether it's intended for outsiders or not (the text says no, but it also specifies that creatures with the template lose the tanar'ri, baatezu, or yugoloth subtypes, which only outsiders have).
As a counterpart to those templates, there is a fallen celestial template in Green Ronin's The Book of Fiends. (That book also includes an entry for Iblis, Duke of Pride, a fallen solar who figures in the mythology of Green Ronin's The Book of the Righteous.)

I believe that Pathfinder also has templates for redeemed fiends and fallen celestials. That game's assumptions are largely drawn from v.3.5 (so succubi are demons), but the bestiaries emphasize that the listed alignments are just the most common one for each creature. Outsiders with alignment subtypes are to some extent living embodiments of their alignment, and their home planes' alignment auras tend to reinforce that behavior (especially on the non-neutral planes, which are the most strongly aligned). But even with them, there is some room for exceptional individuals to choose another path--whether it's the classic tale of a good creature fallign from grace, or the much more rare case of a fiend embracing the light. There's even a redeemed succubus featured prominently in one of Paizo's Adventure Paths (spoilers here).
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