Summoning and Binding
Occult history is full of stories of sorcerers summoning demons to them and binding them to their will -- or being destroyed by forces they cannot control. There's a lot of truth to some of these stories.
Armed with the correct rituals, a summoner, whether mortal or supernatural, can summon a demon into his presence. A second ritual can then bind the demon to the summoner's will, forcing her to become his servant. Of course, doing so isn't very easy. In fact, it's very difficult and incredibly dangerous. If the rituals are not followed exactly, and if the summoner lacks certain vital data, the summoned demon is free to do whatever she likes -- such as punishing the fool who dared try to subjugate her.
In order to beckon a demon, the summoner needs the correct ritual. There are literally thousands of summoning rituals described in various occult tomes, and the vast majority do nothing at all. The remaining few have power, but only if applied to the right demon. A ritual designed to bind an Earthbound will likely have no effect against a modern Fallen. At the very least, the ritual must address the correct Celestial House. To summon a Devourer, for instance, you must have a ritual designed to summon a Devourer and not a Malefactor.
Finding the correct ritual is a long and arduous process, that could take months (or even years) of occult research. As such, only those with Occult 4/5 or higher would even have the qualifications to seek out and perform such a ritual. This search is represented by an extended Intelligence + Occult roll at difficulty 7, where the summoner needs to accumulate 20 successes. Before the player can even attempt the roll, though, the character needs to know something about the demon he means to summon -- her True Name and her Celestial House. Most rituals include methods for both summoning and binding a demon, although some do only one or the other.
Once the occultist has the ritual, he can then attempt to perform it, which is a lengthy process that takes hours
, not turns. The summoner should have accurate props for their ritual which are specific to the nature of the Celestial House and demon he wishes to summon. Timing and location can also be important factors in successfully performing a summoning ritual.
Once the ritual is performed, the summoner rolls Wits + Occult at difficulty 8 to summon the demon. If the roll fails, the ritual doesn't summon the demon. If the roll botches, the mystic energies backfire, and either explode or inadvertently engender an unbindable abyssal monster.
If the roll is successful, the demon is transported instantly to the site of the ritual, where she appears in her True Form. For demons incarnate in a human host, such as the Fallen, this leaves their mortal bodies in a deathlike coma (possibly leading to complications if she was talking to someone at the time). Earthbound demons are pulled from their physical vessels. Demons still in the Abyss are transported to the mundane realm of existence.
The ritual must provide a space for the demon to inhabit -- a protective magic circle, square, or diagram. Common wisdom has it that the circle protects the summoner -- but the truth is that it protects the demon
. Demons without physical hosts are normally pulled back into Hell, and they cannot speak or interact with living beings. The mystic space within the circle, though, protects the demon from Hell's spiritual gravity and allows her to speak and interact with the summoner. The circle is a shield, not a cage. The demon can move out of it whenever she wishes, but if she does so, she will be caught by the terrible pull of the Abyss, and be far from her host. It behooves most demons to stay within the circle. Each turn spent outside the circle requires a successful Willpower roll at difficulty 6 to avoid plummeting to Hell. When the ritual ends or the summoner dismisses the demon, she is returned to her body.
Once the demon is summoned, the summoner can interact with her. He can converse or attempt to make a voluntary pact with the demon. The demon can chose to listen or simply fume in silence. Most occultists, though, are not summoning demons just for conversation -- they instead attempt to bind the demon to their will. Binding a demon requires further use of the ritual. The summoner and the demon make contested Willpower rolls (difficulty 6). The summoner has one advantage in this contest -- if he has assistants or acolytes participating in the ritual, they can add their will to his. A Willpower roll at difficulty 8 is made for every extra participant in the ritual, and each success adds one die to the summoner's Willpower pool.
If a demon gains more successes than the summoner, the binding fails and the demon escapes. If the summoner gains more successes, though, he is able to bind the demon to his will for a limited time. Each success the summoner gains equates to a command he can give the demon. These commands must be specific and revolve around a particular action. "Protect me from all my enemies" is too wide-ranging a command. "Kill John Smith" is specific enough to work, however. The summoner could also command the demon to vacate a host, effectively sending them back to the Abyss.
If a demon is bound to follow commands, she must do so to the best of her ability and make the attempt as soon as possible. She cannot act directly against the summoner while bound to even a single command. She can attack him once she completes all the commands, but not before. She can, however, act indirectly against the summoner -- perhaps by persuading someone else to attack him -- and she can work to subvert her commands as much as possible. Wise summoners structure their commands to leave few gray areas and protect themselves from the anger of their servants. Foolish summoners lie in unmarked graves, or worse.
Once the commands expire, the summoner may try to rework the ritual to bind the demon to his will at a later date. Summoning the same demon twice is extraordinarily risky. Roll Intelligence + Occult at difficulty 8. The summoner must gain more successes than the number of previous binding rituals the summoner has performed on the demon in question (so if the summoner has bound the demon twice before, three successes are required). If the roll is successful, the summoner and the demon go through the same process as before. If the roll fails, binding the demon is ineffective. On a botch, the ritual backfires as mentioned previously, and the demon in question can never be summoned by the occultist again.