The Monster in the Machine

rpgblogcarnivallogoWhat happens when science meets magic? Machines possessed by demons? That’s science fantasy, which is the topic of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival, as hosted by Daemons & Deathrays.  What separates science fantasy from science fiction is the introduction of the supernatural and magical.  Let’s take this a little bit literally and add monsters to machines.

The planet of Sarus IV is one of the oldest colonies.  It’s a highly developed world that is home to over three billion people from all species in the sector.  Though inhabited for over two centuries, there are still frequent discoveries.  The most recent was the ruins of a structure buried deep within a dead volcano.  The exploring geologists found a great spherical chamber covered in runic carvings and filled with crystals attached to cables.  Trouble started after scientists began experimenting with the crystals, which only seemed to light up in the presence of the runes.

Demons have begun to appear all over the planet.  At first the reports of machine possession were dismissed as rational accidents.  But as they become more and more numerous, the authorities are beginning to worry.  The demons seem to exclusively prefer possessing electronic machinery.  As the demon reveals itself the inhabited device undergoes a partial transformation that features glowing red eyes, stress cracks and the acrid smell of burning circuits.  Possessions seem to be at random but there are distinct types of demons.


Cameras are pervasive on Sarus IV, where they’re private on comms units, used by public media or controlled by state security. Shutterbugs are attracted to those with secrets to hide, particularly the successful who it envies. When passive, a shutterbug takes thousands of pictures and videos as it records everything it sees.  Once bored of the life it’s documenting, it reveals itself.  The device sprouts several sets of wings and flies off to take images of anything that would embarrass or anger.  When the device storage is full, shutterbugs attach themselves to transmitters and broadcast everything before exploding.

Cable Tie

This demon inhabits the most simplest of electronic components – wiring.  Bundles of undisturbed and forgotten cables attract this slothful demon, the more cables the better.  With a few cables the cable tie can only create a small nest of knots, twists and tangles.  When the demon gets into a server room, there’s enough cables for it to form an animated mass.  The cable tie will slumber peacefully but go on a destructive rampage if disturbed.  This always seems to happen as a technician will come to investigate why all the cables are unplugged.

Coffee Fiends

It turns out that demons like caffeine.  Coffee fiends in particular like to possess coffee machines, attracted by the aroma of a full pot or freshly ground beans.  The first sign of trouble is all the coffee vanishing as the demon hungrily devours it.  If denied more or if given too much, the demon goes into a caffeine induced frenzy of consumption, eating everything in its path.  As its physical bulk increases, its demonic nature becomes more and more apparent as its magics are strained holding the original machine together.  Soon its gluttony is its undoing and it explodes in a shower burnt coffee and debris.

Credit Crunch

There isn’t any physical currency on Sarus IV as everyone uses a small electronic credit chit.  There’d always been jokes about these chits wandering off or getting lost. The demons that possess chits don’t seem to understand fully how they work.  When passively inhabiting, the demon steals a small percentage from the vendor, perhaps in an attempt to enrich itself.  Once it gets frustrated with this, it grows thousands of little legs and scuttles away as soon as it can.  It goes on a spending spree until the chit’s account is empty and then turns to dust.

Image Credit – Danbo Moser by Takashi Hososhima – CC-BY-SA-2.0