The origins of DEMON are obscure, even to superheroic mystics. It arose in 1925 as a Satanic cult in the United States, but under whose direction no one knows for sure. It remained mostly quiet through the Second World War, though cult members are said to have been involved in some bizarre crimes in New York City during the 1930s.
In the 1950s, DEMON revealed its true colors, adopting garb and methods similar to other villainous organizations and attempting to conquer the world — but with mystic power instead of technology. No one really took the group seriously until the 1968 theft of the Basilisk Orb, an ancient artifact of vast, but poorly understood, arcane power. With the Orb in hand, the leaders of DEMON, a group apparently known as the Inner Circle, nearly did take over the world. Only concerted action by several superheroes and a young UNTIL stopped them, and in the process the Orb was lost again and has never re-appeared.
Its defeat in the Orb incident hit DEMON hard, costing it many members and much prestige in the underworld and Mystic World. For over a decade it struggled, often suffering additional losses at the hands of costumed do-gooders and the likes of UNTIL. But a major victory in 1981, when it lured several high-ranking UNTIL agents and four superheroes into a trap and slew them all in a bloody sacrifice to the gods of the underworld, brought DEMON a flood of new recruits and vaulted it into the Department of Defense’s Superhuman Survey as a “Top Ten Most Dangerous Organization” — a ranking from which it has rarely fallen since.
Repeated encounters with DEMON have given the world’s superheroes some insight into the workings of the organization, though much about it remains unknown. DEMON apparently has four ranks: Brother (or Sister); Initiate of the Mysteries; Morbane; and at the very top, the Inner Circle. Brothers (and Sisters) are the rank-and-file of the organization, the vast majority of members who participate in rituals (sometimes as the sacrifices!), serve as shock troops in battles against superheroes and PRIMUS, and the like. They are led by the Initiates, who serve DEMON as both priests and field commanders. They intercede with the Lower Powers on DEMON’s behalf, command Brothers in battle, and perform similar tasks of importance. As a badge of office, each Initiate carries a Golden Wand that can harm those it touches.
Initiates who show true talent, power, skill, and guile may eventually learn enough to be inducted into the ranks of the Morbanes. Every Morbane is a sorcerer of great power and dark wisdom, able to cast many spells and, typically, to stand against the average superhero in a one-on-one confrontation. Morbanes usually work by themselves, presumably according to the dictates of the Inner Circle; two or more of them together in one place at one time is cause for concern. In addition to his arsenal of spells, each one carries an Enchanted Mace and a Soul Gem, both quite useful in battle.
At the pinnacle of DEMON is the Inner Circle, about which outsiders (and even Initiates) know almost nothing. Depending on which expert you ask, it ranges in size from three to two dozen, works together at all times or spends far too much energy on infighting, and exerts great magical power or simply commands the Morbanes through their Soul Gems. Given its undoubted cleverness, abilities, and resources, it’s unlikely anyone will discover the truth about the Inner Circle anytime soon.
At present, it is believed that an occultist by the name of Luther Black is the head of DEMON though this has yet to be substantiated.
Originally published in Champions Universe by Steven S. Long and Darren Watts. ™ and © Hero Games, Inc., 2002.