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Basic Information

The succubus is a manifestation of the archetypal she-demon which seduces men by night and, depending on the tradition, may or may not also kill babies in their sleep. The name, incidentally, translates from the Latin more or less directly as "one that lies beneath". They are traditionally depicted as attractive human females, sometimes with minor demonic features which they may - or may not - be able to conceal under a glamour.

Motivation varies - sometimes the succubus simply does what it does because it personifies the sin of lust and cannot be reasonably expected to do anything else. Other versions seek specifically to seduce those who have taken vows of chastity or to seduce married men into adultery, thus winning souls for hell by promoting deliberate sin, others rape sleeping men to steal their semen. Those that steal semen may then use it to conceive their own half demon children1 (some traditions stating that demons were sterile in their own right), transform into incubi and use the semen to impregnate human women or may have some other magic related purpose for it. More generally the succubus' activity may be designed to exhaust and weaken the men they rape or seduce or may be used (possibly deliberately) to transfer STDs and in any case, if they do nothing else they are walking instances of fornication. Mythopoetically the succubus represents female sexuality unrestrained by social convention (especially those that countervail the idea of motherhood by also killing babies) - much as the incubus does for male sexuality. The hermaphrodite "succubus" (i.e. that which is also an incubus) appears very popular with certain demographics on the internet.

Those villains, especially at BBEG level, who deal with demons are also prone to have these creatures as concubines.

Culturally specific manifestations of these creatures include some versions of the lamia, the lilitu of Mesopotamian myth and the Greek Empusa. They also have something of the vampire about them and shades of malevolent fae like the leanan sidhe. Some examples work the men they prey on to exhaustion and then consume their bodies and the role as nocturnal providers of exhaustion is shared by the hag.

See Also


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • For campaigns that include character sexuality, succubi should be a professional hazard where they exist.
  • The semen stealing variety may extend its amusements by setting a PC up for a rape or paternity charge.
  • Having a succubus for a mother may be an interesting background for a PC.
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