As promised the other day, here’s a brief list of the “classes” of DEMONs that Aron and company may confront in the Nightmare Force series:
Denotes a DEMON which takes the form of or “inhabits” a computerized image file. Visual exposure to a Photographer has been known to cause paranoia, sleep disorders (i.e. night terrors), and insanity, sometimes culminating in death by remote means or a manifestation. The image may be of the DEMON’s eventual manifestation, but it may just as easily be of some other disturbing or innocuous subject. In the case of preexisting images uploaded to an electronic network, those of a psychologically disturbing nature are prime targets, as DEMONs across classes primarily feed on the electrochemical energy generated by the human emotions of fear and anxiety.
Animators take the form of nonexistent episodes of animated television programs or films. Variations of preexisting animated footage are possible as well — and all the more dangerous, as the DEMON’s influence may not be readily apparent. The episodes will invariably be a disturbing or surreal deviation from the source material, portraying graphic and tonally perverse events, often via imagery that could not exist within the confines of the source program’s real-world creation. Although Animators are not as dangerous upon visual contact as Photographers, they have been known to change based on who views them — even among multiple simultaneous individuals — and produce unique effects capable of inducing despondency, violent behavior, or catatonia.
Essentially identical in characteristics and effects to Animators, with the exception that their footage consists of live-action people and places. However, the “works” of Directors can still take the form of either polished film or crude “found footage.” As with Photographers, some are legitimate recordings of a DEMON which facilitates its propagation by digital means, while others are created wholly by the Director. Differentiation between the two varieties — as well as what is merely legitimately disturbing footage unrelated to DEMONS — is an inherent challenge.
Programmers target videogames, computer games, and other programs in general. Like Animators and Photographers, they may infect a preexisting game or create their own (albeit in purely digital form) through which to spread detrimental effects. However, this change can range from a slight modification of key features to — in the case of narrative-driven games — a total overhaul of the plot and characters. The challenge in tracking Programmers is that lesser interferences are often dismissed as “glitches” or “hacks,” while Programmers have been known to transcend their confines and infect other technology.
Though relatively uncommon, Authors are perhaps the most dangerous of DEMONs. They manifest in the form of text, which can quite literally go viral when distributed over the internet or — if the Author threatens or somehow possesses its victim — surreptitiously left in public on a digital device or storage medium. The “writing” can range from a complex story to a short warning to a jumble of nonsensical characters. In any case, by tracking the ocular movements and brain waves of its victim, an Author is almost guaranteed to manifest or in some way further spread after its victim has completed reading. Authors may manifest immediately or after a set period of times, though performance of a particular ritual may delay the event or transfer it to another victim.
The rarest of DEMONs, Singers choose to spread via digital audio files. These “Songs” are generally unnerving atonal pieces or cacophonous snippets of noise, though preexisting recordings of a disturbing nature are naturally a prime target for DEMONs if transferred to a computerized format. Listening to some or all of a Singer has been known to result in flu-like symptoms at the least, and psychotic breakdowns or manifestation (immediate or delayed) at the worst.
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“Virus” refers to any DEMON which does not fit into the above categories. Because of their unpredictability, Viruses are assumed to be especially dangerous. Viruses may be reclassified at any time, and so the term can actually denote any unidentified DEMON.
[In “A Routine Tune-Up,” though Aron doesn’t explicitly mention it, Graytongue would be considered a Programmer, although its particular use of creepspace and “nesting” in a separate real-world location was unique enough to consider it a “partial Virus”]