Part 237: Demon Cultivation - by SaffronKitI'm so excited not even exhaustion can stop me!
Demonic Cultivation: Frenemy or just a bunch of assholes?
Demonic Cultivation is... hold that thought. I actually dislike labeling anything as demonic because it is an oft used catch-all term for anything nasty and inhuman in xianxia novels. After Kaja Rainbow's post and some thinking, I'll break "Demonic" cultivation into three major tropes with some general details of each. Since it was relevant to the game, I will be starting with...
Demonic Beast Cultivation
Demonic beasts, not to be confused with Spirit Beasts (most of the time), are animals/plants/inanimate objects that have gained either limited or full sentience (but not typically sapience in initial stages) for whatever reason and can thus start to cultivate towards the Dao. How do they cultivate? Simply, by killing and eating each other and human cultivators! This style of Demonic cultivation is very heavily survival of the fittest based with cultivation typically based around a more primal eat their fill, then sleep to refine and cultivate. This applies mostly to beast type demonic cultivators who heavily value bloodlines, as oftentimes plants just sit there and do plant things while cultivating, and inanimate objects are... weird/inconsistent. I will be talking mostly about the beast types specifically as it is most relevant to the LP.
Very stereo-typically demonic beast cultivators cultivate much faster and are much stronger individually than their human counterparts, but have some kind of innate limit of what cultivation realm they can reach based on bloodline, are less clever than humans, and don't reproduce as often (usually). It is typically not probable to break through this bloodline limit barring a miracle of some sort, and is in stark contrast to human cultivators who always have the potential to reach the peak of the Dao regardless of their birth. Certain cultivation realms and bloodlines for demonic beast cultivators usually provide them with sapience and the ability to turn into a human form. Because the human form allows one to become closer to the Dao? Or socialize better with your frenemies? Or... I dunno, not take up so much space? It's certainly one of the more varied parts of the trope.
As for their interactions with human cultivators? Generally speaking Demonic Beast cultivators are at odds with human cultivators for varied reasons. For one thing human cultivators provide an easy and nutritious source of food for the lesser demonic beasts, awesome stuff they can't make themselves (pills/treasures), and/or racial hatred because our ancestors killed each other too. The latter point can actually be quite interesting of a dynamic in stories and is certainly one of the reasons I like one of my current favorite novels Heaven's Devourer.
Overall Demonic Beast cultivators are my favorite of the three tropes, and have a lot of interesting stuff about them I can't get into without making it an entirely separate post. So without delay...
Foreign Demonic Cultivation
The second trope is pretty simple and based in xenophobia. What if the demons were totally humans but not cause their bloodlines are totally different I mean look at those weird colored eyes or horns or extra arms or- you get the idea, they aren't human. Typically this type of demonic cultivator is an invade from a foreign world/land and cultivate in a way that is in direct opposition with the orthodox/traditional dao, sometimes literally a foreign dao. This type of cultivation is also usually directly opposite the previous trope in that Foreign Demonic cultivators grow off of bloodshed/suffering/eating babies for pleasure, whatever makes it easy to make them a clear cut enemy of all human cultivators with no exceptions. They come in pursuit of conquest of human lands and commit genocide because their race is the superior race.
Utilizing relatively evil arts is a hallmark of Foreign Demonic as corpse puppets/zombies, blood magic, terrible horrible insect/parasites, overwhelming physical power are all usual with many other equally evil arts that would take too long to name. Unsurprisingly, Foreign Demonic cultivators are usually individually stronger 1v1 vs human counterparts of the same level, yes this is a trend. They can be just as cunning as humans and oftentimes are able to make their own types of treasures/pills that are perhaps a bit on the more disgusting/revolting side. To a limited extent their foreign dao can be cultivated by humans for an easy route to being more powerful, usually at some cost such as enslavement or never being able to reach the peak again. Greedy humans fall for this every time of course and almost always are enemies of the MC.
A good example in novel form: Sovereign of Three Realms, makes use a foreign invader demon as an overarching pressure for the world as a whole and not just the MC! I'd rate it pretty decent, it has some dragging moments but is overall a very good novel though still incomplete.
For the final entry, we have
Heretical Demonic Cultivation Dao
Initially my post was only going to be the first two and this was going to get its own post, but frankly it does kind of fall within the overall trope. This type can go by many names, from Demonic to Ghostly but for this post I'll call it Heretical. This specific demonic cultivation type is invented and cultivated by humans in an attempt to take shortcuts on the path to the Dao. Unfortunately for them there are no shortcuts to reach the Dao, especially when it involves murder, rape (both spiritual and literal), and flagrantly ignore the taboo of not touching mortals or their kingdoms. The Heavenly Daos shun them along with the rest of the cultivation world but power is power and with enough of it, no one can stop them. It's also easy attracting new recruits to the Heretical Dao from the ranks of the lazy, greedy and desperate.
This Heretical demonic cultivation is what most people typically associate with blood magic, soul manipulation, necromancy and the like. Extremely insidious and cultivated on the down low until one is strong enough or find a large enough group of similar cultivators to take over an area. They provide cheap and easy villains for most novels while still scaling well with the MC. Frankly there isn't much else interesting to say, other than this is oft times what most people associate with the words "Demonic Cultivation".
My least favorite and least interesting version of Demonic Cultivation, Nine Star Hedgemon Body Art does a pretty respectable job of making their Corrupt Path more interesting and relate-able than usual. Also one of my top novels right now, though not complete.
That just about wraps it up for Demonic Cultivation, wow that is way more words than I thought I would type. Once again feel free to ask any questions for clarity if needed, or add your own thoughts!