[CONAN] Demon's Breath

Here's a new critter for you to use in your games, and I'll explain how I came to create the beastie.

Remember (for those of you who don't know), my game centers around two Cimmerian Barbarian PC's, exploring their lives as they live and breathe in the lands around their village. Unlike many Conan RPG games where a lot of globetrotting is involved, my game is set up as a sandbox featuring the characters' clan lands and surrounding area. The village serves as a "base of operations" for the two Cimmerians, and there are a ton of NPCs that come and go from the spotlight as the story moves on. My PCs are young, just 15 and 16 years old at this point (we started the game with the PCs at age 11 and 12), and they've reached 3rd level.

To catch you up to speed, the clan's biggest festival was just celebrated. At this time, the village swells as clansmen from the outlying homesteads make the journey to partake of the festivities. Just afterwards, the PCs are sent to gather firewood to replentish what was burned during the 3 day festival. Out, alone in the woods, they hear the far distant sounds of battle echoing off the mountain sides. Investigating, the PCs find a wagon pulled by two mules--the wagon upturned and the mules dead. The wagon carried the PC's clansmen--an old woman and children--that were returning to their homestead after the festival. They were hit by another Cimmerian clan--a clan without honor who stand with a Blood Feud with the PC's clan.

Long story short: This encounter led to a chase and several game sessions as the PCs realize that one of their clansmen--a little 4 year old girl--was taken by the enemy clan. The PCs overcome several obstacles--a wood where Time is not constant and encounters with proto-Cimmerians that never advanced racially after the Great Cataclysm--to track their enemy and the little girl to a cave complex.

For this complex, I adapted the low-level introductory D&D adventure SCOURGE of the HOWLING HORDE to the Hyborian Age. If you've never seen that adventure, don't fret. It's your standard goblins-in-the-cave style of intro adventure for 1st level characters.

The adventure features golbins, hobgloblins, a bug bear, giant spider, giant weasle, gelatinous cube, zombie, skeleton, young black dragon, a goblin shaman, and a few other "regular" low level beasties.

Of course, I had to jettison all of that for my Conan game. I populated the place with Grath clansmen (the bad guys in my campaign--the Cimmerian clan fighting the Blood Feud with the PC's clan). To do this, I basically looked at the goblins and hobbies and other beasties, and I said to myself, "If this creature were human and a Cimmerian Barbarian, what kind of stats would he have?" It was a fun exercise transmuting standard D&D baddies into my Grath foes. If there were six goblins in a room, this became three 1st level Grath. Or, I might have a 2nd level and a 1st level Grath--and once, I made a 3rd level foe.

I ended up with a guard dog, several 1st level Grath, two 2nd level foes, and one 3rd level foe. I kept the Giant Spider, too. I stocked the dungeon with more than enough baddies to capture the two PCs--in fact, I thought that there was really no way that the PCs would prevail. My goal was to capture them. I wasn't going to ensure that any outcome happened--I'd leave that up to fate, dice throws, and the players' actions. But, I knew what I had put in the dungeon, and I knew that the two PCs were only 2nd level (at that time). And, I figured that they'd either die or get captured (with a slight chance that they were stealthy enough to avoid encounters, sneak in, and sneak out). The Giant Spider, I felt, was very "Conan". If the Grath captured the PCs, the PCs would be stripped down to their loin cloths and thrown in with nothing but their bare hands to fight the Giant Spider. I even considered throwing one of them in there at a time--I'd decide as the game progressed.

To my utter and complete surprise (and some hot dice throws plus some well time Fate Point use), the two PCs enter the complex as Conan would. They were slayers, their blades dripping with blood, stalking the corridors. Everyone they met, they dispatched in a hail of swings and throws, slices and bashes.

They were death itself, looking for their missing clansman.

It was fantastic. I couldn't believe my eyes. It was like an epic climax in a good Conan story. For two game sessions, the players fought, pushing their PCs through the heart of the dungeon. I wasn't easy on them, either. I used Listen checks to bring PCs from different areas, and I played the Grath "smart", using pre-set intruder tactics and sending runners to gather help.

Didn't matter.

Fate was on the PC's side.

They did what Cimmerians do. They blasted their way in and killed everything in sight.

...we had to take a break from the campaign. Real Life stuff gets in the way. One of my players sold his house and is moving into a new one. Our last game was in September. I took a vacation, and then there was Thanksgiving and Christmas and the holidays and busy work schedules, blah, blah, blah...

...and here we are.

We're all three chomping at the bit to get gaming again. And, I want to pick the game up with a BOOM. Where we ended was this huge fight in the corridor, right outside the complex's kitchen. Blood and gore and excriment make the cut stones slippery. There's no light in the corridor save an oil lamp the PCs have that they've set on the floor. Bodies lay in frantic poses, growing stiff on the floor. And, all the time, there is this eerie howl--the complex's namesake. Natural small holes and tunnles catch wind from hills above the underground complex, making the corridors of the place a natural wind tunnel. So, as the PC stand their in the corridor, their hair blows from this breeze. And, the caves howl in this unearthly, low, sound that comes and goes with the gusts of wind.

I have an overall story that is gradually being revealed to the PCs as the game progresses. They don't know it yet, but the reason the Grath (the clan target of the Blood Feud) have lost their honor, and are basically devolving as a society, is due to a demon's influence. The demon Ollam-Onga is being brought back into the world (after being killed/banished in a Howard Conan story).

As we pick up the next game, I'm sure the PCs will finish stripping the bodies and continue their search for Mallie--the little missing 4 year old.

Being the GM, I want to continue and capitalize on the atmosphere and energy that we've got going in this game. I don't know about you, but as GM, I'm just as likely to change things in a game between game sessions as I am to stick to the original plan. I always make my adventures and encounters flexible. The goal is to have fun, and that fun many times come from excitement, intrigue, and mystery.

I think of it like a writer on a TV series. Sometimes you plant things in a game with no idea what you're going to do with them. I remember seeing a new Battlestar Galactica documentary where the Helo character was meant to be just a hero that gives up his seat on the shuttle from Caprica to the Battlestar so that Baltar can be one of the survivors. Originally, we weren't meant to ever see that character again. But, as it played, we did come back to Helo, and he became a major character among the cast. From the outside looking in, Helo's character arc looked to be pre-planned.

That's how I like my encounters and stories to go. I want them to look smooth and believeable from the players' point of view, but, in reality, I may have made up something on the spot or the night before the game session that I thought would be interesting to play.

This is, really, how I came to create the new creature: the Demon's Breath.
I have been looking for an opportunity to, through the events that happen in the game, alert the players that there is something more afoot than just a normal Blood Fued between two rival Cimmerian clans.

The first thing I did was to describe the Grath the first time the PCs encountered one (which was at the overturned cart--see the OP). They don't look like Conan. They did at one time, but this demon's influence on them has been gradually taking effect over decades (it's not easy to influence an honor bound people, even for a demon!).

From a distance, the Grath looked like a normal Cimmerian. The Grath that they encountered at the cart sported long, black hair, some of it on the back of his head gathered into a pony tail. There was a braid that hung down the left side of his face. He was clean shaven. Blue eyed. He wore a big, billowy cotton shirt with a collar, long cuffs a the wrist, and laces at the neck and chest. He sported a wide weapon girdle, sword, knife, dirk, water costrel, and a javelin quiver on his back.

The first clue that I gave the PCs was his kilt. It wasn't made of cloth or leather, as is normal. It was made of some shiny, black, reptile scale skin.

After they downed this Grath, when they were stripping the body, they noticed that his teeth were filed--like a Pict would do. There was a strange, small swirly-Celtic-ish tattoo, about the size of a nickle, at the man's temple. And, in one of the sacks on his belt, the PCs found it contained teeth--some human and some animal.

Now, this wasn't enough to broadcast THERE'S A DEMON PULLING THE STRINGS HERE!!! But, it was enough to make the players interested and inquisitive. They're on the lookout for things not ordinary.

The next clue I gave them came when they attacked the Howling Cave. MOST of the foes they fought were Grath warriors. But, I threw in a few foreigners. These men were definitely not Cimmerians. They were tall--quite tall. Lanky even. With lighter hair and unfamiliar clothing.

A successful Knowledge check informed the players that these foreigners were Hyperboreans--a Hyborian race living on the other side of the Eiglophian mountains, to the northeast.

What are they doing here?

At this point, we don't know.
Now....finally....the creepy, creepy....

In the larder of the kitchen, just across from where the last battle took place, I have placed a lone Hyperborean. As the PCs strip the bodies, I'll give them a secret Listen check. There's very little light, so as they inspect stuff, they'll have to bring whatever it is closer to the lamp that was laid down on the corridor floor, or bring the lamp with them to each body. Either way, the lamp is right next to the kitchen door (that was splintered during the fight last game session). This is where the Listen check will happen.

The howl from the wind in the corridor is harder to hear inside the kitchen, so anytime the PCs enter the kitchen--that I'm sure that they will inspect before moving on--they'll get an easier Listen check.

And, even if both PCs fail both Listen checks (unlikely), there's two more doors inside the kitchen. One leads to the pantry, and one leads to the larder.

This makes it almost 100% that the PCs will come upon the Hyperborean in the larder.

Let me describe this for you...

You open the door. It's made of heavy, banded wood. Inside is a natural pocket in the cavern that has been closed off and used as a larder. Cow carcasses hange on chains that are secured into the rock above. Several sacks and crates are stuff into every open space in this small room. And, there, in the center, directly across from you as you open the door, ten feet away, stands a man.

He is tall. Lanky, even. He's got a high forehead and a shaved scalp. His ears seem to be too big for his head, and his lips are thick. He wears cloth robes, several layers that overlap. In one hand, he grasps a vial of red. It looks like blood. In his other hand is what looks to be a bloody cloth. At his feet, he's drawn intricate designs all around him. He douses the blood onto the cloth, then squeezes the cloth so that it drips, and with this, he writes strange patterns on the floor, all the while he's speaking, as if in a trance, whispering, strange words--words you don't understand. His eye sockets show white as his eyes are rolled up inside his head.

Prominent, at his feat, is a raw piece of meat--it's a tongue! Some tongue that has been cut off out of somebody's head. It lays at the man's feet, circled by the blood drawn runes.

As the man whispers, the tongue begins to move, curling back and forth as if licking the air.

If the PCs attack, move closer, or in anyway disturb the Hyperborean, he will quickly come out of his trance, drop the vial and rag, and, like lightning, he'll draw a stilletto from his forearm and billowy robe.

Completely unknown to the PCs, this Hyperborean is dealing with sorcery that he does not quite understand. The man is scared. He thinks he's going to die. So what he does, he does out of desperation. He heard the fight that took place in the corridor right outside the kitchen, and he knows these two Cimmerians have just prevailed over multiple enemies--including the man's Hyperborean comrades.

Because of the girl, he knows that he will die, too.

Thus, he attempts sorcery that he does not understand and should study for several more years before attempting the invocation. His circle of blood is meant to protect him and converse directly with the demon, Ollam-Onga, to plead for his life and beg for help against the barbarians.

But a demon, especially this demon, is not a forgiving creature. When the spell is interrupted, it angers Ollam-Onga, and he reaches out to destroy that which angers him.

From the PC's point of view, what they experience is an invisible force that appears between them. The PCs are shoved back--from what, they know not which. The man in front of them is broken into many unholy positions. Each major bone in his body is snapped, and he is crimpled up into a human ball.

Then, the ball of him rises into the air, and the body is thrown, over the heads of the PCs, to slam into the farthest wall, crashing agains the table, tipping over the large cauldron of stew.

The contents of the cauldron spread across the stones. They Hyperborean is obviously dead--his eyes stairing widely and his mouth wide open.

This steam--mist--smoke starts to rise from the dead man's mouth. A lot of hit. Thick, gaseous, like fog. It's dark amber colored, like dried blood. And, it collects in billows, again like dense fog, hovering between waist and chest height.

So much of it issues out of the Hyperborean's mouth. And quickly, too. The room is filled in no time, and the rust colored fog floats out into the corridor and beyond.

There is little the PCs can do to stop the mist that billows forth from the dead man's mouth. The room fills up with the dark amber colored fog in remarkable time--like a fog bank rolling in, issuing forth from the dead Hyperborean.

If the players are quick to act, I'll get creative with it. If they can quickly come up with an idea to stop the fog from coming forth, I'll let it work--and the PCs will never have to fight the Demon's Breath. But, as I write this, I cannot think of a single way they'd be successful. Not only do the PCs have to figure a way to stop the fog, but they have to think of something very quickly. I'm not going to give the players a lot of time to think.

Now, maybe they'll shove a cloak or something into the dead man's mouth, attempting to stopper him as if he were a bottle. What they'll see is the man start to bloat. Either the stopper will be blown out of his mouth once enough pressure has accumulated, or maybe, if the stopper is anchored on the dead man's head (maybe a rope is tied around it), then the dead man will bloat to a size to where he will burst, through entrails, blood, and organs all over the place in a big explosion of the amber colored fog.

I think the best the PCs could probably do is shove something down the dead man's throat, buying a few combat rounds, and then running far from where the dead man lies.

Of course, eventually, the fog will reach them--because they're looking for Mallie and won't leave the cave complex yet--and they'll face the Demon's Breath.

Right before the PC's eyes, the fog begins to twirl, round and round, the gas forming an oblong ball. The mist is twisting around itself, like a bloated tornado.

It takes on a shape, vaguely man-like. What that? A face appearing in the smoke? Maybe...but the PCs can't place it. They think they recognize the face, but it's not solid enough. They can't quite make it out.

If a PC gets interested in this, give him some type of check (Spot, INT, WIS...whatever you think appropriate). The face the PC sees is himself--all contorted and evil looking, though.

These twirling balls of fog begin to move. At moments, they look like a man running as fast as he can, but the gaseous shape is constantly changing--so anything, for certain, is hard to make out.

The way the Demon's Breath attacks is that it simply runs at you--straight at you. It's a thick, dense, vaguely man-shaped ball of fog that dives right at you like a ranged weapon.

Defenders can only Dodge the attack. Parrying is ineffective against this monster.

As the Demon's Breath comes at its target, roll a normal melee attack throw vs the target's Dodge AC. If a "miss" results, the fog form is not dense enough to actually damage the target. It just dissipates. Then, it may be gone for a round or two (or not--GM's choice for maximum effect), and it will form again, attempting another pass at its victim.

If the attack is successful, the victim feels like he's hit with a dense gust of wind. Hard wind--harder (denser) than he's ever felt before in his life. This does some physical damage (see the stats below). But, also, the victim actually feels the fog flow through his body. He can feel is internal organs move and the dense fog flows through.

And, the victim may feel sick--nauseated, like he's going to throw up or lose his bowels.

When hit, the victim's mind goes to every evil or "wrong" thought he's ever had in his life. Even good, honorable people have wicked thoughts, and when the Demon's Breath moves through you, you feel violated--as if the demon knows these thoughts. Thoughts that you had but would never act upon: That time you lusted after your friend's mother; or when you almost stole that money but decided against it; or any real evil that you've done in your life but have regretted, forgotten, and wished you could forget.

The Demon's Breath reaches into your soul and picks out the spotted, unworthy parts that you always try to suppress.
Stats for the Demon's Breath

This foe, although different in many ways, is somewhat inspired by the spell Marique throws in the new Conan The Barbarian movie when she blows the sand at Conan, and these sorcerous sand warriors arise from the ground to combat him. You can see the connection, yes?

The other inspiration I had for this creature came from both the Scourge of the Howling Horde D&D adventure and from our last game session. During our last session, the PCs came to the kitchen door and found it locked. I was just ad-libbing, so when they banged on the door with their fists, I voiced a cry from the other side, "No! Go away!"

The PCs preceded to break the door down (thus the splintered door to the kitchen mentioned above), but this noise brought all the baddies within ear-shot. So, we had the battle royale right outside the kitchen and ended the game just as the last foe fell.

Now, normally, I'd leave the rest of the dungeon unpopulated and let the players benefit from such a job well done (defeating all those enemies I'd created for the place), and had I picked up the game the next week, I'm sure that's how it would have gone.

But, in the mean time, all these months that we haven't played, I've thought up the Demon's Breath. It's cool. It's exciting. And, mostly, it's an exceptional way to alert the players that there's something supernatural going on--they're not just in a normal Blood Fued dispute trying to rescue a kidnapped clansmen. I want the players to feel as if they've definitely stumbled onto something.....big.

I'm still rewarding the PCs. I'm raising them an entire level for their epic showing against the inhabitants of Howling Cave.

Now....I see an opportunity to take the story a bit further.... That opportunity lies with the introduction of this new critter I've invented: The Demon's Breath.

Besides that....the enemy is just...well...cool, man! Cool!

For stats for the Demon's Breath, I took the lazy GM's approach. For example, the kitchen in the D&D adventure is supposed to have a goblin cook, a dire weasel, and a lesser gray ooze.

Well, I'm still throwing out the ooze. That's not "Conan". And, the goblin cook and the dire weasel have become Demon's Breath #1 and #2.

If I need stats for the Demon's Breath (unlikely), then I'll just use whatever the goblin or weasel have.

For example, the goblin cook look like this...

Goblin Cook
11 HP
NE Small humanoid (goblinoid)
Init: +1; Senses darkvision 60 ft.; Listen +2, Spot +2
Languages Goblin, Common
AC 15, touch 12, flat-footed 14
Fort +3, Ref +1, Will -1
Speed 30 ft.
Melee handaxe +4 (1d4+1)
Base Attack: +1; Grapple: -2
Abilities STR 12, DEX 13, CON 12, INT 10, WIS 9, CHA 6
Feats Weapon Focus (handaxe)
Skills Hide +5, Listen +2, Move Silently +5, Ride +4, Spot +2
Possessions leather armor light wooden shield, handaxe.

Now, to turn this guy into a Demon's Breath, I just take some of the stats, like this....

Demon's Breath
AC 15
HP 11
Initiative +1
Speed 30' (Gaseous)
Melee +4 (1d4+1)

I probably won't need more than those stats. The defense of a dense gaseous form, at least in this case, is more about how dense the gas is--how "formed" it is. Thus, the one AC is all I need (Demon's Breath does not dodge or parry). It's not a question of it the thing is hit. It is. The quest is if the thing was damaged with the hit.

I gave it the same number of HP as the goblin. Initiative and Melee are the same (physical damage as the Demon's Breath runs into the victim), and I notated that the Speed is gaseous. Basically, the Demon's Breath can float and fly in all directions--like fog.

If something unusual comes up during the game, I can always look at the goblin's other stats and do a quick interpretation as the game moves on.


3D MOVE: I've already noted that the creature's speed is gaseous. The creature moves in all directions like fog.

VARIED STATS: The different Demon's Breath dense entities are definitely different from each other. So, instead of making up one Demon's Breath and cloning it for the adventure, I kept looking at the adventure scenario and translating the goblins, hobgoblins, bugbear...whatever...to a Demon's Breath. This way, different Demon's Breath have different AC's, different HP's, different Speed ratings, etc. The Demon's Breath are constantly reshaping balls of fog, and I didn't want the players to count on a certain stat (AC, number of HP, Speed rate...whatever). I want to give the players the impression that each Demon's Breath is unique.

For example, the Demon's Breath that first appear before the PCs in the kitchen do different damage. I just lifted whatever bonus and melee damage the creature did in the D&D adventure. Thus, one of two first Demon Breaths encountered will do Melee +4 (1d4+1) physical attack and be AC 15, HP 13, Speed 30. That was the one taken from the goblin. The other is taken from the dire weasel, and thus, it will do Melee +6 (1d6+3), AC 16, HP 13, Speed 40.

This also goes for tactics and intelligence. I plan on playing these first two Demon's Breath entities encountered as straight up--they just form and dive straight for the PCs in attack.

Later, when I converted the hobgoblins to Demon's Breath, I decided that these specific Demon's Breath would show some intelligence in their moves. They'll try to flank and use tactics that protects themselves. They may even be stealthy or end up with Surprise on the PCs.

SPECIAL ATTACK: As I note above, a successful attack means that the Demon's Breath not only contacts, but actually flow through the body to where the victim can feel his internal organ move with the force of the evil fog moving through him. Evil thoughts are stirred up, and the target feels sick to his stomach.

Anytime a Demon's Breath makes a successful attack, the victim makes a Fort Save at a DC equal to the Demon's Breath AC. If successful, the sickening feeling is momentary--less than a second--and has no lasting effects. If the save is not successful, then the target is considered Sickened (-2 to all attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, saving throws, skill checks and ability checks) for one hour. If the save is failed more than once from multiple attacks or later attacks, the effects do not stack except that the one hour effect period is measured from the last failed save. So, basically, when fighting the Demon's Breath, the PCs will feel sick to their stomachs unless the save is made--and the save must be made each time a Demon's Breath makes a successful melee attack.

SPECIAL DEFENSE: Given the Demon's Breath is a gaseous entity, damage done to the Demon's Breath is dependent on how disrupted the creature becomes as the result of a successful attack by its foe.

Piercing weapons do one point of damage per successful hit, regardless of the weapon's normal damage. Don't let the PC know this, though. Have him roll damage normally, but only mark off 1 HP of damage on the creature in secret.

Blunt weapons do half damage vs. the gaseous Demon's Breath.

Slashing weapons, like the blades of a fan, are best at disrupting the Demon's Breath. These weapons do full damage against the creature.

OPTIONAL DEFENSE: I was thinking that the Demon's Breath are a challenge for low level characters, but even if higher level characters are pitted against them, the stats for the Demon's Breath should stay in the range I have described above. Once the Demon's Breath hits, though, it dissapates and meshes into the rest of the fog around the room. I described this above. The Demon's Breath can then re-form at the GM's whim.

That, right there, makes the creature a little tougher than expected. Here's the optional part: Once the creature reforms, place it back at 100% hit points. This will make piercing weapons virtually ineffective against the creature and a challenge for higher level characters because the Demon's Breath will have to be destroyed in one round--in many situations, with one blow. A constantly re-appearing enemy that regains all damage in one round and can pop around to different places on the battlefield can be quite the challenge for even medium-level characters. If the challenge still needs to be harder, then simply add more Demon's Breath foes. That will keep even high level character busy for a bit.

SANCTUARY: The one way to deal with Demon's Breath is to deal with the creatures as you would fog. In D&D, a spell that causes wind to blow will dissapate the Demon's Breath and keep it from re-forming.

In the Conan game, the PCs most likely won't have spells that cause wind to blow the fog of the Demon's Breath apart. The GM should consider where this happens naturally in a game. For example, in the dungeon complex I set up, there are a few areas (the corridor right outside the kitchen, for example) where a natural wind tunnel is created. I'm not going to let the Demon's Breath form here. If you, as the GM, agrees, you can even use naturally windy areas to form barriers that will keep Demon's Breath from forming.

Since my PCs are only 3rd level, I'm hoping that they put two-and-two together to realize that they can retreat to the windy corridor should the fight with the Demon's Breath go south and prove too much for them.

OPTIONAL ATTACK: As I was converting the head hobgoblin from the D&D adventure into a Demon's Breath, I noticed that he not only had a better AC, HP, and damage, but he also had a ranged attack.

Here, I decided to go a step further with the development of the Demon's Breath, thinking, in my mind's eye, that this one looks like a tiny tornado and electrical storm combined. It twirls around, in its man-shaped form, with lightning crackling inside it. Looks kinda cool in the dark--that lightning crackeling and popping in the dark.

The hobgoblin had a bow, so I simply used the Ranged Attack stats and gave this Demon's Breath an electrical bolt that it can fire at an enemy some distance away (I'd use standard bow range with the usual penalties). So, in my game, this one Demon's Breath can do a ranged lightning attack +4 (1d8+1) from across the room.

When the electrical bolt hits, the GM will determine a quick general hit location (I just use a d6 throw--nothing elaborate) and every piece of equipment that the character wears takes the same damage as if it had been subject to a Sunder attack.

Cloth and leather will catch fire (doing fire damage starting on the next round), wood, iron, and steel items conduct the electricity and will blow apart when struck.

This is a great way to make the otherwise weak Demon's Breath a pesky foe to be respected.
Future Appearances of the Demon's Breath


I'm already thinking of how this specific foe can return to my game, and I've thought of two interesting encounters.

First off, picture the PC village, at night. A dense, natural, fog rolls in. But, is it really natural? Among this fog is the Demon's Breath.

The entities form. There is a design to it--some intelligence at work (the demon, of course). They're here for a purpose. And as the clansmen fight off the nasty beings, some item or some person is carried off, stolen from the PC's people.

I like the idea of the Demon's Breath being used as a distraction while the real object of the attack is pulled off unhindered.


The other idea for a future appearance of the Demon's Breath is to turn it into a sorcerous spell. The material component will be a being, though. In order to cast the Demon's Breath spell, a person must be sacrificed and used as the vessel from which the Demon's Breath is created.

The strength of the Demon's Breath the comes forth (see my notes above about how each Demon's Breath entitiy is stronger or weaker than its neighbor) depends on how evil the sacrifice. If the sacrifice has killed many other beings and it soul is spotted, then the Demon's Breath that issues forth from that body might be quite strong. An innocent that has done nothing but hunting probably won't bring forth formidable Demon's Breath--only weak ones.

I like the idea that this spell requires the death of another--and the "evilness" of the sacrficed character effects the strengthy of the monster summoned via the body.

Maybe once the spell is cast, the caster has a limted time to make the sacrifice, else the spell is negated.