Before we go into this, I’d like to point out my inspiration for some of my thoughts on demons and their summoning. The Bartimeaus Sequence is a small collection of fantasy books by an author named Jonathan Stroud, which I took a particular liking to when I was younger; even now Bartimeaus (the main protagonist) is, I apologise to the leaders of the Burning Legion, my favourite demonic character in all fiction. The main thing to highlight, however, is Jonathan Stroud’s ideas on demonic summoning from the perspective of the demon being bound – these are very good and can easily be applied to any typical lore universe. Once more, they make sense.
Okay, I have a random assortment of reagents, now what?
To summon a demon you need a circle of magical power, a summoning circle. If you do not have a circle, you are not going to be summoning any demons. Typically these are drawn in chalk or ink upon a flat surface, in many lore universes pentacles are preferable, in Warcraft however the general setup looks more like this:
The important thing to note here is that pentacles do not seem to be used as a symbol of magical power in WoW. This is important to note; because if you start drawing pentacles and they have no magical power IC, your summoning isn’t going to get very far. Typically, once you have your circle, you’ll need incense. What kind of incense, you ask? Take yourself some Gromsblood, dry it, and burn it in pots. Why? Because Gromsblood repels demons; when you put it around the circle you are aiming to keep the demon securely in the circle whilst you bind it to your will. Failure to do this results in unpleasant consequences. You’ll also want some candles placed around the circle (perhaps at the corners of triangles or some such positioning), be sure to have something in place to collect dripping wax, you do not want to accidentally break your circle. Finally, you may require a focus of some description; infernal stones, demonic figurines, a guitar pick made from Archimonde‘s tooth – that kind of thing. It isn’t necessary for ‘normal’ demons, but some of the demons you can access with the Grimoire of Supremacy may require it.
This is the fun part; you need to cast a spell to summon the demon, requiring the name of the individual demon to be summoned. Next you need to bind it to your will. What happens if you fail to bind it or otherwise screw up a summoning? Look no further than Wilfred Fizzlebang. – Minor note; Summoning an Eredar Warlock/Pit Lord/Nathrezim is not advisable. Do not get too big for your boots because not only will they be able to stay even if they do kill you, but they probably will kill you.
Always attack the summoner
Rule one of fighting warlocks or other summoners – always target the summoner. You’ve all done this is PvE and PvP, I am sure. Have you ever wondered why? Because if the caster dies, the magic binding the demon breaks and the demon gets to return home, pretty straight-forward stuff, unfortunately the demon knows this too. Demons are mostly members of the Burning Legion, creatures which spend their off-days annihilating entire planets – they are wholly chaotic evil entities. Imagine, if you will, sitting down to your morning cup of tea, all of a sudden you hear your name whispered upon the winds to find yourself stuck in a circle on a strange world, having been summoned by a lesser creature whom subsequently commands you to perform some menial task as a slave. I do not know about you, but I wouldn’t be a happy camper. Demons do not want to be on a leash, they want to be free to do as they please, and to this end if they can kill you, they will kill you.
How do you keep the upper hand? Well, think of a summoning spell and binding ritual as a legally binding contract. You cover your ass left, right, and centre. You need to be sure that there are no flaws in your arrangement; because if a demon can find a flaw in paragraph 2697, subsection 9846, point 5, they will – and you might just find your career cut short because of it.
There are not many warlocks around, generally speaking, there is a very profound reason for this – apprentices get themselves killed. Being a Warlock is not like being a mage; the community is not large groups of teachers/lecturers and students, it is nowhere near this organised. High-end arcane textbooks give you all you need to know to work safely, high-end demonology textbooks are missing vital parts of incantations because the authors do not want to give away the secrets of their power. To the Star Wars fans among you, I implore you to think of the Sith – apprentices are trained by a master who, if they are competent, they end up killing. I put it to you now that Warlock society is much the same; it is about power and proving that you have more of it than your contemporaries.
Alright, I’m not feeling so confident anymore…
That’s fine. You’re not supposed to. Fel magic is the pinnacle of sheer Arcane destructive power, it isn’t going to be easy to master. Furthermore, summoning demons is a whole other kettle of fish – you are playing with something which is, in all likelihood, just as smart as you. Even Felhunters, despite their dog-like appearance, are very intelligent creatures. Spend an hour or two creating and double-checking your magic circle, get your summoning and binding spells memorised and stringent. At the end of the day, if you pull it off, you are commanding a pretty formidable force.
To take the example of a Felhunter again, let me put this into perspective: these particular demons are trained by the Annihilan – Pit Lords like Mannoroth the Destructor. They are trained specifically to target arcane spell casters and ignore all other enemies – this is because of their deadly ability to essentially eat magic. I’ve been RPing a powerful, and ancient, Draenei Mage for a long time. He knows his abjuration magic, and he is wise, but up against a Felhunter his shields are eaten and he is subsequently gorged by a hungry demon. He has never, once, won a fight against a Felhunter – because these are mage-killing machines. All demons have their downsides; Felhunters are useless against melee attackers (Skaraa’s saving grace more than once), but their strengths, if you employ them properly, are unmatched.