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The warp is a realm that is separated from reality by a barrier, keeping denizens from interacting with each other Daemonic possession allows for a daemon from the warp to take possession of a human body as a host. It involves a ritual in which a human is sacrificed to the daemon, with ancient symbols carved into the flesh to bind the daemon to that particular host. These binds enslave a daemon to a master and force it to obey commands, allowing the mage to retain limited control over its actions.

The problem is that even though a daemon is bound to a host, it is still susceptible to the same daemon weaknesses, such as holy weapons, holy symbols, etc, etc, which allow it to be sent back to the warp. In addition, the daemonic essence eventually corrupts the body of the host, ultimately destroying it. Over time, the form becomes more daemonic, adopting features attributed to the daemons true form and making it obvious that the body is possessed. The daemon is forced to expend more energy to retain the body and prevent it from breaking down completely, cutting down on its effectiveness.

To get around this, an ancient cult devised a millennia-long eugenics program. Over thousands of years, they would practice selective breeding among their members, recruiting outsiders when necessary or obtaining genetic samples through other means. The end goal would be to produce a perfect host for a daemon with the correct genetic makeup to contain it with no issues. This host would have all the benefits of daemon hosts with none of the weaknesses, and be able to maintain the daemon long-term with no issues. After this child is conceived, a ritual would be performed in which a daemon would take possession of the embryo and be born in the human body into the world.

This project ultimately proved successful. However, with advances in technology, the cult believes it can speed up the process for future possessions. The creation of the artificial womb has allowed children to be grown in batches, drastically cutting down on time and effort. Genes can be taken from a variety of parents and be mixed and matched to create a person with the correct genetic makeup. The cult has the financial means and influence to create facilities where embryos can be created all at once, with those successes being brought to term and failures being exterminated. This would allow them to create an army of daemon hosts quickly and cheaply.

I need a reason for why a millennia-long eugenics program would be a more preferable option of creating a erfect daemonhost, despite advances in reproductive technology. Why would natural birth be lead to the most successful outcome?

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  • $\begingroup$ This sounds like a non-problem to me. Why not just declare that "ability to resist demonic influence" operates outside the sphere of biology? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ Also, why can't they just use their "chosen one" to breed an army of hosts the old fashioned way? They have already been doing this for generations, so one more won't hurt surely? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 20:22
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    $\begingroup$ If they started a thousand years ago, selective breeding was the only thing available. And then the program kept this through momentum. $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 17:11

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Lab grown don't have a soul

A deamon can only puppeteer the body if they can latch on to the soul. Lab grown babies and red heads are too far removed from biology, forgoing their right to a soul. No soul, no bond, per definition no perfect host, regardless of all other traits.

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    $\begingroup$ This can get somewhat disturbing if lab-grown humans will be absolutely normal in any other regard. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ @DarthBiomech: Don’t worry about it. They’re not actually conscious, just automata perfectly simulating consciousness. Please try not to think about the metaphysical conundrums this poses vis-a-vis the consciousness of any other human you may encounter. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs You could take the Worth the Candle route: souls aren't actually necessary for consciousness; they're only necessary for persistence of consciousness after death. $\endgroup$
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 12:39
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Demons are old school.

There are only a couple hundred of them, total. A few are really old but most of the ones still available came of age right around the same time the eugenics program kicked off - the formation of new demons and the start of that program having the same underlying reasons. The younger demons reminisce about the glory days, speak fondly of the eugenicists who kicked off that program, the silly stuff they did, the hell they raised. How awesome it was back then.

They think the vat grown thing is weak. Like old rock and rollers listening to a loop on a synthesizer at a live performance. "Like listening to my dishwasher!" The demons like the old ways.

The really old demons have different preferences yet. Some of them fondly remember all the tricks they had to use to get more mileage out of a random human body that was falling apart - like graybeard old coders thinking about the tricks for code when working memory was measured in kilobytes.

This new stuff just doesn't grab them and shake them. What is needed is a new batch of demons, right?

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    $\begingroup$ I remember daemonic possession back when we had to compile our own trans-cranial goto routines. All you whippersnappers with your heavily abstracted Occult Oriented Possession frameworks don’t know what it’s like to accidentally cause a memory leak! $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Nov 21, 2020 at 23:28
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Not a Matter of Genetics.

It is really hard to genetically engineer a super-genius because intelligence is not determined by a single gene. Rather it's some combination of all the genes and also how you were brought up. The same holds for demonic possession. No one has isolated the important gene(s) and many suspect it is impossible.

You can of course breed two good hosts and sometimes you will get an even better host. But unraveling how that happens from the genetic code is really hard.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the best answer IMO. Especially if nature and nurture are both factors. There's room in-world for doubt about whether the genes or the ritualistic way they raise the hosts are the more important factor. A lot of story potential. $\endgroup$
    – user72058
    Commented Nov 23, 2020 at 16:12
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The most simple answer is a head start. It would take a long time to raise a human for long enough, then kill them, sacrifice them, and evaluate the result properly. If you had a few millenia you could have refined it much further even if the new method is faster. For example, experiments on foxes suggest they can be domesticated, but this is nothing like what we have achieved with dogs that we've been domesticating for over 10,000 years.

Given a long lead time, a mild or even significant improvement in efficiency won't be enough.

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Timing is everything. You'd only be caught without your umbrella and get wet if you're not anticipating sporadic rain. If you live in an area where it rains every day, you'd walk around with an umbrella, and keep dry.

The demons can detect the trick when it's done in batches, in a matter of every couple of years. They're foul evil villainous demons, not idiots.

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The effects are so delicate that the artificial wombs and the chemicals necessary to genetically engineer things throw things off.

Or possibly they can not rule out the effect and would rather stick to what is already proven.

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To add a completely different option, the whole issue could also be caused by politics.

Inertia

Your cult already invested thousands of years to eugenics, constantly having to live with breathing the ashes of their former friends. Now some scientist comes along and says that this suffering has been totally unnecessary, and that there is a much easier way?

If the whole eugenics thing is a sufficiently deeply ingrained tradition (which it would have to be for many generations to put up with all the unpleasantness) the mere suggestion of a possible better way would lead to lynching, not to mention actually trying to implement something like growth labs.

Power Politics

Or perhaps the cult aristocracy happened into a political position defending eugenics against early - clearly absurd - 'improvements' to the process like Frankenstein-humans, and made it a policy to execute everyone arguing against the current paradigm (perhaps their political enemies were always the greatest supporters of new technology, and admitting to advantages of such technology would undermine their ruling position?).

Demon Feed on Suffering

The politics could even extend into the demon realm - what if the whole eugenics program isn't even meant primarily to produce better hosts (that being a nice side effect), but rather to feed the demons with all the suffering inflicted in the secret concentration camps? Only a few humans - if any - would know about this, and changing the process to a cleaner one involving growth vats and killing off non-sentient embryos based on their DNA just wouldn't work for the purpose of the demons (this works best if eugenics seems more morally acceptable than "pointless" torturing of innocents, but the advantage of slightly better hosts might still make eugenics the preferred options for the demons even if it isn't any easier on the humans).

Additional twist: maybe even the demons don't know how the suffering is what truly stabilizes the bond, and they might be just as surprised to see the genetically perfect vat-grown bodies fail as the human cult members are.

Technologically Advanced Suffering

If you want the breeding program to be actually viable at a later point, you could say that the genetic improvements do help, but that to create the perfect host you'd have to technologically optimize suffering surrounding the creation of it so the bond will hold.

This idea might also work well as an even darker part 2, depending on what you are intending to do - ie. imagine the heroes discovering that while they defeated the eugenics cult, a splinter group has been perfecting technological breeding and suffering in secret without having to worry about the assassins from their former cult, and can now try to take over the world with perfect demon-fused soldiers.

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The effects of the rituals are cumulative, and additive

Each ritual has its own evil, foul taint. Each ritual is unique in its terrific hideousness.

However - the intentions and flavor of the evilnessness of the ritual linger in the cosmic ether, waiting for another, similar experience. As each ritual is performed, it draws a tiny extra bit of Darkainium (a common name for evil-dark-horrible-villainous-energy-that-is-bad) from the remains of all past similar rituals. Over the millennia, these bits of Darkainium amount to quite a bit. Current estimates are at 1.9TD (Tera Darkainium) !!!

Aside from the accumulation of Darkainium, each ritual's flavor adds a unique spicy ting to the whole wine cask of badness. Each host created nowadays is both full to the brim with Darkainium, and tastes of many well aged previous successful participants.

Now you wanna start a new process, break down the monolith and go for microservices? Bah! You can't go wrong with the old ways!

Maybe combine this with @Puppy 's answer for a full old man's hardware development project.

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Development within a human womb is necessary to prepare the child

One of the traits selected for by the eugenics program is compatibility with the human host. A 100% compatible demon/host would not degrade the host body, and the demon would be so fully integrated with the host that traditional weapons would not be any more effective than they would against a normal human.

However, this trait it not fully genetic, part of it is inherited from the mother during development. Exposure to the various energies and chemicals that would make one compatible with a demon comes through the mother. Part of the eugenics program is creating the perfect mother, in order to give birth to the perfect host.

A lab-grown baby would not be exposed to these same energies/chemicals/hormones, and artificial replacements that work equivalently have not been found.

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