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Terrible TriviumYou may remember the Terrible Trivium from The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. He’s a demon from the Mountains of Ignorance and nearly manages to derail Milo’s quest for the sisters Rhyme and Reason. He operates by burdening his victims with menial and repetitive tasks as a way to distract them from being productive.

I’ve been under his influence lately, so the matter is rather on my mind. Escaping his influence is rather like leaving the Doldrums, you just have to think. In this case I have decided to think about how he might be introduced into an In Nomine game, and I invite you to make that journey with me.

Building the Terrible Trivium


The Phantom Tollbooth is a mervelous book. If you have not yet read it, you should do so. It is full of puns and fantasy with more than a few ideas that could be worked into Hell or the Marches.

The first two questions when building a demon are Band and Superior. He’s highly manipulative and not much interested in “the deal,” so Impudite and Balseraph are the most likely bands (we’ll cycle back to this). He’s also interested in keeping people from their appointed tasks and thus their destiny. This puts the Terrible Trivium rather clearly in the camp of Kronos, and since he shows no great affinity to any other superior, I think we can leave him there.

Looking at Kronos’ Band Attunements you learn that his Balseraphs can mimic the Resonance of an Angel. This means we can have our cake and eat it too. The Terrible Trivium is a Balseraph, and the Choir he replicates is the Mercurian. This isn’t quite the same as being an Impudite, but it definitely carries all the same social savvy.

He’s neither particularly strong nor particularly weak, so 2 Corporeal Forces are probably about right. By his very nature he is cunning and precise, though not beyond the typical range for humans so 3-4 Ethereal Forces is probably the best. Likewise, he can get a cold read on the social dynamics of Milo’s party and only the willful Watchdog, Tock, is able to resist his resonance. With this in mind, I think that 3-4 Celestial Forces are called for.

A Demon By the Numbers

The Terrible Trivium

Balseraph of Kronos, Demon of Trivial Tasks, Captain of the Infernal Hourglass

Forces: Corporeal 2, Ethereal 4 (Precision), Celestial 3
Corporeal Hits: 16
Skills: Dodge/2, Fast Talk/4, Fighting/2, Running/2, Survival/2, Tracking/2
Corporeal Songs: Charm/1, Dreams/1, Tongues/2
Ethereal Songs: Charm/1, Dreams/1, Light/2
Celestial Songs: Charm/1, Dreams/1, Form/6, Possession/2
Attunements: Balseraph of Kronos (Mercurian)
Distinctions: Knight of the Winged Chariot, Captain of the Infernal Hourglass

The Demon In Action