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So I was thinking gloomily the other day about how the tropey AUs that really take off are always ones that either bore me or skeeve me or both, and wishing that just occasionally, fandom would be overtaken with a wild passion for, say, daemon AUs. (Fusions with Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, in which a person's soul has a physical manifestation as an animal. Though it could also be a Zoo City fusion if you want to go darker, where only people who have committed violent crimes get spirit animals.)

The big problem with that sort of AU, and probably the reason why it's not as popular (other than that it doesn't particularly lend itself to writing lots of D/s slash) is that it's not in and of itself a generator of conflict. People have spirit animals! Yay! Now what? The Zoo City version is better in that respect because getting a spirit animal by definition means that your character has done some serious bad stuff, and there will probably be consequences, but not everyone wants to write about an ex-(or current)murderer.

But it is fun making lists of what daemons you think that a given character would have, and considering facets that Pullman didn't address - as for example, men have female daemons and women have male daemons in the books, but would a gay man or woman have a daemon of the same sex? Would a trans person have a daemon whose gender complemented their physical body, or the gender they feel themselves to be? Are people with dog daemons really servile by nature, or is this just the classism of Lyra's culture talking? What do people do if their daemon settles in a form with very specific environmental requirements - like, what if you live in Cleveland, and your daemon settles as a Pacific salmon?

For Buffyverse characters, obviously vampires would have no daemons. Angel and Spike would get their daemons back when ensouled - but what about other types of demon? What about Anya? If Lorne had a daemon, would it be some kind of Pylean critter? If I were doing Barbverse Spike, what, if anything, would he have post-Mohra blood?

Angel = timber wolf
Anya = red squirrel
Buffy = cougar
Cordelia = peacock
Darla, pre-vamping = ermine
Dawn = ruby-throated hummingbird
Drusilla, pre-vamping = roe deer
Fred = Grisons Striped goat
Giles = Pharaoh eagle-owl
Gunn = Malaysian sun bear
Hank = beaver
Harmony, pre-vamping = Angora rabbit
Joyce = caracal
Lorne = the Pylean version of a scarlet macaw
Oz = dingo (which morphs into a wolf after he's bitten.)
Tara = vicuna
Wesley = reticulated python
William/Spike = English Bull Terrier. Which is part of the reason Cecily felt he was beneath her - he has a servant's daemon, how common. (In the Barbverse, when Spike gets brought back to life by the Mohra blood, he would manifest a new daemon in the shape of his Pylean demon-form - which is strongly influenced by the shape of his original daemon.)
Willow = Central American squirrel monkey
Xander = river otter

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( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 7th, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC)
Oct. 7th, 2012 10:34 pm (UTC)
...Y'know, that's not a bad idea at all.

I would say Buffy's spirit animal/daemon being a cat of some sort is canon - it's in both "Graduation Day" ("It's a she. And aren't these things supposed to take care of themselves?"), "Restless" and "Intervention". Hell, she even speaks LOLcat occasionally.

On the other hand, I think Angel's spirit animal is a poodle.

Giles' might be an elephant (wise, slow to anger but fearsome when pushed too far, a bit myopic and not always aware of what goes on under his feet). Which... I'm not sure how that would work in practice. IIRC, most daemons in HDM are pet-size, so would that be a tiny toy elephant, or would he be accompanied everywhere by a 5-ton bull?

Do demons have daemons? I'm picturing Clem with a turtle.
Oct. 7th, 2012 10:45 pm (UTC)
IIRC daemons are the size of the real animal, so yeah, five-ton... well, it would be a cow elephant if we go by Pullman's rules. I can't recall if there were any characters who had really large daemons - I do remember him touching on the plight of people who had, say, dolphin daemons and were forced to become sailors whether they liked it or not. Be interesting to see how technology would change something like that.
Oct. 7th, 2012 10:46 pm (UTC)
I adore these. Why is Giles reticulated, though?

Andrew = weasel
Warren = skunk
Jonathan = gopher

The Mayor = kookaburra
Oct. 7th, 2012 10:56 pm (UTC)
That's just the name of that kind of python - I think it comes from the type of markings they have.
(no subject) - gillo - Oct. 7th, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rahirah - Oct. 8th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - varina8 - Oct. 8th, 2012 04:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rahirah - Oct. 8th, 2012 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 7th, 2012 10:52 pm (UTC)
men have female daemons and women have male daemons in the books, but would a gay man or woman have a daemon of the same sex?

And what about people who are bi or pan or whatever? I'm not really fond of the binary thing.
Oct. 7th, 2012 10:54 pm (UTC)
Well, since daemons don't actually have sex, so far as we were shown, I suppose we could declare them all gender neutral.
(no subject) - trobadora - Oct. 7th, 2012 10:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rahirah - Oct. 7th, 2012 10:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 8th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
As I may have mentioned before, your mind is a strange and wonderful place...
Oct. 8th, 2012 02:11 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't think it up - daemon AUs originated in some other fandom, can't remember where. They've just never become as massively popular as some of the pan-fandom AU tropes I've seen.
Oct. 8th, 2012 01:25 am (UTC)
Your mind fascinates me. Truly.
Oct. 8th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Well, I didn't think it up - daemon AUs originated in some other fandom, can't remember where. They've just never become as massively popular as some of the pan-fandom AU tropes I've seen.
Oct. 8th, 2012 01:33 am (UTC)
Hee! This is fun.

Do people have conflict with their daemons? 'Cause... source of conflict, right there.

How independent are the daemons? What if two people are in love but their daemons hate each other? Or vice-versa?

What happens when someone dies and gets resurrected like Buffy? Do they get the same daemon back? What if they get the wrong daemon by mistake? Or think they did?
Oct. 8th, 2012 02:09 am (UTC)
re: conflict, not really? Your daemon is basically an aspect of yourself, so while some of the characters argue with their daemons on occasion, it's more like having one's inner conflict over something externalized. Daemons are independent in that they have their own personalities and opinions, but at the same time they're the ultimate best friend/confidant/henchcritter who knows you better than you know yourself.

I think you could make an argument either way for Buffy regarding her daemon being changed or not by resurrection - I would think that her first death would have left it essentially unchanged, but her second one? But it's an interesting thought, because it seems to me very likely that her daemon would show the emotional damage done by her resurrection, and it would be impossible for her to hide it from her family and friends as she did in regular canon.
Oct. 8th, 2012 07:53 am (UTC)
Now this gives me an excuse to link this classic, in case anyone's never seen it - Beneath You with daemons by girlwithjournal!

In 2008 I apparently said that I wanted a ficathon... I think I still want one, though I don't know what half your animals are.
Oct. 8th, 2012 03:39 pm (UTC)
Oooh, yeah, I read that back when it first came out. I've got a somewhat different take on the vampire daemon issue, I think - recalling how creepy Lyra initially thought it was that she couldn't see Will's daemon, I'd want to play on that with soulless vampires. Though it would make it difficult for vampires to blend in. I wonder if some of them might carry around normal animals in the hopes that people will mistake them for their daemon.
(no subject) - brutti_ma_buoni - Oct. 8th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 8th, 2012 10:35 am (UTC)
I seem to recall Pullman mentions a very few rare people have a daemon of the same gender. I always assumed he was implying they were gay or transgender in some way.

Angel specifically says he is a dog person, but Angelus is definitely a cat person - think of that lovely confrontation he once had with Oz. So if you will tweak your rules to permit soulless vamps to have daemons it would make for an interesting dilemma.

I could see:
Liam = a fast and flashy pony
Angelus = Leopard
Angel = Arctic Wolf

Actually I see Angel as more of a golden retriever, but if we aren't allowed dogs then he will have to be one of those arctic wolves that mostly eat mice.

Darla is definitely another big-cat post vamping. Perhaps a tiger.

Hmm, this reminds me of a thread years ago back on one of the boards describing the various vamps as different types of house cat. The only one I can remember is Spike who was a silver-grey tabby.

And I think you are very harsh on Wesley. I'd have him as something like a hedgehog - prickly, bumbling, but with surprising hidden talents.

But what I most now want to see is Anya meeting Harmony...
Oct. 8th, 2012 01:49 pm (UTC)
I see Darla (when W&H bring her back) as a big cat in a small cat's body; like a bobcat.
(no subject) - rahirah - Oct. 8th, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dwyld - Oct. 9th, 2012 09:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 8th, 2012 05:45 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure about Spike being an English Bull Terrier - it's not really a pretty enough breed (although he probably has the personality!) Now I am going to have to think of what dog he could be... !
Oct. 8th, 2012 08:46 pm (UTC)
I'm going more by personality than looks, I think!
Oct. 8th, 2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
I like them, but I'm not sure about Wesley as a python. Before he went totally nutso, he seemed a bit...goonier. :-)
Oct. 31st, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
I think that Wesley's gooniness was superficial, but his ruthless bastardy goes to the bone. *g*
Oct. 26th, 2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
I often wonder why daemon au's are not prevalent in all fandoms, but especially in Buffy. I guess not a lot of people have read HDM? I have a lot of thought about how a Daemon au would play out in a modern context. But I wonder specifically for Buffy, would all slayers/potential slayers have predatory daemons? Would it have been weird for pre-slayer power Buffy to be walking around high school with say, a cougar daemon?

Oct. 31st, 2012 02:01 am (UTC)
Partly that not many people have read HDM, and partly - well, I was serious when I said it's not especially conducive to writing lots of D/s slash.

That's an interesting question. I went with a cougar for Buffy because it was her spirit guide in Intervention, but I could see arguments either way for all potentials having predatory daemons.

Edited at 2012-10-31 02:02 am (UTC)
Dec. 27th, 2012 01:34 am (UTC)
I'd never thought of linking HDM with the buffyverse, but you raise some interesting questions here esp in terms of gender and sexuality that Pullman never bothered to address. (then again, I found the entire trilogy a bit of a letdown at the end.)

the only thing on your list I wondered about was Hank - beaver? (But you're probably talking about the barbverse Hank rather than the canon version, whom we know next to nothing about?)
Dec. 27th, 2012 04:17 am (UTC)
Mainly because one of the few traits Hank is assigned in canon is being something of a workaholic (cancelling out on Buffy because he has to work) and beavers are popularly perceived as industrious.
(no subject) - red_satin_doll - Dec. 27th, 2012 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
Apr. 17th, 2017 02:32 pm (UTC)
I love this discussion. ^^ (I'm here courtesy of rebcake's Terrier!Spike fic.)
I suppose it might be tricky writing everyone with two sets of body language? From what little Pullman I've read, I don't remember if daemons *do* anything apart from hanging around and expressing people's emotions and character.
Apr. 17th, 2017 03:40 pm (UTC)
Oh, they can talk to their humans (though I can't recall them ever talking to anyone else). So it's kind of like having a secondary cast of characters.
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