Angelic Player's Guide

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide

Our opening fiction this time around is Yves telling the story of the creation of the universe, going for a rather informal and silly set of language because he's dealing with very young angels. He explains that God created other beings after discoviering the concept of language and communication but having nothing to communicate with. We also get told that angels' memories are imperfect because it allows them to better empathize with humans that way, by giving them some taste of mortality, even as God blinds Himself to the future of the world.

The book then gives us the angelic version of creation. God created the universe, and that is known. The rest is speculation and fallible memory from the eldest angels, but they have put together the history. God creates Yves, who names God. God then creates the angels, first Michael, then Lucifer, then Baal, David, Eli, Gabriel and Uriel. They work with God to shape the Symphony. Lucifer gathers the elements and starts the fire, while Baal and Michael stir it all. Gabriel and Uriel heat and purify the mix, and DAvid cools and tests it for strnegth. Eli gives form from raw material and adds the spark of life. Yves watches and reports it all to God, who approves. These first seven also help created many other angels, most notably Asmodeus, Beleth, Blandine, Dominic, Raphael, Jean, Kobal and Malphas. Asmodeus and Dominic codify the word of God into guidelines for behavior, and enforce these laws. Beleth and Blandine explore and map the ethereal realm, where they build a tower to live together. Malphas works with Gabriel and David to heat and break the tectonic plates, with help from the lesser angel Belial. Jean and Raphael assist Yves in transcribing all knowledge. Kobal receives a special mission, unknown to this day.

As the angels were made and increased, they began to display distinctive natures, which they named Choirs. The greatest Choirs were the Seraphim, Cherubim, Ofanim, Elohim, Kyriotates and Mercurians. Each served God differently, as different instruments each serve a conductor. The universe cooled and many angels found themselves studying life. It was no more challenging than maintaining the balances of the heart of stars, but it commanded much attention. Yves in particular was interested in the growth of life, and that was enough to get everyone interested. In those days, angels could only manifest briefly on Earth and only in celestial form. As time passed, they began to notice it getting harder and harder, and their presence began causing Disturbance. They turned to life, studying it for the answer.

The angel Janus discovered he could imbue the winds and waters with his Essence, shaping the world, and so he was given power and authority over the forces of change. Jordi, meanwhile, discovered how to make vessels based on existing life, and became the first angel to walk upon the Earth. For this, he was given authority over all living creatures. Even when in the forms of animals, however, angels had only the crudest tools for manipulating Earth's power. Then humanity arose. They offered a natural form of existence complex enough to be a proper vessel. Angels took to human forms quickly. God, however, warned them: they were not to tamper with human works nor damage human lives. Humans were the most complex creations of God and to be given deference. Many angels disliked this, seeing no true difference between men and animals. They saw the development of language, but pointed out that animals, too, could communicate. Monkeys could use tools. There was no ready comparison for art, of course, but God had no one adoring spiders for the beauty of their webs. There should be limits.

It was when humans created religion that no angel could longer deny that humans were special. In time, they learned that humans could think and reason, could deny and project and transfer. Humans could love, hate, lie, blame. And they seemed to not mind killing their own. Unlike animals, they could empathize with each other, but did so only when it suited them. Jordi, master of all life, decided humans needed to be gotten rid of. He announced his plans to turn the animals against all of humanity. Michael, urged by God, convinced him not to - humans were not animals, after all, and did not fall under Jordi's jurisdiction. Still, some angels proposed that despite the cruelty humans had, they must have a certain divinity, or God would not protect them. Lucifer promposed an experiment to satisfy everyone's curiosity. There would be an idyllic setting where humans could live without cares or needs. If they could survive in paradise, they deserved deference and their free will would be respected. If not, then God's hopes were wrong. God agreed.

First, Lucifer called for two perfect human specimens - one male, one female, each made fro mscratch to avoid tainting by the harshness of ordinary life. God made Adam and Lilith, giving them speech. Lucifer introduced himself to them and explained free will. Lilith essentially immediately asked to be excused from the experiment, so God had to make Eve instead, causing a brief delay. She worked out much better. Adam and EVe lived for several years in peace and harmony until one of Baal's angelic servants tainted the experiment by bringing in knowledge of the outside world. Lucifer claimed it was a failure, but God declared His curiosity satisfied and canceled the experiment. If celestials could not refraim from tampering with a perfect world, after all, they had no right to do so in any less perfect world. Lucifer disagreed, and he and God discussed it for a very long time.

Eventually, Lucifer rebelled against God, taking almost a third of the Host with him. Heaven has seen no such conflict before or since. The chaos led to the birth of the Malakim, formed of the purest angels who chose to face their siblings in defense of God's will. Michael, mightiest of angels, ejected Lucifer forcibly from Heaven, hurling him to the most distant edge of reality, a place most distant from God. Yves named it Hell. The remnants of the rebel force set out for Hell of their own accord. God appointed Michael in charge of Heaven's armies and named him Archangel of War, charging him to defend the Symphony from Lucifer. Relative peace lasted for a few millenia as the Fallen were in captivity in Hell. God lifted the ban on intervention, but warned it must be done delicately. Without God's omniscient direction, an angel could easily and unwittingly help the Rebels. The Seraphim Council was founded, made of the wisest and most divine angels. The Archangels each began to organize their forces into structures to defend and serve Heaven while serving the duties given them by God. Many Archangels, their previous tasks now complete, focused on helping humanity.

The angels first rediscovered the Fallen in the Marches, the lands of the ethereal plane. At the far end, opposite Blandine's Tower, a new structure was rising. Beleth had claimed Hell's side of the Marches and has been expanding ever since. After making their way to the ethereal, the demons discovered how to go to and from Earth and Hell. Thus they began to influence Earth. Some angels believe this was the true birth of 'civilization,' and they mean that as an insult.

God, meanwhile, had plans for civilization. He created the Grigori to help protect humans from Lucifer and his hordes, and set them to teach humans how to be civilized in God's image. The Grigori were large beings with stout hearts and spirits and much corporeal knowledge. They were made least divine on purpose, and were the most human of angels, able to work within the Symphony without Disturbance. They quickly, however, fell in love with humans. They advanced several civilizations, most notably in Mesopotamia and South America. The began to bear and father children, most of whom seemed normal or even angelic...but some children, about one in five, which were monsters, called the Nephilim. They had the immense stature of their angelic parents, but none of their divinity. They killed many, razing villages and marauding across the land. The angels of Stone slaughtered all they could find and detained the Grigori, who were banished from Heaven. Those few that survived their children were scattered, Outcast. No one knows what happened to them - Lucifer's meddling gave them the cover to escape scrutiny, and they may even survive to this day.

The War was fought in brutal battles for cneturies, but little resulted save many fallen vessels. Quickly, it was realized that it was in no one's interest to cause more damage than necessary. Some, like Belial, saw nothing wrong with burning down the universe to keep the Host from ahving it, but most Superiors on both sides preferred delicacy - it would be no victory to defeat the other side by wiping out the world. Michael, the most militant of the Archangels, refused to go for shadow war, however. Dominic had him brough to trial for breaking the new laws against corporeal activity and for his pride in doing so. Dominic argued that he sought war not for God's glory but for the glory of battle itself. Hod intervened, pardoning Michael in light of his valiant and selfless actions for Heaven, and Michael became disgusted by politics, stepping down as general. Uriel was raised instead, better suited to the colder War. This stalemate lasts even today, with each side jabbing at each other but never doing anything so large it justifies escalation beyond a mere counterattack.

Humans have always relied on religion for security, and Yves learned it was a powerful tool to make people be good - but demons soon found it could easily be twisted for evil. Saminga was the first demon to warp religion, using it to gain power among the ancient Egyptians. Magog, an angel of Stone, helped collapse the Egyptian empire before engaging Saminga in open war - forbidden then as now. He Fell soon after, and he and his loyalists were entombed below Egypt by David and Khalid. Magog is to remain imprisoned until Armageddon, when open battle will occur once more. Uriel, meanwhile, had his hands full supporting what would one day become the Roman Empire, riding herd on its many pagan gods. They were formed of dreams, born in the Marches and fueled by worsip. Some, it was feared, were almost as strong as a lesser Archangel. This would not do.

Yves saw religion as a way to offer humans strength without feeding the pagan gods. Eli made much progress with the prophet Zoroaster, whose teachings spread with Persia. Yves watched this for 40 years, then acted. With the help of Gabriel and Raphael, Yves grew Christianity in a near eyeblink. (We seem to have skipped the Jews, for some reason.) It consumed the worship of many pagan gods, cutting them off at the knees and losing them much power as their former Tethers were remade as temples to God. Many fled to serve Hell, while others tried to keep their faithful. Heaven was greatly bolstered, and as the Romans accepted Christianity, so did Uriel, who proclaimed himself its patron. Dominic also voiced support for it, particularly as a way to weaken the pagan gods.

Soon after came Islam. Gabriel, under Yves' orders, gave the Quran to Muhammad, who united his fellows in worship of Allah. Soon, Islam and Christianity were in violent conflict. Many saw this as a disaster, particularly Uriel and Dominic, who persecuted Gabriel over it. Dominic declared Gabriel a heretic and insisted on a trial. Gabriel cracked under the pressure, growing bitter and irrational, and while Yves intervened to get Dominic to forgive Gabriel, the Archangel of Fire stormed off to camp in the volcano that lay between Heaven's walls and Blandine's Marches.

Meanwhile, Uriel made an attempt to unite Heaven and serve his Word by wiping out the pagan gods and creatures of myth. His plan was to start on Earth, then chase them in the Marches. On Earth, he and his slew the dragons, fairies, unicorns and giants. Then they headed for the Marches, killing the pagan gods they could catch and any creatures of myth that remained. Many took refuge with Beleth, while others fled to the Far Marches. The Seraphim Council ordered Uriel to stop before he could raze Blandine's realm, calling him to trial. Before any verdict could be reached, however, God recalled Uriel to the Higher Heavens, where he has never been heard from since. Leadership was given to Laurence, Uriel's right hand. Like Uriel, Laurence was a Christian, and all but a few accepted him - with the notable exception of Khalid, who felt himself a better candidate. Shortly after, Khalid declared his patronage of Islam and became the Archangel of Faith. It would be centuries before Khalid bothered to stop the Muslims from attacking Christians, and some suspect he still regrets doing so, much as Jordi still regrets letting humans survive. ( Ooooooh boy, that's some real creative understanding of history. )

At this point, a Shedite named Legion developed the power to control multiple humans at once. As his power grew, he became capable of turning any human within a mile into his slave. For the first time, Heaven and Hell worked to fight a common foe, but Legion was too potent to defeat even with their combined power. Only the sacrifice of Raphael, Archangel of Knowledge, stopped Legion in the end. Hell suffered many casualties, but none so great as that. Raphael's death shattered any illusion Heaven might have had for negotiation of a truce, for Legion could be reasoned with and could only be beaten back by the self-sacrifice of an Archangel.

In the last few centuries, Hell has grown to vastly outnumber the Host. The value of human life may now seem to be higher than it has ever been in Western civilization, but humans seem less inclined than ever to help the angels, and Heaven is cracking under strain, kept united only by their hatred of Hell and their love of God. Eli has now abandoned his Cathedral to walk the Earth as the Symphony leads him, and Dominic now seeks to bring him to trial. The War flares up and dies down again. Gabriel holds a mighty relic - the Trump of Doom. Under certain circumstances, she may blow it. If she blows it seven times in sequence, following the orders she was given long ago by God, it will usher in Armageddon, the final battle. Gabriel has actually blown the horn more than once before, but the seventh blast has always been prevented. The Archangels do not want to escalate that far, not when they're unsure of the outcome. Sure, the average angel is stronger than the average demon, but Hell has numbers. If the battle were fought today, Heaven could lose. The Archangels posture, claiming that God would prevent it, but even some Archangels question the outcome. Knowing that similar doubts keep Hell's Princes at bay is little comfort - all Heaven can do is hope and keep the faith.

Next time: Angelic thought

Houses of the Holy

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Houses of the Holy

Angels are individual, but are not individualists. They can act as they please as long as they avoid dissonance, and think about what they like, but all share one absolute purpose: serve God. Beyond that, they each serve their purpose in unique and occasionally contradictory ways. God cannot be selfish, self-centered or self-absorbed, because God is everything. Being unselfish is a very important part of divinity, caring about the whole of the universe. Humans are able to be strongly individual, but als strongly empathetic and with a sense of the world around them. Angels often have a bit of trouble with that.


An angel is a vital engine of reality, an instrument most fulfilled when its song blends perfectly with the Symphony, adding to its strength without detracting from the Big Picture. (By contrast, a demon can be seen as the jerk in the third row shouting "FREEBIRD!" at the conductor and laughing his head off.)

Angels are very aware of their place in the grand scheme, which can be a double-edged sword when dealing with humans, especially for the more divine Choirs. When a human sees someone crying, they see a person in pain. When an angel sees it, they see a wound in the fabric of the universe. Because an angel is aware of the depth and bredth of reality, they tend to see any one person as an abstraction. Relating to mortals as individuals can take some real concentration and a shift in view. Angels also, to an extent, see themselves that way, less as individuals and more as part of a greater whole. Even Cherubim, who can devote themselves to one person, often remain blind to that person's true feelings, seeing their well-being in terms too simple and broad to be really human. Angels that spend a lot of time on Earth are more sensitive to individuals and more aware of their own individuality, but even Mercurians must learn this by experience. The more time they spend with humans, the more human they become. That's what brought down the Grigori, and it's caused many Falls. Angels must learn to carefully balance between being too distant to understand humans and so close they need saving themselves.

Angels are beings of concept. They need to embody meaning, to become manifesttions of ideas. Angels are generally not as personally complex as humans. They don't feel the need to be. They love simplicity, and often the older and more powerful are the simpler angels. For an angel, social climbing involves becoming the embodiment of a single idea, after all. The first few years of angelic existence tend to focus on ravenous curiosity that becomes satisfied when the angel learns they are connected to all things, forever. Angels tend to be very secure, because they learn early that they're very important. Each of their actions is immortal, and it is only when they harm others that their confidence becomes shaken. In these early days, each angel tends to find a few concepts that feel personally important. These concepts shape their outlook and personality, and most Wordbound found their fascination with their Word while still quite young.

Angels act out of love - for God, for their Archangel, for their Word, for humans, for beauty, for a good fight. all angels burn with deep passions. They are rarely really bored, though some of them try at it, because they're always loving something. It makes it easy for demons, who care only about themselves, to hate angels. Huumans react to it based on how their life is going at the time - the passionate find it easier to understand angels than the self-absorbed. Cherubim are the clearest example of the extremity and simplictiy of angelic love. A Cherub, once attuned, will be devoted to your safety, comfort and happiness. But even the Malakim have the same capacity for intense and unconditional love. It just shows up differently. Angels love their Words and the Words they serve - a Windy doesn't just serve the idea of change, they love it. When an angel has a friend, they love them passionately, often as much as they love their Words.

Angels try to avoid dissonance. They believe that the Symphony's components should blend together into one potent force, all working in harmony. They do not always agree with each other, and they can be hostile, but every angel eventually realizes that God made everything for a reason. When two angels disagree and know it, they rarely fight directly. They instead prefer to avoid each other. Heaven's chain of command can be frustrating, but disobedience and argument would cause discordant ripples in the Symphony, and none of them want that. Angelic society does evolve over time, forming its own philosophies. One of the major issues that divides them is mankind's knowledge of the Divine. Some believe that, if the Host were to appear in their total glory, humanity would love Heaven so much that Hell would lose all strength. Others fear that would doom Heaven, opening old fears and forcing people to cower, afraid, and rely on the power of Nybbas and Beleth. The only thing they really agree on is that it would end the War prematurely, for better or worse, and probably isn't worth the risk. Some degree of secrecy is essential, at least for now.

Angels sometimes debate over the importance of humanity. Most of them love humans, but it's not entirely universal. Some angels see humans as the key to the War, but others see them as its cause, a symbolic prize causing needless conflict. Others think of humans as only the agreed-on token of victory, believing the War is about something greater than mere mortals. One school of thought holds that mankind is God's most perfect creation, a blend of qualities that is interesting and unique. These believers point out that humans were made last, after all other things, and thus must be the most perfect creation, for nothing came after. Many dismiss this by insisting that God is and has always been perfect, and thus it is ridiculous to suggest that his creations represent improvements over time, as you cannot improve pefection. Others say that if man isn't perfect, at least they can become it. The issue of humanity as a weapon is greatly debated in Heaven as well. Some angels hate the idea of Soldiers and human servants in the War, believing that humans should be kept from the War's danger and that angels should be trying to keep the War away from humans, that making human lives a battlefield gives Hell the advantage. Angels also argue over whether they can kill humans who seem to deserve it. Some believe so, while others say that it should not be done, as the living can still repent and the dead cannot.

The Host avoids Armageddon for several reasons. Firstly, unless God intervened, they might lose. The demons are more numerous and, in total, possibly more powerful. To assume God would intervene is either a necessary component of faith in God or incredible and insane hubris, depending on what angel you ask. Most angels would happily sacrifice themselves to serve the Symphony, but few will accept needless death and none want to trigger a battle that might lose the War. Secondly, Armageddon would destroy Earth as it is now and most mortals. (Some angels do not believe this is a bad thing, of course, but others do.) Thirdly, God hasn't commanded them to do it. That could mean it shouldn't be considered, or it could mean free will is involved.

Free will is actually a rather complex issue for most angels.


A typical discussion of it might go like this:
Angels have free will. Don't we?
Of course we do. We can Fall.
Those who Fall were fated to do so. They played their part. Thery were fated to believe they had free will, and that they were doing as they wished.
Does that mean that the selfish demons have free will, but we do not?
Everything they do is part of the Divine Plan, too. The demons are the part of the Plan that opposes, so the rest may grow stronger.
But if everything is part of the Divine Plan, what is the point of any part of it growing stronger? If the Plan is as it is, perfect and unchanging, what use is all the suffering and struggle?
We don't understand. It's ineffable. You were fated to ask that question.
(At this point, if in celestial form, one angel usually remembers urgent business elsewhere. If corporeal, crockery is thrown.)

Each Choir represents some facet of divinity, for no angel could hope to reflect more than a facet of God's nature. There are countless reflections of the divine, so countless Choirs might exist, but seven stand as the major themes. All angels know that their Choir is more than just a set of powers - it is a goal, a single point of perfection to strive towards. The other facets are not to be ignored, of course, but many angels make the foolish decision to do so, holding themselves only to their own Choir's standard. Choir natures define general trends, though individuals can vary from the norm. Angels may not be as individual as humans, but they aren't clones.

Seraphim, the Most Holy, are closest to God in thought and deed. They also have the hardest time dealing with humanity, and have the farthest to Fall. Among Archangels, they are represented primarily by Michael and Dominic, and those who claim truth is subjective point to the huge arguments between these two. Seraphim agree that knowing the truth and knowing how best to act on it are not the same. While the Most Holy demand respect and strive to be worthy of it, it is best to remember that Lucifer was also a Seraph. Some of the more famous Seraphim include Abdiel, the first Judge to lead a Triad to Earth, Jael, the Angel of Covenants, Jehoel, who created the Trisagion and leads the Trisagionists, Nathanael, Angel of Punishment, Metatron, the first Archangel destroyed by Lucifer, and Seraphiel, Angel of the Inquisition.

Traditionally, Seraphim are respected for their wisdom and insight, advising other angels when they doubt. Seraphim will not always be overt leaders, but they are looked to for approval and keep others going by the book. Their presence grants a certain moral authority. They tend to be highly perceptive, and while there are notably exceptions, most are not good at corporeal tasks. They do make excellent detectives, but their low tolerance of falsehood makes them awful diplomats and poor choices when finesse is needed...though their sheer skill in detecting truth means they can get sent on those jobs anyway, with a suaver angel to handle social situations. Seraphim also serve as each Word's internal affairs officers, monitoring their fellows with a vigilance that varies based on how concerned their Archangel is about such things. All keep an eye out, however, for dissonant behavior. If an Archange is afraid an angel is Falling, a Seraph will usually be sent to investigate. Seraphim also judge disputes within their Word, and their rulings are almost always accepted - the alternative is to escalate to taking the matter to the boss, after all.

In Heaven, Seraphim serve as judges and mediators. Lesser Choirs handle the mundane chores of Heaven, but Seraphim are nobility and management. The low-ranking Seraphim are usually given minor administrative tasks, like fielding requests for audiences with an Archangel, while the most important serve on the Seraphim Council, which is largely made of Seraphim, Archangels and a few very old and very wise members of other Choirs. The Council, presided over by Dominic, tries those angels accused of capital crimes, awards Words, hears accusations against Archangels and makes decisions that bind all of Heaven. Most of the voting members are old enough to have witnessed the Fall. Archangels sometimes consult with elder Seraphim before beginning their plans. It is rare for younger Seraphim to be invited onto the Council these days - it's much easier to get a Word than to become a Council member. Every Archange does keep their own circle of advisors, however, most of which are Seraphim. Archangels especially like Seraphim who serve well on Earth, giving them insights that elder celestials might miss.

Seraphim are known as the Trisagionists as they are traditionally responsible for reciting the Trisagion around the throne of God - 'Holy, Holy, Holy!' This is a ceremonial duty, and while the Seraphim Council always opens and closes its sessions with it, only a few Seraphim are chosen to recite it formally. Trisagionists serve for indefinite periods, often centuries. They are rarely Wordbound and almost never assigned Earth duty save when an Archangels stages a divine visitation of grand pomp. Trisagionists are members of the Council but have no voting rights.

On Earth, Seraphim are often lawyers, especially Judges, though it can be hard to deal with the deceptions and compromises lawyers need to make. They also like Roles that give them positions of leadership while limiting their worldly exposure. They make poor politicians, but excellent advisors, executives or military officers. Most Seraphim prefer high-status jobs where they can separate truth from faslehood, but some more adventurous ones go hunting for turth. They make great investigators (with help from a more social ally) and journalists (though almost always print - few can stand working in television). See, the mass media is a barrage of lies and fraud that bothers most Seraphim on a fundamental level. They can barely grasp the idea of fiction, and pop culture is like a cesspool. They respect and value a just legal system, but modern law can drive them mad. They believe courts should be about finding truth, not swaying the judge and jury by any means necessary, and tend to be staunch advocates of legal reform. Seraphim do understand imagination,l however, though they often lack much of it themselves. They don't see storytelling as lying, and many do enjoy literature and theatre...but only if it's honest effort and sincere talent. Pretentiousness and creativity in pursuit of money are insults to God's gifts.

Seraphim may use their resonance to pick up more than just spoken and written lies. Their resonance also covers a person's actions when they resonate them - a faked limp, a gesture towards a wrong door, knowingly using a counterfeit bill, wearing a disguise. These nonverbal lies won't trigger a Seraph's resonance unless they're aimed at the Seraph, however - if you give a Seraph a fake 20, he'll notice, but if you give it to his buddy, he won't. A Seraph's resonance must be CD 4+ to pick up every lie or deceit the target performs, however - otherwise it just shows the greatest one. Note that vessels are not a deceit - they're the corporeal manifestation of a celestial in truth, as is the host of a Kyriotate or Shedite. A disguised vessel is lying, but the lie is the disguise, not the vessel. Many actions are also lies in one context and not others - a woman who dyes her hair blonde to conceal her identity is lying, but one who dyes it just for fun is not. Seraphim also cannot detect deceit inherent to an object, like a fake ID they find on the ground - only people can speak lies. They will only detect a deceitful item if the person they resonate is aware it's deceitful, unless they roll a CD 6. This can limit their resonance in many ways - for example, it's hard for them to mine the news for hidden truths. The broadcast medium gives -1 to CD, making it hard to detect the objective truth, and most newscasters believe what the teleprompter tells them.

Next time: Choirs In Detail

Holy Smokes

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Holy Smokes

Typically, your best bet for evading Seraphic resonance is 'I don't care to answer that.' 'It's none of your business' is usually false, after all. You may think it's cagey to go with 'It would have been wrong for me to have done that, wouldn't it?' but then, if the Seraph later discovers you did in fact do whatever, you can't claim ignorance as a defense. Silence works pretty well, as do non-sequiturs. Most Seraphim hate them, especially those with no sense of humor, because they misdirect conversation and often leave them seeing something incredibly inane as the target's big lie. This conceals well, but almost always causes a bad reaction. GMs are advised that Seraphim can make mysteries a problem in a hurry...if they can easily get access to anyone they want to question, and if the people they have to question know about the War. Most people don't, making their questioning difficult. Plus, it can be hard to spot truth among normal social llies - dyed blonde hair might be a lie, but not as a disguise - it could just be a lie to conceal age. Plus, Seraphim rarely use their resonance casually - failure takes it out of commission for hours, after all.

Seraphim gain dissonance from lies, and can erase that dissonance if they confess to the lie and reveal the whole truth to anyone that heard it, then get forgiveness from all of them. Usually this is impractical. A Seraph can also erase 1 dissonance by spending a week engaged in total ,absolute truthfulness - not only not lying, but not engaging in the sorts of evasion Seraphim normally use to get around difficult truths. They either speak the complete truth or say nothing. Further, if they are subjected to a lie in this perior, they must either expose it or immediately leave. This can make interaction quite difficult. A final way to erase a point of dissonance is to uncover a very large lie and then reveal the truth. This must be a complex lie that will take a lot of work to unravel, and it must serve some greater good to do so. The GM determines what counts.

Obviously, the greatest danger for a Seraph is to be trapped in a lie. Humans and most other angels can deal with the polite lies that make life easier. Seraphim often have trouble with the fact that, for example, when someone asks how they look, they don't want an honest evaluation. New Seraphim often must be taught that 'how are you' and 'see you later' aren't meant to be literal - the Truth is that they don't mean what the sound like. Seraphim can grasp this, if in annoyance. They can learn to avoid tactless observation or even to remain silent around lies, but they can't say anything even a little dishonest. They can't tell someone they look fine if they think that person looks overdressed. They can, however, focus on an aspect of the truth - 'I like the color' or 'you will certainly make an impression.' Seraphim prefer to avoid situations where they may be asked difficult questions. They can deal with blatant attempts to take advantage of them by just not answering, but demons love to talk to Seraphim and try to lead them into situations where they either give up information or lie. The wiser Seraphim just walk away.

Certain Discords affect Seraphim alone, or more than others. Forked Tongue is a Celestial Discord that makes everyone believe you're lying, especially if you are. It hits Seraphim more than others but can hit other celestials. Painful Lies cannot - it's a Corporeal Discord that causes the Seraph to feel pain in the presence of a lie, to the extent that it reduces all of their rolls and they need to make a Will roll not to visibly flinch. Truthfulness can hit anyone but mostly hits Seraphim - it's an Ethereal Discord that makes it very difficult not to say exactly what you think, without any editing.

Stereotype posted:

Cherubim : Make sure they are not deceived, so their loyalty is never misplaced.
Ofanim : To be true to themselves, they must remain in motion. In their haste, they may overlook other truths.
Elohim : We admire their ability to mingle with humans and still retain their divine perspective. Value their counsel, but remember: truth is not subjective.
Malakim : Their incorruptibility means they always merit trust, but the judges must guide the executioners.
Kyriotates : Confusing and disturbed, they immerse themselves too much in their hosts. They need a fixed point of view to know what the truth is.
Mercurians : Keep a close eye on them. They spend too much time enjoying themselves with mortals, and not enough time teaching mankind the truth.
Balseraphs : No greater abomination exists in the Symphony than our Fallen brethren. They take the truth and twist it beyond recognition. Expose their lies, then destroy them!
Djinn : By lying to themselves about their true feelings, they punish themselves more than we ever could, but they are exceedingly dangerous nonetheless.
Calabim : Reeking of Discord and living only to destroy, truth matters not to them. Use extreme caution.
Habbalah : They have actually convinced themselves that they still serve God! If only they could be made to see the truth...but they are almost beyond redemption.
Lilim : They are honest only when forced to be. They deceive themselves and others about the nature of their bargains; they claim to trade for equal value, but they will lie, cheat and steal just like any other demon.
Shedim : Foul, violent monsters, sowing chaos in the Symphony. Try to undo their damage by revealing them for what they are.
Impudites : This is what happens when a Mercurian loves his work too much. They lie with pleasant smiles; they can be more harmful than a Balseraph, because no one recognizes them for what they are.

Cherubim are relentlessly devoted to duty, moreso than any other Choir except perhaps the Malakim. They are guardian angels and protectors. In older myths, they were portrayed as fierce and monstrous beasts that would devour any threat to their charges. Novalis and Blandine, the two greatest Cherub Archangels, reflect the more modern, gentler Cherubim, but David, when he was a Cherub, was of the older breed. Famous Cherubim include Anafiel, who brought the prophet Enoch to Heaven, Christopher, Archangel of Children, Jophiel, who guards the Gates of Eden, Kerubiel, who died facing Lucifer in the Revolt, Ridwan, who admits Soldiers of Faith into Heaven, Zadkiel, Archangel of Protection, and Sephon, who was in charge of keeping tabs on Lucifer when the War began. (For some reason Raphael is listed here; she was not a Cherub, however, but an Elohite.)

Fer Cherubim are sent ot Earth as free agents. While other angels may just wander in search of trouble, Cherubim do not like such open-ended jobs. They like to be given something to protect. They are rarely leaders, and focus on defense over offense. However, they are vital to many plans, guarding those important ot the War. They protect their charges from all harm - not only by weapons, but any other problem, as well. Cherubim are not hunters, but are excellent trackers, especially of those who would harm their charges. In Heaven, they work as gatekwwpers, guardians and sentinels, happy to watch the same spot for centuries on end. They tend to serve as the greeters and escorts as well, and often as large retinues for Archangels. If an Archangel is worried about an angel, they may set a Cherub to watch the angel's Heart for risk of Outcasting or Falling. Ther Cherub may also be sent to rescue them...or drag them back to Heaven. Most Cherubim prefer Roles that will facilitate their duties, but not all are overtly protective. Bodyguards are nice, but obvious. Many Cherubim work instead as janitors - rarely noticed, able to go anywhere, and they don't mind mopping up. They also enjoy work as PIs, bounty hunters and photographers. Some work as cops or soldiers, but many prefer work as EMTs, firemen, ambulance drivers, park rangers, lifeguards or other custodial or emergency service tasks. Some also serve as teachers, crossing guards or nurses.

Cherubim actually quite like human society, but find the moral decay of Western civilization rather frustrating. Those that could not see or could overlook the hypocrisy tended to enjoy America in the 1950s. Many tended to believe that a spouse, two point five kids, a dog and church every Sunday was as good as life got for umans. Cherubim rarely have time to engage in hobbies or diversions, but those who have free time enjoy movies, especially love stories, though they don't like the infidelity and lies that seem to happen in real relationships. Cherubim also almost universally love video games. No reason.

The experienced Cherub can use their resonance to learn more about their charges than they normally get. By taking -2 to the TN of their resonance, they can determine if anything or anyone has taken a special interest in their attuned. CD 1 means they just have a vague sense of someone watching them. CD 2 means they know for certain if someone is. CD 3 means they have a good idea of who. CD 4 means they know exactly who. CD 5 means they also know to what extent someone is watching, including the location of any bugs or cameras. CD 6 means they know why, too. With -4 to the TN, they can even use their resonance to learn more about their attuned (or the Role of their attuned, for celestials). At CD 1, they know the attuned's name or basic function. CD 2 gives basic facts about the person - age, profession, etc. - the name of the owner of the attuned or the significance of a place. At CD 3, they get that plus the person's basic personality, the object's advanced functions and the major events in the last year at the place. At CD 4, that plus a person's basic desires, the last year of an object's history or the major events and visitors of the last five years at a place. At CD 5, that plus a person's basic fears, the last five years of an object's history and all the details of its operation, and the events and visitors of the past 10 years at a place. CD 6, that plus every significant event in the lifespan or history of the person, place or thing.

Cherubim who are present when their charge is attacked in any way can make a Dodge + Celestial Forces roll to impose themselves between the target and the threat. If they succeed, they become the target of the attack and can make their own defense roll normally. Cherubim add Celestial Forces to any skill roll made in direct protection of a charge, including any attacks on anyone immediately attacking or threatening the charge and their own defenses against such attacks. Cherubim also become implacable foes of anyone that harms their charges. Should the object of a Cherub's attunement be destroyed or severely harmed, as determined by the GM, the Cherub will know some of when and how and can make a Perception roll to link to the antagonist through the Symphony - though without a CD 6, they won't know exactly who. If they make this roll or were rpesent for the destruction, they can then choose to attune to the antagonist, then and there, no contact needed...but they don't have to protect the target. This 'nemesis attunement' otherwise follows all normal Cherub attunement rules, but gets no benefit from any special Superior attunements. This attunement replaces the one to the original charge only if that charge was actually destroyed.

A Cherub will lose the dissonance of allowing their charge to be harmed (and also lose the nemesis attunement) if they find and appropriately punish the attacker. If the attacker was a demon, destroying their vessel or soul is always appropriate. However, for mortals, too much punishment can be as bad as too little. A murderer deserves death, sure, but a kid who broke a relic might better get a spanking. Nemesis attunements are always optional and may be ended freely at any time. If a Cherub can repair the original charge, that's usually a better idea - saving the charge is more important than retribution and will also cure dissonance. While you can see ruses in the use of this, Cherubim would never do so and would find the idea horrific. A Cherubic attunement isn't about convenience - it's a part of you, more important than your own life. If you do do it, you get 2 Dissonance - one for the destruction of the attuned and one for arranging its destruction for your own convenience, against its best interest.

Also a note - Cherubim can use their resonance to triangulate locations even when they aren't able to tell exact locations from a resonance roll, and can often use this to help figure out their own locations when lost. Triangulation is quite handy.

Cherubim take dissonance hard. They often become depressed and may lose self-confidence, becoming afraid to attune to things. From there, ti's a downward slide to apathy and a Fall. Cherubim prefer to convert dissonance to Discord - better to admit failure and do penance than to slide lower. If a Cherub earned dissonance by letting an attuned by destroyed, making the attuned whole again will remove it, but there's not a lot that can be done for a dead attuned. When a Cherub eats dissonance for failing to erase an attunement, it's because the attempted 'betrayal' causes harm, and in these cases, the Cherub can erase the dissonance by taking elaborate precautions to ensure they leave the subject in a better state than they were when they tried to break the attunement, then making a second attempt. Fail again, you get another dissonance and keep the attunement, though, and eventual success will only remove one dissonance. If you earn dissonance by betraying a Superior, friend or your own morals, you can emove it only by fixing whatever harm you did by the betrayal and being forgiven by those you betrayed.

The biggest danger to a Cherub is to attune without thought. Sure, the resonance is convenient, but you must protect all your charges and will suffer if they are hurt. Only a foolish Cherub uses their resonance to track foes or more things than they can defend. Howveer, Cherubim need not be attuned to gain dissonance. Their word is their bond - promising to do something and failing can cause dissonance, as can pledging loyalty to a cause and then abandoning it. Thus, Cherubim choose their friends carefully and are nearly as cautious as Malakim about making oaths, if less focused on wording - for Cherubim, it is spirit that matters. Cherubim must be careful to uphold all their obligations and avoid conflicts of duty or failure to keep their word.

Special Cherub Discords include Life-Linked Attunement, which is a Corporeal Discord that causes physical harm to the Cherub when their charges are harmed. Overzealous is a Celestial Discord that makes the Cherub see threats everywhere to their charge, forcing them to spend at least (level*2) hours per day protecting their charges from anything nearby. Wordbound sometimes also suffer that, focused on their Word. Ritualized Responsibilities is an Ethereal Discord that makes the Cherub engage in ritual behavior for no real purpose, rather like having OCD except it can involve weird angelic behavior. Other angels can gain this as well. Trenchant Bond is an Ethereal Discord that causes the Cherub to gain dissonance when they cannot see their attuned or move more than (Forces) yards away from them, with the duration between dissonance hits depending on the level of the Discord.

Stereotypes posted:

Seraphim : The purity of their devotion to the truth is admirable, but they tend to lack sympathy for those who must live with their proclamations.
Ofanim : Their freedom of thought and action is as frightening to us as our single-mindedness must be to them. We are called to very different duties and play very different roles in His plan, but it is hard not to admire them...preferably from afar.
Elohim : It is enough for us to know that something must be done, but it is within their power to know why it must be done, which must be a terrible burden. To actually feel the struggle as acutely as they do, without losing sight of your duty, is a conflict that we could never resolve.
Malakim : They are as devoted as we, but in an entirely different way. When we work together, there is no better partnership, but when our goals conflict, the results can be tragic.
Kyriotates : We have faith that they serve a purpose in His plan, and we wait patiently for the day when that purpose will be made clear to us.
Mercurians : Fascinating. They tend to be distracted by minutiae, but their insight into the mundanes is indispensable. Those who aren't busy preening their vessels can make useful allies.
Balseraphs : Terrifying. They have the power to confound the truth, which can obscure your duty and divert you from your purpose. Without purpose we are lost.
Djinn : Weep for the Fallen. They are tortured by loss of purpose and pretend not to care, but we understand their conflict better than our brethren.
Calabim : Very, very dangerous. Be wary of these servants of chaos or they will undo all we defend.
Habbalah : Like us, they are wholly devoted to their purpose, but that purpose is as dire as it is insane. These foul creatures have Fallen so far that they have forgotten the Fall. The Malakim are right; they must all be destroyed.
Lilim : Perverse and foul. They seduce and distract, leading mortals away from the bright path of their destiny. Close yourself to their insidious lies or your purpose will be lost to a bad bargain.
Shedim : Even worse than the Lilim, because they don't bother dickering for your soul. They simply take it, blacken it and move on. Destroying them without harming their host is difficult but worthwhile.
Impudites : The Takers are very dangerous to those we are sent to protect. Stay alert. Their taint is subtle, but vile.

Next time: Wheels within wheels

Holy Cow

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Holy Cow

Ofanim are Heaven'st fastest, embodying dynamic energy. Most know at least one Song of Motion. Some believe the Ofanim care nothing for duty or the work of others; this is incorrect. They are as dedicated as anyone else, they just don't think conviction can be expressed properly except by action. Janus and Gabriel are the Archangelic Ofanim. Famous Ofanim include Ambriel, Angel of Last-Second Rescues, Galgaliel, who represents the Choir on the Seraphim Council, Io, Angel of Dreams of Flight, Ofaniel, leader of Heaven's messengers, Orifiel, the highest-ranking Ofanite of Puriy, who Fell after Uriel was recalled, Raziel, the Angel of Mysteries, Rikbiel, the Angel of Ascension, Sandalphon, fastest of the Ofanim, and Tychagar, Angel of Heavenly Communication.

Ofanim act with haste and speed. They can be thorough, thoughtful or creative, though they aren't good at subtle, but their greatest virtue is speed. They are often used as messengers or transportation specialists, and they often have a knack for networks and efficient assembly lines - in design, that is. They make poor managers. Ofanim are excellent guides and navigators, as well, and often make for excellent combatants. They tend not to do well with long-term jobs, however. They aren't patient. In Heaven as well as Earth, they are messengers and guides, and some have even got the task of carrying messages to Hell and back - though never negotiating. Ofanim are awful diplomats.

In the old days, Ofanim were usually messengers, sailors, tinkers or soldiers. These days, they have more options. Few Ofanim enjoy maintaining Roles, especially if they don't get to travel. As a result, they prefer to be bounty hunters, PIs, truckers, bikers, bush pilots, wilderness guides or photojournalists. Many also work as pizza delivery folks - they can go anywhere, after all, and quickly. They also like to be cabbies when they can. Soldiers and sailors also see Ofanim in Roles, but generally only in rapid deployment forces, and warrior Ofanim prefer to work as mercenaries than regular soldiers.

Ofanim adore the breakneck pace of modern cities. They've loved cars from the outset, and while many angels blame Vapula for them, OFanim think they were Jean's. They love to move at a breakneck pace, and some even turn their vehicles into artifacts. Prisons terrify them, as does the idea of incarceration. They favor death over life in prison - it's more merciful, to their minds. They tend to view relationships the same way - they're passionate, loving and loyal, but terrified of commitment.

Ofanim resonance is modified - their ability to boost Agility-related roles is limited now to only those that involve the Ofanite moving themselves in some way, so they can boost Driving or Dodge but not Throwing. Ofanim who resonate at a -2 penalty can add the CD to the CD rather than the TN of any Agility-based roll, but it still adds even for failure. This cannot be combined with general risk modifiers. Ofanim may spend a point of Essence and make a resonance roll to teleport (Celestial Forces) yards without an action...but if they fail, they take (CD) corporeal damage and can't try again for an hour. Ofanim may also use their resonance at a -4 to shorten the time needed to do any task. The GM determines what that means, but typically it will add the CD to the Ofanite's rating in any skill solely to see how long it takes to do the job, or will use CD as the divisor for determining how long it takes.

Ofanim are excellent but terrifying drivers - often they can halve travel times, but typically that measn they're cutitng through pedestrian walkways or going over 150 on the interstate, and they definitely tend to attract police attention doing that. Their speed on foot can be quite stealthy, however. Any Ofanite in celestial form moving at a resonance-based speed gets -4 to all others' attempts to perceive them - they're just too fast. Any teleportation, obviously, is basically instantaneous and thus invisible travel...but you can't open doors, windows or so on at instant speed, so if you don't stop for them, you'll probably tear through and be hurt in the process.

Ofanim earn dissonance by inactivity and stumbling. Those who earn it by inaction can erase if they, in that instant, undo what their inaction allowed to happen. If an Ofanite sees an elderly woman but stands idly by rather than stopping her as she gets hit by a car, they take dissonance...but if she survives, the Ofanite can remove that dissonance by immediate application of the Song of Healing, as long as it heals her completely, and also fixing any collateral damage, including to the car. Ofanite who earn dissonance for failing a resonance-enhanced Agility-based roll can erase that dissonance with a second resonance-boosted attempt at the same long as the new one succeeds with a CD equal to or greater than the failed roll. A seocnd failure will just cause more dissonance, and while a success will never add dissonance, it won't remove it unless the CD is good enough. You can keep trying, but you can never remove more than 1 dissonance this way, so it's not really a good idea.

The most painful situation for an Ofanite is to be constrained. They hate lines and avoid situations where they have to wait, so they work poorly in most organizations. They aren't good at teams, and that can be a problem, so it's often best to give them as much leeway as possible. They are notorious for risktaking, and poor judgment can result in dissonance, so they have to learn when it's best to apply their resonance. The best way to avoid failure is to become skilled, and Ofanim try to get good at any Agility-based task, as well as at calculating odds. Further, they often learn to recognize situations which would make them helpless and actively avoid them. Sometimes they can't do anything about it, bvut they try to avoid no-win situations.

Ofanite-specific Discords include Claustrophobia, an Ethereal Discord that causes them to take dissonance if in an eclosed space, requiring opne space out to the Discord's leveli n yards. Anyone can have the Discord, but only Ofanim take dissonance from the terror - everyone else just gets a fear of being in those spaces. Combustible is a Corporeal Discord that causes deterioration of the vessel at speed. Any time the vessel moves quickly for an extended period, the vessel will actually smoke and begin to melt, taking the Discord's level in damage each minute. GHyperactive is a Celestial Discord that keeps Ofanim from sitting still, requiring them to have an area around them equal to the Discord's level in yards to move around in unless they make a Will roll to suppress it for (CD) minutes, or else become a frantic cripple.

Stereotypes posted:

Seraphim : They've usually got good advice, but try to get information from them in as few words as possible. Let them get started on a lecture and you'll be listening forever.
Cherubim : Single-minded, loyal, dependable, dull. We admire their fidelity and respect their service, but Lord, are we glad we aren't them!
Elohim : Don't they ever get tired of being disaffected and aloof? At least they aren't as judgmental as the Seraphim. They really understand us, so they're easy to get along with, and they're willing to try new things, so they won't cramp your style. Don't expect them to act thrilled or grateful, though.
Kyriotates : Now these are some interesting folk. Can you imagine moving in six directions at once? That must be an incredible sensation! In their own way, they're as quick and versatile as us, but not as focused.
Malakim : They think we're trying to annoy them - we're really trying to get them to lighten up! All work, no play, makes Malakim obsessive and boring except when they're killing people, and no fun at parties.
Mercurians : These angels know how to have fun, but they spend too much time posturing. Style over substance doesn't get the job done. C'mon guys, humans are important, but there are other things to see and do.
Balseraphs : They're dangerous, but only if you listen to them. Clock 'em before they have a chance to open their mouths, and they're just another Fallen punching bag.
Djinn : Depressing, nasty, really unpleasant. You could almost feel sorry for them, except they love wallowing in self-pity. And when they aren't moping around, they're dangerous. They're not very fast, but they're relentless, so be careful if you have one stalking you.
Calabim : The very thought makes us shudder. All that energy, turned inward...if they don't destroy things, they tear themselves apart. They're like Ofanim with their feet nailed to the floor. No wonder they're so vicious - how can they stand resonating with entropy instead of motion?
Habbalah : Creepy little psychos that always know what buttons to push. They think they're angels? Run far, run fast, before they get their hooks in your mind.
Lilim : They're cute, but don't taste the forbidden fruit. Nothing will stop you in your tracks like a Geas. No matter what she did for you, it won't be worth it.
Shedim : Cry for their victims. If the Malakim ever mount a campaign to obliterate the Shedim, we'll be right beside them.
Impudites : Cunning as Lilim and often less noticeable, they rarely pose an overt threat, so we don't worry about them too much.

Elohim are cold, aloof and detached. They see the truth of the soul by freeing their reason of anything that might color their perceptions, and this view is alien to most humans and even to many celestials. Heaven's greatest Elohim are the Archangels Khalid and Jean. Other famous Elohim are Camael, the first Elohite to ever Fall and formerly the highest-ranking non-Seraph on the Council, Dokiel, Angel of Weights and Measures, Haniel, a warrior Elohite noted for valor in the Revolt, Johab, Angel of Salvation, /Lailah, Angel of Conception, who records the destinies and fates of all mortals before their birth, Mihr, Angel of Mercy and Sophia, Angel of Enlightenment.

Elohim serve in many roles, as objective opinions are often handy. Their main purpose, though, is counselling others. They tend to prefer avoiding Disturbance and are excellent at advising others. They are often Heaven's subtlest angels, as well. They work well in jobs that would upset other angels, as they can handle unpleasant tasks as long as they're for the greater good. They will not hesitate to kill one ot save a dozen, for example, and this can frighten even other angels. Their resonance is also good for predicting human actions and advising others based on those predictions. They make great interrogators. In Heaven, they help pass judgment on others, counsel other angels and even Archangels, and provide guidance for those who fear directly approaching a Superior. They sometimes even go out to help Outcasts return to the fold.

Elohim often take Roles as doctors, counselors, psychologists or therapists, and do well in emotionally charged environments, as they can keep a cool head well. They are very good in any social profession and often in very technical ones, as well. They can also serve well as detectives, investigators, or diplomats. They are not creative, however, in most cases, and are poor at any job that requires it, like an artist or journalist. They rarely have the drive or desire to change society. Most are also poor combatants - they may know how to fight, but they are too meticulous to trust their instincts well.

Elohim do not feel strongly, as a group, about human society, except to dislike those parts that are openly harmful or diabolically inspired. They accept humans for their complexity and regard each human work as a product of God's greatest experiment, not to be tampered with easily. They observe, understand and rarely intervene. They tend to focus more on the interesting than the fun - events where emotions run high provide them with insight, even if they may personally dislike the event. They also like to find rational humans. They make excellent philosophers and scholars, and enjoy debate. Some also study Eastern meditation techniques to help their tranquility. They tend to be very subtle and manipulative with humans.

An Elohite who spends a week observing a mortal and using their resonance at least three times a day will quickly begin to sense patterns in the subject's life that will help predict their past and future. Once this is done, they need to interact significantly with the mortal at least three times to achieve a sympathetic state. The angel must be able to question the subject freely, so it is often best to bfriend them or work as a counselor for them. Once they achieve this state of sympathy, they can spend 1 Essence to develop a clairvoyant sense for the subject, allowing them to make a resonance roll to know the target's location, actions and feelings as well as their next likely action. This sense can be maintained until the angel uses their resonance for anything else or leaves the corporeal realm for any reason.

Elowhim who become dissonant tend to express their emotions briefly but intensely. They can work off one dissonance per week by spending that time in a state of total calm - though their environment doesn't have to be calm. The trick is that the Elohite must be, meditating and listening to the Symphony. Elohim who earn dissonance for acting according to their desires rather than their objectivity, however, must return the Symphony to the wy it was before they imposed their will to lose the dissonance. Sometimes this is not possible.

Elohim need a light tough. Trying to avoid taking any side is hard, especially when trying to balance your nature and influence on the world. Elohim do have emoptions and can even express them, but they may not let it influence their actions, and expression of emotions while remaining purely rational is hard. Many risk losing their perspective by overzealously suppressing their feelings, so they prefer to hold opinions that are completely subjective, like having a favorite color, that can't reasonably influence them. Likewise, they may form and express opinions...they just need to be sure their opinions are based on facts. Even when being objective, they cannot become amoral. Some begin to rationalize subjectivity for 'the greater good' and allow themselves private selfishness where it 'won't do harm'. They are on a slippery slope, becoming increasingly emotional and opinionated, and may never quite realize when, exactly, they Fall. The game suggests speaking of the character in the third person to create a sense of detachment.

Elohite-specific Discords include Emotional Static, an Ethereal Discord that causes Elohim to take a penalty equal to the number of other people in range of their resonance, to a max of the Discord's level, as they pick up surface emotion from everyone nearby. Further, when resonating someone, they get information on (Discord's level) subjects in range, not just the target, and will not be able to tell which comes from which person. Empathy is a Celestial Discord that means, when the Elohite fails a resonance roll, they experience the target's emotions rather than just reading them, for (10*CD) minutes. They do not think they are the target, but will gain the target's personality traits. A Will roll is required to suppress these emotions for up to (CD) minutes. Oversensitive is an Ethereal Discord that, when the Elohite fails a resonance roll, causes the target's emotions to overwhelm the Elohite's senses, stunning them for (CD) minutes and preventing them from using their resonance again for (Discord's level) hours.

Stereotypes posted:

Seraphim : We value their ability to see the truth; this can be as important as knowing the reasons for the truth. We hope they find our insights equally valuable.
Cherubim : Their dedication and goodness is beyond reproach. It is unfortunate that they are incapable of objectivity where the objects of their attunement are concerned; misplaced loyalty has led many astray.
Ofanim : Act in haste, repent at leisure. They are the most passionate of all angels, which makes them fascinating to observe. It can be difficult getting them to listen to our advice, however.
Malakim : They serve a grim but essential purpose. Most of them respect the work we do, and believe their own resonance tells them everything they need to know, although they are willing to listen to us.
Kyriotates : They do not know true objectivity, but they are uniquely gifted in their ability to hold multiple perspectives. Truly getting to know a Kyriotate is a difficult, but rewarding task.
Mercurian : They are almost as varied as humans, and sometimes almost as flawed. We understand that subjectivity is part of what they do, but find it hard to understand their ability for closeness to their subjects.
Balseraphs : Their lies pose no threat to those who know the truth...but if you are not careful, they can deceive even the most stalwart angel.
Djinn : We would help if we could, but their inner conflict is self-inflicted; only they can redeem themselves.
Calabim : Their violence and chaos is almost unbearable. Fortunately, they are unsubtle and easy to spot.
Habbalah : It is uncomfortable to think about them...but sometimes it is valuable to contemplate the price of passion. Without objectivity, this is what we become.
Lilim : We understand them better than most. Their bargains are usually a bad deal; rarely are they able to tempt us, but they should not be underestimated.
Shedim : There is little we can say about them, and even less we can do. We usually try to undo their damage, and leave more direct measures to others.
Impudites : We spend much time foiling their machinations. A mortal acting inconsistently may have fallen under their spell.

Next time: Virtue and Perspective

Holy Shit

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Holy Shit

Malakim are embodied virtue, born from the noblest and purest during the rebellion, led by Uriel, to become angels so resolute they could not Fall. Since then, they have been Heaven's first and final line of defense against Hell. In Heaven, they are Archangelically represented by David, Laurence and formerly Uriel. Famous Malakim include Barbiel, Angel of Divine Wrath, Ithuriel, the first Malakite to face Lucifer in battle (and die), Orion, Angel of Hunting, Peliel, Angel of Righteous Vengeance, Raguel, chief executioner of Judgment, Sorush, chefi execution of the Fallen among Judgment, Tarshish, Angel of Wisdom, Soldekai, Gabriel's lieutenant, Uzziel, a former lieutenant of Gabriel who was slain by Belial, and Zuheyr, Angel of Cleanliness.

Malakim are first honorble and warriors second. They fight not out of being born killers, but because their honor demands they oppose evil in every way. EWvery Malakite is dedicated from creation to fighting all evil. Other angels investigate plots, monitor the enemy and work to counter them without Disturbance, but the Malakim are sent in when games are done. Malakim terrify demons, and every Archangel, even Novalis, keeps an elite group of Malakim for situations needed extreme force - destroying demonic lairs, rescuing angels, recovering or stealing important artifacts.Not all Malakim are mad dog killers - some prefer cunning. But still, they are always looking for evil to destroy. Their talent for violence has nothing to do with their resonance, however. They measure honor, and violence is just something they often do. They can sniff out the deceitful, psychotic and mad easily, making them excellent investigators. They can also discover blackmail, though they'd never think of it themselves. Malakim also work as internal security for Heaven, policing themselves and others. Most do not think of themselves as hunting for traitors but as protecting against corruption, but the effect is generally the same. Malakim have little else to do in Heaven - there's not much evil to fight. They stand guard and, rarely, act as police, they train younger angels and they try to get back to Earth.

Malakim are more likely than any angel but Kyriotates to have no Role. They're happy to just be wandering drifters. Still, when they have Roles, they prefer ones that let them punish sinners. Soldiers might seem obvious, but the constraints on modern soldiers are often too limiting. More often, they are militaryp olice, investigators or scouts. They do like Special Forces, however. Cops are a more natural Role, especially plainclothes detectives. They like toi use their resonance to ensure the other cops are not corrupt, too. They'll do well in any Role allowing travel or frequent contact with people from many walks of life, however. Malakim like to randomly screen people in search of those that require their justice. They function often as journalists, traveling salesmen, truckers, bartenders, counselors or priests.

Malakim believe strongly in moral standards. They hate relativism and prefer clear lines. This means they can be somewhat reactionary, but they don't care what the rules are so long as they're not diabolically inspired and are accepted by the community and widely known. Malakim hate unjust laws, and while civil disobedience isn't their way, they admire it in others. They value any virtue and approve of hierarchical organizations that teach morals. They care about etiquette, not out of offense from rudeness but because it's another useful framework of right and wrong. Malakim hate having to choose the lesser of two evils, but tend to believe the greater good is more important than one person's rights. Few of them have much sense of humor, and they're nearly incapable of compromise. They stand by their views no matter what the consequences, and respect those who can do the same.

The Malakite resonance is amazing at picking out someone's values and actions, allowing them to identify both sinners and, sometimes, potential Soldiers. At a crime scene, they can find those feeling guilty easily. Privately, they can get a ton of useful blackmail, though they tend to prefer violence over blackmail. Malakim cannot directly detect other celestials, but often greater deeds will point to a celestial. If someone's noblest deed this week was killing an angel, or their most ignoble deed was befriending a demon...well, they could be mortal, but best to check. Malakim cannot usually atomatically detect dissonance, but they're quite good at spotting dissonant actions.

Malakim are not judges of morality, however. They perceive how someone relates to their own code of morality - no matter how selfish or selfless they are. This doesn't usually cause trouble with demons, who are deeply selfish, but it can make Earth very uncomfortable. Malakim like just societies because they hate working in unjust ones. So, why didn't Malakim murder Hitler? Because by the only standard that matters to a Malakite, he was not evil. Which is to say: Hitler adhered perfectly to his own (grotesque) sense of morals. Likely some Malakim would'vetraded a point of dissonance for his head, but they were busy handling the demonic schemes that followed the Nazis around like tiny, yappy dogs. On a smaller scale, Malakim often find 'noble' humans whose values are traditionally evil. How they react depends on circumstance, the Word they serve and their own values. (This doesn't make a ton of sense to me - Malakim don't take dissonance for killing someone honorable unless it's one of their oaths.)

Malakim take dissonance seriously. One note's enough to get other Malakim to shun them, or even report them to their boss for punishment. When Malakim gain dissonance, either by oathbreaking or breaking a Word's rules, there's a few ways to get rid of it. All are extreme. First, a Malakite can purge one dissonance by finding and destroying a greater source of evil than the cause of the dissonance. Killing demons works...but only if they serve a Word opposed to the principle you violated. Second, a Malakite can remove dissonance by swearing new oaths. Every two new oaths remove one note of dissonance. Any oath sworn this way is permanent, so be careful with them! The most extreme way to purge dissonance, however, is to die fighting demons. A Malakite engaged in mortal combat with demons loses 1 dissonance if their corporeal form is slain while they are fighting.

Malakim may not choose to suffer evil to live. Many Malakim interpret this more strictly than God might have intended - some believe it means they must attack immediately, which can lead to dissonance itself. Reflexively destroying a small evil and allowing a greater one to escape, or unwisely attacking when success is impossible, are both implicitly choices to allow evil to live. Wiser Malakim note that the oath has no time limit. They plan, stalk and spy until they can launch an ultimate attack or their hand is forced. Once all leads are explored, however, hesitation ends. It is possible to work with demons - but only temporarily and only to fight a greater evil. Malakim earn no dissonance for allowing a lesser evil to live if it helps destroy a greater one. What they cannot do is ignore evil. When other angels cultivate demonic relations that do not help save more people...well, that's underhanded and dishonorable. They will not ignore that...unless they notice the demon is trying to Redeem. Redemption is a permanent destruction of evil, so most Malakim believe they must never obstruct the efforts - and killing a demon tends to be bad for their odds. Some might even help the demon out somehow. Another problem, of course, is getting stuck in conflicting or foolish oaths. Even older Malakim find it hard to obey every vow. Malakim can't take spurious oaths or multiple versions of the same oath ('never use a pistol' and 'never use a rifle', say) the wiser ones take highly specific vows and consider how they mix with their other vows or Word dissonance. Superiors can remove a Malakite's oath, generally following a painful lesson. Malakim would never ask for it, however - the vow is part of their basic nature, no matter how unwise. A Superior must choose to remove it without being asked. When an oath expires ('slay all dragons', say) then the oath must be replacedi mmediately, at the cost of 1 dissonance per sunrise in which it is not.

Malakite-specific Discords include Binding Oath, a Celestial Discord that renders the Malakite paralyzed unless they make a Will roll whenever they try to violate an oath, and if they succeed at the Will roll, they take (Discord level) celestial damage, which can remove Forces. Plus, the Discord adds to the TN of dissonance rolls. Burning Touch is a Corporeal Discord that causes any physical contact with a demon, undead or demonic artifact to cause (Corporeal Forces) damage to both parties, in the form of bright green flame. Evil Warning is an Ethereal Discord that allows a Malakite to detect demons with a Perception roll in the form of an undirectional evil rumble, louder the more demons there are and the closer they are...but any demon can make a similar roll to detect the Malakite, gaining full information on them as if they had rolled on the Disturbance chart.

Stereotypes posted:

Seraphim : They are very wise and should be respected. Sometimes it seems like they'd rather fight the War with words than with action, though.
Cherubim : They are a virtuous Choir, and good to have covering your back. Sometimes their devotion makes them blind. If the object of their adoration is flawed, it may take drastic measures to shatter their misplaced loyalty.
Ofanim : Frivolous and unreliable. Their speed is useful in battle, but everything is a game to them. They should slow down and pay attention to what they're doing. Why do they seek to annoy us?
Elohim : We complement each other, but it's difficult to get over our differences. They cannot experience our righteous anger in the face of evil, and we cannot experience the wrong point of view - we don't care why people choose to do evil.
Kyriotates : They are very powerful, but difficult to deal with. They probably don't understand us any better than we understand them. Their need to protect their hosts inhibits them in a fight.
Mercurians : They love humans too much. We both teach lessons to mankind, but ours tend to be more permanent. They can be very helpful when we need to understand mortal society, but they're useless in a fight.
Balseraphs : The only demons so selfish we can smell their stink on the corporeal plane. They haven't the slightest shred of honor; Hell is too good for them.
Djinn : Brutal thugs who have turned away from the nobility they once possessed. We do them a favor by killing them.
Calabim : The most physically dangerous of the Bands. They make formidable opponents. Kill them from a distance if possible; otherwise brace yourself, close in and finish them off quickly.
Habbalah : Sick, twisted liars. They love emotion unfettered by morality, and cause immense damage to human psyches. Put them out of their misery.
Lilim : They have their own kind of honor, but they are the spawn of a traitor, and almost all of them serve evil. Grant them the respect that they have earned for keeping their word, but remember they are the foe...and because they understand honor, they can use our own virtue against us in a way that no other Band can.
Shedim : They have absolutely no redeeming value. They usually leave their victims stripped of honor and self-respect, requiring us to destroy their mortal host along with them.
Impudites : These slimy predators take advantage of unwitting victims. Usually they're not worth much as opponents, but they can be very cunning.

Kyriotates are able to take on many aspects, seeing the world through many eyes. They are the most alien of Choirs, experiencing life in ways other angels can only imagine, but are also closest to human experience in many ways. Jordi represents them as an Archangel. Other famous Kyriotates include Arael, Angel of Birds, Manakel, Angel of Aquatic Animals, Shakziel, Angel of Water Insects, Orc, Angel of Networks, Hamonah, Angel of the South Wind, Och, Angel of Alchemy, and Zahun, Angel of Scandal.

Kyriotates make excellent spies and informants, able to possess and control many vessels. They are excellent coordinators as well, able to exist in many places at once and multitask easily. Heaven is against interfering with free will, but Kyriotates are sometimes used in sticky situations where direct control of some human is needed. They are always careful to not cause more problems than they solve, but they can often act where their hosts can't, extracting them from difficult situations. In Heaven, Kyriotates are limited to their true form, but they remain excellent multitaskers and organizers. They serve as clerks, researchers, administrators and record-keepers, keeping Heaven running. Most go to Earth sooner or later to gather information, as well.

Elohim often take Roles as doctors, counselors, psychologists or therapists, and do well in emotionally charged environments, as they can keep a cool head well. They are very good in any social profession and often in very technical ones, as well. They can also serve well as detectives, investigators, or diplomats. They are not creative, however, in most cases, and are poor at any job that requires it, like an artist or journalist. They rarely have the drive or desire to change society. Most are also poor combatants - they may know how to fight, but they are too meticulous to trust their instincts well. Most Kyriotates have no Roles - they just can't use them unless they're a Role that can be handled anonymously by a body-swapping being, like a computer consultant that works by email. Some do specialize in possessing certain kinds of host, however. Most Kyriotates instead focus on 'tags' that let others identify them - a favorite expression, a Symbol they wear or draw, a tune they whistle, etc. This allows them to identify themselves to allies while hiding from enemies, at least until a demon discovers their tag and turns it against them.

Kyriotates love individuality and subjectivity above all things, which some see as close to the view of the Fallen. However, for Kyriotates, their subjectivity is all they truly have to call their own. and they tend to have very defined and eccentric personalities. While they experience the world firsthand, they are not of it. Sometimes they become caught up in the details of the world around them and forget they aren't allowed to hold on to the world. Everything in their life is transitory but duty, and they are supposed to not become too involved. This means they tend to vary between two extreme views. Some try to distance themselves from the lives they work with, doing their work and moving on quickly. They are often cold and alien. Others throw objectivity to the wind and immerse themselves in their hosts' experiences, seeing everything from many perspectives. Most hover between the two extremes, trying to balance their nature.

Kyriotates may use their resonance to learn more about their hosts, rolling at -2 to determine what is important to the host. CD 1 tells the one thing most important to them generally, such as health or money or family. CD 2 senses all the things important to the host in order of importance. CD 3 gives that in detail, such as what the definition of success is for the host. CD 4 also tells why each thing is important. CD 5 also tells the one thing that would cause the most harm to the host's interests. CD 6 also gives the ine thing the Symphony considers most important about the host, whether the host agrees or not. A Kyriotate can also resonate at -4 to gain some of the host's skills and memories, similar to what Kyriotates of Destiny can do automatically. CD 1 tells what the host was thinking about when they got taken over. CD 2 gives the last hour's memories and one Skill of your choice. CD 3 is a week's memory and two Skills. CD 4, a month and three Skills. CD 5, a year and four Skills. CD 6, total memory and all Skills.

Kyritoates are challenging in play. Their resonance has the same range as anyone else, except they can't use recordings or reproductions...but they [i]can[/o] resonate across live video feeds or telephones. It's a very good way to cross long distances without Disturbance. Kyriotates gain all natural abilities of the host, including the minimal base knowledge to use any senses, natural weapons or movement abilities. A bird host can fly, but the Kyriotate can't use any special maneuvers the bird has learned. Kyriotates have no access to any supernatural powers of the host. Their great advantage is being able to have many hosts at once. They suffer no disorientation when switching hosts, and the hosts share a mind, so they have no need to communicate. However, Kyriotates cannot extend their stay in a host. When time runs out, they have to leave, though they can come back after being in another host. Ruleswise, a Kyriotate can take as many corporeal actions per round as they have bodies, but only one celestial or ethereal action - so they can fight, take a shower and solve a crossword simultaneously, and any combination of those and one of a Song, attunement or distinction at once, but not two Songs at once. (Resonance is the exception.) Regardless of how many hosts, they only regain 1 Essence per day, and any Rite works once per day per angel, not per host. They cannot be in more than one place celestially, and only Kyriotates of Dreams can be in more than one place ethereally. Kyriotates can be on multiple planes at once, but can act only on one of those planes on any given turn - so one turn is earth, one is Heaven, the third is the Marches, etc. And you can't give up a realm's turn. Kyriotates track soul HP, mind HP and Essence across all forms as shared, but corporeal HP is per host. While in a host, the body is treated as a vessel in all ways, except that damage to them causes Disturbance. Kyriotates can possess vessels, sending their owner to the Marches until they leave the form. If Kyriotates and/or Shedim fight over a host, they each roll resonance normally. If more than one succeeds, they all do nothing in that host for one round. If only one succeeds, that celestial gets control that round. The only time when Kyriotates change their hosts' appearance is when they have Corporeal Discord, which will manifest in any host they possess until the Kyriotate leaves.

For human hosts, Kyriotates prefer the iwlling and will usually cultivate friends, especially Soldiers, for this purpose. They will possess unwilling humans but usually only to help them. They prefer to know what they're getting into, as the risk of harming an unknown or unwilling host is great, and they keep nonconsensual visits very brief. Those with permanent vessels of their own 'tie up' Forces in them, unable to use those to possess others until the vessel is destroyed. Animal hosts are more useful - they're common, easily controlled, uncomplicated and often overlooked. They can also be quite useful in combat, though less so now that guns are a thing. Animal hosts also grant access to the animal's natural abilities. Animals, however, are limited in their ability to operate in human society. Plant hosts are usable only by Flowers Kyriotates, and while they can move branches they tend to be unable to move if rooted. Most small plants have 1 Force, while threes tend to have 3, or even 5 for the largest, and a plant host grants Strength equal to twice their Forces. Lightning Kyriotates can possess inanimate objects, which usually only takes 1 Force. Objects retain sense, hearing, touch and any special senses the object might have - like, say, the ability to 'hear' radio waves in a radio - but their ability to communicate depends entirely on the object's abilities. Morse code is suseful to know. These objects also cannot move in unnatural ways - table legs aren't flexible - but stones can, say, roll. Doors can open or close. Cars can drive. That kind of thing.

Kyriotates must leave their host bodies better than they found them. This includes mental, emotional and spiritual health. A Kyriotate that ruins a host's career or family life is going to be dissonant. That's why they prefer to know about their hosts first, so they can protect their needs. Animal vessels are easier - so long as they are unharmed and their survival is unthreatened, they're long as, say, the shelter you leave them in is not going to just cage them up indefinitely or put them down. If you make a mistake, you can go back and try to fix it to remove the dissonance...but some have fallen because they weren't able to admit something wasn't fixable.

The need to protect hosts can cause conflict between duty and nature. Other angels might sacrifice a vessel for the greater good. Kyriotates can't. They are also far less likely to buy the idea of sacrificing one person for the good of all in general. They are expected to respect the lives of their hosts, but not get too involved. They must keep the greater good and the good of the host at the same time. Those that become too distant and see humans as just pawns are on the road to a Fall.

Next time: E Pluribus Unum

Holy Crap

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Holy Crap

Kyriotate-specific Discords include Fractured Forces, a Celestial Discord which isolates (Discord's level) Forces. These isolated Forces can still be used to possess hosts, but cannot be combned with the rest of the angel's Forces - so at level 2, you'd have two Forces that could possess something, but could not be used for anything requiring more than 2 Forces. Contrariness is an Ethereal Discord that occasionally causes a Kyriotate's Forces to act against them. Any time the Kyriotate controls a host with Forces less than or equal to the Discod levle, the GM can call for a Will roll. If this fails and the CD is less than or equal to the Discord's level, the vessel acts opposite to the Kyriotate's desires. Inner Echoes is an Ethereal Discord. While in a host, the Kyriotate suffers the effects of an Ethereal Discord based on the host's personality quirks at a level equal to Inner Echoes, as the trait becomes magnified by the angel's presence. Inseparable Forces is a Celestial Discord similar to Fractured Forces. The Discord causes (1+Level) Forces to be inseparable - so if you have it at level 5, you have to put at least six Forces all in one host.

Stereotypes posted:

Seraphim : They know nothing of tact or subtlety. They know the truth without recognizing truth can be relative. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
Cherubim : How they stand being tied to a single charge is completely beyond us. They are steadfast and devoted to their duty, but their single-mindedness blinds them to seeing the bigger picture.
Ofanim : They understand our need for movement. If they could experience what is like to be in many different places at once, they would like it. They just need to learn patience to go with their boundless energy.
Elohim : If any of the Choris can understand the challenge we face, it's the Elohim. The Powers know how difficult it is to avoid drowning in all the different feelings and perspectives of humanity.
Malakim : They only understand one point of view, honor. They are like lasers: intensely focused and burning hot. They are powerful allies when you need a job done, but don't try reasoning with a Malakite or getting in his way, or you'll regret it.
Mercurians : They share our interest in humanity and the corporeal world. They are smooth . They should give lessons on how to work a crowd.
Balseraphs : They know a little too nuch about subtlety. They can tell you night is day and make it seem true. Learning to see things from different perspectives can help expose some of their lies.
Djinn : Perversity incarnate, they take the holy guardian role once theirs and twist it until it is unrecognizable. We must protect humans from their gentle "care."
Calabim : They take the easy way out. They know it is easier to destroy than to create. We help build up what they tear down.
Habbalah : These are sad creatures. They lost their hold on reality, and subsequently lost their place in the Symphony. Do not become drawn into their twisted beliefs.
Lilim : Beware their webs or you'll end up losing the freedom they claim to spring from.
Shedim : They are our dark reflections. They use mortal lives without any concern for their well-being, trying to draw humans down into Hell with them. They've lost their divine's up to us to protect humanity from their ever-increasing corruption.
Impudites : They may be good at taking, but we're better at giving.

Mercurians are charged with relating to mankind, and are the least divine of the angels. In the Archangels, they are represented by Eli and Marc. Famous Mercurians include Iptriel, Angel of Haggling, Elysia, Angel of Toys, Nisroc, Angel of Spies, Requel, Angel of Counsel, Lang, Angel of Foresight, and Etienne, Angel of Diplomacy.

Mercurians typically do work that invoplves observing or influence humanity from within. They are spies, propagandists and envoys, and also work as patrons of the arts and preachers of faith. Many Mercurians dislike organized churches, however. They have an innate sense of politics and relationships, and they see churches as instruments of control rather than faith. They especially dislike televangelists. Un Heaven, Mercurians are politicians. It was Mercurians that tried (and failed) to prevent the Rebellion, and now they work closely with and advise the saints and bodhisattva. They also act as spies for their Archangels, keeping an eye on everyone else and ensuring no one group is counterproductive to the whole. Mercurians prefer Roles that put them in contact with many people, such as administrators, bartenders, couriers, detectives, doctors, entertainers, journalists, lawyers, politicians, psychologists or religious leaders.

Mercurians adore humans and their ability to have itnense emotions. They love all forms of artistic expression, as long as the motivation is pure. They curse any art born of impurities like hate or greed, and any art that encourages evil behavior. More than anything, they weep for the degeneration of modern artistic culture. Because they are so closely tied to humans, they overlook nothing. Humanity and society are like art - to be studied and experienced in their fullest.

A Mercurian that focuses on an individual rather than a group can discern characteristics about a person. They roll at -2, but are able to tell what a person enjoys or desires via their resonance. CD 1 gives the target's most immediate desire - what they most obviously enjoy or need. CD 2 tells you what desire currently motivates them or would bring a smile to their face. CD 3 gives their basic desires or what would make them happy for a few days. CD 4 gives deeper desires, which would make them happy for an extended period. CD 5 tells you their deepest desires, which would make them very happy indeed. CD 6 gives secret desires, whic would grant the greatest amount of joy or fulfillment for a very, very long time. A Mercurian may focus even deeper, rolling at -4 to tell what must be done to get someone to trust them. CD 1 tells what would be needed to gain trust for at least a conversation. CD 2 for a day. CD 3 for a few weeks. CD 4 for a few months. CD 5 for as long as a close relationship is maintained. CD 6 is forever. This doesn't help you actually do the thing - you just know what's needed.

While Mercurians prefer to help rather than harm, they must sometimes be aggressive. They do so by creating social trouble. Using their knowledge, they can generally take someone out of action for a long time without causing physical harm. Cops and trumped-up charges are a favorite. However, that's not simple. Sure, some hot-button accusations like child abuse can eat up hours without any proof, but most of the time you need evidence. You may need to plant evidence - but ehy, now you have a use for the bodies that drop around your Malakite friends. Mercurians find pretty easy to frame someone, though - they can tell if someone's had legal trouble before with their resonance, after all. They also know how to distract a target with their friends and relationsips. They don't hurt people, but they can manipulate them very, very easily.

Mercurians gain dissonance by violence except against demons. Unfortunately, sometimes violence seems unavoidable. You can get attacked by humans - and in those cases, you still have to solve things nonviolently. Songs can help with that. Hellsworn, of course, are still human - you get dissonance if you hurt them. Better have friends who can fight for you. Sometimes, even then, you have no choice. A human has left you no other option, or is so wicked that you have to end them. As long as you're sure you're doing right, you have to eat the dissonance and hope it can be removed later. The best way for a Mercurian to remove dissonance is to directly atone for their sins, righting the wrongs they did to their victims. If you kill a human, no atonement is possible, of course. But nonlethal violence can be atoned for by receiving forgiveness and mending any damage done.

Common Discords among Mercurians include Unnerving Stare, a Corporeal Discord that makes your gaze really creepy and penalizes all interpersonal relations, though it is not unique to Mercurians. Tongue Tied is an Ethereal Discord that penalizes all verbal communication due to difficulty speaking. Oblivious is a Celestial Discord that blinds you to emotional states and cues that you'd normally pick up on. Other Choirs sometimes get a version of this, except related to their own resonance instead of the Mercurian grasp of social stuff.

Stereotypes posted:

Seraphim : When we talk about the "straights," this is who we mean. They just don't get it. Why can't they learn to deal with mortals?
Cherubim : They show admriable dedication and are pretty cool guys, but they're so darn focused. Cherubs should look up from what they're protecting for once, and experience the world in which their wards live.
Ofanim : Whoo-hoo! Slow down, Tex! The Ofanim are a bit frazzled, but they can be a lot of fun.
Elohim : How can they live like that? There's a place for objectivity, but all the time? The Elohim need to let their hair down, so they can enjoy God's creation. That's what it's here for.
Malakim : Surprisingly enough, we get along. We do the talking, and when the talking doesn't work they come in and clean things up. Not to mention the fact that they cut out the cancer within society.
Kyriotates : They know how to experience. Rock on. They're probably our favorite teammates when a job needs to be done.
Balseraphs : As if there weren't enough problems in society without some demon who can make his lies real. Loath them, for their work makes life more andm ore difficult for those humans they affect.
Djinn : Yes, they understand dedication. But a Djinn's understanding of dedication is sick.
Calabim : Life is about creation, not destruction. Works of art that took a lifetime of inspiration and dedication to complete withstand but a thought from these monsters.
Habbalah : Emotions are sacred, part of what makes humanity special, and not to be toyed with. People have enough trouble keeping control of their emotions without the Habbalah to make things worse. "Oh, you're an angel, eh? Come here, I'll show you an angel."
Lilim : They may be fun, but keep two things in mind about the Lilim. One: wrong kind of relationship, kids. Two: beauty is only skin deep.
Shedim : There are some things people need not experience.
Impudites : Our Fallen brethren are sick perversions of what we are. We hate them, and reserve our repressed violence for them.

So, Archangels! Archangels are some of the bueiest beings in the world. They concentrate on the big picture of the War and their Word. Most are preoccupied with Heavenly duties and politics, and all of them spend a lot of time dealing with the work of Heaven and thousands of people each day - to say nothing of their angels on Earth that may need attention. While Archangels can be in many places at once, they can't divide themselves infinitely. They are pretty accessible, but prefer not to be troubles unless it's real important. Getting to Earth means they like you, even if you rarely speak to them. Archangels know every one of their angels by sight and name, but they expect you to be self-sufficient. Visits are generally rare, and your direct boss is probably a Wordbound if you even have one.

Still, an Archangel doesn't want you out of touch too long. Most Archangels delegate the direction of their Earthly servitors a lot, except for Jean and Dominic, but they do expect reports to come up the chain of command. You might be close to your direct boss, or they may just contact you by phone once a week for progress reports. Some angels operate outside the chain of command, however - favored servants for special missions often reprot direct to an Archangel. Even so, they shouldn't expect to see their Superior too regularly. There's only two times an Archangel usually wants a meeting - when giving orders for an assignment, and when hearing from them after an assignment is completed. If they have to communicate in the interim, typically they'll send a messenger instead. Likewise, not all invocations result in a personal apperance - an Archangel can send intermediaries to answer invocations.

When meeting your boss, it is best to be discreet. You don't air dirty laundry in front of other Words, and rewards and punishments are almost always handled one-on-one unless public praise is part of the reward. Invocations are best done in private, and if you dare to question, criticize or deliver bad news, it's definitely best to do so in private. Archangels are also very busy, so it's be st to be brief and to the point. They appreciate that. Be reasonable, as well - even Archangels have finite resources. If you need help, ask, but never ask for more than you need and never ask for help you can get from elsewhere. If your Archangel gives you a gift, don't get greedy, either. A Rite, Song or material reward is probably a reasonable request after a moderatly important success, but don't ask for more than you expect to get. Archangels don't haggle and they value humility over pride. And, of course, always be polite. Even the most casual Archangels expect respect. Dissent may be permitted, but always be tactful. Rudeness will get you nowhere, and no Archangel tolerates insubordination...but remember, no one likes groveling.

So, when will you get a personal audience? Pretty rarely. The most likely reason is that the PCs invoke an Archangel. That gets their attention and a response, even if not a personal manifestation. They might project an image or speak to their angel telepathically, or they might send a minion...or, if they already know what you want, they might just provide that without showing up. This is often preferable - Superiors manifesting is really, really loud. Some Archangels give orders directly before each mission, at a time and place of their choosing. And if they assign the mission personally, debriefing is also probably personal as well. Just as questioning or refusing orders is a bad idea, reporting failure is rarely pleasant. Debriefings can be scheeduled or by invocation. Success makes these meetings more pleasant, but never be arrogant or expect massive gratitude. You're just doing your job.

However, sometimes an Archangel will just drop in on you. These visits are often to check on progress or demand explanation for questionable actions. However, Archangels do have relationships, and often quite like their angels. Sometimes they really do just want to see how you're doing. This can cause anxiety, but it never hurts to invite them for dinner when they show up. Sometimes they even like to socialize! However, Archangels do nothing without ar eason. They may be friendly and casual, but there's something on their mind, and you should probably wonder what. Some Archangels also prefer their audiences to be held in Heaven. This is usually more formal, and always less private - other angels will be around taking notes, relaying messages and obeying orders. Be polite. Any angel can choose to ascend to Heaven, and Archangels always know if one of theirs has arrived in Heaven. They usually won't meet them quickly, if at all. If it's a Kyriotate forced off Earth, an intermediary will probably demand explanation, then send the angel back to Earth, though the Archangel will likely ask about it later. If it's an angel in trauma, there are angelic 'nurses' around to tend to them. Those that ascend to Heaven to meet their ARchangel can expect a long wait - no one but another Archangel can meet an Archangel without an appointment.

Sometimes, an Archangel will give you a job they expect to fail. Usually they won't tell you, but there's ways to find out. Sometimes they'll explain why after, sometimes not. ARchangels have a lot of balls in the air at any time, and even the most important angel is just another resource. Most Archangels don't like to send you off on suicide missions, but sometimes, it must be done. Some missions are just distractions, too, to divert the other side from a real mission elsewhere. Sometimes they're even trying to misleado ther Archangels. Angels on those jobs are bait, and while the objectives may be valid, they might just be drawing fire. Sometimes, an Archangel just wants recon, too, and feints can provide that...but they're not easy on the angels involved. It's rare for an Archangel to say a mission was intended to fail even afterwards - it's bad for security and morale. Angels chosen for those jobs might be troublemakers that aren't worth so much, or proven warriors guaranteed to cause a lot of chaos and reaction. Either way, if they survive, they're going to be rewarded, and success will be rewarded far more than usual. An ARchangel's favorable reaction after a disaster might be the only clue that something was up, though. And sometimes, you're set up to fail as a lesson in humility, to try and keep you far from a Fall. Archangels worry about dissonant angels, and missions designed to teach them may be hard on the ego but can really help. And, of course, sometimes they want to see how you react. If you endure without complaint, they'll respect you more - but that doesn't always mean you get rewarded. Those that lose faith or get angry afterwards become suspect, unlikely to be given greater responsibilities.

We've seen how Archangels act in person, so we quickly move on...divine intervention! Most commonly, what you get out of a divine intervention is just a beneficial coincidence - some unexpected piece of luck. The car chasing you blows a tire, a clue falls into your path, a noise distracts the people looking for you. These are usually low-key, though sometimes they can be dramatic. An amplification is the next most common - a temporary increase in ability, making you succeed massively. These aren't obvious, but are noticeable. An amplification might increase a stat for a roll or an attack' Power, and they'll definitely effectively give a CD of at least 6 on whatever you were trying. Respite is a form intervention that grants relief - you get exactly what you need. Your wounds might heal supernaturally, your Essence might refill, you might find money in your wallet or gas in your tank. It's rarely dramatic but certainly obvious. Intercession is one of the more overt forms of intervention. Angels might descend from Heaven to help you, a friendly Soldier shows up, an angry bear appears to chase your enemies away. Usually, this aid will return where it came from when it is not needed any more, but not always. The Hand of God is the rarest form of intervention - a literal divine miracle. Perhaps not a dramatic or overwhelming one, but one which everyone can tell is Divine power in action. This sort of intervention should generally be reserved for climactic events.

The game then provides guidelines on each type of intervention based on how important the roll involved is. This is not very interesting.

Next time: Angelic Youth

Holy Insert Word Here, Batman

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Holy Insert Word Here, Batman

Angels are people, and they can vary a lot within the general bounds of being angelic and being part of their Choir. Young angels are relative - the eldest angels predate the creation of the universe, while others are young even by human standards. The youngest are those who were made to replace casualties or those who were made to eventually contest for a Word that did not exist in the past. A few are children of other celestials, while others are relievers newly made into full angels. Archangels don't create angels as often as Princes create demons - they prefer quality over quantity.

A young angel will have 9 Forces, but will rarelyh ave many attunements and certainly no Discordo f any kind. They will generally have only one vessel - there's enough problem with learning to act human before they start worrying about multiple identities, as a gneeral rule. Typically they will have had a few years in Heaven before going to Earth, and their Roles rarely have a Role over level 2. They are rarely given artifacts or understand how useful they can be - or servants, for that matter. They tend, instead, to be quite good at Skills and Songs.

Young angels tend to be rather ignorant of the power struggles between Superiors and the tricks you can use your attunements for. They also know practically nothing about human society, and tend to find most human practices baffling. They aren't, however, ignorant. They learn very quickly, and they know a lot of facts - it's just the interpretation of them that tends to confuse them. They often take things at face value. It's impossible to lie in Heaven, so they often have trouble with the ideas of lies or hypocrisy. They may have trouble grasping that a government may not always act in the best interests of its citizens, or that charities might spend more on their administrators than on helping people. Oftne, they are assigned to work with more experienced angels, who will act as mentors and show them the ropes. These rookie celestials are also rarely given missions of critical importance unless there's no one else around...but often their assignments do end up quite important due to chaos encountered on the job. These younger angels can end up ignored or pushed aside by their elders if they are insufficiently assertive, as well.

Veteran angels, who have been around for centuries without becoming Wordbound, are the NCOs of Heaven, training new recruits and preventing disasters. They have a lot of room to pick up obscure tricks, artifacts or attunements. Many have Forces beyond the standard 9, but others do not, perhaps because they lost Forces in battle over the years. This is even possible for angels who have been around since before the Rebellion. Age and power aren't the same, after all. Still, elder angels do have some advantages. They may have attunements from other Archangels or very high Role levels. They might even have special Rites or distinctions if the GM allows it. However, they also are the angels that most often start play with dissonance or concealed Discord. Malakim may have extra oaths, while elder Seraphim might have names thatm ake Earthly dealings more difficult.

Elder angels tend to be more independent and assertive, which can be good or bad depending on your Archangel. They are often somewhat burned out and apathetic, especially if they've spent a lot of time on Earth. Many have fallen in love with the world and care rather less about celestial politics than they probably should. They are also given the tougher jobs, as they have more experience. They are expected to have finesse and discretion, able to handle diplomacy with Hell or other Archangels. Some of them are fanatics, weakened by battles against Hell and lacking Words and rank because they're too busy fighting the War directly.

Most angels are made, not born. Archangels create them by an act of will, binding together loose Forces and imbuing them with knowledge. Superiors rarely make many angels - they're mostly done to replace dead or Fallen ones. Archangels prefer fewer but higher quality servants to hordes. However, once in a while two angels will fall in love and want a child of their own. This is most common among angels who serve a Word related to families or children, and the most frequent angels who wish to have a child are those of Creation, Children and Flowers, but even War will start families once in a while. Angel reproduction is rather more complex than that of humans. Most celestials lack the power to bind Forces into a new being, so they need an Archangel's help. (The Grigori were the exception to this.) Eli will always help, and Novalis almost always, but others will ask a lot of questions, particularly Dominic, who finds the request highly irregular. A couple that serves different Superiors can ask either for help, but it's prudent to get permission from both.

Not, mind you, that Archangels helping must be either parent's Superior. That's just tradition and manners. Angels who are desperate can approach anyone...but few except Eli will want to meddle, as most see this defiance indicates closeness to a Fall. (Eli will never refuse to help create new life.) Once an Archangel cooperates, the two angels join their celestial forms in union. Each parent contributes at least 1 Force to make the new angel, and can give up to 1 of each type. The Archangel takes these Forces and binds them along with loose Forces from the Symphony to create a new 9-Force angel. (In theory, you might make a reliever, but it is not done.) The newborn angel's Choir depends on the parents. If the parents are the same Choir, so is the child. If not, the child is whatever Choir the parent that gave more forces was, or randomly determined if they gave equally. The newborn angel's sex is entirely up to that angel, as an angel's sex has no biological component at all, and many angels don't have one at all. It is tradition for the new angel to join the service of the Archangel that helped with the birth, but it is not required. Only the Grigori did not require the help of an Archangel, as their vessels could reproduce freely.

Angelic childrearing is quite different from humans - a newborn is fully functional and adult. The parents generally provide them with training, teaching them all the things angels can only learn by experience - tricks with attunements, the unwritten rules, how to handle dissonance and Discord or get along with other Choirs, and of course how to avoid demonic traps. Most angels, however, are made. 'Born' angels are rare, and there is often a sense that they are somehow a bit different. They have a reputation for independence and even rebelliousness, and some elder angels claim that these children act more human than other angels.

Angels and demons can produce children the same way...but few Superiors will help. Only Eli of any Archangel might help, and even then, the demon would need to be a Renegade on the path to Redemption. The Princes of Hell will usually help, though, because a child is a hostage for Hell and a step towards the angelic parent Falling. Only Saminga would refuse. The newborn is always an angel - they haven't had a chance to Fall. Their Choir is that of the parent that contributed the most Forces, with the exception of Lilim - the child of a Lilim and an angel always takes after the angel. The newborn has no Heart and is born Outcast and Renegade. They rarely survive long unless they get to a Superior fast. Usually they will side with Hell and the Prince that helped make them, but a few choose Heaven and appeal to the mercy of an Archangel. A very few remain neutral, surviving by the help of allies. Those who live in Hell Fall very quickly, while those that remain in Heaven tend to be scrutizined closely for signs of backsliding.

Celestials in corporeal form can have sex, but vessels are sterile. The Grigori, of course, could reproduce normally, but otherwise you need the Song of Fruition. Angels are forbidden to interbreed with mortals and even knowing the Song is grounds for trial. The Princes aren't so strict, but there still aren't many demonic children out there - there's good practical reasons not to have kids. A child is a target for anyone that wants to hurt a demon, and desiring achild requires a certain level of affection and commitment few demons possess. Angels also really do not like it, and do their best to kill any demonic parents. Human children require 9 months to gestate, and an angel in a female vessel will need to conceal the pregnancy somehow - possible for those serving less attentive Superiors, but good luck doing it to Dominic. This is why most angelic children have angels for fathers, not mothers. The offspring of a celestial and a human is human, mostly, as we covered in the Corporeal Player's Guide. Kyriotates, of course, may have sex and produce children normally...but it's the child of the host, not the Kyriotate.

Relievers, meanwhile, are heavenly spirits of lesser power than angels. They have no Choir and have between 3 and 8 Forces. They are sent to Earth only to accomplish small and specific goals, such as watching over something important but not important enough for an angel. They also assist angels on Earth as servants. They rarely have vessels, save for those that become Familiars. Relievers can use Songs and celestial abilities, but cause Disturbance much like any angel does and are more vulnerable to celestial combat than human servants. They tend to do small tasks and helpful deeds, but are often very knowledgeable about their job and the things around it. You can play as a reliever, if you wanted to for some reason. They're essentially identical to angels in most ways, save that they have no Choir or resonance and have less than 9 Forces. They most often end up facing off against their counterparts from Hell, the imps and gremlins. When a reliever gains a 9th Force, they become an angel of whatever Choir their player and the GM feel is most appropriate, usually based on their personality, attunements and jobs they've done.

Then we get some talk about mixed games, but it's basically the same as from the GM's guide, but less interesting and more longwinded. so, instead, we get talk about Heaven's hierarchy. At the top you've got oyur Superiors, who command the Host. Below them you have, generally speaking, angels with Words and distinctions. As one gains distinctions and rises in the ranks, they will be given command over others - typically Soldiers, relievers and other non-angels at first, and only other angels once leadership potential is proven. Not every favored angel is given command duties, however - especially if they are really, really good field agents. They get rank and can usually expect cooperation from others, but tend not to have direct subordinates.

Most angels ultimately seek to gain a Word. There's a lot more Words than there are angels. When an Archangel wants a Word filled, they'll first look over their ranks. If someone seems suited for the Word, the angel will begin to be groomed for it, often without their knowledge. When the Archangel believes them ready, they will approach and offer them the chance to apply for the Word. If there is no clear choice for candidate, an Archangel will carefully observe and test the possibilities and weed out the unworthy first, then set the rest to compete. Some prefer this method, since it relies on merit and ability, but others prefer to have only one candidate to present before starting. Occasionally, there will be no suitable angel, and sometimes an Archangel will create an angel with the goal of filling the Word. This is rare, but does happen. Typically, this celestial will not be told they're being gromed for a Word until they become worthy of it.

Any angel can apply for any vacant Word, but if the Word falls under their Superior's umbrella, the Superior's support is needed. If it falls under someone else's Word, that Archangel's support iwll be needed - not just for the Word, but to switch Superiors. You can't gain a Word without transferring to the service of the Archangel it falls under. If the Word doesn't seem to fall under any Superior's word, you can apply for it and it will become part of your boss's Word, which can result in some strangeness. An applicant's petition is public and can be contested or supported by any other angel. The Council considers all petitions and chooses whether or not to grant the Word. They must first consider if the Word needs an angel to oversee it, and it's best if you can demonstrate how your prospective Word will serve Heaven and not be counter to the Host's policies. (For example, the Word of Purity has remained vacant on the basis that Uriel's recall means that Purity is unlikely to serve Heaven's current strategy correctly.)

Next time: Teaching to the test

Holy Diver

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Holy Diver

So, once you've applied for a Word, if the Council decides it'll further the cause, they give you a Testing. This helps determine if you have the power to serve the Word you want in the best way possible, and to single out an angel if there are competitors. The specifics of each Test are up to the Council, but usually involver your abiltiy to serve the chosen Word. Each applicant might have to undertake a separate quest, or they might all have one task that could be acoomplished in many ways, with the most appropriate approach getting the Word. Vew important and contested Words may require multiple Tests. Every Test is fair, but they are never easy, and occasionally might be fatal. There is no room for incompetent Wordbound. Once the Testing is over, the surviving applicants appear before the Council and present their deeds and final arguments. Any angel may comment on the matter, and once all testimony is complete, the Council makes its decision. If they grant the Word, then the chosen applicant steps forward and sings the part of the Symphony representing the Word, resonating with it. The Seraphim join in and bind the Word to the angel's Forces, making them a new Wordbound.

So, switching Superiors! There are two main reasons an angel might do it. In one case, they have no choice - their original Superior has had a problem or otherwise elected to trade them away. In the sceond case, they want to change Superiors, perhaps because of some problem or perhaps because they are Outcast and seeking succor with another Word. Either way, it's not easy or done lightly. An angel dissatisfied with their Archangel can seek to leave their service, but it's a very serious decision. Usually, the first step is to petition the Archangel you want to serve. Then you ask your current Archangel for permission to leave, and usually they'll want to know who you're transferring to. Their reaction varies depending on your standing, their views and who you're swapping to. If it's a hostile Archangel, your current boss is likely to be unhappy, but if they're a friendly one, it often goes more smoothly. If they find your reasoning to be flawed or selfish, they will deny your petition. In all cases, you do have the option to bring your petition to the Council and request their judgment. This is a last resort - the Council's judgment is final, period. You must have the backing of the Archangel you want to serve to have any chance of a favorable judgment, and it's almost certainly going to leave bad blood with your former Archangel.

More rarely, an Archangel will loan an angel to another. This is usually temporary, and it doesn't change which Word you serve. All Creationers are currently in the service of other Archangels, but are still of Creation, for example. It's rare for these arrangements to be permanent. An Archangel might trade an angel away because of a favor owed or a desire to get rid of the angel, but other Archangels are more likely to declare a troublesome angel Outcast than give them away. In all cases, any exchange is only going to happen between relatively friendly Archangels. An angel will also be forced to seek service to another Archangel if their current one is not available. When Uriel was recalled, his former angels largely became angels of the Sword, but a few chose to become Outcast or serve another Archangel. In any of these cases, an angel can appeal to the Council if they feel treated unfairly, but you'll need an Archangel's support in some manner. The Seraphim Council is unlikely to favor you if both your Archangels are in agreement about a trade and no other Archangel will speak for you or take you on.

Angels that change Archangels are altered on a fundamental level, gaining new dissonance conditions and losing their old ones. They usually lose all the attunements of their old master, but may be allowed to retain distinctions or Rites if the parting was friendly. Any XP spent on attunements is lost unless the GM feels really generous. You get your new Archangel's Choir Attunement free; anything else you buy for yourself. You may often need to do some difficult or dangerous tasks to prove your worth. Other angels might be suspicious if you left your former Archangel's service in a negative way. Archangels know that sometimes an angel wants to change bosses, and each feels differently about it. Any that try to change more than once, however, are almost certain to become Outcast for rebelliousness and will have trouble earning trust. Not being able to work in Heaven's hierarchy is what led to the Rebellion, after all.

It's not easy to be an angel. Every angel can be tempted and suffer selfishness and doubt. When dissonance becomes too great, your soul itself fractures, your Heart cracks and you become Outcast. An Outcast's Heart is not broken, but the bond between them is. The Heart no longer acts as a beacon for them to enter Heaven, nor can it be used to locate them on Earth. Losing dissonance can help mend a cracked Heart, but only a Superior can make it whole again. Archangels always know when one of their own becomes Outcast, but even they cannot deliberately shatter a Heart. Some Archangels leave the broken Hearts of Outcasts lying where they are, in the hopes of their return, while others treat them as traitors, little better than the Fallen, and hide their Hearts away so they may not be seen. Only an angel's Fall, however, can cause the final destruction of a Heart.

The mechanics are simple: fail a dissonance roll, become Outcast. This isn't just bad luck, though - the roll cannot be failed unless you have at least three dissonance, which means you've fucked up repeatedly, and you always had the option of turnint it into Discord. Some angels risk a Fall in the hopes of riding themselves of their dissonance first, as Discord is harder to remove, but hey, free will ain't easy. Of course, an Infernal Intervention can make you Oucast with even one dissonance, so don't be complacent. Reasoning that you're safe because you don't have much dissonance risks infernal attention! Some angels also become so rebellious that a Superior cannot stand the sight of them, even if they have not 'tripped' on their own. It's rarely done, but an Archangel can punish you by making you Outcast - it's the second worst thing they can do, the first being destruction. It is rare, and it's only done if they expect you can make it back into the fold after learning your lesson. Often, Discord will be given at the same time...but it can only be done before or at the moment of fracturing the Heart, not after.

Outcasts regain Essence at sunrise but may not access any Rites from any Archangel, with two exceptions. First, if they are Wordbound, they can use their own Rites. Second, they can use any Rites granted by a Demon Prince. (Don't do that if you plan to get back into Heaven, however. Each time you do it, you gain one dissonance!) Outcasts do retain all Songs and attunements, but will lose any distinctions they had. Outcasts can invoke their Superior only if they have no dissonance. They are no longer bound by their Superior's dissonance conditions, though Archangels still know if those are violated somehow. No explanation. Outcasts may not enter Heaven, but may fellow a demon into Hell. Outcasts that enter Trauma do not go to Heaven, but to Limbo. They have no Heart to return to, see. While in Limbo, you are out of access for an indefinite period as you try to regenerate a vessel. Because Kyriotates can't have vessels, Outcast Kyriotates have special problems. If they exceed their normal time limit out of a host (10*Celestial Forces) minutes, they do not get forced back to Heaven - they instead must make a Will roll. On a success, they suffer one dissonance. On a failure, they get one dissonance and (CD+Celestial Forces0 soul damage. Either way, they then have (Celestial Forces) minutes to find a host before they roll again, continuing until they find a host, die or Fall. Kyriotates cannot go to Limbo unless they have the power to form their own vessel, such as those of Stone or War. Others just disband when they would enter Trauma, dying entirely.

There are several motives found among Outcasts, and several common attitudes. The Repentant is an Outcast that regrets their actions. They now acknowledge they were wrong, though they may not entirely understand why. They want to get back into Heaven and their Archangel's favor, and will probably be trying to be scrupulously angelic in order to prove themselves worthy, avoiding anything that might be even possibly dissonant. They are terrified of a Fall. They often have no tolerance for sin, having experienced the price firsthand, and this often remains true even after they are restored, which is one reason Dominic sometimes forgives them.

The Self-Pitying is an Outcast who blames their Archangel, fate or Heaven for their situation. They regret it but do not take responsibility. They argue that they're no more dissonant than many who haven't become Outcast and may believe they are unfairly singled out. They may crave forgiveness and work toward it, but are unlikely to receive it until they accept their responsibility. If they get over their self-pity and become truly penitent, they have a good chance of being restored to Heaven. Otherwise, they often become bitter and resentful, and then Fall. Angels who are friends of them may counsel them to reform, while demons encourage their self-pity.

The Angelic Defiant knows they broke the rules, but believe they were in the right. They still consider themselves on the side of the angels, but are fighting on their own terms. Some are would-be reformers trying to convince Heaven they were right, while others are arrogant and believe themselves superior to the Council. A few brave and foolhardy angels choose to become Outcast in the belief that they can fight more effectively that way. They are vigilantes, and while some angels may sympathize, their methods are inevitably destructive and dissonant. Sooner or later, they go too far and Fall. Their arguments can be persuasive to angels suffering doubt and frustration, and Dominic considers them the most dangeorus Outcasts...but they are also the most useful to those Archangels that need truly deniable operatives.

The Hellbound Defiant is neither sorry nor sympathetic. They know they're heading for a Fall and either don't care or have given up. How long they remain in this state without a Fall is entirely determined by how hard they try to avoid it. Those that truly don't care will Fall quickly - it's not that hard to become a demon by choice. Many still dread the Fall, however, and try to maintain their status as long as they can, often trying to get out of the War entirely out of apathy and fear.

Some Outcasts will go into hiding and avoid other celestials. Others continue to act in the War, for whatever reason most suits them. What they all have in common is being a target for both sides, with few friends. They are thrown from Heaven, and angels consort with them at their own risk. Dominic sees them as fugitives that must be destroyed before they Fall. Even an Outcast trying to redeem themself must face Dominic's prosecution and judgment. Some Archangels prefer a hands-off policy to Outcasts, and others even try to help them redeem themselves, but always quietly. And some Archangels employ Outcasts at times, when they need a deniable operative. Janus, for example, may want to get something stolen from a recalcitrant angel of Stone, or Michael may need an assassin. Lesser Wordbound can also hire Outcasts. Either way, it's rarely done directly, but instead via intermediaries in order to maintain deniability and secrecy. The rewards vary from putting in a good word for an Outcast trying to get back to Heaven to a Song or attunement to even just Essence or an artifact. Dominic hates the practice, however, and will prosecute it if he gets evidence. Hell, of course, loves Outcasts they're victims to terrorize and damn. Princes also are willing to hire them as expendable agents, especially if they can be persuaded or tricked into fighting other angels. Any demon would take advantage of that, and it's a good road to a Fall. Of course, any payment will be calculated to cause dissonance and temptation.

Can you be a Wordbound Outcast? Yes, but it's rare. You keep your Word - no one can take that from you. The Inquisition will try to hunt you down, of course. You can still grant your Rites to other Outcasts (or non-Outcasts, but few will accept), so Wordbound Outcasts can even form networks within the Outcast community...though associating with them can put your chances of getting back to Heaven in jeopardy.

The Fall's not quite as easy as it sounds, though. To do it, you need to act against your basic nature, and even just a few times is rarely enough. The first step means you have to become Outcast. An angel can't just go straight from Heaven to a Fall by chance. If you continue going against your nature as an Outcast, however, you're looking for trouble - you have a chance of a Fall by failing a dissonance roll now. If you can't avoid dissonance, it's often best to turn it into Discord for this reason - it may be more permanent and inconvenient, but it'll keep you out of Hell.

Dissonance is, definitionally, stressful. It comes from your own decision to ignore your nature or the nature of the Word you serve. Guilt and shame and fear are all common among the dissonant. Some change their behavior and act in new ways, while others try to hide their dissonance. Behavior change isn't always a sign of dissonance, however - it could just be a bad week. Some angels can detect dissonance and Discord, and Seraphim can just use their resonance and ask, of course. Angels react to dissonance in many ways, though. The greater the dissonance, the stronger the effect. One note iwll hardly have any outward sign, and most angels understand that a single note can just be bad luck and won't torture themselves over it, though they will work to cure it. Malakim are the exception - even one note of dissonance makes them feel terrible. Two or three notes is a visible but subtle effect. Their personality will be clearly off in some way due to the stress. An angel with more dissonance than that who doesn't Fall will really show the strain, in constant danger of losing their nature and in constant fear of Judgment and Hell.

Some angels, particularly Seraphim, will just reveal to their friends that they have dissonance. They might be emotional or matter-of-fact about it, and they'll often hope for help. Of course, tell the wrong person and the Inqusition or your Archangel will be breathing down your neck. Others will overcompensate for their bad behavior, becoming caricatures of their Choir. A subtly dissonant Ofanite might pace constantly, while an extremely dissonant one might just never stop moving, ever, even to eat or sleep. An Elohite might refuse to make any decision for fear of subjectivity. A Kyriotate might get into as many small vessels as possible, even if it means not getting anything done, for fear of harming a human host.

Other angels respond the opposite way: they start to test their limits. They edge as close as they can to further dissonance without crossing the line. For some, this is a valuable lesson about themselves, but for others, it's a feedback spiral to Hell. A slightly dissonant Seraph might seem to be more reasonable as they begin to test the idea of the social lie, and they may learn...or they might Fall. A dissonant Mercurian might get grouchy or even threatening.

Some angels become neurotically guilty, manifesting a Discord they don't actually possess, often the one that would manifest if they turned the dissonance into Discord. Others become overanxious and start using their resonance at every possible chance. Still others become overfixated on their Word-dissonance conditions, become caricatures of their Word - angels of Animals might look for excuses to hurt humans, while the Swordies may act as if they have no will at all, living only for orders. It gives them a sense of stability and may entice their boss to remove the dissonance. The flip side of that is the angel that becomes neurotic about skirting the edges of the rules, or who loses faith in their Superior. The best thing for these angels, if they can't come to their senses, is to transfer out - and the worst that can happen is for their Archangel to notice the problem.

The key to any Fall is arrogance. Self-righteousness is not a safe belief for any angel. Any un-Fallen angel never truly wants to act against the divine - it's not in them to do so. But, they may believe that what they think is always what's right, regardless of what any other might say or do. So, how can an angel, of call creatures, believe they alone know what is right, beyond even an Archangel? That's easy: what if you think you have the answer and the Archangels have overlooked something? God's not around to ask. He doesn't take an active role. He leaves the daily operations to the angels. Heaven guesses that Yves can talk to God, but that's never been confirmed. If an angel assumes they're right and the Archangels assume that they are right, who has proof? If an angel really believes they have the answer and that God won't listen or confirm, they may decide they must act on it. This is a simple way to become Outcast and dissonant, and is the main way angels Fall.

Next time: The long way down

Holy War

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Angelic Player's Guide: Holy War

The experience of the Fall takes some time. First, you become Outcast, your dissonance causing you to think and act contrary to your nature. You no longer have direction, but you still have a chance to correct yourself. If you do not, you Fall. It is painful, disorienting. First, you feel as if falling from a great height, despite not moving, and you can feel the diminishing power of the Symphony's music within you. Then the pain comes - white fire in every portion of the being. The pain lasts only a moment, but it seems to last forever, twisting and warping you into your polar opposite. As the pain ends, you awaken to an utterly new outlook, and most of the time, you rarely realize how twisted it has become.

The Elohim are uniquely strange in their Fall. Habbalah born in Hell have a hard enough time believing themselves angels, and it is even harder to grasp how a Fallen Elohite could persist in this madness. The answer is in their 'repressed' nature. While Elohim must be objective at all times, they still feel emotion and passion, they just can't express it. Even as angels, it's not easy. As an Elohite becomes dissonant, their objective resolve weakens. They begin to slip. Being able to express themselves becomes addictive, and they eventually find it hard to maintain objectivity. They try desperately to keep their raging emotions in check. By the time they are Outcast, their emotions are dangerous, uncontrollable. Once the Fall, it is a breath of fresh air. They can act on and experience all their passions. So, how do they retain the belief that they are angels? It is because they feel they have received Heaven's blessing on their emotions, that they have received a new duty. They will teach others by example what the right way to live is. The Fellen Elohim are, you see, utterlyi nsane, driven mad by their passions. That is how they believe they are still angels.

Your friends are likely to notice dissonance before anyone else. They'll try to see what's up, but will not at first be worried about a Fall. Not until you become very dissonant - at which point most of your friends iwll confront you and begin treating you like a junkie. If you become Outcast, most of your friends will probably abandon you, having done everything they could to prevent it and failed. Dominic especially frowns on associating with Outcasts. Seraphim will usually try to help dissonant friends that are helping themselves - but if they think you aren't being honest with yourself and working to fix it, they will lecture you without mercy and may even report you. Cherubim are caring, but favor a tough love approach - the sort of folks who guard the locked door while you go through withdrawal. Ofanim rarely notice dissonance in others and are very bad at helping people with it. Elohim get nervous around dissonance and will go to great lengths to help you get rid of it. Malakim despise dissonance and are unlikely to be even slightly sympathetic to you - they want you to rid yourself of it or die. Kyriotates will give you opinions and how they'd fix it, then leave you to do what you think is right. Mercurians are caring, understanding and will listen for however long it takes, then work to help you get rid of it.

Every Archangel reacts to dissonance in their own way. Blandine pays little attention to it unless it gets in the way of her orders. If it becomes a noticeable problem, she usually gives a chance to redeem yourself. If that fails, she calls in Dominic. David does not tolerate dissonance. He gives the less dissonant a chance to fix things...but if they fail, he destroys them. Dominic treats dissonance with even less tolerance than anyone else. The subtly dissonant are watched and given a chance to redeem themselves...but if they stray, they will die. Eli lets his angels do whatever. Gabriel is under too much strain to even notice dissonance, but would be more likely to destroy a heavily dissonant angel than rehabilitate them. Janus is unpredictable - what he does depends entirely on his mood. Jean is a micromanager, but will let you do whatever as long as your work doesn't suffer. If he spots your dissonance, he will tell you what must be done to rmeove it, and will do so as long as you do what he says.

Jordi is a primal Archangel, and he destroys any angel that becomes so dissonant as to be unhelpful, but ignores it until that point. Laurence will let dissonance slide briefly, if you seem to be trying to remove it, but if it goes too far, he'll kill you. Marc has a simple rule - if you're acting stupid, you're bad for profits. He'll try to counsel and rehabilitate you, working closely with you to get rid of dissonance...but if you're too far gone or resistant to his help, well, you have to be let go. Michael is actually rather forgiving - if you can get rid of your dissonance and ask forgiveness, he'll be firm but fair. He'll want you to do something hard, but if you succeed, all is forgiven. Novalis is compassionate, doing what she can for the dissonant...but, well, not all of them survive her attempts to save them. Yves ignores dissonance in his angels. No apparent reason.

Most demons aren't understanding enough to notice dissonance in an angel until they become Outcast. At that point...well, an Outcast has no friends and is weak, and dmeons love tormenting them. Those that truly understand, however, learn to recognize symptoms of dissonance. The Fallen are especially good at this. If possible, they try to manipulate you into situations that will cause more turmoil and dissonance, in order to make you frustrated, approachable and suggestible. They want you to be warped, to have Heaven turn its back on you. A dissonant angel is a possible recruit, but an Outcast is a probable one. Once you become Outcast, all efforts get even more active. They'll do all they can to further your decline and reinforce your insecurities. Those that seem to be trying to redeem themselves are attacked - Hell would rather lose a recruit than see Heaven regain an angel. If you do Fall, though, chaos ensues. Every Prince knows how useful the Fallen are, and you'll be up for grabs. The demons who were working on you will fight each other to claim you for their Prince. The Pricnes themselves will work to recruit you, even being civil in their attempts. It's an infernal bidding war, after all. Everyone wants a Fallen angel.

Once you do get recruited...well, sometimes you're treated with suspicion, as your loyalty is unproven. You will probably be powerless for a time as your brain is picked for any knowledge you have of Heaven's movements. But sometimes the Fallen are treated with preference. They are very useful, after all, and so can be treated with care and given power. It depends on your Prince. Saminga doesn't do anything but threats, while Baal is generous to the Fallen. Either way, once you Fall you immediately become the infernal analog of your Choir. You lose all attunements, your resonance swaps over, you regenerate Essence at nightfall...and, initially, you can't get to hell on your own. You can, however, follow a demon down to it, or enter it via Beleth's Tower. Once you choose a Prince, you get your Band attunement and access to Rites. Your Prince will create a Heart for you, allowing you to descend to Hell at will. You may receive more, depending on how well you managed the courting process and how useful oyu are to your new Prince in terms of knowledge of Heaven's plans.

Your new demonic comrades, of course, will not be so generous. At best, they will mock and haze you. If you didn't get much power, well, you're going to have to tolerate jokes about tarnished halos for a while. They might welcome you, but they're still demons and you're the new guy. However, if you got a lot of favor or power out of it, they'll resent you. They may team up against you, and make you have to work twice as hard to get anything done. This is especially true if you get endorsed for a Word. Your Prince probably won't even mind much if they kill you - if you can't hold your own, well, fuck you. Over time, however, the ridicule and resentment fade as you prove your usefulness or establish your strength. This could take months or centuries, depending on how you act.

The Malakim are as pecial case. No Malakite has ever Fallen. Ever. They do generate dissonance, of course, but they work hard to avoid it. Most Malakim love their work and have total faith in their duty, Archangel and God. They don't gain dissonance often because...well, they like their jobs and don't need to disobey their oaths. They also active try to get rid of any dissonance, out of both pride and survival instinct. If they can't remove dissonance for some reason, most will immediately turn it into Discord once they get 2+ points - it's shameful, but it's preferable to dissonance. and third, the Malakim police themselves. A dissonant Malakite is a pariah in their Choir, and they watch themselves carefully. If you show too much Discord or dissonance, your Choirmates will hunt you down. And if you become Outcast, their zeal in trying to destroy you is unmatched. They'd rather lose a few incautious Malakim than risk sullying their ranks. Even if you were to get past them, however, Malakim can't Fall. Outcast Malakim who fail dissonacne rolls instead gain Discord. However, it is theoretically possible that a dissonant and Outcast Malakite captured by Hell could Fall. There's no proof that it can't happen. hasn't happened yet, but none of the Malakim are willing to take the chance.

Finally, we get new rules for weapons. They're boring.

The End!

Next up: Infernal Player's Guide, Liber Canticorum or Revelations 1?