This RPG may trigger some people.

Pleasures of the Flesh

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Pleasures of the Flesh

I'm going to warn you ahead of time: this is not going to be safe for work. This book covers Andrealphus, Haagenti, Kobal and Nybbas. Of those, Andrealphus is first and easily the most disgusting and gross. This is not going to be pretty and it's definitely not going to be clean. The art is full of tits and bondage gimps, as well. And, uh, if you have issues with date rape, coercive sex, rape in general, uh, Andrealphus is going to be problematic. This is also not going to show the most, uh, nuanced take on things like bondage, alternative lifestyles and so on. I want to make that clear here and now. This is not going to be a pleasant ride. So strap in and...well, here we go.

Andrealphus is the Demon Prince of Lust, cold-hearted and cruel. He is an Impudite who seems personable enough, but he's not and should not ever be taken to be kind.

First Lust is a Servitor attunement that, for 2 Essence, makes your victim feel whatever they felt toward their first crush, except towards you. It's gradual, taking an hour to build up. The victim can choose to resist without a roll, as with any crush, but if carefully used, they may not realize there's anything to resist at all.
Sensitivity is a Servitor attument that enhances any physical sensation. It costs 1 Essence per ten minutes and takes physical contact. It can magnify anything - pain, heat, cold, pleasure, the pressure of touch. The target resists with Will, and if they fail, they take (C)D as a penalty to all die rolls due to enhanced sensation. If the target chooses not to resist, it's automatically CD 6. Besides the penalty, there will be other effects based on what they are sensitive to now.
Sensory Deprivation is a Servitor attunement that removes one sense from the target per Essence spent, requiring a Will roll and physical contact. This cannot remove resonances, however. You choose what senses to cut off when activating it, and it lasts (10*CD) minutes. The victim may resist with Will, and you may remove the curse at will during the period, though you have to use this again to reapply it.
Andrealphus knows and can teach the Songs of Sensation, Ecstasy, Enslavement, Correspondence, Fruition and Pestilence, though he rarely teaches Fruition, preferring to use it on the behalf of demons that need it.
Andrealphus' higher ranks, the Marquises, Counts and Dukes, are all Wordbound. He doesn't give them extra powers, just rank and an expectation that they're going to keep going out there and working hard.

Expanded Rites:
1. Take someone's virginity.
2. Cause a human to introduce another human to a new form of sexual activity.
3. Publically preach the virtues of lust or sex to a group of at least 100 humans.
4. Cause someone to forswear their values out of desire for you.

Andrealpus is one of the eldest Impudites, dedicated to creating nothing and making humans forget themselves in the flesh. Before the Fall, he was the Archangel of Love, raised to that status after Blandine and Beleth declared their love for each other. He encourage love among angels and humans alike, and he covered all aspects of love - romance, brotherly affection, friendship and compassion. Love seemed a Word that could never be broken, and it was unthinkable for the angelic Andrealphus to cause another pain. When Lucifer came to him, he spoke of the pain Love could cause, of the loss of loved ones, of how Love was fragile and easily broken, that giving your heart to another would only harm you. Then he stood back and let Andrealphus atch as Heaven tore itself apart in the Fall. Andre saw as Beleth's love for Blandine twisted to hate, saw the pain Blandine felt, as love hurt her worse than any hatred could. He saw the birth of the Malakim in wrath, and he realized that angel could fight angel.

Andrealphus realized that Lucifer had been right, all along. Only personal pleasure was real happiness, for to care about others was pain and loss. Rejecting empathy, he lost Love and Fell, becoming the demon of Lust. He descended into Hell, joining with Kobal to create Shal-Mari. Kobal's motivations were suspect, to be sure, but both Impudites so more to gain from 'farming' human souls than just torturing them. The demons of Lust were in demand to provide pleasure for others, and Lust was commonly seen on Earth. While the Prince of Lust might not have the power of the War or the Game, he was comfortable.

Andre worked to expand on Earth, empowering his Word and increasing the flow of souls into Shal-Mari. He took great pleasure in upsetting Uriel, Archangel of Purity, a notorious foe of Lust. One of his many boasted triumphs, though shared with other Princes, was the Roman Empire's lapse into decay and corruption, for that was Uriel's favorite nation. Unfortunately, the decadence ended with the barbarian Goths and Vandals sacking the empire. While it encouraged pillage and rape, that was short-term gain and long-term loss. Andre did his best in the remnants, encouraging the rise of towns and cities to further spread the sex trade. Europe wasn't his only focus, though - he'd go anywhere. The harem tradition, born of the Assyrians, the concubines of China, the Bablyonian temple prostitutes, though they might serve ethereals - Andre approved of all these things and was supported by them. He was quite happy to make deals with any pagan gods of erotic love and physical lust, to weaken their ties to emotional affection. Souls were more important than Essence, after all.

As the Catholic church expanded, Andrealphus got interested in infiltrating it to weaken its message. While the more secret agents, like the corrupt priests and nunnery-brothels, worked quite well, his great pride was in the Borgias, who flaunted their sin while holding great Church power. Even if they didn't need his help to reach power or be corrupted, his demons loved to indulge them. Laurence got quite upset and was a major problem, spoiling Andre's fun with reforms. Andre has been known to complain about angels ranting about free will when they're so quick to deny it to others. Of course, Uriel had sponsored the Church originally, but Andre's been corrupting it since. Laurence trying to take it back was a clear annoyance.

The tide of Lust has ebbed a flowed. Even in times of Puritanism, where his demons were persecuted, Adnre was content that the secret vice trade was flourishing, even patronized by his public detractors. He found that they were even more ardent than the openly Lustful, in fact, so his Word was empowered. As the Victorian era passed, a new spirit changed ideas of propriety. Andre loved the emancipation of women, nourishing the ideas of sexual freedom as much as he could, with Lilith's help. In the 60s, Eli and Novalis nurtured the counterculture and free love generation, but Andrealphus was there behind them, turning it towards lust. He and Eli fought via servants at every meeting, calling each other fools. Feminism freed women in many ways, but it also made them vulnerable in others - social protections cast off alongside restrictions. 'Liberated women' were not 'responsible women' and many saw them as not worthy of ethical treatment. Andrealphus supported sexual freedom as the liberty to enjoy lust and nothing more. Responsibility didn't matter. Now, as the 20th century ends, he is working with Nybbas to preach a religion of the physical, reducing spirituality to catchphrase and cliche, urging free will and self-indulgence as a synonym for joy. He will use any tool, from secret vice to open calls for relaxing prejudice and freedom to choose partners. He wants to make humanity lose itself in the flesh, that he might lose himself with them.

Andrealphus is a true Impudite, and he loves humans more than even humans the same way that humans love steak. He finds their inventions and perversions fascinating, and frequently needs to be invoked just to get him to attend to actual business. If anyone dared to question him about his lack of attention to duty, he'd say he's just advancing his Word. He feels no Love, so he uses Lust as a solace, seeking to forget about souls as much as any human consumed by Lust does. To him, each conquest is proof that he was right, that Lust is true. He does not and will not permit himself to feel for any other creature. They are pets, mirrors, objects, enemies, but they aren't real. They aren't on his level. He expects others to make the same efforts for him that he does for them - he goes to the trouble of being beautiful, desirable, friendly. He has no time for those that cannot bother to at least try to catch his interest, not with so many beautiful things to pay attention to instead.

Next time: It keeps going.

Lust For Power

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Lust For Power

Lust is both desire and tool for the demons of Andrealphus. In theory, while it primarily covers flesh and caranlity, it could include lust for power, possessions or safety, and would greatly increase Andrealphus' power if it did, but those concepts are now largely claimed by Mammon and Haagenti. As matters stand, Lust is still a Deadly Sin, though, the passion that forces people to betray all they hold dear out of desire, to hurt others to satisfy their own whims. Lust teaches that only the wishes of the initator matter, and that any act on any other person is acceptable. Lust is Andrealphus' safe haven from memories of Love as well as his path to strength and power. By Lust, he controls, and by control, he can't be hurt. Lust is a tool to bind others or expose their faults, remaking them to his whim. It is a hunger that can never be satisfied. It blurs fantasy and reality, and Andre encourages others to act out their desires in ways that do not care about the safety or sanity of others, just your own pleasure. No one else matters.

It is said that when Andrealphus was Archangel of Love, he was present when Blandine and Beleth swore their love for each other. They say he created a diamond the size of a woman's fist as proof of their devotion. When Beleth turned against Blandine, the diamond broke in two. It is said by angels of Dreams and demons of Nightmares that Andrealphus still keeps both halves of the diamond, though know know where or why.

It is said that Andrealphus took great interest in Adam and Eve. After the Fall, some say he even took a more personal interest, siring a daughte upon Eve. (This obviously never got into the Bible.) The woman grew to be a seductress, incredibly beautiful and talented, and was among the first humans to become a Hellsworn or a sorceress. The rumor has it that she was involved in the downfall of the Grigori, and that she even survives to this day as a favored agent of her father.

It is said that during the Purity Crusades, the angels of Purity attacked a Domain that was home to one of Andrealphus' ethereal lovers. The ethereal begged Andre for help, so he enveloped the entire Domain in a miasma of darkness and desire that none could penetrate. No one has ever seen the Domain again, nor those that once lived there, nor the Malakim who were there when Andrealphus arrived. However, wanderers of the Far Marches have claimed to have seen a city where dark-winged angels in chains served an impossibly handsome lord. But there are, after all, so many rumors about the Far Marches.

Marou, it is known, was a potent Impudite of Lust, a Countess who wore the identities of Delilah and Salome. At the peak of her career, she was visited by Lucifer himself. She fucked him, and when the time was right, she asked him for the Word of Seduction. Lucifer decided, however, that she was presumptuous, and said so to Andrealphus, who promptly stripped Marou of her titles, Distinctions and most of her Forces, reducing her to working in the gutters of Shal-Mari. She has managed, over the last thousand years, to work her way back up some, but the stigma will always be on her. She has only now regained the confidence to ask for a Word again, but this time, she will not rely on sex. She plans to capture one of the few remaining angels of Love, break him, and then give him to Andre. Marou believes that if Andrealphus asks Lucifer, she will not suffer again as she once did. She has a lead on the location of such an angel, but she doesn't want to face such an ancient being alone. She's recruiting tough and foolish demons to help her with promises of lavish rewards.

Andrealphus, in his own mind, was betrayed by God. He was given a self-defeating, flawed Word and allowed to continue in delusion until it was all destroyed. Surely it is appropirate, he says, that many religions say God is Love, for nothing else could cause as much agony in its name. Lucifer might be a Balseraph, but Andrealphus is determined to believe he was honest with him. The only truth is the self, and humans exist to be exploited. God is the lie. As for Lucifer, well, someone has to be dominant in any relationship. Andre still owes him for the 'truth' that frreed him from Heaven, and he still desires Lucifer, most beautiful of the Balseraphs. He is also far too practical and realistic to consider a rebellion. Andre also attempts to make himseful useful. While he'll generally side with the Shal-Mari bloc on corrupting humans rather than destroying them, he's quick to help the war faction as well, to gain influence over them. He'll never be trusted, sure, but being useful is...useful.

Superior Opinions posted:

Asmodeus: He wastes his time in his own physical pleasure rather than usefully furthering the cause of Hell; he may serve his own Word, but that is of small concern to me. A distressing number of Renegades come from his ranks, and he takes little interest in pursuing them. I would be interested in evidence of personal recusancy on his part.
He acts the cold fish, with his only pleasure being paper-pushing. It's as if he thinks that the rest of us don't understand the desire he has for control. But I understand that perfectly. Oh yes.
Baal: He wastes his capabilities. Sex is an extremely efficient motivation for violence, or for anything else, and he dribbles away his Word in self-indulgence. Useful in diversionary or distracting tactics, and certainly corrupting to humans, but of small offensive value in the actual War unless he learns to take orders.
Rape, pillage, and slaughter. What's the fun in that? Well, rape... But humans at war don't have much time to think about pleasure, and Baal is definitely a party pooper.
Beleth: Such petty fears; minor worries, little anxieties, nothing significant. The real terror that a rapist or sadist inspires is too infrequent for my liking. My work is more important than his, though I concede that he does a tolerable - and enthusiastic - job. Would you be interested in knowing what he fears?
She's a cold shower with a knife in it. Not the right kind of thrill for most, but there's a delicious few who really get into terror. For their sake, I find her work indispensable. I just don't use it much personally.
Belial: His words are unimpoirtant - they're all soft and fleshy, as weak as he is. Everyone must burn or be burned, and his lust is second-rate compared to the glory of fire. Let him keep his place, and not interfere with his betters.
Just because I understand the idea of an all-consumign need doesn't mean I agree with Belial and his ways. And while I often burn with lust, too often his fires burn what would otherwise be lovely flesh.
Haagenti: Lust, hunger, wanting: he's part of me, however pretty he makes it. That endless famine . Can't help feeling friendly to a Prince who falls under my Word, even if I'm not pretty enough for him. Some day we're going to renegotiate that relationship, though - with me on top.
A rabid newcomer, with a surprising amount of raw, unrefined force. I appreciate Kobal's use of him as "muscle," but if he attempts to expand any further at the expense of my Word, he will have cause to regret it.
Kobal: It's amusing that someone so obsessed with one sort of contact should be so averse to any other sort of contact: contradictions are part of the best jokes. He produces such delightful comedies of manners and heartbreak, all with the human body as a stage and motivation.
Human lust certainly can be amusing at times, I'll grant you that, but Kobal tends to use it as a one-trick pony. There's a great deal more to the sins of the flesh than slamming doors and hiding in coat-closets, after all.
Kronos: Preoccupied by the secrets of the flesh, and uninterested in the secrets of the soul. He may lead mortals toward their fates unwittingly, yet he acts without deeper knowledge. Dependable in a small way, but ultimately a foolish, sensualist pawn. He has already achieved his own fate.
A brilliant one, in his way, but sad and wretched just the same. He thinks we win by plotting out the future. I say we win by sliding softly around them - binding them, gasping, to the sensations of the moment.
Lilith: Think of him as a perfect example of freedom - do what thou wilt. He refuses to acknowledge any bindings other than the ones forced on him by position or power - or Geases, of course. It's hardly surprising that we get on so well.
Charming, stylish, heartbreakingly beautiful, and wonderful in bed. No morality, no affection, simply the trading of body for Need. I have many of her Daughters in my service. A reliable ally, and so stylish.
Malphas: Who would have thought that so simple a thing as lust could produce so many ways for people to hate each other? He promotes distrust, personal gain, and the admriable principle of putting one's self first in every way. I appreciate him. And look at his attitudes about empathy and love - he understands .
We lust fiercely for those who are on our side, and even more fiercely for those who are our untouchable enemies. Oh yes, he does good work.
Nybbas: All right! Me and Andre have a definite arrangement. He provides the faces, I make them famous. Now this is a guy with a real head for business, a real understanding of what the man in the street wants. It's all in the selling, and boy, can his people sell it. We're going to drag Hell into a whole new era, kicking and screaming if we have to.
Nybbas is a delightfully useful ally, and an example of what an Impudite Prince should be - exploitative, progressive, and hungry for more. Together, we will lead humanity into pleasure - and into our waiting arms.
Saminga: This pitiful wastrel spends himself among the living, ignoring the truth which is Death - and I am Death. He tries to keep the humans from me, squirming in his games. Some day I shall reduce him to a rotting mass of meat and worms, and chain him in that carcass to scream at his own body for the rest of eternity.
What an ugly, idiotic simpl. He has no concept of what any of it is about. His efforts are ruinous and he himself is both repulsive and ridiculous. It would benefit us all if he would finally taste of his own demise, instead of sitting in his citadel cackling like a parody o the rest of us. Inelegance gilded with displeasure and mounted on stupidity.
Valefor: We need the living to corrupt them, and they need the freedom to act - and to steal. Andrealphus is absolutely on the right track. Bring down the barriers, let's get that throbbing mass of humanity on the road to Hell! He can have their bodies if I can have their goods.
Dear Valefor - always in such excellent style. His mercenary, self-centered attitude is perfectly sensible. I adore working with him, and would be even happier if he didn't steal the occasional lovers before I was quite finished with them.
Vapula: A shallow-minded, feckless libertine - but he has mapped out the human soul. He knows exactly where the weak points are.
Mmm, all that energy, and such enthusiastic application, as if the universe were a lover underneath his probing hands...I'm quite capable of ignoring his delusions, if I must, in order to use his technology.
Blandine: Because he failed Love doesn't meant htat the rest of us need to. His dreams can be disturbing to mortals, either because they're nightmares, or because they cause them to grow obsessive for more and more sensation.
Blandine, the first proof of the folly and pain of love. I like to think that I do my little bit to make her life easier, and make some people's dreams sweeter. There are no dreams like the dreams of desire.
David: Lust's Servitors fold like paper dolls in a fight, and strong humans can ignore all of Andre's temptations. However, Lust can inflict enormous damage if it gets to a weak human before we do.
Sadism, masochism, leather culture, big burly vessels - I have the greatest respect for Stone and its ideals. I also appreciate the confidence David and his Servitors have in the ultimate rightness of the world and their actions: it makes manipulating them child's play.
Dominic: Love...Fell. Fell , into a parody of what he was. Now he spreads the lie that htere is nothing beyond one's own flesh.
It's all sublimation. He wears that cloak and hunts all that "treason" to hide his own burning and shame. I've enjoyed it in his Servitors, and I'm sure he's the same.
Eli: Andre? He doesn't understand. He just does not understand. I and my angels have to fight him where we could have worked together to make things better . He twists what I share, and then he claims it's the truth. Man, some days I just pit him...and some days I want to kill him, too.
He's undisciplined and self-indulgent - and those are his good points. But he wants to drag my Servitors and all of us into feeling . That I can't allow. Fortunately, his angels require very little training to make them see the light. As for Eli himself...I have all the time in the world.
Gabriel: He burns for all the wrong reasons - the passions of the flesh, the obsessions of the body, never the true inspiration or the desire for righteousness. He willfully blinds himself to the pure passion within him, that which he once was - for is not divine Love one of the greatest flames of all?
Por lost Gabriel, torn between her prophecies and the rest of the unvierse. She and her Servitors are so deliciously passionate - dangerous, perhaps, but who could resist such burning eyes and bodies?
Janus: Lust only hurts people who get trapped by it, tied up in a relationship, addicted and kept still - nothing my people have to worry about! I say, clear them away from humans when you run into them, but don't take them too seriously - they're too slow-moving to seduce anybody who can race the Wind.
So frustrating - where's the time to build up the heat of desire with someone who can't keep his attention on you for two seconds together? However, by the same understanding, he's often prone to take surface values for the truth. I like that...
Jean: I recollect that Love was an efficient and vital force for the greater good. Lust, on the other hand, corrupts any beings in whom it takes root, reducing their clarity of vision and their ability to function. Andrealphus is a force for entropy, and should be cut out wherever his traces are found.
I'd like to peel back his skin and see how similar to Vapule he is underneath. The electricity would burn, but the creature of naked passion underneath would be worth the finding. I don't think that he'll stay the perfect Power forever - and in the meantime, his angels show a charming thirst for knowledge when my own Servitors meet them.
Jordi: Should I be concerned with what he does to humans? Animals know better. However, if he tries to use any of those belonging to my Word in his perverted games, then he'll pay.
Really only useful to the devoted experimenter - naturally I'll do my best to assist in those areas, but most of the time we have absolutely nothing to do with each other. Much simpler that way.
Laurence: He has taken one of God's greatest gifts and perverted it into something filthy and degrading. Do not underestimate Lust, for it has caused more humans - and angels - to go astray than perhaps any other sin.
I could make all the jokes about swords - but really, he and his angels are so foolishly ethical, always interfering in other people's pleasure. They should learn that the ultimate part of one's desire is proving your control by knowing that you're doing what the other person doesn't want...
Marc: I have to admit he knows how to run a business, and that he can turn a profit. However, what he sells is ultimately as bad for the humans as any other drug - so I often need to close down his outposts. Of course, there are times when a limited accommodation is necessary. There are worse Princes out there.
I can deal with Marc. It's a pity about all these ethical concepts he has, but really, he and his people are wonderfully businesslike. One of the more sensible Archangels. And if I need to throw the odd demon to his people every now and again - well, it's not as if I'd give attractive ones.
Michael: Andrealphus refuses to see what he has lost. Once his Love ennobled the brotherhood of warriors - now his Lust degrades them. It would be a mercy killing.
My Servitors and I know all about struggles and battles, even if we don't use quite the same methods as he does. At least he doesn't preach against sex - he's far too violent, but not really moral opposition in the way that some of the others are.
Novalis: If he could be convinced that he was wrong, that Love is greater than Lust, then he'd be such a force for good. Of course what he's doing now is bad , and of course I'm working to stop it - but conversion is much, much better than destruction. I will not accept that he is unredeemable.
She and I both agree on the absolute necessity of preserving the human race. And if she's far too ethical, too naive, and too innocent - well, nobody's perfect. A relationship that deserves further pursuit.
Yves: Some say that the road to Hell is smooth and pleasant. Andrealphus embodies this. But even if he chose his path at the Fall, he cannot prevent the possibility of his redemption from existing. I think that frightens him more than anything else.
Yves may be an insufferably ineffable being, but a single soul reaching his fate in Hell proves him wrong, and proves that the entire universe is flawed. The only happy endings are the ones that we take for ourselves. He embodies a lie.
Humanity: They can invent perversions that even the most skilled of my Servitors would never imagine. They can overthrow kingdoms for lust, cause wars over each others' flesh, and commit the vilest of crimes to satisfy their desires. Each one of them is a potential flame of hunger. There is no innocence - there is only ignorance. They burn with life, with imagination, with my Word. They are my nourishment and my power, my purpose and my own lust. They are beautiful, and I want them.
Soldiers of God: Look on them as a challenge. Anybody who declares allegiance to Heaven that blatantly demands to be taught better - and can be used against the angels, once trained properly.
Hellsworn: I do appreciate a properly trained human. Really enthusiastic ones make ideal minions and pets - of course, I prefer quality to quantity.
Sorcerers: The way that they keep trying to summon up succubi and incubi shows an admriable sense of priorities. My Servitors have orders to indulge them until they are under control - and then to use them.
Ethereals: [i]Really, the angels were most helpful by driving them into our arms. Lust doesn't care what religion it flourishes under, and the spirits who tried to exercise dominance in my area learned better - fast. Useful pawns.

Next time: Welcome to Hell

Blinded By Lust

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Blinded By Lust

Andrealpjus played fo comedy is an obsessive, shallow romantic, directed by his latest passion. He can be talked into favors by anyone sexy and avoids fighting for fear of getting his hair messed up. He and his demons are preoccupied by fashion and beauty, and they're useless at anything but looking good or seduction. They mistake everything for a come-on and can easily be distracted by a chance to fuck in a corner. A darker Andrealphus only takes pleasure from pain in others - physical or emotional, forcing them to betray what they care about or persuading them to do things they don't want. Lust only cares about forcing others to do things they don't want. This Andre doesn't care about simple sex, preferring BDSAM, pedophilia, snuff films and bestiality. (Hm, one of these things seems like it might not belong.) While he and his demons may appear empty-headed and vain, they are in truth brutal and calculating.

Andrea is a female variation on Andre, which some people find less threatening, which is a good reason to use it. Andrea will always be seductive and beautiful, but the details vary at her whim and to best manipulate those around her. She will be less aggressive than the masculine Andre, preferring to have others impress her, though she'll also flatter and encourage those she wants. In the case of those unaccustomed to women in authority, or who tend towards male-dominant relationships, she enjoys aggression and taking control. She expects to be actively flattered for her appearance, far more than in male form, and will be insulted if she isn't. Her attitude and appearance are meant to be a challenge to those around her, setting them to competing over her, and she likes to fake a hidden flaw or vulnerability.

Shal-Mari is a chaotic mix of styles and architecture from across history. Medieval alleys, skyscrapers, Roman baths, whatever. It is full of demons and the damned, trying to lure in others to trade Essence for pleasures of all kinds...or mugging them, either-or. The people come from across history as well, and while many keep up on trends, the older demons tend to prefer to dress in the fashion of the last time they were on Earth. The Damned rarely afford clothing at all, save perhaps the uniform or theme of wherever they work. Many low-ranking demons of Lust prostitute themselves in the streets, often for higher ranking pimps, either because they haven't found a place in a brothel or because they prefer freelancing.

The court of Andrealphus is held in a structure resembling a New Orleans hotel from the early 20th century, referred to as the Bordello. Its appearance changes over time - it's been a Moorish castle, a Roman villa and even an exact replica of Versailles. Its exterior changes at Andrealphus' whim, and while the main entrance is always in the same palce, back doors and windows vary day to day. The rooms within are mixture of old and new styles, and the decore is gaudy and tasteless in some parts and refined in others. The exterior is always understated but attractive. Some demons believe the entire Bordello is a manifestation of Andre's mind, and that new rooms manifest whenever he finds some new taste or fetish. No part of it is silent or empty unless that's part of the diversion it caters to. From the cells in the basement to the lecture halls to the rented rooms and film studios, there's always someone around, or at least some noise and scent of activity. The entire place pulses with sensuality, and the common areas are for parties or orgies are always in use.

Two ares are known in the Bordello to any demon of Lust: the throne room and the Heartrooms. The Heartrooms are guarded by Djinn to prevent non-Lust demons from entering, but are otherwise rather relaxed. They are carpeted and walled by black velvet, exuding luxury, and the Hearts rest on pedestals, to let their owners caress them. On the other side is the throne room, always magnificent but with the details shifting by Andre's mood. He holds audience there, administer public punishments and occasionally engages in Bordello-wide orgies.

Andre, like any Superior, keeps private records - favorite techniques, adventures, private conversations, his personal broodings. He prefers to keep these on the living forms of those demons or human souls that displease him or are unfortunate enough to strike him as having beautiful skin. These living notebooks have all of thesenses removed save touch by Andre himself, who then dictates his thoughts to his scribe, the blind Habbalite Nemo. He once attempted to Redeem to Creation and has been imprisoned in the Bordello ever since. He uses sacrification, tattooing and wire sitching to record Andre's thoughts on the skins of the 'books.' They wander through a padded, carpeted area in the cellars, guarded by a select group of Djinn. Senir demons can sometimes get in to consult a particular 'document' but only with Andre's specific permission. It's believed that this area adjoins to Kronos' Archive and that sometimes documents go missing and must be replaced, though few fully believe all the rumors they've heard about this area.

Stereotypically, demons of Lust are seen as degenerate, obsessed narcissists under a weak Prince. And, in truth, they do tend to be obsessed with the flesh. However, their dissonance condition makes clear how amoral they must be to rise. Other demons can care about humans, even like them and show it, rare as it is. Andrealphans cannot. Ever. The most thaey can do is critically appreciate a well-groomed specimen or enjoy their skills. They can pretend to emotion to manipulate others, but true feeling risks dissonance. Even to feel emotion to other demons is a risk, as it leads you down the path of caring. Far, far too dangerous to risk that. Thus, demons of Lust tend to be profoundly shallow, emotionally, though they can fake it well. Even their philosophical fits of angst tend to just be mere indulgence, a way to display themselves, with no genuine feeling. A few of them possess something akin to pride in the care of their livestock, if not actual affection. They understand human needs, physical and spiritual, and they limit themselves. They aren't really selfless, but can be kind, if disinterested, to their pets, refraining from much random cruelty. The carrot, they find, works better than the stick. They don't usually have the drive to rise high, but can be quite effective in long-term positions on Earth, as they are hard to detect.

Demons of lust often fall into layered hierarches of command, and in theory, the junior demons obey their masters without question and have total authority over any inferiors. However, their constantly shifting sexual partners can alter these without warning - a lowly Impudite that manages to catch the eye of a Wordbound may suddenly have a lot of influence...until the Wordbound gets bored, anyway. In these hierarches, everyone has a chain of command they're part of, understanding their relations within it, but when two different groups of Andrealphans interact, they have to figure out a pecking order, typically by some combination of signs of Princely favor, demonstrations of power or resources, combat and orgies. Often it comes down to contests of sexiness - the first demon to show desire is the inferior, unless they're powerful enough to forcefully rape the other demon.

While the chain of command is oftne clear, it is not just or merciful. An inferior that fails to do all in their power for a superior might be punished for it...but those that do can be punished for acting outside orders. It just depends on how the dominant demon feels about you and how important you are to their plans. Lower-ranking demons know this and accept it as natural. Healthy self-interest and a desire for favor from superiors produces a well-trained demon of Lust. They are typically polite to those above them, dreaming of the day they can be dominant and rule thier minions as cruelly as they are now ruled.

Humans are vitally important to Lust. Every demon knows it. They may not like humans, they don't care about them, but they need them. Humans must be made to desire each other, and even more than that, to desire the demons of Lust. Thus, going to Earth has the perk of interacting with them. Most Lust demons interpret this to mean 'gathering mortal servants to obey my whims.' Naturally, the humans don't like it put that way, and demons need to express it in terms of services, bargains, pleasures and so on. While they may treat humans politely at first, though, no demon of Lust ever sees them as equals. At best, they might be favored pets or useful servants. They are always in relationships where it's clear who's the dominant one, where the demon is the drug controlling the humans. Mortals unware of the War may or may not get 'taught their place,' depending on their positions and attitudes, and what they demon's role is. If a ranking human is being manipulated and is unaware of the War, a demon might allow them to believe themselves the dominant partner. Sometimes it's easier to train a human into abusive habits by acting as a victim first rather than being the abuser. Other times, it's more effective to have a mortal just act on their own.

Humans awere of the War, however, must know their place. Whether a mere human or a Soldier, they know the demons of Lust are masters, not equals or servants. They may behave freely in public, but in private they must be humble minions. By the time a human is made aware, they usually already have gotten involved with the demons and need what they offer. Breaking free is possible, but it's as hard as any addiction. Skilled humans are abused slightly less, or at least in ways that won't stop them using their skills. The common view that all human minions of Lust are either whores are guards is not accurate, though. Many are, of course, but Andre needs other things, too - scientists, couriers, politicians, teachers and more - anyone that can be used to defend Lust's interests or spread it. They are invariably controlled by sex, though, even if they start out wanting money, power or out of fear of a demon. Sex just...happens. Most demons of Lust treat these human servants as a necessary evil, but will not have sex for pleasure with them unless they're attractive.

Andrealphus refuses to make undead, given his hostility for Saminga. Humans that want to live longer can be healed using the Songs of Form and Healing, keeping them dependent. Very rarely, a presentable mummy or vampire on the run from a former Superior - particularly those fleeing Saminga - may be adopted, but they rarely last long. Even if a Prince wasn't gunning for them, they don't fit and they rapidly slip down the dominance ladder and become expendable. The worst of it all, though, to many angels at least, is that the humans often enjoy their degradation. Demons of Lust are very good at sex, after all, and their minions tend to adore them and obey them automatically. However, they also tend to, on some level, hate and loathe their masters and what they've become. It doesn't bother the demons unless it messes with the human's ability to obey, though. It's not as if they care, after all.

Next time: Rewards and punishments.

Lustful Gazes

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Lustful Gazes

Favor and disfavor from the Prince are vital in Andrealphan society. If a higher demon shows public pleasure with a lower one, it's prestige, which translates directly into increased chances to bribe and influence others, plus increased pay for their sex. This usually gets signified by jewelery or clothing as gifts from elder demons to show favor. The most common reward beyond that is the gift of a trained human or demonic servant, or training in a skill. However, training in a skill with no clear Lustful application is a backhanded compliment, suggeting that you lack real ability in Lust. To receive Songs, Rites or attunements only comes from definite success or somehow greatly pleasing the Prince, which isn't easy.

Common punishment is removal of rank, sometimes temporarily. (Being required to submit to a superior's desires is normal, not punishment.) Scarring or mutilation is another common punishment, and often it's not allowed to get healed for a while, which ruins Andrealphan self-esteem. The worst minor punishment is to be ordered to cooperate with Samingans, as it is both severaly degrading and ruins your reputation. Property or servants may also be taken, or even orders to avoid sex to prove your penitence. Serious punishments such as Force-stripping or removal of abilities only comes from significant failures or damage to the Word of Lust. Andrealphus prefers not to weaken his demons unless they're liabilities or threats.

While Andrealphus claims to prefer quality to quantity, he appreciates every Fallen he can get. They reject Heaven's lies and Love, and so they come to the truth of Lust, assuaging the doubts and self-hatred that still gnaw at him. Demons of Andre thus always stand ready to help an angel Fall. The obvious course is to lead them into sexual self-indulgence, but deadening them to empathy and affection also works. If you can befriend an angel while pretending to be human, you can trick them into caring about you without realizing, too. Fallen unsuited to Lust are traded to other Princes for favors, while those who can handle it are gladly accepted and often given a single night with Andre. The demon or demons that can claim credit for causing the Fall get the Knight distinction at the least. The new demon will then be put in a group of demons of Lust that can dominate them and teach them appropriate behavior, which tends to be painful enough that they take out their anger on anyone inferior to them - which, of course, just means they fit in.

Demons of Lust that Redeem are rarely pursued aggressively unless it was done very publically or they know something important. In the former case, Andre wants them back alive or re-Fallen for public display. In the latter, Andre will suppress his desires and just order them killed by any means possible. Demons of Lust hate the Redeemed, however - their actions undermine the beliefs and lives of Lust.

Andrealphus makes far more full demons than imps or gremlins, following his views on quality and quantity. A demonling that wants to be accepted by Lust or wants the power to become a full demon must work extremely hard and will get ruthlessly exploited. The problem is, y'know, that the main criteria for acceptance is sexiness, and the demonling's going to be stuck with the messy, dirty jobs. However, newly made demons aren't much better off. They're at the bottom of the chain, sometimes ranked even below particularly skilled or favored damned souls. They work the streets, dealing with anyone that can't afford a trained Andrealphan whore and trying to get the notice of their elders. A few demons, usually Balseraphs, Habbalah or Shedim, are set to teach newcomers the basics of obedience and seduction, but they're hardly high rank. Demons come out of their classes with only the simplest knowledge and techniques, and they're expected to pick up the rest themselves by watching or buying better lessons.

Demons of Lust like to use Braille to communicate, though they'd been using hidden engraved messages for centuries before it was invented. They tend to have very delicate senses of touch, you see. Others master the art of describing views or sensation, and while their phrasing may lack style, they are highly accurate. This makes them highly efficient spies and fashion commentators, but it's not always subtle. Many of them try to learn the Celestial Song of Charm, to better lessen targets' wills, but they prefer to learn it at high levels to mask its use. Others focus instead on learning to interrogate, either by pillow-talk or torture. They keep their skills secret from outsiders, however. Being trained in these arts is a sign of high favor from the Prince.

Balseraphs of Lust lie to themselves first, telling themselves they're perfect, irresistable, that anything they do must feel good. They then impose this lie on others, addicting them to the sensations. While not all of them insist that pain they cause is pleasurable - some see themselves as artists of ecstasy and others are just lazy - but they often do. They tend to start as masochists to rationalize the abuse they receive from superiors, and become sadists when they get their own inferiors. Most Balseraphs do their best to look perfect, dress stylishly and be sexy. A smaller but still notable number deliberately refuse to bother with this, preferring to use their resonance to make people believe them sexy anyway. Either way, they expect people to throw themselves at their feet, and behave as if this will happen.

Djinn of Lust don't care at all. Period. Ever. Fortunately, once they sexually satisfy someone, their attunement tends to keep them well-behaved, uncaring and ideal as a pet. Of course, they have to do the satisfaction part first, but at least they can explain it as just trying to perform a Rite. They are rarely actively sadistic or cruel unless they want to make a point - that'd mean paying too much attention to their victims. They also rarely go to great efforts to look sexy unless it's their first time seducing a target, and they're as close as any Lust demon gets to being slobbish. They don't tend to go for exotic sex - it's too much effort - but are often voyeurs. It's generally known that the best gift for a Djinn of Andrealphus is a servant they don't need to care for.

Calabim of Lust understand flesh deeply, allowing them to bypass it and damage the soul. They often take pride in not damaging the flesh with their resonance, as a result. Some claim it's proof that the soul of a human is less important than the body, and they tend to get on well with Habbalah. However, they still break things by nature. They prefer violent sex and often really, really prefer rape. They take pride in looking attractive, in a rough way, and more restrained Calabim enjoy sadism and psychological torture, though they always end by destroying their victims. To them, lust is destruction, and some have even become dissonant by loving their victims even as they killed, as to them, killing was love.

Habbalah of Lust know they are chosen by God, as they cannot suffer resonance reversal. Other Habbalah find them insufferable. They flaunt themselves and their highly sexual vessels, luxuriating in the ability to make anyone want them. They tend to fall into two camps. One camp believes they've been given their powers to test humans by temptaiton, while the other persuades themselves that physical sex is vital to the divine. It is possible to believe both at once, as well. This does mean that when in a relationship, they tend to push their partners to the very limit, to test their will or celebrate the flesh. Partners rarely last long.

Lilim of Lust really enjoy their lives. They can sense precisely what their victims Need, give it to them, and get a Geas. They often point out that there's nothing wrong with getting paid for their service. Those that think much about Lust as a Word point out that the partner can always say no and not satisfy their Need. If they choose to do it...well, they can hardly complain about consequences, right? While the concept of bondage on themselves is counter to the Word of Freedom, most view it as just a job, limited in duration and expensive. (Rumors speak of pervert Lilim of Lust that enjoy bondage, but all Lilim and Lilith herself deny that they'd ever stoop to that.) Lilim of Lust tend to come in three types. The first don't think deeply about it and just do the job and get paid. The second type are 'ethical', believing their targets could always just say no...but as a result, they dislike bondage and no-choice situations. They rarely reach high rank. The third type understand the amorality of Lust and like it. They'll do anything for power and pleasure and often rise quite high. They are also treacherous, cold and see other people as just a bundle of sexual needs.

Next time: Even more unpleasant people.

A Certain Luster

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: A Certain Luster

Shedim of Lust, given their ability to move at will to any orgasming victim, tend to like group sex parties, wife-swapping and orgiastic cults. They consider themselves to be beautiful in celestial form, and they are possibly slightly less disgusting than other Shedim. However, when dealing with hosts, they consider thigns to grow boring as time goes on. They have to keep finding new perversions, and often they consider it tedious and tiring to have to repeat the whole cycle in a new host. This tends to result in total innocents being pushed into utter depravity with no steps in between, which can prompt the host to spend Essence to resist and also cause enough social disturbance to draw angelic attention. Older Shedim learn self-control, and just take time out for the occasional atrocity to release tension.

Impudites of Lust tend to imitate Andrealphus and follow his behaviors as fads. They are often surprisingly physically capable, thanks to their attunement, and like to use martial arts as a way to stay in shape and meet new parnters. The older Impudites tend to grow more and more selective in their tastes, some claiming to be able to 'teste' different types of Essence from different types of victims. They hardly ever kill partners, but they can often grow bored with them unless they can keep pushing them to new extremes. They're honestly rather similar to Shedim that way.

In Shal-Mari, the primary job most demons get is sucking Essence from the damned, either by selling their services as muscle, working in Nybbas' pornos, selling themselves or working in the administrative wing of Andre's operation. Other, more important demons will oversee operations from their Bordello offices, filtering information to the Prince and tracking brothel operations as well as negotiating local business with demons of Gluttony or Dark Humor. Andrealphus doesn't discriminate between Bands for any of this - they just have to be sexy and efficient.

Andrealphus likes influenced dreams, so he sends his subtle demons to work in the Marches, either to target specific mortals or to generally corrupt dreamscapes. They tend to have to use the Song of Dreams instead of Beleth's attunements, as Beleth rarely likes them unless they're priming someone for sadism and rape. These demons tend to work in pairs - one to influence dreams, one to guard that demon. The Marches aren't safe, after all - if angels aren't chasing you, the demons of Nightmares are, since they claim you're giving humans pleasant dreams...which can be true, as Andre likes to have humans receive dreams of perfect pleasure, unattainable in the real world, to force them to spend the rest of their life trying to recreate it. Despite the ultimate effect, these aren't nightmares, after all.

Most of Lust's work is on Earth, however. Most people think of prostitution when they think of a demon of Lust on Earth, and it's not infrequent. Impudites like jobs as prostitutes, and Shedim often move through prostitution. However, they are also interested in persuading people to accept Lust as natural. They often work as objects of Lust - models, porn stars, whatever. Habbalah, Balseraphs and Impudites are especially good at this, while Balseraphs, Djinn and Shedim also do good work as writers, cult leaders and politicians, influencing popular opinions. Others work as secretaries or mistresses to the powerful, particularly Lilim and Habbalah. At lower levels, they also work as doctors (to emphasize the importance of regular sex), teachers (with their own slant on curriculum) and so on. Some even pose as priests, though Laurentines despise them. This work is best done by Shedim or patient Djinn. Sometimes, they also need muscle or murder - that's where Calabim and Djinn tend to come in, excelling at killing humans and angels that are causing problems. All demons are also expected to defend Tethers.

Andre is especially interested in expanding into science and the Internet, particularly the idea of 'virtual sex.' It lacks the closeness of actual sex and can't replace it, sure, but it can influence many mortals that Andre would otherwise never reach. Scientists and nerds need sex too, even if they aren't sexy, after all. The Internet provides contacts for enthusiasts of many unusual forms of Lust, as well, and allows people of all ages to get sexual material. Balseraphs, Djinn and Habbalah enjoy working this way, but any computer liteate demon can help. Andre also wants to persuade or subvert demons of Technology to help and has set some Lilim and Impudites to the job.

Andrealphus also values the spy work his demons do, providing him vital blackmail material. He has some of his demons regularly sort through the data and prepare dossiers for him or those that need it. Demons that aren't really sexy but are good with data can be employed this way if they've proven their absolute loyalty - this information is sensitive, after all. Most of these data-sorters are Dinn, while those that judge the importance of the information tend to be Shedim or Habbalah. Andrealphans also sometimes work as assassins via the Kiss of Death attunement, but Andre tries to keep this from being obvious - he doesn't want Lust associated with danger. Some specialized demons also work closely with angels, particularly those of ovalis. These tend to mix 'ethical' demons with totally amoral ones - the ethical ones act directly with the angels, but the amoral ones are in charge, in order to give the angels a more unrealistic view of what demons of Lust are like while allowing more sensible demons to pull the plug as needed. And, well, some of Andrealphus' projects are about protecting humanity - solving problems like world hunger, AIDS, safe fuel sources and peace, without having angelic inspiration. Andre understands that humans need to be alive and healthy for his Word to have power, and he assigns Impudites to these projects, along with Lilim and Djinn, to ensure that humans remain around for a good, long time. Most of the time, he keeps these works secret from other Princes, and most angels would never believe he was doing it.

It's not always easy to be Andrealphan. Hedonism and ruthless exploitation without compassion can be tiring. Sometimes a human can inspire genuine emotions in a demon, perhaps by saving their life or being truly devoted. Sometimes, demons get bored with constant indulgence and corruption. And that doesn't even take into account encounters with angels or the strain of Andrealphan politics. Some demons react to this by hurling themselves even deeper into indulgence, while others briefly embrace chastity until they can reawaken their enthusiasm. Those that suspect they are feeling something like affection for human pets may deliberately mistreat or even kill them to remove the temptation, or pass them on to some other demon. Ultimately, there's always the possibility of temporarily teaming up with another demon, or even an angel or ethereal, to talk about your problems. As long as it's just business or part of an affair, most demons can justify it to themselves...if not the PFD or the Game.

The Church of Flesh is a group composed mainly of Habbalah and those demons that enjoy their ceremonies. They hold that Lust is itself Divine, and some of the more theologically skilled members state that the birth of Jesus in a human form proves that flesh is superior to spirit, and thus that adoration of the flesh is the highest of ideals. Their rituals involve a lot of fuckin'. Some of them are relatively Christian, using corrupt and lustful versions of the Holy Communion, while others prefer Tantric rites or erotic Black Masses. They can technically call on each other for help, but in practice it's best to ask for help while bearing gifts. They are, after all, demons. The current Head of the Church is Epith, a Habbalite who believes everything he says. The hierarchy under him is confused, as the only firm ranks are Head of the Church and 'anointed priests.' If several demons belong to a particular subgroup are around, like those that claim Catholicism, they can make up their own hierarchy, but it won't matter to anyone else. Andre finds the church amusing and useful to channel certain otherwise awkward Habbalah. Rumors that he's attended some ceremonies anonymously arep robably false - he doesn't really do 'anonymous.'

The Government Work faction is a secretive and power-hungry group of demons. The main surprise is that they're pretty good at cooperation without betraying each other. Typically, they select a low-level member in a rival group of some kind and ensnare them in an affair, then blackmail them and break them into becoming a mole. The victim then passes them information until they believe the victim has become suspected, at which point they suffer an unfortunate 'accident' or 'suicide.' It's not uncommon as a Lust tactic, but the surprising thing is how unselfish the grou pcan seem in helping each other and watching each other's backs. This is mainly because their leader, a low-level Balseraph named Belphebe, is quite good at inspiring loyalty and team spirit. What no one else realizes is that she is secretly sworn to Baal, ensuring he learns anything interesting first. If Baal needs agents within Lust, he need only ask Belphebe, who is convinced she will some day be greatly rewarded.

The Sculptors are a group of self-declared artists who pride themselves on using psychological methods to break the wills of others rather htan direct sex. Their unstated belief is that any worthwhile demon should be able to reduce others to groveling slaves without needing to sleep with them, which comes after the slavery, and then only for your own pleasure. Sculptors typically are young and arrogant, exceptionally confident and often believe themselves artists of perversion and psychological scarring. Older demons consider them poseurs and tend to put them in danger deliberately while denying any past membership in the group.

Demons of Lust are expected to appear desirable to other demons, especially hostile Words. After all, if you can attract the enemy, that's a victory itself. When on the job, they will still be seductive to colleagues, especially attractive ones, but will pay attention to requests to stop if they consider the other dominant. If they believe they're clearly superior, after all, they can choose to indulge...though they're of course very careful to avoid offending their bosses or Princes without orders. If not on the job, they may even relax and not try to seduce everyone unless they feel like it. Having someone ignore them is an insult - even obvious resistance is better, as it shows they are sexy eough to need to be resisted.

Demons of Lust are happy to get into relationships with other words' demons to use them. When it comes to mutually beneficial arrangements, they prefer certain Words, though. Free Lilim are good partners, as they are believed to understand the unimportance of empathy. Theft, Factions, Gluttony, Dark Humor and the Media are also rational enough to cooperate with, as long as their desires don't get in the way of yours too often. The War and Fire can work out fdue to personal passions and be used, but the Game, Nightmares Technology and Fate will typically only cooperate if they need you and won't sleep with you. This tends to annoy Lust demons. These relationships are strictly business, of course, and no demon of Lust would ever dream of working with or especially sleeping with a demon of Death unless it was absolutely necessary to a job or some major scheme.

To most Andrealphans, a 'normal' relationshp is one in which both parties are in it for themselves. Gratitude isn't a concept they get, but mutual advantage is. A dominant demon can indulge themselves with an inferior, and in return the inferior gains status via the master's protection and the act of having been used. Angels, ethereals or humans can be fucked for gain, influence or pleasure without attracting long as you did well out of the deal. In a society based on power and sexual skill, fucking people is needed to show your abilities. However, within a relationship, they expect one side to dominate, and while the dominant may respect the submissive's skills or knowledge, they are very much in charge most of the time. They cannot grasp a relationship of equals - one side or the other is superior in any situation. Things clearly just don't work that way, after all, just look at Hell. This view contributes to the stereotype of Lust demons as weak, petty creatures, but often it's as much self-preservation as anything else. A Lust demon won't argue with a demon of the War in a fight, they'll just obey...and the question of dominance can come up again after that. Naturally, Lust demons understand this deeply, and in a Lust-based chain of command, everyone knows where they stand compared to the others. It's easy, safe and unlikely to cause problems with affection. No strings attached.

Next time: Final Lust

Sated Lust

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Sated Lust

Fortunately for demons of Lust, they can fake concern and affection, as it'd be impossible to support their Word otherwise. Humans have just linked love and lust so deeply that they seem to not get that empathy is unneeded most of hte time, as the demons see it. Fortunately, modern attitudes towards free love, one night stands and so on are making the easier. However, as it stands, it's often necessary to pretend to care. That's fine, as long as it isn't genuine. Humans are just toys and tools. Nothing, however, forbids genuine caring for other celestials. It isn't dissonant to care about a demon, or even an angel. It's discouraged, however - that's a slippery slope to general caring and dissonance. Real affection is dangerous, and it's best hidden, as it can be a sign of weakness or treason, and Andre definitely doesn't like it.

Demons of Lust like the Game even less than most other people. They know that they're seen as weak, irresponsible and prone to sleeping with angels. Having to prove their intentions can take time and get your vessel killed. On the other hand, there is use in being seen as non-threatening and ineffective if you want to avoid the Game's notice. While a Lust Tether may be the first place they check for treason, and often with some reason, but it can easily go back to normal after a cursory search. People know that Andrealphans, after all, are easily threatened and won't consider serious treason. Sure, they protect humans, but it's so they can use them. Understandable! And convenient for this demons prepared to admit to sexual misdemeanors and be sneered at. Some lower level demons of the Game can be bribed with sex or offers to manipulate their foes, while more important ones can be handled by informing on others (preferably not of Lust) or by working as an interrogator or spy. Generally, demons of Lust would rather betray than be dragged to Hades. It's well known that only the innocent, the power and those Andre steps in for come out, after all - and he doesn't usually bother. The idea of informing on other Lust demons is understood, but only if there's no chance of it being revealed. Andre doesn't like when information or demons go to the Game, after all, and the PFD doesn't appreciate traitors. The Game recognizes this, and they're always looking for weak longs, lying about immunity and secrecy, and so on. Obviously they'd never give up the blackmail material, after all. Demons of Lust are often dregged in on charges of empathy for humans or treason by consorting with angels. It's not exactly easy to prove you don't care, even if you're free of dissonance. Any amount of kind treatment can be used of evidence, and in cases of genuine suspicion rather than quota arrests or nuisance arrests, the usual test is to torture your 'objects of affection' in front of you or make you hurt them yourself, while carefully observing your attitude and behavior. No one enjoys this - not out of caring, but because no one wants to destroy their own property.

Next time: the best Prince.

Glutton for Punishment

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Glutton for Punishment

Haagenti is a Prince that clawed his way up from life as a gremlin under the Prince of Sloth, whom he later devoured. He's blood brother to Kobal and a former demon of Belial. He's energetic, informal. hungry as hell and ambitious - and smarter than most people give him credit for, given how his Word, while still focused mostly on food, has expanded into other territory, as well.

Insatiable is a Servitor attunement that makes the victim more hungry the more they eat. It costs 5 Essence and the target must be within (Corporeal Forces). After eating a plate of food, they must roll Will to not immediately eat more, with a penalty equal to the servings they've already had. If they eat more than their Will in servings, they must be forcibly restrained or will eat themselves to death, though any Will roll at any point will end the curse. If they eat all food nearby, they will go looking for more, and they can't vomit it up. It wears off, if they don't die first, after (Celestial Forces) hours.
Hair of the Dog That Bit You is a Servitor attunement allowing you to relive a target, which can be yourself, from the effects of overindulgence by committing an example of that indulgence again. Thus, a hangover could be cured by giving the drinker a stiff drink. You must win a contest of Will with the target, but they can choose not to resist. The target also has to indulge, obviously. If you succeed, they will feel no physical pain or discomfort from that form of indulgence for (Celestial Forces) hours, though any damage will remain.
Haaenti's Distinctions beyond Baron grant no powers and are goven only to those that please him a lot, expand his power or get recommended by Kobal. They are almost always Wordbound or swiftly recommended for a Word, and if they get it, it becomes part of their title, usually ornate and ridiculous, such as the Most Esteemed Earl of Belching. Inferiors are expected to use these.
Haagenti can teach the Songs of Draining, Numinous Corpus: Mouth and the Song of Hunger, which he personally discovered.

Expanded Rites:
1. Joint, prepare, cook, serve and eat or have eaten the body of an animal at least as large as a sheep. Humans do count.
2. Spend 6 hours continuously eating.
3. Cause a human to spend all of their current resources on self-indulgence, leaving them with nothing left.

The Prince of Gluttony is the hunger that is never sated, the mouth that is never filled. He was created as a mere gremlin, and he has hungered for power as much as for food. He devours all, leaving nothing, making nothing. He destroys, grows, develops and extends his Word, now ruling almost all of the indulgent habits of humanity. When he was created, he was a nameless wretch in the service of the demons of Meserach, Prince of Sloth. He was bused and scorned, given the most menial tasks, and his superiors took all the credit. That's how Sloth worked - the lazy did nothing and the energetic were despised for not honoring Sloth, while their superiors lazed about and took credit for their successes. It was no life for the ambitious, and Haagenti was constantly tormented and mocked. He swore he would take vengeance on everyone who belittled him. He made the dangerous trek (for a gremlin, anyway) across to Sheol, where life was more to his taste. Belial's demons appreciated his energy, and while he was still abused, he made an impression on his bosses with his zeal and efficiency in destroying things. He became a Calabite, rising in power and gaining the Gluttonous Discord.

Haagenti was sent to Earth, where he burned freely. He wasn't the most inventive, to be sure, but he enjoyed breaking things and had a wicked if simple sense of humor. Belial liked him. However, his Discord began to grow out of control. He spent more and more time gaining power and minions to feed his urges, particularly the urge to eat. He sought power that he might hold violent, gluttonous orgies of consumption. As long as he lit the parties with burning Christians and regularly burned villages, Belial was fine with it. Haagenti even earned a Distinction. However, he came to the notice of Kobal, Prince of Dark Humor, who enjoyed the energy behind his jests. Kobal visited Haagenti and saw something in him, something he liked, something he could use.

Kobal continued to visit and support Haagenti, but this drew the suspicion of Belial, who thought there was something going on behind his back. There was, and he walked into it. Belial recalled Haagenti from his little mortal empire and his food, which enraged Haagenti, for he had always been loyal. He turned to Kobal for help. Kobal was happy to do it. Since the destruction of the former Demon of Gluttony, the Impudite Carniel, and the recent replacement of the Prince of Rapine, Genubath, with Valefor, Prince of Theft, aspects of hunger were not represented properly in Hell. If Kobal could turn Haagenti in this way, he might get a powerful servant and increase his own power in Shal-Mari by draining away some of that of Andrealphus. Kobal, who has never gotten on with Belial, visited the Prince of Fire to speak on Haagenti's behalf. He apologized for casting suspicion, praised Haagenti and in doing so, enraged Belial and made him certain Haagenti was a spy. Belial summoned Haagenti, stripped him of his rank and Rites and hurled him at Kobal, giving him control over Haagenti. Kobal accepted it, as it was what he wanted, and Haagenti was quite grateful, adding Belial to the list of names he wanted vengeance on.

Haagenti rose swiftly under Kobal, who encouraged his gluttonous urges. His strength was shown when he distinguished himself in the battle against Legion, literally eating his way through the enemy ranks. Kobal asked Lucifer for the Word of Gluttony for Haagenti, and Lucifer was happy to grant it. Kobal even adopted Haagenti as his blood brother, earning scorn from some Princes...and caution from those who wanted to see who the joke was on. Wordbound, Haagenti grew only more powerful. As the Vikings plundered their way across Europe, his scope widened. Lilith was happy to have more to make deals with, but Andrealphus saw a growing threat in Gluttony, and was torn. If he tried to destroy Haagenti, he'd have to fight Kobal, so he chose instead to try and bend the former gremlin to his will. It was no use.

Haagenti's pride and vengeful need had only grown. He threw his power and that of his minions at his former Prince, Meserach. The armies of Gluttony swarmed the Principality of Sloth, and Haagenti personally consumed his former master. Lucifer was impressed enough to name him a Prince, completing Kobal's joke. A demon had now risen from mere gremlin status to stand among the First of the Fallen, who had once been Archangels. Mariel, Princess of Oblivion, protested, seeking allies to dispose of the newcomer, claiming he was a farce. However, Haagenti's power made other Princes cautious. He could be a useful pawn, surely unable to match the War faction in manipulation, while Kobal, Andrealphus and Lilith sided with Haagenti. Mariel had no support, and was soon Haagenti's next target. He had recruited many of the former demons of Sloth, using them as expendable shock troops to support his battle-tested demons in invading Mariel's Principality. He consumed her as well, and then allowed himself to be persuaded to end his wars, though he still had other scores to settle.

The structure of Gluttony in Shal-Mari was well developed while Haagenti was a mere Wordbound, so expanding it as a Prince wasn't especially difficult. Many ambitious demons flocked to his banner, and Kobal advised him how to proceed...though he also began to think for himself. He wasn't stupid, after all - he'd just come up from the bottom. He was aware of the pride of the other Princes, of their belief that they could manipulate him. He also know that without Kobal, he would very vulnerable. He couldn't hande it if Princes allied against him. So, he stopped rocking the boat, throwing himself into expanding his Word on Earth and allowing the Princes to see him as nothing but a pawn. Secure in their contempt, they didn't see him any more as a danger, and some now even find him useful, so he's relatively safe.

In the 20th century, Gluttony has become almost a virtue in some areas. Businessmen work to gain wealth as an end, not a means. Children stuff themselves sick. Middle-class families try to consume more and more to keep up with the neighbors. Tacky glitz is celebrated as trophies simply because you can afford them rather than any intrinsic worth. From the isolated stamp collector to the card game player to trying to win drinking contests, Gluttony is everywhere, and Haagenti is eating well.

Haagenti is very, very hungry, and he delights in destroying things. He barely understands the concepts of temperance, prudence or self-control. Everything he sees is a potential snack, even other demons. He is constantly watching everything, wondering at its taste. In human form, he is either a bloated gourmand of an exceptionally skinny man with an insatiable appetite. He dislikes prolonged conversation and is always alert for disrespect...and he always, always wants to eat, so it's best to keep him fed before he eats you. He doesn't truly grasp much beyond his hunger. Before he was Wordbound, his scope was wider, but now tied to Gluttony, he is somewhat more limited. He can't comprehend the desire to create, though he'll take advantage of it. He's a sensualist, loving new tastes, and anyone that can give him something he's never eaten before will be rewarded. Archangel, for example. He knows that motivated demons are good demons - he recognizes hunger and ambition in others, after all. He likes his demons, but he watches them carefully for attempts to eat him. He must always expand, increase the scope of his Word and its influence, in order to satisfy himself. And as he expands, so does his hunger. There will never be enough.


Glutton is Hard to Pun

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Glutton is Hard to Pun

Gluttony is the urge to devour, to immesse yourself in the moment, with no concept of past or future. Anticipation of future pleasure and pleasant memories of the past can add subtleties, but the true glutton lives only for each bite. Everything is an object to consume, and while some may be better than the rest, the act is what matters. The whole of existence is in forcing down more and more experiences. There is no good or evil, no pleasure or pain, only the famine when not consuming and the ecstasy of consumption. To Haagenti, Gluttony is power and safety. More power will make him safe, and devouring others keeps them from being threats. He sees only hunger in the universe - those on high hunger for control and power, those below wish to grow stronger and consume in turn. Gluttony, to Haagenti, is the natural law, necessary for life. In the end, only the hungriest will survive.

However, Haagenti's fixation does not make the drooling moron that many foes, even Archangels, believe him to be. It just narrows down what he's intelligent about. He's a genius in any area dealing with Gluttony, but unable to maintain attention on much else. He'll take sensible actions to remain alive, but follow up moments of wit with week-long steak binges, ignoring political moves he might make. He is certainly believed to be the stupidest Prince short of Saminga, and they tend to view him as an idiot, but given that each Prince is much smarter than any human, it doesn't mean much compared to humans. If Haagenti is not currenly obsessed by food, he may display sudden flashes of genius, and he certainly shouldn't be understimated. He encourages the other Princes to do so, though, so long as they don't believe he's weak.

Haagenti enjoys slapstick, and his rise to power coincided in some ways with Kobal's slow loss of interest in less refined comedy. Haagenti has expanded to fill that void, and even when serving Belial, he had a (simple, brutal) sense of humor. He hadn't the wit or patience for truly ingenious plans or jokes, and rarely the taste for true irony, but he does love his slapstick. His demons follow his example, loving any big, wasteful joke. Slapstick, after all, is all about destruction and waste. Most demons of Kobal regard the gags that the Gluttons use as unimaginitive, tright and boring, and they certainl would never even begin to perform them. Gluttons just shrug and create more enthusiastic demonstrations of gross-out humor and slapstick.

Haagenti has a very simple conception of God: either God will eat him, or he will eat God. In the meantime, he doesn't really think about morality, religion or the idea of a creator mercifully providing food. If God exists, he can be eaten. Lucifer is more complex. Haagenti believes that Lucifer could take everything from him, as he gave it. That is a terrifying prospect. Haagenti was made long after the Fall, in a universe in which Lucifer had always ruled Hell. To Haagenti, Lucifer is a part of life, the ultimate predator, and Haagenti won't cross him. Most of the other Princes treat Haagenti as a fool, but he is cunning and has common sense that many Princes overlook. He is often a swing vote betweem the War and Shal-Mari blocs, and if Kobal cares, Haagenti will side with him. Otherwise, he'll go with whoever most appeals to him at the moment.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: A rabid newcomer, with a surprising amount of raw, unrefined force. I appreciate Kobal's use of him as "muscle," but if he attempts to expand any further at the expense of my Word, he will have cause to regret it.
Lust, hunger, yearning: he's part of what I am, however pretty he tries to make it. That endless famine . Can't help feeling some fellowship to a Prince who falls under my Word, even if I'm not pretty enough to suit his tastes. Someday we're going to renegotiate that relationship, though - with me on top.
Asmodeus: Excessive and unintelligent. Not necessarily faults in themselves, but he listens to Kobal . To be watched like all that Prince's other tools.
Rules, rules, rules! All this talk about rules gives me indigestion! Can't he ever leave well enough alone? I can't be truly hungry if I'm thinking about the rules - and I don't like his attitude toward me and Kobal. He'd better be careful. Or else.
Baal: Like all powerful fools, effective if pointed in the right direction. He and his Servitors are useful fighters. He may satisfy his hungers on angels as much as he likes.
So we're at war, people still gotta eat! Let Baal do the planning, just make sure I get fed!
Beleth: He is a nightmare to many, which makes him useful. His own fears are primitive neough - what has risen may also fall, and the devourer may be devoured. Simplistic and uninteresting.
I once dreamed I got so hungry I started gnawing on my own leg . Then I woke up and TRIED it. Ha! Some nightmare! I taste goooood!
Belial: Foolish little upstart, pretender who claims to be the equivalent of the First-Fallen, protected by Kobal for some typically lunatic reason. He was my Servitor once, and he will be again. He steals from me by devouring - everything must burn.
Fire's hungry, like me. But there's not enough room for both of us. And he was Superior once, dared to give me orders...he'll pay for that.
Kobal: Dear, dear brother Haagenti...our brother princes laugh at you, and at me for supporting you. I've worked for centuries to set up this punchline, but it won't be much longer.
The only other reason to open my mouth, apart from eating, is to laugh at Kobal's jokes. Once he made me laugh so hard that French fries came out my nose. Mmmm, French fries. Maybe with chili and cheese and sour cream and [trails off into indistinct gurgling noises].
Kronos: A fool who is useful in dragging others down to meet their fates, if he does not eat them first, and who pursues appetite to the exclusion of everything else. I am glad that Kobal enjoys his company.
Kronos? Fate? I don't care! I'm fated to suck down that pile of sausges right behind you! Either put on some mustard or get the Hell out of my way!
Lilith: He's hungry enough to have plenty of Needs. However, he's developing, and growing more intelligent - I'm not sure how many of the other Princes have realized that yet. Potential, oh, definitely.
I wanted a ham sandwich, and she gave me one! With a whole pig! It was great!
Malphas: His pitiful lack of intelligence prevents him from seeing all the sensible, practical reasons why he should leave Kobal behind and strike out on his own. I'm working on it.
He thinks he can try and split me and Kobal up. He'll find out he's wrong. Sometimes a Shedite is a Demon Prince, and sometimes he's just an appetizer.
Nybbas: He gets people in the right mood for buying what I'm selling: excess. They don't call them consumers for nothing! The little furball makes them swallow anything and come back for more. That's the kind of viewers I want. And he's so cute, I'm thinking of licensing his image for plush toys.
Yeah! He's helping me get the message out to all those people - eat eat eat! He's got an eye and a mouth in every house, and I want them all talking Gluttony.
Saminga: Eating people kills them. But making them eat keeps them alive. The first is better than the second; he needs to work on his priorities.
He hates the others as much as I do! He laughs loud and loves his work! And he makes lots of meat .
Valefor: The difference between us is that he takes things in order to consume them, but I take them for the sake of the theft - oh, and let's not forget the style question. Still, at least he has a sense of humor.
He's a Calabite, too, but he's not hungry enough. No threat to me, though - you can't steal things once they've been eaten!
Vapula: A valuable case study in evolution and potential. I look forward with interest to continuing my observations, and possibly adjusting the line of development. Wonderful proof that the strong demonstrate their ability! I need more experimental subjects like this.
Some of his gadgets are cool! Flash-fried angel, mmmm...
Blandine: Dreaming of what one hopes for is one thing, but dreams of nothing but hunger are wrong. He limits all the humans he touches. While not the most openly corrupting, he must be prevented from expanding further.
Fluffy. Useful. People dream of stuff they want, they dream of eating more. My kind of Archangel.
David: A corrupting, weakening influence on humanity. I hope to have the opportunity to kill him myself.
Nothing like a good terrible ordeal to get your appetite going.
Dominic: Brutish pawn of Dark Humor, Hellborn mockery of a Prince. His trial will be short - but he will have it.
Mmmm, Archangel. With napkin.
Eli: This is wasted potential , man. He could have been so much - look at how far he's come - and it goes nowhere . Imagine that sort of energy harnessed where it could do some good. As it is, he doesn't create. He's just walking entropy, and I won't stand for that.
He makes stuff; I eat it. It's the perfect relationship! Besides, the way he's acting, he has to be heading our way - can't wait to have him down here!
Gabriel: He is cruel without knowing it, without realizing it. He takes bread from the mouths of the starving and gives it to those who have no need of it. Either he must learn better, or he must burn - there is no middle way.
She hates Belial, which makes her okay with me. If only her idiots would stop frying my people - mmm, frying - we could get something going! She's the fire that cooks my food, or something like that. I leave the philosophy to Kobal.
Janus: I'm into change, not consumption - someone needs to teach Haagenti the difference between the two. Then again, he and his Servitors are so obsessive that you can steal the shirts off their backs, as long as you don't take their food. But that's hardly a challenge...
Slides between the teeth. Not filling. Not bothersome. Kind of a waste of time - except when his people smash stuff! Yeah! Now that's good.
Jean: Need I remind you that gluttony is traditionally one of the deadly sins? A danger to humanity, "inspiring" them to wastefulness, excesses, and indulgence. To be extirpated wherever encountered - prevention is better than cure.
Those Lightning things blow up real good! He's one of the old-fashioned types - doesn't want humanity enjoying themselves. Give them what they want, I say! Give them more! More!
Jordi: I understand hunger. All nature lives through hunger. But only the more foolish animals eat more than they need and foul their nests. He will drive himself to extinction when there is nothing left.
So many animals, so many tastes! Pity some got wiped out - but people have to eat!
Laurence: What a disgusting creature. But dangerous. One of the deadly sins, indeed. Someday, that obscene, ravening maw will be shut forever, when I drive my sword through his skill and pin his jaws together.
Annoying. Gets in my way. Stops people eating. Spiky, too. Someone should sort him out - what do we have an army for, anyhow?
Marc: Unfortunately, he doesn't understand the principle of paying for what he eats, moderation in consumption, or anything useful. Sometimes I wonder if he has a brain at all inside that tiny head. Still, his demons are very easy to bribe when one wants a little work on the side...
He's Supply, I'm Demand! Yeah, this is the sort of Archangel I can handle. Makes nice, pays up when I ask. Free Trade! No tariffs! Export it all, bring it all to me!
Michael: The mindless gluttony that drives good soldiers to sack and loot. A Prince who fought his way up from the bottom deserves wariness - but let him get in my way, and I'll show him what age and experience count for.
Too big a mouthful, so far. Give me time. Only hunger lasts forever.
Novalis: Poor lost child - so hungry, so lonely, so convinced that the only way he can ever be satisfied is by consuming the rest of the world. He's as dangerous as any hungry animal, but he's not as truly evil as some of the others. Humans can be taught better - perhaps he can, too, in time.
Plants are good to eat too! And they grow back and you can eat them again. She's not a bother, and her people are all wimps. But Kobal says she's dangerous - and I listen to my brother.
Yves: Gluttony is a deep-buried root that can lead many toward their fates. However, the Prince has not yet reached his own - it is darker than he would ever guess.
Philosophy is paper. I'd rather have food and leave the words to Kobal.
Ethereals: Taste interesting. Okay as long as they don't stop people eating.
Humanity: Mmm. Humans taste nice. Souls taste even better. And the hungrier they are, the more powerful I get. Then I get to eat their souls. It's a JOKE like Kobal's!
Soldiers of God: They don't taste any different...
Hellsworn: They're useful because they're hungry, just like me. I like that. And they're useful to my Servitors. But in the end, they're food like everyone else.
Sorcerers: If they bother my Servitors, then we eat them. If they pay us well, we take the pay and then we eat them. Spicy!

As comic relief, Haagenti is just a big fat guy who likes food. He may always be eating, but he's not actively evil, just self-indulgent. The same may or may not be so of his demons, who will mostly be looking to have fun on Earth, not corrupt people. They're easily distracted or bribed and may even be quite redeemable, if approached with food in hand. Even in Hell, Haagenti's demons take pride in being good chefs and giving value for Essence. The main difference between this and canon is that it downgrades Haagenti's cunning and intellect. A darker Haagenti is only happy if he's eating things taken from others - particularly if they needed it to survive. The starvation of others is the perfect sauce. Haagenti is no longer satisfied with ordinary food, demanding delicacies and that humans be made to harm others out of gluttony. He works closely with Kobal to cause massive famines and disasters, and his demons promote cannibalism, eating disorders, the hunting of endangered species - anything that harms both the consumer and those around them.

Haagenti rarely uses a female form, or really any gender at all - he just wants to eat, and tends to default male. When female, however, she is typically attractive and fashionable, but not good at style or actual taste - it's the expense that matters. She still has no manners and eats with gsto, and often grows bored with her current fashion and destroys it, demanding replacements. She remains boorish and somewhat dull, interested mainly in consumption - crashing expensive cars, eating entire cake shops, whatever. She will tend towards more refined tastes in food and indulgence, but still gobbles it down nearl whole and demands more. She is, if anything, more demanding than Haagenti in masculine form, and that takes effort.

It is said that Kobal may somehow have gotten an apple from the Tree in Eden, given a slice of it to Haagenti to give him the strength to become a Prince, but also making his hunger ceaseless. Only another apple from Eden could satisfy him now. But if that's true, that what Kobal did with the rest is a matter of some speculation.

Some say that Belial didn't hand Haagenti over to Kobal as blindly as most think. Apparently, Belial may have kept the shattered fragments of Haagenti's old Heart and still has them. If he did, he might have been able to make a weapon of them to harm Haagenti or to track him - no one is really sure. Haagenti would certainly be much more comfortable if he were certain that Belial didn't do it, and Belial won't speak of it either way.

Next time: Shal-Mari

All of the Art in this Chapter is a Dude Shoving Food Down His Face, It's Kinda Gross

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: All of the Art in this Chapter is a Dude Shoving Food Down His Face, It's Kinda Gross

Haagenti's restaurants and food chains spread through all of Shal-Mari, but some areas cluster them thick enough to outnumber the brothels and cinemas. The air is thick with the smell of food, and the clashing scents can actually be kind of a problem. They serve everything from Roman stuffed dormice to American ice cream to Russian potato soup to wheat germ concoctions out of health food stores. Recipes from all of history are on sale, and many of the demons will actually highly praise the humans that invented them. (This rarely carries over to respect for the damned, however.)

Haagenti maintains no regular palace or home. He moves around the Principality of Shal-Mari as he likes, making a temporary headquarters out of whatever restaurant he currently feels like eating in, taking over every nearby building and usually most of the street. The owners of the restaurant receive his favor and get to rub shoulders with ranking demons...but they also have to work themselves to the bone to feed Haagenti, who will sit next to the kitchens eating as much as possible. His honor guard and courtiers have to order out - he doesn't share. Nearby restaurants that they don't take over try to keep operating, hoping to profit off the influx of demons. The ones that do get taken over can only hope to get some benefit, because they're expected to make do with the honor of service. Good for the reputation, not the wallet. Low-grade minions are recruited from all nearby restaurants to do errands, administrative tasks, guard work and so on. Regular deliveries and visitors tend to be blocked by the traffic of the street. It's as much a problem as an honor, really. Tether outlets are sited in the back rooms of certain establishments, guarded by the owners. It's a mark of pride, power and status, and it means more potental customers. Having to support and assist the Tether is usually considered worth it. However, if the Tether is demolished, the restaurant is likely to lose customers exceptionally quickly.

The Grand Recipe Repository was built after Kobal suggested it might be good to keep formal records of the best work of Gluttony. Haagenti designed it personally, and it shows. It's a hideous building, looking like nothing except a sagging, neon bridal cake 15 stories tall...and that's after the actual architects toned it down. Kobal adores eating near it, especially if his dining companions hate ostentation. Commonly called the Suppository, it's run by Gluttons trained in filing. Recipes are actually fairly well organized, indexed by name, creator, ingredients and techniques. Entry is supposed to cost 1 Essence, but the four Djinn guards typically ask for a bit of a bribe, too. Haagenti files his records of rewards and Distinctions in with the recipes, and it's rumored that secret information of treasonable nature is in there somewhere. This is actually true - the building is controlled by the Fangs, Haagenti's spy organization. The Fangs are all very intelligent and keep their identities secret, using tunnels for when they have to drag someone in. They take great care to ensure the other staff at the Repository are dull, unimaginative and unlikely to explore or investigate. If they do...well, the Fangs are still Gluttons, and demons can be tasty.

Haagenti stores the Hearts of his demons in an immense vault under Shal-Mari, supposedly beneath one of his favorite restaurants, of which he has several, but the labyrinth leading to it has prevented anyone from being certain which one. The Calabim and Djinn guarding it don't encourage hanging around to make maps, for that matter. The Hearts jumble together in large drifts, making it hard to find your Heart unless you materialize next ot it from Earth. The vault has only one exit, guarded by an immense Knight of Banquests able to consume most demons whole. It works out fairly well, as security systems go.

Other celestials see Gluttons as obsessed by hunger, willing to do anything for food, and generalyl rather stupid. And often they are in fact busy with hunger, their own or that of others. However, the ones that encourage Gluttony in others are just as common as the ones focused on their own hunger. They are all motivated, both by Haagenti's desires and their dissonance conditions, to increase the power of Gluttony around them. They tend to be quite enthusiastic, and even the most uncaring Djinn of Gluttony knows how hunger feels and likes sharing it. Many of them see themselves as friends to humans. They are, after all, encouraging them to enjoy their natural urges. What could be more natural then releasing tension with a spree of consumption? What could be more pleasant? To a Glutton, gorging is the greatest of experiences for anyone. Of course, the smarter ones do realize there are consequences. Humans can't consume forever, thanks to metabolism, age or finance. Still, eat or be eaten. Humans and even demons that can't take the pace are food, not eaters, and food can't hope for much. In the moment that a human dies of a cholesterol-caused heart attack and is damned to Shal-Mari, they move decisively from 'friend' to 'food.'

Among demons of Gluttony, when left alone, organization varies wildly. The most potent is always on top, and the juniors obey or get eaten. Demons of roughly equal power squabble sometimes, but largely cooperate unless they have conflicting plans or they run out of food. There's just not a lot of treachery between Gluttons unless their plans get in the way of each other, in which case the strongest wins or a more potent demons shows up to take over the situation, a time-honored tradition just as much as blaming each other for the result. The fact that they grow dissonant from failing to make humans Consume enough results in a lot of fellow-feeling and readiness to help each other out. It can be affection, but just as often it's an understanding that everyone benefits from increased Gluttony. It won't stop demons expecting a bribe or favor in return, though. They're still demons. Things change when Kobalites get involved. Haagenti often orders his demons to work with the demons of Dark Humor. The more tolerant Kobalites let Gluttons do as they normally would, insisting on reports or obedience only when it's strictly needed. The Gluttons like this and cooperate well that way. It also helps when Dark Humor's plans use or advance Gluttony somehow. However, other Kobalites insist on their own ideas of organization, which vary wildly between demons, and if they're much more potent, the Gluttons obey...but if they're not, well, accidents can happen.

Gluttons tend to believe that every human should be eating, right now. Gluttony is deliberate, self-gratifying consumption, and while animals can do it, humans are much better for it. Most feel friendship towards human gluttons, if not so much as towards demons. They have their hearts in the right place, and any human willing to indulge themselves can rise to greatness. They may be menial, petty and inconsequential, but it's the thought that counts. Still, Gluttons look at humans as useful, not just friends. They're good deep-cover agents, since it's hard for Gluttons to stay inconspicuous, given their dissonance. Humans also make good thugs. However, and especially in this modern era, they are very good at persuading other humans to overindulge. Even unwitting agents can provide a lot of good propaganda - articles on how it does more good to binge than hold back, scientific proof on the perils of abstinence, advertising...the works.

Gluttons attract human minions by various means. Hellsworn are typically persuaded...but sometimes dragged to a Tether to gorge themselves until they either die or gain a Force. That usually only works for thugs, though, unless you're really lucky. More educated Soldiers must be recruited deliberately, and generally only for specific schemes. They are tempted, rather than force-fed, and Gluttons often target their families, as well - a family that indulges together won't stop each other from acting gluttonously. Any demon of Haagenti with the brains to get an intelligent Soldier will also tend to have the brains to be subtle about it. Simple minions are much easier than Soldiers, though. They can do any purpose, and usually they just get bribed or blackmailed into service. The best ones tend not to be aware of the War, making them sincere and honest when they promote Gluttony's cause. As long as they take orders and keep consuming, they tend to be treated well. They may even get to share in whatever the demons are enjoying. Only a few Gluttons actually like destroying humans, and a sufficiently valuable agent can escape even them. On the other hand, if they fail or don't seem gluttonous, they get recategorized as food, and are lucky if they get off as lightly as being traded to another Word rather than being used as a suicide mission...or a snack. (They push the cannibalism thing hard, because Gluttons are otherwise a little too personable.)

Minor signs of favor aren't important among Gluttons - power is. Still, they do like being given the stuff they enjoy, as they are...well, gluttons. They love material rewards of all kinds. Minor punishments, likewise, can include forced abstinence or removal of luxuries...or even stitching your mouth shut for a while. More extensive rewards and punishments depend on Haagenti's mood and how much he's paying attention, which usually ties into how hungry he is. It's best to bring food when reporting in. If he's pleased, he may hand out lavish rewards...but he's pretty arbitrary that way, so be ready to thank him no matter what he does. Punishments are equally arbitrary, and Force-stripping is relatively common, as Haagenti likes the taste of Forces. Occasionally, though, you can lessen the severity of punishment by blaming other Princes' manipulations, as Haagenti is convinced they all despise him. It won't save you from important failures, though.

Haagenti tends not to have the subtlety to tempt angels to Fall nor the hatred of angelic Words to try and recruit them deliberately. Fortunately, some of his demons do it for him. Smart Gluttons look for angels that either love food or aggressively deny interest in it. Careful resonance and attunement usage can end with gorging angels, who are then vulnerable to self-indulgence or disgust with themselves. Still, most of the time they'd prefer to kill or bribe an angel rather than trick them into a Fall. Outcasts are given the hard sell, though - Haagenti tends to think that they've already left Heaven, so they may as well finish the job. He doesn't really understand a lack of Gluttony in others, and Outcasts that Fall but don't join him are more likely to be eaten than traded away. If they are recruited successfully, however, they may be given high rank to start. If they're not, they'll be given a menial one until they get into the spirit of it all. Once in a while, Haagenti both gets useful intelligence and recognizes its worth, using it to plan some new scheme. He's not always as good at this as he believes, and ex-angels should avoid him if things go wrong.

The most common job for demonlings under Gluttony is bringing food or serving at tables. Of course, they have to avoid eating the food themselves, and most are ambitious to grow large enough to get their own food. They're kept deliberately hungry and made to grovel and slave for anything they get, because being hungry is the most important part of being a good Glutton. Older demonlings and Fallen are trained in recipes, tastes, etiquette and whatever else their boss likes. While most just devour, some prefer to eat politely, especially Impudites, and typically this training uses the carrot of allowing the student to eat if they work well. Physical punishment is rare for Gluttons, as nothing is more painful than being unable to satisfy your hunger.

Next time: You ate what?

Dumb Gluttony Tricks

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Dumb Gluttony Tricks

One thing that Gluttons have figured out how to do is cause riots via use of the Consume attunement. One Glutton can do it alone, but more is easier. The trick is using the attunement on enough poeple in the crowd that eventually, mob hysteria breaks out. It's particularly effective in food lines or civilian groups under wartime rationing. Devour's a good trick for destroying evidence, meanwhile, especially with the Numinous Corpus Song of Fangs. You can eat weapons, goods, corpses, the one case, even 20 pounds of C4 just before the cops showed up. Gluttons also tend to have a basic idea of first aid and anatomy, thanks to their need to be able to butcher anything and patch up overindulgent humans. Further, while most of them hate killing their victims, a small grou[ are skilled poisoners and assassins, often working with demons of Technology and Death to keep up in the latest trends in poison. They take it as a point of pride to produce food good enough to get victims to want to eat it. Some demons, particularly Balseraphs and I,pudites, also make a point of learning etiquette from across the world - it's much easier to fit in if you know how to behave at the table, after all. Others master the art of voluntary regurgitation, allowing them to store small objects in their stomachs and vomit them up later with an Agility roll. They are especially fond of combining this with use of the Song of Thunder as a gross joke. Some demons even deliberately fail at using Devour to do this - while it hurts, it does empty them automatically, and can also be used as a last-ditch weapon against someone in front of them.

Balseraphs of Gluttony are so good at convincing others to be gluttons that they can actually impose it as a Discord. MAny of them truly believe that everyone is gluttonous by nature, born and going to die that way. They don't think they're forcing people to do something unnatural, just revealing something inherent in them. Of course, not all of them are gluttonous themseles. They tend to either be gourmands, devouring eveything nearby, or gourmets, indulging themselves only in very specific hungers and ascetic in other matters.

Djinn of Gluttony, despite being Djinn, feel something close to affection for other lguttons. Many of them find it comforting to know how widespread Gluttony is. Besides, it's a safe vice - you destroy the desired object, no risk of attachment. Sensible. They range from the neat to the sloppy, but all of them have some preferred indulgence or food, even if they won't admit it. Many position themselves to be able to indulge regularly, so they won't have to try to find it later. If ordered elsewhere, they get annoyed and grumpy until they can find their pleasure again. Some of them are particularly perverse, believing that the only thorough way of severing an attunement safely is to eat the target.

Calabim of Gluttony see it as a method of destruction. Everything vanishes in the entropy of pure hunger. Their Prince is an example of the devastation of hunger. They rarely care about their appearance, homes, or much of anything but eating and breaking things. They view this as a form of partying. Food is for eating, furniture is for interesting smashing, and everyone else is either a fellow glutton or a target. However, they're rarely deliberately cruel or corruptive. They just follow their own urges for Gluttony and entropy.

Habbalah of Gluttony often see the satisfaction of hunger as a reward, only to be given to the virtuous. As proof, they point to thir ability to excite hunger in others as a punishment. Very few see Gluttony as a positive virtue in others. They are divided between those who see it as a sin in and of itself and thoe whose hold that the worthy can do as they will, even indulge in vice. The first group are ascetics, while the second happily indulge...they're worthy, after all. In either case, they are eager to keep gluttons around them, either to test or torture them. Some enjoy organizing and supervising orgies of consumption but do not partake themselves. Others join in the party, confident that they're the only ones to really deserve it. They tend to despise the people around them, sometimes including other demons, Haagenti or themselves, if they're the ascetic types. They hate themselves and take it out on everyone else.

Lilim of Gluttony tend to think of themselves as artists as well as givers. After all, their power lets them make meals so good that no one can refuse them. They often like to point out that they don't sell their bodies or kill people, they just provide art and beauty. They tend to find it very easy to see themselves as ethical and have large groups of friends. They are, however, often all the more selfish for their comfortable belief in their own niceness. They are nice...until they're refused. At that point, they'll do whatever it takes to get that person out of their way. After all, everyone else likes them, so it's clearly the victim's fault.

Shedim of Gluttony see their Word as the perfect corruption, one they can do with any host. A gluttonous human is a happy one, at least temporarily, and one that is expressing thyeir own true nature. After all, humans are hungry. That's life. Leading them to increasingly indulge is easy, instinctive and tends to stick after they leave. Their understanding of natural vice makes them particularly good at using a host's gluttony against them to damn them. Of course, they do get jaded. Many react to this by learning to cook or getting their hosts to do so, in order to explore taste further. They become gourmets who have particular preferences. Others follow a binge-and-starve cycle, keeping themselves in check by allowing themselves wild orgies of consumption every so often.

Impudites of Gluttony are arrogant, proud demons. They like humans, sure, but their ability to take Essence from them without charming them tends to make them see the concept of charm as unneeded. Humans should adore them by right - they don't need to waste their time being nice. Of course, it doesn't stop them from wanting to look good, but most don't bother with anything but that. Their ability to charm is a weapon, not a general-use tool. The noise of their draining often makes them prone to moving around quickly or finding a way to conceal it, like working at a Tether. If they do charm a victim in order to avoid the Disturbance, it tends to be mercenary rather than out of any desire to avoid the victim becoming hungry.

In Shal-Mari, the main job demons of Gluttony serve is getting Essence from the damned. They work in restaurants of all kinds to sell food for Essence. Some of the more refined or smarter demons provide other luxuries, and some creative demons can produce truly beautiful artwork here, though both the Game and the Fangs watch them closely to be sure they don't try to Redeem. Outside of the food, Gluttons also serve as muscle for Kobalite establishments, staff the Recipe Repository or make a career as property movers for the court of Haagenti, since someone's got to carry all their stuff when Haagenti decides to move on. Shal-Mari's border guard is also disproportionately Gluttons, helped by demonlings or damned souls to stay supplied with snacks.

Haagenti has little interest or patience for the Marches, but he can grasp that making humans dream of food results in more consumption. That means a handful of Gluttons steadily head to the Marches. Beleth is only midlly annoyed by this - food-dreams tend to be nightmares more than happy ones, and so she doesn't go out of her way to have her demons chase down Gluttons...though they can fight if they meet by accident. Occasionally, a skilled and intelligent Glutton will be sent to work with Nightmares in order to fashion a specialty dreamscape. Haagenti doesn't care about ethereals, but he's happy to take tribute from them. Some of his demons can even see use in them as decoys or minions. A few have even headed to the Far Marches to make deals, which would be strongly disapproved of by Beleth and Asmodeus if either knew of it.

On Earth, there are two main jobs. Consume and get humans to consume. The second is actually the more important one - a glutton doesn't need help to commit gluttony, and if all you did was eat, the Word would not spread. Demons who have to persuade humans to eat may provide food or consumer goods to tempt them, typically Lilim, Balseraphs or Impudites. Others persuade humans to overindulge out of pride, false beliefs on health or an urge to get a bargain. Balseraphs and Shedim are best here. Some act as public examples, inspiring humans to similar acts or acting as public proof of the goods of self-indulgence. Calabim enjoy partying, and Lilim, Balseraphs, Habbalah and Impudites do well in higher-status roles. Tethers also need guarding, particularly by Djinn or Calabim, and Shedim are sent to corrupt specific targets or ensure they do specific actions, unless it'd be easier to just talk to them, in which case anyone can do it. All Earthbound demons are also expected to think up new ways for humans to indulge, and any demon that can have a really great idea will receive great recognition.

The Feeders are those demons of Gluttony whose job is to ensure Haagenti never stops eating. They bring him souls, Forces, food, anything he can stuff in his maw. More experienced Feeders work to find exotic foods or the work of the best chefs. Haagenti especially loves the taste of endangered species, which makes these Feeders despised by angels of Jordi. One special team is kept entirely secret. See, Haagenti liked eating Meserach and Mariel so much that he wants other Superiors. It'd be unwise to attack a Prince right now, though, and Archangels aren't easy to get. In a flash of genius, Haagenti decided to search for traces of any Prince believed dead or vanished, such as the former Prince of Disease, Makatiel, who destroyed by Dominic and Asmodeus, or the former Prince of Rpaine, Genubath, who vanished when Valefor took power. These demons are dedicated researchers and detectives, hiding their existence expertly because no Prince would be happy to learn that Haagenti dreams of devouring more of them.

Next time: The problems of Gluttony

Food For Thought

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Food For Thought

When a Glutton no longer feels the hunger, when the stress gets to them...well, some of them just use calculated stupidity and obsession. It works, if you can handle being that dumb. Pay no attention to the odds or the situation, enjoy yourself, fele no stress. The stupider demons are good at this and tend to be able to remain focused on the job for a very long periods, ignoring stress and not thinking about danger. This can frustrate angels that are trying to stop them. Smarter gluttons tend to make allies, starting out with bribes but eventually making genuine friends. They find this tends to help them destress by having people to watch their backs or giving them fresh perspectives from outside. That's really useful for a jaded Glutton. However, they can shift quickly between affection and indifference. They love their food, but only when it's in front of them. They don't sympathize with it. Likewise, they may genuinely feel deep fellowship one day and abandon a friend that can't keep up the next. They also tend to destress by binging on food.

Gluttons are quite easy to get along with and often enjoy parties. They're cheerful and like to see others enjoying consumption as well. Many other demons, however, find them stupid and focused on the flesh. Demons of Haagenti know and resent this, and many of the dumber ones deliberately play to stereotype, doing their best to disgust others when they sense they're being looked down on. Smarter ones learn restraint and caution, surprising those who believe all Gluttons are idiots. Generally speaking, they get on quite well with the rest of Shal-Mari and the Media. Nybbas' demons like to popularize Gluttonous fads, and Gluttons like being famous. Despite the feud between Haagenti and Andrealphus, Gluttony and Lust can get along quite well as long as they aren't trying to control the same people. Freedom's temps are also easy to work with if you can negotiate.

Technology, the War, Factions and Nightmares are happy to use Gluttons but do not often view them as friends or equals. The Gluttons may resent this but will cooperate if they gain from it...though if the other demons try to take command, they can be very unruly subordinates. Demons of Fate and the Game see demons of Haagenti as sensualists, weak and stupid. I nreturn, the Gluttons view them as boring, ineffectually and mindlessly strict. Cooperation typically needs to be enforced by threat. Theft, on the other hand, is convenient, but distrusted, since they'll as easily steal from you as for you. Demons of Death are occasionally allies and occasionally foes, depending on circumstance. Generally speaking, Gluttons will take offense if a Death demon murders one of their human friends. As for demons of Fire, there's always hostility on some level.

Both gourmets and gourmands have the same objective: obsession with food. The gourmand may shovel down cheap foods while the gourmet lightly pecks at exotic dishes, but in the end, they obsess over their tastes to the exclusion of all else. While the stereotype of Gluttony is gourmands, favoring quantity to quality, that's not all of them. There are gourmets in their ranks, and sometimes Haagenti himself demands the rare and unusual to tempt his jaded tastes. In their worst moments, these demons combine the worst aspects of both, demanding unusual food in extreme quantity. Haagenti may not be good at explaining it in words, but he and his demons know that both of these kinds of gluttony help, and work to inspire both.

Servitors of Haagenti do not get dissonance for failing to be personally gluttonous unless he inflicts it personally. Rather, they fail to spread it among humans. Gluttony is entropic and increasing. What was enough before isn't now, and now won't be enough later. All demons of Gluttony must thus work to increase the number of souls affected by the Word, manifesting as a need to force a human to Consume every few days or suffer dissonance. Gluttony is contagious, spreading among the souls of humanity and destroying their will. In Hell, Gluttons have the same dissonance condition, with time passing measurable in their natural Essence gain, but they have little difficulty fulfilling it by inflicting hunger on the Damned.

Typically, demons of Haagenti have little trouble with their dissonance condition. They tend to enjoy pushing humans to consume - everyone, after all, should be gluttonous. The problem is that use of the Consume attunement can be obvious, bringing attention down on you. If you're assigned to a small town or confined area, you may well run out of convenient subjects, particularly if they start to resist. You can deliberately gain dissonance by choosing not to use Consume, but you'd better have a good reason if questioned. If you can demonstrate that it would have endangered you, that might work...but only if it would've also disrupted Haagenti's operations, not just risked your life. On the other hand, if you just didn't want to force humans to Consume, well...better not get caught.

Next time: Kobal

It Does You Good To Laugh

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: It Does You Good To Laugh

Kobal is Hell's jester, beloved by Lucifer and allowed to say what none other can. He is brother to Haagenti and now growing jaded and bored.

Kobal's symbol.

Farce of Mistaken Identity is a Servitor attunement allowing you to spend 2 Essence and make a Will roll to masquerade as someone else for (CD) minutes in any one aspect - voice, appearance, smell, etc. Victims resist with Perception at a penalty of (Corporeal Forces), and Seraphim of Destiny or any Cherub attuned to either you or the person you're mimicking automatically resist. The effect works if recorded on tape or film.
Now THAT'S A Punch Line lets you spend 1 Essence to tell a joke and make a Will roll. The target must resist with Will at a penalty of (Celestial Forces) or be stunned for a moment. The higher the CD, the longer the stun, but it's up to the GM how long.
Rant of Scorn allows you to instantly determine a person or item someone respects or cherishes, then devise an improvisational satire on that thing, planting a seed of scorn in the victim. They must make a Will roll, penalized by (Celestial Forces), or be forced to laugh at something they once loved.
Secretly Replaced allows you spend 2 Essence and make a Will roll to substitute one item for another as long as they are similar in some way - a diamond and a shard of glass, an apple and an orange, even a window and a door. Victims resist with a Perception roll at a penalty of (Celestial Forces) to notice for (CD) hours, though Seraphim of Destiny and any Cherub attuned to the target or the substitute resist automatically.
Kobal's higher Distinctions do not offer any additional powers, but do give rank. His Marquises are veterans, generally in charge of operations, while Counts oversee up to five Marquises. Counts are either extremely skilled or extremely stupid - Kobal's been known to promote demons far above their competence to watch them crash and burn. Kobal has only four Dukes. Three of them oversee Hell, the Marches or Earth, and the fourth is his personal secretary. Occasionally, he names a fifth Duke, who has always been destroyed in a funny way.
Kobal can teach the Songs of Laughter, Numinous Corpus: Mouth, Correspondence, Fruition and Pestilence.

Expanded Rites:
1. Cause a humorously improbable fatal 'accident.'
2. Force someone to confess an embarrassing personal secret in front of an audience.
3. Convince someone to make a wildly inappropriate spectacle of themselves.

Before the Fall, Kobal was the Angel of Laughter, a Word covering release of tension, fondness between friends and mirthful joy. God selected him to perform a special mission, which he would not discuss. At first, Kobal served well, but as the years went on, he became frustrated by humanity's perverse sense of humor. They often denied joy and seemed to enjoy suffering, preferring to laugh at each other rather than together. Laughter began to change by their actions, and Kobal had no idea how to prevent it. He began to hate humanity for its control over him and his Word. He was one of the first and most eager of Lucifer's recruits, scorning God's plan for him and fighting savagely to prove angelic superiority. When he and his fellow rebels were cast down, he believed that he finally got the joke - and it was on him. He laughed until he cried tears of fire, and from that day on, he swore no one would ever get the better of him again.

Lucifer named Kobal a Prince to counter Yves and Destiny. Dark Humor, Lucifer thought, would foil the bright futures of humanity and rob them of hope by showing them that life was a cosmic, cruel joke. Kobal took the Word and job happily, and his new Word mirrored his feelings on the worth of humanity. At first, he reveled in his freedom, enjoying his work deeply. He kept an eye out for likeminded demons, and soon spotted the potential in the demon Haagenti, at first only to amuse himself by making an uncouth demon part of Hell's elite. However, it didn't take long to realize that Haagenti could be more than a cheap joke. Kobal was delighted with his rise and continues to both secretly and openly support his 'brother.' However, Haagenti's success has not distracted Kobal from his growing problem. Kronos has been amassing power since he appeared, has stolen the most important task of Dark Humor and has taken over that which Lucifer left to Kobal. It has not gone well with Kobal. Engineering the rise of Haagenti helped him stave of ennui for a time, but now, he broods again, trying to devise the perfect joke to throw himself back into prominence. Nothing seems funny any more, and it takes greater and greater suffering and destruction to get any rise out of him. He can't erase the nagging doubt he has that he's once more the butt of the joke.

Kobal's frequent visits to a Shal-Mari demon-exclusive comedy club, Laugh Till It Hurts, are now the talk of Shal-Mari. It is run by the demon Thratch, Demon of Snappy Comebacks You Only Think of After It's Too Late, and it is now a forum for those hoping to impress their Prince. Some of the acts are good, but most are terrible. No one is sure when Kobal will show up or why he keeps coming. Thratch doesn't mind and knows better than to ask questions.

Kobal's Word contains irony, satire, misdirection and mistaken identity. Though often weary of it, Kobal still serves his Word and makes it the center of all of his plans. He doesn't spread happiness, but hatred, scorn and intolerance. He has a refined and educated sense of humor, preferring cunning and subtle schemes. He typically has no patience for low humor unless it furthers his plans. He holds nothing sacred, not even his Word, but only he is allowed to make jokes about it without risk. Anyone else had better hope their joke amuses him. He tends to avoid obvious targes - he just smiles to show he gets the joke and then moves on. His restraint, patience and seemingly lightweight Word mean he is one of the most underestimated Princes. However, he is extremely clever and the freedom granted him by Lucifer is unrivaled in all of Hell. He can get away with things no one else can even think about. For example, he once had his demons randomize all of Asmodeus' files, which took years to recover from. Lucifer apparently just smiled.

In public, Kobal still pretends to be devil-may-care. Privately, though, nothing enrages him more than seeing someone use an opening he missed or beat him at his own game. The thought he hates most is 'I wish I'd thought of that first.' Kobal works indirectly, lacking the strength to beat Baal and having too much tact to be so forthright as Beleth. He prefers to see his demons manipulate others as well - it's funny to corrupt someone, but funnier to get them to corrupt themselves.

Kobal's introspection began when Kronos was made a Prince, and Prince of Fate, no less. It stole Kobal's most important responsibility, and Kobal felt betrayed by it. Kronos grew quickly and was so effective that Kobal has been unable to reclaim any of the duties he lost. Some believe Lufier meant this all along, and that if anyone knows what plan God had for Kobal, it would be Kronos or Yves. Clearly, then, Kronos is right to oppose Kobal and keep him from power. There's never been enough open hostility for wa,rh owever, and Kobal's hatred of Asmodeus is much more blatant. Kobal knows Kronos is more powerful, and Kronos holds back for some reason.

Kobal's greatest project in a thousand years was the rise of Haagenti. Others see the Prince of Gluttony as a simpleton, easily manipulated. Kobal assures them they are correct, that he'll never realize he's been a tool all his life. Then he goes back to his office and laughs endlessly. He has plans for Haagenti, but has told no one. They remain close allies and appear to trust each other deeper than any Prince would ever dare.

Kobal is bored and has settled, now that he has only the job of serving his Word, on ending the War. He considers the constant war a bad joke with a boring punch line. He plans now for the Big Joke, some plan that will make Lucifer laugh - and even force all the other Princes to join in. He is at turns amused and disappointed by the stalemate that Hell seems to be in, and he has decided it is finesse that will end the War. While he'd never admit it, he sometimes doesn't care which side wins, just so long as the War ends. He now seeks relics, plots and actions that can alter the balance of power. He has turned from a status quo Prince to a closet activist, but he remains cautious. He wants to be able to deny his responsibility if he fails, and take unquestioned credit if he succeeds. It's not an easy balance. He's tired of being underestimated, despite spending eons ensuring he was. He wants more respect, to be noticed. Kobal's fellow Princes have yet to realize he's now interested in the War as a whole, rather than just his Word and Hellish politics. They continue to understimate him, and it's boring. His final goal is to overcome all that boredom that's set in these past few centuries. He knows it's ironic for him to be bored with jokes, and in his darkerm oments, he wonders if someone has turned the joke on him. He always tells himslef he's just tired of the War and of being a mere jester. Once he finds the Big Joke, it'll all get better.

Kobal has many potential foes - he's played jokes on a whole lot of people and others don't think he can take things seriously. Despite this, he's an excellent politician, an old Impudite Prince who knows how to smooth over ruffled feathers and make deals to protect himself. He isn't reckless and won't perform suicidal plans, even funny ones. He schemes in private, sekeing alliances only when it helps him or is especially funny. He is by nature a diplomat, though he tends to provoke extreme reactions - few are indifferent to Kobal. While the Princes may curse him, they find him useful, and he's good at making them blame each other. He's also one of the wealthiest Princes, Essence-wise, which makes him a good ally.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: Human lust certainly can be amusing at times, I'll grant you that, but Kobal tends to use it as a one-trick pony. There's a great deal more to the sins of the flesh than slamming doors and hiding in coat-closets, after all.
It's amusing that someone so obsessed with one sort of contact should be so averse to any other sort of contact: contradictions are part of the best jokes. He produces such delightful comedies of manners and heartbreak, all with the human body as a stage and motivation.
Asmodeus: He seems to think that he can play by his own set of rules in the Game. I doubt he quite realizes just how wrong he is about that. When the time comes, though, I will be there to help him remember the rules in Hell. [pause] I owe him a special favor , as well.
It's almost too easy. He's so full of himself, so puffed up with his own importance that I just have to poke a few holes to deflate him. But then he spoils the game anyway, because he just doesn't get it.
Baal: I don't think he's a concern of mine. I stay out of his way, and he'd best know enough to stay out of mine. I deal with serious business daily, and he just laughs. I've no time to waste on foolishness.
War can be a gas...just ask the Germans! Oh, I slay me. But Baal is incapable of appreciatin a good joke; he even said the Children's Crusade was pointless! No sense of humor, won't incorporate any of my best ideas into his plans.
Beleth: Kobal is a weakling and a buffoon who is far too easy on humanity, causing them to shake with laughter rather than quake with fright. He thinks that his petty malice and hokes mean something. Some day he will understand true fear.
Well, she's a little spy, you know...and I think she wastes the Marches. The potential there is so...ahhh, but nobody would even get it. I tried once, to work with her. Never again; she said that I was being kind to humanity. And when I was there in her realm...she was poking around . No, no fun. None at all.
Belial: He's a wet noodle, slimy and soft. He would be consumed in an instant in the bold heat of my plans. Someone should light a fire under him.
This guy has a burning desire to really cook my goose. I can't understand what inspires him to flame me, but at the same time I'm sympathetic to his combustible personality. I myself at times indulged in in- sin -diary tactics. Just because I don't necessarily hold a torch for Gabriel doesn't mean I'm not sensitive to the boiling point of Belial's nature. And he does have balls. Fire balls of course - what were you thinking?
Haagenti: The only other reason to open my mouth, aside from eating, is to laugh at Kobal's jokes. Once, he made me laugh so hard that French fries came out my nose. Mmmm, French fries. Maybe with chili and cheese and sour cream and [trails off into indistinct gurgling noises].
Dear, dear brother Haagenti...our brother princes laugh at you, and at me for supporting you. I've worked for centuries to set up this punchline, but it won't be much longer.
Kronos: He tried to do my job, and is bitter that I've done it better. He had his chance and couldn't live up to it. When the time is right, he, too, will meet his proper Fate.
No sense of irony. No sense of real pathos. Just lots of knowledge, the keys to the whole orchestra, and no clue. He doesn't get it. Frankly, he's in the way, an accident waiting to be finished. [Smiles wickedly] That'll be good for a laugh.
Lilith: He's always been a free thinker, willing to flit from idea to idea, and I value that. He's not bound by reality; no plan seems too outrageous to him. He also knows how to repay his debts, good or bad. Another admirable quality.
She's got a sense of humor, sure, but she rarely tells you what's so funny. I think she's laughing on the inside more than she ever lets on. Got to admit, the joke was on Heaven the day they let her get away!
Malphas: Kobal has an air of sophistication and intelligence that I sometimes find so lacking in othe Princes. Though he doesn't always share my vision, he can sow tiny seeds with his Word that bear bitterly divisive fruit. He and I work well together.
Oh, yes, he gets the joke - or rather, he provides the butts of the jokes. Every time somebody makes fun of someone else, we're building a new faction, and every time there's a new division, there are new groundds for humor... Wall of words, my friend, wall of words.
Nybbas: When it comes to chuckles, nobody does it better than Hell's head chucklehead. He's got his Word down to a true art form. It's just too bad so many of his plans end up with a dead lead actor. No sequels then, baby! Major bummer.
Nybbas shows some promise, but he's far too proccupied with flash and glitz rather than the dirt and grit where true comedy lives. He's happy to show, rather than do - a serious flaw.
Saminga: Kobal told me that death is the last pure form of comedy, but all paths through his humor lead to my realm. He works with me, chuckles occasionally at some trifle, and misses the really important end: death. After all, if they die laughing, they're just as dead.
The joke is often on him, I fear. But he's got a great sense of fatal irony. Death, pain, fear - comedy is about death, pain and fear. Saminga sits at the heart of the good stuff, and manages to be pretty funny himself without meaning to.
Valefor: Some of my best thefts have been in concert with Kobal. He's got a sense of style I admire, and I appreciate the way that he can steal dignity from humanity in an instant, usually right from under their own noses. That's a real theft.
Useful only as a passing gag. Valefor and his Servitors are about as reliable as Lucifer's promises. Better to take advantage from him than be taken advantage of.
Vapula: Kobal is flighty and quirky, and I don't have the patience for his sense of humor. He seems to value my inventions only for his crackpot schemes. His jokes don't really test the mortals; they just annoy them. Not good enough. We don't need weak Princes.
Ah. Technology. He gives mortals the power of angels and never realizes the irony; his eyes are blinded by science. But his Word is the wave of the future, and I need him as an ally.
Blandine: Scorn, mockery, ridicule. These are not the things of dreams; they belong more to Beleth than me. Kobal does not understand what his Word does to humanity and for that I cannot forgive him.
How noble, how grand. Blandine offers more potential for cruel irony than she realizes. I hope she never does.
David: A prancing jackanapes. He claims a sophisticated sense of humor, but the truth is that he laughs like a hyena. It's a meaningless, animal, predatory noise. All it means is that he's hungry for more suffering.
"We've secretly replaced David with a Habbalite painted black. Let's see if anyone notices." My Servitors like to help his Servitors overestimate a human's endurance. A Stony gets this priceless expression on his face when he realizes he's pushed a human over the edge into ruin or damnation.
Dominic: He was trusted by God, trusted with a task no Archangel was given. And now, iti s lost. And he is lost.
You know, it's funny. Who's up there with secrets and plots and suspicions? A Seraph. What happens to Seraphim who keep secrets and start fibbing about their plots?
Eli: The guy needs to cut people some slack, man. He never knows when to stop with the cutting comments. I remember when he was one of the good guys, and he was pretty cool then. What the heck happened?
It's only a matter of time before the "Archangel" of Creation joins us. He's already cheerily disillusioned with Heaven...given a chance, I'm sure I could finish the job.
Gabriel: I will not abid his cruelty. His constant torture of others stokes the fires of my anger. He thinks his comedy grand, but it is really empty of life and vigor. Tired. He should be extinguished.
How amusing that Fire doesn't catch my spark. No matter, I've a special spot burning just for her... Pathetically simple to manipulate - all the better to mock you with, my dear.
Janus: His schemes and plots don't amount to much more than breezes through the trees. He's a free thinker; too bad he has such bad jokes.
Flighty and unpredictable. What his role is in the War, I have yet to determine. By the way...have you ever seen Janus and Valefor in the same room together? Me neither.
Jean: I am at a loss to understand his concept of humor. This is odd, because I have studied several statistically valid samples of his work. Regardless, he should be avoided when possible.
If anyone needs a life, it's this sad-sack of an angel. Jean would rather read reports and study electrons than get out and enjoy a decent laugh.
Jordi: Kobal and his ilk are the same people who laugh while family pets are run over in the driveway. They make me sick.
Sometimes I wonder if Jordi can grasp any human emotion. Anything with fur and more than two legs is good? Yeah. Maybe for dinner with a nice white wine sauce.
Laurence: What have we to fear from this laughing buffoon? Kobal can only threaten those who are insecure. The Holy Spirit is a shield against scorn and mockery.
So, God's on Generalissimo Number Three...they seem to have staffing problems up there. Anyone who takes himself as seriously as this boy does is just begging to have a "Kick Me!" sign pasted on his back. And you know, that's not a bad idea...
Marc: Sarcasm and ridicule do not build trust among people. He and his underlings make my job a lot more difficult. Delicate business negotiations and top-level trade meetings can fail because of the wrong word, the wrong gesture. I can hardly find anything amusing about that.
I think Marc's halo is too tight. Comedy isn't about building anything! Besides, money can't buy you happiness, but it sure is good for a few chuckles.
Michael: Kobal is a corruption of the human spirit, and he steals their hopes of victory, of success, of anything - he destroys a warrior's spirit with despair and mockery. He's more of a threat than he seems.
Poor Michael. Poor, poor Michael. In his stubbornness and blind integrity, he goes on struggling and perpetuating this inane War, mirroring Baal till the two are a matched joke. He achieves nothing, and he only continues to cause humanity pain by making them live in the middle of his War. I could laugh. But after millennia, it grows stale.
Novalis: Caustic words salt the ground of friendship and trust, and even bitter fruit must be a difficult harvest to stomach year after year. He was able to share God's gift once, but is he really lost?
Sometimes I think the bleeding heart act is a sucker ploy, but if it is, the Archangel of Flowers is playing a pretty good role. The goody-two-shoes sure make it more fun to play our little reindeer games.
Yves: Only God and Kobal know what his special task is about; even I only have an inkling. All will be revealed according to God's wishes, of course, but I can't help feeling Kobal has squandered so much of his potential. A true shame. I miss him.
Wise as Yves claims to be, he still can't quite manage to figure it all out. Babbling about the greatest Destiny and the highest potential... Can't he see that it's all in vain? Such a waste.
Humanity: The little pieces on our chessboard. Sometimes they're clever. Usually they're stupid, but still more interesting than demons. What can I say? I like playing with my food. But Earth just isn't fun any more, and I don't know why.
Soldiers of God: Not much more fun than angels. And what do they serve for? Pie in the sky, that's what. Their Halo bosses don't respect them any more than we do.
Hellsworn: Quite useful in some situations, but on the whole they lack the right sense of fun about the whole game we play. At least they usually go quietly, smiling.
Ethereals: Relics and remnants, along with all the other trash in the Marches. When the right time comes, perhaps they may yet prove useful to me. Somehow.
Sorcerers: I laugh m ass off at these guys. They think they're controlling Hell. It's soooo much fun to see how far you can take them and how high you can build them up.

Next time: It hurts to laugh

The Best Medicine

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: The Best Medicine

Kobal is lucky that Lucifer has a strong and complex sense of humor. It lets him get away with things no one else could. After eons, he has a pretty good idea of what the Lightbringer will let him get away with, and he doesn't push those boundaries often. While he depends on Lucifer as his protector, he also knows that Lucifer isn't as strong as God. He privately questions Lucifer's ability to ever beat Heaven - after all, he witnessed Lucifer get hurled from Heaven by Michael.

However, Kobal considers the Host to be an army of humorless, self-righteous drones who lack timing, spontaneity and appreciation for a good prank. They can't act independently, are far too serious and, he's certain, wouldn't last a day in Shal-Mari. He's as cynical about God as all other things. In his earliest days he was an idealist, and as a new Prince he was violent and bitter. Now, Kobal believes God is largely irrelevant. If He cares, it sure doesn't show. God did give him a special mission which he won't speak of, though. Lucifer might know something or might not.

Kobal founded Shal-Mari when he was made a Prince. Over time, it became a way to build alliances. He invited Andrealphus in, and Lilith called in a Geas to build the Guildhall of Free Lilim - though the joke was that he wanted her there anyway. He's helped Haagenti get settled, as well as a few minor princes, like Fleurity, Habbalite Prince of Drugs and Mammon, Balseraph Prince of Greed. Shal-Mari is renowned for corruption and intrigue, but most of that takes place at low levels. Its rulers get far more out of cooperation, most of the time. Kobal has owned the stages of Shal-Mari since long before Nybbas was made. EVen after his rise, Dark Humor controls most of the cineplexes and theaters in Shal-Mari. Kobal has entertainments for everyone, shading them to the tastes of the demons in each district. Nybbas sometimes tries to start Media theaters, but Kobal only allows a few, and only as long as they're less popular than his. Usually this isn't hard - the damned of Shal-Mari prefer Kobal's comedy to the sitcoms and soap operas of the Media.

Kobal's palace looks like a modern skyscraper. He keeps it perfectly plain and sedate, as he appreciates the irony of the contrast between it and him. He lives out of the penthouse office, overlooking all of Shal-Mari. The office is tastefully appointed with leather and mahogany, and one of the walls has posters of human works that Kobal appreciates most. He keeps his demons' Hearts in the basement, along with his relic collection. They are watched over by a number of powerful Djinn with no real love for pranks, except on intruders.

Most of Kobal's Tethers mark a spot of special tribute to Dark Humor, some event htat was ironic, funny or satirical. He has one of the few Antarctic Tethers, at the final campsite of the Scott expedition. Others include Stanford University's football stadium, the grave of President Harrison and the school named after him. More notable is the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, the site of the death of General George Custer. By itself, the massacre of Custer's force would have gone to Baal or Saminga's Words, but because Custer became a martyr in his attempt to slaughter natives, because he was seen as a noble victim, it became a source of deep irony. Over the years, many, as Kobal did, have come to see it as funny. It's unclear when this became worthy of a Tether, but Kobal was the only Prince to claim it, and the irony has only grown over time. The Seneschal is Ert, a Habbalite who works as a park ranger named Duane Custer (no relation) that appears a a friendly older man who loves to give advice and is usually the first on the scene when someone has a flat tire, empty gas tank, failed breaks or a horrible crash.

Kobal gives his demons wide latitude in their plans. His Dukes and Counts each have their own styles, but none of them are micromanagers - Kobal won't allow it. In large cities, Kobalites tend to work in small cells or solo operations. Occasionally, though, Kobal will set them against each other, and the ambitious knwo that making fools of their competition is a good way to rise. All Kobal really wants, though, is for his demons to tip him off when something big or funny is going down. He values demons who can learn his tastes, and he prefers very intelligent ones. Most Princes dislike cleverness and ambition in servants, but Kobal isn't worried. He's confident in his skills and that the selfishness of his demons will unmask anyone who genuinely wants to betray him. Usually, he's right, and many of his best recruits are poached from other Princes, distrusted by their original bosses for their intellect. His organization is more effective and efficient, pound for pound, than any other group in Hell. Sure, they'll undercut each other, but they appreciate their freedom and usually save their worst tricks for other Princes' servants. Of course, there are plots and betrayals. Kobal generally responds to truly treacherous demons by temporarily making them a Duke and then seeing to it that they die.

Kobal recognizes effort and likes interesting rewards. Beside Words and attunements, he also likes to hand out bonus Essence, free trips through Shal-Mari, celebrity lookalike vessels or allowing demons to star in a theatrical production in Hell. His punishments, however, are harsh and often fatal. A failure due to luck usually gets a punishment in the form of a difficult mission, which you either survive and prove yourself in or die. Sometimes these tests aren't even funny. Should you fail and make Kobal lose face or ruin his joke, though, you suffer. Mere carelessness or overenthusiasm won't kill you, but your assignments will suck until Kobal decides you've learned. If he decides you're stupid, though, you die. Typically, it comes disguised a reward. For example, Fulrick was a rising star in Dark Humor until he screwed up a plan to lace London's water supply with hallucinogens using Vapulan GMO fish. Fulrick was taken aside, assured that Kobal was not upset and that he'd even been put up for a Word. He was then named Demon of Pencil Shavings, made a Duke and dropped into Stygia to fend for himself. He lasted a week. Another time, Kobal handed a group of failures a letter and told them to deliver it. If they did, all would be well. It was a message for God, care of Yves, complaining about a lack of air conditioning in Hell. The demons were never heard from again.

KJobal loves recruiting the Fallen. It annoys Asmodeus when he does it without any screening, and annoying Asmodeus is always good. He also appreciates the irony of a Fallen angel coming to their senses. These former angels aren't given special treatment, but they also aren't expendable. Kobal never allows anyone to see them that way - all of his agents are worthy until proven stupid. He also looks for angels not quite Fallen yet that have traits he prizes - intelligence and an appreciation for the satirical. If he finds one, he likes to create an ornate plan to get them to Fall, sometimes using entire squads of demons to ensure the angel gets chances at dissonance. Once the angel nears the point of no return, Kobal often likes to do the hard sell himself, finding that an earnest speech about having once been an angel and understanding is usually effective.

Kobal prefers to get his trainees and demonlings up to speed quickly. They get a few years learning in Shal-Mari, and those who prove good at getting information will generally get called into the office, told they've been watched for a while and now are oging to get to be part of Kobal's most critical plans on Earth. This is of course a lie - it's just a test of competence under stress - but it puts the screws on. The job is never actually as important as it seems, and may not even be real. Of course, if you blow it, you won't get another chance for a long time. If you succeed, the next test is seeing what you do when you find out it was just a test. Laughter is the correct response. If you manage that, you'll be set to real work and have better odds of survival than in most other Princes' organizations.

Next time: The downsides.

Have You Noticed That The Text Says Kobal Likes Subtle But Then Just Does Slapstick?

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Have You Noticed That The Text Says Kobal Likes Subtle But Then Just Does Slapstick?

Kobal isn't the kind of Prince that helps his demons out very often. It's the flip side of the freedoms they get. He expects them to be self-reliant, and only wants to be summoned to Earth, especially these days, just before the final punchline of an operation. If you call him in to save your life from Malakim, well...this is a stupid example but it's what they give: he might just hand you a pack of frozen hot dogs, comment on the difficulty of getting blood out of fabric and then vanish again. Even if he does help you, it might not end much better for you than if you hadn't called him at all.

To Kobal, humans are only to be scorned, unworthy and untrusted. No plan of Kobal's relies on human action, either Hellsworn or that of mere pawns, unless he has no other choice. Likewise, his demons are contemptuous of the skills of even the best human. Besides, there's so many more interesting ways to punish failed demons. Humans are fragile - you get just one good joke before they die, and the damned aren't even worth considering. The one exception to this is when angels are around and it's vital to avoid Disturbance. In that case, only a human will serve, but even then, their demonic keeper will take all praise and blame.

Kobal most approves of Impudites, though he also likes Balseraphs, Lilim and Shedim. Djinn he often finds too single-minded and Calabim too coarse. He does like Habbalah, however, if only so he can ask them if they're still doing God's work. Balseraphs of Dark Humor especially excel at destroying the self-esteem of those around them by convincing them they're stupid or overly gullible. It tends to become a self-fulfilling belief, you see. As they use their powers to explain any misfortune as the victim's own fault, it gets easier and easier for the victim to accept, until they are a self-loathing, easily manipulated target that will take the blame for anything that goes wrong.

Djinn of Dark Humor grow bitter fruit from small seeds of doubt. They are experts at destroying trust and finding the worst interpretation of any action or denial, which they see as an extension of the Djinn tendency to be uncaring and detached. They isolate their victims, severing all ties of trust that bind them to others, then mold them into their desired image.

Calabim of Dark Humor tend to be weaker but smarter than other Calabim, and most believe destruction is the core of comedy. They view it in the abstract - physical destruction is fine, sure, but destruction is more than smashing things. Destroy information, destroy self-esteem, destroy trust.

Habbalah of Dark Humor push their victims across the line between laughter and tears. They make inappropriate outbursts at just the wrong time, and most of them view it as an outgrowth of serving God, rooting out the weak. They believe this is a vital mission, testing their victims and revealing their weakness. In their view, only those worthy will be able to resist...though those that resist must be tested again and again to find the right breaking point. Those that fail are weak and deserving of scorn.

Lilim of Dark Humor often find themselves in the funniest but most dangerous situations. They have the role of finding chances for foolish behavior, then baiting victims into it. They are exceptionally good liars who love to use their Geases to send victims to their own self-destruction.

Shedim of Dark Humor see themselves as under-respected. They have to be creative because it's just so hard to top themselves after a few weeks. When other Kobalites work with a Shedite, they usually find themselves waiting eagerly to see each new day's hilarious corruption. For the most part, the Shedim see themselves as just nurturing their host's natural inclanations. Some of them even get sanctimonious, claiming they're out to entertain everyone (except the host, of course). This can make them fun to work with but annoying to talk to - nothing is quite so grating as a demon claiming to work for the common good.

Impudites of Dark Humor are the majority of Kobal's demons and perhaps his most cruel. They believe that tragedy is just someone else's comedy and embrace it in their work. It takes a lot of work to set up a prank that results in death, after all. Impudites prefer Roles that let them walk easily through humanity - pharmacy assistants, school bus mechanics and drivers, high school shop teachers. These are all especially loved because they have a lot of potential victims.

In Hell, Kobal typically runs pranks on other Princes. Political operations, spying and so on are also common. Kobal hardly has the spies Asmodeus does, but he does well with what he has. His demons tend to be smarter than the Game's and less paranoid. Shal-Mari is close to many other Principalities, so they find it easy to get information from visitors. Likewise, it's easier to trace plots against Shal-Mari to the source. While Kobal has no Hall of Loyalty, he does have a room where he can restrain demons and force them to watch B-movies on loop for weeks. The only other jobs in Hell are to prove your worthiness for Earth duty.

Kobal tends to leave the Marches to Beleth, but he doesn't ignore them entirely. Still, he's not found much use for them except to punish and test his demons. When a demon of Kobal fails in a way that he can't tell stupidity from bad luck, they get sent to do recon in the Marches. If they get caught by Beleth, Kobal usually says they must have been a rogue and lets her do as she likes. If they survive, they're smart enough to get a second chance.

Traditionally, Kobal's demons spread his Word on Earth. It's still important to him. However, more and more of his agents are getting orders to act directly against Heaven. His demons on Earth are expected to be clever and subtle, and Kobal has many plans going at any time, most of which are either efforts for the War, political maneuvers against another Prince or whimsical plans just for the Hell of it. Efforts against Heaven are most common right now, and the smarter demons have noticed that. So far, they've avoided direct batles with the Host as Baal might, preferring subversion and guerrilla tactics. It's hard to say if it's been doing what Kobal wants yet. Few Princes grasp human workings as much as Kobal, though, and he uses that to his advantage. If he can thwart other Princes and blame the humans, that's just the smart thing to do - and funny. Occasionally, Kobal also gets given opportunities so striking and comical he can't pass them up, even if they serve no strategy. He especially enjoys catching religious figures in kinky sex and then destroying their reputation, causing gangsta rappers to shoot each other by accident and anything else that tickles his fancy.

Next time: More 'jokes.' This is why the best Kobal is one redeemed to be Archangel of Joy instead, you get to utterly rewrite him.

The Last Laugh

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: The Last Laugh

Some of Kobal's demons on Earth have a special job: find comedians with promise and ruin their lives. Not enough to drive them suicide or a new career, of course. Just enough to turn them to anger and a darker outlook. Kobal also keeps a group of demons out on the search for potenial in Hell. They work with imps and demonlings to find new servants for Kobal. It's a safe job, relatively speaking, and well paid, so they have good reason to hold up Kobal's exacting standards.

Kobalites can get stressed - it's hard to be intellectually funny all the time. Slapstick can blow off steam, sometimes, but it can also easily backfire and piss Kobal off. Some demons relax by pranking each other or other nearby demons - something amusing and relatively harmless, usually, for a change of pace. This kind of private pranking is also a good way for status games in Dark Humor, and the perfect job is to prank someone so cleverly that they'd lose more face if they took public offense. Of course, the most popular way to unwind is to watch someone else be funny - it's superficially supporting the Word without having to do work. Mostly, it just means going out to watch live performances, usually comedy, for a few nights.

Kobalites and Gluttons get on quite well, though they're at their best when the Gluttons remember who's in charge. Likewise, they try to play nice with the Princes Kobal is friendly with, and are hostile to demons of Asmodeus, Baal, Kronos or Valefor, particularly Asmodeus and Kronos. Pranking them deniably is the best option. However, the wise demon knows that Nybaas will try to cozy p to them, and that they control Earthly media, so they can be worthwhile allies. Valefor's demons are more confusing. They're not people to associate with, but they're often friendly. Many just like to prank such obvious fools, but others begin to suspsect something. When working with actually friendly demons, they tend to be happy enough to let the other demons think thye're in charge, though rarely actually listen to them much. Kobal is also actively trying to make friends with Vapula, so he can stay competitive with Nybbas, even if only in Hell. Kobal has thus been sending his demons to train with Vapula and offered him favors. So far, no luck, but Kobal keeps trying.

Most sane people try to avoid relationships with dedicated demons of Dark Humor. The problem is that they just tend to really get into finding funny things to mock in others, no matter who htey are. Less obsessive demons can find people to hang with or even love, especially if they're looking for someone that won't pick at them that way. Even there, though, the other party had better get good at distracting them when they need their daily mockery. The most equal relationships, though, are always between two demons of Dark Humor. They know what to expect and can give as good as they get. There are very few that actually rely on each other, as it takes work to build up the respect they need to be sure the other will protect them, though. Human associates are usually picked for humor value.

Given the tendency of Kobal's servants to find fault in friends, it's hard to find demons of other Words that'll put up with it...but it can and does happen. Most Words that can manage it are complementary ones - Media demons, for example, tend to work out better than Theft demons do. Politics provides another issue, though. Forbidden relationships are dangerous, even deadly. Most partners with Kobalites tend to spend a lot of time finding ways to distract them away from the relationship, to other, more interesting targets. It's an activity they can share, after all.

When dealing personally with Kobal, you might be witty and smiling, but always show respect. You might not like him, but he's been Prince this long for a reason. Some demons try to show him new gags, but they'd better be truly innovative - nothing is worse than the boss finishing your joke early and telling you when he'd heard it better. It's not good for your reputation. Of course, make him smile and your reputation goes through the roof. Demons that try to get his attention usually do it by working on some grand prank. If they succeed, they might get personally rewarded. If they fail...well, it's almost as fun to mock failure as enjoy success. Those that want to avoid Kobal's attentio ncan try to keep a low profile, but they rarely enjoy working for Kobal particularly long. When Kobal deals with his other Princes, he tries to be witty but dignified, using verbal barbs and puns only when he can time them correctly. He has no favorites and few fears, and he does enjoy pissing off other Princes.

Kobal also sometimes orders his demons to seeded bursts of silliness. Usually, no one but Kobal or maybe Lucifer knows why. Once, he offered a prize to the demon that could prove they owned Hell's Worst Tie, in order to see what they'd do. This led to a competition in which each Kobalite tried to outdo the rest in tacky tie design, and after a near riot in Shal-Mari, he rescinded the order and was pleased by the results.

Kobal collects old and forgotten relics. He has cataloged and collected a huge amount of seemingly useless magical items, from endless flasks of vomit to mirrors that only show half an image to an iron colander that strains liquid despite having no holes. He actually does have a few useful ones, though. He has the Cornerstone of Lucifer, said to be a fist-sized chunk of Lucifer's old Heavenly Cathedral, which can warp the notes of the Symphony so perfectly that even Seraphim can't tell when the owner lies. He also has the Pitcher of Kzath, once owned by the late Demon of Hypnosis, which causes any drinker to enter a hypnotically suggestive state for months.

Kobal and Asmodeus hate each other. Asmodeus has no sense of humor and no patience for Kobal. This carries over to their demons, but Kobalites are quite clever, sometimes almost suicidally so, if they can think of a way to embarrass the Game while making the Asmodeans look even more foolish if they make an arrest. On a smaller scale, it's an art form among Dark Humor to weasel out of obligations to the Game with inventive excuses. They believe that, over the millenia, they've taught the Game unconscious respect, if not overt respect. They negotiate from stances of equality when challenged, and when this fails spectacularly enough, they at least have a joke to tell as they die, which irritates Game demons more than they like to admit.

Next time: The Media, baby.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Lights

Nybbas is the youngest Prince, raised to his current status in 1884. He's creative and acts as the studio head for a mass of media-obsessed demons.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame is a Servitor attunement that makes the target become the subject of mass hysteria. People nearby will stop what they're doing to chase after hte target, screaming with delight and trying for an autograph or piece of clothing. It can be highly distracting, especially if you aren't expecting it. The crowd doesn't want to harm the target, but may do so by accident. This lasts for (15*Essence spent) minutes and affects those within (Corporeal Forces*Essence spent) yards. It can't be resisted by the target, but those within range can resist with Will, and celestials add Celestial Forces. GMs can limit Will rolls to PCs and important NPCs if they like.
Green Light costs 2 Essence, but it makes the next suggestion you make within ten minutes automatically get accepted by the target. You can use this to cause harm, but only in the cause of the Media, like convincing someone to go out in a blaze of glory for the cameras. Victims resist with Will and celestials add Celestial Forces. The victim also gets a bonus to the roll against suggestions that would hurt them or someone they care for. The effects last 24 hours, after which they revert to their original opinion.
Jingle lets you implant a catchy tune in people's heads. You can affect 10 people per point of Essence spent or 5% of the listening audience on a broadcast or recording. You choose what song to implant, and once it airs, the victims will be unable to stop thinking about it for 24 hours, even in dreams. People who can't hear the song are not affected. This can be used to send a message or warning if you pick a tune with the right meaning, but it's hardly an accurate process and tends to annoy people when it works.
Universal Remote lets you control any media device within (Celestial Forces) yards for (Essence spent) hours. You can turn the power on, adjust volume, stop or play, adjust the color and brightness, anything the normal controls could do. This gives no supernatural powers to the devices, and while it affects computers, it does not allow use of keyboard or mouse.
You'll Never Do Lunch in This Town Again is exactly identical to Fifteen Minutes of Fame save that it causes everyone to ignore and fail to notice the target. Its resistance is instead a Perception roll, only usable by those who know the target. +1 if they are close friends, +2 for family, and celestials add Celestial Forces.
Nybbas offers two high distinctions, neither of which gets any added powers, just influence.
Agents are the upper ranks, with a proven track record of spotting hot new properties and controlling them. They are expected to locate potential Soldiers, work with demons of Fate and produce quick profits. They acclerate careers to the point of burnout, then move on, and outrank anyone with the same other Distinctions as they have.
Moguls are the highest ranks, and there's never more than 10 at any time. They are responsible for wide aspects of the word, and there are always Moguls in charge of TV, Movies, Music, Print, Radio, Miscellaneous and Development. Those given charge of Computers or the Internet have notoriously poor track records and the positions are currently empty. Miscellaneous and Development are the hardest jobs, though, as they take the most creativity. Miscellaneous covers anything that could be Media but isn't under some other heading, like mapmaking or telemarketing, and the Mogul is expected constantly find new avenues to exploit. Development oversees research into new technology and tools, working with Vapula.

Expanded Rites:
1. Be in the audience of a daytime talk show.
2. For 3 Essence, be a guest on a daytime talk show.
3. Successfully pitch a film script.
4. Sign a new band to a record label.

Nybbas has many titles and unlikes most Princes, he's fine with casual address, to fit his persona as a sleazy Hollywood producer. As long as the title implies he's in charge, he doesn't care how cheesy it sounds. He appears as a wiry man win a tasteless suit and bad glasses. In celestial form, he's that but with wings and horns. He can change his appearance if he likes, but he believes the world revolves around him, so why bother? He doesn't want to look like someone else, he wants to look like Nybbas, because he's the man. His look is trademark, and brand recognition doesn't come easy. Nybbas is a manic demon, constantly pacing, spewing ideas and checking to be sure his audience agrees with him. He's naturally crass and invasive of personal space, fond of handshakes, putting his arm around your shoulders or backpatting. He uses first names or nicknames exclusively, and his charm is immense. Occasionally, when in the midset of serious negotiation, he will end his fidgeting and focus all his energy on the person he's dealing with, taking them into his confidence and explaining how things will be. Few can resist the sheer power of his full attention.

The Media is a drug. It's addictive, expensive, useless and damaging. But you can't stop using it. It's a cancer, growing and remaking itself constantly, shifting everything to its own image, resistant to any attempt to remove it. It is a machine, merciless, inhuman and unstoppable. Its lack of form and substance defines it. It isn't about truth or falsehood - it's about point of view. Humans see the same thing differently, as do demons. This is why the Media gets on so well with Factions, and why angels find it disturbingly fickle. It's perfectly suited to an Impudite as a Word - it's all about taking in the guise of giving. It claims to give entertainment, but it's really distraction, and it takes your time, your money, your emotion, your creativity, your individuality and even, if you let it, your life. It is the opiate of the masses, and the more you use it, the more you want it. It has nothing to do with expression, communication or enlightenment. It wants you dependent on it. It began when technology was made to support it, and it's fundamentally intertwined with technology. Sure, sometimes it's used to educate people or connect them. To Nybbas, these are unfortunate side effects, though he's certainly not above using true creativity as part of his Essence factories. Even positive use feeds his Word.

On the surface, the Media is liberal and permissive, but that's just because it stoops to the lowest common denominator. Nybbas will employ hacks and geniuses equally, frustrating everyone involved. He brings together classes, races, religions and long as the result is a photogenic argument. Trying to destroy the Media's impossible, though - for every head you remove, two more grow in its place, and it's not even real. Attacking any one person or organization in the Media can't hurt it - they'll just send people to film it and put it on the news. It feeds on itself - a TV show can become a movie which can become a book which can be hyped on a talk show. A band can be in a video directed by someone who won an award for direction, and the award show can be televised or simulcast on the Internet. If nothing happens in a day, the Media won't even notice. The Media does have weaknesses, however. It has no substance, so it needs constant reinvention. People tire of distractions, so they constantly need new ones. The Media cannot rest, because any break means a viewer leaves. Nybbas has no tolerance for ratings loss. If he could go straight to Prince, his demons should at least be able to keep everyone watching all the time.

No one can accurately determine exaclty when Nybbas was made because at the time, no one cared. He was just another Impudite of Technology. If he was more ambitious and smarter than usual, no one thought to worry at the time, but he was already seeing himself as the leading man. He had no idea how his rise would happen, but he worked incessantly to launch his career. He had a pair of Essence-sensing glasses he wore all the time, and no one can remember what he looked like without them. He had a mirrored finish added to hide his eyes. He was always drawn to humans and their imagination, and in the 1800s he began to research exclusivelyo n Earth, with human partners. The idea of remote images fascinated him, with the possiblity to charm people in thousands of homes at once. In 1884, he and his team succeeded in creating the proto-television, or electrical telescope. Vapula took notice of the achievement, but not Nybbas' great vision. He planed to name him a Knight aget him the Word of the Media. Vapula was not ready for what happened next.

Specifically, Lucifer named Nybbas a Prince on the spot. The first thing Nybbas did was think of Essence - he needed wealth and power to defend himself from the other Princes. The electrical telescope was too young to reach the masses yet, it'd need years. However, there were other ways to get to humanity and their Essence. He just had to think big and daring. He turned to Vapula nad made a deal. No one is sure what, but clearly Vapula somehow helped him survive, though he never overtly did anything. No Prince was bold enough, though, or cared enough to test the extent of Vapula's patronage. Some may have been cautious of Lucifer, as well. As word spread of Nybbas' rise, he attracted many young and ambitious demons, inspired by his promotion. He let them climb over each other to earn his approval - he had to, after all. Their work boosted his Word at an incredible rate, earning him the Essence he needed, though it'd be deacdes before he could challenge a major Prince. He let them see him as they wanted: a weak upstart, maybe a joke. It protected him until he didn't need it any more.

On Earth, the Media used newspapers for the most part in early days, thriving on yellow journalism and screaming newsies. It is also the firest arena where he used his power to promote or weaken other Words. In the early 9100s, he turnedh is focus to phonogrpahs, movies and radio as technology improved. As his power grew, he decided he wanted more presence on Earth. He'd already carved out a principality, Perdition, but he wanted an Earthly HQ. He found it in Hollywood, remaking it in his own vision of a Media wonderland. Its rise in importance to human minds was what signaled the shift from Nybbas as minor Prince to major one, and he's never looked back. In the 50s, TV came into its own and the Media exploded in power, invited into the homes of nearly all people. It became its own religion, with Nybbas as its god. TV's lived up to Hell's expectations, but Nybbas is far from done with it yet.

Nybbas' greatest failure to date has been capitalizing on the Internet. Most people, even celestials, seem to think the Media has a thriving internet presence, and it does, but Nybbas has had very little to do with it. The Media's been playing catch up since the Internet was invented and it hasn't caught up yet. All of the media sites and lists are flattering, sure, and they bring in Essence, but every time Nybbas tries to control the Internet, the users just flow around him him. Vapula's been quite snide, but even he believes Nybbas has some influence over cyberspace, and Nybbas is not about to disabuse him.

Broadway, on the other hand, is one of Nybbas' great succeeses. What was once a forum for masters like Tennessee Williams or Lillian Hellman is now a bloated economy devoted to corporate musicals. Older Broadway wasn't devoid of greed and bad scripts, sure, but any play had a dhance. Anyone could afford the standing room price. Now, Broadway profits at the expense of variety. Controversial plays are too risky, and the theaters pander to the lowest common denominator, rivaling Hollywood blockbusters for blandness. Even off-broadway theaters must now bow to the bottom line. It's been a huge blow to Creation, and they're fighting back as best they can.

Since no one has ever seen Nybbas' eyes, rumors spring up. The most popular is that, on seeing TV for the first time and envisioning what it could be, Nybbas toe at his own eyes and vowed never again to look at anything that wasn't a channel for the Media. Another version claiims Lucifer took his eyes as he gave him his Word. Either way, the eyes are said to be potent relics, hidden away somewhere known only to Nybbas and Lucifer. Very occasionally, when Nybbas is angry, he reaches for his glasses. Sometimes he seems aobut to remove them, but he never really does. The gesture terrifies his demons, as they have no idea what would happen if he took them off, but they know it would not be good.

Next time: I'll make you a star.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Camera

Nybbas has plans for Eli, the only Archange whom he actually admires. He sees Eli's revulsion as just playing hard to get. After all, he naturally will want a large payoff. Nybbas believes that a partnership would give him endless material and Eli and escape from his Heavenly critics. So far, Eli has ignored all overtures, but Nybbas can be very persuasive. On the other hand, Beleth can sense Nybbas' paranoia. She knows he is terrified by isolation from his audience, and while she can't make those fears real, she doesn't need to. All she has to do is drop hints and torment him. Malphas would probably do so as well if Nybbas was not so useful to him.

Nybbas is made of contradictions and false fronts. Many of his feelings and opinions seem mutually exclusive but exist anyway. His behavior, though, is ruled by two simultaneous beliefs. First, that he is the center of the universe and the center of all attention...and second, that he's on the edge of oblivion, about to disappear if anyone stops caring. He is Hell's Cinderella story, made a Prince for one great victory, and it's become a nightmare. He feels like a fake, an imposter, and he still doesn't understand why he was given a Princedom. He feels compelled to make new Cinderella stories, and if he's hard on his demons when they fail, he's ten times worse on himself. He's terrified, so terrified that there is little else to him at his core. He's afraid he won't be able to keep coming up with overnight successes, that Lucifer will revoke his title, that someone will see him for the fraud he's sure he is and expose him. What he fears more than anything, though, is that he'll lose his audience. He needs to be adored, that anything is only important when people are paying attention. It's key to his Word, and he'd rather be hated than ignored. He imagines that if he ever starts to slide in success and popularity, the momentum will be unstoppable. He'll be a nobody.

The Media is thus his proxy. Wherever someone watches TV, he is watched. There's safety in quantity, so Perdition keeps pumping out content. This desire is also why he tends to manifest on TV screens or other media devices. His fear drives his entire personality. He doesn't want to seduce - just to keep pushing. The Media can be seductive or gluttonous, but they're mere aspects. The whole, to Nybbas, is a way of life. It's not what he teels people that's important, it's that they listen or react. That's why, though he sees how useful they are, Andrealphus and Haagenti will never be more than tools to him.

Before his rise, he used his charm and energy to disarm and deceive has foes. Now, he has a g reat strength, but the habit remains. He might be out to ruin you, but he'll never tell you to your face. Some say that he isn't even in charge of the Media any more, that it's far grown out of his control. If so, he doesn't care. Why should he, if it keeps growing? He makes tor a terrible foe, wielding his control over human perceptions and beliefs to weaken Words or even eradicate them if he must. That's how he keeps ethereals in line, too. He doesn't like to actively invite trouble by suppressing another Prince's Word, but once in a while he'll flex his muscle to to show he can. Moer often, he prefers subtlety. While he seems tactless, he's up there with Lilith and Asmodeus in ability to get information and use it. He knows how to let a foe think they've won when they've lost, and he operates overtly only when making examples.

Nybbas' greatest weakness is that he disdains anything older than yesterday. To someone like Baal, a century or two is nothing. For Nybbas, it's his entire life. He has a very low tolerance for longterm plans compared to the other Princes, doesn't give even the slightest shit about the Fall or taking over Heaven and has no respect for Superiors he sees as stuck in the old days. He likes the young or modern Princes, no matter what their actual age is, and he dislikes the more militant faction because they seem to be stuck in the past, unable to get over the Fall.

Nybbas has only one priority: Support the Media. His Word is everything, to be grown until it touches all of Earth. Secondary to this is making new technology and new media to carry the message. His loss of the prototype Nybbas Computer was a blow (more on which is in the Liber Reliquarum), but he's got minions hunting for it and others working with Vapula to try and reverse engineer it. In the meantime, he'd like a way to harness the internet. In the absence of the Nybbas Computer, he'll use other possibilities, and any good ideas will be rewarded. He's also been working to make a new religion for the modern era that turns its back on the past. He's working closely with Andrealphus to create this slefish religion of entertainment and fun, numbing the conscience with desires. It's the culmination of hall his work, the ultimate expression of his Word. He cares about it more than any other scheme, because Nybbas is a true believer in the religion of himself - that is, the Media. He works on it every day, simplifying religion to easy symbols, hope into a mere petulance for a happy ending and faith into slavish adherence.

Because Nybbas sees only the surface, he's plagiarized the trappings of many religions, whatever appealed to the most people, without incorporating any deeper meaning. It looks like a religion so it must be one, right? TVs and move screens are like altars, chairs like pews, and consumption of merchandise is like eating the body of the god, which dies and is reborn anew with the flick of a switch. All you need are fancy robes, hats and scepters, right? It's no coincidence that Nybbas named his son Rex. If he has to sacrifice his only son to spread the Word, he'd do it in a minute, film it and sell it as Pay Per View. His ultimate goal is to have everyone turn to the Media to be told what to think, wear, do or say. He wants, though he'd never even admit it to himself, to render both God and Lucifer obsolete. For many humans, he's already succeeded.

Nybbas is quite happy with the War as it is - tensions high, two balanced foes, the occasional sensational violence. It's great! It's good, evil, brooding antiheroes, a hundred elephants = what more could you want? The end of the War would be the end of his career. Sure, demons like entertainment, but it's not the same without humanity. If Heaven wins, Hell can't manipulate the humans. If Hell wins, the humans are all damned and damned souls are so boring. The War is material, and aside from his own selfish reasons for prolonging it, Nybbas doesn't care who wins. Heaven's not his enemy, just his competition.

Lucifer scares Nybbas. He owes everything to the Morning Star and knows it could all be taken away. The real problem, though, is that Nybbas can't find Lucifer's angle. He needs to be needed, but he can't figure out what Lucifer wants and therefore he can't manipulate him. Any other power in Hell can be worked or bullied based on their agenda, but as soon as Nybbas thinks he's spotted a pattern, Lucifer changes the demographics. Lucifer doesn't need the Media at all, not as a watcher or consumer. Nybbas doesn't want to do with him, and he's afraid that if the spotlight of Lucifer's attention ever moves on, it'll all be over.

Just as the Media gave birth to the idea of cool, so did its Prince personally create Rex, Demon of Cool, from his own personal Forces. He's a proud parent, and Cool is a very Media Word. While he's known as Nybbas' idiot son, both behind Nybbas' back and, from other Princes, to his face, Rex is actually rather clever by human standards, he just acts as an idiot savant. In all matters related to his Word, he is a genius. His instincts are gold, his influence is legendary. In all other matters, he is useless. Whether or not he could focus on the uncool is unknown and may never be, because he never does. Nybbas likes him the way he is. Good managers are easy, but good instincts...well, that you can't teach.

Nybbas likes politics for their entertainment value, and he's much better at them than Vapula, who generally allows Nybbas to handle things for him. Nybbas has specialists spying on each Prince before any meeting, allowing him to appear all-knowing. He's very hard to surprise. Most angels find him troubling and annoying in equal measure, and despite his youth, Heaven recognizes him as a major threat, while he sees them with wary contempt.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: Nybbas is a delightfully useful ally, and an example of what an Impudite Prince should be - explotative, progressive, and hungry for more. Together, we will lead humanity into pleasure - and into our waiting arms.
All right! Me and Andre have a definite arrangement. He provides the faces, I make them famous. Now this is a guy with a real head for business, a real understanding of what the man in the street wants. It's all in the selling, and by, can his people sell it. We are going to drag Hell into a whole new era, kicking and screaming if we have to.
Asmodeus: Frivolous and immature, but he does promote Hell on Earth. He has had too much easy success, and grows too independent. I don't underestimate his power, though, just his judgment; his support of Vapula makes them both too strong. I plan to change that.
Hey, games are boffo! Bread and Circuses sell to the masses like nobody's business, but you have to make sure the Game is a spectacle for people to watch! Cheerleaders, lighted scoreboards, jump cuts to the extreme! Nobody wants to watch a guy play solitaire behind a screen of smoke. Strictly C-SPAN.
Baal: He'd rather create a false world than live in the real one. I despise the fantasy that he spins and the fat slugs who swallow it. The end of the War will see him gone.
War is great when shot from the right angle. It's got explosions, heroes, mindless violence...everything the audience wants! But let too much reality seep in and people just turn off their sets. Why do you think I dropped Chechnya? Baal is in it for the long haul. He never goes to his trailer. I don't know why he can't live in the now. The Fall is old news, and it gets older every time he shoves it in my face.
Beleth: No horror movie he can create matches the least of my nightmares. His work is a pale imitation. I know what he fears, though, and some day I'll show him what horror really means.
Nightmares...if we could give mankind a way to watch them, now that would be worth putting our resources into. Think of that! Tuning into the 24-hour Nightmare Network, standing witness in the privacy of your own living room to the personal, intimate terror of your neighbors... Oh, yes! Must ask Vapula to get to work on that. But as they stand, Nightmares don't sell ads, they don't sell tickets and don't push the product . Passe.
Belial: He's kind of wimpy, but he sure does make me look good! I can watch stuff blow up over and over; in slow motion, from an aerial view, whatever. Rewind and it blows up again. Cool, but still not as good as the real thing.
BOOM! Hell says "YES." Tremendous market share when he's on his game, something of a wet firecracker when he's not. I mean, you can only stare at a fire for so long, right? But when he's cookin', he's cookin'. I keep trying to keep up with this guy, the newsies are seriously hot for him - they love what he does He's a wandering Action Copter News Event, wherever he goes. He'd better play ball with us in the future, though - we don't want to have to run those Elle MacPherson fire-prevention spots - heh heh, that should put a dent in his Word if he gets out of hand. Just like everybody, he's a resource to be managed, a star to be worked.
Haagenti: Yeah! He's helping me get the message out to all those people - eat eat eat! He's got an eye and a mouth in every house, and I want them all talking Gluttony.
He gets people in the right mood for buying what I'm selling: excess. They don't call them consumers for nothing! The little furball makes them swallow anything and come back for more. That's the kind of viewers I want. And he's so cute, I'm thinking of licensing his image for plush toys.
Kobal: Nybbas shows some promise, but he's far too preoccupied with flash and the glitz rather than the dirt and grit where true comedy lives. He's happy to show rather than do ; a serious flaw.
When it comes to chukcles, nobody does it better than Hell's head chucklehead. He's got his Word down to a true art form. It's just too bad so many of his plans end up with a dead lead actor. No sequels then, baby!
Kronos: The Media aids Fate on so many levels. It glorifies evil and laughs at good. It tempts people to sell their soul for a chance at stardom. And it chronicles their inevitable downfall for the entertainment of the slavering masses. Beautiful.
He's a gas. The others need to lighten up about him. He brings us the sound bits, baby! Think about it for a minute. Fate makes the headlines! Talented Physician Turns Child Molester! That packs the house!
Lilith: Someday he's going to turn around and understand how much he Needs his audience. Then he's going to see who's been watching him since he got his Word. And just maybe he'll realize that his glasses don't stop me . Till least it keeps some of the girls gainfully employed. He pays me well for them.
Definitely star quality, her and her Daughters! We don't even have a PR problem here - everybody likes freedom! Hates anybody but her sitting in the director's chair, though; a real prima donna. Still, nothing controls the audience better than beautiful freedom.
Malphas: The Media is the perfect tool to drive wedges between people, from countries down to individuals. It isolates people in dark rooms, watching fake friends on a glass screen. It allows people to hate each other from a distance, without ever getting to know each other. Nybbas is the wave of the future.
Oh, baby, arguments are prime footage, you capisce ? I don't care what he does, I don't care who he does it to, I just want my cameras on the spot!
Saminga: His pretty stars all look the same after a year underground. He is meaningless.
Death sells, sure, if it's packaged right, but Sammy's just the wrong package! That Word could be a gold mine, and we've got some stupid B-Movie prop running it? Freak shows don't sell tickets these days, baby - death needs style, and it needs to be sexy . Sammy's a flop.
Valefor: Nybbas has done a lot to make stealing look good. Robin Hood, Jesse James, and oh, the laws they break on those detective shows! The Media even steals from itself. What a great organization.
He's a great plot hook. Daring thefts! Hunky burglars and hot babes! Intrigue, passion, treachery, murder, revenge! I get a film and a mini-series every time he tells me how his day went. He's the archetypical Man of Mystery. Some day, I'll do an expose on him and blow my ratings sky high!
Vapula: A waste of a promising research career. But he's strong and he remembers his debts, and some of the ideas he brings me are marvelous.
Technology is hip. It's sexy. It's trendy. The old man is too wound up to make much of the political possibilities, which is why we work so well together. I can handle that side and leave him to his beloved labs.
Blandine: He corrupts people's dreams, making them cheap and tawdry, and ultimately empty. His influence rots away at people's souls a little bit at a time, until they have nothing left, and they don't even notice what he took from them.
She's a living chick movie. I can sell that syrupy hope crap to dull-witted housewives, but you wouldn't catch me watching it. My dreams are much more entertaining than what plays in her theaters.
David: The Word of the Media incorporates older infernal ideas like slander, libel and hate speech. This gives it power. I sometimes doubt, however, that he still controls the Earthly media. It seems to be growing out of control, lashing out at infernal and divine causes both.
Makeup! Get some pants on this angel! No, seriously, if Malakim started Falling, I'd make this guy an offer he couldn't refuse; can you imagine the ratings he'd get as an anchorman? Solid, respectable, worldly, deep voice, broad shoulders...I have it on high authority he looks smashing in a suit.
Dominic: He is more insidious in his contamination of humanity than many others - and he is all the mroe dangerous.
Oh, baby, talk about lousy ratings! At least the Game televises its executions, but Judgment? Man, nobody wants to watch a bunch of cloaked Seraphim play talking heads.
Eli: He recycles and mass produces entertainment, encourages hacks, sends his parasites to drain and discard the truly talented. The Media is a blight to creativity, abusing people's desire to see imagination in action. And it's such a waste of what he could be!
He provides me with some of my best people! All I have to do is find out who Eli's scouting, and offer them a better deal. The Essence just comes rolling in! He's a fun guy, too, better than the stuffed shirts still up in Dullsville. If I could get him into my organization, there'd be no stopping us.
Gabriel: Pathetic worm. He has no inspiration. One touch of my fire would burn him to ashes.
Insane chicks do win Oscars, but her performance got old centuries ago. If I need pyrotechnics, I've got Belial. Now, if she would agree to some full frontal, her act could make a comeback...
Janus: He pretends to promote change, but he causes people's minds to stagnaate. He's part of the Establishment, and I'll sweep him away, along with the rest.
For an Archangel, this guy's pretty happening. His people are walking news stories. Did I say walking? I meant blazing ! If you can catch them, they'll get you the ratings. They're the best answer to a slow news day next to Belial.
Jean: He's a product of Vapula, and it shows. Flawed thinking, reprehensible goals. Unfortunately, the Media and Technology feed off each other. If something were to break up that partnership...that would be useful.
Stuffy, but he knows his work. Of course, I have better uses for it. Jean's got no imagination when it comes to applications, not like the old man. Napalm sticks to kids! Virtual lives for folks without real ones! The list is endless! The best thing about Jean is that he's a remote control for the old man. All I have to do is mention Lightning's latest toy, and he'll go into the lab and make anything I want...
Jordi: He has no regard for the wilderness, except to exploit it. He encourages people to consume what is not theirs to consume. Some day, I will consume him.
Boooorn free! As free as the wiiiind bloooows! You know what they say about animals and children - but that's a joke for another time! Cute, cuddly animals get ratings. Ferocious wild animal attacks on videotape get ratings. But Jordi is worse than the ASPCA. So what if we kill some fleabags during a shoot? The stunt came out great! And then there's the whole fur coat thing. What's a star without a fur coat and a leather-trimmed Mercedes?
Laurence: He condenses everything into a shallow tale of sex and violence, devoid of depth or consequences, and the masses swallow his pabulum. But that vacuous wretch cannot conceal the power and glory of the Word of God.
Oh, please! Knights in shining armor, saints and martyrs, chastity, honor, virtue, yadda yadda yadda... That's all so pre-post-modern! The kid needs to update himself, get a little anti-hero thing going, maybe a female lead to give him something worth fighting for... But that church-motif has got to go! I'm sorry, but the public media is no place to be preaching moral values.
Marc: Nybbas pretends to give something for nothing, when actually, he is the one getting something for nothing. He misleads consumers while pretending to educate them. He is a cipher, and the antithesis of trade.
Caveat emptor, baby. Like it's my responsibility to look after gullible idiots. If they want to buy, let 'em buy! That's my kind of freedom. Marc's dictates just protect the weak and bring everybody down. He can get a 'fair trade' from me the day he wrings it from my scattered Forces.
Michael: Of all the frauds and fakeries in Hell, he's done the most to damage the traditional values of heroism with his propaganda and feel-good nonsense. A man does not have to be a tortured antihero to stand up for what he believes in. He's polluting the classic sotries which have inspired generations, and I want it stopped.
He's prime footage, baby, I'll give him that, but it's so passe after a while, know what I mean? All war, war, war, not a hint of Archangel Sex Scandal Rocks Seraphim Council, Proescution Expected, Tune In Tomorrow! And his guys are just such a skew on the population curve when he has his people meet my people. You'd think they didn't even watch television.
Novalis: He may seem one of the least dangerous Princes, but he's the antithesis of nurturing. He makes souls wither instead of grow. If his huge resources and influence could be turned to good, I think the war would be nearly won.
Love hippie chick. That was cool in the '60s, but now she's old news. The best thing about her is that her people aren't likely to damage my people, and they always fall for a sob story.
Yves: His alliance with Kronos is a dangerous one. He allows Fate to reach out further than it ever could before. Nybbas is a key figure in the War, and will have more to do with its conclusion than many will admit.
Destiny makes a nice plot, but in real life, it's a load of crap. You get to the top on your own, and you stay there by standing on the dea bodies of your rivals. Yves is a senile old fool with his mind in the Dark Ages. Kronos can handle him.
Ethereals: These guys are a great source of material! Not to mention a cure for writer's block. If one of my writers can't produce, I give him an all-expenses-paid visit to the Marches. If he lives through it, he's always stocked with fabulous ideas! And they are so easy to control. When they get difficult, I make their names disappear from the world. After a few years, they're ready to play ball.
Humanity: I love these people! Really! They're the greatest! So much more fun than snotty angels and idiot demons. I could just pick them u[ and hug them to deaht, every one of them! And they love me back! I don't know what I'd do without them...
Sorcerers: I like these crazy funsters. They've got a real sense of the theatrical, and they're always good for a news expose: "Satanic Cult Brainwashes Schoolchildren at Track Meet!" Beautiful!
Soldiers of Hell: Hellsworn are my "Man on the Street!" They're in the know, and they play the game as well as demons, sometimes better. And that name; "Hellsworn"'s just so cool! I think I smell a pilot coming on.
Soldiers of God: A bunch of uptight crybabies. "We don't like evil! We like angels and kittycats! The Media is bad!" The Media is fun , baby. And more important, the Media is , baby! If you can't groove to the scene like every other human being, then shut up and get out of the way.
Undead: These guys have no star quality, but sometimes the monster can be the best part of the picture. They definitely save on the special effects budget; no latex needed! Just don't invite them to the cast party.

Next time: Funnier than Kobal, isn't he?


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Action

Variant Nybbas! Nybbas the Sociopath is the most heartless Prince. People matter only for the ratings and Essence they provide, and he will do anything to take it from them. He will destroy things just to make the news. He will encourage atrocity of all kinds to keep people watching. If he can't fake propaganda, he'll make it real until the humans respond. Then he'll just sit back and grin. Nybbas the Studio Head, on the other hand, is just sleazy, not really evil. He's lie, manipulate and steal, sure, but he'd never hurt anyone. His organization is a stereotypical movie studio, with starlets, security guards and producers straight out of a bad movie parody. No cliche too obvious. Nybbas the Trickster, meanwhile, lives to get the upper hand. If people listen to him, they get what they deserve, but he can't touch anyone that won't play his game. He respects those that can see through him, but he's so charming, it's hard to resist.

Nybbas lives in Perdition, the wasteland left after the death of Meserach, Prince of Sloth. His damned souls dwell in the 'suburbs', where they are enslaved to some form of mindless stimulation. They're a stable Essence base to support the Media even when Earth's flow fluctuates madly. As you get closer to the city, the wilderness of damned junkies becomes a wide expanse of tract housing. The souls in those homes are slightly more valuable, and they constantly try to stand out by buying things from TV or magazines, but there's no way to win - everyone buys the same stuff at the same times, so they're just even more identical. Occasionally, a damned soul might stand out enough to be noticed by a demon, who will then either crush them or make them a servant. The outskirts are also where the writing farms are kept, where demons churn out low-level scripts to feed the Media. It's a punishment to work in these farms, but better than the mail room, since it's barely possible that your script might become a hit and you might get out. Part of each farm, though, is devoted to wading through the immense slush piles. Having to read those is a punishment most demons of the Media would die rather than receive.

The City of Perdition, meanwhile, AKA Nybbasland, is rather like if you mixed LA and Hollywood and took out anything redeemable about them. At the center is a massive, trendy complex of buildings. Any time a building falls out of style, it gets torn down and replaced, and if the style comes back, it gets rebuilt and artificially distressed to look old. The city is made for the Media, with studios, skyscrapers, printing presses, art schools, the works. There's also mansions for Hell's stars. Most of them work on Earth, but everyone needs more than one house, right? Nybbas' offices are ever-changing. He moves buildings about once a week, and the buildings themselves change internally as well. Only the lobby and the penthouse office are constant. Nybbas works out of htat office, with padio and pool, a large desk for meetings, any sort of AV equipment ever made and also eye candy in the form of bikini babes. There's always a door to another room, where no one goes but Nybbas. There's rumors about it, but all are wrong. The truth is there's nothing. It's just a sensory deprivation chamber. Inside, Nybbas cannot sense anything. If his demons ever found out, they'd be horrified - it's the worst thing any of them can imagine. Nybbas uses this masochistic exercise when he is on the verge of madness from all the input he receives. Even he is frightened by it, though, and never uses it more than five minutes at a time.

It's not easy to be Media. Bad luck is punished and good luck rewarded. But who wants to be out of show business? Everyone in the Media seems to resemble an Impudite to outsiders. They know that the Media's about taking, not giving, and they know it's about making people like you so you can take from them. If they don't like you, at least them make them react. The reaction gives Essence, and that's the thing and the whole of the thing. Demons of the Media are reflexively nice, believing that people might someday be useful so you shouldn't burn bridges. They also tend not to remember people very well unless they want something, in which case they won't think of anything but that person until they get what they need. They're your best friend right until they betray you...and they keep smiling and trying to make you think it was an accident so they can do it again. When they do burn bridges, though, they burn them down to the bedrock. If they hate someone, they refuse to even acknowledge their existence except for spreading bad rumors to the right people. All of them love the Boss, though. He's the example to emulate - good luck and subtlety, smiling at the right people and never letting them see you sweat. The Media's demons work hard to get to the top, and once they get there, they realize they can never relax, and take it out on those below.

Balseraphs of the Media are nicknamed Spin Doctors. They work constantly to slant information depending on what they want to say, and hyperbole is in their nature. They tend to be the highest ranks of the Media - they're good at politics and lying, and the artificial nature of the Word resonates with them. The Media's all about making the fake real for long enough, and they're great at that. They tend to prefer jobs that let them share their views with the masses - agents, producers, lawyers, PR, newscasters and so on, any job where lying is expected. They love the chance to score many people with their resonance, supporting their delusions. Their servants tend to be in the same line of work. Other Balseraphs prefer to be behind the scenes, working as all kinds of writers to spread their lies. Even more subtle ones work as editors, changing a few words to change an entire meaning. They are often the most dangerous of the Balseraphs, and they often work in places other Media demons would find truly dull - university presses, national educational testing companies, pollsters, research labs, non-profits. Information flows to them, changes and heads back out. Their servants may, in fact, outrank them to better control the approval process of their altered facts.

Djinn of the Media are known as Gofers, Security, Bouncers or Roadies. They make themselves 'useful' to their celebrity servants in blunt and often violent ways. They like to be hired muscle. They encourage their stars to stay away from the masses, reinforced by their casual disdain for humans and their overprotectiveness against other stalkers. Their stars' selfishness is held up then as something to cover by other demons of the Media.

Calabim of the Media are known as Sharks, Hooligans and Promoters. They tend to work in sports, beloved by Nybbas for their ability to gather thousands and goad them into a mad mob. Humans have always needed to take sides, even in games, and Nybbas' Calabim warp this tendency using the sports figures they work with, turning it into a tool to manipulate human groups. They have much more status than one might expect within the Media, and their servants are usually sports stars or promoters.

Habbalah of the Media are known as Contacts, Totems and Spirit Guides, thanks to the work they've done since the height of Spiritualism in the 19th century. Since then, they've been working to lay the groundwork for the Media Religion. They influence gullible charismatics, feeding them a mix of watered-down Eastern philosophy, pantheism and wishful thinking. They provide miracles to attract followers. Many of these 'psychics' they sponsor are public figures, but so far, none of them are true stars. The Habbalah try to set them up as prophets and icons as a test of human gillibility. Few are surprised when humans fail. The Habbalah also serve as spiritual advisors to major stars and politicians, using their 'clients' as mouthpieces to promote whatever insane psuedo-spirituality the demon wants to push and encourage others to use psychic hotlines.

Lilim of the Media, known as Bombshells, Starlets and the Talent, work as Nybbas' homegrown stars. They work in porn, Hollywood, Broadway, whatever. They might be serious actresses or not, but they draw the eye and influence everyone that watches them with envy and desire. A very few are chosen for special assignments. No two are exactly alike, but they are always popular and loved. Their job is to die tragically, in the tradition of Marilyn Monroe, Rebeccae Schaeffer and so on. They are killed by fans, commit suicide, it doesn't matter. A storm of media coverage comes after, aimed to convince humans of the essential senselessness of life. Most of these deaths are swaps with body doubles, or else rely on the Lilim having a Body Bag. Nybbas doesn't like risking the talent.

Shedim of the Media, AKA the Stunt Doubles, rarely incite their hosts to acts of obvious or ugly depravity, preferring self-destructive and selfish behavior common to show business folks - drugs and partying, for example. Stuff they can cover up or even flaunt and be admired for. They are among the most relaxed and easy-going Shedim as a result, rarely having to work very hard to corrupt their hosts and often bodyhopping quickly and comfortably. They aren't complacent, though - someone else is always catching up and need to learn how the Media works. They can work anywhere, in any job.

Next time: Work details

Take 2

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Take 2

Impudites of the Media are known as Players, Face Men and Groupies. Their relationships with their stars are designed to inflate the stars' egos and self-centeredness, and the seek to push their charges into model selfishness for others to emulate. In the presence of their star, they are always toadying sycophants, and they tend to enjoy catering to their stars every needf so deeply that they end up controlling their lives, particularly for older stars. Sometimes they even marry their charges.

Demons of the Media in Hell are mostly at work maintaining the Media's infernal bureaucracy. They tend not to be the most creative or ambitious, at low levels, and quite powerful at upper levels. There's also the job of making regular Hellish propaganda, which doesn't take a lot of creativity - you just reshash the old stuff over and over. That's how most demonlings of Perdition get their start. Producing new entertainment or altering history takes more creativity, and it's where many young demons work. Nybbas prides himself on being able to produce facts to prove anything, and his demonic clerks struggle to alter Hellish records to prove whatever he wants this minute. Kronos enjoys this - he includes every version of the altered records in his Archive, along with the true ones. They may not be marked as false.

Work in the Ethereal means inspiring dreams of fame, though such demons have to flee both Blandine and Beleth - their dreams tend to be pleasant, which means angels of Dreams can find them and demons of Nightmares object to the treatment of humans that way. They also work to protect the dreams of media darlings from celestial intervention. Less publically, Nybbas negotiates with certain ethereal groups. For example, he has close ties to the Japanese kami, thanks to the rise in popularity of anime and manga. (Andrealphus approves of this as well, due to schoolgirls and tentacle porn.) Nybbas only allows responsible and potent demons to engage in these negotiations, but other demons are sometimes sent to the Marches to get new ideas, creeping into dreams to bolster their lack of creativity.

Earth is where the Media shines. Humans, after all, are where the action is, and Earth is the ideal post. Demons of the Media all work in the media, supporting it not only because it's disosnant not to but because they love it. There's jobs for those that want attention or those that like to promote the idea of the Media. No one's wasted - everyone has a place, and the Media wants everyone. It gives even the most pitiful demon the knowledge that they're part of something world-changing. They can all bask in that reflected glory, and they love it. While they my compete among themselves to push their own projects, it all serves the Media.

Nybbas wants to control all of the Media - including odder bits. He sponsors mapping of the world, digitizing of literature (so it can be morely easily altered or adjusted), compiling of news and documentation...the end goal, of course, is controlling everything that people read, watch or hear. He also has demons working in scientific research. Vapula's great, but he can't do everything, especially in areas like subliminal processing, where some of Nybbas' more scholarly demons work.

Demons of the Media love awards, and the easiest way to reward them is to give them one with a silly name to flaunt. They mean nothing to other Words' demons, though. Being sent to Earth is also a faovrite reward. Earth's important, so demons that go there are important. They can then be rewarded by corporeal things - anything that's a status symbol, really. Underlings are also popular as rewards. Anyone who's anyone has at least a personal assistant on top of the servant granted by their Band Attunement. Really important demons will have a full entourage, and number of subordinates is a great way to tell how powerful someone is in the Media.

The first level of punishment is boredom. Tasks no one wants - writing farms, mail room work, whatever. None of this takes place on Earth, of course, which is a punishment all its own for many demons. Active cruely comes next - being assigned to work under bad bosses, being sent to investigate the Marches, being made to appear on one of Nybbas' Hellish game shows. The final level is the off switch. Death. It's reserved only for the most boring demons. But hey, it could be worse. Most demons of the Media are too afraid to mention it, but rumor has it that Nybbas sells away his worst demons in sensory deprivation cells.

Demons are always friendly to outsiders, at least those important enough to notice. The lower status a demon is, the nicer they are. Even the most important ones habitually thank the little people. It's all fake, of course, a knee-jerk habit. When working with other demons, the Media tends to defer to the outsiders, then quietly arrange things to their own desires. If the outsider complains, the Media demon will make a big show of getting mad at someone else whose fault it might be, then quietly making nice to them later.

The Scene-Setters are a group of demons whose job is to make places more telegenic. Sure, real things might happen, but if the scene doesn't look just right, the audience won't believe the truth. Therefore, they provide special effects and set dressing to make any story believable, no matter what they need - body parts, blood, pyrotechnics, a mob, whatever. They are perfectionists, and while they may be ambitious, they prefer to work behind the scenes, not on camera. Some are so specialized that they never want to leave their positions and never will. Others use them to manipulate the Media and Earthly organizations.

The Worshippers of News tend to be seen as insane by others. They're mostly Habbalah, but there's a very few unbalanced or pathetic others. They venerate the 'spirit of news' as a living thing, praying to icons of celebrities and famous disasters. Nybbas himself ignores them and rarely promotes them, but many of his other demons sneer at them. They do tend to have followings of deluded and fanatical humans, though they tend to be more passive than not (though some occasionally try to cause newsworthy disasters or blow up 'impure' newspapers). Rumor has it that the Marches actually might have some incarnate spirit of news, but no one's bothered to confirm it.

Next time: The Final Broadcast

Cut, That's A Wrap

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 2: Cut, That's A Wrap

The All-Star Club is made of Media demons of a certain level of status and renown. It commands respect among lower-grade demons and envy among the mediocre, but the demons with real power now the truth - it's just a convenient way to group medium-power demons of potential use or threat. Belonging may be a mark of status, but it also makes you a target for the guys on top.

Kandid Kamera is Nybass' secret service, working in two main areas, surveillance and enforcement. Their ability to get recordings of anything is unequaled, even by the Game, though the accuracy of those recordings is sometimes dubious. They are reasonably efficient and rarely short on folks to spy on, but because everyone knows much of their evidence is faked, they need personal or physical evidence to take on demons of high rank. Kandid Kamera's at its best on Earth, where the evidence they produce or procure isn't scrutinized as heavily, and an entire branch of the organization is dedicated to gathering blackmail on humans of use to the Media.

The Fashion Victims are those demons of the Media that got attached to some trend and failed to move on from it. Sometimes, they cluster together in self-defense, still using their out-of-fashion appearances and dreaming of regaining their former glory as they help each other back to stardom. After all, one rediscovered style often brings others. Naturally, any that do manage to become fashionable will ruthlessly step on the others to get ot the top. They are Media, after all.

Just as with anyone else, Media demons are very polite to the Game. Asmodeus is hunting for weaknesses to break up the Nybbas/Vapula team in order to reduce the danger of both. Nybbas has made it clear he doesn't want Asmodeus breathing down his neck, and any Media demon who gets Game attention will be lucky to wind up permanently assigned to slush pile duty. Demons of the Game always love information, so that's the bribe of choice for the demons who have so much of it. The Game knows a lot of the data is suspect, but they have use for documented lies to incriminate people with. Nybbas has no desire to hand discipline over to the Game. He has his own solutions. Still, his demons have a lot of autonomy on Earth, which makes Asmodeus worried.

Lastly are adventure seeds, but none of them are even slightly interesting besides a mysterious relic remote the Media has managed to accidentally create that turns the local area into a black and white movie set in the 40s, or possibly teleports you to an Ethereal realm with those traits.

The End!

So, what's next? GM's Guide, a Player's Guide, a Liber, the first part of the Revelations Cycle or the next Superiors book?