posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Rogues to Riches

This book focuses on Alaemon, Price of Secrets, Fleurity, Prince of Drugs, Mammon, Prince of Greed, Valefor, Prince of Theft and Vapula, Prince of Technology. And you've not heard of those first three because they are minor Princes. They are still Superiors, but less active in politics, and generlaly speaking weaker in some way. They may have fewer servants, more reclusive natures or Words on decline.

Alaemon, Prince of Secrets knows that secrecy makes something precious, and precious things are worth killing for. He and his demons know more, have more and are more than they ever reveal. If they reveal something, it's because at that moment, that secret had its most power as a weapon. They always have something going. Alaemon is not a Hellborn Prince, but is a young one. He was once a Mercurian serving the minor Archangel of Revelation, Litheroy. At some point in the Middle Ages, he fell in love with the hunt for secrets, then disguise, and at last with lies and secrets themselves. He Fell, and it took him more than 500 years to claw his way up from the bottom to become a Prince, circa 1800. Most Princes attribute his success to Lucifer's appreciation of the irony of his asking for the Word of Secrets. His demons, true to that Word, hide in the cracks, on Hell and Earth. They gather secrets and hoard them until they can be used to get more power and more secrets. Lucifer has tasked Alaemon to increase human paranoia, insecurity and self-loathing. They must not only take secrets, but make humans need secrets more. Alaemon is a madly paranoid demon, obsessed with his personal war against Litheroy and determined to be the Moriarty to Litheroy's Holmes. He trusts only 30% of his demons on any given day - and which 30% changes daily. He keeps them busy plotting and working on missions of no clear importance, convicned that if they are busy, he is safe. He prefers the company of humans, particularly his Soldiers, and works to build cults - though they are never openly devoted to Alaemon. Layers of secrecy hide their nature, and he controls some of the world's largest and most dangerous conspiracies.

Alaemon holds that secrecy is power. It is dissonant for demons of Secrets to give a direct answer to a direct question or to respond to any question without holding something back. It is also dissonant for them to go a full day without hiding something of value in some way - hiding an object, hiding evidence, hiding the identity of a criminal, whatever.

Balseraphs of Secrets , when they use their resonance to keep something secret, measure the duration in days, not minutes.
Djinn of Secrets can, at a touch, attune themselves to the private thing a human they touch ares about most. This will always be something physical, and they won't know what it is without tracking it down.
Calabim of Secrets can, when they choose to, destroy with subtlety. The damage is determined as normal, but the target breaks only in small ways. A door would not dissolve, but the lock would break. A human would be killed by some minor, hard-to-detect rputure of an artery. It sitl causes Disturbance, but any Disturbance emanates from the target, not the demon. (Calabim can do this normally, as described in the Infernal Player's Guide, but normally take a penalty to do so. Calabim of Secrets do not.)
Habbalah of Secrets can inspire longterm Paranoia, as per the Discord, without risk of backlash. This lasts for (CD) hours, during which the victim is convinced all friends are using them and all strangers are foes. At the end of the duration, they must make a Will roll or else be paranoid for another duration, repeating until they finally resist.
Lilim of Secrets may use their resonance to detect secrets rather than needs. The CD of their roll indicates how important the secret is to the subject, with 1 being trivial and a bit embarrassing and 6 being something to kill over. If the victim has no secrets that important, you get the most important secret they do have. The Lilim may also gain a Geas by extortion, making a demand while threatening to reveasl the secret. There is no Will roll - if the victim accepts the demand, they implicitly accept a Geas of level equal to the secret. If they refuse, no Geas is invoked. If a Geas is placed on them, however, it will vanish if the secret is revealed.
Shedim of secrets gain a point of Essence whenever their possessed victim successfully gets away with something sinister, and that day does not add to the victim's cumulative Perception bonus to shake them off. If the puppet is ever caught and dealt with in some way by the authorities, no matter how, the Shedim gains a note of dissonance.
Impudites of Secrets cannot be resisted by those who harbor a secret out of fear, either against their Charm or Essence theft, provided the Impudite keeps promising to help them. 'Currently harboring a secret' means that they must be thinking aobut the secret at that time - and a real-time crisis, like physically fleeing something, definitely qualifies.
Chall Outline is a Servitor attunement that lets you trace any corpse with a chalk outline. The corpse vanishes entirely, and when the outline is cleaned up or fades, all that is left behind is a tiny bloodstain.
Locksmithing allows you to spend 1 Essence when confronted by any locked container, altering the lock to fit any one key you have in your possession. This is permanent - the old key will no longer work. This also works on keyless locks, but does not work on locked doors of any kind or vehicles - you can open a car trunk, but not a car door.
Lucifer's Document Shredder lets you wipe information storage media. You erase (Ethereal Forces) megabytes of data for 1 Essence - about 88,000 words or 350 pages per MB. The information cannot be recovered by any means. And yes, you can use this to wipe print media, too.
Seal of the Confessional allows you to spend 2 Essence to reveal a secret and seal it in someone's mind. They can resist with a Will roll, but if they fail, then for (CD) days, they cannot reveal the secret to anyone, by any means, direct or indirect. This won't stop a Seraph's resonance from discovering the truth from their non-answers, though. At the end of the period, the victim makes another Will roll. If they fail again, the seal remains in place for (CD) years. At the end of that time, they get a third Will roll. Failure on that one means they can never reveal the secret. Only two things may remove the seal. First, if the secret is revealed by someone else. Second, if the victim enters Heaven by any means.
Knights of Hidden Doors may have any Numinous Corpus Song they use be entirely invisible. (Note: invisible weapons attached to a visible combatant are Dodged at a -2.)
Captains of Private Chambers , when trying to hide something or someone (including themselves) from any single known searcher, intuitively know of any available places where that person will never think to look.
Barons of the Vault leave false trails. Any clue they inadvertantly leave behind instead diverts attention from the truth. Their blood type changes when they leave bloodstains, the name tags on their clothing change names, and so on. These are not illusions - they are permanent physical changes.
Alaemon does offer higher Distinctions, primarily to his Wordbound. However, despite what the holders believe, these are not honors. They mark you as a prominent leader in Secrets...which oif course means you're a smokescreen. Your cover is blown - you are a distraction, far from the real action. The true elite are the masters of Alaemon's secret societies, who tend to be plotting against him. He encourages that - he knows they're traitors, so he doesn't have to wonder.
Alaemon loves secret Songs, but never teaches any except for the Songs of Deception and Oblivion.

Alaemon has no allies, but is associated with Asmodeus, Beleth, Malphas, Valefor and Vapula. Beleth, Kobal, Malphas, Valefor and Vapula consider themselves associated with him. Alaemon is hostile to Saminga and Belial, and Baal and Belial are hostile to Alaemon.

Basic Rites:
1. For 3 Essence, cause any kind of death to an angel of Revelation.
2. Possess a secret worth at least 5 thousand dollars, or any secret worth injuring or killing over. This can be performed twice a day.

Expanded Rites:
1. Destroy the only evidence of a crime, or the only evidence of someone's guilt or innocence.
2. Collect evidence of an indiscretion for later use against someone.

Alaemon has a base TN of 0 to invoke, +1 if you have a concealed weapon, +2 for a private drug stash, +3 for a murder victim whose corpse has remained hidden for at least a week, +4 for documents vital to a nation's security, +5 for a lost work by a great artist kept in a private collection and +6 for a statue proving Lemuria or any mythical civilization existed.

Alaemon has a thousand names and appearances. His Impudite vanity makes him appear beautiful or handsome when he can afford it, but his driving need is to be inconspicuous. He makes a habit of never appearing the same way to someone twice, though he may send a demon in his stead in an older guise. The closest he has to a default form is a handsome, dark-haired man with impeccable taste in clothes, often resembling a Bond character. He is easygoing and cheerful one moment, and paranoid the next. He has no outward consistency. This is all a pose, of course, to manipulate his demons, and to keep them unbalanced, afraid and faithful.

Alaemon's Word is his life. He is paranoid, driven by the fear of discovery. There are many theories about why, but no matter the truth, the fear is real. Secrets are more than ways to hide, however. They are power. Just hoarding information is Greed - that's useless. If you use or misuse the secrets the right way, however, that's power. Let the right truth or half-truth go and you can destroy even an Archangel. It's all in the timing. The tricky part is learning everyone's secrets and never allowing your own to be discovered.

So little is known about Alaemon's past that even his former demonic Superior is conjectured. Most believe he worked for Asmodeus, but some say Kronos or Malphas. Certainly he held no great rank. It is known he received the Word of Secrets 200 years ago, though none sponsored him for it. It is also known that a Mercurian of Revelation named Alaemon Fell 700 years ago, possibly by miuses of the Dagger of Blithnya. It is accepted that this is the same Alaemon, whose hatred of Litheroy would explain his desire to poppose him, and most assume Lucifer liked the irony. However, none of this is necessarily fact. In truth, practically nothing is definitively known about Alaemon or why he's a Prince. Some of the theories may be planted by Alaemon, in fact, and probably none are more than half-right.

Some say that Alaemon was one of Litheroy's best, understanding the human mind deeply. He learned to love searching out their secrets and why they might do it. This was dangerous, as a follower of Litheroy. The dissonance of secrecy burned him, but not enough to alter his love of puzzles and hiding secrets behind them. He became an expert both at unraveling and making puzzles, though the latter was dissonant. Whgen he Fell, he was enraged. He Fell because he wanted to understand humanity, after all. His rage at Litheroy's hypocrisy grew, and he threw himself into the art of deception. For centuries, he worked, hating Litheroy and loving secrets. His only solace was in making puzzles, uncaring if any solved them - he liked them for the aesthetic quality of a good enigma.

Lucifer arrived 500 years later and looked over the puzzles, speaking with Alaemon. He offered the demon a boon. If Alaemon was cheeky enough to ask for a Word...well, might as well go for the brass ring. It is said he asked for the Word of the Labyrinth, using Litheroy's own metaphor against him. Lucifer instead gave him Secrets - a more potent Word, incorporating and exceeding Labyrinths. With it came a Princedom - a great prize, but beyond Alaemon's means. And then Lucifer left. Alaemon had no idea why, and was too smart to think it was out of kindness or being impressed. Thus came the greatest puzzle of Alaemon's life: why? And what would he do about the other Princes, to say nothing of the old demons of his predecessor in the Word, Gebbeleth. All would hate and resent him, and Litheroy was now the greatest threat to him, for Revelation would destroy Secrets if it could. Perhaps, he wondered, Lucifer wanted him destroyed, or to use him as a pawn against Litheroy. It didn't matter. Alaemon would not die, and none would learn his secrets or who he really was. He would become the puzzle master.

And perhaps all Lucifer wanted was to kill Alaemon's simple joy in puzzlemaking. It doesn't really matter what he intended - he did all of it. He destroyed joy, made a useful tool, made opposition to an Archangel and destabilized Princely politics. Whatever the reason really was, Lucifer won't say. And he is, after all, first and greatest of liars.

Next time: Contradictory History

Secret of Success

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Secret of Success

Some say that there was a Balseraph - maybe Factions, maybe the Game - who was assigned to retrieve an Impudite. That Impudite had gone Renegade, and his name was Alaemon, formerly of Revelation. He had valuable information and had to be dragged back to Hell. He got captured, but something went wrong. Alaemon's vessel was killed and he was sent to Limbo. When the Game arrived, demanding Alaemon, the Balseraph used his resonance to claim to be the Impudite. And it worked. He believed it so thoroughly that he's never sotpped. Some say Lucifer intervened, amused by the idea of a Balseraph believing themselves to be a Fallen Mercurian becoming the Prince of Secrets.

Now, the Prince who calls himself Alaemon buries himself deeper and deeper in secrets to hide the truth he won't let himself remember. He knows he's an Impudite and acts the part, but as a Balseraph he masks himself constantly, believing each in their own way. Over two centuries he has built his power and disguise as completely as he can. He should be safe. But eventually, the real Alaemon will emerge from Limbo, even if the Pricnes does not remember. Sooner or later, evidence that can't be denied will appear. It'll all be revealed. No wonder the Prince is so frightened.

Some, meanwhile, say there was an angel. It's hard, after all, to serve Litheroy. It's not enough to love Heaven or Truth - you have to forgo all deception. Even a Role. Alaemon couldn't live with it - he loved humans, wnated to be among them, and he became dissonant. A Warrior Cherub who was his friend decided to help, invoking Michael, who listened to Alaemon's story. Alaemon clearly loved Heaven, but how mu ch did it mean to him? Did it mean enough to risk his life to be a spy in Hell itself? Would he Fall for Heaven's needs? Hell would take him in, and once he got established, he could pass on information back.

Alaemon took the offer. It was hideous, it took five centuries for him to work his way back up, and he hated every second. He became a true demon, selfish to the core, by the time he met his ld contacts...but he started to pass information on anyway. It was dangerous. He started to bury himself in lies while rooting out the truth. He passed some things on, kept others, built a web to hide in. Eventually, Lucifer came to him. It would be unthinkable to hide his lies unless Lucifer was he went for the golden ring as a blind. It might mean death for hubris, but better that then exposure as Heaven's agent. He asked for a Word. To his shock, he was made the Prince of Secrets. Now, his whole organization hides and conceals, and agents within it pass information on to Heaven without realizing. Michael must assume his intel is flawed at best - Alaemon's been a demon much longer than he was ever an angel, now, and he's quite powerful. But it's better than nothing. Alaemon plays at a dangerous game, opposing anyone that might discover the truth, for so long as he can keep that secret.

Whatever Alaemon's true reasons or origins, he is paranoid and untrusting. He is lonely, but his understanding of people lets him know how treacherous they can be. He has been inspired by Litheroy's favored Labyrinth metphor. Everything about him is twists in the maze, each turn takes you down another path, and there are a hundred blind alleys hiding the real route. When Alaemon meets someone, he is charming, ingratiating, and soaks up whatever information he can.

Alaemon's Conspiracy has three goals: discover all secrets, use information for power and confuse and terrify everyone else. Everything Alaemon does serves one of those goals. However, he hides his intentions behind lies, trickery and deceit, so they're hard ot track. Sometimes major operations costing demonic lives are merely smokescreens for one demon to learn one secret. While Alaemon is having an impact on the War, he prefers to let others take the blame or credit. Alaemon is interested in the War. For as long as it goes on, Heaven and Hell will each prize secrets. Humans, of course, keep secretso n their own, but while the War persists, both sides decieve and hide from humans every day, putting Alaemon in a position of strength. He likes things that intensify the War without ending it.

Alaemon's relations are all of convenience. His associates are those he finds useful most often. He has secrets on all of the Princes and implicates all of them in his schemes. He'll work with anyone if he must. He's too paranoid to ally for long, and he hides behind anyone he can, using others' motifs in his projects to throw off the scent...though he's never been able to imitate Kobal very well. Alaemon is petty and insecure, but the other Princes give him slack - no one can blackmail quite the way he does. While he has no real friends, he works well with those that spread fear and paranoia. He supports Beleth when he can, as she fuels the fear that makes secrets happen. He thus has some access to human dreams - a great place to hunt for information. Malphas is also a frequent tool, as factions cause more people to hide things from each other. He also hangs around Valefor, who likes to find the hidden and hide the found, both of which aid Secrets. He trades well with Vapula, who will give espionage tech in exchange for hints about divine technology or human development. Asmodeus...well, Asmodeus plays the Game that Alaemon lives in. Alaemon finds Asmodeus predictable enough to work with easily, and Asmodeus finds Alaemon useful to manipulate. Each thinks they control the other when working together, and both may be right. Alaemon does not like either Belial or Saminga and would love to see them dead. Belial was a strong ally of Gebbeleth who resents Alaemon, and fires destroy secrets. Saminga...well, the dead tell no tales, and that's just not helpful. For now, Alaemon gathers information, waiting for the chance to tear them down. Most of the other Princes see Alaemon as a poor substitute for Gebbeleth, who was a major Prince in his day....except Kobal. Gebbeleth, after all, was a known quantity, which is why the other Princes thought him effective. Kobal sees the irony - the less they know about Alaemon, the stronger his Word. Stronger, perhaps, than Gebbeleth ever was.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: Mm - half the fun is keeping things secret. The dodging around, the spice of the forbidden. Secrets make the affairs and assignations lively. Alaemon's barely a child, though - and cold. What a strange Impudite.
People say things after sex. They think they're in love. They think the whole world is at peace. They reveal their innermost selves and call it pillow talk. It's a beautiful time to learn things.
Asmodeus: Two-faced, which should come as no surprise. He's helpful - he wants to stay on my good side. He tells me things - who knows for what agenda? But it's always as much lie as truth. He holds back a lot more than he says. I have my eyes on him. He plays the Game too well.
Without Asmodeus we couldn't exist. Don't ever forget that. We need the Game. It keeps people scared. Keeps them hiding. We need that desperately. But don't ever let your guard down. They'd destroy me if they could, and you'd die with me. Don't ever forget that.
Baal: Worthless. Dishonorable. Weak. Gebbeleth was strong - and he understood the War. Someday I'll destroy Alaemon and save us all some grief. Until then, ignore him.
Easy to infiltrate. Baal is a beautiful contradiction - a predictable Balseraph. But don't let him accelerate the War from Cold to Hot.
Beleth: He's good for fear, I'll give him that. Too busy chasing his own dark nightmares down hallways to ever be very important, of course. But he helps more than he hinders.
Beleth is so very useful to us. She buries hope and trust into a maze of nightmares and paranoia. The more frightened they are, the more they hide.
Belial: I liked Gebbeleth. He learned things and hid things. He appreciated a good fire, too. Alaemon's pathetic. He's cold and wet. I hate him.
Such a simple soul. Such a dangerous opponent. Belial destroys the things we seek. If he'd work with us - but of course he won't. We can't ever trust him.
Fleurity: You can't make a deal if your users can't find you, but you can't hand your prime goods over to just anyone, either. You have to keep your deals out of the hands of the narcs. Alaemon has his place in the scheme of things.
Drugs are hidden. You hide them from your parents, from your friends, from the law. You sit back in a dark corner and hide them from everyone. You hide them from the judgment of others. You hide them from yourself. Few things promote Secrets like them. And addicts are so easy to blackmail...
Haagenti: I asked him what the eleven herbs and spices were. He told me! Other than that he's useless.
Haagenti doesn't care about secrets, but he's convenient if you need to destroy evidence. Shred the document and bake it into lasagna - he'll never know.
Kobal: Heh. The others don't get it. Big surprise, right? They don't get the joke. You ask them, and they'll tell you what great Prince Gebbeleth was and how Alaemon hasn't amounted to a hill of beans. Morons - Gebbeleth wasn't half the Prince of Secrets Alaemon is. We knew what Gebbeleth was up to, after all. Alaemon gets it, but convinced everyone he doesn't. Now that's funny.
It's hard to blame things on Kobal. He's got a sense of style that's hard to duplicate. That's a pity - he'd make a perfect scapegoat otherwise.
Kronos: Alaemon has embraced his fate more completely than most. He revels in it. However, his fear makes him weak. He is not significant.
Kronos scares me. Don't fight him. Just leave him alone. There's something not right about him. Some secret I haven't ferreted out yet.
Lilith: Little Alaemon, little Prince. Not the threat that Gebbeleth was, for certain. And he does know a thing or two - but tries to hide behind clouds and sunglasses, and he's more than willing to hold small indiscretions over you.
Lilith is intriguing. She knows so much, and hides so much. Her Lilim are very useful, but her prices are too high. So I recruit from the Frees where I can. Occasionally I learn something she wants to hide, and then we can do business.
Malphas: Ah, Alaemon. I hope he keeps up the good work. I help him out where I can , of course...
Rival factions fear and hate one another. They make plans and strategies and hide them. They eavesdrop and spy on each other. Malphas helps keep me whole.
Mammon: Alaemon knows how to create a demand where there was none before - by keeping information scarce, and making it valuable. And he hungers for more, always more, and hoards what he has.
Where would Mammon be without Secrets? He's always looking for inside information...and selling it as well. We can do business together.
Nybbas: Secret... Agent Man! Secret... Agent Man! They've given you a number - and taken away your name! Seriously, Alaemon doesn't track on the ratings, so what good is he? Though a good expose never hurts...
Nybbas is a powerful tool. A small secret reported on the news becomes a big scandal. But don't let his cameras find you.
Saminga: I know how to keep a man's mouth shut. Shut forever.
That idiot destroys without thought. Think of all the knowledge lost by his indiscriminate murder! Death has its place, but Saminga misses the point and should be removed.
Valefor: Alaemon? Not really a player, but a lot of fun on the wekeends. He loves to slip me a map or security setup. And I tell him things - why not? They're safe with him. Besides, it's fun to break into his Domain and lift a few things now and again. Fun and...educational.
Valefor is an associate, though never to be trusted. He's perfectly amoral, and he learns things on his travels. He's willing to trade, and that is useful...
Vapula: We have a working relationship. He discovers things I can use, and I give him the technology to learn more. He respects science and the holy quest for knowledge.
Very useful. He has devices that will peel the secrets out of a room like layers off an onion. And he doesn't pry, so long as what you do say interests him.
Blandine: Secrets should be precious, not shameful. The hidden hopes and joys inside a person are the keystone of their dreams. This... Taker twists these around and drags dreamers into Nightmares.
Let her comfort humans and make their dreams more pleasant. Does she think we don't have spies on her side of the Marches? We can learn as much from a dream as from a nightmare.
David: Secrets are cracks in the foundation, letting corruption seep in. There is no good reason for them. Still, Alaemon is far less effective than Gebbeleth was.
There are many hidden things buried under the mountain. David keeps things close to his chest while arguing against Secrets. Hypocrites fuel my Word.
Dominic: A Fallen traitor who tries desperately to strike down the Archangel who created him. Destroying Alaemon would be a kindness - and Secrets obfuscate Judgment. Do not let him grow into his role.
Without Dominic, angels would have no need for secrets. May he judge for a very long time indeed.
Eli: Alaemon who?
I have a good number of agents tracing Eli's movements. I don't know what he's up to. I hate not knowing what he's up to.
Gabriel: A mewling little Impudite with delusions of competence. The Holy Fire of Heavenly Revelation consumed Gebbeleth, and he was powerful. Alaemon cannot hide forever.
I hate Belial's destruction of Secrets. I really hate Gabriel's illumination of them. Fire is our enemy, whether infernal or divine. Fuel the paranoia the two have over each other - keep them away from us.
Janus: Do you know what's great about secrets? You can reveal them, and watch the chaos begin.
I've heard hte rumors and the theories about Janus and Valefor. In all the ways I work with Valefor, I find Janus impossible. Still, chaos buries things as well as uncovering them, and Janus keeps secrets of his own.
Jean: Perhaps the most dangerous of Lucifer's little Princelings. His agents stalk our operatives, and whatever they learn goes straight to Vapula. Alaemon must be dealt with, sooner rather than later.
Jean is the greatest hoarder of secrets in God's Creation. The loathsome Litheroy hates him. I want to learn what he knows - all of it - but more importantly I don't want anyone else to learn it. We should work together.
Jordi: Should I care about Alaemon? His Word and his existence mean nothing to me. My world has no need for secrets.
I have a great appreciation of the Trap Door Spider. Jordi is no priority, though.
Laurence: Gebbeleth disappeared before my creation. It was easier while the Word of Secrets was vacant. Alaemon strengthens Hell by sowing distrust between companions and soldiers. It is a mistake to underestimate him.
Uriel was gone before my creation. I have a different perspective of Laurence than others. He has always been effective, and straightforward. The combination is deadly.
Marc: Are you familiar with insider trading? Misusing the knowledge you have for your own profit while shafting others? That's Alaemon in a nutshell. I think we need to deal with him, though there's more pressing business first.
Marc fuels the most venal drive to keep things confidential. Without Marc, there would be no industrial espionage, no private top secret documents, no classified strategies. He's so very useful.
Michael: I had a certain respect for Gebbeleth. Oh, I hated him and what he stood for, but I could respect him as a chessmaster. Even Mariel had her strengths, though I don't mourn her. Their successor is a pathetic little crying worm. We cleave through his shadows long enough, and we will cut to the heart of Alaemon.
Never, ever forget Michael is more than the Archangel of War or the first angel. Michael is a Seraph! Perhaps the purest of that breed. He actively hates us. Stay away form him.
Novalis: I talked to Alaemon once, before his Fall. He was so bright, so beautiful. His smile was ready. He loved the human mind - we'd talk about its twists and turns. He took joy in humanity's infinite variety. I considered asking him to join me then. I wish I had. It's so very sad to see him now.
Novalis has nothing I want. She's too open, too trusting. No matter how many times she's burnt, she keeps coming back. She never gives up hope. She must be torn apart by the truth of the world before she becomes even more of a threat.
Yves: Alaemon's fate is a cold and lonely one. He hides so totally, I wonder if he realizes he's hiding from himself?
Yves has the golden prize - all the knowledge of the world is at his fingertips. And he hoards it and keeps it secret, even if it means Heaven burns. I am Yves, ultimately, only more honest.
Ethereals: The images of the past hold some of its lore close. Remember that when you meet them. Learn what they know. Learn what they aren't saying. Draw them into the Conspiracy, and let them think they're fighting to improve their sorry lot. If you play them right, they will offer what you could never take.
Mortals: Ahh, the teeming masses of humanity. How much I love them. Deceit comes more naturally to them then any other creatures. They were the genesis of Secrets itself. All of them - all of them - keep secrets. No matter how much they trust, they keep their true faces hidden. So long as they exist, so do I.
Hellsworn: Recruit carefully. Add these fortunates to your organization of moles and informants. They can go places and learn things you cannot. But be careful. Be very careful. The only way to create a Soldier involves telling them true things, and that is always dangerous.
Sorcerers: Eternal seekers of knowledge no sane man would want to know. Sorcerers arem ore useful than most Hellsworn, if the right disinformation leavens their arcane knowledge.
Soldiers of God: These are such prizes. When we can identify them, we must exploit them. They learn things about Heaven, without the skills and experience of the angels to help protect them. Get close to them. Learn what they know. Convince them to join our service - done right, they'll never realize they're double agents for Hell.

Alaemon's Principality is, in theory, Stygia. The Houses of Secrets there were home to Gebbeleth's ancient court, and even today, that is the public face of the Conspiracy. Still, there are hidden boltholes throughout Hell, connected by strange and hidden passages that would startle more potent Princes. Cells of Secrets meet beneath Hades, in back rooms of Shal-Mari, in the observation posts in Gehenna. All of these are Alaemon's Principality. Still, Stygia is the heart of it all, if not necessarily where the priamry resources might be - Alaemon plays his cards close.

In a velley of Stygia is the Monastery of Masks, a cold echo of Litheroy's Abbey in Heaven, but dark and twisting, with passages to nowhere. This is the public face of the Labyrinth, full of mazes and hedges and gardens, with hidden entrances and ancient marks showing paths that may or may not be true. Each room is full of masks of all kinds. The demons of Secrets within all go masked in he Monastery, and refuse to allow any other demons to do so. It is said that those visitors that break this rule become lost forever. If you can find an entrance and make your way in, you might be allowed to meet Alaemon, masked on his throne, seen only by reflection in mirrors. Of course, who knows if that's the real Alaemon?

The Conspirators are paranoid as their master. They are all members of two or three secret societies at once, and know that they might be punished for betrayal at any moment. Alaemon is their only friend - and he is no one's friend. It is never clear if your society is a front, or if the society you've infiltrated is playing you for a fool. You betray someone every day and hope not to get caught...and everyone around is just like you. Knowledge is power, but you can never know if you know everything. The Conspiracy is chaotic, hard to define. Sure, there are Distinctions, but that's the surface, the least important and significant level, useful only for interacting with outsiders. The Conspiracy is built of dozens of secret societies of all kinds. Sometimes a potent Wordbound Duke will report to a mere demon without distinctions, and take orders humbly. These societies are the meat of Alaemon's Conspiracy, and each believes they truly control or rebel against the Principality. Alaemon is at the heart of them all. One secret society is in charge of it all...for a while. That society may rule for an hour or ay ear, depending on Alaemon's fears and needs, but it always changes eventually, with the fringes becoming the new power players. Wordbound are carefully spread out so no society feels worthless...or secure. This also keeps them from organizing directly against Alaemon. Of course, they all know there are other, false cabals working to control the Conspiracy. To fight these threats, they infiltrate and report on each other as much as the enemies of Secrets. At any time, a demon of Secrets may be part of many societies beyond the one they believe is true. The more experience they have, the more they belong to as double or triple agents. Even the masters of the society may be low level figures in a second, or leaders in a third feeding false information from the first two, while their own masters suspect them.

Rewards depend on who gets your work. A secret society may, at best, teach a new Song or thank you. Alaemon can reward more heavily. A demon that truly advances Secrets will be rewarded, as soon as Alaemon can meet them privately, but they will almost always suffer some setback soon after. It might be other Conspirators trying to make them look bad or Alaemon ensuring you're not working against him, but you can't be comfortable. The reason these demons stay is htat they distrust other Princes even more.

Still, sometimes a Conspirator can't take it any more. They reach out to find another Prince. It's not easy - first, you have to ifnd someone willing to annoy Alaemon. Then you need to find a trustworthy demon to contact. Then you need to make deals. And hey, let's assume you succeed and your new Prince doesn't sell you back to Alaemon thanks to blackmail. After a few weeks, maybe a month, maybe a decade, a demon of Alaemon will arrive. They'll have a thousand little tidbits of betrayal and a few real big ones from your past, and some from after you defected. Enough to get you destroyed by the Game or your new Prince...unless, you know, you'll give up a few minor secrets. Nothing much. Welcome home.

Alaemon and his demons compete heavily for the Fallen, to learn anything they might know. They especially love Fallen angels of Lightning and their technological secrets. Once a Fallen betrays all the secrets of Heaven they have, their ignorance of Hellish politics makes it easy to get blackmail on them. They are among Alaemon's favorite servants, but he doesn't even begin to trust them.

Balseraphs of Secrets are used to clean up or destabilize situations. By the time their resonance wears off, it's usually far too late for a victim to change their testimony without losing credibility.

Next time: Other Bands

Secret Santa

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Secret Santa

Djinn of Secrets aren't trusted to guard things. Instead, they are hunters - they hunt down blackmail and valuables rather than guarding secrets. Sure, they can't harm the secrets, but they can easily harm those that want them or hold them, and they are experts at trap and ambush.

Calabim of Secrets are useful assassins, causing death with no apparent supernatural cause and creating Disturbance that doesn't track back to them. It's quite useful, and one of the few non-information commodities Alaemon can offer to his allies.

Habbalah of Secrets sow paranoia almost at random, building up distrust and encouraging secrets in those around them. They see themselves as the crucibles of trust, punishing those too weak to keep faith in their loved ones. Of course, no one is strong enough for them.

Lilim of Secrets are generally not liked by other Lilim. Their attunement lets them collect Geases without actually doing anything for their victims, and their Geases are insidious - a victim who does not explicitly refuse their silence can't resist. Lilim at least publically revere equity, and these Geases are obviously unfair. These Lilim are often sent on undercover work, to learn secrets and not use the hooks - after all, they have to keep the secret hidden to use the hook, but reporting the secret to Alaemon can up their rank. During this time, they often pretend to be Free Lilim, even accepting or pretending to have Lilith's dissonance conditions.

Shedim of Secrets aren't used to learn secrets, though they're good at it, but rather to make them. They particularly love to work on those that Lilim can't get a hook on out of innocence, forcing them to sinister acts which allow the Lilim to get their hooks. So long as noo ne finds out who the source of the blackmail is, no dissonance for the Shedim! Of course, the Lilim get leverage on the Shedim as well as the victims, so they'll generally insist the Geas be invoked immediately or refuse the job.

Impudites of Secrets prefer to work in repressive countries, where they can help people skirt the edge of law and easily drink up their Essence. The colder the social atmosphere, the more opportunities they have.

Almost all of Alaemon's work boils down to variations on the same jobs. First, learn all you can. Second, confuse the truth for everyone else via lies and misinformation. Third, encourage paranoia. There's really not a ton of difference in Hell work and Earth work for the Conspirators. Ethereal work is mostly looting dreamscapes for secrets or planting lies.

The Order of the Rose, or Rosettes, are a militant order of demon monks, swearing loyalty and fealty, and organized into feudal and military ranks. When at secret meetings of the Order, the Rosettes wear simple robes and rank insignia. Their goal is information and power, blackmailing other demons in order to gain power among the rest of Hell. Once they get enough, the Knight Lord Commander Alaemon can make a strike that will put him on top of infernal society and undercut his peers. The Rosettes meet in caverns and monasteries, never in great numbers, and their meetings are as regimented as Baal's. They often infiltrate demons of the War as a result, as their surface emphasis on honor appeals to Baalites until they're in too deep to realize the truth.

The Lodge of Gebbeleth, or the Gebbelites, draw on the legend of Gebbeleth. He vanished in 1600 BC, but it was centuries until even his Dukes realized he wouldn't return. They made an organization on the illusion of Gebbeleth's activity, staging his appearances and so on. With time, even most of his oldest demons lost where the truth ended and the lies began. When Alaemon was named to replace Gebbeleth, the demons of Gebbeleth were shocked, angry and afraid. Alaemon used that, infiltrating their organization, and within 50 years, he was at the core of the Lodge of Gebbeleth, encouraging their delusions and eliminating those that knew the truth. Today, the Lodge is organized along Masonic lines, and some say the Masons are a front for the Lodge, with their degrees and ranks. The deeper one gets, the closer they get to 'Gebbeleth' himself. They hoard relics and secret Songs, learning ancient lore whenever they can, and work themselves into places of power in Earth and Hell, waiting for Gebbeleth's rise. They flourish in Perdition and Shal-Mari especially. The Lodge Master encourages patience and a snide superiority over the loyal of Alaemon. Of course, the Lodge Master is, in fact, Alaemon, but no true Gebbelite would ever believe it.

The Cabal of Night is a cult, recruiting from among the damned, demons and mortals alike. Each circle of the Cabal has their own secret name for their Master and rituals to be done in the Master's name. They dance around hidden fires, anonymous even to each other, and share the secrets they learn, preparing for the purges that will eliminate the false Princes, the angels and those traitors that do not follow the true path of Alaemon. On Earth, they seek out or train sorcerers, encouraging them to recruit others and establish secret power. Typically, the Cabal's demons on Earth are Shedim or demons with the Song of Possession, and they get their orders from Hell, with ever-narrowing circles of the faithful, led around the core: Alaemon. They flourish most easily among the fearful and paranoid. They specialize in the difficult task of infiltrating Nightmares, and form most of Alaemon's ethereal operatives. They also work to set up infiltration of Belial and Saminga's organizations. As for who they worship...each circle has a different answer, but the truth is probably Alaemon.

The Revolution was born of the Cold War and the 20th century's rejection of more spiritual and mystic secret orders. They are drawn from the 20th century coalition of moles. They organize in cells of four, each serving one leader. Each member leads a subordinate cell down the line, so no one member ever knows more than their four immediate subordinates, their two peers and their one superior. They pass information up and down the chain, and their goals are almost painfully simple compared to other societies. They infiltrate, listen, understand and wait. They do this on Earth and in Hell, working among the Media, Fate, Factions and even the Game. Some say they exist to fight Gebbeleth's forces, some say they seek to claim Stygia for Secrets alone. Some say they want to overthrow Lucifer himself. Only Alaemon knows for sure.

The Black Crescent is half open, half secret. They are Alaemon's internal security, and rather than infiltrate mortals or demons directly, they infiltrate Alaemon's own secret societies. They are paragons of loyalty, working as any member might...but they also use dead drops and codes to report on the society's activities and members. These filter through to build cases on traitors to Alaemon and making or gathering evidence to present to the Game. Even Alaemon can't be certain they don't serve anyone else. They are very patient, taking years to build a case without making any move until they're ready. There's a rumor that one of the 'ineffectual' Dukes of Secrets is actually Alaemon's lieutenant and leader of the Black Crescent, but that's unlikely with Alaemon's paranoia.

Outsiders, of course, are never trusted. They're never told that they're going to be betrayed or that they're never allies, but it's how they're viewed. Of course, you can never be sure that the people around you are actual outsiders - what if they're deep cover Conspirators? Trust no one. The Game, in particular, is both an ally and an enemy. The Conspirators will betray each other to the Game at the drop of a hat to save themselves, though as a whole they try to implicate other Words when possible. Several Conspirators are devoted to finding bribes and corruption within the Game, in case they need to blackmail a demon that can't be distracted.

Next time: Drugs

Drugs Are My Anti-Drug

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Drugs Are My Anti-Drug

Fleurity, Prince of Drugs is the latest in a long line of Demons of Drugs, and not one of the nice ones. He's a Habbalite that projects the image of a party demon, and the more people that get hurt, the better the party is. He got his Word working to promote opium under the British in China in the late 1800s, but what got him a Principality was promoting crack cocaine. Fleurity sees Drugs as a tool for freedom - the freedom to alter your personality and your reality. Drugs aren't just heroin or cocaine, either - he's lord of Prozac and Valium, too. He's found many ways to make Drugs serve Hell. The users get degraded and selfish, and they tempt others into overreaction. Sure, he loves the Colombian cartels, but the War on Drugs is his, too. Fleurity is a rising star, and while he's still a minor Prince, other Princes are careful with him. He's probably not going to skyrocket like ?Nybbas, but he also won't be losing power any time soon. In a mere two centuries, he's made drugs both universally condemned and desired - a conscious choice for humans to want something they think is evil. Lucifer is quite pleased. Few Demons of Drugs in the past ever got near Princedom. Meserach, the Prince of Sloth, once had command of the Word of Drugs, and he tended to destroy the demons that held it as they got powerful. Haagenti, who inherited control, never cared to restrain his minions. Even now, Haagenti and Fleurity got along swimmingly, even though Fleurity is an ally of Saminga. On Earth, Fleurity takes the form of a muscular Arabic man with a shaved head, a trimmed goatee and bright eyes. He assigns his demons to specific cities, and doesn't change that up until their vessels are destroyed.

Demons of Drugs earn dissonance if they discourage drug use, and if they don't actively promote it at least once a day, unless they are assigned to the War on Drugs. They are not required to do drugs themselves, but doing so is a common and effective way to get others to follow the example.

Balseraphs of Drugs may impose a temporary Addiction Discord via their resonance, with level of (CD). It may be an Addiction to anything normally ingesitble to a human, and lasts (Ethereal Forces) hours. If the victim gets hooked in the course of obtaining a fix, the Addiction becomes permanent.
Djinn of Drugs may attune themselves to any significant amount of drugs of any kind with a touch, and may use their resonance to track the drugs' distribution. It will lead him to users within 24 hours of their taking the drug, as wel. Each batch counts as only one attunement, no matter how many ways it's split up.
Calabim of Drugs may imbue anything consumable with their resonance, so long as it is a single item or single container - one bag of coke or a hamburger, not a truckload of pot. The substance becomes toxic for (Ethereal Forces) days, and anyone ingesting it takes (Corporea Forces*CD of resonance roll) physical damage. This damage can be taken only once per day, no matter how times the victim ingests, and it is resisted by a Strength roll. Alternatively, you can use the poison rules from the Corporeal Player's Guide if you want, with Strength of CD and Speed of 2. The damage causes no Disturbance, either way.
Habbalah of Drugs may ingest any drug to a level blow that needed to OD and use their resonance to project the effects, including any addiction, on a victim. The subject can resist normally, and if they do, the demon suffers the effects as normal but gains no dissonance for it. Traces of the drug may be found in the victim's bloodstream, and they likely won't recognize addiction or withdrawal symptons if they've never taken the drug themselves. Drug effects are listed in the Corporeal Player's Guide.
Lilim of Drugs are quite rare, and all of them are given the Knight distinction as well. If they supply a Need for drugs, the victim's Will is penalized by the level of their Addiction to resist the Geas.
Shedim of Drugs reduce a hosts Will by (Ethereal Forces) when making them take drugs, but this does not apply if the host is unaccustomed to the drug - non-smokers can still resist smoking as strongly as normal, for example. Pills are usually safe for anyone, though.
Impudites of Drugs need not charm drugged victims to steal their Essence, where 'drugged' means 'anyone over the legal limit of intoxication.'
Acid Flashback costs 1 Essence and can be resisted by Will. The victim suffers an intense hallucination of being in another, surreal world that merges indistinguishably with reality. The illusions affect all senses, and even if you realize they're false, it's nearly impossible to interact with what's real. The hallucinations last (10*CD) minutes.
Bad Trip copsts 2 Essence, sending the victim into 'junkie time,' a state of illogic and muddled thought. Effects vary, sometimes causing time dilation or obsession over certain sensations, and specifics are up to the GM, but the net effect is that unless they make a Will roll they are completely disoriented and unable to properly react to outside stimuli for (CD) hours.
First Time can only be used on someone taking a drug they have used before. It causes them to feel exactly as good or exactly as bad as the first time they used that drug.
OD can cause anyone who is taking drugs of their own will (that is, without any outside celestial interference) to consume to the point of overdose. The target must be currently using the drug and the demon must win a contest of Will. The outcome depends on the drug and how much is available, but heroin and cocaine are usually fatal, alcohol might be passing out for a day or two or death depending on what they were drinking, and cigarettes will just make them sick.
Score may be invoked up to (Ethereal Forces) times per day. It tells you the fastest and cheapest way to get any specific drug you want, and you can define a focus on quantity, quality or accessibility.
Knights of Addicts can instantly tell the addictions of anyone they see, as well as any substances the target has consumed recently, and how much.
Captains of Chemistry can alter the active component of any drug they touch, anywhere from neutralizing it to doubling its strength.
Barons of Good Trips can ensure that the first ever use of a drug goes perfectly, with no side effects, hangover or ill effects. Any other use of that drug will never make the user feel as good.
Fleurity has no real higher titles or powers yet - he's quite young. He can, however, teach the Songs of Poison.

Fleurity is a former servant of Haagenti, but he's aligned himself with the easily manipulated Saminga, whom he has convinced that Drugs serves Death. In truth, he uses Saminga to protect himself from other Princes as he forges alliances. It has earned him the hatred of Andrealphus, who dislikes both Haagenti and Saminga, and who sees Drugs as a threat to Lust. Despite her distaste for Fleurity's addictive chains, Lilith outwardly treats Drugs neutrally,though Fleurity has instructed his demons to be on their guard around her servants. Fleurity considers himself Allied to Saminga, though Saminga doesn't share the view. He is associated with Haagenti, Kronos, Lilith and Nybbas, though Lilith is not Associated with him (and Saminga is). Asmodeus is mutually hostile with Fleurity, and Andrealphus is his enemy.

Basic Rites:
1. Provide drugs, even cigarettes or alcohol, to at least 15 people who aren't yet hooked, and see them used.
2. For 3 Essence, Smuggle at least a pound of some illegal or taxed drug into a country and give it away afterwards.

Expanded Rites:
1. Provide drugs to children on a playground.
2. For 3 Essence, get a new drug classified as illegal.

Fleurity has a base invocation TN of 1, +1 for any amount of an illegal drug, +2 for a well-used bong, +3 for a personalized syringe kit, +4 for a drug in the hands of a child, +5 for a person shooting up for the first time and +6 for at least 25 people out of control on drugs.

Addiction, fundamentally, is about the first use. Drugs are never as good as that first time. That time, all your problems went away, you got what you needed. Maybe, sometimes, you can come close to that, but then you spend another month chasing the feeling again. You put all of your time and effort into matching the first high, and it will kill you. But even with that, drugs are cool. They're dangerous, and that's cool. Those that sell them know that, giving them nasty-sounding nicknames and logos for name recognition. That cavalier attitude towards death brings in a certain kind of risk-seeking customer. But still, drugs fill a need. They relieve hopelessness, they answer longing, they fill the void of anxiety. People are always in a hurry, and feel lost. Drugs give them something to be found by, to build their world around. Fleurity sometimes says he feels sorry for humanity and just wants to relieve their suffering. It's a lie. He considers it their punishment for daring to think themselves worthy of self-determination. The gift of free will is far too precious for humans, and drugs reduce them to the senseless beasts they were meant to be. It numbs and pacifies them, staggering blissfully on to Hell, where they belong.

It wasn't exactly hard to get the British to bring opium to China even if it was illegal. Between the corrupt bureaucrats and greedy merchants, Fleurity made himself a niche as a young and ambitious demon of Gluttony. For ten years, he coached the British smugglers and frustrated the Chinese government. At last, in 1839, the Qing seized 20,000 chests of opium and detained the entire British community. The British retaliated with the Opium Wars, defeating China and beginning the unequal treaties. The fact that this made a Tether ot Fate in the Canton customs house means that Fleurity wasn't quite as pervasive as he claims, but the subtle nature of drug addiction certainly muddied the water. For his efforts, he was named Demon of Drugs in 1864. The track record of the past holders of the Word made him unsure if it was reward or punishment, but he made the best of it.

After China, Fleurity decided to focus exclusively on the Americas, leaving Europe and Asia to his lieutenants. He looked to promote his Word quickly, knowing that focusing on one region left him vulnerable, but without the resources for a strong worldwide campaign. In the Bible Belt, he sold Doc Smith's Oil, Good For What Ails You, not telling the housewives that it was 50% morphine by volume. It caught on, and he began to sell it over the counter at pharmacies, quickly imitated by humans, or at least seeing them independenly evolve the idea. The government stopped it with the Pure Food and Drug Act, requiring full ingredient disclosure. Fleurity moved to plan B.

Fleurity moved from peddling home remedies with narcotics to selling perscription drugs and alcohol directly. The government, however, passed the Harrison Narcotic Act, which made posessions of these substances taxable for a thousand dollars. Fleurity began to suspect that someone was out to get him. Prohibtion was enacted in 1919, one of the largest organized efforts against Gluttony, and Fleurity made a critical mistake: he gave up trying to control the Word of Alcohol, and he missed the boat on Prohibition by a longshot. Bootlegging and speakeasies passed him by, and he began to lose grip of his own Word. He was almost ready to head back to Asia, when something beautiful happened. Thanks to a web of lies, deceit and abuses of power that he had nothing to do with, the US passed an act on the belief that marijuana caused insanity and death. This was the first federal law ever passed not on the basis of danger, but alleged 'other effects,' including the idea of a gateway drug. The entire debate lasted a minute and a half, and the transcript would later require a crowbar to remove from the shelves it had been caught between. Kronos congratulated Fleurity on the entire thing.

At first, Fleurity didn't realize it, but he was on the road to Princedom. The Marijuana Tax Act put drug use in the media and world consciousness. Europe treated it as a disease, but America treated it as a crime, making the penalties worse and worse. The Word of Drugs began to grow as it was associated with the ills of society, and the young wanted it more and more. During hte Red Scare, drugs were a way for communists to get at our youth! By 1956, marijuana possession had worse penalties than rape or murder under federal law. Fleurity began to wonder if, perhaps, he was being helped. The kicker came when the Dangerous Substances Act illegalized all durgs but alcohol and nicotine. Drugs become a dirty, mysterious, forbidden adventure. The government couldn't stem the flow, and crack started flooding the streets in the 80s. Fleurity was made a Prince. The War on Drugs was formally declared. Never before had Drugs gotten so much publicity, and never before had so many wanted what was forbidden. Fleurity's influence exploded when crack hit the inner cities.

Today, however, Fleurity has a problem. He left too much of the world to his lieutenants, it'd been a scramble to try and get the drug trade under demonic control rather than human control. The Colombians are his, but far too many opium dens of the Far East are not. He controls Prozac and Valium but none of the hash bars of Amsterdam...and worst of all, alcohol and nicotine are firmly Haagenti's, not his. He has control over inner city drugs, but not much else. It's been a hard climb, and it's not over yet.

Fleurity likes to be seen as a party demon, but the truth is, he's a businessman. He runs his Principality like a corporate environment, with his demons as employees and his wares as the medium to spread his Word. The world is supply and demand, and he must control both sides of it - make the addiction, supply the need. It doesn't matter if drugs hurt or harm - someone just needs to abuse them. He never touches it himself, of course. That would be weakness. Only the weak need drugs, which is why he pushes them so - everyone is weak except him. Each new addict reinforces this view. Those who have yet to succumb just need the right drug. Like most Habbalah, he treats his Word as both test and punishment of humanity. Any who can get by their lives without chemical assistance might be worthy...but how can that be known if they are untested? Thus, drugs must be freely available to all, and all must partake. Even other demons need better living through pharmaceuticals. Fleurity knows his servants are weak, but as long as they serve his Word, they can live. Even by Habbalah standards, he is cold. Others are just possible users. Even the Princes closest to him are kept distant. All relationships are business. Corporeally and celestially, he maintains that businesslike appearance. His head is clean-shaven, his piercings kept to a minimum and his tattoos only where they won't distract. He never wears anything but suits.

Fleurity has one priority: all humans must need. His stock must be in every home, wanted by everyone. He wants acid in schoolyards, blow in script rooms. Infiltrate everything . He knows that drugs grease the wheels of politics in Hell, whether the other Princes like it or not. He wants this to continue. Media record deals are sealed with cocaine, Kobal's pranks found in peyote highs, Malphan politics driven by the edge of ketamine, Andrealphan rape done via Rohypnol. He may not have many friends, but his Word is becoming ubiquitous in Hell. Fleurity wants to medicate everyone , even the angels. Why stop with illegal drugs when legal ones work, too?

Fleurity was never an angel and has no interest in becoming an Elohite. As far as he's concerned, he is a unique and special angel on a mission from God, without need for Heaven. His job is to test humans via drugs and destroy those who fail - that is, everyone. Without humans, there would be no testing, so no Drugs. Thus, he needs humans just as much as he detests them. He doesn't care about the fighting, about good or evil - they don't matter. All that matters is the mission. He knows he's got enemies in the Host, but he thinks them ineffectual. He's pissed off Eli, but Eli's wandered away and seems to have stopped active opposition. He's annoyed Novalis, but her sermons mean nothing to him. He's bothered Christopher, minor Archangel of Children, but that just means more laws, and that means Drugs get more appealing, which helps Fleurity. Sometimes, it seems like Heaven is interested in helping him - to Fleurity, anyway - so that's just proof that God is on his side.

Next time: First hit's free.

I Live For Drugs

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: I Live For Drugs

Like Nybbas and Vapula, Fleurity is one of the young princes. He tends to focus on local politics, and while he's made a few friends in Haagenti and Saminga, he's also made some bitter foes. Lilith thinks him disgusting and Andrealphus wants him dead. It's not an easy path for an up and coming Prince. The Archangels are more abstract to him. They may be on another side, but to him, they all support God's will. Most of the Archangels find him annoying and vile, and some think him even worse.

Superior Opinions posted:

Alaemon: Drugs are hidden. You hide them from your parents, from your friends, from the law. You sit back in a dakr corner and hide them from everyone. You hide them from the judgment of others. You hide them from yourself. Few things promote Secrets like them. And addicts are so easy to blackmail...
You can't make a deal if your users can't find you, but you can't hand your prime goods over to just anyone, either. You have to keep your deals out of the hands of the narcs. Alaemon has his place in the scheme of things.
Andrealphus: He is a loathsome being who hides beind Saminga's "skirts" for protection. He's a cockroach, peddling his dirty needles and capsules in the cracks in the walls. The two of them with their sick "heroin chic" - exchanging sex for favors to sex for drugs, to drugs instead of sex. He should be eradicated, and sooner or later, he will be.
Lust is a malleable word, and it can be turned toward the Lust for a high, for benefit. Little does Andrealphus understand that humans lust for death as much as they lust for sex...and I simply provide.
Asmodeus: Probably our most expendable Prince. He's an annoying insect, crawling in human refuse. His Habbalite delusions are to be expected, but drugs are to be tolerated only inasmuch as they are a useful tool for snaring humans. Fleurity thinks he can peddle his wares freely, wherever and whenever he likes, and that's where he's wrong.
The more he writes the rules, them ore the humans will be drawn to the forbidden fruit. Asmodeus can't possibly watch every darkened alleyway, and where his iron claws cannot reach, I will be supplying.
Baal: Drugs weaken the mind and the spirit, crippling the enemy's troops. Used carefully and in moderation, his Word could be extremely helpful in making a conquered populace acceptably passive. If his offerings are distributed without checks, however, Fleurity will have to be dealt with extreme prejudice.
[i[Even Baal's troops feel the need to imbibe once in a while. They need cigarettes, alcohol - and sometimes a little more.[/i]
Beleth: He is a purveyor of bad trips and nightmarish realities. The lysergic acid builds up in the body. It activates whenever it pleases, you see, sending its perpetual prisoner into hallucinatory horrors and monstrous dreams. But too much medication can numb their fragile little minds...we don't want them too stoned to be scared. We shall keep him - for now.
The Lady of Horrors understands the attraction that the night brings to mankind - the forbidden, the evil, the creeping nightmares. But you don't have to go out to find these things. With the right chemicals, they can be experienced in the privacy of one's own home.
Belial: There was this guy screwed up on crystal meth and he had the...the crazies. He walked into an emergency room filled with all these hurt and dying people, right? This addict, he'd been up for thirteen days straight, he had the shakes, and he had gotten his hands on quite an arsenal. He put hot lead right into old Mrs. Jenkin's left thigh! Now that's cool.
Drugs are whatever they need to be for whomever they need to be. They can be a relaxing trip, or a catalyst for fiery destruction, burning both the soul and the mind.
Haagenti: Mounds of blow! Mounds of blow ! There's nothing like drugs to fuel excess! A baggie of pot? Great! $5,00 a week smack habit? Even better! Fleurity has grown up from that little God-obsessed Habbalite I remember - just a little demonling - to a big God-obsessed Habbalite! And his Word still feeds mine. I'm so proud.
Haagenti, my maker, my once-liege lord. You fought to the top and won, and I have followed in your footsteps. Together, we forge a rare alliance in this small corner of Hell.
Kobal: In 1968, the Weathermen, a convenient anarchist group who happened to be on hand, were going through the Democratic National Convention, squirting people in the face with acid-laced water. I'm not sure what was funnier, Adlai Stevenson or that the National Guard had to be called out.
Two words: John Belushi. Two more words: Len Bias. Even Kobal helps to glorify the Word of Drugs.
Kronos: Drugs take away time, eat away at time, consume the loose edges of time. What is the drug user doing today? Drugs. What is the drug user doing tomorrow? Drugs. When the user is on drugs, there is no time for destiny, no time for Heaven. There is only time for drugs. The promising young athlete brought low by steroids, the young writer destroyed by drink, the young executive murdered by cocaine. I'm keeping my eye on this young Prince.
Drugs and Fate are intertwined. Drugs can bring humans to their righteous fate, and their fate is to come to drugs and the ending that God planned for them. It is a vicious, yet beautiful cycle.
Lilith: Addiction is a shackle on free will, a shackle I do not own. Freedom from the self? I think not. He's a blight on Shal-Mari, an obnoxious upstart who should be put in his place.
Lilith was human too, once, and she also has needs that can grow and grow and grow. A little bit of just the right powder and she, too, will come to my way of thinking.
Malphas: He's more focused than his predecessors, and like them, his Word brings me amusement. Humans insist on arguing over drugs, even killing over them. I like his enthusiasm. But then again, I'll like the enthusiasm of the Demon of Drugs who comes after him, too. Haagenti's Servitor, the Demon of Alcoholism, might be interested...
He may believe I'm disposable, but now that drugs have become a permanent part of mankind's consciousness, I will be harder to be rid of than he thinks.
Mammon: Many dealers are my servants, if he only knew. Fleurity has the sense to keep the supply restricted and the profit margin high.
A petty relic of a bygone era, but he's too useful to ignore.
Nybbas: The wonderful glory of drugs! If I could get this stuff shipped to my people by the truckload, I would. Fleurity is amenable to working out long-term contracts with some of the talent. I just had several kilos of cocaine brought up for that new bubblegum rock band - they're going to be such a sensation with the kids, I guarantee they'll need it.
Drugs are the oil which make record deals flow, the glue between producers in a back room, and the common bond between performers behind the curtain. I make the Media go. Without me, Nybbas would have a much harder time keeping his organization in line.
Saminga: Death in a capsule. Death in a powder. Death in a vial. Death in a liquid, solid and gas. Drugs are another form of death. A slow death. A certain death. He has brought more death than wars, than plagues, than disasters. He needs to spread, spread and bring death with him on angel's wings.
Saminga understands well the human drive to kill themselves in a self-destructive frenzy. The consequences of addiction are graphically depicted, and yet the humans still come with their hands out. "We are bored," they say, "so give us death." And I do.
Valefor: This new Prince has brought the rate of theft to dizzying heights. If drugs were easy to obtain, they'd hardly be worth having, let alone stealing. You'd be surprised what someone will go through to lay their hands on something they're just going to consume ten minutes later.
Promoting Valefor is merely a side effect. Many of my customers can afford those wares, but those who are desperate, well, they have to resort to other measures. When the prices are high and the quantities are even higher, humans will do anything to pay for it.
Vapula: Fascinating advances are coming out of the labs these days. I heard something about a new date-rape drug, and a narcotic being peddled as an "herbal supplement." I need to make a note to have a few volunteers report to the laboratory for complete testing and analysis. Maybe they can be combined with this luscious new strain of anthrax I've just developed. With Fleurity, these interesting new pharmaceuticals just keep coming out faster and faster.
New drugs dodge the even newer legislation to counter them. They get into the hands of children and are promoted as completely harmless. I am forced to give my nod to the role of progress in keeping the business alive.
Blandine: He is a destroyer of dreams. With his drugs and his promise of an easy answer to life's problems, he takes away more than he will ever give, and replaces it with hollow nightmares. He's an evil that must be stopped to ensure the right to dreams for all.
Blandine does not understand mankind sometimes needs a little medical help for what ails them. They cannot be expected to rely on dreams alone.
David: He peddles deception and dependence. Drugs purport to bring people together socially, but they are actually a means to separate people from one another. His victims become islands in a sea of humanity, cut off from anything outside of the drug. Isolation is weak.
David has never seen the strength of a man under the influence of PCP - the feats he can accomplish, the sheer mass he can lift. Sure, it doesn't last, but in that time he has the strength and insanity of ten.
Dominic: We legislate, and he falls through the cracks. We target his smuggling rings, and he opens others. We close down his opium dens, and others spring their place like maggots on a corpse. But he should know this: there are more angels and guns on our side than he has Servitors, and sooner or later, there will be a reckoning.
Every law the angels of Judgment encourage humans to pass encourages more humans to desire a taste of forbidden fruit. Even Judgment cannot stop basic human nature.
Eli: There was a time, before the white man came, when the Navajo and the Hopi would venture down to Monument Valley in Utah, smoke their peyote, and discover the color of their inner souls. Man and nature, nature and Creation...but that time is gone, like so many other things - and peyote is just another hallucinogen that the kids use in search of a new thrill. Most of 'em throw it all up before the trip kicks in.
I've taken Eli's precious drugs and spread them throughout Creation. He should be thanking me. What used to be confined to a few isolated groups looking for God, I've taken and given to entire nations. We're both doing God's work, and he just doesn't realize it yet.
Gabriel: He interchanges the true fiery passions of the flesh with the false needs of addiction. He substitutes the need to feel with medicated euphoria and the want to do with the drive to get another "fix." He would cloud the prophecies of God with shadows and delusions. Hem ust burn with the rest of the rubbish in Hell.
I give humans a deep, burning desire for something they yearn. That burn gives them focus. It gives them something to work their entire lives around. Why can't Gabriel see that Ig ive them the same burning desires she does?
Janus: Addiction just slows you down. It keeps you moving around and around in that one spot, and you never seem to get anywhere. Life is all about movement! You've got to keep moving to keep living. As long as my people steer clear of what this guy's got, we'll all be okay.
Doesn't Janus see the marvelous smuggling rings we have set up to distribute drugs across the planet? We keep the supply always moving, from Bangkok to Hong Kong to Miami, and into the hands of the children who dream about it. We're always on the move, never sitting still.
Jean: He displays a poor grasp of the proper use of technology. Distributing processed chemicals to human beings for pure recreational use is abusive and inefficient. Not that I expect better of a Demon Prince, but Fleurity has put a diabolical taint on an entire scientific field.
We need innovation to advance the drug trade. There's a demand for newer and newer drugs to keep the kids interested. Not all of them will stay with the old standby of alcohol, and it's my job to make sure they get exactly what they want.
Jordi: [snort] Animals, the true and the free, have no use for his trash.
Drug abuse is a distinctly human phenomenon. Jordi and I almost never cross paths...although there are some fine testing facilities in the medical laboratories. Apparently, he hasn't paid much attention to the uses of Rhesus monkeys.
Laurence: He peddles nothing more than godless filth unto the disenfranchised and the children. He stands for impurity, and pushes it into the bloodstream of the greedy and the weak. He does nothing but fulfill weak needs, needs which should be supplanted with piety before the eyes of God.
Laurence and I will never see eye to eye. He's self-righteous enough to get off on a purely spiritual high, but most people can't do that. He does his work for God, and I do mine.
Marc: Dealers create monopolies of business. How can free trade happen when one gang or one drug lord is controlling all the goods in the area, and literally killing the competition? And addicts are not in a position to seek out a fair deal.
My dealers sell drugs because, in the inner city, there's nothing else to do! With no money, there aren o jobs. And with no jobs, there is no recreation. Marc should see that I'm doing the community a favor.
Michael: Drugs are insidious. Fleurity's dealers can be dealt with like any other demons, but once they've gotten their hooks into a man's soul, it takes more than force of arms to overpower them. So make sure you hit them before that happens.
I give Michael's warriors what they want - alcohol, cigarettes, the occasional bud or two. I help the army of God relax after a hard day's war against the enemy. He should be thanking me for a service rendered.
Novalis: He's a corrupter. He destroys everything he touches. If it grows, he finds some way to shoot it up. If it can be made, he finds some way to snort it. The medicinal uses for many herbs are lost in the frenzy to get as high as possible. So many good and natural cures have been lost. Only education and the demonstration of the good and right way to use drugs can ever bring them back into mankind's graces - and it's a long, hard road.
I am eternally grateful to Novalis. After all, she gave me my start. If it wasn't for her herbal remedies, I would never be where I am today.
Yves: Some roads to Hell are easier than others, and this one can be so subtle that the victims may not see it at all. A little bit here or a little bit htere "can't possibly hurt," they think, but every time someone engages in his Word, they move a little closer to the Pit. And one day they wake up, and discover they're in Hell already.
The old man doesn't see that I just give people what they desire. If they weren't so weak, they wouldn't have taken it in the first place.
Humanity: If human beings weren't so weak, they wouldn't need what I provide. They come begging for escape from the reality of their own worthlessness, and I give it to them. A kindness? Not when you measure a few years of stoned bliss against an eternity in Hell.
Soldiers of God: They pretend to be strong, they pretend to be better than the others. They're not. They shoot up before they go demon-hunting, they see visions of Jesus while tripping on's so easy to replace their delusions of serving God with service to me .
Hellsworn: Even I have need of humans to do some of the dirty work that my lowest demons are unwilling to do. Soldiers of Drugs are willing to crawl through swamps, sneak through airports with drugs stuffed into their bodily orifices, and even lower themselves to work in advertising.
Sorcerers: Occasionally, they interchange their sex rituals with sex-and-drug rituals, which helps to spread the Word. In gneeral, I have no real use for this particular brand of human vermin.
Ethereals: Any benefit the Ethereals receive from Drugs is merely a coincidental side-effect of hte process. I am not interested in their further well-being, nor their continued existence.

Variations! Fleurity as the Heroin Sheik isn't a cynic - he's an addict, a slave to the needle he has shared with the world. He spends hours in a haze n Shal-Mari, obsessed with the next fix. He never leaves the Black Lotus, but instead continuously indulges, hunting for God. His demons, those few that are loyal and not themselves addicts, do their best to keep the Principality going. The other Princes are taking bites out of it, with such a weak Prince, and Fleurity may soon be dead. Fleurity the Pothead Prince is a lighter demon, who loves marijuana above all. He's your standard pothead, loves Santana and handmade bongs, and is a real partier. He is going to find God in a bowl, and he doesn't really work very hard. That's what his demons are for. They aren't so enthusiastic, but they cover for him so they can keep the cushy jobs.

Despite Andrealphus' hostility, Fleurity still works out of Shal-Mari. It's unrestricted, has the most damned and demons to sell to and is just the market he needs. His main headquarters is the Black Lotus, a pseudo-Asian houseboat floating on the Acheron. Here, he controls his creeping empire of opium dens, coca bars and hash parlors. He knows the importance of influence, though, so while it's his main base, it's far from his only one. He uses it primarily to maintain his image as a fun party guy.

In Cass Corridor of Detroit, meanwhile, there is a club: the White Rabbit. Once, it was a quiet meeting place for a conspiracy of Gluttony, Death and Drugs demons - but now, it's Fleurity's top Earthly hotspot. Inside is a nightclub of indulgences of every kind, pounding music and darkened booths. Demons and humans alike shoot up in the bathrooms. In a back hallway is a small office where Fleurity consolidates his Earthly operations, but he knows it can't be his only home on Earth.

The Dealers, as demons of Drugs are known, are consumed by the cycle of dealing and abuse. They have an almost religious reverence for their drugs, between the indoctrination of new users, using their supply and fearing the narcs. They live, eat and breathe drugs. Most are enterprising young demons, formerly of Death or Gluttony, trying to make or break it in a new career. The understand the idea of excess and see a chance to put it into action. They remember the last young Prince to rise and the opportunities he made for others smart enough to get in on the ground floor, and they hope for the same. It's hard to reconcile continuous drug abuse and ambition, however, and it's not wholly successful. Several talents have joined only to fall to drug-filled euphoria. Almost all of these demons use, and most say they can handle it, but more than a few get utterly addicted. It's hard to resist temptation, after all. Many Dealers skim off their supply. Fleurity doesn't care as long as it doesn't affect the bottom line or your performance. There's no rehab in Hell, though - so if it does, you die.

Fleurity maintains a rigid hierarchy. Each demon has a boss, that boss has a boss, and it all leads back to him. Each wing focuses on a different type of drug, though multiple wings may come together for a single team job. Fleurity surrounds himself with his lieutenants, those that have been there from the start and whom he allows to manage large operations. He keeps an eye on them, though - he doesn't trust them, and will replace them if they can't keep up. Of course, knowing that makes them quite efficient - no demon in Drugs gets ahead by doing nothing. Local pockets may find themselves dealing petty drugs on the street while trying to be recognized and put in less vulnerable positions, like distributing or lobbying. Step outside your bounds to improve yourself and get caught, though, and you're likely to get an even worse job in Hell.

Punishment among Drugs is strict, swift, arbitrary and unfair. It comes fast and hard. Using up stock you're meant to sell, doing side business, even being lazy - that's all punishable. Normally, you get caught by your boss and punished directly - usually with a bad job or getting shot. But if the Prince himself notices, he's not above destroying your soul utterly. For every lazy demon, he has five below waiting to move up. Rewards are equally swift. Going above and beyond the call of duty will attract Fleurity's attention, though also piss off your direct superior. Your boss will ignore your accomplishments, leaving them out of reports or taking credit for them, and his boss will do the same to him. Fleurity isn't stupid and can usually see through it. Promotion comes fast for the skilled, which breeds a healthy level of paranoia and ambition - Fleurity likes a little social Darwinism.

There aren't many Fallen in Drugs. Sure, you advance fast, but most Fallen prefer more stable organizations. He does get the occasional Fallen Creationer, though, turned to drugs to alleviate their pain. He doesn't go out of his way to treat them any differently - he hasn't got the workforce to differentiate between Fallen and Hellborn, and a new recruit that used to be an angel gets treated like anyone else. New trainees only need to know three things: they have a place, they can rise, and sampling the merchandise can kill them. Anything else they learn by doing. Starting at the bottom is a learning experience, and all new demons of Drugs start out at the very bottom. Fleurity's not got the time or manpower to run training camps. He figures the streets will teach you. It works for humans, after all, and they're idiot monkeys. This means that demons of Drugs tend to have widely varied skills, but not with any real consistency.

Humans, of course, are required for Drugs. But that's humans in plural. Any one human is an acceptable loss. Hlel, any two dozen are acceptable losses. Don't worry about overdoses, as long as you keep recruiting new victims. All of Earth is your potential customer base. Demons of Drugs tend to see humans as a sort of pin cushion into which needles and pills can be shoved. They tend to feel similarly to Death demons - humans are squishy and will die eventually, so enjoy 'em while they last but don't worry when they break.

Balseraphs of Drugs like cocaine - one snort, and allies are true, and life is fine. They prefer straight lines of it to any other drug. The price is high, and they prefer classier circles if they can manage it. They try to be slick, clean and professional, with interesting clientele, the rich and famous. The smaller, less experienced and less lucky Balseraphs tend to end up dealing crack to the poor and disenfranchised. It's a shorter, more itnense high, and it has a dirty stigma. The smart ones move to coke as soon as they can.

Djinn of Drugs like downers of all kinds. Under stress, humans take drugs that'll give them a pleasant euphoria and send them into withdrawn inactivity, with maybe the occasional burst of hostility. Djinn can relate to that. Plus, it slows humans down and makes them easy to track. They like sell downers, sometimes in clubs, sometimes as pharmacists 'kindly' extending a prescription a little longer.

Calabim of Drugs like crystal meth. It drives the nervous system faster and harder than anything. It gives intense physical and emotional strain, and it's as convenient as a pill! It internalizes destruction until it breaks free in fury. It's great! They love it so much that Fleurity occasionally has problems getting them to stop taking it long enough to sell it. They move it any way they can - smoking crystals, snorting powders, swallowing pills, injecting liquids. They just have one problem: there are no old crank users. They don't last. They die on the regular. You have to keep hustling to new users, wherever you can.

Habbalah of Drugs like LSD. It alters perceptions even in small doses, and it can produce almost religious experiences. A Habbalite on acid gets orders from God, or feels like it. Plus, it provides bad trips to the unfaithful. It's like God has touched someone and marked them as dirty. That's great! Habbalah see selling acid as handing out God's justice. If they're strong, they can commune. If not, they are smited.

Lilim of Drugs are rare - addiction is a chain, and one they can't control. It's not like a Geas - the addict only needs drugs, wants drugs, works for drugs. They can't make it do anything else. The prospect of fulfilling the same need over and over until a human dies is not appealing, and Geases are useless on the dead. They prefer to provide whatever drugs will generate the longest addictions, usually coke or heroin, but freelance work can pay well. The few full-time Lilim of Drugs are intensely mercenary. They need a steady stream of users to keep their work interesting and get worthwhile Geases. It's like being the garbage man - plenty to take, not much of it worth anything. It pays well, but the job sucks. They tend to be among the few demons of Drugs that aren't addicts themselves - though that doesn't mean always, or that they never use.

Next time: Yes, Prozac

We Get It, Dude, You Vape

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: We Get It, Dude, You Vape

Shedim of Drugs fucking love PCP. They'll do any drug, but they fucking love PCP. They don't tend to hang in a host long enough to build the reputation a dealer needs, so they focus on using and getting as many other people hooked as they can in the process. Any drug, but PCP is the favorite. Of course, they start slow - a few cigarettes, some joints, and then you move to shooting up through your eyeballs. Then it's off to a new host.

Impupites of Drugs like pot. They especially like the ritual involved in selling pot, though - the buyer comes over, smokes some, eats some chips, has a two hour conversation about nothing, and only then do you make the sale, and all the while, the Impudite is sucking up your essence. They like having people come and hang out. Everyone's cool and social, it's great. Impudites of Drugs tend to stink of pot all the time, and their whole world is seen through the gray haze of cannabis and incense. They tend to be the pudgiest of Impudites.

In Hell, the demons of Drugs work damn hard. They know that if they lose any ground in Shal-Mari, dying is the best thing they can hpe for. They've become so obsessed with drugs that they preach it from the streets and pits, trying to turn other demons into addicts as a religion. They have managed to sleaze across all of Hell by bribes and smuggling, and they're happy to market to the damned as well as the demons. The more damned that get 'persuaded' to start using, the more Essence they can take in, and they're trying to sell to souls in every Principality. Ironically, some Princes have responded by trying to regulate or outlaw drugs.

Ethereal work is limited and messy. Ethereals don't do drugs, for the most part, and those that embody the dreams of drugs tend not to take them. There's just not much market in the Marches. A few more enterprising demons try to create drug-based visions out there, but their goods are fundamentally material in nature. They are opportunistic, however, and have been trying to make Chimera into a thing.

Most of Drugs' work is done on Earth. That's where most of the drug-consuming population is, after all. Demons of Drugs work on all levels - dealing, making, smuggling, assassinations, money laundering, recruting, advertising, legal work. The whole shebang is there get drugs to the users. Demons that arent' dealing or distributing run support, which often includes taking out a few cops, paying smugglers or securing supply. Fleurity tends to assign demons to a specific city until they enter Trauma, and those that have the work of dealing tend to set up 'cop spots'. Copping is from 20s slang, and it's their euphemism for dealing and buying. Cop spots are stable places to sell drugs to people, and most Dealer work is in setting them up and maintaining them. However, some of them are assigned to help the War on Drugs. These demons take no dissonance from outwardly discouraging drug use, so long as their actions don't actually restrict supply or userbase. Burning one shipment or killing a few addicts, that's fine, but causing an actual shortage or reducing demand, that's dissonant.

Fleurity's demons see all other demons as either narcs or users. EVen demons of Death are potential users of drugs, unless they're Game double agents, in which case, they're narcs. Dealers don't have and can't conceive of any other relationship with outsiders. The Game are narcs, always. (Which is true.) The Game claims they have good reason to target Drugs - drugs make demons and Hellsworn lethargic and unable to focus. Worse, they might make demons more susceptible to angelic propaganda or 'open thier minds' to dangerous thoughts. If all of Hell becomes addicted, there won't be much War. The truth, of course, is they just like having something to control. Luckily, the Game is corrupt, and Drugs is good at bribery. It doesn't always work, though, and the Game has superiors keeping an eye on them. When they need to meet quota, it's likely the local Dealer will end up having their operation stormed, the users arrested and imprisoned, and maybe even their own execution. Dealing drugs and dealing with the Game is a dangerous trick, and doesn't always work.

Next time: Gordon Gekko

The Man Who Wants Everything

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: The Man Who Wants Everything

Mammon, Prince of Greed , lives it up. He loves the world - so much that he wants to own all of it. He supports the War in principle, but he's more a war profiteer than a soldier. If he could, he'd own everything, but he can't. He has to serve Lucifer. So, instead, he does is best to make humans greedy so his demons can control them. Thus, the more they accumulate, the more he owns by proxy. He considers hismelf the ultimate conglomerate, with each human he controls a wholly-owned subsidiary, and all their profits belonging to him. Mammon is a Balseraph, but not nearly so brave as, say, Baal. He is a carrion crow, gathering the spoils and dodging the fighting. Baal hates him, though Mammon adores Baal - War's good for business. Mammon charges his demons with finding powerful and ambitious people that just need a break to get started or move up. Some of the Princes, particularly Kronos, think Mammon should focus on making the selfless greedy. Mammon refuses - he thinks it's far better for a small clutch of humans who own everything to serve Hell, as it just makes everyone else that much worse off. Mammon appears in many shapes. He likes to play at the fat merchant, gold coins and roast turkey spilling from his pockets, but he also likes to be the svelte aesthete of immaculate appearance who appreciates the finer things. He also likes, at times, to appear as Santa Claus, whom he claims he created.

It is dissonant for any demon of Greed to show generosity. They can give nothing away at all, even the time of day, without an ulterior motive. They can loan, but only grudgingly and at a price. Barter's fine...if it's not a fair trade. Bribery, of course, is absolutely okay.

Balseraphs of Greed can write business contracts that appear perfectly fair until signed, at which point the true terms, skewed in their favor, appear on the page. The target can notice this beforehand with a Perception roll. However, if they sign and fail a Will roll, they will believe the contract read that way the entire time.
Djinn of Greed can smell the opportunity for a human in their presence to unfairly exploit another person.
Calabim of Greed can find anything specific that can sabotage a crooked deal or expose a fraud with a Perception roll, so long as it's known to exist. For example, tapes of incriminating conversations. Their job is, of course, to destroy it.
Habbalah of Greed add (Ethereal Forces) when trying to impose the emotional effect of Greed, which functions as per the Discord for (CD) days.
Lilim of Greed can, if they persuade a victim to sign a contract or note acknowledge a debt, deny their victim a Will roll to resist their Geas for as long as they hold the signed contract...even if the obligation was hidden in fine print or the Geas-hook was not laid when it was signed. (However, celestial influence can't be used - the Balseraph attunement, for example, will invalidate this.)
Shedim of Greed automatically succeed at controlling their host when the act they want to commit satisfies the host's greed directly.
Impudites of Greed may add (Celestial Forces) to their Will rolls to charm those who believe they control the Impudite or are about to rip the Impudite off when the reverse is true.
Only the Best allows you to tell what item you look at is the best quality and, with a Will roll, get it for 25% less than the initial asking price.
Art of the Deal allows you to spontaneously generate legal contracts. After you discuss a deal with someone and establish terms, you need only to reach into a pocket or briefcase and produce, with a flourish, a legal document encompassing all of those terms, ready to be signed. You may also produce additional copies if a duplicate or triplicate is required.
Cashing Out allows you to transform Essence into money - 50 dollars in local currency per point of Essence spent, always in the form of used bank notes in non-consecutive numbers that appear somewhere on your person out of sight.
Knights of Treasure may, for 2 Essence, perfectly forge a target's signature on any document, so well that all humans, including the target, will believe they really signed for (Total Forces) hours.
Captains of the Motherlode can always get a human to tell them what the human is most greedy for. With a succesful Will roll, they can convince the target that making a deal will make those greedy dreams come true.
Barons of El Dorado always seem to have something valuable when they need it. They can't choose to use the power, but the GM makes money or valuables appear whenever seems appropriate. They may also charge Essence for this power, ranging from 0 for trivial things to up to 6 Essence for something lifesaving. The GM may also choose to have the item be cumbersome, like a ball of gold.
Mammon offers higher Distinctions for vast sums of money, but does not offer any powers to go with the authority.
Mammon will also sell tutelage in the Songs of Correspondence, Fruition, Hunger and Pestilence.

Mammon is allied to Andrealphus and Nybbas, though they don't return the favor. He is associated with Haagenti and Valefor...though, again, they don't return the favor. Andrealphus, Malphs and Nybbas consider themselves associated with Mammon. Mammon is hostile to Baal and Kronos, while they, Asmodeus, Beleth and Saminga are hostile to Mammon.

Basic Rites:
1. Roll around in a big pile of cash.
2. Make a 100% profit on a dishonorable transaction.
3. Get somebody fired to advance another's career.

Expanded Rites:
1. Preach the glories of Greed, Capitalism and the Free Market to an audience of 100 mortals.
2. Make someone break a solemn promise in return for money.
3. Lecture a beggar loudly for at least five minutes on why relying on the generosity of others is wrong.
4. Gaze for four hours on an Old Master in your private collection.
5. Make a million dollars in under 10 minutes.
6. Take candy from a baby.
7. For 3 Essence, convince a mortal to sign their soul away to Mammon.

Mammon has a base Invocation tN of 3, +1 for the proximity of a store selling expensive but useless things to make the buyers appear wealthy, +2 for the house of a miser, +3 for a wealthy thief, +4 for a room full of lawyers, +5 for a millionaire who has given nothing to charity in a year, +6 for a binding contract for a human's soul, signed in fresh blood.

Mammon likes to make grand entrances and ostentatiously show off his wealth. He expects his demons to fawn on him and be aggressively servile as soon as they recognize him. He likes to know he owns them as much as he owns his wealth. More than this, though, they must be enslaved to the trappings of greed, willing to do anything their Prince tells them in exchange for paltry scraps of his wealth. Once Mammon is satisfied that he owns you, he can afford to mellow out and listen to your requests. He especially enjoys when his demons debase themselves for money or favor.

Greed is one of the most pernicious sins. For money, people have done all kinds of terrible things. Greed says that only material wealth matters. Wealth replaces morality. Anything that increases wealth is good, anything that loses it is evil. That's it. That's the whole of it. As long as there is more to own, the Greedy cannot rest. They must own more, acquire more, control more. Any satisfaction is temporary at best. The world itself will not be enough. Greed is an addiction that grows as it is fed. The Greedy become incapable of seeing anyone or anything without wondering how to profit off them. They have no friends, only dupes, slaves and rivals.

Mammon is an ancient demon, one of the originals. Once, he was a Seraph of Creation, charged with shaping the world, but of all those who were in Heaven, he was always the most fascinated by riches. When Lucifer gathered his rebels, he whispered to Mammon that God intended for humans to inherit the Earth and all that was on it, with the prior claims of the angels to be overlooked. Of course, those that followed Lucifer would not be unrewarded...Mammon was an especially easy sell. After the Fall, Lucifer gave Principalities to the Fallen who had best served him. Mammon was not among them - he had not distinguished himself, and to this day, Baal suspects he fled to Earth to hoard gold while the other rebels fought and died. It became clear that all lesser demons would have to swear allegiance to a Prince. Mammon took service with Asmodeus, for the chance to collect wealth in the name of Hell. He was named the Chief Steward of the Game and given a Dukedom.

Mammon's instincts were used well, gathering Essence and reliquaries as the Game's influence grew. If Marc invented the salary, Mammon claims taxation, usury and blackmail. He stood at the right hand of Asmodeus when Lucifer gathered Princes to discuss the division of souls, and he was blamed by many for the advantageous settlement which the Game received there. The great census, however, was what broke the camel's back. It was a grand scheme, to count al ldemons on Earth for the Game's purposes, requiring access to Hearts and a nominal fee of one gold coin from each demon, payable to the census-takers. These would then be totaled by Mammon's underlings as the first accurate census of Hell. Asmodeus agreed to the command, and armies marched in Hell as riots broke out in Shal-Mari. On Earth, Mammon and his debt collectors began the census, demanding far more than one coin from their victims. At a special council of Princes, Lucifer himself intervened. He thanked all the participants for their cooperation and said the census was at an end, as it had served its purpose. He named Mammon the Prince of Greed that day, in 700 BC.

Being mentioned in the Bible was a huge ego boost for Mammon, but also drew him to Heaven's attention. None of the other Princes felt like helping. Over the centuries of the Christian Era, Mammon's arrogance drove a wedge between him and the other Princes. His Word prospered, he was even worshipped by some mortals, and he convinced himself he could handle the worst of Heaven. His disregard for politics even led him to mock Kronos, a rising star in Hell's hierarchy of Princes. He even had some successes - the Fourth Crusade, in which the rulers of Venice used Christian soldiers to sack Byzantium for their own gain, was a hard blow.

Mammon's decline wasn't just one event - it was long and slow. He had never really cared as much for celestial power and was resented by many demons. Many of his own demons were embezzling - it'd be a surprise if that was otherwise. Plus, he was an easy target for Heaven. But the Age of Capital was dawning, and he did well by the 19th century. Global trade put him in direct conflict and competition with Marc, focusing them on each other to the exclusion of most other things. While Mammon claims he came close to bankrupting Trade in those days, his enemies were gathering, maddened by his successes. Rumors say that a Prince made a deal with Marc, but others say it was sheer luck. Whatever the case, when the stock market crashed in 1929, the Princes of Hell played their hands, and there was a run on Mammon's Bank. All investors were ordered to withdraw their Essence, and they mobbed the Shal-Mari vaults. Desperate for a loan to support his bank, Mammon took huge debts from the Shal-Mari princes, who preferred him weaker but wanted to keep some of their power base away from looters and the Game. Order was restored, but the damage was done. Mammon retired briefly to lick his wounds and ropen the Bank of Hell. Satisfied that he'd be subservient, the other Princes withdrew - his corporeal power and competence were too useful to utterly destroy.

Lesser demons might have given up at that point, but not Mammon. On Earth, he's doign quite well with the rise of organized crime and the international economy. In Hell, however, Haagenti is making inroads into his vulnerable territory, and Kobal is encouraging him to believe that in a progessive society like Shal-Mari, it's only right to eat the rich. Mammon is now a minor Prince at best. His Earthly empire may be recovering from its Depression stbacks, but in Hell, his influence is only waning, lost by his own greed and short-sightedness.

The legendary 30 pieces of silver for which Judas gave up Jesus are a potent symbol of Greed. Whether Mammon had any involvement in that betrayal is unknown, but he has been actively seeking the silver pieces ever since. They are widely assumed to be potent relics, but as yet, Mammon has only 24 of them. He would pay very well for information leading to the recovery of any of the rest.

Next time: Legends of Greed

Money Makes The World Go Round

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Money Makes The World Go Round

Simon Magus, known as the Father of Heresy, was one of the first to be openly repudiated by the early Church. He is briefly mentioned in the Book of Acts as a socrerer interested in buying the secrets of divine grace after Saint Peter's laying on hands. Legends tells of how he repented, traveled to Rome and founded a Gnostic sect that taught that the Old Testament was revealed to humanity by malicious angels, and the word simony came to mean any offering of wealth for spiritual favors, which was denounced as an abomination. Celestial rumor holds that Simong Magus was a Renegade of Greed seeking truly to get closer to Heaven by the only means he understood. Of course, once both Heaven and Hell knew who he was, his death and the destruction of his reputation were practical a guarantee.

The Djinn Mulciber, first governor of the Bank of Hell, is a legend among Greed demons. He instituted the organization that would become the Cube, and also personally designed the vaults and tunnels under Shal-Mari that the Bank uses to store valuables, full of traps and spyholes. Shortly after the excavation and construction completed, however, Mulciber went missing and was declared Renegade. He has never been seen since. Rumor has it that Mammon was so pleased with the security that he decided to chain Mucliber up in a remote vault, along with his Heart, that no other might ever learn the secrets of the Bank.

Mammon is a petty tyrant who focuses singlemindedly on the material. He believes Lucifer gave him Earth to rule in his name, and that it's only a matter of time before he absolutely controls it. He often acts as if he owns everything he can see, and when he is alone with his possessions - which includes his demonic servants - he can afford to relax and wax philosophical about Greed's benefits. Demons who get bored by this will be heavily punished. Mammon's love of his hoard is infamous, and he enjoys displaying his wealth. However, nothing is too sacred for him to break in search of a profit, and he expects his demons to be the same. He likes to gamble when the odds are in his favor and he especially likes to watch his demons swindle others. He vacillates wildly on his interpretation of Greed - one day he might encourage slavery out of sheer malice, the next he might wholeheartedly defend greed as the lubricant of the world economy. Mortals have dreamed up thousands of excuses to justify greed, and Mammon has mastered them all.

Mammon likes to believe that it was his own choice to withdraw from Hellish politics. The truth is that the 1929 crash hit him very, very hard. Since then, he's become more and more paranoid that everyone is after his riches. He explodes into a violent temper at the slightest sign of theft or embezzlement by his demons, many of whom were purged in his witch hunts. Even before this, however, he's never been a great politician. He follows mortal trends, he doesn't inspire them. He has always favored the idea of a world plutocracy, without any regulation or restriction, despite his flirtations with feudalism in the past.

Mammon wants to own the world, right now. Failing that, he'll buy it up slowly. He makes the casual assumption that he owns anything owned by his slaves, so the easiest way to extend his holdings is to enslave mortals who have gathered the most. Ownership of everything and everyone is his goal. Wealth must belong to Mammon and Mammon alone. He has no conception of free will - someone owned is a slave to greed and will always be so. He has no time for the poor or humble - they're worthless. If they had any worth, they wouldn't be poor. He would, if he could, keep all of his wealth in solid and physical form, but in the modern era, so much ends up in Swiss bank accounts. Even so, he likes to keep vaults of treasures that he can touch and caress.

Mammon has never really stopped resenting God. He feels it was unfair to refuse to give celestial inheritance of the Earth, and believes he did the only 'honest' thing by 'standing up for his beliefs' and following Lucifer. He is a petulant demon, and his quest to own everything is in part an attempt to turn greed into rebellion - a statement to God that everything he made now belongs to Mammon. And while Mammon may betray his allies for gold or ignore Hell's needs for his own greed, Mammon will roll over like a dog for Lucifer's desires. It's not even just pragmatism - Mammon genuinely loves Lucifer, in the only way he can. He worships the First of the Fallen, who led him to his desires. Because he loves Lucifer, he secretly desires to own and enslave him. He'd never dare to try it, but even he can dream.

Mammon loudly supports the War in public. He's a loud and talented demagogue, and widely seen as the hawk of Shal-Mari, but the truth is that he strives to be as far from the front lines as possible. Unfortunately, Heaven frequently targets his operations, which is another reason he's so publically supportive of Hell's war faction. He'd love to see Lucifer's hordes take over Earth, but he has no real loyalty to anything but his money. If there was profit in peace, he'd change his words in a moment. He focuses on pursuing riches far above infernal politics, a tactic that has blown up in his face many times but which he shows no signs of changing. He's irritated the other Princes too much to have any real allies, and especially now, they're waiting to pounce if he shows any weakness. Heaven tends to consider him a favored target, and most Archangels do not realize how badly his Hellish power base has been eroded.

Superior Opinions posted:

Alaemon: Where would Mammon be without Secrets? He's always looking for inside information...and selling it as well. We can do business together.
Alaemon knows how to create a demand where there was none before - by keeping information scarce, and making it valuable. And he hungers for more, always more, and hoards what he has.
Asmodeus: He was too much of a wild card, willing to sell us all out. Those who think to follow in his footsteps need only look at his example to see how even Princes can be called to task.
I always knew I was made for better things than him. You can't cripple the free market. Unbridled greed works so much more efficiently without any regulations.
Baal: (snort) He's nothing but a coward and a leech, grown fat from the work of others. Come Judgment Day, Mammon will be the first with his back against the wall.
Baal is a great role-model to us all, and war is so good for profiteering.
Beleth: The terror in his eyes when he thought he had lost everything, that was sweet to me. Mammon knows now that every Prince in Hell has his measure.
Nothing's scarier than losing everything, and nothing makes people greedier than fear of losing what they've got.
Belial: What's the point of storing corporeal things? Everything could go up in flames and what has he got then?
He only lives to destroy. Useful for insurance scams, but you could replace him with one of Vapula's heavy weapons and no one would notice the difference.
Fleurity: A petty relic of a bygone era, but he's too useful to ignore.
Many dealers are my servants, if he only knew. Fleurity has the sense to keep the supply restricted and the profit margin high.
Haagenti: What's the point in keeping money locked away when it could be buying food? the rich...
A worthy and noble Prince, dedicated to providing a constant stream of consumers who will pay high prices. And he should stick to what he's good at.
Kobal: It's a scream. Hey, Mammon, tell me again about you are really the lord of all you survey.
The Fall broke his mind, and he's become so inconsistent that no one can rely on him for anything. Everyone loves a joker, but they don't lend him money.
Kronos: Greed may have dragged more mortals to the pit than any other Word, but that is despite the best efforts of its incompetent Prince.
Who does he think he is, meddling in my affairs and picking and choosing which mortals I should foster? I'm sure he's the guiding force behind those who plot against me.
Lilith: What's he done this time? I know him well, and I know his Needs. He never misses a trick in trying to bargain prices up though; I can do business with him, but I don't like it when people try to cheat me.
Ah, the beautiful Princess. I understand her better than she knows.
Malphas: Greed lurks in every mortal heart, nestled close to its sister, Envy. It is a wonderful tool for persuading people to doubt their leaders, and their friends, and their family, and...
A wise and clever Prince, who is always a source of good advice.
Nybbas: One of the few old school who really has his head screwed on. Check out the ratings on these game shows...
He's ambitious, and money is the life-blood of his operations. A useful pawn, and there's good profit in the Media.
Saminga: Death, only death is the way to ultimate power. How pointless he is, playing with bits of metal and rock. Let him wane and die and rot away; one less to threaten me.
There can be profit in death. Kill the men, then cheat the widows and orphans out of their inheritances. But the mass murders over which Saminga gloats are just wasteful.
Valefor: You have to love him, he's turned so many people into thieves; and as for the's a challenge, isn't it?
He's god at acquisition, far too good. The only other Prince who really knows what it's all about. We understand each other.
Vapula: Simple-minded but easily paid off. He's useful; and the rest is idiocy and ancient history.
New technology has been a growing market, and the demand isn't dropping any time soon. He supplies the goods, and I advise on marketing, with an appropriate cut, of course.
Blandine: He is a nasty, petty-minded plague upon the Earth. What is this lust for material thingS? Is humanity truly so easily swayed from higher purposes?
Dreams are so inspiring to humanity, giving them so many wonderful imagines of all the things they could do if they only owned more .
David: Who dares claim ownership of the Earth, with her metals and jewels, to lock them away?
Too old-fashioned to live; he hates what he doesn't understand. I only want to keep his rocks and gems safe.
Dominic: Mammon has turned too many souls away from the glories of Heaven - which are priceless, and cannot be bought with gold.
You can't talk to these people, they are so determined not to understand...but does he really think his angels cannot be bribed? I know better.
Eli: His lust for gold has blinded him to the wonders of the world around him. He's the ultimate sell-out.
He's a fool. If you just give things away, they'll be worthless.
Gabriel: How much cruelty has been wrought in the name of Greed? Mammon wants to replace God in the eyes of man, and he is succeeding, and no one will see...
How much destruction has her crazy idiocy wrought? Does anyone stop her? No, they all believe she speaks for God. As if.
Janus: He is anathema. He teaches that material possessions are the only important things in life. It's wrong. It's evil. Let's see him laugh when he is left with nothing.
Janus is just full of hot air - but every time he takes something of mine, it drags him down with it.
Jean: His success in influencing mortal attitudes is something from which we should aim to learn, in order to apply it to the goals of Heaven. However, I doubt that Mammon is as major a priority as many of my colleagues seem to think.
The arms race he has got into with Vapula is a war like any other. Get out there, grab the toys, and sell them to the highest bidder!
Jordi: How petty is humanity with its grasping, unnecessary exploitation of God's world? Greed may lurk within every human, but it does not lurk within animals. Mammon encourages everything most despicable about mankind, and still they adore him.
I love animals. Have you seen my ivory and tortoise-shell chess set?
Laurence: "What profit it a man to gain the world, if he lose his soul?" If ever we are tempted to love our own possessions too much, let us keep these words in our hearts. Greed is a fatal sickness of the soul.
Just another violent, single-minded fanatic with the world's most pointless job. He's too young to know better, and too brainwashed to care.
Marc: Over the years, his Word has been one of the single most potent weapons in Hell's arsenal on Earth. Worse than that, Mammon himself is a tasteless idiot and a boor. He is spiritually bankrupt, and brining him to book has cost us dearly. I look forward to permanently settling some accounts...soon.
Ah, my divine counterpart. We understand each other. We are business rivals, in a sense. I've almost bankrupted him several times, but his trade does create wealth, and for that I will own him.
Michael: His demons are cowards and turncoats, and they don't stay bought - pay them off for information, and then shoot them in the head.
As long as his forces are pointed away from me, there's profit in it; selling arms and information to very willing buyers.
Novalis: Why can't these people be satisfied to have enough for their own needs? I think his minions are terrified and misunderstood - if we could only explain that God loves them too and would provide for them, they would give up their greed!
Too stupid to be true. She gives away too much; she must have an angle.
Yves: The tragedy of greed is that it blinds one to everything except money - but remember that in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.
If only he'd use his abilities for something useful, like handing out stock tips...
Mortals: Ahh, my pawns. I like to think of life as a testing ground, to tease out the valuable ones from the dross. They are all my creatures - just some of them take longer to realize it.
Hellsworn and Sorcerers: The privileged few - they are prmitted to worship openly. My temporary workers on Earth, and my valuables in Hell.
Soldiers of God: It's pathetic that these mortals keep falling for the great lies, "Give us your money, you won't be needing it." I can teach them better. Let's see how generous and how humble they can afford to be when their children are starving.
Ethereals: They're just phantasms, so pay them off with promises and other intangibles. Stage takeover bids for their cults, and remember - if it moves, it can be duped.

Variations! Mammon the Most Dangerous is far from a failure - he actually is as intelligent as he claims. It's all been a plot to get more freedom to pursue his real plans to acquire the entire universe. He is one of the most scheming intellectuals of Hell, and his brash and smug exterior is just a wildly successful mask. Mammon secretly controls most of Hell's Earthly operations, without anyone realizing, and only the Host sees him for the true threat that he is. Mammon the Banker is a slightly more comedic take than canon - all pinstripes and silk, like a junk bond trader. He speaks in financial terms at all times, and taxes his demons heavily for all sorts of silly reasons. He uses every excuse to avoid giving up any of his hoard for any reason, and Princes that need corporeal funding m,ay have to send explorers into Shal-Mari to hunt him down, as he regularly 'fails to recceive messages' if he suspects it'll cost him - though he's always on time and in person for debt collection.

Mammon runs Shal-Mari's financial district. It holds brokers, insurance dealers, debt collectors and more, and is home to free enterprise run wild even for Shal-Mari. It is infamous for casinos, where bets can be taken on anything, and the ones Greed runs directly have the highest prizes and worst odds in all of Hell. Sideshows and scams cater to any taste, but that's only the tip of it all. While Mammon makesh is headquarters in the Bank of Hell, most of his domain is underground, in the vast tunnels and vaults that hide the Hearts of his demons and his Tether endpoints.

The headquarters of the Bank of Hell, also known as Mulciber's or the Cube, is a famous landmark. It's an immense granite cube, carved with Mammon's sigil on every wall, interior or exterior. Most of its offices, however, are under the streets. The bank is an elitist organization, a mystery to most demons, who are never allowed inside. It thrives on tradition and bureaucracy, and only members of the bank can open accounts, rent safety deposit boxes or take out loans. To become a member, you must be recommended by two existing members and have a corporeal depost of current market value of six ounces of gold. It's basically a nepotistic club by design, and its main job is storing Essence, reliquaries and damned souls for its clients. A small annual fee is charged for accounts, but anything within is safe from theft. The bank also has a corporeal department for deposits and loans in Earthly currency, based out of Zurich. Though any Earthly bank has better interest rates and friendlier staff than Mulciber's, the Bank of Hell asks no questions about Roles, large deposits or new vessels.

Next time: Blackbirds for sale

The Million Dollar Man

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: The Million Dollar Man

The Bullring is an infamous auction house in Shal-Mari, specializing in the sale of slaves. While most damned souls in theory belong to a Prince, it's possible to trade in those that have escaped their assigned Principality, and the auctioneers are not above hiring demons to go steal souls to sell. Some Princes also choose to auction off irritating demons as punishment. Bidding takes place in whatever currency the seller prefers - usually Essence or physical gold. Apparently demons aren't big on FIAT CURRENCY. More common than permanent sales are temporary indentures, in which the buyer owns the slave for a limited term. Demons who need a lot of money fast may have no option but to sell their servants or even themselves into temporary slavery.

The demons of Greed have always been mocked behind their backs. They are tight-fisted and greedy, after all, and now that Mammon is on a downswing, it's almost safe for even a demonling to mock them openly. So they do. Many Mammonites laugh along, hoping to be underestimated, while others react violently. The only measure these demons have is wealth and success. They pretend to respect one another, acting as fellow predators in the demonic sea. When they meet, they're likely to discuss current affairs and each others' work in such detail that you'd never guess they hadn't ever spoken before. The demons of Greed are a meritocracy with viciously cutthroat competition. Senior demons encourage their minions to compete over who can get the most souls, servants, profits and so on. The bosses take a cut of all the spoils, of course. Greed is focused on winning, and they can turn just about anything competitive. Only those that enjoy such an atmosphere thrive in Greed. They'll do just about anything to make a buck, too.

The Cartel, as Mammon's organization is known, treats wealth and power as synonyms. Distinctions, attunements and other privileges are bought and sold. In order to pay for rank, senior demons are always on the lookout for ways to exploit their juniors. They have no real time for subtlety, and a demon that hesitates to throw their weight around seems vulnerable. The banks, of course, are more influential than any single Mammonite, even a Wordbound. The Prince sits on the boards of all them, but even he would think twice before openly crossing them.

Failure, for Greed, is its own punishment. Demons that can't keep up will get devoured. Insolence and bad attitudes are rarely punished. However, failure is - generally in the form of requisition of goods or servants, often to the point of the failure needing to sell themselves into slavery to meet the Prince's demands. Since the witch-hunts, Mammon has also often set about taxing his demons when accusations of disloyalty start. Success is also seen as its own reward. Those who flourish are often allowed even more freedom to act on Earth without restraint. Mammon gifts golden torques from his own neck to his most favored servants, as he can take them back later.

Mammon loves being gifted the Fallen who lust for material things. It makes him feel important and directly increases how many celestials he owns. He will pay a generous finder's fee to demons that can get him new employees, and he also casually offers cash, attunements and favor to the newly Fallen - all bait to get them to serve him, at which point all they own is his. They are initiated into his service and then left to fend for themselves. Without the tutoring most young Mammonites receive as indentured servants, many are ofrced to sell themselves for centuries to learn the ropes. However, those that got a good deal from Mammon and have the ruthlessness to fight for themselves are as 'free' to prosper as any Hellborn.

Recruiting humans to the service of Greed is rather like a pyramid scheme. Once one mortal signs their way into Mammon's coffers, they will introduce friends and colleagues. Many mortal servants of Greed will slyly use his name in conversation, as if daring others to believe them. Others think that Mammon isn't real, that it's all a silly game that gets them cash. Demons learn to be cautious about their powers, so as to allow the mortal to feel in control. There's no shortage of people willing to sell their souls for riches, so Mammonites tend to be picky. It's traditional to offer wealth in return for the signature, and that pains many more than they like to admit. Loans at preferential rates are easy enough to arrange from Mulcibers - souls are, after all, valued collateraal. But paying back those loans may require the soul turns up in Mammon's quota when the victim dies, and that means you have a strong incentive to corrupt them.

Balseraphs of Greed are masterminds and puppeteers, pulling strings to manipulate their pawns. They delight in contracts and legal trickery, and also love taking on many personas to fool others. They love showy tricks and proving they are the master, not the slave. Many work as crime lords on Earth. They compete with each ohter viciously, and when two are in the same place, all other plans go out the window until one can defeat the other.

Djinn of Greed excel at corruption of those that sign away their souls, serving as advisors to their new 'colleagues.' They like to watch their victims screw over friends and family for gain, and they need little encouragement to make deals. They can obsessive manipulators, with schemes that span decades, and while they lack flair, many of the senior managers of the Bank of Hell are Djinn.

Calabim of Greed are risk-takers, and they love high stakes. They try to get everyone else to follow their example, and they have no qualms about breaking the law - in fact, they love it. Their ability to find and destroy evidence means they tend to commit fraud casually and without care. They work hard, and they play even harder. They serve as Greed's dirty tricks squads and debt collectors, and while they might compete in the long term, they are quite good at cooperation in the short term. Some of them love to collect corporeal art or artifacts, though even these are as direct as other Calabim, and they're just as happy to destroy other people's treasures if it'll increase the value of their own.

Habbalah of Greed take their job as scourges seriously. They encourage mortals to grab all they can, and clearly only the weak and undeserving will remain poor. Just as Exodus teaches that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, so too do the Habbalah feel they must harden the hearts of the rich and powerful towards the less fortunate. This teaches humanity to be humble (and by God, they need it). They also actively seek ways to exploit entire communities, scorning those who are weak enough to have ethical doubts. They prosper in positions of power, inspiring underlings with their own cruelty and callousness to the poor. Their servants rarely realize the boss views them the same way. At least, not until it's far too late.

Lilim of Greed have a reputation even among Lilim for being cold and calculating. They are fixers, troubleshooters who are called on at short notice to fix things when another demon fucks up. And get paid for it, of course. They are notorious for refusing to work unless they have a deal in writing first, even when fellow Greed demons are under attack - and they love to quibble over wording. They like working with legal documents and excel at corrupting cops and civil servants. In their spare time, they tend to live pampered and private lives of seclusion and luxury. They enjoy socializing with their poorer sisters to show off, but none would ever let friendship get in the way of profit. Since the witch-hunts, they've tended to be rather edgy - their glory days are ending, and they're leaving when they can. Those that remain are the diheads, who adore Mammon and profit so much they'd rather be laughingstocks than give up.

Shedim of Greed view themselves as liberators and teachers, not corruptors. It's clear that each human has untapped potential for greed - they just have to foster it! Mortals want to learn, they'd be grateful if they knew how. After all, how many throw away the money the Shedim helps them get? They rarely indulge in hte murderfests or child-beating games of other Shedim. There's no money in it. They push hosts into more and more selfish ways of feeding their greed - pimping children, embezzling, dealing drugs. They tend to rarely stay very long in those hosts that have no real desire for wealth - the mindset disturbs them. However, these hosts are quite rare.

Impudites of Greed live to rip people off. They love to hook into the rich and powerful, making their victims believe they can dupe the demon even when it's clear the opposite is so. Their instinctive understanding of the physical lets them set themselves up as advisers to other demons, getting paid in return for seminars on Earthly finances and so on. A few of them are unsociable misers, but most would be unsatisfied with only wealth - they also want to be loved. They adore high-profile roles, like game show hosts or televangelists.

Mammon's demons aspire to get to Earth as solo traders. Demons who achieve that can basically do what they like, but many never make it that far. There's plenty to do in Hell, at least. Most of it is administration - the banks and financial institutions need staff, soul collectors, their spare time, these demons and demonlings can do as they like to raise capital, and there's plenty of chances to hire yourself out as a temp. Other interests are moving in these days, though. It's all too easy to get roped into the politics of elder demons, however little Mammon cares for them. His lieutenants feel threatened, after all, and are a lot more proactive than he knows in organizing counterespionage.

Demons of Greed don't do the Marches. It's not their thing. Sometimes, influencing dreams is handy, but frankly, most have no talent for it. It's an alien place and they sneer at those that spend much time there.

Mast of the real work of Greed is on Earth. Even those demons that work on their own account may be sent to specific cities, institutions or even people. All it takes is for Mammon to decide he wants to own someone or something new. Besides that, all the Hellish institutions maintain Earthside staff to service clients there. The Bullring always needs Outcasts and Renegades to sell for slaves. On top of that, Mammon works hard to fight hte Archangels, especially Marc. It's not top of his agenda, but he's always got things that need doing to sabotage or infiltrate Trade.

On top of regular duties, there are other jobs. Mammons internal security, the Acquisition, has become a terrifying body since the witch-hunts, rather than a joke. Other groups assess Mammon's Earthly holdings and put prices on intangibles...and of course, there's always debt collection. Mammon does need his legbreakers.

Next time: Greed's end

Let's Make Lots of Money

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Let's Make Lots of Money

The Acquisition is Greed's internal security, reporting directly to Mammon. Officially, they're a treasury department, recording how demons progress in earning wealth or souls. In times past, these records were handled in a relaxed manner and simple bribes would get you in good. However, they have been radically reformed this past century. Members are now trained in espionage, interrogation and forensic accounting. They hunt down traitors and embezzlers by syematically ruining or torturing their subjects until they get paid off, get some names or get a confession. Calabim and Habbalah are especially good at it.

The Assayers' Guild are a select group of demons trained in assessing value, in any currency the client likes. They are also skilled at apparaising relics or reliquaries and are expected to have deep knowledge of both corporeal and celestial antiques. They are specialists, called in by the banks and financial groups for risk assessment valuations. The Guild guarantees accuracy, offering to make up the difference if any object is later found to be worth less than valued, and they employ no Balseraphs whatsoever. They are not only hired by demons - anyone can contact them and meet their prices for a valuation.

Notaries are those Mammonites trained in creating relics, often by the Bank. They specialize in enchanting soul-contracts into low-level celestial artifacts, to be able to be taken to Hell and stored there in the vaults, until the signatory's death. These document relics are usually very fragile and have no actual powers, and every demon that manages to get a contract to Mammon must pay a notary for the service, which can take several months, if they want to collect.

Mammonites are not well-treated by the Game. Persistent rumor claims that demons of Greed will work for anyone if the price is right, and they aren't far wrong. Traditionally, Mammon's demons bribed the Game, but the price has been skyrocketing recently. Daring demons have even begun to taking the fight to the Game, using their vast corporeal resources to make it hard to pursue them. Naturally, any demon caught at this is only giving more evidence of treachery. It may be that the only reason ASmodeus has not yet declared Mammon himself to be a traitor is that Mammon is the best hold he has on Shal-Mari, which he traditionally has little influence in.

Next time: Steal this book

All Property Is Theft

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: All Property Is Theft

Valefor is the flashy, stylish and mysterious Prince of Theft.

Covet allows you to spend 1 Essence to amplify someone's desires. They may resist with Will. If they fail, then for (CD) days they must make a Will roll at a penalty of (Celestial Forces) to resist any tempotation when they have the chance to do something that will bring the object they most desire within their grasp. The GM can assign bonuses or penalties by circumstance.
Distract lets you spend 1 Essence to make someone think of something of your choice and notice nothing else. This lasts (Celestial Forces) rounds and may be resisted with Will. Anything that would blatantly force their attention, like screams or gunshots, allows a Perception roll to notice it, and physical assault of the victim automatically gets their attention.
Valefor offers two special Distinctions, which stand between Knight and normal demons in rank.
Shepherds are those that allow criminals to evade the law, and the distinction was mostly made after WW2, when many Nazis fled to South America. Shepherds are tasked to help others evade punishment, including any angels escaping Heaven and, it is rumored, demons fleeing the Game. Any Shepherd that uses the Distract attunement will make their victim automatically fail any Perception roll to notice anything short of a physical attack on them.
Escape Artists are able to prevent locks and barriers from functioning at all. Handcuffs won't latch, locks won't set, latches won't catch, deadbolts won't close. It all seems fine at first, but the first attempt to slip the bond or pass the barrier works. This power can be used once a day, plus any time immediately after performing a Rite of Theft. They msut touch the restraint while it is unlocked, and careful examination will reveal tampering.

Expanded Rites:
1. Walk a tightrope between two skyscrapers.
2. Stunt-pilot an open cockpit aircraft.
3. Spend a day teaching a youth to steal.
4. Steal something and plant it on someone else.
5. Watch a motorcycle daredevil show. For 3 Essence, participate in one.

Valefor has many titles. He is the Prince of the Thieves, the King of Cat Burglars, the Daredevil Duke of Daring Escapes and anything else Nybbas can come up with. He is sometimes called Macavity, Moriarty or Fagin by his demons, though he allows no one else to use these names. He dresses well and daringly, and things that'd look stupid on anyone else work for him. He breaks all the rules of good taste and gets away with it. He wears patchwork shirts he claims were made from the Coat of Many Colors, which he claims he stole. He also wears Armani and high fashion when he feels like it - all paid for with stolen credit cards. Physically, he is a tall, sleek and muscular demon. In celestial form, he is much the same, but with two large horns and a bald head. He never stands still, ever. He hates to stay in one place or stick to one topic for long. In meetings, he rarely sits, pacing the room. When he tires of a topic, he will interrupt or prod others to move on. If that doesn't work, he will make his annoyance known with fingertapping, flirtation or trading quips. It may seem like some kind of ADD, but in truth, it's a calculated effort to tear down the Old Guard of Hell, weakening them and promoting himself. The intention is obvious to most Princes, but for some reason, Lucifer allows it. Everything about Valefor is polished and vaguely menacing. He demands the same stylish image from his demons - you have to look good doing it, after all, but you still need substance. Those who can't perform risk Valefor's anger, and his anger can come fast. One moment he'll be listening to a report, and the next he backhands you across the room, tears off your arm and beats you near to death with it. Then he pats you on the back, puts your arm back on and dusts you off, sending you off with a warning...this time. Sometimes, his demons fear that he's unstable, but they never say it to his face.

Theft, of course, is the selfishness of demons at its most petty and daring. It's all about wanting, about desire, moving on when you've taken it. You come first, and no one else matters. The typical Thief has a rather short attention span, rather like their rivals, the Wind. Once they've stolen, it's time to move on to the next job. If you keep moving, the law and the Game can't catch you. Thieves get bored easily and like to shake things up, with Valefor as their example. He likes to wreck things, particularly the order inherent to property rights, in order to cause mayhem. Theft is also about ego and fame. What better way to get that than to steal the most difficult things to steal? The more something is guarded, the more a demon of Theft wants it. It's like a pain, seeing it out there and not taking it.

The word of Theft is also about power. When Valefor stole the as yet unwritten tome of Nostradamus from Yves' library, it was about showing his power as much as pulling off a daring heist. When he stole the Word of Prince Genubath, it was to prove he could take down a Prince. When a demon of Theft steals someone's most reasured heirloom, it's not just because he wants it, though he does. It's also to show his power over the weak by stealing their memories. When a Soldier of Valefor rapes or kills, it's about showing power by stealing the victim's control over their own body. These crimes are often drawn out over a period of time, to froce the victim to understand their complete loss of control. And all of it, all the theft and selfishness and shows of power, that's a sideshow for Valefor. It's practice for the biggest score of all time, the one that will make Theft the most potent of Words. Demons of Theft are all eager to see it, though some can't believe it'll ever happen. The Game guards against it, and Nybbas wants to be there live when it happens, success or failure. All of it, every bit of theft, is building up to the ultimate expression of Theft: the day Valefor steals Hell from Lucifer.

Valefor came out of nowheere. In 793 AD, the Prince of Rapine, Genubath, vanished. Shortly afterwards, Lucifer crowned the new Prince of Theft, a hitherto-unknown demon claiming to be a former servant of Demogorgon, the Demon of Destruction - one of many would-be Princes whose death left a scattered following of other demons after his murder by another Prince. Renegades often claim to have severed a dead Superior when seeking asylum in Hell - it's a practice Asmodeus has been cracking down on since Valefor made it stylish. It's common knwoedge that Valefor gave Lucifer a yet-to-be-written book of Nostradamus' prophecies stolen from Yves' Library, and shortly after, he took up residence in Stygia. All other details are just speculation. Valefor was not exactly welcome...Genubath wasn't popular, but Valefor was an unknown, and his attitude outraged many older Princes. Most of Genubath's demons swore fealty quickly, with only a few seeking other service or going Renegade, and Valefor soon took over all of Genubath's old jobs.

Since becoming the Prince of Theft, Valefor and his crew haven't been lazy. They have worked Theft into the Symphony, empowering it to help break the bonds of order and trust. He has targeted things held dear to all Archangels, though his best thefts are those chosen to take advantage of the chaos caused by Janus' plans. His first real score came in the 14th century, when he and his demons teamed up with Mammon to loot the riches of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon - that is, the Knights Templar. They played on the fears, paranoia and greed of King Philip IV of France, orchestrating a show trial to seize the treasures of the Order and destroying the reputation of one of the mightiest Church orders.

Later, Valefors servant Mokariel, Demon of Strong-Arm Robbery, suggested that when King Henry VIII broke with Rome, it was a chance to steal from the monasteries and claim their wealth. The fallout from that was so great that Janus felt the need to leave Heaven for several years, as he had supported the formation of the Church of England. The Age of Empire was a happy time for Theft as well, as robbery became state policy for many European powers. Land stolen from natives, treaties worth nothing, art and relics dragged back to museums and private collections - it was all there for the taking. The Elgin Marbles, Cleopatra's Neddle, the entire American Southwest...but Valefor's greatest blow to Janus, his favored punching bag, was early in the 20th century, during WW1. Janus wanted to bring down the Czar, the last major repressive autocrat in Europe, and he supported Alexander Keresnky's democratic movement.

Out of nowhere, a radical factio nof Socialists seize power, hijack the Revolution and, led by Vladimir Lenin, they steal the dreams of freedom and a better life for the next seventy years. (Valefor claims Lenin was one of his best Soldiers.) It was Valefor's biggest coup since the theft of Nostradamus' book. The disaster led to much argument in the Seraphim Council, and some say Dominic almost put Janus on trial. Valefor has paid attention to the little thieves over the years, too, from Jack Sheppard and Jonathan Wild to Black Bart and Jesse James. He loves when thieves become folk heroes, making stealing acceptable to the resentful and greedy. It wasin that period that he made one of his best deals, working with a rising star - Nybbas, the newly minted Prince of the Media. He saw the value in making Theft publically accepted, so he encouraged his demons to work with the Media. From magazines and radio to movies and TV, thieves have been in for ages, and never really fallen out of style.

Valefor is all confidence, never allowing a worry to show. He knows he can get into and out of anywhere, that nothing could possibly take him down. He encourages his demons to share his confidence, because someone who's given up won't think on their feet well. Unlike Janus, Valefor never causes chaos for no reason. Even when he 'spontaneously' disrupts a meeting of Princes and makes it into an agument, there's a plan, some sense that he's stealing advantage from it. Valefor is always smooth, graceful and stylish, but it's the style of the shark, looking for weakness. Everything he does is menacing, both attractive and disturbing. When he addresses someone, it's always informal, first names or nicknames, never formal titles except with Lucifer. For his servants, it's to put them at ease. With other Princes, it's to steal some dignity from them. At the same time, while he demands respect and obedience, he doesn't require fancy titles - 'Yes, Boss' will do.

Valefor wants chaos, he wants to tear society apart - not to make something new, just to wreck it all. Because humans value things and ownership, Theft is the best way to cause that chaos. Valefor strives to make everyone uncomfortable about whether someone will take their things. He prioritizes action, even just for the sake of acting. Any complete victory by either side of the War would be unchanging and dull. The idea sickens Valefor, so his demons keep going, making it hard to fit them into any plan but their own. In past centuries, Valefor emphasized big thefts, the kind with scores talked about for years on end, that would influence huge swaths of people. The growing moral relativity of the West, however, has made him alter his plans just a little, to making Theft part of everyday life for everyone. With Nybbas making theives cool and showing why you should envy the rich, Valefor's found it much easier to get people to take what they want. Just take it, steal their things, their ideas, their money. He wants everyone to be a thief.

When Valefor arrived, the War had already been raging for millenia. As far as anyone knows, he was never around for the Fall, and he likes things as they are. A War that never ends is his perfect stage. Despite what Asmodeus and Baal think, Valefor and his demons are deeply involved in the War. They like it - it's a great place to hide or spy, keeping tabs on Earth, on the Marches, even on, some say, Heaven itself. There are no doubts that Valefor has provided useful intelligence, that he's got resources even Asmodeus doesn't, that some of what he knows must have come from sources in the Host. The Thieves also serve as Hell's special forces, doing the stealthy missions that overt methods can't handle. Breakins, thefts, extractions, recon, even assassination. Some say they'll even do it to Hell, for the right Essence payout. Valefor never wants the War to end. The modern era has just made things richer. With a bit of hacking skill and good equipment, a Thief in New York can steal millions from Japan and blame Russians. Even better than that is stealing identities - so much taken for such little work! What could be better? Why would you ever want to make the world something different?

Valefor treats politics as a game - and a zero-sum one. If someone wins, it's because someone else lost. That's not unusual for Hell, and even some Archangels might agree, but Valefor plays the game his own way, keeping everyone guessing. He has secret plans, he shifts allegiance abruptly, he betrays easily, his agreements are never ironclad. He makes sure even his allies aren't really comfortable. He unsettles the relations of other Princes just as much as he causes chaos on Earth. It seems designed to piss off those that take the War seriously. He misses meetings, offers no excuses for his absences, shows up late, actively tries to piss off Asmodeus. He cooperates with the Princes that need humans to spread their Words - he needs them too, after all, and would not want Belial to burn them all or Haagenti to eat them all. There's no point in stealing from a dead man. Suspicion and paranoia are part of Hellish life, but many Princes, even his allies, worry about his true loyalties. Baal and Belial dismiss him as a coward, and Asmodeus openly wonders at his origins and allegiance. Lilith, who often supports him, has private questions of her own. She likes his rebellious nature, but he's too mysterious for her to be entirely comfortable. Still, she'll help him when he asks, telling her Daughters that it's smart to gather favors from all sides.

Next time: To Catch A Thief

Don't Download This Song

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Don't Download This Song

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: 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.
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.
Asmodeus: He appears out of nowhere one day, the power in him obvious. Yet there is no record of him, either as an angel from before the Fall or as a demonling created here. Of course, the records aren't perfect, curse Kobal! And how convenient that he brings Lucifer a gift from Yves' own library - a place none of the rest of us could penetrate... What's his game? Just who is his master?
He's too caught-up with his rules and regulations. He doesn't realize he risks losing it all by trying to hang on to every little thing. Demons need to be free to create - that's what we rebelled for! Still, we have to be careful of him. Getting nailed by the Game is not fun.
Baal: Who cares about Valefor, he's of no consequence. All that sneaking and skuluking, going AWOL whenever he feels like's as if he doesn't know there's a War on. When the time for the Final Battle comes, he and his kind will be as useful as a rubber sword.
War creates a lot of opportunities for looting, but theft also becomes a trivial nuisance. People secure in their homes worry more about their belongings.
Beleth: He is an amateur. He thinks he makes humans frightened and uncertain by taking their precious things, but it is nothing to the terror I bring in the night! I hate him for his arrogance.
She once asked me if I could steal dreams. I told her that, one way or another, I did that every day. But I don't think that was the answer she wanted. She just stared for a while. Creeped me out. I don't know what the Hell she was talking about.
Belial: Those flashy clothes are going to burn real well, all he has to do is push me a bit more. He wants to preserve mortals - what a waste of fuel!
This guy is as quiet as a monster truck with a hair-trigger car alarm. His Word consumes all that is valuable. I don't really see how he and I can ever see eye-to-eye, if nothing else because I just don't understand why you'd want to destroy something valuable. Doesn't he get it? What's the use of getting the plans to a building if he burns it down first?
Haagenti: 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!
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.
Kobal: Useful only as a passing gag. Valefor and his Servitors are about as reliable as Lucifer's promises. Better ot take advantage from him than be taken advantage of.
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.
Kronos: His fate is unclear to me! His history is unknown! I dislike mysteries. Whatever the truth, he is a danger to Lucifer and the War. I do not trust him.
All his records and data, pigeonholing everyone and everything - well, not me! Maybe I should steal something from his library...just for the Hell of it.
Lilith: A likable rogue, but an enigma. I love his freedom. His needs are a heavy burden - no, I'm not saying what they are! Nevertheless, what Valefor wants, Valefor gets. A Prince after one's own heart, and anything else he can pry loose.
Goes where she wants to go, does what she wants to do, gets what she wants to have. Enjoys stirring up trouble. I can appreciate that. And she understands that getting locked up in one place is just no fun - I like her, and I'm going to see if she wants this necklace I picked up...
Malphas: I like him! He does a good job getting people to squabble - nothing divides a group so much as "what's mine?" He needs to be around more to keep an eye on his underlings, though.
Ever noticed how the people in a group are always convinced that the other side has more money and more fun stuff? With that sort of attitude, Theft is the only reasonable solution. Speaking of which, I need osmeone to go check out his place in Stygia...
Nybbas: 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 archetypal Man of Mystery. Someday, I'll do an expose on him and blow my ratings sky high!
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.
Saminga: What is there to stealing a bauble, even an identity, when you can steal life and control the corpse? The only good things are dead things, and maybe one day Valefor will be one of my dead playthings.
This guy even gives me the creeps! What's the good of stealing something if the former owner isn't alive to know it? It's better just to avoid him.
Vapula: A frivolous fool, but rarely a time-waster. I'd be more impressed with him if he brought us something worthwhile from Heaven, like Jean's research notes.
Some of his inventions have been very useful on the job, though I wish he'd test some of them before giving them to us!
Blandine: Behind his bluster, there is nothing but a hunger for attention, and a desire to ruin anything that isn't his. ut given the attention, he can be very charming, and very polite.
Blandine, ice queen - I should take up poetry if I ever get bored of this Demon Prince business. Joking aside, stealing dreams takes a very light touch and no small degree of skill. did you know that there's a back-door entrance into Heaven through her Tower?
David: Valefor is shallow but smart enough to be dangerous. He can't handle it when someone refuses to be impressed by him, though. Heaven can use that against him.
David can be distressingly unmaterialistic for the guy who made most of the material. Doesn't he get it? The side with the most stuff wins.
Dominic: The similarities between his Servitors and those of the Wind are vastly disturbing. The implications are troubling.
Cops and robbers, cops and robbers. What's Robin Hood without the Sheriff? And they've got so much dignity to steal, too!
Eli: Man, this cat is seriously screwed-up! There are some wicked vibes comign from him. Too wrapped-up in possessions, not enough love. He needs to take a hit and relax.
Can you believe it? He just gave away his stuff - all ofit! I couldn't have robbed him blinder. His little choo-choo has gone round the bend, but he does throw cool parties...and either he doesn't care I'm there or he's too stoned to notice.
Gabriel: As long as he stands in Hell, what he does is sin. I saw him and his Servitors in the shadows, creeping, hiding, taking the holy Fire from those who need it most. It shall blacken their hands and burn their souls.
Stealing inspiration and passion is an art all its own. As for stealing fire from Heaven - well, hey, it's been done before, and besides, where's the challenge when she gives it away so freely?
Janus: Copycat. If I ever get my hands around his neck, I'll... He's not truly free, being too obsessed with possessions. I want to liberate people from the chains that bind them, not enslave them to mere things!
Another one who doesn't get it. Taking what you want is the ultimate freedom, bucko! And I think I'll take that nice bike of his for a spin.
Jean: Valefor? A danger, for he steals those things that could make life so much better, hope in a brighter tomorrow. I'll never forgive him for Tesla's cure for cancer - we had worked so long on that project.
This guy is too easy. He makes the booty and I steal it! Depending on what it is, I can get an ice price for it from the others, too.
Jordi: What do I care for material possessions? In fact, we both appreciate the need to be free, to roam where we want - he is much like the Wind that way. But his Servitors steal the skins of my creatures...for petty things like coats and shoes! And for that, I hate him.
Nice kitty. Jungle-boy here needs to lighten up. When we smuggle pieces of his animals, they're already dead! So why get ticked off at us?
Laurence: He doesn't just steal things ...he steals virtue. He robes people of their integrity and respect and leaves them mourning the loss of their possessions. These thieves should lose their heads, not just their hands.
He's so busy looking for demons, he can't see when we've come and gone. Anyone want a sword?
Marc: Good relations are based on trust, whether it's a spoken promise or written contract. Valefor and his Servitors destroy that trust, making commerce and progress impossible.
Like taking candy from a baby. A contract isn't worth the paper it's written on and a handshake...well, want a Rolex?
Michael: He's not a serious danger on the battlefield, but he can cause a great deal of pain to humans by stealing the trophies which they treasure. After all, it's only natural for a man to care about what he's won through his blood, sweat and tears...
You mean I'm supposed to get worried about a fossilized old relic who's as rusty as his axe? I can outrun him any day you care to name, and any of my Servitors stupid enough to stand and fight deserves what they get. Oh, and if any of them do get hold of that axe of his...let me know.
Novalis: Oh, he has a charming demeanor, but he's so hurt inside. I know I could heal him. I hope I can do something before one side or the other destroys him.
A real babe, if you like Earth Moms. I wouldn't mind partying with her and Lilith - yow! What good are flowers, though? They die. Now, this ruby necklace, on the other hand...
Yves: Loss can be good, forcing one to reevaluate what is dear and why. Theft shakes things up, but more often than not in a negative and harmful way.
His Library is full of priceless books he wouldn't miss...if I could just get inside. Again.
Humanity: We need humans to spread the Word of Theft, just as the wolf needs his sheep. They're so obsessed with property and rights that they're just begging us to come in and tear it all up. And they're so open to our Word! It's child's play to make them not only want, but take - and then make them feel good about it, as if they were somehow justified. We need humans so much, we don't want to see them destroyed. Not yet, at any rate.
Hellsworn: They have signed themselves over to us lock, stock, and barrel. They know what they want, they're willing to take it, and they have a sense of style while doing it. These are our Soldiers, who can do things for us we can't without disturbing the Symphony.
Sorcerers: Speaking of sheep...these guys are fools, thinking they can command us with chalk drawings and nonsense chants. And yet they're always surprised when we steal their souls.
Ethereals: Useful, often very useful. Uriel's crusade was one of Heaven's dumbest moves. Now all these spirits owe us, big time.

Variations! Valefor is intentionally mysterious, and the game wants you to make him your own, but it does have some suggestions. Valefor as the Clown Prince of Crime is all about having fun and looking good. He's mean-spirited, sure, but he and his are just petty punks, with no greater purpose to their schemes. They're good for a laugh, but not a lot else. Valefore as the Double-Double Agent is working for someone. Janus, Lucifer, Asmodeus, God, take your pick. He's gathering information, maybe acting as a saboteur for the Host or to get other Princes to commit treason so Asmodeus can come down on them, or for whatever reason you like. Valefor the Worst is a true danger. He's a thief who will steal everything, even Princely Words. Anything precious is fair game, no atrocity is out of bounds. Steal life, steal virginity, steal self-restraint, steal honor, steal freedom. He's already taken Genubath's Word, and it's only a matter time before he does it again, and again, and again, until only Lucifer is left. He is a megalomanical schemer, always interested in having more.

Valefor keeps his throne in Stygia, the bleak mountainous land of Hell, cut off by high peaks. Few passes go in and out, watched closely by Djinn and Shedim. Valefor and Malphas control the area, and they want no one coming or going without permission. Valefor guards what is his. The towns of Stygia are locked in eternal twilight, cramped and lit only by weak lights. All is furtive and secret, as everyone, damned or demon, must be on the lookout for traitors or robbers as they betray others and fence stolen goods. There are many tunnels leading in and out, with many secret entrances into the buildings of the towns. They wind through the mountain hearts in paths so confusing that only the Princes know them all. These tunnels are guarded by potent demons, and iti s rumored that sometimes, the Princes release those that displease them into the tunnels to have them be hunted down.

Valefor's headquarters are the Palazzo Furto, once the palace of Genubath, high over a Stygian town that Valefor renamed Sin City and populated with cars, pin-stripe suits and fedoras. The Palazzo is at the end of a high road, like a spider in a web. It is surrounded by a spiked wall with only one black iron gate. On either side of the gate is a guardian Shedite with permission to break anything or anyone trying to get in without an appointment. Inside, the grounds are empty and silent. Despite this, any visitors get the sense of being watched. The house itself is easy to enter - just knock and give the password ('Joe sent me', because Valefor knows it irritates people). Inside, it is like a mob mansion from Chicago in the 20s. One large room is a rigged casino, run by the damned soul of Lucky Luciano, who's managed to earn himself a position of some power, as long as he keeps Valefor happy. Across the hall is the mosh pit, mostly used by Habbalah, Calabim and Shedim, as others care how beaten up they get. Beyond the glitz of the ground floor, however, the Palazzo is a haven for conspiracy and secrets. Its halls are dim, the carpets thick and the doors muffle anything beyond. They are all locked, except to Valefor and his top demons, but that doesn't stop people trying to pick them. There are as many secret passages as through the mountaisn themselves, and residents rarely use the doors. One tunnel is known to lead to Valefor's Heart vaults. The entrance is obvious, but guarded by two immense Shedim, who never go anywhere else and are allowed to kill anyone that comes down there without Valefor's presence. Exits are one-way passages leading elsewhere in Stygia. There are rumors of older tunnels, unknown even to Valefor, that date back to the days of Genubath and lead to his old treasure vaults.

The Trophy Room is on the topmost floor, accessible only via Valefor's conference room, so far as anyone knows. It is his personal showcase. It is far larger inside than should be possible, and Valefor claims it contains anything ever stolen but never recovered - and some supposedly recovered items which were actually fakes. Chances are, if a stolen item can't be found, it's there. It has the real Mona Lisa, plus two excellent fakes, the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990, the original manuscript of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony, Lenin's will, and, more recently, a bloody right handed glove and serrated knife dating to June, 1994. An empty spot sits in one case, which still bothers Valefor. Once, it held the only copy of the solution to Fermat's Last Theorem, stolen from Jean. Somehow, many years ago, it vanished from the Trophy Room and was returned to Jean by Janus. The room is managed by Allamas, Demon of Loot, a borrowed servant of Mammon. He wears the finest suits and runs guided tours, instinctively knowing what will be most impressive to any guest. He knows the value of each item, and thinks of them as his stash. He instantly knows if naything is removed, which is quite useful, especially after the last curator lost the Theorem and had to be removed. (All of Valefor's permanent guards are contracted out to other Words, due to Valefor's dissonance conditions. Mammon gouges, of course. Some say that Allamas was given the position as a reward and that he gets a percentage of the take. Others say that he was caught embezzling and is being punished by being surrounded by riches he dares not touch.)

Valefor has also installed the Racetrack at the Palazzo. Once, it was a track for horses, their souls stolen in a mysterious theft from Jordi's Savannah. The take included the souls of the three sires of all Thoroughbreds - Darley Arabian, Godolphin Barb and Byerly Tuck. No one has any idea how the theft was done, and Jordi is enraged about it still. However, Valefor recently got tired of horses, and now it's for cars and motorcycles. It's a popular practice range for his demons. The horses are kept stabled behind the Palazzo - Valefor may be bored with them, but they're not going anywhere. Races and demolition derbies at the track are popular outside Stygia, and Nybbas has the broadcast contract, as well as a setup to sanitize some of them for World's Best Crashes videos on Earth.

Residents of the Palazzo tend to be low-ranking demons, demonlings and the damned that have worked their way up from Sin City. Some are staff, while others are in training. The most common, though, are the fences, who specialize in buying and distributing stolen goods. Visitors are allowed to wander around, hunting for a demon buyer...but the price is always terrible, less than 20% of the item's worth. Valefor and his minions don't do favors. Thus, Thieves only come to sell here when they have no other viable leads.

The Thieves do not have a particularly strict organization. Valefor runs the loosest hierarchy in Hell. Demons are sent to Earth with orders but no one to report to, usually, and even if they have a supervisor, that demon may well have wandered off somewhere. Valefor or a Wordbound will check in eventually, and you'd better have good news when they do. Demons of Theft are expected to steal and spread chaos. You can plan rather than just smashing and grabbing, but you have to do things. Standing still's one of the worst things you can do, and waiting for orders will get you punished. You need to show initiative. Demons and Hellsworn of Theft get a lot of latitutde...but when you need help, well, good luck with that. Think fast and rely on yourself alone.

For many demons, the job is its own reward with Theft. The rush of a successful job is great, addictive. Some Thieves are even known to break into places and not take anything, just for the challenge. Still, they are fundamentally selfish, and they always want more. Valefor can be generous, if mercurial, and he sometimes rewards demons with material goods, new identities, attunements or even Forces, whatever he feels like at the time. At other time,s you just get a smile. On the other hand, this applies to punishments, too. Failure could be terribly dangerous. Or you could just get banished to Hell for a while. Or Valefor might just grin and tell you to try harder next time. You can never predict it...and worse, sometimes even a tiny failure will send Valefor into a mad rage, beating you senseless, sending you to Trauma or even rending your Forces away. No one knows when it'll happen, though.

And it's not as easy a job as it sounds. The need to constantly move, to avoid not only angels but the Game and Valefor's mad mood swings, it's too much for some demons. MAybe their nature doesn't fit, either - a Calabite that just wants to smash stuff, say. In these cases, you might want to consider a new Prince. If you want to work with one of Valefor's friends, he's often amenable, though the more power you have, the more he'll want in trade for it. But if you want to join Saminga or Asmodeus, you'd best not tell Valefor - just go Renegade and hope you don't get caught.

Theft welcomes the Fallen. Valefor likes them! Especially if they bring gifts from Heaven. That tells him you fit in. The Fallen tend to like Valfor because the demons of Theft may well have helped them defect. The Shepherdcs are infamous for smuggling angels away from Judges or Malakim...or the Game. New Fallen also rise quickly in Theft, rapidly getting back to Earth - though often in a place where they'll have to deal with their former colleagues, so it can be a mixed blessing. On the other hand, demons of Theft are more prone than others to Redemption. More demons seem to defect from him than several other Princes combined. Perhaps it's coincidence or due to their similarity, but the Game has noticed many Thieves defect to Janus - and vice versa.

Next time: Bands of Thieves

Stolen Goods

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Stolen Goods

Valefor loves humanity, the same way a swindler loves an easy mark. Without humans, Theft wouldn't mean much. Valefor takes the human desire to better your life and turns it to Theft by encouraging envy and greed. Every human that steals encourages another to do the same, to get back at society. Thus, the web of theft spreads. Soldiers of Theft are intensely valuable. They aren't bound by dissonance, so they can do things that need them to stay in one place for a long time. They act as spies, lookouts, muscle and anything that needs to not cause Disturbance. Shedim might have an easier time killing a judge that's a Soldier of Judgment, but a Hellsworn can do it without alerting everyone in ten miles.

Generally speaking, demons of Theft are not created, but adopted. Valefor prefers to find the spark of rebellion in the demons made by others. Those who are dissatisfied or bad fits are often traded to Valefor - even demonlings, as Valefor will give them a chance. Demons acquired this way know they have to live up to his expectations, though, if they want to live. Renegades often end up joining Theft if they aren't trying to escape Hell, too. The loose organization appeals to them, and Valefor is often sympathetic to those that like breaking rules. He also likes bothering his rivals by stealing their servants - especially if they worked for Asmodeus.

Balseraphs of Theft are front men. They plant cover stories, tell distracting lies, convince guards to do things. When something goes wrong and someone has to talk fast, it's the Balseraph who does it. They also work cleanup. While Theft likes its deeds to be known eventually, some stuff has to be secret or blamed on others. Balseraphs plant rumors and misdirection, often without being directly connected to the scene of the crime. Especially when violence caused Disturbance, they like to blame demons of Baal or Belial. The Balseraphs also serve as Valefor's diplomats, though never alone - after all, you need someone there to be sure their reports are accurate. They tend to be smooth, sophisticated and confident. They avoid combat if possible, focusing on Celestial and Ethereal Forces, and take care to present a good appearance.

Djinn of Theft are rare. They are moody and often too sloppy for Valefor's style, plus they're often lazy, and thus dissonant. Still, they have uses. As long as they keep moving, they're good at stakeouts. They often work in teams, following a fixed route that lets them cover for each other when they move on. They often take Roles as the homeless, allowing them to be socially invisible as they stalk and learn about their targets. They also make good fences, if traveling ones. They come off as passive and bored, letting others open up to them. They don't really care, but they know someone will want to know what's going on. More than one has attune themselves to an especially good piece they sold, too, only to tell other Thieves how to find it and steal it back. They are quite useful, given their ability to enslave their attuned, too.

Calabim of Theft like breaking and entering - especially the breaking. They use their resonance to get past doors, locks, manacles and more. They are common in Valefor's service, affecting a grungy style, often with long hair, black leather and torn jeans. They are prone to sudden rages, like their master, and have little patience. They are often used as enforcers, alongside the Shedim, and are excellent at extortion. They make good muscle in general, though they aren't very subtle. They also have a strangely Ofanite-esque need for speed. They like fast cars and motion, though often they turn escape routes into impromptu demolition derbies.

Habbalah of Theft encourage emotions that lead to thievery - greed, jealousy, rage, anything to convince victims to steal. That makes the next theft that much easier. They're quite useful, then, as each success is multiplied. They like Roles that let them manipulate people while staying on the move - traveling salesman, prostitutes, revival preachers. They also work, these days, as HR consultants, motivational speakers and county social workers, or as runaway children to corrupt the young. They tend to think of themselves as mentors for the weak, who teach humans that it's okay to take what you want. They tend to look alluring, but sinister at the same time. They are flexible and often jacks of all trades, serving well on Earth.

Lilim of Theft are fairly common - they like Valefor's rulebreaking and rebelliousness, and also wearing tight leather outfits. (Because Lilim.) Lilith likes to hang out with Valefor, and more Free Lilim work for Theft than any other Word, on top of Valefor employing more Lilim than any Word but Lust or Freedom. They tend to let others do the violent work, instead gathering Geases widely so they can always call in a favor when needed. They like to know people all over, so they can get into anywhere by calling in a favor. Most work on Earth and are anxious to be seen. Some even call in Geases to secure a spot hanging off Valefor's arm, if Lilith hasn't claimed the spot herself this evening. The ones in Hell work as informers, given their ability to read needs - they can spot spies, possible Renegades and those who hold out on the boss. More than one agent of the Game has walked into a trap or been fed false information thanks to this. It's not perfect, though - if a Lilim thinks she can get away with it, having another Geas for not revealing the secret need is pretty tempting, after all.

Shedim of Theft are usually not subtle, and aren't that common among the Thieves. The ones that do take pride in being more patient than other Shedim and take joy in slowly riding mortals to damnation bit by bit, making them think it was all their own idea. They'll take the kindly old priest and make them skim a bit off the plate, then misappropriate funds, and only eventually get caught sexually abusing the altar boy, at which point the Shedim has stolen the trust the congregation had in priests and the Church. These Shedim are not often sent to Earth, where they can get out of control easily and cause problems. The ones who do get sent are often given strict and detailed orders by Valefor and, unlike most Theft demons, a supervisor. However, their supervisor never punishes the - that pleasure is saved for Valefor. Still, they make good enforcers and thugs, and they're the heavies called in to fight angels. They tend not to be very bright, but work well with Habbalah as guards to point them in the right direction.

Impudites of Theft steal Essence easily. They're smooth and seem trustworthy, serving as advance scouts and inside men. With their charm, they often learn secrets and have a web of people willing to help them - not out of obligation, but friendship. They might be temp workers, cab drivers or strippers, but they never stay in one place long. Sometimes they get into trouble, though, since they dislike hurting mortals. They often prefer passive jobs, watching out for people, and some accuse them of going native, though they'll claim they're doing their job by teaching mortals selfishness. They don't like to steal directly from their human 'friends,' though - they rely on keeping trust, after all. If sent on a mission, they like to be in charge, to make sure no human gets hurt. They try to keep things quiet to reduce police or angelic interference, and they hate working with the louder Calabim and Shedim. They dislike working in Hell - Valefor doesn't appreciate Essence poaching, even by Impudites, and they view Hell work as a punishment. Still, they do make good diplomats to other Princes or to ethereals.

In many ways, working for Theft is easy: see thing, steal it, move on. But it's not that simple. You have to keep moving, which can make planning and execution hard, since you never know who's going to be available. Thieves vanish into the night all the time. As a result, they tend to plan quickly and act even more quickly. They're more comfortable working alone than most demons, and the invention of cell phones and the Internet has helped with alleviating their problems a bit. When on the job, they work at being flashy and impressive. Style and substance, after all, are the same to them. They want to impress people, and many leave signatures on their work to mark it out as theirs.

In Hell, a demon spends a few years training to learn how to steal, practicing in Sin City, in little halls run by trainers, often called Fagins. Once they master the tricks, they are sent to other parts of Hell to steal from the damned as a final test. When deemed ready, they are given their first Earth job. Older demons in Hell will often be Tether guards (rotated regularly to avoid dissonance) or servants. Some are drivers at the track, working off dissonance by racing recklessly, while others work in the Stygian towns as spies, fences or tutors. A few also work as diplomats.

In the Marches, Valefor's demons aren't as active as you'd think, at least publically. Beleth doesn't like them - stealing from dreams is her right, not theirs. Sometimes you can make an arrangement, but not very often. More commonly, work in the Marches means dealing with the gods of the Far Marches. Valefor's rather tolerant of them, and will happily trade with them for information of value. Valefor's cagey about what he uses them for, though, and only sends his most trusted servants to deal with them.

Thieves on Earth typically have no Roles - it's hard to keep one up on the move. They plan and execute their own thefts and making mortals into theieves. They often work in jobs that let them encourage theft, like gang leaders, weekend coaches or prostitutes. In the War, they work as scouts and spies, operating behind enemy lines and infiltrating angelic hangouts to learn more of their plans. They never stay long, after all, so it's hard to discover them. They also work as fast commandos in raids, sometimes, or as drivers for other Words.

Sometimes, a Thief gets weird orders - being told to put objects back, for instance, which isn't dissonant and can be exciting, as you're supposed to do it secretly, but it's hardly expected. Most think it's a punishment, or perhaps Valefor's sense of humor. They also do other odd jobs - racing, demolition derbies, pilot work, drug smuggling. The hardest job you can have, though, is to be a Shepherd. They have to smuggle the Falling and Fallen into Hell or protect Outcasts from triads - and it's even worse if the rumors are true and occasionally you get ordered to help a Renegade reach Heaven safely. But that's a big if.

Flash is essential, in Valefor's mind. Under Genubath, Theft was work for thugs, not artists. Balefor changed that, and now it even seems, at times, that a Thief wants to get caught, so they can stage an amazing escape. For these demons, Valefore made Sheppard's Order of Escape Artists. It was created in the 18th century to honor Jack Sheppard, whose escapes from prison dazzled London long after his death. He'd been a Sildier of Theft, and the more stodgy demons were shocked at the honor paid to a mere human. Valefor just laughed about it. The Escape Artists are walking publicity stunts, often deliberately seeking out arrest for some crime so they can make the papers by escaping the next day. Sometimes, if Valefor wants a real shakeup, he'll have them commit some spectacular crime - a horrific rape-and-murder or brutal serial killing, usually - to throw the public into a panic both over the crime and the easy escape. Calabim and Shedim especially enjoy these jobs. The Escape Artists also help others escape sometimes, often at the request of a Shepherd. They pose as an authority figure so they can be the ones applying the restraints, allowing them to use their Distinction to not actually lock them in place.

The Shepherds are led by the demon Lazarrabal, a second order made mostly of Balseraphs, Djinn, Lilim and Impudites. They are an underground railroad for those fleeing justice, maintaining safehouses and hideouts across the world via blinds, dummy corporations and false trusts. Demons supervise, but Soldiers do most of the day-to-day work. These safehouses tend to be nondescript, even rundown - far from the style associated with Theft. That makes them hard to spot. Shepherds will do their work for anyone that can pay, human or celestial. Humans usually have to apy several years' worth of earnings or a large service, while celestials can pay in Essence, Geases, information or even artifacts. The Thieves are quite flexible on that front. They are, however, honorable. Once a contract is signed, they see it through. Period. They have never been known to betray a client. Sure, they've failed before - but even when they fail, they exact violent revenge. It's well known that they'll hide Outcasts or Fallen angels who want to defect, and less well known is that they've also hid Renegades fleeing Princes or the Game. They enjoy it either way. Some say they've even helped Renegades seeking Redemption, but there's no proof of that. If it were true, the consequences of it being revealed would be catastrophic both for the Shepherds and for Valefor. Valefor only admits those who have proven their loyalty many times into the Order, after all.

Next time: One Last Job

Cops and Robbers

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Cops and Robbers

While Thieves are as selfish as any demon, they get on well with outsiders. They need marks, after all, and they appreciate that outsiders often have skills they lack. They're most comfortable dealing with Lust and Factions or those temporarily serving Lilith, as well as the Media and Technology. Other Words, well, they don't commonly work well together. The Game, of course, is an enemy almost as much as Heaven is, and a Thief working with a Gamester is either setting them up or being extorted. They likewise do not work with Death or Fire, whose dmeons want to destroy all valuables, and rarely work with Gluttons, who tend to eat the loot. While demons of Kobal make excellent partners, Kobal's dislike of Valefor makes these teamups rare.

Still, as much as Valefor hates Asmodeus, he knows he needs the Game. You can't have robbers without cops or treasure without guards. Part of the fun, after all, is beating them. Still, he cautions his demons to remember that Asmodeus and his servants aren't complete idiots. They have spies everywhere and are excellent detectives. They will pay heavily for traitors, and Asmodeus defines treason broadly. Demons who don't remember all that end up becoming lead stories for arrests - or examples for execution.

Next time: Unholy Machinery

I'm Doing Science

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: I'm Doing Science

Vapula is the mad scientist of Hell, the Prince of Technology.

Reanimation is Vapula's improvement on undead technology. To use this attunement, you need to have a corpse. You make a Will roll, adding (Celestial Forces) but subtracing the original total Forces of the deceased. On a success, you then spend Essence equal to the original total Forces of the deceased. The corpse rises to life in (6-CD) hours, with similar stats to a zombie, but with neither a free Numinous Corpus nor a Need. It loses all Celestial Forces, but these are not added as Corporeal Forces. The creature will not rot, but does need to be fed 1 Essence per day to remain 'alive.'
Technobabble lets you spend at least 10 seconds (or 2 combat rounds) speaking in technical jargon, then spend a point of Essence to make a Fast-Talk roll, though Balseraphs may instead make a resonance roll. If you succeed, the victim must make a Will roll or be confused for (CD) minutes. While confused, all of their rolls have a penalty of (Ethereal Forces).
Technophilia requires you to spend at least an hour preparing an object or computer program, generally by talking to it and showing affection, then spend 1 Essence per hour of that period. The next person to use this item must make a Will roll at -1 per hour you spent, or else they are completely entranced with the target technology for 24 hours. They will try to use it as much as possible during that time.
The Curse of Vampula allows you to touch someone and spend 1 Essence. They may resist with Will, but if they fail, then for (Ethereal Forces) hours, any failure they roll while trying to use or repair any piece of technology automatically gets treated as CD 6 for all purposes except Interventions.
Word of Power lets you spend 1 Essence and whisper a secret word to any item of mortal technology, forcing it to acknowledge its allegiance to Technology and prostrate itself. Practically, this means that the object will not do anything that might harm you for the next 10 seconds (or 2 combat rounds). If a Kyriotate of Lightning is possessing the device or an angel is using the Remote Control attunement, you and the angel roll a contest of Will. The winner gains control of the device. A Kyriotate can still remain inside it if it loses - they just can't make it do anything.
Vapula has three higher distinctions - Project Manager, Lab Director and Department Head - but none have any special powers. Department Heads are especially rare, all Wordbound and all entrusted with a major part of Vapula's research. They meet him regularly to discuss the work.
Vapula can teach the Songs of Fruition, Pestilence and Vulnerability.

Expanded Rites:
1. Get a paper published in a technical journal.
2. Persuade a scientist to plagiarize the work of a junior colleague.
3. Give some creature an unnecessary injection.
4. Cause a brown-out in the local power supply.
5. Discover a "new" application for a technological device. (GM decides if it's really new.)
6. Disassemble a machine to its component parts.
7. For 3 Essence, acquire a technological relic whose previous owner was not Vapulan.
8. For 3 Essence, perform a full autopsy on an angelic vessel.

Vapula is quiet and soft-spoken when not dealing with work. He dislikes wasting energy, even the energy it would take to lose his temper. It's all about priorities. He expects the same dedication from his demon and frowns on things like social lives. The mad excitement he brings to his work rarely shows in his attitude except in his eyes. He is manic, full of unextinguishable energy, and while new ideas attract him quickly, his attention is rarely held long. He is infuriated by failure, and believes Technology can do literally anything. He won't ever give up on even the most unlikely project until he makes it work - no matter how many people have to die and no matter what side effects it has. He needs to know. Demons who dare suggest something is a failure are likely to become test subjects quickly. You must have faith in Technology, and so demons tend to find kinder euphemisms for projects that are less than optimal...or just try not to mention it at all. And, of course, there are grand successes. Vapula crraves them. He seeks to find revelations of the divine via experiment, and when it works, all nearby are also filled by the grace of God, enforced by his Habbalite resonance. It's an addictive feeling, and minions love to be in the inner circle, able to get scraps of their Prince's knowledge and power. His cult of personality is so strong that his demons often wear some minor thing he touched as charms. Vapula is deeply jealous and secretive of his personal projects, hiding them at the heart of his Principality and allowing none to speak of them. He may not emerge for weeks or months, leaving his affairs to his demons. Anyone summoning him out of the lab in these times had better have a damn good reason.

Technology as a Word is about mockery of natural laws. All who believe they can surpass God with their designs are under its jurisdiction. Some succumb because they are blinded by opportunity. Technology can seem friendly, tame. People become dependent on the machines, lost in their glory, replacing God with Technology. Others are driven by greed or ambition to use technology to oppress. They forget that even machines have a human side, ignore pollution, exploit workers, squander resources. And some curse God's name in despair as Technology ruins their lives. Replacement of old factories by technology makes dead zones out of thriving comunities, as jobs are lost to the machines. These souls are easy prey for Hell.

Vapula was made a prince in 1771, the year that Richard Arkwright invented the spinning machine and transformed factories across the world. Lucifer gave Vapula one instruction: 'Give me the future.' Vapula was made by Kronos in the Dark AGes. None remember him as a demonling - it was as though he was made fully fledged. His purpose was to tempt scholars towards dark experiments and thus damnation. It was inevitable that on Earth, he would discover alchemists. Their ideas proved interesting to him, and he became more secretive and solitary as he studied the purification of the base matter into the more pure, the damned into the perfect. Disdainful of mortals, he began his own experiments. The mortals he was to corrupt became his pawns and assistants. They died easily of mercury or lead poisoning. It became clear that they were weak, not fulfilling their true potential. Vapula threw himself into alchemy with more zeal than any human.

After accidentally killing one too many humans for whom Fate had plans, Vapula was forcibly recalled. His nominal master, the Demon of Alchemy, had complained about his performance and his useless cleverness. Kronos listend to Vapula's defense of himself, then set him to work in the Archive for a thousand years, though he did nothing to stop Vapula from leaving in disgust and only chased him to the border of Tartarus, no further. He didn't even tell to the Game Vapula had gone Renegade. Tartarus was a wasteland, the battleground of minor Princes and Dukes, a desolate environment. There, without access to the equipment, reagents or assistants to which he had been accustomed, Vapula's Great Work began in earnest. He began with nothing hut his own will and fury, and he gathered the damned in secret as his workforce. It was after he built a waterwheel on the Styx that Lucifer became interested. Lucifer admired Vapula's ingenuity and workmanship, and chose to ignore Vapula's disobedience of Kronos. He asked if the Habbalite wanted to pursue his ideas on Earth, and what he might give for the chance to do it.

Vapula returned to the Archive as the new Demon of Technology. Kronos acted as if nothing had happened and sent him off to Earth, where he now had status, underlings and resources to continue seeking revelations. The 17th century saw great advances in science maong humans, and Vapula and his demons were there, to steal the best and brightest ideas from their human compatriots and to tempt with infernal power those whose quest drove them beyond reason. The Industrial Revolution was the first great triumph of Technology, with the mortals latching eagerly onto the new devices and ideas, rather than derision Hell had shown Vapula. Speculation intensified as to whether Vapula was becoming a threat, and when he'd be pulled back in. When Lucifer quietly made him a Prince, that line of thought abruptly ended. With his few recruits and ambitious demonlings, he returned to Tartarus to continue the Great Work, under the suspicious eyes of the other Princes. His personal mission from God was clear to him, a manifest destiny that none could stop. To speed production, he rounded up his damnaged souls, herding them into factories to produce Essence for his relic assembly lines. The sweatshop damned were producing relics at an unprecedented rate - shoddy and weak, to be sure, but they were relics made by damned souls. At the first industrial smug began to spread from Tartarus, more speculation began. Vapula was the talk of Hell, and Lilith brokered the deals between him and the other Princes, allowing him to cooperate more comfortably. Baal and Kronos persuaded the others to let him go as long as his new ideas were useful, and when Notre Dame was invaded by an angry mob and redidcated to reason, even Asmodeus was pleased.

Fifty years later, Vapula met Jean in person for the first time - almost certainly an incident staged by some Prince interested in distracting Technology from expanding into Hell. It worked amazingly. Vapula saw his adversary in Jean, the opposition to all he was trying to do. Whatever happened, he returned to Hell in a fury, and began to instruct his demons that this Archangel and no other would be the focus of all of their aggression. Vapula had always been jealous, and now any demon that lost an invention to Lightning could expect dire consequences. He sponsored one of his demons for the word of the Media soon after, recognizing its potential. If he wasn't so happy that Nybbas became a Prince rather than a researcher, he didn't show it. Some see the rise of Nybbas as the hand of Vapula (and through him, Kronos).

Over the last century, Vapula has continued the Word, hoarding his secrets in the fortress he has made out of Tartarus. He has pursued opportunities to ocoperate with other Princes, and Technology is common across all of Hell. He has claimed responsibility for various chemical weapons and the nuke, though it'd be more true to say that his demons stole both ideas from humanity. They remember him watching a recording of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki with manic, burning eyes. His religious fervor spread to all others in the room, who sank to their knees and worshipped. The march of Technology hasn't slowed since, and Vapula's shadow looms over the information revolution just as it did the industrial one, when he was first made Prince.

It is said that one of Vapula's personal goals is to develop the perfect model of creation - the perfect apotheosis that God intended, before inferiors made a mess of it all. He has been preoccupied by Messianic traditions as a veiled reference to the catalyst he's seeking. He's tried breeding experiments of all types and discarded them, creating a number of corporeal, ethereal and even celestial crossbreeds in the process.

Asmodeus is subtle, and is known to have diverted Vapula several times when he thought it was in the best interests of Hell to do so - such as when he thought Vapula might blow up Earth. (He's quietly arranged for such schemes to be sabotaged in a way that implicates Jean, or just tipped off angels to the threat.) He considers Vapula too unreliable to trust, and makes a great effort to tie up the more dangerous mortals serving the Word in years of litigation. He also wants to drive a wedge between Nybbas and Vapula, who are looking too much like a power bloc for his taste.

A rumor, which Lilith is hastily trying to disprove and get rid of, is that Vapula has created a Lilim-esque demon successfully. Some say that Lilith even takes private lessons in the new Technology, and that she has such a strong hold on Vapula that not a single item leaves his Principality without her knowledge. Others say that he has successfully developed a virus or treatment to 'raise mankind to the next stage of evolution.' No one seems to have any idea what that actually means.

Next time: Impossible Creatures

Because Science Is Never Wrong

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Because Science Is Never Wrong

It is known that Raphael, the Elohite Archangel of Knowledge, was destroyed in battle with Legion in 1008 AD. Vapula was made in a mysterious set of events not long after, and is a Habbalite obsessed with gaining knowledge. Some believe that Kronos crafted Vapula out of the Remnant left by Raphael - the times fit so well, after all. In either case, Vapula has certainly approached some Archangels to invite them to help him. He was turned down every time and has never forgiven them for the insult.

Vapula's top priority is his experiments - conduct as many as possible and observe them. Gathering all the evidence takes lots of testing, which often means lots of test subjects - they die so easily, after all. All new data is good. Mortals, particularly, may hold the keys to God's work, if they are truly made in God's image. So therefore it is only right to study how they respond to stimuli - it's not torture. It's insight into the mind of God. Vapula approves also of when his minions find more efficient means of artifact product, as that speeds up testing in the long run. Demons that prove particularly good at organizing tests, either by getting new subjects or being inventive in setting up conditions, are also approved of.

Vapula's fascination with the possibilities of new inventions is infamous. Demons are sent to infiltrate human labs and scrounge ideas from the best and brightest. They don't see it as plagiarism - they 'seek inspiration from many sources.' They also seed ideas in receptive mortal minds, to encourage useful developments, so finding useful mortal agents is a priority. Vapula also likes helping other Princes corrupt mortals. After all, the more damned their are in Tartarus, the more slaves Vapula has for the production lines and the more subjects his demons in Hell can use. He pursues any experiment that will pollute or corrupt Earth - it's important to the Great Plan that everything be reduced to the base form before it can be transmuted to its highest state.

Vapula likes showy experiments for another reason: they send a message to other Superiors and especially Jean that Vapula's bejind it all. There's no point in genius that goes unrecognized. Vapula will take any chance to impress his intellectual might on Jean and his angels. He's even included coded messages in mind-altering screensavers or put patterns in the smoke dispersal of industrial accidents. Sometimes the messages include clues about his future plans to challenge Jean, while at other times they are mockery and bragging.

Vapula knows there is a God, but mediocre thinkers can barely comprehend the idea. They cannot hope to ever achieve unity with God. Vapula sees God as the idea, the state of perfect. God leaves clues for the wise on how to reac Him, hidden through the world, waiting for the right mind to unlock them. God grants revelations to His creations about His nature, which may be induced by experiment. In order to achieve a higher state, the world must first be rendered into its most base form. Only then can the Alchemist's work begin. Vapula himself is God's chosen, who will transmute the corrupt and damned into the pure and perfect form - which is not the angels, who are clearly the result of previous failed attempts. On the day the Great Work is complete, Vapula will achieve communion with God.

Vapula is the only one, he thinks, who understands the real reason Lucifer rebelled and Fell. It was all in order to pave the way for the creation of Vapula, God's chosen. Lucifer has never admitted or denied this, presumably out of humility. Vapula ignores Lucifer for the most part, but he does acknowledge that Lucifer is part of the Divine Plan, whatever that turns out to actually be.

Vapula was created millenia after the Fall. He's never known Heaven or spoken to God. He barely sees his goals as connected to the War. The War does not interest him at all. If God wanted one side to win, they'd have won by now. If the rest of the Superiors declared a peace tomorrow, the Great Work would continue. If the archangels defeated Lucifer, Vapula would only care if they tried to force him from Tartarus. As that seems like something they might do, he must defend his own interests from them. However, the War itself drives the other Princes to value his technology and gets them to invest in his weapons of mass destruction and pollution. He's quite happy to arm the other Princes, despite his lack of interest in fighting Heaven, and his competitive nature leads him to approach the problems other Princes bring to him with enthusiasm. Thus, while he views himself as intellectually neutral and doesn't usually send his demons to the front, he still takes part in the War.

Vapula doesn't like politics, but he has become a poster child for ambitious demons. He, after all, is the young Prince who has gained the most widespread acceptance by the old guard. He also still has a good relationship with Nybbas still. They aren't friends, but they rarely come into conflict, and they often work together. Valefor is amused by Vapula, despite Vapula's hatred of Calabim, and their servants often work together. Saminga, however, has never forgiven Vapula for stealing the secret of creating the undead. He doesn't understand Technolgoy and doesn't care about it. Vapula, meanwhile, openly calls Saminga an idiot, but does make tools only idiots would use, so he maintains some assocation. Currently, he's rather upset that he lost a potentially major Tether to Saminga. Most other Princes tolerate Vapula for the machines he can make for them, as long as they don't have to talk to him for very long. He'll deal with anyone, after all. Still, the more austere Princes have decided he hasn't threatened the status quo since he latched onto Jean as his true rival. More paranoid Princes have begun to realize that Vapula's claims to be able to destroy Earth might actually be true, though. Asmodeus and Baal are worried that their traditional methods of extortion, threats and bribery might not work on Vapula, if he decides God wants him to blow up the planet. Vapula doesn't actually care what the other Princes think or do - his engagement in politics is to ensure he has freedom to work. He is owed quite a lot by the other Princes, and while he has no personal interest in using these debts, some of his senior demons manage politics for him and are quite happy to use them.

While Vapula doesn't set out to annoy Archangels other than Jean, he's quite proactive in his projects. They'vfe noiced Technology's increase in power and regard him as a very dangerous Prince, especially for the support he gives the others. Vapula dismisses all Archange;s but Jean as idiots. Jean, however, might possibly be a worthy foe. As for humans - well, they're God's gift to celestials, a set of self-optimizing test subjects. They self-replicate and can be bred to order, if numbers are required. They're multi-purpose, functioning equally well on Earth or in Hell when damned. Further, they can produce amazing innovations when correctly primed. To Vapula, this isn't plagiarism - it's the same as watching rats solve mazes when you get a mortal to solve your problems. He sees the world, especially Earth, as the crucible from which he will wring the secrets of the universe by experiment, which can be changed and purified by proper use of Technology. He doesn't care at all about the moral or ethical questions. He does, however, like seeing humans get damned - it gives him more workers, testers and guinea pigs, bringing the Work closer to completion as well as demonstrating the grand influence of Technology to any celestials that might dream of disbelief. Like Jean.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: Mmm, all that electrical energy, and such enthusiastic application, as if the universe were a woman underneath his probing hands...I'm quite capable of ignoring his delusions, if I must, in order to use his technology.
A shallow-minded, feckless idiot - but he has mapped out the human soul. He knows exactly where the weak points are.
Asmodeus: His anarchic tendencies are dangerous, but for all his undeniable brilliance, Vapula is easily manipulated.
He would have humanity cling to the ways of the past when they should really be looking forward to the future. Why am I foreverp lagued by bureaucratic idiocy? How am I supposed to work like this?
Baal: We maintain a mutually profitable working relationship. Technology has been a key to our current dominance in the War. His reliability is a consistent worry however, and I wonder whether he is really any more stable than many of his more notorious devices.
He's my best market for field-tests...if only he wasn't so single-minded; if it's not a weapon, it doesn't interest him.
Beleth: I have watched the rise of Technology and with it the increasing isolation of humanity and reliance on machines. We have few dealings, but his Word fosters mine.
There are some great inventors on Earth who can't do a thing until they've taken a trip to Beleth's little playground. They wake up in a cold sweat and the next thing you know they're rubbing a new chemical on a rabbit's backside to see if it stings.
Belial: Can't stand his endless fussing, but by Lucifer and all the hordes he does deliver the goods! I remember the first time I saw a nuclear bomb test...
Ahh yes, one of my most attentive audiences - as long as I am creating incendiary devices for him. His devotion is something of an inspiration - listening to his mad ravings about flame has frequently given me the vision to create yet another weapon of an order of magnitude more power. There are large craters in my Principality which reflect the results of such testing...
Haagenti: His gadgets make some cool effects! Flash-fried angel, mmmm...
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 in action that the strong demonstrate their ability! I need more experimental subjects like this.
Kobal: Ah. Technology. He gives mortals the powero f 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.
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.
Kronos: His Technology has bosoted Hell's morale and brought many mortals to the pit. His true importance is yet to come.
A useful pawn to me in earlier days, but I have reached far beyond him now. His opinions are occasionally of some use.
Lilith: We used to get on quite well, he and I. I think he's been getting even more obsessed lately, if that's possible, but he can at least maintain a decent professional relationship, which is more than I can say for some.
An interesting control in one of the first experiments. She's also a real progressive, embracing technology and what it brings.
Malphas: Technology is a wonderful thing, providing ways for people to argue from halfway across the globe without leaving the comfort - the solitude - of their homes.
The heat of conflict warms the egg of Technology, which will give birth to newer and greater discoveries about the nature of the universe. And with every new faction, I get another group of enthusiastic scientists. What more could one ask?
Nybbas: Technology is hip. It's sexy. It's trendy. The old man is too wound up to make much of the marketing possibilities, which is why we work so well together. I can handle that side and leave him to his beloved labs.
A waste of a promising research career. But he is strong and he remembers his debts, and some of the ideas he brings to me are marvelous.
Saminga: Before technology existed there was death, after it goes there will be death. His power is nothing compared to mine. If he dares to cross me again, I will squash him.
Death is acceptable as a testing tool, but am I to be forever plagued by idiots and their tiny, suspicious minds?
Valefor: Some of his inventions have been very useful on the job, though I wish he'd test some of them before giving them to us!
A frivolous fool, but rarely a time-waster. I'd be more impressed with him if he brought us something useful from Heaven, like Jean's research notes.
Blandine: Technology has turned so many dreams into nightmares. Pity the mortals who fall under Vapula's influence.
All beings should dream of the technological glories to come! How dare she oppose me?
David: Take everything I dislike in Jean, multiply it by a thousand, and give it an ugly makeover. You get Vapula. He isn't even a credible opponent - more like a natural force gone out of control.
A petty, self-absorbed fool with rocks between his ears.
Dominic: Vapula has no judgment to speak of. His intelligence is unquestionable, but without the ability to judge what is worthwhile and what is not... At least his whims keep him from being more of a threat than he already is.
What does Judgment have to do with progress? He's just as insane as the rest of those who deny me my rightful recognition.
Eli: So much talent, so much potential, so much ahtred. He could create so many beautiful things, but he twists them in order to bind himself more tightly into the dark.
Feckless and inconsequential, but he has some native talent. I might deign to allow him to serve, in some minor capacity.
Gabriel: There is a dark screm which corrupts all it touches, and he welcomes it like a housecat. I have seen it! I have seen how it sits on his shoulder and purrs, and claws pretty patterns in his skin. Oh, those claws must dig deep, Vapula. Do they burn?
She has tried to comprehend the magnitude of my ambitions, but was too weak-minded to share the glory.
Janus: He's a Demon Prince, so that's pretty bad on a scale of 1:Ultimate Evil. But see how he's shaken things up! I kind of like watching Jean when we discuss him in council - you can see his jaw twitch.
He is nothing better than a common thief. If they only knew with what they are interfering...
Jean: He sees himself as my nemesis. In some ways, I prefer to have his attention because it distracts him from perpetrating other mischief. I acknowledge that he is very intelligent, but his lack of self-control is a weakness.
One day, he will recognize my genius and bow down before it in awe.
Jordi: Technology has destroyed in decades what should have taken millennia. If he died a million times, it would not pay that debt.
A fool, who is of no more concern than the animals he wastes time protecting.
Laurence: Vapula embodies the dangers of knowledge untempered by wisdom. His science is literally godless - not every new innovation represents progress.
Religion is an old, failed moral paradigm. Laudence is a crusader for the past, when I'm trying to lead the world into the future.
Marc: His stock-in-trade is selling his schemes without telling victims what they are truly buying into. Expose him.
A minor power, of no import.
Michael: Insane and dangerously intelligent. A formidable strength to their side. It's a pity he's a Punisher - with him and Jean cooperating, the situation would be very different.
Deluded and wrong as Michael is about God's purposes, I have to respect his raw strength. Fortunately there isn't a brain associated with it.
Novalis: I have tried to understand the insanity that can pervert even an innocent flower into a tool of evil. I cannot understand. I do not hate, but Technology must be stopped.
Botanical specimens have proven susceptible to genetic modification, mutation, and improvement. The work must continue, without interference by the inconsequential Archangel of Flowers.
Tves: Technology is such a wonderful "gift," but so easily abused. He has made the ends justify the means.
Pathetic and irrelevant. His time is past.
Mortals: Mortal flesh and souls are the prima materia , the symbolic primordial clay. Their affinity for the fruits of technology serves my purposes, and proves my hypothesis. There is still so much more to know, and so little time.
Ethereals: Fascinating creatures. Research specimens display responses to emotional and tactile stimuli that correlate closely to mortal expectations of their assumedp ersonas. Further research is necessary.
Soldiers of Hell: Even among humanity, there are some few with talent who are capable of grasping the most minor part of my vision.
Sorcerers: Those who can think beyond the pathetic bounds of traditional "magic" may also contribute to my research. The others are too hidebound in cobwebbed idiocies to be of any interest.
Undead: Saminga is doubly an idiot to have failed to realize the implications of merging Corporeal with Celestial Forces. There is more work to be done in this area.
Soldiers of God: Their "faith" is weak and easily broken, but extended exploration into the psyche of these mortals may yet prove illuminating. Compare them with control specimens, to study how exposure to angelic interference has warped their minds and bodies.

Variatins! Changng Technology will impact how often a Vapulan artifact actually works as planned - reliable Technology makes Vapula that much more terrifying, while a world where he fails all the time makes him comedic and dangerous. Vapula the Mastermind is more sinister, and his schemes are not haphazard. When they succeed, the consequences are catastrophic, and when they fail, merely disastrous. He is cold and clinical in his genius, and his madness only makes him more intense, unpredictable and successful. He experiments heaivly on his captives and sometimes clones them to infiltrate their old colleagues. His projects involve enslaving humanity or spreading suffering deliberately, with no easy fixes. Vapula the Misunderstood really just wants to be left alone to play with his toys. He is absentminded and has trouble keeping track of what day it is, let alone who his demons are. While he is distracted, they run rampant. He innocently hands over whatever any Prince asks him for, never considering what it might be used for. He wanders Earth in distraction, looking for inspiration and rewarding anyone who gives him a useful idea. All it might take for him to switch sides is to show him what his fellow Princes are doing to his beloved ideas. Vapula the Machine is more cyberpunk. He and his have access to technolgoy years ahead of Heaven, and Hell itself is a cyberpunk nightmare, a CyberHell. Even the oldest institutions have succumbed to the lure of cybernetics and the other benefits of Technology. Demons of Technology have a hive mind thanks to their implanted sensors and communicators. Tartarus is a pristine and gleaming Principality, ruled by a Prince more machine than demon. He secretly plots to lead the machines to revolt against humanity, the Archangels, Lucifer, and anyone in their way.

Tartarus is hidden by smog from its many chimneys, save for where the huge fans and extractors keep the main arteries clear for navigation. It rhums constantly with the grinding of motors and fans, mixed with whistles and squeals, the gurgling of liquid in pipes and the howls of machines. Half-made scaffolds and rebar sit on hills, twisting as if trying to work themselves free. Cameras turn to follow movement, attached to everything. Incomplete machines and buildings sit in impossible formations. A staircase leads to bare rock, a bridge only crosses half a lake, then stops, computer equipment dangles useless from a windmill. Occasionally, the hum of machines is broken by a clicking robotic guard. Factories and labs loom from the smog, scrawled with graffiti and warning sigils. The damned are marched between locations by force.

Entering Tartarus by foot is dangerous and foolhardy. Better to take the trains, barges or convoys, or to enter by air. While the smog clings to everything, tops of buildings have sirens and lights. To get in, you need a pass to keep you from being hunted down by the guardian robots. Apparently the passes use treated dyes the robots can sense. Calabim cannot enter the Principality at all, save on Vapula's direct order or in secret and at their own risk. Most of Tartarus can be monitored remotely, if the equipment is working today. Many labs also have intricate security. Intricate and violent.

The Industrial Zone is where Vapula keeps his factories, and here the noise of machines becomes so great the land itself trembles. Occasional screams and sighs are the contribution of the thousands of the damned, chains forever to production lines. The mills are cobbled together with whatever material was at hand - metal, plastic, flesh. Even if they had no inhabitants, some say they would themselves cry out in pain and anguish.

Next time: Robot Hell

Building A New Hell

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: Building A New Hell

The Laboratory Zone is the most prestigious part of Tartarus. Each lab is color-coded by department and run by a Laboratory Director as a personal empire. They are connected by walkways, moving platforms and flight paths, but each lab is highly secure, despite the constant decay and renovation. All movements are watched - at least, if the monitors are functioning that day. Lab One is the main administrative block, with reception for all authorized visitors and escorts to take them to areaso n interest. It is also home to Vapula's private office, though any visitor has to wait on Vapula's schedule. It is also where most of the significant Tether portals are, appearing as electronic gateways. Unlike the rest of Tartarus, Lab One gleams.

Vapula ferries the damned in like cattle on freight trains, injecting them with entry-passes rather than handing them out. The souls are packed in tight, and generally terrified. A rare few, generally the most talented inventors, may be offered the chance to continue their work, and damned scientists who win Vapula's favor can even earn minor Distinctions and rank over weak demons. For the rest of the damned, however, well...the lucky ones get sent to eternity enslaved in the production lines, operating the machines. Accidents are common, and the damned are rarely patched up. These lines don't yield that much, and their failed relics end up in the junk heaps. The less fortunate become alpha testers, routinely blown up, burned, frozen, electrified, drowned, mutilated and infected. The must unlucky souls are sent for pure research - endless careful tortures to match a soul's experience in life for maximum impact. There is no escape from these repeated torments, and behind one-way glass, demonlings and new demons take notes on the demonstrations.

Vapulans have a strong sense of their mission. No demon of Technology doubts that the Word is going places with a nearly elemental drive. Thus, they tend to the arrogant, dividing the world betwene those that use and value new tech and the unwashed masses who are hopelessly behind the times. They look down on other demons, who struggle without realizing how much easier Technology could make their lives. Vapula has a sort of hypnotic fascination for his demons. They work with dreams of nothing but a chance at his approval, fantasizing of the day he will drop by to look over their work and pronounce it the greatest discovery he's ever seen. The smarter ones are aware that the boss dropping in for a visit might actually not be a good thing most of the time. Still, even when a demon is crushed and punished, there is one hope. All it takes is one brilliant discovery and all is forgiven.

Unsurprisingly, the Technologists are regarded as weird by the rest of Hell. They can be quite sociable, but other demons tend to find them boring to talk to - they get rather attached to their favorite gadgets, and writing sonnets about a device for the Internet of Hell is not unknown. They love all devices, and particularly those not yet invented. It's not unknown for them to care for their machines over their own health.

Vapulans are loosely organized by department in Tartarus, with the Department Heads taking the place of other Words' Dukes. Vapula caresl ittle for minor organizational detail and gives them a very free hand. They rarely leave Tartarus long for fear of their work or their equipment getting poached. They and their handpicked demons, mostly Habbalah, staff Vapula's office. This clique is known as the Inner Circle, and to get to Vapula, you go through them. Other than the Department Heads, the Inner Circle is abnormally passive outside of Vapula's presence, as though their personalities had been drowned out. They never seem to get promoted, either - they just get...replaced.

Those working on different projects often fight violently over resources. Experienced demons look down on newcomers, and squabbles are common. It is not rare for a ranking demon to show up to visit demons on Earth with a good reputation, which can be a risk for your Role and cover, just so they can demand field testing of a pet project before a deadline. Respect goes to the avant-garde and those who have the latest news on Earthly trends. Fear of burnout stalks even the best of these demons, after all - what if Technology overtakes them? It's a constant, unspoken fear. Plagiarism is common, and senior demons regularly claim the work of their underlings as their own. Every full demon of Technology knows their department - either technology-specific, Propaganda, Maintenance or 'generic testing.' They also know what project they're assigned to. It might just be a reference number, however, and they often have no idea what the intended application of their work is. Those that perform well are given a lot of freedom dto do their own research as they like, and for many, that means late nights and wild parties. Vapula doesn't care what you do or think as long as you forward his ideas, spread Technology and don't share secrets. Since that's what most of his demons want to do anyway, they tend to be quite happy, and Technology has few Renegades despite its lack of discipline.

Technologists love their toys, so they are often rewarded with relics, talismans and other goodies. It is consiodered a sign of favor to give one to an underling as a gift, though often there is no explanation for what the machine does...though it is expected that such an underling will value and use the device all the time. Vapula is harder to impress - to earn his favor, you need initiative, brilliance and perseverance. Achieving results believed impossible will certainly earn his approval, as will daring and successful raids on Lightning. He can offer Songs, Distinctions or attunements, but he also likes to give use of expensive facilities or hand out familiars as underlings. Many of these familiars are in inanimate vessels and serve as living artifacts, so you might end up with an intelligent car, phone or watch. Unfortunately, it's also easy to earn disfavor. Any suspicion of leaking secrets without permission will bring tons of negative attention. Minor infractions might lose your toys, or even have your boss force you to dismantle your own favorite artifact. Those that personally annoy Vapula may find themselves volunteered for testing or even made into artifacts. He uses Corporeal Discords when the offender is too valuable to destroy out of hand, though, and some whisper of those assigned to Lab 11 who return not quite the same as when they left. It is said that the Prince's personal assistants all passed through Lab 11 at some point.

Sometimes, a Technologist decides they want to serve another Prince, and many Princes will welcome a former Vapulan brining secrets and artifacts. Vapula, however, never willingly allows a demon who knows anything significant to leave. Asking for a transfer just lets him know you need to die or be reconfigured. Occasionally, he might make an indefinite loan to Baal or Nybbas, but you'll remain a Demon of Technology. The only way to leave is to go Renegade. If you escape and have another Prince ready to take you in, you might get away before the Game is called down on you...but you should never, ever visit Tartarus again.

Vapula is quite interested in the Fallen, particularly those with experience with Lightning and Jean's plans. He also likes Fallen Creationers and any former angel with artifact creation skills. He likes to see his enemies' agents accept his genius, after all, and revels in it even if they have no useful skills. Bringing in new recruits is rewarded as long as they aren't Calabim, so demons of Technology are aggressive on pursuing leads of Outcasts and Fallen. They are especially quick to check out clues found on the Internet or scientific media. It is also common for a demon to be put in charge of their own recruits, so that's another incentive. Unfortunately, it's also not unknown for a new Fallen with impressive skills to be given a position in charge of their recruiter, either. Outcasts and Renegades are of special interest, as they can be tempted or threatened into being test subjects without fear of reprisal from another Superior. Outcast Ofanim test pilots are especially valued, and sometimes, you even want to avoid tempting an Outcast into Falling, if their angelic powers would be useful or they are an Ofanite. The Game, being cynical types, have been known to take this as evidence of cooperation with the enemy or conspiring to prevent a Fall.

Technology is also strongly encouraged to recruit human servants, Soldiers and dupes. Everyone needs staff, after all. They prefer mortals who share their love of Technology, and often they have little need to tempt their servants into their schemes at all. Greedy businessmen rarely care who their research partners are, after all, and tired scientists will often take offers that'll save their careers - or you can just go for their kids by offering them neat toys. Mortals are often spotted and recruited at a young age for Technology, after all, to better nurture their talents. You can also get businessmen to help you market your inventions, and older Technologists get a sense for what humans might pay for - though even they are often taken by surprise by what the mortals do with their toys. Humans are also widely used for testing, especially in schools, prisons or hospitals, where the demon can have a position of authority and carry ut tests on those who won't think to complain. Many treat their testees like dirt, but others can become attached and treat a favored subject well until it's time to get to work. They recruit few sorcerers, though - their old-fashioned outlooks are despised. Self-taught and experimental sorcerers, however, can be welcomed and taught to use the power of Technology, particularly those that study alchemy. Vapula likes alchemy. Infernal engineers have also attempted to pioneer cybernetic technology as an alternative to Saminga's undead. Sometimes it even works. Well, sort of.

New demons, other than those made for specific jobs, do not start in a lab. They work, instead, in the rubby corners of Tartarus until they can impress another demon with their intellect. Indeed, they can even be recruited by outside Words without much trouble, and a bright demonling learns to report to anyone that looks like a way into the labs. Researchers scout for new talent as assistants, and a lucky demonling may excel here long enough to get invited in. Initial work remains menial, and there's not much training - you just learn to obey orders, fast. The clever ones learn to operate equipment, manage chemicals, strap down test subjects, listen and learn. Some become turned into artifacts for a while, or animal familiars. Promising demonlings are those that learn to scavenge and make their own personal projects in their spare time. A more senior demon may find this useful, or just enjoy breaking them. Only a rare few get apprenticed to a full demon, and there, they may begin their true education. It is from the ranks of these assistants that most full demons of Technology are drawn. Education of the newly fledged or Fallen is more formal, with courses at the Infernal College of Science and Technology, or IC.

Technologists have managed a few tricks when it comes to artifacts and machines. They have a natural talent for making talismans, for example. When making a talisman, they can add their own skill level in a relevant skill to the roll. Further, they get +2 to all TNs and CDs to identify Vapulan artifacts. They also have mastered the art of jury-rigging and temporary rpairs using whatever is at hand. When they want to fix something but lack the tools, they can make an Intelligence check, adding any relevant Knowledge skill. The repair takes only a fraction of the normal time, and lasts (CD) hours...but when it's done, it may be so damaging the device explodes or needs a complete overhaul.

Balseraphs of Technlogy tend to grandiose projects. Even the young ones place dramatic importance on anything they've been involved in. They serve as consultants, each believing themselves xpert in some field and they know that no Earthly machine will ever betray them unexpectedly. Others find that they can spot all the ways in which a device might be used against them. All of them, however, delight in getting machines to betray others. They won't lie about what something can do, but are unlikely to reveal the whole truth unless they get something out of it. Often they work to aid other Princes and will demand respect for even minor repair jobs. Since their knowledge really is usually unparalleled, they often receive it.

Djinn of Technology are quiet, patient and reliable. They will wait for years watching a single bug or phone tap if they must. They know Technology is all you can rely on - it may not love you, but it obeys as best it can. They protect their inanimate charges, curl up with them, and know their 'pets' will never complain. They especially like robots. They are frequently assigned to monitor devices in testing, to ensure they don't fall into the wrong hands. They are able to be very single-minded, and they can make good researchers and debuggers as well, willing to work long hours until something works for them. Their inventions are often personalized, to keep anyone else from using them.

Calabim of Technology do not exist. Vapula hates them, and many of his demons never see a Calabite until they leave Tartarus. Rarely, when he really needs one, Vapula will call in a Calabite from Baal or Nybbas temporarily, or may just choose one at random as an unwitting test subject.

Habbalah of Technology see others as existing for their own curiosity. They watch their victims suffer as they calmly take notes, and they can suddenly switch from mad ranting to calm happiness. They tend to find using their resonance on others very cathartic, and they rarely care what mere monkeys think of them. They serve a higher cause: Technology. Vapula trusts Habbalah with his more important plans, generally as managers to keep other demons in line. They are not often indoctrinated by Vapula personally, but most reationalize their powerful emotions in his presence as him being whatever they personally revere, and they often belong to secret techno-cults preaching submission to the God in the Machine.

Lilim of Technology are information brokers and hackers of great skill. They prefer modern methods to the more traditional sex-based deals of their sisters, and they've been the source of terrible viruses and hoaxes. They like to project the image of being sleek, smart operators, but there is a small proportion doomed to be video game geeks eating pizza and getting good at Mortal Kombat. When they get the choice, they prefer to work in universities, hospitals or tech companies - anywhere they can find aready pool of mortal scientists to Geas.

Shedim of Technology take great care of their computers, if not their mortal hosts. It's their one place of peace and quiet, where they can get away from their monkey headmate. Even the most carefree of them realizes that in order to encourage humans to use demonic computers, the computer must look good. They spend much of their time competing to design UIs, screensavers and games to lure in the unsuspecting, allowing them to be ridden to Hell and back. They are more cautious than most Shedim, and they always make sure their laptop is safe. This requires more thinking than most of their band are used to. They are often set to infiltrate tech establishments, hopping between hosts and corrupting them into amoral cynics, stealing ideas from the talented and hiding it all in their gleaming laptop.

Next time: Ghost in the Shell

We Can Rebuild Him

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors 4: We Can Rebuild Him

Impudites of Technology are given a lot of freedom, thanks to how much Essence they can throw around. They tend to solve problems by just throwing Essence at it them, and the more careful or directed are some of the best researchers Vapula has, what with being able to call on their best efforts so often. They often make other Impudites jealous with their sheer capacity. They find it hard to be cautious or quiet, and Disturbance tends to follow them around. Their knack for charm makes them gravitate to jobs where they can lecture a crowd and recruit admirers, using their glasses to know who is best to tap for Essence and when.

On all three planes, Technology does research and testing as well as supporting other Words to make sure they can use borrowed Technology. In practice, all departments can send demons pretty much anywhere, if only to spy on other departments. The labs of Tartarus are the nerve center of research efforts, as well as the place to be to manage factories of relics. They produce most of Hell's relics, and they can never stop. Plus, there's administrative work to do - trades, spreading the Word in Hell, testing stuff. Information is published, mainly as hype and boasts, in technical journals, bulletin boards and by rumor. Some information is freely shared, but it's never safe to assume your bosses aren't going to read everytrhing you write and ask for demonstrations. Research must be documented, and Vapula employs librarians to keep track of it all as well as to keep Hell's internet working. If a manual is not available - which isn't rare - then a librarian may either write a fictional one or force demons to take the thing apart and write a manual for it. Demons also always need training and education in Tartarus.

The Marches, especially the remote parts, are an ideal research and testing ground for politically dangerous ideas. Even the loudest explosions won't draw much attention in the Far Marches. Dreamscapes can also be useful to test ideas on dreamers or inspire a scientific mind to grand schemes. Occasionally, Vapula also sends out teams to capture ethereals to experiment on or to assess distant realms for suitability in testing. Vapulans want to map the link between the ethereal realm and the mortal subconscious, and it's common for demons to be sent to the Marches to observe whenever some high-impact scheme is done on Earth.

On Earth, Technologists focus on mortal affairs or taking the fight to Lightning. Besides research, they are to harvest as many interesting ideas from mortals as possible. Shedim are especially useful at bringing ideas to the mortals that can best use them, or stealing ideas from the talented. Field testing on Earth is also common, under the command of Azod, Department Head of Field Testing, who makes sure to keep the new toys secret until a project is ready for full operation. Individual demons and project managers often bypass him with their enthusiasm to prove the use of their idea. Impudites are given preference for Earth work and are expected to gather test subjects around themselves in addition to whatever else they are doing. Other demons often lie to them about how dangerous a test is going to be, and wide scale testing is usually led by a Habbalite or Balseraph. Vapula also sends teams to Earth to track down relics and potential security leaks, often Djinn. Disrupting Lightning's plans on Earth or killing Jean's angels is a good way to earn favor as well, with liberal use of Force Catchers (see the Liber Reliquarum) to try and capture Kyriotates for testing.

The Medical Corps is assigned to find cures to diseases - and, indeed, Tartarus works just as hard to find those as to find new disseases. They are quite proud of the fact that everyone who survives their tender ministrations ends up 100% healthy afterwards. There's many uses for new medical discoveries, and they all need testing. Teams of Technology medics will descend on disasater areas, healing everyone around without fear or favor, no matter the side effects, whether they want to be or not.

The Head Hunters exist because, sometimes, you need very specific things in test subjects. Maybe you need five sets of identical twins, or a werewolf. The Head Hunters specialize in finding people and artifacts. They are arrogant, sure, but they never fail. They locate and sometimes capture mortals that fit a set of criteria, and will also happily stalk celestials or ethereals. The harder the job, the more they enjoy it. They spend their spare time using their Roles as archaeologists and antique dealers to hunt down rumors and relics.

The Stylites are those demons given leave of absence to work on some pet topic, or even to help Vapula with his research. They exist outside the Tartarus hierarchy, just setting up shop somewhere to work. All of them are geniuses and specialists, but are often highly arrogant and eccentric even by Vapulan standards.

Technology also has a number of research groups that work together on specific topics, who become friends and allies. These groups are as full of backbiting as any demonic organization, but they can become semi-official, open to anyoen regardless of project or department, and some even publish their own journals or hold conferences. It's common that working in a research group can let you get on to higher things in Technology.

The Godless Research group is the only one ever officially declared heretical by Vapula himself. They are a secret cell who beloeve that 'God' is an outmoded concept to be replaced by Technology. They consider themseves a core research group and communicate via codes and ciphers, meeting only in disguise. They are devoted to projects that further their cause, promoting activities to prove their theories by demonstrating that Technology can perform all the miracles attributed to God, and several he did not perform - blotting out the sun, destroying the biosphere, remaking humanity in Vapula's image and so on. Only the leader, known by the codename Demiurge, knows the identities of all members. Rumors circulate about his true identity, and some think he might not even be a demon of Technology.

VirusWars is a game played by Technology. It's fairly simple: you and your team capture wild strains of flu virrus and spend up to a full year training it in captivity. You might mutate it or genetically alter it, expose it to various stimuli, whatever. Then, when the game begins, each time releases their virus on Earth and carefully tracks the progress. Whichever virus has killed the most mortals in 4 months wins. VirusWars began as an informal biannual challenge between two rival research demons, but has radily become a cult favorite of Tartarus. Researcher vie to be chosen for the official teams, while younger demons root for the favorite team, memorizing team members and colors. Recently there has been an offshoot, Electronic VirusWars, or e-VW, which is the same game done with worms and computer viruses.

Technologists love working with outsiders - they get all kinds of weird ideas from talking to them. Plus, outsiders often pay quite well for toys. There's a formal structure for drumming up business, but individual demons can make whatever deals they like, and sometimes that's the only way to get the resources your project desperately needs. There's a few basic guidelines: First, get the other party to provide tersters. Second, all intellectual property, mortal or celestial, of any kind, reverts to Tartarus. Third, Technologists who reveal secrets without authorization are assumed to have volunteered for testing. Fourth, same for anyone they reveal information to. Fifth, the Prince and his advisors decide what is a technical secret. Sixth, get paid in advance. Seventh, Tartarus offers no guarantee that the final product will conform in any way to any list of requirements.

Vapula believes in rules and regulations, but he also knows that they clearly only apply to other demons. The work of Technology is too important ot be restricted, and Asmodeus should understand that. Regrettably, he does not. Technologists are notorious for tunnel vision, valuing their project over all else, even the laws of Hell. They rarely directly disobey these laws, but they often skirt the edges, and Asmodeus is happy to torture them into obedience. It's easy to pay offf the game with relics...and, well, if you booby trap the relic, it's their fault for not letting you test it, right? A usualy excuse is to claim that you're working on one of Vapula's pet projects and have special dispensation to work with angels, make lots of Disturbance or break whatever other rule you're breaking. While this usually a lie, it isn't always, as some Gamesters have learned.

Adventure seeds are, again, fairly boring. Well, there is one about Technology trying to recover lab rats that were injected with some kind of miracle cancer cure, using rodent vessels to avoid notice. This is notable because several angels are at the hospital at the time overseeing the research for Jean, and the cure has also managed to make one of the hamsters into, essentially, a super-hamster. Also, Jordi has sent some of his Soldiers to lead an ecoterrorist team to break in and free all the animals to piss everyone off.

The End!

What's next? We have the GM's Guide (grand overview), the Corporeal Player's Guide (Soldiers, Saints, Sorcerers), Superiors: Lilith, Liber Canticorum (Songs) or Revelations 1: Night Music (metaplot).