posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors: Asmodeus

Asmodeus is the Prince of the Game, the internal security of Hell.

Argument of Casuistry is a Servitor attunement that may be used to convince anyone of the rightness or wrongness of a premise, based on physical evidence. However, this evidence does not need to be real - it can be flimsy, circumstantial or manufactured. You can, for example, 'discover' a burst capsule to convince someone that blood is a movie prop. This requires a Will roll to activate and lasts for (CD) minutes, resisted by Perception. If proof of the falseness of your evidence is shown, however, their mind will become clear again and they'll remember you lied. If they resist, you cannot use this attunement at all for (CD) hours.
Insert Coin to Continue allows you to spend 1 Essence after you fail a roll. You may reroll, but must spend Essence again to improve it - nothing carries over from the last roll. Interventions may not be rerolled, and if the new roll also fails, you can't reroll a second time. You can use this up to (Celestial Forces) times per day.
Rule of Law may only be used after invoking the Humanity attunement. It forces celestials on Earth to play by earthly rules, even if they don't want to. The target suffers all the restrictions of Humanity, adapted to suit their current form. This costs 3 Essence, can't be resisted and can only target those inhabiting a vessel or host that are in range of your ability to touch. This lasts for (Celestial Forces) hours or until your Humanity attunement ends, whichever is first.
Sense for Betrayal allows you to sense dissonance in any celestial, even angels, with a Perception roll. This perception lasts for (CD) hours, and will not identify anything about the target except how much dissonance they have and that they are a celestial of some kind.
Asmodeus offers distinctions above Baron, but only to his Wordbound - there are no simple Marquises, Counts and Dukes. He odes, however, offer some lesser Distinctions as needed.
Marquises are assigned to specific projects or objectives, but have free rein within those to execute their own plans using any servants of the Game nearby.
Counts run the organizations of Hades and its key buildings. They have almost total authority over their domains.
Dukes govern large parts of Asmodeus' territories, and they act as feudal lords of the Game, commanding the Bishops within their domain and all those demons the Bishops themselves command. However, they are kept in check by each other, Asmodeus and their Bishops.
It is believed that Asmodeusc teaches the Songs of Banishing, Binding, Retribution, Concealment and Correspondence, plus a variant of Numinous Corpus: Arms to produce appendages able to do much paperwork.

Remember: the Humanity attunement is the Game's ace in the hole, making you appear entirely human in all respects.

Expanded Rites:
1. Cause dely, frustration and confusion via legal paperwork.
2. Officiate at a chess tournament, deal a poker game or otherwise control the gameplay of humans.
3. Play and win three games in a row against a skilled opponent or opponents. Sometimes this is a 2-Essence rite but limited to a specific game or game type.

When appearing openly as himself, Asmodeus prefers to have a fearsome presence. All of his vessels are intimidating, and his burning eyes are a terrifying symbol of his power in Hell. Most demons attempt to avoid his attention, and even Princes fear his raised voice. Asmodeus never does anything that does not benefit him, down to his very apperance. He apepars imposing to remind demons that he writes the rules, and to convince them that he must always appear this way. He has found that an even, bland tone heightens anxities and makes his occasional changes from it even more striking. Besides, Asmodeus does not like to instill more energy into anything he does than is absolutely necessary. That would mean caring, which a Djinn Prince never does. This does not stop him from redefining situations so that any irritation he wants to express becomes useful, of course. When he is not acting openly, Asmodeus will take on any form that might be useful to him. He frequently does not announce himself even to his own servants, and a few of his demons have been unaware they were reporting to him, thinking he had passed them over for inspection. He deals with this naive thinking as he sees fit. He has used many names and Roles, but mostly not known to be his. He sees little point in gathering power under names known to be his - it's less work to just use his own name, in those cases.

Many believe that the Word of the Game is purely metaphorical - pierce for perso, move for action, a complex and useless relabeling of the Symphony. A metaphor, however, is an artificial analogy between unrelated concepts. Asmodeus and his demons hold that the Symphony is the Game - not a filter, but in truth. They believe the universe was designed with rules, that its denizens were made with certain skills and flaws. Both celestials and mortals are controlled by their attirbutes and the nature of the world. They can be manipulated by those who understand this well. And thus, Asmodeus and his demons are arrogant enough to believe that the entire Symphony is a game. An unfair game. There is nothing just or fair about the world, and so therefore justice and fairness do not matter. What matters is winning. The Game is about knowing the rules well enough to manipulate them against your foes - and everyone is your foe - instead of yourself, so that you are the clear and decisive winner. And with victory safely in hand, you can write the rules of the next game to your liking.

The Game is a force of order. The rules must be followed or used, both the rules of the natural world and those made by Asmodeus, who does not draw a distinction between the two. If a demon must bend the rules, they'd best either not get caught or have a very, very good reason. On top of providing order to Hell, Asmodeus oversees all forms of the Game as played by humans. Mind-games, twisting the truth - that's all playing the Game of Asmodeus. Hypocrites, oathbreakers and thoe that exploit the letter of the law rather than its spirit further the Word. Further, Asmodeus also supports human competition in 'traditional' games - sports, board games, gambling and so on.

Before the Fall, Asmodeus was one of the most deovted Cherubim serving Dominic, Angel of Judgment. He was diligent, passionate and loyal, Dominic's closest friend. They worked together with the Metatron to codify the Word of God into the first laws, which Asmodeus found deeply fascinating. It is unsurprising, then, that Dominic sent Asmodeus to speak with Lucifer and test his judgment. Asmodeus spoke with Lucifer for a very long time, trying to learn his reasons. Lucifer appeared forthright, just and equitable, and Asmodeus came to believe it was unfair that God not listen to Lucifer's grievances. Lufier convinced Asmodeus that Dominic would better judge the rightness of his actions if he saw the Movement in action rather than be distracted by its apparent flaws. So Asmodeus returned to his friend and said in strict truth: 'Lucifer is aware of the choices he has made, and his reasoning will be explained soon.' Dominic could not tell the Truth, hidden by Lucifer's ineffability, but he trusted Asmodeus. And so Asmodeus returned to help Lucifer plan what would be the Rebellion. It's failure, to Asmodeus, was a triple betrayl: Dominic, for not following them. God, for not listening. Lucifer, for lying to them. And as he Fell, ASmodeus realized all of it signaled a greater truth: that justice was a lie, existing nowhere in the Symphony. He had no reason to care any more - God played them as pieces in some cosmic game.

In the chaos of Hell, Lucifer named Asmodeus with the Word of the Game, and Asmodeus took to the job of enforcing order with a vicious will. Instead of penance, he gave punishment. Instead of justice, he placed rules. The Game has not always been the finely tuned machine it now is. When Lucifer gave ASmodeus the Word, the idea of the universe as a Game to be played didn't exist - games of chance with one's life, sure, but the idea as a whole was weak and unrefined. Even now, the invention of new games shifts the metaphors and labels of the Gamesters. The current fashion for chess and card games as a structure is only a few millenia old. Int the earliest years, Asmodeus used what he knew - the makings of Judgment. In the beginning, it was more directly an opposition to Dominic, and it took Asmodeus' single-minded obsession to create the idea of the Game as something to play. He is deeply proud of it.

The way the Game is played has never been quite identical to the way Judgment operated. Dominic is known for public trials, while the Game prefers more secrecy and subtlety. Makatiel, Prince of Disease, was the first Prince openly executed by the Game, but that was in collusion with Judgment. Asmodeus either has or would like others to think he has arranged from the removal of other princes, claiming secret responsibility for the deaths of other Princes, such as Beelzebub, the first Prince of Corruption, or Mariel, Princess of Oblivion. Those who suggest that the Game takes credit not due to them are likely to be accused of treason.

It is often believed that the top priority ofr Asmodeus is to prevent Renegades. This is false - Asmodeus's first and only goal is to win, which he breaks down into lesser objectives. First, prevent demonic pieces from benefiting the other side, directly or indirectly. Hell can't play effectively if its pieces break the rules, so Asmodeus devotes a lot of time to preventing that. Lucifer has charged him to maintain order and loyalty among inherently selfish, chaotic and treacherous beings. Asmodeus takes pride in doing his job well under these conditions, though he still holds the task in a certain amount of contempt. If demons would just obey the rules, the Game could focus on offense. Still, Asmodeus does what he can to advance his goals while enforcing the rules.

The Game also regulates the actions of other Princes. Though Lucifer sometimes chooses to intervene personally, he relies on Asmodeus to keep Hell running smoothly day to day. Asmodeus does this by mitigating the influence each faction has on the rest. He usually supports the more militant, proactive groups, but he has also been known to discreetly undermine them by quiet support of the 'softer' Princes, should the militants threaten his plans. Because playing blind is best left to opponents, which is everyone else, Asmodeus uses a network of spies. His demons go in disguise to mislead his foes, with Roles on Earth and more inventive methods elsehwere. When they discover danger or disloyalty, Asmodeus does not always order them to act, though - they may instead be told to observe. This allows a better understanding of the situation and potentially uncovers allies or accomplices in treachery. He's also not above setting up spy networks that don't realize they're spies for him, or giving misinformation to the spies of others.

Asmodeus also does more straightforward things - fighting Heaven and expanding his Word, mostly. He prefers to fight Heaven by influencing other groups to do it for him - usually just telling Ball the right piece of information will do it. Asmodeus does not rule out subtler plots, though, or even personal appearances. He also needs to protect and expand his Word. He holds the Game is played everywhere, if often poorly, but he finds it easiest to show this to others in the fields of politics and law. He looks forward to winning the War and designing a new set of rules for the world to come after.

Asmodeus acknowledges that God created the first Game: the Symphony before the Fall. He believes that he himslef has redefined and refined this Game after the Fall, making it something that belongs to him. Asmodeus believes that God, too, must play by the Rules, which is why God has not intervened directly in the Game between Heaven and Hell. He also believes that Lucifer does not correspond to any standard piece or card in any game, though he is obviously both a player and Player in the great Game. Even chess cannot classify Lucifer. He cannot be the queen piece, for Asmodeus knows the queen's moves but not the full extent of Lucifer's. He cannot be the king, either, for the War would not be over with Lucifer's death, though Hell would be crippled. (Asmodeus has decided that Fate is the 'king piece', even before Kronos' ascension.) Asmodeus continues to resent that he must serve Lucifer, and takes a certain satisfaction in refusing to name Lucifer in the role as the most important piece, without which the game is lost.

Asmodeus doesn't really hate or scorn humanity - he doesn't care enough about humanity to hold them in hatred or contempt. He has noted their ability to act without Disturbance and to influence Words, which led him to make the Humanity attunement in order to duplicate that nature and disguise his servants. He has come to the conclusion that humanity is most valuable as ignorant pieces and tokens of victory to feud over. He does not individual humans as having some skill in the Game, however, and he does not forgo the use of Hellsworn or sorcerers.

Next time: Opinions.

Don't Hate The Player, Hate The Game

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors: Asmodeus - Don't Hate The Player, Hate The Game

Asmodeus involves himself deeply in Hell's politics. He finds most of his other Princes irritating, and many of them spend as much time obstructing Asmodeus as they do fighting Heaven. The Archangels, meanwhile, tend to at least appreciate that he keeps the War cold, even if they hate him deeply.

Superior Opinions posted:

Andrealphus: He acts the cold fish, with his only pleasure being paper-pushing. It's as if he thinks that the rest of us don't understand the desire he has for control. But I understand that perfectly. Oh yes.
He wastes time in his own physical pleasures rather than usefully furthering the cause of Hell; he may serve his own Word, but that is of small concern to me. A distressing number of Renegades come from his ranks, and he takes little interest in pursuing them. I would be interested in evidence of personal recusancy on his part.
Baal: He understands the importance of maintaining order in the ranks, and does so with considerable artistry. We must be unified where the Hosts of Heaven are scattered and discordant.
Baal is a useful leader. He deals harshly with deserters, so I rarely have to become involved. He does his job well and leaves me to my plays.
Beleth: The Game ensures that even the least demonlings in Shal-Mari know that terror has a face and form, and might turn its crimson eye to them at any time. Prince or nely birthed, all have a shadow to fear in the darkness. Asmodeus understands , though our paths cross but rarely.
Her agents are typically cooperative, but more importantly, she is Lucifer's piece, and interfering with his Plays is not a thing to be done lightly. I rarely see the need to do so, and particularly not with her.
Belial: Bah! He's a wet blanket with no fire. Everything's so cautious and so planned - there's no room to breathe in Hell. Why Lucifer allows him so much control is beyond me.
If he cannot restrain his destructive nature, it will be appropriate to remove him before he does too much damage. Too many delicate plays have been ruined by this loose cannon.
Haagenti: Rules, rules, rules! All this talk about rules gives me indigestion! Can't he ever leave well enough alone? I can't be truly hungry if I'm thinking about the rules - and I don't like his attitude toward me and Kobal. He'd better be careful. Or else.
Excessive and unintelligent. Not really faults in themselves, but he listens to Kobal . To be watched like all that Prince's other tools.
Kobal: It's almost too easy. He's so full of himself, so puffed up with his own importance that I just have to poke a few holes to deflate him. But then he spoils the game anyway, because he just doesn't get it.
He seems to think that he can play by his own set of rules in the Game. I doubt he realizes just how wrong he is about that. When the time comes, I will be there to remind him of the rules in Hell. [pause] I owe him a special favor , as well.
Kronos: he is more aware of his role in the grand scheme of things than most. He knows being a leader often means being a follower as well, if only of the unwritten rules.
He is the key to our entire strategy and the board upon which I will construct the next phase of the Game. Even now, he directly manipulates the Symphony itself and turns it to our favor. His style of play is...appreciable.
Lilith: To him, I owe nothing. He is a slave at heart, knowing nothing of real freedom. I'm amazed he foudn the spirit to rebel against Heaven in the first place.
She is flighty, too devoted to herself and not enough to Hell. If she did not provide useful services and demons for the cause, she would be just another Renegade. as it is, I must police her "free" children carefully, since she cares not what they do.
Malphas: Everyone thinks I should have a problem with him, but it's just the opposite. My work would be much less interesting without all of his rules to play the game by. And while everyone is looking over their shoulder for Asmodeus, they never see me.
A useful piece for stirring up treason, bringing it to notice. However, should he create more disloyalty than he uncovers, he will become expendable.
Nybbas: Hey, games are fabulous , babe! Bread and Circuses sell to the masses like nobody's business, but you have to make sure the Game is a spectacle for people to watch! Cheerleaders, lighted scoreboards, jump cuts to the extreme! Nobody wants to watch a guy play solitaire behind a screen of smoke. Strictly C-SPAN.
Frivolous and immature, but he does promite Hell on Earth. He has had too much easy success, and grows too complacent. I don't disparage his power, though, just his judgment; his support of Vapula makes them both too strong. I plan to change that.
Saminga: He used to laugh at me, like they all did. Now he's laughing out the other side of his face. He can have his stupid games. I have all I need.
An almost mindless piece, incapable of anything but the most infantile plays. Rarely significantly useful.
Valefor: He's too caught up with his rules and regulations. He doesn't realize that he risks losing it all by trying to hang onto 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.
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 is his game? Just who is his master?
Vapula: He would have humanity cling to the ways of the past when they should really be looking forward to the future. Why am I forever plagued by bureaucratic idiocy? How am I supposed to work like this?
His anarchistic tendencies are dangerous, but for all his undeniable intelligence, Vapula is easily manipulated.
Blandine: He is nothing to me; there are no rules that can restrict the human spirit.
Dreams are nothing but foolish, distracting delusions. If I catch any demons wasting time in dreaming, there will be Hell to pay.
David: Asmodeus spins Gordian knots of intrigue, well beyond my ability to unravel. I do not bother unraveling them. My hands can tear the strongest knot.
David's blind loyalty and ostensible refusal to Play makes him little more than Heaven's pawn: the supplier of brute force to carry out even their most ill-advised military schemes. The pattern is clear, if unremarked upon in Heaven.
Dominic: Once, he was my confidant, always at my side. Now, he is everything I hate, arbitrary and corrupt. The only remnants left of the Cherub are his dedication to rules. It...can be sufficient.
Once my mentor, now my opposite number. I can use him, and have. He tries to use me, and thinks he has. It is a
Eli: I don't think Asmodeus understands quite how creative he gets sometimes. All those shadow-plays, lies, traps, counters, moves - man. It's not that I like him, but hey, he has his cool moments.
He is...excessively creative in his interpretation of the Rules. This recent strategy of his bears watching, given that unpredictability, though it is convenient to collect his discarded cards while he claims to leave the table. If he bluffs too long, all his infinite creations shall become mine - whether he Falls or not.
Gabriel: Burn the boards, shatter the pieces, tear away the self-written rules that blind you, Asmodeus, and see the truth. God does not play games with His children. You are ashes and cold iron, charred and bitter.
A dangerous wildcard who upsets the settled order of Heaven, and an unpredictable piece. It is a pity that Dominic cannot control her better. Her servants have an annoying habit of detecting those who my service.
Janus: "Why - you're nothing but a pack of cards!" And one who really should learn a few new tricks - houses get old, so blow 'em down. His rules are stifling - just go right through them.
The first and most effective wildcard in Heaven's deck. The only advantage he provides us is he sometimes plays against Heaven as well.
Jean: His intelligence is undeniable. His focus is characteristic of his Band. If he would permit himself to remember more of Heaven, there is a point at which he would be even more effective. I shall not remind him of this; there is currently no reason to draw his attention as an opponent if I can avoid it.
A skillful player, though limited in his chief objectives. He has been known to make moves in unforeseen areas, however, and bears watching.
Jordi: Chasing leaves in play teaches the young to hunt: the Game is nothing more. He continues to claw the trees in my territory, and I will not permit it.
He controls certain basic resources that Heaven does not realize its dependence on, and his isolation renders them vulnerable. I neither forget nor neglect that kind of advantage.
Laurence: By killing their own kind, his demons do some of our work for us. But he is crafty and his spies are everywhere, forcing us to be ever-vigilant.
An impudent Virtue, blinded by idealism. He's a child pushing pieces around on a board he doesn't understand. He served Heaven better as a pawn to attack our pieces directly. I wish him a long career as General of the Host.
Marc: The only "give" in his "give and take" is a setup for more taking. He's almost as greedy as Mammon, if subtler.
Marc's chief weakness is his emphasis on fair trade. I find it satisfying to take advantage of it wherever possible, and force him to sacrifice his pieces instead. He is able to bring influences to bear that can cripple a complex play, and it is necessary to ensure that he does not get the opportunity or information required to do so.
Michael: There is something worse than Dominic, and it's Asmodeus. Give me just one more piece of reliable information of their collaboration, and I look forward to sharing it with the Seraphim Council.
He is undisciplined, arrogant, and proud. It is unreasonable and unjust that God should have pardoned him for his sins. I am pleased to share news of Outcasts from War's ranks with Dominic.
Novalis: Asmodeus...knows very well when to use peaceful methods, and to use them first. But I don't admire him for what he does. It is cold calculation, because he wants to be sure there is always some worse threat he can use.
She counterbalances the influence of Heaven's military in favor of protecting its living resources: while her nonviolent influences can be subtle, it is an obvious flaw that she must be driven to violence.
Yves: He's relentless in hunting down Renegades, those for whom the Symphony still has hope. Destroying the repentant cannot drown out his desire for forgiveness.
Ah, yes, Yves. There's a curious being. So unlike the rest of Heaven's host. Destiny is the victory condition of Heaven; it is fitting that he should have different characteristics than pieces that may be sacrificed.
Humanity: They are most valuable as pieces, influencing Words in controlled ignorance. There are few of them who Play with an appreciable amount of skill.
Soldiers and Sorcerers: While they do not have the power, Forces, or experience of a celestial, neither do they have the weaknesses. They are true pawns, and those that Play acceptably may become my pieces.
Ethereals: Those not aligned with Hell are in a vulnerable position, particularly upon the corporeal. Removing them from it serves not only to remove an opponent, but to reinforce control over those belonging to Hell. At this point, their weak position on the board is more important than their individual characteristics.

Variations! Asmodeus the Player is obsessed with games - lowercase g. His speech is full of game analogies and references, and he is never without a deck of cards or a board game. He insists on being called the Game Master or DM. He and his demons goo out of their way to accept challenges to games, and winning these challenges may even earn reduced sentences. A truly goofy take on it will have Gamesters refer to actual RPG terms. However, this need not be comic - he migh take cold pleasure in playing games with insane rules, which he will enforce to the last detail, like Munchkin or Illuminati. Asmodeus the Policeman is focused on the order of Hell to the exclusion of all else. He runs Hell as a totalitarian police state, watching for even the slightest deviation. He is not subtle any more - there is whimsy, just the iron fist of obedience. This Asmodeus spends most of his time opposing Dominic. Asmodeus the Pawn is imprisoned by his Word, unable to disoney Lucifer. He is Lucifer's pawn, his free will trapped in a mesh of rules. His nature decrees everyone powerless to make choices - all are mere pawns, even Asmodeus. This Game is more hidebound than the intrigue-filled maze of the normal canon. Gamesters drown in paperwork, unable to do anything but their jobs. Asmodeus may not be aware of his slavery...or he might be, and seeking an answer for it.

Hades surrounds the rest of Hell, a ring of gray urban sprawl that insulates Hell from the otuside. It is an immense metropolis, upon which the visions of human legend - Pandemonium, Dis and more - are based. The Gray City, it is sometimes called, full of mad combinations of architecture. Some parts resemble Soviet masonry, others hundreds of twisting alleys, others a bustling, frantic New York street. Skyscrapers loom in the dark, stark against the smog that clouds the sky forever. Beneath it are subways, and the streets are choked with demons and the damned souls.

Despite the oppressive modernity of Hades, most of its landmarks are anachronistic - the psuedo-Roman Plaza of Ashes, say, or the Renaissance-esque Palace of Asmodeus. The rest of the city is concreate slabs, sodium lamps and noir-like miasma. The Gates of Hell stand on the edge of Hades, a pair of immense bronze doors. They hang from pillars that were once mile-high black towers, long ago knocked askew and never righted. Above the Gates is a barely visible inscription in the smog. At times, it reads 'Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here,' but at other times it reads 'Arbeit Macht Frei.' Habbalah and a few other demons whip the damned and force them through the gates. At either side stand Daniel and Hutriel, the Angels of Final Justice, who examine each soul for virtue. It is rumored that they've occasionally released a soul to Heaven, but Asmodeus forcefully discourages these tales - especially when they are true. Most demons see them as just part of the landscape - feared in the same way those near a volcano fear the mountain. They are dangerous, but mostly they're just there.

The Soul Yards are the first destination of the damned. They are a sprawl of broken brick and cobblestone, swarmed with the confused and unhappy souls of the damned, who are shepherded about by cheerful Habbalah. Looming over them are high walls and squat towers, from which the overseers tally the souls and have them inspected, classified and even branded as property of a Prince. Insid the towers, it is like a cross between a cattle auction and the stock exchange. The Princes send agents to bargain for souls, and once their quotas are met, the agents collect their charges and the pens are refilled. The Sul Yards are managed by several Bishops, led by Triel, Djinn Baron of the Game and head Soul Yards Bishop, who answers to Murmur, Calabite Duke of the Game and ruler of the soul yards and the ghettos that are home to the damned who belong to Asmodeus. He often considers himself master of all souls in the Game, but that is contested by his fellows quite often.

Asmodeus' Palace is a palace in name alone. It's more accurately the repository of the Game's files, the central control for Asmodeus' spy network and the home of his nastiest demons. The amount of secrets stored inside is second only to the Archive of Kronos, and it is meticulously ordered, unlike the Archive. The damned who maintain the records are stripped of their Ethereal Forces and given only the bare minimum needed to alphabetize, to prevent the chance of betrayal. Most demons and their Princes would give quite a lot for a spy in the Palace, but the Infernal Police ensure only the most loyal Gamesters ever get in. The security is only strengthened after Kobal's Pranksters got in once and reorganized it all. Occasionally, the Palcae has also served as host to Asmodeus and the other Princes for meetings, at which point the upper halls are used in rich decoration and opulence. Asmodeus' reason for allowing the most curious to get near to his files are unknown, but it might be some sort of game.

The Plaza of Ashes is used for the Game's public executions. It is one of the few parts of Hades that has an undeniable beauty. It is a huge, open fan-shape, similar to the Piazza del Campo, viisble from the balconies of the Palace and large enough to hold a hundred thousand people. The ground is a paved mosaic in the Roman style, showing a chess match in progress. Some believe the positions of the pieces even change. Statues and monuments surround the Plaza, and the eye is drawn to the stage, atop which executions are held constantly. Stairs rise up from it to the Halls of Loyalty.

The Halls of Loyalty, next to the Palace, are connected to it by a network of tunnels. It is the most pristine building in the city, and the headquarters of the Infernal Police, wher the treasnous are taken for interrogation and torture. It is the most feared building in all of Hell. Demons taken there are rarely ever seen again, and the cells that fill the miles of tunnel beneath it are never full.

The Arenas lie under Hades - gladitorial pits for the entertainment of the masses. In the past, ASmodeus used the Arenas directly to enforce the Rules, but with the rise of Shal-Mari and its gaudier arenas, the Hadean pits have fallen from favor as entertainment. The Game allows Shal-Mari to offer bloodsport, keeping the Arenas around for their private purposes.

Not all of Hades and the Game is sleek and purposeful. There are classy gambling halls, but most of the back alleys of Hades are full of cheap casinos, filled with the damned and desperate addicts in front of rigged slot machines and dealers who don't even bother to hide their cheats. The sanest gamblers paly for Essence or the jackpot - a ticket to another Principality. Others play just for the Essence to keep playing. Most on a 'winning streak' haven't moved from their seats in centuries. The halls feel no need to pamper the clientele as Earth casinos do, and many even charge an entry fee. After all, they're the only affordable game in town.

Hades is full not only of Gamesters, but of spies, ambassadors, workers in the Soul Yards and those hiding from their own nominal allies. Asmodeus allows this - it makes it easier to keep an eye on them. It's easy to get into Hades, but getting out takes passports, even for the Game. Any demon in Hades has ceded supremacy to the Game, after all, and the only way out is to play. The paranoia level is about as high as that in Cold War Berlin. The damned are taxerd fro their Essence, and most are terrified enough to pay regularly. Those that refuse often join one of the many stret gangs...but because the gang leaders pay InfPol for protection, Asmodeus gets paid anyway. Muggings and shakedowns are common, but some of the damned can find employment with the Game, if in life they served the Word well. Cardinal Richelieu, for example, has been seen with Asmodeus himself...and while Wittgenstein is not known to be in Hell, his works are favored by many Gamesters. Corrupt cops, lawyers and psychologists often end up as caseworkers.

Next time: Mao

A Crooked Game

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors: Asmodeus - A Crooked Game

Tethers to the Game form where humans twist, bend or argue over the rules that govern them, and the places where those rules are enforced. Thus, they tend to be courthouses, the sites of political intrigue, government buildings and casinos, though they can also form in schoolrooms, post offices, bars, theaters and more bizarre places, as long as someone's played sufficiently well. Asmodeus prefers to keep his more unusual Tethers secret, to better spy on other Princes, though his more famous Tethers include the Agora in Athens, the KGB headquarters in Moscow and the site of the Council of Trent.

The Catholics convened the Council of Trent 1545 AD to determine doctrinal response to the Protestant heresies. It lasts for 18 years, changed location twice and was site of some of the most fervent and factionalized theological arguments in the history of the Church. Merely setting it up took 40 years of political backbiting between European rulers and Papal agents. When it finally began, its process of operation was deeply Byzantine and rule-bound, with a commission drawing up a list of topics, which then had to be discussed in two preliminary sessions - one for theology and one for law. Only after that could they be presented for general debate. Violent arguments over things like the order of topics and the official title took months to resolve. Later, after strife and disease drove the Council to Bologna from Trent and then back again, some decisions were reached, but they didn't reunite the Church. The Tether associated with the Council formed at the site of the Council's inauguration - the nave of the Trent cathedral. It was quickly stabilized, much to Laurence's anger, as he'd hoped to claim it for himself. The Tether strengthened over the course of the Council, and Asmodeus defened it well. After the Council ended, Asmodeus appointed the Habbalite Tephra as Seneschal, and despite attempts over the next century by Laurence and Dominic, it remained firmly in Game hands. Tephra still holds the position today, but the Tether's strength has diminished as Catholic history fades from prominence in human affairs.

Gamesters are stereotyped as corrupt cops, lawyers and judges, and indeed, half of the economy of Hades is built on bribes, though Gamesters easily break promises if it suits htem. Their sentences are arbitrary and often untied to the crime, designed to entertain or benefit others. No one really likes the Game, but they are so entrenched that they can be neither removed nor ignored. Demons of the Game thrive on intrigue and information, using complex codes and tricks. One Asmodeus' first servants was the chief developer of Helltongue, and another created the Hadean variation of Mao. The Demon of Intrigue runs his spy network. Demons of the Game are always flexible. They can work alone or in teams, and while they don't always have the widest skillsets, they learn to handle many situations, or to have the power to ensure they won't ever have trouble from outside their chosen specialty. The Game tries to make others think Gamesters are basically interchangeable, to allow them to better infiltrate places like Shal-Mari, as no one would ever expect them to behave like an Andrealphan, Kobalite or Free Lilim. Within the Game, the assumption is always wrong, of course - there's many, many ways to play the Game, and nearly all of them are represented within the Game's demons.

Most Gamesters find it easier to categorize themselves by playstyle rather than Band, which they see as more accurate and reliable as a predictor. The currently favored calssifcation system is Suits, named for the suits of a deck of cards, sorted based on preferred methods, duties and perception of the Game. The Black Suits care about the Rules and the hunt for Rules-breakers more than anything else. Spades are the hunters, assassins and cleaners. One of the most feared is the Renegade-hunter Djinn known as Nergal. Spades are stylish and careful in their violence, and typically exceptionally arrogant. Clubs, meanwhile, are torturers, interrogators and security. Some Gamesters find being accused of being a Club an insult on the levle of being accused of treason or poor playing, but others wear the name with pride, and certainly the Clubs run the Halls of Loyalty and the Arenas. The Red suits consider the Rules secondary to playing skill, and freely use loopholes or even break rules if they can get away with it. Diamonds are the majority of the Game's servants - they are sharp, cold manipulators and spies. The Countess of Intrigue is well known as a Diamond, and her Word has great power in the Suit. Hearts enjoy their play, gambling, socializing and...well, breaking hearts. They love the rush of seeing how far the rules can be made to bend without quite breaking, and live for improvisation and risk. Some Gamesters forgo the Suits, however, adapting their playstyle to suit their needs at any given moment. Others simply don't fit any definition well. These Wildcards often find familiarity with the Suit system useful, either to pretend to be a Suit or identify others, and often find their place outside the system makes it easier to learn and manipulate. Others ignore the system entirely, seeing it as useless.

Balseraphjs of the Game tend to favor law and politics, as well as any other areas where they can manipulate the definitions of the Rules to their own ends. Mastema is a Balseraph that serves as the Game's chief prosecutor, and is a role model for the Band. Balseraphs love playing with words, and the more literary enjoy round robin competitions, Japanese renga poetry and other cooperative works that let them subvert each others' intentions or insert codes.

Djinn of the Game are frequently hunters, especially as they can track their partners as well as their targets. The average GAme Djinn has at least one personal obsessions channeled to serve the Game. They may obsess over their work or some object they fixate on, like a favorite game or tool, or even obsess over their partners, opponents or Prince. Game Djinn who have no obsessions make poor servants, as their apathy gets in the way.

Calabim of the Game tend to fake the stupidity most associate with their Band, to better have the chance of destroying great things. They enjoy Jenga and other games that involve careful and deliberate destruction. They frequently serve as enforcers and executioners, regardless of their intellects. However, it is not safe to assume that's all they are - many specialize in subtler destructions, like breaking minds or spirits, and often work quite well with Habbalah.

Habbalah of the Game are as deluded as any other Habbalah. They tend to believe in Asmodeus' characterization of the universe as designed to be a Game, and they use this to justify selfishness in devotion to God. Many are religious, most commonly worshiping the Game itself as God's greatest creation. REgardless of their personal faith, however, they value skilled play as the best sign of strength. Those who play poorly are weak and deserve only contempt and suffering. They tend to be very good at interrogation, and serve in the Halls of Loyalty or as roving investigators. On Earth, their insistence on others following the Rules or being punished for it makes them excellent at supporting the Word.

Lilim of the Game are not always recruited by being accused of treason. Not all are made to roder, either. The chance at a free Role and a job with plenty of chances for Geas hooks does appeal to some Frees, and some of the elders have enough experience to believe they can manipulate the Game to their own ends. Asmodeus always holds at least one Geas on each of his Lilim, which does not provide character points during creation. He is one of the few Princes most likely to purchase some or most of former Free's remaining birth-Geases from Lilith. Lilim of the Game can make good spies, especially since many began as Free, and they also do good desk work - secretaries and bookkeepers get a lot of chances to do little favors.

Shedim of the Game are spies. They can lurk in a mortal without corrupting them, so they're good passive bugs, and many have skills or Songs that let them pretend to be Shedim of other Words if they must. Resonance like that of a Lilim or angels will give information on the Shedite instead of the host, and many maintain servants as regular hosts, even developing Roles as that servant. It's not easy, but it is possible, and may provide some defense against certain resonances. The easier option is use of Humanity, which Asmodeus sometimes gives to Shedim assigned to spy on angels. It can be complicating, however - the human mind remains lurking in the background and can still take over, and you're trapped in the host for the duration. Thus, Shedim tend to avoid using the attunement.

Impudites of the Game are often quite charming and good at networking. They use humans as their favored pawns, but do not see them as capable of becoming more, and they have no problem with discarding pawns as long as they don't die. Asmodeus sends Impudites as hunters, much as he does Djinn. They may be assigned to a piece to charm and subvert them, or to infilitrate their friendships and leech away their strength.

Asmodeus likes the Fallen and will go to great lengths to acquire them. Any Gamester involved in an angel's Fall has the right to ',entor' that angel, and Gamesters always make a point of investigating any Fallen, no matter who they serve and despite any objections. Asmodeus sees them as sources of information, but is surprisingly lenient about his own Fallen gaining status, if they are competent. The exception to this rule is 'yo-yos' - demons who Redeemed and then fell. These traitors are subject to strict interrogation and menial work, if they even survive.

The game is quite happy to use humans from any walk of life as pawns - corrupt lawyers, sure, but also disillusioned artists and laborers. The most common trait is that they believe the world is unfair and that you must use any method to get ahead, regardless of morality. Those who are competent take interest in the legalities of these methods. Asmodeus uses humans subtly, due to their unique attributes. Soldiers of Hell and even sorcerers are most often found helping build Roles, spying or otherwise discreetly aiding the Game.

Next time: InfSec

Test Your Skill

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors: Asmodeus - Test Your Skill

The Game is Hell's internal security...but many modern demons refer to them as InfSec, or Infernal Security. (Or 'those fucking bastards.') They hunt out treason, and the rules that define trason contradict each other multiple times. Gamesters have been known to use contradictory rules in the same situation as necessary. The basic functional definition of treason, however, is 'anything that impedes the Game that the Game cna punish.' Sure, they all have varying ideas about what impedes the Game, but Asmodeus always expects them to stop dissonance in demons, 'good' Discords such as Merciful or Selfless, or giving aid to Heaven. Failure to give enough aid to Hell can count as aiding Heaven. No Gamester would ever admit it, but the Game can't always enforce its policies. the best know how tenuous their authority is, and one Gamester who pushes a group of demons too far may well end up in Trauma for it. Wise ones make sure the odds favor them first.

Game visitations are iether overt or covert. The overt ones are shows of power, most often an attempt to get bribes from the viisted demon, get them to implicate someone else or to arrest them. Sometimes, though, it's just a reminder that the Game is present or that they have authority. Covert visits are for hunting treason, spying or just reinforcing your 'role' as the demon of another Word. Their main aim will be to remain unobserved, with no basic script and an expectation that you'll improvise.

Gamesters that play well are rewarded with assignments to fit their skills, teammates that won't backstab them constantly and useful artifacts. Asmodeus has been known to assign servants to high-profile jobs or give them better housing as well as the more common gifting of Songs, attunements or Distinctions. Talented players are equally likely to be forced into gruntwork by nervous superiors, however. The goal is to be too good to waste but not good enough to threaten. Minor mistakes will be punished by Discord, loss of privileges, bad jobs or placement in expendable positions. Gamesters that seriously fuck up by gaining dissonance, Discord, Renegades or betraying the Game are quickly and painfully punished. The Halls of Loyalty can serve to punish Gamesters, as well. Asmodeus has also been known to Force-strip demons and make them into gladiators in the Arenas.

In theory, with the proper paperwork in triplicate, the Game can request just about any artifact. In practice, they mostly use mundane-looking artifacts - unsubtle things are considered less than useful most of the time. Demons of the Game are also expected to keep track of things via many methods. A common code in use throughout Hades is standard GameCode, used by InfPol. It is considerd treason for non-Gamesters to learn it. The standard celestial uniform is a gray suit with the sigil of the Game in crimson on the breast pocket. Asmodeans without humanoid celestial forms prefer gray harnesses with pockets, but anything from Judgment-style cloaks to formal goawns or casual vests or even capes can be considered a uniform as long as it's in the gray or red of the Game and marked with the proper insignia. These uniforms are rarely artifacts.

The most common implement of the game is the Noose, a sort of gold-wire lasso. At least one is generally given to each Earthbound team. They must be tied around a part of the body - usually the neck, so it can double as a garrote. Once the target is noosed, they can be dragged into celestial form and even to Hell, so long as the holder can spend the Essence for both of them. The victim can resist with Will, but the artifact's level is applied as a penalty...doubled. The Bound Discord forces the victim to try to resist, adding the level of the Discord to the TN, though. Many nooses are enchanted to degrade quickly under exposure to the Light of Heaven, and no ARchangels have made it much of a priority to duplicate them.

The Game also hands out free notebook artifacts - level 0, just enough enchantment to go to Hell and be vaguely traceable. The celestial form is usually rather more distinctive than the corporeal - an intimidating black lather notebook with the owner's sigil on it. In Earthly form, they can appear as just about any kind of notebook. If they are further enchanted, it is popular to make them illegible to all but the owner, or a talisman for Savoir-Faire or Fast-Talk, or to make more durable or summonable.

Many Gamesters make a point of acquiring Will Shackles as quickly as possible. Those that tend to lose or break them are usually given a cheap variant - a pair of unlinked bracelets, one set with a small gem, and the other capable of locking. The second serves as per normal shackles, forcing the victim to obey the wearer of the first...but anyone can wear the first.

The Chess With Death enchantment can actually be found on just about any game-playing object, and any Wordbound is expected to own at least one. When the owner of the set secures the agreement, grudging or not, of an opponent, they can spend 1 Essence to activate the set. This ensures that the players will continue the game - to leave the game for any reason requires a Will roll, penalized by twice the relic's level, possibly modified by circumstance. The second part of the enchantment is more dangerous: the life of the players is tied to the game. For chess, for example, each piece lost will deal proportional damage. For dice, each loss subtracts an appropriate point of HP for the realm the game takes place in. Despite the name, the game will not destroy the loser, by default, though games on the celestial plane can strip all but the final Celestial Force. There are game sets that can kill, but most just knock the loser out for (artifact level) hours. Given that most Asmodeans are good at games and the loser is left helpless, that's little consolation.

Now, let's talk about the Humanity attunement. How it works depends on the GM's decision of how Asmodeus understands the rules of the Symphony. By default, the power probably had Lucifer involved in its creation. Any Gamester will have at least Role/0 paperwork, no matter what. Humantiy grants the appearance of that Role to all attunements, Songs and resonances. Shedim get the Role of their hosts. They appear as selfish 5-Force mortals, and so long as they never break character, their nature will not be betrayed. However, there's some considerations to be aware of: you have the appearance of 5 Forces, no potential for any more. If you allow an attempt to attach a sixth Force, your Forces will unravel, just as a human's would. While your stats and TNs remain unchanged, the result will never be more than a mortal could achieve. Unconsciousness is based on what a very tough human would be KOed by: (Corporeal Forces + Toughness)*Strength. Death is based on what would kill you, the celestial. Stakes through the heart or beheading tend to work fine. Further: while under Humanity, you can bear or sire children, and this is best solved by having a vessel that lacks that ability. 'Accidents' are treaed as t hough caused by the Celestial Song of Fruition. You can get sick, but the disease will fade shortly after the attunement ends, as they falter against vessel metabolism. If you die while human then, like a Hellsworn, you are dragged to Hell by the weight of your infernal Forces. Demons posing as ghosts or dreamshades have the same restrictions - they need an anchor to the corporeal, and will regain any lost Forces when the attunement ends, much as a ghost proceeding to the afterlife does. Humanity may be renewed and ahve its duration reset at any point before it expires...but because you can't receive Essence transfers while 'human', eventually a non-Impudite demon will run out. Most try to time the activation so it ends just before the dusk Essence would arrive, allowing them to continue the masquerade indefinitely, as they get 2 Essence at sunset and may thus adjust their reactivations to let them gain Essence every other night. Shedim under Humanity can use their resonance, but may not take celestial form, so they can only transfer between hosts via 'oozing' as per the Infernal Player's Guide. Their dreamscapes are likely to be strange but within the realm of human imagination. Kronos and Yves, as always, are wildcards and might see through it.

A weaker Humanity assumes that Asmodeus' understanding of the Symphony is flawed. This Humanity only approximates a human's Symphonic signature and cannot imitate the altered stats of humanity - that is, the damned, dreamshades or ghosts. The sou lremains unchanged, and anything that directly examines either the soul or the Truth will unnmask you. Superiors can easily tell, if they look. Kyriotates need your total Forces to possess the body, and Asmodeus may remove Forces to make the numbers consistent. Impudites of Technology can spot how much Essence you truly hold, and Seraphim, angels of Destiny and Shedim will all generally have an easy time detecting you.

The GM can, of course, adjust assumptions as needed. Asmodeus may be able to grant versions of Humanity allowing higher Forces, letting you pretend to be a Soldiers, or whatever the GM allows. Possibly someone wearing Humanity can only be revealed by their thoughts and words - Seraphim and Shedim resonance, dreamscapes and so on. Perhaps you become deaf to the Symphony while using Humanity. Maybe all Superiors can see through it, but no one else. A more powerful Humanity might treat you as a Hellsworn. The GM just has to be clear on the rules.

Some tricks can be done that good Gamesters should be aware of. Humanized demons can get access to angelic Tethers without alerting the guardians easily. Harming or killing a 'human' Gamester will cause dissonance for Mercurians or Impudites, which will nto go away when the attunement does. (Mercurians and Impudites, as a note, will also become dissonant if they harm or kill themselves while under Humanity or Rule of Law.) Gamesters can invoke Humanity and then be possessed by a Shedite. While the risk of them overhearing your thoughts is there, it's a trick that's been used before to let you overhear the Shedite's own conversations. The same trick can also be used on Game Shedim, cooperatively, to make you appear as a single being but have an ally right at hand. As needed, the Shedite iwll move on to new hosts. If the Shedite also activates Humanity, it works as if they had possessed a normal human. Those concerned with their dissonance or Discord may use this attunement to fool angels of Judgment, Lilim of Fate and their own Wordmates...though they do become vulnerable to the powers of Knights of Judgment. It can also hide Balseraphs from Malakim - and the use of Rule of Law can protect others, even non-Gamesters, which can ensure their survival when live capture is required.

A lot of Gamesters work in Hell, since that's where most of the demons are. They work as border guards, police and both covert and 'legitimate' investigators. The bureaucracy and hierarches of the Gray City ensure that there's always work for the Game in Hades, either processing data from the spy networks or torture and interrogation in the Halls of Loyalty. Demonlings and new fledges may be jailors or flinkies, as well. The Soul Yards are full of young demons who have not yet shown the ability to play well - mostly Habbalah Clubs, but all Bands and Suits are represented, and they're often used as expendable muscle.

Asmodeans refer to assignment to the Marcheas as 'fairy chess,' both for the wordplay and to describe the action. Mostly, they're there to investigate Nightmares, puruse Renegades and spy on everyone. Game teams assigned there might infiltratre Domains, take Ethereals captive or escort Nightmares demons - sometimes even by request.

The traditional job on Earth is to hunt down Renegades, but that's not all they do. They hunt down renegade Hellsworn (or 'Gray Soldiers'), rogue ethereals and sorcerers who grow too powerful. They also support the Word with Roles from religious officials to blackjack dealers, support the War with Heaven in various human agencies and handle paperwork for other dmeons. They actually send a surprising number of demonlings on Earth - either to manufacture new Roles or to annoy other Words.

The rarest job is cooperation with Judgment. Other unusual tasks include infiltrating other Words and spying on them, causing diversionary riots or maintaining the Shal-Mari casino tables. As with any Prince, sometimes you get told to do something that makes no real sense, like protecting someone or moving items around for no clear reason.

Next time: Bureaucracy

Follow The Lady

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors: Asmodeus - Follow The Lady

Not all the spies that work for the Game are demons of the Game. Some are unofficial servants, those who betrayed their own Prince. Most of these are double agents, blackmail victims or both. Gamesters that know their allegiance treat them with suspicion, understandably, but they will make use of them. Loyalties are hard to spot in Hell, and Asmodeus finds no reason to treat those spies that willingly seek to join his service any differently than normal traitors. He seldom bothers to acquire them directly from their Prince, as that is unlikely to change their loyalties in either direction if they've already betrayed their original master.

Like the Judges, the Game operates singly, in pairs or in groups. However, where triads exist to ensure fair judgment, the Game's groups are more for safety. Sure, theyll backstab and betray each other, but they know they have no allies outside the Word. typical teams are between two and five members. The fewer members, the more likely it's a longterm assignment. The larger groups are likely to be one-time deals before being broken into component teams. Of course, groups of each type have opportunities to play the Game - either against each other, to frame or murder hated teammates, or by using bribes and blackmail to keep a good teammate frm being reassigned. Those Gamesters that fly solo tend to be spies. Roles make it easy for them to pretend to humanity, while those in the Marches or Hell will pretend to serve another Word. Others are openly Game in order to accompliush some specific goal. Some of them have hidden advantages that let them get away with that kind of bravado, while others may have hidden watchers. A team of two can have one with authority over the other, watching them for training or suspected treason, while others will be actual partnerships with complementary skillsets. As long as they are effective together, Asmodeus tends to not care if they hate each other.

Roving teams usually don't hide what they are. They are often in the Roles of PIs, Mafia thugs or government authorities, and their job is to visit known demons and put the fear of the Game into them. They are called to location to do what the Game needs done openly without compromising any local spies. They are often resented by other Gamesters for taking credit for all the work, and many learn to leave town fast to avoid retaliation from either their victims or their Wordmates. Retrieval squads, on the other hand, are sent after traitors to kill them or drag them to the Halls of Loyalty. They are notoriously inventive in methodology and singleminded in pursuit. While it's not unheard of for a roving team to be used as a retrieval squad, it's unusual, as they can generally be easily recognized and put at a disadvantage. Retrieval squad specialists are much more discreet and often sent after particularly difficult Renegades. The most common, however, are just 'whatever Gamesters are in the area, work together on this one.'

In Hell, Asmodeus' occasional work with Judgment is considered one of the Game's great hypocrisies, since any other demons associating with angels are to be interrogated rigorously. Asmodeus sees no reason to deny either the double standard or the fact that it happens. Many Gamesters even say it's common, to deter Renegades from hiding with angels...but unauthorized attempts to ally with Dominicans generally end in violence - even those that are part of Game-cooperation triads. Playing with Judgment involves deception and attempts to take advantage of each other bot hsides, and many Gamesters consider this an appropriately corruptive influence even if a Judge does not fall, while others think of it as honing an opponent's skill. Occasionaly it can lead to outright battle between the two Words when a dangerous Renegade turns out to sincerely want Redemption or a valuable Outcast Falls. Asmodeus believes himself at an advantage in these coalitions, as he was a Judge and can usually deduce what they will consider wrong and then sue that knowledge to outplay the angels, as he and his are not bound by those standards. Dominic, in turn, allows only his must cunning and loyal angels to participate in these groups, some of whom are inventive and perceptive enough to thoroughly beat the Gamesters they were theoretically working with. In any case, Judgment and the Game are always allies of last resort. Neither lieks the other's Word and there are always layers of hidden objectives and misleading statements in each grudging alliance.

Aces and Eights is an organization founded by the Demon of Low Odds before Christ's birth. It's had many names, and its members specialize in taking the unlikely and making it more likely. This might involve killing a specific Seneschal, making sure a specific demon stars in Nybbas' next big hit, or moving a book in the Archves of Fate two shelves left. These actions often seem absurd, irrelevant or irrational, but the odds of whatever the group was contracted for end up substantially higher. Membership in acces and Eights is quite exclusive, requiring a wide variety of skills and an intuitive grasp of the Game. Most members keep their affiliation secret - it's expected that if you can buy the services of Aces and Eights, you know how to find them.

The Chess Club, in theory, is open to any demon with an interest in chess. In practice, few are willing to even enter its premises without a Baron distinction or above. It is the unofficial meeting hall of the Dukes, Counts and other Gamesters of rank to discuss things of note and arrange discreet transactions. They do so while playing chess - they do, after alll, have an interest. Not all appropriately distinguished demons attend each meeting, but few have never gone. If nothing else, it disguises the dealmaking going on behind the scenes.

The Infernal Police, or InfPol, are headed by Staciel, Demon of Intrigue. While the Game enforces the Rules of Hell on outsiders, InfPol hunts for traitors inside the Game. They are all skilled at interrogation, intimidation and gathering information. InfPol is to the standard Gamester what the SS were to the German police. Members keep their identities absolutely secret, even from each other. Only Asmodeus and possibly Stacial know all their names.

The Loyalists are the Game's interrogators and torturers. Their job is to get information, confessions and repentance from captured traitors. They work under the Halls of Loyalty, and each is carefully trained in both physical and psychological torture. Their punishments are both inventive and ruthless. Some last a mere hour, others centuries. Demons who enter the Halls rarely emerge unscarred, visible or not. On top of being torturers, the Loyalists are one of the main sources InfPol uses to discover the identities of those plotting sedition. One of the only ways to escape a Loyalist's attention is to give the name, location and crime of another traitor. It's just barely possible that this will commute your sentence. The wise betray their friends to the Game to save themselves, and the wiser don't get caught.

The Game doesn't usually care about actual guilt...but because of political repercussions, they do seek evidence of crimes in case the victim's Prince takes offense. Sloopy Gamesters have died for making flimsy charges, themselves charged with defaming the reputation of the Game. Ignorance of the rules is not a defense against Game accusation or conviction, but the legal proceedings of the Word are pretty arcane. The courts are arranged in several different hierarchies, in theory by type of case and in practice by technicality. Most Gamesters dont' care where the captive ends up once they hand them over. Typically, a senior jailer will decide. The rules of each court are not consistent, either with each other or often with themselves. Some verdicts are by jury, others by judge or by tests of skill in combat or games like Chess With Death. Sometimes the defendants can defend themselves, sometimes they can't. Some judges keep the Roman practice of accusatio, wher the accuser suffers the punishment if the accused is found innocent. Others don't. Some are bribable, others find bribes insulting. Prisoners brought to a court are not told in advance what process they'll be going through. They can only have an advocate if a Gamester wants the practice or can be bought, but careful research and bribes might uncover a court's reputation.

On Earth, things get even more complicated. The Game's mandate to capture or kill Renegades is complicated by the fact that those seeking to remove anyone, rival or traitor, have to do the paperwork to justify the arrest. Paperwork is often done after the fact, though some Gamesters carry undated documentation. Some supervisors require more bribes than others to backdate papers or issue them early, but too much refusal to cooperate can be construed as the crime of knowingly aiding a Renegade, especially if actual treason was involved. More than one junior Gamester dreams of having the power to disappear other demons on a mass scale, but they'd need the physical power and influence to actually do it, and ensure that it wouldn't spoil the plans of their Prince.

There is no standard phrase ot accusation for arrest - it varies by demon. Most are fond of surprise noosing and dragging to Hell - it saves them having to identify themselves, threaten or chase people. A true arrest lets the team confiscate whatever they want, though a subsequent legal defense might demand that stuff back. Confiscating properties takes mundane paperwork, and some Gamesters don't consider it worth the effort. Any remaining personal items are often claimed by jailors or guards. Captives of the Game might be sent to court quickly, or might languish in the cells until ransomed, or be tortured for information or practice, or be chained up and used as pets by ranking demons. Casual abuse largely depends on the captive's value, as well as the friends and influence they can convince the Game they have.

Next time: The Last Game

The Greatest Game

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Superiors: Asmodeus - The Greatest Game

The Game does not like to release prisoners, but sufficient bribes or threats might convince them the paperwork is tedious - but that's going to take help from outside, not just Essence or sex. Relics and other tradable goods are appreciated, or the intervention of a Prince in the form of sending a Baron or Wordbound will usually work, unless Asmodeus himself ordered the capture. Few escape Hades entirely unscathed, though. Destruction is the most common punishment for treason, followed by public torture, Force-stripping and enslavement. Occasionally the Game will just confiscate resources (which can include servants or Hellsworn), especially for crimes like being dissonant or Discordant. Sometimes, though, out of having friends in the right places, making the right bribes or selling everyone out, a prisoner will go free entirely unharmed.

Gamesters themselves can get accused ot rason, but that's typically done by InfPol, which runs its own cells, jailors and courts. The web of bribes and threats is similar to the one outisders have to deal with, but actual value as a piece is taken into account during the trial. Trumped-up charges may actually backfire for wasting InfPol time, and acquittals for the guilty may be granted in exchange for Geases to Staciel in order to ensure loyalty.

We get some adventure seeds which are mostly dumb. There is one that is entertainingly dumb, however: One time, a young Impudite Gamester chases a Renegade Vapulan into a sci fi convention and takes advantage of a con-wide LARP event to drag the Renegade out to her room and then to Hell. This leads to a small fad among a group of young Gamesters for LARPing, and use of the LARP Club in the same ways their superiors use the Chess Club. They want to make LARP as mainstream as poker or chess, to make it easier to excuse odd behavior on Earth. This would normally just be a fad, except that the LARPer demons have ended up hanging out a game store that is also home to a young group of War angels that like wargaming.

The End

And because it's the last one and I know what you guys will say - next time: Superiors: Zadkiel, on the minor Archangel of Protection.