In a dingy holding cell, a drunken down-and-out holds forth on the topic of sin and depravity. A policeman is laughing as he drags the man out, but stops as they make eye contact. The man's eyes glaze and he quietly recites a list of all the illegalities the policeman has committed -- with dates, places and statutory punishments.
Two men and a woman with a hard face gather in a brightly coloured bedroom where a boy in a wheelchair is playing with a Nintendo. The woman tries unsuccessfully to persuade him to stop playing and talk to them. "Please," she pleads, "Speak to us with the voice of Lord Saminga."
A woman who is tied to a bed in a padded room stirs and wrestles her bonds, raising her voice in a shriek. The words she screams are in a language that hasn't been spoken for 2000 years, and speak of knowledge and understanding. The legacy of the archangel Raphael.
At dawn, a hollow-eyed junkie sits on the edge of a dried-out fountain and talks to the pigeons in their own language, with the words of God.
'And the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls..'
(Simon & Garfunkel)
In the beginning, the role of the angels was to watch over creation, interfering as little as possible. Mechanisms for roles and vessels were made available, on the understanding that their use would be kept to a minimum and earth-posted celestials would cause as few ripples in a symphony which was not designed to accommodate them there as possible. After the Fall, the necessities of war took over, superiors started to promote their words more actively and to combat enemy superiors in mortal and ethereal realms, as well as celestial ones.
All this tampering with the Symphony to create Roles has a price. Echoes from the intervention of each superior ripple through the symphony as imperceptible harmonics. Imperceptible except to a few rare individuals who for some reason are particularly tuned in to the right 'frequency'. No-one really knows how the phenomenon of prophecy became so wide-spread. Vapula's explanation is as good as any and runs that every time the symphony is warped to create a new role, the balance of the harmonics changes. Sometimes constructive interference can create a subliminal soundwave which seeks to 'earth' itself through the nearest point of lowest resistance (ie. a mortal who has an unusual resonance with the correct frequency).
(Of course, he then ruins it by trying to deliberately create prophets -- this does not make him popular with more sensible DPs who prefer to keep the level of disturbance down)
A simpler explanation is that the symphony reacts to the warping involved in superiors creating roles by building up a backlash of echoes that create phantom roles of its own.
Prophecy is a rare gift that is unique to mortals. Each mortal with the latent 'gift' is potentially a conduit to one or more superiors. The gift is typically awakened through contact with certain types of drugs, mental illness, or imminent death, although some children retain the gift naturally until puberty. A prophet whose gift is active will usually be particularly keyed into one superior. The superior is not necessarily aware of the prophets existence -- they are as difficult to locate as remnants. Once found, some will try to protect their prophets, these mortals who have been shattered in some way by their own symphonic echoes, others will try to have them hunted down and destroyed as loose cannons, in case important secrets could be babbled away. Due to the persistent nature of symphonic echoes, it is possible for a prophet to speak with the voice of a deceased or departed superior.
Prophecy is almost always uncontrolled although some very rare prophets who are also soldiers can train in meditative techniques and channel the power at will, with difficulty. Historically there is unlikely to be more than a couple of these people alive at any one time. (This implies that whether most of the biblical prophets were actually prophets of God or not, they were still unusually talented people -- YMMV). The most talented of them might end up having quite a close relationship with their conduit superior, as some superiors are fascinated or charmed by such strange shattered echoes of themselves who say things that they might not even have been aware that they were thinking. Since prophets are so often mortals who already had tendencies to mental instability, a certain amount of compassion might also be involved (where appropriate).
The act of channeling usually just involves stream-of-consciousness babbling, from the distorted echoes of their conduit superior. Sometimes visions are described which imply a very direct link to that superior's subconscious but are almost pure nonsense to onlookers. Occasionally a prophet may exhibit an uncontrolled ability to duplicate some mannerisms, trademark-resonances or attunements. All with no disturbance.
One common factor to all prophets is a very strong need to communicate, whilst the channeling lasts. These are the people who will begin to rant on street corners, or embarrass their companions in crowded pubs or restaurants. A prophet who is channeling will be confusing to celestials who have not witnessed the phenomenon previously. Any who fail a perception roll will be convinced that they are in fact speaking to a superior directly.
Only prophets of Yves or Kronos can prophesise in the generally accepted sense of the word.
As well as occasionally lapsing into rants from their conduit superior, being in the presence of a prophet gives an automatic bonus of +5 to any attempts to summon that superior. The superior has the option of manifesting through the prophet, which causes no disturbance. Prophets with especially powerful connections to the symphony may unreliably show the abilities of a walking tether, but this is almost vanishingly rare (still, on a divine or infernal intervention, who knows?).
There is no reliable cure for prophesy; but death, lobotomy or heavy doses of tranquilisers or television seem to work.
Prophets of God?
IN canon makes it fairly clear that God doesn't speak to the archangels these days -- so why would He choose to speak through some drugged out schizophrenic instead? Nevertheless, the echoes of the creation of man still persist. Nothing is impossible, and the biblical traditions do insist that man was made in God's own image.
The PCs are sent out to locate a young runaway drug-addict and bring her back to one of their superior's tethers safely. Street-people who knew her comment on her instability and the strange mannerisms she shows when she is high on crack cocaine -- which the celestials recognise. It turns out that she has ODed and is in hospital, at deaths door and in a coma. The celestials will have to enter Beleth's side of the marches to find her, with an ethereal presence that bears a strange resemblance to that of the patron superior, and bring her back to her body. But if they can clean her up and get her off the drugs then she may lose the prophetic connection -- and a soundless way to manifest is so useful to a superior in times of war.
A shellshocked Vietnam Vet who had become one of the more together prophets of Michael has been kidnapped by demons of the war, who want to try to plumb his connection with the archangel to get some inside information and then to corrupt his conduit so that it connects with the infernal word of War instead. Celestials are sent on a rescue mission, with orders to kill the prophet if he cannot be retrieved. But.. when they get there they find that he has already escaped and is hiding out in the local woods, on a one man seek-and-destroy mission towards his captors. Michael would undoubtedly be impressed if he could pull it off, but as it stands he is too untogether to have much chance. And of course, he'll fire on celestials on sight unless they can gain his trust.
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