Complete with attunements and "Archangel opinions" for each Divine Superior. (I even included the ArchDean, since she will exist in my campaign. I think I successfuly wrote up her bit so that it will work whether the GM gives her the Word of Knowledge, Secrets, or even Education... though that last one may be a bit of a stretch.)
"Your world has no shame.
Those in anguish cry out loud -- who will save the sane?"
--Mark Burgess and the Sons of God, "Refugees"
Traveling almost unnoticed amongst the countless angels of the seven major Choirs, the Ahikim quietly go about their business -- serving their Superiors and doing their best to compensate for the inherent unfairness of everyday life. If ever a group of Celestials deserved the title "avenging angels," it would be this tiny but devoted Choir.
The Ahikim are champions of what they like to call "cosmic justice," or "karma." Their resonance superficially resembles that of the Malakim, in that both share a belief in the power and importance of personal honor. There are, however, some underlying philosophical differences... and they have caused nothing but friction between the two choirs in centuries past. As time has marched on, each side of this philosophical "war within a War" has continued to make its case regarding The Way Things Ought To Be. Unfortunately for the Ahikim, the Malakim have gone on to become the prized knights of Heaven's Army, while the Ahikim are usually viewed with equal parts prejudice and disappointment - when they are noticed at all.
It is the Ahikim belief that there exists a moral code which governs a being's relationship with everyone in the universe -- regardless of that person's species, position, or even his affiliation in the War. Most Malakim (and a fair number of other angels) will go along with this idea to a limited extent. However, when push comes to shove, they will respectfully point out that we are fighting for all the Proverbial marbles -- and you gotta do what you gotta do in order to win. That's the bottom line.
And that's the problem, in a nutshell.
To an Ahikite, there is nothing more shameful than to take advantage of a fellow sentient being, and no one -- no matter how personally despised, no matter what they may have been guilty of in the past -- who does not deserve assistance if they have been Wronged. As with Malakim oaths, the moral codes of Ahikim will vary to some extent - but a few tenets remain constant:
-- No punishment may ever be more severe than the crime committed.
-- Do not endanger innocent bystanders -- physically or otherwise -- by your actions. (By extension, this precludes the taking of hostages.)
-- Never betray the trust of another -- if you have given your word, keep it. (You may release yourself from a promise if the other person has already betrayed that trust. But even then, it is preferable to follow through on your end of the bargain anyway, to demonstate your own trustworthiness.)
An Ahikite gains a note of dissonance if he refuses to provide aid to anyone who (in his eyes) has been Wrongly harmed, be they Infernal or Divine. Likewise, it is dissonant for an Ahikite to allow a perceived Wrong to go unpunished, even if it was committed "for the right reasons" -- or by the angel's own Superior. If the Ahikite is truly unable to help, or the punishment cannot be successfully carried out (punishing an Archangel or Demon Prince is nigh-impossible), the angel will not gain dissonance -- but he must do whatever he can do to set things Right, even if it means giving the Superior a piece of his mind for his Wrongful actions. (No dissonance is automatically generated from a verbal confrontation with one's own Superior, but it's entirely possible that the Archangel won't take kindly to such disrespectful remarks.)
Given their unconventional outlook, it's not surprising that there are precious few Ahikim in Divine service. Most Superiors find Malakim serve their purposes just as well (if not better -- Ahikim are willing to let the punishment fit the crime, whereas Malakim have more of a "one strike, you're out" policy), and view the Ahikim as arrogant malcontents who are more trouble than they're worth.
It's not unheard of for these angels to lose faith in everything and Fall -- transforming themselves into a bitter, rage-driven Horonite, whose only security comes from the innate knowledge that he is the only truly moral being in existence. (Such a demon invokes overwhelming feelings of sorrow and pity in an Ahikite. Ahikim do not view a Horonite's Fall, in and of itself, as a Wrong - rather, they believe that the rest of the universe has severely Wronged the Horonite.) More often, the Ahikite will retain his faith in the universe but lose confidence in the morality of Heaven, and become an Outcast voluntarily.
What few Ahikim remain in Heaven tend to have mixed feelings about their "employer." They are angels, and they're fully against Diabolical selfishness... but they don't always agree with Divine methods (particularly those of the ruthless Malakim). To an Ahikite, the ends never justify the means. And although most Ahikim would rather work with their Heavenly brethren, all would prefer the company of an up-front demon to that of an angel with no moral fiber. Either one might harm you -- but at least the former will stab you in the front.
Another factor contributing to the unpopularity of the Ahikite Choir is their vocal support for the remaining pagan gods, who they feel were the victims of a cataclysmic Wrong -- Uriel's Purge. A fair number of Ahikites actually started out as pagan gods, but were later endowed with Celestial Forces by an Archangel in exchange for their loyalty -- usually in order to unite against a common enemy. Precious few of these uneasy alliances lasted for any length of time, however, and the consequences of the "breakups" were usually... unpleasant. A number of angels still view the Ahikim as "the pagan Choir" -- which is not entirely accurate, but has nonetheless proven to be a damaging stereotype.
The denizens of Hell aren't quite sure what to make of the Ahikim, either. Yes, they're the Enemy, but if there was ever a choir you wanted to exterminate last, it would be them. If you've betrayed someone's trust, they're sure to make you pay for it... but once they've exacted their punishment on you (if you're still standing), it's almost like you're forgiven or something. They'll talk to you, try and reason with you, usually try to make you go Bright, even if you're a Shedite. They'll never backstab you... and if they catch wind of any other angel's treachery towards you, they'll even come to your aid. The Lilim, in particular, love these guys. Unlike most angels, they know exactly what they're getting into when they agree to a Geas, and will never try to weasel their way out of it.
If the Malakim are the Symphony's bass drums, then the Ahikim are the snares -- pounding out their own intricate rhythm, sharing a tempo but with a style all their own. Mechanically, the Ahikim resonance (Karma) works almost identically to that of the Malakim's honor resonance, with one notable difference. Whereas the Malakim resonance will reveal noble or ignoble actions based on the target's moral standards, the Ahikim resonance will reveal them based on his own ethical code. It's a subtle distinction, but it can sometimes make all the difference in the world.
1 - You know the most noble or ignoble thing that the person has done that week.
2 - You know the most noble and ignoble thing that the person has done that week.
3 - You know the most noble or ignoble thing that the person has done in the last year.
4 - You know the most noble and ignoble thing that the person has done in the last year.
5 - You know the person's greatest virtue and his worst sin.
6 - You know the height or depth of morality that the person truly aspires to. This does not allow an Ahikim to automatically detect demons (or angels)... except for other Ahikim and Horonaim.
Extremely perceptive Ahikim will detect their similar moral codes, although no Ahikim can distinguish between their Fallen and UnFallen brethren.
The various Archangels' attitudes toward Ahikim are noted in [brackets], followed by a more detailed explanation of their stances and a description of the Ahikim Choir Attunement for that Superior.
How does the Bright Lilim ArchDean love the Ahikim? Let us count the ways. First, they never back out on a Geas. Second, given their resonance and (lack of a) position in the Heavenly political heirarchy, they're extremely unlikely to harbor any prejudice toward a Bright Lilim. Third, their willingness to work with anyone trustworthy (even if that trust is only due to the power of a Geas/6) makes them the perfect servitors to carry out some of her more "unorthodox" initiatives.
An Ahikite of the ArchDean may silently attempt to determine whether a person knows a certain piece of information. (e.g., "Do you know I'm an angel?" or "Are you aware that your partner intends to kill you?" but not "Do you plan to kill me?") The Ahikim should roll for a check digit. The target may resist with a Will roll. A high Ahikim check digit may also reveal details such as who told them, or what they believe instead (GM call). If the target does successfully resist, and the target's check digit is a 5 or 6, the angel does not know that he failed, and will receive information that the target would want him to believe that he knew (or didn't know).
Blandine's opinion of the Ahikim is not very high, to say the least. The leading cause of friction is that choir's outspoken support for the pagan gods and creatures of myth -- a large number of which have sought refuge in the lands of her archrival, Beleth. In order for Blandine to look past an Ahikite's conflicting political views, that angel must show a great deal of loyalty to her over a protracted period of time, and find a way to put up with Blandine's prejudices without drawing her ire. It's a difficult trick. Many have tried, however, if only to attempt to coerce those who have sided with Beleth to return to the Divine side of the Marches. Few are ever convinced -- they have no love for those on the side of Uriel, whereas Beleth has provided some aid. The Ahikim counter with the argument that aiding the Diabolicals increases the likelihood of a second Purge, and that Beleth will be "kind" to them only so long as it serves her interests.
Blandine's Ahikim have worked extremely hard to get where they are, and are relentless in their pursuit of those who would Wrong a dreaming human. On a successful Perception roll, the angel can tell whether someone has intruded on a person's dreamscape. If intruders are detected, an Ahikim of Dreams without the Dream Walking attunement may try to use it anyway (with a -1 penalty to the Perception roll). If the angel does possess the Dream Walking attunement, he may use it to enter an intruded-upon dreamscape on Beleth's side of the Marches (again, with a -1 penalty).
David is a Malakite. David's followers are blindly loyal, and do not tolerate anyone questioning their master's decisions.
David has no Ahikim servitors, and adamantly insists that he never will.
For an Ahikite, working for Blandine is like walking across a narrow fence. Working for Dominic, however, is like walking a waxed tightrope with no safety net -- with a one-mile drop into the deepest, darkest pits of Hell waiting for those who slip. Few make the attempt. A brave (some would say foolish) few do, though, somehow traversing the minefield of Wronged demons and Dominic's pro-Catholicism rants without being blown to celestial bits. If you were to ask them, they would tell you that they're desperately trying to affect Dominic's policies from within, hoping to prevent him from overstepping the bounds of his Word the way that Uriel did. (Many would argue that their quixotic efforts are already too late.)
An Ahikite of Dominic can automatically sense the most recent Wrong performed by anyone -- celestial, human, or otherwise - in the name of Justice. (This refer's to the perpetrator's perception of Justice, not the Ahikite's or Dominic's.)
Becoming an Ahikite of Creation is easy -- Eli's open-mindedness and his distaste for celestial politics makes him one of the most sympathetic Archangels to the plight of this persecuted Choir. Living the life of an Ahikite of Creation, however, is no walk in the park. Few angels epitomize the word "orphans" the way that the Ahikim of Eli do. Not only are they out of favor because of their own political and philosophical views, but also due to the damaged reputation of their Superior. That's two strikes against them in the eyes of their temporary Superiors. It's almost enough to make an angel go Outcast...
To the Ahikim of Eli, the greatest Wrong is the destruction of someone else's work. Their Choir attunement is similar to that of the Eli's Cherubim. By making physical contact with the remains of a broken item, they may know who destroyed it and when. The angel may learn little beyond the most basic facts regarding its destruction. (GM's discretion, guided by the check digit, but the question, "human, angel, or demon?" will always be answered.) The remains must be at least vaguely recognizable for this to work -- use common sense. (For example, the ashes of a book in a fireplace are not usable unless they can be clearly distinguished from the firewood ashes.)
Note: If the Ahikite uses this attunement, it is dissonant for him to not try to track down and deal with the culprit.
Gabriel has no particular opinion of the Ahikim Choir in general. She views their tendency to punish the cruel as admirable, but has clashed more than once with Ahikim who have stood in the way of her more underhanded servitors' vendettas. Her opinion of any specific Ahikite will primarily depend on her past dealings with them -- and, of course, her state of (what's left of a) mind at the time of their meeting. Without question, the Ahikim possess a great deal of spiritual Fire -- but whether that Fire will feed or fight the Fire of Gabriel cannot be predicted.
As if the Ahikim and Malakim did not have enough cause for rivalry, their nigh-identical Choir Attunements provide more fuel for the Fire. Gabriel's Ahikim share the Malakim ability to surround their hands with green celestial flame (a hand-to-hand attack with Power = Celestial Forces and Accuracy of -1). They also have no attunement to any specific variety of cruelty -- their Choir's resonance is too wide in scope for that. Unlike Gabriel's Malakim, however, her Ahikim spend only a fraction of their time on Earth performing specific assignments. (This may be because her faith in their ability to carry out these missions waxes and wanes like the tides -- but, trying to comprehend Gabriel's motives is an uncertain task.) The rest of the time, they are expected to root out instances of cruelty on their own, giving Gabriel periodic updates on their progress.
Janus has no particular problems with the Ahikim... but that good will is not always returned, as the Ahikim tend to view the Janus and his servitors with disdain. Most will point to the Wind's wanton acts of theft and destruction as prime examples of angelic Wrongs, and conclude that their nature is incompatible with this erratic Archangel. That doesn't mean that none of the Ahikim are in the service of Janus, it just means that such partnerships are typically volatile and short-lived -- but then, what else does one expect of the Wind?
There is at least one point which Janus and all of his Ahikim can agree on: the forceful restraint of others against their will is Wrong. If anyone they have spoken with in the past week has been captured (a "hello" in passing on the street isn't enough, an actual conversation is required), the Ahikite can effectively use the Cherubim resonance on them -- at a -3 penalty to the Check Digit. (There is no penalty to the Perception roll -- an Ahikite is no less astute than a Cherub, but an Ahikite isn't as naturally adept at interpreting the Symphonic ripples that he detects.) If the modified Check Digit is zero or less, treat as a failed resonance roll. For kidnapped friends who the Ahikite hasn't seen in over a week, the Check Digit penalty is -5. Essence may be spent to improve the Check Digit before the roll is made.
Jean has just as much faith in his Ahikim as he does in his other servitors... which, admittedly, isn't terribly much. An Ahikite of Lightning will bristle at his Superior's tendency to micromanage, and will never agree with Jean's patronizing view of humanity. But, since Jean doesn't go out of his way to stifle the moral "missions" of his Ahikim (so long as they do their jobs), they have come to respect each other enough to overlook any minor differences.
The Ahikim of Lightning are Heaven's best hackers. By spending 1 Essence, they can add their Ethereal Forces to any roll involving the use of computer systems to acquire information directly related to the process of setting right a Wrong. The angel will gain a note of dissonance for any destructive hacking -- crashing a computer, destroying data, etc. -- unless it is the punishment for a Wrong, and affects only the perpetrator(s) of the Wrong.
The Ahikim are deeply divided on their opinion of Jordi. His utter distaste for (and dismissal of) humanity leaves a foul taste in many an Ahikite's mouth, since it flies in the face of the Ahikim philosophy of "everyone deserves equal treatment," and a sizable fraction of the Ahikim population refuse to work with Jordi as a result. Others, however, feel that Jordi's point is perfectly valid. They claim that the humans have Wronged the animal kingdom in much the same way that Heaven has Wronged the creatures of myth, and giving the animals "special treatment" is a valid means of providing comfort to that Wrong's victims. Needless to say, it's not an argument that will be eaily settled...
Jordi's Ahikim are attuned to horses, deer, goats, and other hoofed creatures. In the mortal world, they prefer peaceful "animal rights" protests to the acts of eco-terrorism performed by Jordi's Malakim. They're not above a pinpoint strike against a particularly despicable human, though...
David's dislike for Ahikim is mostly professional -- Laurence, on the other hand, has a personal problem with the Ahikim and their political views, having crossed swords with them on too many occasions in the past. Thanks to his endorsement of Uriel's Purge, the feeling is mutual.
Few Archangels see eye-to-eye with the Ahikim as much as Marc does. Both, in their own way, are devoted to the promotion of "fair deals," and neither will ever go back on their word. Marc's essentially neutral position in Heavenly politics provides one of the most comfortable niches for an Ahikite in all of celestial society.
As an additional aspect of his natural resonance, an Ahikite of Marc may, if standing within a crime scene (if the police have roped off an area, they must be inside it), attempt to determine the last theft-related Wrong that was committed there. How much information is obtained will depend on the Check Digit. Also, an Ahikite of Trade will gain *two* notes of Dissonance for breaking their word after they have given it freely, since it goes against both their Choir's resonance and their Superior's resonance to do so.
Michael's resonance is among the more potentially compatible with the Ahikim outlook on life, with one caveat: that Ahikite had better believe in Heaven's Cause. More than a few Ahikim of Michael have gone Outcast out of disgust with Heavenly policies, and working with these "Tripped" angels is a sure-fire way to make Michael's suspicious of *your* true allegiance in the War.
Michael's Ahikim have the ability to use the Song of Shields on *another* person (but not an object), out to a radius of one foot from that person, for 2 Essence. Additional Essence may *not* be spent to expand that radius.
Ahikim of Novalis take a slightly different approach to righting Wrongs. Since their Superior does not condone violence, they focus most of their energy on the comforting of victims. Novalis does not agree that acts of violence against perpetrators of Wrongs are "absolutely necessary," which means that Ahikim who resort to such methods (unless in self-defense) are subject to Dissonance. For this reason, a Flowerchild Ahikite's punishment will almost always be of a non-physical nature -- the "removal" of financial or material assets is most common. Emotional punishments are also troublesome. While the Ahikim will not automatically gain Dissonance for an act of emotional cruelty, it's not the kind of behavior that Novalis approves of.
An Ahikite of Flowers may spend Essence in an attempt to force someone to perform an act of kindness, as a means of compensating for a Wrong they have committed -- a sort of "community service," if you will. If the target does not agree of his own free will, physical contact is required, and the target may resist with a Will roll. (The GM may also grant the target a Difficulty Modifier based on how contrary to his nature the act of kindness would be, and based on how significant it is compared to the severity of the Wrong which was committed.) If the "community service" is not carried out within the time specified, the target will take the amount of Essence which the Ahikite spent, multiplied by 6, in hits of corporeal damage. (This form of punishment, a variation on Marc's "Divine Contract" attunement, has been grudgingly accepted by Novalis, since it gives the victim an opportunity to redeem himself out of kindness instead of being physically harmed.)
Ahikite servitors of Yves will tell you that theirs is the most rational Archangel. The Word of Destiny meshes well with the Ahikim concept of karma, since those who are hindered from achieving a great Destiny have quite definitively been Wronged. Somehow, despite the fact that he is the Archangel in closest contact with God, few Ahikim blame Yves for the persecution of the old pagan gods which Yahweh's servants have perpetuated. Perhaps it is because they see Yves as the last vestiges of a better time, before Uriel's Purge -- before the other Archangels broke the unwritten rules of engagement and transformed a political dispute (God vs. gods) into a military firestorm.
Yves' Ahikim are the most level-headed members of their Choir, and have found that a lack of mental chaos does wonders for an angel's perceptive abilities. Specfically, hearing the Symphony in all its Divine clarity comes much more easily. Anytime an Ahikite of Destiny rolls to detect a disturbance in the Symphony, he receives a +1 bonus to his Perception target number.
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