Nathaniel Eliot writes:
Actually, I think the reason for God being just a powerful Ethereal is less PC and more plot based. If you base In Nomine on most Christian thought, God is omnipotent and omniscient. Which causes the same problems in the game that it causes in Christian thought - why doesn't he just smoke the demons, and make the world right?
And the (presumed) answer is the same as in Christian thought:
God wants His POWs back.
Remember, when God steps in to win the War, it's ALL over.
The demons and the damned are packed away forevermore, the Universe is cleansed of Evil, and the angels and saints celebrate for all eternity.
But there are still people on earth who have drifted into Hell's sphere of influence. (In IN terms, they've reached, or are approaching, their Fates, and have turned their backs on Destiny.)
If God intervenes now, those folks wind up on the losing team, and God loses out on the opportunity to enjoy their company in Heaven -- which is the very purpose for which He created them to begin with.
So God isn't going to bring down the curtain until He has everyone He can get in His camp. St. Paul says as much in one of his epistles, so the idea certainly qualifies as Christian thought.
In _In Nomine_, God's dilemma is even more obvious. Orthodox Christian teaching is that demons are irredeemable, so God should have no problem "smoking" *them* and concentrating on the humans, who *can* be turned around. But in the IN universe, demons *are* redeemable. Hence, God will certainly *not* approve of their destruction outright, and will not intervene directly until every demon that's *going* to come back has done so.
The human situation is similarly different in the game. Orthodox Christianity grants everyone a single lifetime, after which a chosen few wind up in Heaven by the grace of God, and the rest go to Hell in deserved punishment for their sins. In the IN universe, a few get to Heaven, a different few get to Hell, and most (who achieved neither Destiny nor Fate) are reincarnated or recycled to try again. If God intervenes and Ends things, the current generation of humans becomes the *last* one, and everyone's gotta be assigned an eternal abode. Obviously, God's gonna give those reincarnators every chance to win a firm place in the Heavenly camp before He makes that move.
In other words, God is fated to win, demons are fated to loose, and any player or GM who wants an epic game is going to be disappointed.
I assume you're actually talking about playing out the *end* of the War?
(Otherwise, I don't see why you have to specify which worldview is in effect. Any lesser "epic" can still be won by either side, even if God *will* win in the end.)
In that case, yes, there should probably be at least some risk that the demons will come out on top. It avoids making the efforts of demon PCs futile, and presents a real challenge to angel PCs. (On the other hand, even if God is destined to "win" in the sense of locking up Lucifer and remaining in charge of the Universe, there could still be drama in playing out the battle over the Final Generation of human souls. If God's ideal scenario is a full Heaven and an empty Hell, then there is a sense in which He has already *lost* the War, even if He is not overthrown.)
Now, granted, there is room for small victories and defeats, but even that seems to lack purpose.
I must disagree.
This ties in to the recent debate over the importance of individual human souls to the Celestials in IN. I fall into the "individual souls are vastly important" camp, so that will color the following remarks, which are of course all IMHO:
Ultimately, Heaven and Hell aren't fighting *each other* at all, at least not in the sense of each side trying to wipe out the other. Michael could probably have slain Lucifer, and the rest of the Host wiped out the outnumbered demons, in their first engagement. But the goal is not the triumph of angels over demons. The goal is the restoration of the pristine Symphony -- in effect, putting everything back the way it *should* be. And that includes re-installing Lucifer and the other demons in their appointed positions in Heaven -- but only if and when *they* choose to return (that whole free will business). Hence Lucifer's forces were exiled rather than annihilated.
The current War on Earth is similarly not a physical conflict between angels and demons, but a battle of influence over the hearts and minds of humans. That would seem to be _In Nomine_ canon: remember "It's a damn cold War"? Heaven can't win by wiping out demons. In fact, given that demons are redeemable, and that God built Lucifer and company into the Symphony originally (as angels), the Celestial death of a demon probably grieves God enormously. And *so does the loss of even a single human soul to Hell*. Each is an irreplaceable Instrument in the Divine Orchestra.
Even under Christian thought, God definitely "wins" in the end only if you consider "not being overthrown" equivalent to "winning." God loses, in a small degree, every time Hell gains a new inmate. Hence, "small" victories and defeats are in fact not small at all, and are certainly not without purpose.
Again, the above is IMHO. Just trying to point out some factors that your analysis seemed to overlook.
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